Weekly Labor Reader, July 31, 2019

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Victory for VTA Bus Drivers!

Vineyard Transit Authority workers have finally won their first contract - the strike is over.

In a statement, MA AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman said,

"After several years without a contract, the Vineyard Transit Authority strike has produced an inspiring victory for Massachusetts. There was a great show of leadership from the ATU International as well as a groundswell of support from labor leaders from many unions - they came together united in support for the VTA drivers’ struggle for justice."

Read more From the Boston Globe:

"Bus drivers on Martha’s Vineyard Sunday afternoon approved their first-ever contract, which calls for pay increases and seniority protections — and ends a monthlong strike against their company during the busy tourist season.

The drivers, who are represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, are employed by Florida-based Transit Connection Inc., which is contracted to operate buses for the Vineyard Transit Authority.

The vote was 32 to 1, according to the union. Drivers return to work on Tuesday.

In a statement released by the union following the vote, driver Richard Townes said: “This is a historical day for VTA drivers and a great day for the island. We can now better provide for our families, our jobs are more secure, and we can get back to safely transporting our riders, friends and allies, whose support on the picket lines and year-round was critical in achieving this fair contract.”"

Continue reading more from the Globe here

Save Our Apprenticeships!

We need your help. The Department of Labor just released a proposal that could decimate training and labor standards in registered apprenticeship programs across the country, and we only have a few weeks to stop it.

Tell the Department of Labor: Hands off our apprenticeships!

Apprenticeships are key pathways to gainful employment, training workers for highly skilled jobs while paying living wages and providing health care. This new proposal would drive down standards for the world-class apprenticeship programs that workers and industries depend on. It would jeopardize not only good jobs, but safety standards in industries like construction. Watering down these programs is just plain wrong.

Right now, the Department of Labor is asking the public for feedback on this misguided proposal. We have to let them know that working people won’t stand for this.

Help save our apprenticeships by taking a quick 2 minute action by August 26th

Workers Need a Voice on the GIC

President Steve Tolman testifying with Peter MacKinnon, President of SEIU Local 509, on bills that would give workers a stronger voice when it comes to decisions made about their healthcare by the GIC. Local 509 is currently the largest union of state employees that does not have a seat on the Commission and this legislation, among other important reforms, ensures that they will have a seat and that there will be a fairer balance between labor and management on the Commission.
Read President Tolman's testimony here.

Should Massachusetts restore the requirement of time-and-a-half pay for retail workers on Sundays and holidays? (YES!)

Check out this great piece by UFCW member Celine Blaisdell and vote YES in the Globe poll.

"In my store, whether it is a young 17-year old-saving for the rising costs of a college education or a single mother, keeping time and one half pay was the one issue that each of my co-workers found vital in our negotiations."

Read more from the Boston Globe

Senate votes to reject

Bakers Janus Amendments

Last week the Senate voted to reject Governor Baker’s amendments to the Janus legislation which the House had voted to reject previously.
To return the bill to the Governor’s desk, both branches now must re-enact the legislation as originally passed, which we are urging the House and Senate to do today, prior to the August recess from formal sessions.
Click to view the roll call votes from each branch on the rejection of Governor Bakers amendments: Senateand House.

EPA Workers in MA Protest Trump's Union Busting

AFGE workers at the EPA organized a protest in reaction to outrageous Trump administration union busting. Check out this coverage by Katie Johnston at the Boston Globe.
"The Trump administration’s disregard for the Environmental Protection Agency’s mission has riled many agency veterans, particularly when it comes to sustainability and climate change. But a new crackdown on working from home is pushing the already beleaguered workforce in Boston to the brink.

“There’s a lot of things this administration has done that makes it difficult to work here, but this is the first thing that’s really hit staff on a personal level,’’ said a public liaison for superfund site cleanups who moved to Exeter, N.H. — a two-hour drive from Boston — in part because of her ability to work from home two days a week, which allows her to pick up her 2-year-old from day care."

