tv Washington Journal Mary Kay Henry CSPAN February 16, 2023 7:20pm-8:01pm EST
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public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> a focus now on the role of unions in americaed today. our guest is mary kay henry, the international president of the service employees international union, and mary kay henry, last week we heard from president biden about the sate9 of the union. -- state of the union. how would you describe the state of labor unions in the united states? >> guest: st the exploding. workers are rising up all over this country saying enough is enough, rejecting the status quo and joining together to demand unions. >> host: when it comes to union membership in this country, a chartmb from the washington post showing the changes since the early 'to 80s -- '80s and the trend is a decline in overall membership in the united states. >> guest: yes of. >> host: so that chart, you're saying it's exploding in the united states.
>> guest: organizing working people is exploding, and i expect we're at an inflection point just like the president said at the state of the union for american labor that's been systematically attacked for the last 40 years by legislative and supreme court decisions that have eroded collective bargaining. but i think workers joining together and demanding unions is going to increase memberships tenfold just like it did during the '30s during the organizing of auto -- we're now seeing airport workers, fast food workers and home care workers. >> host: how did unions fare during the pandemic? >> guest: i think workers who had access to collective bargaining didid better. nursing home workers were 30% more likely to save residents' lives than their own lives because they had the vehicle of being able to the talk to their managers. the same with our airport service workers who are commanding a good job, good airports act right now from congress. they were able to protect themselves. but overall, as you know people
who showed up to work every day were hit hardest by the public health crisis, and their communities are still recovering, black, brown, asian and immigrant communities all across our country. >> host: in about 12 the months we've seen several high profile unionization efforts, union fights. what are the one or two most important ones, in your mind? >> guest: the airport service workers that are trying to join together and build a better life but areo facing anti9-union -- anti-union b actions by their contractors. and we hold the airlines that are going to earn record profits this year accountable for investing in their front-line work force. amazon and starbucks are are the two other notable organizing campaigns, and we were thrilled when the president said that he's sick and ire thed of companies -- tired of companies that are doing anti-union campaigns, firing workers, closingg stores in order to avod
unionization. and starbucks needs to come to the table and recognize their partners and bargain a contract. >> host: where because that stand with starbucks? >> guest: well, there are 300 sores that havere voted to go union. starbucks is blocking progress at the bargaining table and in organizing. and therg workers are underred the. they are -- undeterredded. they are mobilizing and preparing for the shareholder meeting in march, going to the take the demand directly to the shareholders. >> host: and what aboutd amazo? >> guest: and amazon, same problem where there is the huge anti-union actions happening from the if company at is the staten island warehouse, in bessimer, out in santa barbara. but the labor movement is united behind those workers, and i believe the workers are ultimately going to prevail and get to a bargaining table. >> host: and are we talking just the warehouse worker at amazon? what about the drivers that go out and actually put packages on
people's front doors? >> guest: those the drivers areo organizing as well because they understand that the company's earning record profit, and they need to share in the wealth that they're generating for that company. >> host: if starbucks and amazon happens as you would like it to the hanger how many people are we talking about? how many new union members in the service industry? >> guest: well, amazon employs 800,000 people just in their warehouses. i need to get the number of drivers, and starbucks employs 10,000 people. but if those workers could get a national collective bargaining agreement, it would provide hope to workers all across the service and care sector which you know 64 million people earning less than minimum wage in some case or at minimum wage immediate to be able to build a better life through unions. >> host: we're talking with mary kay henry this morning, the international president of the serviceg employees internationl union, seiu.
