Time to Go on Offense: The 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.
AFL-CIO President Trumka Tells Unions It’s Time To Go on Offense: "All that came just after Trumka told the UAW 'It’s time to drop our shield, pick up our sword and go on offense for a while,' to campaign for protecting pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, to rebuild infrastructure and to 'protect our water from becoming poisoned like it was in Flint, Mich.'"
Is Trump Joking About ‘Strengthening the Federal Workforce’?: "At an AFGE rally Tuesday outside the AFL-CIO headquarters, just across Lafayette Square from the White House, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warmed the crowd by saying, 'You are here today not only on behalf of hundreds of thousands of federal workers who want decent pay and decent working conditions, but you are here today on behalf of 300 million Americans who understand that what this country is about is providing quality care for veterans, to the elderly, to the children, to the poor and to the sick. That’s what you do. Thank you very much for doing it.'"
German Union's Big Win Shows U.S. Labor the Path Forward: "Last week the German metalworkers’ union, IG Metall, arguably one of the world’s most powerful unions, showed that unions have the power to shape their future workplaces. IG Metall negotiated a precedent-setting collective-bargaining agreement that privileges working conditions over wages. It won its key demand that workers have the right to reduce their working week from 35 to 28 hours for a period of up to two years in order to care for family members."
Empowering Working People in the West: AFL-CIO Holds Third Regional Meeting of 2018: "AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre welcomed nearly 400 labor leaders and activists to his home state of California for the AFL-CIO Western District meeting this week. Gebre emphasized the importance of the actions attendees are taking to empower working people in the West, saying, 'Our movement is at its best when we work from the grassroots up, not from D.C. down.'"
Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act Would Strip Working People of Freedoms: "Congress should protect worker freedom and uphold the sovereignty of Native American tribes, not pit the two against each other. Working people must have a legally enforceable right to form unions and negotiate together with the tribal enterprises that employ them. It’s fair, it’s democratic and it’s one important step toward an economy that works for all working people."
We Don't Play 'Chicken' with Safety: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with poultry workers coming together to preserve safe line speeds and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."
Taking the Wheel: A New Generation Is Driving the Future of the Labor Movement: "Building on the achievements of the past, newly elected union leaders and young workers are spreading optimism across the country. Inspired by the history and mission of the labor movement, a new generation of workers and activists are assuming leadership roles as the ranks of young union workers continue to grow."
Unions Are Fighting for Families by Supporting Women and Rejecting the Status Quo: "Women in the workplace have made major strides. Women currently make up 48% of the workforce and are the sole or primary breadwinner for 40% of families in the United States. Yet most family responsibilities still rest on women’s shoulders and, too often, women put in a full day’s work only to come home and clock in for a second shift."
6 Activist Women You Need to Know About for Black History Month: "As we celebrate Black History Month, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the women who have made history in the realm of fighting for the rights of working people. The battles they fought at the intersection of the rights of African Americans, women and working people should have made these women household names. Women continue to be at the forefront of battles for the rights of African Americans today, building on the work of these women and many others. Here is an introduction to a group of amazing women who did some amazing things."
Shuler: ‘What Unites Us Is Work and the Desire for a Better Life': "'Our movement is made up of working people of all parties and ideologies,' AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told a crowd of more than 300 labor leaders and activists gathered at the AFL-CIO Northeast District Meeting in Silver Spring, Md. 'What unites us is work and the desire for a better life. Improving the lives of union members and all working people must be our guiding light in politics.'"
A Wave of Worker Activism: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations and central labor councils on Twitter."
Empowering Working People in the West: AFL-CIO Holds Third Regional Meeting of 2018
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre welcomed nearly 400 labor leaders and activists to his home state of California for the AFL-CIO Western District meeting this week. Gebre emphasized the importance of the actions attendees are taking to empower working people in the West, saying, "Our movement is at its best when we work from the grassroots up, not from D.C. down."
Representatives from state federations, central labor councils and affiliate unions from Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming joined together at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 324 hall in Buena Park, California, for a full day of strategizing to win for working people. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) acknowledged the latest achievements of the union movement out West, including the successful union election at the Los Angeles Times and the election of labor leaders to local government positions in Washington and Utah.
