Senate Confirms NLRB Nominees; Board at Full Strength

Mike Hall

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now fully staffed and able to continue to function to protect workers’ rights after the U.S. Senate today confirmed five members. The votes end a months-long blockade on President Obama’s nominees by Senate Republicans who threatened to shut the board down Aug. 27.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the confirmations are “Good news for all workers seeking to exercise the rights they are guaranteed by law. Those essential rights include the ability to bargain together for fair wages and living standards and a workplace safe from abuse, harassment and intimidation.”

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Former South Bay Labor Leader Elected to Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

Stacey Hendler Ross

Working families in Silicon Valley are celebrating a huge victory today, after former South Bay Labor Council Executive Officer Cindy Chavez was elected last night to fill a vacant spot on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in District 2. Chavez won more than 55% of the vote in the special election runoff against Santa Clara Valley Water District communications manager Teresa Alvarado, who brought in a little more than 44 percent of the vote.

“This election is another step toward addressing the critical unmet needs of working families in Silicon Valley,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council. “Voters embraced Cindy’s vision of a County government that focuses on the safety and health of the community.” 

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First Responders in El Centro Strike Against Poverty Wages

 in their fight for a wage that allows them to feed their families and pay for medical coverage.

Sixty of our Teamster brothers and sisters in El Centro, Calif., are standing strong against Gold Cross Ambulance, which pays them starting hourly wages ranging from $8.78 to $9.77  for saving lives as ambulance drivers, EMTs and paramedics. They are members of Teamsters Local 542 in San Diego.

Phil Farias, president of Teamsters Local 542, said the Teamsters deserve a fair wage, better benefits and decent working conditions.

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8 Ways Warehouses Cheat and Hurt American Workers

With President Barack Obama’s visit to an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee it’s a good time to shed some light on typical warehousing jobs. Here are eight problems in the industry: 

8) What does your paycheck really say? Are workers being paid an hourly wage or are you being paid piece rate? Piece rate means a flat rate for unloading a container of goods. This practice is not inherently illegal unless it amounts to less than minimum wage, which it often does.

7) Are workers paying the company for a ride to work? Some warehousing temp agencies charge workers fees to take them to work and then cram as many as 18 people into one van even though companies “can’t charge for transportation” legally, they do.

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Fast Food Strikes Escalate Across the Nation

Mike Hall

In the biggest strike yet in the growing fast-food/low-wage workers’ actions demanding a voice, thousands of workers making the minimum wage or just slightly more walked off the job in several cities today, demanding a living wage, no retaliation for striking and the right to join unions.

The walkouts are taking place in Chicago; Detroit; Flint, Mich.; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New York City; and St. Louis and include workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC and from retail stores like Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and Dollar Tree.

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Walmart Sues Individual Activist for Standing Up for World’s Most Exploited Workers

Stewart Acuff

The world’s largest and most oppressive corporation in the world, Walmart, has sued Gene Lantz (pictured below), a retired union activist, for standing up for the victims of Walmart, some of the most oppressed workers in the world.

Lantz, the United Food and Commercial Workers, OUR Walmart, and Jobs With Justice have been sued by Walmart for civil trespassing for crossing their parking lots.

We’ve noted in this space before how thin-skinned and controlling the world’s largest global corporations can be. Walmart and others who drive global poverty and the economic race to the bottom can spend huge resources trying to control people in a free society for crossing a parking lot they don’t even own.

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For Any Working Mom, Child Care Is Essential

Mary Kay Henry

If 2012 was the year of the woman, 2013 is the year of the working mom. And that's why I'm headed to California.

Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi along with Reps. DeLauro, Matsui and other women leaders announced a new Women's Economic Agenda, built on three key pillars for driving women's economic advancement: 1) equal pay for equal work, 2) work-family balance, including paid sick leave and a livable minimum wage, and 3) access to quality, affordable child care.

As many have noted, these priorities are not new ideas. Women have been advocating for decades for these policies, because they work, they are fair and they are critical to the success of our nation.

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On Strike & Fighting For Justice at Walmart-Contracted Warehouse

Heidi Baizabal

I have worked at the Walmart-contracted warehouse in Mira Loma for the last five years, but I am still paid $8 an hour, the minimum wage, and I still only have part-time hours. I make about $200 a week.

I have done every job inside the warehouse and I can tell you it’s hard work and a lot of us get injured. In fact, right now I have to work in the office because I hurt my lower back, shoulder and knee carrying a very heavy box.

I am a single mother and I support my four children ages 16, 15, 12 and 9. We share an apartment in Fullerton with other people, but even so it’s difficult to pay the rent and all our bills each month. We get by borrowing whatever we can and I sell jewelry for a little extra money. It’s because of my kids that I made the decision to go on strike.

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Makes You Sick: 80% of Low-Wage Workers Don’t Have Paid Sick Days

Jackie Tortora

More than four in 10 private-sector workers and 80% of low-wage workers do not have paid sick days. This means people, especially women who are more likely to work in low-wage jobs, constantly have to choose between their health and a paycheck. 

A post in Jezebel, brought to you by the AFL-CIO, explains why the lack of paid sick days causes a ripple effect on our health and communities: “In fact, more than 80% of low-wage workers don’t receive a single paid sick day all year. This contributes to the creation of a sickness loop: contagious kids go to school because mom can’t stay home with them; expensive emergency room trips are made that could’ve been prevented; employees show up to work and spread viruses to their customers and co-workers.”

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Walmart Escalates String of Illegal Acts of Retaliation Against Workers

Jamie Way

Americans believe in speaking up when something is wrong and working together to improve our lives. The freedom of speech and freedom of association are core American values and basic rights enshrined by our nation’s Constitution. Yet while our basic rights as Americans are protected under the law, Walmart doesn’t think these laws apply to them.

In recent weeks, Walmart has escalated its illegal campaign of punishing workers who exercise their right to come together and speak out for change. In attempting to silence those workers who speak out, the company has fired or disciplined over 60 workers.

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