Labor News

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: During COVID-19 Pandemic, Oregon Workers Are Helping Workers

3 months 1 week ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: During COVID-19 Pandemic, Oregon Workers Are Helping Workers Oregon AFL-CIO

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Working people in Portland, Oregon, have stepped up to fill community needs by hosting the Workers Helping Workers food drive and distribution program. The program is led by President Jeff Anderson (UFCW) of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor (IBEW) and Labor’s Community Service Agency. In response to layoffs, furloughs and record unemployment, the unions came together to distribute 1,000 food boxes in the first of at least three planned distributions.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/23/2020 - 14:20

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Respect at Work Has to Become the New Normal: ILO Convention 190 and Rebuilding for a Fairer Economy

3 months 1 week ago
Respect at Work Has to Become the New Normal: ILO Convention 190 and Rebuilding for a Fairer Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark relief the direct correlation between the exploitative labor model that fuels our global economy and the systemic racism and discrimination that leads to attacks on Black people’s bodies and lives. It is a system rooted in discrimination and oppression, one that strategically devalues and dehumanizes Black and Brown workers, particularly women. Returning to “normal” is not an option or even desirable—we must instead rebuild an economy designed to meet human needs and protect fundamental rights, including safety and respect on the job.

After years of campaigning by the global labor movement, workers, governments and employers came together June 21, 2019, at the International Labor Organization to negotiate a global standard to end violence and harassment in the world of work. The ILO Convention that resulted from those discussions, C190, was the first international treaty to recognize the right of every worker to be free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment, and the responsibility of governments and employers to ensure safe, respectful workplaces. Uruguay recently became the first country to ratify the convention, and others are soon to follow its lead. One year later, as we confront racial, economic and health crises, the convention takes on an even greater role in addressing the many forms of work-related violence and harassment workers are reporting related to the pandemic. 

With increased incidence of domestic violence and health and safety violations during the current crisis, unions are using the C190 framework to negotiate with employers and governments for policies that address the forms of violence they confront. Female workers throughout the global economy often are the first to lose their jobs as the economy contracts or are forced to work in low-paid positions with few health and safety protections. C190 requires that employers recognize gender-based violence and harassment in their safety and health protections. It is clear the convention provides an important framework for addressing the systemic discrimination and exploitation workers face around the world.

Rebuilding our economy will require that we proactively design and implement systems that empower and protect workers and address systemic power imbalances. As countries shape policies for reopening and rebuilding economies, the C190 framework provides guidance on how to ensure workplaces are safe and address the continuum of violence workers often experience. C190 calls on all governments to address the root causes of violence and harassment at work, including discrimination, and develop strategies to address the underlying factors that support these systems.

Women, particularly women of color, have been on the front lines of the pandemic, many working for very low wages. Overall, front-line workers are 64% women and disproportionately people of color. According to the National Domestic Workers Alliance, 73% of Black immigrant domestic workers report not being provided with any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) by their employers. Women particularly are overrepresented in care work, making up more than 85% of child care workers and 75% of health care workers. Caring for others sustains our communities and allows our economy to function, but it has long been dismissed as women’s work and systematically devalued, informalized and underpaid. Not coincidentally, these professions also face high rates of violence and harassment on the job. 

In addition, women, along with marginalized groups such as migrant workers, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming individuals, are disproportionately pushed into the precarious workforce. And while precarious work arrangements—aka corporations using subcontractors, franchises and gig models to avoid a formal employment relationship and escape liability for some or all labor rights—predate COVID-19, the pandemic has spotlighted how these jobs operate with little to no regard for worker safety. 

C190 explicitly requires governments to address precarious work arrangements and ensure that everyone in the working world has legal protections from violence and harassment. It also contains protections for others in the workplace who are often left unprotected by labor laws and social protection systems, including people looking for work, unpaid interns and apprentices. As unemployment rises and state reopenings foreclose many from qualifying for emergency assistance, people will become increasingly desperate for income and can be forced into more dangerous and exploitative situations.

