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AFL-CIO Now Blog -- Recent News Stories
While much of the Internet this week was focused on escaped llamas, figuring out what color a dress is or mourning the loss of SAG-AFTRA member and Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy, we can forget that legislation is still being pushed that would make the lives of working families worse. Whether it be the "right to work" policies pushed by the allies of Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), who likes to compare workers to terrorists, and in other states like New Mexico and West Virginia, or the ongoing negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership using the Fast Track process, we need to stay alert.
Mark Twain famously noted, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” The current efforts to roll back the ability of working people to counterbalance the corporate domination of America's politics is firmly rooted in the initial corporate opposition to the Wagner Act of 1935 that finally assured American workers the right to organize and bargain for wages and working conditions. Among those early efforts to reduce the strength of unions was an effort led by Vance Muse.
With a list of horrible governors across the country, including Sam Brownback (Kan.), Chris Christie (N.J.), Nikki Haley (S.C.), Bobby Jindal (La.), John Kasich (Ohio), Paul LePage (Maine), Rick Snyder (Mich.) and Rick Scott (Fla.), and up-and-comers like Asa Hutchinson (Ark.) and Bruce Rauner (Ill.), it's hard to imagine how Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.) could rise to the top of the heap. And it is a pretty big heap. But that's just what he's done with his latest comments, comparing working families to terrorists in the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. And knowing how Republican primary voters think, Walker probably just shot to the top of the party's presidential contender list, too.
A New Jersey Superior Court Judge has taken Gov. Chris Christie to task in a ruling that forces him to contribute his share to the New Jersey state pension system, just as public workers have been doing all along.
Late Wednesday night, the Wisconsin state Senate voted 17–15 to advance a "right to work" bill that has been widely criticized as harmful to the working families of the state. Thousands rallied outside the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday in opposition to the legislation, as similar laws have been shown to have widespread negative effects in the other states that have passed them. Republicans Fast Tracked the bill in order to limit public discussion and feedback, and the bill is expected to be voted on by the state Assembly next week. If it passes, it will be sent to Gov. Scott Walker (R) who has indicated he will sign it.
If anyone needs more evidence why the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement shouldn’t be rushed through Congress on the “Fast Track,” which does not allow any amendments or improvements in the deal—just a take-it-or-leave-it, yes-or-no vote—read Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) column in today’s Washington Post.
Join AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler on Friday, Feb. 27, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST for a live Twitter chat about the AFL-CIO’s Next Up Young Worker Summit. You can follow the chat on @AFLCIONxtUp and @LizShuler and the hashtag #1uNextUp.
During Black History Month, we will be profiling past and present leaders in the intersecting movements to protect and expand the rights of African Americans and working families. We'll highlight both important leaders of the past and those who are continuing the legacy of those strong leaders who laid the foundation for the present.
Cali, Colombia, has never been an easy place to be a trade unionist. As the trade agreement between Colombia and the United States turns three years old, union leaders there are still being shot at by death squads who see organized workers as a dangerous, radical element that must be eliminated. Just in the past week, seven unionists were shot at by masked gunmen in Cali.
UPDATE, Feb. 26: The Wisconsin State Senate approved the right to work bill 17-15 late Wednesday night. Thousands of workers, community supporters and others rallied outside the Capitol earlier in the day to protest the bill and later packed the Senate chambers for the floor debate and vote. The bill now goes to the State Assembly for vote likely next week. We’ll bring you more details later today.
Wisconsin Republicans, led by state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) and state Sen. Steve Nass (R), have made it abundantly clear this week that they don't care about the voices of their state's working families. They had previously made it clear that they didn't care about the rights of working families. On Tuesday, Nass shut down debate on a proposed "right to work" bill, with hundreds of Wisconsin workers still waiting to testify about the bill. Nass previously admitted that the Fast Track process through which the bill was brought up was intentionally designed to limit public protests. But thousands gathered at the state House in protest of the legislature's actions, with more planned rallies already set to go. The Senate Labor Committee advanced the bill on a party-line vote, and it now goes to the full floor for a vote.
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