Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama Right to Make JOBS Top Priority

President Obama was exactly right when he spoke tonight of the stubborn resilience of the American people in the face of adversity. Despite daily insecurity and the deep hurt of not being able to find jobs, working people's goodness, decency and hard work have kept our country going.

But Americans are also deeply frustrated and angry. We want to see elected leaders who'll fight for us and bring real change. We want jobs-President Obama is absolutely right that jobs must be our number one focus in 2010. And we must act on a scale that will be meaningful: We need more than 10 million jobs just to get out of the hole we're in. We want health care fixed. We want our leaders to break the stranglehold of Wall Street and the big banks and make them pay to repair the economic damage they created.

President Obama spoke directly to those concerns tonight. He called for a jobs bill and putting people to work. He called for America to take its place as a world leader by investing in our economic foundation, education, infrastructure and energy technology. He demanded tough financial reform. He called for curbing corporate influence, stopping tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and enforcing trade rules. He committed to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And he said we must finish the job of reforming health care.

The President was right to call out Republicans for obstructing change and putting politics ahead of progress.

Now it's time for all of us to get busy and work together to bring the big changes that are essential-starting with enacting a jobs bill that is big enough to create jobs for the millions of people who want to work and can't find jobs. The time for small change is long gone. We were pleased to see that the President embraced two of the job creation proposals we have made - investing in infrastructure and helping small businesses get credit through TARP funds.

We're ready to fight for the President's vision - and we're going to insist that it be done right. That includes restoring the freedom of workers to bargain to make jobs into good jobs by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

We will not agree with every aspect of every proposal. We will continue to be an independent voice for middle class Americans and fight for the change working families need-and we are ready to do more. This is the time for a broad movement of Americans demanding jobs and an economy that works for all, and we're ready to put our energy and leadership into building that movement-taking the fight to the doorstep of the banks that are exploiting struggling homeowners, of corporations that are running away from communities and of lawmakers who choose to back them up.

We hope elected leaders at every level will choose instead to lead with action. Working America is watching to see what they do. We are in a "show me" kind of mood and we are ready to see results.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
On President's State of the Union Address
January 27, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Need a JOBS PLAN Now!

The election in Massachusetts last week was a sobering reminder to candidates running in 2010. Voters are fed up with the inaction in Washington and are expecting RESULTS. If candidates want the votes of working families come November, they need to pass real working families legislation - a jobs bill, health care reform, financial regulation and the Employee Free Choice Act. Our job could not be clearer. Our time to stand up and fight for the issues that are important to working families is now.

Please watch and share widely this short YouTube video of President Trumka commenting on the results in Massachusetts.

Also be sure to attend our candidate nominating convention in March. The full COPE will begin candidate interviews at 1:00 p.m. on Friday March 26th. There will also be a reception hosted by Martin & Kieklak Law Firm Friday evening. Affiliated union members are encouraged and welcome to attend both.

We need a strong job creation plan to foster growth, ensure that states perform the core functions that all American families deserve, and deliver jobs to Americans on Main Street. Join the Facebook group to show your support, and ask your state legislators to sign onto this letter. The AFL-CIO is calling on Congress and the Obama administration to take five steps now to care for the jobless and put America back to work. Read more.

Are you and your family members registered to vote? You can check your registration online and register to vote online too. You must be registered at least 30 days before an election in order to vote.

Thank you for all that you do.

In solidarity,

Alan Hughes, President
Ricky Belk, Secretary-Treasurer

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Labor Council meeting rescheduled for February 4

Due to the Winter Storm Warning for Thursday, January 28, the meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council has been rescheduled for Thursday, February 4, at 5:30 p.m.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Building Retiree Power

I hope you will consider joining me April 5-8 in Las Vegas for Building Retiree Power, the 2010 national convention of the Alliance for Retired Americans. We will offer a wide array of education and training opportunities to improve your skills as a grassroots activist and as a leader of a local or state retiree group.

It may be a new year, but many of last year's challenges - health care, retirement security, and a lingering recession - still remain as great as ever. The future of our retirement, and what will be there for the generations that follow us, will be dramatically affected by what our leaders do this year.

