Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee finished the mark-up process and passed a bipartisan immigration bill that, at its core, maintains a pathway to citizenship. We applaud the committee's work toward providing millions of hardworking aspiring immigrants an opportunity to earn citizenship.
However, our excitement about the bill's progress is only tempered by the powerful call for immigration equality that was not answered. We stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters, moved tremendously by the statements of Senators, particularly Senator Patrick Leahy, who rightly said that the time for marriage equality and recognition of same-sex binational couples under immigration law has come.
We will continue to work to improve the legislation as we fight for passage, because this bill is a historic step forward for all immigrants.
WASHINGTON, DC - After the Senate HELP Committee voted to move five nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote in the full Senate, Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:
"It's good news for workers that these vital nominations to the NLRB have passed out of committee and are headed to the full Senate. The importance of the NLRB to American workers cannot be overstated. The NLRB is charged with enforcing our nation's labor laws and serves as a means of recourse for workers who have been illegally fired, had their wages stolen or faced other unfair labor practices on the job. We've heard story after story of workers who are still waiting for justice because their cases are facing legal delays related to the legitimacy of the current NLRB members. Confirming all five nominees to the NLRB would enable it to get back to work on behalf of both workers and employers and eliminate the uncertainty surrounding its operation.
"Senate Republicans must not block these important nominations and should allow a fair up or down vote."
Committee guards pathway to citizenship without burdensome barriers and delivers strong bipartisan bill
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee reached the finish line with a bipartisan immigration bill that maintains roadmap to citizenship at the center of reform legislation.
"We can now turn the hourglass around and begin a new stage in America's fight for commonsense immigration reform. Despite a few attempts to poison the consensus issue of the bill, Senators in bipartisan fashion upheld a clear and direct pathway to citizenship for the millions of aspiring citizens in America," stated Eliseo Medina, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Secretary-Treasurer.
"The fight is far from over. Although we celebrate this step forward, the consensus of Americans who want nothing more but to fix our current immigration system cannot and will not rest until the President signs a smart and fair immigration bill this year.
"Our responsibility as a community of diverse people and the duty of the House and Senate is to deliver a strong immigration solution that will lead aspiring Americans to citizenship, strengthen the unity of families and protect all working families."
by AFGE Press Releases
Wanted to make sure you saw today's op-ed by House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) and Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity Chair Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) in the Huffington Post about the impact of the sequester on the most vulnerable, and the need to replace the entire sequester with a balanced approach. To read the op-ed, click here or see below
Our Moral Obligation
By: Rep. Steny Hoyer and Rep. Barbara Lee
In April, the sequester that had flown under the radar for most Americans at last entered the public spotlight. As cuts led to furloughs for air traffic controllers and other FAA personnel, flight delays frustrated passengers across the country.
Congress responded by passing a bill to ease the burden on travelers, but the bill did nothing to mitigate the impact of the sequester on those suffering the most from its effects. When we pass piecemeal, band-aid fixes to the sequester, we leave people behind, including cancer patients, low-income children attending Head Start, and seniors relying on Meals on Wheels. That's why both of us opposed the FAA sequester fix bill and continue to push instead for a replacement of the entire sequester with a balanced approach.
Since coming into effect in March, the sequester has begun imposing severe and arbitrary spending cuts for programs that make a real difference in the lives of so many families struggling to make ends meet. From Maryland to California, and every state in between, the most vulnerable in our society were hit first and hit hardest as a result of Congress letting sequestration take effect, especially in communities of color.
From infants to seniors, the sequester affects at-risk Americans in every age bracket, and its cuts will harm families trying to put food on the table. Simply put, the sequester will erect road blocks along the pathways out of poverty.
For the youngest Americans, the more than $900 million on the chopping block for early childhood care and education means fewer opportunities to catch up to their peers in school. As many as 70,000 children could be dropped from Head Start. These cuts would disproportionately impact children of color, who constitute nearly 60 percent of those participating in Head Start. These children, truly the 'least of these,' need to be protected and empowered, not shunted off the track to academic success and the opportunity for higher education that comes with it.
