Presidential Report – August 29, 2019

THE LATEST

Mary Kay Henry penned an op-ed this morning in USA Today, calling on all presidential candidates to support Unions for All. An excerpt:

 

“We are looking for more than lip service from political candidates and elected leaders about how much they support the broken laws we already have,” wrote Henry. “Instead, we need big ideas about how to empower more people to join together in unions so everyone, no matter where they live or work, can negotiate for things like better pay, more affordable health care and more family-friendly schedules.”

The New York Times agrees: The fight for better working conditions for all workers should be central in the next Democratic Debate. Read the editorial here. An excerpt:

“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?”

 

“One intriguing proposal, backed by the influential Service Employees International Union and embraced by Mr. Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., would rewrite a law that requires workers to bargain solely with their employers. In other developed nations, “sectoral” bargaining lets workers in a given industry negotiate wages and salaries collectively — a potential game-changer in industries with many small workplaces.”

 

“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.”

After failing to qualify for the third debate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the race.

Senator Bernie Sanders received the endorsement of the United Electrical Workers Union.

 

THIRD DEBATE: HOUSTON, TX

The qualifying period for the third debate has passed and the Houston based event will only be one night, on September 12. SEIU Texas and Fight for $15 and a Union plan to hold actions that week. The event will be similar to previous debates, which will be moderated by ABC News and Univision. Right now, ten candidates have qualified for this third debate. The final list of candidates are:

  1. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
  2. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
  3. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, IN
  4. Secretary Julian Castro of Texas
  5. Senator Kamala Harris of California
  6. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  7. Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas
  8. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  9. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  10. Andrew Yang

 

CANDIDATE INTERACTIONS WITH MEMBERS

Senator Harris met with Fast Food workers in North Carolina after a rally.
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Mayor Pete Buttigieg marched with California gig workers outside UBER HQ to fight for better pay, benefits, protections & a path to a union.

 

 

A large group of RNs and service, tech and professional staff with SEIU Healthcare NW attended a rally with Senator Elizabeth Warren. After the rally, they spoke briefly with the Senator about their upcoming bargaining for a successor contract Swedish Medical Center/Providence St Joseph Health System.

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MEDIA ANALYSIS

A NY Times Opinion Piece analyzes support among white voters for Donald Trump. It goes further to analyze how union membership has played a role. An exerpt:

 

“Kitschelt and Rehm separately provided data on the rates of union membership among the various categories of white voters. The data points to the devastating consequences of declining union membership for the Democratic Party. Non-college whites, both low- and high-income, were heavily unionized in the 1950s and 1960s, when both groups cast majorities for Democratic presidential candidates. Over time, each group has experienced a precipitous decline in union membership. Among those with low incomes, the level of unionization fell from 22.7 in 1952 to 13.0 percent in 2016. Among those with high incomes, the rate of unionization dropped from 38.9 to 19.6 percent.”

 

The Fresno Bee posed the question “will California workers pick the next President?” It dives into how unions nationally will work with the state’s leadership to decide who they ultimately endorse. The article talks about labor’s influence in the election and mentions our Walk A Day in Detroit with Senator Harris.

 

CANDIDATE POLICY UPDATES

Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a plan on mental health and opioid addiction. The plan references the high overdose rates in communities of color, and sets a goal for 75% of those needing mental health or addiction services to receive treatment. He proposes to improve access to treatment, train more providers, increase availability of overdose treatments, increase drug treatment research, integrate mental health and addiction health care with physical health care systems, and expand take-home naloxone programs to all 50 states by 2024. The plan also calls for establishing a $100 billion community grant program, decriminalizing mental illness and addiction, and instituting additional measures to hold drug companies accountable.

 

UNIONS & $15 MENTIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY CANDIDATES


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Thank you #ueunion for endorsing our campaign!

A post shared by Bernie Sanders (@berniesanders) on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DNC SUMMER MEETING
SEIU staff attended the DNC Summer meeting to hear from candidates address the DNC delegates. This was the last meeting of delegates before the convention next year. During the event, Mayor Buttigieg addressed the crowd in a video where he included clips of our rally in Detroit at the second debate and clips of the Mayor marching with FF15 workers. The DNC also voted down a resolution that would have created a DNC sponsored and focused debate on climate. Sunrise protesters led an action after this.

 

Unions for All coverage over Labor Day weekend:

 

On Thursday, in a piece headlined ‘Reviving the American Working Class,’ the New York Times editorial board wondered what presidential candidates will do to improve the life of the average home care worker and others left behind in the changing economy, or — as we know — excluded from the beginning:

 

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.

