Archive for AFL-CIO

Workers push to join unions becomes big headache for MSNBC, liberal hosts


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I often hear from indignant or disappointed Twitter followers that the progressive MSNBC political show hosts don't go to bat for this or that cause, and have threatened to boycott the network if their favorites let them down. I understand the frustration, but unfortunately, demands like those are not always realistic.

What many don't realize is, at least in some cases, on-air personalities are unable to speak out for contractual reasons. "Breach of contract" is nothing to sneeze at. For example, protesting on MSNBC air time or threatening to walk out on their jobs because of Martin Bashir's departure was very likely not an option. They'd get their asses sued faster than Megyn Kelly can say "Santa Claus is white."

However, perhaps publicly backing workers who want to join unions is different, and the AFL-CIO is all over them about that. I'm no legal expert, so I have no idea if this particular action would be contractually kosher or not.

Via The Hill:

The AFL-CIO is calling upon liberal MSNBC hosts to meet with workers at the cable network who are trying to unionize.

In a letter sent to Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Rev. Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell, the nation’s largest labor federation said the television personalities should speak out in support of workers at Peacock Productions, who produce programming for MSNBC.

Workers at Peacock have complained about their access to health insurance, low pay, long hours and job insecurity, according to the AFL-CIO letter. [...]

The union drive has become a headache for MSNBC. The liberal-leaning network covered the battle between unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) over collective bargaining. But the network hosts have been silent regarding the Peacock workers who are fighting their employer.

"All In" host Chris Hayes has already secretly met with workers, per Salon.

Ed Schultz has been a strong and consistent supporter of labor unions on his show. He regularly travels to GOP-run, union-busting states and brought us live reporting that is sorely missing elsewhere in the "news" media. And according to Salon, he has pushed back against criticism that he has not stood by workers.

As Rachel likes to say, "Watch this space."


VIDEO: "A democracy of rich people"


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Damon A. Silvers is the director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO. Here he is on CNBC, and he killed it:


Right now 55% of Americans fear they're going to be economically insecure in their retirement. That's up from 33% 24 years ago. That's about the last thing we should do for our country is cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.


Nobody's saying that there's not a good rationale for having these programs in place. Of course they're popular, of course people want to make sure that our citizens are taken care of. But that's almost not the point, because what you've said is that you simply won't negotiate, and you're holding the threat of withholding your support for any Democrats who would even go forward and compromise at all around these measures for decades in the future.


We're being really clear. We're not going to give cover to Democrats who think it's a good idea to take away economic security from our most vulnerable citizens. We're extremely clear about that and we are not embarrassed about it whatsoever. We want a really clear message out there: If you cut Social Security benefits or Medicare benefits to our seniors, to our most vulnerable people in our country, you are going to get no cover from the American labor movement. We're happy to say that all day long. We think the reality is that it is by only treating our most vulnerable people fairly that there's going be any chance of progress on public policy issues facing our country going forward. That's the reality.


Are you as clear on the reality that if you have don't cut entitlement benefits this country may well go bankrupt?


That's frankly not true. That is a lie put forward by billionaires who don't want to pay higher taxes. Social Security is the best funded aspect of our retirement system today, and Medicare's long-term issues are integrated with the long-term issues of our health care system. Neither program is overgenerous. In fact both programs are undergenerous.

The only people who believe what you said are people who are not counting on those programs and who are worried their very large incomes will be taxed. Most people strongly oppose cuts to benefits in Social Security and Medicare. It's simply that most rich people don't. It's very simple.


I'm talking about the people who understand the figures...


You're talking about people who themselves are more afraid of paying higher taxes than they are afraid of being poor in retirement. You're talking about essentially rich people. If you want to have a democracy of rich people, I suppose you're statement is true.


Thumbs Up: AFL-CIO plans to emphasize state-level elections in 2014


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The AFL-CIO is doing exactly the right thing, the very thing Democrats need: Concentrating some badly needed support and attention on state and gubernatorial elections, not just national ones. This is where some of the most bigoted, anti-women, anti-union, and anti-civil rights laws have been passed by the GOP: state legislatures.

2014 is exactly the right time to throw some of their badly needed weight around. Unfortunately, they're not too optimistic about taking control of the House of Representatives.

Via First Read:

The focus won't come at the exclusion of efforts to help Democrats win in Congress. But four years after the 2010 elections swept to power a series of Republicans who would enact sweeping collective bargaining reforms, state-level races are at a premium.

"Right now, the Republicans are moving ferociously anti-worker, anti-women's health agendas … in the states," [Michael Podhorzer, the labor group's top political official] said. [...]

The AFL-CIO is banking on the unlikelihood that Republicans won't be able to count on the 2014 electorate resembling the more conservative-leaning makeup of the voting public in 2010. As immigration reform falters on Capitol Hill, Podhorzer argued that the 2014 electorate could even tend toward Democrats, especially as Latinos who are embittered by the failure of comprehensive immigration reform extract a toll on Republicans. [...]

But Podhorzer also acknowledged that the 2010 elections — which also saw Republican dominance in state legislative races — helped the GOP shape the decennial, Census-mandated redistricting process to their benefit.

That last sentence packs a punch. Because of redistricting, Republicans have made Democratic victories nearly impossible. Just one more reason for getting out the vote, helping Dems to register, and again, getting Progressives into office starting with the most local races on up, including school boards and city councils.


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