AT&T workers from CWA Local 2222 in Annandale, Virginia joined nationwide picketing outside Mobility stores last week to demonstrate their solidarity with ongoing contract negotiations. About 21,000 CWA workers nationwide are covered under the current contract, which expires February 11. CWA says it’s “Ready to do whatever it takes to win a fair contract.”
Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1978, after winning organizing successes, the United Farm Workers of America officially ended its historic table grape, lettuce and wine boycotts.
In 2002, union and student pressure forced Harvard University to raise wages for their lowest-paid workers.
And in 2005, five months after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school board fired every teacher in the district in what the United Teachers of New Orleans saw as an effort to break the union and privatize the school system.
Today’s labor quote is by United Farm Worker leader Cesar Chavez
“The consumer boycott is the only open door in the dark corridor of nothingness down which farm workers have had to walk for many years. It is a gate of hope through which they expect to find the sunlight of a better life for themselves and their families.”
"The sky is falling! The labor movement is dead!" That's the reaction by opponents of unions to last week's report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that union membership dropped by nearly a quarter of a million last year.
But the truth is, collective action in America is stronger than ever, said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. "We’ve seen the source of our power in defeating the TPP, even when most people told us we couldn’t," Trumka noted. "We’ve seen it in successfully raising wages at the state and local levels against great political odds. And we’ll use it to begin to change the tide for all working people."
Trumka pointed out that a strong labor movement raises wages for all working families and improves the entire economy. The same report from the BLS said that workers in a union made $202 more per week than those without a union.
Trumka recognized that the labor movement does have challenges. The biggest have been put in place by corporations and politicians who have been at the throats of workers for years, he said. "The ugly truth," said Trumka, is that "because of these attacks, we live in a country where working people are constantly denied our right – our constitutional right – to join a union in the first place. With the way the deck is currently stacked, it’s a miracle that brave workers continue to find new ways to organize."
But, said Trumka, the American labor movement must also recognize its own challenges. "We must be a better movement for a changing workforce," he said. "We must adapt our structures to fit the needs of today’s workers. We must not be afraid to challenge ourselves to better serve working families. And we know we will succeed because we are committed to doing just that, inspired by the spirit we see in working people every day from coast to coast, in industries far and wide."
On today's labor calendar, former organizer Steve Early will lead a discussion about his new book -- “Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of An American City” -- tonight from 6:30 to 8:00pm at the 14th Street Busboys & Poets. The book explores how progressive activists turned a company town into a model for municipal action in the Trump Era.
Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1919, the Paris Peace Conference established the Commission on International Labour Legislation to draft the constitution of a permanent International Labour Organization, or ILO. Today, as part of the United Nations, the ILO is charged with drafting and overseeing international labor standards.
Today’s labor quote is by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who helped organize the International Labour Organization's first conference, in 1919. In 1941, Roosevelt, then president of the United States said "I well remember that in those days the ILO was still a dream. To many it was a wild dream. Who had ever heard of Governments getting together to raise the standards of labor on an international plane? Wilder still was the idea that the people themselves who were directly affected - the workers and the employers of the various countries - should have a hand with Government in determining these labor standards."
The “Women Can Build” exhibition currently on view in the AFL-CIO lobby features original photographs and stories of women today who are building America’s buses and trains, as well as historic photographs of World War Two-era “Rosie the Riveter” manufacturing workers.
The contemporary “Rosies” in the exhibit work for global transit equipment manufacturing companies in U.S. factories.
The women were photographed by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice, employing the dramatic lighting, bold color and work tools used in the original “Rosie” photos while making striking contemporary photos. Her portraits elevate the everyday reality of labor and celebrate it.
The exhibit – which is on view weekdays from 9 to 5 -- was curated by Fiona Gardner and is sponsored by Jobs to Move America and the AFL-CIO.
On today’s labor calendar, find out “Why the Federal Courts Matter to Workers” today at noon at the AFL-CIO. Bring your own lunch, free water and cookies will be provided. Complete details at dclabor.org, click on calendar.
Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1734, New York City maids organized to improve working conditions.
In 1920, the International Labor Organization met for the first time.
In 2014, Pete Seeger died in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American left, persecuted during the McCarthy era for his support of progressive, labor and civil rights causes. A prolific songwriter, he is generally credited with popularizing the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” He actively participated in demonstrations until shortly before his death.
And on this date in 2014, members of the Northwestern University football team announced they were seeking union recognition. The National Labor Relations Board later punted on the historic case, declining to assert jurisdiction and leaving unresolved the question of whether the student players are workers or not.
Today’s labor quote is by Pete Seeger, who said “The key to the future of the world, is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”
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Cecelie Counts, Legislative Representative, Government Affairs on Why the Federal Courts Matter to Workers.
Steve Early, author of “Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of An American City”; book party January 30 from 6:30 - 8:00 P.M. 14th Street Busboys & Poets.
Labor Song: We Shall Not Be Moved; Pete Seeger
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