For the third consecutive Labor Day, American Rights at Work organized the #unionmember Tweet-a-Thon – connecting actors, athletes, writers, entertainers, rank-and-file union members, and workers’ rights supporters nationwide to share the value of unions and what it means to be a #unionmember through Twitter. We were proud to once again partner with Actors’ Equity, MLB Players Association, NFL Players Association, SAG-AFTRA, and the Writers Guild of America, East, to take over Labor Day on Twitter.
Capitol Hill got a dose of reality today at a panel featuring entertainment insiders and lawmakers who discussed the perils of the freelance economy and revealed the behind-the-scenes challenges facing professional employees like writers in nonfiction television, as well as temps, subcontractors, and freelancers in nearly every industry, who lack the protections and structures of traditional employment.
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota and a member of three unions himself, opened the panel by noting the lack of employment protections he faced as a writer at the beginning of his career. He called attention to important provisions in the Rebuild America Act that would help protect writers and other contingent workers.
American Rights at Work and Jobs with Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta then moderated a panel discussion with Lowell Peterson, executive director of Writers’ Guild of America East (WGAE), and Lee Ellenberg, a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman and WGAE member.
Peterson described how in nonfiction TV, despite controlling their work as a typical employer does, many studios misclassify writers as independent contractors. “The reality of freelance employment in nonfiction TV is that even creative professionals face grueling hours, no job security, no benefits, and no certainty about compensation. Writers and producers in this industry find that, joining with the WGAE, it’s possible to change those conditions, but there is a lot of work to be done.”
Ellenberg shared his personal experience of seeing industry friends looking for work every six weeks, not sure if they would ever receive health care coverage or a retirement plan. He noted how fortunate he was to be a union member, knowing that he would receive proper pay for the work that he did and basic benefits, like health care and a pension, which provide economic security.
Rounding out the discussion, Gupta connected the insights Peterson and Ellenberg shared from the nonfiction TV industry to the precarious situation workers in all types of contingent work find themselves today. She explained, “Until lawmakers are able to modernize federal labor laws, employers will continue to abuse the contingent labor model and lower job standards to the detriment of us all.”
Today’s briefing helped educate policymakers that America’s workers – from writers to housekeepers – need legislative improvements to help the 99%, not just the 1%.
Today I had the privilege of joining over a dozen Hyatt workers and representatives from numerous allied organizations at the National Press Club for the launch of a global boycott of Hyatt hotels. In the room stood members from the labor movement, the religious community, and progressive organizations. We were there to show Hyatt that we expect more from them.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, which means it is time again to show your mom how much she means to you.
We know it’s almost impossible to find a gift that repays your mom for all her love, hard work, and dedication. But you can show her how much she means to you by getting a gift that’s fun, practical, and supports good, union jobs.
Station Casinos’s kitchen and restaurant staff, cocktail servers, bartenders, housekeepers, and porters have been trying to get a voice at work since 2010 to provide a better future for themselves and their families. In response, Station launched a vicious anti-union campaign, firing organizers and retaliating, threatening, interrogating, and spying on other employees.
Starting today, the U.S. Senate will consider a bill aimed at overturning the NLRB’s recent, commonsense rule that will help ensure workers who want a union election can have one without facing needless bureaucratic delay. It is important that you call your senators and tell them to VOTE NO on S.J.Res.36. Read more »
Today at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a coalition of consumer advocates, workers’ rights supporters, and federal food inspectors delivered nearly 150,000 petitions to the agency demanding it halt proposed changes to the poultry inspection process.
This weekend many Americans will celebrate Easter. While every family has different holiday traditions, we all look forward to the Easter Sunday mainstays—overindulging in sugary snacks and a big meal with friends and family.
Last Friday, a Florida law firm fired 14 workers who wore orange shirts to the office. The workers were going to a happy hour later that night and decided to coordinate their wardrobe. They were not expecting it to be their last day at work.
Just about every day it seems like another extremist group or corporate-backed politician is attacking unions. To push back against this trend, American Rights at Work Education Fund has produced and funded five new reports revealing that the benefits of workers forming unions extend far beyond themselves—and even beyond their workplaces. We compiled the main findings from these reports in our latest release, Beyond the Weekend: New data reveals how unions benefit communities, consumers, employers, and employees.