New York Mag: The Labor Movement’s Resurgence in Democratic Politics
Intelligencer staffers Benjamin Hart, Sarah Jones, and Ed Kilgore discuss how the Democratic Party’s leftward drift fits in with a newly confident labor movement, and which candidate might get the unions’ nod.
Unions pushing for pocketbook proposals from 2020 Democrats ...
To be sure, many unionists are excited about the presidential field. Contenders include liberal stalwarts like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign became the first in U.S. history with a unionized work force, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who joined striking Stop & Shop workers on a picket line in New Hampshire on Friday. California Sen. Kamala Harris hired a top Service Employees International Union executive for her campaign and made her first proposal one to raise teacher's pay.
Former Vice President Joe Biden made clear that he plans to appeal to union workers, if he gets in the race. "You are coming back," he told the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers last week. "We need you back."
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the competition in the crowded field has amplified workers voices and issues.
She noted that prominent presidential candidates quickly supported Los Angeles public school teachers when they struck in January. Warren, Sanders, Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker have all proposed various taxes on higher-earning families, a departure from most past Democratic hopefuls who have treaded carefully on the issue.
"It feels different than at other times," Weingarten said. "There is far more attention and focus on working people's economic needs."
2020 Democrats make case to unions, working-class voters
Las Vegas (CNN)The 2020 Democratic contenders showed up in force at a labor forum on Saturday to outline their plans for raising wages and court the all-important constituency of labor as they seek foot soldiers for their campaigns.
It is a constituency that was once strongly behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but in this crowded field of 2020 candidates, none of them are willing to cede that ground.
They came to this early caucus state Saturday armed with plans to fight for a $15 minimum wage, expand Medicare-for-All, unravel right-to-work laws, and to pressure corporate titans to pay more to Americans who are trying to patch together a living wage with two, and sometimes three, jobs.
Among the forum's questioners was Jennifer Berry, a McDonald's employee in Milwaukee who told California Sen. Kamala Harris on Saturday that she makes $9.90 an hour. With a two-week paycheck of $514, she said she must also rely on government assistance, including Medicaid, food share benefits and Wisconsin's housing program.
"In our America, nobody should have to work more than one job, so let's talk about our values," Harris said at the forum held by Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "You can't go around talking about the golden arches as the symbol of the best of American when you are not conducting yourself in the best way in terms of supporting the working people of America."
Adding:Biden picks up endorsement of firefighters union as he courts labor
Former vice president Joe Biden won the backing Monday of the International Association of Fire Fighters, nailing down the support of the first major labor union to offer an endorsement in the crowded Democratic race for the White House.
The endorsement was widely expected, as members held “Run Joe Run” signs when Biden addressed the group at a conference in Washington last month. But the announcement — by way of a video — offers Biden a boost as he prepares to hit the campaign trail Monday with a rally in Pittsburgh, where he is seeking to court the working class in a state carried by President Trump in 2016.
“Joe’s a lot like our firefighters,” Harold Schaitberger, the IAFF’s general president, said in the video. “He’s a problem solver who cares deeply about America and committed to making our country better. He’s one of the staunchest advocates for working families. He knows that a strong middle class means a strong America, and we know, as president, he will stand up for all the patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to earn a decent wage, send their kids to college, have affordable health care and a decent and secure retirement.”
The Hill: Trump hits union chiefs after Biden gets key endorsement
.10 Presidential Candidates Make Case to Teachers' Union Members
Ten Democratic presidential candidates underwent the equivalent of an oral exam by teachers -- nearly ten thousand of them -- whose top concerns were supporting public schools, increasing pay, decreasing the number of standardized tests and getting Betsy DeVos out of the Department of Education.
The forum, in Houston on Friday, was the firsts of its kind by the National Education Association, the country’s biggest union.
“Teachers are on the front lines fighting for our kids,” said one of the candidates, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. “This is about teachers who are going to lead that fight. Let’s put a teacher in the White House.”
