Play ball! So says the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU), whose 200 members voted earlier this week to accept a contract negotiated with Minor League Baseball. AMLU is affiliated as Guild 322 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). The pact marks the first contract negotiated by the league and the union since the one that settled the nearly year-long strike during the 2006 season.
AMLU President Shaun Francis noted the importance of the 2006 strike and the union’s OPEIU affiliation in arriving at the deal with team owners:
It is exciting to have such a good contract and get it done before the December holidays. In this deal we have more money and a better overall contract than what we were able to get last time after a strike. It’s clear to me that this union’s solidarity and determination in 2006 was one of the driving forces behind getting a deal done this time around. And our affiliation with OPEIU gave us the strength and the resources we needed to get a deal done.
||IATSE members were among many union members taking part in LA County’s Homeless Heroes team.
Kudos to Los Angeles union members who helped out those in need over the recent holiday. The L.A. County Federation of Labor and Labor Community Services, AFL-CIO sponsored the Homeless Heroes Team, with more than 200 union members, their families and veterans taking part in a 5K Run/Walk and raising $10,000 for homeless vets.
The L.A. Labor and Labor Community Services, AFL-CIO also provided Thanksgiving dinners for 2,000 unemployed union families, with more than 50 volunteers filling up 2,000 grocery bags with food and turkey certificates.
Says Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County federation:
The continuing hardship our members face in the current uncertain economy has had huge impact here in Los Angeles County. The continuing support of our members to assist others less fortunate than themselves highlights the strength and might of the labor movement.
AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council Director Bob Baugh, a member of a global union delegation led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), sends us the first report on the new round of United Nations climate change negotiations taking place now in Durban, South Africa.
The 17th annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) opened in Durban with a speech by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma that stressed the need for dialogue, green jobs and investment. As trade unionists, we are here in force to ensure that these goals are met and that any climate agreement includes a workers’ voice.
At COP 16, unions made a breakthrough by getting language about a Just Transition, a social and economic perspective on investment in good jobs and decent work, adopted as a part of the Long Term Cooperative Agreement. Now we are here to breathe life into that language. Our primary focus will be on finance, workers’ skills and accountability for meeting Just Transition goals.
Sustained investment is critical to a sustainable future. The AFL-CIO strongly supports the enactment of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in the United States and in other nations as a means of providing a steady, secure source of funds to domestic and international climate investment needs. A very small tax on financial transactions (between 0.02 percent and 0.05 percent) could raise $650 billion a year globally. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has worked closely with the ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow in pursing this goal in the most recent round G20 talks. Nations must ensure that a portion of the revenue goes to development and climate finance.
The Just Transition language we achieved in Cancun needs further guidance on how to mainstream that mandate in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decisions. This means incorporating the world of work in other elements of the agreement, such as the role of social protection in the work of the Adaptation Committee and skills development in the work of the Technology Centers. There also must be accountability by giving a mandate to the International Labor Organization (ILO) to work on the implementation of that decision. The ILO can help ensure that progress being made in meeting the economic and social goals of a Just Transition.
As trade unionists, we understand the bargaing process and this is the next round of negotiations. Cancun got us a seat at the table. In the coming days, we will meet with governments and engage in public actions for the FTT. This is the work of securing the fairness, justice, investment and workers’ rights needed for a Just Transition.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—the key agency in ensuring workers’ rights—is facing an unprecedented assault from partisan politicians and the 1 percent.
On Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m, panelists at a special forum at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., will look at how workers can challenge the attacks and highlight how this ongoing assault against the NLRB fits into the larger corporate-backed political agenda to degrade workers’ rights on the job, attack collective bargaining and gut middle-class jobs.
Speakers include Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller. The panel of labor law and workers’ rights experts will be moderated by Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of The American Prospect and includes American Rights at Work Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown; AFL-CIO Organizing Director Elizabeth Bunn; professor Julius (Jack) Getman, University of Texas School of Law; and David Madland, director, American Worker Project, Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The forum comes on the same day the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a Republican bill (H.R. 3094) that would block the NLRB’s proposed modest rule changes to streamline and modernize the way union elections are conducted. Miller says the bill’s singular goal:
is to delay and ultimately prevent union representation elections. Its aim is to deny workers the opportunity for a voice at work.
The forum is sponsored by the AFL-CIO, American Rights at Work (ARAW) and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The forum is free. Click here to register.
A new project labor agreement (PLA) between the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council (SFBCTC) and Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) will create thousands of new jobs for members of 28 Bay area unions.
The agreement announced earlier this month covers $4 billion with of construction on the new downtown Transbay Transit Center that the Council calls “The Grand Central Station of the West.” The center is expected to serve 45 million people a year using the region’s transportation system when the project is completed in 2017.
TJPA Executive Director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan says:
This is a critical tool for us. Project Labor Agreements have been used successfully since the New Deal to complete major public works projects. A PLA was critical to the construction of BART, and more recently played an important role in the renovations at the San Francisco International Airport and in the seismic upgrades to the Hetch Hetchy water system.