Critically, C190 also recognizes the importance of addressing underlying power relationships at work. Ending violence and harassment requires shifting more agency and control into the hands of workers themselves. This pandemic has made clear that far too often, workers are not viewed as human beings deserving of dignity and safety, but as expendable cogs in a machine. Violence and harassment exist in this system not as a glitch, but as a feature—tools of control used to reinforce hierarchy both in the workplace and in society.

To get all of this done, we need to build alliances across our movements. Feminist, worker, climate, racial justice, migrant and human rights organizations must build joint analysis and campaigns that work toward ratification and implementation of C190. All workers must have the ability to organize collectively to proactively shape their own working conditions. A union is how change is made, and one of the few inspiring outcomes of the pandemic has been the rise of new waves of worker and community organizing. Going forward, we must create an enabling environment for organizing to demand respect on the job by protecting everyone’s fundamental right to come together and act in concert to demand better. 

One of the most heartbreaking elements of the COVID-19 crisis is that so much of the suffering is the result of political choices, made to prioritize the stock market and uninterrupted markets, rather than human life. C190 provides us a framework for a worker-centered response and recovery that builds systems for all workers and addresses the power imbalances created by systemic discrimination. We can and must make different, better choices—choices to recognize the inherent dignity and value of all workers, to require respectful, safe working conditions, and to allow people more agency in shaping their working lives.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/23/2020 - 12:37

Tags: COVID-19

Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Working People Across the Nation Join Workers First Caravan for Racial + Economic Justice

3 months 1 week ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Working People Across the Nation Join Workers First Caravan for Racial + Economic Justice

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Thousands of workers across the country joined together on June 17 in a national day of action. We called for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act and for Congress to take actions to address structural racism. The HEROES Act is grounded in America’s Five Economic Essentials that are desperately needed to keep working people safe and financially secure. This day of action was just the beginning. Today and every day that follows, working people will mobilize like never before to make the HEROES Act the law of the land and rid our institutions of systemic racism. Check out this video recapping the various actions around the country.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/22/2020 - 12:50
Kenneth Quinnell

Has the Supreme Court Shielded Us from Trump Administration Health Care Rules?

3 months 1 week ago
Has the Supreme Court Shielded Us from Trump Administration Health Care Rules?

The Supreme Court last week handed down a landmark decision barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity⁠—a significant step forward in the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the workplace and in broader society. While this case is an important advance in civil rights, it may also undermine the Trump administration’s new health regulations designed to eliminate existing civil rights protections.

The AFL-CIO applauds the Supreme Court for its decision in Bostock v. Clay County. Our affiliates represent people in a broad array of work settings and organizational cultures. We believe a person should be judged by their actual performance on the job, not stereotypes of a particular occupation or a particular gender. Union members are protected from invidious discrimination by their employers because of union contracts that protect them from being fired or discriminated against without just cause. But the court’s ruling provides essential workplace protections for millions of workers in the 27 states without LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws. 

The case also may have implications for work-based health coverage and other benefits. For example, employers may need to adjust group health plan coverage of gender dysphoria and related services, adjust benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex spouses, and review the need for gender assignment as an identifier in benefit plan administration. 

The court’s ruling also undercuts the legality of harsh new regulations from the Trump administration issued three days before the court’s decision that would allow doctors, hospitals and other providers to withhold medical care from transgender people.  

The court’s decision in Bostock rests on an interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act—so it doesn’t address the health care regulations directly. But those regulations rely on an interpretation of sex discrimination in Title IX of the Education Amendments Act and other laws that are quite similar to Title VII. Courts often look to interpretations of Title VII when they decide the meaning of the anti-discrimination provisions in Title IX. With the Supreme Court rejecting the administration’s narrow understanding of Title VII when it comes to hiring and firing, most experts believe the courts will look skeptically at new health regulations that seek to reduce protections against discrimination in the same way.   

The AFL-CIO, along with hundreds of other organizations, submitted comments to the administration last year urging them not to go forward with these new regulations, which are part of a broader Republican effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As an organization that recognizes the importance of work-based health insurance, we believe it is critical that payers and health care providers provide the full range of medically necessary health care services, regardless of whether or not a worker conforms to the stereotype⁠—whether it is a stereotype for that particular occupation or a stereotype for a particular gender.

