Celebrating Women's History Month

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Celebrating Women’s History Month
March 13, 2019

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and the labor movement has no shortage of fierce women labor leaders and landmark moments for women in our history to celebrate and honor.

Here are two articles to help you learn more about the women who made America’s unions what they are today:

Last week was International Women’s Day, and an article in Jezebel highlighted the role women are playing in wide-scale collective actions and strikes to improve wages, benefits and working conditions across the country:

“In the United States this year, the rallies and walk-outs have a particular resonance: the country has seen a recent series of strikes in which women workers in education, healthcare, and service industries have reasserted their power by withholding their labor, forcing a conversation about not just their working conditions but the political and social conditions in which that work happens.”

Click here to read the full article.

TAKE ACTION: We can’t end pay discrimination and close wage gaps if employers can hide the fact that they are paying women and people of color less. Tell the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to move forward on developing revised equal pay data collection.

Save the Date: Workers Memorial Day 2019

The Oregon AFL-CIO will hold the annual memorial service in observance of Workers Memorial Day at the Fallen Worker Memorial on the State Capitol Mall in Salem on Friday, April 26th at noon.

Activities starting at noon will feature remarks from elected officials, union leaders and safety and health advocates. The memorial service will include a reading of the names of Oregon workers that suffered fatalities on the job and Oregonians killed in military service to their country in 2018. Click here to learn more.

Take Action: Permanent Protections for TPS & DACA Recipients

More than 1 million men and women have been living and working in our country for years under temporary protected status (TPS) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Our entire workforce has benefited from these programs which help to raise wages and reduce exploitation because they allow people to live and work without fear.

The Trump administration, however, is trying to strip away the status and rights of these hardworking people, many of whom are union members. We all will be harmed if these workers lose their work permits, so we cannot stand by. Congress needs to hear from us now.

Call Congress and tell your representative to give TPS holders who benefit from DACA the permanent protections they deserve by immediately passing H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. TPS and DACA recipients help to build, feed, serve, educate and care for our nation. They work in every state of the union, across a wide range of industries. Extending permanent protections to these vital workers will benefit our entire workforce and our society as a whole. In our fight to protect and value every person who works in our country, this is the front line. We need more workers to have rights on the job, not fewer. Take action and urge your representative to pass H.R. 6.

New Proposal Would Keep Millions of Working People from Getting Overtime

The Trump administration is proposing a new overtime regulation that would protect at least 2.8 million fewer workers than the overtime regulation proposed by the Obama administration in 2016.

The AFL-CIO and other overtime advocates had urged the Trump administration to implement the Obama administration’s overtime rule and defend it against a court challenge by business trade associations and Republican state governments, but the Trump administration has refused to do so.

The 2016 Obama administration’s proposal would raise the overtime threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. However, because the Obama rule provided for automatic updates of the threshold to keep overtime protections from being eroded by inflation, the threshold under the Obama rule would be $51,064 today and $55,000 in 2022.

By contrast, the Trump administration’s proposal sets the overtime threshold at $35,308 and does not provide for automatic updates. By the administration’s own estimates, 2.8 million fewer workers would be newly eligible for overtime in the first year of the new rule.

The way the overtime regulations work is this: Salaried workers who make less than the threshold are automatically eligible for overtime protection, whereas salaried workers who make more than the threshold may or may not be eligible for overtime protection, depending on their job duties. The higher the overtime threshold, the more workers are under the threshold, the more workers are automatically protected, and the better it is for workers.

In 2016, it was estimated that the Obama overtime rule would extend overtime eligibility to 4.9 million workers and bring another 7.6 million workers who already are eligible for overtime below the threshold, thus making it harder for employers to deny them overtime protection. According to the Economic Policy Institute, under the Trump administration’s proposal less than half as many workers would be either newly eligible or brought below the threshold.

The Trump administration’s proposal is especially troubling because the Obama administration’s proposal was not overly generous to workers. Back in 1975, the administration of President Gerald Ford set the overtime salary threshold at more than $55,000 in today’s dollars. The erosion of overtime protections over the past few decades is one of the ways the rules of our economy have been rewritten to favor corporations over working people.

Working people desperately need a pay raise. We need overtime protection to ensure we get paid for all the hours we work and that we can spend more time with our families away from work.

As we have before, the AFL-CIO will again urge the Trump administration to implement the Obama overtime rule and defend it in court. The Labor Department does not need to propose a new overtime rule; it just needs to defend the Obama administration’s 2016 proposal.