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AFL-CIO Now

Working Families Say Lame Duck Can’t Bargain Away Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

Ohio AFL-CIO photo

Thursday morning outside Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) Cincinnati office (see photo), a young single mother and her son, Vincent, who has severe disabilities, talked about the vital role Medicaid plays in their lives and how devastating any cuts to that health care lifeline would be.

The action was just one of more than 100 last week by working family activists urging Congress not to agree to a so-called “grand bargain” of deficit reduction in the upcoming lame-duck session that includes Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefit cuts.

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Last-Minute Shoppers, Check Out a Union-Made in America Easter Shopping List

Last-Minute Shoppers, Check Out a Union-Made in America Easter Shopping List

Easter is this weekend, so if you're scrambling to do some last-minute shopping, here’s a good place to start from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411

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Fight for Fair Wages Continues in Haiti

Photo by Cesar de la Cruz

Even before a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated much of the country in 2010, many Haitians struggled to earn anything close to a living wage. As the country continues to rebuild, one strategy embraced by the United States and Haitian governments has been the development of export-oriented industries, particularly apparel. The apparel sector has grown by more than 45% since the earthquake. In 2013, the industry represented 9% of Haiti’s GDP and 89% of its export earnings. Unfortunately, these gains are not reaching workers.

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Encouraging Economic Leadership

Fed Chair Janet Yellen

This week, Janet Yellen made her second major speech as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank. Again, her talk as chair is fresh air compared with what is typically heard from Fed chairs. During her first speech in April in Chicago, she actually called out the names of specific unemployed workers—putting a human face on the real effects of Fed policy.

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Kellogg Locked Out Kevin to Cut Costs, Paid CEO $8 Million

Kellogg Locked Out Kevin to Cut Costs, Paid CEO $8 Million

For 13 years Kevin worked at the Kellogg Co.’s Memphis, Tenn., cereal plant, until the company locked out him and 225 of his co-workers in October. While they missed the rest of the year’s paychecks—and continue to do so—Kellogg CEO John Bryant pocketed nearly $8 million in 2013 compensation, reports the AFL-CIO’s 2014 Executive PayWatch.

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Unscrupulous Employers Take Advantage of Immigrant Workers in H-2B Visa Program

Samuel Rosales Rio came to the United States from Mexico under an H-2B visa to work at a food stand in a traveling carnival. When he arrived, he and his co-workers, most of whom also entered the country under the H-2B program, wound up working 16 to 17 hours a day in the sweltering heat for as little as $1 an hour. Workers were only provided a single meal each day and the meager wages made it impossible to supplement. Under the H-2B program, employers are supposed to provide adequate housing, but workers reported sleeping in overcrowded trailers infested with fleas and bedbugs without a place to wash. Rosales wound up in the hospital as a result of dehydration and infections from bug bites.

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Here’s What We’re Reading: Thursday News Roundup

Here’s What We’re Reading: Thursday News Roundup

Here are some headlines from the working family’s news we're reading today (after the jump).

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Why Aren’t We Having a Public Debate on Investment Policies in the TTIP?

In early March, the AFL-CIO joined 42 other organizations representing labor, business, public health, environmental concerns, consumers, family farms and good governance as well as three legal scholars in sending a letter calling on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to match the European Commission’s commitment to holding a public consultation on investment issues, particularly with respect to the pending U.S.-European Union trade negotiations (known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP).

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One Year After 15 Died in Preventable Texas Fertilizer Blast, Safety Rules Stalled

 

When the West, Texas, fertilizer plant, where 30 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate—stored in wooden sheds without sprinkler systems and near other combustible material—caught fire, exploded and killed 15 people, including 10 emergency responders, the state of Texas had virtually no regulations governing ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals. A year later, it still doesn’t.

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Listen Up, Then Tell Lionsgate to Do the Same

Lions Gate Entertainment (Lionsgate) and other production companies are shipping American musicians’ jobs overseas—musicians who make the music for scores that are so vital to a movie’s story.

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6 Ways Pew Research is Encouraging a Generational War Over Social Security and Medicare

Matthew Yglesias points to a new piece from the Pew Research Center that, it seems, was written to spur a nonexistent (according to its own data) generational battle over Social Security and Medicare. Look, we understand it is difficult to write explanatory text to go along with the pretty sophisticated research included in the article, but the text you write should have at least some connection to that research. Pew failed to meet that standard.

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