I've heard experts say that in this November's elections older voters will make up over one-third of the turn-out. If the health care debate has been any indication, retirees will be the object of a lot of attention - and a lot of misinformation. We must do our homework on the candidates and the issues, and educate our neighbors so they will be able to separate fact from fiction come election time.

The Alliance convention will feature noted speakers and training workshops on topics such as health care reform, Social Security, community organizing, fund-raising, and using new on-line communications tools such as Facebook to reach more retirees in your area.

For more information about the Alliance for Retired Americans national convention, to be held April 5-8 at Bally's Las Vegas, visit or call 888/373-6497.

Barbara J. Easterling is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. She was previously the secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Building a Stronger Labor Movement in Our States and Communities

Building a Stronger Labor Movement in Our States and Communities

AFL-CIO State Federation, Area and Central Labor Council Conference

AFL-CIO President Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer Shuler, Executive Vice President Holt Baker, IUPAT General President and State and Local Committee Chair Williams and State and Local Leaders will be attending and participating in our National Conference April 22-25 in Orlando, Florida

(National Community Services Conference begins on the evening of April 21)

Join state federation, area and central labor council leaders from across the country as we meet to share ideas, strategies, opportunities and challenges in building our movement at the state and local levels and winning historic national campaigns. We will focus on the information, tools and skills needed to accomplish these goals to help Turn Around America with a major emphasis on jobs, health care, the Employee Free Choice Act and the many issues within your states that will require attention as we move into Labor 2010. A comprehensive agenda will be developed over the next several weeks to include:

# Peer-to-Peer Discussions
# Grassroots Skills Workshops
# Communications and Technology
# Organizational Development
# Sharing of Best Practices
# AFL-CIO Youth Initiative

Registration for the Conference and hotel is all completed on-line. We encourage you to make your reservations early.

Register at:

For further information, contact: Amy Morris at or 202-637-5355.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pass Real Labor Reform Law

Thanks to Brother Ricky Belk, CWA from Alma and Secretary-Treasurer of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, for sending the following letter to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and speaking up for working families in Arkansas.

Arkansans are no stranger to the hardships that workers and employers are feeling throughout the country. It’s more important than ever that our leaders pass meaningful reforms that directly affect workers in Arkansas so our middle class can help rebuild our country’s economy from the bottom up.

One of the best things we can do for workers everywhere is pass real labor law reform such as the Employee Free Choice Act to give them the ability to bargain for a better life. Unfortunately, instead of supporting this critical legislation, the Democrat-Gazette Editorial page has once again decided to confuse fact with fiction and irresponsible scare tactics.

Let’s set the record straight. The bill will not eliminate the right for workers to choose a secret-ballot election during organizing. It will, however, restore fairness to the system and let workers, not their bosses, make the choice in how they form a union.

The bill also will hold corporations accountable when they break the law and bring balance to negotiations by allowing for arbitration when employees and employers can’t come to an agreement.

I hope in the future the Democrat-Gazette will be more conscious of the facts and not just continue to echo corporate rhetoric. I urge all Arkansans to involve themselves in this debate and find out the truth for themselves.


Wage Theft Should Be A Crime

“You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.” Deuteronomy 24:14 A worker I interviewed, whom we’ll call Victoria, took a job at a Fayetteville restaurant for $50 a day. She worked 10 to 10, six days a week. That comes to $4.16 an hour. Arkansas’ minimum wage is $6.25, plus time-and-a-half for work over 40 hours per week.

Victoria’s terms of employment were illegal. Had she been paid a legal minimum wage, she would have earned $300 more per week.

If only she had been paid.

Victoria was supposed to be paid every two weeks. But it was nearly a month before she got her first check. When she got her second check a week into her second month of work, her employer told her not to cash it for a week.

By that time she had additional responsibilities. She was the primary cook, preparing most of the orders and doing the dishwashing as well. She was coming in earlier and staying an hour later. Same $50 a day.

One day a couple of weeks later, Victoria suffered a pretty serious cut to her finger. It became infected overnight. She was treated and told to cover the finger for three days.

The doctor said she could return to work, taking some precautions to protect the injury. When she went back the next day, the owner fired her. The owner paid her half of what she was owed, with a hot check.