you've probably heard of it. two million members strong in the united states. if you have a question or comment for her, call in as usual, republicans, 202-748-8001.-8 democrats, 202-748-8000. independents, 2022 the-748-8002 the, and as we always do this these segments, a special line for union members, 202-748-8003, is that number. as folks are calling in, we started by talking about the state of labor unions. president biden talked about unions at state of the union. here's a little bit of what president biden had to say last tuesday night. >> for too long workers have been getting stiffed. but not anymore. we're beginning to restore the dignity of work. for b example, i should have knn this, but i didn't until two years ago. 30 million workers had to sign non-compete agreements for the jobs they take. 30 million. so ahe cashier at a burger place
can't walk across town and take the same job at another burger place and make a few bucks more. [inaudible conversations] they just changed it because we exposed it. that was part of the keel, guy -- deal, guys, look it up. but not anymore. we're banning those agreements where companies have to compete for workers and pay them what they're- worth. [cheers and applause] >> host: mary kay henry on these non-compete agreements. explain a little bit more. >> guest: i love the example he gave.es imagine a worker who's earning between $10-12 an hour depending on where they are the, no guaranteed hours, no paid sick, very tough time during the the pandemic. and theyri can't go work for another fast food restaurant. andan that's why fast food works in california have been fighting for the last five years to get theen california legislature to sign into law the fast food sector council which allows a half million workers to sit at a table with their employers and
government and actually solve problems on theov job. and now the fast food industry is organizing hundreds of millions of dollars to overturn that law by taking it to the ballot. and it's just another example of how corporations in this country refuse to follow the president's lead by saying, hey, stop the anti-union campaign, sit down at the table with the workers you represent and bargain contracts so that they can live a better life. >> host: the president also mentioned the pro act in talking about unions at the state of the union crease, protecting the right to organize act. explain a little bit of what that is as we show viewers the, some ofhe act's provisions. >> guest: it's really important to the reform labor law, because it'sron. the economy has grown past the law that was sned into law in 1930, and so the protect your right to organize act will start to fix system of the problems, and then we think it needs to be
built on to change the rules like with the fast food workers in california but at the national level. we have to rewrite this rule -- the rules of our labor law in order for workers that were excluded to get written in. home care workers, childcare workers, fast food workers, gig workers, the people that are contracted out in airports not directly employed any longer by the airlines. they contract out to employers that then hire baggage handlers and cabin cleaners and the people that are keeping us safe in our nation's airports. and those are minimum wage jobs. today used to be middle class jobs, and it's time for congress to the pass the good jobs for good airports act so those workers canan also get to the bargaining table and bargain minimum wage jobs. >> host: before we get away from the state of the union u you were there last tuesday night. >> guest: i was. >> host: how'd you get a ticket? >> guest: leader jeffries invited me to the attend, and i
was incredibly proud to sit next to a reire thed hospital worker from our union in new york, and she was proud when president said that we have to protect medicare, medicaid and social security. >> host: this is dennis out of new york, new york city. go ahead, dennis. >> caller: good morning, everybody. i'm a member of local 32bj which is the biggest service union here, probably on the east coast. the corruption insidee this unin just incredible which is leading to union members being crushed by the contractors, and and this is a problem that really needs to be addressed. thank you. >> host: how can it be addressed, dennis? what do you want to see? i think we lost dennis, but ms. henry. >> guest: you know, the great thing about the labor movement is that his concerns, we have a vehicle for addressing and he can file a complaint with our ethics only buds-- ombudsperson, and we can invest it.
my experience with 32 the bj, they represent janitors, security officer and airport service workers and have been taking minimum wage jobs and moving them to $18 an hour at jfk and la guard ya with paid health care and retirement which no airport service worker has ever imagined in their life. .. the airport service workers that try to organize all across the country. we went this is ralph good llmorning. >> caller: uaw worker from upstate, new york. i want to ask president henry she did mention amazon. you see those prime trucks that have amazon on the trucks driving around? i think i interpret them as independent contractors.
and it seems like there is an over explosion of miss classifying workers and independent contractors so they do not have a right to organize. but i hope president henry can answer that question. i always support the sei you, thank you. >> thank you so much we stand in solidarity with uaw members as well. you are right employers happy using independent contractors to avoid allowing workers to join together in unions. that is another way labor law is broken and the proactive would correct the problem that you point out and allow those drivers to join together just like ups workers who are able to bargain a national contract. the statement louisiana independent good morning you are on with mary k henry. >> thank you for taking my call. i am a retired teamster. are there any efforts to organize walmart? thank you.
