Spotlight the Label — American Federation of Teachers

Spotlight the Label — American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.6 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT’s membership: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members. The AFT is governed by its elected officers and by delegates to the union’s biennial convention, which sets union policy. Elected leaders are President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker, along with a 42-member executive council. Many well-known Americans have been AFT members, including John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Hubert Humphrey, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, former Senate Majority Leader and Ambassador to Japan Mike Mansfield, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and former United Nations Undersecretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph...

The South’s New Detroit Workers Need Union Representation

Atrocious working conditions in non-union auto parts plants are described in a scathing article in Bloomberg Businessweek called “The New Detroit” from its March-April cover story. The cover photo was of a one-armed victim of an industrial accident beside this line: “The South’s manufacturing renaissance comes with a heavy price.” The article describes workers who are “poorly paid, barely trained and under relentless pressure, and they are being maimed and killed.” Bloomberg Businessweek reports that while Alabama boasts of itself as the “New Detroit,” “it also epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom” seeking low-margin orders in competition with Mexico and Asia. A former OSHA official says the supply chain includes Bangladesh, Georgia, and Alabama and the auto parts suppliers’ workplaces are marked by “high turnover, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought.” The article describes numerous rotten conditions and industrial accidents. One worker who was injured at a non-union plant now commutes to General Motors Co., where the United Auto Workers represents the workers. He says the training is done “the right way” and that “they don’t throw you to the wolves.” Oh, yes, his pay rose from $12 an hour to $18.21. The so-called New Detroit needs the UAW so it can raise its standards and to properly treat, train and pay its workers. Share...
Walk in my shoes: Wendy Karkos  – IAMAW Local S6 Bath Iron Works – Sandblaster

Walk in my shoes: Wendy Karkos  – IAMAW Local S6 Bath Iron Works – Sandblaster

In May, it will be a year that I’ve been with Bath Iron Works as a sandblaster. I came in as a general laborer.  It’s an L4 position where you assist other trades.  You learn plasma cutting and torch cutting and grinding.  You assist other trades and you learn a little bit about what each trade does.  It gives you the opportunity to try things out and see what you want to do. It’s a difficult job without a doubt…I’ve always been somebody to challenge myself, that person where GIRLS don’t do that…well oh yea, I’ll show you that they do. That’s been my thing so when the position came up…it seemed like it would be a challenge, something to see if I’d like to do.  Keep up with the boys I guess. I love my job.  I love the crew that I work with, they’re like family.  It’s definitely a young person’s job. I won’t do it forever. It was a lot to learn. A lot of stress at the beginning. There are different levels of sandblasting I suppose but this is massive.  We blast the entire units to get them ready for paint.  So you know you get a three-inch hose, blasting out steel grit sometimes 120/150 pounds of pressure which is enough to blow you right over…which had happened. You learn to do what you must do.  Sometimes you are up on a three- to four-foot aluminum horse when you’re getting ready to blast and it could blow you off. So you learn ways to make sure you’re not blown off.  I had to learn this...

Missouri AFL-CIO Working to Take So-called ‘Right to Work’ Law to Ballot Box

The Missouri AFL-CIO and a coalition of local unions called “Preserve Middle Class America” are looking to gather enough signatures to place Missouri’s recently passed “right-to-work” to work law on the ballot in November 2018. The coalition wants to give voters the chance to weigh in on the issue after it was pushed through the GOP-controlled Legislature this year and signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. The coalition must gather enough signatures by August 25 to stop the law from taking effect and to place it on the ballot. Missouri residents can call a referendum on a new law by collecting signatures totaling five percent of voters from two-thirds of the state’s congressional districts. The new law, which was set to go into effect Aug. 28, would allow employees in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues for the cost of being represented. Greitens says the change will boost the state’s economy by attracting more businesses, a claim the facts show is not true. Efforts to pass a right-to-work law last year were stymied when Missouri’s former governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill. The referendum needs 140,000 signatures to get on the ballot, but the coalition is aiming to get around 300,000 to be safe. There are over 260,000 union members in Missouri, Ryan Burke, senior field representative with the AFL-CIO, who conducted a signature-gathering training at IBEW Local 1, said. “If you all just do your job, go back to your locals and your friends and family and collect your signatures, we can get there.” Since 1914, Missouri voters have had the chance to...

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