For our aspiring college students, the sequester could make it harder to matriculate or afford tuition. Federal funding for education could be cut by as much as $3 billion, affecting 9.3 million students seeking subsidized college loans, work-study opportunities, or enrollment in English-language programs. Eighty-one percent of African Americans and 67 percent of Latinos leave college with student loan debt, and sequestration's arbitrary cuts to student loan financing could keep many young people of color from obtaining a post-secondary education that provides the best pathway to the middle class.
For the long-term jobless relying on unemployment insurance as they look for work, benefits could diminish by nearly 11 percent, making an already difficult situation even worse. Workforce development programs and job-creating investments in public infrastructure could also be at risk of significant cuts, further raising obstacles to employment for those who so desperately seek it. While the unemployment rate overall dropped to a four-year low of 7.5 percent in April, the rate for Latinos remains at 9 percent. For African Americans, that figure reaches 13.2 percent.
For our seniors who are homebound, the sequester could cut 4 million Meals on Wheels deliveries. We simply can't let partisan dysfunction in Congress stand in the way of caring for America's seniors in need. The sequester isn't just harming us today; it will put the future health of our nation in jeopardy. The National Institutes of Health, which is instrumental in developing new drugs and sponsoring new discoveries in medical science, could lose $1.6 billion in funding for research on new treatments for conditions like diabetes and cancer.
The sequester will not help us create jobs, nor is it a rational approach to our deficit challenge. Chief among its flaws is that it pays no attention to our national priorities. Any family knows that, when funds are running low, prioritizing where to cut is the first step. However, under the sequester, Congress isn't allowed to prioritize but is obligated to slash the same percentage from nearly every program, no matter the outcome.
The only way Congress can undo this irrational and irresponsible sequester -- and reaffirm our commitment to eradicating poverty in America -- is by achieving a big and balanced solution to deficits that restores fiscal discipline and leaves us room to prioritize our investments.
As the sequester continues to take effect, we will keep pushing for Congress to reach an agreement that protects the most vulnerable in our country from this unfair, unnecessary, and unwise process. We will keep working to remind Americans and our colleagues in Congress that there is a painful, human cost to sequestration -- one we must prevent before it becomes worse.
For these and so many other reasons, we have formed the new Democratic Whip's Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. Aimed at developing support for a national strategy to eliminate barriers to opportunity and to eradicate poverty, its initial goal has been set at cutting poverty in half within ten years -- one that becomes harder to achieve as long as the sequester remains in place.
This is not only sound economic policy -- it's the right thing to do. When one American family fails, it means we have all failed to meet our common responsibility to one another. Democrats and Republicans share a moral obligation to work together to fight poverty in this country and ensure that all of our people have equal access to the opportunities that sustain our American Dream.
Last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee reached the finish line by passing a bipartisan immigration bill that maintains a roadmap to citizenship at its core. The bill includes several critical amendments that ensure the immigration system remains as broad and accessible as possible to enable as many people as possible to reach the American Dream.
But the fight is far from over.
SEIU members are calling and meeting with members of Congress every day, demanding that the final bill reflects our values of fairness and inclusiveness.
To get in touch with your Senator, call 1-888-979-7604.
One such member is Davidson Dessois, a SEIU 32BJ member from Miami, Florida, who has been in Washington, DC for the past two weeks lobbying members of Congress.
Today, he is a security officer and taxi driver, but was once himself among the undocumented workers in America. Born and raised in Haiti, he was kicked out of his country in 2003 after having his life threatened for organizing for increased democracy. He was denied political asylum in the United States and was forced to live in the shadows for years.
