Reclaim Our Liberty

This past weekend, AWA went to a a labor rally in New York City held by the AFL-CIO’s New York City Central Labor Council. This rally comes ahead of the oral arguments going before the Supreme Court in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Greetings!

This past weekend, AWA went to a a labor rally in New York City held by the AFL-CIO’s New York City Central Labor Council. This rally comes ahead of the oral arguments going before the Supreme Court in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

The issue is whether public employees in a unionized workplace are required to pay the fees that go toward bargaining on their behalf, even if they are not union members. These dues help provide the resources necessary to benefit union members, separate from political action. These non-union employees violate the collective freedom of speech of those who choose to join a union. This has been the Supreme Court’s position since 1977.

At the rally we heard from a number of labor leaders covering workers in local and state government, telecommunications, construction, painters, teachers, and college professors and staff in AFSCME, CWA, SEIU, RWDSU, the AFT, the IUPAT Painters, Jobs with Justice, and many others. They all spoke about the need to reclaim our liberty to associate freely from those seeking to infringe on it.

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In addition, we heard from Troy Walcott, a leader of the IBEW Local 3, whose members have been on strike for 11 months against the cable provider Spectrum. The giant corporation is seeking to cut the health benefits of its employees, despite generating billions of dollars in profit and granting a raise to their CEO recently. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also spoke as to how unions not only benefit their members but the general public as well.

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When union membership was at its highest, companies gave their employees generous salaries and benefits to offset the threat of their respective corporations becoming unionized. Thus everyone benefited.

The opposition to labor unions is funded by the same special interest groups that do not believe in paying a living wage, providing health benefits, or enforcing laws to combat racism and sexism.  They believe that corporate profit is important above all else, at the expense of the well-being of workers, product quality, and protecting the environment. There is little in place to check their belief and their actions towards this end.


IN OTHERS NEWS:

NEW- BRUNSWICK- United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) organized a protest on the Rutgers University campus demanding $15 an hour for student jobs on campus. Led by Mariah Wood, students and their allies including 15 NOW, New Labor, NJ Working Families, the NAACP, the NJ Work Environment Council, and others, marched in the streets of New Brunswick demanding this wage increase.

The situation is dire as a growing number of students on campus cannot afford food. Many are resorting to food pantries to get by, but the food pantries in New Brunswick are strained to keep up with the capacity. It is public knowledge that Rutgers has $700 million in reserves that could easily go toward raising students’ wages.

WASHINGTON- A union made up of political campaign staffers named the Campaign Workers Guild (CWG) had its first public call last night. They are planning to organize campaign staffers who often work under intense conditions to elect officials who will make the world a better place. The CWG had its first public victory recently when the staff of Randy Bryce, the labor leader running for Congress against Paul Ryan, was formally recognized as a union. This is a great step forward in providing better working conditions.

The CWG, similar to AWA, is seeking new models to assist 1099 contract workers who are not eligible under existing labor law to be recognized into a formal union. This is just one of the major reasons that labor law needs to be fundamentally transformed in the United States. However, this is not going happen under the existing conditions. We need to be at the forefront of organizing the communities that will take the lead in this fight.

To do so we need your help! Please get in touch with us if you’re interested in becoming a part of AWA or supporting our efforts. We seek to empower individuals who can improve their skills while helping us grow.

Take care,


Dan

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association
22 Carpenter Terrace N.
2 R
Belleville, NJ 07019
American.workforce1@gmail.com
(908) 421-1422
@American_Work1
Americanworkforce.net

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February Meeting

We had a productive meeting this past Sunday discussing the progress we have made. New members took part in an engaging discussion and some called in via video conference.

Hello everyone:

We had a productive meeting this past Sunday discussing the progress we have made. New members took part in an engaging discussion and some called in via video conference.

While moving ahead to formally establish ourselves will take time, we planned ways to benefit workers and roll out formal membership and benefits. We also discussed the advances we have made including updating our website and the growth of our listserv.

In addition, Sam Rigotti, who has joined our Board of Trustees, laid out a comprehensive fundraising plan for AWA to begin securing funding.

It was also announced that Roberto Sayers has agreed to join our Board of Trustees. Roberto is the Executive Secretary of CWA 1033 and was the Democratic candidate for council in South Plainfield last year.

I’m also happy to introduce Sayda Tuanama as our new Field Director. Sayda is a Peruvian American who has 22 years of experience with labor union SEIU 1199 as a Senior Lead Organizer. She has worked primarily in New York and New Jersey to mobilize workers and advocate for economic justice. She studied Civil Rights at the University of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega in Peru.

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This Saturday, February 24th, the AFL-CIO is holding a rally in New York City to support workers’ rights and unions as a whole. Increasing union membership is a proven way to raise economic standards.

