TRADE

TRADE

For too long, our nation’s trade and investment policies have reflected the influence of powerful corporate interests. They protect what’s important to corporate America but do little or nothing to safeguard the rights of workers and the environment here and around the world. They fuel a race to the bottom in living standards. That needs to change. We need policies that support good jobs at home and sustainable development abroad.  We need to enforce the laws already on the books and stop blatant abuses by some countries that stack the decks against U.S. workers.

Education

Education

Few issues strike home for working families as much as education for their children. To be equipped for life, every child needs and deserves high-quality education that is available to all—from early childhood through college. For schools to work, educators must have the support and resources they need to succeed and school buildings must be well-equipped and well-maintained. Our schools must serve all children, and comprehensive services and supports must be in place for students with the greatest needs. All students should have access to higher education and assistance paying for it so they are not barred from college or saddled with impossible debt when they leave.

Public schools and public school teachers have been under attack in recent years—from widespread efforts to shift public school funding to private school voucher programs, to attempts to privatize public schools, to moves by governors and state legislators to take bargaining rights from teachers and other school personnel. These attacks are designed to serve the 1 percent—CEOs who can profit from privatized systems and the wealthiest families—at the expense of the 99 percent of students who deserve the best.

Civil and Workplace Rights

Civil and Workplace Rights

Working for the freedom from employment discrimination and the right of working families to fair pay, job safety, secure retirements and affordable health care have been goals fundamental to the union movement, which has long partnered with the civil rights and women’s movements and, more recently, with the LGBTQ community.

Work and Family

Work and Family

Although the “traditional” family—a father who works outside the home and financially supports the children and a mother whose work is keeping the house and raising the children—has been disappearing for more than a generation, our workplaces and government policies have not kept pace with America’s new reality.

Most children are growing up in homes with both parents working or with single parents. One-third of workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, and only 42 percent have paid personal leave. What’s the impact on public health when working people can’t afford to take sick days during a flu epidemic? Who takes care of a sick child? Who’s home to fix dinner and help with homework? Who can dedicate time to a sick elderly parent?

The recession and jobless recovery have complicated life further for working families, when having to leave work for a family emergency could lead to long-term unemployment.

Immigration

Immigration

All working people benefit from an immigration system with a roadmap to citizenship. We make the most progress when we organize all workers, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, nationality or immigration status.  

But our broken immigration system exposes immigrant workers to exploitation. Millions of aspiring Americans struggle to support their families on poverty wages, sometimes in inadequate or unsafe working conditions. In fact, immigrant workers face the highest rates of wage theft, sexual harassment, and death and injury on the job, and many suffer in silence for fear of deportation or employer retaliation.

When a segment of our society suffers, we all suffer. The labor movement is committed to reforming our country’s broken immigration system. A rational and humane immigration system will build a more just society and will protect all working people, regardless of immigration status, from substandard wages and working conditions.

JOB SAFETY

JOB SAFETY

Following passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, safety and health conditions in our nation's workplaces have improved. Workers' lives have been saved and injury and illness rates have dropped in many industry sectors of the economy. However, too many employers continue to cut corners and violate the law, putting workers in serious danger and costing lives. Many hazards remain unregulated. The job safety law needs to be updated to provide protection for all workers who lack coverage and to strengthen enforcement and workers’ rights. It's our job to continue this fight for safe jobs.

Retirement Security

Retirement Security

Fewer employers today provide defined-benefit pensions for their workers—and among those that do, many are offering “defined-contribution” (like 401[k]s) rather than traditional “defined-benefit” pension plans.

That’s why Social Security insurance is essential for millions of retirees. Nearly two-thirds of retirees count on Social Security for half or more of their retirement income and for more than three in 10, Social Security is 90 percent or more of their income. It is a safety net that keeps retirees out of poverty.

It’s also important to figure out what you will need to retire. Talking a look at how much Social Security will provide, whether you have another form of pension and how much you spend are all components in determining when you can retire.

For decades, workers achieved retirement security because their retirement income flowed from a combination of employer-provided pensions, Social Security and personal savings. But the recession has exposed the severe deficiencies in our retirement system. We need to develop a new way to provide workers with lifetime retirement security beyond Social Security.

Healthcare

Healthcare

Health care is a basic human right.  America’s labor movement has worked for more than a century for guaranteed high-quality health care for everyone.  The Affordable Care Act is a historic milestone on this journey, but we still have a long way to go.

America must continue moving forward toward a more equitable and cost-effective health care system. Moving forward means working with employers to demand health care payment and delivery reforms to control costs, allowing people of all ages to buy into the equivalent of Medicarethrough a public plan option and allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.  Of course, the most cost-effective and equitable way to provide quality health care is through the social insurance model (“Medicare for All”), as other industrialized countries have shown. 

The worst thing we could do is move backward by repealing the Affordable Care Act or its key provisions; privatizing Medicare or turning it into a voucher program; raising the Medicare eligibility age; increasing Medicare co-pays and deductibles or otherwise cutting Medicare benefits; or taxing employment-based health care benefits.

Jobs and Economy

Jobs and Economy

Years after the official end of the recent recession, America is still in a jobs crisis. Although job growth is slowly picking up steam--with steady private sector job creation--we still have a long way to go. Job losses came on top of decades of inadequate job growth, wage stagnation and growing inequality. The U.S. economy is increasingly imbalanced, with the top 1 percent holding more than 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

The Texas AFL-CIO is ready to work with anyone—business, government, investors—who wants to create good jobs and help restore America's middle class and challenge policies that stand in the way of giving America the chance to go back to work. The union movement is partnering with such organizations as the Clinton Global Initiative to find innovative ways to create good jobs that support workers and their families.