Other recent examples of workers out West turning the tide include:
Cafeteria workers at Facebook’s campuses in California and Washington who voted to join UNITE HERE.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged everyone in the room to keep growing that momentum. "The test of 2018 and beyond will be to build on these successes. Each election, each organizing drive, each legislative battle will showcase our growing clout," Trumka said.
A series of breakout sessions and a panel of state federation presidents from Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming conveyed a key theme of the meeting: engaging union members and empowering them to be active and take ownership of their unions. Participants left the meeting energized and ready to turn anti-worker attacks into opportunities to strengthen the labor movement in 2018.
This was the third of several regional meetings the AFL-CIO is organizing for early 2018. The others are in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; New Orleans; and Las Vegas.
A Rising Tide of Buyer's Remorse Even in the Red States?
Donald Trump carried all but two of Kentucky’s 120 counties, and he collected a whopping 62.5% of the vote.
Kentucky is among only a dozen states where the president’s popularity is 50% or higher. He’s at 51 in the Red State Bluegrass State.
Nationwide, Trump received votes from 43% of union households, according to a poll by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. The survey didn’t break down the results state by state. The president probably did as well or better among Kentucky union households.
Anyway, go ahead and call it whistling past the graveyard. But the 51% number suggests that buyer’s remorse is creeping up in the border state I’ve called home for all my 68 years.
I’ve packed a union card for about two dozen years. Most of us in organized labor voted for Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO-endorsed Democrat. But I’m hearing about rumblings of regret in union ranks.
We said Trump was—and still is—a fraud and a con man. He ran on a standard Wall Street Republican platform with planks supporting:
"Right to work" (On the campaign trail, Trump said he preferred right to work states to non-right to work states.)
Repeal of the prevailing wage on federal construction projects.
Deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Sharp rollbacks in federal regulations that safeguard worker safety and health on the job, protect consumers and shield the environment from polluters.
Hefty tax breaks for corporations and rich people and tax crumbs for the rest of us.
The Trump-Republican Robin-in-reverse tax bill came up at this month's meeting of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, where I’m recording secretary.
"We’ve always preached that what’s good for the union is good for everybody, and it has been historically," said delegate Jimmy Evans, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 816 business manager.
He cited as proof the tax legislation, which AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) called in a statement "nothing but an attack on America’s workers." He added, "We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits."
The devil is always in the details. Under the tax bill, corporations can deduct payments to union-busting lawyers, but union members can’t deduct their union dues, according to the United Steelworkers (USW).
"Previously, employees could potentially write off work-related expenses that added up to more than 2% of their gross income, and for which an employer didn't reimburse them," explained CNBC's Annie Nova.
Nova also wrote that the axing of "miscellaneous itemized deductions" for a lot of taxpayers might not sound like a big deal, but she cautioned that their disappearance "will leave a hole in many workers' pockets, experts say."
The end of those deductions "was a shot across the bow of union members,” Evans said. "But it also affects a lot of nonunion members that work construction, just like it does our construction members."
Nova also said workers can no longer deduct "work-related legal fees...medical examinations required by an employer, union dues and licenses."
She quoted Seth Harris, a deputy labor secretary under President Barack Obama: "The really big story of the tax bill is that it favors capital over labor. It's heavily skewed to benefit people who get money without working, as opposed to those who labor for a living."
Harris also told her that many workers who itemize have a lot of different expenses—including mortgages—that would still make itemizing worth their while. He added that deductions for corporations are still abundant.
In addition, Nova quoted David Kamin, a law professor at New York University who was an economic policy adviser in the Obama administration: "While people can say there's a doubling of the standard deduction, those who have significant unreimbursed business expenses will not do as well."
She also interviewed Martin Davidoff, a New Jersey CPA and tax attorney who said it's unfair that companies can still deduct the "so-called cost of doing business."
"Take a look at McDonald's," he told Nova. "They spend $50 million on a Superbowl ad, and they get to deduct it."
Tax attorney Paul Drizner said that under the tax bill, many teachers will be forced to choose between spending less on their classrooms or taking home less from their salaries. (Teachers can still can claim a $250 above-the-line deduction on unreimbursed workplace expenses if they itemize or not, according to Nova). "Teachers shouldn't be paying out of their own pocket to put their lessons together," said Drizner in the story.
Evans said it’s not just the tax bill that has union members rethinking the ballots they cast for Trump and other Republicans. "Now they’re wanting to get back on board and be on our side again. They see that those things we fought for is what helped them."
