The Florida AFL-CIO continues to fight a $1.2 billion proposal to build a 61-mile rail line in the state. Dubbed SunRail, the labor organization is concerned under the current wording it could result in non-union workers getting jobs. The Florida legislature is planning to begin discussion on the current SunRail proposal December 3.
Shoppers at Home Depot stores in Toledo and Bowling Green, Ohio were greeted by inflatable rats on Friday as union members called for a boycott. The Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council says a new Home Depot distribution center is going to be built by out-of-state workers. Ohio has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and the organization alleges the plan is a disservice to the laid off workers in the region. The council says Home Deport can expect to continue seeing rats on the premises until the chain sits down and discusses the option of hiring local.
AFT and the children’s advocacy group Save the Children have partnered in a Valentine’s Day 2010 Card Contest as part of Save the Children’s campaign to end child poverty in the nation. You can help pick the winning cards.
The five winning designs—one each from kindergarten through grade 2; grades 3-5; 6-8; 9-10; and 11-12—will be printed on cards and used to create a Valentine’s Day card set. Those who donate to benefit Save the Children’s programs will receive the gift card set free. Each winning artist will receive a $500 U.S. savings bond.
Using specially developed materials and lessons from AFT, teachers in classrooms across the country have helped young people express their artistry and creativity to illustrate the contest theme: “Uniting a Generation.” Using the traditional Valentine heart images, the students are encouraged to explore its symbolism as standing for values such as unity, loyalty, compassion, honesty and responsibility.
AFT says for “all children to be successful and productive citizens,”
key values must be taught, encouraged and nurtured throughout a child’s school career. These values are especially important for high-poverty students who are at a higher risk of dropping out of school.
Each participating school was allowed to submit one entry in each grade category. Five entries from each category will be selected and posted online at www.savethechildren.org/cardcontest beginning Dec. 14. Voters have until Dec. 22 to cast their ballots for the wining design.
If you have plans to travel this holiday season, check out the UNITEHERE! Union Hotel Guide before you book a room. The user-friendly online directory helps you identify union-staffed hotels across the country.
Just plug in city and state, and the site will display a list of hotels in the area that employ UNITEHERE! members and are doing right by their workers. You also can add the name of a hotel chain as part of the search. Click here for the Union Hotel Guide.
A link on the site also enables you to quickly see which hotels are on the union’s boycott list and where workers are on strike.
UNITEHERE! is working across the country to bring a better life to hotel workers who often are underpaid and who work long, hard hours to make our stay comfortable and safe. For example, the union is urging customers to boycott three hotels in the San Francisco area, including the Westin St. Francis, where 650 workers ended a two-day strike on Nov. 21. The Palace and the Grand Hyatt, the sites of previous strikes also are on the boycott list.
Members of UNITEHERE! Local 2 voted by a 92 percent to 8 percent margin to authorize strikes at any of the 31 upscale hotels in San Francisco. Despite earning record profits over the past five years, the hotels are using the recession as an excuse to demand changes in eligibility for the employees’ health care plan that would eliminate coverage or put it out of reach for many workers.
Support America’s workers and fill your holiday gift list all at the same time with one-stop shopping at the AFL-CIO’s The Union Shop Online.TM Start by checking out the great selection of holiday cards. For gift ideas, here are staff picks from the AFL-CIO online team.
Seth Michaels: There are a few great songwriters and musicians who have written about America’s workers and the everyday struggles they’ve gone through, but few have the long career, storytelling talent and appeal of Bruce Springsteen. Pick up “The Essential Bruce Springsteen” at The Union Shop OnlineTM for only $24.98, and you’ll find inspiration, heartbreak, joy and songs that don’t get old.
And if you’re up for supporting grassroots activism for social justice, why not do it in style? Get a Working America T-shirt!