Teachers -- and their unions -- have historically been a crucial constituency for Democrats seeking office, supplying money, volunteers and votes. Teachers have been flexing their political muscle in several states by going on strike to protest stagnant pay and school funding.
The NEA, with 2.7 million members, said it doesn’t plan to make an early endorsement in the crowded Democratic primary campaign. During the last presidential election, the union gave Hillary Clinton its support over Bernie Sanders in October 2015
"We have our insurance, fuck you all ". A disgrace for the labor movement and another American association which claims to be international and is not.
The "water bear" is the first creature to live on the moon.
Some labor unions split with Biden on 'Medicare for All'
Labor leaders dispute candidates’ claims that single-payer will leave their members worse off. ...
Only a few major unions have come out against the single-payer system that would all but eliminate private insurance, while many others remain undecided and some of the biggest labor groups in the country have embraced the plan.
Those supporting Medicare for All — or at least not yet ruling it out — say health care increasingly dominates contract battles, consuming bargaining power that could instead be directed toward raising wages and improving working conditions.
“When we’re able to hang on to the health plan we have, that’s considered a massive win," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told POLITICO. “But it’s a huge drag on our bargaining. So our message is: Get it off the table.”
It's true that union workers are wary of giving up hard-won benefits, even when promised a plan that covers more services for less money. That’s why Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris , former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan , Sen. Michael Bennet and former Rep. John Delaney, among others, have invoked organized labor in recent debates and candidate forums to argue against mandatory single-payer health insurance.
"I've been listening to a lot of folks in labor who have said to me, 'Look, we negotiated contracts where we've given up wages for these health care benefits, and under the Medicare for All plan, we would lose them or we would be certainly in fear of losing them," Harris said days after the debate at a forum in Nevada hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. ...
But backers of single-payer health care have hit back, asserting that union members would benefit from a government system that effectively guarantees comprehensive benefits and takes health care out of labor negotiations. ...
“Wouldn't it be great if we had a single, universal access point for health care and we could instead spend our time bargaining for lower class sizes and wrap around services and increases to people’s pay?” said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, which endorsed Medicare for All earlier this year. “Wouldn’t it be great it if it wasn’t always dominated by health care fights?"
In addition to representing teachers, the AFT is the second-largest union of nurses and other health care workers in the country. The biggest, National Nurses United, has been on the front lines fighting for Medicare for All. The American Federation of Government Employees, which has more than 300,000 members, including thousands of medical workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is also a supporter.
Des Moines Register
Recapturing the union: Democrats fight to bring back labor voters who jumped ship to Trump
Randy Tucker wants to hear two things from the Democratic presidential candidates lobbying Iowa union members for support: "First, I want someone who's not afraid to say the word 'union.'"
"And, second, I want someone who isn't afraid to say the word 'union,'" said Tucker, a member of IBEW Local 347, after listening to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock at a reception in May.
Tucker is getting his wish. Nearly two dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls are vying for Iowa's more than 100,000 union member votes, touting their support for collective bargaining, worker rights and social justice as they crisscross the state. Their fight in Iowa, which went for Republican President Donald Trump in 2016, is emblematic of the Democrats' national battle to win back labor votes.
Winning the labor vote is not the slam-dunk Democrats experienced in past decades. ...
Trump snagged 38.4% of the union vote in 2016, 8 percentage points more than presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, according to FiveThirtyEight, a website focused on opinion poll analysis.
While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 55.2% of labor's vote in 2016, that was 9.6 percentage points less than former President Barack Obama's share four years earlier.
Sen. Bernie Sanders changes how Medicare-for-all plan treats union contracts in face of opposition by organized labor
ALTOONA, Iowa — Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a key change to his Medicare-for-all insurance plan Wednesday, a move meant to assuage fears on the part of organized labor, whose support is being heatedly sought by all of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Labor representatives have expressed concerns to candidates publicly and to campaign staffs privately that a single-payer system could negatively affect their benefits, which in many cases offer better coverage than private plans. The change announced Wednesday would effectively give organized labor more negotiating power than other consumers would have under his bill by forcing employers to pay out any money they save to union members in other benefits.
