Unions Are Essential to Racial Justice: 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.

Unions Are Essential to Racial Justice: "The events of the past year, from the many high-profile police killings of Black people to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, drive home the need for all of us to play a more active role to combat racial inequity and white supremacy. And one venue where real change can occur is in the workplace. As the president of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, I lead a coalition of 24 national unions representing more than 4 million professionals. Through bargaining for pay, benefits and working conditions, our affiliates’ members have created sustainable, family-supporting careers in their industries. While these workplace improvements have raised standards for all professionals, employees of color tend to see some of the greatest gains from union membership."

House Kills GOP Touted Right-To-Work Bill: "'These bills are nothing more than out of state, corporate interests looking to take advantage of our lawmakers, our businesses, and our workers,' said AFL-CIO New Hampshire president Glenn Bracket. 'They deprive workers of their freedom to join together and form strong unions if they choose to. And they have no business being a part of how we do things here in New Hampshire.'”

Biden Administration Will Expand Union Rights for 46,000 TSA Officers: "The U.S. Homeland Security Department said on Thursday that 46,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers will be eligible for expanded union rights and the department will move to boost pay for frontline airport screeners. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the announcement 'a critical victory for tens of thousands of hardworking union members and will finally allow @TSA workers to bargain for their future like other federal workers.' He urged TSA 'to immediately come to the table to reach a fair contract, and we call on Congress to finally codify these workers’ bargaining rights into law by passing the Rights for the TSA Workforce Act.'”

For Many Workers, Change in Mask Policy Is a Nightmare: "The Kroger supermarket in Yorktown, Virginia, is in a county where mask wearing can be casual at best. Yet for months, the store urged patrons to cover their noses and mouths, and almost everyone complied. 'People don’t like to wear masks here,' said Janet Wainwright, a meat cutter at the store, 'but very few people would go without it.' That changed in mid-May after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised vaccinated Americans that they could go maskless in most indoor settings. The next week, the store told employees that they could no longer ask customers to cover their faces. So mask use plummeted, and the anxiety of Ms. Wainwright and other workers shot up. More than a dozen retail, hospitality and fast-food workers across the country interviewed by The New York Times expressed alarm that their employers had used the CDC guidance to make masks optional for vaccinated customers."

Striking Coal Miners in Alabama Energize Support Across the South: "About 1,100 coalminers represented by the United Mine Workers of America in Brookwood, Alabama, have been on strike since the start of April against Warrior Met Coal amid new union contract negotiations. Last month supporters held a concert to raise money for striking miners that included Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers and comedian Drew Morgan. Labor leaders from around the U.S., including the AFA-CWA president, Sara Nelson, and the AFL-CIO secretary treasurer, Liz Shuler, have visited the striking miners to lend their support. 'Warrior Met still refuses to engage in meaningful negotiations with the UMWA at the bargaining table,' the UMWA international president, Cecil E. Roberts, said in a recent press release. 'But they are clearly on the wrong side of history. Community support for the strikers is growing, and now their struggle is gaining nationwide attention.'”

Pavement Coffeehouse Employees Move to Unionize; Would Be First Union Café In Massachusetts: "Employees at Pavement Coffeehouse, a local chain with locations around Greater Boston, have begun the process of forming a union—hoping to become the first coffee shop in the state with a unionized workforce. Eleven members of the Pavement Coffee Organizing Committee, represented by the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE union, delivered a letter to Pavement Coffee Roasters owner Larry Margulies Tuesday morning that declared their intent to form a union. In the letter, employees asked Margulies to voluntarily recognize the union, not engage in 'any union busting activity' and enter into a good faith contract negotiation."

AFL-CIO’s Department of Professional Employees Praises Biden Administration’s Proposed Funding for the Arts & Humanities: "'We are excited to see the Biden administration take a promising step towards the big bold action needed to put creative professionals back to work and build the arts back better,' said DPE president Jennifer Dorning. 'In proposing $201 million in funding for the NEA, President Biden has provided a path for the agency to quickly get to a funding level of $331 million, which amounts to one dollar per capita and, adjusted for inflation, is the high water mark for funding historically.'”

President Richard Trumka Joined Bloomberg Radio to Discuss Why the PRO Act Is Key to Build Back Better: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg Radio to discuss why the PROAct is key to Build Back Better and putting us on the path to an economic recovery."

On Infrastructure and Clean Energy, America Must Play to Win: "Today’s energy infrastructure challenges are no less daunting. We must invest quickly and decisively to reduce emissions and stem climate change, and to improve our lagging competitiveness. New infrastructure must also deliver results on social equity, inequality, and systemic racism, 21st century crises whose solutions cannot be deferred. That’s why the AFL-CIO and the Energy Future Initiative formed the Labor Energy Partnership—to forge a path to modernize our energy infrastructure, address climate change with the urgency it deserves, and seize the opportunity to create high-quality union jobs. Like President Biden, we put workers’ rights, dignity and power at the center of the clean energy transition."