Archive for the ‘Jobs’ Category

Union-Made Old Glory

American FlagMany iconic American products have been union-made: John Deere tractors, Campbell’s Soup, Tootsie Rolls, the Harley Davidson motorcycle, and classic cars such as the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro. We can add to that list the most iconic item of them all, the American Flag itself.

Annin Flag Company of Roseland, New Jersey, produces thousands of union-made American flags each year. Workers at Annin Flags are represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), and their labor-management partnership has helped make the company one of the most prominent flag manufacturers in the country.

Established in 1847, the company prides itself on being the oldest and largest manufacturer of flags in the United States. Their flags have been in used in the inauguration ceremonies of U.S. presidents since Zachary Taylor was sworn in to office back in 1849. An Annin flag was draped across President Lincoln’s coffin, raised on Iwo Jima in 1945, and used in the Apollo space program.

Unfortunately, many American flags are not even made in the United States. However, in 2010 the House of Representatives unanimously passed the All-American Flag Act, which mandates that all flags used for government purchases be made domestically.

Union members have helped to build this country, and the value of their contributions is reflected each day by the union members at Annin Flag Company.


Factory Worker Bo McCurry Reminds Us What’s At Stake

Earlier this week we mentioned how inspiring it was to hear from workers at our annual American Rights at Work Awards Celebration. Inspiration, however, isn’t just a positive, jumping up and down, kind of feeling. It can also take the shape of resolution and dedication. Although we cheered many successes, like the good work done by United Streetcar, we were also reminded of the difficulties shouldered by America’s workers.

One of the most heart-rending moments of our Awards Celebration came when Bo McCurry, a factory worker and union representative at the Philips Lighting plant in Sparta, TN, took the stage. McCurry told the story of a well-performing plant that had received numerous awards from the company over the years. He told the story of a workforce that had continually adapted to management demands—a close-knit group that formed the very backbone of the small town of Sparta. In the end, the loyalty they had shown to the company, and the innovations they delivered, meant little. Read more »


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 »


On National Teacher Day, give teachers the credit they deserve

Today we are honoring the people who have inspired us, given us the building blocks of a fulfilling life, and taught us to love learning. No, we aren’t talking about parents this time. It’s National Teacher Day, a time to reflect on everything teachers do for America’s students, schools, and communities.

From the first day of school to the last ring of the bell, teachers shape our experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Read more »


Workers Memorial Day is a call for better workplace safety

Hard Hats at MemorialToday workers and their families gather across the country to remember and honor colleagues who were injured or killed on the job site last year. While we have made many improvements since workplace tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, research tells us more still needs to be done in order to protect the health and safety of America’s workers.

In 2009 alone, 4,340 workers were killed on the job – an average of 12 workers every day– and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. Read more »


Numbers show the sacrifice isn’t shared

Income Growth Pie ChartAs the economy struggles to rebound and local, state, and federal legislators seek to address cash-strapped budgets, the buzzword has been “shared sacrifice.” But the AFL-CIO’s annual Executive Pay Watch report shows that CEOs of major companies, unlike their employees, haven’t made too many sacrifices. In fact, CEOs from S&P 500 companies received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation in 2010— a 23 percent increase from the previous year!

Shared sacrifice? Not so much. We sure don’t know any workers who got 23 percent raises last year. Read more »


For many Wisconsin teachers, school’s out all too early

Students celebrate the last day of school as the end of homework and the start of summer. But for many teachers across Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on public employees are still in full swing, the end of this school year may also be the beginning of an early retirement.

More than 130 teachers in Madison and its surrounding counties will be retiring this June-a retirement rate that’s 62 percent higher than the average from the past five years. Of course, it’s not just teachers who find their retirement on the line. The number of Wisconsin public employees that have filed for retirement in 2011 is up nearly 80 percent over the same period last year. Read more »


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 »


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 »


Tax Day: Corporate cuts taxing for workers

While no one likes paying taxes, most of us know it’s our tax dollars that support the schools, roads, and services we all use and depend on. But looking at a few statistics this tax day reveals the responsibility for keeping our public programs and economy on track isn’t shared equally — and the burden has fallen on those who can least afford it.

Middle-income families are taxed at 25 percent of their overall paycheck, compared to the average capital gains tax for the wealthiest, which are taxed at a minimum of 15 percent. Read more »