Project labor agreements are pre-hire agreements between labor and management that require all construction jobs be filled by local workers; include diversity requirements; establish wages and work rules covering overtime, working hours and dispute resolution; and ensure that safety guidelines on the job site are enforced.
The agreement contains provisions to hire local workers and include small and disadvantaged businesses, and includes a “Helmets to Hardhats” section to ensure opportunities for military members and veterans.
Click here for more information.
As Detroit’s economy reaches unimaginable lows, firefighters go to work in a nearly bankrupt city set aflame by arsonists—some by building owners looking to collect insurance and others by gang members. The perils faced by these front-line first responders captured the imaginations of filmmakers Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez, who are putting the finishing touches on “Burn: The Detroit Firefighter Documentary.”
The filmmakers are raising funds to finish the film on the site Kickstarter.com, where they describe what motivated them to make the film:
We started the project in December 2008, after the death of Detroit firefighter Walter Harris, who perished fighting an arson fire in an abandoned house. Everyone can agree—public safety is a national and local priority. But fire, police and EMS across the nation are struggling with intense budget cuts to gear and manpower. Although our film is about the Detroit Fire Department [DFD], the DFD faces issues that can now be found in nearly every major American city. Our goal is to share their story so that everyone can appreciate and value their first responders, no matter where they live.
The latest edition of Esquire magazine features an in-depth look at AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Named as one of the Americans of the Year by the magazine, the article examines Trumka’s past, current role and vision for the future.
Looking toward the union movement’s future, Trumka tells author John H. Richardson:
I don’t care how steep the hill…We won’t end until we have an America where every worker can support their family and have some dignity and some retirement security, where every kid gets a chance at a great education and a better way of life.
The issue is now on the newsstands and you can click here to read.
Bill Redler of Omaha, Neb., knows both the hard times of the American construction worker today and the right way forward.
The union plumber, whose first child is on the way, tries not to spend a penny on anything, unless it’s made in America.
“I’ve gotten militant about it, and it turns out that it’s not that hard. We’ve got to quit buying from China. We’ve got to start taxing companies if they want to send jobs to China and then sell products here. That’s the bottom line. We need to be building everything here….Made in America,” he said.
Redler may be a plumber (and a major fan of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers) who has worked on just about anything that involves pipes, but he knows that without manufacturing jobs, America’s economy has no solid base.
“There’s no work in this town right now,” he said. “It’s been like that for about three years. I’d work for a while, get laid off for about a month. It was hit and miss…here and there….Right now, there are 115 guys sitting.”
Redler’s most recent layoff was more than a month ago. He’ll soon travel to Washington to fight for jobs and an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. A record number of workers have been unable to find jobs for 99 weeks or more…more than 6 million. He hopes he won’t find himself in that situation, but he knows it could happen. And he knows it’s time for action.
“We know how to organize and demand what’s right, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Redler said.
Despite the odds, members of UNITEHERE! Local 6 won respect and a contract that boosts wages and health care coverage from a restaurant owner who likened workers to chairs—yet another victory for the 23,000 low-wage service employees who are members of New York City’s dynamic union.
Today’s American Prospect feature on Local 6 showcases an effective union model that helps hotel, motel and restaurant workers win a voice on the job.
Check it out here.
AFL-CIO Field Communications staffer Cathy Sherwin sends us this report.
Opponents of working people in Michigan are pushing a bill that would gut protections for workers hurt on the job and give employers more power to dictate where injured workers could seek treatment. The bill also would slash benefits by factoring in “imaginary” wages and pensions and deducting from benefits—reducing workers’ compensation by the amount someone might be able to earn, regardless of the availability of an actual job.
The bill, H.B. 5002, has passed the state House, and as legislators in the Senate took it up last week, they were faced with 150 police, firefighters, autoworkers and others packing the Senate hearing room and filling an overflow room to capacity as they described the H.B. 5002′s devastating impact on injured Michigan workers.
Michigan Public Radio quoted testimony by Chris Luty, with the Michigan State Police Troopers Association, that reinforced the dangers of subtracting imaginary wages:
What’s available out there—what’s really available out there—and what’s theoretically available out there are often two very different things.
In addition to the dozens who told their stories to the committee, many more filled out cards against the bill. Corporations and interest groups spoke in favor of the bill, including the Michigan Manufacturers Association and others that have been pushing a laundry list of attacks on Michigan workers, including so-called right to work.
Workers’ compensation is only the latest power grab by Lansing politicians who have cynically decided to work for CEOs and Wall Street bankers instead of the 99 percent of Michiganders. This fight to protect injured workers is ongoing. If you’re in Michigan, sign the petition to protect workers’ comp benefits. And to stay involved and informed on the issue, watch for #saveMIworkerscomp and #StateSOS on Twitter.