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Showing blog posts by Kenneth Quinnell

Kenneth Quinnell

I am a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist.  Before joining the AFL-CIO in 2012, I worked as labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars.  Previous experience includes Communications Director for the Darcy Burner for Congress Campaign and New Media Director for the Kendrick Meek for Senate Campaign, founding and serving as the primary author for the influential state blog Florida Progressive Coalition and more than 10 years as a college instructor teaching political science and American History.  My writings have also appeared on Daily Kos, Alternet, the Guardian Online, Media Matters for America, Think Progress, Campaign for America's Future and elsewhere.  I am the proud father of three future progressive activists, an accomplished rapper and karaoke enthusiast.

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Survey: Incoming College Football Players Support Unionization

Photo courtesy West Point on Flickr

In an ESPN survey of the top incoming college football recruits for the 2015 season, well over half of the respondents (60%) favored the right of college athletes to form unions to address their concerns as student-athletes. More than 85% said athletes should receive stipends from the schools they play for. ESPN sent the survey to the top 300 recruits for 2015 and more than 150 responded.

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The Voice of Thomas the Tank Engine Quits Over 'Survival' Wages

Photo courtesy Ollie Brown on Flickr

The song "Rules and Regulations" from the popular children's television show "Thomas the Tank Engine" contains these lines:

Although sometimes you'll find it so hard
And the wrong way may seem easier
It doesn't matter who you are
Obey the rules and you'll go far

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Bloomsbury, N.J., Subway Workers Vote to Join Union

Photo courtesy Chapstickaddict on Flickr

Notoriously anti-union Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) can't be happy about this story. Haslam's family owns Pilot Flying J, a chain of travel centers, and workers at a Subway sandwich shop in Bloomsbury, N.J., just voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Earlier this year, Haslam was one of the key players in the effort to defeat a union vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. The company run by his brother, Jimmy, hasn't been as successful in denying workers their rights, as other workers at the Bloomsbury Pilot Flying J location voted to join RWDSU earlier this year.

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AFGE Applauds Move to Reduce Federal Prison Overcrowding

Photo courtesy Julie Tuason on Flickr

AFGE issued a release today in support of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's (USSC's) unanimous vote on Friday to allow federal prisoners serving time for low-level drug offenses to apply for early release. Overcrowding in federal prisons has become a significant problem in recent decades. AFGE notes that federal prison incarceration levels have risen 50% since 2000, and nearly 900% since 1980, much of it relating to drug sentences. The federal prison system is overcrowded by an average of 43%, with some prisons being much higher, and this increases dangers for both correctional officers working in the prisons and inmates.

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Netroots Nation: How We Won the Janet Yellen Fight

Photo courtesy IMF on Flickr

The chair of the Federal Reserve is by many accounts the second most powerful person in the United States after the president, but what the Federal Reserve does is a mystery to most Americans. Last year, there was an unusual public debate about who President Barack Obama should appoint as chairman of the Federal Reserve to replace departing chair Ben Bernanke. Bernanke’s vice chair, Janet Yellen, a renowned economist, had worked with Bernanke to prevent a second Great Depression, and it was widely expected that President Obama would appoint her. Then, suddenly, it seemed as though former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, with the backing of powerful Wall Street Democrats, was going to get the job. Then, equally suddenly, Summers withdrew his name, paving the way for President Obama to appoint Yellen as the first woman chair of the Fed.

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5 Things that Have Changed Since the Federal Minimum Wage Was Last Increased

5 Things that Have Changed Since the Federal Minimum Wage Was Last Increased

The federal minimum wage was last increased on July 24, 2009, and since then, a lot has changed (don’t forget tipped workers haven’t seen a raise since 1991). There have been so many attacks on working families since that time that it would be difficult to catalog them all. But workers and their allies haven't taken the attacks sitting down, and many are finding new ways to organize and stand up for their rights. 

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11 Ways the 'Schedules that Work' Act Would Make the Lives of Working Families Better

11 Ways the 'Schedules that Work' Act Would Make the Lives of Working Families Better

On Tuesday, Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the "Schedules That Work" Act to provide federal guidelines for making sure that employers offer fair, flexible and reliable schedules for working families who are often left in difficult situations because of erratic employer scheduling. Miller said the act is about "dignity" and ensuring workers can earn a decent living and meet family responsibilities.

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Union Plus Sponsors $20,000 Student Loan Contest

Union Plus Sponsors $20,000 Student Loan Contest

In its continuing mission to find new ways to serve union members and their families, Union Plus is sponsoring a contest to help three winners pay off a portion of their student loan debt. The Grand Prize winner will receive $10,000 toward their student loan obligations, while there also will be two $5,000 prizes for runners-up.  The contest also will give way other prizes, including courses, consultations and books provided by the Princeton Review.

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Can Small Victories Lead to Large Victories? Winners and Losers of the Week

Can Small Victories Lead to Large Victories? Winners and Losers of the Week

In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.

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Trumka: Working Families Stand with President Obama Against Workplace Discrimination

Photo courtesy Adam Fagen on Flickr

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement today proclaiming the federation's support for an executive order issued by President Obama protecting federal employees and employees of federal contractors against discrimination based on gender identity.  

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