Davidson finally received his U-Visa work permit in 2010, but he still counts himself as part of the 11 million aspiring Americans who immigration reform is designed to help. "I'm still not integrated and don't have full rights," he said about his current status. "It's time to pass reform. For me, it was nearly ten years living in the shadows. For others, it's been 30 or 40 years. They are skilled, smart workers. They want to contribute in a meaningful way."
If we want to resolve the status of the undocumented population and fix our broken system, we must allow all 11 million immigrants who qualify to apply for citizenship, without disincentives or barriers. This pathway to citizenship is the heart of commonsense immigration reform and its inclusion will ultimately determine the success or failure of this bill.
SEIU’s Henry: Historic Step Forward for Immigration Reform, One Step Backwards for Equal Rights for Binational Same-Sex Couples
WASHINGTON, DC - After the Senate Judiciary Committee members passed a bipartisan immigration bill, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), responded to the withdrawal of Sen. Patrick Leahy's amendment in support of equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples:
"We applaud the Committee's passage of a strong bipartisan immigration bill. Such legislation will provide millions of hardworking aspiring citizens an opportunity to earn citizenship. As we continue to lift our voices, we are now another step closer toward achieving commonsense immigration reform.
"Our excitement about the bill's progress is only tempered by the powerful call for immigration equality in the Committee that was not answered today. We stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters, moved tremendously by the statements of Senators, particularly the words of Senator Patrick Leahy, who rightly said that the time for marriage equality and recognition of same-sex binational couples under immigration law has come.
"Although we are deeply disappointed that Senators who are committed to equality were forced to make a choice between protecting the rights of same-sex binational couples and keeping a tenuous coalition together, we will continue to advocate to create the most accessible pathway to citizenship for ALL families."
“My manager clocks me out early at 1:15 am every day. I have to keep cleaning after I’m clocked out to close the store. Five of us work for about a half hour every night that we aren’t paid for, which adds up to about $80 a month for me since I make $7.25 per hour. It would mean a whole lot to me to have that $80 that Wendy’s doesn’t pay me. I could use that money to pay for school, food, or my metrocard.”
Some workers put in 60 or 80 hours a week, but are scheduled to work at different restaurants owned by the same franchisee and paid separately for each restaurant to avoid overtime. Some workers are told to arrive at one time, then made to sit and wait until the restaurant gets busy before they’re allowed to clock in. Paychecks are often late or bounce. These things are illegal.Delivery workers, who are typically paid the New York tipped worker minimum wage of $5.65 an hour, face another set of common cheats. They’re made to work non-delivery tasks so that they don’t have the chance to earn tips, or not reimbursed for the cell phone minutes they use in the course of deliveries or for gas or bike helmets required to do their jobs. If they’re robbed, they’re forced to pay the amount stolen. These things are also illegal.
When wage theft surfaces as a problem, the corporate management of the chains—McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Papa John’s, Domino’s—almost inevitably claim the brand isn’t responsible for the actions of franchise owners. The brand controls how the food is made, what the ingredients are, what uniforms the workers wear, basically everything top to bottom. But when it comes to workers being made to work off the clock or forced to pay for necessary work equipment or denied overtime pay, suddenly McDonald’s or Wendy’s just has no control over what goes on in those franchises. Yeah, right. If Domino’s or Papa John’s cared about obeying wage and hour laws remotely as much as they cared about the right number of pieces of pepperoni going on each pizza, things would be fixed. Not perfect, but the percent of workers not being paid for the work they did would would be a fraction of 84. And mind you, wage and hour laws are laws. The number of pieces of pepperoni on a pizza are corporate standards.
Laura Clawson reports on labor and other issues for Daily Kos, where this report originally appeared.
