In April, the AFL-CIO launched “We Rise!” a national immigration initiative to reach, mobilize and organize immigrant workers to build power on the job and in the community. We Rise will train union members and equip union halls around the country to empower immigrant workers and their families by helping them apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans programs. The initiative also will encourage qualified legal permanent residents to become U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, on April 7, the AFT joined with dozens of states and organizations to file an amicus brief for
Texas v. United States of America that urges the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the unjustifiable stay the Texas U.S. District Court imposed on President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
NURSING PAY GAPS
Even in a female-dominated profession like nursing, men still earn more than women, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After controlling for age, race, marital status and children in the home, males in nursing out-earned
females by nearly $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals.
TEACHER SHARES STORY ON 'ELLEN'
Sonya Romero, a kindergarten teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary in Albuquerque, N.M., appeared on a recent episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and talked about how the courage and generosity that early childhood educators bring to class every day leads to a lasting legacy of love and learning. Romero, who is also an executive vice president for the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, minced no words when she told host DeGeneres about the needs that show up every morning at the door of Lew Wallace, where 75 percent of students live below the poverty line, and how she and the staff are determined to meet those challenges. “I ask my kids if they’ve eaten that morning, if they need anything to wear.” Her story, which has generated more than 2 million YouTube views and numerous other media stories, puts a compelling and human face on the profession.
HEALTHIER TEETH, BRIGHTER SMILES
Pre-K and kindergarten students in McDowell County, W.Va., who have not had a dental examination prior to the start of the 2015-16 school year will have a virtual dental hygiene examination at school and follow-up care, provided by a mobile dental van or a regional dental provider, under a new initiative coordinated by Reconnecting McDowell and several of its partners. The pilot program will enroll pre-K and kindergarten students first, then add students in grades 2, 7 and 12, respectively, in the following three school years. Reconnecting McDowell is a public-private partnership, spearheaded by the AFT, to ensure that McDowell County children and their families have access to high-quality education, healthcare, social services and improved economic development opportunities.
WORKING WITH COKE The AFT and the Coca-Cola Company have signed an agreement pledging to work together to address issues related to child labor in the sugar cane harvest. The agreement follows a series of productive discussions between the AFT and Coca-Cola following the AFT’s adoption of a resolution last fall calling for a boycott—which has ended—of Coca-Cola products based on the company’s violation of workers’ rights and child labor laws.
OPPOSING FAST TRACK
Progressive leaders in the U.S. Senate and House addressed more than 1,200 unionists who gathered at the Capitol on April 15 to urge lawmakers to put the brakes on fast-track trade legislation that puts jobs and the environment at risk. “There is a war being waged against working families, and we have to fight back,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told the large, rowdy crowd, which included a large AFT contingent. The event kicked off labor visits to congressional offices to voice opposition to the trade proposal. Other speakers included AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and other union leaders, along with some of the strongest voices in the environmental movement and in Congress.