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

Working People at AT&T End Three-Day Strike
Working People at AT&T End Three-Day Strike

On Friday, 40,000 AT&T workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), walked off the job on a three-day strike to protest the company's failure to invest in good jobs with a future at AT&T wireless, wireline and DIRECTV. The groups striking represent working people in 36 states and the District of Columbia. This is the first time AT&T wireless employees have gone on strike.

Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1, explained the situation:

We will no longer stand by as AT&T hems and haws at the bargaining table, keeping its own workers from achieving the American Dream they once promised. Despite being the largest telecom company in the country with nearly $1 billion a month in profits and the CEO earning $28 million, AT&T continues to pinch its workers’ basic needs and stand in the way of high-quality service its customers pay good money for. This is a warning to AT&T: There’s only one way out of this now—a fair contract—and we’ll settle for nothing less.

Here are some key tweets about the strike from @UnityAtMobility:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/22/2017 - 15:31

Shuler Joins Graduate Teachers Seeking Recognition of Their Union at Yale's Commencement
Shuler Joins Graduate Teachers Seeking Recognition of Their Union at Yale's Commencement

Liz Shuler joins graduate teachers who voted for a union at Yale.
Liz Shuler
Liz Shuler joins graduate teachers who voted for a union with UNITE HERE Local 33 at Yale's commencement.

Thousands of supporters rallied today at Yale University's commencement in solidarity with the graduate teachers who formed a union with UNITE HERE Local 33. The university has refused to recognize the union and come to the negotiating table. 

Eight union members who were on a hunger strike broke their fast today. 

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined the graduate professionals and delivered remarks from the rally

Let me read you a bit of Yale’s mission statement.

Yale is committed to improving the world today and for future generations....We carry out this mission through the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

So my question is this: How are you improving the world by denying student-workers a voice on the job?

How are you fostering a free exchange of ideas by refusing to bargain?

Do you really want Yale to be the Walmart of the Ivy League?

Do you really want Yale to be the Walmart of the Ivy League?

Liz Shuler

Shuler reminded the university that under the law, graduate teachers are employees. Some have speculated that Yale's stalling tactics are because it hopes a newly engineered National Labor Relations Board put in place by the Trump administration could roll back gains won by graduate teachers. 

Shuler said:

Yale teaching assistants meet the common law definition of employees. They also meet the common sense definition.

They work. For pay. And they voted democratically to form a union.

It is time for Yale to acknowledge what is right in front of them.

Brave, proud union members who decided to make this campus their home.

When these student-workers look at that Yale degree on the office wall of whatever amazing job they do next, will they remember a university that did right by them? Or will they remember just another employer that made their lives harder for power and greed?

Yale, you can fix this today.

If you need someone to beat, stick to Harvard.

Jackie Tortora Mon, 05/22/2017 - 13:41

Trumpcare in Trump Country: The Working People Weekly List
Trumpcare in Trump Country: 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.

Trumpcare Is Already Hurting Trump Country: "The mere threat that Obamacare will be dismantled or radically changed—either by Congress or by President Trump himself—has persuaded several big insurance companies to stop selling policies or significantly raise premiums."

More Protests, Tough Questions at Shareholder Meeting of Oreo-Maker Mondelez: "It was deja vu all over again at the annual shareholder meeting Wednesday for Mondelez International, a global snack food company known for brands like Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers."

Why I’m Fasting with Other Graduate Students at Yale: "Our intention is not to starve Yale out or close down discussion by inflicting violence upon ourselves. Quite the contrary: We are fasting to draw attention to Yale’s continued refusal to sit down and have a conversation with us about our union, our issues, and our contracts. This is why I joined the fast."

Offshoring of Oreo-Maker Jobs Dominates Mondelez Shareholder Meeting: "Mondelez International’s offshoring of jobs and the company’s relentless cost-cutting came under repeated criticism at the Mondelez annual shareholder meeting on May 17 in Lincolnshire, Ill. Outside the shareholder meeting, members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and other unions protested the company’s 2016 decision to move 600 Nabisco factory workers’ jobs from the Southside of Chicago to Salinas, Mexico."