One of the primary concerns union members and leaders have raised about Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan is that they negotiated health-care coverage under the current system, in some cases ceding salary in exchange for those benefits.
Under Sanders’s new wrinkle, those unions could renegotiate their contracts under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board. “Unions will still be able to negotiate for and provide wrap-around services and other coverage not duplicative of the benefits established under Medicare-for-all,” the plan now says, a seeming acknowledgment of a role for private coverage by a campaign that has railed against others for not taking a hard-enough stance against such plans.
The New Yorker - Caleb Crain
State of the Unions
What happened to America’s labor movement?
Do you have rights at work? Franklin Delano Roosevelt thought you did. In 1936, while trying to haul America’s economy out of the bog that the free market had driven it into, Roosevelt argued that workers needed to have a say, declaring it unjust that
For Roosevelt, a system in which bosses could unilaterally decide “the hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor” amounted to “dictatorship.” He hoped that the New Deal would bring workers and managers together in a new form of workplace governance.a small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives. For too many of us throughout the land, life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.
New Dealers drew on an idea known as industrial democracy, developed, in the late nineteenth century, by English socialist thinkers who saw workplace rights as analogous to civil rights such as due process and the freedoms of speech and assembly. Senator Robert Wagner, who wrote the National Labor Relations Act of 1935—also known as the Wagner Act—made the point explicitly: “Democracy in industry means fair participation by those who work in the decisions vitally affecting their lives and livelihood.” In their efforts to civilize the workplace, however, Roosevelt and his allies didn’t set up a new institution for workers to speak through. They relied on an existing one: the union.
Whenever the rate of unionization in America has risen in the past hundred years, the top one per cent’s portion of the national income has tended to shrink. After Roosevelt signed the Wagner Act and other pro-union legislation, a generation of workers shared deeply in the nation’s prosperity. Real wages doubled in the two decades following the Second World War, and, by 1959, Vice-President Richard Nixon was able to boast to Nikita Khrushchev that “the United States comes closest to the ideal of prosperity for all in a classless society.”
America’s unions and workers haven’t been faring quite as well lately. Where labor is concerned, recent decades strongly resemble the run-up to the Great Depression. Both periods were marked by extreme concentrations of personal wealth and corporate power. In both, the value created by workers decoupled from the pay they received: during the nineteen-twenties, productivity grew forty-three per cent while wages stagnated; between 1973 and 2016, productivity grew six times faster than compensation. And unions were in decline: between 1920 and 1930, the proportion of union members in the labor force dropped from 12.2 per cent to 7.5 per cent, and, between 1954 and 2018, it fell from thirty-five per cent to 10.5 per cent. In “Beaten Down, Worked Up” (Knopf), a compact, pointed new account of unions in America, Steven Greenhouse, a longtime labor reporter for the Times, writes that “the share of national income going to business profits has climbed to its highest level since World War II, while workers’ share of income (employee compensation, including benefits) has slid to its lowest level since the 1940s.”
2020 Democrats hope powerful Nevada union can help serve them a win
The Nevada caucuses, which are the third presidential Democratic nominating contest, are less than six months away, and Democratic presidential candidates are ramping up efforts to court a mammoth Las Vegas labor union that has played an important role in the caucus outcome in the past.
Claiming to be "one of the strongest political forces in the state," the Culinary Union has only rarely shied away from wielding its influence in Nevada. Its 60,000 members work at the heart of the state's economy: the gaming and tourism industry.
