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Every week, we'll be bringing you a roundup of the important news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here's this week's Working People Weekly List. Read more >>>

Each week, we take a look at the biggest friends and foes of labor. We celebrate the workers winning big and small battles, and we shame the companies or people trying to deny working people their rights. Read more >>>

AFL-CIO Now Blog -- Recent News Stories

Missourians Get Nearly Triple the Needed Signatures for November Right to Work Repeal Referendum
Missourians Get Nearly Triple the Needed Signatures for November Right to Work Repeal Referendum

St. Louis RTW Rally
Greater St Louis Central Labor Council AFL-CIO

Extremists and outside interests representing big corporations rammed through a Right to Work bill, against the will of the people of the state. The bill signed into law by Gov. Eric Greitens in February. Today, Missourians spoke up loudly and, pending the certification process, a ballot referendum on Right to Work will appear on the November 2018 ballot.

In order to get on the ballot, supporters must gather approximately 107,510 signatures in 6 of 8 congressional districts. Hundreds of Missourians showed up to cheer along campaign representatives, who delivered 163 boxes filled with 57,277 pages, containing 310,567 signatures, nearly three times the required amount. All of the state's 115 counties were represented, and the numbers were sufficient to qualify in all eight congressional districts.

Here is what Missouri's working people said about right to work and the referendum:

"Right to Work is wrong. It's wrong for Missouri workers. It's wrong for Missouri families. It's time for Governor Greitens and extreme politicians to stop doing the bidding of their dark money donors and begin fighting for Missouri families," said Lori Giannini, a 12-year grocery clerk at Schnuck's from St. Charles County.

"This referendum will guarantee that Missouri employers and their employees can work together in the best interests of their businesses without government interference," said Dennis Palmer, a small business owner from Columbia.

"Extreme politicians and dark money interests may not like it but the facts are the facts. Workers in Right to Work states make $681 dollars less per month than workers in non-Right to Work states and the chances of being killed on the job is 49% higher in Right to Work states," said Quiema Spencer, a master pipefitter from Kansas City.

"We've come together and put in countless hours gathering signatures from voters at festivals, community events, door-to-door canvasses, parades—you name it," said Bobby Dicken, an electrician from Butler County. "These folks who've signed the petition want their voices to be heard—they want voters—not politicians—to make the final decision on whether so-called Right to Work becomes law in Missouri.

Other supporters posted on Twitter:

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 08/18/2017 - 15:05

Why I Quit: The Working People Weekly List
Why I Quit: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Richard Trumka: Why I Quit Trump’s Business Council: "On Tuesday, President Trump stood in the lobby of his tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and again made excuses for bigotry and terrorism, effectively repudiating the remarks his staff wrote a day earlier in response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. I stood in that same lobby in January, fresh off a meeting with the new president-elect. Although I had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, I was hopeful we could work together to bring some of his pro-worker campaign promises to fruition."

AFL-CIO Chief Denounces Trump's 'Spirited Defense of Racism and Bigotry': "Five members of President Trump's manufacturing council have resigned since Monday, after Mr. Trump's controversial response to the Charlottesville protests. The president of AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, is the latest to leave the council. He said in a statement: 'I cannot sit on a council for a president that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism.' Trumka joins CBS This Morning to discuss why the labor movement had to 'follow its conscience' and why Mr. Trump's comments were unacceptable."

Top Labor Leader Resigns from Trump’s Jobs Council After Trump Blames ‘Both Sides’ for Charlottesville Violence: "Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest group of labor unions in the country, quit President Trump’s manufacturing council Tuesday evening, with the labor leader saying he refused to accept any tolerance of 'bigotry and domestic terrorism.'"

At The Top-Secret NAFTA Re-Negotiation Table – 85% Corporate Voices, 5% Labor: “The AFL-CIO’s Celeste Drake is at the NAFTA renegotiation table for working people. She says working people need a complete rewriting of NAFTA rules to eliminate the corporate domination. ... ‘I want to emphasize it’s not a tweak here, you know, add a comma there, delete a sentence and then we’re done. And the labor issues are critically important.’”

AFL-CIO Urges Trump not to Abandon 'Dreamers': AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on President Donald Trump to defend the DACA program, which benefits thousands of young Mexican immigrants known as "Dreamers." The program could be canceled if the government does not respond to a potential lawsuit.

AFL-CIO Demands Transparency in NAFTA Talks: "'We are setting the bar high. We will only accept a deal that is renegotiated the right way. That means having a transparent process in which working families have a seat at the table, and ensuring that our freedom to stand together is protected and that all of us can receive a fair return on our hard work,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Monday."

