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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Workers' Rights

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.

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Job Creation Must Target Communities of Color Hit Hardest by the Recession

January 8, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

In response to the latest unemployment figures from the Department of Labor, a coalition of civil rights groups, including the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Center for American Progress (CAP), the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, and the NAACP, are calling on Congress to target job creation to communities hit hardest by the economic recession.

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House Extends Benefits for the Unemployed; New Coalition Calls for Stronger Action

December 17, 2009 - Posted by Ron Bigler

The House on Wednesday passed another six-month extension of unemployment benefits and extended the COBRA health care subsidy that was set to expire at the end of December.

The COBRA benefit — created under the stimulus bill earlier this year — pays for 65 percent of a laid-off worker's cost of continuing coverage under an employer's health insurance plan. For many families, it is the only way they can continue to pay for coverage. According to Families USA, the average cost for family coverage under an employer COBRA plan was $1,111. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

The unemployment and COBRA insurance extensions are critical lifelines for millions of Americans trying to survive the worst recession since the Great Depression. But they are only stop-gap measures.

A broad coalition of 60 organizations, including The Leadership Conference, is calling on Congress to pass legislation now that will put millions of Americans back on the job.

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President Obama Sharpens Focus on Jobs, Relief for the Unemployed

December 9, 2009 - Posted by Ron Bigler

Calling the current jobs crisis affecting millions of Americans a "continuing human tragedy," President Obama this week outlined a series of steps intended to boost job growth and continue relief for the unemployed.

The plan includes expanding tax breaks and incentives to small businesses, increasing spending on infrastructure, and a new program of tax rebates for retrofitting homes for energy efficiency. The president also called for the extension of emergency benefits for the unemployed and support for local governments facing budget shortfalls and layoffs.

"We avoided the depression many feared," Obama said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. But, he stressed, "Our work is far from done." 

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Civil Rights Groups Seek Urgent Response to U.S. Jobs Crisis

November 18, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Wade Henderson

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, speaking on the jobs crisis at the Economic Policy Institute. November 2009.

Civil rights and progressive organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the AFL-CIO, and the Center for Community Change, have joined the Economic Policy Institute in calling attention to the urgent need to address the current jobs crisis in light of new unemployment data released for October 2009

The national jobs crisis has become a major barrier to progress in our country. Without job security, families will continue to lose their homes and will stop saving for their own retirement or their children's education.  Job security is also essential because the decisions and sacrifices made by the families hit the hardest today will have lasting repercussions for years to come.  For example, young adults who must work to support their families instead of attending school will find themselves disadvantaged when competing for work in the future.

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New Report Finds Greater Diversity in U.S. Union Membership

November 10, 2009 - Posted by Ron Bigler

The popular image of a typical union member in the United States has been of a middle-age White man working in a factory. While that may have been true a quarter century ago, it is far from accurate today, as a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds.

Almost half of unionized workers (45 percent) in 2008 were women, up from 35 percent in 1983, according to "The Changing Face of Labor 1983 - 2008." The report, which analyzes demographic trends in the union workforce over the last 25 years, predicts that, based on current trends, women will be the majority of union members before 2020. 

The report also found that:  

  • Latinos (12 percent) are the fastest growing ethnic group in the labor movement, up from just 5.8 percent in 1983.
  • Asians (4.6 percent) have nearly doubled as a percentage of the union workforce since 1989 (2.5 percent). 
  • The share of Black workers in the unionized workforce has held fairly steady at 13 percent since 1983, while there has been a large decline in the representation of White workers in the same period.

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‘Labor Day’ Shows SEIU’s Impact on 2008 Election

October 26, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The new documentary film "Labor Day" explores the role that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) played in the election of Barack Obama last year.

The film begins in early 2007 and follows the SEIU and its members' work through November 2008 to elect a Democrat to the White House. Director Glenn Silber, a two-time Oscar nominee, uses campaign footage, footage of SEIU members canvassing around the country, and interviews with politicians, musicians, and journalists to show how SEIU inspired thousands of activists to help turn "Election Day into Labor Day."

