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Janus and the war on unions

It’s no secret that Big Business and those who profit from it have long harbored a grudge against working people and their unions, often resorting to some shameless and desperate tactics to erode workers’ rights, wages, pensions, and benefits in order to grab an even bigger share of the nation’s prosperity for themselves. An important battle in this war is currently being fought in the Supreme Court in a case called Janus v. AFSCME.

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Statement by Chairman Pearce on 80th Anniversary of the NLRA

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In the eighty years since the National Labor Relations Act was enacted, the workplace has changed in ways that President Roosevelt never could have imagined when he declared that the goal of the law was “common justice and economic advance” for all. Yet his signature so long ago guaranteed that one thing would and has remained the same -- democracy has a rightful place in the workplace.

Enacted in midst of the Great Depression, the National Labor Relations Act gave workers an avenue to join together to improve their wages and working conditions. The ability to organize and bargain collectively put more money in the pockets of workers while helping build - and maintain - the middle-class.  

Through good times and bad, the Act has offered workers a voice in their workplace and promoted industrial peace. Our country and workplaces have changed over the last eight decades, but the need for the Act has remained a constant.

Today, the law continues to protect employees who seek to improve their working conditions by joining together, with or without a labor union. It protects the union member seeking to improve conditions at their plant just the same as it does the single-mom in a non-union workplace working the night shift who speaks with coworkers about their pay and work hours. And through collective bargaining, unions and employers can resolve their differences  and devise solutions to meet the challenges of our ever-changing economy.

While there is little doubt that the workplace will bear little resemblance in eighty years to what we know today, there is even less doubt that workers will deserve and demand a voice in it.  As long as there is the NLRA, that voice will be protected.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act on July 5, 1935, which among other things established a new independent agency tasked with enforcing the Act, the National Labor Relations Board.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act on July 5, 1935, which among other things established a new independent agency tasked with enforcing the Act, the National Labor Relations Board.

The Vice President Warns the Right is "Intent On Breaking" Labor Unions

Vice President Joe Biden spoke before the leading firefighters' union this week, The Huffington Post reported. Among other things, he discussed the war the right is waging on organized labor.

"There is a concentrated, well-organized, well-paid, well-funded effort to undermine organized labor," the vice president said. "And they've been remarkably successful. You, labor writ large, are the only thing that stands between the people's interest and the special interests owning it all. They know without you it's a clear shot at whatever they want. That's why they're so intent on breaking you."

Read the full article below:

Wisconsin Lawmakers Pass Right-To-Work Bill As Thousands Protest

The Huffington Post reported today that, despite wide protests, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin State Senate fast-tracked a bill that would make the state the 25th "right-to-work" state in the U.S.. Gov. Scott Walker, a vocal opponent of labor, has promised to sign the bill if it passed.

This is not only a sad day for the working people of Wisconsin, but a blow to organized labor across the country, as now one half of our nation's fifty states have drank the Kool-Aid that is "right-to-work."

This comment from "Sevenninetyeight Member" says it all:

"I've worked both Union and non Union as a pipefitter and welder. Working non Union, my wages varied from $12 to $15 per hour. I had to furnish all small hand tools, welding hood, gloves, safety glasses and hard had. I had to pay a weekly premium for my health insurance. My last non Union welding job consisted of 50 hours a week in a fabrication shop. After taxes, my take home was $432 a week. 

Working as a Union pipe fitter, I furnish no tools, no hard hat, not safety glasses, and pay no weekly premiums out of my negotiated wage. My wages average, depending on state, between $25 and $30 per hour. My average take home is around $800. 

As a non Union employee, if any tool is lost, stolen or broken, I had to replace it out of pocket. 

As a Union employee, the company furnishes. 

These companies are saving more than just hourly wages. They are passing along tool costs and insurance cost to workers.

In the end, the worker loses. 

Good luck, Wisconsin."


Protecting Your Right to Organize

Two United States Congressmen, Representatives Keith Ellison, D. Minn., and John Lewis, D. Ga., have proposed legislation to increase protections for workers who are trying to join a labor union. Calling their proposed law, the Employee Empowerment Act, it would make union organizing a civil right.

The Employee Empowerment Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to include these protections for labor empowerment activities and allow workers who face discrimination to pursue litigation in civil court and receive compensatory and punitive damages

See more at here



Advancing Employment for People with Disabilities

Expect. Employ. Empower.

On April 30, 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor announced the 2014 official theme of National Disability Employment Awareness Month: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Observed in October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and honors the many diverse contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

"We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. "This year's theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It's about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation."


More information is available at:

Raising the Minimum Wage

U.S. Labor Secretary Perez has taken a stance in support of raising the minimum wage. She states, “Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would benefit 28 million workers. And, as I've seen in my travels across the country, many employers see higher wages as an investment that makes good business sense. Raising the federal minimum wage is the right thing to do for our workers and the smart thing to do for our economy.” 

Union workers and union employers have known this for many years – when workers are paid a fair wage, their productivity, loyalty, and overall performance increases, which in turn, benefits the employer.


Read more of Secretary Perez’s statement here: