Category: From AFL-CIO

Trade Unions Demand Governments Address Gender-based Violence in the World of Work

Last week marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and trade unions around the world are demanding governments ratify and implement International Labor Organization Convention 190 (C190), on ending violence and harassment in the world of work.

Read the statement from the International Trade Union Confederation in EnglishSpanish or French.

C190 was adopted last June at the International Labor Organization. The AFL-CIO and trade unions around the world campaigned for more than a decade to win this important new global standard, and now are leading the fight to see its framework adopted by governments and employers.

Gender-based violence and harassment is a particular threat to women, LGBTQ workers and other marginalized groups. Homicide is one of the leading causes of death on the job among women in the United States, accounting for almost a quarter of workplace deaths among women, while it accounts for only 8% of workplace deaths among men. It is also a particular threat to workers in low-wage, precarious working arrangements, as poverty and marginalization can prevent workers from escaping or challenging dangerous conditions.

The C190 framework emphasizes that everyone has the fundamental right to be free from violence and harassment at work, and requires governments adopt an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to end it. C190 requires governments and employers address the root causes of gender-based violence at work, including discrimination and unequal power relationships. Violence is a tool that both reflects and reinforces a gendered power hierarchy at work and in society, and ending violence requires allowing women workers to take collective action to confront this hierarchy directly.

C190 also calls for investigating sectors and occupations that are more likely to experience violence and harassment. In the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to adopt specific violence protections for nurses, medical assistants, emergency responders and social workers. These workers are predominantly women, and they face extremely high rates of violence on the job. The law would require employers to develop an enforceable, comprehensive violence protection program in U.S. workplaces.

Learn more about the global C190 ratification campaign. Learn more about the law on workplace violence.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO

California Protects Precariat Workers

From the AFL-CIO

In a historic win for California’s workers, the California Legislature approved a bill Sept. 13 that makes the misclassification of employees as independent contractors more difficult.

Sponsored by the California Labor Federation, Assembly Bill 5 codifies and expands on a 2018 California Supreme Court decision.

The bill also will help curb the rampant exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers and give California’s working people the basic rights and protections we all deserve. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law.

 “The time is up for unscrupulous employers who claim their workers are ‘independent’ in order to cut corners on costs,”  California Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez said about A.B. 5

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Oregon AFL-CIO Cements Deal to Make Portland Baseball Stadium Union-Friendly

From the AFL-CIO

The Oregon AFL-CIO and allies negotiated a historical deal with the Portland Diamond Project that will mean a stadium being built in order to attract Major League Baseball to the city will be union-friendly. In signing the labor harmony agreement, the Portland Diamond Project has voluntarily agreed to allow workers at the stadium to organize and form unions.

 

This is the first labor harmony agreement (also known as a labor peace agreement) for a sports arena in Oregon. The agreement sets rules for union organizing between the employer and the unions that could represent working people at the venue in the future. The agreement covers workers in concessions, sales, property service, security, hospitality, stage and theatrical presentations, entertainment and audiovisual services. Future discussions will address ballpark construction jobs.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain (IAFF) was excited by the agreement:

By signing this agreement, the Portland Diamond Project has shown us they value and respect the rights of working people and care for the prosperity of the community. Oregon’s unions are proud to be a part of the efforts to bring baseball to the Rose City and to be a part of the only unionized sports arena in the state of Oregon. By giving workers the unfettered opportunity for union representation, we are securing a bright economic future for the women and men who will make baseball happen in Portland. When working people stand together in unions, we get a fair return on our hard work.

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Never Underestimate the Collective Power of Working People

Liz Shuler

Liz Shuler Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

Working people accepted the challenge of Janus v. AFSCME and used this test to reignite our solidarity and prove that we are stronger than any corporation, politician or high court. It takes more than a court case to tear down a century and a half of grit and gumption. 

Together, union members from communities across the country reclaimed our power and redefined this past year with a historic movement of collective action.

Teachers captured the country's attention, walking off the job for the fair treatment they deserve in states where collective bargaining is illegal. Workers at Marriott hotels in eight major cities across the country won groundbreaking protections against harassment and assault and a voice in how technology impacts their work. Grocery store employees throughout New England won better wages and respect after a massive strike that garnered support from workers and communities across America. Now, airline catering workers voted to authorize a strike and demand that “One Job Should Be Enough.”

But, it’s not just union members calling for a fair return on work.

This week, Wayfair employees embraced the power of collective action when they walked out of their workplace to protest the immoral abuse of migrants in detention centers at the border. 

Google workers worldwide staged massive protests last fall, demanding an end to workplace harassment. 

And, video game developers are joining together to fight for a voice at work.  

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The Soul of a Union Man

Leo W. Gerard

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

I was raised in a company house in a company town where the miners had to buy their own oilers – that is, rubber coveralls – drill bits and other tools at the company store.

That company, Inco Limited, the world’s leading producer of nickel for most of the 20th century, controlled the town of Sudbury, Ontario, but never succeeded in owning the souls of the men and women who lived and worked there.

That’s because these were union men and women, self-possessed, a little rowdy and well aware that puny pleas from individual workers fall on deaf corporate ears.

As I prepare to retire in a couple of days, 54 years after starting work as a copper puncher at the Inco smelter, the relationship between massive, multi-national corporations and workers is different.

Unions represent a much smaller percentage of workers now, so few that some don’t even know what a labor organization is – or what organized labor can accomplish. That is the result of deliberate, decades-long attacks on unions by corporations and the rich. They intend to own not only workers’ time and production but their very souls.

I’d like to tell you the story of Inco because it illustrates the arc of labor union ascendance and attenuation over the past 72 years since I was born in Sudbury. 

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Union Member Brings Unemployment Benefit Increase Bill to Governor’s Desk

Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill Sunday that raises the region’s lowest unemployment benefit. Under the bill, the maximum weekly payment will rise from $330 to $400—a long-overdue increase since the last update in 2002.   

The bill was marshaled through the General Assembly by Rep. Ed Osienski, a member of Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669. 

“The unemployment benefit provides a vital lifeline to residents who find themselves out of work due to no fault of their own. The bills don’t stop coming in, even if the pay does,” Osienski said after the bill was signed. “It’s troubling that we have not increased this weekly benefit since 2002, which has made it more difficult for Delawareans to make ends meet during these times when they’re most in need of this assistance.”  

The Delaware AFL-CIO worked with Osienski and other allies on the bill, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. The increase was the first in 17 years and comes long after the recession of 2008 and 2009. The high jobless rate at that time left no room for an increase.

This victory comes on the heels of several other legislative wins that the Delaware AFL-CIO has achieved by working with union members elected to state office. Earlier achievements this year include expanding collective bargaining rights and worker training programs.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO

Working People Win in Delaware

From the AFL-CIO

Delaware recently became the latest state to allow more public employees to collectively bargain for fair wages and working conditions and improve access to apprenticeship programs, thanks to the advocacy of union members in public office.

The first law, which Delaware Gov. John Carney signed on May 30, solidifies collective bargaining rights for 2,000 additional state employees.

“This is a proud moment for our unions that represent state workers,” said James Maravelias (LIUNA), president of the Delaware State AFL-CIO. “This shows our constant commitment to their livelihood and our ever-present representation.”

Carney signed a second bill into law on Friday during the 2019 Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council’s graduation banquet for apprentices at the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 74 Executive Hall in Newark.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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