Actor James Cromwell, United Streetcar, and American Workers Inspire Us at Our Awards Celebration

The passion and purpose of the workers’ rights movement was on display last night at the 7th Annual American Rights at Work Awards Celebration, held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. With speeches that ranged from soulful to cerebral, one message was repeated: as Kimberly Freeman Brown, executive director of American Rights at Work put it, “Our aim is to show the Wisconsin teacher and the Washington machinist that they are not alone.”

SOULcial Justice kicked off the celebration, which honors the recipients of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards. The troupe had the audience of over 400 on their feet, setting the tone for the rest of the night. Read more »


Attorneys’ choice to organize underscores universal need for workplace protection

From the crowded aisles of a 747 to the rows of a tomato farm, unions have a role in every workplace. All of America’s workers deserve fair pay and respect, whether they are an autoworker or an attorney. Did I say attorney? Yes, even lawyers, who know the law and their workplace rights better than most, can benefit from having a voice through their union. Just ask those working in the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

Tired of scant benefits, stagnant pay, and, most importantly, not having any power to change things in their workplace, these men and women decided to form a union with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Like a growing number of professional workers, the attorneys understood that they would be better protected if they had a say in their workplace. Read more »


The secret to Southwest’s success? Putting workers first

Although still considered something of a plucky upstart, Southwest Airlines turns 40 this year. While we don’t advocate that Southwest bring back cheesy 1970s-style uniforms for their flight attendants, both consumers and the airline industry as a whole would do well to examine Southwest’s labor practices. Southwest has never been shy in pointing out that they’re different from their competitors, including airlines like Delta with less-than-stellar track records on workers’ rights. In a special 40th anniversary issue of Southwest’s Spirit magazine, the airline pointed to labor-management collaboration as one of the “40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest.”

Lesson Number 28 from Southwest is “Put the worker first.” As Spirit notes, “Southwest is the most unionized airline, with 85 percent of employees in unions.” From sharing in profits to sharing tasks between flights, workers and management have a history of working together to make Southwest a model company. Read more »


Zombie candidates and fake eviction notices: Another week of far-right fraud

It’s been a banner week for far-right trickery in the upper Midwest. In Wisconsin, the state GOP is moving forward with their Machiavellian plan to run fake Democratic candidates in the state’s upcoming elections. On the other side of Lake Michigan, the Koch-funded front group Americans for Prosperity has been caught posting fake eviction notices on homes in Detroit. According to The Detroit Free Press the counterfeit eviction notices have “created chaos” in Southwest Detroit, where residents have been understandably frightened and confused by the bogus letters. Read more »


Walmart partners with unions abroad: What are they waiting for at home?

Angry WalMartAs reported today in The Washington Post, thousands of Walmart employees have a voice through their union in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true here at home. In the United States, the retail giant is notorious for its opposition to unions and for its bottom-of-the-barrel wages, erratic hours, and meager benefits. Read more »


Delta’s Worker Intimidation Efforts May Be Called Back to the Gate

The National Mediation Board, an independent government agency that oversees labor relations in the airline and rail industries, has announced that it will investigate a union election held last November for Delta Airlines. After reviewing documents from both union representatives and Delta, the NMB believes that there is sufficient evidence that violations have occurred and that further investigation is needed. Read more »


What do actor James Cromwell and United Streetcar have in common? Workers’ rights

On June 20, American Rights at Work will pay tribute to those who have fought for workplace justice at our 7th Annual American Rights at Work Awards Celebration. In addition to recognizing the founders of the organization, the Awards Celebration will honor actor James Cromwell and Oregon’s United Streetcar.

Although one of his most beloved characters, the kindly farmer Arthur Hoggett of “Babe,” was a man of few words, actor James Cromwell has long been an outspoken and dedicated defender of workers’ rights. Beyond serving as a leader within his own unions, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild, he has advocated for the freedom to form unions and the Employee Free Choice Act, and stood alongside film crews and lyricists to improve working conditions. Read more »


Report Highlights Link Between Labor-Management Partnerships and Academic Success

While the collective bargaining rights of teachers are under attack across the country, we’ve heard plenty from politicians looking to score partisan points. But often drowned out in this cacophony are the voices of educators and school administrators who continue to point out that collective bargaining works for our schools. A new report from American Rights at Work Education Fund highlights the positive impact labor-management partnerships are having in our nation’s classrooms—and underscores the role collective bargaining plays in improving student achievement. It’s a tool for innovation that is improving education from New Jersey to California.

The report, “Partnerships in Education: How Labor-Management Collaboration Is Transforming Public Schools,” is available here.

“The schools lifted up in this report make it clear that revoking collective bargaining rights isn’t just the wrong way to address budget deficits—it’s also a threat to the quality of our schools,” said Kimberly Freeman Brown, Executive Director of American Rights at Work. Read more »


Wisconsin judge affirms what we’ve said all along

Last March, facing rising opposition, Republicans in Wisconsin met abruptly in a closed meeting to pass controversial legislation stripping Wisconsin public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Today, that bill was struck down by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi. Judge Sumi, a Republican-appointed judge, ruled that Act 10 was passed in violation of the state’s open meetings law.

In her decision, Judge Sumi wrote that the tactics used by proponents of Walker’s unionbusting bill were in clear violation of the state’s constitution, “We are entitled by law to free and open access to governmental meetings, and especially governmental meetings that lead to the resolution of very highly conflicted and controversial matters.” According to Judge Sumi, the methods by which the bill was passed denied the people of Wisconsin their stake in the legislative process. She ruled that the abuse of power was so egregious that the court had no choice but to strike down the law. Read more »


Target and Walmart: Different uniforms, same plays

While the push for a fairer workplace at Walmart is well known, that desire is shared by workers across the retail sector. Target, which is often championed as a responsible alternative, has become increasingly ‘Walmarty,’ keeping wages down and funneling more and more employees into part-time–only positions.

As detailed in today’s New York Times, frustrated Target employees in the New York City area are taking matters into their own hands and seeking to organize into a union. Tuned out by management, these workers know that it’s a through a union that they are assured a voice on the job and a say in their working standards.

Read more »