As you have heard, The United States and the world are facing the very real threat of the widespread transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Ohio too is bracing for the inevitable, as state health officials fully expect that we will eventually see COVID-19 here. Health professionals and medical experts gathered in Columbus this week to emphasize preparation and avoid panic.
The health and safety of all our affiliates, members and the community where we live, work and play are extremely important to us. So, in that spirit, we are taking this opportunity to share some important resources, helpful information, and best practices for planning and preparedness for the COVID-19 situation.
For current information and guidance regarding COVID-19, we recommend the following resources:
If you or someone in your care feels ill, especially if there is a fever involved, immediately consult with your family doctor or other medical professional. And please, avoid contact with other people if sick.
We will continue to closely monitor this evolving situation, as should you. As further information is made available, we will provide updates as needed. And for ongoing, updated information see the great resources provided by The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) resource page HERE!
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) appeared on CNBC yesterday afternoon to discuss the labor movement’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the concrete steps our government can take right now to protect the health and safety of workers, our society and our economy. This includes emergency legislation that will help protect health care workers from infectious diseases, make test kits free and accessible to the public, provide paid sick leave for all workers, and ensure the most vulnerable members of our society have access to food assistance programs.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka appeared on CNBC's Closing Bell this afternoon and talked about what we are doing to fight for frontline workers and workers across the country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are standing up for our public Postal Service. It’s time to protect America’s most cherished institution.
The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed the USPS Fairness Act. Now let’s get it through the Senate. We are telling our Senators to pass S.2965, the USPS Fairness Act.
In 2006, Congress saddled our public Postal Service with an unfair and unsustainable burden of pre-funding retiree health care benefits for the next 75 years! That means paying now for USPS workers who aren’t even born yet.
Selling the public Postal Service to private corporations is not in the public interest and would be nothing more than a raid by corporate pirates on our treasured public Postal Service which is protected in our Constitution.
The USPS Fairness Act will start to put that right by removing the unfair burden. By repealing the prefunding mandate, the Postal Service would then be able to focus on investing and innovating services in order to better meet its mission to service every American household and business.
Join us in supporting our public Postal Service. Call Senator Rob Portman today at (833) 924-0085 and tell him to stand up and protect our public Postal Service by supporting S.2965, the USPS Fairness Act.
The White House’s plan states, “Like many European nations the United States could privatize its postal operator.” What’s left unsaid is European nations charge substantially more for mail services delivered in a much smaller area, and they regularly raise the price of delivery. One example is that the price of sending a letter in the United Kingdom has increased 80 percent over the last decade.
Eliminating the universal service obligation to deliver to the 157 million U.S. addresses at the same price, as the plan suggests, would hurt businesses and individuals alike. It would be a dagger in the heart of rural America and undermine e-commerce.
Join us in supporting our public Postal Service. Call Senator Rob Portman today at (833) 924-0085 and tell him to stand up and protect our public Postal Service by supporting S.2965, the USPS Fairness Act.
116th Congress is the Most Pro-Retiree Congress in 9 Years
Still, more than half of the Senate and more than one-third of the House earned scores below 50%
Washington, DC – The Alliance for Retired Americans released its 2019 Congressional Voting Record, which scores each U.S. Senator and Representative on critical retirement security issues, today.
“Almost every elected official in Washington says they care about older Americans,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “This report considers numerous votes to determine who stood up for seniors last year, and who did not.”
Forty-two members of the U.S. Senate and 216 members of the House of Representatives earned perfect scores of 100 percent. However, 51 percent of senators and 45 percent of House members earned scores below 50 percent.
The annual report reviewed votes on 10 key Senate and House bills that affect the health and well-being of retirees. The votes included bills and amendments to lower skyrocketing prescription drug prices, protect people with pre-existing health conditions, ensure caregivers can take sick leave, protect pensions, and repeal the 40% excise tax on employer-sponsored health plans.
“These issues are important and the votes have real consequences for millions of older Americans. They will either strengthen or weaken retirement security for millions of people,” said Fiesta. “Retirees need to have this information to hold their elected officials accountable.”