By preventing insurers from denying coverage based on gender identity, the ACA protections have saved lives. One study found that the suicide rate among transgender and gender-nonconforming people dropped by as much as 50% in states that barred such discrimination. 

Of course, the timing of these new rules couldn’t be worse⁠—limiting access to health care during a pandemic. Turning away patients based on their sexual orientation or gender identity not only may have life-threatening implications for those individuals but the well-being of the broader community.

The next big test will be later this month when the administration must decide whether or not to publish the regulations in the Federal Register. The Supreme Court has given the administration valuable guidance on the scope of federal nondiscrimination laws. One can only hope that the administration is listening because going forward with these regulations would do nothing to help the Department of Health and Human Services fulfill its mission to promote the health and well-being of people across the nation.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/22/2020 - 09:07

Tags: LGBTQ Rights

Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Union Member Uses Seat on City Council to Lead Fight to Ban Tear Gas

3 months 1 week ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Union Member Uses Seat on City Council to Lead Fight to Ban Tear Gas Braxton Winston

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Braxton Winston knows what it’s like to be tear-gassed by the police while exercising his First Amendment rights to nonviolently protest police brutality. A member of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and a City Council member in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2017, he has led the fight to ban the use of tear gas in his city. Last week, the Charlotte City Council voted to stop funding chemical agents for the police department. Winston wrote an editorial column for The Washington Post, in which he described his experience and what led him to fight for this change:

“No chemical agents should be used on a human being anywhere in this world. And that certainly includes American streets as citizens exercise their First Amendment rights. Being exposed to tear gas and pepper ball rounds is a miserable experience that I will never forget….

“Our police chief has argued that without chemical agents, police will be forced to use batons to break skin and bones. But that is not an acceptable answer to the people of Charlotte. What’s more, comments like that hurtfully evoke Bull Connor’s German shepherds and fire hoses. If the current police chief, or the new chief set to take over in September, cannot figure out how to deal with human beings without the tactics of violence and fear, the people that make up this city will be here, step by step, to show him how to deal with us as the sentient beings we are.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:41

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Working People Join Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice

3 months 1 week ago
Working People Join Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice

On Wednesday, working people across the United States joined the Workers First Caravan for Racial + Economic Justice. In observation of social distancing guidelines for public safety, working people took to their cars and joined caravans across the country. America faces crises on three critical fronts: a public health pandemic, an economic free fall and long-standing structural racism. To address these crises, we must focus on America’s Five Economic Essentials, which cannot be addressed without also taking on racial injustice directly. 

America's Five Economic Essentials are: 

1. Keep front-line workers safe and secure.
2. Keep workers employed and protect earned pension checks.
3. Keep state and local governments, our public schools and the U.S. Postal Service solvent and working.
4. Keep America healthy by protecting and expanding health insurance for all workers.
5. Keep America competitive by hiring people to build infrastructure.

Here are some highlights of yesterday's caravans from around the country:

Just finished up an Executive Council meeting and am headed to the Capitol to join the #WorkersFirst Caravan for Racial + Economic Justice. #1u pic.twitter.com/Y8SMSPDeJ8

— Richard Trumka (@RichardTrumka) June 17, 2020

I’m heading to the US Capitol in Washington DC for the @AFLCIO #WorkersFirst Caravan - we’re demanding Congress hear our voices and pass the HEROES Act and put an end to systemic racism and inequality! #SenateActNow pic.twitter.com/kXkRH7KQhT

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) June 17, 2020

#WorkersFirst #HeroesAct pic.twitter.com/gKDzb90ANe

— streetheat@dclabor.org (@DCLabor) June 17, 2020

Kicking off Workers First Caravan❗️❗️#WorkersFirst #SenateActNow pic.twitter.com/GUUCBIBqqE

— LCLAA (@LCLAA) June 17, 2020

AFT President @rweingarten is in a car on the way to the #WorkersFirst Caravan for Racial + Economic Justice! Tune in live: https://t.co/Rk1mH97z0q pic.twitter.com/rfGPexowH0