Professors, Authors, Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Faith Leaders Urge Senate to Confirm NLRB Nominees
Letters signed by nearly 400 professors and 125 leaders nationwide argues for swift action on NLRB to ensure workplace rights
The first letter, signed by nearly 400 notable professors from colleges and universities across the country, states:
The scholars underscoring the need for a functional NLRB include: Catherine Fisk, Professor of Law, University of California at Irvine; Thomas Kochan, Professor of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; John Logan, Associate Professor of Labor & Employment, San Francisco State University; Nancy MacLean, Professor of History, Duke University; Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York; and Dorian Warren, Associate Professor of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University.
To view the academic letter and full list of signatures, click here.
The National Workers’ Rights Board – a group of diverse national and local leaders representing faith, civil rights, social justice, human rights, and academic communities – also released a letter calling for Senate action on the NLRB to protect the vital rights of employees to collectively improve their job standards. The letter, signed by noted authors Barbara Ehrenreich, Dave Zirin, and Bill Fletcher Jr., National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance Ai-jen Poo, President of the Alliance for Justice Nan Aron, former U.S. Congressman and House Minority Whip David Bonior, and Center for Community Change (CCC) Director Deepak Bhargava, states:
“The strength of our democracy is tied to our nation’s ability to uphold and uplift workers’ rights. America’s workers deserve much more than the status quo to fully protect their rights on the job. Yet they do not deserve to have their basic workplace rights invalidated due to Congressional inaction.”
To view the National Workers’ Rights Board letter and full list of signatures, click here .
On May 16, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions will hold the first hearing on the pending NLRB nominations. At present, two of the five seats on the Board are vacant and the term of one of the three current Board members, Chairman Pearce, will expire this August. Without action by the Senate, the Board will soon be left without the quorum of at least three members that is required for it to function, leaving approximately 350 cases and all of the appeals generated by the Noel Canning decision in flux.
The package of five nominees includes three current members of the Board – Chairman Mark Pearce and Members Sharon Block and Richard Griffin – and two nominees who have not served previously, attorneys Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, who have represented management in disputes with employees.
For further background on why workers need a functioning NLRB and how employers are taking advantage of the vacancies and judicial overreach to violate workers’ rights, click here.
While rain pattered gently on the concrete steps of Manhattan’s Union Square last Saturday, a group of workers were giving the assembled crowd a tour of the sun-scorched fields of Florida’s tomato farms. The performers had turned the urban square into a stage for a street theater performance, depicting backbreaking labor and tussles with industry goons emblazoned with corporate food brand logos.
By dramatizing a farm scene amid the bustle of Greenwich Village, Chelsea and the surrounding neighborhoods, the activists of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers highlighted the connection between farmworkers’ daily struggles and the villain of the drama: Wendy’s restaurants, which are the primary target of the group’s Fair Food campaign for decent labor standards in an industry built on modern-day serfdom.
The Union Square rally–featuring a brass band adorned with Wendy’s trademark red pigtails and tomato-shaped placards proclaiming “Justice" and "Derechos" for farmworkers–was part of a nationwide series of Fair Food demonstrations that are helping bridge the conceptual gap between food consumerism and farm labor, a sector replete with poverty wages and brutally exploitative conditions in the fields. The Coalition has been campaigning for months to push Wendy’s and the Florida supermarket giant Publix to sign a Fair Food agreement like the agreements brands like Chipotle and Trader Joe’s have already signed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides free or reduced price lunches to 22 million children during the school year through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In the summer, the program reimburses organizations that serve children meals at feeding sites. Churches, schools, camps, recreation centers, playgrounds, and parks in neighborhoods with high percentages of low income families can provide summer meals to children.
USDA wants AFGE’s help in spreading the word about NSLP throughout your communities. The goal is to help make a positive impact on the lives of underprivileged children by promoting participation in the Summer Meals program and making the community aware of its benefits.
To learn more about USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and how you can help publicize it to your community, please visit http://www.afge.org/index.cfm?contentID=3304.
Filed under: Community, Federal Agencies, Federal Employees, Federal Employees Union, Uncategorized Tagged: Department of Agriculture, free luncyh, National School Lunch Program, USDA