Labor Roundup | March 2021

President Biden on Feb. 3 demanded resignations from all 10 Trump appointees to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, a major victory for federal unions. Eight members resigned, and two were fired after refusing to step down. Trump’s appointees –– partisan anti-labor activists –– had hampered federal unions for years, sabotaging their ability to organize and bargain collectively.

The FSIP plays a major role in disputes between agency executives and government unions. When unions and managers reach a stalemate FSIP steps in to referee.

Trump’s appointees consistently defied their legal obligations to be neutral arbiters, instead showing a pattern of siding with management and sometimes even imposing harsher terms than management requested.

AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney dies. Head of the federation from 1995-2009, Sweeney helped push organized labor’s focus out of congressional suites and into the nation’s streets.

“John Sweeney was a legend, plain and simple. He was guided into unionism by his Catholic faith, and not a single day passed by when he didn’t put the needs of working people first,” said current President Richard Trumka.

“He built SEIU [Service Employees International Union] into a powerhouse, doubling its membership, earning respect across the labor movement and in the halls of power. Throughout his storied life, John used the lessons he learned as a ground-level union leader to uphold dignity for all working people and expand human rights worldwide.”

Sweeney was 86 when he died Feb. 1.

Laborer member Walsh advances as Labor Secretary appointee. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Laborers member, glided through a Feb. 4 Senate committee hearing about his nomination for Labor Secretary.

Even committee Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama didn’t openly oppose Walsh.

However, they said they and the GOP oppose the Protect the Right to Organize (Pro) Act Walsh and Biden back, a measure introduced that day by committee chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Murray and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., formally introduced the Pro Act that day. So did House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., on the other side of Capitol Hill.

The Pro Act is labor’s top legislative priority, after pandemic aid. If approved, it would be the most pro-worker labor reform since 1935’s National Labor Relations Act.

Nurses: PPE shortage, Right-wing threats hobble pandemic fight. A continued shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), slow distribution of anti-virus vaccines and extremists’ hate are combining to obstruct the fight against the coronavirus, union nurses say.

National Nurses United started raising hell about PPE shortages before the COVID-19 crisis was officially a pandemic last March 13, but “we still don’t have the PPE we need to do our jobs safely,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo.

Shannon Cotton, an RN at the University of California/San Diego hospital, added, “If nurses continue to get sick and die, who will take care of our patients?”

More than 300 RNs and some 2,500 health-care workers nationwide have died from the coronavirus, NNU reports.

Another nurse told California lawmakers that Right-wing resistance to public-health precautions also threaten medical care and prevention.

“I live in an area with a lot of naysayers who refuse to wear masks in public and follow guidelines to protect public health,” said the woman, whose identity wasn’t disclosed to protect her from reprisals. “It makes it tough on nurses.”

The nurse said white supremacist Proud Boys drive around her community in pickup trucks and SUVs decorated with Confederate flags and threaten people who follow anti-virus rules.

Union-led campaign targets USPS board. The American Postal Workers Union drive “U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale” is targeting vacancies on the U.S. Postal Service board, the body responsible for confirming Trumpite Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

The board has four vacancies, and APWU is petitioning President Biden to name USPS directors who actually believe in the Postal Service, its workers and its mission. The APWU says Postmaster General Louis DeJoy appointed by the former board, doesn’t.

“Filling the vacancies on the postal board is essential to build back better the Postal Service and to serve our communities and to help heal our economy,” their petition concludes. The petition is available on the APWU website as well as websites of the Letter Carriers and 80 other backers of the U.S. Mail Is Not For Sale campaign.

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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