— AFT (@AFTunion) June 17, 2020

Set-up for #WorkersFirst news conference at #TxAFL-CIO to all for #HEROESAct to see all families through pandemic and demand racial justice. #SenateActNow #1u pic.twitter.com/pP1ayRKR52

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) June 17, 2020

The #WorkersFirst Caravan in Atlanta is headed out! Honk if you see us! #UnionStrong #gapol pic.twitter.com/ccsfJycP7Q

— Georgia AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOGeorgia) June 17, 2020

HAPPENING NOW: The Workers First Caravan is beginning in the Washington, D.C. area. CLUW President Elise Bryant is on board! We are demanding that Senators support the #HEROESAct, the proposed COVID-19 financial and social relief bill. #WorkersFirst pic.twitter.com/elqfeUaEQu

— CLUW National (@CLUWNational) June 17, 2020

.@unitehere folks getting everyone ready for the #WorkersFirst caravan, where hundreds of cars will be driving from Arlington + Maryland to the Capitol pic.twitter.com/joC7H7yTtc

— Kalina Newman (@KalinaNewman) June 17, 2020

The #WorkersFirst caravan is lining up in #Columbus #Ohio to demand Mitch McConnell take up the #HeroesAct and help restore funding to local governments. We can’t call workers essential one day and make them expendable the next. pic.twitter.com/1ewcA3BFXS

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) June 17, 2020

Workers First Caravan for Racial & Economic Justice is getting underway in Nashville! @NashvilleCLC is getting folks out in droves #WorkersFirst pic.twitter.com/Qggihk18aq

— Tennessee AFL-CIO (@tnaflcio) June 17, 2020

The video is too long to fit us all, but we are heading out in our caravan! #WorkersFirst #SenateActNow pic.twitter.com/zFVH7b1uJG

— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) June 17, 2020

Pride at Work South Florida members are out on the streets today for racial and economic justice #WorkersFirst #1u #SenateActNow #1uPride pic.twitter.com/6CtLWtsYiN

— Pride at Work (@PrideatWork) June 17, 2020

We stand with working people who are standing up for what is right via the #workersfirst caravan. Working families are demanding Congress hear their voices, pass the HEROES Act, and put an end to systematic racism. cc @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/Wvl7B7UQ0h

— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) June 17, 2020

Cars lined up and ready to go for the ⁦@coloradoaflcio#WorkersFirst caravan around ⁦@SenCoryGardner⁩ ‘s Denver office #SenateActNow pic.twitter.com/ebLRztlBG5

— UNITE HERE Local 23 (@unitehere23) June 17, 2020

That's why we showed up this morning to put #WorkersFirst. The Senate must pass the #HeroesAct ASAP! #SenateActNow pic.twitter.com/do9kPX883x

— Northern Nevada Central Labor Council (@northernnvlabor) June 17, 2020

Decorating our cars and getting ready to kick off our #WorkersFirst caravan in Indianapolis! pic.twitter.com/AWMS1Nao11

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) June 17, 2020

Workers rallied nationwide seeking action from elected leaders on three fronts: the coronavirus pandemic, the resulting economic devastation, and the long-standing structural racism that has sparked protests. #WorkersFirst https://t.co/GSvcifF4UE

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) June 17, 2020

Int. Pres. John Costa joined @ATULocal689 Pres. Ray Jackson today as hundreds of cars with members from ATU, @unitehere, @AFSCME, and others at the Tommy Douglas Conf. Ctr. for the #workersfirst caravan for Racial + Economic Justice around the U.S. Capitol. #1u #UnionStrong pic.twitter.com/IFD5ju58X0

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) June 17, 2020

Thank you to everyone who came out to support Workers First Caravan Broward County #WorkersFirst#SenateActNow #CWA #IATSE #AFT #UFF #BTU #FOPE #OPEIU #SEIU #1union #FLAFLCIO #BRAFLCIO #FFLL pic.twitter.com/tyhqopNGFO

— Broward AFL-CIO (@BRAFLCIO) June 17, 2020

We kicked off the #WorkersFirst caravan in York PA today with our union sisters and brothers from across the Commonwealth. It’s time for the Senate to take action, fight for equality and put #WorkersFirst! @AFLCIO @PhillyAFLCIO @sepaalf @AlleghenyLabor @afscmecouncil13 pic.twitter.com/qB9j5QAmHL

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) June 17, 2020

#1U #Workersfirst #WorkersFirstCaravan https://t.co/29y57PtFj1

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) June 17, 2020

Today is a national Day of Action for the @AFLCIO highlighting the importance of the 5 economic essentials paramount to America's recovery.

