Women and men working in the federal government have come a few cents closer toward pay equality. According to the Government Accountability Office, men made on average 19 cents more on the dollar than women in 1998 and now, a decade later, they only make 11 cents more. The shrinkage is substantial considering two decades ago in 1988 women earned 28 cents on the dollar less than male co-workers.
Clear Channel announced Tuesday it would be slashing 590 additional jobs in its radio division. Those job cuts come on top of 1,850 jobs cut across the board announced in January. The cuts at the San Antonio-based company amount to 12 percent of the company’s workforce.
By Doug Cunningham
Wal-Mart workers in a North Miami Beach store have collected nearly enough signed union cards to petition for an election. The store could become the first in the U.S. to organize. A Wal-Mart in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec already has a union contract. Cheryl Guzman works at the Wal-Mart in North Miami Beach. She says being able to afford health care is a big issue among Wal-Mart workers who want the UFCW to represent them.
[Guzman]: “I have three boys. I had to get Florida Kids Care to cover their medical, because it’s either you eat or you have medical coverage. You understand what I’m saying?”
By Doug Cunningham
Republican Senator Arlen Specter’s bombshell party switch will give Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 votes once Minnesota’s Al Franken is seated. Specter says he hasn’t changed his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act labor law reform. But AFL-CIO spokesperson Alison Omens says the labor federation believes Specter’s Democratic conversion offers new opportunities to successfully reform labor law.
[Omens]: “This is a new day for the Employee Free Choice Act and labor law reform. Senator Specter has said all along that he recognizes the need to reform our broken system.
|On Workers Memorial Day, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka take part in a dedication for a national workers memorial at the National Labor College.|
The names were repeated in a chorus of tragedy. Conrad Johnson, a bus driver killed by a sniper while taking a rest break. Linda Redman, a factory worker who died a slow, painful death from “popcorn lung” disease. An elevator operator killed when an elaveator crushed him on the job. Thirteen coal miners killed by an explosion when they went into a mine to rescue injured co-workers.
Today, on Workers Memorial Day, these and dozens more workers were remembered by their co-workers, family and friends who placed bricks in their memory as part of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new national workers memorial at the National Labor College (NLC) in Silver Spring, Md.
Hundreds of people who lost a loved one who was killed on the job have sponsored bricks for the memorial, which will be constructed in the center of the NLC campus.
Sen. Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania announced a short while ago he is switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party. Specter’s vote on the Employee Free Choice Act has been pivotal in determining whether the critical working families’ legislation will pass. Here’s AFL-CIO Legislative Affairs Director Bill Samuel on Specter’s announcement:
We look forward to continuing an open and honest debate with Senator Specter about the issues that are important to Pennsylvania and America. We move forward with the understanding that America’s workers support elected officials based on their positions on issues that matter to working people, not political affiliations.
This is a new day for the Employee Free Choice Act and labor law reform. Sen. Specter has said all along that he recognizes the need to reform our broken labor law system and we will continue to work with Congress to give workers back the freedom to form and join unions and pass legislation that stays true to the principals of the Employee free Choice Act.
The Employee Free Choice Act is built on three fundamental principles and we believe a bill that stays true to these will become law:
- Workers need to have a real choice to form a union and bargain for a better life, free from intimidation;
- We have to stop the endless delays; companies can’t just stall to stop workers’ choice;
- There have to be real penalties for violating the law.
The Final Four are New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Washington State. It’s not the NCAA final hoops quartet, but the National Consumers League’s (NCL’s) LifeSmarts national championship competition has the same tension and passion.
Teams of four to five teens, coached by an adult participant, compete in district and state matches with the state winners going to the national competition to vie for the national LifeSmarts title. More than 22,000 consumer savvy teens representing 30 states competed at the national competition, which ends today in St. Louis, held to teach the next generation of consumers how to succeed in the marketplace.
For 15 years, NCL’s LifeSmarts has been developing the consumer and marketplace knowledge and skills of teenagers in a fun way and rewards them for this knowledge. LifeSmarts is run as a game show-style competition and is open to all teens in the United States in high school and middle school.
The NCL also is teaching the teens the value of getting a good job with a union contract. The league has been one of the strongest allies in the union movement’s campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform. Many union members also are involved in the LifeSmarts program as adult volunteers.
LifeSmarts topics are chosen to encourage and reward knowledge in the areas that matter most to consumers and workers in today’s marketplace: personal finance; health and safety; the environment; technology; and consumer rights and responsibilities. To learn more about LifeSmarts, click here.
And the winner of the LifeSmarts competition: The team from Wisconsin, which beat out a tough challenge by the team from Washington State for the national championship.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will announce today that the Labor Department is moving forward to develop two new major workplace safety rules to protect workers from combustible dust explosions—such as the one that killed 13 workers at a Georgia sugar plant last year—and from a dangerous chemical that causes “popcorn lung,” according to the Associated Press (AP). The rules could take up to a year or two to finalize.
Solis will make the announcement at a Workers Memorial Day ceremony this afternoon at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md. We will bring you a report from the event, that includes breaking ground for a new national workers memorial later today.
The new rules mark a major departure from the Bush Department of Labor’s refusal to address serious workplace safety issues. As the AFL-CIO’s just-released report “Death on the Job” points out:
For eight years, the Bush administration failed to take action to address major safety and health problems. Many [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] OSHA and [Mine Safety and Health Administration] MSHA rules were withdrawn or blocked.
Dangerous levels of combustible sugar dust at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., fueled the Feb. 7, 2008, blast that killed 13 workers and seriously injured dozens of others.
More than 130 workers have been killed and hundreds more seriously injured in combustible explosions in the United States since 1980. In 2006, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) urged OSHA to adopt combustible dust standards. But the Bush administration’s OSHA did not move on a rule to set dust level standards. The new rule is expected to set those standards.
Diacetyl is the chemical flavoring additive in microwave popcorn that causes a severe and sometimes fatal lung disease known as “popcorn lung” and other respiratory illnesses.
The Bush administration’s OSHA refused in September 2007 to issue an emergency standard setting diacetyl exposure limits for workers. And in a last-minute move before leaving office, the Bush administration used a procedure known as an advance notice of proposed rule that could have, say safety experts, added two years to the diacetyl standard-setting process.
In March, OSHA announced it was withdrawing the Bush order and fast-tracking a diacetyl standard.
As President Obama nears the 100-day mark of his term (more on that tomorrow), the U.S. House and Senate are set for a final vote this week on Obama’s historic budget blueprint that sets the stage for rebuilding the economy, moves the nation toward comprehensive health care reform and makes major investments in education, clean energy and green jobs.
Both chambers passed budget resolutions in early April that closely mirrored Obama’s request. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the budget resolution
lays the groundwork for historic health care reform and clean energy legislation. We will make health care more affordable and accessible, improve quality and focus on prevention and wellness. By sparking a clean energy revolution, we will create good-paying jobs, for American workers and protect our planet from climate change.
Continuing their “just-say-No” tactics to anything proposed by Obama or congressional Democrats, not a single Republican supported the resolutions, which also include $764 billion in middle-class tax cuts and will cut the nation’s deficit in half by 2013. So much for being the party of “tax cuts and fiscal responsibility.”
This week, a House/Senate conference committee is expected to iron out the minor differences in the two bills and present a final package for a vote. According to Capitol Hill observers, the conference report will include a 2.5 percent increase in non-defense, discretionary spending over last year’s budget on such programs as workplace safety, wage and hour protection, education, highway construction, transportation and other areas.
Call Congress today—202-225-3121—and tell your lawmakers to support the budget resolution conference report.