>> i know that historically there have been attempts by walmart workers to join together in fast food worker started organizing in 2012. i know there's an independent group of organizers helping walmart workers in various parts of the country. in the commercial workers have been trying to back walmart workers want to join together. how is that relationship? >> at the reunion they represent ill think 1.7 million people in retail grocery. and meatpacking, and other parts of the food sector. still at one of the main industries of the service employees that you represent? >> the main industries are property services which i've talked about janitors, security officers, airport workers, health care, home care nursing home and hospital workers in public service. which is local k-12 education
city, county, and state workers that do all kinds of jobs in public service. those three groups are backing the fast food workers we have been supporting for the past 12 years in their demand. and gig workers in key parts of the country. >> i imagine $15 minimum wage, what is the status of that? >> are proud of 200 as food workers in the ark is made it possible for 26 million people to be on a path to $15 in new york and california we are now at 16 and in california and $16.18 in new york. and as you may know during the last two years during worker shortages employers started going above 15 to recruit workers. people are saying ain't key parts of the country that 15 is not enough. welcome but we are flocks from
getting to 15 and many southern states and key states in the midwest. when state legislatures overrode black city councils who want to to 15 they preempted in kansas city, charlotte, north carolina, birmingham, alabama to name a few cities. we have a lot of work to do as a nation to get everybody to 15 and build from there. >> the federal minimum wage law $15 and our overwrite all that? what is a status of that? >> is blocked in the last congress. president biden made part of the e american rescue plan he thougt raising wages at the bottom was a key way to rescue americans from the twin crises occurring with public health and economic. and we fell short in the senate. we did not have the votes we needed to get the 60 vote necessary to win 15. i think we will see a return to
it in this congress but we're going to organize until we set the federal minimum wage. >> 20 -- 25 minutes left. in call in on phone lines are public and some as usual. special lane for union members (202)748-8003. matt is in falls church, virginia line for democrats gooh morning. >> good morning. i am deathly happy to talk with you this morning. i'm very much in favor of that union movement in the country. i don't know what happened inve the last 30 years. i am 40 years old. i feel over my lifetime the older generations have been in the unions. and now it's young people mostly
leading the union movement to care about job protections. i really think we do more to connect people should be how work is it done looks like in the country. we need a new deal in this country for workers that involves how many days a week ws work. what are the benefits for work jobs paid you a pension and you can retire. now if you like people don't have retirement anymore. i also feel like healthcare, even of the talk about how bad it is obamacare made you lose your employer healthcare, a lot of people lose their health care when their employers change
healthcare's. so i thank you for your work. you'd need to do a good job of connecting to young people are going to leave this movement. like the older generations have abandoned unions. it is our time to lead the inspector prosperity and power against the billionaires wanting to control our lives. thank you. >> you just outline a great fast-forward for the american labor movement. that is by we are so proud to be backing the starbucks partners who are young and vibrant and leading the resurgence in addition to gig workers. both of whom are in a struggle. the starbucks workers because the antiunion campaign by campaign that says they are pro- lgbtq. but are antiunion and anti- worker. those workers are going to make the case they can improve those jobs by having a direct relationship with their
employer. and i agreeop young people needo get back. our unit many unions across the labor movement are innovating on digital strategy and digital community because it is such a way in which young people connect with eachco other. >> california mrs. rob, republican good morning you are on with mary kay henry. >> caller: height ms. henry i am a retired and i was a statewide elected official for a while. while i support legal immigration or whether illegal immigration which is rampant under these current policies. i remind you and the listeners present biden announced toi the world in one of the debates before he was president that he was planning to surge all that trump had turned away back to the border. so another words come on in. do you agree that depresses the
wages and hurts the union and hurtsts the american workforce? >> to answer question request but let's uncheck what statewide office did you california? >> it is a strong union in the horse racing industry. i was a sgt of arms for northern california. >> guest: our union believes strong what you have to have comprehensive immigration reform because the system is broken and the president said that in the state of theid union. i do not agree respectfully those immigrants are taking our jobs or holding down wages. i think immigrants create jobs by coming in and helping to deal with the worker shortage and pay taxes even when they get no benefits back for the work they do. that is why we think it is
critical congress deal with common sense d immigration refom and we understand the surge is due to climate change and violence that is occurring in south america and latin america and families are fleeing for their lives. and we are a nation that is compassionate and wants to welcome people. we have to figure out a comprehensive fix to a broken immigration system. we cannotem fix it by securing e border. it does not deal in the way in which the economy gets stronger by welcoming immigrants and creating a pathway to thea future. he went there for an undocumented immigrant would get a job in a company has union representation can they join a union? >> yes to requests restrictions or background checks? next here's a think that union does not really know if someone has documents or not because the employer makes the decision.
