Employers historically have tried to set workers against each other by playing the race card. But when union members stand together as one, no one can defeat them, says AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka.
Speaking to the Virginia AFL-CIO this past weekend, Trumka said (see video):
We’ve seen how companies set worker against worker—how they throw whites a few extra crumbs off the table and how it’s black and Latino workers who get the dirtiest, most-dangerous jobs. But we’ve seen something else, too. We’ve seen that when we cross that color line and stand together, no one—and I mean no one—can keep us down. That’s why, imperfect as we are, the labor movement today is the most integrated institution in American life.
Even with an economic downturn, a new study from Harris Interactive suggests most employees have confidence that they will keep their current job, while 49 percent believe if they lose it they are confident in their ability to find a new one. 76 percent of workers say it is unlikely they will lose their job, while 33 percent plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months.
Lede: As unions gain a toehold at Wal-Mart in Canada, both U.S. labor federations want the Federal Elections Commission to investigate possibly illegal campaigning by Wal-Mart. Jesse Russell reports.
Two labor federations are challenging the federal elections commission to investigate Wal-Mart for alleged violations of election law. According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal Wal-Mart has encouraged workers not to vote for Senator Barack Obama as President because he is a supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act. The complaint filed by the organizations to the FEC says: “there is reason to believe that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has made prohibited corporate expenditures by expressly advocating against Senator Obama’s election to employees.” The complaint was filed on behalf of the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, American Rights at Work, and WakeUpWalMart.com, four groups that have actively advocated for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Presidential candidate John McCain opposes the bill.
By Doug Cunningham
Wal-Mart is reportedly “carefully reviewing” a decision that gave eight Canadian Wal-Mart auto shop workers in Gatineau the first North American collective bargaining agreement at a Wal-Mart. It’s an arbitrator-imposed agreement that according to the United Food and Commercial Workers gave the union 98 percent of what it wanted. Workers will see their pay go up from $8.50 an hour to a minimum of $11.54. Wal-Mart closed a store in Canada in 2005 just days before an arbitrator was to impose a labor contract. The union got the Canadian Supreme Court to agree to hear its case against Wal-Mart in the 2005 closing. It could close this store, too. But the UFCW says it will be difficult because a collective bargaining agreement is already in hand.
By Doug Cunningham
There will be no strike at Qwest Communications. A tentative agreement was reached between the CWA, IBEW and Qwest on Monday. The CWA said some improvements were won in wages and pensions. If ratified by the workers the agreement will last three years. The CWA represents some 20,000 Qwest workers. Qwest is based in Denver where the Democratic national convention is being held. Qwest is providing telecommunications for both national political conventions. It’s the third largest U.S. local phone company.
Ohio got some bad economic news. The state lost more than 11,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate has worsened to 7.2 percent—the highest in Ohio since December 1992.
Ohio may take an additional major job hit if DHL Express is allowed to close its air freight facility in Wilmington, where more than 8,000 people are employed. Those jobs would be another casualty of the economic agenda that puts multinational corporations ahead of communities and families.
They also would be a casualty of John McCain‘s cozy relationship with lobbyists for Big Business. McCain was instrumental in making DHL’s move possible, and his campaign manager, Rick Davis, made hundreds of thousands of dollars for his firm as DHL’s top lobbyist. The AFL-CIO is telling Ohio union members about McCain’s role in the DHL deal through direct mail and worksite fliers.
The third rail in Boston’s subway system carries 600 deadly volts of electricity. But that danger didn’t stop A.J. Pugliese Jr. and Robert Johnson, members of Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) Local 17, from springing into action to save a man who had fallen from the platform to the tracks, landing inches from the 600-volt rail (see video).
The man, in his 50s, had been unsteady on his feet and then tumbled from the platform to the tracks five feet below. The union members and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) employees were in the North Station working on map displays when they heard the shouts for help from commuters.
Contestants on some of the most popular TV shows—“American Idol,” “The Price Is Right,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Million Dollar Password” and other mega-hit reality and game shows—can strike it rich in a matter of minutes. But behind the glittery sets, the writers, drivers and other workers who make the shows a success are the big losers because they are not getting what’s due them.
Many workers for FremantleMedia, the company that produces these huge reality shows, report they do not receive benefits that are standard in the entertainment industry such as overtime pay, health insurance or retirement benefits. They also say the company uses nonunion drivers who work excessive overtime without proper rest periods.
More than 16,000 members of the United Steelworkers accept a tentative pact at U.S. Steel, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
USW, U.S. Steel: More than 16,000 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) at U.S. Steel accepted a tentative four-year agreement. The new agreement requires the company to make capital investment in the plants. It covers workers in Granite City, Ill.; Gary, East Chicago, Portage, Ind.; Ecorse, Mich.; Braddock, Clairton, West Mifflin and Fairless Hills, Pa.; Fairfield, Ala.; Lorain, Ohio; Keewatin and Mt. Iron, Minn.; and Lone Star, Texas. USW International President Leo Gerard remarked that the new contract “rewards our members for their hard work, improves the living standards of our retirees and the capital investments that will be made in our mills protects our communities far into the future. This contract is the new standard in the industry.”