That hot check was Victoria’s good luck. You see, it is a Class Cfelony to pass a hot check of $500 or more - that’s a serious crime; same category as manslaughter.

Victoria went to the Workers Justice Center who contacted the county prosecuting attorney.

The prosecutor forced the former employer to make good on the hot check.

There are only civil penalties when an employer to underpays a worker, or hires people below the legal minimum wage, or refuses to pay for work an employee has done. There are legal sanctions.

Unlike the prosecutor’s office, these wheels move slowly. It takes time. And if the worker wins, the employer usually suffers just a slap on the wrist. But in truth, it is theft. Wage theft.

Maybe you think this is an unusual case, an exception to the rule. Not so. A landmark study published in fall surveyed more than 4,000 low-wage workers and found that nearly 70 percent of the workers had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week.

That’s shocking. (“Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers” at http:// sdm6bc50n.pdf)

These violations were widespread, not just rogue employers victimizing undocumented immigrants.

The typical worker lost $51 the previous week out of average weekly earnings of $339. That’s a 15 percent pay loss. Nearly 60 percent of the workerssampled did not receive mandatory pay documents that help insure pay is legal and accurate. Of those who worked overtime, 75 percent were not paid the legal amount and 70 percent of those who came in early or stayed late for their shift were not paid for their extra work.

The good news: Generally the employers that treated people well overall - offering health insurance, vacations, and paid sick days - had lower violation rates. High rates of cheating: Child care workers, personal and repair services, restaurants, textile manufacturing, private households, drug and grocery stores, retail, building and grounds workers, various manufacturing low-wage jobs.

Women, black and Latin workers got the worst of it.

Last week I heard from a parishioner who was faced with the choice between food and blood pressure medications because a contractor didn’t pay her husband $750 for his construction work. He’s white, male and native born.

I asked Fernando Garcia of the Workers Justice Center what would most help. He said, “Make wage theft a crime, like hot checks.” Then workers would have some clout behind them.

Not paying a worker a legal wage is theft - wage theft. It’s a crime to steal property. Why isn’t it a crime to steal someone’s blood, sweat and tears?

By Lowell Grisham

Monday, January 18, 2010


Northwest Arkansas Times
, Page 5 on 01/18/2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Remarks by AFL-CIO President Trumka, San Diego Jobs Rally

Remarks by Richard L. Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, San Diego Jobs Rally, San Diego, CA
January 06, 2010

Thank you, Art (Pulaski), for that introduction, and for your leadership in taking on the jobs crisis in California.

I am happy to be in San Diego on my first trip to California as president of the AFL-CIO.

California is Exhibit 1 of what’s happening across our country and I came here to listen and to learn.

What I’ve seen here this morning – as I sat with some of the hard-working people of this great city – people who through no fault of their own are without jobs -- is another grim reminder of the ever-present struggles of working families in this city … this state … this country … at this decisive moment in our history. It’s a reminder of the responsibilities born by our nation’s leaders – including our labor movement – to respond as never before to create a different kind of economy.

And I can tell you this: We cannot – and we will not – hesitate in fighting back.

And we will not turn away anyone who will work together with us to create an economy that recognizes and respects the lives and futures of the people of this great state.

The spirit and innovation and leadership I’ve seen here have affirmed my decision to come to San Diego – you’re an inspiration not just for our labor movement but for our entire country.

I’m really proud to join such a great bunch of leaders today — Art Pulaski, Tom Lemmon, Mickey Kasperian, Rabbi Coskey, Lorena Gonzales and City Council President Ben Hueso --- all of you committed to saving and creating the jobs we so desperately need.

Most of all, I’m proud to join all of YOU rallying together here today.

Jobs. It’s what it’s all about.

Good Jobs.

And they should be Local Jobs.

I love your T-Shirts ---- “Local Jobs” are the key.

You are leading the way with so many initiatives ---- YOUTHBUILD .... your CLC Jobs Agenda for 2010 ... your plans to adopt a programmatic Project Labor Agreement for the city.

Great work, San Diego!

And I know we can count on you for more.

On December 3rd, I was invited to President Obama’s Jobs Summit to deliver a message on behalf of America’s working families and our unions. Our message was that we need to take urgent action NOW to create jobs.

