IF LEADERSHIP IS EXEMPLARY…. PRAISE IT

With the threat of Hurricane Irma barreling through the Caribbean towards Florida and threatening AFGE Local 1812 employees in the Miami area at Radio/TV Marti, we once again applaud the leadership of the Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Malule Gonzalez.

In an effort to accommodate employees and most importantly, ensure their safety as well as to fulfill the broadcasting mission, Ms. Gonzalez implemented a plan of action that had two goals: 1) allow the employees and their families to make adequate preparations for their safety with flexible leave policies; and 2) enable the continuation of broadcasting operations of Radio/TV Marti .

To those ends, Director Gonzalez granted Administrative Leave to all Radio/TV Marti employees in Miami for Friday, September 8th so they could make preparations with their families. Director Gonzalez also approved a flex-leave policy for employees to use, if necessary, on Thursday, September 7th.

To keep programming on the air, the organization has prepared evergreen material which will be used from the Greenville Transmitting Station as well as from the Washington, D.C. studios. In addition, some Marti employees will be sent to Washington, D.C. so that live broadcast programming and updates can be provided.

To keep Radio/TV Marti employees informed once the monstrous storm system is gone from the area, an information hotline number was provided to employees so that weekend staff and all other employees could stay informed about the resumption of normal work schedules as well as for general guidance. Director Gonzalez also provided two additional telephone numbers which would be accessible for special guidance and concerns.

All are hoping that things will be back to normal by Monday, September 11th.

AFGE Local 1812 applauds the leadership of the management at Radio/TV Marti in Miami and in particular, the efforts of Director Gonzalez.

We add a reminder to keep our colleagues in Miami in our thoughts and prayers as they await the potential onslaught of Hurricane Irma.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF AMERICA’S LABOR MOVEMENT

At the 1912 textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, one organizer famously explained the motivation of union supporters by declaring: “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” With this simple, poetic expression, Rose Schneiderman invoked a common need for daily necessities, such as the bread we eat, but also the desire to enjoy the finer things of life, symbolized by a beautiful, flowering rose.

Labor unions have historically been an essential component in the continuing struggle by working people to raise living and social standards, with hopes that children and grand-children have ample opportunities for success and happiness. When unions have been strongest, working families have controlled our greatest proportion of the national wealth.

Through contract campaigns, shop-floor activism, community outreach, coalition building, legal challenges, political action and nationwide mobilizations, American’s labor unions have stood for:

  • Family-sustaining wages, with regular wage increases
  • A voice and a vote on workplace issues and conditions of employment
  • A 40-hour work week, with overtime pay for any more
  • A standard 8-hour work day, allowing for personal time and rest
  • Ending discriminatory employment practices by united action
  • Family health insurance, including vision and dental, with employers paying most
  • More healthful community standards
  • Paid vacations
  • Seniority rights
  • Fair scheduling of work
  • Workplace safety laws, rules, and personnel
  • Fire safety standards and a means to enforce them
  • Minimum wage laws
  • Protections from coercive power of employers, and defense against unfair treatment, discipline or discharge
  • Training and staff, so workers’ concerns are properly addressed
  • Legal and binding labor agreements with management, enforceable by law
  • The right to engage in concerted actions with co-workers for mutual self-improvement
  • A pro-worker base of support in our communities, with power and resources
  • Retraining assistance, leads on other good-paying jobs and other advantages of being a part of a network of like-minded men and women
  • Sticking up for other working people and helping out in their struggles
  • And unions stand for many, many more improvements that add up to a better deal for working people and their families

It’s no coincidence that the most meaningful anti-poverty social improvements – such as economic assistance for poor, disabled, unemployed, or for elderly Americans, such as Social Security – only came about when working people and our unions demanded it. The same can be said of America’s anti-discrimination laws. Unions and the labor movement are, at their core, an expression of the desires and demands of the working people themselves.

And on a larger scale, the labor movement makes sure that the power of the wealthy class does not run rough-shod over the rights of everyone else. On may levels, labor unions continue to expand the principles of equality that the United States was founded upon, and promote a more democratic society.

Of course, what is gained today can be lost tomorrow if not diligently protected. Our unions are a proven vehicle to safeguard hard-won gains, and to further the interests of working people through ever-changing times.

 

Commentary originally published in Pennsylvania Labor History Journal April, 2017 by Howard Scott