Danielle Hatchett: Winters in the Washington, D.C., area aren’t quite as harsh as they can be in my home state of New Jersey. But as we saw on Inauguration Day 2009, for example, Old Man Winter can certainly make his presence known. I always have loved the feeling of fleece against my skin and the brand-new V-neck pullovers at $35 from The Union Shop OnlineTM will certainly keep me nice and toasty this fall and winter. On those particularly frigid days, I can layer it with a union-made hoodie, which happens to come in red, my favorite color—and proudly show my union pride.
Tula Connell: As our recent AFL-CIO “Young Workers: A Lost Decade” report made clear, the nation’s disastrous economy is putting at risk the livelihood of an entire generation of working people. Author Tamra Draut reported on this as far back as 2005, making Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead, more timely than ever. Reissued in paperback at $13.95, it’s a low-cost educational tool for those who wonder why their adult kids have moved back in with them—and a call to action for everyone who worries about our nation’s future.
As a stocking stuffer, your favorite unionists will enjoy this great new bumper sticker, “Green. Union. Vote. We’re green. We support unions. We vote” from The Union Shop Online.TM At $1.50 each, you can stuff a lot of stockings.
Mike Hall: If you ever saw my CD and vinyl collection—somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 from Francis Albert to Frank Zappa and most stops in between—you wouldn’t be shocked that I’m heading straight to The Union Shop Online’sTM music section. At The Union Shop Online,TM you’ll find well-known progressive, worker-friendly artists such as Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Dave Alvin and Pete Seeger, as well collections of traditional union songs, working class classics and civil rights anthems.
With my ties to West Virginia and coal mining, I’d be remiss if I didn’t steer you to Tom Breiding’s “Unbroken Circle: Songs of the West Virginia Coalfields.” The Wheeling, W.Va., native uses the experiences of his own family and other true coalfield stories for songs about labor struggles including “Union Miner,” “My Father’s Clothes” and “The Bull Moose Special” and memorials to mining disasters, such as “The Longest Darkest Day.” Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Tim O’Brien calls Unbroken Circle “Pure Americana.”
Like the best historical fiction, these true stories in song provide easy access to a culture whose trials and tribulations are too often ignored.
Donna Jablonski: In my office I have a framed version of the Working Families Unite for Civil Rights and Justice poster. It’s what I see every time I look up from my desk. The art is from a quilt by Adrienne Yorinks, a fantastic fabric artist, and it incorporates photos that celebrate the diversity of the union movement. The poster, only $15, is bordered by images of hands in all the shades of the earth’s people. Love it.
James Parks: My favorite item in The Union Shop OnlineTM is the Who Made Your Shoes? poster. The $16.95 poster clearly illustrates the reality that many of the things we take for granted in our consumer economy are made by people who don’t make enough to buy the things they make. And it reminds me of what the union movement is about: helping everyone live a better life.
Economists might be calling it a recession, but if you are young and black in America it likely feels more like the Great Depression. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black men between the ages of 16 and 24 in the United States hit 34.5 percent in October. The national unemployment rate for all workers between the ages of 16 to 24 was 19.1 percent in October. The national unemployment rate for African Americans overall was 15.7 percent.
Senators John Kerry and Orin Hatch have crossed party lines to encourage European trust regulators to make a decision regarding Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. A letter signed by 59 out of the 100 U.S. Senators says “we respectfully request the European Commission complete its investigation of this transaction as quickly as possible.” The concern is that without a completion of the merger Sun Microsystems may not be able to continue employing workers. According to recent projections, the company employs 29,000 workers worldwide.
Lede: The world’s first global union is launching a campaign Britain and the U.S. to save workers’ lives in the paper industry. Doug Cunningham reports.
By Doug Cunningham
A contract proposal from Harley-Davidson to 2000 workers at a York, Pennsylvania plant promises to keep the plant open if the workers are willing to let the company slash half of the current workforce. If the proposal is rejected the company will likely shutter its largest manufacturing plant in the country and move those jobs to Kentucky. While pay is preserved in the seven-year contract, it additionally cuts down vacation time, employer contributions to health care and retirement. However, those that lose their jobs will receive a $10,000 bonus.