With what is currently the largest primary field in recent history, a split outcome in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire would leave a big opening for a presidential hopeful in Nevada. The union's endorsement in the 2008 caucuses — Nevada's first as an early deciding contest — was seen as a pivotal boost for then-candidate Barack Obama, though insufficient to deliver a majority of the state's precincts. Still, while Clinton won the state, Obama took more delegates because of the way Nevada apportions them.
"We were the first union who endorsed President Obama, and we feel proud about that," Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union told CBS News.
I'll drop this here, as related.
Why 2020 Campaign Workers Are Suddenly Unionizing
Democratic presidential candidates are virtually required to court the labor vote. But their own staffers haven’t historically been part of a union—until this year.
A key part of the playbook for most successful Democratic presidential campaigns is courting the union vote. For candidates, that means touring union halls, trumpeting your solidarity with the labor movement, and making sure that the overpriced swag peddled by your campaign has an insignia certifying that it was made by American union workers.
But what goes unmentioned on the campaign trail is that most of the staffers ferrying their bosses to union events and writing speeches reaffirming the candidates’ support for labor aren’t members of a union themselves. Or rather, that used to be the case. Since the spring, campaign staffers for multiple 2020 hopefuls have made a push to unionize—the first time in history any presidential campaigns have ever done so.
Political work can be grueling. The pay is low or, in some cases, nonexistent. Caffeine-addled late nights and weekends are the norm. Unlike traditional union jobs—think of autoworkers on the assembly line or state-government bureaucrats—many campaign jobs are ill-defined, and by definition temporary. A staffer can spend years helping usher a candidate to victory only to be out of a job soon after the final votes are tallied. “We talked about the 2012 campaign being this unicorn, billion-dollar corporation that will fail in 18 months,” says Teal Baker, who was the deputy chief operating officer for former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
The notion that unionization doesn’t jibe with the boom-and-bust nature of presidential-campaign work began to change earlier this year, at least on the Democratic side. (It’s an entirely different situation in the GOP: Though President Donald Trump has shaken up the GOP’s associations with union voters, his party has traditionally expressed hostility to labor.) The most prominent campaigns to organize so far are those of the two lefty heavyweights in the race: Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. But they’re not the only ones. So have staffers for former Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. (Eric Swalwell’s team also unionized before the congressman grounded his long-shot 2020 bid in July.) When workers make a move to collectively bargain, it’s not uncommon for employers to try to thwart their efforts: Unionizing can mean heftier compensation for their employees and added bureaucracy within the workplace. But in this case, all of the campaigns have voluntarily recognized their staffers’ push to unionize. ...
These workers are turning to collective bargaining for a simple reason. “There’s been a growing sense in Democratic politics over the past decade-plus that a lot of Democratic campaigns talk the talk but don’t walk the walk,” says the strategist Dave Hamrick, who was the campaign manager for Martin O’Malley’s 2016 presidential run. “They espouse a certain set of policies, but their campaigns don’t actually deliver on them.”
Sanders and SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry announce plans to revive unions
Almost simultaneously yesterday Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees unveiled strong pro-labor programs they say will revive the nation’s unions and lift up the country’s workers.
Saying its time for every worker to have the right to organize, no matter what they do, where they live or who they work for, Henry unveiled SEIU’s “Unions for All” campaign Aug. 21 with a conference and mass rally in Milwaukee.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., the longest time supporter of unions among the 23 Democratic presidential hopefuls, rolled out his comprehensive pro-labor package to the Iowa AFL-CIO, meeting in Sioux City. Iowa hosts the first 2020 presidential caucus.
Henry described her plan as “the next step in the Fight for $15 and a union” campaign and said her union would not support a presidential candidate who was not on board with the nation’s unions.
San Francisco Chronicle
Buttigieg joins Uber, Lyft drivers in San Francisco gig-work protest
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg joined dozens of Uber drivers who circled the company’s Market Street headquarters Tuesday, horns honking and flags flying, to advocate for a bill that could classify them as employees with protections and benefits.
