Today's AFL-CIO Press Clips

MUST LISTEN

President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg Radio to discuss why the PROAct is key to Build Back Better 

Bloomberg Radio

May 28, 2021

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg Radio to discuss why the PROAct is key to Build Back Better and putting us on the path to an economic recovery.

MUST READ

On infrastructure and clean energy, America must play to win (Opinion)

The Hill

By Richard L. Trumka and Ernest J. Moniz

May 28, 2021

Today’s energy infrastructure challenges are no less daunting. We must invest quickly and decisively to reduce emissions and stem climate change, and to improve our lagging competitiveness. New infrastructure must also deliver results on social equity, inequality, and systemic racism, 21st century crises whose solutions cannot be deferred. That’s why the AFL-CIO and the Energy Future Initiative formed the Labor Energy Partnership — to forge a path to modernize our energy infrastructure, address climate change with the urgency it deserves, and seize the opportunity to create high-quality union jobs. Like President Biden, we put workers’ rights, dignity and power at the center of the clean energy transition.

POLITICS

Unions hail nomination of high-profile labor lawyer to NLRB

Reuters

By Daniel Wiessner

May 27, 2021

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a Twitter post it was a “great day for working families and historic day for the NLRB.” 

 

CORONAVIRUS

Unions are horrified at the mask mandate rollback — and fear workers' lives are at risk again

Salon

By Bob Hennelly

May 29, 2021

Indeed, the unions that represent healthcare professionals and essential frontline workers are speaking out about the CDC's walkback on masks. These workers, they say, have paid for and will continue to pay for the nation's scandalous lack of preparation for this totally foreseeable event. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million food and retail workers, also blasted the CDC's new guidance, saying it would force retail workers to play "vaccination police" to sort out which customers needed to wear masks. The union stated: "Since March 1, UFCW reports a nearly 35-percent increase in grocery-worker deaths and a nearly 30 percent increase in grocery workers infected or exposed following supermarket outbreaks at Whole Foods, Costco, Trader Joe's and other chains across the country."

LABOR AND ECONOMY

Strathmore, theater union at odds over automating ticket sales

WTOP News

By Thomas Robertson 

May 31, 2021

A music venue in Montgomery County, Maryland, is at odds with a workers’ union after a move aimed at safety during a pandemic threatened the job security of ticket employees. Strathmore recently proposed ticket kiosks at the venue as in-person performances return, but the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said the move would threaten the job security of ticket workers. “They, in their last proposal, are proposing using kiosks, machines essentially, to do the work of the ticket office, for people to buy tickets and print tickets using machines, instead of a person,” said Ann Vantine, the business agent for IATSE Local 868. “They’re also, at the same time, proposing eliminating all full-time positions.”

JOINING TOGETHER

Senate bill backed by Bernie Sanders would classify college athletes as employees of their schools

Yahoo! Sports

By Nick Bromberg

May 27, 2021

A bill introduced in the United States Senate on Thursday would blow up the NCAA's student-athlete model if it becomes law. The bill introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is called the College Athlete Right to Organize Act and would classify student-athletes as employees and their schools as employers. The NCAA has long avoided any chance that athletes could be considered employees of their school and the bill would also grant athletes the ability to collectively bargain like unions in professional sports. 

Oregon legislative employees become first in the nation to unionize

OPB

By Sam Stites and Dirk VanderHart

May 28, 2021

Legislative employees within Oregon’s Capitol will become the first in the nation to unionize, after a 75-31 vote by staff members Friday in favor of joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 89. With the vote, 180 Capitol aides can begin taking steps toward bargaining with the Legislature on a contract for the first time, a move they hope will give them more input into how the building runs. “We’re moving forward,” Tony Ruiz, an organizer with IBEW Local 89, said following the vote. “This was truly bipartisan support.” The unionization push has been discussed informally for years and doesn’t arise out of a specific dispute, employees supporting the effort say. Rather, it’s meant to address a concern that spans issues: That legislative aides don’t have a meaningful or consistent say in their workplace.

Artist Unions are Organizing in Support of the PRO Act

Observer

By Annie Levin

May 31, 2021

For musicians, who invented the term “gig work,” the need for better and deeper unionization is obvious. Under current law, most musicians are classified as independent contractors. For musicians working short term gigs, which is almost all musicians, the law recognizes only their band leader as their employer, as opposed to the venue or festival that is actually profiting off of them. Because the law does not see venues as musicians’ employers, they cannot approach them to bargain for fair minimum rates or good working conditions.  Ray Hair, the International President of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), told Observer, “The PRO Act will finally recognize musicians’ short term work as that of an employee, and employees are able to organize under the laws of the National Labor Relations Act [passed in 1935] to protect themselves from unfair labor practices.”

IN THE STATES

State senators pass bill that would extend benefits to more workers traumatized by death on the job

News Times

By Rob Ryser

May 31, 2021

Health care workers who fought on Connecticut’s front line during the deadly war on COVID-19 would have their trauma injuries covered by worker’s compensation under a bill passed by state senators last week. The bill, which moves to the state House of Representatives for a vote, would extend the same workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress injuries that police and firefighters have to ambulance workers, 911 dispatchers, corrections workers and health care workers who are afflicted by COVID-related trauma on the job. The leader of the Connecticut AFL-CIO said the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the state about the importance of mental health, said that those laboring on the front lines of the public health crisis have been “forced to manage intense stress, soaring workloads and emotional challenges that have taken a toll on many.” “Workers’ compensation laws need to reflect that understanding,” said Sal Luciano, in testimony for the bill earlier this year. “Such action would provide peace of mind to workers everywhere, but especially to those who selflessly serve as essential workers.”