I carry AFT and National Education Association/Kentucky Education Association retiree cards. More than a few community college and public-school teachers not only voted for Trump in 2016, they also cast ballots for GOP Gov. Matt Bevin the year before. (Most of us in AFT and KEA also voted for Jack Conway, the KEA- and Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic gubernatorial hopeful.
The fact that the president's popularity rating in Kentucky is 11.5 percentage points lower that his victory margin suggests that many Trump backers regret their votes. We'll know more in a Feb. 20 special House election in Bullitt County.
The incumbent, Republican Dan Johnson, took his own life. His widow, Republican Rebecca Johnson, who shares her late husband's ultra-conservative views, wants to replace him. Her opponent is state AFL-CIO and KEA-endorsed Democrat Linda Belcher, whom Dan Johnson unseated in 2016.
KEA warned that the Tea Party-tilting Bevin could turn out to be the worst governor for public education in a long time, if not ever. Unions warned he was a union-buster to boot.
In 2017, he and his GOP-majority legislature pushed through a bill authorizing charter schools, which drain much-needed funds from public schools. (With Bevin cheering them on, GOP lawmakers also passed a right to work law and repealed the prevailing wage on state construction jobs.
Bevin’s proposed 2018 budget takes a meat-axe to education spending from kindergarten through higher education, including community colleges and state universities. He also wants to gut the workers' compensation program.
Too, in the phony name of pension "reform," Bevin has proposed a measure that would curb some benefits for current employees and retirees and force most new hires onto risky 401(a) programs.
Teachers are up in arms over the pension bill. (The GOP-majority House has been devising its own pension bill behind closed doors but has yet to release it.)
"It’s great to see all the educators getting involved," Evans said. "But you know what it took to get them involved? Somebody is dipping his hand into their wallets."
Evans hates to say, "We told you so," but he reminded the delegates at our meeting that, all along, organized labor has been telling union members what politicians like Trump and Trump fan Bevin "want to do to them. It’s the same in our ranks. It’s taken politicians dipping into their wallets to get a lot of people re-engaged."
Trump Administration Should Rescind Proposal That Allows Bosses to Pocket Working People's Tips
As we previously reported, President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced a new proposed regulation to allow restaurant owners to pocket the tips of millions of tipped workers. This would result in an estimated $5.8 billion in lost wages for workers each year―wages that they rightfully earned.
And most of that would come from women’s pockets. Nearly 70% of tipped workers are women, and a majority of them work in the restaurant industry, which suffers from some of the highest rates of sexual harassment in the entire labor market. This rule would exacerbate sexual harassment because workers will now depend on the whims of owners to get their tips back.
In a letter to Congress, the AFL-CIO opposed the rule change in the strongest possible terms, calling for the proposal to be rescinded:
Just days before the comment period for this [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] closed, an extremely disturbing report appeared indicating that analysis of the costs and benefits in fact occurred, but was discarded. On Feb. 1, 2018, Bloomberg/BNA reported that the Department of Labor "scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that potentially billions of dollars in gratuities could be transferred from workers to their employer." Assuming these reports are correct, the Department of Labor should immediately make the underlying data (and the analyses that the Department conducted) available to the public. We call on the Department of Labor to do so immediately and to withdraw the related Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
The AFL-CIO strongly urges the Department to withdraw the proposed rule, and instead focus its energies on promoting policies that will improve economic security for people working in low-wage jobs and empower all working people with the resources they need to combat sexual harassment in their workplaces.
The Department of Labor must provide an estimate of its proposed rules’ economic impact. However, while suspiciously claiming that such an analysis was impossible, it turns out that this wasn't true:
Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than redistribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.
The move to drop the analysis means workers, businesses, advocacy groups and others who want to weigh in on the tip pool proposal will have to do so without seeing the government’s estimate first.
Democrats in Congress quickly responded that the rule change should be abandoned, as the new rule would authorize employers to engage in wage theft against their workers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said:
You have been a proponent of more transparency and economic analysis in the rulemaking process. But if DOL hid a key economic analysis of this proposed rule—and if [Office of Management and Budget] officials were aware of and complicit in doing so—that would raise serious questions about the integrity of the rule itself, and about your role and the role of other OMB officials in the rulemaking.
