Wyoming State AFL-CIO

Recent News Stories

Every week, we'll be bringing you a roundup of the important news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here's this week's Working People Weekly List. Read more >>>

Each week, we take a look at the biggest friends and foes of labor. We celebrate the workers winning big and small battles, and we shame the companies or people trying to deny working people their rights. Read more >>>

AFL-CIO Now Blog -- Recent News Stories

Why Working People Benefit from Apprenticeship Training
Why Working People Benefit from Apprenticeship Training

Union leaders meet at apprenticeship meeting.
Mike Gillis

There is a distinct difference between a job training program and an apprenticeship, and leaders in the labor movement are spreading this message.

 “Apprenticeships are comprehensive experiences, where individuals not only learn a skill, they practice and develop that skill in conjunction with the needs of the business community, while earning a fair, living wage,” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. “Any job training program that does not involve businesses and industry, a decent living and solid instruction, fails in comparison. Highly skilled manufacturing jobs are the future, and apprenticeship programs are an essential part of filling those jobs.”

Representatives from industrial labor unions, manufacturing employers, state labor federations, state and federal labor agencies, and education and workforce and development advocacy groups met earlier this week in Oakwood, Pennsylvania, to discuss state and national efforts to bolster apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship training programs mean working people who participate in them learn the latest technologies and skills, and also learn how to stay safe on the job. “Embracing and developing these training programs will modernize systems and procedures to improve productivity and safety,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.  

The event was co-hosted by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and the Ohio AFL-CIO.

Jackie Tortora Thu, 06/22/2017 - 12:00

Why Do We Need Medicaid?
Why Do We Need Medicaid?

Like many Americans, you may have parents or other loved ones in nursing homes because they require around-the-clock care.

Nursing-home care is expensive, typically $80,000 per year for a semiprivate room—far more than the income of a typical senior. Medicare generally pays only for short-term nursing-home stays. Yet only about 1 in 10 people 65 and older have private long-term care insurance to cover nursing-home costs. For a great many people, that insurance is too expensive.

Medicaid is the one thing people can count on when their money has run out. Losing that coverage, as could happen to some people if congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump succeed in gutting Medicaid funding to pay for tax cuts for corporate CEOs and the wealthiest 1%, would force working people to make impossible choices about how to care for their parents and other family members when they can no longer care for themselves.

This is just one reason why Medicaid matters to working people and their families. Consider a few other impressive Medicaid facts and think about what would happen to you, your family, your friends and your community without it:

  • Medicaid helps seniors and other people with significant disabilities stay in their homes and communities, instead of being forced to go to nursing homes.
  • Medicaid guarantees more than 30 million children access to medical care.
  • Nearly 5 million children with special care needs, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism, are covered by Medicaid and other public insurance.
  • Medicaid pays for half of all childbirths in the United States.

Watch the video above reminding all of us why Medicaid is so important to working people, and why slashing Medicaid’s federal funding by half to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%, CEOs and corporations is so wrong.

 

Jackie Tortora Fri, 06/16/2017 - 12:54

Tell the Labor Department Not to Repeal the Persuader Rule
Tell the Labor Department Not to Repeal the Persuader Rule

NYU Graduate Students
UAW

The Labor Department issued a proposal on Monday that would rescind the union-buster transparency rule, officially known as the persuader rule, designed to increase disclosure requirements for consultants and attorneys hired by companies to try to persuade working people against coming together in a union. The rule was supposed to go into effect last year, but a court issued an injunction last June to prevent implementation. Now the Trump Labor Department wants to eliminate it.

We wrote about this rule last year. Repealing the union-buster transparency rule is little more than the administration doing the bidding of wealthy corporations and eliminating common-sense rules that would give important information to working people who are having roadblocks thrown their way while trying to form a union.

AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein said:

The persuader rule means corporate CEOs can no longer hide the shady groups they hire to take away the freedoms of working people. Repealing this common-sense rule is simply another giveaway to wealthy corporations. Corporate CEOs may not like people knowing who they’re paying to script their union-busting, but working people do.

If the rule is repealed, union-busters will be able to operate in the shadows as they work to take away our freedom to join together on the job. Working people deserve to know whether these shady firms are trying to influence them. The administration seems to disagree.

