American Rights at Work: Author Archive

What an exciting year for workers’ rights!

The end of the year is upon us, and what an exciting 12 months it has been for workers’ rights! We’ve had some lows, but we’ve also seen significant victories for the 99 percent.  Among other things: Ohio voters repealed SB 5, the NLRB approved a rule to ensure workers get a fair vote during union elections, and the Occupy movement shifted the national debate to focus on the real problems facing middle-class families. Read more »

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Great Gifts, Good American Jobs: Your Holiday Guide to Union-Made Products & Services

The holidays are approaching fast, and along with them, the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating, stressful travel, and long to-do lists. Never fear, we’re here to help you survive the mayhem with our handy gift guide of products union-made in the USA. Click on each of the images in the slideshow (or download the PDF) to find quality gifts for your family, friends, and even the most hard-to-please folks on your shopping list. These days, as more and more jobs get shipped overseas, it’s not easy to know what’s made in America, let alone by union members. With our guide, you can rest easy knowing that your holiday shopping will support good, family-supporting jobs here at home. And that’s a gift every American can enjoy. Read more »

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Off the Clock with musician Mike McColgan of the Street Dogs

Off the Clock

In this regular interview series, American Rights at Work spends some time off the clock with notable workers’ rights leaders, supporters, experts, and organizers.

Are unions punk rock? We think so, and so does Mike McColgan, the lead singer of the popular punk band the Street Dogs. Mike’s work as a union firefighter and pressman have shaped the riveting working class anthems he’s written and performed in bands like the Dropkick Murphys, and now with the Street Dogs. We’ve been blown away by their music for years and will see them on Monday in concert in D.C. at the Black Cat. You can also catch the Street Dogs live on their Wreck the Halls tour, pick up one of their many recordings, or watch them in action performing in Madison as part of the historic protests against collective bargaining attacks in Wisconsin. Read our interview with Mike to learn more about what inspires his passionate political stances, powerful lyrics, and lifelong fight to champion unions… Read more »

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Off the Clock with actor Christopher Gorham

Off the Clock

In this regular interview series, American Rights at Work spends some time off the clock with notable workers’ rights leaders, supporters, experts, and organizers.

We’re big fans of actor Christopher Gorham and his memorable performances over the years on shows like Ugly Betty, Out of Practice, Jake 2.0, and Popular. He’s now starring on USA Network’s Covert Affairs as CIA analyst Auggie Anderson, returning tonight. Read our interview with Chris to learn more about this outspoken union member’s first union job, favorite labor film, and what he likes to do when he’s off the clock… Read more »

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Pro-Union & Pro-Football: How to support unions at your next tailgate or game party

For millions of Americans, fall marks the time to obsess over football – be it on the couch, in the bleachers, or in the stadium parking lot. Football season is a great opportunity to bring people together for the shared love of the game. Whether fair-weather football fans or fanatics, it’s likely not everyone in the crowd will be a die-hard union fan. Understandably, when fewer and fewer people have had direct experience with a union, there’s less of a chance they see unions as key to rebuilding America and the middle class. But you can help clear up myths and help shed light on what unions are all about. In fact, game day is a great place to start creating a bigger union cheering section. We’re here to help with some simple facts and talking points so you’re ready the next time you encounter someone who simply misunderstands or stands against unions – on or off the field. Read more »

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Off the Clock with the AFL-CIO’s Liz Shuler

Off the Clock

Welcome to a new blog feature where twice a month American Rights at Work spends some time off the clock with notable labor leaders, thinkers, and organizers.

First up is AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, who shares how she joined the labor movement, why young workers should too, and how she likes to spend her time when she’s “off the clock”! Read more »

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Will workers win or lose when Walmart moves in?

Guest Post by author and MacArthur Foundation Chair in History at UC Santa Barbara, Nelson Lichtenstein.

As our consumer-driven economy struggles to regain lost ground, Walmart—the big-box retailer notorious for driving down wages and labor standards wherever it goes—is moving forward with plans to open stores in urban centers nationwide. What could the company’s expanded presence mean for workers and our communities?

Currently, Walmart uses its position in the economy to push low-road work that offers its associates no hope of a career. With such low pay and meager benefits, many Walmart employees who enjoy their job simply can’t afford to stay at the company. Career advancement is limited because only a few managerial positions exist at each store. Read more »

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Labor-management partnerships: The seeds of success in the green economy

Abigail Paris serves as Program Assistant for the Socially Responsible Business Program.

Flambeau River PapersToday is Earth Day—a day to reflect on the importance and value of the natural environment.  Started more than 40 years ago in the United States, Earth Day is now celebrated in over 175 countries. It also serves as a time to take note of year-round environmental stewardship. In the 2010 edition of our annual Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work, we did just that.

The eight businesses featured in the report are leaders in the green industry, in terms of both environmental sustainability and labor-management partnerships. Litecontrol manufactured the first architectural lighting systems to be Cradle to Cradle™ certified. Gerding Edlen Development led the first LEED-Platinum certified renovation of a building on the National Register of Historic Places. McGough Construction built the first office building in Minnesota to be certified LEED Platinum. Flambeau River Papers will be the first pulp and paper mill in North America to go fossil fuel free by using a biofuel plant that turns wood byproducts into green diesel fuel to power the mills.

Read more »

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Livable wage at Walmart would have huge impact on associates, while leaving low prices intact

Guest Post by Chair of UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, Ken Jacobs.

Walmart is well known for both its low prices and its low wages, and the drive to keep prices down is offered as a ready rationale for the company’s substandard wages and benefits. New findings show that Walmart can still keep those prices low and pay its workers a living wage.

In a recent study I completed with my colleagues Dave Graham-Squire and Stephanie Luce, we found that Walmart could raise its starting wage to $12, a significant improvement for many Walmart workers, with only the slightest impact on customers. Read more »

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The Right To Join A Union: From Eleanor Roosevelt to John Kasich

Guest Post by Author and Labor Scholar Brigid O’Farrell.

When my phone rang in Moss Beach, California, I was surprised to find a young girl calling from a small town in Ohio, not far from Columbus. She and her friends in eighth grade were writing a play about Eleanor Roosevelt for a school project. She saw my book on the internet, She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker. They wanted their drama to address the workers in Ohio and Wisconsin. “Eleanor Roosevelt went into a coal mine, didn’t she?” the girl asked. “Do you think she would be supporting the workers today?” Read more »

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