A Big Deal: The Working People Weekly List

A Big Deal: The Working People Weekly List

Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

The Amazon Warehouse Union Vote in Alabama Is a Big Deal: “Amazon responded quickly to the pandemic spike in online shopping. It added 400,000 employees in the first nine months of last year. It added new facilities and new airplanes to deliver goods. And across the company’s fulfillment centers, the pressure on Amazon workers to get orders out fast, to ‘make rate,’ became more intense than ever. That dogged pursuit of efficiency has pushed some workers to a breaking point. This week, employees at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, are voting on whether to unionize. On Thursday’s episode of What Next, I talked to Washington Post reporter Jay Greene about what the workers want, how management is fighting back, and what this action—the first of its kind at Amazon in seven years—could mean for future unionization efforts at the company. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.”

Hollywood Unions Join AFL-CIO Push for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Public Policy Agenda: “Hollywood’s major unions have signed on with the AFL-CIO’s push to advance public policy initiatives involving diversity, equity and inclusion issues. The broad goal is to strengthen collective bargaining and copyright protections on the state and federal level. On Thursday, a clutch of entertainment industry union representatives gathered for a virtual news conference to detail the policy proposals and underscore the urgency for the need for action to better protect middle-class and low-rung workers. ‘We stand solidly behind the missions and goals. We believe very strongly in copyright protections. It’s how our members receive appropriate remuneration for their work,’ said David White, national executive director of SAG-AFTRA. ‘And we feel very strongly about the importance of showcasing the full variety of the American scene’ in entertainment content.”

These House Bills Could Make Life Better for Millions of U.S. Workers: “‘Increasing the minimum wage makes economic sense, it makes political sense and it makes moral sense. When working people take home our fair share, we spend more, boost demand and create jobs. This is a no-brainer,’ John Weber, a spokesman for AFL-CIO, said in an email.”

As Amazon Union Vote Starts, AFL-CIO’s Tech Think Tank Considers Future of Labor: “On Monday in Alabama, more than 5,800 of them will be able to vote on whether to become the first Amazon warehouse in the United States to unionize. ‘Now it’s our turn to be a disruptor,’ said Elizabeth Shuler, secretary-treasurer and second highest-ranking officer of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. It’s a big day for the AFL-CIO. Not only is it providing guidance to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Amazon warehouse workers. It also recently launched a think tank, the Technology Institute, partly meant to help workers at tech behemoths like Amazon organize.”

AFL-CIO Leader: Clinton, Obama Let Down Unions: “‘Joe Biden has surrounded himself with people that are worker-friendly, so that in the multitude of decisions that are made every day without the president being involved, they’re going to think about the impact it has on workers,’ Trumka said. ‘That’s a significant difference and a beneficial one for workers in this country,’ Trumka added. ‘And it’s one of our reasons for optimism and hope.’ Barack Obama and Bill Clinton—the last two Democratic presidents—’didn’t understand the importance of labor and the importance of collective bargaining,’ he said.”

The Economist Placing Value on Black Women’s Overlooked Work: “Every year women do trillions of dollars’ worth of unpaid household work. In the United States alone, that total amounted to roughly $1.2 trillion in 2019, a figure nearly the size of the New York State economy. In Britain, the statistics agency has a calculator that lets you learn the value of chores like doing laundry, child care and taking others where they need to go. Thirty-five hours of child care and five hours of cooking is valued at about 570 pounds ($779) a week.”

Beltrami to Retire from AFL-CIO After 15 Years: “The Alaska AFL-CIO announced today that President Vince Beltrami is retiring after 15 years as the head of the state’s largest labor organization. According to an announcement from the organization describing the change as ‘a bittersweet leadership change,’ AFL-CIO’s Director of Operations Joelle Hall has been selected by the group’s leadership to serve the remainder of Beltrami’s term. ‘Vince Beltrami has been an incredible force for the Alaska Labor movement. He leaves behind a legacy as he closes this chapter as President for the Alaska AFL-CIO. Since his early days as an IBEW organizer, Vince has made life better for all working people in Alaska. Through his leadership, Vince brought us into a new century. He will retire in power knowing we are all stronger and better able to do what is right for Alaska workers,’ said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jake Metcalfe in a prepared statement. ‘Vince, you did a hell of a job and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.’”

Kenneth Quinnell
Fri, 02/12/2021 – 13:30

Updated: February 18, 2021 — 12:14 am