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Showing blog posts by Robert Struckman

About Robert Struckman

I’m the AFL-CIO’s speechwriter and a former newspaper reporter and magazine writer and editor. I’ve reported and written on a wide variety of topics, from business and city government to crime and politics. In my working life, I’ve been a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the UAW and now the Communications Workers of America (CWA). My wife and two kids and I live in Maryland, but we are and always will be from Montana.

Innovation @Work: An Open and Shut Case

Photo by Joe Kekeris/AFL-CIO

In early December, Eric Gulan strode across a drop cloth on the carpeted office floor of AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, overlooking Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, D.C.

He and three of his fellow union glaziers hammered out caulking to remove the room’s old windows—original quarter-inch panes from the building’s 1953 construction. Another three glaziers drilled through the solid steel of the window frames to prepare for the installation of new aluminum frames and a set of energy-efficient double-paned windows.

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Which Is Better: Safe New Bridges and Smooth Highways or the Good Jobs to Make Them?

Which Is Better: Safe New Bridges and Smooth Highways or the Good Jobs to Make Them?

The federal budget deficit has been falling, and so the last excuses not to invest in America’s public infrastructure are vanishing. 

A new report from the Center for Effective Government argues that Congress should pour public dollars into critical infrastructure to reinvigorate the economy and create jobs. 

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Did You Say ‘Union’ at Unity Disposal? You’re Fired

Bladimir Padilla

When the sanitation workers at Unity Disposal and Recycling in Laurel, Md., wanted to form a union with the Laborers (LIUNA), supervisors called a mandatory meeting to order them not to.

At the meeting, Bladimir Padilla spoke up, saying, “We want our union because we’re looking for justice.”

Tell Unity Disposal: Stop Treating Your Trash Collectors Like Trash.

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AFL-CIO Convention Attendees Create Cardboard Cutouts of Workers to Make Invisible Work Visible

Photo of UFCW member at the cardboard cutout action.

The term “banana scanner” sticks in Jackie Gitmed’s throat. It’s what she and other members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770 were called during the strike and lockout nearly 10 years ago.

“They said we were ignorant and overpaid and didn’t deserve any better,” Gitmed says, as she and three friends, all of Local 770, first drew and then painted a life-size image of a grocery bagger on cardboard in one of the Monday action sessions at the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles.

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Diversity Forum Sparks Talk About Change at the AFL-CIO Convention

Highlights from the visual note taker at the Diversity Conference.

How do we truly build a labor movement that is inclusive to young workers, people of color and the LGBT community? It's more than just holding a meeting or attending a conference, says Tahir Duckett, national young worker coordinator at the AFL-CIO, at a pre-conference diversity summit at the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention.

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Union Summer Interns Rally with D.C.-Area Taxi Workers

Union Summer Interns Rally with D.C.-Area Taxi Workers

“My voice is kind of going. I’ve got to get used to this!” says Antonio Elizondo, a 23-year-old Union Summer intern from Los Angeles.

Elizondo is one of about 30 interns who converged on the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., this week for workshops and classes on activism and union organizing as the start of Union Summer, the AFL-CIO’s national program that introduces interns to the labor movement on union organizing campaigns.

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Trade You a Mohawk for That Peanut Butter

Trade You a Mohawk for That Peanut Butter

She said she’d get a Mohawk. She got a Mohawk.

“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.

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