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Musician and “Workingman’s Warrior” Steve Earle Releases New Album

image via the Sun Times

image via the Sun Times

Back in 2011, when the collective bargaining rights of public sector union members in Wisconsin were being threatened by union-busting Governor Scott Walker, legendary Steve Earle released two songs–‘Harlan Man’ and ‘The Mountain’–with all proceeds going the Labor Unity Fund. The songs were glimpses into the life of a union member. Just like the hundreds of other angry union members that showed up at the capital building in Madison to defend their rights, Earle was adamant that letting collective bargaining be taken away would be detrimental to our system of democracy.

Fast forward four years and we are back in the same situation: despite the objections and testimonials from countless working men and women, Wisconsin lawmakers are again attacking our rights. The state senate passed Right to Work legislation last week, which, if passed in the Assembly this week as it’s expected to be, will make Wisconsin the 25th Right to Work (for less) state in the country. No matter what happens, the labor movement and its supporters will always stand together and speak out about defending our rights.

Earle, whose support of union members in 2011 made him a beloved “workingman’s warrior” has now released a collection of blues songs. Read more about his new album–called Terraplane–at Rolling Stone. If you’d like to support Earle the way he has supported labor while simultaneously enjoying some great tunes, you can purchase the album here.

 

After Successful First Year, UFCW GOLD Program Gears Up for 2015

In June 2014, the UFCW accepted 36 promising young members from across the country into the first-ever session of the UFCW GOLD Internship program, which launched in Chicago.

Now, after a wildly successful first year, the GOLD program is preparing for its 2015 session. The UFCW GOLD Internship Program provides growth opportunities for learning and development in order to raise up future union leaders and activists.

The 2015 program will select 36 rank-and-file members in the United States to participate in a seven-week program.  The program will run from June 21 – August 5, 2015.  Interns are required to participate in the entire length of the program.  All interns should have a valid driver’s license and be flexible with travel outside of their home area.

During the program, there will be a four-week action project that interns will be individually assigned.  Action projects will be assigned within one of five areas: Legislative and Political Action; Organizing; Collective Bargaining; Civil Rights; and Health and Safety.  Last year’s action projects included working on a earned sick leave ordinance in the city of Chicago; working on a Retail Bill of Rights in San Francisco; participating in the Summer for Respect alongside Walmart workers fighting for justice on the job; and many other important projects relating to the welfare of working people.

You can learn much more about the upcoming session, and what previous GOLD participants learned from their experiences by visiting the updated website: http://gold.ufcw.org/.

Be sure to also check out the video recap of the 2014 session, where participants share their experiences and talk about what service projects they worked on.

“Getting the chance to come out to Chicago, meeting different people from different locals—it’s been an eye opener,” said 2014 UFCW Local 21 participant Bruce Le.

Fellow participant Samantha Christian also noted that after completing the program she felt like “we are all related—we are all brothers and sisters.  I’ve never been as comfortable with people as I have been with the people I met here.”

Melissa Berry said she applied to become a GOLD participant because she felt that “a lot of people don’t know the role of their union, or what part they can play in it.  I was eager to meet new people and learn about how we can spread the message.”

Tracy Officer, who worked on a service project in the Seattle area, said that “this internship builds us up—it gives us the knowledge to go back to our locals and give them the inspiration to say, ‘We are one.  If you have an issue, we are fighting it together, and you don’t have to do it alone.’  I’ve been in the union for almost twelve years and I didn’t know that until this program.”

The deadline to apply to the 2015 session is April 1, 2015.  You can find both the English and Spanish applications at http://gold.ufcw.org/application/.

NESTLEFLYERGOLD (3) SICK DAYSGOLD (3)

UFCW Members Celebrate Defeated Kentucky Right to Work Legislation

Last week, in front of a standing room only crowd filled with UFCW members in gold, a Kentucky House committee defeated right to work legislation. A great deal of work from UFCW members in Kentucky went into this victory.

For weeks, UFCW members have traveled to Frankfort to speak with their legislators and educate them about the pain a right to work law would bring to working families in Kentucky. Just before the right to work measure failed, Caitlin Lally from UFCW Local 227 gave an impactful testimony to the committee.

“There are hundreds of thousands of workers all across Kentucky looking to this committee to do the right thing,” said Lally. “Let’s pursue an agenda to make Kentucky stronger. Let’s continue to build a state where businesses grow, workers succeed, and families thrive. Let’s resist the influence of outsiders and come together in the proudest traditions of our state. Let’s defeat right to work.”

With right to work laws currently being proposed in numerous state legislatures, this victory in Kentucky should not go unnoticed. Workers need more money in their pockets, but people in right to work states earn $5,000 less per year than those in non-right to work states. Workers want to send their children to successful schools, but right to work states spend 31.3 percent less per pupil on education. Workers deserve to feel safe at work, but right to work states have a workplace death rate that is over 54 percent higher.

This win in Kentucky shows that workers who stick together, whether it’s inside their workplace or the State Capitol, can shape a better future for themselves and their families.

KY RTW 2 (4) KY RTW 1 (4)