• September 26, 2016
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    The Week in Labor History

     September 20
    Upton Sinclair, socialist and author of The Jungle—published on this day in 1906—born in Baltimore, Md. - 1878
     
    According to folklorist John Garst, steel-drivin’ man John Henry, born a slave, outperformed a steam hammer on this date at the Coosa Mountain Tunnel or the Oak Mountain Tunnel of the Columbus and Western Railway (now part of the Norfolk Southern) near Leeds, Ala. Other researchers place the contest near Talcott, W. Va. - 1887
     
    Int’l Hod Carriers, Building & Common Laborers Union of America changes name to Laborers' Int’l Union - 1965

    September 21
    Militia sent to Leadville, Colo., to break miners’ strike - 1896
     
    Mother Jones leads a march of miners' children through the streets of Charleston, W. Va. - 1912
    (Mother Jones Speaks: Speeches and Writings: You can read here the actual speech Jones made on this day in 1912 to striking coal miners in Charleston, WV:  “…this crime, starvation and murder of the innocents, so they can fill the operators’ pockets, and build dog kennels for the workers.  Is it right?” Admirers of Mother Jones will want this comprehensive collection of her speeches, letters, articles, interviews and testimony before Congressional committees. In her own words, this brave and determined heroine, active from the end of the Civil War until shortly before her death in 1930, explains her life, her mission, her passion on behalf of working people.)
     
    National Football League Players Association members begin what is to become a 57-day strike, their first regular-season walkout ever - 1982 
     
    Members of five unions at the Frontier Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas begin what was to become the longest successful hotel strike in U.S. history. All 550 workers honored the picket line for the entirety of the 6-year, 4-month, 10-day fight against management’s insistence on cutting wages and eliminating pensions - 1991
     
    September 22
    Emancipation Proclamation signed - 1862
     
    Eighteen-year-old Hannah (Annie) Shapiro leads a spontaneous walkout of 17 women at a Hart Schaffner & Marx garment factory in Chicago. It grows into a months-long mass strike involving 40,000 garment workers across the city, protesting 10-hour days, bullying bosses and cuts in already-low wages - 1910
     
    Great Steel Strike begins; 350,000 workers demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee calls off the strike, their goal unmet, 108 days later - 1919
     
    Martial law rescinded in Mingo County, W. Va., after police, U.S. troops and hired goons finally quell coal miners' strike - 1922
     
    U.S. Steel announces it will cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent - 1931
     
    United Textile Workers strike committee orders strikers back to work after 22 days out, ending what was at that point the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor. The strike involved some 400,000 workers in New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South - 1934
     
    Some 400,000 coal miners strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio - 1935
     
    The AFL expels the Int’l Longshoremen's Association for racketeering; six years later the AFL-CIO accepted them back into the house of labor - 1953
     
    OSHA reaches its largest ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 - 2005
     
    Eleven Domino's employees in Pensacola, Fla., form the nation's first union of pizza delivery drivers - 2006
     
    San Francisco hotel workers end a 2-year contract fight, ratify a new 5-year pact with their employers - 2006
     
    September 23
    The Workingman's Advocate of Chicago publishes the first installment of The Other Side, by Martin A. Foran, president of the Coopers' Int’l Union. Believed to be the first novel by a trade union leader and some say the first working-class novel ever published in the U.S. - 1868
     
    A coalition of Knights of Labor and trade unionists in Chicago launch the United Labor party, calling for an 8-hour day, government ownership of telegraph and telephone companies, and monetary and land reform. The party elects seven state assembly men and one senator - 1886
     
    A 42-month strike by Steelworkers at Bayou Steel in Louisiana ends in a new contract and the ousting of scabs - 1996
     
    California Gov. Gray Davis (D) signs legislation making the state the first to offer workers paid family leave - 2002
     
    September 24
    Canada declares the Wobblies illegal - 1918
     
    September 25
    American photographer Lewis Hine born in Oshkosh, Wisc. - 1874
    (Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor: Your heart will be broken by this exceptional book’s photographs of children at backbreaking, often life-threatening work, and the accompanying commentary by author Russell Freedman. Photographer Lewis Hine–who himself died in poverty in 1940–did as much, and perhaps more, than any social critic in the early part of the 20th century to expose the abuse of children, as young as three and four, by American capitalism.)
     
    Two African-American sharecroppers are killed during an ultimately unsuccessful cotton-pickers’ strike in Lee County, Ark.  By the time the strike had been suppressed, 15 African-Americans had died and another six had been imprisoned.  A white plantation manager was killed as well - 1891

    - compiled/edited by David Prosten at Union Communication Services

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  • ACTion Request = Tues 4-24 Call Your Senators on AKAKA AMENDMENT 2034
    Updated On: Apr 28, 2012

    ACTion Request

     Once again, Washington politicians are targeting federal employees for cuts. Buried in the Postal Reform Bill (S.1789) are provisions that would substantially reduce benefits for federal workers who are injured on the job.

    Amendment 2034, the “Akaka Amendment,” would eliminate the harmful provision that reduces benefits for federal workers injured on the job.

    We are urging all federal employees to call your Senators and tell them to protect injured federal employees by voting YES on the Akaka Amendment (Amendment 2034).

