So far in 2014, labor advocates have celebrated an unusual number of victories. For 115 years NCL has fought for improved workplace protections, basic safety standards, and the empowerment of American workers. We are very happy that at this year’s Trumpeter Dinner, we continue on this long tradition of recognizing our labor leaders by honoring Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO.
Here in Washington, DC, NCL has been fighting to see the passage of important measures that will improve the lives of workers in the city. These include:
- Passage of DC’s new minimum wage law that went into effect July 1, 2014. The new law immediately raised the minimum wage to $9.50 and the wage will continue to increase until it reaches $11.50 over the next two years.
- Passage of DC’s new Paid Sick and Safe Days law which into effect February 22, 2014. The new law closed the loophole in DC's original law and now includes tipped workers and workers who have been on the job for less than one year.
- Passage of DC’s new Wage Theft law that increases penalties on repeat labor offenders (employers), allows better legal access for victims, and creates a stronger system for DC’s Department of Wage & Hour investigations.
Nationally, NCL is part of a variety of coalitions that celebrated many important victories. These include:
- Presidential Executive Orders: After continued pressure from labor groups and fellow advocates, President Obama signed a host of labor related Executive Orders for federal contractors. These included: raising the minimum wage to $10.10, protecting LGBT workers from discrimination, raising the bar on federal contractors to disqualify labor violators from receiving federal contracts, retaliation protections for workers who share their salary information, instructing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to collect wage information from federal contractors including gender to further study the wage gap.
- NCL participated in the planning and attended the White House Working Families Summit in July.
- NCL wrote and submitted official comments on a variety of rules, including: DOL’s Family Medical Leave Act’s 'spouse' definition rule, OSHA's record keeping rule, OSHA's silica rule, OFCCP's pregnancy discrimination complaint form, and the increase to the minimum wage for federal contract workers.
- NCL also testified in support of strengthening the OSHA silica rule.
- In addition, NCL continued its work on federal economic security bills: the Health Families Act (paid sick days), the FAMILY Act (paid family & medical leave), the Paycheck Fairness Act (retaliation protection for workers sharing salary info - wage gap), and the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (accommodations for pregnant workers).
There is much to cheer about and, all in all, we think it’s been a banner year for improving workers’ lives. There is, however, much work to be done, and Labor Day is a time to be optimistic about a future with more labor victories. We will continue to fight for better workplaces including:
- Creating stronger protections for all workers especially LGBT and pregnant workers.
- Advocating for more cities and states to increase their local minimum wage.
- Advancing city and state paid sick days campaigns.
- Watching and participating in the Peggy Young v. UPS Supreme Court case. UPS refused to grant Peggy Young workplace accommodations (light duty) while she was 3 months pregnant, even though UPS grants accommodations to injured or disabled workers.
This Labor Day, while spending the day at the pool or hanging out barbequing with friends, please take a moment to think about the struggles of working Americans and hopefully thank one too.