Friday, February 29, 2008

Support the Healthy Families Act

The American Association of University Women strongly supports the Healthy Families Act (S. 910/H.R. 1542). The bill provides full-time employees with seven paid sick days a year to be used for their own medical needs or to tend to the medical needs of a child, spouse or parent. Part-time employees would receive a pro-rated share of paid sick days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks of the flu continued to increase in recent weeks, with 49 states reporting widespread flu activity. However, millions of Americans still do not have the option of taking a sick day to care for family members or themselves without putting their jobs, their health care benefits, or their family stability at risk.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of American private-sector workers, including 21 million women, have no paid sick days. Only one in three has paid sick days for doctors' appointments or to care for a child. Low-wage workers are especially hard hit, with three in four workers without any paid sick days. A study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 27 percent of low income workers put off getting health care because they cannot take time off from work, and 18 percent of women at all income levels face this situation.

Half of working mothers, who most often provide the lion's share of family care giving, report that they must miss work and often go without pay when caring for a sick child. With more than a third of Americans already experiencing significant elder care responsibilities, coupled with the aging of the baby boomers, the problem is likely to worsen in the years ahead.

Many of you have already contacted our representative and senators about this legislation. However, until this law is passed, we need to keep the pressure on Congress to ensure that American workers will be able to care for themselves and their families.

Take Action!
To urge our senators to cosponsor the Healthy Families Act, just click on this "Take Action" link and follow the instructions to send a message to our U.S. Senators. If your senators have already signed on as cosponsors, you will be able to send them a message of thanks.

For more information, read AAUW's position paper on family friendly workplaces.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 28, 1918. Little Rock City Firemen’s Union #15645 admitted as Local 34 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. John Kerwin elected IAFF Vice President representing the 10th District.

February 28, 1942. Susie Morris, a Dunbar High School teacher in Little Rock, files complaint in federal court to challenge lower wage scales for Negro teachers and administrators.

February 28, 1859. Arkansas legislature enacts requirement that free blacks in Arkansas choose between exile from the state or being bound into slavery.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 23, 1915. Fred Holt, Secretary of UMWA District 21, writes from jail at Fort Smith to Eugene Debs that he and his comrades are doing the best they can in mining strike, but that the government is doing everything in its power to smash it.

February 23, 1931. Jim Fork Coal Company loses bid to overturn Greenwood District award of $900 to coal miner injured by falling rock after company ignored request for props for three days.

February 23, 1906. J. T. Thompson, a prominent farmer near Tillar, was taken into custody by Deputy United States Marshal Morton on a charge of olding plantation workers in peonage for a hearing before the United States Commissioner at Pine Bluff.

February 23, 1905. The Little Rock Baptist Advance, the state publication of the Southern Baptists, advocated only manual labor and industrial training for Negro workers, because the race "does not need the same schooling that the white race does."

February 23, 2006. United Steelworkers Local 1671 President Mike McClain says complaint filed with NLRB charging that National Wire Fabric plant in Star City was asking striking employees to cross picket line in exchange for promotions.

February 23, 1935. Rev. Ashton B. Jones kidnapped and beaten for supporting unemployed workers in FERA strike, Fort Smith.

February 23, 1935. Jennie Lee and Naomi Mitchison lead Southern Tenant Farmers Union march of 1,500 sharecroppers through Marked Tree.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 20, 1945. Fort Smith Local of Flat Glass Workers (CIO) sends telegram to state legislators arguing that double primary bills to effectively disenfranchise blacks are "at odds with democratic principles."

February 20, 1950. Arkansas Supreme Court reverses injunction against peaceful picketing of Jefferson Coffee Shop in Texarkana by Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Union.

February 20, 1963. In rare occurrence, Federal Judge John Miller rules in favor of United Furniture Workers, Local 270, that Fort Smith Couch & Bedding must arbitrate wage disputes under 1962 collective bargaining agreement.

Monday, February 18, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 18, 1935. George Clifton Edwards Jr., 20-year old field organizer for the League for Industrial Democracy, arrested and jailed on charge of barratry for leading march of striking relief workers in Fort Smith. Later nominated by President John F. Kennedy to the United State Court of Appeals and renominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson, confirmed in 1963 and served as Chief Judge 1979-1983.

February 18, 1916. UMWA coal miner Fred Strope severely injured by gas explosion in Clarksville mine of Sterling Anthracite Coal Company and died 11 days later. Sterling denied any fault or responsibility for the accident or for his death, although their fire boss had marked area free of gas before the explosion.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Health Care for Working Families

Poll after poll shows that working families view health care as one of the most important issues facing our country today.