1: Keep front-line workers safe and secure
2: Keep workers employed while protecting their pensions pic.twitter.com/LC5NAcO4Ig

— Nevada State AFL-CIO (@NVAFLCIO) June 18, 2020

Local 1 was proud to join our @MOAFLCIO Brothers and Sisters on the Workers First Caravan for Economic and Social Justice! #WorkersFirst @RepAnnWagner @FjacobsLU1 @AFLCIO @UFCW655 pic.twitter.com/24AN8ITkwd

— IBEW Local One (@IBEWLocal1) June 18, 2020

Today we had a great action in Orlando to call on Congress to pass the HEROES Act! We demand Rick Scott and Marco Rubio put workers first!#WorkersFirst#SenateActNow#1u pic.twitter.com/OMDc6nA5NU

— CentralFloridaAFLCIO (@CentralFLAFLCIO) June 18, 2020

I’m proud to stand with folks across the country participating in today’s #WorkersFirst Caravan. Senate Republicans need to pass the #HeroesAct now and take action to root out systemic racism. https://t.co/s5zCJBXYIp

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 18, 2020

American workers are paying the price for Leader McConnell’s efforts to slow-walk our response to COVID-19. Truly inspiring to witness today’s caravan of workers in Washington, driving together to demand that the #SenateActNow to pass the #HeroesAct. #WorkersFirst pic.twitter.com/W4I4w5wxxZ

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 17, 2020

I was inspired to see swarms of cars circling the U.S. Capitol as part of @AFLCIO's Workers First Caravan for Economic and Social Justice. Workers from around the region are demanding Congress take decisive action to end racial prejudice in policing. #WorkersFirst #SenateActNow pic.twitter.com/SztXNFTGcg

— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) June 17, 2020 Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:18
Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New York State's Labor Movement Stands United for Racial Justice

3 months 1 week ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New York State's Labor Movement Stands United for Racial Justice Chris Garlock/Union City

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The horrific and senseless death of George Floyd has left Americans reeling during an already uncertain time. Leaders of the labor movement are speaking out and fighting for equality, justice and civil rights. On the New York State AFL-CIO’s “Union Strong” podcast last week, state federation President Mario Cilento (TNG-CWA) and Secretary-Treasurer Terry Melvin (CSEA-AFSCME) addressed racial injustice in America and what the labor movement can do to change it.

“There is no contract that allows murder on the job. There is no contract that allows a worker to supersede any local, state or federal law,” said Melvin, who is also the president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). “What has to happen is long-term reform. Institutional reform to reflect the needs of the community. Reform that humanizes the citizens and devalues the problem….Our elected officials can do more than they want to do and are comfortable blaming the union and the contract.”

“I know right now there is so much pain, there is so much anger, there is so much frustration, there is so much tension,” Cilento said. “But our goal should be to match those feelings with an equal amount of hope, and that only happens if we stand united in our commitment to make real and lasting change. Let me start by being very clear, as a labor movement in New York state, we recognize, we believe and we know that Black Lives Matter.” 

Listen to the podcast here.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/18/2020 - 09:41

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Members of UNITE HERE Local 17 Say ‘No’ to Facism, White Supremacy in Their Union

3 months 2 weeks ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Members of UNITE HERE Local 17 Say ‘No’ to Facism, White Supremacy in Their Union UNITE HERE Local 17

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Members of UNITE HERE Local 17 in Minnesota adopted a resolution last week that excludes members of facist or white supremacist organizations from their union. The resolution states: “The majority of our members are immigrants, people of color or LGBTQ. We are proud to be a diverse union, [and] we know diversity is our strength.” Local 17, led by President Christa Mello (front row, center), represents thousands of hospitality workers in and around Minneapolis, where George Floyd was tragically killed. The Sioux Falls AFL-CIO in South Dakota has passed a similar resolution.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/17/2020 - 10:43