A 60-day public comment period opened Monday. Click on this link to leave a comment and tell the Labor Department that we should be doing more to ensure the freedom of working people to join together in a union, not less. Copy and paste the suggested text below if you need help getting started:

“Working people deserve to know who is trying to block their freedom from joining together and forming a union on the job. Corporations spend big money on shadowy, outside firms that use fear tactics to intimidate and discourage people from coming together to make a better life on the job. I support a strong and robust persuader rule. Do not eliminate the persuader rule.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/15/2017 - 11:22

Union Member and Public School Teacher Reflects on Opportunities DACA Has Provided
Union Member and Public School Teacher Reflects on Opportunities DACA Has Provided

Maria E. Dominguez
Maria E. Dominguez

This post originally ran in 2015.

This week marks the five-year anniversary of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an important time to mark the contributions of DACAmented workers to our communities and our economy. DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of aspiring Americans and union members to live and work without fear in the United States. The labor movement reiterates unwavering support for the expansion of these much-needed deferred action programs. The following blog from Maria E. Dominguez, a first-grade bilingual teacher from Austin, Texas, demonstrates just how valuable these programs are. 

On the third-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s DACA program, I can’t help but reflect on how DACA has changed my entire life, both professionally and personally. After being granted DACA, I had the opportunity to pursue my life dream of being a public school teacher. Thanks to DACA I am able to serve my community as a first-grade public school bilingual teacher. In addition, I was able to obtain a driver’s license and travel within the United States. Another one of my dreams came true when I was granted advance parole with DACA and, in July of 2014, I traveled to my hometown in Guanajuato, Mexico, after more than 20 years. I saw my grandmother, cousins and other relatives who I had not seen in decades. It was an incredible experience for my whole family.

Many of my students’ parents would be eligible and should be applying for the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program today, if it were not being obstructed in the courts. Even though I work with very young children of immigrants, some of them understand their parents’ situation and are frightened to talk about it due to the very real threat of retaliation or deportation. I hope someday my students and their parents can live without fear and proudly say that they also have benefited from deferred action and gained work authorization. I know it would make an incredible difference in their families’ lives, just as it has for mine.

As a member of Education Austin and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), I have been granted the opportunity to work with the immigrant community—in particular, undocumented youth. I have volunteered at the citizenship drives offered by Education Austin and at DACA forums and clinics held in partnership with University Leadership Initiative in Austin, Texas. I have helped U.S. residents fill out their citizenship applications and DREAMers fill out their DACA application as part of my commitment to Education Austin and AFT. I also have worked with community leaders to bring essential information to the parents at my school for the first time. In March, I attended the AFL-CIO’s We Rise initiative training for union members in Washington, D.C. It showed members how to begin implementing DACA and DAPA educational forums and clinics at their locals. I also have participated in conferences with AFT that focus on immigration and how we as members can work with our locals to help our community. Finally, I have shared my knowledge and my personal story as a DACAmented teacher during educational forums and teacher conferences because I believe in the power of collective action.

I could not do what I do every single day in the classroom if it were not for President Obama’s executive action on immigration. I only wish that Republicans in Congress would muster the same political courage to address our broken immigration system. DACA works, and I’m a testament of that, but it only covers a small portion of our population. It is a small fight that we won, but we need to keep working in order to see a bigger change that can benefit others who will not qualify for DACA or DAPA. We must keep fighting because there are people trying to push us back, as we see in Texas with the injunction. So we cannot give up. Even though we might only see small steps now, I know that if we keep working, we’re going to see a huge change that will benefit everyone. Immigration should not be used to score cheap political points. We’re talking about people’s lives—people like me, who want nothing more than to contribute to our communities. Join me today and call for a permanent solution to our broken immigration system. Our families and our communities can’t wait. 

Editor's Note: During the AFL-CIO's We Rise initiative training in Washington, D.C., Dominguez said she benefited from DACA, to which AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka responded, "No, we benefited from you," to a roomful of enthusiastic applause. Read more at NBC News.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/15/2017 - 08:35

Freelancers Take to Twitter to Say #EbonyOwes Them Back Pay
Freelancers Take to Twitter to Say #EbonyOwes Them Back Pay

Freelancing Ain't Free
AFL-CIO

Stories have surfaced in the past few weeks that Ebony owes numerous writers back pay for work they did for the magazine. A story from The Establishment spurred the #EbonyOwes hashtag into trending territory on Twitter. The article cites numerous freelance writers who say that the magazine owes them.

