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.
Apprenticeships Provide Skills for Longterm Employment: “Last week, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy hopefully connected two organizations that will both benefit from a tremendous opportunity to provide jobs for young people. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting with Jimmy Curry, the Oklahoma president for the AFL-CIO. We were discussing both our jobs at a backyard cookout held by one of our mutual friends in south Oklahoma City and I asked him what programs are in the labor movement that support young people. My father was a member of the Operating Engineers while working as a building contractor, so I knew personally the benefits one receives in a career through a trades union, but wanted to know if there were other things available. Jimmy pointed out an opportunity for high school students to learn a profession through CareerTech classes, which could lead to an apprenticeship through a labor association that would provide a job. For those not familiar with an apprenticeship, this is a pathway to learn a skilled trade through planned, supervised, on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. An apprentice is a regular part of the workforce and earns wages while acquiring important skills. The length of the tuition-free apprenticeship ranges from three to five years.”
Right to Work Isn't Working for Michigan: “Michigan Democrats scored historic victories in the midterm elections, taking control of the state House, Senate, and the governor’s mansion for the first time since 1983. The wins were thanks, at least in part, to the Democrats’ pro-worker, pro-jobs agenda. Now it’s time for Democrats to show that their pro-worker agenda isn’t just talk. One good way to do that would be for the legislature, as a first order of business, to repeal Michigan’s decade-old right-to-work law. By getting rid of a law that weakened Michigan’s labor unions, Democratic lawmakers would make a powerful statement that they are ready and eager to help workers win higher wages and better benefits.”
A Union Yes Vote Changed My Life: “It’s a special thing to get to vote in a union representation election. You’re lucky if it happens once in your life, as it did for me in 1984 when I voted for what would become Local 34, the clerical and technical workers’ union at Yale. That vote changed my life, and that union made me who I am. I want to share some of that experience for the members of Local 33, so they can reflect on what this moment means for them.”
Growing Number of Professional Workers Support Unions: “In a survey six years ago, 56% of health care workers said they would support a union at work. Then came COVID. The latest: Now, 71% of these workers said they'd support such efforts, according to a survey of more than 1,800 nonunionized professional workers conducted in August and released this week from the AFL-CIO, the U.S. labor federation. Why it matters: Union popularity is at a 57-year-high in the U.S.—but here's a sign that organizing is increasingly viewed positively among a set of workers that's historically been less likely to organize. Less than half of union members in the U.S. are professionals. By the numbers: Support for unionizing rose to 65% from 60% among all professionals, defined as those with at least an associate's degree who hold a job where a degree is required.”
Never Bet Against Workers: “For the better part of this year, the Oregon labor movement planned and implemented a robust, targeted grassroots campaign that relied on the most powerful tactic: conversations between union members about the issues that matter. We know that the best way to break through the noise is to reach workers where they are at. The national AFL-CIO took the same approach in battleground states and districts facing the most hotly contested races. In every state and in every major region, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler focused on deepening the labor movement’s investment in year-round organizing and bringing voter discussions back to basic economics. We in the labor movement often say during election campaigns that there is a key factor that polls simply can’t predict: a people-powered field program meeting likely voters where they are at.”
Student Loan Borrowers Who Applied for Biden's Debt Relief Shouldn't Have to Worry About Living with 'Crushing Student Loan Debt: “‘The AFL-CIO is extremely disappointed in the partisan legal effort to shut down the Biden administration's life-changing student loan relief. Borrowers who have filed for forgiveness should not have to wonder if they will once again be forced to live with crushing student loan debt as a result of a court challenge,’ AFL-CIO director of government affairs Bill Samuel said in a statement. ‘With the payment pause end date of Dec. 31 rapidly approaching, the AFL-CIO will continue to advocate for the full implementation of the Biden administration's student loan debt cancellation plan.’”
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler: The Labor Transformation at CNBC Work Summit: “Whether it’s video game developers, or minor league baseball players who just joined the AFL-CIO, graduate researchers at the University of California—the workplace is the workplace no matter what kind of work you do, and it’s working people coming together, having that conversation that forms a union. And businesses don’t need to be afraid of that.”