While our country is slowly beginning to recover from the recession, we can’t just sit around and hope for the best. Our jobs picture remains grim – and I don’t need to remind anybody here of that.

President Obama agreed with us and said we need to fundamentally rebuild our entire economy.

While Wall Street is busy cashing bonus checks, working families are living a nightmare of layoffs, mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcy ... and that, brothers and sisters, is totally unacceptable.

Congress also agrees with us and before the holiday recess, the House of Representatives passed a jobs package that will extend unemployment insurance, send more financial aid to state governments, and fund more important infrastructure projects ---roads, bridges, railways, school construction, water treatment projects.

The House bill isn’t big enough to resolve the jobs crisis, but it’s a good first step and we have to convince the Senate to pass it now.

The AFL-CIO has adopted a five point plan to add urgency at all levels of government.

First, we have to extend the lifeline to the unemployed — the unemployment benefits, food assistance, COBRA benefits that help people deal with layoffs and the chaos they create.

Second, we have to pump more money into rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in green technology. We have at least $2.2 trillion in this country in unmet infrastructure needs --- $2.2 trillion. More than one in four of our nation’s bridges are in bad shape .4,000 dams are deficient .30 percent of our schools are overcrowded and 3.5 million students attend schools where a building is in poor condition. Every dollar we spend employs workers all down the supply chain in construction, manufacturing, design and engineering – and ripples out into every sector.

We also have to increase our commitment to helping state and local governments, who are facing deep shortfalls like the one here in California — nationwide, we’re facing proposals for the layoffs of teachers, police and fire fighters – 2700 firefighters alone. An investment in state and local government will not only save jobs, it will maintain critical frontline services and avoid devastating damage to education.

It is equally important for us nationally to take a cue from what you are doing here in San Diego and fund jobs in our local communities — not replacements for current public jobs, but good new jobs to help address priorities in distressed communities.

Finally, we believe we have to put TARP to work for Main Street by using some of the leftover funds to create jobs by hiring community banks to lend money directly to small and medium-sized businesses. The bank bailout helped Wall Street and now we have to help Main Street --- without reservation … without delay.

These great needs present awesome opportunities -- if we can summon the resolve as a nation to rebuild our country and create the jobs we need in the process. Over the next few months, we’ll be asking international unions, local unions, and all of our state and local affiliates to help turn up the heat on government at every level.

And we must make sure American jobs are good jobs – that’s why the next step is fundamentally rebuilding our economy.

It’s why one of our most urgent priorities is restoring the freedom of every working person to join a union to bargain for a better life by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

And it’s why fights like the one you are waging at Doug Manchester’s Grand Hyatt are absolutely critical.

We know that when we make our voices heard, we get action — you are doing that here in San Diego ….

And we can do it all across our country if we do more of the hard work it takes to get our elected officials moving.

You’ve proven that when we work together, and stand together and fight together, we win together.

Let’s get busy and roll up our sleeves and get the job done.

December Jobs Report

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
on December Jobs Report
January 8, 2010

December’s jobs report is an ominous sign of the deep and continued
suffering by working families who want to work but can’t find jobs,
despite tentative signs of renewed economic growth. The unemployment
held steady at 10 percent only because 661,000 workers left the
labor force altogether. Our nation remains at risk of a double-dip
recession as well as long-term wage and job stagnation if Congress and
the president fail to act quickly and decisively to create good jobs

The number of Americans looking for work for over 6 months remains
alarmingly high at 6.1 million. Joblessness among young adults is a
dismal 27.1 percent. And the rates among African Americans - at 16.2
percent -- and Hispanics - at 12.9 percent - are especially painful.

It has taken years of financial abuses and corporate giveaways to get
us into this deep hole and we will only climb out if we keep our foot
on the accelerator. We urge Congress to move quickly to pass emergency
legislation. The bill passed by the House in December is a good start.
The AFL-CIO has outlined a five step plan that can be immediately
implemented to create or save 4 million jobs. Our plan would extend
unemployment, food aid and health care benefits. It would rebuild our
crumbling infrastructure and invest in green technology, increase aid
to state and local governments, put people to work in distressed
communities and hire community banks to lend TARP funds to small

For a full copy of the AFL-CIO five step plan go to:

Workers can go to for assistance.