Labor Family News - Summer 2003


Weekend Work Gets More Pay
Hawaii passes family sick leave legislation
New Mexico Passes Comprehensive, Family Friendly Unemployment Insurance Bill
Union Members Beat Back Republican Attack on the 40-hour Work Week
Message from Executive Director Netsy Firestein
Time is of the Essence: New Scheduling Options for Unionized Employees


Transit Workers get Family Care Program
Amalgamated Transport Union Local 192 is using negotiated monies to create a Family Care Program that meets the child and elder care needs of its members. Beginning in September, the Program will offer one time subsidies for respite care and back-up child care, a free SAT college prep course for high school juniors and seniors, and workshops on child and elder care issues. The Program will also hire a full-time Family Care Coordinator from the rank and file to run the Program. (ATU local 192 and AC Transit)

OPEIU Wins Allowances for Child and Elder Care
Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 343 negotiated with their employer, a labor union, for an allowance of $200 per month for child care or elder care expenses. Participants apply for the child care allowance every January until the child is 12 years of age (18 years, if handicapped) and provide a receipt from the child care provider each month. The elder care allowance is provided to any union member with a parent in a licensed facility providing medical care or in-home by a licensed practitioner. (OPEIU local 343 and the employer, National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada, CAW)

Weekend Work Gets More Pay
National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada (CAW) successfully negotiated a separate work/pay relationship for members working weekends and compressed work weeks. Weekend shifts consist of 2 - 12 hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday. Each 12 hour shift is paid at a rate of 20 hours so that an individual working weekends will work 24 hours and be paid for 40 hours. Transfer to a weekend work schedule is voluntary. The compressed work week consists of 3 - 12 hour shifts, Monday thru Wednesday. Employees on the weekend shift or the compressed work week will accrue hours paid, not worked, for pension plan calculations. (CAW and 3M Canada Company)


Hawaii passes family sick leave legislation
Hawaii became the fourth state in the country to pass family sick leave legislation applicable to private sector employees. HB 389 requires an employer of 100 or more employees that provides paid sick leave to allow employees to use up to ten days of their accrued and available sick leave to care for a child, parent, spouse, or other dependent with a serious health condition.

New Mexico Passes Comprehensive, Family Friendly Unemployment Insurance Bill
On March 19, 2003 Governor Richardson of New Mexico signed the Unemployment Insurance Reform Bill into law. This comprehensive family friendly law came into effect due to the work of a diverse and active coalition that understood the need for unemployment reform. The coalition, put together by the New Mexico Human Needs Coordination Council, included the state AFL-CIO, New Mexico Voices for Children, Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry – NM, New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, New Mexico Women’s Agenda and over 90 other organizations.

Coalition leaders pointed out that although New Mexico’s Unemployment Insurance trust fund was the most solvent fund in the nation, only 3 out of 10 unemployed New Mexicans could actually receive unemployment benefits. In order for more people to qualify, reforms were needed immediately. The new law puts New Mexico firmly in the ranks of the more “family friendly” states with respect to its unemployment insurance program. The new law:

All told, the law will expand unemployment insurance benefits to over 4000 additional workers and increase the benefit amounts to all unemployed workers.

Union Members Beat Back Republican Attack on the 40-hour Work Week
In early June, the AFL-CIO led union members in a successful campaign to halt the passage of HR 1119, Republican-sponsored legislation that would allow companies to opt out of paying overtime by granting time off, instead of extra pay, when employees work more than 40 hours in a week. Republican House leaders pulled the bill, entitled “The Family Time Flexibility Act,” from the floor agenda when they realized they did not have enough votes. Their concession represents a significant victory for the AFL-CIO, which organized an aggressive lobbying campaign against the bill.