According to a press release, the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 represents 23 Ebony writers who are collectively owed more than $50,000 in unpaid wages. The union estimates that more than $200,000 in back wages are owed to as many as 50 freelancers. The magazine recently made a public commitment to fix the problem, but NWU President Larry Goldbetter said that words aren't good enough:

Some of the invoices we’ve seen are over a year old. We are pleased Ebony Media has been responsive to the grievance, but we are now at a point where we need a payment schedule in writing. For a freelancer to have to struggle to pay rent because Ebony owes is ridiculous.

Here are some of the stories told on #EbonyOwes:

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:49

Call Today to Oppose Secret Negotiations to Strip Millions of Health Care
Call Today to Oppose Secret Negotiations to Strip Millions of Health Care

Dont' let Senators take away health care in backroom deals
AFL-CIO

There are reports that Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate is moving behind the scenes to finalize a bill and hold a floor vote on Trumpcare before members of Congress leave for the July 4 recess. The legislation has been fast-tracked, meaning that it won't get the usual committee review before going to a floor vote. This would greatly shorten the time that the public (and members of Congress) has to read the legislation to determine exactly what it does and how many Americans it harms.

These secret negotiations could strip health care from millions of Americans, just to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Taking away the freedoms of working people in order to serve the wealthiest 1% isn't the path forward that the United States needs.

Call today at 1-888-865-8089 and tell your senator to oppose Trumpcare legislation negotiated in secret that strips health care from working people.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/14/2017 - 10:16

How We Should Rewrite the Rules of NAFTA for Working People
How We Should Rewrite the Rules of NAFTA for Working People

The North American Free Trade Agreement is typically called a "trade deal," but in reality it’s not much about trade. Its hundreds of pages of set rules for how the United States, Mexico and Canada can run their economies. Those rules give global corporations strong rights and privileges but don’t contain a single provision to ensure more jobs, better wages, clean air and water, affordable medicines, or any of the other benefits trade is supposed to bring.

By any measure important to working people, NAFTA was a failure. It didn’t raise wages. It didn’t help protect the environment or ensure that people who wanted to join together and negotiate on the job could do so. NAFTA’s rules are rigged—and they must change.

Trade is not inevitably bad for working people. A new NAFTA, with rules that working people help write, could create good jobs, raise wages, protect our natural resources and raise standards of living across North America.

These rules must ensure working people can join together to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. They must ensure citizens are free to make decisions about our economy, including being free from the threat of unlimited investor-state dispute settlement lawsuits by foreign corporations. They must promote investment in our roads, ports, and schools and promote "Buy American" provisions to create jobs locally.

The AFL-CIO has developed comprehensive recommendations that aim to stop NAFTA’s vicious cycle and replace it with a virtuous one. A better NAFTA is possible. And it starts by bringing working families into the conversation so we can be part of the solution.

Read more about the AFL-CIO’s NAFTA recommendations, and share this post with a friend. To join our trade activist team, text “trade” to 235246.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:58

Together We Can Make Pay Equity a Reality for All Working Women
Together We Can Make Pay Equity a Reality for All Working Women

I support the equal pay act.
AFL-CIO

Today is the 54th anniversary of the passage of the Equal Pay Act, the 1963 law that prohibits employers from paying men and women different wages for the same work solely based on sex. The Equal Pay Act’s passage is an important example of the labor movement’s long history of partnering with progressive women’s organizations to advocate for equal pay for women. Indeed, Esther Peterson—one of the labor movement’s greatest sheroes—was instrumental in the enactment of this landmark legislation.

Pay equity and transparency are bread and butter issues for working women; when they come together to negotiate collectively for fair wages and important benefits, like access to health insurance and paid leave, they can better support their families. (Indeed, women in unions experience a smaller wage gap than women without a union voice).