that worker then covered by the collective bargaining agreement. so 30% of our members are immigrants, we have no idea if any of those workers are undocumented. we do know many of our members have undocumented family members which is why our unit is so fiercely fighting for comprehensive immigration. >> to jeff and beaver dell, wisconsin a union member for jeff good morning your oath mary kay henry. >> good morning. i like to voice my opinion how important it was for me being a machinist union member. i am retired now, i was able to retire before being 55. the benefits that were given to us through negotiations made a world of difference in my life life. family's i've got healthcare for life. it's a nice pension had the
misnomer that companies can't afford that. the profits of the company i worked for for all of those years are through the roof. at the same time they are able to give us a nice a pension, healthcare, money into an hsa. i am so prounion. he has been great for my family and is helped out a lot. >> that is a great soundbite for why we need to expand the power of working people and rewrite the rules so more workers can have the life you just described. too few workers to have a secure retirement. that is your testimony i think is a great way in which the union movement will make a case heagainst the attack the corpore behavior has done to making an
antiunion case. >> we talked about the fight for 15. what are some other rules you like to see this congress rewrite the 118th congress? >> with them to see every home care worker be able to join together in a union part right now has to happen state-by-state. texas 10 years to get state legislatures to rewrite the rules. we are doing it in the matter right now pretty will be great if the federal government created the way for every home care workers are joined together in a union paid the same for child care workers who don't have the right to join together we would love to see congress make it possible for us to sit at theti national bargaining tae withth mcdonald's, wendy's and burger king with america, delta, united and southwest and have national collective bargaining a agreements and poverty wage work in sectors of the economy for the earning record profits.
ceos are doing well and shareholders are not just giving dividends but share buybacks. that has to get countered with the ability of workers to have the power to bargain a better life. >> what do you mean a right to work state? >> no union can collectively bargain for a unionin shop. it allows employers to continue their antiunion campaign even live collective bargaining agreements to get members to drop their membership. >> other stilt states trying to become a right to work states question but how many are there? >> i think the first 26 states were unions are allowed to negotiate a union shop clause in their agreement. all of the rest of the states are so-called right to work. you think of it to write to work for less because of the bargaining power and the ability to drive wages and benefits up. >> a map from the national right to work organization of right to
work states the states on this map identified right to work states. why are they mostly in the south and the midwest? there are also in the mountains why that geographic of right to work states? >> it is a legacy of white supremacy. and the way in which southern legislatorseg back in the 30s when we passed the new deal of labor law reform and social security fair labor standards and over time all of those states were able to write out workers that were the dominant workers. note farm workers were covered. no domestic workers were covered. naacp at the time called a swiss cheese law that a lot of people fell through the holes. that is why they remain right to work today. >> albuquerque, new mexico brian is an independent good morning.
