Disregard for Health and Safety: The Working People Weekly List

Disregard for Health and Safety: 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.


Amazon Has ‘Disregard for Health and Safety of Its Own Employees:’ RWDSU President: “Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union president Stuart Appelbaum discuss Amazon’s upcoming vote to unionize workers in Alabama. First of all, I’d say that a majority of the workers at the plant have already signed cards saying that they want to union at that facility. I know that there are a lot of complaints about the dehumanization and the mistreatment of workers at the Amazon facility. People get their assignments from robots. They’re fired by text message. And they feel that the robots are treated better than the human beings who work there. There are a lot of concerns about health and safety. Even before the pandemic, the pace at the fulfillment center was unsustainable.”

Ron Bieber: Congress and Biden Should Act on an Agenda for Working People: “Now we have a unique opportunity to continue to improve the lives of working folks with a workers first agenda supported by the AFL-CIO, the country’s federation of national and international labor unions that represent millions of working men and women. First is empowering workers. Stronger unions are essential to helping our country address and move forward out of each of the crises facing us right now, so we are hopeful that the Biden administration works with Congress to enact the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.”

Column: Biden Sweeps Trump’s Rabidly Anti-Union Appointees Out of a Key Federal Labor Agency: “Continuing his considerable effort to strip the government of all vestiges of Trumpism, President Biden on Tuesday swept a clutch of union-busting officials out of a little-known but all-important federal labor relations agency. The agency is the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which rules on disputes over government union contracts when an agency and its union can’t reach agreement.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Shuler Talks Tech and Jobs: “‘We are going to insert ourselves at every table,’ Shuler said. ‘If we don’t get workers to the table, there’s going to be more of what Trump tapped into,’ she said, in reference to angry voters who feel left behind by globalization. ‘Training works better when you talk to workers. They can tell you what will and won’t work when automating. We’re not always hostile—we can be collaborators and make it go well.'”

John J. Sweeney, 1934-2021: “John Sweeney, who led an era of transformative change in America’s labor movement, passed away Feb. 1 at the age of 86. Sweeney was one of four children born to Irish immigrants in a working-class Bronx neighborhood shortly after the Great Depression.”

Amazon’s Anti-Union Blitz Stalks Alabama Warehouse Workers Everywhere, Even the Bathroom: “Amazon is the great white whale, a target that labor groups have longed for years to organize, said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which is providing personnel and strategic guidance to aid the RWDSU. ‘We’ll give them whatever they need to help them win,’ Trumka said. ‘It’s an important, important drive.’”

Pandemic Wears on Essential Workers: ‘Everybody Forgets That You’re Still on the Front Line’: “In March, when Americans were just starting to adjust to a locked-down world and no one could have predicted how long the pandemic would last, The Wall Street Journal interviewed essential workers, from a subway operator to a home-health aide. The Journal recently talked to the same group again to see how they have fared in a crisis that has so far led to more than 440,000 U.S. deaths and a transformation of the U.S. economy that is painful for many. The workers expressed a mix of frustration, exhaustion and determination. Most still see the importance of what they do, and some have seized on the demand for services like home deliveries to boost their incomes. Others have stopped working, partly out of fear of getting infected. Others have no choice but to keep going and feel lucky they still have jobs.”

Biden Moves Quickly to Show Union Workers that Democrats Care: “Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, are more optimistic about the prospects for organized labor than they’ve been in many years. ‘I know what he is. Joe Biden’s a blue-collar guy,’ said Trumka, who like Biden is from a working-class area in Pennsylvania and has known the president for 40 years. ‘He understands working people, the importance of a paycheck, importance of health and safety on the job, importance of having a union.… He understands all of that. It’s not something he picked up in the polls. It’s what he believes.’”

Amazon’s Cynical, Anti-Union Attack on Mail Voting: “A battle over voting by mail is again being waged in an electoral contest. But now it’s Amazon that opposes a mail-ballot election in order to thwart a unionization effort at an Alabama fulfillment center. In November, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, rejected Donald Trump’s falsehoods about voter fraud, writing on Instagram just after the election, ‘By voting in record numbers, the American people proved again that our democracy is strong.’ Now, however, Amazon’s opposition to mail balloting threatens to undermine workplace democracy. In the era of Covid-19, it also endangers public health.”

Aviation Unions Are Asking Congress for $15 Billion to Extend Furlough Protections: “A coalition of aviation unions has asked congress for a $15 billion extension for a furlough protection program, warning a lack of funding would lead to layoffs. The funding would extend the current Payroll Support Program through September 30. Otherwise, it would expire on March 31. ‘Without these actions, wide-scale layoffs in the industry will begin as early as March 31st,’ the unions wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with others.”

A New Day for Labor in the South?: “‘The whole South has right-to-work laws, this is where they originated,’ MaryBe McMillan, president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, told Facing South. ‘It would be a completely different environment here in North Carolina to be able to collect fair share fees from workers who are already represented by a union, so that it’s not just union members who are paying but everybody’s that’s reaping the benefits of a union contract who can put in some money towards the administration and implementation of a contract and union representation.’ McMillan is also encouraged by Biden’s support for reforms that would allow public employees to collectively bargain, something prohibited in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, and the PRO Act’s heightened penalties and enforcement measures against employers who threaten and even fire workers who attempt to unionize. ‘It’s really important that companies face stiff penalties when they break the law and violate workers’ rights,’ said McMillan. ‘That’s especially important here in the South, where we see a real hostile, union-busting climate.'”

Kenneth Quinnell
Mon, 02/08/2021 – 12:57

Updated: February 11, 2021 — 11:15 pm