President Obama is helping ensure that all hardworking Americans get the fair pay and safe workplaces they deserve

Good news for working people: President Obama took bold action today to protect the wages and safety of millions of American workers.

The executive order he signed will help alleviate wage theft in our federal contracting system and protect taxpayer dollars from going to companies that consistently break the law.

Tell your friends, colleagues and family members on Facebook why today is a great day for workers.

More than one in five workers in the U.S. today are employed by companies that do business with the federal government. Far too many have been routinely denied leave, placed in harm's way, discriminated against and cheated out of pay by federal contractors.

As workers around the country stand up to demand a living wage and a union, President Obama is doing his part to make sure employers treat their workers with the respect they deserve, support collective bargaining and have clean labor records.

As Rep. Keith Ellison put it, "If you are a federal contractor and you want to do business with the United States, you should be fair to your workers." Amen!

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4:19 PM Eastern - Thursday, July 31, 2014

President Obama's Contracting Order Is a Win-Win-Win #default

An executive order issued today by President Obama will have huge, positive consequences for the 26 million Americans working for companies that do business with the federal government. The executive order affects all of those companies, as a result, all of those workers.

SEIU members joined President Obama at the July 31, 2014 signing of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

PHOTO: 32BJ member Helen Avalos shakes hands with President Obama immediately following the signing of the Executive Order.

What does the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order do? It says if you're a company that wants a federal contract, you have to disclose your labor law violations from the past three years, from wage theft and safety violations to civil rights abuses. If you've got a contract but violate labor laws repeatedly, your shoddy record will be reviewed by a compliance advisor and may be flagged for "lack of integrity or business ethics."

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9:53 AM Eastern - Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tell House Representatives to Defend Refugee Children #default

Just a few days ago, many of us called our Senators and told them to support shelter and help for the thousands of refugee children who have come to the United States recently from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. 

Now, we must act again.

Some members of Congress are proposing extreme measures that would weaken the law and immediately deport thousands of refugee children without giving them a fair chance to show whether they would be harmed if sent back. 

Call 877-848-8289 and tell your House representative to vote no on H.R. 5230 and to defend refugee children.

Thousands of unaccompanied children of all ages have fled for their lives from Central America and have come to the US to request refuge. The countries they come from have the highest murder rates in the world, and the gangs in those countries target children. Our laws provide a process to evaluate children like these who have thrown themselves at our mercy, to ensure we don't deport true refugees who might be harmed or even killed. 

Yet, Republicans have introduced H.R. 5230, a bill that would strip these legal protections. Under new procedures, designed to deport instead of protect, almost all of the children would be immediately returned regardless of how much danger that would put them in. 
This is unconscionable. 

Call your Representative and tell him/her to OPPOSE H.R. 5230 and to OPPOSE any change in the law that would deport children immediately: 877-848-8289

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9:44 AM Eastern - Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sen. Dick Durbin Introduces Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act #default

With advanced degrees, adjunct faculty are well-prepared to teach. But with such degrees often comes significant debt, and few options for keeping the student debt burden manageable. A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate reflects the momentum adjunct faculty have created in the past year toward making big changes in their workplaces while helping shape the future of higher education.

dick durbin.jpg

Yesterday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation that will help adjunct faculty access the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act would make a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of adjunct and contingent faculty, who now make up a majority of America's college instructors and more than half of whom work part-time.

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Darleen HenryDarleen Henry of Rosemount, Minn., isn't your typical 24-year-old. Three years ago, her mother had a series of small strokes that turned life upside down for both of them.

"The doctors considered them minor, but to us they changed everything," said Darleen. "Most people my age don't expect to care for their mother. But how can you look at your parent and tell them no?"

Darleen was with her mother during every hospital stay for the strokes - "and there were many." Darleen's mother qualifies for home care services through Medicaid, and very quickly they decided it would be best if Darleen became her homecare provider.

"I could have easily suggested her going into a nursing home, but I knew if I were in her shoes, leaving my own home before I needed to would be heartbreaking, let alone extremely expensive. She was in assisted living for two weeks after a surgery and hated it. She'd never been so miserable in her life."

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7:22 PM Eastern - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Members of Congress to end week of living on minimum wage #default

AmericaNeedsARaise-banner.pngOn Thursday, July 31th at 12:30 p.m., a joint coalition of DC minimum wage workers, members of Congress, religious leaders and community supporters will join together to share their experience of living on the minimum wage.

A caravan of 100 plus workers will drape shoes around their necks and present them to Congress on the East Front Capitol Steps urging members to stop walking away from millions of struggling minimum wage workers during recess.

Several members of congress, including Reps. Mark Takano, Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan and Barbara Lee took the Walk a Mile in My Shoes "Live the Wage" Challenge with sobering results. Congressmen Ryan tweeted "Going to get some sardines and crackers tonight for dinner;" then his his newborn's unexpected illness knocked $24 off his weekly budget to buy prescription medication.