Yale: Negotiate with Your Graduate Teachers: "In February, the graduate teachers voted to be represented by UNITE HERE. But Yale University has refused to negotiate with them. If they stall long enough, more appointees by President Donald Trump will be seated at the National Labor Relations Board. How quickly do you think those appointees would vote to roll back the rights of graduate workers?"

Celebrating AAPI Resistance in the Labor Movement: "As we look back at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance’s first action at the founding convention to march for justice after the beating of Rodney King 25 years ago, we’re proud of our deep roots of solidarity and resistance. Today, with millions of people mobilizing in marches and protests across the nation, from the Women’s March to the People’s Climate March, we are living in a time where we cannot stand silent when Muslim, immigrant, refugee, women and LGBTQ communities are constantly under attack. As a refugee from Ethiopia and an immigrant from the Philippines—and both as parents—we take these attacks personal and are concerned about the type of world our own children are growing up in."

Fellow Workers: "John Sayles—who will appear at the May 16 DC LaborFest screening of "Matewan"—is an American independent film director, screenwriter, editor, actor and novelist. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Passion Fish" and "Lone Star." The screening is Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre; tickets here. Sayles will receive the LaborFest’s Tony Mazzocchi Labor Arts Award and do a Q&A after the film."

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 05/21/2017 - 07:07

Stand with Striking AT&T Workers This Weekend
Stand with Striking AT&T Workers This Weekend

AT&T Workers Fighting For Good Jobs
CWA

This afternoon, 40,000 working people at AT&T announced they were going on strike. After months at the bargaining table, the employees haven't been able to win a fair union contract. AT&T's leaders seem dead set on lining their own pockets at the expense of workers making them billions.

The strike includes 21,000 retail and call center workers employed by AT&T Wireless across the country (in 36 states and Washington, D.C.), and 19,000 AT&T West and DIRECTV employees in California, Nevada and Connecticut. This is the first time AT&T wireless workers have gone on strike, which could result in closed retail stores this weekend, and may be the largest strike of retail workers at a national company is U.S. history. The workers plan to return to work on Monday.

Show your support for the striking workers at an AT&T retail store this weekend. Find a location near you and RSVP. If you can't join a picket line, send an email to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson saying you stand with working people fighting for good jobs.

Follow the striking workers on Twitter @UnityAtMobility or Facebook.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/19/2017 - 15:40

Trumka Delivers Petitions to Angela Merkel on Behalf of Working People at T-Mobile and Volkswagen
Trumka Delivers Petitions to Angela Merkel on Behalf of Working People at T-Mobile and Volkswagen

Richard Trumka with Angela Merkel
AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka attended the Labour 20 conference last week in Germany, where he hand-delivered petition signatures to Chancellor Angela Merkel on behalf of workers at T-Mobile and Volkswagen, seeking justice for the working people employed by the German companies in the United States. Skilled trades workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant voted in 2015 to join a union, but the company refuses to negotiate with them. Among other complaints, T-Mobile was ordered last month by a federal administrative judge to shut down an illegal union set up by management.

The Labour 20 brought together unions from G-20 countries to working to advocate pro-worker positions to their labor ministers. The assembled countries made commitments to clean up global supply chains, provide decent work, ensure living wages, and integrate migrants, women, refugees and young people into their workplaces.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/19/2017 - 14:54

Offshoring of Oreo-Maker Jobs Dominates Mondelez Shareholder Meeting
Offshoring of Oreo-Maker Jobs Dominates Mondelez Shareholder Meeting

BCTGM Protests Modelez/Nabisco
BCTGM

Mondelez International’s offshoring of jobs and the company’s relentless cost-cutting came under repeated criticism at the Mondelez annual shareholder meeting on May 17 in Lincolnshire, Ill. Outside the shareholder meeting, members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and other unions protested the company’s 2016 decision to move 600 Nabisco factory workers’ jobs from the Southside of Chicago to Salinas, Mexico.

