Posts Tagged ‘AFL-CIO’
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
My Fair Share is a cross-post from Working America’s Dear David workplace advice column. David knows you deserve to be treated fairly on the job and he’s available to answer your questions, whether it is co-workers making off-handed comments that you should retire or you feel like your job’s long hours are causing stress.
What can you do about not being paid a fair wage for the work you do? I make a lot of money for the company I work for feeding a robot up to 4,000 packages per hour. How do I get some of the money I make for the company through high production paid to me?
“We make it, they take it.” If the last 40 years have anything to teach us, it’s that if we leave it up to them, too many bosses don’t feel like they need to share fairly—if they even share at all. Check this out. It used to be that as worker productivity increased, so did a worker’s wages. But sometime in the 1970s that stopped being the case. Today, even as most workers are struggling in a stagnant economy, big banks and corporations are posting record profits. If you’re feeling squeezed, it’s not your fault.
As long as you’re being paid at least the minimum wage, there’s no legal requirement that a wage be “fair.” So who should get to decide what’s “fair”? You already know what can happen when the boss gets to be the decider—so the key is not to leave it only to your boss! And to act collectively.
It starts by you getting together with at least one other person at your workplace who feels the same way you do. Do this first—there are certain legal protections that kick in for you once this has happened. Meet up someplace outside of work, and compare notes. Who else can you talk to who would stand with you? Make a list, get folks together again and ask others what improvements they’d like to see at their workplace. This has been said before, but these are all important first steps. Together you may decide that you are ready to take something up with your boss right away. Or you could decide that you will be more successful negotiating if you first form a union. This process might take some time, and it’s worth it to move cautiously. Whatever you decide—you are stronger acting as a group than if you act alone.
This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO NOW on December 30, 2012. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: David at Working America focuses on answering submitted questions about workplace fairness and workplace rights around the country. Working America is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and is the fastest-growing organization for working people in the country. At 3 million strong and growing, Working America uses their strength in numbers to educate each other, mobilize and win real victories to improve working people’s lives.
Thursday, December 6th, 2012
Some 450 office clerical workers—members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63—are back on the job this morning in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., after the ILWU and port employers reached a tentative agreement Tuesday night that will prevent the outsourcing of jobs.
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said the unity and solidarity of the workers, members, their families and thousands of community supporters played a major role in the workers’ win. When the workers struck Nov. 27, ILWU dockworkers and other port workers refused to cross the picket lines.
“This victory was accomplished because of support from the entire ILWU family of 10,000 members in the harbor community.”
The key elements in the tentative agreement are new protections that will help prevent jobs from being outsourced to Texas, Taiwan and beyond. Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said:
“Really, it was getting control on the outsourcing…ensuring that the jobs are here today, tomorrow and for the future.”
The port workers had been without contract for more than two years and employers were threatening to outsource jobs from the nation’s busiest port complex—some 40 percent of all containerized cargo is handled in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
Details of the agreement that still must be ratified have not been released, but news reports say it is a six-year deal that is retroactive to June 30, 2010.
The workers don’t have ordinary clerk and secretarial jobs. The Los Angeles Times describes them as “logistics experts who process a massive flow of information on the content of ships’ cargo containers and their destinations….They are responsible for booking cargo, filing customs documentation and monitoring and tracking cargo movements.”
This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO NOW on November 6, 2012. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Mike Hall is a a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was “still blue,” he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse.
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
The United Mine Workers of America is sitting out this presidential race as Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama battle over parts of coal country. But former UMWA president and current AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke to the press Monday not just as an advocate for all workers but from the perspective of a third-generation coal miner.
While Romney has centered his coal country campaign on inaccurate claims that overregulation by the Obama administration has weakened the coal industry (Romney’s beloved free market is the real culprit), Trumka pointed to how workplace safety is enforced in this dangerous industry:
[President Obama] has appointed people who are enforcing safety laws, these are the real regulations coal operators don’t want enforced….MSHA [Mine Safety and Health Administration] is enforcing the laws and now coal operators are not able to get away with violations like they did before, especially high violators.
Among the regulations and oversight that Romney would weaken or abolish are those that save miners’ lives. So it’s important that Romney’s “Obama’s war on coal” rhetoric not be allowed to cloud the picture, obscuring that coal’s recent struggles aren’t due to regulation, and that when he talks about regulations, he’s talking about people’s lives. Beyond that, Trumka drove home the distance between the coal miners Romney pretends to care about and Romney’s own life:
Mitt Romney says coal country is his country. Well, he’s wrong—it’s ours….Mitt Romney doesn’t know about getting his hands dirty, and he sure doesn’t know anything about coal mining.
