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Showing blog posts by Tula Connell

About Tula Connell

I got my first union card while I worked my way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (we were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—I started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), I now blog under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

Gender Equality: The Unfinished Business of the Labor Movement

Brazilian trade union leaders joined Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau (second from left) at the opening plenary. Photo: Matt Hersey

Women at every level are “moving the labor movement in new directions” and “inventing new kinds of worker organizations and new ways of being a trade unionist,” says labor historian Dorothy Sue Cobble.

 
 

Cobble, distinguished professor of history and labor studies at Rutgers University, was among several speakers opening a two-day AFL-CIO Solidarity Center conference this morning, “Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equality and Labor Rights: Transforming the Terrain.” Nearly 100 labor and community activists from 20 countries are gathered here in São Paulo, Brazil, to share strategies for achieving gender equality and worker rights in their unions and their workplaces.

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After Zimbabwe Elections, Union Worker Education Continues

Photo: Macpherson Photographers via the Solidarity Center

As Zimbabwe’s July 31 presidential elections approach, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), one of the country’s only nonpolitical, mass-based movements, plans to actively promote free and fair elections and, equally important, hold lawmakers accountable after elections.

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Dominican Republic: Domestic Workers Wage Long Campaign for Rights

Domestic workers in the Dominican Republic are urging lawmakers to pass the "Decent Work for Domestic Workers" standard. Photo credit: Julio Lantigua

Workers this week are marking the second anniversary of the historic passage of a global standard covering the rights of domestic workers. The International Labor Organization's (ILO's) Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189) covers written employment contracts, protection from harassment, abuse and violence, hours of work, job safety and other workplace safeguards.

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Bangladesh Government Moves to Ease Unionization

Arati Bala Das, 18, who lost her right leg in the Rana Plaza collapse, feeds her sister, Akhi

The Bangladesh Cabinet approved a change to the nation’s labor laws that it says would enable workers to more freely form unions. The proposal, which must be approved by Parliament, would allow workers to join unions without showing the list of union supporters to factory owners to verify their employment—a practice that effectively makes it impossible for unions to gather sufficient support to register with the government because factory owners often penalize or fire workers who support unionization.

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Colombia: Many Women Workers Face Job Discrimination

Afro-desendent women gathered in Medellin, Colombia, in April for the first domestic workers union congress. Photo: IDWN

In Colombia, “even when there’s an improvement in the overall economy, women don’t see any improvement,” says Sohely Rua Catañeda. As a result, many women who are unable to secure formal employment are forced into the informal sector to support themselves and their families, laboring as domestic workers or street vendors. Women in these low-paying jobs have limited or no access to social services and are unable to address workplace harassment or unsafe working conditions.

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Report: 73.4 Million Young Workers Jobless in 2013

Report: 73.4 Million Young Workers Jobless in 2013

A stunning 73.4 million young workers are estimated to be jobless in 2013, an increase of 3.5 million between 2007 and 2013, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report released Wednesday. Even worse, the number of unemployed young workers is likely to increase through 2018, with the long-term impact felt for decades, the report forecasts.

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Bangladesh: Six Arrested in Building Collapse; Death Toll 377, but Hundreds Missing

Lily Gomes and Rukshana Yasmin, Solidarity Center staff in Dhaka, check on an injured garment worker. Photo courtesy of Solidarity Center

UPDATE 04/29/2013: The death toll as of this morning stands at 377 and hundreds of people remain missing, reports The New York TimesCNN reports that authorities have arrested six people: three factory owners, two government engineers and the owner of the building, Sohel Rana—a local-level leader of the ruling Awamil League— who was caught as he tried to flee the country.

More than 300 workers now have been confirmed dead from Wednesday’s building collapse in Bangladesh. Some 2,200 survivors have been pulled from the ruins of what is being called one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history. More than 3,000 garment workers were on the job when upper building floors pancaked on top of each other.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered the arrest of the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, a local leader of ruling Awami League's youth front, who told factory operators the building was safe. Hasina also has ordered the arrest of five garment factory owners.

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Bahrain: Medics, Patients Persecuted in Ongoing Repression

Rula Al-Saffar (left) and Jehan Matooq are among medical professionals in Bahrain where medics continue to experience repression. Photo: Tula Connell

For sick or injured Bahrainis, going to the hospital means risking a prison term—or even death. Describing the “militarization of hospitals,” Rula al-Saffar, president of the Bahrain Nursing Society, said patients with “head traumas, broken bones or burns” are first interrogated by police to determine if they are involved in protests against the government. Health professionals are only allowed to treat patients after police investigate and clear them for treatment. For some, the delay means death.   

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Bangladesh: 1 Year Later, Murderer of Aminul Islam Still Free

Bangladesh union leader Aminul Islam, who was brutally murdered one year ago today.

The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center and the international worker rights movement are commemorating Bangladesh union leader Aminul Islam, who was brutally murdered one year ago today. His murderer or murderers remain at large.

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Solidarity Center: Afro-Colombians Fighting Against Discrimination at Work

Agripina Hurtado dscusses the goals of the new Afro-Colombian Labor Council. Photo: Tula Connell

Afro-Colombians are far likelier than other Colombian workers to earn less than the minimum wage and to be employed in jobs where they cannot form unions  to improve their working conditions. And all of this exclusion “has a strong current of racial discrimination under it,” said Agripina Hurtado, the newly elected president of the Afro-Colombian Labor Council (Consejo Labor Afrocolombiano). A quarter of Colombia’s population is Afro-descendant, yet Afro-Colombians comprise more than three-quarters of the country’s poor.

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