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Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1%

Fri, 07 May 2021 16:42:43 +0000

Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1%

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. economy gained 266,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the April job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: "There was no progress in reducing the number of long-term unemployed, they remained nearly unchanged at 4.2 million and are 43% of the unemployed. That number will be difficult to clear by September when key provisions of federal support for unemployed workers will lapse." He also tweeted:

Last month’s biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+331,000), other services industry (+44,000), local government education (+31,000), social assistance (+23,000) and financial activities (19,000). The biggest job losses were seen in manufacturing (-18,000), retail trade employment (-15,000) and health care (-4,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including construction, mining, wholesale trade and information.

In April, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.3%), Black Americans (9.7%), Hispanics (7.9%), adult men (6.1%), Asian Americans (5.7%), adult women (5.6%) and White Americans (5.3%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in April and accounted for 43% of the total unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:42

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura

Fri, 07 May 2021 13:28:22 +0000

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura

Jeffrey Omura

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Jeffrey Omura.

Jeffrey Omura was recently elected to his second term as a councilor of Actors’ Equity Association. Omura came to labor leadership through his work in member organizing as one of the creators and leaders of the #FairWageOnstage campaign. Realizing that arts workers were being forgotten in pandemic relief efforts at every level of government, Omura helped create the Be An #ArtsHero campaign to organize the industry to collectively lobby Congress for arts relief. He is currently running for New York City Council.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:28

Fighting for Worker Power: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Thu, 06 May 2021 15:15:06 +0000

Fighting for Worker Power: What Working People Are Doing This Week

What Working People Are Doing This Week

Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week.

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

Actors' Equity:

AFGE:

AFSCME:

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Amalgamated Transit Union:

American Federation of Musicians:

American Federation of Teachers:

American Postal Workers Union:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:

Boilermakers:

Bricklayers:

California School Employees Association:

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

Communications Workers of America:

Department for Professional Employees:

Electrical Workers:

Fire Fighters:

Heat and Frost Insulators:

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

Ironworkers:

Jobs With Justice:

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

Laborers:

Machinists:

Metal Trades Department:

Mine Workers:

Musical Artists:

National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

National Association of Letter Carriers:

National Domestic Workers Alliance:

National Federation of Federal Employees:

National Nurses United:

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

NFL Players Association:

North America's Building Trades Unions:

Office and Professional Employees:

Painters and Allied Trades:

Plasterers and Cement Masons:

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union:

Roofers and Waterproofers:

SAG-AFTRA:

Seafarers:

Solidarity Center:

The NewsGuild-CWA:

Theatrical Stage Employees:

Transport Workers Union:

Transportation Trades Department:

UAW:

Union Label and Service Trades Department:

Union Veterans Council:

UNITE HERE:

United Food and Commercial Workers:

United Steelworkers:

United Students Against Sweatshops:

Utility Workers:

Working America:

Writers Guild of America, East:

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 11:15

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Betty Tam

Thu, 06 May 2021 14:28:13 +0000

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Betty Tam

Betty Tam

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Betty Tam.

Betty Tam works as a marketing data analyst at Union Plus and is a member of the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU). Tam is an essential asset at Union Plus and always has an uplifting, positive attitude, and co-workers say it is a joy to work with her. Tam's expertise in data analysis helps Union Plus promote union benefits to the right union audiences across many platforms. Her hard work deserves much praise and respect.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 10:28

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART and AFSA Team Up to Tackle Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Thu, 06 May 2021 13:32:08 +0000

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART and AFSA Team Up to Tackle Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools not only can get students and educators sick, but it also impacts the teaching and learning of our children. The COVID-19 crisis has put a spotlight on decades of neglect and the growing deficiencies of school infrastructure, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, also known as HVAC systems. The vast majority of classrooms in the United States fail to meet minimum ventilation rates, and those inadequacies have a major impact on our ability to provide safe learning environments as the virus remains in our communities.