 Since the passage of the EPA, the gender wage gap has narrowed, but it persists. Women overall typically are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and that number has barely changed in the past 10 years. And the gap is even larger when you compare the earnings of women of color to white men.

 Clearly, we still have much to do to ensure pay equity, and there’s been some progress, thanks to tireless working women and their allies across the country. For instance, in the past two years, more than half the states have introduced or passed their own remedies to increase pay transparency, strengthen employer accountability and empower working people to take action against pay discrimination. But stronger protection from pay discrimination shouldn’t depend on where you happen to live or where you work. Working women deserve a national solution.

 That’s why the AFL-CIO, the National Women’s Law Center and countless other organizations support the Paycheck Fairness Act, part of a comprehensive women’s economic agenda. The PFA would strengthen the EPA by: protecting employees from retaliation for discussing pay; limiting the ability of employers to claim pay differences are based on “factors other than sex”; prohibiting employers from relying on a prospective employee’s wage history in determining compensation; strengthening individual and collective remedies against employers who discriminate; and increasing the data collection and enforcement capacity of key federal agencies.  

 Let’s not forget that raising the federal minimum wage also would boost women’s earnings in a big way. A driving factor in the gender wage gap is women’s overwhelming majority representation (two-thirds of workers) in minimum wage jobs, including those who pay the lower-tipped minimum wage. Legislation like the Raise the Wage Act would give women the well-deserved raise they’ve earned.

 We need strong policy solutions like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Raise the Wage Act to help close the gender wage gap. Working women and the families who depend on them can’t afford to wait another 54 years.

Fatima Goss Graves is the senior vice president for program and president-elect at the National Women’s Law Center. In her current role, she leads the center’s broad agenda to eliminate barriers in employment, education, health care and reproductive rights and lift women and families out of poverty. Prior to joining the center,, she worked in private practice and clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

Jackie Tortora Sat, 06/10/2017 - 06:15

Finding Pride: The Working People Weekly List
Finding Pride: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Finding Pride: "It was early on the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2004. I was on an annual family vacation in the Poconos, in northeast Pennsylvania. I was 23 years old. I got word that my then-home state governor, Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, had hastily called a press conference. Rumors about the governor’s sexual orientation had followed him around for years. I remember asking my father what he thought the press conference was about. 'Pay to play or something like that,' he said. There is a long and troubling history of corruption in New Jersey politics. Something told me this press conference would be different. I had a pit in my stomach."

Are You Ready for a 35% Raise?: "Starting today, working people could see a 35% increase in the value of their 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts over a career. That is because new protections designed to ensure the retirement savings system truly works for working people and retirees begin to take effect."

What Does the 'Fiduciary' Rule Mean for You?: "Thanks to the Department of Labor’s new 'fiduciary' rule, which went into effect this week, you are finally legally entitled to retirement investment advice that serves your best interests, regardless of who provides that advice or how they choose to pay for it."

The Bankers Behind Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: "Centuries ago pirates prowled the Caribbean brandishing scabbards and rifles; today, they wield fat checkbooks on Capitol Hill."

America’s Freedom to Protest Is Under Attack: "It’s no secret that America’s star is fading on the world stage these days, under a president whose authoritarian tactics have outraged allies and enemies alike. But a recent audit by an international human-rights monitor reveals that, even before Trump’s buffoonery took over the White House, Washington was failing dramatically to live up to its reputation as a beacon of democracy."

Under Trump, Worker Protections Are Viewed with New Skepticism: "'I had the feeling that the administration has already decided what it wants to do,' Peg Seminario, director for safety and health at the AFL-CIO, said of proposed changes to restrictions on beryllium."

Trump Administration’s Proposed Reversal of Contraceptive Services Coverage Is Wrong for Working Women and Families: "The Donald Trump administration’s draft proposal to reverse the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers and health plans cover most contraceptive services at no cost is wrong for working women and families. The draft as written allows any employer—whether a church, a non-profit related to a church, or a for-profit corporation—that has any moral or religious objection to choose not to cover these contraceptive services. It also exempts any insurance company with a moral or religious objection from covering contraceptive services."

New U.N. Report: Working People's Freedom to Stand Together Is Under Attack: "A new U.N. report highlights how the rich and powerful prevent far too many working people in the United States from asserting their most basic human and workplace freedoms."