Inside the meeting, BCTGM Vice President Jethro Head introduced an AFL-CIO shareholder proposal that urges the company to form a labor-management committee to seek alternatives to plant closings. Head highlighted the impact of recent plant closings, explaining that "these communities are the poster child for economic insecurity that is plaguing so many American cities and towns."

UFCW Vice President Mark Lauritsen spoke in favor of the shareholder proposal on behalf of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), a world-wide federation of trade unions: "Mondelez workers around the world are demoralized and worried about the future direction of the company," he said, adding that "Mondelez should be investing for the future rather than endlessly cutting costs."

BCTGM Secretary-Treasurer Steve Bertelli questioned Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld’s $16.7 million total compensation package that she received in 2016. He contrasted her lavish pay to the company’s low manufacturing worker wages in Salinas and asked, "Shouldn’t our company’s CEO pay be reasonable relative to all company employees?"

Anthony Jackson, a former Mondelez employee whose job was offshored from Chicago to Mexico, challenged Rosenfeld’s business plan for the company: "Rather than improve revenue growth, the company has cut costs to increase its profits," Jackson said. "Why not treat your workers fairly and improve the company’s reputation in the communities it operates?"

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:30

Yale: Negotiate with Your Graduate Teachers
Yale: Negotiate with Your Graduate Teachers

Yale: Negotiate with graduate teachers
UNITE HERE Local 33

In February, the graduate teachers voted to be represented by UNITE HERE. But Yale University has refused to negotiate with them. If they stall long enough, more appointees by President Donald Trump will be seated at the National Labor Relations Board. How quickly do you think those appointees would vote to roll back the rights of graduate workers?

Graduate teachers are teachers. Once they walk into the classroom, their job becomes indistinguishable from that of a tenured faculty member. When they counsel students outside of class, they aren't giving them only part-time counseling. When they spend endless hours grading papers and tests, their work benefits the university and helps create the environment that attracts students and investors in the school.

Eight UNITE HERE Local 33 members are fasting to protest the university's refusal to bargain with graduate teachers. The teachers also have marched, picketed and committed acts of civil disobedience. They've done all this because they want a seat at the table, something they have earned with their hard work:

We’ve done all this for a simple reason. We want a voice and a seat at the table. Our members, like many young workers in this economy, have to deal with intense economic insecurity. We face punishing competition in a declining career track. Women experience an epidemic of sexual harassment in academia. People of color are systemically marginalized. We want change, and we’ve been told to wait for too long.

Take action today, and send a message to Yale demanding it negotiate with its graduate teachers.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/15/2017 - 15:24

Celebrating AAPI Resistance in the Labor Movement
Celebrating AAPI Resistance in the Labor Movement

Tam Ngoc Tran
AFL-CIO

As we look back at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance’s first action at the founding convention to march for justice after the beating of Rodney King 25 years ago, we’re proud of our deep roots of solidarity and resistance. Today, with millions of people mobilizing in marches and protests across the nation, from the Women’s March to the People’s Climate March, we are living in a time where we cannot stand silent when Muslim, immigrant, refugee, women and LGBTQ communities are constantly under attack. As a refugee from Ethiopia and an immigrant from the Philippines?—?and both as parents?—?we take these attacks personal and are concerned about the type of world our own children are growing up in.

As unfortunate as it is to say, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is no stranger to oppression. We have seen firsthand how xenophobia allowed the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. We have felt the pain of families torn apart with the increased deportations and criminalization of Southeast Asian brothers and sisters. We have witnessed hate violence against Muslim or perceived-to-be Muslim friends and family members at the hands of white supremacists.

For us in the labor movement, we know what’s at stake. With national "right to work" impending, access to affordable health care on the line, threats to safety for workers living and working in their communities, we cannot let these hateful attacks define the norm for generations to come.

That’s why during this year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we center organizing, resistance and fighting back as a key to the fabric of our diverse AAPI history and heritage. Together with our allies in the labor movement, we’re declaring #NoMuslimBanEver during this National Week of Resistance and broader Month of Action.