While Republican supporters of the bill promoted it as a worker and family-friendly measure that would allow people the option of spending more time with their children, the AFL-CIO leadership says the bill will lead to “lower pay, longer hours and unpredictable work schedules.” The bill would have made significant changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which mandates that workers be paid 150 percent of their hourly rate for work beyond 40 hours a week. Karen Nussbaum of the AFL-CIO said, “H.R. 1119 does not help working women balance work and family responsibilities. Rather, the bill encourages employers to demand more overtime from employees by not requiring them to pay the time-and-a-half for work beyond the 40-hour workweek and instead offer comp time. Mandatory overtime, especially with little advance notice, can be disruptive to schedules and expensive to working women who would have to cover the cost of additional child care. Also, since the employer would have ultimate discretion over when comp time is taken, many working women would not be able to take advantage of it.”

In addition to disrupting work schedules, bill would also represent a pay cut for millions of workers who rely on overtime pay as supplemental income to make ends meet for their families. Many construction workers depend on money from overtime to carry them through inevitable periods with no work – in many states building work is seasonal. In their fight against HR 1119, union members met with House Representatives in their home district offices to explain what overtime means to their families. The AFL-CIO outreach campaign included calls, faxes, e-mails, and most importantly, these personal visits to the lawmakers.

Although the defeat of HR 1119 is an important victory, according to the leadership of the AFL-CIO, the fight is not over. The labor movement will have to continue to fight to preserve overtime while we support measures that allow working people to spend time with their families and make decent wages to support them. “Many working women are desperate for more time with their families and more control over their schedules, but H.R. 1119 would make it harder for them to gain either time or flexibility. What working women really need is pay equity, limits on mandatory overtime, an increase in the minimum wage, more paid leave, more work schedule flexibility, and expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),” said Karen Nussbaum. For more information about the on-going fight to preserve overtime, visit

Message from Executive Director Netsy Firestein
This past winter, we sent out a survey about the newsletter to our readers and a huge percentage of you replied. Thanks! You liked “Union News” covering bargaining successes and wanted more legislation and policy updates, and most of you read the whole newsletter through! In response to your comments, the Fall issue of the Newsletter will have a new name, a new look and some content change. The readership is expanding and there will be new ways to support the work of the Labor Project. We hope you like it and welcome your comments.

Our newsletter will continue to highlight the leading role that unions are taking in promoting the family friendly workplace. I am so excited to be part of this growing movement! When this issue goes to press, I will have returned from the first ever AFL-CIO Work and Family Conference on Bargaining & Policy in Chicago (originally planned for September 12, 2001). This year we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to plan for. We will hear from the California Labor Federation on the new paid family leave law, and the New York State AFL-CIO on increased funds for child care for working families. We will also learn about innovative bargaining and organizing efforts from UFCW, CWA, SEIU, AFT and others. This conference illustrates how the labor movement can set the bar for changes in the workplace that make it work for families.

This report from the Work in America Institute by Will Friedman, Ph.D and Jill Casner-Lotto focuses on the importance of time and the desirability of reduced work schedules to union members. According to the study, high quality reduced time schedules appeal most to women and younger workers -- a growing part of the labor movement. The report provides examples and guidelines for implementing new scheduling options. “Time is of the Essence” may be ordered from the Labor Project for Working Families, (510) 642-7088 or downloaded.


Labor Feminism
Labor’s Heritage, The George Meany Center for Labor Studies – The National Labor College, Winter/Spring 2003. This issue has great articles on “The Labor Origins of the Next Women’s Movement”, a woman’s perspective on the Packinghouse Workers Unions, and highlights of working women activists. Order from Labor’s Heritage, (301) 431-5451,

Website on Unemployment Issues
The National Employment Law Project has a new on-line resource for jobless workers and interested groups concerned about today’s job market and the federal extension of unemployment benefits. Learn about the latest benefits and support resources in your community. For more information log on to

The Cost of Universal Access to Quality Preschool in Illinois
This comprehensive report was for the Governor of Illinois’s Task Force on Universal Access to Preschool. It is a helpful primer for other states exploring universal preschool. The report was written by Stacie Golin, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Anne Mitchell, Early Childhood Policy Research, and Margery Wallen of the Governor’s Task Force. Available from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, (202) 785-5100,

Labor Family News is published quarterly by:

Labor Project for Working Families
2521 Channing Way #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720
Ph: 510-643-7088
Fax: 510-642-6432

Netsy Firestein

Jenya Cassidy
Managing Editor

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