News from the AFL-CIO
- Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: Railroad Signalmen
April, 22 2019
Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: Railroad Signalmen
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Railroad Signalmen (BRS).
Name of Union: Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
Mission: To represent the men and women who maintain railroad signal systems and highway-rail grade crossing warning devices across the nation. In addition, the BRS negotiates contracts and promotes safety in the industry for its members and the traveling public. Local lodges elect delegates to national conventions, which is the organization’s supreme authority. Delegates set policy, review the general state of the union, establish collective bargaining goals and elect Grand Lodge officers, who direct the organization between conventions.
Current Leadership of Union: Jerry Boles was elected to serve as president of the BRS in 2019. Mike Baldwin serves as secretary-treasurer. The BRS also has six vice presidents who serve in various capacities: Joe Mattingly (Midwest), Kelly A. Haley (Headquarters), James Finnegan (Commuter/Passenger), Tim Tarrant (East), Cory Claypool (West) and Brandon Elvey (NRAB).
Current Number of Members: 10,000-plus.
Members Work At: various railroad and supplier locations installing, repairing and maintaining railroad signal systems and highway-rail grade crossing warning devices. The signal system is used to direct train movements and the crossing warning devices warn motorists when a train is approaching a crossing. These members have been installing positive train control (PTC) equipment since Congress mandated the railroads install PTC back in 2008. PTC is an advanced train control system designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur. In particular, PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, train movements over track switches not properly lined and train movements into roadway worker work zones.
Industries Represented: The railroad industry and suppliers in the United States.
History: At the turn of the century, railroad signaling became an emerging craft as railroads increasingly incorporated new technology. In 1901, the BRS was founded to improve the safety and efficiency of railroad operations, and to represent the men and women who install and maintain signal systems. Over the ensuing decades, the organization grew into a national union consisting of working people across the Unites States.
Community Efforts: The BRS maintains a regular schedule of training for members as well as ongoing membership on various committees including the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, which assist the Federal Railroad Administration in developing new regulatory standards to promote railroad safety. The BRS is actively engaged in Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings, and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.
Learn More: Website.
Mon, 04/22/2019 – 13:51
- Powerful Victory
April, 22 2019
A tentative agreement between the 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in New England and management at Stop & Shop supermarkets has been reached, effectively ending the historic strike that captured the country’s attention.
The proposed deal will preserve health care and retirement benefits, provide wage increases and maintain time-and-a-half pay on Sundays for members of UFCW locals 328, 919, 1459, 1445 and 371.
Workers walked off the job on April 11 after management proposed cuts to their health care benefits and wages, despite the company receiving a $225 million tax break in 2017.
The entire labor movement stood behind the workers, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) visiting picket lines last week.
In response to the tentative agreement, UFCW said in a statement:
We are incredibly grateful to our customers and everyone who proudly stood together with us every day for a contract that invests in the communities we serve, and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop.
Under this proposed contract, our members will be able to focus on continuing to help customers in our communities enjoy the best shopping experience possible and to keep Stop & Shop the number one grocery store in New England. The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable health care, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success.
Mon, 04/22/2019 – 13:44
- ‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Can’t Stop, Won’t Shop
April, 18 2019
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Can’t Stop, Won’t Shop
In the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-hosts Julie and Tim talk to Kristen Johnson, a deli manager and shop steward at the Stop & Shop in Somerville, Massachusetts. Kristen and more than 30,000 of her co-workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), are out on strike for fair pay, benefits and respect on the job.
“State of the Unions“ is a tool to help us bring you the issues and stories that matter to working people. It captures the stories of workers across the country and is co-hosted by two young and diverse members of the AFL-CIO team: Mobilization Director Julie Greene and Executive Speechwriter Tim Schlittner. A new episode drops every other Wednesday featuring interesting interviews with workers and our allies across the country, as well as compelling insights from the podcast’s hosts.
Listen to our previous episodes:
- Talking about the #StampOutHunger food drive with Brian Renfroe, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) executive vice president, and Christina Vela Davidson, NALC assistant to the president for community services.
- House Blue Collar Caucus co-chairs Brendan Boyle and Marc Veasey talk about how any plan to rebuild our economy must include working people.
- A conversation with Kim Kelly, a labor columnist for Teen Vogue.
- A special Black History Month discussion with IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden.
- Kooper Caraway, the 28-year old president of the Sioux Falls AFL-CIO, on how the labor movement can reach young people.
- Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with former Mayor Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, Florida.
- Special #StopTheShutdown episode with AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.