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6:46 PM Eastern - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Single mom Shemethia Butler: "I work hard and I deserve better for my hard work." #default

Worker-ShemethiaButler-sm.jpgWorking full time to support a family shouldn't ever mean living below the poverty line, but that's true for too many Americans today--and I'm one of them.

I'm a mother of two children who works at McDonald's in Washington, DC, earning $9.50 an hour. It's ironic because when I was 16 years old, I worked at McDonalds making $4.25 an hour. And almost 20 years later I find myself working there again, earning only four dollars more an hour.

Because of my low pay, I get TANIF and food stamps. I work odd jobs and beg my family and friends for money to keep things going.

When I get home from work and walk down the halls of my apartment, I smell food cooking that I can't afford to make for my own family. At times it's brought tears to my eyes. But I have to buckle up when I get to door, hold back my at my son and daughter and do the best I can with rice or noodles. Plenty of days we have no meat or fresh vegetables.

My son wants to go to college but I can't help him; my daughter wants a nice dress that I can't afford. I want to make meals for my family instead of standing in line for handouts. I work hard and I deserve better for my hard work.

Any raise in the minimum wage will help put food on my table. I recently earned my food handlers license and hope to get another job. But if it pays minimum wage, it will have been a lot of work for nothing.

Don't take away hope, raise the minimum wage.

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5:46 PM Eastern - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tell Your Senator: Protect children fleeing violence #default

RefugeeKids.jpgIn the last few months we have witnessed an unprecedented number of unaccompanied refugee children arriving at our southern border from El Salvador, Guatamela, and Honduras. With thousands of unaccompanied children arriving, Republicans have shown their true colors in how they have responded.

Rather than protect the children, Republican lawmakers they have tried to strip children fleeing violence of their legal protections and expedite their deportations, regardless of the facts.

Children arriving at the border should not be deported immediately. Instead, they should be given shelter and support while their situation is evaluated.

Call 877-848-8289 to be connected to your Senator right now. Tell your Senator to SUPPORT the supplemental funding request that ensures adequate funds to provide shelter and support for the children. Tell him/her to OPPOSE any change in the law that would deport children immediately.

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4:17 PM Eastern - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hey Amazon, Security Officers Need Respect Too! #default

Facebook Share DaivonAmazon's motto--"Work hard, have fun, make history"--makes it sound like a great place to work, right? Yet the security officers that protect the company's headquarters report that their employer, Amazon-contracted Security Industry Specialists (SIS), has created an environment of fear.

Despite pressure from their employer, the security officers that protect Amazon's employees and property are standing up to protect themselves, their co-workers, and the Seattle economy.

Fighting Back

On Wednesday, SIS workers joined Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and community leaders to deliver a letter, authored by Councilman Mike O'Brien and signed by all nine members of City Council, to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The letter urges the CEO to investigate accusations of disrespect, preferential treatment, unfair terminations, and unlivable wages--and to respond to a previous inquiry from the Seattle Human Rights Commission about these issues, which has received no response to date.

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4:36 PM Eastern - Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paul Ryan Wants to Tackle Poverty? Don't Buy It #default

PaulRyan_groupsign.jpgAfter years of talking about poverty but voting against minimum wage hikes and unemployment insurance extensions while putting forth budgets that would dramatically cut Medicaid and food stamps, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) today unveiled a so-called anti-poverty plan.

Mostly, it stinks--and it would make things harder, not easier, for those in poverty.

There's plenty to read about the plan, but here's a summary:

  • Ryan wants to deliver poverty assistance through state block grants. But every time we try block grants, it's a disaster for recipients of assistance, and as an added bonus, it wreaks havoc on the economy.
  • Ryan's plan would freeze food stamp funding. Under the current system, when need increases, funding increases automatically.
  • It says nothing about extending unemployment insurance to the millions who need it during this economic downturn.
  • It ups work requirements but is silent on child care, which parents need in order to go to work.
  • The numbers don't add up. Ryan didn't want people talking about how he's proposing massive cuts, so he says his plan is neutral on cost. But his latest budget plan squeezed 69 percent of its savings directly from programs for people with low or moderate incomes.
  • Perhaps most disturbingly, Ryan's plan is implicitly distrustful of people in poverty simply because they are in poverty. American values aren't reflected in a plan that suggests that some people "deserve" help and others don't. As author Stephen Pimpare said on Twitter today, "Poverty is a money problem, not a moral problem."
  • Don't forget who we're talking about here. Ryan's plan is a bunch of words on paper, but we can judge him by his actions. He has voted several times against minimum wage increases. He voted against extending unemployment insurance. The 2014 budget he lovingly crafted and proposed would have gutted Medicaid, cutting it by 26 percent, and it would have torn a hole in the food stamp program big enough for nearly 4 million families to fall through. Our friends at Wisconsin Jobs Now remember when a 71-year-old man was taken down during Ryan's only public appearance during the summer of 2011. Does this sound like someone who cares about people who are struggling?

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