But we know these polls only tell part of the story. We want to know more—more about how the health care system affects you and your family.

Do you and your family have health care coverage? Does your health insurance cover all the care you need at a price you can afford? Has an insurance company initially refused to cover a medical treatment for you or a family member that should have been covered? And what do you think overall about today’s health care system? How important will health care be to you as a voting issue this year?

The AFL-CIO's 2008 Health Care for America Survey gives you the chance to make your voice heard and ensures that leaders and candidates at every level understand what working families are experiencing.

All individual survey responses are kept completely confidential.

Click here to take the 2008 Health Care for America Survey.

Be sure to share your health care story and send the survey to friends and family.

The compiled survey results will be given to the presidential candidates, every U.S. senator and representative, every candidate for Congress and state and local officials in every state in our country.

Take the survey and tell us your story. In addition, read health care stories from other working people and get the “hot facts” on health care.

No one should go without health care. The 2008 elections will give us the chance to show that Americans are ready for real change. Working families can be a big force behind winning secure, high-quality health care for all by 2009 if we make the 2008 elections a mandate for health care reform.

Take the 2008 Health Care for America Survey today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 13, 1935. Horace P. Bryan of Greenwood, state organizer for the Unemployed Council, arrested for anarchy in organizing a march of striking relief workers in Fort Smith, protesting wage cuts by Sebastian County and state office of Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

Honor the Past, Work for Our Future

The day before his death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.” It’s a message we must never forget: We have the power to bring positive change to our country.

Dr. King was not only a visionary champion for civil rights but he was also a strong supporter of unions and a leader in the fight for workers’ rights. As we prepare for the political fight of our lives this election year, it’s time to celebrate Black History Month and honor Dr. King’s legacy.

Witness Dr. King’s leadership in the struggle for economic and social justice with labor historian Michael K. Honey’s landmark book, Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign.

And see “At the River I Stand,” a gripping documentary that reconstructs the bitter 65-day sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tenn., and shows the deep connection between the struggle for civil rights and workers’ rights. The institution of slavery in our past continues to shape the owners' plantation mentality of the rights of workers and our struggle for human dignity in the South.

Also be sure to check out everything The Union Shop Online has to offer—every product is proudly Union Made in the USA.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Deltic Contests Small Fine in Worker Death

Deltic Timber Corp. has been fined only $13,500 for three serious safety violations at its sawmill near Waldo after a fire last August 9th killed one worker and critically injured two others. OSHA listed the three violations as "serious," the designation for violations having a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm.

Sawmill worker Darrell Richards suffered burns on most of his body and died September 1 at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis. Co-workers Andy Emerson and Billy Pope were injured and hospitalized in serious condition at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. All three men were listed in critical condition, and Emerson and Pope have not yet been able to return to work.

Deltic Timber, which had net income of $11.1 million on net sales of $128.25 million in sales last year, is contesting the $13,500 fine. The corporation, based in El Dorado, owns more than 400,000 acres of timberland in Arkansas and northern Louisiana, operates sawmills in Waldo and Ola, Arkansas, and is engaged in real estate development in Little Rock and Hot Springs.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 9, 1989. Judge Perry Whitmore rules that Arkansas courts would not enforce labor union fines against members who crossed picket line and scabbed during a strike by their fellow union workers.

February 9, 2006. Boeing said it appreciated "the professionalism and the outstanding performance by the Boeing employees in Melbourne," then said it will close its Arkansas plant in June, dumping 103 UAW Local 1482 workers under contract through 2007.

February 9, 1948. Investigators go into Sunshine coal mine at Greenwood seeking cause of explosion that killed eight UMWA miners yesterday, believed to be worst coal mine disaster in Arkansas since 10 miners died in an explosion at Bates in 1940.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Unions on Election 2008

AFL-CIO affiliates play a crucial role in educating and engaging 10.5 million union members, including 2 million members in Working America, it's new community affiliate, and their families about what's at stake for working families in elections. Watch this space: As the election season heats up, more AFL-CIO unions will be covering the issues that will get working families to the polls—and the candidates' positions on them.

Already some AFL-CIO unions have sponsored candidate forums focused on working family issues.

More than 800 AFSCME members and retirees attended a Democratic Presidential Forum on working family issues in Carson City, Nev., on Feb. 21. Sponsored by AFSCME and moderated by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the forum included candidates Joe Biden, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Tom Vilsack. Find out more.

AFSCME has endorsed Clinton for president.

On May 16, the AFT hosted Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and John Edwards at their Executive Council meeting. On their presidential campaign site, "AFT: You Decide 2008," members were asked to send in questions they most wanted the candidates to answer. AFT selected seven questions out of more than 750 submissions. Find out more.

