The labor movement continues to lead the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


 

Watch: Trumka Speaks at Virtual Summit

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke with Steve Clemons, The Hill’s editor-at-large, on Thursday about what it will take to rebuild high-trust workplaces. Click here to watch the interview with Trumka as part of The Hill’s virtual summit called “Advancing America’s Economy.”

 

Recognizing the Veterans and Military Families Impacted by
COVID-19

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Service members and veterans have fought battles abroad to protect our country, but now there is a battle at home. According to the Union Veterans Council, about one out of seven working veterans are now unemployed and millions are at risk of job loss and long-term unemployment due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as veterans have protected us, we must protect them from the economic fallout of this pandemic. The Union Veterans Council has created a toolkit to help spread this important message as we approach Memorial Day. America’s unions are forever grateful to the service members and their families who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.

 

UFCW Calls on Supermarkets to Reinstate Hazard Pay, Release COVID-19 Data

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The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) held an online press conference on Wednesday to call on America’s top supermarket companies to reinstate hazard pay for front-line grocery store workers. The union highlighted that these workers are still facing increased threats to their health and safety on the job, and that many supermarket and food retail companies are refusing to release internal data on the number of exposures, illnesses and deaths from COVID-19.

 

UFCW International President Marc Perrone said: “Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger, and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the frontlines, even as each company experiences record sales. When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day, to help ensure our families have the food we need.”

 

APWU Fights to Save Our Postal Service

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The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in a crisis and Congress needs to act urgently. The coronavirus pandemic is causing postal revenues to plummet while costs continue to rise. The USPS could run out of money in a matter of months, as the Trump administration works to leverage the crisis to privatize our public Postal Service. As part of its ongoing campaign to save the USPS, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), under the leadership of President Mark Dimondstein, has launched a new video that tells the story of the hardworking postal workers who are doing their jobs on the front lines of this crisis. Click here to view APWU’s new toolkit.

 

Maine AFL-CIO Is Using All the Digital Tools in Its Toolbox to Help Workers

With an unprecedented number of Mainers out of work due to the pandemic, the Maine AFL-CIO is using a full range of digital tools to support those who are applying for unemployment insurance (UI). And it has launched a direct email campaign pressuring policymakers to fix the broken UI system. A new page on the state federation’s website is devoted to providing UI assistance, including a form for workers to ask questions and request help. In addition, people can get information, talk about common problems and learn how to overcome them on a Facebook group created by the Maine AFL-CIO. The state federation continues to host online meetings with its congressional delegation focused on promoting America’s Five Economic Essentials. It also holds Zoom press conferences, which are well attended by reporters, to get the word out about a range of issues.

 

“This is a moment when people across the country are seeing workers as we have always seen workers: essential,” said Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW). “Tell your stories and help other workers to get their stories out, because those stories are what bring us together and start us on the road to becoming stronger.” Read more here about the innovative digital work that the state federation is doing.

 

Steelworkers Persevere at Nuclear Fuel Services During Pandemic

Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9-677 at the Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) plant in Erwin, Tennessee, produce nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy and the country’s national defense program. The union and NSF have been diligently following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for preventing exposure to COVID-19, said Local 9-677 chief steward Heath Shook (USW). “Hourly workers are deemed essential, and we would be the last ones to go home if the plant shut down,” Shook said, adding, “There is no talk of shutting it down.” Local 9-677 negotiated a memorandum of understanding with NFS to address pay and benefit issues for those who are quarantined. Shook explained that if any worker experiences COVID-19 symptoms, they are automatically quarantined with full pay for 10 workdays, and after that date, they are placed on sick leave until recovery.

 

COVID-19 in Numbers

From Johns Hopkins University (as of publication time):

  • More than 5.1 million global cases and more than 330,000 deaths have been confirmed.
  • The coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries/regions.
  • There have been at least 90,000 deaths in the United States.
  • More than 1.5 million cases in all 50 states, U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., have been reported.