Every week, we'll be bringing you a roundup of the important news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here's this week's Working People Weekly List:
A Labor-Intensive Life: "'Our movement has expanded so that every worker, union or nonunion, gets a fair chance and an opportunity,' [AFL-CIO President Richard] Trumka says, lightly pounding his desk for emphasis. For much of our hour-long conversation, he’s a genial host, showing off family mining mementos or pieces from his collection of Civil War artifacts, or recounting a memory of him and his wife waiting in a receiving line with friends Joe and Sue Paterno at a mid-1990s White House dinner honoring prominent Italian Americans. But when he talks about his work—his life’s work—the tone changes. He doesn’t raise his voice, but neither does he break eye contact. It’s all part of the stump speech, variations of the same tried and tested lines that can rile up the membership, tweak a union-busting political foe, or help elect a U.S. president. 'It’s about all of those things that build the quality of life for workers, and what we used to call the American Dream,' he says. 'Everybody needs unions. 'Cause there’s no better way.'”
An Upbeat Economic Story: "EPI cites a statistic called the 'employment-to-population ratio,' which is the share of adults who have a job. In 2015, that increased 1.5 percentage points for blacks compared with a 0.1 percentage point increase for whites and a slight decline for Hispanics. Put differently: In December, 56.4% of blacks had a job compared with 54.9% a year earlier. (Remember: Those without jobs include both people who want work—the unemployed—and those who don’t: for instance, many retirees and students.)"
Labor Goes South: "The AFL-CIO is working to build those coalitions, in the hope that progressive change will emanate out from the cities and shift the center of political gravity in the South from the Republican rural areas to the blue cities. 'It doesn’t matter how much the demographics are changing if we don’t pay attention and organize…unless we bring in new energy,' [AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere] Gebre says."
Will the 2016 Presidential Election Be Decided by Voter Suppression Laws?: "In 2016, 10 states will be putting into place restrictive voting laws that they will be enforcing for the first time in a presidential election. These laws range from new hurdles to registration to cutbacks on early voting to strict voter identification requirements. Collectively, these 10 states are home to more than 80 million people and will wield 129 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency."
Check Out These Inspiring Highlights from the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference: "If you weren't able to make it to Washington, D.C., for the 2016 AFL-CIO Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference, you can see highlights from the inspiring event in this new video from the Transport Workers (TWU)."
Florida: It Is Time to Show State Workers Some Respect: "Florida is a large and diverse state. In the time and distance it takes to drive from Pensacola to Key West, you could drive from Madison, Wisconsin, to Washington, D.C. During those more than 12 hours of non-stop driving, more than 400 more people would have moved into the country's third most populated state."
With Gov. Snyder Failing to Fix the Problem, Working People Step Up in Flint Water Crisis: "Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has been rightly criticized for how he has handled the water crisis in Flint. In his State of the State speech earlier this month, he had a chance to take the crisis head on and failed to do so. Working people, on the other hand, are stepping up where Snyder has failed."
Where Are the Jobs? New Reports Show TPP Fails Workers: "When it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the operative question for Americans to ask is “Where are the Jobs?” According to two new independent analyses, they’re nonexistent."
Pro Right to Work Politicians in West Virginia Attack Working People on the State Senate Floor: "West Virginia state Sen. Robert Karnes (R) doesn't think too highly of everyday working people trying to create a better life and earn wages to sustain a family on. In fact, he called the concerned citizens who attended a recent 'right to work' bill debate 'free riders.'"
Here’s Some History to Help Understand the Racial Wealth Gap: "Next month is Black History Month. We will hear stories about black Americans and their successes in this country against the barriers (slavery, Jim Crow, poll tax just to name a few) thrown in their paths. Yet for every success story, there is still the nagging fact that the median net wealth of white households is 12.2 times greater than that of black households."