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.
Doris Crouse-Mays: The PRO Act Is How We Build a Better Future for Virginia’s Working Families: "Unfortunately, our broken labor laws allow employers to get away with violating the National Labor Relations Act with little to no consequence. As we navigate our new normal and continue to mitigate the risks all around us, there has never been a more important time to ensure workers can speak up for themselves with a voice on the job. Enter the PRO Act. This monumental legislation will empower Virginia’s workers, including those right here in Loudoun County, to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. Business interests claim this bill will mean economic disaster, but this could not be further from the truth. Union members are more likely to have higher wages (11.2% more than what nonunion workers make), better access to employer-paid healthcare (94% compared to 68%), retirement benefits through private employers (82% to 48%) and so much more."
AFL-CIO Urges Union Members to Get Vaccinated and Then Brag About It: "The AFL-CIO is urging union members to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and show their health-conscious union pride with a sticker announcing their vaccination status. 'COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,' the AFL-CIO said in a statement. 'Clinical trials show that the vaccines are safe and help protect people from COVID-19. If we all get vaccinated and continue wearing masks and social distancing, we can slow the spread. Together, we can end this pandemic. Working people also need strong health and safety protections in the workplace to prevent exposure to COVID-19. The workplace is a high-risk setting because we’re breathing the same air for long periods of time. That’s why vaccines for workers are even more important.'"
Black Workers Stopped Making Progress on Pay. Is It Racism?: "William Spriggs, a professor at Howard University, wrote an open letter last year to his fellow economists. Reacting to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, he began the letter with a question: 'Is now a teachable moment for economists?' Slamming what he saw as attempts to deny racial discrimination, Dr. Spriggs argued that economists should stop looking for a reason other than racism—some 'omitted variable'—to account for why African Americans are falling further behind in the economy."
OSHA Virus Rule Intended to Cover All Workers, Draft Shows: "'Current guidelines are inadequate, and are not enforceable, resulting in millions of workers left unprotected on the job,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement to Bloomberg Law. 'An enforceable workplace safety standard that protects all workers is key to beating this pandemic.'"
Outnumbered on the Job Site, Tradeswomen Find Camaraderie, Support via New ‘Lean In Circles’: "'Unions are all about collective voice, and this innovative program offers the perfect opportunity to enhance that solidarity,' AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said. 'Connecting with other women in similar situations and sharing strategies through networks is invaluable.'"
Striking an Infrastructure Deal Without Investing in Child and Elder Care Is a Huge Mistake: "On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that he had agreed to a compromise deal with Republicans on infrastructure. While many of its details remain unknown, we do know it includes many critical investments for Americans: roads and bridges, public transit, broadband, water and power systems and more. But so far the deal leaves out Biden's proposal to spend $400 million to bolster caregiving for aging and disabled Americans. Biden's original infrastructure plan, which contained provisions to build and update energy-efficient child care centers, already fell short on raising the wages and benefits of child care workers. Now, the bipartisan deal seems to have limited funding for child care facilities even more with only a provision that eliminates lead water pipes."
Senators, Nurses Need You to Support the PRO Act: "Although we have put our lives on the line for the past 15 months to care for thousands of Arizonans hospitalized with COVID-19, nurses have continuously been denied the necessary personal protective equipment, safe staffing and other infection control measures needed to properly care for our patients. Throughout the pandemic, while governments and employers turned their backs on us, we have fought together against hospital managers to win workplace protections without fear of retribution. This will not only help keep all nurses safe, it will help keep patients safe. That’s why it is critical that Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema support legislation that would make it easier for nurses and other workers to join a union. They need to demonstrate their support for working families by co-sponsoring the PRO Act."