For labor, 2015 began and ended with political action

WASHINGTON (PAI) – For workers and their allies, 2015 began with politics and ended with more politics.

But there were a lot of protests and activism in between – including fights with anti-worker forces ranging from Washington, D.C., to Washington state.

The year kicked off with an AFL-CIO unveiling of a comprehensive “Raise The Wage” campaign. The federation said it would advocate a wide-ranging package of measures to restore the middle class.

They include raising the minimum wage, strengthening the right to organize, comprehensive immigration reform, and opposing trade pacts that trash workers’ rights. The fed later added single-payer national health insurance and women’s economic issues to the list.

The Raise The Wage package is important: While the official unemployment rate finally declined to 5 percent, the new jobs created since the Great Recession – also called the Bush Crash – are predominantly low-paying with no benefits. The ones that vanished paid a lot and had benefits.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the political aspect clear. Unions would evaluate candidates for political office, from the presidency on down, on whether they were for or against the package, in writing, not just verbally. That covers endorsement decisions, including political campaign contributions, too.

Left open: What happens if a contender supports all but one element of the package? The trade pacts are the obvious problem, since President Obama,  even that early, was pushing so-called “fast-track” presidential trade authority and the dangerous Trans-Pacific Partnership pact it would allow. Workers’ anti-TPP campaign is continuing into 2016.

By the end of 2015, unions were deep into evaluating the presidential hopefuls, Democratic and Republican, with 17 unions – including two independent unions and a Change To Win union, the Service Employees – issuing presidential primary endorsements.

With the Teachers leading off the parade, 15 unions, including all three non-AFL-CIO unions, backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nod. National Nurses United and the Postal Workers backed her chief challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., The horde of Republicans, many anti-worker-as is most of their party-were rejected.

Nevertheless, workers and their allies had one “win” among the GOP presidential hopefuls. Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., explicitly ran on his record of destruction of unions in the Badger State. He compared Wisconsin workers to Islamic jihadists. Walker drew so little popular support that he ran out of money and had to drop out – to union chortling nationwide.

And workers picked up a big ally in their crusades for higher wages and the right to organize: Pope Francis, in official statements, ringing speeches and his U.S. visit, too, when he met with groups of low-wage workers who unionized to get a better life.

Politics and action both part of the story

In between the politics, and sometimes intermixed with it, was a lot of protest, activism and state and local action, including:

The “Seven Sisters” oil companies pushed the Steelworkers, who represent two-thirds of the nation’s petroleum refinery workers, to strike over safety issues. For months, the firms refused to budge on talking about the weekly accidents and incidents – some of them fatal – at refineries. Protests and USW’s strike finally forced them to bargain on and settle the issue.

Los Angeles port truckers had to strike at least twice for higher wages and recognition on the job. They won city council backing. Washington state teachers conducted rolling 1-day strikes statewide to ultimately force the legislature to grant their first raises in seven years.

Missouri workers mounted a successful statewide door-to-door campaign to uphold Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of GOP-crafted so-called “right to work” legislation. The GOP-dominated state legislature plans to bring it back in 2016.

Illinois state workers took to the streets and the courts when new right-wing Gov. Bruce Rauner ® tried to outdo Walker, vetoing the state budget for leverage. By year’s end, the impasse continued, Illinois had no budget, the Democratic-run Assembly had defeated a Rauner RTW scheme 72-0, and the courts stepped in to make sure workers got paid.

By contrast, the Democratic-run California legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) pushed through a raft of pro-worker bills, including raising the state minimum wage, mandating 2-person crews on freight trains and writing a strong equal pay for equal work law.

And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), under pressure from unions – led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers – and adverse publicity about shockingly low wages in many sectors, named a commission to probe various industries. The panel’s first ruling said fast-food workers statewide should get a raise. Cuomo also proposed a $15 minimum wage.

Low-wage workers nationwide took to the streets, and sometimes to the courts, to campaign for a living wage – usually $15 an hour – and the right to organize without employer interference, harassment, intimidation and labor law-breaking. Numerous cities listened and raised their minimum wages. The Republican-run Congress didn’t, defeating wage hikes.

Instead, Congress, now under total GOP control, crafted anti-worker and anti-union legislation, covering everything from fast-track presidential trade authority to curbing National Labor Relations Board jurisdiction. Fast-track, pushed by Obama, won. Other moves stalled.

But Congress did take time out from worker-bashing to craft two bipartisan pieces of legislation that will help workers: A 5-year highway and mass transit authorization bill, which will help construction workers get jobs, and a rewrite of federal education law, junking the Bush-era No Child Left Behind statute and its punitive teach-to-the-test mentality.