Union Leaders Condemn Alt-Right-Caused Deaths in Charlottesville: "Union leaders, from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on down, strongly condemned the hate groups whose adherent, deliberately driving his car into a crowd of anti-hate counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., killed one woman and injured dozens."

Corporate Intimidation Threatens Worker Freedom: "Anyone surprised by the outcome of last week’s union election at the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., hasn’t been paying attention. To get a sense of how ugly the tenor of the Nissan union vote got, one need only have tuned to WYAB talk radio in central Mississippi, where one caller warned that pro-union Nissan workers would 'go right back to' 'picking cotton and plowing fields or digging ditches.'"

Lori Pelletier: ‘Either You Respect Collective Bargaining or You Don't'"Lori J. Pelletier, the president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, raised eyebrows by organizing a picket line outside the state Democratic Party’s annual fundraiser last year to protest a Democratic governor and legislature for opting to lay off unionized state workers instead of raising taxes on the rich."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 08/18/2017 - 14:10

Trumka Leaves Presidential Business Council
Trumka Leaves Presidential Business Council

Richard Trumka
Wikimedia Commons

This week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka resigned from President Donald Trump's Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. The move came after Trump responded to the racist terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. In resigning from the Initiative, Trumka said:

His response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville was the last straw. We in the labor community refuse to normalize bigotry and hatred. And we cannot in good conscience extend a hand of cooperation to those who condone it.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 08/17/2017 - 16:00

Working People in the States Reject Hate and Terror
Working People in the States Reject Hate and Terror

White House vigil
Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the deaths of Heather Heyer and two Virginia state troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and the injuring of more than 30 others, organizations representing working families in numerous states have spoken out rejecting the violence and the ideas that precipitated the violence.

Here are the statements of AFL-CIO state federations:

Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays:

Allow me to be clear–the working people of Virginia do not and will not stand for discrimination and hate in our communities.

Yesterday's disgraceful display of beliefs from the alt-right was simply that–a disgrace to the citizens of the Commonwealth and all that we stand for. Virginia’s working families have fought long and hard to overcome the discriminatory policies of our past and to create an environment of inclusion and fairness in workplaces across the Commonwealth. We will continue to devote every ounce of our abilities to ensure that the rights and safety of all Virginians are preserved.

Furthermore, our thoughts and prayers extend to each of the peaceful counter-protesters who were injured or killed in the resulting violence from yesterday’s rally. We also extend our deepest condolences to the Virginia State Police and the families of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. No working person expects this shift to be his last, but these brave men and thousands of other first responders put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our communities safe.

Colorado AFL-CIO:

The Colorado AFL-CIO stands with union members and working people across the country against hate and bigotry. We will continue to stand up with our black brothers and sisters and reject the fascist violence that occurred in Charlottesville.

White supremacy is a tool used by those who want to divide and conquer people who would otherwise work together to secure their freedom and their fair share, which is why the labor movement is committed to addressing racism and bigotry within our own ranks and in our larger society.

Georgia AFL-CIO:

Over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and terrorist acts committed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry has no place in America. In this country, we have always fought, in solidarity, for equality and justice and against these and other diabolical prejudices.

This is the time for leadership. Our leaders, both in D.C. and under the Gold Dome, must acknowledge this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.

The hearts and prayers of Georgia’s labor movement are with all the victims, but especially the families of those who lost their lives: Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. We pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

Green Mountain Labor Council:

The recent events in Charlottesville call upon us all to speak out boldly against white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism in all forms. Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred, and fear should have no home in America.

We grieve for the lives lost and pray for those critically injured because of the domestic terrorism committed in Charlottesville. The Green Mountain Labor Council promises to organize in our workplaces and communities to fight racism, fascism and bigotry.

Trump’s failure to call out neo-Nazi’s and other bigots is not surprising. Some of the supremacists even chanted “Heil Trump.” Trump’s campaign of hate against non-whites, threats to punch opponents in the face, and his plan to deport immigrants and build walls embolden the forces which were unleashed on Charlottesville. Trump is simply unfit to be president....

The Iowa Federation of Labor shared the words of Progress Iowa:

This weekend we watched in horror as white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., waving Nazi symbols, chanting hateful Nazi slogans, and committing violent acts of terrorism. Their hatred and their violence should be condemned, and has no place in our country. But those words aren’t enough.