"Labor Day" will premiere on Wednesday, October 28, at the Barrymore Theater in Madison, Wisc. It will be screened in New York and Chicago on Friday, October 30. For more information, visit the film's website.

Categories: Workers' Rights

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Wade Henderson among NELP Honorees for Workers’ Rights Advocacy

October 22, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Wade Henderson

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, speaking at the NELP 40th Anniversary Gala.

Last night, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) celebrated 40 years of working to protect the employment rights of low-wage workers.  NELP presented a moving tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy for his leadership in fighting for workplace equality and honored several workers' rights allies, including Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

"Workers' rights have always been civil and human rights," Henderson said. "Sixty years ago, A. Philip Randolph, a labor leader and one of the founders of the Leadership Conference said, 'the two tickets to a better life are a voter registration card and a union card.'  That lesson still holds true today."

NELP also honored the work of Jon Hiatt, AFL-CIO general counsel; Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network; and the National Employment Lawyers Association and its executive director, Terisa Chaw.

Christine Owens, executive director of NELP, celebrated the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act earlier this year and emphasized the importance of passing the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would restore workers' right to organize.

"As long as there are workers who need a voice and a place at the table, NELP will be there to fight for them," Owens said.

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'Shriver Report' Highlights the Changing Role of Women at Work, at Home, and Beyond

October 21, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

A new report by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress is calling attention to changing gender dynamics of the American family and workplace and this shift's potential to affect public policy and policies that businesses adopt. 

"The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything" found that half of all American workers are women, that mothers are the primary breadwinner or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of American families, and that women are now more likely than men to graduate from college. 

However, the report also explains that in spite of these changes, women are still earning only 77 cents for each dollar men earn and are still difficult to find in leading positions of America's most successful companies.  In addition, the rise of women in the workplace has sparked serious debate about how children are affected growing up without a stay-at-home parent. 

Based upon these findings, the report argues that all American institutions must adapt to the new dynamic of the workforce and family by embracing policies that help working American families and businesses, like flexible work hours, paid medical leave, child care, and elderly care.

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Franken Amendment Would Forbid Unfair Forced Arbitration by Government Contractors

October 20, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Civil rights groups are supporting an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act for 2010 by Sen. Al Franken, D. Minn., which would deny taxpayer funding to defense contractors who force arbitration upon their employees in cases of sexual abuse and harassment and other egregious forms of unlawful job discrimination.

Forced arbitration clauses require a consumer or employee to agree to settle any disputes in arbitration before a private third party hired to review and settle disputes. They also forbid an individual from suing, participating in class action lawsuits, or appealing the arbiter's decision.  These clauses often surprise consumers and employees who are unaware of forced arbitration policies in the fine print of many types of contracts.

Franken's amendment comes as a response to the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was viciously assaulted and raped by co-workers while working for Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) in Iraq.  Under the forced arbitration clause of her employment agreement, Jones (whose case is still in court) may be prevented from suing Halliburton and instead forced to go through secret, binding arbitration. 

In a letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D. Hawaii, and Rep. John Murtha, D. Pa., signed by 24 civil rights groups, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said that the amendment must be passed in its current form to cover all Title VII employment discrimination claims.

"Unless Title VII claims are included, other forms of discrimination – not connected to sexual violence but nevertheless egregious and intolerable – would continue to be swept under the rug of forced arbitration," the letter states.

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Rebuilding Efforts Dampen Effects of Recession in New Orleans

August 21, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The continuing effort to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has partially sheltered the city from the national economic crisis.

Although unemployment rose from 5 percent to 7.3 percent this year, it remains below the national rate of 9.5 percent. According to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, in the first quarter of 2009, New Orleans had the sixth lowest unemployment rate among the 100 largest cities.

The city's industrial composition has allowed it to escape the massive layoffs that have plagued other cities. Manufacturing and construction, the industries hardest hit by the national recession, make up a small portion of the New Orleans economy. Instead, New Orleans' largest sectors (trade and transportation, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services) either added jobs or remained the same. 

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