Category Archives: Unions and Organized Labor

Quietly Signed Trump Order Denounced as ‘Declaration of War’ Against Federal Employees

The order sets up Trump’s “cronies to burrow into permanent jobs in the U.S. government,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-23-2020

Photo: AFGE

After years of complaining that career federal employees are part of the “deep state” and aim to undermine his administration, President Donald Trump this week took a major step toward remaking the federal government as one without nonpartisan civil servants—signing a little-noticed executive order that would strip potentially hundreds of thousands of government employees of their job security.

Under the order, signed late Wednesday, career federal employees could be fired with little or no cause, lose their right to due process, and potentially lose union representation. Continue reading

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‘Catastrophic Failure to Tackle Inequality’ Left World Unprepared for Pandemic: Global Index

“Millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger and there have been countless unnecessary deaths.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-8-2020

Photo: Sarah Wy/flickr/CC

With the world’s death toll from Covid-19 above one million and confirmed cases surpassing 36 million, a pair of advocacy groups on Thursday released an analysis illustrating how governments’ failures to implement policies that reduce inequality left countries “woefully unprepared” for the coronavirus pandemic.

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, updated annually by Oxfam International and Development Finance International (DFI), ranks 158 governments based on three core pillars: spending on public services (meaning health, education, and social protection), progressive taxation policies, and workers’ rights. Continue reading

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‘Quiet Revolt’ Brewing at USPS as Postal Workers Defy Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s Mail Sabotage

“A good reminder to thank your letter carrier for the important work they do.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-29-2020

A postal worker gives a thumbs-up to demonstrators protesting the Trump administration’s sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service on August 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for MoveOn)

On top of mounting court injunctions and ongoing investigations by members of Congress, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is running up against another key source of resistance as he attempts to implement sweeping changes to the U.S. mail service just ahead of the November election: letter carriers and other rank-and-file Postal Service employees.

Angered by DeJoy’s efforts to overhaul longstanding USPS policies designed to ensure mail is delivered on time, postal workers across the nation have been slow-walking and outright defying instructions from leadership to leave mail behind, dismantle sorting machines, and cut back on overtime in an effort to limit the damage to a service that millions rely on to vote, receive life-saving medications, and run small businesses. Continue reading

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USDA and Meatpacking Industry Collaborated to Undermine Covid-19 Response, Documents Show

Hundreds of emails obtained by Public Citizen and American Oversight offer a rare inside look at the meat industry’s power and access to the highest levels of government.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2020

Some critics have called keeping meat processing plants open during the Covid-19 pandemic a “death sentence” for workers.. Screenshot: CBS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.

The documents (pdf), which the groups obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, reveal that a week before President Donald Trump issued his controversial executive order in April to keep meatpacking plants open—overriding closure orders from local health officials—a leading meat industry lobby group drafted a proposed executive order that was strikingly similar to Trump’s directive. Continue reading

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‘A Conspiracy to Steal the Election, Folks’: Alarms Sound After Postal Worker Reports Removal of Sorting Machines

The removal of key equipment from Post Offices should be viewed as nothing less than “sabotage,” said one observer.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2020

Flat sorter machine. Photo: USPS

The head of the Iowa Postal Workers Union alleged Tuesday that mail sorting machines are “being removed” from Post Offices in her state due to new policies imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor to President Donald Trump whose operational changes have resulted in dramatic mail slowdowns across the nation.

Asked by NPR‘s Noel King whether she has felt the impact of DeJoy’s changes, Iowa Postal Workers Union President Kimberly Karol—a 30-year Postal Service veteran—answered in the affirmative, saying “mail is beginning to pile up in our offices, and we’re seeing equipment being removed.” Continue reading

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With ‘Systemic Violations’ of Worker Rights, US Comes in Dead Last in Labor Rankings of Wealthy Nations

The U.S. was identified as a country where “the government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers, putting fundamental rights under threat.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-18-2020

Amazon warehouse. Photo: Scott Lewis/flickr/CC

The International Trade Union Confederation’s world map showing its rankings of the best and worst countries for working people includes a noticeable difference between the U.S. and other wealthy countries.

Dark orange in color on the map, the U.S. was singled out by the ITUC this year as the only country in the Group of Seven to have “systematic violations of rights” in work places. Continue reading

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The right to refuse unsafe work is more important than ever — but expect a fight

Photo: USDA

By Kathy Wilkes. Published 6-7-2020 by Huck/Konopacki Cartoons

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on workers. Reports of job hazards grow increasingly dire as several governors and President Trump push past CDC guidelines to “reopen” the economy while forecasts predict soaring infections and deaths.

Some states at the direction of the Labor Department threaten termination of unemployment benefits for workers fearing return to dangerous jobs. A disturbing June 5 New York Times’ report reveals how far those machinations have gone. The result: workers fired without pay or benefits or trapped in a deadly vice between poverty and disease. Continue reading

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Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

“We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2020

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Public domain

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Warner, Doug Jones, and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at stemming coronavirus-induced mass layoffs in the United States by guaranteeing paychecks and healthcare benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers for the rest of 2020.

The Paycheck Security Act—introduced with support from senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, and with the notable backing of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—would massively expand the existing Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages, salaries, and benefits for laid-off or furloughed workers up to $90,000 per year. Continue reading

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Pelosi Support for Corporate Lobbyist Bailout Denounced as ‘Dumbest Political Maneuver You Could Possibly Make Right Now’

“Pelosi has run the House of Representatives by fiat for close to two months, and there hasn’t been a single word of protest as she locks every other member of the Democratic caucus out of policymaking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-7-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the “dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.”

During a webinar with small business representatives on Tuesday, Pelosi said the next coronavirus relief package will include a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would permit 501(c)(6) organizations to receive forgivable taxpayer loans. Continue reading

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Workers Gear Up for Major May Day Strike in Pushback Against Unsafe Conditions Amid Pandemic

One organizer explained that the goal is to “push back with large numbers against the right-wing groups that want to risk our lives by reopening the economy.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-29-2020

Amazon workers started calling in sick last week. Screenshot: WXYZ

Workers at some of the nation’s biggest companies including Amazon and Target are preparing to symbolically lock arms Friday for a May 1 strike and demand better protections on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

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