AFT has endorsed Clinton for president.


The Amalgamated Transportation Union has endorsed Clinton for president.

The Bricklayers union has endorsed
Clinton for president.

Letter Carriers
The Letter Carriers union has endorsed
Clinton for president.

The Machinists hosted four presidential candidates at its 2007 National Staff Conference. IAM members heard from Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee and Dennis Kucinich. Check out video of the event here.

The IAM has endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary and Huckabee in the Republican primary.

Office and Professional Employees
The Office and Professional Employees union has endorsed Clinton for president.

Painters and Allied Trades
The Painters and Allied Trades union has endorsed
Clinton for president.

Sheet Metal Workers
The Sheet Metal Workers union has endorsed Clinton for president.

The TCU/IAM has endorsed Clinton for president.

Theatrical Stage Employees

The Theatrical Stage Employees union has endorsed Clinton for president.

United Transportation Union
The United Transportation Union has endorsed
Clinton for president.

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 5, 1904. Birthdate of John Handcox at Brinkley, and became the voice of the sharecropper through his poems and songs for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.

February 5, 2003. Assistant U.S. Attorney John MacCoon said Tyson conspiracy "trial is about corporate greed" in hiring illegal aliens because plant managers couldn't hire legal production workers at the company's low wages.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Richard Drake on Labor's Voice

We know well that Hollywood movies and commercial television entertainment dismiss working class Americans. Only independent bloggers seem to care whether workers are included in the media conversation. Local journalist and community leader Richard Drake, who was recently awarded the AFSCME Local 965 Community Service Award for Electronic Media, has an interesting item on his Street Jazz blog today. He has some suggestions for improving corporate news coverage of workers' views and voices, and here's an example of his wisdom and what he has to say:

Working class? You've got nothing to say!

News organizations don’t have much use for working class voters - or their views - unless they can safely put them into a sort of giant sack for a story.

Here in Detroit, the auto workers are feeling the pain from foreign car makers . . .

Or maybe they’ll talk about Latino unions....

It would be kind of nice, I think, for working class folks to be represented a little more often - all right, a lot more often - in the media than they are. Lets include some working class (and union) folk on television panels about the economy, for god’s sake.

It might be nice to have some people who can address issues in a down to earth manner, rather than having to listen to folks so busy kissing their own butts they forget there are real issues confronting Americans.

But hey, it would be nice if local news stations would bother to include working class voices, as well.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Union Membership Jumps in 2007

Union membership grew last year, despite employer opposition. If given the chance, says the AFL-CIO, 60 million American workers say they would join a union. Now we have unbiased evidence of just how true this is: Union membership in the United States grew – overall – by 311,000 members last year, according to this report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics .

As noted in Think Progress, this is the first increase in 25 years and the largest single-year increase in overall membership since 1979 – a jump from 12.0 percent in 2006 to 12.1 percent in 2007. AFSCME Local 965 at the University of Arkansas grew by more than 10% last year. Nationally, 47,000 new workers chose AFSCME as their union in 2007.

"AFSCME’s growth, which has been consistent even during challenging times, is now part of a broader trend that’s spreading throughout the union movement," said President Gerald W. McEntee. “The labor movement will continue to grow and workers will prosper as more unions make organizing and politics top priorities, as AFSCME does. More than half of all workers say they would join a union right now if they could, which is why Congress must pass the Employee Free Choice Act, giving workers the freedom to join without interference from their employers.”

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

February 1, 1886. Beginning of the labor press in Arkansas. The Industrial Liberator, official organ of the Arkansas Assembly of the Knights of Labor, published by the Industrial Printing Company with Daniel F Thompson as editor.

February 1, 1899. Strike by miners throughout Sebastian county. Kansas & Texas Coal Company at Huntington quickly responded and increased tensions when it "employed a great many negroes...shipped by carloads from other fill the places of the strikers."

February 1, 1909. Legislative Act requires corporations doing business in Arkansas to pay employees semi-monthly, to secure frequent payment of wages earned to those who are dependent on their wages for their livelihood.

February 1, 1954. Arkansas Supreme Court holds there is no constitutional prohibition against a labor union bargaining away the right to strike or picket and upholds an injunction against Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 249.

February 1, 1935. Volunteer organizer Bob Reed dragged from Southern Tenant Farmers Union meeting in church at Gilmore and pistol-whipped by plantation riding bosses.

February 1, 1941. President J. R. Butler and Secretary Blaine Treadway report to 7th annual Southern Tenant Farmers Union convention in Little Rock that government ownership or government financed coops are the only hope for returning displaced sharecroppers to the land.