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FILM: Local Organizations Team up to Show "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience"

East Michigan Environmental Action Council - Mon, 08/19/2030 - 8:02pm
What: Film screening of "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience" with Question and Answer session to follow afterwards

When: September 6th, 2013

Time: 8PM

Where: Cass Corridor Commons
             4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

East Michigan Environmental Action Council, 5E, Heru, and the American Indian Health and Family Services invite you to the film screening of, Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience, on September 6th, 2013. The showing will take place in the D. Blair Theater of The Cass Corridor Commons.

Focusing on the lives and experiences of the Native/Indigenous community in the Midwest, Our Fires Still Burn is a one hour documentary that works to dispel the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the United States. The narrative that Native and Indigenous peoples no longer exist in the US has been perpetrated in many forms since the beginning of colonization in the US, with perhaps the most famous example being the book (and movie), The Last of the Mohicans. The narrative usually argues something along the lines that because Native peoples are now dead (or are actively dying), we need non-Native peoples to "save and recover" (read; loot) Native artifacts (very often including actual bones of human beings). Another strand of the narrative argues that names like Washington Red Skins are actually compliments that honor long dead tribes rather than the offensive insults that Native/Indigenous peoples say they are.

Our Fires Still Burns argues that the narrative that Native/Indigenous peoples are dead is harmful in that it invisibilizes and makes unnecessary the voices of the very much alive Native/Indigenous community. But as Our Fire Still Burns shows, Native and Indigenous peoples continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society.

The film viewing of Our Fires Still Burn will appeal to native and non-Native alike, and will be followed by a question and answer session featuring many of the people appearing in the film, as well as film director Audrey Geyer.  Ms. Geyer is an independent video producer and director whose programs have been broadcasted locally and nationally on PBS. She is the founder and current executive director of Visions, an independent video production company local in Metro Detroit. Visions work focuses on creating documentaries that tell the stories of communities that are underrepresented in mainstream media.

As East Michigan Environmental Action Council co-director, Diana Copeland says, the most important thing to do right now in light of various attacks on marginalized communities in Detroit is to build community responses to those attacks, "Conversations that happen where we can begin to get to know each other are essential and will only make our communities stronger."
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

GE Workers From U.S., Canada Tell General Electric: “Commit to Our Communities”

UE - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 11:50am
25 April, 2018Findlay Township, PA

Workers and retirees from Erie, PA; Peterborough, ON; and other communities rally, speak at annual shareholders’ meeting outside of Pittsburgh

For more information contact:
Jonathan Kissam, UE Communications Director,
(802) 343 1745 | jkissam@ueunion.org

Workers and retirees from the U.S. and Canada attended General Electric’s annual shareholders’ meeting outside of Pittsburgh this morning, to demand that GE commit to supporting local economies, respecting workers’ rights, and practicing environmental stewardship in the communities where they operate.

“GE’s recent history of poor decision-making is hurting workers, communities, and shareholders,” said UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson, whose local represents workers at GE Transportation in Erie, PA. “Corporate leaders are making one bad move after another. The company’s decisions don’t make financial sense, they wreak havoc with the lives of GE workers and local economies, and they threaten to lead us all over a cliff.”

Janet Gray, who works for GE Transportation in Erie, spoke on the floor of the meeting. “I grew up in Wesleyville, PA, one of the small communities surrounding Erie,” she said. “I fight an internal struggle daily. I went from someone who once had so much loyalty and faith in this company to someone who despises their lack of loyalty to their employees, and their communities.” Gray is the president of UE Local 618, which represents salaried workers at the Erie plant.

“GE workers are the ‘economic stimulators’ of our communities. We buy houses and new cars, we spend our income in the local communities.” added GE Transportation worker and Local 506 Vice President Tom Bobrowicz. “Over the last several years, GE has slashed the workforce in Erie from 3000 to 1500. GE’s workers, the communities where GE operates, and GE’s shareholders are all tied into this mess together. Getting GE on the right course starts with GE making a commitment to their employees and the communities in which they operate.”

The UE members were joined by members of Unifor Locals 524 and 599-O, which represent workers at GE’s plant in Peterborough, Ontario, which GE is in the process of shutting down, leaving behind hundreds of workers who developed cancer from the hazardous working conditions in the plant.

GE has signed the United Nations’ Global Compact to meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labor rights, environmental stewardship and good governance. Workers are launching a campaign at GECommitToOurCommunities.org, asking GE to implement those commitments in concrete ways:

  • Commit to the local economies of the communities that have made GE successful. End mass layoffs and plant shutdowns and honor your commitments to retirees.
  • Commit to respect workers’ rights. End the practice of intimidating workers who try to exercise their fundamental right to organize collectively.
  • Commit to environmental stewardship. Where GE has harmed the health of workers, community members or the environment, GE should offer lifetime medical monitoring at no cost to those persons exposed to PCBs and other toxic material, and financial restitution to communities.

The campaign is sponsored by the North American Solidarity Project, a joint campaign of the U.S. union United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) and the Canadian union Unifor. Unifor will be hosting a global meeting of unions representing GE workers in Toronto on May 7 and 8.

Photos of the action are available here.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

GE: Commit To Our Communities

UE - Tue, 04/24/2018 - 3:35pm
URL: http://www.gecommittoourcommunities.org/Image: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

GE workers and retirees to picket, speak at GE shareholders’ meeting outside of Pittsburgh

UE - Tue, 04/24/2018 - 11:30am
24 April, 2018PittsburghGE Workers From U.S., Canada Tell General Electric: “Commit to Our Communities”

Workers and retirees from Erie, PA; Peterborough, ON; and other communities to picket, speak at annual shareholders’ meeting outside of Pittsburgh

When: Wednesday, April 25, 8am
Where: GE Center for Additive Technology Advancement, 101 N Campus Dr, Imperial, PA 15126

For more information contact:
Jonathan Kissam, UE Communications Director
(802) 343 1745 | jkissam@ueunion.org

Workers and retirees from the U.S. and Canada will be attending General Electric’s annual shareholders’ meeting outside of Pittsburgh tomorrow.

