More than two dozen housekeeping and dietary workers at Arcola Health and Rehabilitation Center voted last month to join 1199SEIU. “I have worked at Arcola as a laundry aide for over 18 years,” said Vicki Watson. “For the past five years we have had no pay raises, health insurance or benefits whatsoever. Retirement is on my mind. I have put too much into this company to walk out with no retirement package and be homeless.” Over 900 workers have voted to join 1199SEIU so far in 2015, with caregivers from the Maryland/DC area to Upstate New York affirming the need for affordable healthcare, better pay and a voice in patient care.
There are still a few openings for volunteers at the 2015 DC LaborFest, which launches this Friday, May 1. Volunteers get a LaborFest t-shirt and free Labor FilmFest passes. The 2015 DC LaborFest runs May 1-31 and has more than 50 exciting events scheduled, including the 15th annual DC Labor FilmFest, plus labor art, music, book, history and even soccer events. Go to dclabor.org and click on LaborFest to sign up.
On today's labor calendar, the Good Jobs for All Campaign Launch with Senator Elizabeth Warren starts at 8am at the Carnegie Library; go to dclabor.org and click on calendar for complete details.
In today's labor history, Coxey’s Army of 500 unemployed civil war veterans reached Washington, on this date in 1894; and in 1899, an estimated one thousand silver miners, angry over low wages, the firing of union members and the planting of spies in their ranks by mine-owners, seized a train, loaded it with 3,000 pounds of dynamite, and blew up the mill at the Bunker Hill mine in Wardner, Idaho. In 1943, the special representative of the National War Labor Board issued a report setting forth provisions for wage rates for women working in war industries who were demanding equal pay.
Today's labor quote is by Beyoncé, who said:
"We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gen der. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect."
As the 2016 presidential battle begins to roll down the campaign trail toward Election Day 18 months from now, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Tuesday challenged candidates to take a stand for the nation’s working people. Noting the skepticism and cynicism many voters feel, Trumka said that nearly two generations of national leaders have either “taken steps that worsened inequality or fiddled around the edges, trying to raise wages in an economy fundamentally built to lower wages.” In a speech from the AFL-CIO headquarters in downtown Washington, Trumka said that “The labor movement's doors are open to any candidate who is serious about transforming our economy with high and rising wages.” Read more and check out a video of the speech at dclabor.org
On today's labor calendar; the AFL-CIO will host an International Workers Day Kick-Off this afternoon at 2pm focused on the “Stop Bad Trade Deals” theme. The program includes music from Son Cosita Seria, videos and snacks. And tonight at 7p check out the Town Hall on Immigration Reform at Bell Multicultural High School; Go to dclabor.org and click on calendar for complete details.
In today's labor history, an explosion on this date in 1927 at the Everettville mine in Everettville, West Virginia killed 109 miners, many of whom lie in unmarked graves to this day. In 2012, the Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board implemented new rules to speed up unionization elections. The new rules are largely seen as a counter to employer manipulation of the law to prevent workers from unionizing.
Today's labor quote is by Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, responding last year to the coal mine explosion and fire in Turkey, which killed more than 300 miners in that country’s worst-ever mine disaster:
“The magnitude of this tragedy is appalling. I see where the media is calling this an industrial ‘accident,’ but a disaster on this scale is no accident. This mine was clearly a bomb waiting to go off. It has been nearly a century since we have seen disasters on this scale in the United States or Canada. Through strong laws and regulations, we have been able to develop workplace protections that keep our miners safe from the kinds of conditions that must have existed in that Turkish mine. What we have done here isn’t magical. It can be and has been applied elsewhere in the world.”
Washington Post workers turned up the heat on Post owner Jeff Bezos last week in their battle for a fair contract. At lunchtime last Thursday, a group of about 25 staffers – members of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild -- marched inside the Post's Washington, D.C., headquarters and upstairs to the publisher’s office to deliver a petition signed by nearly 500 Guild members and other Post employees. “The Post is not just a brand or a building," the petition said. "Keep your eyes focused here, on your loyal employees who work hard to uphold the great name and legacy of this outstanding news organization." Go to dclabor.org to see great photos.
On today’s labor calendar, a photography exhibit by Earl Dotter opens at 2p this afternoon with a special memorial tribute to asbestos workers at the AFL-CIO; and tonight at 7, check out the Jazz Jam concert by members of the Metropolitan Washington DC Federation of Musicians at Guapo's Restaurant in Northwest DC. Go to dclabor.org and click on calendar for complete details.
In today’s Labor Quiz, what percentage of front-line fast food workers, and their dependents, receive some form of welfare assistance? Is it 12, 23, 47, or 52 percent?
Go to unionist.com and click on Labor Quiz and you could be next week's winner!
Here's today's labor history: the first strike for the 10-hour day occurred on this date in 1825 when Boston carpenters walked off the job; and on this date in 1911, James Oppenheim’s poem “Bread and Roses” was published in the IWW newspaper Industrial Solidarity.
Today's labor quote is James Oppenheim’s poem, Bread and Roses:
As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, "Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses."
As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men--
For they are women's children and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes--
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread;
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew--
Yes, bread we fight for--but we fight for Roses, too.
As we come marching, marching, we bring the Greater Days--
The rising of the women means the rising of the race--
No more the drudge and idler--ten that toil where one reposes--
But sharing of life's glories: Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses!
Oppenheim wrote this poem to celebrate the movement for women’s rights and is closely associated with the 1912 Lawrence textile mill strike. During the strike, which was in protest of a reduction in pay, the women mill workers carried signs that quoted the poem, reading “We want bread, and roses, too”. Bread and Roses was set to music by Mimi Fariña in the 1970s, and has become an anthem for labor rights, and especially the rights of working women, in the United States and elsewhere.
Every year on April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces. This year, the struggle continues to create good jobs in this country that are safe and healthy and pay fair wages and to ensure the freedom of workers to form unions and, through their unions, to speak out and bargain for respect and a better future.
Here are a few facts about worker safety and health you should know in honor of Workers Memorial Day:
On today's labor calendar, NoVA Labor’s Stop Fast Track Phonebank continues starting at 10am and the Baltimore Labor Council’s 34th Annual Committee on Political Education Dinner will be held tonight starting at 7pm; Go to dclabor.org and click on calendar for complete details.
In today's labor history, a coal mine collapsed in Eccles, West Virginia on this date in 1914, killing 181 workers; in 1924, a total of 119 died in the Benwood, West Virginia coal mine disaster; and in 1970, Congress created OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In 1989, the AFL-CIO set April 28 as “Workers Memorial Day” to honor the hundreds of thousands of workers killed and injured on the job every year. On this date in 1993, the first “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” was held, promoted by the Ms. Foundation to boost self-esteem of girls with invitations to a parent’s workplace.
Today's labor quote is by Mother Jones, who said:
“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
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