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Eighteen year old Selena Zelaya of Mount Dora, Florida traveled to D.C. in July to lobby for farmworker protections against harmful pesticides.  Unfortunately, the current state of farmworker protections against pesticides is almost nonexistent due to outdated safeguards the EPA has failed to revise in over 20 years.  As a result, many farmworkers, including both of Selena’s parents, are vulnerable to exposure or have already been exposed to harmful chemicals.  To read more about the need for stronger farmworker protections and Selena’s story, click here.

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LCLAA se enorgullece más que nunca, en el marco del Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, de representar los intereses de más de 2 millones de trabajadores latinos sindicalizados en los Estados Unidos y Puerto Rico.

Celebrar el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, es celebrar los valores que comparten las millones de familias latinas, que con su trabajo y esfuerzo engrandecen esta nación.  Sabiendo que los valores más profundos de nuestra comunidad nos distinguen siempre, celebrar este mes significa reconocer a nuestras familias, a nuestros jóvenes, a nuestros DREAMers, a nuestras  mujeres TRABAJADORAS y a todos los más de 50 millones de latinos, que representamos la principal minoría en los Estados Unidos.

Celebrar nuestra herencia, es recordar que la población hispana orgullosamente tiene más de 500 años establecida en Norte América, es recordar que generación tras generación ha aportado su trabajo, su esfuerzo y su cultura para consolidar el poderío de esta nación.

Celebremos recordando, que con el 16% de la población de los Estados Unidos, nuestro trabajo y esfuerzo año con año se ve mejor representado en los procesos electorales, resultando nuestra comunidad uno de los más importantes bloques de votantes. Es por esto que LCLAA seguirá defendiendo el derecho al voto de la comunidad latina.

Es momento de permanecer más unidos que nunca ante los retos que enfrenta nuestra comunidad. Es momento de luchar juntos por la Reforma Migratoria y exigir a los congresistas la representación que merecen los hispanos. 

Es momento de luchar por mejorar las condiciones de trabajo para nuestra gente y de luchar por trabajos dignos y salarios justos, a sabiendas de que conformamos el grupo poblacional con el menor ingreso en el país, es decir con los salarios peor remunerados. Luchemos por mantenernos unidos y apoyar la educación de nuestros hijos, y los derechos de nuestras mujeres TRABAJADORAS, de nuestros DREAMers y nuestra gente.

Celebremos el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, recordando que la comunidad latina, con más de 22 millones de personas en la fuerza laboral del país, ha alcanzado un poder adquisitivo de aproximadamente un trillón de dólares, beneficiando al desarrollo de la economía estadounidense. 

LCLAA seguirá defendiendo con orgullo el trabajo, luchando por la dignidad, justicia y derechos de la comunidad hispana.

LCLAA festeja la grandeza de nuestros pueblos y nuestras culturas, la grandeza de nuestro pasado y nuestro presente. ¡LCLAA celebra nuestra Herencia!

 

 

LCLAA Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.

LCLAA is very proud to represent the interests of the more than 2 million unionized Latino workers in the United States and Puerto Rico, especially while celebrating the National Hispanic Heritage Month.

To celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month is to celebrate the values, hard work and passion of the millions of Latino families across America. By celebrating our heritage in this month, we celebrate our families, our DREAMers, our TRABAJADORAS, our workers and all the more than 50 million Latinos that together represent the largest minority in the United States.

Celebrating our heritage is proudly recognizing that Hispanic population has been living in America for more than 500 years. Celebrating our heritage is remembering how throughout generations the Latino community has helped this nation to consolidate its power.   

Lets celebrate remembering that we constitute 16% of America´s population. Our political importance is now transcendental for both political parties if they want to win elections. The Latino community is now one of the must important voting blocs in this country, and together we have the power to make change happen.

LCLAA will continue advocating for the Voting Rights of Latinos. We are convinced this is the time to be united against the challenges of our community. This is the time to fight for Immigration Reform and to demand Congress to pass this legislation.

This is the time to fight for improving working conditions, to fight against disparities in earnings and considerable lower wages than the rest of the population of this country. Lets fight united for the education of our children, for the rights of our TRABAJADORAS, of our DREAMers and our people.

Lets celebrate the National Hispanic Heritage Month remembering that the Latino community is growing faster and our purchasing power is valued at approximately $1 trillion. Lets celebrate our important contribution to the economy of the United States.

LCLAA’s mission is to advocate for dignity in the jobs of our workers; and to continue to fight for  he rights and justice of the Latino community. 

LCLAA celebrates the greatness of our peoples and our cultures, the greatness of our past and our present. LCLAA celebrates our Heritage!

