Bad for Working People: 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.

Majorities of Adults See Decline of Union Membership as Bad for the U.S. and Working People: “Majorities of Americans continue to see the long-term decline in the share of workers represented by unions as a bad thing for both the country and working people in the United States, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from March 27 to April 2.”

The Economy Alone Can’t Fix the Racial Divide in Labor: “The Black unemployment rate fell to 5% in March, the lowest since the U.S. government began collecting the data in 1972. Also, its ratio to the White unemployment rate is one of the smallest on record. That’s progress and another sign that a strong labor market is helping people on the margins. Progress on racial equity, however, must not be left to the ups and downs in the economy alone. Lasting changes in policies and workplaces are necessary, too, and they may need to differ some across groups of workers. The Black-White gap in men’s participation has essentially closed, so why does a sizable unemployment divide remain? The answer is complex. William Spriggs, a professor at Howard University and chief economist for the AFL-CIO, says we should be wary of simple explanations like fewer Black men go to college. In fact, Black men with an associate’s degree have a higher unemployment rate than White men with only a high school education, except in a strong labor market. More than personal characteristics affect the employment gap. Raj Chetty, a professor at Harvard University, and his co-authors found that growing up in poorer neighborhoods—as Black men are likely to do—reduced upward economic mobility of Black men relative to White men.”

New Report Highlights Challenges Still Faced by America’s Working Women: “‘We were thrilled to work with IWPR to help produce this critical report. It reaffirms that women can and must play an important role in revitalizing America’s manufacturing sector,’ said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. ‘These findings provide us with an invaluable blueprint to ensure that women have equal access to these careers and the resources we all need to succeed, including far better child care and paid leave policies.’ ‘It also underscores how essential it is that these are good union jobs,’ said Shuler. ‘That union women were far more likely to report being treated equally at work in terms of pay, benefits and scheduling is noteworthy. Unions help women to thrive and create environments where we can use our collective voice to transform our workplaces. Recruiting and supporting women is essential for guaranteeing that our nation re-enters the world stage as a powerhouse for manufacturing, innovation and technology.’”

Let's Go, Julie Su: 'Modern-Day Frances Perkins' Tapped to Lead U.S. Dept. of Labor: “‘If you’ve been paying attention the past 18 months, you know workers across America are having a moment,’ writes Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. ‘Julie Su will help workers at the highest levels of power, too—the same way 90 years ago, the country’s first female labor secretary, Francis Perkins, did pioneering work under Franklin Delano Roosevelt to define the New Deal.’”

Saunders: AFSCME Working Its Way Back from COVID’s Impact: “The State, County and Municipal Employees union is working its way back from the huge cuts in local and state jobs the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic imposed, union President Lee Saunders says. And, he adds, the governors, mayors and county officials he regularly talks with and works with desperately seek workers to fill thousands of vacancies. If they find them, that could benefit AFSCME. Saunders reviewed that state of his union, which now has 1.4 million members, in an informal walk-and-talk with several reporters at a small reception on the top, private floor of a D.C. bar. He explained that when the five-justice Republican-named majority ruled in the Janus case that every single state and local worker in the country could become a ‘free rider,’ commentators expected AFSCME and other public worker unions to take a big hit or worse. The right-wing foes of unions, of course, rooted for a collapse in worker power. It didn’t happen. If anything, at least in the private sector, union numbers are growing as workers used newfound strength to fight back against exploitation by unionizing, leaving for better jobs, or both. Saunders said AFSCME weathered Janus because the union prepared in advance, going to a million members on a nationwide listening tour. It used responses to adjust its goals and tactics.”

Actors' Equity Members and League of Resident Theatres Ratify New Agreement: “Actors' Equity Association and the League of Resident Theatres have ratified a new four-and-a-half-year agreement. Key provisions of the contract include meaningful salary increases and growth in all three job categories: chorus, principals and stage managers. The new agreement also widens equity, diversity and inclusion protections, including regarding hair styling and costuming, and expands protection surrounding bullying, discrimination and harassment. The contract also expands flexibility in media and community outreach, enabling theatres to rebuild and grow audiences. The contract also creates additional opportunities for the development of new artistic work at LORT houses.”

Unemployment Is Low. Inflation Is Falling. But What Comes Next?: “‘For this tiny moment, we finally see what a labor market is supposed to do,” said William Spriggs, a Howard University professor and chief economist for the AFL-CIO And the workers benefiting most from the labor market’s current strength, he said, will be the ones who suffer most from a recession. ‘You should see from this moment what you are truly risking,’ Spriggs said. With inflation already falling, he said, there is no reason for policymakers to take that risk. ‘The labor market is finally hitting its stride,’ he said. ‘And instead of celebrating and saying, This is fantastic, we have the Fed hanging over everybody and casting shade on this unbelievable set of circumstances and saying, Actually this is bad.’”

Rutgers University Strike Suspended After Tentative Deal Reached: “The historic strike at Rutgers University is reportedly over as a tentative deal clears the way for thousands of teachers and students to go back to work and back to class. Just after midnight Saturday morning, a tentative agreement was reached after a historic five-day strike at New Jersey's state university. Class will be back in session for the school's 67,000 students starting Monday.”