Labor Roundup | July 2018

Two federal worker unions sue Trump over anti-worker executive order. Two of the nation’s largest unions for federal workers, the Government Employees (AFGE) and Treasury Employees (NTEU), have sued the Trump administration, demanding the courts throw out one of his three anti-worker executive orders stripping the nation’s two million feds of most of their rights and employment protections.

The anti-worker orders drew denunciations from AFGE President J. David Cox, Treasury Employees (NTEU) President Tony Reardon and National Federation of Federal Employees/Machinists President Randy Erwin.

The unions are challenging orders that mandate federal employee shop stewards handle bargaining, grievances and other issues with management on their own time and on their own dime, rather than being paid for official time, the past practice, and also one that says bosses can give underperforming workers 30 days, not 60, to shape up – and then fire them. That time frame violates federal law, Reardon says. Federal civil service law specifically orders pay for shop stewards at their going salary rates when they must conduct that business.

“NTEU believes the president exceeded his authority in several provisions of his executive orders,” NTEU National President Tony Reardon after his union went to U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., late in the afternoon of June 1. “The president cannot unilaterally change federal law.”

Trump would also bar unions from filing grievances over unfair performance evaluations and denial of raises, bonuses or incentive pay. “This means if your boss doesn’t like you for any reason, you may not get a pay raise regardless of your performance – and you can’t do anything about it,” the union says. And the 30-day notice, in practical terms, “allows your boss to terminate you any time he/she wants.” Meanwhile, the charges of misconduct – even if they’re lies – “stay in your personnel record forever.”

“This is more than union-busting. This is democracy busting,” Cox said. “This president seems to think he is above the law, and we are not going to stand by while he tries to shred workers’ rights.”

Teachers, domestic workers alliance join protest against Trump ripping families apart. The leader of one big union, the Teachers’ Randi Weingarten, and the labor-backed National Domestic Workers Alliance joined thousands of other people who took to the streets last month to protest GOP President Donald Trump’s policy to rip families apart.
Weingarten, the NDWA, United We Dream, the American Civil Liberties Union, and were among the groups protesting Trump’s policy of forcibly yanking kids from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, regardless of whether the parents are refugees fleeing war and famine, legal immigrants or others.

Days later, the United Nations Office of Human Rights also condemned the policy, saying, “The harsh policy and unlawful detention is never in the best interests of the children.”

“Hundreds of children have been ripped from their families: 658 kids in the first 13 days of the program alone,” said an angry Weingarten, a New York City civics teacher. “Today, in a just and supposedly free America, babies are being ripped from their parents’ arms. Mothers and fathers are being beaten and murdered by government officials. These policies are typical of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes, not democracies.”

Female package loaders at Amazon reveal dangerous conditions at Minn. Warehouse. Women who load delivery vans for Amazon are delivering a message to the world’s largest Internet retailer. Backed by community and labor allies outside Amazon’s Eagan, Minn., facility, workers spoke publicly last month about the increasingly dangerous working conditions inside the warehouse, and of management’s refusal to accommodate workers who fast during Ramadan.
“They told us if you’re not able to do the job, then quit,” Amazon worker Nimo Hirad said. “We have rights to bring our concerns up, and we are not afraid.”

AFL-CIO to use exec pay as election issue, launches ad campaign. The AFL-CIO will use the high ratios of CEO pay to worker pay as part of its economic message in the 2018 political campaign, federation Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler says, as the labor federation launched a nationwide ad campaign: “Join a Union.”

Some of those ratios are completely out of sight, according to the federation’s 20th annual Executive Paywatch report released in May. Overall, the median CEO pay for a Fortune 500 exec was 361 times the median worker’s pay. That means the median CEO’s compensation in a day equals the median worker’s pay for a year.

“This will be part of our economic narrative in 2018,” Shuler said. “When executive pay is out of control and wages for workers aren’t going up, that makes for an angry and energized populace. We plan to use this narrative going into the election.”

The point of the advertising, federation President Richard Trumka said, is to tell workers if they want decent raises, better benefits and a voice on the job, unionizing is the way to go.

“Join us — be a part of the fight to build a brighter future for you, your family and working people everywhere,” he said. “From the boardroom to the steps of the Supreme Court, a dark web of corporate interests is trying to stop us with everything it has. But no matter what any CEO or lobbyist does, we’re standing up for the freedom to join together in a union.”

Progressive pastors hold vigil to demand moral values in government. Saying it is time to bring moral values to government – including aid for the poor and defending workers – a group of progressive pastors held a candlelight vigil in front of the White House this spring.

Organized by the progressive Christian group Sojourners, the pastors made the point that federal policies seem far from the values Christ espoused.

Those values include peaceful resolution of differences between people and between nations, aiding the poor and lifting up the downtrodden, said the Rev. Jim Wallis.

“This is a statement of faith,” Wallis said. “Those who say they’re followers of Jesus need to come back to him. Our identity as followers of Christ needs to come first, since there are a lot of other identities – racial, cultural, xenophobic – coming forward.

“This is theological and Biblical, not political.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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