Tuesday was day two of the drivers’ caravan protest from Los Angeles to Sacramento to lobby for the passage of AB5, a bill that would codify the California Supreme Court Dynamex decision that makes it easier for workers to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors.
Buttigieg said all full-time and part-time workers deserve representation and protections for a successful future economy.
“Do we want a better future for everyone, whether full-time in a traditional company or not? Will we stand up for that? Yes,” he said.
Adding:Philly’s labor leaders sense a snub from Joe Biden and his campaign
Joe Biden is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president next year. But a Philadelphia labor leader says he should remember where he came from and meet with workers.
Pat Eiding, president of the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia, invited 20 Democratic contenders to town for a mid-September forum where “rank and file” union members can listen to their pitches and ask questions.
Biden, who plays up his ties to Scranton, has not committed to attending.
That prompted Eiding to lash out in an NPR interview released Friday, warning that the former vice president is taking union support for granted.
“He always calls himself a Pennsylvanian at heart. His headquarters are here in Philadelphia. But his folks haven’t found the importance of coming together and talking to our workers. And so, that’s very disappointing,” Eiding told NPR. “There’s got to be some respect for the working people if they want their vote.”
Eiding told The Inquirer on Friday that he spoke with Biden’s campaign Thursday and insisted his organization is not “feuding” with the candidate. The forum will be held Sept. 17 at the Convention Center, with a second day added on Sept. 18 if needed.
NPR: Biden Hears Frustration From Labor Union In His Campaign's Backyard
WaPo - Steven Greenhouse
The GOP attack on American unions could cost Democrats the 2020 election
Labor has less to spend on campaign messaging because laws in key states let workers skip fees
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are falling all over themselves to win support from union leaders and members on the road to the White House. “I am a union man, period,” says Joe Biden. “I stand with the @Palms workers who are fighting for strong wages, comprehensive benefits, and dignity on the job,” tweets Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders proposes a plan to double union membership. Kamala Harris wants teachers to get a $13,500 raise.
That’s a lot of labor love, considering that Democrats in general have done little to stanch union losses in the past few decades. The percentage of workers in unions is at its lowest in more than a century — down to 10.5 percent from a peak of 35 percent in 1954. Still, labor remains a traditional Democratic constituency, even though Hillary Clinton won union voters by just eight percentage points in 2016, the narrowest margin for a Democrat since 1984. Democrats want that vote back, and they particularly need it in three states that flipped from blue to red in 2016.
Picking up union and blue-collar support in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin could be critical to winning the presidency — but it will be a tough haul. Union membership in those states has fallen steeply over the past decade, and Republican lawmakers have done their utmost to hasten the decline.
In a 2018 study, James Feigenbaum of Boston University, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia University and Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution concluded that anti-union right-to-work laws caused the Democratic vote share to drop by 3.5 percent in states that passed such laws. That was far more than Trump’s winning margin in Michigan (0.2 percent) and Wisconsin (0.8 percent).
The story is somewhat different in Pennsylvania because Republicans there have not been able to push through an anti-union-fee law. Still, stung by the Great Recession, Pennsylvania’s unions have lost 182,000 members since 2008, falling by 21 percent to 665,000; Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes.
New York Times
Labor Unions, Like Voters, Are Waiting to Pick a 2020 Favorite
Democratic candidates are jockeying for labor support, but union leaders aren’t rushing to endorse. The race is “so fluid,” one said.
PITTSBURGH — Bernie Sanders was in his element — railing against “the billionaire class” — as he talked up his “100-percent pro-union voting record” and his participation in “God knows how many picket lines.”
“At the end of the day,” he told what his campaign said were over 1,000 Sanders-supporting union members and activists who had dialed into a conference call on Tuesday evening to hear him speak, “it is the trade-union movement in this country which is the last line of defense against the incredible power of corporate America right now.”
