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.
'This Fight Is Far from Over': Amazon Union Vote Shows Exactly Why We Need the PRO Act: "'Americans want to organize unions,' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 'And it should never be this hard to do so.' 'Working people deserve better than the way Amazon has conducted itself during this campaign,' said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum in a statement. 'This campaign has proven that the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union. However, Amazon’s behavior during the election cannot be ignored and our union will seek remedy to each and every improper action Amazon took. We won’t rest until workers’ voices are heard fairly under the law.' Going forward, a clear way to ensure fair, democratic union elections is for the U.S. Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act, which passed the U.S. House in March, would add real teeth to existing federal labor laws. Nearly all of the union-busting tactics deployed by Amazon would be banned and enforced under the bill."
Rep. Andy Levin: Here's What Amazon Got Away with in Union Battle. Here's How to Change That: "Is Amazon the type of American workplace we want? Is this the future we want for our kids? Of course not. Update 1930s labor laws to strengthen unions. I organized a congressional delegation to Bessemer, Alabama, last month to show solidarity with the Amazon warehouse workers organizing a union and view their working conditions firsthand. Amazon's abusive employment practices have been widely reported, but it wasn’t until I talked to the people who clock in for 10 hours every shift that I truly understood how completely Amazon dehumanizes warehouse workers."
To Unionize Amazon, We Need to Pass the PRO Act: "The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, currently pending in the Senate, would make these tactics impossible by declaring captive audience meetings an unfair labor practice and removing employers’ ability to litigate the appropriateness of their workers’ bargaining units in the pivotal early stages. The PRO Act would make many more revisions to the NLRA, but these obstacles in particular make organizing an Amazon warehouse virtually impossible when factoring in the rapid turnover of the company’s workforce. Their usage by Amazon was certainly far more impactful upon the final vote than any single strategy that the Union pursued or neglected."
Equal Pay Is Key to the Economic Recovery for Women Workers: "The two major crises that have roiled the country over the past year—the coronavirus pandemic and a long overdue reckoning on the prevalence of racial injustice—have focused new scrutiny on an old problem: the need for better policies to protect women’s jobs and wages. Both crises have been exacerbated by policymakers’ repeated failure to address longstanding inequities and strengthen workplace protections that could bolster women’s economic standing, thus threatening the prospects for a full economic recovery. In this environment, it is fitting that the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing, again, to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that has languished for decades yet includes many much-needed policies to improve workers’ wages, from strengthening equal pay protections and enforcement to combatting discriminatory pay practices."
Bravery, Not Blowout: "RWDSU campaign at Amazon deserves better than uninformed criticism. On Friday, April 9 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) had lost its organizing campaign at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, one of the most closely watched union drives in decades, by a vote of 1798 to 738. The NLRB received 3215 ballots, and prior to the public count conducted by zoom, Amazon’s lawyers had challenged most of the almost 600 disputed ballots (which are put aside to be counted in case they might determine the outcome). The proverbial ink was barely dry on the result when organizing gurus published critiques, no doubt written weeks ago, full of heated rhetoric and organizing pearls of wisdom but light on facts—and lighter on an informed understanding of how the campaign had unfolded."
Jill Underly Defeats Deborah Kerr in State Superintendent Election: "'Today, Wisconsin voters continued the call for a better future for all by voting to elect union-endorsed candidate Dr. Jill Underly to lead our public schools out of the pandemic with a focus on equality and a strong, fully-funded public education system that supports every child, every day,' Wisconsin AFL-CIO Stephanie Bloomingdale said in the email."
WGAE, ITV Entertainment Reach Agreement for 'The Chase': "The Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and ITV Entertainment have reached a deal for writers on ABC format The Chase, marking the end of a near two week-long strike. 'ITV Entertainment and the WGAE are pleased to have come to terms for writers on The Chase to be represented by the WGAE and for the show to be covered by the Minimum Basic Agreement,' WGAE and ITV Entertainment said in a joint statement. 'We are in agreement that fair and positive work practices are essential to our industry and that, especially during the ongoing battle of the pandemic, the priority is to keep production going and to ensure that people can do their work and build sustainable careers.'"
Amazon Bullied Workers into Voting Against a Union: Trumka: "AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says Amazon bullied workers at an Alabama warehouse into voting against joining a union. The vote is a setback for labor organizers and a significant victory for the world’s largest online retailer. Trumka appears on 'Balance of Power.'"
Biden Picks California’s Doug Parker to Lead Federal OSHA: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed to Parker’s work at the Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Obama administration, where he was deputy assistant secretary for policy, and also his time as an attorney for the United Mine Workers of America. 'He has dedicated his life to advancing the cause of worker safety, because he understands this is a life-and-death struggle for working people in every industry and in every corner of the country,' Trumka said, adding that 'critical work must begin with a long-overdue emergency temporary standard to protect America’s workers from a still-raging pandemic.'"
AFL-CIO’s April 8 Day of Action for ProAct Floods Congress with Calls and Texts: "In an April 8 evening zoom call with female unionists, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler urged all the attendees to 'push this out…through social media.' 'It’s up to us on the ground' to communicate the message that all workers, union and non-union alike, would benefit from the measure giving workers 'the power to negotiate safer working conditions, better benefits and paid sick and family leave, which empowers co-equal caregiving,' among other gains, Shuler said. And the basic message, she added, is that 'the best way to raise wages for working women is a union card.'"