Take action today and send a letter to Congress asking it to stop Trump's tip theft rule.
Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act Would Strip Working People of Freedoms
Congress should protect worker freedom and uphold the sovereignty of Native American tribes, not pit the two against each other. Working people must have a legally enforceable right to form unions and negotiate together with the tribal enterprises that employ them. It’s fair, it’s democratic and it’s one important step toward an economy that works for all working people.
Corporate-backed politicians and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have a new disguise to cut back worker freedoms, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (S. 63, H.R. 986), which would deny National Labor Relations Act protection to more than 600,000 workers.
It’s the classic strategy of divide and conquer. The AFL-CIO supports tribal sovereignty and workers’ freedoms. The two should never be pitted against each other.
Tribal governments and labor unions share a host of basic values, including a desire for broad prosperity, good jobs and thriving communities.
America’s working people want new economic rules so we can raise pay and expand worker freedom, and that means rejecting the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.
The AFL-CIO supports the principle of sovereignty for tribal governments but does not believe that employers should use this principle to deny workers their collective bargaining rights and freedom of association. While the AFL-CIO continues to support the concept of tribal sovereignty in truly internal, self-governance matters, it is in no position to repudiate fundamental human rights that belong to every worker in every nation. Workers cannot be left without any legally enforceable right to form unions and bargain collectively in instances where they are working for a tribal enterprise, which is simply a commercial operation competing with non-tribal businesses....
The AFL-CIO opposes any effort to exempt on an across-the-board basis all tribal enterprises from the NLRA, without undertaking a specific review of all the circumstances—as current NLRB standards provide. Where the enterprise employs mainly Native American employees with mainly Native American customers, and involves self-governance or intramural affairs, leaving the matter to tribal governments may be appropriate. However, where the business employs primarily non-Native American employees and caters to primarily non-Native American customers, there is no basis for depriving employees of their rights and protections under the National Labor Relations Act.
SAG-AFTRA Releases Sexual Harassment Code of Conduct
SAG-AFTRA recently released a code of conduct on sexual harassment as part of a broader program to protect its members, confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace.
Leading with a call to action to its 160,000 members and the entertainment, music and media industries, the code defines sexual harassment and details what constitutes a hostile work environment, retaliation, and other types of prohibited conduct.
The code sets forth employers’ legal obligations under both the union’s contracts and the law, including the need to provide reporting mechanisms through which members can report instances of sexual harassment.
The code also sets forth clear expectations that SAG-AFTRA members will refrain from engaging in harassing conduct.
"To truly change the culture we must be courageous and willing. At its most basic, this code will ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations," said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. "We are going further, however, with the launch of our Four Pillars of Change initiative to achieve safe workplaces and advance equity."
"This initiative provides a critical framework for our collective efforts to further strengthen protections for SAG-AFTRA members who experience harassment in the workplace," said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. "Our comprehensive approach ensures that we stay focused on providing members with clear information, making training available that is relevant and practical, and working with industry partners to expand our tools to intervene and support victims of workplace harassment and assault. We are very excited to engage in this effort."
SAG-AFTRA’s Four Pillars of Change initiative represents the union’s overall approach to combat harassment, empower members to support each other, expand intervention efforts, and pursue solutions for victims and survivors of harassment and assault.
The union also is working on additional documents to provide practical guidance in both work and non-work settings in which harassment is known to frequently occur.
The Four Pillars of Change include sections on rules and guidelines, empowerment through education, expanded intervention efforts, and building bridges and safety nets. Together, these programs form a collective approach that provides a comprehensive set of tools and information to confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace.
Carteris added, "This initiative gives members a clear understanding of their workplace rights and provides reliable guidance for members to navigate the unique environments of the entertainment, music and media industries."
To read the Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment, click here.
To read the Call to Action Ensuring Safe and Equitable Workplaces, click here.
Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with poultry workers coming together to preserve safe line speeds and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.
Poultry Workers Defeat Dangerous Speed-Up Proposal: The National Chicken Council submitted a proposal to the USDA to increase the legally allowable speed that working people on poultry lines can be held to. Across the South, members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UFCW) leafletted workplaces, called other members and went door to door to defeat the proposal, which would have put poultry workers and the general public at increased risk.
