It’s Not One Day that Changes Your Life—It’s Every Day by Wayne Murphy
The Government Affairs Department continues its support of each of the other District Council Departments in realizing increases in work opportunities, job hours and improved quality of life for our sister and brother members. This work takes us to the various statehouse within our region as well as to Capitol Hill.
I’ve been asked to participate as a member of a small group of building trades and other worker’s rights groups in strategizing our ongoing effort to bring impactful, common sense, wage theft legislation to Massachusetts. Make no mistake, big business and other corporate interests are opposed to wage theft legislation. They don’t want a level playing field or a set of rules that protects workers. Ongoing wage theft, especially in the building trades, weakens the competitive strength of our signatory contractors. It’s hard to secure work when your competition is cheating off the backs of its workforce. We’ll be gearing up for another legislative session on this important topic after the New Year and are gathering the important information to put ourselves in the best position to succeed. This project is another example of how our work all leads to the goal of organizing; new job opportunities, new work hours and the steady growth of our union.
We are also involved in the IUPAT’s membership activation initiative. This past summer’s attack on our registered apprenticeship program with the misguided Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) proposal served as a clarion call for our membership to make their voices heard. Scores of DC 35 members submitted official comments in opposition to IRAP. We were successful in thwarting the proposal, but it may rear its ugly head soon. We will continue to monitor the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure that our registered apprentice programs, like our own FTINE, will be allowed to continue their longstanding, first-class training. We are in constant communication with our entire congressional delegation, across the region, to make sure that our elected representatives are fully educated on the issues that are important to our membership.
The U.S. Department of Labor, the agency created with a mission of protecting workers, is now headed by a person with a long and dedicated history of hurting the working class. Eugene Scalia, while an attorney at one of the largest corporate law firms, produced a resume full of attacking the working class.
The news from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is no better. Working men and women are directly in the cross hairs of this administration. The most recent “hit list” includes:
- Requirements eased for employers to report workplace injuries
- Employers who violate wage laws can avoid punishment by volunteering to investigate themselves (Are You Kidding Me?)
- Making it easier to award federal contracts to companies with a history of legal violations around issues such as wage payment, racial discrimination, and laws protecting worker’s rights to unionize
- Changes to existing child labor laws that now allow a 16-year-old to operate power-driven patient lifts in nursing homes and hospitals
There are some bright spots, though with a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, a very heavy.
lift will be required. District Council 35 is enthusiastically in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act). If enacted into law, the PRO Act will increase the power of workers to organize and form a union without interference from union-busting bosses and their consultants. We have voiced our support to this legislation and will be following it very closely as we turn the calendar to 2020.
While the challenges are formidable and the forces against us our strong, we must do the work, every day, to bring about the change we need. Before you know that “one day” when we realize our goal, we will arrive. It’s all the days in between now and then that are critical. We must get worked up and put in the effort. There is no other way to do it.
On behalf of the Government Affairs Department, please accept my best wishes for a joyous and blessed holiday season. In keeping with our diversity, our greatest collective strength- Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Mawlid el-Nabi and Happy Kwanzaa. Here’s to a great 2020 for our members and their families.