Faced with congressional hostility in other areas, the Obama Labor Department and the NLRB often ruled for workers. Examples: DOL rules order cuts in silica beryllium exposure and put home health care workers under the minimum wage. The NLRB ruled joint employers are both responsible for workers’ rights – and both are liable if they break labor law.

The biggest threat to workers comes from the U.S. Supreme Court, though the justices’ rulings were a mixed bag in 2015: Individual workers won, such as in a pregnancy discrimination case; groups of workers lost.

The justices will hear a case, Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, on Jan. 11, 2016, that could turn every state and local government into a right-to-work fiefdom. The case,

pushed by the anti-worker so-called National Right to Work Committee, a top radical right group, would affect millions of workers – and unions – nationwide, by robbing them of money.

2015  headlines telling the stories of workers:

This, then, was the story of workers in 2015, as told through the headlines of Press Associates Union News Service:

JANUARY: SPECIAL REPORT: Lower court’s home care ruling shows impact judges have on workers. ALSO: Legislative outlook: Get ready for a fast vote on fast track…Harkin closes career with demand that lawmakers give workers ‘opportunity’…Facing continued company law-breaking, NLRB files formal charges vs. McDonald’s…NLRB eases way for faculty at religious-affiliated colleges and universities to unionize…New year brings in raft of family-friendly state and local laws…Nurses fight with big D.C. hospital over patient care continues with 10-day lockout, vigil…Jobless rate ends 2014 at 5.6 percent; Businesses claim to create almost 3M new jobs in year…AFL-CIO launches major ‘raise the wages’ campaign, to make it political focus…Warren: ‘Many feel the game is rigged – and they’re right’…Business groups again sue NLRB over new union election rules…Cohen: ‘It’s now or never’ in fight vs. fast-track…Panera Bread bakers may finally get their union: BCTGM Local 70…Panel proposes practical moves for ‘raise the wages’ campaign…Perez: DOL to try to expand availability of overtime pay…Nurses union cheers Obama Keystone veto threat…Postal Workers launch ‘Return to Sender’ campaign vs. latest USPS-Staples scheme…Terrorists’ killings at Paris magazine outrage Newspaper Guild, media unions… Perrone succeeds Hansen at UFCW. WASHINGTON WINDOW: Finding the unifying single issue, raising wages. LEGISLATIVE ACTION: Postal unions, allies go ‘Back to the Future’ with banking plan for USPS…New Congress brings new spate of federal worker-bashing bills…Repeal of prevailing wage law tops Michigan Republicans’ priority list…Labor-backed alliance to push bold agenda in Oregon capital… ALSO: BLS: Union density at 11.1 percent in 2014; Weekly wage edge at $207 each… Union-led Democracy Initiative may tackle politicization of state courts…In State of the Union, Obama calls for stronger labor law; Demand falls flat…After 26 years, federal govt. to end consent decree governing Teamsters… Union leaders give Obama address positive reviews, except on trade pacts…Missouri lawmakers start year by attacking workers; Pattern will occur in other states… Teamsters blast govt. green light to let Mexican trucks roll nationwide …ATU joins advocates of raising federal gas tax to pay for rebuilding roads, bridges, running buses, subways…AFT’s Weingarten challenges union movement to rethink itself…Newspaper Guild changes name to NewsGuild, re-elects Lunzer…Seafarers rescue Syrian war refugees…Tentative new pact lets 18K union nurses call off planned strike vs. Kaiser in California…Seniors groups, unions warn of GOP sneak attack on Social Security disability benefits. ALSO: Justices toss permanent company payment of union retirees’ health care benefits… Management labor law-breaking forces Univ. of California doctors into 1-day strike… Boston GCC union local helps member, refugee from Salvadoran violence, escape deportation…About that plane you flew in during World War II: Airman, unionist, who served on C-47 during D-Day gets unlikely chance to fly with her again…Building trades unions urge Obama to sign Keystone pipeline bill…Unionized Kaiser nurses ratify 3-year pact.

