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This election season saw a surge of union member and pro-working family candidates for municipal office.

The entire Massachusetts AFL-CIO community mourns the loss of Worcester Firefighter, Lieutenant Jason Menard, who died heroically in the line of duty last night, saving residents trapped in a three

Despite its setbacks, or perhaps because of them, organized labor has an energy level that AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says he hasn’t seen before in his 50 years with the movement.

Over 200 delegates and guests gathered on October 17 and 18 for the Biennial Convention of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. The Convention theme of unity was reflected throughout the proceedings, from the resolutions that were passed to the Convention Lobby Day, in which dozens of unions and hundreds of union members from every sector lobbied their elected officials around a shared pro-working family agenda.

“The top goal of our 2017 strategic plan was unity,” declared President Steven Tolman, “and this past year we came together like few times in our history.”

Some 275 volunteers – pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and other workers – took off from Newark International Airport on October 4 on a union-sponsored relief mission to hurricane-smashed Puerto Rico, the AFL-CIO announced. Some 50 unionized registered nurses, members of National Nurses United, flew in from San Francisco the day before to join the mission.

The unionists headed for the island commonwealth, whose 3.4 million residents lack power, food, drinkable water and other resources, two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit.

In a powerful illustration of the ability of grassroots activists to challenge corporate power, United Students Against Sweatshops, the nation’s leading student organization focused on issues of worker rights and economic justice, has just scored a crucial victory over the world’s biggest sports apparel and footwear brand: Nike.

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Working people are tired of hearing how tax giveaways for Wall Street billionaires and corporations will supposedly trickle down to the rest of us. Too many politicians and pundits want us to believe our country is broke, and we have no choice but to demand sacrifices from working people, yet they have no trouble finding trillions of dollars to waste on tax giveaways for people who do not need them. They want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and infrastructure to pay for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

Last week, the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on H.R. 3441, the so-called Save Local Business Act -- a bill that has almost nothing to do with saving small and local businesses. According to its sponsors, the legislation was introduced to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) 2015 decision in Browning Ferris Industries.

Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum.  

“What we know from RNRN’s work in previous disaster-stricken areas, including hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as post-earthquake Haiti and super typhoon Haiyan, is that after an initial surge of volunteers, many people have to return to work. That is true in this case, as well as some volunteers being pulled to Florida, to address the impending hurricane Irma,” said RNRN director Bonnie Castillo.

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, I learned at an early age the power of unions to dramatically improve the opportunities of black families in America.

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