>> caller: good morning i am retired i worked 35 years and chicagoland metro area. another problem unions have in this country are corporate democrats. bill clinton was the absolute worst democratic president as far as union labor goes. the man was a disaster. all of the free-trade bills he sighed giving china, allowing corporations to ship the factories to china. not what the chip industry. now we are going to subsidize the chip industry to bring the factories back to the unitede states. what a great idea. there are so many idiotic ideas coming on the democratic party these corporate democrats for that is why hillary lost to donald trump because hillary was another corporate democrat. chuck schumer cares about an investment firms more than he caresou about american workers. that's on the huge problems in thisis country.
back to your gobbledygook answer on illegal immigration we cannot be globalist and expect and allow everyone whenever they feel like it. the population of the world has grown by 5 billion since the end of world war ii. a lot of these l people are leaving central america because their countries are overpopulated their economies are dysfunctional because of corrupt politics. have to have a limited, sensible, restrictive immigration policy. corporate americae will always say we cannot find enough workers when the true story is they can't find workers tofi wok at the ultra low wages they want to pay. we have got to restrict and limit. immigration. >> let mary kay henry jump into. >> i completely agree corporations are holding wages
down and low wages. think it is really important you and i have a dialogue in the entire country have a dialogue about the impact of immigration on economy and wages. i just think it's time for a compassionate and humane fix to our broken immigration system instead of dehumanizing and o criminalizing people who are simply trying like you and i to provide for a better life for their family. and i think we could probably find if we had more time to struggle with each other like we do in the labor movement to find a better path the way in which it sounds like you to want to fix the system. and how we get it done is hair with we would have the struggle to find the best path forward but that is what congress needs to do for our economy and our democracy. >> she agreed chuck schumer's to
santa for wallin street banks ad investment firms in the workers of this country? >> and all a the work we have de most recently he brought the baggage handler from jfk. he wants a good jobs for garrett good airports act to be passed in this congress. that will take a million poverty jobs to make them a living wage jobs so people can feed their families. >> brought up enough that was replaced by the usmca during the trump administration. what is the usmca meant for uniont workers? factors in for workers here and around the world. i think that is the job of this administration and be on that we have to create trade policy that actually invests in american workers, american manufacturing and making things here in the way the president said on tuesday night.
we went to java roland came to usmca would when it was negotiated? >> guest: there's a labor advisory board the department of labor and the department of states that iso was on i would have to say of voice would've been hearing would not be able to impact the labor advisory committee i didn't feel really change the policy of the trump administration. do what is a labor advisory committee still active in the biden administration? >> very different. the people we were dealing with actually had been directed by this president to write in protections for workers and away the trump trump administration did not directed. >> at the white house how often do you meet? i meet with various people at the white house often and regularly. the people we dealt with on trade were grounded more in the department of laborers who we
met with. grix jon is here in washington d.c. line for democrats good morning. >> hi. does believe workers would benefit and labor market would be stronger if sei you and the teamsters union would rejoin the national afl-cio body to make the labor movement a stronger, more unified. i'll take my answers off the phone and thank you for all of your work. >> 's are your answer can explain history there? >> sure. the american federation of labor is a group that has 60 affiliates. the have been inside and
outside. teamsters went in and out twice arguing in 2005. i think a solidarity across the labor movement is a key ingredient. i think the things that make the labor movement the strongest is all of the labor unions in this country back the uprising of working people that are demanding unions and that we invest scale active in the 30s. we need to return to in 2023, 20235. i actually think back to our first conversation it's a way for the union movement to grow our membership by demanding government rewrite the rules soo markedo are workers can join together and bite making sure workers are making bold demands and disrupting the status quo in order to get e employers to
invest. >> keeping the current unions from getting on the same page and doing what you just described. us we arelition of working with cwa the united farm workers ufcw, the auto workers. we work across the labor movement. cwa and the uaw are inside and we regularly coordinate when it comes to speaking to the white house or dealing with the democratic leadership in the house and the senate. and so i feel really proud of the collaboration that is happening. we are joining together to beat back the attack in florida on removing dues which is the public legislatures: about to d. >> what does that mean? >> guest: that means the hundred thousands of teachers and firefighters, and school employees and county and city
employees are going to have their unions taken away by the state legislature. just as scott walker did in wisconsin in 2010. do it one more on intake expected 2005. why did you decide at that point to split from thefl afl? >> we want to just the color wanted to to figure how to build a more stronger labor movement was willing to innovate and drive change and organize on the scale required to meet the needs of working people. stay when they weren't doing that? >> guest: know they're not committing the resources. just got the exact counsel to increase the per capita tax which is the money unions pay to create a center for transformative organizing. there is a very good turn happening in. so when we talked about your 2 million members, how many members does afl-cio have?
