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.
The Great Resignation is Working for Women: “Dr. William Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO, told Insider's Juliana Kaplan last year that although female workers have had a rockier pandemic recovery, they have also flocked to industries with a lot of potential for growth. ‘With this transition going on, the workers who are employed are finding ways to get jobs in the sectors that are expanding and hiring,’ he said, where ‘the annual pay is much higher.’”
U.S. Union Chief Cautions Fed Against ‘Rashly’ Raising Rates: “Shuler said that the rapid price increases will form a key part of union contract negotiations in coming talks, particularly around raising the cost of living. ‘It has been top of mind at the table, no question about it,’ she said. U.S. workers have become increasingly vocal about their pay, benefits and treatment after a pandemic that shined a light on labor conditions and essential workers. ‘We’re trying to make up for lost time,’ Shuler said. ‘We haven’t had the wage increases to keep up with inflation, even just moderate inflation.’”
OSHA Schedules Public Hearing on Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Protection: “According to a March 22 news release, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has partially reopened the rulemaking record and scheduled an informal public hearing for comments on the development of a final standard to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. We reported on Jan. 6 that labor organizations National Nurses United (NNU); AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers (AFT); American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); as well as some of the nation’s other major nursing unions, including the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and Pennsylvania Association of Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to order the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a permanent standard that requires employers to protect healthcare workers against COVID-19.”
SoCal Grocery Workers Begin Balloting in Strike-Authorization Vote: “Thousands of grocery workers across Southern California began voting Monday on whether to authorize their union to call a strike amid continued contract negotiations with the owners of stores including Ralphs and Vons/Pavilions/Albertsons. Officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers union said votes will be cast over several days, with results expected to be announced Sunday. A ‘yes’ vote would not automatically result in a strike. It would only authorize the union to call one if no progress is made in labor negotiations. Roughly 47,000 workers represented by seven UFCW union locals between Central California and the Mexico border will be casting ballots. The membership covers workers at more than 500 stores.”
U.S., British Officials Kick Off Talks to Strengthen Trade Ties: “Cathy Feingold, who leads the international department at the AFL-CIO labor union federation, welcomed efforts to give workers a voice in shaping trade policies and shifting away from free trade policies that resulted in ‘brutal global competition,’ lower wages and lower standards of living in both countries. ‘Our countries must be aligned in dealing with non-market economies like China and Russia and Belarus," she said. ‘By building a unified approach, we can more effectively create global rules that create fair competition and higher worker and environmental standards.’”
Senate Passes Bill to Save Post Office: “After years of work and plenty of squabbling over details, Congress has finally passed a bipartisan plan to ensure the future of the Post Office. The plan, called the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, overwhelmingly passed the Senate on March 8 by a vote of 79-19. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk where he is expected to sign it, since it previously passed the House by a vote of 342-92. ‘During this pandemic, we relied heavily on postal workers to deliver everything, from medication to election ballots to Social Security and pandemic relief checks, and as usual, the USPS did not disappoint,’ said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. ‘This legislation ensures the USPS is financially stable, ends the destructive pre-funding retiree health care benefits mandate, and guarantees six-day delivery reforms that are desperately needed to keep this beloved institution running with the same efficiency we have all come to depend on. As the bill moves forward to President Biden’s desk, we know that the future of postal workers and our USPS is bright.’”
Racial Equality in Jobless Aid Vies With Post-Covid Cost Cutting: “The state-level ‘changes that are taking place have been all in the wrong direction,’ said William Spriggs, a Howard University professor and chief economist for the AFL-CIO. Such changes worsen racial disparity, he added, because Black workers average longer durations of unemployment.”