Micro-Clean Workers Join SMART After Long Battle: Workers at Micro-Clean, a cleanroom certification company, finally won representation and a union contract with International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 19 after an 18-year battle. Employees at Micro-Clean, who work around some of the most dangerous chemical and biological hazards possible, succeeded in winning improved safety and better pay and benefits.
AT&T Wireless Workers Set Precedent for Wireless Industry: After a contentious battle that included the largest national retail strike in U.S. history, AT&T Wireless workers approved a contract that sets a new standard for the wireless industry. The contract covers more than 21,000 members and rolls back the offshoring and outsourcing of jobs at the company.
California Hospitality Workers Win Safety and Health Upgrade: After six years, hospitality workers have finally won improvements to their workplace safety, as Cal/OSHA approved new rules. The rules are designed to lessen the dangers of common injuries and experiences hotel housekeepers commonly experience and reduce sexual harassment and assault.
Massachusetts Bus Workers Save Jobs with New Contract: Working people at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, represented by Machinists (IAM) Local 264, voted to ratify an agreement with management that will last through 2021. The new contract ensures that all bus maintenance facilities will remain public, after a proposal suggested privatizing up to 20% of existing jobs. The proposal also will increase wages, maintain fleet size, health benefits and pensions.
Albany Hotel Workers Win Fair Contract: After a battle that included a boycott and picket lines, hotel workers in Albany, New York, have secured a fair contract that safeguards important benefits for their members and families.
California Nurses Continue String of Organizing Victories: Nurses in San Bernardino and Ventura County, California, became the latest successes in a string of organizing wins for the California Nurses Association/NNOC and National Nurses United (NNU). The agreements reached by the nurses, who work at multiple hospitals, will improve patient safety and the work environment for employees.
Linden, N.J., Electrical Workers Approve Their First Contract: Members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) at the NAES co-generation plant in Linden, New Jersey, that runs six natural gas-fired turbines, approved their first union contract nine months after their vote to join together in union succeeded by one vote.
Big Win for Drivers and Tour Guides at Big Bus: Working people at Big Bus New York voted decisively in favor of their first contract with the company. Represented by Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100, the members won a contract that provides for immediate raises, improvements to health insurance and numerous other benefit gains. The contract also puts in place full due process guidelines for discipline and grievances.
Idaho Democratic Party Staff Join IBEW: The staff at the Idaho Democratic Party has joined IBEW Local 291 in Boise. Idaho's Democrats become the second state party to come together in union, after Vermont's party staff joined the United Steelworkers (USW) last year.
Staff Earn Voluntary Recognition of Union at the Century Foundation: After a 10-month bargaining process, staff at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, signed their first-ever collective bargaining agreement. TCF voluntarily recognized the union last year, and management and employees worked together to reach an agreement that "recognizes the important work and critical value of TCF's staff and builds on a mutual deep commitment to collective bargaining rights, fairness, and respect in the workplace."
Jacobin Staff Win First Union Contract: Members of The NewsGuild of New York/CWA who work at the socialist magazine Jacobin overwhelmingly voted to ratify their first union contact at the publication. Jacobin management voluntarily recognized the union in October 2016, and the new contract is the result of a year of work between management and working people.
Are you looking for last-minute gifts for Valentine's Day? Why not give your valentine some union-made sweets this Feb. 14, toast your love with champagne that carries a union label or show your sweetheart how much you care with a union-made flower bouquet.
Taking the Wheel: A New Generation Is Driving the Future of the Labor Movement
Building on the achievements of the past, newly elected union leaders and young workers are spreading optimism across the country. Inspired by the history and mission of the labor movement, a new generation of workers and activists are assuming leadership roles as the ranks of young union workers continue to grow.
Kooper Caraway became the youngest president ever elected at the Sioux Falls Central Labor Council. Even at the age of 27, Caraway already has a lot of union activism under his belt. He is the lead organizer for AFSCME Council 65 for South Dakota and represents nearly 2,000 public employees across the state. He has a strong track record of standing up for the working people of Sioux Falls and has worked tirelessly to improve marginalized communities.
Labor history is not lost on Caraway, and his outlook for the union movement is bright. He maintains a clear vision of his own role moving forward. "The generations of labor leaders that came before us have given us all of the tools and opportunities that we have today," Caraway said. "It’s time for millennials to take the torch, hold it firmly and build a better world for the generations of workers that will come after us."
