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Front-Line Workers in the Covid-19 Fight Need Unions

William P. Jones is professor of history at the University of Minnesota, the Jerry Wurf Memorial Fund Scholar-in-Residence at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, President of the Labor and Working-Class History Association and author of The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights. Protests by garbage collectors, transit and health care workers, grocery clerks and delivery people have called attention to the dangers faced by workers on the front-lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Front-line workers deserve protection, and this demands listening to the specifics of their workplace grievances so they can perform their jobs and m

America's Backbone

At the start of each shift, Eric Jarvis takes a handful of anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizes the equipment he uses at the Packaging Corp. of America mill in Valdosta, Ga. He worries about getting the coronavirus every time he leaves for work, but knows the nation depends on paper workers like him to produce the linerboard that goes into the cardboard boxes used to ship millions of items to stores and homes each day. Jarvis, president of USW Local 646, may not be on the front lines of the pandemic in the same way as nurses and first responders. But he and other manufacturing workers also fulfill a vital role on the nation’s production lines, ensuring that Americans still have the food, medic

In Memoriam: Union Members Lost in COVID-19 Pandemic

NOTE: Further updates to this list will be added to the AFL-CIO In Memoriam page. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the United States, our sisters, brothers and friends in the labor movement are among the first casualties. It is important for us to work together during this crisis to prevent further deaths. It is important to thank those who are doing the work to keep us safe and fed. It is important to remember those who we lost because of the coronavirus. This list includes those deaths we have currently learned of. If you aware of additional union members we should include on this list, please send details to kquinnell@aflcio.org and we will add them to the list. Mario Araujo of Ch

NJ Transit bus union takes coronavirus testing into its own hands, sets up site for members

It was the beginning of April when Orlando Riley heard through word-of-mouth about a lab doing coronavirus testing in Paterson. With dozens and dozens of his members getting sick, Riley, head of the state Amalgamated Transit Union that represents several hundred bus operators, got in touch. Two weeks later he had secured some 250 nasal swab tests. And on Saturday, there was a site set up in Irvington to conduct seven hours of drive-thru testing for any union member, symptomatic or not. As their ranks have fallen ill or died, frontline NJ Transit employees are keeping buses and trains operating — mainly for essential workers — while having inconsistent access early on to personal protective e

Capitalism Is Failing Its Coronavirus Stress Test—Only Workers Can Turn Things Around

Corporations will only do the right thing if we make them. At this moment of unprecedented crisis, how can we ensure the physical safety and economic health of U.S. workers? According to a recent USA Today op-ed by four national union leaders—“Coronavirus is a stress test for capitalism, and we see encouraging signs”—the answer is partnering with “well-managed companies” who can “lead the recovery by pulling together and finding new ways to protect, pay and retain employees.” We respectfully disagree. Faced with the coronavirus, the only way to protect the lives and livelihoods of working people is through class struggle, not class snuggle. It’s true that some employers have enacted relative

4 Union Leaders: Coronavirus is a Stress Test for Capitalism, and We See Encouraging Signs

Americans should note which companies and politicians stood up for workers in the coronavirus pandemic, and which ones kept expanding the income gap. American businesses will certainly emerge from the coronavirus crisis transformed by the trials of human loss, steep recession and Wall Street collapse. The social fabric of capitalism is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime stress test. We are seeing the faults with the gig economy and the unfounded faith in finance. We are also seeing strengths in well-managed companies with established relationships with workers. As leaders of labor unions, we believe that all Americans should be paying attention to which companies are preparing to lead the recov

Amalgamated Bank Launches Frontline Workers Fund to Support Responders to COVID-19 Pandemic

Amalgamated Bank (Nasdaq: AMAL) today announced the launch of the Frontline Workers Fund, designed to provide financial support for workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, including nurses and health care workers, grocery workers, cleaning service workers, food service workers, laundry workers in hospitals, and retail workers, amongst others. Resources will go to support: Charitable funds initiated by labor unions to provide health benefits and childcare for workers who have lost their jobs National and local organizations providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to nurses and other frontline workers Domestic workers who are forced into quarantine or need extended paid leave

