Profiling African American Labor Champions: The Working People Weekly List

February 8, 2019

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.

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is Arlene Holt Baker."

AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at our past profiles."

Writers Unite!: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with writers organizing and winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

The State of the Union Is…: "When President Donald Trump takes to the House floor to deliver his State of the Union address this evening, we hope to hear a concrete plan to fund the government and make the economy work for those of us who work the hardest. But so far, his actions in office suggest otherwise. Ahead of the big speech, let’s break down his record."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Air Line Pilots Association: "Next up in our series of taking a deeper look at each of the AFL-CIO's unions is the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 affiliates."

Thousands of NASA Contractors Still Without Pay After 5-week Shutdown. Can Congress Step In?: "Contractors are at the mercy of the deals that companies sign with federal agencies. In the case of the Space Coast and NASA, several workers represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 in Cape Canaveral, including [Dan] Faden, say their contracts have changed in recent years to cut out the provision that previously guaranteed them back pay in the event of a shutdown. Some of the 600 Space Coast contractors represented by the union have already been told outright they won’t see those two paychecks. Others are in limbo, waiting for their companies to determine if they can scrape together back pay."

Hundreds of Federal Workers Haven’t Received Back Pay from Shutdown: Report: "Numerous federal workers still owed back pay have not received all of the compensation they are due from the recent 35-day partial government shutdown, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The news outlet spoke to workers from various agencies that were shuttered from the end of December and through much of January, a period during which hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed two paychecks. Michael Walter, who does food safety inspections for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), told the AP that he got his back pay on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the shutdown ended. Two co-workers told him they had not yet received back pay."

SAG-AFTRA Launches Podcast; First Two Episodes Available Now: "SAG-AFTRA today announced the launch of the SAG-AFTRA podcast. Hosted by President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White, each episode features in-depth interviews, industry insights and compelling stories affecting the entertainment and media industry. The podcast soft launched in January with the introductory episode 'Making a Revolution.' The next two episodes are available now with subsequent releases available every other Tuesday. 'We are so excited to bring this podcast to the members. It is an opportunity for us to discuss the critical issues that affect our livelihoods within the industry, and will help us to continue laying the groundwork for the future,' said Carteris."

Raise the Wage Act Would Hike Salaries for 40 Million: "Backed by a wide range of unions and women’s groups, veteran lawmakers, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act—a measure designed to put enforcement 'teeth' into the nation’s 56-year-old equal pay law....The Coalition of Labor Union Women enthusiastically backed the Paycheck Fairness Act and helped ensure every House Democrat, plus one Republican is a co-sponsor....Other union signers were the AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, the Government Employees (AFGE), both teachers’ unions, Graphic Communications Conference Local 24M/9N, IBEW District 3 and Local 29, the Machinists, the Auto Workers, the Letter Carriers, the Steel Workers and their District 10 and Local 1088, the Mine Workers, IATSE, the Service Employees and their Local 668, the Transport Workers."

Golden Invites Maine AFL-CIO Leader to Trump's State of the Union Speech: "In a move meant to send a message to Maine’s blue-collar workers, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden invited Cynthia Phinney of Livermore Falls, president of Maine’s AFL-CIO, to be his guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. 'One of my top priorities in Congress is fighting for Maine’s working people,' the 2nd Congressional District Democrat said Friday. 'That’s something Cynthia has done every day for decades.' 'I am feeling tremendously honored,' Phinney said Friday. She said 'it’s a big deal' to be among the few able to attend “this most symbolic and substantial event.'"

GM to Start Laying Off 4,000 Salaried Workers on Monday: "Layoffs for about 4,000 salaried staff at General Motors are due to start Monday—a previously announced move that comes just as President Donald Trump prepares to trumpet American manufacturing at next week's State of the Union address. The layoffs are part of a 15% reduction in white collar jobs in North America that the automaker first announced back in November. At the same time, it announced plans to close four U.S. plants as well as a fifth in Canada."

Being a Union Member Offers Opportunities: "There are certainly many arguments regarding the pros and cons of unions. I spent time engaging with these arguments during my training to become a social scientist. Ultimately, I began to see the issue of union membership differently as I transitioned from primarily identifying as a student to identifying as a worker. Some economist's detached perspective on unions seemed much less important after I personally encountered issues with working conditions, wages or benefits across different employers. I came to a point where I was ready to join a union, and fortunately one was available to me."