Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Statement by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension


Statement by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension

“Don’t Leave the Jobless Out in the Cold”

At midnight last night, 800,000 unemployed workers lost their unemployment insurance benefits. By the end of December, 2 million are projected to lose their unemployment insurance. Shame on those in Congress who aren’t supporting this emergency lifeline.

Today, more than fifty workers from across Pennsylvania descended on Washington, DC to fight for an emergency extension, joining jobless workers from across the nation at a press conference to tell the stories of their struggles.

Following the press conference, workers set out to lobby their members of Congress. The participants were armed with more than 150,000 petition signatures calling on Congress to maintain unemployment insurance. The petition signatures supported their call for an immediate, one-year UI extension that would prevent 2 million jobless workers from losing their lifeline by the end of this year.

The domino effect of the unemployment insurance expiration will affect more than just the families of the unemployed. When jobless families are unable to pay their mortgage, buy groceries or generate tax revenue, local communities, businesses and governments all suffer. The expiration of unemployment insurance benefits slows our economy down when we need to speed it up.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and working families are calling on Congress to approve a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance. Never before has Congress allowed unemployment insurance to expire when so many people are looking for work but unable to find jobs. There are five job seekers for every job opening, and the percentage of people unemployed for longer than six months is the highest on record. But instead of focusing on working families, the newly-elected GOP Congress is pushing to pass tax cuts for millionaires by extending the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000.

Representatives Thompson, Shuster and Pitts were wrong to vote no and help Republicans block extending unemployment benefits to workers on the wrong end of this troubled economy. They must rethink their “just say no” mentality and not leave Pennsylvania’s workers in the cold this December. Common decency and common sense require them to act to keep our communities and jobless families afloat and support a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance.





Balancing the Budget on the Backs of Overworked and Underpaid Federal Employees is Just Plain Wrong

December 2, 2010

CONTACT: John J. O’Grady (312) 886-3575

CHICAGO—The American Federation of Government Employees’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Labor Council announced today that it is shocked and dismayed by President Obama’s announced freeze on Federal pay increases. “Numerous politicians have wrongfully attacked government employees under the guise of fiscal responsibility and reducing the Federal deficit, and now President Obama has joined them,” stated AFGE Council 238 Treasurer John J. O’Grady.

The Council questions why President Obama would specifically propose to exempt Federal contractors, knowing full well that the shadow government workforce numbers well over 7.6 million contract employees. “Just the top 200 government contractors alone cost the American taxpayer over $543 billion in fiscal year ending September 30, 2009,” stated O’Grady. “Certainly President Obama does not endorse the fact that top executives of these same government contractors do not need a pay cut, although their salaries are just shy of $700,000, which is paid for in full by the American taxpayer?”

“To balance the budget on the backs of Federal employees, as the President proposes to do, is an insult to the dedicated employees AFGE represents. Federal employees did not run companies into the ground, take a bailout and then receive large raises and bonuses. “This is not only just plain wrong, it is bad policy and sends the wrong message to those responsible for this country’s economic problems. Mr. Obama’s freezing of Federal salaries at the January 2010 levels until January 2013, in the face of rising prices on key items such as education, food and gasoline, is an attack on America’s middle class,” concluded O’Grady. The Council notes that the amount of savings the Obama Administration says this Federal pay freeze will generate is based on inflated figures that aren’t realistic; the Administration’s calculations assumed a 2.5 percent raise for 2011 and a 3.9 percent raise in 2012. However, Federal employees were slated to receive a mere 1.4 percent raise in 2011; and that proposed raise hasn’t even been passed by Congress yet.

Meanwhile the debate continues on plans to extend tax cuts to people making over $1 million per year—at a cost of at least $690 billion to the American taxpayer, or well over seven times what would presumably be saved by eliminating Federal pay raises over the next two years. The people getting this tax break are the same ones who crippled the economy with the way they mismanaged banks, insurance companies and financial institutions. It is hard to believe that Federal employees are now vilified as much, if not more, than the company executives that caused our current economic crisis. AFGE Council 238 urges the President and the anti-Federal employee politicians that a stable, well-trained work force is needed to do the work of government. Senior citizens depend upon a Social Security Administration that is fully staffed to get the correct amount to them on-time. Our wounded and sick veterans depend upon the highly dedicated Veterans Administration Hospital staff to take care of them. Federal employees put their lives on the line guarding and protecting our borders, airports and prisons. America depends upon the Federal employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect human health and the environment. Who doesn’t want clean air to breathe and safe water to drink? It is unlikely that President Obama gained many supporters with his announcement, but he has certainly jeopardized the vote of a vast majority of Federal employees and their families.

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AFGE Council 238 and its affiliated locals constitute a union of highly dedicated employees working within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nationwide. Membership in the Council includes Locals at EPA Headquarters, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, all 10 Regional Offices, as well as the National Health & Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Corvallis and Newport, OR, National Vehicle & Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI, and the Robert S. Kerr Research Laboratory in Ada, OK.

Statement by Patrick McMahon, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, on Governor Rendell’s Leadership on Public Transit


AFL-CIO Media Release Statement by Patrick McMahon, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, on Governor Rendell’s Leadership on Public Transit

Governor Rendell has once again proven his credentials as a champion for public transportation. His leadership and creative thinking, along with the anticipated commendable wisdom of the members of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, have scored a major victory for working families and economic recovery.

The Governor’s proposal to shift $45 million to the Port Authority, previously dedicated to projects that are not going forward, allows workers and small businesses throughout the region to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Transit cuts kill jobs. Thousands of workers in the region use busses and trains to get to work every day and night. Businesses depend on public transit to deliver their employees and bring customers to their doors. Because multitudes of workers use transit, commuters who drive and companies transporting goods and services benefit significantly from less congested streets and highways.

Although today we celebrate the Governor’s action preventing painful, job-killing cuts in bus and rail service, we must brace ourselves for the fight to come. It is long past time for the state legislature to come up with a sustainable, dedicated funding formula for public transit in Pennsylvania. Enough with the band-aid fixes.

Today, while we express our gratitude to Governor Rendell for his vision and leadership, we call on Governor-elect