Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

Save Veteran Construction Training Programs

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

After coming home from the Army, Union Veteran Council Executive Director Will Attig struggled to find his place. “I came home without a job, a degree or a future,” Attig said. That changed when he found a Registered Apprenticeship Program with the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and became a journeyman pipe fitter with the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA).

This is not only Attig’s story but countless other veterans who have found the registered apprenticeship programs as a way to achieve the American dream after returning home from service. At the same time, we have seen private organizations and for-profit schools create phony programs that prey on veterans leaving them with sub-par training and no true education. Right now, the future of America’s veteran construction workers, the integrity of their industry and programs that support tens of thousands of veterans’ transitions are at risk.

“The Registered Apprenticeship model gives us the same level and quality of training we received in the military,” Attig added. “This is one of the reasons why veterans choose to attend NABTU Registered Apprenticeship Programs and are joining construction unions at a rate almost double then non-veterans.”

A new proposal by the U.S. Department of Labor could drive down training and labor standards in construction registered apprenticeship programs and set off a race to the bottom throughout this industry. We have less than a month to stop it from becoming a reality. Here is how you can add your voice to the fight. While we applaud the government’s interest in expanding apprenticeship opportunities in new industries, [Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs] have no place in construction.

How Can You Help?

First, if you are a union veteran and a member of a building trades union, we need you to click the link below to submit a comment. It takes less than five minutes and could mean the difference in defending the way of life for your fellow construction workers, your family and yourself.

Building Trade Veterans: Click here to take a stand!

Second, if you are not a member of the building trades but support your fellow union veteran brothers and sisters, please follow the link below to send in a comment voicing your support and solidarity for your fellow union veterans in the trades and the programs that are helping thousands of veterans find a way to truly return home.

Veterans and Supporters: Click here to take a stand!

The proposed IRAPs differ significantly from registered apprenticeship programs. Construction registered programs help recruit, train and retain workers through progressive wage increases; apprentice-to-journey worker ratios that promote safety; quality assurance assessments by the government; uniform standards; mandatory safety training; instructor eligibility requirements; and transparency requirements. The proposed IRAP regulations abandon the important protections of the registered model and give employers the license to implement whatever low-road standards they see fit.

IRAPs in construction would jeopardize both the quality of construction and the safety and security of veterans in the construction workforce, thereby weakening every community across the country where our fellow veterans and workers reside and are needed.

As veterans and supporters of veterans, the time is now to stand together and oppose second-rate IRAP certifications that would undermine the gold-standard that the registered apprenticeship programs have attained.

This post originally appeared at the Union Veterans Council.

This article was originally published at AFL-CIO on August 14, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: The Union Veterans Council brings working-class veterans together to speak out on the issues that impact us most, especially the need for good jobs and a strong, fully funded and staffed VA.

If Trump Has His Way, You’ll Certainly Miss This Agency You Probably Don’t Even Know Exists

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

The Trump Administration has released its proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Who’s set to lose big if this budget comes to fruition? Women—specifically working women and their families.

The only federal agency devoted to women’s economic security—the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau—is on the chopping block. The agency, which currently has a budget of only $11 million (just one percent of the DoL’s total budget), would see a 76 percent cut in its funds for the next fiscal year under the proposed budget.

Despite making up only 1 percent of the Department’s current budget and having only a 50-person staff, the Bureau serves in several crucial roles—simultaneously conducting research, crafting policy and convening relevant stakeholders (from unions to small businesses) in meaningful discussions about how to best support working women. The Women’s Bureau’s priorities have changed with the times—focusing on working conditions for women in the 1920s and 30s, and helping to pass the monumental Equal Pay Act in the early 1960s. (President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, making pay discrimination on the basis of sex illegal. However, because of loopholes in the 54-year-old law, the wage gap persists.) Throughout its nearly 100-year history, however, the agency has remained a powerful advocate for working women and families. Recent efforts have included advocating for paid family leave, trying to make well-paying trades jobs available to women and supporting women veterans as they re-enter civilian life.