This article was originally published by The Daily Kos on Monday, October 29, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006, and a Daily Kos Labor editor since 2011.
Thursday, January 5th, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, President Obama made three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, as well as Republican Terry Flynn. Without the apppointments, the federal agency, which mediate labor disputes and oversees union elections, wouldn’t have had a quorum to issue valid rulings. (He also made a much more high-profile appointment of Richard Corday to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in order to make that regulator functional as well.)
The recess appointments come after the NLRB was rendered inoperable due to the expiration of Craig Becker’s term on January 3. That lowered the number of people sitting on the board to two, below the quorum threshold. As I reported, Obama nominated Block and Griffin for the positions last month. (The Senate didn’t confirm the nominees, which were made only a few days before Congress recessed for the holidays.) With the recess appointments, the board will be able to make key decisions that affect American workers.
President Obama’s rapid fix to the NLRB”s problem stands in stark contrast to the beginning of his term in January 2009, when the board was also inoperable. Obama waited 14 months to make recess appointments to fill those slots.
The speed in making the appointments may be a move by the White House to gain the support of the AFL-CIO, which has yet to endorse Obama, unlike other major unions like AFSCME, NEA, UFCW and SEIU. It’s unclear as well if the AFL-CIO’s delay in endorsing Obama, or AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s recent call for greater political independence for organized labor played any role in pressuring the White House to quickly make the recess appointments to both the CFPB and NLRB.
Trumka was quick to praise the appointments:
We commend the President for exercising his constitutional authority to ensure that crucially important agencies protecting workers and consumers are not shut down by Republican obstructionism. Working families and consumers should not pay the price for political ploys that have repeatedly undercut the enforcement of rules against Wall Street abuses and the rights of working people.
The move may give the AFL-CIO necessary cover to endorse President Obama, and offer active support on the ground during the election season.
But the labor federation, and other unions that have yet to endorse Obama, may be looking to see if the president can pass several other tests this year that have to do with workers and their rights.
State legislators in Indiana are planning to bring right-to-work legislation to a vote in the Indiana legislature possibly as early as this week. It’s unclear if President Obama is going to make any public statement about the legislation, which organized labor strongly opposes, in this key battleground state.
Congressional Republicans are also floating the idea of paying for a payroll tax cut holiday by continuing a freeze on the pay of federal employees.
“Federal employees are working with severely limited resources,” National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley wrote in a letter to Congress today. “They have faced government shutdowns four times this year, yet they have worked diligently to deliver services to the public. To ask them to bear such a disproportionate additional burden is unfair and unacceptable.”
Late last month, when House Republicans floated the idea of a federal pay freeze as part of a temporary deal to extend the payroll tax cuts, Democratic Senators strongly objected. However, the White House did not object publicly to the freeze being in the deal.
Republicans may push the federal pay freeze again as part of a long-term payroll tax cut deal when the temporary deal expires at the end of February. Given Obama’s willingness to implement a two-year pay freeze on public employees in 2010 and his lack of objection to including a continuation, it’s unclear if Obama will oppose Republican efforts.
While today’s recess appointments will allow the nation’s top labor law body to operate, there are more big labor fights on the near horizon—and organized labor choose to demand more support from the President before gearing up for the campaign season.
This blog originally appeared in Working in These Times on January 4, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Mike Elk is an In These Times Staff Writer and a regular contributor to the labor blog Working In These Times. He can be reached email@example.com.
Friday, October 14th, 2011
Mike Matthews, president of the Kanawha Valley (W.Va.) Labor Council, knows why more and more people are taking to the streets and speaking out against Big Banks, Wall Street and congressional Republicans who are standing in the way of job creation.
Everybody’s frustrated, especially when you don’t have work.
Wednesday in Charleston, union and community activists marched and rallied as part of the AFL-CIO’s America Wants to Work National Week of Action to promote a real jobs agenda. See more from WSAZ-TV.
In Fort Collins, Colo., several dozen gathered to highlight one of the most effective and quick ways put Americans back to work—rebuilding the infrastructure, including the states’ 128 bridges that are rated in poor condition. Says Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Mike Cerbo:
America is still suffering from the worst job crisis since the Great Depression, yet our infrastructure is still crumbling—we can put people back to work tomorrow.
In Eau Claire, Wis., union members and student and community activists held a wake for the death of good jobs. They also expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement that is growing across the nation. Mark Slepica told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:
I just want to show solidarity for the movement that’s beginning all across the U.S. It’s not just a Wall Street thing. It’s not just a big cities thing. I hope that people see that their neighbors are part of this.