Construction Unions Proud to Set U.S. Record for Gender Equity at Encore Boston Harbor

President Of Massachusetts Building Trades, Frank Callahan and Savy Francis, member of Pipefitters Local 537 co-authored this important editorial. Savy was part of the historic team of tradeswoman who built Encore.
"More than 450 tradeswomen were part of Encore’s 7,000-person construction crew over the past three years, making it the largest number of women workers on any construction project in U.S. history. It’s not surprising that this proud record was set in Massachusetts. In fact, it’s intentional."
John Ratliff, President of the Alliance for Retired American's opinion piece was featured in the Sunday Boston Globe.
Self-serving false alarms are sounded over health of the retirement system
I was disappointed with the article “Funding crisis approaches for Social Security” (Page A1, July 21). I am among the 75 percent of Massachusetts seniors who depend on Social Security.
In its 84 years, through wars and recessions, Social Security has never missed a payment. If nothing changes, Social Security will be able to pay full benefits through 2035. Simply raising the federal minimum wage would extend this greatly.
People with ulterior motives continue to sound false alarms. Some simply want to cut our earned benefits. Others want to let Wall Street manage the system — for a profit, of course.
Several bills pending in Congress would expand Social Security benefits and extend the life of the Social Security trust fund. A common feature is to raise the cap now placed on the income taxed to fund the program. There is no reason that Jeff Bezos should pay a lower percentage of his income into Social Security than his lowest-paid employee.
Expanding Social Security and eliminating the cap on earnings has the overwhelming support of the American people.
Eugene Scalia, the nominee for secretary of labor, has spent his entire career making life more difficult and dangerous for working people. The AFL-CIO opposed him in 2002 for solicitor of labor based on his anti-worker record. He has fought ergonomics standards, threatened to destroy workers’ retirement savings, challenged the expansion of health care and dismissed repetitive injuries as “junk science.” The secretary of labor needs to be a true advocate for working people. Scalia’s views are dangerously outside the mainstream and leave us no choice but to oppose his nomination.

Reject Scalia.

Labor Guild School of Labor-Management Relations Classes

The Labor Guild's Fall Term Courses are now available. You can find full course descriptions and register for classes here.
The 2019 Fall Term kicks off on September 9! Courses run September 9–November 4 (no class October 14)
All courses will be held at the Labor Guild (in the Archdiocese Pastoral Center), 66 Brooks Drive in Braintree.

Announcing Union Member Candidate School

Support for union members running for elected office is a top priority for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and our affiliates. We know that when our members run on a platform of working people’s values and receive unified support from the labor movement, we will win. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO and its Executive Board are establishing a union candidate school to train our members to run for elected office from the local/municipal level all the way up to statewide/federal office.
Our first session will be held on Saturday December 7th, 9am-2pm. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. The training will be free of charge and participants will be given materials to use as a reference for campaign purposes.

Learn more and register here.

July 31: Beach Party at the State House for Fund Our Future

August 3: 1199 SEIU Community Fair, Boston

August 6: Boston Tradeswomen Tuesday

August 12: Harbor Cruise Greater Southeastern MA Labor Council

August 18: Building Trades Futures (rotating locations)

August 23: MA AFL-CIO Political & Legislative Roundtable, Dorchester

September 2: Labor Day Breakfasts in Boston and Worcester

September 2: Bread and Roses Heritage Festival in Lawrence

September 6: Western MA Area Labor Federation's Labor Day Breakfast, Chicopee

September 19: Building Pathways Awards Benefit, Boston

September 25-September 27: MA AFL-CIO Convention, Springfield

For a full list of events, visit the calendar on our website. If you have any events that you would like to be included, contact Rachael Running at [email protected]

@SenWarren: We must end the worst abuses of private equity that kill jobs, hurt workers, & drain our economy. The #StopWallStreetLooting Act is a bold new plan to fundamentally change the industry.

@massteacher: "This is a victory by and for the community. But it is just a small step." - MTA President Merrie Najimy on the #mabudget passed today. https://massteacher.org/news/2019/07/school-funding-heads-in-the-right-direction … #fundourfuture: https://www.saveconstructionapprenticeships.org/#/34/