Eliminating or underfunding the Women’s Bureau would be a huge setback for working women across the nation. Take the issue of paid family leave, for example. In recent years, the Bureau awarded over $3 million in Paid Leave Analysis grants to cities and states interested in creating and growing their own paid leave programs while federal action stalls. With the funding provided by the Women’s Bureau, states and localities have developed comprehensive understandings of what their own paid leave programs might look like. In Vermont, where the Commission on the Status of Women received a Paid Leave Analysis grant in 2015, state lawmakers are now on track to pass a strong paid family leave policy.

So why is the Trump Administration considering cutting such a low-cost, high-impact agency? Some suspect it’s at the suggestion of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s 2017 budget proposal, which calls the Women’s Bureau “redundant” because “today, women make up half of the workforce.”

What this justification conveniently leaves out is that despite important gains in recent decades, too many women, particularly women of color, are still stuck in low-paying, undervalued jobs, being paid less than their male counterparts and taking on a disproportionate amount of unpaid labor at home. It also leaves out the fact that those previously-mentioned important gains are largely the result of targeted efforts led by government agencies like the Women’s Bureau. Eliminating the agencies responsible for immense strides in preserving civil rights is, to quote the brilliant Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Instead of punishing an agency for its accomplishments, the Trump Administration should give the Women’s Bureau the resources it needs to tackle the problems remaining for working women.

Donald Trump is happy to engage in shiny photo-ops and feel-good listening sessions about women’s empowerment, but when it comes to doing concrete work to support the one government agency tasked with supporting women’s economic empowerment, this administration is nowhere to be found. If this government actually cares about women at all—that is, cares about more than good press and tidy, Instagrammable quotes—it should step up to defend this agency and its 97-year history. The working women of America deserve better.

This blog was originally published by the Make it Work Campaign on June 21, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Maitreyi Anantharaman is a policy and research intern for the Make it Work Campaign, a communications intern for Workplace Fairness and an undergraduate public policy student at the University of Michigan.

Construction Unions Help Wounded Veteran Renovate Virginia Home

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Kenneth Quinnell

Last weekend, Washington, D.C.-area construction unions worked with the Wounded Warrior Project torenovate the Virginia home of a veteran wounded while serving in the Iraq War. Marine Cpl. Brandon Burns was wounded by sniper fire in Al Falluja, Iraq, in 2004, and the left side of his body has been paralyzed since. Now the man who paid a big cost in service of his country is getting much-needed renovations to his home.

Watch the video or read more.

This blog originally appeared in aflcio.org on March 12, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Kenneth Quinnell is a long time blogger, campaign staffer, and political activist.  Prior to joining AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as a labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars.  He was the past Communications Director for Darcy Burner and New Media Director for Kendrick Meek.  He has over ten years as a college instructor teaching political science and American history.

Veterans working for government contractor forced to attend anti-union meetings at Fort Lewis

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Mark E. AndersonYou survive two combat tours and you come home and find a job as a mechanic, refurbishing the Stryker combat vehicles that protected you while you were in a hostile land, with a government contractor that pays a decent wage. The workforce is about 50 percent veteran and 50 percent civilian. Your work place is on post at Fort Lewis, Washington.

You and your coworkers want to join Local 286 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Your employer, General Dynamics, does not want you to join a union.

Jason Croic, a Marine combat veteran, is one of those veterans:

We have had these meetings where they provided one side of the story. The message is we won’t be as employable to the Army as we are now because we won’t be as versatile. Being non-union, they say we are more attractive to the Army because we can be moved around easier. I think it’s bullshit the way they are talking to us,”says Croic. “You think when it’s prior military veterans who have done their part, they wouldn’t do this kind of thing to us.

The employees of General Dynamics Land Systems have scheduled a vote for union representation for June 29th. For the past month the employees have been forced to sit through anti-union meetings every day.