Fourteen senators and 4 House members earned scores of 0 percent. They are: Senators John Barrasso (WY), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Ted Cruz (TX), Steve Daines (MT), Mike Enzi (WY), John Kennedy (LA), James Lankford (OK), Mike Lee (UT), James Risch (ID), Ben Sasse (NE), Tim Scott (SC), and Pat Toomey (PA); and Reps. Justin Amash (MI), Dan Bishop (NC), Andy Harris (MD), and Gregory Murphy (NC).
Right now, Congress has a critical opportunity to strengthen workers’ rights.
Lawmakers, in 2019, introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, H.R. 2474, which would give millions of America’s workers additional protections to organize and negotiate for better pay and benefits, and a voice on the job.
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on this crucial piece of legislation. But greedy CEOs will do everything they can to oppose working people standing together.
It’s no secret that the right to form a union is under attack. “Right to work” laws are spreading, while wages have stagnated. More than ever, we need our lawmakers to stand up for working people’s rights—that’s where the PRO Act comes in. It would:
Penalize employers who violate workers’ right to organize.
Help workers secure a first contract.
Protect workers who go on strike.
Close loopholes that allow companies to misclassify workers as independent contractors.
I study atmospheric chemistry at Columbia University, where I research air pollution and offer teaching support for classes that introduce students to the science and societal impacts of climate change. Despite attending and working for a world-class university, my colleagues and I struggle to make ends meet in the most expensive city in the world.
I got involved in organizing a union with my fellow graduate student workers at Columbia because of our precarious benefits and lack of real workplace rights. In 2016, we overturned a decision made during President George W. Bush’s era by the NLRB and restored our collective bargaining rights. Since the NLRB ruling in the Columbia case, more than 20,000 graduate student workers across the country have been eligible to vote in union representation elections—and we have voted “yes” overwhelmingly.
As employees who are responsible for a growing portion of the teaching and research at our universities, graduate student workers have formed unions in record numbers to address chronic problems with sexual harassment and discrimination, unstable health benefits, and the precarious rights of international student workers, among other issues. These are some of the fundamental rights we know unions have addressed for decades across all sectors.
But in a desperate move to stifle the unprecedented momentum of the graduate student worker union movement, the NLRB has proposed a new rule that could take away the collective bargaining rights of research and teaching assistants at our universities.
Hey all! I wanted to share that the United Steelworkers (USW) has a new podcast, Solidarity Works, and our first episode went live this morning! I sat down with our Rapid Response director, Amber Miller, to chat about the three major bills our activists are pushing for in Washington, D.C., and what lies ahead for them in 2020.
You can find us on pretty much any streaming service (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher, etc.), or at usw.to/podcast. We’ll be posting episodes monthly until March when I’ll switch to two episodes per month.
With a critical election right around the corner, the theme for the 2020 MLK Conference is “Give Us the Ballot,” drawn from Dr. King’s 1957 voting rights speech delivered at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom gathering in Washington, D.C.
Decades after Dr. King advocated tirelessly for full access to the voting booth, we are still facing voter disenfranchisement at alarming levels. In the labor movement, we know that ensuring full voting access and a fair count of every ballot is critical.
After many rounds of negotiations, and tireless support from allies like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sens. Sherrod Brown and Ron Wyden, I’m writing to tell you that the AFL-CIO is endorsing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
We knew this deal was too important to get wrong or be rushed. In the face of pressure, working people persevered, winning truly enforceable labor standards and an elimination of special carve outs for big corporations. Also, the USMCA now closes loopholes designed to make it harder to prosecute labor violations.
The USMCA is far from perfect. It alone is not a solution for outsourcing, inequality or climate change. Successfully tackling these issues requires a full-court press of economic policies that empower workers, including the repeal of tax cuts which reward companies for shipping our jobs overseas.
