by Clyde Weiss | January 19, 2016
Working people last year won significant victories in efforts to improve wages and working conditions, reports the AFL-CIO in a new study that also points the way forward to create an economy that “serves all of us,” including organizing new members as AFSCME has been doing.
“From collective bargaining victories to organizing in new sectors of the economy and new regions to local legislative victories and executive action at the national level, 2015 was a year of working people rising,” says the report, titled “Fighting for a Better Life: How Working People Across America are Organizing to Raise Wages and Improve Work.”
The report details successes by working people nationwide since the AFL-CIO’s first-ever Raising Wages Summit in January 2015, including efforts to place the debate over income inequality squarely before the public and lawmakers. Since the summit, it reads, “income inequality has shifted from a problem we discuss to a problem we can solve.”
“One year ago, we made clear that raising wages for all working people was our number one priority,” said AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka. “In 2015 we came together in collective voice and action, and made significant progress.”
Despite a number of victories at the local, state and national levels, “we are still far behind where we need to be and where we can be,” Trumka said. “In the year ahead, we will continue to push for a comprehensive economic agenda that puts working people first. Raising Wages is not a hobby, it is our mission.”
Achievements at the national level include the introduction of legislative initiatives to raise the minimum wage, new rules proposed by the Obama administration to help raise wages by making more workers eligible for overtime and requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave.
The National Labor Relations Board also took steps last year to make it easier for workers to organize a union by eliminating delays in the union recognition process, and other actions that help fast food workers organize a union if they want one.
At the city and state levels, the report notes initiatives last year that increased the minimum wage, required employers to provide paid sick days and other workplace changes helping working people, including new penalties and protections against wage theft and discriminatory pay practices.
The AFL-CIO report points the way ahead, including campaigns by AFSCME and other unions to sign up hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, social workers, service workers and other public employees already covered by union contracts.
Read the full report here.
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