Across America, working families are dedicated to the economic advancement to promote fairness in the workplace and establish policies that help men and women meet the dual demands of work and family. Yet all too often, workers who attempt to join unions, assert other rights in the workplace, or file complaints with protection or civil rights agencies face employer threats, retaliation and discrimination.
Other issues affecting the well-being of working Americans include tax cuts, bankruptcy reform, and the minimum wage.
March 25, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Demonstration of protest and mourning for victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911.
On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, an event that galvanized the city and sparked a movement that led to legislation that improved factory safety and workers' protections.
Nearly 150 workers died in the fire, unable to escape from the building due to locked exits and a broken fire escape. It was the most tragic industrial disaster in the history of New York City, and was the worst workplace disaster in the city until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Company manufactured women's blouses, which were called "shirtwaists" or simply "waists" at the time. Most of the company's 600 workers were female immigrants from Eastern Europe, Italy and Germany, some as young as 12, who were paid a mere six or seven dollars a week.
The origins of the fire are unknown, but the fire sparked efforts to improve safety laws and workers' compensation laws.
The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), which grew in size and political power in the wake of the fire, organized a large rally and the Women’s Trade Union League campaigned to investigate working conditions for laborers and collected testimonies.
The governor of New York set up a Factory Investigating Commission, which conducted hearings across the state for five years. As a result, vital factory safety legislation was passed and new workers' compensation laws were pased.
The building that housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, now called the Brown Building, is a national historic landmark. The UNITE HERE union, which includes ILGWU, honors workers' contributions to American soceity every year on the fire's anniversary.
March 11, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR, speaking at a June 2007 Employee Free Choice Act rally in Washington, D.C.
Credit: American Rights at Work
As the nation faces a severe recession, workers will need more protection than ever.
The Employee Free Choice Act, which is pending in Congress, will make it easier for workers to form a union by giving them a choice in how they want to form one, either by ballot or by getting a majority of employees to sign a union-authorization card.
"Unions provide a buffer in difficult economic times. They help preserve economic benefits and maintain job security. Moreover, unions do so in a manner that is sensitive to the needs of business," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the LCCR, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions yesterday.
Union members on average receive a higher wage than non-union employees, are far more likely to have health care benefits, and have a greater share of health care benefits paid for by their employers.
February 27, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Charlotte E. Ray graduated from Howard Law School on February 27, 1872, becoming not only the first female African-American lawyer in the United States but also the first practicing female lawyer in Washington, D.C.
February 23, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
If you are a victim of employment discrimination, your case is more likely to be dismissed compared with other types of cases, and your chances of winning in court are slim, according to recent studies.
February 18, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
President Obama aims to create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years by spending some of the money in the recently-enacted stimulus plan on modernizing the nation's roads and bridges, investing in public transportation, and making federal office buildings more energy-efficient.
February 10, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
UAW workers guarding a window entrance of the GM plant during the 1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike.
Tomorrow, February 11, is White Shirt Day, a day to honor workers who participated in a 1937 strike that led to the unionization of the entire U.S. auto industry.
In 1948, Bert Christenson, a member of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, started the tradition of wearing white shirts every February 11 as a way to commemorate the end of the Flint Sit-Down Strike. White shirts are worn to show that "blue-collar" workers deserve the same respect and recognition as their "white-collar," management counterparts.
February 5, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Today is the 16th anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).
February 5, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
fter decades of dwindling numbers, union membership is growing, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. In 2008, total union membership rose by over 400,000 to 16.1 million.
The increase ends a long trend of decreasing union membership. It is likely that membership is growing because union jobs tend to be more stable and have better wages and benefits, even when the economy is bad.
Most of that growth was due to an increase in the number of federal, state and city government workers who joined unions. Current law makes it easier for government workers to join unions than private-sector employees, whose employers tend to be more aggressive in blocking employees from forming a union. The rate of union membership for government workers was nearly five times higher than that of non-government workers in 2008.
The low rate of non-governmental union membership makes legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act more important than ever. The legislation, which has not yet been introduced in the current session of Congress, would give workers the option to choose how to form a union, either by ballot or by getting a majority of employees to sign a union-authorization card.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has called the Employee Free Choice Act "the most important legislation helping workers economically in many, many years."
January 29, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, with Lilly Ledbetter watching from behind him, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Steny Hoyer to their left.
President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law this morning, making it easier for employees to challenge pay discrimination in court.
January 22, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
More Information On
Workers' Rights Issues
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.