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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.

Solidarity Center: Take Part in World Day for Decent Work Oct. 7

Take Part in World Day for Decent Work Oct. 7

"Take Part in World Day for Decent Work Oct. 7" is a cross-post from the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center. 

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.”

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Union Architects, Engineers Inspiring the Next Gen to Go Green

Union Architects, Engineers Inspiring the Next Gen to Go Green

Check out the AFL-CIO's new Innovators website feature, "Union Architects, Engineers Inspiring the Next Gen to Go Green."

When you’re 6 or 7 years old, the start of a new school year is a big deal. But for students at PS 264 in Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s even more special this year because they are walking into a newly built “green” school. And as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building, that means encountering the unexpected.

Like lights that go on automatically when you’re the first one to enter a classroom.

And a gym that’s on the top floor of the building.

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Interview: Violence Rises against Bangladeshi Garment Workers

Babul Akhter and Kalpona Akter spoke about conditions in Bangladesh garment factories. Solidarity Center photo.

This is an excerpt from the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center's "INTERVIEW: Violence Rises against Bangladeshi Garment Workers."

The murder earlier this year of a Bangladeshi union organizer is part of an escalation of attacks on the nation’s 4 million garment workers who seek to change abusive working conditions, says Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS).

Akter, who just ended a visit to the United States sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), worked closely with her BCWS colleague and factory union organizer, Aminul Islam, who was murdered earlier this year, his body found beaten and tortured. Islam also was a leader of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF),  As recently as mid-September, Bangladesh police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of garment workers rallying outside factories in an industrial area near Dhaka.

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Solidarity Center: Threatened with Death, Mexican Labor Activist Leaves Country

Learn more about the Solidarity Center at www.solidaritycenter.org.

This is an excerpt from the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center's "Threatened with Death, Mexican Labor Activist Leaves Country."

Facing death threats for her work as a Mexican labor rights activist, Blanca Velásquez left the country earlier this month and suspended her two-year legal battle with the Mexican government over ongoing harassment and threats against workers in Puebla, Mexico.

In May, human rights defender José Enrique Morales Montaño, who worked with Velásquez at the Center of Support for Workers (CAT), was kidnapped by four masked men and physically tortured for 16 hours before being released. Other employees at CAT have received death threats, and the organization’s e-mail has been hacked in a cycle of harassment that began in December 2010. That month, Velasquez found a threatening message scrawled across her office wall: “No saben con quien metes” (“You don’t know who you’re messing with”).

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Support, Solidarity for Crystal Sugar Workers

Pickets at the Drayton plant.

When Susan dePasquale, a former AFSCME member in Cleveland, heard that 1,300 workers at American Crystal Sugar had been locked out from their jobs for more than a year, she immediately volunteered her support.

I was just very moved by what I heard…I wanted to do something. Instead of sending well wishes, I thought I’d write a check.

Help locked-out American Crystal workers. Please donate to the BCTGM Lockout Action Fund, care of  the Minnesota AFL-CIO, 175 Aurora Ave., St. Paul, MN 55103.

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Crystal Sugar Shareholders Paid 25% Less Since Lockout

When American Crystal Sugar Co. locked out 1,300 workers from five plants in August 2011 because they wouldn't accept a contract that included significant increases to their health care costs and major changes to job security, the company replaced the highly skilled workers (click to enlarge image).

As a result, productivity has plummeted and American Crystal shareholders are losing money. Another sugar beet processing company, Minn-Dak, paid its shareholders roughly the same in 2010 as did American Crystal. But when replacement workers stepped in, American Crystal Sugar's shareholders received $59 a ton—and Minn-Dak's got an estimated $75.05. That's 25 percent less for American Crystal shareholders in fiscal 2011.

Two words describe such management: Really dumb.

Tell American Crystal CEO Dave Berg to stop wasting shareholders’ money and go back to the bargaining table.

Help locked-out American Crystal workers. Please donate to the BCTGM Lockout Action Fund, care of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, 175 Aurora Ave., St. Paul, MN 55103.

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Who Stole the American Dream? A Q&A with Hedrick Smith

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith joined us here today to discuss his new book, Who Stole the American Dream? Can We Get It Back? at an event sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

In Who Stole the American Dream? Smith deploys his formidable investigative skills to trace how we got to a point where U.S. economic policy overwhelmingly favors the rich—and looks at whether it's possible to undo the damage done to our working and middle class. Smith, known for his investigative journalism, is author of the national bestseller, The Power Game: How Washington Works. In 1971, as chief diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. We asked Smith a few questions about what he found in researching his new book.

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Less Upward Mobility for U.S. Students Than for British

Britain has long had a reputation as rigidly divided by class, with little opportunity for people to move higher up the socio-economic ladder.

No more. There is now more upward mobility for students at British schools than in the United States, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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We Gave 110% for Crystal Sugar

Former American Crystal Sugar retirees support locked out workers.

Despite waking up with the flu one morning this week, Bonnie Holter headed out to take part in a 6 a.m. vigil outside the home of a member of the American Crystal Sugar Co. board of directors in East Grand Forks, Minn. Tired and ready to head back to bed after returning home, she still exuded the resolve that, despite having retired from American Crystal Sugar this year, propels her to actively back the 1,300 locked-out workers.

“It’s important to support the workers,” says Holter, 60. “They were our family. I was proud to be a union member and I still want to help the union out.”

Holter and her husband, Jerome, who most people call Jay, spent decades working for the sugar beet processing company before management locked out workers in August 2011.

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Join Hedrick Smith at the AFL-CIO Sept. 13

Join Hedrick Smith at the AFL-CIO Sept. 13

Many people can no longer attain the American Dream—and high-level decisions over the past few decades have led our nation to this point.

Join us on Thursday, Sept. 13, when Pulitzer Prize-winning author and reporter Hedrick Smith will discuss his new book, Who Stole the
American Dream? Can We Get It Back? In his latest look into the deepest layers of Washington politics, Smith deploys his formidable investigative skills to trace how we got here—and whether we can undo the damage. (RSVP here.)

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