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Central Florida LCLAA Chapter congratulates Brother and LCLAA member Victor Torres for this Award.  Victor's lifetime of service began when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. After his service in the U.S. Marine Corps, he ensured safety and order in his community as a police officer for the New York City Transit Police. After twenty years, Victor retired from the New York City Transit Police as 2nd Grade Detective.

In 1993, Victor relocated his family to Florida, joined ATU Local 1596 and continued his community service as a volunteer and leader for several community organizations, the labor movement, and grassroots efforts. Victor has been married to Carmen L. Torres for over twenty years, and they are the proud parents of five children and grandparents to eight grandchildren.

Brother Torres has established a strong reputation as a committed political activist and an effective leader in the Labor Movement through his work as Political Coordinator for ATU Local 1596, Vice Chair of the Central Florida LCLAA Chapter, and strong dedication to the Central Florida Labor Council.Victor Torres

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Even in a state with a "right-to-work" law like Florida, workers still need to join unions and leverage their power by collectively bargaining with employers. That was the message Central Florida AFL-CIO Central Labor Council Secretary and Central Florida LCLAA chapter President Victor Sanchez had for the annual Labor Day picnic here last week.

More than 450 union members, their families and supporters flocked to the picnic at a downtown park here on Labor Day, Sept. 2. The annual event, organized by the Central Florida Labor Council to celebrate the contributions that working people make to the economy and to society, also attracted a wide range of groups from the local progressive community.

Florida is one of the 24 states that have so-called right-to-work laws (which rather than protecting the rights of workers, actually interfere with the right of organizations representing workers to negotiate contracts with employers that benefit workers). Sanchez, who is a member of the American Postal Workers Union, said that one of the points the CLC was trying to make with the picnic is: "By joining the union, we can build a stronger movement, and by building a stronger movement, we can stop bosses from abusing workers."

A 2011 study by the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute found that workers in "right-to-work" states earned lower wages and had lower rates of employee-sponsored health insurance and pensions.

Sanchez said that immediate goals for the labor movement should include ensuring that all workers earn living wages and have the right to organize, and making sure that younger workers remember the history and legacy of those in the labor movement who struggled before them for better pay, benefits and working conditions.

Timothy Murray, a community organizer with Organize Now!, a group that was heavily involved in the campaign for earned sick time for workers in Orange County, Fla. (the home of Orlando and Disney World), said that all workers need living wages of at least $10 an hour, sick time, vacation days and affordable housing.

"Every worker in this country should have at least five days of sick time or personal time and five days of vacation," said Murray. "Every worker in the country has earned that. Everyone deserves a week off."

More than 70,000 voters in Orange County signed petitions to put an earned sick time measure on the 2012 ballot that, if passed, would have mandated that companies with 15 or more workers give them one hour of paid sick time for every 37 hours worked--up to an annual limit of 56 hours.

In a brazen assault on democracy, the Orange County Commission, in violation of its own charter and after being intensively lobbied by local big business interests such as Disney and Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster), refused to place the measure on the ballot. A three-judge panel later ruled that it had to be placed on the 2014 ballot.

Any vote on the measure has, however, been rendered moot by passage in this year's Florida legislative session of a bill, heavily backed by big business interests and Republicans, to prohibit counties and cities from mandating benefits such as sick time. The bill was signed into law in June by ultra-right millionaire Gov. Rick Scott.

A 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute noted that the "inflation-adjusted value of the [federal] minimum wage today" - $7.25 an hour, last raised in 2009 - "is about $2.00 an hour less than it was at its peak value in 1968." Florida's minimum wage, last raised at the beginning of 2013, is $7.79 ($4.77 for tipped workers).

The report's authors also note that "in 2011, a full-time year-round worker needed to earn $11.06 an hour to keep a family of four out of poverty." Doing this in 2013 requires a yearly family income of $23,550 or above, according to the latest poverty guidelines from the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the EPI, in 2011 - even if they were able to work full time - 36 percent of African American workers, 43 percent of Latino workers and around 25 percent of white workers were unable to raise themselves and their families above the poverty threshold.

Other community groups participating in the picnic included Central Florida Jobs With Justice, YAYA (Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farmworker Ministry), the Farmworker Association of Florida, Mi Familia Vota, the Student-Labor Action Project at the University of Central Florida, LCLAA (The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement) and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.

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Co-authored by Diana Arguello of LCLAA National

When my parents took a look around them, they knew there was no future for their children there. Having grown up in large families in the rural area of an impoverished country, my parents were used to hardship and working hard for an opportunity to move up. Unfortunately, the obstacles were too great and they weren’t able to get far in their education: my mother dropping out after third grade despite being an astute and interested student and my father unable to complete his college education—both because of a lack of money. Wanting a better future for their children they worked tirelessly for years babysitting, landscaping, and housecleaning, all the while raising two children and emphasizing the importance of education as the great equalizer.