“GE’s recent history of poor decision-making is hurting workers, communities, and shareholders,” says UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson, whose local represents workers at GE Transportation in Erie, PA. “Corporate leaders are making one bad move after another. The company’s decisions don’t make financial sense, they wreak havoc with the lives of GE workers and local economies, and they threaten to lead us all over a cliff.”

GE has signed the United Nations’ Global Compact to meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labor rights, environmental stewardship and good governance. Workers will be speaking inside the meeting and holding a picket and press conference outside to demand that GE implement those commitments in concrete ways that will support local economies, respect workers’ rights, and practice environmental stewardship.

The picket is being organized by the North American Solidarity Project, a joint campaign of the U.S. union United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) and the Canadian union Unifor.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Consumers, Students, & Workers Team Up for Nation-Wide Protest at Abercrombie & Fitch Stores

USAS - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 1:15pm

04/21/18

Today, shoppers and employees at twenty Abercrombie & Fitch stores encountered questions about whether the company will dial back on workplace safety in the garment factories in Bangladesh producing its clothes as students and consumers protesting at the stores chanted “Garment workers demand their rights / We will show and we will fight!” and held signs reading “Worker Lives Are at Stake” and “No One Should Die for Fashion”.

The demonstrations were organized jointly by the International Labor Rights Forum, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The National Day of Action was held as part of a Global Week of Action calling on all brands sourcing apparel from Bangladesh to sign a legally-binding workplace safety program together with two global unions — Industriall and UNI — and eight Bangladeshi unions.

The demonstrators pointed to the fact that Abercrombie is no stranger to the dangers that garment workers face. In December 14, 2010, 29 Bangladeshi workers died sewing for Abercrombie when a fire broke out at the That’s It Sportswear factory fire and workers were trapped inside.

It wasn’t until after the April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza building collapse where 1,134 garment workers died in the deadliest disaster in the history of manufacturing, that Abercrombie finally agreed to join with other apparel companies in the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Since 2013, this legally-binding program has made factories safer for 2.5 million garment workers across 1,600 factories by adding fire doors, creating safe exit stairwells, and training workers to identify safety issues before they cause catastrophe.

The original five-year Accord expires next month, but Abercrombie & Fitch has refused to join the new three-year agreement, even after 147 other global brands have signed, including American Eagle Outfitters, H&M, and Zara.

Sarah Newell of the International Labor Rights Forum, said: “Abercrombie clearly hopes to get a free ride from the brands that are continuing their commitment to worker safety by signing the 2018 Accord. Their desire to benefit from safer factories without contributing to that effort is reminiscent of the brand behavior that led to the Rana Plaza collapse five years ago, and we will continue to fight to change that.”

“USAS will not settle for Abercrombie putting workers in danger. The lives and work of those sewing A&F apparel are worth no less than ours,” said April Lopez, a Sophomore at Gonzaga University and leader in USAS Local 14 in Spokane WA. “Personally, my family has faced dangerous conditions as migrant workers in agricultural fields. We’ve experienced wage theft, retaliation for speaking up, and receive little benefits. Having witnessed the conditions in my own backyard motivates me to push for the rights of garment workers overseas as well – they are my family too. For these reasons, worker safety is a non-negotiable issue for us. We will continue organizing around this issue until Abercrombie, and all the laggard brands who haven’t signed the 2018 Accord prioritize the safety of their workers.”

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

PRESS RELEASE: Chinese Progressive Association Youth MOJO Members Join Nearly 200 Youth in Bay Area School Walkout to Speak Out Against Gun Violence

Chinese Progressive Association - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 4:29pm

Chinese Progressive Association

華人進步會

PRESS RELEASE


For Immediate Release:

April 20, 2018


Contact:

Frances Fu 傅馨儀 (English), 516-521-5917

Lai Wa Wu 胡麗華 (English), 913-221-2804

Chinese Progressive Association Youth MOJO Members Join Nearly 200 Youth in Bay Area School Walkout to Speak Out Against Gun Violence

This Friday, April 20, Chinese Progressive Association Youth MOJO (Youth Movement of Justice and Organizing) members joined nearly 200 other high school youth in the Bay Area in front of San Francisco City Hall as part of a nationwide school walkout to speak out against violence. This action is part of a larger, nationwide effort to protest our leaders’ failure to pass laws that protect us from gun violence, particularly in response to the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students turned out from from Washington, Lincoln, Lowell, Galileo, June Jordan, and many more high schools.

The April 20th date marks the anniversary of the Columbine High School Shooting nearly 20 years ago.

Since the Columbine shooting, schools nationwide have increasingly militarized their campuses with more security guards and police officers while also increasingly punishing their students with suspensions and expulsions. Most recently, the Trump administration has made a horrific suggestion to arm teachers in schools. These attempts to use more violence to control violence have failed -- since Columbine, there have been 200 school shootings. These punitive school policies have not only failed to prevent school shootings, they have also disproportionately criminalized young students of color.

“The United States is one of the largest arms producers and exporters in the world, and it is absurd that the United States cares more about making money off of the gun industry by empowering gun owners and violent individuals. Some people feel like they need to have guns to protect themselves. But we have to ask ourselves -- Why don’t we feel protected in the first place?” says Nevin Chin, MOJO Core Leader.