General Dynamics Land Systems President Mark C. Roualet [stated] “We believe it is important for our employees to have both sides of the story, and that is exactly what we have been trying to communicate during the meetings you describe. We have conducted these meetings in a non-threatening and non-coercive manner and in according with applicable laws. Meetings held since January 2012 have not been charged as training and have not been billed to our customer.”

By the way, the customer Mr. Roualet is talking about is the United States Army and by extension taxpayers; however, in a letter to General Dynamics Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash) noted that General Dynamics has coded funds being used for union busting for reimbursement.

General Dynamics Land Systems spokeswoman Marie Remboulis stated.:

General Dynamics is a fair and equitable company that wants to take care of our employees. From that perspective we believe it’s important for our employees to have both sides of the information. We have conducted these meetings in the spirit of openness in a manner that is in everything way applicable with regulatory laws.

Yep General Dynamics is so fair and equitable that they let the union post meeting notices on the bulletin board; however have repeatedly blocked union organizers from holding meetings at Fort Lewis. They are so fair and equitable that they have lied to veterans by telling them that they are less valuable to the Army if they are union members.

General Dynamics is crying poverty to the employees while they fly corporate executives into Fort Lewis to make anti-union pitches. Which combined with the almost daily anti-union meetings is turning the employees towards the union.

As a veteran I feel it is disgraceful what General Dynamics is doing to these men and women. How much money has General Dynamics made off of making war machines over the years? How many billions or triilions of dollars? And when the men and women who used these war machines come home and work for General Dynamics they are told that joining a union will make them worth less to the Army. What a crock of shit. General Dynamics just wants to keep whatever profit they make off of the American taxpayer to fund their corporate jets and to pay big dividends to their investors and for their stock price to go up. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the men and women using the machines they build or the men and women who refurbish those same machines.

Solidarity to the employees of General Dynamics Land Systems. I hope you are soon represented by IUOE Local 286.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on June 27, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mark Anderson, a Daily Kos Labor contributor, describes himself as a 44 year-old veteran, lifelong Progressive Democrat, Rabid Packer fan, Single Dad, Part-time Grad Student, and Full-time IS worker. You can learn more about him on his Facebook, “Kodiak54 (Mark Andersen)”

More Than a Number: Troubling Trends Behind the Dropping Unemployment Rateo

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Stephen FranklinSo the unemployment rate’s drop last month means we’re heading out of this tunnel, right? If only it were as simple as that.

There’s more to the nation’s unemployment situation than December’s decline to 8.5 percent joblessness. The fact is, the economy we live in today has become far too complex to be measured the same way we do when we step on a scale.

That’s because a number of forces have changed the workplace reality for American workers. Some of these are short-term changes, though even then, it’s not clear how their impact will play out in the long-term. And some are significant long-term changes that first began to take off and which are likely to affect workers for a long time to come.

Young vets’ job woes

Take the worsening job plight of veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something that deserves attention by policymakers. The jobless rate for these vets in December, according to government figures, was 13.1 percent, up from 11.7 percent a year ago.

But the real jobs problem is the one faced by young vets, the ones who have came home looking for new lives rather than staying on in the military. The unemployment rate for these veterans between 20 to 24 years old averaged 30 percent last year, up from 21 percent in July 2010, according to the New York Times.

This may seem to some as a short-term problem, but it has the marking of a dilemma that may linger on.

We have traditionally expected veterans to find their way back into the job market, after slogging through a bout of joblessness. That is not exactly what happened, however, after the Vietnam War, and the mark left from Iraq and Afghanistan may turn out to be an even far more difficult one to overcome.

That is because the physical and psychological scars left on so many who took part in fighting that lasted almost a decade. A large brunt of military service fell upon workers plucked out of their jobs because of their National Guard and Reserve obligations.

So, too, the long-term changes that have rippled across the job market continue to play and broaden in ways not seen a few years ago.

