1. Union ally Joe Biden Sworn in as President
President Biden pledged to be “the most pro-union President in history,” and he and Vice-President Harris are keeping their word. “Joe’s not just a friend, he’s a vocal active friend” Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel (IBEW) says. “He promised he would deliver for Unions, he promised he would deliver for working Americans, and by God, he’s doing it.” While we have challenges to be sure of, it’s easier to meet those challenges with a friend of labor in the White House. Much has been done in 2021, and we look forward to more pro-union, pro-middle-class work in 2022.
I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, and no president since Franklin Roosevelt has put organized labor and workers’ rights at the center of American policy like President Biden” – IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson
2. Infrastructure Bill Signed Into Law
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. That’s what Union Members are getting from this record investment in rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Highway construction, bridge repair, electric grid modernization, EV charger installation, lead pipe replacement, environmental Continued from Page 1 remediation, broadband expansion,
air, rail, and port improvements are all on deck because President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. And none of it would have happened without union power.
3. Striking Workers Demonstrate Union Power
This fall’s Striketober became November’s Strikesgiving which lead to December’s Strikesmas. Whatever you call it this fall was the culmination of a year highlighting the outrage of workers and the power of labor organizing. Going on strike isn’t easy, and is never the first option, but by standing up workers in Missouri and across America won important gains for themselves, and for workers everywhere. THANK YOU to all who held the line for themselves, their families, and for the entire working class.
4. American Rescue Plan Helps Middle Class
March feels like such a long time ago that it’s easy to forget that President Biden delivered an important 2 Trillion dollar COVID relief package called the American Rescue Plan last Spring. Along with funds for vaccinations, the ARP was aimed at directly helping working families, with cash payments to all Americans, an enhanced child tax credit, enhanced unemployment benefits, and rent and utility assistance. It included direct funds to schools, states, and municipal governments to secure the employment of public sector workers.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver played a key role in shepherding the American Rescue Plan through the House of Representatives.
5. Missouri AFL-CIO Launches Missouri Works Initiative
2021 saw a major investment in worker training with the launching of the Missouri Works Initiative. A nonprofit housed at the Missouri AFL-CIO and executively directed by barrister Greta Bax, the MWI harnesses the power of 4 programs, Worker Wellness, Dislocated Worker, BUD, and Apprentice Ready, to help build a healthy, trained, and diverse workforce for Missouri’s future. After expanding the BUD program to Kansas City and Springfield the Missouri Works Initiative won Missouri Apprenticeship Partner of the Year!
6. Attacks On Public Employees Tossed By Courts
For years we’ve said Missouri Legislative attacks on public workers are unconstitutional and in 2021 the Courts agreed. In an overwhelming 5-2 decision the Supreme Court upheld the lower Court’s ruling that House Bill 1413, known as Paycheck Deception, was unconstitutional and cannot be enacted. HB 1413 created unnecessary regulatory hurdles, like forcing members to opt-in annually to union membership, that existed solely for the purpose of making it difficult to join and operate a public-sector union.
In a second victory for state workers, a Circuit Court ruled a 2018 law restricting public employee bargaining rights unconstitutional and ordered Gov. Parson to resume bargaining with over 13,000 state employees covered by union bargained contracts. The decision was a major win for AFSCME, CWA, and SEIU who have been fighting to force the State to bargain with some of the lowest-paid state employees in the nation.
7. PRO Act Receives Vital Support
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is a game-changer for working people. From organizing new bargaining units to securing first contracts, to strengthening strikes and enacting meaningful penalties on corporate violators, the PRO Act will be a massive victory for working people. It has a long way to go, but 2021 showed tremendous progress. PASSED by the House of Representatives, Co-Sponsored by 47 Senators and supported by a President who called for it to be sent to his desk for signature, the PRO Act is real and is now THE standard for what it means to be Pro Labor.