But there is no denying that the trade rules in America will now be fairer because of our hard work and perseverance. More than 16,000 of you signed our petition to tell Congress that we deserve a trade deal that works for all of us.
Last year, the White House announced proposals to privatize the Postal Service. Postmaster General Megan Brennan is leaving the agency in January, and it’s likely that the White House’s next pick will have privatization high up on the agenda. We can’t let that happen—it’s time to mobilize support to protect the U.S. Postal Service.
Chairman McColley, Vice chair Thompson, Ranking Minority Member Antonio and members of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony today. My name is Tim Burga and I am the President of the Ohio American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (Ohio AFL-CIO). The State Federation represents over 500,000 organized workers in nearly all sectors of employment. From making steel to baking bread, building our schools and teaching our children, keeping us safe and delivering the goods Ohio’s union members are doing the work that connects us all. I write to you today on behalf of our union members and Ohio’s working families in opposition to Senate Resolution 376, which urges Congress to adopt the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, also known as USMCA or NAFTA 2.0.
NAFTA and subsequent trade deals have been a disaster for the U.S. manufacturing sector and as a result our local communities. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Ohio has lost approximately 106,000 blue-collar jobs because of NAFTA, as manufacturing plants closed and relocated to Mexico. That’s because NAFTA was written to enrich corporations, providing a massive windfall for big-business at the expense of working people and the communities where we live and raise our families. To make matters worse, it soon became the template for other anti-worker trade agreements, perpetuating a vicious cycle of multinational corporations outsourcing jobs to low-wage, low-standard regions and destroying the livelihoods of working families in the process.
After a quarter-century of this race to the bottom, working people are fed up and demand a better way forward. We are hungry for a North American trade deal that lifts wages and improves livelihoods. But make no mistake: The deal the Trump administration is pushing on Congress falls short of what we need and deserve.
President Obhof claimed in his testimony that this trade agreement will be different because the USMCA’s “enforceable labor standards will enable the American worker to compete on a level playing field, while improving wages and labor standards among our trading partners.” One of the standards that proponents hold up as an example is a requirement that at least 40 percent of vehicles made in Mexico must be assembled by workers “making at least $16 an hour.” As written, the deal allows any party to block an enforcement proceeding by refusing to appoint
arbitrators to a dispute panel. And the $16 wage rule is an average, not a floor, so it includes engineers and other highly paid white-collar workers. This flaw would allow Mexican auto factories to continue to pay the vast majority of workers poverty wages.
To win working peoples support, the treaty needs robust enforcement mechanisms not currently in the plan. Without the necessary enforcement provisions, the American worker will have little faith that Mexico can or will keep up its end of the bargain to establish a Department of Labor, implement and enforce long-overdue labor reforms, allow workers to form real unions and negotiate better wages and working conditions. While the Mexican government has taken steps in the right direction, this proposal has no way of ensuring that they continue following through on their promises.
This deal needs to mandate transparent reporting and strong, guaranteed consequences for violations. With working people in Mexico currently facing wages as low as $2 per hour or less, we cannot accept a deal that doesn’t have the enforcement tools to raise standards for working people in all three NAFTA countries.
Under the proposed deal, any party can unilaterally shut down a settlement panel investigating trade violations. That’s akin to giving an accused thief the right to shut down his own trial. Negotiators had gotten rid of this loophole in recent trade agreements, so to turn back now would be another unacceptable concession to multinational corporations. If a trade deal cannot be enforced, then it’s not a deal at all.
Finally, the administration needs to rein in pharmaceutical corporations’ monopoly over prescription drug prices. The new USCMA would lock in exorbitant prices for life-saving medicines for a decade — a massive giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry and a blow to working families and consumers. These are the most egregious issues, but there is a range of other problems with the current proposal that also needs addressed, from allowing corporations to hide the origins of our food to leaving high-wage jobs vulnerable to continued outsourcing.
