News

Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

Some 40 days after United Automobile Workers walked off the job, picketing General Motors plants and grinding operations to a halt, the labor union's members have ratified the tentative deal their representatives struck with the automaker earlier this month. The UAW announced the deal's approval after voting ended Friday.

Employees will return to work as instructed by GM.

The contract was approved by 57.2%.

In a typical week, Adrienne Vaccarezza-Isla, a school counselor in Chicago, might help a dozen eighth graders apply to high schools across the city. Or try to convince a mother that her daughter, who had seen her get shot years earlier, should join a group for students dealing with trauma. Or work with sixth and seventh graders on time management.

Federal agencies have been told to carry out Trump administration directives aimed at restricting the role of unions in the federal workplace and giving agencies the maximum discretion in taking disciplinary actions against employees, now that a court ban against many of those policies has been lifted.

A key labor leader has warned House Democrats not to expedite approval of a new North American trade deal, saying that the agreement remains far from complete and that a vote in coming weeks would be a “colossal mistake.”

It was just a decade ago that the Great Recession — the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression — upended life for hundreds of millions of Americans. More than 8 million people across the country lost their jobs. Millions more lost their homes and life savings.

The economy has made steady improvements since 2008, but recovery has disproportionately favored wealthier Americans.

One of the workshops at the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s two-day convention that opened here Thursday explored the lessons offered from “worker power resurgence,” a reference to labor’s extraordinary year of strikes and other work stoppages in 2018.

For decades, working families could depend on labor unions to represent their collective interests -- ensuring a living wage, better benefits and a voice in their workplace. Now, after 50 years of rollbacks on union and labor rights, workers have been silenced at their jobs. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is an opportunity for Congress to give working families their voice back.

Letter Carriers member Paul Trotman was lucky his house survived Hurricane Florence. When the dust settled, he applied for a Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant, a benefit of being an eligible Union Plus Credit Cardholder. He and his family used the $500 grant to get back on their feet.