At Labor Group, a Sense of a Broader Movement

September 16, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Workers' Rights

The A.F.L.-C.I.O. invited scores of nonunion groups to its four-day convention last week in Los Angeles to brainstorm. | Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

From NYT:

For the delegates at the convention, which ended on Thursday, there was a burning realization that the status quo was not working for the nation’s labor unions. Wages for union and nonunion workers alike have flatlined in recent years, while the percentage of private sector workers in unions has slipped to just 6.6 percent. That is less than one-fifth the level during organized labor’s prime, when union leaders were confidants of presidents and the mighty Teamsters threatened strikes that could cripple much of the nation’s commerce.

Desperate to figure out how to stop labor’s descent, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of 57 labor unions, invited scores of nonunion groups, including the National Organization for Women, United Students Against Sweatshops and Arts and Democracy, to the four-day convention to brainstorm. They debated how to shore up the sagging labor movement, how to raise wages and how to persuade Congress to pass legislation that would help 11 million undocumented immigrants gain citizenship.

“Everyone has come to the realization that we need more partners, that we got to rebuild the movement, that we have faced all these vicious attacks,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is still reeling from when Wisconsin curbed collective bargaining for most public employees in 2011. “Maybe it takes a bat to your head, but people get it now. People are engaged.”

Dozens of outside groups attended the convention, in part to lend the struggling labor movement a hand, in part to plug into the considerable power and reach that organized labor still has. There were leaders of more than a dozen immigrant worker centers, including ones from Louisiana, New York, Washington State and Texas. Numerous professors attended to share their insights, and union leaders from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nigeria also visited.

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, voiced support for labor’s efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate itself.

“We have to stop telling women that they have to lean in as individuals,” she said. “We have to tell them there is a whole system here that you have to lean together with your brothers and sisters, we have a whole movement here to put the United States on the right track.”

80 Percent of Americans Support Raising the Minimum Wage

August 03, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From HuffPo:

The vast majority of Americans support increasing the national minimum wage, according to a recent poll commissioned by the National Employment Law Project Action Fund, a non-profit group that supports increasing the minimum wage.

The poll, which was conducted by the public opinion research firm Hart Research Associates, found 80 percent of the respondents agree that the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 an hour and increased periodically to account for rising costs.

Support for the measure among registered Democrats was especially high, with 92 percent in favor of the proposal. Among Republicans, 62 percent supported the wage increase. About three quarters of the respondents said that raising the minimum wage should be a top Congressional priority.

A recent study from Restaurant Opportunities Centers United found that raising the minimum wage would have significant economic benefits. The report estimates that 58 percent Americans living below the poverty line would no longer struggle with hunger if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 an hour.

The NELP poll was released as the minimum wage debate plays out on the national stage and in cities around the country. President Obama has called on Congress to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour, a proposal Republican lawmakers oppose.

Minnesota To Grant Care Workers The Right To Join A Union

May 22, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From ThinkProgress:

On Monday, a bill squeaked through the Minnesota House of Representatives that would allow in-home child care and personal care workers in the state to unionize. By a margin of two votes, the state House of Representatives sent the bill to Gov. Mark Dayton (D), who is expected to sign it.

SEIU and AFSCME, the state’s largest unions, now have four years to organize those workers:

The 12,500 child care workers in Minnesota who look after children in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program, known as C-CAP for short, must vote on whether or not to join the union by 2017. At least 50 percent of the state’s providers will need to join in order of the union to be established.

Those who do not provide care to C-CAP families will not need to vote and will not be affected.

If care workers vote to unionize, the union will be able to negotiate the size of reimbursements from clients who use subsidies and members will be able to file grievances. The bill doesn’t give them the right to strike.

Walmart Paved the Way for Poverty Wages

November 27, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

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From The Nation:

On Black Friday, hundreds of Walmart workers protested the superstore’s unfair labor practices and “Always Low Wages” policy. While Walmart’s bottom-line business model has made the Walton family billions, their employees in California were 40 percent more likely to need public assistance. Walmart is not only slashing prices on flat-screen TVs—they’re suppressing wages and costing tax payers millions of dollars. Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry checks the numbers to see why the Walton’s “Live Better” math—which claims their low-price model benefits all families—doesn’t quite add up.

WATCH: Workers’ Rights and the American Dream

November 18, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Workers' Rights

AMERICAN DREAM is a feature documentary film, which tells the story of meatpackers’ years-long strike in Austin, Minnesota. Barbara Kopple and her crew spent four years filming the drama within the Austin community and the ensuing debates among labor organizations across the country. Brothers and neighbors must eventually make the painful and emotional decision whether the strike or their families take precedent as members of Austin’s P-9 Union consider crossing the picket line. The film is a human look at the brutal consequences of corporate greed and Reaganomics. It is an intimate portrait of working families in America whose efforts to make a living are challenged time and again, and it is a tribute to the noble spirit of labor unions all over the nation.