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Showing blog posts by Mike Hall

Mike Hall

I’m a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.

AFT’s Randi Weingarten: Teachers and Parents on the Same Page, New Movie 'Won't Back Down' Distorts the Truth

Parents and educators share a "sense of urgency" when it comes to improving schools and providing the best education possible for children, says AFT President Randi Weingarten. But teachers and their unions are part of the solution, not the problem, despite what the soon-to-be-released film, “Won’t Back Down,” says.

Weingarten rebutted the portrayal of teachers and teachers’ unions in “Won’t Back Down.” She writes:

Many people who see this film will be moved by the story and will feel this same sense of urgency. But the film uses blatant stereotypes and caricatures to blame teachers and their unions for all of the problems facing our schools. These stereotypes and caricatures are even worse than those in “Waiting for ‘Superman.’”

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Court Orders Ballot Spot for Michigan Collective Bargaining Initiative

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a proposal to preserve collective bargaining rights for Michigan workers be placed on the November ballot. The four-member Board of State Canvassers—two Republicans and two Democrats—had deadlocked on allowing the issue on the ballot. Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift says:

Corporate special interests pushed Lansing politicians to pressure the court leading up to the decision. But the court confirmed there is no legal reason to deny people the opportunity to vote on the proposal.

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Celebrate Labor Day and Save Money with Union Plus

Celebrate Labor Day and Save Money with Union Plus

Our friends at Union Plus want you to know that with Labor Day approaching, you can celebrate the benefits of your union membership with several money saving programs and, at the same time, support your union brothers and sisters who provide the services or make the goods.  

You can save money on wireless service and smartphones with AT&T, the only national unionized wireless provider. Go to and save 15 percent on select data and phone plans. In addition, when you use your Union Plus Credit Card to buy a smartphone from AT&T, you'll get a rebate up to $100.

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Find a Labor Day Celebration Near You

From San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday to New York City on Sept. 8, working families in hundreds of towns and cities will honor workers and the work they do that connects us all in Labor Day celebrations organized by local unions, central labor councils and state federations.

Here’s a look at a few events from traditional parades and picnics to political actions. Follow the links for information on each event and find a Labor Day event near you.

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Hey Paul Ryan, Your Budget Doesn’t Work for Families

Photo courtesy of Missouri Pro-Vote

Last night in Springfield, Mo., while more than 300 Republican insiders were paying up to $25,000 a head to hear a stump speech by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, more than 100 union and community activists were outside letting passersby know about Ryan’s and Mitt Romney’s plans to cut taxes for the wealthy and gut Medicare. Activists included members of the Springfield Central Labor Council, Missouri Pro-Vote, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Locals 6312 and 6355, Carpenters Local 978, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 453 and 753,  Letter carriers (NALC) Local 203, Missouri AFL-CIO, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans,, Planned Parenthood, Teamster Local 245 and United Transportation Union  retirees.

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‘Do-Nothing’ Congress? Pelosi Explains Why

Photo courtesy of

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans say they disapprove of the U.S. Congress, and for good reason, too, says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The current Congress is the least productive in history. But, says Pelosi in a column in USA Today:

The source of congressional inaction today is a Republican congressional leadership that cannot, or will not, govern; that will not put aside partisanship to work together.

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Cilento Re-Elected New York State AFL-CIO President

New York State AFL-CIO photo

New York State AFL-CIO (NYS AFL-CIO) President Mario Cilento was elected to a full four-year term by the delegates to the state federation’s convention in New York City this week. Cilento told the delegates that the state federation will mobilize the New York union movement’s 2.5 million members in the public sector, private sector and building trades. “We will educate and engage them year-round from Buffalo to Montauk and Plattsburgh to Brooklyn.”

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Texas Insurance Commissioner Sides with Health Insurance Companies, Not Consumers

One of the important consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act—the health care reform law that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to repeal—is that health insurance companies must clearly tell people what their policies cover and what they don’t when it comes to treatments, services and providers. 

In Texas, the withdrawal, by the state insurance commissioner, of new rules that would have helped consumers know if they were facing huge out-of-network costs when they are hospitalized shows why those protections in the Affordable Care Act are needed.

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Madison Mental Health Workers Vote for AFSCME

Nearly 300 workers at Journey Mental Health Center in Madison, Wis., voted overwhelmingly to join AFSCME Council 40 last week. The two groups that chose AFSCME are the professional staff and the center’s paraprofessional workers. Journey is a private, non-profit organization and the workers provide mental health services at nine sites in Dane County.

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Ryan’s Rage?

Photo by Dave Hoefler/Flickr

It’s darn hard to find an area where we and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan agree. But there is at least one. Ryan says he is a big fan of the band Rage Against the Machine. Who knew Ryan—the Ayn Rand disciple and worshipper of unfettered corporate power—could find common ground with Rage, which has made a career out of singing and fighting for progressive causes and against corporate greed?

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