It’s not enough when Governor Reynolds and Senators Grassley and Ernst make statements of condemnation (David Young and Rod Blum have done so as well). They should condemn President Trump for continually fanning the flames of hatred, from his lead role in the birther movement, to statements he made during the campaignrefusing to denounce former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and even having advisers with ties to hate groups.

Reynolds, Grassley, Ernst, Young, Blum, and King should condemn the president they helped put in office for his role in emboldening white supremacists. It’s politically easy to condemn Nazis—it would show true political courage if they called out the president of their own party. And they should use their elected office to bring about real, meaningful change. Here are just a few of the many ways they could move forward, and policies we should all call on them to enact....

Read the rest of the statement.

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO shared the words of the Rev. John Ballenger:

As we gather to worship, a word about the past couple of days in Charlottesville.

I trust you’re all aware of the events there. The kind of hatred and evil incarnate there cannot go unchallenged by those who follow God in the way of Jesus. Neither can any false equivalence between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

They are not the same.

We can no more afford to be surprised at what festers despicably in our culture, nor can our world afford for us to be silent about it—at what was made manifest in Charlottesville, yes, but also at the loud rhetoric of fear-mongering and violence, religious and ethnic blaming and shaming, attitudes of exclusiveness and superiority, an ongoing barrage of unchecked lies, the perversions of theology, scripture and God, and also the systemic racism embedded in our own ways of life—the countless ways we’ve begun trying to name how many of us benefit from privilege and how many of us suffer the consequences all of which can so easily be manipulatively effective and beneficial for the few, unquestionably making room for the worst of who we can be to be more comfortably made public.

In the name of God, we reject it all. in the name of Jesus, we commit to his alternative way of love, grace, welcome, justice, and peace, and in the name of the Spirit, we pray hope for the journey before us.

Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven A. Tolman:

With you, I have watched with heartbreak the hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville this week and the subsequent offensive and troubling reaction from President Trump. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO joins AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka in condemning last Saturday’s act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. We mourn with the families and friends of Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. We call on President Trump to unequivocally reject white supremacy and racism.

As a labor movement, as a Commonwealth and as a nation we have a moral obligation to stand up for the right of all people to live without fear and to stand against racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms. Hatred thrives on silence.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy:

Minnesota’s working people echo AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s condemnation of Saturday’s act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. Our hearts go out to the families of Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates in their time of loss. White supremacists like Nazis, the KKK, and other so-called “alt-right” groups have long used bigotry, violence, and fear to divide working people. Minnesota’s labor movement resolutely rejects these poisonous ideologies that have no place in our country. We call on President Trump to apologize for the comments he made on Tuesday and strongly reject the white supremacists who support him. Working people in Minnesota and across the country renew our commitment to justice and eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

Missouri AFL-CIO:

President Trump's actions have not met up with the promises he made to working people during the campaign. His embrace of white-nationalist, neo-Nazis and the alt-right is un-American and we will not be a part of the president's PR sham.

It is simple. Saturday's attack was an act of domestic terrorism. The labor movement has always led the fight for equality and ending racism. This time is no different. White supremacists and neo-Nazis are racist and we will not stand with a president that does not unequivocally condemn these racists.

The true values of our country and the labor movement are values of equality and solidarity. This racism and bigotry is evil and does not represent the true values of this country.

Nebraska State AFL-CIO President/Secretary-Treasurer Susan L. Martin:

The Nebraska State AFL-CIO is speaking out against the horrific events that happened in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend. We cannot and will not condone the vicious, hateful actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis groups and bigots. This type of racism is immoral and has no place in America or anywhere. We, as a labor movement, value equality and solidarity and have fought long and hard to overcome these prejudices. Now is a moment for all Americans who believe in freedom and justice, to stand up and speak out. I urge you to participate in a vigil or community event in support of the true values of our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific event and my hope is that we continue to have the important conversations with each other against this intolerance.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

As the nation begins to heal from the vicious act of terror committed in Charlottesville, we will keep in our hearts the memory of those who were injured or lost their lives. Those who stood up against the hatred and bigotry of white supremacists and intolerance of any kind, demonstrate the true values of this nation. Those who carry the banner of hate, bear the responsibility of this tragedy, and must be unequivocally condemned. We have come too far as a nation to turn back.