This afternoon in Boston, union members from the Greater Boston Labor Council are joining in solidarity with the Occupy Boston protesters in Dewey Square to demand that Congress act to create jobs and financial institutions invest some of the trillions they are sitting on into job creation.
In Baltimore tonight, hundreds of working families are expected to attend a townhall forum on joblessness and its devastating impact on the local economy and on communities of color. The town hall is sponsored by the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions in coalition with the NAACP, BUILD and Ministerial Alliance.
The National Week of Action runs through Oct. 16. Click here to find an America Wants to Work action near you. You also can sign an America Wants to Work petition to Congress here. Follow the action on Twitter with the hashtag #want2work. Find an Occupy Wall Street event near you here. You can share Occupy Wall Street events on Facebook here.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on October 13, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL-CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. He carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He’s also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold blood plasma, and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen him at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. He was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still has the shirts, lost the hair.
Friday, October 7th, 2011
Finally, anger at the abuses of the rich against the other 99 percent of Americans is bubbling up, giving energy to the Occupy Wall Street protests and their progeny around the country and fueling other actions. And just as unions are throwing their support behind those demonstrations, they hope the populist upsurge on the left will energize their own planned public demonstrations demanding jobs, many of them starting next week.
Minnesotan Kim Watkins, 40, single mother of a 16-year old daughter, is one of those who wants to see action on jobs. A member of the AFL-CIO community affiliate, Working America, she has worked since she was 15. Now she is employed only part-time at a local Walgreen’s, going to school to help her job-hunting prospects, and “really struggling.“
“I feel very much under attack,” she says. “I see people being fired, wages being reduced, instead of doing things that are really common sense, like creating jobs by building infrastructure. While the top 1 percent are getting all the gains, the 99 percent of us are really suffering, and there aren’t any jobs being created.” Next week she plans to join a tongue-in-cheek “fundraiser for the struggling rich” featuring nickel hot dogs.
Joblessness continues to be “devastating” to over 16 percent of the workforce and many communities and is “absolutely brutal” to people of color, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Wednesday as he announced the kick-off next Monday of hundreds of events for the federation’s America Wants to Work campaign.
But on Wall Street, he said, “the bonuses keep flowing,” CEO pay was up 23 percent last year, and business as usual prevails—except that corporations and banks are sitting on more than $3 trillion in cash they won’t invest to put Americans back to work and rejuvenate the ailing economy.
The labor actions will push Congress to pass job-creating legislation—especially Obama’s American Jobs Act–and other economic reforms, many of which aim to better regulate the financial sector and make it pay for the damage it inflicted on the real economy and for creation of new jobs.
Trumka also endorsed the Occupy Wall Street protests, as the federation’s executive council did on a Wednesday conference call. Many local unions in New York had already joined the protests or offered support, but more national unions have issued statements of enthusiastic support, including the Service Employees (which has long had a campaign focused on the financial sector), the Teamsters, the Bakery Workers and others.
“We will support them in every way we can,” Trumka says, noting that unions had mobilized 15,000 marchers on Wall Street a year and a half ago. “We believe as they do that the economy is shutting out 99 percent of the people. It works for the top 1 percent marvelously…But the rest of us with stagnant wages, lost jobs, home foreclosures, kids that can’t go to school, lost health care, pensions taken away and retirement security destroyed, we think there’s a different and better way….We aren’t going to try to usurp them in any way but support them. And we certainly hope they support us on our America Wants to Work campaign.”
Organized labor has three demands that are shared by most Wall Street occupiers, Trumka says. First, corporations and banks should invest their cash in America, creating good jobs. Second, banks and other holders of the 14 million foreclosed or “under water” mortgages and then ten million more expected to go sour should be forced to write down the mortgages to reflect the real, post-bubble value. Finally, the government should impose a “speculation tax,” or financial transactions tax, of one-tenth of one percent. Researchers in Europe figure a similar tax would generate $78 billion a year, and with its larger financial markets, the U.S. could gain as much or more.
A similar campaign by a labor-community coalition, Stand Up, Chicago, will direct actions towards two major financial sector conventions being held next week in Chicago—one of mortgage bankers, the other futures traders—and towards local institutions. Spearheaded by the Service Employees Union and involving only the Teachers union from the AFL-CIO, the actions nevertheless parallel the AFL-CIO protests.