Working with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), the School Administrators (AFSA) union is educating school leaders on what can be done in our communities. State federations and central labor councils can play a vital role in state capitols and with local governments to make sure the needed resources are allocated to help rebuild school infrastructure. To get involved, email takeaction@TheSchoolLeader.org. To read more about this issue or watch a webinar, click here.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 09:32

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Don Villar

Wed, 05 May 2021 13:28:04 +0000

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Don Villar

Don Villar

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Don Villar.

Don Villar was born into the labor movement and the spirit of social justice. His father was on strike at the time of his birth, fighting for better wages and benefits for bank workers in the Philippines. During his nearly 25-year broadcast journalism career at WLS-TV (ABC) Chicago, Villar won an Emmy for his breaking news coverage. Villar became a member of NABET-CWA Local 41 in 1991, was elected vice president in 2010 and then president in 2015. He became secretary-treasurer for the Chicago Federation of Labor in 2018 and continues to build solidarity across Chicago, Cook County and beyond.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/05/2021 - 09:28

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne

Wed, 05 May 2021 12:33:58 +0000

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne

AFM

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

With wages, benefits and working conditions on the line, members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) rallied in Fort Wayne, Indiana, over the weekend to draw attention to their fight for a new contract with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. AFM International President Ray Hair spoke at the rally in support of the orchestra musicians, who have been furloughed because of the pandemic since August 2020. “Why are these musicians out on the street? Why haven’t they had paychecks since last summer? It’s because the management doesn’t want them to,” Hair told WPTA21. “They’re lining their own pockets. Nobody in management would have a job if it weren’t for us.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/05/2021 - 08:33

Nurses at Maine Medical Center Vote to Form First-Ever Union

Tue, 04 May 2021 16:40:49 +0000

Nurses at Maine Medical Center Vote to Form First-Ever Union

Maine Nurses

A lengthy campaign to organize the registered nurses (RNs) at Maine Medical Center (MMC) in Portland, Maine, culminated in an overwhelming victory last Thursday, April 29. The RNs at MMC voted 1,001 to 750 in a mail-ballot election, counted by the National Labor Relations Board, to form their first-ever union.

The Maine State Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU), will now represent the nearly 2,000 registered nurses at Maine Medical Center. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Maine Med nurses to the labor movement. Their solidarity, courage and strength throughout this pandemic and in the face of an expensive, divisive anti-union campaign by hospital management is remarkable and an inspiration to all workers,” said Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW) in a statement from the state labor federation.  

“This is a historic union victory at the largest hospital in northern New England," Phinney continued. “We hope other health care workers in Maine will become inspired and organize together to win a voice in their workplaces.”

For over a year, Maine Med RNs have been speaking out against inadequate staffing, overscheduling, a lack of adequate meal and break relief, and inappropriate staffing assignments, among other workplace concerns. 

When it became clear in January 2020 that the nurses at MMC would be heading toward a union election, Maine AFL-CIO Organizing Director Sarah Bigney McCabe leaped the action to garner as much community support as possible.

“We realized pretty quickly how this would be a historic opportunity for workers in Maine,” McCabe said. 

McCabe worked to form the Facebook group “Friends of Maine Med Nurses,” which gained more than 4,500 members who have been using it as a tool to share stories, photos and encouragement throughout the campaign. 

“The energy in the group just immediately took over, it was like wildfire and you couldn’t stop it,” McCabe said. 

Another great aspect of community support during the campaign came from state elected officials, especially from Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, who both spoke out against the hospital’s choice to vaccinate out-of-state union-busting consultants in January ahead of the hospital nurses.

“This hospital serves our entire state—all four corners,” McCabe said. “If you have a serious surgery or injury, you go to this hospital. We want the nurses to have a good staffing ratio, to be well taken care for, because the nurses are such advocates for their patients. That’s why so many people—nurses, patients, union members, felt a stake in this.”

Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, MMC nurses did not have any in-person rallies. Alternatively, the Maine AFL-CIO worked with the campaign to produce lawn signs and window posters. 