The call with union members was just one component of a furious, worker-focused effort by Mr. Sanders, the senator from Vermont, to appeal to organized labor as he seeks the Democratic nomination for president. A flurry of recent activity — which included rolling out a plan for organized labor and addressing striking workers with a bullhorn from the back of a pickup truck in Louisville, Ky. — was punctuated by a full-throated, raised-fist endorsement in Pittsburgh from the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a progressive union with some 35,000 members.
Though the show of support was mostly symbolic — the union is relatively small and has long been aligned with Mr. Sanders — his campaign’s delighted response underscored just how coveted union endorsements are for many of the 2020 candidates.
Despite years of pummeling by Republican-controlled legislatures that have sought to weaken their power, unions are still viewed by Democrats as an important constituency: A Gallup poll conducted in August found that 82 percent of Democrats approve of unions. And beyond the seal of validation endorsements afford, union members still play a critical role in canvassing voters and mustering them to the polls.
New York Times Editorial
Reviving the American Working Class
Factory jobs are not coming back. Democrats are starting to offer plans for improving pay and benefits for the jobs taking their place.
Here’s one question that ought to be put to the Democratic candidates at their next debate in September: How would you improve the life of the average home health care worker?
The iconic American worker of the 20th century — a man making cars in a Detroit factory — remains the focus of political debate about work in America. But the real face of the modern working class is a woman caring for that retired autoworker somewhere in the suburban Sun Belt. Half of the 10 fastest growing jobs in America are low-paid variants of nursing.
More manufacturing would be nice, but it won’t create many jobs. The best way to improve the lives of American workers it is to improve the terms of the jobs that they actually hold: raising the salaries of restaurant workers barely able to feed their families; providing paid leave for child-care providers who cannot care for their own children; securing benefits for warehouse workers who lack insurance because they are employed as contractors.
Democratic candidates are beginning to take notice of this fundamental shift, in part because voters are demanding that the candidates address the realities of their working lives. ...
The United States lags far behind most developed nations in ensuring access to health care and child care. A strengthened safety net not only improves the quality of life, it also increases productivity, by allowing workers, particularly women, to stay on the job. And by easing the pain of job losses, it can encourage people to take larger risks — and to earn larger rewards.
These ideas work together: higher minimum standards, collective bargaining and a stronger safety net can all help to improve the quality of working-class jobs in the 21st century.
Associated Press: Big tech or big labor? 2020 Democrats line up with unions
VICE: Young People Are Driving a New Labor Movement
On the 125th anniversary of Labor Day, support for unions is at a nearly 50-year high, thanks to young people, women, and minorities.
The Nation: Labor Rights Are Human Rights — It’s Time We Guaranteed Them in the Constitution
The US used to tell the world that strong unions were a bulwark against fascism. We should take our own advice and enshrine the right to organize.
I read every 2020 frontrunner’s labor platform so you didn’t have to
They are promising workers ... everything.
Presidential candidates are going all out to win over working-class Americans.
Julián Castro marched with McDonald’s workers in North Carolina. Pete Buttigieg rallied with Uber drivers in San Francisco. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders joined striking supermarket cashiers on the picket lines in Massachusetts.
It’s easy to dismiss these gestures as the usual photo ops, but they reflect the labor movement’s resurgent influence in politics. Most of the Democratic frontrunners are also releasing detailed policy platforms that promise workers everything they’ve ever wanted. Paid parental leave — yes. A $15 minimum wage — check. Paid sick days — done.
And for the first time, most candidates are really paying attention to working women and the challenges they face in the workplace, such as lower pay and few accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Sure, not every candidate is promising workers major reform. Some candidates are more interested in incremental changes. But even so, the 2020 Democratic primary election is shaping up to provide the most ambitious blueprint to overhaul US labor laws. And with public frustration toward billionaires and CEOs mounting, it seems like a smart campaign strategy.
“This is our moment to dream big,” Warren said during her campaign announcement event in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a location she picked because of its role as the birthplace of the US labor movement.