It's been a busy year here on the AFL-CIO Now blog where we try to cover the issues that are important to working people. The stories, from TPP to anti-worker rhetoric from presidential candidates and governors to the growing momentum in efforts to organize workers, raise wages and expand the collective voice of working people, that most affect working families. Here are the 10 stories that were most read by you, our readers:
1. McConnell Blocks Health Care for 9/11 First Responders: "It's hard to imagine a valid reason why Republican Mitch McConnell would block legislation whose purpose is to help the first responders and other victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, but he's doing it anyway. Supporters of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act were hopeful that the act would have been permanently reauthorized in the highway bill that is expected to pass with bipartisan support. But the Senate majority leader didn't do the right thing, and the program will run out of money early next year if Congress doesn't act."
2. Union-Made Super Bowl Party Shopping List: "On Super Bowl Sunday next week, some of our larger and faster union brothers—members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA)—will be battling it out in Glendale, Ariz., at Super Bowl XLIX (49 for those of us who are shaky on Roman numerals). While the Super Bowl carries a union label, from players to broadcast crews to stadium workers—your Super Bowl party spread can, too, with union-made in America food and drinks."
3. How to Easily Find Union-Made Tires: "The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has made it very easy to find union-made tires by requiring that each tire carry a code that shows the company and the location of the plant that manufactured the tire."
4. Union-Made in America Halloween Candy Shopping List: "If you want your Halloween to be all treats and no tricks, make sure all your candy is union-made in America. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411, has an extensive list of union-made candies, as does Union Plus. Here are some highlights, featuring sweets made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)."
5. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Written in Secrecy, Could Cost U.S. Jobs: "Sometime this year, President Obama will ask Congress to approve a new trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Everyone I know is in favor of trade. We take pride when Washington State produces and exports airplanes, apples, soft white wheat and software. It should be obvious, however, that we can have good trade policy or bad trade policy."
6. Four Loony Labor Lies We’re Really Sick of Hearing: "Numbers don’t lie. Wage inequality is at its highest since the Great Depression. Total income grew 36.9% in the United States from 1979 to 2007, and the top 1% snatched 53.9% of it. Yet, despite the facts, people are blaming unions for everything from corrupt politics to economic failures. Enough is enough, am I right?"
7. First Target for House Republicans? Cutting Social Security: "On the very first day that the new larger House Republican majority got to work, it made a move that could mean some 11 million people who receive Social Security disability benefits will see their lifeline benefits cut by 20% in 2016—or even cuts to Social Security retirement benefits for everyone."
8. Union-Made Labor Day Shopping List: "Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. While the day honors the hardworking women and men who make this nation go and grow, the weekend also gives us a chance for one more big backyard barbecue blowout. Here’s some union-made food and drink to get your barbecue off to a great start."
9. July 4 Made-in-America BBQ Shopping List: "Many of us will celebrate Independence Day with a barbecue. We can keep the red, white and blue in the holiday with this made-in-America, union label backyard barbecue checklist, compiled from the BCTGM, the LA Labor 411's website, Union Plus and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)."
10. 10 Facts About the Minimum Wage: "While the price of just about everything else has skyrocketed (milk, eggs, health care, college), full-time minimum wage workers are barely making more than $15,000 a year."