8. Historic Leadership at the National AFL-CIO
The sudden passing of longtime AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka was shocking and heartbreaking. President Trumka had faithfully served the labor movement for decades. During the sudden upheaval, the ship of the national labor movement has been steadied by the able leadership of new National President Liz Shuler. While she was breaking a glass ceiling and becoming the first woman to hold the top job in the American Labor movement President Shuler was joined in making history by Fred Redmond (USW), who became the first African-American to be Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. We are grateful for all that President Trumka gave and excited for the future with President Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Redmond!
9. National Labor Relations Board has Pro-Labor Majority
Moving swiftly President Biden has secured workers a Pro-Labor Majority on the NLRB with the nomination and confirmation of Union Attorney Gwynne Wilcox (formerly of SEIU), David Prouty (formerly of SEIU and UNITE HERE) and Board Chair Lauren McFerren. President Biden also took the appropriate step of firing the Boards anti-union General Council and replacing him with worker supporter Jennifer Abruzzo (formerly with CWA). While not a heavily covered story, these actions mean workers and unions will receive a fair shake in conflicts with bosses and corporations.
10. Union Member is Labor Secretary
Having a pro-union Labor Secretary is good. Having a union member AS Labor Secretary is GREAT! That’s what we have in Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Walsh joined the Laborers Union Local 223 when he was 21 years old, eventually becoming head of the Boston Building Trades Council. Since he was confirmed as Secretary of Labor this March union members have never had to doubt if the Department of Labor will be fighting for working people!
Looking back, a recap of Labor Beacon headlines in 2021:
January: Feds award $174.1 million for extension of Kansas City Streetcar Main Street Extension. IBEW Local 53 organizes streetcar drivers and techs
February: Local Contractors Clarkson and Massman selected to build new Buck O’Neil Bridge.
Congress closes in on multiemployer pension fix as it heads to house floor vote.
March: City Council votes to add prevailing wage to all incentivized projects in KCMO. $5.4 Billion data center planned to be built in northern section of Kansas City. Against all odds, Teamsters and Democrats save pensions. Unions join with workers to protest wage theft.
April: Kansas City voters approve E-Tax renewal by large margin. Workers Memorial, remember the fallen and renew the fight for safe jobs. Rendering of the Rays of Remembrance Workers Memorial presented.
May: Labor hosts workers rally for Pass the Pro Act. Missouri Governor meets with local labor leaders to discuss Infrastructure. Unions banner area Ryan Companies Projects.
JUNE: Prep work begins for streetcar expansion. Victims of San Jose rail yard shooting were ATU members attending their monthly union meeting. Groundbreaking held for new Buck O’Neil bridge.
JULY: We stand with local #778 union machinists on strike. IUPAT announces maternity leave.
New wage theft ordinance to be introduced to KCMO City Council.
August: Vaccine clinics held for Union members. In Memoriam: AFL-CIO President Trumka never backed down from a fight to better the lives of working people. Historic Day for Investment in America’s Working Families, house passes $3.5 trillion budget resolution and advanced a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. IBEW 124 First Woman Business Representative.
Former Business Manager of Roofers Local 20 selected to lead the International Roofers Union as their President. IBEW LOCAL 53 promotes new staff with first female Organizer and first female Business Representative named. Plumbers Local 8 new state of the art weld shop, An Investment in the Future.
Union members’ lives lost to COVID-19. KC-St. Louis Carpenters District Council will join Chicago Regional Council. 5th Annual Children’s Miracle Network Union Bowl held. Unions are leaving their mark at the new KCI terminal project.
Congress passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, delivering a win for organized labor.
KCMO City Council unanimously passes Wage Theft Ordinance, one of the most comprehensive
Wage Theft ordinances in the country. Working class victory, 87% of union endorsed candidates won.
Responsible Bidder Language passes in KCK.
December: President Biden visits Kansas City meeting with labor leaders, focused on massive Infrastructure bill. Congressman Clever holds infrastructure meeting with local labor union leaders. Kansas City area labor community is gearing up for political fights ahead.
The story of the past year has been one giant labor story, played out against the backdrop of a global pandemic. Stories of people organizing together, at great risk, in the most precarious of times and against long odds, and winning. The labor movement has a game plan for the Biden Era. We can only hope that 2022 will bring the passage of the PRO Act, a game changer for workers.Published