As many of our Muslim comrades come from African and Asian countries, we stand up with black and brown immigrants who deserve to live and work with dignity, without fear of deportation, hate or criminalization. From Know Your Rights trainings and in-language materials to the recent release of the Racial and Economic Justice Toolkit from the Race Commission, we are committed to shifting the ugly narrative surrounding Muslim and immigrant communities within our own unions and communities.

As organizers and leaders in the labor movement, we value that the labor movement welcomes all working people, regardless of race, faith or other perceived identity. Today’s fight transcends any major political party. It is a test of what our country has grown to be, a test of morality, of humanity, of the common decency and respect for who we are as people. We strive to elevate the struggles that millions of our Muslim, immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters face, and to ensure our communities find safety instead of harassment, refuge instead of deportation, access to health care instead of illness.

Only by organizing at the intersections of who we are can we realize the shared struggles, the potential and drive forward. This is no time to remain silent, to stay neutral or to sit on the sidelines. This is the time to organize, resist and fight back and show our true colors and strength. This is the type of world we are proud to raise our children in?—?a world where we stand up for what’s right, not what’s easy.

Resistance is powerful, but collective resistance is unstoppable. Will you join us in resistance this APAHM and throughout the coming months as we lead up to our biennial convention, 25 Years of Resistance: Organize & Fight?

@Tefere_Gebre is the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. Johanna Hester is the national president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. To learn more about APALA and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, click here. This post originally appeared at Medium.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/15/2017 - 14:18

Fellow Workers
Fellow Workers

John Sayles—who will appear at the May 16 DC LaborFest screening of "Matewan"—is an American independent film director, screenwriter, editor, actor and novelist. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Passion Fish" and "Lone Star." The screening is Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre; tickets here. Sayles will receive the LaborFest’s Tony Mazzocchi Labor Arts Award and do a Q&A after the film.

"OK, fellow workers, we’re moving on!"

The late Haskell Wexler, who served as cinematographer on four feature films with me, would often call out that phrase when it was time to end one sequence or location and start on the next, and it occasionally got a laugh from the more seasoned grips and gaffers. There is an "above the line"/"below the line" divide that operates on Hollywood film sets, and cinematographers, with their unique expertise and generally higher salaries, can be considered close to royalty behind the camera. But in fact, to make a movie production function with any sort of efficiency, the participants do have to treat each other as "fellow workers," with even the biggest stars having to defer to or depend on somebody far down the pay scale from time to time.

Our movie "Matewan," set during a West Virginia coal miners’ strike in 1920, was inspired partly by Ronald Reagan’s first symbolic act upon becoming presidentbusting the air traffic controllers’ union. This was only one front in a decades-long war that has left the majority of America's workers unrepresented. Between the courts, Congress and the constant barrage of Charles and David Koch, and Walmart-financed anti-union propaganda, we are heading back to the every-man-for-himself labor battleground that "Matewan" depicts. One bad argument often used against union standards (or even a decent minimum wage) is their devastating effect on small and marginal businesses. Of course, the elimination of child labor and the 12-hour day was equally devastating, which is just tough beans. If safety, environmental or labor standards make it too expensive to harvest any sort of mineral wealth, then leave it in the ground ‘til its value goes up. What anything "costs," whether it is a war or a mining or manufacturing process, can’t be measured in dollars alone.

The mainstream movie business is a mix of both unions and guilds (I’m in four guilds—directors’, writers’, actors’ and editors’) with a few of the union specialties or locals actually harder to get into than the guilds. These organizations engage in collective bargaining for us and monitor residuals, should that happy situation occur. I’ve been through two prolonged strikes with the Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) (my last two novels were written during these) where little ground was gained but punishing rollbacks were averted. Making a movie or television show with union employees can be more expensive ("reality TV" being popular with networks because you hire neither SAG-AFTRA actors nor WGAE writers), but it is also safer, more efficient and often of a higher quality (especially in "production value") than the alternative. There has been a good deal of production flight from areas where these unions and guilds are strong to either foreign countries or "right to work" states, where some of the jobs can be low-balled. I’m one of the writers on a TV miniseries currently shooting in Budapest for 1890s New York Citya decision that will save the production company a certain amount of money and make the production designer’s life a nightmare.