AWA plans to go to the New York City rally from 11am to 1 pm in Foley Square, at 111 Worth St., New York, NY 10013. We hope you will join us, we’d love to have a great AWA showing there! We want to meet at the front door of Newark Penn Station at 10:15 am.

Please let us know if you can attend.

IN OTHERS NEWS:

A North Carolina judge has ordered Uber to name the drivers eligible to join a multi-state class action lawsuit alleging the company falsely classified employees as independent contractors. This is a great step forward for those fighting for economic justice.

Take care,

 

Dan

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association
22 Carpenter Terrace N.
2 R
Belleville, NJ 07019
American.workforce1@gmail.com
(908) 421-1422
@American_Work1

Please follow and like us:

Women’s March

Hello all:

We had a great time at the 2018 Women’s March in Morristown, NJ demonstrating with 15,000 fellow protesters in support of women’s rights.

A variety of leaders spoke including Saily Avelenda – leader of NJ 11th for Change, Liz Abzug, daughter of feminist icon Bella Abzug, Governor Phil Murphy, NJ Democratic Vice Chair and labor leader Lizette Delgado, and Mikie Sherill, who is running for Congress in the 11th district. The speakers elaborated on the need to fight against the Trump administration and the pervasive spirit of bigotry and hate that it has spurred.

AWA fully supports equal pay for equal work for all people as well as the strict enforcement of EEOC anti-discrimination and sexual harassment prevention measures that make the workplace equal for all.

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It was a great to march among allies for women’s rights, civil rights, labor leaders, Democratic officials, and Berniecrats, among others.

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The Latino Action Network’s legislative conference is going to be held February 3rd, 2018 at the Robert Treat Hotel from 8am to 4pm. A panel on workers’ rights is scheduled to be held during the conference. This will be a great opportunity to network, learn more about the issues facing the Hispanic community, and connect with allies. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman is confirmed to speak along with other progressive leaders in New Jersey. It is free for all to attend. Please register here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/latino-action-networks-2018-annual-legislative-conference-tickets-36906443165

In addition, the anti-Trump group Forward Not Back is holding a forum on economic issues on February 7th in Highland Park, NJ. State Senator Patrick Diegnan, along with Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, Jon Whiten, Vice President of prominent think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective will be the featured speakers.

https://m.facebook.com/events/1641250369268221/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%222%22%2C%22ref_dashboard_filter%22%3A%22calendar%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D&ref=bookmarks

Please attend. We seek to have a strong presence in order to promote our organization.

In terms of formal business, we have formally been incorporated in New Jersey. This is a great step forward as we seek to establish ourselves as leaders in the struggle for workers’ rights.

We are growing steadily as we build relationships with organizations and plan our strategy to address inequalities in the workplace, especially for temp workers. We are building a database we plan on featuring prominently on our website. Any suggestions that would help struggling workers would be appreciated.

Take care,

Dan

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association
22 Carpenter Terrace N.
2 R
Belleville, NJ 07019
American.workforce1@gmail.com
(908) 421-1422
@American_Work1
Americanworkforce.net

Please follow and like us:

The NLC Labor Summit and the Crumbling of New Jersey

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Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) addressed the NLC Labor Summit Saturday.

By Eddie Rivera

The New Leaders Council’s Labor Summit in Edison on Saturday was a reminder of how New Jersey needs to be a beacon of hope for the labor movement and how far it has fallen. The last eight years with Chris Christie as Governor have derailed the Garden State. New Jersey has fallen behind its neighboring states in every economic measure since the Great Recession. Its credit rating has been downgraded several times. The NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development has seen its budget nearly slashed to death and belittled in integrity. The bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour was vetoed last summer and the legislature did not override his veto. State residents are unable to make ends meet. It’s nearly impossible to survive with a low minimum wage and high tuition costs. Imagine raising kids while working three jobs and earning an education. This is a great injustice in a state as prosperous as ours.

In addition, Trump’s presidency has only made it worse. His appointment to the Supreme Court is likely to vote in favor of weakening labor unions while a similar bill is pending in Congress. The regulatory gains made by the Obama Administration in the face opposition are being turned back. His administration is stacked with plutocrats seeking to benefits their cronies at the expense of the American people. As Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) pointed out, there are a handful of individuals in the United States Congress who have been in a labor union.

This weekend’s summit was a reminder to on its laurels in the long war against Hypercapitalism when small gains are achieved. Now is the time to fight for the preservation of the Labor Movement in New Jersey and the country as a whole. We as a state cannot continue to move backward. Now is the opportunity to turn the page and move forward back to the progressive values we in the Garden State hold dear. With so much diversity, New Jersey needs to demonstrate progressivism in all areas of public policy. Each of the panelists has expressed their views on labor with much thought and deliberation.

