Doug Foote: Author Archive

Doug Foote, New Media and Communications Intern, assists with American Rights at Work’s social media outreach and overall online program. He previously worked at Blue State Digital, where he wrote for the Communications Workers of America’s broadband policy blog, Speedmatters. A graduate of Tufts University and lifelong New Englander, Doug doesn’t understand why everyone thinks it’s so cold all the time in DC, or why a pizza place would not also serve subs. He also performs with DC’s Congressional Chorus, and is frequently heard singing to himself from his cubicle, where he thinks no one can hear him.

Don Blankenship: Wanted man?

Despite the intense media glare focusing on the BP man made disaster engulfing the Gulf, the leaders of Massey Energy haven’t been able to slink away unnoticed. Thanks in part to your efforts, they are being held accountable for their roles in the preventable deaths of the 29 West Virginia miners in April.

So far, over 14,800 American Rights at Work activists have signed our petition to fire Massey CEO Don Blankenship (Sign here if you haven’t yet). And over 1,000 people showed up at the company’s headquarters in Richmond, VA, to protest in person.

There hasn’t been an immediate and total victory – Blankenship and other Massey leaders haven’t been fired or arrested – but there’s been amazing progress towards accountability so far. 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 »

 

Making noise on K Street

My shirt is still drying and my hair might need a towel, but I didn’t want to waste any time: I just got back from representing American Rights at Work at the K Street Showdown protest in DC.

The rally was organized by the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Jobs with Justice, National People’s Action (NPA), MoveOn.org, and others – and the cold rain didn’t hamper attendance one bit. People of all ages, races, and affiliations assembled at McPherson Square, wielding signs and umbrellas, eager to take on Wall Street’s lobbyist allies. Chants ranged from “Bank of America, bad for America!” to “Move banks, get out the way!” with smatterings of “Si se puede!” and accompanied by a wide variety of percussion instruments.

Read more »

 

Guess what? Small businesses support labor unions

As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce begins its annual “Small Business Summit” today, we’ve got some surprising results from our survey of 1,055 small business owners: they’re for workers’ rights. The Chamber and other anti-worker organizations are out to mislead the public, claiming that small business owners are against unions and oppose their own employees’ efforts to organize.

But that’s not the case. As one Colorado small business owner put it, “Unions help level the playing field for companies that voluntarily treat their employees right and compensate them fairly.” Some data from the survey, after the jump: Read more »

 

“Last century”

Did you miss Mickey Kaus’s anti-union rant in the LA Times on May 3? If so, you didn’t miss much – he took up one of the right wing’s favorite past times: throwing rocks at public sector unions. Our favorite part, though, was Kaus’ gigantic backhanded compliment to the labor movement:

Unions have done a lot for this country; they were especially important when giant employers tried to take advantage of a harsh economy in the last century, not only to keep down wages but to speed up assembly lines and, worse, force workers to risk their lives and health.

The last century? Where’ve you been, Mickey?

We’re living in the age of Don Blankenship, whose opposition to organizing and profits-over-people mentality lead to the deaths of 29 miners last month. We’re living in the age where Wal-Mart, the biggest private employer in the country, cuts the wages and benefits of its workers despite record profits, blatantly violates labor law– and is seen as a role-model, not a bad apple, by the business world. And we’re living in a time where violating our nation’s labor laws – flexible as they are – results in nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Critics are welcome to cherry-pick the real or perceived failures of individual unions. The truth is that the labor movement’s job is definitively unfinished, and unions are the best vehicles for workers to advocate for their rights and safety.

Threats to workers’ “lives and health” aren’t relics of the past. They are alive and well in 2010, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Pundits on both sides of the spectrum would do well to acknowledge it.

(Also see Susan Lowitz’s response to Kaus’s column.)

 

Flash mob “rah rah’s” for hotel workers (Video)

In my many years scouring the Internet, I don’t think I’ve ever seen “hotel workers,” “flash mob,” and “Lady Gaga” in the same sentence.

But here it is: this week, the San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work organized a Lady Gaga flash mob to support hotel workers at the Westin Saint Francis Hotel. Think I’m kidding? Check the tape.

Singing “Boycott, boycott, workers’ rights are hot” to the tune of Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and showing off coordinated dance moves in the middle of the lobby, the flash mobbers were impossible for the Westin’s management – or patrons – to ignore.

Read more »

 

Air and rail workers get elections that make sense

Chalk this up as a win for pilots, flight attendants, and the rest of the airport gang: a ruling Monday by the National Mediation Board (NMB) will provide air and rail workers the right to fair, democratic – and, well, logical – union elections.

Until yesterday, the way union elections were held for these workers didn’t even make sense. Under Rail Labor Act (RLA), every worker who did not cast a vote was counted as a “No.” Read more »

 

Can they do that?

Can your boss fire you for what you write about in your personal blog? Can you be pink-slipped over a bumper sticker? Can your employer dismiss you for having a beer after work?

Yes. Yes. And, horrifyingly, yes.

Few Americans are truly aware of what happens to their legal rights once they punch the clock. That’s why Lewis Maltby, president and founder of the National Workrights Institute, wrote Can They Do That: Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace.

Read more »

 

The new economy: blue and green

Thank you so much to all the people who made the 2010 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference such an enormous success! We enjoyed the fascinating panels, the robust discussions – and I’ll add that the complementary coffee didn’t hurt either.

On Tuesday, we heard leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CWA President Larry Cohen, and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter speak about their experiences and their plans to help create well-paying clean energy jobs – whether through national legislation, union organizing, or state-wide grant programs.

That afternoon, attendees packed into a hotel conference room for our panel “Partnerships That Work: Good, Green Employers.” Moderated by our Socially Responsible Business Program Director, Nikki Daruwala, the panel highlighted real-life examples of labor-management partnerships that are not only helping companies survive the recession, but also transforming them into green, clean, and sustainable businesses.

Some panel highlights: Read more »

 

Mourn the dead; fight for the living

Cross-posted from www.FixOurJobs.org:

Today is Workers Memorial Day, on which we remember the thousands of men, women, and children who are injured or killed on the job. The April 5, 2010 disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, in which 29 miners lost their lives, makes this year’s observance especially poignant.

But while that event shocked and galvanized the nation, it was hardly unique. Just days before, an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes killed six workers in Washington. In February, three workers were lost in a gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middleton, Connecticut. Every day in the United States, an average of 14 workers die as a result of workplace injuries.

There’s a word we can use to describe the majority of these horrible incidents: Preventable.

Read more »