Their hard work paid off and to everyone’s delight, my brother and I both earned a bachelor’s degree at our respective colleges. As I graduated, I took in the moment realizing that my 16 years of hard work coupled with countless time and effort from my parents had culminated in this amazing moment: we were living the American Dream.

In time, the post-graduation glow quickly faded and slowly this American Dream is feeling unreachable. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have access to scholarships or parents who can afford to pay for our education. Most of us have to rely on loans to pay for school hoping that after we graduate we will get a job, start a successful career and eventually start paying off our debt.  Finding a stable job is a daunting venture right now and due to the high rates of unemployment, we college graduates find ourselves in a very difficult situation when money is scarce and student loan bills are on the verge of becoming delinquent. These are the trials of the modern day post-secondary school student who must balance the demands of higher education with a series of rarely discussed obstacles.

One such obstacle is the immense cost of tuition. College students have to find the means to pay for exorbitantly high tuition rates – that in the last 30 years have increased by 1,120 percent, by taking on loans which initially appear manageable, but wind up being never-ending.  Student loans are essential for about 12 million students that require additional financial support to pursue their academic goals.

This year more so than any other year, commencement not only signifies the culmination of a college degree, but it also marks the beginning of an arduous and uncertain future. Recent graduates will begin navigating the complicated process of finding a job in a difficult market with the threat of doubling federal student loans looming. This process has become even more complicated since the bills  that could have stopped the doubling of student loan interest rates by the July 1st deadline were struck down by the Senate on June 6th. Recent graduates are now facing a high unemployment rate and likely rising interest rates that make the execution of loan payments difficult. The situation is further exacerbated by the rising cost of tuition.

Sixty percent of all students have to take out loans to cover tuition and fees, myself included. In 2010, 19 percent of American households had student loans, and as the need for money increases, the total amount of student outstanding loan debt has skyrocketed reaching close to 1 trillion dollars. As students face the consequences of acquiring an educational loan, they struggle to make payments due to the difficulty of finding a job. Without a job with a living salary to accommodate present needs with enough left over to save to repay loans, graduates cannot keep up with the payments leading to an increase of 13.4 percent in the 3-year national cohort default rate as reported by the U.S. Department of Education. It is remarkable how doubling student loan interest will not only affect student borrowers’ finances but also American society as a whole.

Student debt burdens future consumers by preventing them from actively participating in the economy. Students with more debt are unlikely to purchase a car or a home, thus jeopardizing the market.  Unfortunately, many graduate students find themselves trapped with no job and with rising debt, they have few options including returning home after graduation. Individuals burdened with student debt commonly decide to live with their parents, thus the origin of the term “Boomerang Generation”. While students are usually comprised of young people in their twenties, student loan debt is not limited to only young people.

Americans ages 60 and above are still paying back their school debt, which adds up to about $36 billion. Student debt has surpassed both car and credit card debt in recent years. Two out of five borrowers have become delinquent at some point after they have initiated the loan repayment process. As a result of the student debt crisis, The Health Care and Reconciliation Act was passed in 2010, and the following year, President Obama established an executive order to create some temporary relief for student loan debtors. Such legislative action is helpful, but temporary and hardly addresses rising unemployment and tuition rates.

                On July 1st, 2013, interest rates on federal subsidized Stafford student loans, which are provided to low- and middle-income students, are scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This higher interest rate will increase the burden of the already afflicted student loan debtors, and will jeopardize the individuals who want to pursue their post-secondary education. The President and Congressional Republicans proposed different plans to prevent the increase on federal student loans, though they both start the same way: tying rates on student loans to the interest on a 10-year Treasury note. That rate is expected to be about 2.5 percent next year, climbing to just over 5 percent in 2018.

It is highly important that the President and Congress work together to find a long-term solution that will guarantee students viable and workable pay rates that will prevent them from ending up in unmanageable debt. In order to solve this problem, it is necessary to create a solid long-term strategy that would alleviate the situation of current student loan debtors while also addressing the dilemma of doubling interest rates. Solving this important issue is critical to the growth of our nation and reaffirming the value of education in American society.

 

Pioneering American educator Horace Mann said it best: “beyond all other devices of human origin, [education] is a great equalizer of the conditions of men -- the balance wheel of the social machinery". My parents inculcated in me the importance of education because they understand what Horace understood--education changes the dynamics of society and an educated person can change the world around them. Without education, we are trapped. Higher education frees us by providing an opportunity to absorb knowledge, think critically, and construct the world us. As the cost of education becomes higher, we are denying an important tool to future generations while simultaneously diminishing the full potential of graduates who are saddled with debt. In order to truly be accessible, high quality education must be made available within the means of those aspiring to achieve it. This increase in Stafford Loan Rates is a bad policy for the future of our nation.

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