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Fighting for Equality and Justice

3 months 2 weeks ago
Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Fighting for Equality and Justice Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly

The latest episode of the "Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly" features the fight for equality and justice, a new version of "Solidarity Forever" and more. This week’s highlights from labor radio and podcast shows focusing on working people include:

  • On the latest SAG-AFTRA podcast, SAG-AFTRA officers, President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White, discuss their personal journeys and the union's role in the fight for equality and justice: “We are going to bring this around to the issue of police brutality, social inequality, the organization's role on that.”
  • A new, millennial version of “Solidarity Forever” from the RadioLabour podcast.
  • WorkWeek talks with a Chicago bus driver: "We have at least four dead bus operators  in Chicago from COVID-19. I was one of many dozens who have gotten COVID-19."
  • Plus Labor History in 2 and a teaser for the latest episode of The Gig podcast. 

Check out all the shows on Labor Radio/Podcast Network.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 16:27

Tags: Podcast

Kenneth Quinnell

Pride Month Profiles: Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda

3 months 2 weeks ago
Pride Month Profiles: Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda

For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is the three plaintiffs in the 2020 Supreme Court cases that led to the landmark decision protecting the workplace rights of LGBTQ Americans: Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda.

Aimee Stephens was a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan. When hired, Stephens lived and presented as a man. When she informed the owner and operator of the funeral home that she intended to transition from male to female, Stephens was fired. Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging unlawful discrimination. The EEOC investigated and filed a lawsuit. The case was originally decided in favor of the funeral home but was overturned on appeal and made its way to the Supreme Court.

Gerald Lynn Bostock, a gay man, worked for the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Georgia. He began participating in a gay recreational softball league. His participation in the league was criticized, and several months later an internal audit was conducted to look into Bostock's program. He was fired for conduct "unbecoming of a county employee." Bostock sued the county, claiming he was fired because he was gay. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed the complaint, but Bostock's appeal was upheld and the divided rulings led the case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Donald Zarda, a gay man, worked as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express in New York. Zarda was fired after he informed a client that he was gay and she complained to management. Zarda was fired, and he alleged that he was fired because of his sexuality. He sued, but the District Court rejected his claim. He appealed and the initial ruling was overturned. Altitude Express appealed.

The three cases were combined and this week the Supreme Court sided with the LGBTQ workers, saying that firing them because of their sexuality was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pride At Work Executive Director Jerame Davis called the ruling "a huge win for equality." He continued:

Today, the Court recognized that discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is rooted in sex discrimination. The approximately 11.5 million LGB people and 1.5 million transgender people in the United States are now protected from discrimination in workplaces across the country. While many lower courts already have recognized that, we now have clarity from the highest court in the land.

The Supreme Court extended protections to millions of LGBTQ Americans because three individuals⁠—Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda⁠—faced discrimination and refused to accept it. That's the type of courage that Pride Month celebrates.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 12:56

Tags: LGBTQ Rights

Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio University Workers Rally to Save Jobs

3 months 2 weeks ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio University Workers Rally to Save Jobs Southeast Ohio Area Labor Federation

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

In Athens, Ohio, Southeast Ohio Area Labor Federation President John Johnson (AFSCME) coordinated a protest last week with dozens of members of AFSCME Local 1699 at Ohio University, demanding that pending layoffs of 140 workers be stopped and that all furloughed workers be brought back. Union members also demanded that Ohio University President Duane Nellis proactively work for the passage of the HEROES Act, which could provide $37 billion in federal aid to higher education.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:43

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Pride Month: The Working People Weekly List

3 months 2 weeks ago
Pride Month: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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

Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month: "For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards: "The Seafarers (SIU) union, under the leadership of President Michael Sacco, has announced that it will reopen its hiring halls on June 15."

Every Election Matters: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy: "The United Steelworkers (USW) union is backing the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state’s economy as Michigan continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C.: "Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 51 led a Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter rally in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday."