The Republican-controlled Congress not only fails to prevent deaths in our communities -- it profits off of these deaths. In 2016, the National Rifle Association spent $14.5 million to support Republican candidates. $11.4 million of those dollars went directly to support Donald Trump.

These elected officials are actively silencing our communities by advocating for restrictions on voting rights, immigrants rights, and reproductive rights. In this moment, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the government’s advocacy for more weapons in our schools is identical to the historic and systemic violence inflicted upon all of our communities, from police brutality in black communities to the Muslim Ban to ICE attacks on immigrant communities of color.

Our participation during this #NationalSchoolWalkout is part of CPA’s larger campaign efforts this year to fight for happy, healthy, and thriving communities, from gathering petition signatures for the College for All campaign and the Local Schools and Communities First campaign, to MOJO’s leadership’s efforts to ensure we win more relevant mental health resources for youth of color. Instead of spending more resources on militarizing our schools and communities, we want solutions that will work to prevent gun shootings from ever happening again, instead of intervening when it is too late. For us, this means we must invest in support and services to create genuinely safe schools and communities where all people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion or citizenship feel welcomed, safe and supported.

“For so many students, including myself, school is a safe haven when we’re dealing with problems at home or in our lives. I’m standing in solidarity with students around the country today because students deserve the right to feel and be safe in schools and communities. Instead of more weapons, we need more systems of support.” says Lisa Lai, MOJO Core Leader.


#CounselorsNotCops #NoCopsNoGuns #TrustStudentVision

page files:  Group Photo at #NationalSchoolWalkout Group Photo 2 at #NationalSchoolWalkout Rally Photo at #NationalSchoolWalkout Rally Photo 2 at #NationalSchoolWalkout
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Resources for fighting RTW

UE - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 9:22pm
URL: https://www.ueunion.org/rtwImage: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Wages Will Increase, Healthcare Premiums Will Not for Local 642 Members

UE - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 4:46pm
19 April, 2018Left to Right: Brian DeSanto, Jodie Brandt, Dan Blackman, Mike Hardner.Erie, PA

In what was a record of only two days of negotiations, UE Local 642 and management at Harborcreek Youth Services (HYS) reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, March 28. The three-year agreement was ratified overwhelmingly by the members on April 5 and approved by the HYS Board of Directors.

The agreement increases wages by 8 percent over the life of the agreement, including annual wage increases of 3%, 2.5% and 2.5%. Minimum starting wage rates for Child Care Councilors (CCC) and Child Care Workers (CCW) were also increased. The agreement also includes a new premium pay of $0.50 per hour for hours worked on weekends (Saturday and Sunday).

Most importantly for UE members, the agreement did not include any increases in the premiums or deductibles for their health insurance during the life of the agreement; however, co-pays will increase from $20 to $25. HYS employees have one of the best health insurance plans in UE (Single: $10 per pay period; Parent & Child: $24 per pay period; Employee & Spouse: $27 per pay period; Family: $31 per pay period). Dental benefits will increase to $1,200 annual maximum per family member. HYS employees don't pay a premium for their dental benefits.

Neither side had any non-economic proposals.

HYS is a non-profit agency affiliated with Catholic Charities that provides a range of residential and in-home services to children and their families.

The negotiating committee consisted of President Brian DeSanto, Vice President/Recording Secretary Jodie Brandt, Chief Steward Dan Blackman, Financial Secretary Mike Hardner, and steward Dave Kather. They were assisted by International Representative John Thompson.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Janus v. AFSCME: Supreme Court to decide if the financial impact of public sector collective bargaining is political speech

UE - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 3:13pm
19 April, 2018By UE General Counsel Irene Thomas, Esq.

UE General Counsel Irene Thomas attended the February 26 arguments of Janus v. AFSCME at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On February 26, 2018, the long-awaited face-off between the American Labor Movement and the national right-to-work committee took place at the United States Supreme Court. The case: Janus v. AFSCME. At issue is whether public employee unions can collect “fair share” or “agency shop” fees from objecting non-members to defray the cost of collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment.  Regardless of whether the issue is one of free speech or freedom of association, a principled application of Supreme Court precedent means that plaintiff Mark Janus should pay up for the benefits he takes home on the backs of his dues-paying co-workers.

For at least four decades, the national right-to-work (RtW) committee and like-minded organizations have repeatedly whined that it is unconstitutional to force non-member public employees to pay a “fair share” fee to the union who is legally required to negotiate on their behalf. The most consistent argument asserted by the RtW committee is that public sector bargaining is “inherently political,” therefore, the argument goes, to require non-member public employees to pay a “fair share” fee is to require “ideological conformity” with the union’s political viewpoint and agenda. In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court rejected the claim that the requirement for non-members to pay fair share fees is unconstitutional on its face. Relying on cases decided under the Railway Labor Act, the Court also rejected the argument that public employee collective bargaining was “inherently political” such that a constitutional violation occurs when non-members are compelled to pay “fair share” fees. The right-to-work folks continued to argue that the political nature of public sector collective bargaining results in forced association with a political party or a political viewpoint contrary to the First Amendment.

In 1983 the employer-funded RtW committee's legal foundation, in Knight v. Minnesota Community College Faculty Ass’n, challenged payment of agency fees asserting that they resulted in forced association with a political party contrary to the First Amendment. The lower court side-stepped the question pressed by the right-to-work group: that public employee unions, when engaged in collective bargaining and contract administration duties, are engaged in political activity. When faced with the case on appeal, the Supreme Court sidestepped the issue too.