North Carolina State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan:

The North Carolina State AFL-CIO condemns white supremacy. It is a tool used by those who want to divide and conquer people who would otherwise work together to secure their freedom and their fair share, which is why the labor movement is committed to addressing racism and bigotry within our own ranks and in our larger society. All of us including President Trump have a moral obligation to speak out against not only racist, fascist violence but also the racist, fascist ideology behind such violence—an ideology which thrives on silence and inaction, particularly that of white people like me. We cannot expect our black and brown brothers and sisters to both bear the burden of white supremacy and do the work of dismantling it because this is our fight too, and together we can triumph over hatred. Lest we forget, when Adolf Hitler was consolidating his power, Nazis specifically came after union members because they feared the inclusiveness and collective strength of a united labor movement. By building a broad, inclusive movement, we can overcome the forces trying to divide us, and that is what we intend to do.

North Dakota AFL-CIO President/Secretary-Treasurer Waylon Hedegaard:

Sadly, white supremacy and Nazi ideology are on the rise across the nation and here in North Dakota. Four years ago, we all watched as Nazis and white supremacists tried to take over the small town of Leith for their own enclave, and many of us went down to protest the Nazi rally.

We stood against the hate and aggression they represented. Regular everyday North Dakotans, friends and neighbors, young and old, stood shoulder to should against the Nazis. People of all backgrounds and colors flocked to Leith because they could not stand by while fascists terrorized other North Dakotans.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO and organized labor will always stand against such racist, hateful and vile beliefs. Nazism, fascism and white supremacy are abhorrent to everything labor stands for and they always have been....

We must stand up! We must fight back! We must call them out on their murderous beliefs. We must not let this hate-filled infection spread!...

The source of working people’s issues are not people of a different color, gender, religion or belief. This has never been true and remains a lie today. Working people’s problems come from an unfair economic system that increasingly takes money and power from them to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO stands against hate. It has always stood against hate, and it always will.  We stand against blaming other poor people for our problems. We stand against white supremacy, and we stand against Nazis.

We will proclaim this message until it rings in every labor hall, every workplace and every neighborhood in our state. We will not accept the racism and hatred that the swastika represents. We will not tolerate the threats of violence and fear, and we will not be quiet....

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain:

Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world and does not represent the true values of America. The true values of our country, values like equality and solidarity, are what have always overcome the most abominable prejudices.

Any response must begin with our leaders, starting with President Trump, acknowledging this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry. My heart goes out to the victims especially the family of those who lost their lives including a young woman named Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.  I pray for everyone’s safety. Oregon’s labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO wholeheartedly supports the statement made by President Trumka.  We condemn violence perpetrated by bigotry, racism, and hatred anywhere.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the Charlottesville community. 

Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick:

We condemn the armed white supremacists and neo-Nazis who set the stage for and carried out the acts of terrorism that took place in Charlottesville.

Nothing anyone can say can take away the horror of what we witnessed yesterday, but in times like this we look to our leaders to comfort us, bring us together and shape our moral response as a nation. Sadly, the president failed miserably in those tasks. He glossed over 'Sieg Heil' salutes, KKK symbols, Confederate flags and other evidence of hatred in suggesting that 'all sides' were somehow to blame.

Instead of sending in the Justice Department, President Trump left room for David Duke to praise him and gave comfort to extremists who can claim with plenty of justification that they have a valued place in his presidency. At his most crucial moment in this tragedy, with the eyes of the nation on him, this president failed miserably.

As we grieve for those who lost their lives, with all our hearts the labor movement redoubles our commitment to fighting racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred at every turn. We will never be divided in turning toward the lights of justice for all and solidarity.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson:

On behalf of the Washington State labor Council, AFL-CIO, we want to send our condolences to the families of Heather Heyer and the two police officers who died in Saturday’s terrorist attack by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., as well as the nineteen individuals injured in the attack. We also want to honor the bravery of Ms. Heyer and all of those who stood up against the hatred, bigotry and violence of the white nationalists. There is no place in the United States of America for these racist and supremacist beliefs. Once again the president is wrong – there are not “many sides” to this violence and hatred. There is only the moral courage and values of those who stand up against racism and white supremacy and there is the hatred and violence of white supremacy. Only two sides, right and wrong. It is time for us all to choose sides. Labor chooses the side that condemns racism and white supremacy in all of its forms.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO:

"The Wisconsin labor movement stands strong against white supremacy, hate and racism," said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. "As a movement, we remain steadfast in eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance in the world. The labor movement was built on the values of equality, justice, respect and solidarity. These are the values that have and will always overcome the most repulsive prejudices."

"Racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world," said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. "Wisconsin’s working people soundly condemn Saturday’s domestic terrorism and remain committed to standing together to end hatred and intolerance. As we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the labor movement redoubles our commitment to fighting racism, anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred and evil at every turn."

