A Pro-Worker Vision: 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.

Organized Labor Is Committed to Building Sustainable Offshore Wind Energy: “Labor leaders presented a pro-worker vision for generating sustainable offshore wind energy along the Southern New England coast at a virtual press conference, on Friday, March 15. This effort unites organized labor, the environmental movement, coastal communities, and elected officials. The press conference was moderated by Patrick Crowley, secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. The national significance of this commitment was highlighted by introductory remarks from Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. Shuler said that good union jobs, environmental issues, offshore wind energy, and building a renewable energy industry are tied together.”

Residents at WMU’s Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Vote to Unionize: “By an overwhelming margin, residents at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine have voted to form union. Last week, more than 90% of residents who voted, voted in favor of unionizing as the Resident and Fellow Alliance, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO unions. The union vote still has to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board.”

KCUR Editorial Staffers Begin the Process of Forming a Union. Pay Is a Key Issue: “Editorial staffers at KCUR, the NPR-member station in Kansas City, and its partners have petitioned to organize a union, the second public radio station in Missouri to do so. If successful, KCUR would become the second unionized public radio station in Missouri. The station’s general manager promised a continued focus on ‘trusted journalism and entertainment that is freely accessible to all.’ Members of the union organizing committee said that 70% of eligible staffers, including reporters, producers, on-air hosts, newscasters and audience development specialists, joined the petition to form a collective bargaining unit with the Communication Workers of America.”

Georgia Is Trying to Make It Harder for Workers to Unionize: “Labor has been stirring recently. That’s unacceptable for bosses, who never rest in their attacks on unions. Case in point: a new bill in Georgia that seeks to ensure the unionization process is as difficult for workers and favorable to bosses as possible. The Georgia legislation passed in the state Senate last month 31-23 and in the House on Wednesday 96-78, in votes that fell almost entirely along party lines, with Republicans backing the bill. It’s sure to face legal challenges for violating the NLRA’s protection of workers’ right to voluntary recognition. As American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) president Liz Shuler said of the bill, it ‘violat[es] long-held precedent established by the NLRA.’ Only 4.4% of workers in Georgia are unionized, the eighth-lowest union density in the United States. The bill is ‘a solution in search of a problem,’ James Williams of the Georgia AFL-CIO said.”

After Warrior Met Coal Strike, Miners’ Union, AFL-CIO Urge Reforms from Stockholders: “The union that organized the longest strike in Alabama history, along with the AFL-CIO, is urging stockholders of Warrior Met Coal to support a package of proposals it says would eliminate some of the conditions that resulted in the strike. The United Mine Workers of America today announced the slate of proposals for the company’s April 25 shareholders meeting. ‘In our view, Warrior Met’s poor labor relations have cost the company’s stockholders and coal miners dearly while its management has been insulated from these costs,’ UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. ‘Having an entrenched corporate management is never a good thing for the sustainable financial performance of a company,’ Carin Zelenko, Director of Capital Strategies for the AFL-CIO. ‘Our stockholder proposals seek to better align the interests of Warrior Met’s management with the long-term interests of the company, its investors, and employees.’”

Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su on the Worker Movement 113 Years After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: “The fire spread quickly. On that Saturday in March of 1911, black smoke billowed out of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory near Washington Square Park in New York City. The panicked workers inside, many of them young immigrant women and some as young as fourteen, cried out for help and tried to flee, but they found locked exit doors and broken fire escapes. So they climbed out of the windows and onto the ledges of the building, jumping to their deaths to be spared from the engulfing flames. Soon, hundreds of bystanders looked up in horror and began hearing thud after thud of bodies hitting the street below. Among the bystanders was a young woman named Frances Perkins. Today, we know her as the first woman to serve as United States Labor Secretary—the first woman to serve in the Cabinet of any U.S. President—and she is widely regarded as the most consequential leader to ever hold the post. This Women’s History Month, I’m reflecting on Frances Perkins’ legacy and how she turned the unheard voices of those immigrant women into a call to action.”

AFL-CIO, Building Trades Hail EPA’s Asbestos Ban: “AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, an Electrical Worker, hailed the ban as ‘a landmark protection for workers, banning and phasing out all current uses and imports of chrysotile asbestos, and eliminating these exposures in workplaces and throughout the supply chain.’ But both Shuler and Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey also urged EPA to pursue bans on exposure to ‘legacy’ asbestos which endangers workers rehabbing old schools, factories, homes, and businesses. This ban ‘does not eliminate all types of asbestos fibers and is only the first half of the EPA’s plans to address worker asbestos exposures,’ Shuler warned. Firefighters, construction workers, and factory workers are still ‘exposed to ‘legacy’ asbestos throughout our old buildings and infrastructure. We urge the EPA to move swiftly to address those risks.’”

White House Hosts Women's History Month Labor Roundtable: “This week, Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Director of the White House Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein, Deputy Undersecretary of International Labor Affairs Thea Lee, Deputy Assistant to the President Samantha Silverberg and the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted a group of women labor leaders and organizers at the White House. The event, held in partnership with the AFL-CIO and moderated by White House Senior Labor Advisor Erika Dinkel-Smith, was a celebration of women in labor in honor of Women's History Month and highlighted how the Biden-Harris Administration is putting women and girls at the heart of the Administration's economic agenda, and promoting and defending women workers' rights both domestically and abroad. Participants included AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO State Federation and Central Labor Council leaders, as well as young women organizers on the front lines of organizing new workplaces and expanding the benefits of unionization to women in their states. Collectively, attendees represented union members in the 14 states they represent.”

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff Joins Labor Leaders in Denver for Roundtable Discussion: “Second gentleman Doug Emhoff sat down with local union leaders in Denver on Thursday to talk about the Biden-Harris campaign’s continued support of union work. Union leaders from the Service Employees International Union Local 105, the Colorado Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and others sat down with Emhoff to ask questions about labor at a roundtable hosted by the Colorado Democratic Party. The national organizations for both SEIU and AFSCME endorsed Biden last year. ‘We are making the case to everyone that the Biden-Harris administration has delivered for the American people, including folks in labor,’ Emhoff said.”

National Labor Leader Pushes Apprenticeship Programs, Unionism in Pittsburgh Visit: “When it came time to choose a career, it didn’t take Rick Pireaux long to decide. With three previous generations of his family serving as iron workers, it was only natural that he would follow that tradition. Now, as an apprentice instructor for Iron Workers Local 3 in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, his role is to persuade others to follow that same path. Pireaux and others led tours of the union training facility Thursday as part of a national effort by Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, to spread the word about the value of union labor. McGarvey joined a group of elected officials and labor leaders who spoke at a program after the tour to encourage more workers to apply for apprenticeships in the building trades.”