ENews: June 20, 2019

The Public’s Radio: Bonus Q&A: Quinn On Labor’s Influence, Local Pensions, Minimum Wage & More

Patrick Quinn, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NE, which represents almost30,000 healthcare workers in Rhode Island and Connecticut, joins Bonus Q&A this week to discuss union influence on Smith Hill, the burden of local pension costs, and other issues.-LISTEN

AFL-CIO: Message of the Day – Fighting for Fairness

The USPS Fairness Act would repeal the mandate that USPS “pre-fund” decades’ worth of health benefits for its future retirees enacted through the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. It would significantly improve the USPS’ financial standings and help ensure its stability for years to come.

The Postal Service is the only federal agency that is required to pre-fund decades’ worth of health benefits for its future retirees. This has cost an average of $5.4 billion annually since 2007. It is responsible for 92% of USPS losses over the past 12 years and 100% of losses over the past six years. Without this mandated burden, the Postal Service would have recorded surpluses of nearly $4 billion since 2013.

National Association of Letter Carriers FaceBook:

On April 24, 2019, NALC filed a national level grievance on the USPS unilateral consolidated casing initiative. The initiative started May 18 in Annandale, VA. The grievance has been scheduled for national arbitration in December 2019. In the meantime, NALC representatives continue to meet with the USPS representatives on the issue. For more information on this grievance, please see Executive Vice President Brian Renfroe’s June Postal Record article. -READ ARTICLE

AFL-CIO: Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: Heat and Frost Insulators

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Heat and Frost Insulators (HFIU).

Name of Union: International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers

Mission: Assisting members in securing employment, defending their rights and advancing their interests and through education and cooperation, raising them to that position in society to which they are justly entitled.

Current Leadership of Union: James P. McCourt serves as general president, first having been elected in 2015. McCourt is a second-generation pipe coverer who began his career with Asbestos Workers Local 6 in Boston in 1976. He received his mechanic’s card in 1980 and served on the executive board of the local from 1982-1984. McCourt was president of the local from 1985-1987. In 1997, he was elected international vice president of the New York-New England States Conference. In 2001, he was elected by the General Executive Board to serve as general secretary-treasurer and was elected by the general convention to serve in that position three subsequent times.

Gregory T. Revard serves as general secretary-treasurer.

Current Number of Members: 30,000


Truthout: New Federal Bill Would Make It Easier to Join a Union

A record number of workers in the United States decided to go on strike in 2018. Now congressional Democrats are trying to harness that momentum to pass a massive labor reform bill that would make it easier for workers to join unions and collectively bargain.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was introduced on May 2 by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia). The bill would usher in a multitude of protections for workers and give them more bargaining power.

Some of its features include penalties for businesses that illegally fire employees, sped-up union elections that prevent employers from holding anti-union meetings with their staff, and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections for many independent contractors who aren’t currently classified as employees.


CNN Business: Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage in 3,614 days. It’s time to put hard-working Americans first

On Sunday, the United States will mark an unfortunate milestone: It will be 3,614 days since the federal minimum wage was last raised in July 2009. This will be the longest period of time between federal minimum wage increases in the nation’s history.

Despite a tight labor market, employee salaries aren’t rising fast enough to make up for years of wage stagnation. That’s why far too many Americans feel like they’re treading water. Their paychecks are unchanged, while everyday expenses like housing, health care and gas have gone up.

One proven way to give a pay raise to millions of Americans is to increase the federal minimum wage. This has happened almost two dozen times over the past 80 years under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

Left unadjusted for 10 years, the current minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour has 35% less buying power than when the wage floor was $1.60 in 1969. Today, a person working full time on minimum wage can’t even afford the basics. Despite a strong economy, 40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 for an unexpected emergency. And there’s no place in the United States where someone can afford a one-bedroom apartment on a $7.25 an hour wage and 40-hour workweek.-READ MORE

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Facebook: Racing for the Next Generation

It’s one of Canada’s biggest motorcycle races. And the IBEW is showing it’s support to help recruit the next generation of electrical workers.



“The Postal Service remains the nation’s second-largest employer of military veterans and is a source of decent and dignified union jobs and equal pay for workers from all backgrounds, including women and people of color. These employees are dedicated public servants who do more than process and deliver the nation’s mail. They serve as the eyes and ears of the nation’s communities and often respond first in situations involving health, safety and crime.” AFL-CIO Executive Council statement, No Postal Service Privatization, July 26, 2018

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OSHA issues standard on cotton dust to protect 600,000 workers from byssinosis, also known as “brown lung” – 1978

A majority of the 5,000 textile workers at six Fieldcrest Cannon textile plants in Kannapolis, N.C., vote for union representation after an historic 25-year fight – 1999

Evelyn Dubrow, described by the New York Times as organized labor’s most prominent lobbyist at the time of its greatest power, dies at age 95. The Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers Union lobbyist once told the Times that “she trudged so many miles around Capitol Hill that she wore out 24 pairs of her size 4 shoes each year.” She retired at age 86 – 2006

Eight-hour work day adopted for federal employees – 1912

AFL President Sam Gompers and Secretary of War Newton Baker sign an agreement establishing a three-member board of adjustment to control wages, hours and working conditions for construction workers employed on government projects. The agreement protected union wage and hour standards for the duration of World War I – 1917



This week we’ll finish up Pat Crowley’s enlightening lecture on the meteoric rise of Boilermakers Local 308 during World War II, a local that broke the archaic race barrier in place at the time in order to get the job done for the war effort; but whose selflessness went unrewarded as the war came to an end, the local collapsed as the shipyard disappeared and the international no longer even has a record of them existing. And none of us would know any of this if not for the oral history of the workers, a box of papers left in a local library, and the Rhode Island Labor History Society. Please enjoy.