In 2012, the right-wing committee came back again in full effect. It pushed the case of Knox v. SEIU to the Supreme Court. At issue in Knox was whether the union was required to provide nonmembers notice before requiring the payment of a special assessment for political purposes.  The Court questioned whether the Court had “given adequate recognition [in Abood] to the critical First Amendment rights at stake” due to the “powerful political and civil consequences” of collective bargaining in the public sector.

The right-to-work group saw an opening and pushed again. In Harris v. Quinn, a 2014 case, a majority of the United States Supreme Court openly questioned the continued validity of Abood as support for compelled fee payments by non-members to public sector unions. The Court stated that Abood failed to appreciate the difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends.  

The next case advanced to the Supreme Court in 2016 by a conservative, anti-union group was Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.  The teachers in Friedrichs argued that, through compelled agency fee payments, they were being forced to participate in political lobbying activity (public sector collective bargaining) with which they disagreed.  But, due to Justice Scalia’s death (many observers predicted that he would vote to overturn Abood), the court split four-to-four leaving the decision below intact – Abood was permitted to live until another day.

Now, Abood is squarely before the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME.

The RtW committee argued that there is no constitutional justification for compelling nonmembers to support public sector unions because "Illinois public sector labor costs have imposed and will continue to impose a significant impact on the State's financial condition, clearly demonstrating the degree to which Illinois state employee collective bargaining is an inherently political activity." At the February 26 show-down, the RtW committee argued that all public sector activity, including collective bargaining, grievance adjustment and contract administration, is political lobbying. Therefore, the State of Illinois cannot force objecting nonmembers, who disagree with the union’s political viewpoint, to pay a “fair share” fee to the bargaining union.

Justice Kennedy, known as one of the Court’s conservative Justices, quizzed attorney David Franklin who argued on Illinois’ behalf and in support of AFSCME’s position: “[w]hat we’re talking about here is compelled justification and compelled subsidization of a private party ... that expresses political views constantly.” He suggested that activities surrounding collective bargaining are union political lobbying. In response Franklin explained that agency fees pay for collective bargaining and “workplace grievance resolution.”

The conservative Justices focused on the outcome of collective bargaining activity, specifically, the fiscal results of negotiating a contract.

Refusing to give an inch, Justice Kennedy asked Mr. Franklin if public employee unions are partners in the state’s political lobbying efforts for a greater size workforce, against privatization [and] for massive government.  Franklin conceded that “many of the topics that come up at the bargaining table with public employee unions have serious fiscal and public policy implications.”

Then Justice Kennedy asked AFSCME’s counsel, “Well, do you think that this case affects the political influence of the unions?” Boom. There it is. The union as a political lobbying machine. First, Frederick responded, “No.” But, after some waffling, Justice Kennedy directed the focus back to his question:  “I’m asking you whether or not in your view, if you do not prevail in this case, the unions will have less political influence; yes or no?” Frederick feebly admitted, “Yes, they will have less political influence.” Likely feeling victorious, and because this was his point all along, Justice Kennedy asked, “[i]sn’t that the end of this case?”

To his credit, Frederick shot back that his answer was not the end of the case because “that is not the question.” Frederick framed the issue as whether “states, as part of our sovereign system, have the authority and the prerogative to set up a collective bargaining system in which they mandate that the union is going to represent minority interests on pain of being subject to any [un]fair labor practice.” Not to be outdone, Justice Kennedy, wryly asked, “And in which they mandate people that object to certain union policies to pay for the implementation of those policies against their First Amendment interests?”

The resolution in Janus will depend upon how the Supreme Court classifies union representation activity – as political, based upon the impact of collective bargaining and contract administration – or as employment-related speech affecting a group of workers.  The answer lies with the Supreme Court’s past decisions related to First Amendment speech and association interests.   

The Court established a balancing test for the interests of the public employee versus the interests of the government as an employer.  If the speech is on a matter of public concern, it is entitled to constitutional protection.  If it is not, case closed.  RtW committee attorney William Messenger was forced to admit that it is not a matter of "public concern" if an individual employee speaks to his or her employer about wages. He also admitted that speech about employment-related issues is not entitled to First Amendment protection.  Therefore, if the Supreme Court determines that the subject of the speech is the starting point for the constitutional analysis, the RtW committee’s arguments must fail.

But, if the Court finds that the political impact of collective bargaining is the starting point for the analysis, public employee unions may be dealt a terrible blow.  The Court will reject forced speech and association with public sector unions through compelled fee payments.  The Court has always given the greatest constitutional protection for the exercise of political association and the right to not associate on political questions.  But, to reach the conclusion that the political impact of employment-related speech is the controlling factor, the Supreme Court will be required to reconcile, overturn or ignore its current precedent holding that employment-related speech does not "attain the status" of a matter of public concern "because its subject matter could, in different circumstances, have been a topic of a communication to the public that might be of general interest."

The small silver lining, most commentators say, is that if all speech by public employee unions is "political," and workplace issues such as working conditions, pay, discipline, promotions, leave, vacations and discharge, among other things, become a matter of public concern, the Supreme Court will open an avalanche of lawsuits about employee grievances. States will be faced with the considerable costs of litigating employment-related civil rights claims.

Under settled Supreme Court precedent, Janus’ arguments should fail.  Speech and association about day-to-day employment-related issues is not constitutionally protected.  This should be true whether one person does the talking or the union speaks for thousands.  If the speech is not constitutionally protected, any association with the speech is also not protected.  Under these circumstances, the State is only required to show a rational basis for requiring fair share payers to contribute to the benefits they take home.  Orderly and sound collective bargaining procedures is one such basis.