A study prepared by the Chicago Political Economy Group and released prior to the protests by Stand Up, Chicago, concluded that a twenty-five cent speculation fee paid by both buyer and seller of futures contracts would generate $1.4 billion that could fund creation of 40,000 new jobs. The report proposes a variety of public service jobs, including a community schools corps (rehiring laid-off teachers and other workers, refurbishing and increasing energy efficiency of schools, and making other upgrades) and other worker corps focused on community health, child care, jobs for youth, and neighborhood improvement.
“There’s anger and outrage,” Trumka says, although so far the anger from the right has been better organized along Tea Party lines. “We want to put that outrage to work to create jobs and restore balance to our economy.”
This post originally appeared in Working in These Times on October 6, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: David Moberg, a senior editor of In These Times, has been on the staff of the magazine since it began publishing in 1976. Before joining In These Times, he completed his work for a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Chicago and worked for Newsweek. He has received fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Nation Institute for research on the new global economy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, August 26th, 2011
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a new and simple rule today. It says employers must display an 11 by 17 inch poster informing workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, where they usually post notices to let workers know their rights.
Saying he applauded the new rule, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:
Just as employers are required to notify their employees of their rights around health and safety, wages and discrimination on the job, this rule gives clear information to employees about their rights under this fundamental labor law so that workers are better equipped to exercise and enforce them.
Yet from the reaction of the Big Business, the notice is just a step away from the NLRB giving workers the right to drag employers into the street and beat them severely about the head and shoulders.
Keep in mind, this is a just a poster.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) calls it an “unprecedented overreach of its authority… a punitive new rule…a new low…a trap for millions of businesses.”
It’s just a poster.
Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB chairman appointed by former President George W. Bush, told Bloomberg News, “It’s arbitrary, it’s capricious.”
It’s just a poster.
On the right-wing website GOPUSA the new rule is “another disgusting government intrusion into private business.”
It’s just a poster. Just a poster similar to the ones the Department of Labor requires the thousands and thousands of federal contractors to post.
The NLRB says employers will not be required to distribute the notice via e-mail, voice mail, text messaging or related electronic communications “even if they customarily communicate with their employees in that manner and they may post notices in black and white as well as in color.”
All it needs to say is that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer. It also must say, “employees may refrain from any of these activities.” Pretty even handed, huh?
BTW, it won’t cost employers a penny because the NLRB will provide copies for free or employers can download it.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on August 25, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Mike Hall- I’m a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.
Monday, August 22nd, 2011
Image: From AFL-CIO
The 45,000 striking Verizon workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), will return to work Tuesday under the existing contract as bargaining resumes.
The CWA and IBEW announced:
We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.
We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.
Verizon, which amassed more than $20 billion in profits in recent years and paid its top five executives more than $258 million in the past four years, forced workers in Northeast states into a strike by demanding $1 billion in concessions. Seen as an attack on middle-class jobs and workers, the move prompted massive shows of support by working families across the country.
This post originally appeared in AFI-CIO Blog on August 20, 2011
About the Author: Donna Jablonski is the AFL-CIO’s deputy director of public affairs for publications, Web and broadcast. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO in 1997, she served as publications director at the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund for 12 years. She began her career as a newspaper reporter in Southwest Florida, and since have written, edited and managed production of advocacy materials— including newsletters, books, brochures, booklets, fliers, calendars, websites, posters and direct response mail and e-mail—to support economic and social justice campaigns. In June 2001, she received a B.A. in Labor Studies from the National Labor College. Most important: she’s the very proud mom of a spectacular daughter.
Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Members of the UAW and Puerto Rico’s Servidores Públicos Unidos (SPU)/AFSCME Council 95 and other public employees celebrated May 17 when Gov. Luis Fortuño signed into law a bill reinstating collective bargaining for public employees.
Unlike legislatures in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, which are trying to take away workers’ rights, Puerto Rico’s House and the Senate passed this bill unanimously.
Gov. Luis Fortuño signs a bill restoring collective bargaining rights to Puerto Rico’s public service employees.
Says SPU President Annette González:
This law is very important for workers since in essence it includes two clauses that allow us to attain two fundamental goals: Restore the acquired rights through the restitution of collective bargaining contracts [and] negotiate the economic aspects that will do justice to workers and their families.
The law ends a policy imposed in March 2009 when the administration enacted a fiscal emergency law that mandated a two-year freeze on the economic clauses of all collective bargaining agreements. The new law extends the non-economic clauses of the contracts until 2013 and allows workers to negotiate for salaries, benefits, bonuses and other economic aspects.
This article originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on May 18, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: James Parks’ first encounter with unions was at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when his colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. He saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. He is a journalist by trade, and worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. He also has been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. His proudest career moment, though, was when he served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.
