Posts Tagged ‘Kimberly Freeman Brown’

Link between union density and happiness plays out on national scale

It’s no surprise that belonging to a union improves the lives of union members. But a recent study co-authored by Patrick Flavin and Benjamin Radcliff at Notre Dame and Alexander Pacek of Texas A&M University, shows that union density—the percentage of the workforce that belongs to unions—also has a direct impact on workers who don’t belong to unions. Read more »


Labor in the pulpits, on the Bimah, in the Minbar

I was raised in Abilene, Texas, which some call the “buckle of the bible belt”.  One interesting thing about growing up in that part of the country was experiencing so many different types of faith and religious communities.  Whether they were Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim, most of these communities had one thing in common: their respective commitments to social justice.

An organization called Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) works year-round to highlight this very commitment to social and economic justice.  IWJ is a labor rights group that organizes the religious community around issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits, and conditions for workers. The organization strives to give workers—especially those in low-wage jobs—a voice at work and in their communities.   Read more »


Federal judge to pool chemical company: Clean up your act.

Alden Leeds, Inc., a company that produces swimming pool chemicals in Kearny, NJ, will have to face up to its dirty deeds. Last November, while in contract negotiations with its employees’ union, the company unlawfully locked out 50 workers.

For the record, that’s illegal. And it’s wrong. Instead of bargaining in good faith with its employees, the company chose to leave them out in the cold, without a paycheck, for nearly nine months.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is nothing new for America’s working families. Firing and intimidating pro-union employees are common practice for far too many employers. Adding insult to injury, lawbreaking employers often get away with these crimes, with nary a penalty.  But not this time! Read more »


The 75th anniversary of the NLRA: A happy birthday for workers’ rights?

Amid all the fanfare surrounding the 4th of July last week, another significant milestone in our country’s history slipped by largely unnoticed—the 75th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A vital component of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the NLRA was designed to protect workers’ right to form unions and bargain collectively for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

As Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis noted in a recent Huffington Post column, passage of the NLRA was touted by many—including celebrated economist John Maynard Keynes—as an integral part of the country’s economic recovery program.

In an op-ed featured in The Hill, our Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown joined Secretary Solis in commemorating the Act’s anniversary, and stressed the importance of modernizing the NLRA to meet the needs of today’s workplaces. Read more »


Supreme Court ruling could reopen hundreds of NLRB decisions

Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, more than 500 National Labor Relations Board cases are likely to be reopened.

The court ruled in New Process Steel v. National Labor Relations Board that the Board had been operating illegally with just two members, Democrat Wilma Liebman and Republican Peter Schaumber,  since December 2007. While we’ve certainly been in favor of filling out the NLRB to its full membership so it can truly get back to work for workers, today’s ruling only adds insult to injury for thousands of workers across America by needlessly delaying finality for workers who already thought they had it

Kimberly Freeman Brown, Executive Director of American Rights at Work, had this to say on how to move forward:

Notwithstanding today’s developments, the NLRB must still address serious issues faced by workers in this economy by enacting tougher remedies on lawbreaking employers, demanding swift justice for illegally fired workers, and protecting workers’ rights to a first contract to the fullest extent of the law.

You can read her statement here.


Beyond Pathetic: BP Oil Executives Calculate the Value of Workers’ Lives as “Three Little Pigs”

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post:

As if more evidence was needed that unregulated corporate behavior hurts working families and destroys our environment, now comes news  that BP compared its workers to the ‘Three Little Pigs’ in calculating the dollar value of their lives.

For BP to value their workers like farm animals is the clearest illustration yet that only the force of law can protect working people. BP executives had a chance to change after the Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers five years ago. Yet 11 more BP workers died last month in the Deepwater Horizon explosion – now spewing countless gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico – all for want of proper safety equipment and strong oversight by the federal government.

Read more »


New DOL posting rule helps relations and efficiency

There was some good news for workers’ rights advocates this morning. The Department of Labor will publish final rule in the new edition of the Federal Register, released today, that requires federal contractors and subcontractors to post notice of their employees’ rights.

These rights, covered under the National Labor Relations Act, include the right of workers to organize and form unions, which of course puts a smile on my face. And according to the DOL’s John Lund, employees’ knowledge of their rights “leads to more stable labor-management relations and a more engaged workforce, which in turn facilitates greater efficiency and timely completion of federal contracts.”

Efficiency? Stable relations? Timely completion of federal contracts? That’s not a combination of words you see every day.

Our Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown had this to say: Read more »


Who’s afraid of a fair wage?

Cross-posted from

It was pretty amusing to watch the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board attempt to incite panic over the possibility that federal contractors be encouraged treat their workers better. To read the Journal’s editorial, you would think that a living wage, health benefits, pensions, and sick leave were the biggest threat facing America since the financial crisis. American Rights at Work’s Kimberly Freeman Brown takes them to task in a recent letter to the editor:

You are correct about one thing in your otherwise flawed editorial on “high-road” contracts: Where you find unions, you find better wages and benefits. It’s no coincidence that giving an edge to companies which pay a living wage and offer health care, pensions, sick leave, and other benefits will mean giving an edge to union companies. That’s exactly why workers form unions: because they help working families improve their standard of living.

It’s true: workers in unions earn 14% higher wages and are 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, even when controlling for factors like education, occupation, and experience. And leading American economists, business academics, and civil rights leaders all agree that unions are good for our economy and community. As Kim puts it:

In a consumer economy, job creation means nothing if it doesn’t put spending money in the hands of the middle class. So how should our government spend our tax dollars? Creating more McJobs or fostering jobs which support families, pump money into the economy and build a robust middle class? My bet is that the majority of Americans would choose the latter.

We think so, too.