News

Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

The path to the presidency runs through the labor movement.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka discusses the George Floyd protests, police unions and unemployment on "Bloomberg: Balance of Power."

NPR's David Greene talks to NPR's Scott Horsley and William Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO, about the pandemic's effect on joblessness — especially on minority employees. SPRIGGS: Well, in this case, it's, for the Hispanic community, the industries in which they dominate. So they're very important to the restaurant industry. That industry lost the most amount of jobs. Before this downturn, we had 12.6 million Americans who worked in restaurants.

Declaring that working people are saying, “We’ve had enough,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said unions will continue the fight to root out systemic racism in the U.S. In a 77-minute Zoom telecast on June 3, Trumka and other labor leaders—AFSCME President Lee Saunders, Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson, Painters President Ken Rigmaiden, Unite Here President D. Taylor, and two Unite Here regional leaders—laid blame for that racism at the feet of U.S. history and U.S. politicians.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued that the GOP’s reluctance to act quickly on another expansive relief bill would become unsustainable. “The pressure is building on them. People are about to run out of the $1,200 checks, the extra unemployment benefits will run out soon, that needs to be extended, the number of people without health care grows every day,” Trumka said in an interview. “All of that puts additional pressure on them to act.”

Nurses and other health care worker advocates and the labor movement represented by the AFL-CIO filed legal charges against the government to require mandated COVID-19 -related standards. Last week the AFL-CIO filed a 70-page petition in federal court to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard protecting U.S. workers against being infected by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) at work. The lawsuit asks the courts to require OSHA to fulfill its lawful duty.

Postal union officials called for more financial support in upcoming COVID-relief packages on Wednesday, warning that the agency could run out of money by the end of September and disrupt essential services. “Without real relief, appropriated relief, not more debt, not more loans, appropriated relief, … the post office could likely run out of money by early fall,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.

The AFL-CIO, the country's largest coalition of labor unions, endorsed Joe Biden for president Tuesday, with the organization's top official vowing to wage an aggressive effort to help him defeat President Trump. Union officials cemented their support for the former vice president in a vote of the organization’s general board, joining a long roster of influential labor groups backing the presumptive Democratic nominee.

New data released by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union shows that among the grocery store workers it represents, 10,000 have been infected by or are known to have been exposed to coronavirus and 68 have died from it. At least 3,257 have been infected with the virus, the union estimated on Friday. UFCW represents workers in large grocery store chains like Kroger, Albertson's, and Supervalu. Union President Marc Perrone said in a news conference on Wednesday that the cases have increased by 200% in five weeks.