FEBRUARY: Obama claims budget plan enhances worker protections, retirement security…Oil industry obstinacy on safety issues forces Steelworkers to strike…Teachers, unions weigh in as Senate panel starts rewrite of federal education law…NEWS ANALYSIS: Justices could increase big-money influence on state courts. ALSO: January jobless rate at 5.7 percent; Businesses claim to create 257K jobs…Illinois legislature Dems vow to protect workers…Obama seeks hike in extended federal jobless benefits…APWU’s 2-front struggle: Vs. USPS at bargaining, vs. Staples takeover of Office Depot…Nissan rejects U.S. offer to mediate Mississippi dispute with UAW…Hogrogian to succeed Hegarty as Mail Handlers president…Nurses at top Chicago hospital complex authorize 1-day strike over short-staffing, safety…AFGE conference delegates tackle tough Capitol Hill environment…Senate Labor panel, now under GOP rule, joins partisan attacks on NLRB…Taking advantage of GOP sway, asbestos manufacturers try to evade more liability…New GOP Illinois Gov. Rauner yanks union rights to collect dues or fees from union-represented caregivers, drawing protests…Refinery workers forced to expand unfair labor practices strike…West Coast port operators lock out Longshore Workers…New report sheds more light on costs of proposed Trans-Pacific trade pact…Trumka to Dems: Party leaders have a big problem – no message…Canadian Supreme Court: Public workers have right to strike…Brushing aside teachers, unions and Dems, House panel OKs partisan rewrite of federal education aid law…Minnesota anti-wage-theft legislation would ensure workers are paid what they earn…SEIU, undocumented adults’ advocates hail Obama appeal of judge’s ban on applicants…Postal Workers open bargaining with USPS…New Jersey Supreme Court curbs ‘independent contractor’ dodge…Direct government oversight of Teamsters ends…Government threat forces Canadian Pacific engineers back to work…Obama uses Pullman monument dedication to tout workers’ rights…

Columbia grad student workers formally ask NLRB to overturn 2004 anti-student worker ruling. FROM THE AFL-CIO EXECUTIVE COUNCIL IN ATLANTA: Trumka: Raising wages to be ‘yardstick’ for presidential hopefuls… IAFF’s Schaitberger: Jeb Bush had relatively good record on Fire Fighters issues…AFL-CIO drafting stronger rewrite of U.S. labor law…Fast-track votes to determine labor political donations, for now… Shuler challenges labor movement on lack of women in top jobs…Trumka singles out fight against racism as one key to raising wages…USW’s Gerard explains why oil workers were forced to strike…Contract talks to cover record 5M unionists this year…Transportation unions facing heavy legislative agenda…Union leaders take no action on Keystone. ALSO: Walker and GOP restart anti-worker Wisconsin steamroller.

MARCH: A PAI SPECIAL REPORT: Organizing the South. ALSO: Senate GOP votes to kill union elections rule; Obama promises veto…Unionists fan out over Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers vs. fast-track…Latest challenge to Affordable Care Act reaches Supreme Court…Jobless rate drops to 5.5 percent; Businesses claim to create 295K new jobs…Progressive think tank defends Obama crackdown on labor law-breaking federal contractors…Teamsters win big among shuttle bus drivers for Silicon Valley tech firms…L.A. Teachers to school district: Negotiate now or face a strike…Hoffa asks feds to reopen pro-Mexican trucks ruling…ILWU, Pacific port managers reach tentative 5-year pact…WASHINGTON WINDOW: For workers, fast-track is way off track. Op-Ed: Leo Gerard: The GOP’s blind hate of union members. ALSO: Parade of presidential hopefuls make pitches to Fire Fighters…Feds rewrite indictment of former Massey CEO Blankenship for Upper Big Branch role; Judge lifts gag order on the case…Schaitberger: ‘Very existence of the union movement’ is at stake…Steelworkers reach tentative 4-year pact with Shell as industry apparently agrees to safety measures…Justice Dept. says federal workers can sue over pay loss during 2013 shutdown…Steelworkers laud federal move vs. subsidized imported paper…Communications Workers, AT&T at loggerheads as bargaining starts…Calif. nurse details how employer manipulated election to beat union…Chicago voters to City Council: Pass paid sick leave…NPR reporter wins award for series on hospital indifference to nurses’ back injuries…Labor in wide alliance vs. exploitation of ‘high-tech’ workers here on visas…OSHA report documents costs of injuries, declining workers comp…Machinists file union recognition election petition at Boeing S.C. Dreamliner plant…DeLauro, Gillibrand reintroduce paid family and medical leave bill…Law professors oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership, say it creates ‘unaccountable, unreviewable system’ for firms…N.H. workers protest Walker anti-union laws, comparison with jihadists…NLRB Chairman Pearce defends agency as House votes to overturn new union election rules…GOP lawmakers challenge NLRB joint-employer memo…Labor board throws the book – er, newspaper – at Santa Barbara News Press again. WASHINGTON WINDOW: The budget dance. OP-ED: Leo Gerard: The GOP’s big squeeze… House GOP uses NLRB budget hearing to snipe at board policies…Top women’s rights group hails Supreme Court ruling in pregnancy discrimination case…Workers mobilize vs. GOP budgets’ pension, pay cut schemes…Berger-Marks gives working women ‘how-to’ guide for greater influence in unions, organizations…Report: 2014 Wall Street bonuses alone double earnings of all minimum wage workers…Senate GOP budget bans consideration of project labor agreements…Young workers summit feels jolt of activism. ACTION IN THE STATES: Illinois union coalition battles Rauner “fair share” fee ban in state courts…W. Va. GOP legislature passes, Dem governor signs anti-worker legislation…Missouri unionists, businesses, officials mobilize vs. ‘right-to-work’…Nevada lawmakers following Wisconsin’s lead? WASHINGTON WINDOW: Budget priorities, or lack of them.