Although political speech and association has a highly protected constitutional status, in this case, the argument against fair share fees fall short because it requires the Court to improperly find public sector unions’ activity to be political speech not on the content of the speech itself, but on the alleged impact of the speech.  Reaching this result requires the Court to trample on its own precedent.  The Court should dismiss Janus’ complaints and allow public sector unions the continued financing to attend to the business of protecting workers.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Act NOW for TPS for Nepal

NNIRR - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 5:21pm
Story Type:  Blog Story Publisher:  NNIRR

National Day of Action Thursday, April 19!

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

North Carolina workers continue MLK’s fight for economic and civil rights

UE - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 5:09pm
18 April, 2018North Carolina

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Memphis, Tenn., in support of striking sanitation workers 50 years ago, he was actually on his way to North Carolina. A few months after his assassination, in August 1968, sanitation workers in Charlotte, N.C., also went out on strike. This inspired many other sanitation worker strikes across the South in 1968, including in Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Durham, N.C. In Charlotte, the mediator was forced to meet with the workers, Black and white together, in a public park, because facilities large enough to hold the entire group were segregated.

King’s campaign for economic and civil rights continues in North Carolina, where the NC Public Service Workers Union, United Electrical Workers Local 150, has been building a statewide campaign to fight for a Municipal Workers Bill of Rights and also to challenge the Jim Crow ban on public sector collective bargaining.

Winston Salem workers fight for $15 and more

On April 4, the anniversary of King’s assassination, city workers, community-labor support groups and faith organizations in Winston Salem, N.C., rallied for a family-supporting wage of at least $15 an hour. Hundreds of city workers are currently making the city’s minimum of $11.25 an hour. Over 100 people gathered at the event, organized by Working America, with support from over a dozen other groups, including UE150, NC AFL-CIO, First Baptist Church, Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, the Winston Salem NAACP and such long-standing local civil rights leaders as the Rev. John Mendez and the Rev. Paul Robeson Ford.

“We have come today not only to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but to build a movement,” the Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, told the crowd. “A commemoration stands still, but a movement moves forward.”

Monticello Mitchell, a city worker in the Vegetation Department, spoke out against the economic squeeze faced by city workers. “The packages in the store are getting smaller and the prices are getting higher,” Mitchell said. “A $15 wage for those who don’t make $15 would help.”

On hand were members of the two-year-old Greensboro City Workers Union, a chapter of UE Local 150, to lend their encouragement for efforts of Winston Salem city workers to organize a union. Bryce Carter, Streets Department worker and UE150-elected steward, shared many of their recent union victories, including wage improvements of the lowest paid from $8.03 per hour to $11.50. Also won were policy changes to create space for organizing the union, including winning payroll deduction. Carter said: “I am proud of our chapter. We just keep pressing on. We come together and make changes.”

A major issue that sparked the Memphis sanitation strike 50 years ago was the death of two workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker. Only this past summer, a Charlotte city worker, Anthony Milledge, was killed by heat-related illness after working overtime in the broiling summer heat. Greensboro city workers were also injured on the job last summer. The union exposed the city of Greensboro’s lack of heat-safety guidelines to protect workers. Carter noted that, after pressure from the union, “The city has now drafted a policy to keep workers safe in excessive summer heat.”

Durham city workers win City Council resolution

Durham city workers have also been organizing for improved safety, union rights and raises. After a campaign of several months, the Durham City Council voted April 2 to pass a resolution commemorating April 4 and the legacy of Dr. King, and calling on the state legislature to repeal the law, General Statute 95-98, passed in 1959 by an all-white, Jim Crow state legislature, that bans public workers from collective bargaining. Through the resolution, the council also conveyed three pages of recommendations for “improved union access and rights” to the city manager.

In concert with the Durham Workers Assembly, UE150 has been organizing pressure on the city to pass this resolution, along with forming a Workers Rights Commission to assist private sector worker organizing.

Read the full article in the Durham Herald Sun.

Cummins engine workers rally for health care

The Carolina Auto, Aerospace and Machine Workers Union, a chapter of UE Local 150, also organized a workers’ rally on April 4 at the Cummins engine plant outside Rocky Mount in rural Whitakers. Read more about this action here.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Defend Lula

UE - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 4:33pm
16 April, 2018Pittsburgh

UE's officers have issued the following statement on the jailing of Brazilian Workers Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

The “conviction” and jailing of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Brazilian labor movement and Workers Party candidate for President in the upcoming election this fall, is a travesty and crime against the people of Brazil and working people around the world.

Lula, who served as President of Brazil from 2004-2012, has been jailed by a right-wing, anti-worker government without evidence or proof. In all of the judicial proceedings concerning his alleged illegal acts there was no evidence that illegal deals were made or that he or his family profited from his position as President. Brazilian journalist João Filho summed up the case for The Intercept: “Lula, who came out with 89% popularity after 8 years in office and is now Brazil's favorite candidate for the next election, is on his way to jail for a conviction much more grounded in convictions than in evidence.”

The anti-labor, anti-worker drumbeat by a vicious and entrenched corporate media and right-wing business interests is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The same forces came to power in 2016 by carrying out a legal coup against Workers Party President Dilma Rouseff, impeaching her for fabricated and unproven non-crimes.

In June 2016 the UE General Executive Board denounced the coup against the Rouseff administration, declaring that “The real reason for her removal was dramatically revealed on May 23 when the country's largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, published leaked transcripts of phone conversations a few weeks before the coup between then-Senator Romero Jucá (later a minister in the coup government) and a former oil executive in which they agree that Rousseff must be removed in order to end the investigation of corruption which threatens them and their cronies. In the conversations Jucá describes a ‘national pact’ in which the Brazilian military, most of the Supreme Court, and other powerful institutions had agreed to back the removal of the elected president.”

