Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Cordial Invitation

Over the next two days, there will be two workshops on Social Security, and all are welcome to attend either or both. The workshops will be in the form of a lunchtime seminar updating participants on Social Security policy, current challenges facing the program, and budget proposals that would attack Social Security and Medicare. They will include a discussion on messaging and how best to spread information about current attacks on Social Security to the public. The workshop will provide fact sheets on general policy questions and specifics involving Pennsylvania. Lunch is free.

Seminar 1:

When: Wednesday, June 29, 11:00 am-1:00 pm

Where: Harrisburg Hilton, Susquehana Room, 1 N Second St, Harrisburg

Seminar 2:

When: Thursday, June 30, 11:00 am-1:00 pm

Where: AFSCME District Council 1199C

1319 Locust St, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia

Please RSVP by emailing (aswope@retiredamericans.org) or calling (717-231-2866) Adam Swope.

A moving video from PhilaPOSH, Philadelphia worker safety advocates

If you missed PhilaPOSH's Workers' Memorial Day this year, you'll want to watch this moving video.

Writes Barbara Rahke, last year's Philly CLUW Woman of the Year and PhilaPOSH Executive Director:

"It was filmed on Workers Memorial Day program. Our goal was to not only educate about the loss of life each year through work-related injuries and illnesses, but to show the strong connections between labor, families and community around safety and health."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Irony: union actor from Target's anti-union flick speaks out

Hope you had a good weekend, JwJers. I have a little gem for you.

This article dates back to last Thursday, but with all the excitement (Interfaith Worker Justice conference! Paid sick days legislation passes in Philly! And we'll get you yet, Walmart!), there just hasn't been enough of a lull for me to find a moment to share it.

Although Walmart's various evils usually get more publicity, Target stores are pretty viciously anti-union, and have been for a while.

Under current laws, companies are allowed to turn their employees into a captive audience for anti-union propaganda films--like Target's 2003 classic, "Think Before You Sign."

Interestingly, Target ended up hiring union actors because... well, because union actors have this reputation for being professional and responsible. Coincidence, I'm sure.

Anyway, Ric Reitz, the actor who plays friendly Target worker "Doug" in this film, recently talked a little bit about his experience with this particular job:
Reitz says when he got the script for the 2003 Target video, the anti-union content struck him as "very awkward."

"You take the job, and you're an actor," says Reitz, a longtime member of AFTRA and the Screen Actors Guild. "Am I pro-union? Absolutely."

Kind of great, right?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We Refuse to let Supreme Court Ruling be a Corporate Victory.

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court released a ruling against female workers at Wal-mart in Walmart Stores Inc. v Dukes. The workers had tried to bring a class action suit saying that nationwide, women had faced discrimination and been denied promotions on the basis of gender, a fact that they attributed to a discriminatory corporate culture on a national level, stating that a sexist corporate culture nationwide made equality impossible. Such discrimination was evidenced by demeaning terms towards female employees, regular comments that female workers didn't have serious career ambitions, and statements that women were less fit for certain types of work.

Had they succeeded, Wal-mart would have had to pay billions in back wages and drastically change its sexist atmosphere. However, the Court found that the group of women was in fact too large to file a joint suit; because the discrimination all took place at a regional level, the women are not able to join forces nationwide to challenge Wal-mart together on a national level.

Though disappointing, this is by no means a victory for Wal-mart. The Supreme Court said that the women did not qualify as one class. This does not mean that Wal-mart was innocent on the issue of violating women's constitutional rights to equal protection under the law. The inability to file a class action lawsuit may be a setback, but we cannot let it destroy the workers' cases. The road ahead may be more difficult, but that will not deter us from the fight for justice.

Here's what needs to happen next: Wal-mart must change its corporate policy to ensure that no regional authorities can pay women lower salaries or deny them promotions, and they must reform their attitude towards women on every level of administration. Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to further protect the rights of women in the workplace and ensure that corporations like Wal-mart cannot get away with rampant discrimination. Local organizations must figure out a way for smaller groups of Wal-mart's female employees to seek justice over lost wages and denied promotions. We will not allow Wal-mart to get away with discrimination. We WILL hold them accountable.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Last Thursday, June 16, Philadelphia City Council finally voted on the Earned Sick Time Bill, approving it in a 9-8 vote. Philly JwJ has worked hard to get this bill passed, working alongside over one hundred other groups in the area. It's been a hard fight, but finally Council has recognized a basic right of all workers, and announced that everybody deserves decent sick-leave provisions. If Nutter signs the bill, there will be no more hard decisions between caring for a sick relative and getting a day's pay, or between taking the time to get better and keeping a job. That means that now we need to make sure Mayor Nutter signs this law into the books!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Big Victory for Domestic Workers Internationally!

The International Labor Organization, meeting in Geneva, just reached a great agreement on a convention establishing basic rights for domestic workers everywhere. The final vote isn't until next week, but the ILO is now on the road to setting a key international labor standard. Final passage of the convention would give domestic workers the recognition they deserve, as well as granting certain critical rights. These rights include eliminating discrimination, eliminating forced labor, eliminating child labor, and allowing collective bargaining. The convention would also require contracts, fair hours, overtime pay, and wage protections. These provisions explicitly include migrant workers.

It's time that domestic workers everywhere received these basic workplace rights. If the ILO passes the convention, governments can then ratify it to make it national law. So, let's make sure that the ILO and countries worldwide begin recognizing these key rights!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

States step up to recognize domestic workers!

Here's some breaking news. The California assembly just passed a bill providing nannies in the state of California with their rights as workers and human beings. The bill provides overtime compensation, paid vacation and sick days, advanced notice of termination, and various other critical benefits. The bill is now pending state senate approval. If passed, this bill will be a pioneer in the fight to protect workers who often lack legal recognition and status, and who are constantly exploited, abused, and denied basic human rights in homes nationwide.

California's decision itself follows not far behind similar legislation in New York, effective November 29, 2010. This legislation included domestic workers into major labor laws effecting other workers in the state, set paid leave time, established overtime requirements, as well as enacting numerous other protections. New York City alone has over 200,000 domestic workers doing essential work in the city; this legislation is a huge victory for all of them.

The movement to get recognition and legal protection for domestic workers is gaining momentum. Here in Philadelphia, domestic workers are already taking note and beginning to organize. We're really excited to be a part of this work--stay tuned for more information about domestic worker organizing at Philly JwJ!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Support our faith allies as they pray for Earned Sick Time in Philadelphia this Sunday!

Folks, we are so close to passing Earned Sick Time in Philadelphia!

This Thursday, June 9th, City Council will vote on this important bill, which would allow all workers in the City of Philadelphia to take paid time off if they or a family member gets sick. Such a bill would mean that workers would not have to chose between their health, or their family's health, and their paycheck. It would mean more humane working conditions, and it would mean a safer workplace for all workers.

This legislation is essential for all working families in Philadelphia, and its passage would be a huge victory.

As we approach the vote, we must remain strong and continue showing our support for this critical bill.

Faith allies have been especially powerful leaders in this struggle. Yesterday, leaders held a prayer vigil directly outside of Council Chambers. This Sunday, Living Water United Church will be holding a special service themed around Earned Sick Time--and Council Members are invited.

One way that you can show this support is by coming to this special service in support of the bill.

What: Service For Earned Sick Time
When: Sunday, June 5th, 11:00am-1:00pm
Where: Living Water United Church of Christ, 2006 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia

We hope you can attend, so that we can gather strength and energy together, and show City Council how important this legislation is. Let's make Philadelphia a safer and healthier place for all workers!

This post courtesy of Alison Roseberry-Polier!