APRIL: Senate ‘vote-a-rama’ produces few wins for workers…AFL-CIO launches drive to educate undocumented workers on legalization…Fast food workers plan national strike on April 15…AFL-CIO, allies praise White House drive for paid family leave law…AFSCME yanks conference out of Indiana as boycott mushrooms over anti-gay law…Drawing on Calif. model, lawmakers reintroduce federal nurse staffing ratios bill…California Teachers fight for their union and the schools…After Obama’s endorsement, consumer protection bureau unveils proposed curbs on payday lenders…Obama vetoes GOP’s anti-NLRB bill…USW local ratifies new pact with Honeywell, ending long company lockout…Machinists name Cervantes as next Secretary-Treasurer…NEA president plans to push education to top of 2016 campaign agenda. WASHINGTON WINDOW: Cheat your workers and go to jail. ALSO: Building Trades Chief McGarvey: Labor’s durability may key on friending a few GOP moderates; ‘Politics is not a marriage. It’s a business.’…Labor Dept., unions go to bat in court for same-sex couples…Indiana GOP plan to cut construction workers’ wages leads pro-GOP Indiana union official to quit state panel…Nurses take to streets again to push ‘Robin Hood Tax’…Two-tier wages to be key issue at coming UAW talks with Detroit 3…Steelworkers’ Gerard rules out GOP presidential hopefuls…On Equal Pay Day, report shows male-female pay gap at 78 cents per dollar…Biden touts green jobs, economic recovery to labor-environmental alliance…Unionists storm Capitol Hill vs. fast-track…Backed by unions, fast food workers walk out nationwide – again…Greens join union campaign against fast-track, Pacific trade pact…In change from prior stand, UFCW opposes fast-track, citing Pacific trade pact…Teachers union leaders split as key panel starts rewriting federal education law… WASHINGTON WINDOW: Buying elections, local style. ALSO: Bldg. Trades’ McGarvey pushes contact with both parties, hits too-close union ties to Dems…Trumka blasts fast-track and Trans-Pacific Pact as senators fast-track their approval…Study discusses small fines, light punishments for deaths on the job…Rail unions back bill mandating two-member crews on freight trains…Citing political hostility and threats of violence, IAM withdraws union election petition at Boeing in S.C…Building trades’ lobbying mixes defense, offense…NNU: Management pressure produces anti-union lead in vote at big Calif. hospital; Outcome uncertain…NewsGuild’s Lunzer protests Iranian spying’ charges vs. Washington Post reporter.

MAY: Fast-track enters Dem presidential race as lawmakers fast-track it to House, Senate…Trumka: Raising Wages Agenda to be AFL-CIO standard for presidential endorsement…AFL-CIO Death On The Job report shows weaknesses in safety and health enforcement…Pre-May Day rally energizes labor’s push against fast-track…In model for others, Cleveland building trades agree with city, school district on pre-apprentice training… Misclassification, wage theft, bad working conditions force LA-Long Beach port drivers to strike again…New York and Los Angeles city councils vote against fast-track…Equal pay gets new heavyweight supporter – the Pope… Construc-tion, services lead the way in April job creation as jobless rate drops…Court hears case on home health care wages as workers, outside, discuss them…Union leaders, Obama administration back hiking minimum wage to $12…Labor Dept. readies rules on expanding overtime pay eligibility…Unions cheer as GOP-run House kills two anti-worker amendments…After 20 years, OSHA issues rule to protect construction workers in confined spaces…Congress tackles multi-employer pension plans, again…Workers take to streets on May Day marches for higher pay, justice on the job…CWA applauds High Court ban on direct political giving to judges, but says it doesn’t go far enough…Letter Carriers: Extreme winter weather increased need for food drive donations…Senate doesn’t even try to override Obama’s veto of anti-NLRB bill…Groups to Postal Service: Accommodate pregnant workers …Democratic flip-floppers let Senate start debating fast-track…Union leaders, lawmakers, mayors unveil progressive agenda…Sales job: Obama stumps for fast-track at Nike as unionists expose ‘Supersized NAFTA pact’s’ lies…Natl. Nurses United pushes safe-staffing drive at events nationwide, adds collective bargaining rights in D.C. demo…Postal Workers hit the streets arguing for better service, new contract…Illinois, New Jersey Supreme Courts hit cuts of public workers’ pensions…Letter shows Locomotive Engineers warned Amtrak about hazardous working conditions five months before fatal Philly accident…Paywatch: Average CEO makes more in a day than the average worker does in a year…OSHA slams big safety violator with $822K fine…Appeals court tosses AFA suit to ban cell phone use on planes…Unionists, allies step up crusade for undocumented workers…Amid grumbling over no long-term solution, House extends highway-transit programs…Senate opens fast-track fight by rejecting more aid for workers who lose jobs to trade; Dem flip-floppers on key trade vote cite added enforcement as reason…Federation analysis of Chinese trade policies debunks administration’s pro-TPP arguments…New Orleans teachers’ quest for back pay, damages ends with Supreme Court rejection…Rail unions weigh in with more analysis of Amtrak crash…Sanders, Ellison re-introduce ‘Robin Hood Tax’ plan, with funds for free community college education, other social needs…Los Angeles Council raises city minimum wage to $15 by 2020…NLRB again orders conditional reinstatement for illegally fired undocumented workers…After Senate loss, fast-track fight shifts to House…CWA’s Cohen, stepping down from union post, to continue democracy campaign…Right-to-work loses in Illinois House, 72-0, heads for Missouri governor’s veto…Rolling 1-day strike closes schools all over Washington state…Rail safety problems lead to activists’ protests…McDonald’s workers again protest low pay at burger giant’s HQ, meeting…Govt. issues new rules ordering contractors to obey labor laws…Dept. store cleaners file class action suit for back pay, damages, cite wage theft…GOP Gov. Kasich yanks collective bargaining from 10K home care, child care providers. PROFILE: New NEA President Eskelsen-Garcia brings verve, edge to union.

JUNE: House passes fast-track despite union drive vs. secret trade pacts…N.J. unions continue pension fight despite state high court ruling…Shelton, Steffens win top Communications Workers posts…Management pension plan elimination scheme forces Bricklayers in St. Louis to strike…Rail unions back federal directive for 2-person passenger train crews…House GOP goes after NLRB again, while defending right-to-work…After two years of work, Mother Jones monument to be rededicated…Every day is baseball season for Steelworkers at Louisville Slugger bat plant…Natl. Nurses United urges D.C. Council to pass nurse-patient ratios bill…Unions criticize GOP proposal to spin off Federal Aviation Administration…AFGE’s Cox to lawmakers: Obtain, retain federal workers by fair treatment, labor-mgmt. cooperation and end to pay cuts…Supreme Court rules against employer discrimination by religion…Delta baggage handler Hedges, activist for low-wage workers, sues over retaliatory firing… Union leaders: Fast-track fight not over yet…Cardinal, Trumka: Catholic church, labor movement working more closely on social justice…Teachers leaders launch presidential endorsement process by meeting Dem hopefuls… Right-to-work goes down the drain in Maine…Federal pension agency to offer loans to troubled multi-employer pension plans; Unions, lawmakers seek repeal of last year’s law…House draft money bill cuts $74M from NLRB, shackles board authority…Letter Carriers report near-record food collection in annual drive…AFGE says it’ll work with feds to prevent future massive cyber personal data attacks…Fast-track rerun: Senate OK upsets unionists, leaders…Judge rules for St. Louis Bricklayers in pension suit with national implications…Union leaders applaud Supreme Court health care law ruling…AFL-CIO, ally protest deep cuts in pro-worker programs in House Labor-HHS money bill…With one exception, senators ignore union concerns in defense bill debate…Mine Workers prepare to sue Obama over EPA’s clean power rules; GOP prepares to trash them…Transportation unions battling right-wing legislation to curb worker rights at ports.

JULY: SPECIAL FEATURE ON COURTS: The other judicial shoe drops: high court to hear case outlawing union dues, fees for all public workers. ALSO: Obama announces new overtime pay rule…Big-money interests pushing prevailing wage repeal in Michigan…Fight for 15 racks up big win in Massachusetts …Rail workers, environmentalists to launch week of protests vs. oil trains…Union leaders hail High Court’s gay marriage ruling…Even your fax paper: Steelworkers praise U.S. tariffs on Chinese uncoated paper… Management’s part-timers scheme forces ATU bus drivers in Milwaukee to strike…Ex-CWA President Cohen to campaign for Sanders…Graphic Communications leaders to delegates: ‘Organize or die’…Labor Board to tackle another big joint-employer issue, involving temps…Sanders draws roars from union retirees…Illinois GOP Gov. Rauner’s budget rigidity may bring near-payless paydays to 40,000 workers…Unions back new Senate education bill, but say it needs improvement…St. Louis Bricklayers strike ends with Local 1 protecting pensions, ending nationally dangerous contractors lawsuit, signing 6-year pact…Federal workers union sues govt. over confidential data breach…Canadian prime minister jams anti-union law through Parliament…AFT endorses Clinton…Obama administration blasts GOP funding bill for cutting NLRB staff by one third…Postal Workers’ battle vs. USPS over Staples scheme headed to Labor Board judge’s session…Abolition of two-tier wage systems tops UAW bargaining with GM…House extends highway-mass transit fund, law through December…Environmentalists, railroad workers protest oil trains…Office and Professional Employees add 2,200 new members in June… Steelworkers, NLRB withdraw case on charging free riders for grievances…Workers rally behind federal $15 minimum wage bill…Survey of strongly religious voters shows huge backing for Pope’s stands against racism, income inequality, for worker rights…N.Y. unions hail Cuomo task force to crack down on low-wage violators…EPI report: Misclassified employees cost government billions…Workers, allies gear up for continuing ‘right-to-work’ fight in Missouri; Political pressure mounts vs. defecting Republicans…SEIU raises ‘Fight for 15’ for home care workers at White House conference…Continued misclassification, exploitation force LA-Long Beach port truck drivers to strike again…Theodore Bikel, union activist, leader, actor, folksinger, dies at 91…Hillary Clinton pledges to push Employee Free Choice Act; Hopefuls list other pro-worker stands…USW’s Gerard argues for keeping U.S. crude oil in the U.S… Congress hits more potholes in debating highway-mass transit bill…Federal judge upholds NLRB’s union election rules changes…81 years in coming, new plaque marks site where police opened fire on Minneapolis workers during 1934 Teamsters strikes…House GOP campaigns against more overtime pay eligibility…AFL-CIO leaders add single-payer health care to Raising Wages campaign.

AUGUST: Steelworkers, top firms at odds as contract deadline approaches…Mine Workers: Miners ‘to suffer the most’ from Obama final power plant rules…The Pope does it again, blasting capitalism, promoting workers’ rights …Steelworkers applaud WTO ruling vs. Chinese specialty steel tariffs…Unions lead anti-ALEC protests; Teamsters demand UPS leave radical right group…Workers, unions continue anti-TPP campaign even as talks founder …Roofers, Plumbers affiliate…Obama OMB issues veto threat vs. GOP bill letting VA fire workers at managerial whim…National Nurses United endorses Sanders…U.S. Labor Against War campaigning for unionists, leaders to back Iran nuke curbs pact…Lawmakers skeptical about corporate denial of T-Mobile’s labor law-breaking… Unionist-bashing isn’t finished in Detroit: Financial overseer cuts teachers’ health care…News Guild, reporters, firms protest prosecutor’s charges in year-old Ferguson arrests…Huge computer hacks lead Consumers League to launch data security project…Gallup polls’ mixed views: Rises in support for unions – and for RTW laws… Labor Board tosses college athletes’ try to unionize…Former Senate Labor Committee Chairman Harkin endorses Hillary Clinton…NLRB backs worker in filing 1-person class action suit…OSHA proposes cutting worker exposure to beryllium by 90 percent…Nevada unions to Trump: Pay your hotel’s workers fair wages, recognize union…AFGE re-elects officers, girds for battles with Congress…GOP inserts silica standard delay into Labor Dept. money bill…Machinists endorse Clinton…Rail workers score big safety win in California…NLRB: Big firms jointly liable for worker rights at franchise-holders…Steelworkers stage mass rallies nationwide as talks with firms come down to the wire…Court upholds DOL minimum wage, overtime pay rules for home health care workers… Report: Union women make more than non-union women in every state…ATU: Putting intercity bus drivers under overtime law would cut bus crash fatalities…AFL-CIO backs legislation to curb execs’ revolving door to D.C. LABOR DAY: Report explores why unions have few female leaders…The National Labor Relations Act – 80 years of protection?…Ruling on unfair labor practices shows importance of appeals courts to workers…Warner raises the problem of the ‘on-demand economy’ …Mother Jones monument rededicated with vows to continue her worker rights fight…Continuing Missouri RTW battle exemplifies war on workers in the states…$665 million pension fraud highlights corporate criminality…EPI economic plan features tax hike on rich, expanding Social Security, higher infrastructure investment. SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS: Barbara Easterling, Alliance for Retired Americans: Let’s celebrate this Labor Day by stopping the TPP. WASHINGTON WINDOW: The state of working Americans, 2015. OP-EDS: Leo Gerard: There’s always money for the boss. Sam Pizzigati: Our stealth politics of inequality.

SEPTEMBER: Five top union leaders endorse Iran nuclear arms control pact…Jobless rate falls to 5.1 percent in August…Money bills top labor’s agenda as Congress returns to work …Communications Workers, IBEW keep talking with Verizon; Firm sticks with giveback demands…Black labor collaborative report: To succeed, labor must be authentically inclusive…SPECIAL REPORT: Busy year by NLRB produces key rulings for workers. ALSO: Missouri workers step up campaign as right-to-work fight comes down to the wire…Trumka hopes Pope reiterates “‘Thou shalt not’ to an economy that kills”…Illinois residents, workers suffering from Rauner’s budget standoff…Women’s’ groups hail Obama ban on contractors disciplining workers who discuss pay…A NAFTA impact: Your Oreo cookies, to be made in Mexico, not Chicago…School board stubbornness forces Seattle teachers to strike…Calif. Gov. Brown signs freight rail two-person crew bill…Lawmakers, AFL-CIO craft new legislation to crack down on labor law-breakers…Presidential politics I: Letter Carriers start endorsement process, face choice between two Dem friends…Presidential politics II: Clinton courts Carpenters leaders… Presidential politics III: Wisconsin’s Walker wants to kill NLRB, Project Labor Agreements, federal worker representation…Labor lobbying upholds Missouri governor’s right to work veto…News Analysis: Fallout from NLRB ruling shows typical GOP pattern. ALSO: Unionists lobby to restore, strengthen Voting Rights Act… ‘They put WHAT in my food?’ Communications Workers educate consumers on Trans-Pacific Partnership food safety threats…N.Y. Gov. Cuomo proposes $15 state minimum wage…FEATURE: You gotta be kidding: If it walks like a bribe, talks like a bribe and flies like a bribe, is it a bribe? ALSO: N.J. unions take battle over pension payments to the U.S. Supreme Court…CLUW launches women’s health needs survey.

OCTOBER: From The Int’l. Labor Communications Association Convention In Raleigh: Panelists offer new ideas for organizing the South…Barber: Those who want to build union power in the South ‘must take race seriously.’ ALSO: DOL: Job fatalities rise in construction, oil and gas…Clinton adds four construction union endorsements…Letter Carriers, Postal Service work on new proposal to fund retiree health care…As another federal shutdown loomed, unions lobbied lawmakers to prevent it…UAW members reject FiatChrysler pact by almost 2-to-1 margin…Communications Workers, Teamsters reach tentative first pact for 15K American Airlines agents…Carwasheros, before meeting Pope Francis, talk of gains from unionizing…Federal mediator brings bargainers back to the table in Pantex strike…AFGE: DOD tries to trash its civilian workers’ protections – again… LCLAA advocates ‘strategic investment’ in Latino organizing, workers’ centers…National Education Association endorses Clinton, draws flak…Workers take pro-union message to Obama labor summit…Card check recognition key feature of Sanders labor law reform bill…Trumka: ‘It’s not just us’ opposing controversial Trans-Pacific trade pact…Maritime unions fight yet another threat to Jones Act ships, jobs…Canadian unions cheer as voters toss out right wing Prime Minister Harper…Report: In most states, $15 an hour is not enough…UAW Fiat-Chrysler workers approve 4-year pact…New York catches Papa John’s Pizza in rampant wage theft – again…An un-Merry Christmas lump of coal: Teamsters protest Safeway warehouse job cuts…Painters endorse Clinton…Survey results reveal working women’s’ health info needs…Teamsters carhaulers reject national pact…Laborers’ O’Sullivan to Dems: Anti-Keystone stands alienate workers…AFSCME, Operating Engineers endorse Clinton…Unions: Budget pact avoids further hit on federal workers…Shuler: Woman workers ‘need to make our voices heard’… Sanders addresses, marches with Verizon pickets…OPEIU: For first time, NLRB declares taxi drivers are ’employees,’ can vote to unionize. SPECIAL REPORT: AFL-CIO questionnaires show Democratic presidential hopefuls largely agree on big issues, but differ in emphasis, details. ALSO: VA whistleblowers reveal continued management retaliation; Union backs legislation increasing their safeguards…New film promotes public workers’ fight for rights…OSHA move to hold joint employers more responsible for safety violations angers GOP…Missouri home care union launches initiative petition campaign to improve wages for critical care attendants…House OKs U.S. oil exports bill, bounces right-wing try to gut defense maritime fleet… BLS: Job injuries, illnesses decline slightly in 2014…Academic study: ‘Economic mobility thrives in areas where unions thrive’…Armed with backing from presidential hopeful Sanders, ATU members in Grand Rapids battle for future of transit system…Survey: Health care premiums continue to outpace inflation, wages…United Way HQs management agrees to neutrality and card check in organizing drives…FEATURE: You Gotta Be Kidding: Urban Outfitters to employees – ‘Work for free’…AFGE surpasses 300,000 active members.

NOVEMBER: After first look at full TPP text, union leaders give pact thumbs down…Jobless rate falls to 5 percent in October, lowest level in years…New campaign exposes widespread abuses of poultry workers…Partisan House GOP panel majority OKs bill overturning NLRB joint-employer ruling, tosses pro-worker substitutes as ‘non-germane’…Unions urge Obama to order federal contractors to disclose campaign contributions…Lawmakers ask DOL to probe states’ cost-shifting in workers comp…Off-off-year election returns: Wins in Ohio, N.J., Colo., losses in Kent., Spokane…Labor Secretary Perez lauds building trades’ apprenticeships, training…’It was just a job’: Gateway Arch builders remember their contributions, 50 years later…Fight for 15 takes campaign to confrontation with GOP…Striking L.A. port truck drivers end walkout with city council win…Trumka kicks off fed’s formal anti-TPP drive at town hall meeting in New Hampshire…Postal Workers back Sanders…Gerard warns lawmakers: Vote for TPP and we’ll vote you out…Unions split on Obama Keystone rejection…Mass rallies, 1-day strike by fast food workers attract union and political support…Turncoat Mo. legislators accepted campaign funds from unions, then voted for RTW…Oregon AFL-CIO resolves to ‘fight for change’…Right-wing Republicans attack construction workers’ wages in Ohio, Wisconsin. SPECIAL REPORT: High court tackles four cases involving workers, unions. ALSO: Shuler: Labor to push women’s economic agenda as part of Raise The Wage drive… Service Employees endorse Clinton; NNU slams her for opposing single-payer …Teachers union leader Weingarten lauds new federal education aid bill framework…Dem presidential hopefuls agree on postal issues in Letter Carriers’ questionnaire…Unite Here President Taylor warns Dem defenders of ACA: Dump ‘Cadillac tax’ or face problems at the polls…Teamsters rack up first contract win in Calif., vote on second, large first contract there …Low-paid airport workers fast for 24 hours to highlight demand for $15 hourly wage, right to unionize.

DECEMBER: Laborers, plus North America’s Building Trades, now back Clinton…Steelworkers pick up key backer of oil export ban: Obama…Lawmakers agree on 5-year highway-mass transit bill, but fiscal challenges loom…Panel, including Shuler, probes how unions could adjust to the ‘gig economy’…BLS: Construction leads the way in Nov. job creation; Jobless rate stays at 5 percent…California OKs strong equal pay law…Prevailing wage repeal in Michigan: Here we go again…Unions to global summit: Don’t trash workers as you tackle climate change…Report: Wal-Mart hired Lockheed-Martin, asked FBI to spy on activist workers…Mine Workers, safety and health group hail Blankenship conviction…Toledo Building Trades sign historic safety pact, bringing OSHA in before construction…WASHINGTON WINDOW: Forget the Fortune 500. Now there’s the Gulfstream 20. OP-ED: Sam Pizzigati on helping Social Security recipients by curbing CEO pay. ALSO: AFGE endorses Clinton… Labor panel to Obama: TPP ‘severely undermines’ workers, jobs, consumers…African union leader sees similarities with U.S. South; Group discusses struggle against multi-nationals, exploitation…Think tank labor law rewrite plan features new category of ‘independent workers’…Educators’ unions laud new federal school law…CLUW president, dressed in camouflage gear, gives delegates ‘marching orders’ to combat foes’ war on women …Teamsters establish fund to aid families of San Bernardino victims…UAW breaks through with smaller unit of workers in VW Chattanooga plant…Now, Donald Trump will have to put his money where his mouth is, as Trump Las Vegas hotel workers vote to unionize. WASHINGTON WINDOW: On jobs, let’s talk about quality.

Photo: Popular Resistance


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.