Labor Roundup

Union-owned Bank of Labor to open DC branch.

   The Kansas City-based union-owned Bank of Labor will open a branch in the nation’s capital in the spring, making it one of the few worker-friendly financial institutions in D.C. When it opens at 815 Connecticut Avenue NW, the 90-year-old institution founded by the Boilermakers will join other union-owned financial institutions in downtown D.C.: ULLICO, the Amalgamated Bank of New York, and the AFL-CIO Credit Union. American Income Life Insurance, which is also pro-union, has a representatives’ office nearby.

Berger-Marks starts awards for younger women worker activists.

   The Berger-Marks Foundation, which annually honors female unionists and other social justice campaigners, has expanded its awards to “honor a wonderful and courageous group of young woman activists,” foundation chair Louise Walsh announced. Its Mullany Awards for Courageous Young Workers honors Kate Mullany of Troy, N.Y., co-founder of the first union of woman workers — laundry workers — and leader of a successful strike, at age 19, in 1864.

Minn. Nurses back measure for on-the-job protections as First Responders.

   The Minnesota Nurses Association is supporting state legislation, to be introduced next year, to give nurses the same on-the-job protections against workplace violence as first responders get – including penalties for violators.

“The recent attack at our hospital is just another example of the rising trend of violence we’re seeing in hospitals and care facilities across the country,” said Gwynn Pepin, a registered nurse at St. John’s Hospital in St. Paul.

MNA nurses report being spit on, slapped, punched, and verbally assaulted either by patients or by patients’ families and visitors.

Organized labor split on Keystone as Senate stops pro-pipeline bill.

   Unions remain divided about building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as the Senate narrowly voted to stop a pro-Keystone bill.

Building trades unions strongly lobbied for Keystone. The National Nurses United, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and other unions opposed it, as did environmental groups. Environmentalists said the pipeline would carry “dirty oil” from Albertan tar sands to a terminal in Guthrie, Okla., on the way to Gulf Coast refineries, increasing global warming gases.

The building trades, led by the Operating Engineers and the Teamsters, argue that government studies over the last six years showed the pipeline would have little if any impact on global warming.

ATU, National Nurses United, 1199 SEIU Health Care Workers East, the New York State Nurses Association and the National Domestic Workers Alliance disagree, declaring that more construction jobs would be created by fixing the nation’s current aging and leaking pipelines and other eroding infrastructure.

Postal unionists protest more cuts.

   Postal unionists, led by the Letter Carriers, the Postal Workers, the Mail Handlers-Laborers and the Rural Letter Carriers, in late November mounted a nationwide protest against further Postal Service schemes to close distribution centers and cut jobs.

USPS’ plans would further degrade mail service to customers – virtually eliminating overnight delivery of first-class mail anywhere – and that there are other ways than firing workers to help bolster Postal Service finances.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, who recently announced his retirement, wants to close 82 more distribution centers Jan. 5. He’s already shuttered 120 sorting centers nationwide. Donahoe also wants to fire 100,000 workers, let another 100,000 go by attrition, and replace many of them by low-paid part-timers, including at Staples stores.

AT&T denies sick time pay to older Minnesota workers.

   In a direct contrast to the national movement for paid sick leave and family leave benefits, AT&T is defying Minnesota law by denying sick leave to its longest-serving workers. More than 10 senior-tenured AT&T workers were denied compensation for sick time used to care for relatives, including spouses and parents, a benefit now mandated by Minnesota law.

In June 2014, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry issued a letter to AT&T instructing the corporation to comply with the new state law. Since then, AT&T has ignored the order and continued denying benefits to their most senior employees.

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper in Peoria

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