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 08/17/2017 - 11:20

Why I Quit Trump’s Business Council
Why I Quit Trump’s Business Council

Richard Trumka
AFL-CIO

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump stood in the lobby of his tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and again made excuses for bigotry and terrorism, effectively repudiating the remarks his staff wrote a day earlier in response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. I stood in that same lobby in January, fresh off a meeting with the new president-elect. Although I had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, I was hopeful we could work together to bring some of his pro-worker campaign promises to fruition.

Unfortunately, with each passing day, it has become clear that Trump has no intention of following through on his commitments to working people. More worrisome, his actions and rhetoric threaten to leave America worse off and more divided. It is for these reasons that I resigned yesterday from the president’s manufacturing council, which the president disbanded today after a string of resignations.

To be clear, the council never lived up to its potential for delivering policies that lift up working families. In fact, we were never called to a single official meeting, even though it comprised some of the world’s top business and labor leaders. The AFL-CIO joined to bring the voices of working people to the table and advocate the manufacturing initiatives our country desperately needs. But the only thing the council ever manufactured was letterhead. In the end, it was just another broken promise.

During my January meeting with Trump, we identified a few important areas where compromise seemed possible. On manufacturing, infrastructure and especially trade, we were generally in agreement. Trump spoke of $1 trillion to rebuild our schools, roads and bridges. He challenged companies to keep jobs in the United States. He promoted “Buy America.” He promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Here’s the thing: Working men and women have been promised the moon by politicians. Year after year. Campaign after campaign. Republican and Democrat. Too often, those promises have ended up being hollow; election year sound bites are often discarded as quickly as they are made. I told Trump that this time must be different. I made clear that we would judge his administration on its actions.

Nearly seven months in, the facts speak for themselves.

Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill is nowhere to be found. And according to an analysis from the University of Pennsylvania, even if Trump did bring such a plan forward, his own budget proposal would wipe it out, leading to a net loss of $55 billion for highways, water facilities and public transit. Trump also has remained silent on the future of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which requires contractors on federally assisted construction projects to pay their employees at rates prevailing in the communities where they perform the work.

What about NAFTA? First, Trump promised that the United States would withdraw. Then his administration sent a letter to Congress indicating the treaty needed only minor tweaks. Now renegotiation is underway with no clear principles for reform or negotiating goals in sight. Meanwhile, NAFTA remains firmly in place.

Although Trump has promised to protect the social safety net, his budget would slash $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $59 billion from Medicare and up to $64 billion from Social Security over 10 years. It would strip funding for workplace safety research by 40%, even though about 150 workers die each day from hazardous working conditions. And it would force the people who make our government work to endure a 6% pay cut.

Trump championed the Republican plan to gut health care and raise taxes on working people to line the pockets of the rich. And his executive orders that deport aspiring Americans and impose a religious litmus test for refugees are both morally bankrupt and bad economic policy.

Finally, rather than “draining the swamp,” Trump has filled his Cabinet with the authors and beneficiaries of our broken economic rules. He has elevated an anti-worker judge to the Supreme Court and appointed union-busting lawyers to the National Labor Relations Board.

His response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville was the last straw. We in the labor community refuse to normalize bigotry and hatred. And we cannot in good conscience extend a hand of cooperation to those who condone it.

In some ways, Trump presented himself as a different kind of politician, someone who could cut through the gridlock in Washington and win a better deal for America's workers. But his record is a combination of broken promises, outright attacks and dangerous, divisive rhetoric. That’s why we opposed him in the campaign. And that’s why he is losing the support of our members each and every day.

This post originally appeared in the New York Times.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 08/16/2017 - 16:41

In Their Own Words: Why Immigrant Worker Protections Must Be Extended
In Their Own Words: Why Immigrant Worker Protections Must Be Extended

Areli Zarate
AFT

A primary goal of the labor movement is to make every job in our country a good job. To do that, we must and we will stand with every worker in the fight for basic rights and dignity on the job. More than 1 million working people are in danger of having their work permits stripped away if the Trump administration ends the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs. This is unacceptable. We will fight for and with them just as they have fought for and with all of us.

The DACA and TPS programs help working people and they help the country. Here are just a few stories of union members whose lives have been changed because of these programs. Please send us your story of how DACA and TPS made your life better and helped you exercise your basic rights and find dignity on the job.