Without labor, New Jersey cannot function. We need reform to continue robust activity within the transportation, manufacturing, health, education, and customer service sectors. Everyone should be entitled to pension and benefits in their respective fields. I urge everyone to continue the fight for a better New Jersey. Eight years of falling behind the rest of the nation has gone long enough. Let us all come together and make all our dreams come true once again.

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Chicago Teachers Union and Allies Set to Strike Tomorrow

The Chicago Teachers Union and allies plan to strike tomorrow to protest economic and civil rights issues.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and their allies plan to strike tomorrow, April 1, for one day to protest economic and civil rights issues plaguing Chicago. The CTU has been operating without a contracts for nearly a year as negotiations have dragged on with no end in sight.

Allies such as Fight for $15 which seeks to raise the minimum wage will be joining the teachers in protesting at various sites across the city. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten plans to attend a “teach-in” at Northeastern Illinois University to highlight funding issues in higher education. Other groups will highlight civil rights issues.

CTU is a local of the American Federation of Teachers.

The strike has been declared illegal by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). But CTU members feel that since that have not been receiving their legally mandated raises, their contract is invalid.

No actions have been taken thus far to prevent the strike.

Pushed to the brink

Due to budgetary constraints, CPS has been forced to lay off thousands of teachers and make significant budgetary cuts over the last few years. Some schools operate with no regular nurse to treat ill students, programs for special needs children have been closed, and many after school programs for children have been shut down as well.

This is only the latest in a series of attacks on public sector unions across the nation. The catch here is that the union’s opponent is not a Republican in the city of Chicago, but rather Mayor Rahm Emmanuel who served as a senior aide in the Clinton Administration.

Emmanuel has been an opponent of public sector unions since first taking office in 2011. He was previously close to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) who attempted to push anti-labor laws through the legislature. Rauner made millions in the private equity market before entering politics.

While under attack from Emmanuel, CTU elected new leaders who have reinvigorated the union at time when many union locals suffer from similar issues.

“A lot of unions have stopped using strikes as weapons. But striking is the most powerful weapon we have. I think our strike in 2012 started to re-energize labor; I hope that continues,” said Sarah Chambers, a member of CTU’s executive board. “We have to actually energize every single union, every single workplace, so our members, the rank and file, are the ones leading these actions.

The CTU has successfully built public support in its fight against Emmanuel by embracing civil rights issues, including the most recent controversy over the shooting of Laquan McDonald 17 times by a police officer. Since the issue over McDonald’s death erupted, Emmanuel’s popularity rating has plummeted.

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SCOTUS Nominee has Pro-Labor Record

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has had a consistently pro-labor record as a judge

President Barack Obama chose Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, this week to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

At the ceremony announcing Garland’s nomination Obama declared that “I have selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency modesty, integrity, evenhandedness and excellence.”

While on the bench Garland has been a proponent of judicial restraint in which the judiciary should defer to the Executive Branch. Thus, he supported EPA regulations that require corporations to reduce mercury emissions, regardless of cost. By the same token, he supported 22 pro-labor decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

However, on four cases Garland shied away from his philosophy of judicial restraint in favor of pro-labor policies.

The fact that Garland is far friendlier to labor unions than Scalia ever was has serious consequences for unions. Any Supreme Court pick by Obama would likely have ruled on labor’s side when it came to the Freidrichs v. California Teachers Association case which the Supreme Court recently began hearing arguments. Had Scalia lived, the court would have reached a 5-4 ruling against public sector unions and cut off member contributions, a major source of union funds.

Now, the Supreme Court will be split on a decision 4-4 and thus the lower court’s decision in favor of unions will likely remain in place.

Who is Merrick Garland?

Garland is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals. Educated at Harvard for both his bachelor’s and law degree, he served in the Justice Department during both the Carter and Clinton Administrations. After serving in the Justice Department, he received his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

So he’s pretty qualified.

In choosing Garland, Obama sought a figure who would have an impeccable resume and ideally bipartisan support since he previously praised publicly by Senators such as Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who has fought against labor rights for years.

What Happens Next?

It’s going to be a rough fight. In an era of gridlock inducing issues, a Supreme Court nomination is one of the biggest. Since Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, the opposing party has called the decisions of any nominee “too liberal or “too conservative” and many have been defeated. The process has become so dramatic they’re making a movie about it.

Prominent Democrats have already started rallying behind Garland as the first steps to confirming Garland. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, United Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry have all issued statements supporting Garland. Henry said regarding Garland that “His records shows that he believes in the duty of government to protect regular Americans, and our democracy, from being corrupted by the excesses of the super wealthy and their corporate agenda.”

Senate Republicans have already forcefully declared that any nomination made Obama would be blocked. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).have they will not even allow the Senate to consider Garland.

Unless Obama tries to build a wall on the Mexican border himself, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get Garland confirmed.

 

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