Public service workers lose their protections

The wind carrying blue-collar factory jobs away for unskilled workers blows as strong as ever. Not only have jobs vanished at stunning levels, but also the downward slide in wages and loss of benefits is a worrisome omen for those left behind in the factories.

But now we can begin charting the rapidly expanding downward slide of government jobs, a process that seems likely to roll on for some time from Washington to the state capitals and to local communities, spurred on by budget-minded Republicans and financially desperate Democrats.

One measure of the decline is the loss of state jobs across the U.S.

Employment levels among state workers dropped 1.2 percent in 2011, according to the New York Times. That, according to the newspaper, is the steepest drop since recordkeeping began over 55 years ago.

For a long time, public workers were immune from such severe job cuts as well as attacks on their security. But now that immunity has vanished, putting them in the same downward spin as workers in the private sector.

Many of these public service jobs are held by black and Latino workers and their foothold on the job market has only grown more tenuous lately.

Indeed, the construction industry bust, factory-shutdowns and shrinking wages for most workers have had disastrous results for black and Latino workers. As the Economic Policy Institute has pointed out, the jobless rate for black and Latino workers grew dramatically higher and dramatically apart, as well, from white workers during the last decade.

Combine these forces and you have a job market not only under terrible stress, but facing stresses not seen before. That’s why the good news concerning the joblessness rate leaves the nation only so much to cheer about.

This blog originally appeared in Working in These Times on January 10, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About this Author: Stephen Franklin, former labor and workplace reporter for theChicago Tribune, is ethnic news director for the Community Media Workshop in Chicago. He is the author of Three Strikes: Labor’s Heartland Losses and What They Mean for Working Americans(2002), and has reported throughout the United States and the Middle East.  He can be reached via e-mail atfreedomwrites@hotmail.com.

The Best Way to Support the Troops…

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Image: Bob RosnerSupport The Troops. Support The Troops. Support The Troops.

This is the newest “wallpaper” in the United States. You see it on bumper stickers, in commercials and hear it in conversations. Based on the number of times you see or hear the phrase, it’s hard to imagine that we could do anything more to show the troops that we’re behind them.

Think again.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-in-five veterans age 20 to 24 are unemployed. This is THREE times the national average. According to the government, approximately a quarter million veterans leave the military annually. So we’re talking about many thousands of soldiers who served their country and have returned to an unemployment line.

These unemployed former soldiers list a variety of reasons for the high unemployment rate, according to a poll by CareerBuilder—the lack of available jobs where they live, employers not understanding how the skills acquired in the military translate to the civilian world, the lack of a college degree and the inability of the soldiers themselves to adequately show what they learned in the military in interviews and resumes. Sure these veterans could probably do a better job of presenting themselves and their experience in the employment dance, but I believe that based on their sacrifice, it is incumbent for corporations to meet them more than half way.

A disclaimer: I have never served in the military. And it doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines of my writing to see that I, like the majority of Americans, believe that enough people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s time for us to get the heck out of there.

As much as I may disagree with our government’s staying in a place where we’re not wanted, I do think that our soldiers have tackled a really tough assignment and the vast majority have represented their uniform and country well. I’m not sure that I’d advocate that returning vets should get special treatment, but for the youngest of the returning soldiers to have three times the unemployment rate of non-vets is embarrassing. And wrong.

But it gets worse. According to the survey by CareerBuilder, eleven percent of veterans don’t identify themselves as veterans on their resume. While another seventeen percent do so selectively. Support the troops, NOT.

People who put themselves in harms way should be appreciated for their loyalty and sacrifice. To not appreciate their ability to work as part of a team, their disciplined approach to work, their problem solving skills, the ability to work under pressure, respect, integrity and leadership is overlooking the skills and talents that they’ve already proven on the battlefield. It’s time that employers looked beyond the limitations—the lack of a college degree, etc.—and to appreciate what these potentially talented and dedicated job candidates will bring to a corporation.

Support the troops by hiring them, it’s the least that we can all do.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

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