    Tell Your Senators:

     Vote “YES” on Akaka Amendment 2034 to Postal Reform Bill on Tuesday April 24th

     Once again, Washington politicians are targeting federal employees to pay for other initiatives…

    On Tuesday, April 24th, the U.S. Senate will vote on Amendment 2034, the “Akaka Amendment,” to strike language that would substantially reduce benefits for federal workers injured on the job…

    Tell the Senate to Protect Injured Federal Employees…

    We are urging all federal employees to call your Senators and tell them to protect injured federal employees. You can reach your Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 

     

    SUMMARY OF AKAKA AMENDMENT 2034

    Senator Akaka, joined by Senators Inouye, Harkin, Murray, and Franken, filed an amendment to strike Title III of S.1789, which reduces workers’ compensation benefits for injured employees, and replace it with the text of H.R. 2465, the Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act. This bi-partisan bill (introduced by Representative John Klein (R-MN) and cosponsored by Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)) passed the House by voice vote last year and amends the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 8101 et seq., the federal workers’ compensation program.

    Specifically, this amendment would:

    Allow the Department of Labor (DOL) to crosscheck a federal worker’s earnings with information held by the Social Security Administration to combat fraud.

    Expand DOL’s ability to collect from third parties.

    Authorize DOL to collect administrative costs and expenses from the federal agency that employs the injured or ill worker, promoting greater accountability in the program.

    Streamline the claims process for workers who sustain a traumatic injury in a designated zone of armed conflict.

    Ensure that Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Nurses are reimbursed for their services and can certify disability for traumatic injuries.

    Ensure injuries or illnesses sustained as the result of terrorism are covered as a war-risk hazard. This will help guarantee federal workers injured abroad or in the line of duty are appropriately compensated.

    Raise the maximum disfigurement benefit from $3,500 (set in 1949) to $50,000 and provide additional support for funeral expenses (up to $6,000).

    Why support this amendment:

    Workers’ compensation cuts do not belong in postal reform:

    Title III of the Postal Reform bill would cut workers’ compensation benefits for federal employees government-wide. Most of the workers affected by this are not postal employees. This is the only provision in the legislation that is not specific to the Postal Service.

    These cuts do not even help the Postal Service in the near term. According to CBO, through 2016, the changes would result in a net increase of $10 million in Postal Service costs. Over the long run, these benefit cuts would only reduce a tiny fraction of the Postal Service’s deficit.

    Senator Akaka said we need to take a closer look to make sure we do not harm disabled employees. This reform should not be included in postal reform legislation. The sponsors of this bill claim that this reform mirrors a proposal from Obama Administration (actually proposed by the Bush Administration but the Obama Administration has carried it forward). However, the Administration proposal is not as severe, and it is not retroactive.

    Retroactive changes are unacceptable:

    The proposal to apply these changes retroactively to many workers already injured is particularly concerning. It changes the rules after the fact for disabled employees who were relying on the promise of these benefits.

    Reducing benefit levels for a past injury may invite litigation. FECA provides such employees’ their exclusive remedy against the federal government, and employees may not recover non-economic losses such as compensation for pain and suffering. Retroactive changes to benefit levels after the injury has occurred violate the government’s part of this bargain. Just as a litigant is not permitted to unilaterally change the terms of a settlement after it is made, the federal government should not be able to unilaterally change its workers’ compensation liability after that liability has attached.

    Retroactive changes violate a basic premise of insurance. A responsible employee may choose to further insure himself or herself against disability, but that is not possible if their coverage under the workers’ compensation statute can be changed after the fact.

    These cuts will harm senior citizens:

    The reductions at “retirement age” are very concerning as well. Like most states, the federal government currently provides permanent benefits for permanent injuries. This is necessary because employees who cannot work because of injuries do not experience normal wage growth, do not earn Social Security credit, cannot contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan, and may have little ability to save. Moreover, the employees in the Civil Service Retirement System this applies to are not even eligible for Social Security.

    Congress has gone down this road before, in 1949 passing a law (P.L. 81-357) that allowed workers’ comp benefits to be reduced at age 70. Congress repealed that law in 1974 (P.L.93-416), citing concerns about age discrimination and the burden on recipients.

    Low-wage workers will be hurt most:

    Proponents of these cuts often point to the tax-free status of FECA benefits. While this provides significant benefit to higher-wage workers in high tax brackets, low wage workers receive little or no benefit from FECA benefits being tax free.

    These cuts remove the FECA supplement for dependents. Low-wage workers, in particular, may rely significantly on tax advantages provided to families with dependents, including filing as a head of household, exemptions for dependents, child and child care tax credits, and the Earned

    Income Tax Credit. All of those tax benefits are lost during receipt of FECA, and the FECA dependent supplement helps offset those losses. Removing that supplement will harm low-wage workers. These cuts provide no relief to families and they will be driven into poverty by the reduction.

    House-passed bill offers a bipartisan alternative:

    This amendment replaces the problematic FECA cuts with the text of the H.R. 2465, which makes common sense changes to the FECA program without reducing benefits. The Republican-led House decided not to change workers compensation benefits at this time, and instead to study the issue. This bill was sponsored by Representative John Klein (R-MN) and cosponsored by Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and passed on suspension by voice vote on November 29, 2011.

    At the request of both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee (Klein, Walberg, Miller and Woolsey), which has jurisdiction over workers’ compensation in the House, the GAO is reviewing workers’ compensation benefits right now. It makes no sense to legislate before the studies Congress requested are final, Senator Akaka said. 


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