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Entries in AFL-CIO (5)

Saturday
Mar302013

Business and Labor Leaders Agree on Immigration Sticking Point

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Business and labor leaders agreed on Saturday to a deal on the guest worker program, signalling a key development in the debate over immigration reform.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., briefed Dennis McDonough, White House chief of staff, on the agreement on Saturday. According to the New York Times, the agreement was reached on a Friday evening conference call between Schumer, Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Richard L. Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, the nation's main federation of labor unions.

Pay for guest workers was reportedly one of the final sticking points in a deal, and a solution was worked out on the conference call that ensures guest workers will receive the higher of the prevailing industry wage as determined by the labor department and the actual employer wage, according to the New York Times.

The deal will start by allowing 20,000 new visas each year and could eventually grow to as many as 200,000 per year. Guest workers would also be allowed to pursue a path to citizenship. Before the agreement is made official, the eight senators who had been negotiating the deal -- often referred to as the Gang of Eight -- must sign off before the end of the weekend, says the New York Times.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May232012

Nikki Haley Capitalizes from PiƱata Smashing

Chris Keane/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans are trying to capitalize off a recent video featuring a South Carolina AFL-CIO leader bashing a piñata bearing the face of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Haley sent out a donation request via Twitter, calling on people to stand with her against what she calls “bullying” from union leaders.

“Stand with me and help fight back now against the bullying of Liberal unions. Donate here,” Haley tweeted along with a link to a fundraising page featuring the video.

And the Republican Governors Association released a one minute video called “Does President Obama Condone This?” linking Obama to the incident.  The video features a clip of President Obama from March when he condemned the controversial comments Rush Limbaugh made about Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student and contraception activist, inter-spliced with footage of the piñata smashing incident.

“I thought about Malia and Sasha and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about…and I don’t want them attacked,” the clip shows President Obama saying, followed by video of Donna Dewitt, the outgoing S.C.  AFL-CIO president, wailing away at the piñata as someone shouts, “Wait till her face comes around and whack her.”

“Or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens,” the clip of Obama continues. “Being a part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate and we want you to be engaged and there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted.”

The video ends with the phrase “Does President Obama condone this kind of behavior from union bosses?” emblazoned across the screen as Dewitt continues to pound the Haley piñata.

Dewitt told ABC News Tuesday that there was “no ill intent” behind the incident.

“We’ve been the brunt of her comments now for two years and that’s what the whole thing was.  She’s been whacking at us over the last two years,” Dewitt, who has been president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO for the past 16 years and will retire at the end of June, continued. “Anyone that knows me knows there was no ill intent at all.  Our folks don’t go to speeches with guns and things like that.  We have very loving people in our unions who will take up money for people or a vet.  We just heard these comments by the governor for over the two years.  They were using a memoir of the last two years I’ve lived under her leadership.”

“Kids use piñatas all the time,” she added.

The piñata bashing incident occurred on Saturday during a state AFL-CIO staff retreat in Columbia, S.C.  The video was posted on Sunday but circulated widely on Tuesday.

An AFL-CIO official denounced the actions in the video Tuesday.

“By now many of you have seen the video of the outgoing president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO. While it was meant as fun, there is absolutely no place for that kind of joke in a conversation that is extremely serious about how to rebuild our middle class and our country. There’s plenty to talk about in Gov. Haley’s awful record. We do not believe that’s an appropriate joke — working people deserve a better conversation,” Alison Omens, director of media outreach at AFL-CIO, said in an e-mail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

South Carolina AFL-CIO Leader Bashes Nikki Haley Pinata

Chris Keane/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- A video has surfaced showing Donna Dewitt, the outgoing president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, bashing a piñata of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s face while Dewitt and her colleagues were at a retreat in Columbia, S.C. Saturday afternoon.

“Well I will say, she looks like a tough old girl here,” Dewitt says as she gears up to swing at the piñata.

She repeatedly hits the piñata, which bears the phrase “Unions are not needed, wanted or welcome in South Carolina” below Haley’s face.  In her State of the State address this year, Haley said, “We’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the state of South Carolina.” Dewitt whacks the piñata down and continues to wail away at it once it’s fallen. Onlookers cheer her on, urging her to continue hitting the piñata.

“Give her another whack. Whack her again,” a woman screams.

“Hit her again,” another man says.

Dewitt told ABC News she has no regrets about the incident and said there was “no ill intent” in what she was doing.  Dewitt said her colleagues brought the piñata and were using it as a “memoir” of Haley’s words and actions towards unions in her time as governor.

“They made it and I would have played the game with them no matter it would have been pin the tail on the donkey with Nikki Haley’s face on it.  I still would have played,” Dewitt told ABC News over the phone.  "There was no ill intent....I’m not mad or angry.”

“We’ve been the brunt of her comments now for two years and that’s what the whole thing was.  She’s been whacking at us over the last two years,” Dewitt, who has been president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO for the past 16 years and will retire at the end of June, continued. “Anyone that knows me knows there was no ill intent at all.  Our folks don’t go to speeches with guns and things like that.  We have very loving people in our unions who will take up money for people or a vet.  We just heard these comments by the governor for over the two years.  They were using a memoir of the last two years I’ve lived under her leadership.”

