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Showing blog posts by Arlene Holt Baker

About Arlene Holt Baker

Arlene Holt Baker’s experience as a union and grassroots organizer spans more than 30 years. On Sept. 21, 2007, she was approved unanimously as executive vice president by the AFL-CIO Executive Council, becoming the first African American to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices and the highest-ranking African American woman in the union movement. In this position, Holt Baker builds on her legacy of inspiring activism and reaching out to diverse communities to support the needs and aspirations of working people.

Supreme Court Strikes Down the Heart of the Voting Rights Act, but This Isn't Over

Supreme Court Strikes Down the Heart of the Voting Rights Act, But This Isn't Over

This morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote is shameful and a major setback to democracy.

Fifty years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and I believe as he did that the “arc of the moral universe… bends toward justice.” But today’s decision twists that bend in the wrong direction.

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Big Banks Still Giving Homeowners the Runaround

Big Banks Still Giving Homeowners the Runaround

Today, a report released by the Mortgage Settlement Monitor confirmed that big banks are still not up to the task of handling mortgage modifications effectively and fairly. This report confirms what many working families have learned the hard way: Big banks are still giving homeowners the runaround.

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Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act: Our Children and Grandchildren Should Not Wait Another 50 Years for Economic Fairness

Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO

The Equal Pay Act was landmark legislation. As Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi remarked in a press conference last Thursday:

He [President John F. Kennedy ] knew it was a first step to end the 'unconscionable practice'—in his words—of paying women less than men for the same amount of work. But in the course of 50 years, loopholes in the Equal Pay Act were carved out and exploited. Disparities affecting minority women widened. And the “unconscionable practice” persists.

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'Working Families Flexibility Act' Doesn't Give Flexibility or Support to Working Families

Image courtesy NOW Photos

In a perfect gift for mothers, just short of Mother's Day, House Republicans have once again introduced legislation with a charming title and a potentially devastating impact for working women and families. According to the bill's sponsors, the "Working Families Flexibility Act," or H.R. 1406, would give employees the "freedom" to determine work schedules and time off. In reality, this bill would provide more work and less pay.

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Black Workers 19% More Likely to Be in Unions

Davon Lomax, member of IUPAT.

"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that in 1965, and African Americans still hear his quote ring.

A new report, Blacks in Unions: 2012, by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education, finds that black workers are 19% more likely to be in unions than non-black workers. In the nation’s 10 largest metropolitan areas, African Americans are 42% more likely than non-blacks to be in unions.

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Big Banks Agree to Settle Charges of Foreclosure Abuse

Illustration by outacontext/Flickr

Ten of the nation’s largest banks agreed earlier this week to settle charges of foreclosure abuse with federal regulators. After the housing bubble burst, banks allegedly processed foreclosures improperly and mishandled homeowners’ applications for mortgage modifications. The resulting foreclosure crisis hurt all working families. Homes lost value, especially in communities of color that were among the hardest hit.

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Culinary Academy of Las Vegas Hits the Jackpot for Labor and Management

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker poses with Culinary Academy of Las Vegas students.

Arlene Holt Baker is the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. 

In the gambling capital of the country, labor and management are putting their chips on one very safe bet: training for workers.

Yesterday, I had the unique opportunity to visit the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, a labor-management trust. The academy is the result of a collectively bargained labor-management partnership with UNITEHERE!'s Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union Local 226, Bartenders Union Local 165 and employers, including 26 major hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

The academy provides training for hourly workers, many of whom are immigrants, who want to enter the hotel industry. It also provides upgrade education and training for current union members looking to brush up their skills and have greater career mobility in the hospitality industry.

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No ‘Poll Tax’ This Year in Pennsylvania


I’ll never forget my up-close encounter with vote suppression—and it’s the reason I’m so pleased today that a judge in Pennsylvania ordered elections officials there not to enforce a new voter ID law. That means Pennsylvanians who can’t show a photo ID when they go to the polls can still vote a regular—not a provisional—ballot.

My encounter with vote suppression was years ago, when I was a little girl and wanted a new pair of shoes. You can’t get new shoes now, my mother told me, because she had to save the money to pay her poll tax. That’s how important the right to vote was to my mother—she knew it was a sacred right that people had fought and died for and she was not about to treat it as anything less.

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Bank Foreclosure Settlement Money Should Be Used to Help Homeowners

Bank Foreclosure Settlement Money Should Be Used to Help Homeowners

Earlier this year, state and federal law enforcement officials negotiated a historic legal settlement with the Big Banks that had abused the rights of homeowners during the foreclosure crisis. As part of this settlement, the Big Banks agreed to pay $2.5 billion in penalties to the states for programs to help prevent foreclosures.

Sadly, in many states these funds are now at risk of being diverted away from helping struggling homeowners.

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Super Solidarity over Super Bowl Weekend

Over the weekend, all eyes were on the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, where tens of thousands traveled to see the event and hundreds of thousands more watched it on television. But while the spotlight was on the game, workers across the city took to the streets to protest the outrages happening to working people.

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