While I am glad that this much needed debate is happening right here in Ohio, Senate Resolution 376 falls short of what Ohioans need from our state Senate on this matter. This body should be urging Congress to correct the issues outlined above before bringing the USMCA up for a vote. For too long, Ohioans have suffered from lost jobs and lower wages because of so-called “free trade” deals that place the interests of multinational corporations over our workers. The USMCA as written is just more of the same failed policies. I urge this committee to vote NO on Senate Resolution 376 and instead ask Congress to change the USMCA so that it works for working families.
Thank you for taking the time to read my written testimony opposing SR 376. Please do not hesitate reaching out to my office with any questions.
A legend of the U.S. Senate and hero to working people joined us on our latest podcast. He’s famous for championing working families and wearing a canary pin on his lapel. If you haven’t guessed yet, our guest is Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio). Listen to our entire conversation here.
We talked about the ongoing UAW strike and the dignity of work. He discussed how fighting for workers doesn’t mean leaving anyone out—that being progressive means leaving no worker behind. Sen. Brown also ran us through his American-made apparel, including his union-made suits.
Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here’s a look at the broad range of activities we’re engaged in this week.
On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-hosts Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner check in with AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council Executive Director Brad Markell about the UAW strike at General Motors and interview Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose work helped pave the way for passage of A.B. 5, the landmark pro-worker legislation in California.
The Ironworkers of Local 44 deliver top-quality craftsmanship with the highest level of professionalism and safety. Find out how we can take your next project to the next level. As the Ironworkers of Local 44, we commit to use our training and skills, each and every day, to produce the highest quality work worthy of our names.
Appropriations for Teach for America, charters, charter facilities, quality charter schools support, vouchers, non-public administrative cost reimbursement, auxiliary services, charter and private schools transportation, Bright New Leaders for Ohio Schools Program, community schools and choice programs, community school operating from home and EdChoice expansion program are all included in HB 166.
The biennial appropriation for these private ventures, excluding about $1.8 billion that will be extracted from school districts for charters and $600 million that will be extracted from school districts for vouchers, will be in the range of $800 million. Hence, the biennial support for private education ventures will be about $3.2 billion for the biennium.
The appropriation of $4 million for Teach for America is a travesty. In an earlier post, it was revealed that Teach for America had assets of $366,724,130 in 2017.
The appropriation language for Teach for America includes, “…support for ongoing development and impact of Teach for America alumni working in Ohio.” What are these alumni doing in Ohio to warrant state support? Teach for America is using the temporary teaching assignment to advance a more sweeping agenda. TFA needs to be investigated.
The Bright New Leaders for Ohio Schools Program will receive $2 million for an alternative principals’ training program which puts those who are not trained as educators into administrative positions in schools.
Charter schools will receive $250 per student for facilities each year. Online charters will receive $25 per student. (Why would online charters receive any funds for facilities?) Section 265.410 of HB 166 is bizarre:
Community School Operating From Home
A community school established under Chapter 3314 of the Revised Code that was open for operation as a community school as of May 1, 2005, may operate from or in any home, as defined in section 3313.64 of the Revised Code, located in the state, regardless of when the community school’s operations from or in a particular home began.
What is the deal? A charter school operating “from or in” a home? The kitchen? The family room? The laundry room?
Well there you have it. Private education ventures on public funds are in full bloom in Ohio.
William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540
A wave of collective action continues to sweep across the country. Working people from all walks of life—teachers, hotel workers, federal government employees, actors—are joining together for better wages and benefits, access to health care, respect on the job and the rights and dignities we all deserve.
We need your help. The Department of Labor just released a proposal that could decimate training and labor standards in registered apprenticeship programs across the country, and we only have a few weeks to stop it.
Apprenticeships are key pathways to gainful employment, training workers for highly skilled jobs while paying living wages and providing health care. This new proposal would drive down standards for the world-class apprenticeship programs that workers and industries depend on. It would jeopardize not only good jobs, but safety standards in industries like construction. Watering down these programs is just plain wrong.
Right now, the Department of Labor is asking the public for feedback on this misguided proposal. We have to let them know that working people won’t stand for this. Help save our apprenticeships: Submit your comment now.