“Kids use piñatas all the time,” she added.

Nikki Haley even reacted to the video, tweeting the link and this message: “Wow. I wonder if the unions think this kind of thing will make people take them seriously. Check this out.”

“There is no place for that in civil public discourse, and that video no more represents the people of South Carolina than union bosses represent our workers,” Rob Godfrey, spokesman for Haley, said in an email.

Rick Wiley, political director for the RNC, reacted to the video by tweeting back to Haley as he called the group “a pathetic bunch.”

Alison Omens, director of media outreach at AFL-CIO, emailed this comment on Dewitt’s actions: "By now many of you have seen the video of the outgoing president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO. While it was meant as fun, there is absolutely no place for that kind of joke in a conversation that is extremely serious about how to rebuild our middle class and our country. There’s plenty to talk about in Gov. Haley’s awful record. We do not believe that’s an appropriate joke -- working people deserve a better conversation.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

Obama Courts Union Workers

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama rallied union workers Monday, admitting in a campaign-style speech that he hasn’t always been a “perfect president” but saying he has always kept his promise to work on their behalf.

In fiery remarks to the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department the president said he has been pushing for new infrastructure projects but that Republicans in Congress keep rejecting them.

“Over the last year, I’ve sent Congress a whole series of jobs bills to put people to work, to put your members back to work....And time after time the Republicans have gotten together, and they’ve said no,” the president said to boos from the rowdy crowd.

Obama went on to accuse Republicans in Congress of playing politics with funding for infrastructure projects. “Congress needs to do the right thing....It shouldn’t be that hard.  Not everything should be subject to thinking about the next election instead of thinking about the next generation,” he said.

The president himself, however, touched on several of his campaign themes during the speech, including ending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

Instead of investing in infrastructure, the president said Republicans prefer to give tax cuts to the rich. “Now, what do you think will make the economy stronger?  Giving another tax break to every millionaire and billionaire in the country?” Obama asked. “No!” the energetic crowd cheered in response. “Or rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our broadband networks that will help our businesses sell goods all around the world?  It’s pretty clear.  This choice is not a hard one,” the president said.

While Obama’s relationship with the unions has been rocky at times over the last three years, he has been courting the key constituency heading into the election.

“I made a promise I’d always tell you where I stood; I’d always tell you what I thought, what I believed in; and most importantly, I would wake up every single day working as hard as I know how to make your lives a little bit better.  And for all that we’ve gone through over the last three and a half, four years, I have kept that promise,” he said.

“I’m still thinking about you, and I still believe in you.  And if you join me, we’ll remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on earth,” the president said as he concluded his speech to a standing ovation and chants of “four more years.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar132012

AFL-CIO, Labor Unions Line Up Behind Obama

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The nation’s largest labor unions, whose support has been a mainstay of the Democratic Party, have set aside their frustrations and disappointments in President Obama and formally lined up behind his bid for a second term.

Tuesday the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor group, became the latest to endorse Obama for re-election, pledging “to work with him through the election.”

“With our endorsement today, we affirm our faith in him,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in a statement.

At least 12 other major U.S. union groups have already done the same -- including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest single U.S. union with more than 1.6 million members -- according to a list provided by the Obama campaign.

Trumka, an Obama ally who also serves on the president’s jobs council, had been publicly critical of the administration during last summer’s debt ceiling debate, warning Democrats that union members would only support their re-election campaigns “if leaders aren’t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families’ interests.”

In October, Trumka warned of political peril for Obama if he’s seen as merely “nibbling around the edge” in addressing the nation’s high unemployment rate.

“History will judge him and I think working people will judge him,” Trumka told reporters at the time.

But Tuesday, Trumka sang a different tune, hailing Obama’s performance on balance, citing the Recovery Act, a landmark health care overhaul and financial regulatory reform as major accomplishments of Obama’s term. He also praised the resurgence of American manufacturing and the U.S. auto industry under Obama’s watch.

“Although the labor movement has sometimes differed with the president and often pushed his administration to do more and do it faster, we have never doubted his commitment to working families,” Trumka said.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said he addressed the union’s general board before the endorsement vote, saying via Twitter that both organizations were “working together for an economy built to last. ”

While union membership has declined from a decade ago, labor groups remain among the most organized, active and enthusiastic part of the Democratic coalition nationwide and are expected to play a key role in Obama’s re-election effort.

“Come election time they can be very significant in terms of mobilizing money and mobilizing people,” said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer.

“Symbolically, the AFL-CIO endorsement is important because it’s a signal that this Democratic base is still on Obama’s side, even with all the compromises and disappointments -- they’re still there,” Zelizer said.

Here’s a full list of Obama’s union endorsements and the dates on which they were announced:

National Education Association (NEA) – July 4, 2011

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) – October 20, 2011

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) – November 16, 2011

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) – November 17, 2011

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – November 19, 2011

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – December 6, 2011

Communications Workers of America (CWA) – February 2, 2012

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – February 7, 2012

International Association of Machinists (IAM) – February 24, 2012

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) – March 1, 2012

United Steel Workers (USW) – March 4, 2012

Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) – March 8, 2012

AFL-CIO – March 13, 2012

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio