Wage Theft Bill Signing

On Monday, flanked by advocates and supporters, Gov. Tim Walz held a signing ceremony for bipartisan provisions of H.F. 2, the Omnibus Jobs and Economic Development budget, creating the strongest protections against wage theft in the country.

Trump’s labor secretary might lose his job, but not because he enabled sexual assault and pedophilia

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over the “unconscionable agreement” he made in 2007 to allow billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein to escape federal charges of sex trafficking minors, a deal “kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice.” But, as Pelosi noted in her tweet, Donald Trump knew about this when he appointed Acosta—and, while the renewed attention thanks to federal charges finally being filed against Epstein is not strengthening Acosta’s position, that’s not the only reason his job is in danger. If Trump forces Acosta out, it will be as much or more because he’s not anti-worker enough. Bloomberg reports that “Corporate lobbyists and some White House officials have grown frustrated that Acosta hasn’t moved fast enough on deregulation and other business-friendly initiatives.” Specifically, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is frustrated that Acosta isn’t moving more quickly to undo Obama-era workplace protections. So Epstein could be a convenient excuse for Trump to get rid of a guy for the sin of not being enough of an extremist—after all, Trump sure doesn’t have anything but a public relations problem with Epstein. Not only did he appoint Acosta knowing about the non-prosecution deal that allowed Epstein to serve just 13 months in a county jail, with 12 hours a day of “work release,” but Trump has his own history with Epstein. 

Epstein has, of course, joined the long list of people Trump denies having ever really known—along with many of Trump’s former campaign officials—but in 2002, Trump said that “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years.

Trump administration attacks unions for fast-growing occupation, this week in the war on workers

A new part of the Trump administration’s ongoing quest to weaken worker power goes into effect this Friday, in the form of a new regulation banning automatic union dues deduction for home health workers paid directly by Medicaid. That means that the workers, many of whom have only recently become union members—and have gotten significant raises as a result—would have to individually pay their union dues. That means a new hassle in the lives of workers who are still paid low wages and in many cases work long hours at multiple jobs. And it means major administrative hassles for the unions that represent them. Adarra Benjamin, an Illinois home health worker, told ThinkProgress what this attack on her union membership means to her, saying, “We are the union—the workers in general are the union—and understanding that if we don’t come together, we don’t have a voice.

Elizabeth Warren heads to Essence Festival with plan to ‘value the work of Black women’

Black women in the U.S. face “the legacy of decades of systemic discrimination,” and on the eve of attending the Essence Festival to speak to thousands of black women, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has laid out her plan to “demand that companies and the government properly value the work of Black women—and hold them accountable if they don’t.”

“The numbers tell the story,” Warren writes in Essence. “Black women are more likely to be breadwinners for their families and work more than almost any other set of women workers in America, including white women. Yet, Black women are paid less and they are less likely to be able to afford basic human rights like healthcare, childcare and housing.”

Because “This is no accident,” it will take intention and hard work to reverse. Warren’s plans for universal childcare, housing, and canceling student debt will help black and brown women, but she’s not stopping there. Warren pledges a series of executive actions to “boost wages for women of color and open up new pathways to the leadership positions they deserve.” That starts with a ban on new federal contracts for “Companies with a bad track record on equal pay and diversity in management.” Federal contractors will also be banned from “forcing employees to sign away their rights with forced arbitration clauses and non-compete agreements—restrictions that are particularly hurtful to women of color.” 

Warren also pledges to “take executive action to make the senior ranks of the federal government look like America and strengthen enforcement against systemic discrimination.”

This is intersectional policy: Warren is clear about how her policies that aren’t tailored to black women will still help black women, but she’s also clear that systemic discrimination requires more.

Soaring summer temperatures mean danger for farm workers

Summer means high temperatures … and, for farmworkers, hard work in hot fields. We’re talking fields where, without proper precautions, workers die from the heat. The United Farm Workers is trying to keep that from happening, though in some states they have better options than others. California, where so much of the nation’s produce is grown, has laws protecting workers—requiring that they get proper shade and access to “fresh, pure, and suitably cool” drinking water—but enforcement is a problem, and workers have kept dying despite the laws. The UFW is working to make sure that California workers know their rights and that the state finds out when employers don’t give their workers the shade and water they need to stay safe, as required by the law. xNext time you are driving & see #farmworkers bent over laboring picking our food – take a 2nd glance & see if adequate shade is provided.

Oregon passes nation’s strongest paid family leave law

Oregon just became the eighth state to pass a paid family leave law—and it did so with the best such law in the country, a month after Connecticut passed what was then considered the best family leave law. After the bill passed the state Senate in a bipartisan 21 to six vote, Gov. Kate Brown signed it into law Monday afternoon, saying in a statement, “Now, we can finally tell parents that they no longer will have to worry about losing their pay when they are having a baby or need to care for a loved one.”

Oregon’s law, which goes into effect in 2023, will offer 12 weeks of paid leave, covering up to 100% of pay for low-wage workers. Benefits will be capped at $1,215. Connecticut’s law had been considered generous for covering up to 95% for low-wage workers. Oregon’s law will also include people affected by domestic violence in addition to new parents and people caring for ill family members or dealing with their own illness.

Workers at four airports strike to protest abuses, this week in the war on workers

Contract workers at four East Coast airports staged a one-day strike on Thursday, citing abuses by Eulen America, the company that employs them. The workers, including baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, and wheelchair attendants, service American Airlines and Delta. 

A recent investigation by CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede found that Eulen hires recent immigrants, pays them low wages for hours that fall short of full time, and has grueling working conditions, with workers lifting heavy bags in high heat and going without breaks or adequate hydration. Workers say they are transported to clean and supply airplanes in unsafe, cockroach-infested vehicles. “A lot of the people are new to this country and they don’t know the laws or their rights, and then management takes advantage of that,” a worker told DeFede. A striking worker said his team isn’t provided with adequate cleaning supplies or staff to fully clean planes, and that supervisors are abusive to workers who speak little or no English.