AFL-CIO's HIT Steps Up to the Plate

As the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to ripple across the metro-area community, the local labor community is pulling together. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust contributed $10,000 to the Community Services Agency's Emergency Assistance Fund to help laid-off union members. "We are honored to help respond to the immediate daily financial needs of the local labor community in theWashington, D.C. Metropolitan area where we are headquartered," said Chang Suh, AFL-CIO HIT CEO and Co-Chief Portfolio Manager. "We're deeply thankful for the Housing and Investment Trust 's generosity," said CSA Executive Director Sonte DuCote. "More than that, we appreciate their co

KPS Capital Partners Receives Buyouts 2020 "Turnaround Deal of the Year" Award for Chassis

It's been life in the fast lane for Chassis Brakes as a result of KPS's complex rebuild, writes Kirk Falconer Brakes are an essential piece of safety equipment in cars, yet when Robert Bosch tried to sell its global foun­dation-brake unit more than a decade ago it came up short of ready buyers. The Bosch business, a low-tech mak­er of products like calipers, disk brakes and drum brakes, had for several years been racking up losses. While the North American division was sold in 2009 to Ja­pan's Akebono, strategic buyers signaled they were unwilling to place a similar bet on the remaining global assets. One investor, however, continued to show interest. KPS Capital Partners, a specialist in ma

Our Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

When history looks back on this period, we'll all remember the myriad challenges and hardships that so many of us are going through and will go through in the weeks ahead - but we'll also remember something else: the selflessness, heroism, and courage of our frontline healthcare workers. Every morning, physicians, nurses, homecare aids, first-responders, and many others wake up and risk their own life to save another. Because of them, more of us are safe and healthy. At Blue Wolf, our healthcare portfolio companies employ over 40,000 healthcare workers nationwide, many of whom are on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We're proud of the teams at StateServ Holdings, Fox Rehabilitation,

Disrupt Podcast #14: Hear From Elara Caring CEO G. Scott Herman

Michigan-based Great Lakes Caring, Connecticut-based National Home Health Care and Texas-based Jordan Health Services were - not too long ago - three separate home-based care providers. Backed by Blue Wolf Capital Partners and Kelso & Company, they came together in a three-way mega-merger in May 2018, officially rebranding under the Elara Caring name in July. G. Scott Herman serves as CEO of Elara Caring - now one of the largest home health providers in the country, serving more than 65,000 patients and their families daily with services that span the continuum of personal care, skilled home health and hospice care. Using predictive analytics to enable longitudinal care will be one of the ke

Virus Exposes Gig Economy 'Exploitation' ESG Investors Ignored

ESG investors need to up their game in holding companies to account on social issues such as labor rights and employment contracts, said the head of biggest network of responsible investment firms. Fiona Reynolds, chief executive officer of the Principles for Responsible Investment, said in a blog post Friday that firms which consider environmental, social and governance issues when investing have paid too little attention to “the modern forms of exploitation surrounding the gig economy.” Lack of paid sick leave or benefits have left millions of workers in precarious positions as the coronavirus and the lockdown it’s inspired cost workers their jobs and income with no safety net, she said. R

How responsible investors should respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic – and the global response to it – is a serious threat not only to global health, but to our communities, our economies and our investments. As long-term stewards of capital, investors can and should act now to help reduce harmful impacts including: the direct effect on public health, the severity of the associated economic slowdown, the deepening of inequality in societies and the resulting impacts of all of the above on mental health. The PRI will work with signatories to further develop thinking on what the COVID-19 crisis means for investors. We are establishing two signatory participation groups to coordinate and develop investor responses, focusing on: short-term r