Friday, May 13th, 2011
Nationwide, millions of domestic workers—largely immigrant women—labor long hours cleaning, cooking, taking care of other people’s children and otherwise performing necessary tasks for wealthier people whose own jobs or lifestyles don’t leave them time or energy for this work.
The work is frequently off-the-books and rarely covered by binding labor agreements or even individual contracts. They are not included under the National Labor Relations Act. There are ample horror stories of domestic workers being abused or even held captive by their employers.
On Tuesday, May 10, the AFL-CIO formally recognized domestic workers as members of organized labor, as an agreement was made between the AFL-CIO and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which includes 33 groups representing about 2.5 million domestic workers in 11 states and 17 major cities.
The NDWA has long been pushing for the strengthening of labor rights nationally for domestic workers and domestic workers bills of rights in individual states, including California. They claimed an historic victory last summer when New York passed a law granting domestic workers formal labor rights. The alliance is also calling for a convention on domestic workers’ rights under the International Labor Organization, which is part of the United Nations.
The agreement between the AFL-CIO and the NDWA says:
Through explicit and implicit exclusion of domestic workers from most labor and employment laws, domestic workers’ contributions to our nation’s and individual families’ household economies have gone hidden, devalued, and little understood.
This history of exclusion can be traced to the specifics of the industry and race politics. Primarily working in isolation in private homes, domestic workers who were predominantly African-American women were subjected to discrimination, unsafe working conditions, stolen wages, intimidation, and a long list of other abuses.
Although the demographics of domestic workers have changed to a mostly immigrant women workforce, the working conditions in the industry have changed very little.
Some of the rights sought by the NDWA are things so seemingly basic that they are not even an issue for almost every other profession—for example, the right to five hours of uninterrupted sleep per night and the right to cook their own food. The Alliance’s website says:
Domestic workers often labor around the clock, placing themselves and the people they care for at risk of sickness and unintentional mistakes caused by exhaustion.
The alliance also seeks—and in New York has obtained—the same things that workers are either guaranteed or seeking in other fields: paid sick days and paid vacation days, overtime, workers compensation.
The partnership could help further these goals on multiple levels, emphasizing that domestic workers are indeed “workers” entitled to the same rights as people in other jobs; and the aforementioned rights are things that all people should have access to. (People in other professions—including restaurant work, farm work and construction—are, of course, also typically denied paid sick days, vacation days and overtime.)
The partnership’s goals, as spelled out in the agreement, are:
—Local City and county level campaigns to enact ordinances or laws to expand protections and promote the rights of domestic workers;
—Statewide campaigns to establish labor standards for domestic workers;
—Campaigns to create administrative and regulatory changes at state and federal Departments of Labor;
National campaigns to establish labor standards, expand collective bargaining rights, create dignified jobs and support quality care for all, such as the Caring Across Generations campaign;
—International collaboration to bring visibility and dignity to the global domestic workforce, including the Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention at the International Labor Organization.
The AFL-CIO and the domestic workers groups plan to accomplish these goals and generally increase the diversity and strength of the labor movement by fostering cooperation between state federations and local labor councils and domestic workers’ groups, in furtherance of both specific campaigns and general labor rights. This is part of a larger move to widen the scope of “organized labor” to include workers not traditionally represented by unions.
The agreement says:
Until these communities know each other, work with each other, and have an institutional connection to each other, it will be much more difficult to plan and strategize together, and to build a level of trust necessary to work effectively together in pursuit of our common goals and objectives.
The agreement also describes how domestic workers groups can affiliate with a local union, in keeping with the AFL-CIO’s National Worker Center program launched in 2006. The agreement also stipulates that the AFL-CIO and members of NDWA won’t compete with each other in situations where unions or domestic worker groups are organizing, and won’t undermine each other’s efforts.
While the agreement could have great concrete and symbolic effects for millions of domestic workers, it is limited to workers who are connected with domestic workers organizations. That means scores of domestic workers won’t be part of the partnership, likely including the most vulnerable workers in rural areas and/or in situations where they are highly isolated or exploited by their employers.
Hence continued outreach and organizing among domestic workers, continued strengthening and enforcement of labor laws, and even basic human rights protections—plus comprehensive immigration reform, as Michelle Chen noted yesterday—will be key to making sure domestic workers nationwide are truly empowered and protected.
This article originally appeared on the Working In These Times blog on May 12, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Kari Lydersen, an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications. Her most recent book is Revolt on Goose Island. In 2011, she was awarded a Studs Terkel Community Media Award for her work. She can be reached at email@example.com.