News

News from the Central Labor Council of Middle Tennessee.

The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, representing 40 local affiliate labor unions, has announced its endorsements in the Nashville School Board race. They are:

The path to the presidency runs through the labor movement.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in an interview with The Hill’s Steve Clemons on Thursday that President Trump has “considered workers expendable” in efforts to reopen economies and workplaces.

The president of the Utility Workers Union of America called yesterday for a federal infectious disease standard for the workplace as one member of his union described being "terrified" of working during the coronavirus pandemic. The push for a federal standard by James Slevin, whose union has about 50,000 members, followed legal action this week by the AFL-CIO that aims to force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard for infectious diseases. "We definitely need this today," Slevin told reporters on a conference call.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler said the union is using the pandemic to galvanize Amazon workers at company headquarters and enlist support from elected officials. Amazon had over 53,000 employees in Seattle in 2019. “Amazon’s backyard is Seattle, and that’s a major focus for us in terms of how to take the energy, the courage, the activism that we are already seeing there and build that into a real movement,” she said.

With states reopening for business and millions of people heading back to work, the nation's largest labor organization is demanding the federal government do more to protect workers from contracting the coronavirus on the job.

What's happening: The AFL-CIO, a collection of 55 unions representing 12.5 million workers, says it is suing the federal agency in charge of workplace safety to compel them to create a set of emergency temporary standards for infectious diseases.

Even Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia’s recent letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, intended to defend his agency’s performance, offers little in terms of real enforcement. The word “guidance” and its variant “guidelines” appear nine times, as well as the observation that “employers are implementing measures to protect workers” (emphasis in original). Absent from the letter: the word “citation.” The word “penalty.”
“This isn’t just about infection control, which is how the CDC looks at it, this is about exposure assessment,” said Rebecca Reindel, safety and health specialist with the labor organization AFL-CIO. “You look at how people are exposed. Your main source of exposure is other people and so where you’re mainly running into other people right now is the workplace.”

Every labor communicator is responding to minute-by-minute changes in policies and practices affecting workers’ livelihoods. ILCA members are challenged to process, manage, and disseminate essential information to both internal and external audiences. Just by doing our work, labor communicators are producing real-time, textbook examples of crisis communications case studies. In this new series, we’ll profile national newsmakers who are amplifying labor’s call to protect the physical and economic health of workers.

Sticking to a here-and-now solution to coronavirus-caused joblessness, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka proposed the federal government guarantee paid employment – by actually shelling out the money – for all workers. Employers would be a pass-through, nothing more. In a 13-minute speech posted on the federation’s Facebook page, Trumka said that with unemployment at highs unseen since the Great Depression and with the future clouded by millions of jobless people, now is not the time for partisan politics. Instead he declared, lawmakers should unite, as some already have, behind federal subsidies straight into workers’ pockets, and not to CEOs or Wall Street. Trumka also warned, as public health specialists have, against reopening the economy too soon. Right-wing pressure has forced some states to yield and start reopening businesses, even without enough coronavirus testing, a lack Trumka pointed out. Doing so, he declared, could put us right back down again. “If we reopen before we’re ready, if we reopen because we’re impatient, if you send workers into unsafe workplaces, if you send consumers into an unsafe community, we’ll be reopening an economic wound that will make it much harder to heal down the road."