 

One intriguing proposal, backed by the influential Service Employees International Union and embraced by Mr. Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., would rewrite a law that requires workers to bargain solely with their employers. In other developed nations, “sectoral” bargaining lets workers in a given industry negotiate wages and salaries collectively — a potential game-changer in industries with many small workplaces.

 

On Friday online, and in USA Today‘s Labor Day weekend print edition, an op-ed from Mary Kay Henry continued the call for Unions for All and lifted up a wave of workers’ organizing as the catalyst for change:

 

We are looking for more than lip service from political candidates and elected leaders about how much they support the broken laws we already have. Instead, we need big ideas about how to empower more people to join together in unions so everyone, no matter where they live or work, can negotiate for things like better pay, more affordable health care and more family-friendly schedules. 

 

Workers across the country are demanding unions and fair contracts in a way I’ve never seen in my 40-year career in the labor movement. They include public school teachers from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Los Angeles. Amazon workers. Stop & Shop workers. Child care workers. Cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s and other companies across the $200 billion fast-food industry.

 

Today, a lengthy Vox column discusses innovative proposals to reform America’s broken labor laws, with the incredible headline:

 

“Unions for all”: the new plan to save the American labor movement

Sectoral bargaining is the future of American labor unions

 

A growing number of labor law experts and even presidential candidates (including Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg) have settled on a new approach to revive the US labor movement. Major labor leaders like SEIU President Mary Kay Henry are embracing this strategy too, and shifting their organizations in turn.

Henry has dubbed this “unions for all” — an entire industry’s workers, that is, not just in one company. This approach involves moving beyond the traditional form of union organizing that you know from movies like Norma Rae, where unions organize workplace-by-workplace and fight tough battles for recognition, to an approach closer to that used in Europe or Australia.

This approach is called “sectoral bargaining,” and it could change the way work is done in the United States.

In The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson highlights the Unions for All demand as a leading framework for winning sectoral bargaining in America:

SEIU—the union behind the Fight for 15 and efforts to unionize workers in the fast-food industry—was involved in another form of sectoral bargaining, when New York state convened a wage board to raise the minimum wage to $15 for the state’s fast-food workers. New York and California are among the handful of states that have created wage boards in several industries, though most of those boards have been dormant for decades.  

 

Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry went one major step further, demanding “industry-wide bargaining tables to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions” as a matter of national policy—and making support for sectoral bargaining a condition for the union’s endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate. Almost simultaneously, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke released their labor policy papers, both of which backed the establishment of sectoral bargaining.

 

And John Nichols writes in The Nation about the need for bigger plans to empower workers to organize, highlighting Unions for All as a demand that is already driving the debate in the 2020 primary:

 

This is a point at which Democrats should be talking not just about reversing the anti-labor legislation of recent years but also reversing anti-labor legislation of the past 75 years. To their credit, some Democratic presidential contenders are doing so. Candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke have taken up Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry’s call for reforms that upend so-called “right to work” laws and make it dramatically easier to organize and maintain unions.

 

In The Sacramento Bee, California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted up misclassification as one of the factors exacerbating the imbalance of power in our economy, highlighting the role states can play in raising standards for workers beyond the limits of outdated, exclusionary federal labor laws:

 

Our economy has stopped working for working people. While the wealthiest have grown wealthier, the middle class and working people have grown poorer. Corporate profits have gone through the roof while worker pay has remained in the basement.

 

While this step is important, we must do more to reverse the 40-year trends that have hollowed out our middle class and driven income inequality. We can do this by partnering with labor and supporting their efforts to create ways for workers to join together and speak with one voice. Across the country, unions are paving the path for new ways to organize – whether it’s the fight for a federal $15 minimum wage, organizing freelancers and contractors, or bargaining project labor agreements.

 

Creating new ways for workers to organize is a key component of tackling the level of inequality that undermines our entire economy and threatens our children’s future. As union membership has fallen, the share of income going to the top ten percent has skyrocketed.

 

And presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s Labor Day op-ed in the New York Daily News included Fight for $15 and a Union activist Taiwanna Milligan’s story:

 

As organized labor has been weakened, the economy its workers helped build is no longer working for most Americans. It’s not working for the mother I met in Charleston, S.C., fighting to make more than $7.25 an hour so she could afford her son’s medical treatment. It’s not working for the man in Bettendorf, Iowa — a lifelong Republican — who told us he drives for DoorDash because “everyone needs a side job these days.”

 

If we’re going to build a fair and prosperous future for us all, we urgently need every worker in America to have the opportunity to get ahead. And that means taking a bold new approach to strengthen unions for the next era

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