The Power of Going on Strike: 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.

National AFL-CIO Chief: Kotek Has a Proven Track Record: “The first woman to lead the nation's largest labor federation, a former Oregonian herself, came to Portland to show organized labor's support for Democrat Tina Kotek's candidacy for governor. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler says Kotek has demonstrated her support for paid sick leave (2015), a higher state minimum wage (2016) and paid family and medical leave (2019), plus other issues of concern to working families during her 15 years in the Oregon Legislature, a record nine of them as speaker of the House.”

GOP Promises to Gut Your Social Security, Medicare if It Takes Power: “It used to be a truism that no elected office-holders would dare to tamper with Social Security if they wished to keep their jobs. That must not be true any longer, judging from the surge in threats to the revered program coming from the GOP lately. In its latest manifestation, four Republicans angling to become chair of the House Budget Committee in a Republican House talked openly about holding the federal debt ceiling hostage to an agreement on ‘entitlements’—that is, Social Security and Medicare—plainly aimed at cutting benefits.”

American Workers Are Rediscovering the Power of Going on Strike: “Dire headlines about inflation are masking one of the biggest economic shifts in the U.S. labor market: After decades of decline, the American labor movement is showing signs of revival. With support for unions increasing, workers have more power as they request better pay and workplace benefits—and this could have a significant impact in reversing the long-standing trend of sluggish wage growth and low job quality for workers, despite increasing productivity and economic growth.”

First Woman AFL-CIO President to Discuss Workers’ Rights: “A 1992 graduate of the UO School of Journalism and Communication, [Liz] Shuler made history in August 2021 when she was elected the first woman president of the AFL-CIO, a national federation of 5[8] unions representing 12.5 million people across all sectors of the U.S. economy....‘I look forward to a conversation with the University of Oregon community on how America's unions can build on this organizing momentum and use it to bring voice and power to working people everywhere,’ Shuler said. ‘All over the country people are recognizing the power of unions,’ she added. ‘They’re seeing how we fight for a better workplace, a better life, for union members and for everyone. And the momentum around union organizing is contagious, spreading everywhere from nurses in Austin, Texas, to sheet metal workers in Alaska, from architects to athletes. At the AFL-CIO, we’re working to capture that momentum and use it to build the labor movement of the future.’”

AFL-CIO to Invest Millions in New Worker Organizing Efforts: “The AFL-CIO labor federation is increasing the fees paid by its member unions to fund more organizing and help restore union membership after years of decline. The federation’s board voted to approve a new measure Wednesday that will raise the per-capita contributions each union makes based on the size of its membership. Once the phased increases are in place, they would bring in roughly $11 million annually, all devoted to organizing campaigns. The pot of money would go toward a new department within the federation called the Center for Transformational Organizing, where organizers and researchers will develop campaigns to boost union density in industries where organized labor has struggled to gain traction. Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, called the new fee structure an ‘unparalleled investment’ at a time when workplaces are ripe for unionization.”

Biden Is Trying to Remake the Gig Worker Economy: “AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler hailed the draft rule on Tuesday for ‘restoring commonsense rules to determine who is an employee, and making it harder for employers to intentionally misclassify their employees as independent contractors.’”

Being in a Union Means You Could Make $1.3 Million More Over Your Lifetime: “If you want to make a million more dollars over your lifetime, there's one solution: Join a union. That's according to a new paper in Cornell University's ILR Review. Researchers Zachary Parolin of Bocconi University and Tom VanHeuvelen of University of Minnesota Twin Cities examined the advantages of being part of a union throughout your entire career.”

Biden Labor Proposal Shakes Up Gig Economy That Relies on Contractors: “Liz Shuler, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), said the proposal gives the government the tools to protect workers from the ‘escalating problem of misclassification.’”

Labor Department Moves to Make It Harder to Misclassify Gig Workers: “The Department of Labor has proposed a rule that could make it harder to classify gig workers as independent contractors, a move that could have implications for Uber, Lyft and a host of other companies that rely on freelancers. Gig Workers Rising and the AFL-CIO applauded Tuesday’s proposed rule. But some felt it did not go far enough to protect workers.”

Your Boss Can Monitor Your Activities Without Special Software: “Despite the surveillance, workers are not powerless, said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. ‘There’s power in collective action,’ she said. ‘You can form a union, but you can also create pressure…it takes some form of coming together to rebalance the scale.’”