“The lawn sign became the hottest-ticket item in Maine,” McCabe said. Throughout the campaign, union members and leaders from the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Fire Fighters (IAFF) and several other unions came together to help distribute lawn signs as well as door-knock at homes and apartment buildings near the Maine Medical Center. According to McCabe, the nurses were overjoyed to see the solidarity from neighboring buildings as they commuted into work. 

“The statewide support that we received on this campaign was unbelievable,” McCabe said. “When we can all come together on these drives and support them, it’s for the better. Here in Maine, we stick together, we have each other’s back. All of our affiliates came out in support of the nurses, and the next time they have a campaign, we’ll be out there for them.” 

And next stop for the Maine AFL-CIO? 

“Passing the PRO Act,” said McCabe.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:40

18 Important Things You Need to Know from the 2021 Death on the Job Report

Tue, 04 May 2021 13:40:49 +0000

18 Important Things You Need to Know from the 2021 Death on the Job Report

Death on the Job

For the 30th year, the AFL-CIO has produced the 2021 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report on the state of safety and health protections for America’s working families. Since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 50 years ago, federal job safety agencies have issued many important regulations on safety hazards, strengthened enforcement and expanded worker rights. The toll of workplace injury, illness and death remains too high, and too many workers remain at serious risk. There is much more work to be done.

Here are 18 important things from the 2021 Death on the Job report you need to know. In 2019:

1. 275 U.S. workers, on average, died each day from hazardous working conditions.

2. 5,333 workers were killed on the job in the United States.

3. An estimated 95,000 workers died from occupational diseases.

4. The overall job fatality rate was 3.5 per 100,000 workers, the same as the previous year.

5. Latino and Black worker fatalities increased; these workers are at greater risk of dying on the job than all workers.

6. Employers reported nearly 3.5 million work-related injuries and illnesses.

7. Musculoskeletal disorders continue to make up the largest portion (30%) of work-related injuries and illnesses.

8. Underreporting is widespread—the true toll of work-related injuries and illnesses is 7.0 million to 10.5 million each year.

9. States with the highest fatality rates in 2019 were: Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and West Virginia.

10. Industries with the highest fatality rates in 2019 were: agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting; mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; transportation and warehousing; construction; and wholesale trade.

11. America’s workplaces have been a primary source of COVID-19 outbreaks, with thousands of workers infected and dying. However, workplace infection and outbreak information is limited because there is no national surveillance system.

12. Workplace violence deaths increased to 841 in 2019, while more than 30,000 violence-related lost-time injuries were reported.

13. Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of workplace death. There were 454 worker deaths that were workplace homicides.

14. Women workers are at greater risk of violence than men; they suffered two-thirds of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence, and were five times more likely to be killed by a relative or domestic partner in the workplace than men.

15. Deaths among all Latino workers increased in 2019: 1,088 deaths, compared with 961 in 2018. Some 66% of those who died were immigrants.

16. The Black worker fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers continues to be higher than the national average. In 2019, 634 Black workers died on the job—the highest number in more than two decades.

17. Workers 65 or older have nearly three times the risk of dying on the job as other workers, with a fatality rate of 9.4 per 100,000 workers in 2019.

18. The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $330 billion a year.

There is a lot we can do to address these numbers, which are much too high. Read the full report to learn more about the solutions.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:40

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Lucela Watson

Tue, 04 May 2021 13:27:54 +0000

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Lucela Watson

Lucela Watson

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the U.S. Today's profile is Lucela Watson.

Lucela Watson is a porter at Excalibur and has been a member of Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 since 2015. “Being a Culinary Union member has changed my life and my family’s lives,” Watson said. “For me, job security is the most important part of being a member. Without a job, you cannot survive. My daughter is in the Philippines, and I am working on bringing her here to Las Vegas to be with me. But because I have a union job, I can support her in ways I couldn’t before. I have rights at work, job security, health care and, when I retire, I will have a pension. I love being a Culinary Union member!"

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:27

   
  

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