Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Labor Then, and Labor Now
A half-century ago, when workers were calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin said “so that men may live in dignity." President Obama has recognized the growing wage gap. His proposal to increase minimum wage to a measly $9 an hour by 2016 and assertions that economic growth will solve the low-wage problem have left workers with uncertainty.
Labor, Then and Now - New York Times
The new labor movement is getting stronger, evidenced by the fast-food worker protests and other low wage worker activities. A new National Employment Law Project (NELP) report suggests using “federal contracts, concessions and subsidies as leverage toward a higher-wage economy. The labor movement has largely been to utilize and change laws for better wages and working conditions. "This Labor Day could be remembered as the moment when that idea rose again."
A comeback for labor - Washington Post
"We strongly support the courageous fast food workers who held strikes last week in cities across the United States to demand wages that can support their families," Bob King, President of the United Automobile Workers said."Wages are stagnant even though worker productivity has risen by 23 percent since 2000."
All low-wage workers need a big pay raise (EDITORIAL) - Detroit News
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Dr. King's Unfulfilled Dream
Today, on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we reflect on the fact that leaders like Dr. King, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin considered good jobss and the right to join a union as essential elements to realizing racial justice. After all, "It was commonly asked at the time, 'what good would it do to integrate the lunch counter, if we don't have the money to buy a hamburger?'" Labor rights SHOULD be a civil right.
Why Labor Rights Should Be a Civil Right - USA Today
"The state of economic opportunity today is a far cry from Dr. King's vision. Increasingly, American workers are struggling to make ends meet. Each day they are forced to make impossible choices between feeding their families and keeping the lights on, paying for gas or buying a coat." We can start making Dr. King's dream a reality by making sure the nearly two million federally-contracted workers in the U.S. receive a living wage!
Will President Obama address economic inequality in his speech today? There isn't a more pressing matter for the long-term well being of our country and our people. It's time to act Mr. President.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Joint Statement by Richard L. Trumka (AFL-CIO) and Joe Hansen (ChangetoWin) on the Walmart and GAP Bangladesh Safety Alliance: Weak and Worthless
July 10, 2013
The so-called Global Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, announced today by Walmart, Gap and the Bipartisan Policy Center, was developed without consultation with workers or their representatives and is yet another “voluntary” scheme with no meaningful enforcement mechanisms. Companies that sign onto the alliance but fail to meet a commitment face no adverse consequences beyond expulsion from the scheme. Instead, workers will continue to pay.
In stark contrast, more than 75 corporations from 15 countries, including the United States, have signed the binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety negotiated with Bangladeshi and international unions. The Accord has rules to make real improvements in the safety of garment workers. Workers, unions and worker rights organizations negotiated this agreement with employers and integrated worker safety efforts by governments and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The AFL-CIO and Change to Win, along with global unions IndustriAll and UNI and numerous organizations representing Bangladeshi workers, also endorse it. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win reject the Walmart/GAP plan as a way to avoid accountability, limit costs and silence workers and their representatives.
Rather than sign the binding Accord, Walmart and Gap are pushing a weak and worthless plan that avoids enforceable commitments. The Bipartisan Policy Center, which has clear financial and political connections to Walmart, is releasing the document, which is the product of a closed process and has been signed only by the same corporations that produced it.
The Accord departs from the broken system of voluntary corporate responsibility in supply chains that has so often failed to protect workers. It makes a clear commitment to worker safety and rights, and to transparency. It expresses values that most countries uphold.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
How to Start Rebuilding the Working Class, Right Now!
With so many obstacles to rebuilding the middle class, where should Washington start? One easy answer: "President Obama could bring some relief and set a good example. He has the power with his presidential pen to require a minimum-wage increase for employees of businesses, including fast-food vendors, that have contracts with the federal government. It wouldn't relieve all low-wage workers, but it would be a powerful place to start."
Fast-food workers echo 'Occupy' spirit - Chicago Tribune
Another obstacle to rebuilding the middle class: Big corporations are turning a blind eye to labor violations at their franchises. "Big corporations like McDonald's and 7-Eleven exert a lot of control over their franchise owners when it comes to things like branding and the products they sell. When it comes to labor standards, though, it's almost like corporate management doesn't care at all, as two recent cases remind us." If we want a strong middle class, one of the most critical steps is ensuring workers have the right to form a union if they so desire.
We need to change the narrative and attitude in Washington that the working class is just lazy, and that the only people who matter are wealthy corporate donors. The working class is more productive than ever, but the gains from this productivity are going to the wealthiest among us. It's time Washington gets the message that when working-class Americans do better, everyone does better. We need to raise our voices so that Washington finally gets the message.
Monday, June 17, 2013
The Myth of Upward Mobility
While the Right pitches the myth that the poor and working-class who are struggling to get ahead are just lazy, the truth is that hard work is being rewarded with low wages. Low-wage work has replaced good paying jobs, increasing income inequality. According to the New York Times, the number of workers earning minimum wage jumped from 1.7 million workers in 2007 to 3.6 million in 2012.
Faces of the Minimum Wage - The New York Times
Many Americans accept our growing income inequality because they believe there is a strong chance they will someday be a part of the 1%. Unfortunately, upward mobility is increasingly unlikely. People in nations such as Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and New Zealand are far more likely to enjoy upward mobility than Americans.
Great Gatsby economics are no party for the middle class - Washington Post
It's no coincidence that there is a direct correlation between the decline in union membership and the decline in good jobs. If we want the good jobs with benefits that make the middle class strong, we need unions. Plain and simple.
Do private-sector unions still have a future in the U.S.? - Washington Post