Black Lives Matter: What Working People Are Doing This Week: "Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality: "For generations, many athletes have helped lead the fight for social change in America."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches Online Safety Resource for Members Returning to Work in Nevada: "The Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 has launched a new website, CulinaryClean.org, as a one-stop safety resource for its members ahead of the anticipated reopening of Nevada casinos."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 09:16
Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Instructor Finds His Calling Through Teaching

3 months 2 weeks ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Instructor Finds His Calling Through Teaching

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

For Electrical Workers (IBEW) member Jerome Miller, instructing is about more than just sharing his trade; it’s an opportunity to shape future workers. “I want to be the guy that I needed when I was growing up,” Miller said. “I love teaching. I like molding young minds.” IBEW recently featured him in a video, profiling both his work as an instructor and his family life. He joined the union when he was 20 years old and looking for a summer job. Miller went on to work as a journeyman electrician for 11 years before becoming a part-time instructor with the IBEW. His passion for mentoring young apprentices seeking a profession in the electrical trade helped him earn the 2019 IBEW Hour Power Instructor of the Year award.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/15/2020 - 11:53

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards

3 months 2 weeks ago
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards Seafarers

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The Seafarers (SIU) union, under the leadership of President Michael Sacco, has announced that it will reopen its hiring halls on June 15. The union is implementing strict safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Modifications have been made at the halls, including extensive cleanings, installation of dividers, shipments of personal protective equipment for members and staff, and the rearranging of seats to promote social distancing, as an initial step in the reopening transition. Members also will be required to wear a face covering and bring a completed COVID-19 screening questionnaire when coming to the halls.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/12/2020 - 09:05

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Kenneth Quinnell

Every Election Matters: In the States Roundup

3 months 2 weeks ago
Every Election Matters: In the States Roundup AFL-CIO

It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter.

California Labor Federation:

“Black lives matter not only in neighborhoods and in schools, but they also matter at work.” https://t.co/zQMRTGweN8 #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLaborMatters

— California Labor Federation #BlackLivesMatter (@CaliforniaLabor) June 9, 2020

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

The Connecticut @AFLCIO and @SEIU_CT State Council are calling on House Minority Leader @RepTKlarides to demand Rep. Fishbein's resignation for his monstrously stupid and racist tweet. Full letter here --> https://t.co/GWkpFXDMhH pic.twitter.com/o6QUsAcCzV

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) June 2, 2020

Florida AFL-CIO:

Join us, June 17th, as working people across the state of Florida demand our elected leaders put working families first. Click the link below to find your nearest caravan.https://t.co/hQPeaxXinw

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) June 9, 2020

Georgia State AFL-CIO:

We believe in strong leadership for working Georgians, and so does our endorsed candidate Rep. @DarshunKendrick ! State Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick is dedicated to working families, from helping union members with unemployment to standing for the lives of black workers. #unionstrong pic.twitter.com/Na0TQBX7n6

— Georgia AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOGeorgia) June 7, 2020

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

When state and local governments cut jobs, essential public services suffer. 911 calls, clean drinking water and trash pickups are affected. It’s crucial that Congress pass legislation to #FundtheFrontLines and prevent more cuts.

https://t.co/l2IPwJJaPM

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) June 9, 2020

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Waterloo Caravan to save the USPS https://t.co/kqgknSrrMg

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) June 9, 2020

Maine AFL-CIO:

BIW workers rallied for a fair contract this morning! @GDBIW time to respect the workers who build the ships! @IAMLLS6 @AFLCIO @SenBellows #mepolitics #UnionStrong #Solidarity pic.twitter.com/Ov7vb5fMuw

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) June 10, 2020

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

A recent report from @MassBudget details that nearly half of workers without status employed in #MA were at risk of losing their job because of #COVID.