A crisis that draws the best from investors

Companies known for their ethical policies are faring better in a virus-stricken stock market. The crisis is rewarding good behavior. To help end the coronavirus pandemic, many people are reinforcing certain codes of behavior. They are more neighborly and salubrious. They are social distancing and shopping without hoarding. They are learning the etiquette of video conferencing from home. These are signaling a new “we are all in this together” ethic.In surprising news, many are also focused on ESG. Those initials stand for a code of behavior in the business world known as “environmental, social, and governance.” In short, these are metrics used by more corporations in recent years to put stak

RI Survey: Pandemic could be tipping point for ESG

Our poll reveals a fascinating array of reactions to the Covid-19 crisis The coronavirus pandemic could prove a tipping point for ESG, according to roughly two-thirds of the respondents to Responsible Investor’s recent survey on the outbreak and ESG. And more than three-quarters say it helps the case for long-termism – although a narrow majority said no lessons have been learnt from the global financial crisis. They are some of the top line findings of the snap survey, which ran last week as the sustainability investment field started to absorb the full implications of the crisis. The survey was in a simple yes/no format, so there’s limited scope for detailed interpretation - but it gives a

Target Spends $300 Million To Give Raises, Paid Leave To Workers

Target is the latest retailer to say it is handing out raises to employees working to keep shelves stocked amid a surge in demand sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Minneapolis-based retailer, which employs about 350,000 people, said it would be increasing wages by $2 an hour for all part-time and full-time employees in stores and distribution centers. The raise will be in effect at least until May 2. Target currently pays its employees a minimum wage of $13, with plans to increase that to $15 by the end of 2020. The company said that the raise will put a total average of $240 to $480 more in worker’s pockets. Target also said it will hand out bonuses next month of between $250 and $1,

Which Companies Still Aren’t Offering Paid Sick Days? Tracking the Corporate Response to the COVID-1

The United States is one of only two advanced economies that does not guarantee all workers paid time off to recover from an illness. One-quarter of all U.S. workers don’t have a single paid sick day. And the CDC reports that one in five food service workers—the vast majority of whom have no paid sick leave—have come in to work while sick with vomiting or diarrhea, fearing that they’d otherwise lose their jobs. The current system is inhumane and hazardous—forcing many workers to choose between coming to work and potentially infecting others, or staying home to recover and being unable to pay their bills. It is irresponsible and dangerous now, as, even without widespread access to testing, te

Giant Eagle will pay $10 million in bonus pay to workers during outbreak

Giant Eagle said Saturday it will be giving $10 million in bonus pay to employees during the coronavirus outbreak. In a press release, the company said the bonus pay will be offered to all those working at Giant Eagle, Market District, Giant Eagle Pharmacy and GetGo locations. In addition, those working at the warehouses and delivering goods to stores will also receive the pay. The bonuses take effect immediately and have been made retroactive to March 15. All current and new employees are eligible for the bonuses, the company said. “As a company, we must continue to find ways to support our incredibly dedicated Team Members,” said Laura Shapira Karet, president and CEO of Giant Eagle. “Acro

CVS to provide bonuses, add benefits, hire 50K in response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Positions will include store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and member/customer service professionals WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — CVS Health is looking to add to its workforce, while recognizing the company’s current employees play an essential role in combating the coronavirus pandemic. The company announced Monday it will be awarding bonuses to employees who are required to be at CVS facilities to assist patients and customers in this time of unprecedented need. Bonuses will range from $150 to $500. They will be awarded to pharmacists and other health care professionals, store associates and managers and other site-based hourly employees. “Our colleagues hav

Grocery Store Workers—’Heroes to the Community’ During Coronavirus—to Get Hazard Pay

Working long hours at great risk of exposure, thousands of grocery store workers are being recognized as essential with a pay raise. March 24, 2020 update: Yesterday, workers at a Perdue chicken-processing facility in Georgia walked off the job in protest of what they said were a lack of health and cleanliness protections, as well as a lack of hazard pay or bonus pay. And Kroger expanded its COVID-19 response to include paid sick leave for employees who have tested positive for the disease, while also installing plexiglas partitions at checkout stands to provide a layer of protection to cashiers and baggers. March 21, 2020 update: Kroger announced today that it will provide a one-time bonus

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