We Need the PRO Act: The Working People Weekly List

We Need the PRO Act: 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.

Court’s Latest Anti-Union Ruling Shows Why We Need PRO Act: “In response, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released this statement on Wednesday: “We are deeply disappointed that the court reversed a decades-old rule that allowed farm workers to exercise their fundamental right to organize at the location where they work as an unconstitutional ‘taking’ of their employers’ property. As the state of California recognized more than 45 years ago, meeting with the union during off-hours at their workplace is the only practical way for workers to organize when they must regularly move from farm to farm throughout the growing season. The AFL-CIO will do everything in our power to help California farm workers find other pathways to exercise their right to form a union to gain a voice at work and ensure safe and healthy working conditions.”

Corporations Like Amazon Pay Big Bucks for ‘Union Avoidance’—and It All Happens in the Dark: “Over the past year, we’ve seen Amazon, the e-commerce Goliath which employs 1.3 million people (roughly equivalent to the entire population of Dallas), launch one of the most aggressive anti-union campaigns in modern corporate history, successfully quashing a months-long employee-led organizing effort at a company warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.”

SAG-AFTRA Teams with AFL-CIO to Offer New Health Options for Medicare-Eligible Members: “SAG-AFTRA and the AFL-CIO have teamed up to provide two new affordable health plan options to all Medicare-eligible SAG-AFTRA members and their spouses, many of whom might have lost, or are in danger of losing, their union health coverage due to recent changes in the guild’s Health Plan eligibility rules. The Motion Picture & Television Fund and the Actors Fund are administering the application process. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a joint statement that the new options, which will become available in early July, are being offered through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which are group Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage.”

Striking Alabama Coal Miners Take Protest to Wall Street: “About 14 striking Alabama mine workers have taken their case to Wall Street this morning. Chanting ‘no contract, no coal,’ the miners today launched the latest step in a strike that began April 1 for a new contract with Warrior Met Coal. United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and union members plan to protest in front of the Manhattan offices of several hedge funds the union says are the reason the contract negotiations are stalled.”

Biden to Nominate Union Lawyer to Key Seat on U.S. Labor Board: “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Tuesday praised Biden in a tweet for ‘for acting quickly to return a pro-worker majority to the @NLRB.'”

Most Americans Can Be Fired for No Reason at Any Time, but a New Law in New York Could Change That: “This is how the U.S. works under at-will employment, a legal standard that allows companies to fire people for almost any reason—and sometimes for no reason at all. Unlike in other wealthy countries, where bosses generally have to provide just cause for termination, at-will positions account for most U.S. jobs. This probably includes your job, dear reader. Most white-collar and professional workers aren’t any more legally protected from their bosses’ whims than Walker was. Google software engineers, Wells Fargo & Co. bankers, and Mayo Clinic surgeons work at will. So do humble Bloomberg reporters. The only Americans with a higher standard of protection tend to be limited to the C-suite, the public sector, he nation’s dwindling unionized workplaces, and—because of a complex, decades-old compromise—Montana.”

Pope Francis Champions Right of Workers to Organize in Unions: “Pope Francis has championed the right of all workers to unionize, as economic activity is poised to increase when the pandemic threat eases. The pontiff stressed the needs of the most vulnerable workers, including migrants, in a video message Thursday to participants at a conference organized by the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency based in Geneva. Francis said efforts to rebuild economies after COVID-19 setbacks must aim at a future with ‘decent and dignified working conditions,’ originating in collective bargaining. He called the ‘right to organize in unions’ one of the fundamental protections for workers.”

Poll: A Majority of Voters Support the PRO Act: “The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act seems unlikely to succeed in the Senate due to a lack of Republican support—but it has the support of the majority of likely voters, according to a new poll from Vox and Data for Progress. The act, a sweeping labor rights bill, would strengthen unions through overriding Republican-led ‘right to work’ state laws, which impede unions’ abilities by allowing workers to join without paying dues. It would also penalize companies that restrict union activity, and would bestow independent contractors—such as drivers for Uber and Lyft—with the right to organize and collectively bargain.”

Striking Alabama Coal Miners Are Getting Attacked with Pickup Trucks: Report: “The United Mine Workers of America released video last week of two of the three attacks on its picketing members by people driving large trucks. The union says these assaults were carried out ‘…by persons working for Warrior Met Coal, Inc.’ Around 1,100 coal miners have been on strike since the beginning of April, seeking better pay and working conditions, according to the Guardian. Miners accepted a staggering $6-an-hour pay cut, agreed to a strict attendance policy and a steep reduction in benefits five years ago when the last owner of the No. 7 mine in Brookwood, Walter Energy, filed for bankruptcy. Strikers say they now can’t afford basic necessities like food and housing. The miners told the Guardian they are simply seeking payment and benefits similar to other local unionized mines. While the strikers have received a great deal of support from the labor community, their struggle has not received much attention in the press.”

PRO Act Levels the Playing Field Between Boss and Workers: “States with ‘right to work’ laws have lower average wages, lower benefits and decreased safety on the job. This is by design. On top of that, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, the backbone of labor law in America, excludes domestic workers, farmworkers and independent contractors, leading to more precarity and artificially low wages in these fields. The PRO Act is seeking to undo decades of laws that have kept workers low-paid and at risk on the job.”

Biden’s Nominations for the Fed Can Change the Economy. But His First Is Stuck in Limbo: “In the coming months, the Biden White House will have major opportunities to influence the makeup of the Federal Reserve, including whether to re-nominate Jerome H. Powell to another term as chair. But after six months in office, White House hasn’t moved to fill an empty seat on the Fed’s seven-member board of governors, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in a decade. Of the Fed’s top officials, everyone except Gov. Lael Brainard are Republicans nominated by former president Trump. Biden’s first pick would come at a critical time for the economy, as rising inflation and worker shortages complicate the recovery.”

How UNITE HERE Turned the West’s Biggest Red State Blue: “UNITE HERE Local 11, which operates in Southern California and Arizona, has been at the forefront of progressive activism in Los Angeles for more than three decades. In 1989, an insurgent campaign for president by Maria Elena Durazo (now a California state senator) wrested control of the local from a more conservative leadership, setting the stage for it to swing leftward in the following decade. The majority of the Unite Here activists who subsequently took center stage were women, opposed to the anti-immigrant stance of the state’s then governor, Pete Wilson, and determined to make their mark on California politics.”

LGBTQ Rights and Labor Rights Are Intrinsically Linked: “The core principle of organized labor in America has always been a commitment to fairness and opportunity for all working people—it’s why collective bargaining agreements have long included robust and durable protections that reflect a commitment not only to union members, but to the common good of all our communities and the people who live and work in them. And it’s why our unions—on behalf of 4.9 million workers—are announcing the Labor for Equality Council, a group of unions dedicated to these issues, and to passing the Equality Act to ensure all LGBTQ workers and their families feel safe and welcome in their neighborhoods on the job, and beyond.”

What Are You Legally Allowed to Say at Work? A Group of Fired Googlers Could Change the Rules: “The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the US’s top enforcer of labor rights, just expanded its complaint against Google to include three more fired Google workers. Those former employees say the company retaliated against them for protesting its work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Now that these workers have been added to the complaint, which will be heard before an administrative judge in August, the outcome of the case could result in a shift in what employees can talk about at work without fear of repercussions from their employer.”

Kenneth Quinnell
Tue, 06/29/2021 – 15:55

Updated: July 7, 2021 — 11:08 pm