These workers don’t qualify for any financial assistance. We must pass S.2659/HD.5036 to provide equal stimulus checks. 🗣 pic.twitter.com/uuCo95jL7k

— Massachusetts AFL-CIO (@massaflcio) June 9, 2020

Michigan State AFL-CIO:

At the @MIAFLCIO, we've been working with the state and federal governments to make sure as we all return to our workplaces, we're kept safe, healthy, and on the job. https://t.co/SvTvV112Yv pic.twitter.com/sPl7qdX0bm

— Michigan AFL-CIO 🏠 (@MIAFLCIO) June 10, 2020

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Labor Fights for #GeorgeFloyd in Twin Cities https://t.co/K5LmD0UAZf (via @labornotes) #1u #BlackLivesMatter @afscme3800 pic.twitter.com/0anOc9vLtH

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) June 4, 2020

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Every single election matters. Voting is crucial. Make sure you and everyone you know is registered to vote! Register Online in Missouri in 5 minutes, right here: https://t.co/kwxwcikebd pic.twitter.com/ZDswpW1FA6

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) June 7, 2020

Montana State AFL-CIO:

This election cycle, ask every candidate if they believe every worker should be able to form a union, if they answer with anything other than "yes" don't vote for them. #1u

— Montana AFL-CIO (@MTaflcio) June 5, 2020

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

November 3rd is five months from today! Vote, Vote, Vote! pic.twitter.com/9mCdVMheOQ

— NE State AFL-CIO (@NEAFLCIO) June 3, 2020

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

Your vote is your voice! Be heard! Register and vote! https://t.co/NlgnUPFSqp

— New Jersey AFL-CIO (@NJAFLCIO) June 5, 2020

New York State AFL-CIO:

On this podcast you will hear from the Pres of the NYS AFL-CIO, Mario Cilento & our Sec-Treasurer Terry Melvin who is also the Pres of the @CBTU72 as they address racial injustice in America & what the Labor Movement can do to change it. #UnionStrong https://t.co/FLZLoDRErU

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) June 10, 2020

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

NC AFL-CIO Statement on the Murder of George Floyd and the Struggle for Racial Justice. #1u #blacklivesmatter https://t.co/FUi6LzisOk

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) June 2, 2020

Ohio AFL-CIO:

This while corporations get to keep their tax breaks even when they don’t produce the jobs promised. Our system is just rigged against working people. https://t.co/KPO8g15JfP

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) June 10, 2020

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

pic.twitter.com/xdtl8An5eM

— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) June 4, 2020

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Join @GoIUPAT and tell @OSHA_DOL: Construction Workers Are Not Expendable!https://t.co/BtGhKQeWRE

— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) June 6, 2020

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

We stand with @PGNewsGuild, @alexisjreports, and @msantiagophotos. Black journalists are silenced for speaking the truth at @PittsburghPG. #IStandWithAlexis @✊ https://t.co/4k2JQyzHkI

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) June 9, 2020

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

#1U #UnionMade #Unions pic.twitter.com/S8LI7wtK60

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) June 9, 2020

Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:

The education community will be an important part of having conversations about racial and economic justice with our children.https://t.co/5Cy8idISSe

— Tennessee AFL-CIO (@tnaflcio) June 10, 2020

Texas AFL-CIO:

Getting a #CompleteCount in #Census2020 is critical to #TX, our hometowns & our neighborhoods, ⁦@MontseTXAFLCIO⁩ says. You can become a Census Ambassador and help get our communities a fair share of political power, funding and representation. #1u #TDP20 pic.twitter.com/vXElWUCHjf

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) June 4, 2020

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Join with us TODAY as we join @UFCW400 for a car caravan to demand “HERO Pay” at Kroger! Check the details below ⬇️ https://t.co/8y8J2RyP8v

— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) June 10, 2020

Washington State Labor Council:

Check out the WSLC's full list of 2020 election endorsements following today's special COPE Convention: https://t.co/9GDA1Eej3G#LaborVotes2020 #1u pic.twitter.com/yiZ4lbUEFL

— Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) June 6, 2020

West Virginia AFL-CIO:

“I feel like our job is not only to be the voice of union people, but the voice of all working people in the valley..We try to do as much good in the community as we can.” Well said Andrew Stump!! https://t.co/Ra8dftvBhw

— West Virginia AFLCIO (@WestVirginiaAFL) June 8, 2020

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Minority Workers See Highest Levels Of Unemployment From COVID-19 Crisis, https://t.co/WDAgyJGpjj

— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) June 10, 2020 Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/12/2020 - 08:12
Kenneth Quinnell
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