On day three of the AFL-CIO annual convention, delegates adopted a number of resolutions that provide insight into the organization’s priorities for the coming year. As discussed in yesterday’s coverage of the event, the AFL-CIO adopted two resolutions – Resolution 5: A Broad, Inclusive and Effective Labor Movement and Resolution 16: Building Enduring Labor-Community Partnerships – that support a closer alliance with union front organizations (UFOs). Other noteworthy resolutions are as follows:
- Legislative Goals. Delegates adopted Resolution 10: Raising Wages Is the Answer, which outlines the organization’s broad policy goals, including support for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA),Healthy Families Act, Paycheck Fairness Act, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Fair Playing Field Act, and a minimum wage hike, among others. The resolution opposed the U.S. House-passed “comp time” bill, known as the Working Families Flexibility Act, and the Computer Professionals Update Act.
- Global Initiatives. The AFL-CIO supports “efforts to help workers organize around the world and fight against bad international trade deals that strip workers of their rights and give corporations unchecked power.” On Tuesday delegates adopted Resolution 8: Global Organizing, and Resolution 12: America and the World Need a New Approach to Trade and Globalization. Both resolutions advance the AFL-CIO’s “[commitment] to building strategic alliances with unions and other advocates for working families across the globe.”
- Engaging Younger Workers. The labor organization has been trying to revitalize its image by recruiting younger workers. As previously discussed, delegates adopted a constitutional amendment expanding the organization’s General Board to include young workers. In addition, delegates adopted Resolution 19: Investing in Our Future: Young Workers and Youth Engagement, which outlines steps to achieve this end.
- Affordable Care Act (ACA). TheHill.com reports that before the convention closes, delegates may vote on a fiercely controversial resolution criticizing the ACA. According to The Hill, the draft resolution says that “federal agencies administering the ACA” are “threatening the ability of workers to keep health care coverage through some collectively bargained, non-profit health care funds.”
A list of all resolutions and amendments can be found here.
Speakers and Conference Sessions
In his keynote address, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez spoke in support of a minimum wage increase, collective bargaining, enforcement of wage and hour laws, and improved worker safety. In addition, he promised greater focus on worker misclassification. According to Perez:
I always feel at home at a gathering of labor leaders and labor activists, because I share your values, hopes and aspirations. We are all a product of our life experiences, and I would like to share some of mine — because they have informed my approach to every job I have ever had... and because they will animate my work as U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Perez added that:
We are cracking down on Davis-Bacon violators, so that construction workers and contractors can receive the local prevailing wage instead of being undercut and undermined. Nationally, we are doing more than four times as many Davis Bacon investigations as we did in 2008. And now we're debarring egregious offenders who don't play by the rules.
We expand opportunity when we combat the unfair, illegal practice of misclassifying employers as independent contractors. Some people call the practice "misclassification." I call it what it is: workplace fraud. We will also not hesitate to create opportunity by using our regulatory authority — to ensure that workers, including but not limited to home health workers, receive the full protection of our wage and hour laws.
During the convention session: This Is NOT What Democracy Looks Like! The Democracy Initiative, speakers discussed ways to improve worker political capital. The “Democracy Initiative” has as its core mission:
to establish political equality. To accomplish this, it has narrowed its focus to what they see as the three driving causes of political inequality. They strive to: stop recent and future efforts to disenfranchise voters while expanding voter access as much as possible; take big money out of the political process, particularly elections; and change Senate rules to end the wild obstructionism that we have seen during the Obama administration.
To this end, expect the AFL-CIO to become more involved in the political process, at the local as well as national levels. Anticipate union influence in upcoming state gubernatorial elections, for example.
Finally, during Tuesday’s conference 45-year-old Ethiopian political refugee Tefere Gebre was elected as the AFL-CIO’s new executive vice president, representing a generational shift for the federation’s leadership.
Today is the final day of the AFL-CIO’s 2013 convention. Among other scheduled events are the action sessions: Facebook 101: Getting Started; Building Labor-Community Partnerships at State Federations and Central/Area Labor Councils; and Global Organizing Partnerships: U.S. Unions and International Partners Organizing in the Global Economy.