In La Crosse, Wisconsin, another young leader has emerged. Tyler Tubbs was elected as president of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO last month. Tubbs, 26, is a locomotive engineer for BNSF Railway and is an active member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 13.
Tubbs is committed to bringing more young workers into the same labor movement that his family has embraced for generations. "For too long, younger folks have distanced themselves from unions, and I feel it is my job to show them the union advantage and help people understand how unions improve the lives of working people and the community at-large," he said. "I am now in a position to apply all that I have learned from those that went before me to help take the labor movement into what I know is a bright and essential future," Tubbs said.
Josette Jaramillo, 36, was elected president of the Colorado AFL-CIO after getting her early start as a member of AFSCME at the Pueblo County Department of Social Services. "Young workers are the future of our movement," Jaramillo said. "By investing in their leadership, we are investing in the longevity of our movement."
The fact that younger activists are taking on leadership roles is reflective of a larger trend in America's labor movement. Young workers continue to drive union growth and, since 2012, union membership among working people under 35 has continued to rise. Last year, they made up 75% of new members, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One such worker is Keith Cloutier who is employed at American Roots, an all American-made apparel manufacturer in Portland, Maine. At 23, Cloutier is new to the workforce and new to the union movement. He joined United Steelworkers (USW) Local 366 last year. "Becoming a member of USW 366 has given me the opportunity to come together with my brothers and sisters to fight and work toward a better life for more than just myself," he said. "Young workers’ involvement in the labor movement is important because it brings new ideas and new energy, and I am able to learn and grow from those who have walked through the fire."
The AFL-CIO continues to build our Next Up Young Worker Program, which is a place for young people and their unions, progressive allies, students and community groups to join together and work toward social and economic justice. Young worker groups all over the country focus on everything from organizing to policy to politics to change the rules and fight for a better future for all working people.
What Working People Want to See in Trump's Infrastructure Plan
In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump proposed $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, and on Monday, he will unveil the details of the proposal. Investing in our infrastructure is a critical need for the United States. Working people have long advocated for more federal investment in infrastructure, as a way to maintain high safety standards, to create jobs and to boost the economy. In order to achieve these goals, any infrastructure plan must contain certain key components.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:
The labor movement is ready to fight, here in Washington and across our great nation, to see a transformative, inclusive infrastructure program enacted. We need to bring 21st century technology and good jobs to our entire country—to places as diverse as West Baltimore and my rural hometown of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania. And once that investment is made, the labor movement stands ready with the most highly skilled and well-trained workforce to get the job done.
One trillion dollars in new infrastructure investment would make a big difference to working Americans and put our nation on the path to sustainable prosperity. How we invest matters, it must be real investment and create good jobs.
Let me be clear: If we want good jobs, we must have high labor standards and protections for the people who build, maintain and operate our infrastructure. That’s not all. We need to make sure public money is used to support American jobs, American resources and American products. Finally, it is imperative that we invest at the lowest cost of capital to the public—anything else simply sacrifices jobs to Wall Street.
Comprehensively invest in our nation's future, to not only fund existing needs and invest in new infrastructure.
Lift up working people, grow the economy, create high-road jobs and provide increased opportunity for people of color and women.
Show a commitment to long-term federal funding.
Avoid irresponsible experiments that devolve federal responsibilities to cities and states.
Reject misguided proposals to sell public assets to pay for infrastructure.
Maintain longstanding federal policies that protect working people with high labor standards to ensure that infrastructure investments create good jobs.
Support fundamental labor standards, including: Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wages, section 13(c) transit protections and applicable rail labor standards.
Support collective bargaining agreements, and family-supporting wages and benefits, instead of gutting them with low-wage bids.
Protect public-sector employees’ pay, rights and benefits, when special interests push privatization and contracting-out schemes.
Advocate for public procurement strategies for goods and products that are inclusive, create opportunity for all Americans, strengthen and extend Buy American requirements, and help revive domestic manufacturing.
Reward employers that pay family-sustaining wages, train employees, hire from disadvantaged communities, and help people of color and women secure good jobs.
Reach into our communities—urban, suburban and rural—to help more Americans obtain workforce development opportunities that lead to middle-class careers, which our failure to invest has left out of reach for too many.
Working people will be watching Monday to see what Trump proposes, and we will judge any proposal on its merits. How will this plan create jobs and raise wages for working people? We want to know.