>> guest: 12 million union members. >> host: of the biggest the united states? >> guest: there the biggest federation the individual unions inside it's bigger than. on the national education association sets outside afl-cio has 3 million teachers per. >> was sure that chart earlier from the "washington post". it's about 10.1% of the united states are workers are members of unions today. that's down from the mid- 80s when it is about 20%. >> the consequence of that is we nodr longer driving wages up for the entire economy. what more workers have collective bargaining and unions at about 30% in the 70s we were making wages rise for everybody. and so there is a consequence for the entire nation, not just union members when union declines. that's why we are calling on government and corporations to increase the power of working
people by allowing more collective bargaining and stopping the antiunion campaign. stu went about 5 inches out left with mary kay henry for special ed for unit members of the rights as democrats, independence as usual. the line foral republicans adam baldwin, michigan good morning. >> caller: good morning. i wanted to make a little clarification on the noncompete clause that came up. are you telling me a cashier at some fast food restaurant cannot walk across the street or go on the other side of town and take another job at another fast food restaurant? >> guest: yes that is what i'm saying isn't that ridiculous? are they sued? are they arrested as a cashier ever actually been sued by a fast food chain, really?
we want go ahead. >> guest: mostly what you'll see in the sector's mcdonald's worker will go to another mcdonald's store in order to try to stitch together the hours they need to feeder their famil. i do not know of cases were workers have tested the noncompete clause because there's so much pressure inin their lives in order to take a minimum wage jobs with no benefits and stitch together a life. i don't think many of them want to test the corporation coming after them to sue them. >> south carolina independent good morning you areca on. >> good morning. i was in that manufacturing chemical industry for years when plants and negotiated contracts. what i found in a lot of cases i
did not have issues dealing with the unions and that leadership if it was a good group of people. what we found a lot of times was the unions we were a moderate sized manufacturing plant were absorbed by the larger unions and suddenly they no longer got the attention of the union when they had an issue that was sometimes a good issue that should have been dealt with. so the larger the union got the less attention the smaller operations got. and therefore they got left behind anyway you look at it. i guess that was really my biggest point i wanted to make at this point. the fact to work with unions the tproblem is sometimes the union constricts the people, and the companies from getting rid of and discharging bad employees
without spending an enormous amount of time trying to build the case to get rid of them. i had a lot of good workers it is usually 10% of people that gave me nothing but problems. the leadership and my plants their hands were literally tied. they had to drag us through all sorts of crab. anyway that is my comment, thank you very much. >> i found the grievance proceduree of unions is a way o check your own discharge. which is a reason why a lot of workers joined together in union. if management and labor are working together effectively in a management can document that 10% if they're doing their job the union workers that are doing
their jobs and those plants don't want their union to protect workers who are underperforming. i appreciate you sharing that experience. but in my lived experience of 45 years that is the exception not the rule. ♪ c-span as your unfiltered view of government. funded by these television companies and more including cox. >> homework can be hard. but squatting in a diner for internetwork is even harder for that is why we are providing lower income students access to affordable internet so homework can just be homework. cox connected to compete. >> cox supports these as a public service long these other television providers giving you a front recpt to democracy. >> here is look at what is coming up on c-span2. next the sen