Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Many Americans will enjoy a day off with family and friends, perhaps at a barbecue or baseball game. Those times and the memories that are created are precious and should be celebrated. Since 1868, this holiday has served as a moment when Americans remember the men and women of the military who lost their lives to preserve our freedom.
In that spirit, I ask that you take time this weekend to do something with your family to pass along the tradition of remembrance. All across the country, there will be ceremonies at many of the 131 Department of Veterans Affairs cemeteries. The National Cemetery Administration honors veterans with final resting places in national shrines and with lasting tributes that commemorate their service to our nation. To find out where and when a wreath-laying is happening in your area, go to the National Cemetery Administration’s website.
When the tornado hit Moore, Okla., on Monday, International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) members Andrew Terry, Jay Keehn, Michael Myers and David Carpenter were quick to respond to the tragedy in their hometown. All of the members of IUPA Local 3 offered their services, as did members of numerous other locals in the area. The response was so overwhelming that officials on the ground had to put many volunteers on standby.
The collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State on Thursday “is a sober reminder” to state lawmakers of the need for a transportation revenue package, says Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) President Jeff Johnson.
When most people think about union members, they probably picture blue-collar workers in factories. Maybe teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees come to mind.
But workers in many more fields come together in unions to have a voice on the job to improve their lives and the lives of their families—from rocket scientists at NASA (members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers [IFPTE]) to actors like Alec Baldwin (a member of SAG-AFTRA) and all across the spectrum of work that goes on in the United States.
Penny Pritzker is President Obama’s nominee to be the next secretary of commerce. She is also a longtime member of the board of directors of the Hyatt hotel chain and heir to the Hyatt fortune. But her nearly decade-long record on the board, says UNITE HERE President D. Taylor, shows why the U.S. Senate should not confirm her. In a letter to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Taylor writes:
Under her leadership, Hyatt has exhibited a broad pattern of labor abuses, including aggressive outsourcing, low wages and the mistreatment of housekeepers. Together these practices single out Hyatt as the worst hotel employer in the United States.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders finds some dangerous parallels between the crushing austerity measures that have “left the Greek economy dangling on a ledge, threatening to prolong the recession and sending unemployment skyrocketing,” and Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) economic prescription for Wisconsin. In a column at The Huffington Post, Saunders writes:
“I’m sporting a new ‘do,’” says Alice Phillips, business manager for Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 483 of Tacoma, Wash. “It feels…light. It’s different.”
The shaved head and spiked hair came about because Phillips wanted her union local to double last year’s donation of union-made peanut butter as part of the Letter Carriers’ (NALC's) National Food Drive. The 21st annual drive to combat hunger is the nation’s largest single-day food drive and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2012, letter carriers collected 70 million pounds of food donations along their postal routes.
Homeowners supported by the Home Defenders League (HDL) and Occupy Our Homes participated in a third day of protest Wednesday, this time at the law firm Covington & Burling, which represents several major U.S. banks and is the former workplace of Attorney General Eric Holder, a key target of the week's protests. Eight more protesters were arrested, bringing the total for the three days to 34. A message on the HDL Facebook page Thursday said that all of those arrested were released and will not face charges stemming from the protests.
After the Chicago Board of Education approved a proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) to close 50 of the city's public schools, the Chicago Teachers Union vowed to take legal action to stop the closures and to challenge supporters of the mayor's plan with grassroots mobilization. The closures come despite widespread opposition to the plan and five days of rallies, sit-ins and other efforts.