Progressive students have been deeply involved in issues of worker justice on campuses and in their communities. Some students have taken their activism online, creating videos, such as those made by Stanford University students, featuring workers talking about why they need a living wage (see video). Now, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Jobs with Justice (JwJ) have launched a contest to further encourage students to put their creativity to work for justice.
Students in high school, college and in graduate programs are eligible to submit a one- to three-minute “YouTube” style video highlighting the failure of U.S. labor laws to protect workers’ rights and documenting why America needs the Employee Free Choice Act.
When Massey Energy Co. bought a coal mine in Kanawha County, W.Va., in 2004, it refused to hire the Mine Workers (UMWA) members working there—even though the mine had been unionized for decades. Last week, in an unusual rebuke to employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asked a federal court to force Massey to rehire 85 miners.
In November, NLRB administrative law judge (ALJ) Paul Bogas found that Massey had discriminated against the miners by refusing to hire them
on the basis of their membership in the predecessors’ bargaining unit and their pro-union sentiments….Massey officials had declared they would operate Mammoth union-free.
With less than a year left in office, President Bush is desperately trying to establish his legacy by leaving his successor with a budget that puts his anti-worker agenda and his pet ideas into practice for years to come. While he proposes a stimulus package to jump start the nation’s economy on one hand, his proposed budget makes it harder for working families to make ends meet during an economic downturn.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the proposed budget is
a slap in the face to America’s working families who are already struggling to get by in an economy sinking under the weight of this administration’s disastrous policies.
It may be Super Tuesday, but there’s a lot more than primary returns on TV tonight: PBS stations are offering a fascinating and harrowing look at how a corporate agenda that included slashing jobs and ever-increasing production in pursuit of profits made an already dangerous industry even more deadly.
At 9 p.m. EDT (check local listings), PBS will re-air “Dangerous Business,” the FRONTLINE and The New York Times joint investigation of McWane Corp.’s iron pipe foundries. From 1995 through 2003, more than 4,500 workers were injured and nine killed on the job at McWane Corp. foundries. The company amassed more health and safety violations than its six major competitors combined.
The latest job numbers weren’t pretty. Last month, the overall economy lost jobs for the first time in more than four years. And first-time unemployment claims rose a whopping 69,000 in the week ended Jan. 26—the largest one-week jump since Hurricane Katrina. Over the next six months, 1.3 million unemployed men and women will run out of benefits without finding new work.
The numbers confirm what we already knew: Congress must act immediately and decisively to head off the worst. And the quickest and most effective way to do it is to put money in the pockets of those who need it most—the unemployed.
This week, the U.S. Senate will take up the issue as part of its own work on an economic stimulus package. Senate Democrats will need the votes of Republican senators to make sure unemployment extensions are included in the final stimulus bill.
Lenny Sapozhnikov, AFL-CIO deputy state director for Pennsylvania, recently talked with Ted Kirsch, president of AFT in Pennsylvania. Kirsch has served as president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), AFT national vice president, director of the PFT’s Committee on Political Education and is chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee of Philadelphia. He also was vice president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO and former president of the Pennsylvania Labor History Society. (Check out another recent labor leader of the week feature here: Michael Munger, president of United Steelworkers Local 1660.)
Sapozhnikov: AFT Pennsylvania runs a particularly effective political program. What are some of the keys to success? (See video.)