On 17 May 2017, secretly taped recordings leaked by O Globo, a leading national newspaper, reveal Michael Temer, the present President of Brazil and architect of the coup against Rouseff, discussing hush money pay-offs with a Brazilian business man who runs the country's biggest meat-packing firm, JBS. Subsequently, the Brazilian Senate took steps to protect Temer from indictment and prosecution for this crime.

These same right-wing business forces, supported by the U.S. government and corporate interests, are determined to stop Lula from becoming the President of Brazil again. In his previous two terms, he brought millions of Brazilians out of poverty, and his administration created 15 million new jobs.

UE has had a strong relationship with the Brazilian metalworkers union (Confederação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos-CNM) and their federation the CUT (Central Única dos Trabalhadores) for decades. We understand the challenges faced by workers and peasants in Brazil and the hope that Lula, the Workers Party, and other progressive parties bring to their communities.

UE denounces the Brazilian government’s attempts to silence the leaders of the Workers Party and send Brazilian society back to the days of dictatorships. We deplore the support they have received from the Trump administration. We call on the Trump administration and Congress to denounce the jailing of Lula and to call for his immediate release and reinstatement as a Workers Party candidate for President in the upcoming national elections.

Peter Knowlton
General President

Andrew Dinkelaker
Secretary-Treasurer

Gene Elk
Director of Organization

Tags: UE Statements
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE President Urges Mexican Senate to Withdraw Anti-Labor Bill

UE - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 4:28pm
12 April, 2018Pittsburgh

UE General President Peter Knowlton sent the following letter today to the president of the Mexican Senate, Ernesto Cordero, asking him to withdraw a bill that would make it harder for Mexican workers to organize independent trade unions. Improving wages and labor standards of Mexican workers is crucial to a North American Free Trade Agreement that improves the lives of working people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Dear Senator Cordero:

On behalf of the members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), I write to express our union’s serious concerns about the bill introduced in the Mexican Senate on March 22 that would undermine the 2017 constitutional reforms on labor. We join with many other international organizations in condemning this legislation. It fails to uphold both workers’ rights and international agreements. The bill is out of compliance with existing commitments under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation and risks undermining the ongoing negotiation of a new North American trade deal. I urge you to ensure that this harmful bill does not pass, and that any future legislation enacting the Constitutional reforms is consistent with International Labor Organization standards, Mexico’s current commitments under its Constitution, and with its trade agreements.

The bill that is being rushed through without democratic input or proper consultation fails to address the entrenched structural issues in Mexico’s labor justice system that were at the core of Mexico’s constitutional reforms. As currently presented, the labor legislation will only cement the illegitimate and illegal practice of protection contracts, allowing corporations to profit from the exploitation of workers. The bill establishes egregious barriers to prevent workers from organizing democratic, independent unions and negotiating fair wages and adequate living conditions. It undermines the constitutional commitment to a free and secret vote to approve collective bargaining agreements, and it removes transparency requirements that would allow workers to access information about the organizations that allege to represent them. It maintains the grip employers and protection unions have on the labor justice system and undermines the rule of law.

We call on you to exercise leadership in the Mexican Senate and stop this harmful labor law. We encourage you to open a process of broad consultation and dialogue with independent labor unions, experts, and stakeholders to develop legislation that is true to the Constitutional reforms and allows Mexican workers to exercise their fundamental labor rights to freely associate and bargain collectively for better working conditions.

Sincerely,

Peter Knowlton
General President

PDF version of this letter
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Sending Troops to the Border Will Cause More Migrant Deaths

NNIRR - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 1:15pm
Story Type:  In the News Story Author:  Debbie Weingarten Story Publisher:  Common Dreams

(April 11, 2018) Late Friday night, Defense Secretary James Mattis approved the deployment of up to 4,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Gov. Brown agrees to deploy 400 National Guard troops but not for immigration enforcement

NNIRR - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 4:36pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  ABC7.com Staff Story Publisher:  ABC7

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

USAS is hiring!

USAS - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 3:26pm

Want to work full-time for USAS? Deadline to apply for either position is May 4th, 2018.

See both job descriptions below with instructions on how to apply.

International Solidarity Campaigns Coordinator

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is currently hiring a full-time International Campaigns Coordinator to be based in Washington, DC. The Coordinator is responsible for overseeing all aspects of USAS International and Garment Worker Solidarity Campaigns. The position offers a competitive non-profit salary, a comprehensive health benefits package, a union contract, flexible vacation time and opportunities for professional development and mentorship.

The position requires a two-year commitment and a willingness to work flexible hours including nights and weekends. This individual would be joining a small team of national staff members but will often be expected to work independently. This position begins July 1st, 2018 with some flexibility. Application deadline is May 4, 2018.

USAS

Since 1997, USAS has been the largest student-worker solidarity organization in the country, with locals on 150 college and university campuses. USAS leverages the strategic role of college students to support the formation and continued strength of unions in the US and around the world, with a focus on unions representing campus workers and garment workers abroad who manufacture collegiate licensed apparel. USAS’s work falls at the intersection of the student and worker movements as an independent, student-run organization. For more information on USAS, please visit www.usas.org.

National staff work closely with students to support ongoing campus organizing; coordinate the activities of local organizations into international actions and campaigns; put together meetings, trainings, and conferences; maintain communication and coordination with domestic and international allies; and facilitate the infrastructure development of a dynamic movement.