    Reyna Sorto, Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) member:

    Employers exploit immigrant workers because they think our fear will keep us silent from speaking out against abuses, even though TPS is not permanent, it does provide a level of protection that can give a worker strength to speak truth to power and denounce exploitative working conditions.

    Karen Reyes, DACAmented teacher in Austin, Texas, and member of AFT:

    DACA made me visible. It made me realize that those opportunities that I thought were not for me—were now possible. DACA made it possible for me to be able to find a job in teaching. It made it possible to be able to earn money to be help out my mom while she went through numerous health issues. DACA made it possible for me to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing. DACA made me find my voice and made me be able to live without fear. We must #DefendDACA because after living here for 26 years—I am here to stay.

    Gerdine Vessagne, housekeeper in Miami Beach, Florida:

    TPS has allowed me to provide for my five children, including two back home and three born here. But this isn’t just about me. Over 50,000 Haitian nationals working in the U.S. have this protected status. We are the engine of Florida’s hospitality industry, much of which greatly depends on our labor.

    Cecilia Luis, housekeeper in Orlando, Florida.:

    I know a lot of people here that don't eat or sleep because they're worried they'll be sent back to Haiti. It's not as easy to leave when you're sending money to your family to help them survive. My God knows everything, and I'm asking him to speak to their hearts so they don't do this. A lot of people will suffer.

    Areli Zarate, DACAmented teacher in Austin, Texas:

    DACA allowed me the opportunity to come out of the shadows and lose the fear of deportation. I have a social security number and work permit which gives me the opportunity to follow my dream and teach. I am about to begin my fourth year of teaching with a big heart filled with love and passion for my profession. I am dedicated to my students and it's hard to see myself doing something else. Yet, every time I have to renew my DACA I am reminded that my status is temporary. I am currently pending a decision on my renewal and I am praying to God that I will be allowed to teach for another two years until my next renewal.

    Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity, spoke for many working people in the hospitality industry:

    The American hospitality industry runs because of the women and men on DACA and TPS working in it. These immigrants prove their value to this country every day, and many have been living in and contributing to America for more than a decade. These men and women have deep roots in this country, and are longtime employees, spouses, parents, neighbors and community members. Losing DACA and TPS would destroy both their families and the hotel industry that is built on their work. We must extend TPS and protect DACA—for our sisters and brothers working under them, for their families and for the health of the American economy.

    These stories make it clear that the ability to exploit any worker undermines standards for all working people. Increasing the pool of vulnerable workers in our country directly threatens the labor movement’s mission of raising wages and improving working conditions. We call on our nation’s leaders to reverse the destructive course we are on and take these immediate steps to reduce the fear in our workplaces:

    • Defend DACA and protect this vital young workforce;
    • Continue TPS for all affected countries; and
    • Protect labor rights by preventing immigration enforcement from interfering with other important roles of government.

    The words of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sum it up:

    DACA and TPS holders are members of our families, our unions and our communities who have made positive contributions to our society for many years. We will not allow them to lose their rights and status. We will stand with them in the fight to defend these programs as a necessary part of our long-term struggle to ensure that all working people have rights at work and the freedom to negotiate together for fair pay and conditions.

    We call on the Trump administration to demonstrate a genuine commitment to lifting up the wages, rights and standards of all working people by acting to defend and extend vital DACA and TPS protections.

    Sign our petition today to stand up in support of DACA and TPS.

    Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:03

    Working People Respond to Domestic Terror in Virginia
    Working People Respond to Domestic Terror in Virginia

    End white supremacy
    Stephen Melkisethian on Flickr

    Working people across the country were shocked by the act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by white nationalists in Virginia on Saturday. Here are excerpts of how leaders for working family organizations responded:

    AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

    Yesterday in Charlottesville, Va., the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world and does not represent the true values of America. The true values of our country, values like equality and solidarity, are what have always overcome the most abominable prejudices. Any response must begin with our leaders, starting with President Donald Trump, acknowledging this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry. My heart goes out to the victims, especially the family of those who lost their lives, including a young woman named Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. I pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

    Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays:

    Allow me to be clear—the working people of Virginia do not and will not stand for discrimination and hate in our communities. Yesterday's disgraceful display of beliefs from the alt-right was simply that—a disgrace to the citizens of the Commonwealth and all that we stand for. Virginia’s working families have fought long and hard to overcome the discriminatory policies of our past and to create an environment of inclusion and fairness in work places across the Commonwealth. We will continue to devote every ounce of our abilities to ensure that the rights and safety of all Virginians are preserved.

    Furthermore, our thoughts and prayers extend to each of the peaceful counter-protesters wh

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