CAPITOL TOUR STAFF LEAD WAY TO UNION: Tour staff at the U.S. Capitol know a lot about the building's history. Friday they added their own chapter to that history, filing for a union recognition election. The filing came after a brief 3-week campaign initiated by the workers themselves, reports Carl Goldman, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 26, which is organizing the new unit. "To able to file for an election so quickly with a large amount of support is itself a victory," said Goldman, "We're sending a message to management that their workers want a union." The tour guides and visitor assistants, who lead tours of the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Visitor's Center, organized around a wide range of issues, including worker rights, health and safety, and security protocols. The new Capitol Visitor's Center has been the target of many worker complaints, including the handling of suspicious packages - one supervisor recently dealt with a package marked "anthrax" by simply flushing it down the toilet instead of calling the police - weather-inappropriate clothing and lost benefits. Workers have also reported attempted intimidation by CVC managers during the organizing drive. Goldman called the tour staff organizing committee "one of the best I've ever worked with... a very energetic group of folks." - Jack Arlook, AFL-CIO Union City Intern; photo courtesy DCpages.com
WORKING TO GET OFF THE BENCH: Ironworker Willie Williams (l) isn’t used to being laid off. “I refuse to sit on the bench,” he says. Right now, though, Williams – whose goals is to “be an iron worker for the next twenty years” -- is out of work, unwillingly benched. Williams, a DC resident, apprenticed with Ironworkers Local 5, which made sure that he found a job after graduating. He helped lay the foundation for the Nationals ballpark thanks to the First Source Employment Act, which established “a mandate for a certain number of DC residents to be on that job which in turn allowed me to be on that job.” Currently laid off, Williams says the District’s proposed Employment Stimulus Bill will open up opportunities for long-term employment and quality training programs for him and his fellow DC residents. Williams plans to testify in support of the legislation at a hearing this Wednesday at the DC City Council. - report/photo by Ryan Carty, AFL-CIO Union Summer Intern
LABOR PROFILE: Union Summer Intern Lizet Ramirez: Legendary farm workers organizer Cesar Chavez is not just a hero to Union Summer intern Lizet Ramirez (below), he was a co-worker and close friend of her father, Agustin Ramirez, who’s also one of her biggest heroes and a longtime union activist, first with the United Farm Workers, and later with the Longshoremen. “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community,” Ramirez quotes Chavez, “Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” Ramirez is a student at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she’s pursuing a double major in political science with an emphasis in international relations and history of public policy, as well as a minor in labor studies. Ramirez plans on attending law school for labor law after she graduates. Following a busy junior year at UC Santa Barbara, Ramirez decided to enroll in the UC at D.C. program -- which selects 25 qualified students to work in D.C. internships over the summer – which placed her in the Union Summer program. “Working for the D.C. Labor Council is a great opportunity to further my experience as a labor activist while having the opportunity to help the workers in D.C. metro area,” says Ramirez. - report/photo by Boaz Young-El, AFL-CIO Union Summer Intern
TODAY'S LABOR HISTORY: Birthday of machinist Matthew Maguire, who many believe first suggested Labor Day. Others believe it was Peter McGuire, a carpenter (1850); President Grover Cleveland (l) signs legislation declaring Labor Day an official U.S. holiday (1894); The federal government sues the Teamsters to force reforms on the union, the nation's largest. The following March, the government and the union sign a consent decree requiring direct election of the union's president and creation of an Independent Review Board (1988); More info & ammo for unionists is available online from Union Communication Services. - photo courtesy US Library of Congress
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Published by the Metropolitan Washington Council, an AFL-CIO "Union City" Central Labor Council whose 200 affiliated union locals represent 150,000 area union members. JOSLYN N. WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT.
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