Responsibilities will include:

National Campaigns

  • Provide local student leaders with campaign support and guidance
  • Resource development
  • Maintain and develop relationships with ally organizations domestic and abroad
  • Development and guidance of nationally-coordinated campaigns
  • Support the development of the overall organization through fundraising and grant writing alongside Development Coordinator
  • Coordinate campaign communications (ie, website posts, email updates and social media communications)

Leadership Development

  • Extensive travel and campus visits
  • Outreach to new schools
  • Develop the skills of students and youth through USAS workshops and trainings
  • Supervise student regional organizers and set concrete goals
  • Facilitate spaces in which student leaders are able to take on increased responsibilities for national campaign coordination and organizing work
  • Develop leadership of students from marginalized communities and identities
  • Coordinate logistics and programming for national gatherings of student leaders.

Administrative Duties

  • Participate in staff meetings
  • Support financial management and organizational development alongside Development Coordinator, consultants, allies, and community members

Qualifications

The successful candidate will have:

  • Organizing experience with students, workers, and/or community members (union organizing experience encouraged)
  • Ability to independently manage and direct one’s own work and work in groups.
  • Willingness to work nontraditional hours, including nights and weekends
  • Strong commitment to developing leadership of people from marginalized communities and identities (working class, people of color, women, mixed-race, transgender, non-binary, queer, people with disabilities, etc.)
  • Financial management skills and fundraising experience
  • Experience with group facilitation and public speaking
  • Experience leading direct action
  • High degree of computer literacy and comfort using Google Drive/Microsoft Office, WordPress, Mailchimp, and Facebook (Twitter and Instagram are a plus)
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to thrive in non-traditional work settings
  • Commitment to the mission of USAS, including strong social and racial justice analysis
  • Knowledge of/experience with the labor movement/global justice movement
  • Knowledge of/experience with liberation movements (black liberation, queer, etc)
  • Spanish or other language skills

To apply, click here to download the application. Follow the included instructions and email your completed application to email hidden; JavaScript is required /* */ by May 4, 2018.

USAS  is an equal opportunity employer. Working class folks, women, LGBTQI+ people, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, are encouraged to apply.

Development Coordinator

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is hiring a full-time Development Coordinator. The Development Coordinator is responsible for overseeing all aspects of USAS’s budget and fundraising. The position offers a competitive non-profit salary, a comprehensive health benefits package, a union contract, flexible vacation time and opportunities for professional development and mentorship.

The position requires a two-year commitment with an option to extend, and a willingness to work flexible hours including nights and weekends.  The Development Coordinator will work alongside two other national staff members, but will often be expected to work independently. While USAS is located in Washington, DC, candidates who are willing to be located in or within an hour of New York City may also be considered. This position begins July 1st, 2018 with some flexibility. Application deadline is May 4, 2018.

USAS

Since 1997, USAS has been the largest student-worker solidarity organization in the country, with locals on 150 college and university campuses. USAS leverages the strategic role of college students to support the formation and continued strength of unions in the US and around the world, with a focus on unions representing campus workers and garment workers abroad who manufacture collegiate licensed apparel. USAS’s work falls at the intersection of the student and worker movements as an independent, student-run organization. For more information on USAS, please visit www.usas.org.

Responsibilities will include:

Development

  • Maintain and cultivate relationships with new and existing funders, including foundations, labor unions, and individual donors
  • Oversee and manage organizational budget
  • Research and pursue new funding opportunities
  • Draft grants, proposals, letters of inquiry and reports
  • Oversee and grow existing donor program

Administrative Duties

  • Participate in staff meetings
  • Support financial management and organizational development alongside organizing staff, consultants, allies, and community members

Qualifications

The successful candidate will have:

  • Minimum 2 years of experience in organizational fundraising and development
  • Strong financial management skills and experience
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Excellent writing and communication skills, particularly grant writing and proposals
  • High degree of computer literacy and comfort using Google Drive/Microsoft Office, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
  • Experience in content creation including reports, newsletters, blog posts and materials for funding purposes
  • Ability to thrive in non-traditional work settings
  • Commitment to the mission of USAS, including strong social and racial justice analysis
  • Ability to independently manage and direct one’s own work and work in groups.
  • Spanish speaking ability or other languages encouraged but not required  

To apply, click here to download the application. Follow the included instructions and email your completed application to email hidden; JavaScript is required /* */ by May 4, 2018.

USAS is an equal opportunity employer. Working class folks, women, LGBTQI+ people, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, are encouraged to apply.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Open Negotiations Pay Off for Local 667 at East End Food Co-op

UE - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:18am
11 April, 2018Pittsburgh

After reviewing and discussing a tentative agreement at ratification meetings on Monday, March 12, UE Local 667 members voted overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year agreement with the East End Food Co-op that will raise wages, lower members’ share of health insurance premiums, and protect the use of legally prescribed medical marijuana.

“This contract was our second contract negotiation and the second time I served on our contract negotiation committee,” said Local 667 President Megan Moffitt. “It was inspiring to see my fellow committee members (especially newer members) work hard on behalf of the members of our young local.”

The new agreement will implement a new step pay plan that increases wages at each step while decreasing the time it takes to get to the top of each pay level from ten years to eight years. The average wage increase over the length of the contract will be more than 13 percent. The members' share of premiums for medical and vision insurance decreases from 70/30 to 80/20. Premiums for dental insurance decreases from 65/35 to 80/20.

In addition, the Counter and Dishwasher/Prep positions in the cafe are being reclassified from Level 1 to Level 2 positions. The Cheese Buyer position is also being reclassified from Level 2 to Level 4. The agreement includes a new donation pool for paid time off. The agreement also makes numerous improvements to other articles in the contract, including emergency closings, discipline and discharge, union leave, trial periods and schedules. And in a first for a UE contract, the use of legally prescribed medical marijuana will not be just cause for discipline or discharge.

