Jackie Tortora blogs for the AFL-CIO.

Congress: Do the Right Thing, Renew Unemployment Insurance Benefits


Since the House GOP left 1.3 million people out in the cold this holiday season when it refused to extend emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, working families advocates, including President Barack Obama, are continuing to urge Congress to do the right thing. 

Call your representative today and ask him or her to renew the emergency UI benefits: 877-318-0483.

How Sweet It Is: Union Members Box Up 10,400 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes for San Mateo Food Bank

 in San Mateo, Calif., during the United Way Bay Area's Week of Caring.

Rayna Lehman, director of community services at the San Mateo County Central Labor Council; Tom Ryan, director of community services at the San Francisco Labor Council; and Mary Harms, director of community services at the Contra Costa Central Labor Council, spent three hours filling the 15-pound boxes for distribution to several food banks in the area. 

Gov. Brown Signs Domestic Worker Bill of Rights into Law

Jackie Tortora

After seven years of organizing and two vetoes, California domestic workers finally got some good news today as Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights into law. 

The California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, AB 241, will end generations of exclusion from basic labor protections, reports the the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). The second measure of its kind in the country, “the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will protect a vital workforce that has labored in the shadows without protections for too long.” 

LA Black Worker Center to Hold First-Ever “Workers Congress” Before AFL-CIO 2013 Convention

 to bring workers and the Los Angeles community together to build support and share knowledge to transform the jobs crisis in communities of color. 

The Workers Congress will be held at the Holman United Methodist Church on W. Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles starting at 8 a.m. PDT. 

“The Black Worker Congress is about building blue-print for strategy and action directed by unemployed, underemployed and unionized Black workers together,” says Black Worker Center Director Lola Smallwood Cuevas. “The Black job crisis is one of the greatest worker rights travesties in America.” 

Dancers’ Alliance Launches Massive Campaign to Unionize Tours

Jackie Tortora

What's choreographer Marty Kudelka's favorite part of being on tour? He doesn't have to make his bed every morning. Kudelka, who has worked with Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake, is part of a group of performers, including singers, dancers and choreographers, who regularly tour with big name acts as part of their jobs. While many performers have a voice on the job when they work in music videos or on TV and film, they do not have the union contract for their tour work. This affects everything, from access to health insurance to retirement benefits and safety on the job.

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

, 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.”

Should the Koch Brothers Own The Tribune Newspapers?

Jackie Tortora

Some say the press is the fourth branch of government. It serves as a “check and a balance” to our elected and non-elected leaders and informs the public of news for the greater good. But what if that was compromised by a corporate power grab?

That's exactly what the panel “Should the Koch Brothers Own The Tribune Newspapers?” will examine next Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. As we've covered on the blog before, David and Charles Koch have expressed interest in buying the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and other leading newspapers owned by the Tribune Co. 

5 Things You Need to Know About the Immigration Agreement

Jackie Tortora

It was announced over the weekend the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” came to an agreement in principle on a major aspect of creating a commonsense immigration process that benefits all workers.  

This agreement includes a new kind of worker visa program called the W-Visa, which will work for everyone, not just employers. 

Here are five things you need to know about this new employer-based visa.

Why Marriage Equality Matters to America’s Unions and Working Families

Jackie Tortora

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in cases that could lead to marriage equality for same-sex couples, an issue of particular importance to working families and America's union members. 

“Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement. “LGBT working people face numerous inequities in the workplace and in society as they struggle to care for their families.”

International Women’s Day: ITUC Calls to End Violence Against Women

Jackie Tortora

Ending violence against women is something everyone can agree on and shouldn't be controversial. Astonishingly, some Republicans in Congress held up the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for more than a year because it has protections for Native Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and immigrant women without documents. President Obama just signed VAWA into law yesterday. This Senate-version of the bill was voted down by 138 Republicans in the House. Today, unions across the world are celebrating International Women's Day and raising awareness about violence against women and girls.

Have a Union-Made Super Bowl Party

(NFLPA) members on the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, but also buying union-made-in-America food and drinks for your party. Check out these union-made Super Bowl party products, compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Food and drinks are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the UAW, Machinists (IAM), Teamsters (IBT) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

State-by-State: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Jackie Tortora

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid aren't just numbers on a budget line, they're vital family protection lifelines for working people. Working families understand how important these lifelines are and reject benefit cuts

We have five weeks to tell Congress to let the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% expire and reject any benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Visit www.aflcio.org/ProtectOurFuture for all the information you need on the upcoming budget showdown. 

Prosperity for All: Here’s the Plan

We can strengthen the U.S. economy and invest in our nation's infrastructure and workers. A long-term plan for growth is needed, and it certainly doesn't involve austerity. 

Yale University Professor Jacob Hacker and Roosevelt Institute Founder Nathaniel Loewentheil  today released their new paper, Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All, at the Economic Policy Institute. This bold paper provides a comprehensive plan to grow our nation’s economy in a way that works for everyone.

Ask Your Senators to Support the Bring Jobs Home Act

As CEO at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney earned “jaw-dropping profits” by closing U.S. factories, laying off hundreds of workers, sending those jobs overseas and stashing money in offshore tax havens.

Recently, The Washington Post ran a scathing article on Romney’s Bain Capital for owning “companies that were pioneers” in the practice of shipping work from the U.S. overseas. Even though Romney says he left Bain in 1999, recently revealed SEC filings show Romney was at the company until 2002. 

Congress must fix these outsourcing practices. We have lost 6 million manufacturing jobs while our trade deficits have ballooned and the largest nonfinancial companies in the United States sat on record amounts of cash.

Oakland City Council Votes to Redevelop Army Base, Creating Local Jobs

Thousands of quality construction and warehouse/operations jobs are coming to Oakland’s hardest-hit communities, thanks to a recent Oakland City Council decision to redevelop an army base that closed decades ago.

Josie Camacho, executive secretary-treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council, which helped lead a labor-community campaign for jobs, said, “The redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base is a surefire way to kick-start job creation in the construction sector, while also creating a wealth of new jobs to maintain operations on the base. And the vital labor standards that are guaranteed by last night’s vote will benefit all Oakland residents and communities.”