The price of coal did go up after the Mine Workers (UMWA) union was able to organize most of the mines (with some heroic negotiation between then-union President John L. Lewis and former President Franklin Roosevelt). But I would be very surprised if the owners’ profit margin went down, and that profit margin is nowhere mentioned in the Bible or protected by the Bill of Rights. And though the Taft-Hartley Act forbids the WGAE, SAG-AFTRA or the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) from striking in sympathy with each other, the existence of those unions and guilds provides a service that has little to do with what union scale they can negotiatethe recognition in an otherwise extremely hierarchical business that we are, in fact, "fellow workers."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:18

Executive Paywatch: The Working People Weekly List
Executive Paywatch: 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.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Unveils Paywatch: "Workers ought to get a bigger share of the wealth that they produce. They haven't gotten a raise—our wages have been stagnant for nearly 50 years while CEO pay climbs every single year without exception."

Manufacturing Talks with Trump 'Not Very Satisfying,' AFL-CIO Leader Says: "The head of the country's largest organization of labor unions Saturday described recent talks with President Trump about manufacturing in the United States as 'not very satisfying.' 'He only talked about eliminating regulations,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the Tribune-Review during a stop in Southwestern Pennsylvania."

I Was Arrested for Protesting Against Sexual Harassment at Yale. I Won’t Stop: "In February, we voted to unionize in elections held in eight departments. Since then, Yale has ignored its obligation to bargain with us in a bid to buy time until President Trump can seat new appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to void our votes."

The Higher-Education Crisis Is a Labor Crisis: "A unionization drive at Vanderbilt University shows how austerity in higher education is hurting educators and students."

Haitian Workers Call for Renewal of Temporary Protected Status: "This May Day, members of UNITE HERE rallied around the country for justice for all races, all religions and all immigrants. In Florida, their actions brought special attention to the plight of Haitian workers and urged the Trump administration to prevent the expiration of Temporary Protected Status for more than 50,000 Haitian nationals living and working in the United States."

We Will Defend and Resist: Prepare for Workplace Raids and Audits: "During the 2016 election, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump made it clear that his administration would be more aggressive in pursuing immigration enforcement. This likely means more aggressive workplace actions, including raids that result in the immediate arrest of working people. Our new We Will Defend and Resist toolkit explains the processes and players involved in worksite enforcement and provides resources and guidance on how to prepare for and respond to a raid or audit."

A Winning Week for Corporations and Wall Street—Paid for by Your Health and Retirement: "Corporations and Wall Street won big last week, and working people will pay a high price for it. Here are three things Congress did for Big Business that will harm working people’s health care and retirement:"

Texas AFL-CIO: Immigrant Working People Will Suffer Under S.B. 4, but So Will State as a Whole: "On May 7, from the privacy of his office, and broadcast over Facebook Live, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed S.B. 4, the harshest bill in the nation that aims to punish so-called sanctuary cities."

More Fake Facts About CEO Pay from the American Enterprise Institute: "The right-wingers at the American Enterprise Institute just can’t seem to accept the fact that runaway CEO pay is increasing inequality. Their latest solution to the growing gap between CEO and worker pay: abolish the weekend! According to AEI, if everybody worked a 60-hour workweek, then the CEO-to-worker pay ratio would be only 132:1 instead of 347:1."

Would You Be as Brave as This Man?: "Moises Sanchez handles irrigation pipes at a melon farm in Honduras for an Irish multinational fruit company called Fyffes. He has been threatened for his union activism, and his brother was chopped on the face with a machete."

5 Things You Need to Know from the AFL-CIO's New Executive Paywatch Report: "Today, the AFL-CIO released the 2017 edition of its Executive Paywatch report. The Executive Paywatch website, the most comprehensive, searchable online database tracking CEO pay, showed that in 2016, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned some $37,600 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/12/2017 - 14:30

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