Sunday, April 28, marks Workers Memorial Day. In prayer services, vigils and other ceremonies around the nation, union members, workplace safety activists and community, faith and other allies will honor and remember workers killed and injured on the job, from the 15—including 12 first responders—killed in the recent West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion to the construction worker, store clerk and others who die on the job daily, but who we hear little about.
Would you trust that your food is clean and uncontaminated, the plane you’re flying in airworthy or your workplace safe, if those were certified by companies counting on the profits they’ll make from your purchases, travel and labor? Of course not.
But that’s the dilemma millions of workers around the world face—often with deadly results—when it comes to their safety on the job, a new report from the AFL-CIO reveals:
Ending violence against women is something everyone can agree on and shouldn't be controversial. Astonishingly, some Republicans in Congress held up the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for more than a year because it has protections for Native Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and immigrant women without documents. President Obama just signed VAWA into law yesterday. This Senate-version of the bill was voted down by 138 Republicans in the House. Today, unions across the world are celebrating International Women's Day and raising awareness about violence against women and girls.
T-Mobile, the telecom company that last year closed seven call centers in the United States and shipped more than 3,300 jobs overseas, is running its remaining U.S. call center operations with abusive and intimidating tactics, T-Mobile workers at the company’s Charleston, S.C., call center told a workers' rights hearing (see video, below) last week.
Workers at a number of T-Mobile (owned by Deutsche Telekom) call centers are mobilizing to win a voice at work with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and have been met with a fierce anti-union campaign.
Three years after the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti, workers and their families continue to struggle as the cost of living keeps rising while wages—for those who have jobs—remain the same. Informal discussions by the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center staff with Haitian export-processing workers this month indicate that in the past year, the cost of food and education has increased between 20% and 25%, while rent and transportation have risen between 15% and 20%.
Bob Baugh directs the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and chairs its Energy Task Force. He is at the United Nations climate talks with labor delegates from around the world.
After two years of exceeding expectations, a United Nations group of unions is ready to continue creating plans for jobs and addressing climate change.
At the start of this year’s conference, which is known as the 2012 COP 18, nobody thought much would happen, especially because the meeting is being held in Qatar, which leads the world in per capital carbon emissions. Qatar also represents the bloc of oil nations that tied up previous negotiations over demands concerning the potential loss of oil revenue because of a climate agreement. The host country gets to run the meeting and set the agenda for these talks.
Trade unions and the 175 million workers with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) joined together Oct. 7 and called for decent jobs and respect for workers' rights on the annual World Day for Decent Work. This year, the AFL-CIO honored the day by standing in solidarity with Hyatt hotel workers and workers at the Mexican operations of the Finnish auto parts manufacturer PKC.
Letters from AFL-CIO unions to workers mobilizing to win respect and a union voice on the job at Hyatt and PKC pledged their solidarity and support. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the letters from the unions:
will tell the workers that we support their rights to organize and bargain—the only road forward for fairness and decent work...
Being employed in “decent work” sounds basic. But for millions of people around the world, it’s not a reality. When workers are jobless—or, at the other end of the spectrum, forced to toil under dangerous job conditions or for pay so low they cannot support themselves or their families, decent work is out of reach.
Each Oct. 7, World Day for Decent Work reminds all of us about the plight of these workers. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) launched Decent Work Day in 2008, and each year, the Solidarity Center and its partners in the global labor movement observe that day to bring attention to the need for decent work. As the ITUC states: “Decent work must be at the center of government actions to bring back economic growth and build a new global economy that puts people first.”
The AFL-CIO welcomes the Burmese government’s decision to remove some 2,000 people from a blacklist of more than 6,000 banned from entering the country. Among those affected by this decision is Maung Maung, the general secretary of the ITUC-affiliated Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB). After decades in exile, Maung Maung’s return represents an important step in Burma’s history and provides hope to millions of unorganized workers.