Thu, 04/18/2019 – 11:36
- Stand with Stop & Shop Workers: The Working People Weekly List
April, 17 2019
Stand with Stop & Shop Workers: The Working People Weekly List
Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.
Support Stop & Shop Workers: “Some 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are on strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets across New England, walking off the job to fight back against slashed health care benefits. Stand with our brothers and sisters today and sign UFCW’s petition demanding that executives agree to a fair contract that reflects the true value of their workers.”
Protecting the Most Vulnerable: In the States Roundup: “It’s time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states.”
Meet the First Woman President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO: “Elected the first woman president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale has more than two decades of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer and activist. She served as secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO for eight years before her election as president in September 2018. Previously, she was director of public policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, working on behalf of nurses and health care workers throughout the state. Bloomingdale has a statewide reputation as a tenacious fighter and tough negotiator, skills she says she had to develop to survive 20 years of arbitrations, grievance hearings and battles in the legislature.”
Rutgers Faculty Picket Board of Governors Meeting at University’s Newark Campus: “‘An injury to one is an injury to all!’ ‘Rutgers is for education! We are not a corporation!’ The chants of frustrated faculty members disrupted an otherwise quiet campus in Newark on Tuesday, as hundreds gathered outside of the Rutgers University Paul Robeson Center to picket the board of governors meeting.”
Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: American Postal Workers Union: “Next up in our series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the American Postal Workers Union (APWU).”
Collective Voices Lead to Victory: Worker Wins: “Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with grocery store workers using their collective voices and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.”
Economy Gains 196,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Unchanged at 3.8%: “The U.S. economy gained 196,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued lower levels of job growth provide good reason for the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee to express caution in considering any interest rate hikes.”
Education Minnesota Is Gaining Strength One Conversation at a Time: “Just over 18 months ago, the leaders of Education Minnesota (an affiliate of both the AFT and the National Education Association) decided that something had to change. With the Janus v. AFSCME decision looming, and the 2018 midterm elections set to follow, the 90,000-member union knew that membership engagement had to be its top priority.”
‘Anthem’ Voice Actor on Unionization, Struggles of Creation: “The refutation came as there is a growing push for more workers rights and unionization from many members of the gaming community, including the grassroots organization Gamer Workers Unite. Even the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, recently asked games industry employees to fight for adequate pay and sensible work hours. ‘This is a moment for change,’ said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. ‘It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person. Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.'”
Wed, 04/17/2019 – 10:14
- Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: BCTGM
April, 15 2019
Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: BCTGM
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM).
Name of Union: Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
Mission: The primary goal of the BCTGM has not changed in more than 130 years—to bring economic justice in the workplace to all workers in our jurisdiction and social justice to workers throughout the United States and Canada.
Current Leadership of Union: David B. Durkee has served as BCTGM international president since September 2012. Prior to his election as international president, Durkee served as international secretary-treasurer, international executive vice president, international director of organization and international representative.
Durkee began his life as a BCTGM activist in 1973 when he joined Local 280 (Evansville, Indiana) as a baker at Lewis Brothers Bakery. He was re-elected as international president by delegates to the BCTGM international constitutional conventions in 2014 and 2018.
Members Work As: Manufacturing, production workers, maintenance and sanitation workers.
Industries Represented: The BCTGM represents working men and women at some of the most widely recognized companies in the baking, candy, snack food, dairy, tobacco and grain milling industries in North America.
History: The Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America, one of the pioneers of the North American labor movement, was organized in 1886. In 1957, the American Bakery and Confectionery Workers’ International Union was formed. In 1969, the two organizations united.
The Tobacco Workers International Union was founded in 1895 and was also in the forefront of the labor movement. As it and the Bakery and Confectionery Workers’ International Union of America shared many common goals, both organizations came to realize those goals best could be achieved through a merger. That merger, creating the BC&T, took place in 1978.
The American Federation of Grain Millers (AFGM) had roots stemming back to the late 1800s. In 1936, the National Council of Grain Processors was formed when federal grain milling unions agreed to unite as a national union under the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In 1941, the council was renamed the American Federation of Grain Processors and in 1948 was granted an international charter as the AFGM.
Shared goals and industries caused the Jan. 1, 1999, merger between the BC&T and AFGM, resulting in the BCTGM.
Current Campaigns: The BCTGM’s Check the Label campaign urges consumers to boycott Nabisco-Mondelēz products made in Mexico. The BCTGM also is leading the fight to find a legislative solution to America’s growing pension crisis.
Mon, 04/15/2019 – 11:30
There are no upcoming events.