With Pride: 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 around 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."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/09/2017 - 16:37

What Does the 'Fiduciary' Rule Mean for You?
What Does the 'Fiduciary' Rule Mean for You?

Thanks to the Department of Labor’s new "fiduciary" rule, which went into effect this week, you are finally legally entitled to retirement investment advice that serves your best interests, regardless of who provides that advice or how they choose to pay for it.

The rule requires all financial advisers, including broker-dealers and insurance agents, to act in their customers’ best interest rather than their own, charge reasonable fees and refrain from making misleading statements.

So what does that mean for you?

If you previously received advice from a non-fiduciary adviser, here are some of the key changes you can expect.

1. You should see new, more investor-friendly investment options recommended in your IRA.

In order to meet the best interest standard, your adviser may recommend new and different types of shares of mutual funds, such as "T" shares, that were introduced in response to the rule. These new shares can cut several percentage points off the sales charges you pay to purchase those funds. That’s money that will stay in your individual retirement account rather than going to pay your financial adviser.

Or your adviser may offer new "clean" shares, which allow you to negotiate how much they get paid for the services they provide in selling you that fund.

Mutual fund investors aren’t the only ones who’ll see benefits from the rule. Annuities also have been given a tune-up. New annuities with more investor-friendly features, including much shorter surrender periods and lower fees, have been introduced in response to the rule.

2. You should get a better deal if you roll over money from your workplace retirement account.

The new conflict of interest rule only allows rollover recommendations—recommendations to move money out of your workplace plan and into an IRA—if the move is in your best interest. One possibility is that you will see fewer rollover recommendations once the rule takes effect, but firms may also respond by offering retirement savers a better deal on their rollover investments.

If your adviser recommends you roll money out of a company 401(k) plan and into an IRA, ask on what basis she determined that you would be better off in the IRA. Ask in particular how your costs will compare. While costs shouldn’t be your only consideration, minimizing costs is one of the surest ways investors have of improving their long-term investment performance.

3. You may be encouraged to move your money to a fee account.

Some firms have concluded that the easiest, cleanest way to minimize conflicts is by moving clients from commission accounts to accounts where investors pay a fee for advice. That can take the form of a flat fee, hourly fee or a percentage of assets under management.

Fee accounts can offer a good deal for investors, assuming the fees are reasonable and the investor wants and benefits from the ongoing advice offered with such accounts. If your adviser suggests moving from a commission account to a fee account, ask on what basis she determined you’d be better off in a fee account. In particular, ask how your costs in the fee account would compare to the costs you previously paid in your commission account.

If your costs would go up, ask what additional services you will receive to justify those higher costs and determine whether those are services you want or need. Don’t be afraid to try to negotiate a lower fee. Some firms reportedly have been willing to lower fees to match average commission costs from previous years in order to demonstrate that the fee account really is in the customer’s best interests.

What if your adviser drops your account?

While most firms have moved forward in good faith to implement the rule in an investor-friendly fashion, others have been more resistant. Some, for example, have threatened to drop smaller retirement accounts rather than serve them under a best-interest standard.

What should you do if this happens to you? Take a moment to count your lucky stars. A firm that will only "advise" you if it can profit unfairly at your expense is not where you want to keep your money. There are many firms willing to serve even the smallest accounts under the new standard and at a reasonable cost.

Once you find such an adviser, have them do a careful review of your existing investments. Chances are your money is in investments that pay generous compensation to the seller, but charge high fees to the investor or expose you to inappropriate and unnecessary risks.

In these circumstances, the long-term benefit to your retirement savings from switching advisers—tens or even hundreds of thousands in added savings once your reach retirement—should greatly outweigh any temporary inconvenience of moving accounts.

One last word of caution.

Remember, the rule only applies to retirement accounts. If you have been working with a non-fiduciary adviser, such as a broker-dealer or insurance agent, you’ll likely continue to get suitable sales recommendations rather than best-interest advice in your non-retirement accounts.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, remember—there are lots of firms that are eager to serve even the smallest accounts under a fiduciary standard. Maybe it’s time to find one.

Barbara Roper is the director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/09/2017 - 11:33

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