Throughout the negotiations, the local’s negotiating committee insisted on “open negotiations,” where any member of the local could attend and voice their concerns over management proposals or to support their negotiating committee’s proposals. The local’s members received regular updates on the negotiations through one-on-one contacts with contract support committee members and posts on the local’s Facebook page. The members also wore large red buttons with the local’s contract negotiations slogan: “Fighting for Good Jobs with Livable Wages!”

The negotiating committee included Moffitt, Vice President Reid Magette, Chief Steward Jared Evanoski, and rank-and-file members Nate Feuerstein and Drew Cox. They were assisted by UE Field Organizer Lyndsey O’Day, UE International Representative John Thompson and UE Research Director Karl Zimmerman.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Justice Dept. to halt legal-advice program for immigrants in detention

NNIRR - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Maria Sacchetti Story Publisher:  Washington Post

The U.S. immigration courts will temporarily halt a program that offers legal assistance to detained foreign nationals facing deportation while it audits the program’s cost-effectiveness, a federal official said Tuesday.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Call the University of Washington- Don’t balance the budget on the backs of workers!​

USAS - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 5:51pm

My name is Hannah Dolling and right now, I am occupying UW Medicine CEO Paul Ramsey’s office with 18 other students to let UW Medicine know that privatizing our laundry services is unacceptable.

Will you support us by calling the University of Washington President and CEO Paul Ramsey with a message to keep union jobs on campus?

UW Consolidated Laundry currently employs 120 workers, whose services include cleaning linens and scrubs for UW Medical Center and four other major hospitals and clinics. These workers provide an essential service to UW Medicine and the Seattle community. Meanwhile, the 12 top-paid UW Medicine administrators earn the same amount as the entire operating budget of UW Consolidated Laundry.

Many UW Laundry workers have held these positions for decades, and several have children at UW. Without these union positions, laundry workers will not even be able to afford a health check-up, let alone tuition.​

In response to this anti-worker decision, USAS Local 99 and laundry workers represented by Washington Federation of State Employees 28 (AFSCME) held a mass rally to speak out against the costs of privatization on our community. Hours later, UW Medicine retaliated by laying off 15 workers.

As students, we are outraged that our university would balance their budget on the backs of workers who are vital members of our community and punish those who speak out. Join us in demanding that UW find a more equitable solution that does not harm the lives of 100+ workers and their families.

We are occupying the UW Medicine CEO’s office because students and workers must stand together against privatization of our universities.

Please support us by calling and asking to speak with Ana Mari Cauce, UW President at (206) 543-5010 and Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine at (206) 543-7718.

Leave them the following message:

“My name is ___ and I’m calling in support of the demands of the students that are currently occupying Paul Ramsey’s office. The University of Washington should immediately halt its outsourcing attempts and not issue a Request for Proposals that would privatize UW Medicine’s Consolidated Laundry.”​

In solidarity,

Hannah Dolling
USAS Local 99
University of Washington

Support the continuation of our fight against privatization by making a donation here.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

March for Medicaid: June 16th in St Johnsbury

VWC - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 8:40am

Join the Health Care is a Human Right Campaign for a family-friendly and accessible march to protect and expand Medicaid in the face of cuts and unjust reforms. Click here to RSVP and get involved.

Join the Medicaid March: Saturday, June 16th, 2018 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont 

  • Do you or a family member count on Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur?
  • Are you a person with a disability who relies on Medicaid to live independently?
  • Are you unable to access dental or other care you need?
  • Are you unfairly excluded from Medicaid because of immigration status or other reasons?
  • Are you worried about changes proposed to Medicaid?

You are not alone. Over 1 in 3 of us in Vermont is on some form of Medicaid (known as Green Mountain Care in Vermont) or uses a Medicaid-funded service. Many of us find it hard to get full-time work, and what jobs there are pay poverty wages and provide few or no benefits. For children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, the working poor, elders, and many others, Medicaid has been a lifeline in uncertain times.

As healthcare costs rise, politicians are looking for ways to cut spending on Medicaid, which provides healthcare for about 218,000 Vermont residents - one third of the people in Vermont.

The federal government is trying to dismantle Medicaid by allowing states to impose work requirements and other obstacles. This is a thinly veiled attempt to blame the poor for poverty that was announced just weeks after Congress passed a tax cut for the super-rich and large corporations. Just imagine: people in the $732,000+ tax bracket will get an average tax break of $51,140, when corporate tax breaks and reduction of the estate tax are factored in. Some corporations getting breaks — such as pharmaceutical companies, hospital conglomerates, and insurance companies — are those making big bucks off our health, or by denying us healthcare.

Medicaid and other health programs are threatened with cuts at the state and federal level.

And it’s not just Medicaid. Obamacare subsidies are also on the chopping block, and insurance companies are expected to request huge premium increases this year as the insurance market is destabilized. That will throw more of us into the ranks of the uninsured. Funding for reproductive health services is under attack. State workers and teachers are facing health insurance rollbacks, and health insurance is a sticking point in negotiations for all unionized workers. There is pressure to privatize the Veterans Affairs (VA), farming out healthcare for veterans rather than guaranteeing it as a condition of military service. At the same time, fewer and fewer of us have access to the social conditions that promote health such as stable housing and stable work.

This is why are marching to protect and expand Medicaid and to guarantee the human right to healthcare for everyone. Join us in standing up for the right of all people to live in dignity.

No Cuts to Medicaid! Healthcare Is A Human Right!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

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