Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Millionaires Targeted in L.A. Tax Proposal to Ease Homelessness
By James Nash, May 17, 2016, Bloomberg
Los Angeles County leaders are turning to millionaires to pay for solutions to its growing homeless problem, part of a trend of state and local governments looking to raise income taxes on the highest wages. Supervisors in the county of 10 million, the most populous in the U.S., voted 3-2 Tuesday to ask the California Legislature to permit local governments to levy their own income taxes. The county wants to put the idea to a popular vote in November. California’s statewide rate of 13.3 percent on incomes of more than $1 million already is the nation’s highest. Los Angeles County, which is eyeing a local 0.5 percent levy on incomes greater than $1 million, joins Massachusetts and Maine in considering tax increases on the wealthy. (read article)

Tax measure could cause financial jolt to California smokers
By Elliot Spagat, May 17, 2016, Albany Times Union
A campaign to raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 a pack said Monday it has collected enough signatures to qualify the proposal for the Nov. 8 ballot and raise the prospect of a pocketbook jolt for smokers in the nation’s most populous state. Backers of the measure delivered their first box of petition signatures to the San Diego County registrar of voters. They said a million signatures have been gathered and will be delivered to counties throughout the state. A total of 585,407 signatures of registered voters must be verified for the measure to appear on the November ballot. The American Vaping Association said it would work to defeat the measure but was undecided about how much it would spend on the effort. (read article)

San Diego reaches three more labor deals

By David Garrick, May 16, 2016, San Diego Union Tribune
San Diego has reached tentative labor deals with three city employee unions that abide by the Proposition B pension reform measure that voters approved in 2012. The pacts, which the City Council is scheduled to approve next month, follow a pattern San Diego set last year in labor deals with police officers and the Municipal Employees Association, which represents 4,000 mostly blue-collar workers.The employees wouldn’t receive any pay raises until 2019 because of Proposition B, but they would instead get compensation increases before then from higher health care contributions, parental leave and other benefits.The unions agreeing to the deals represent lifeguards, skilled trade workers and deputy city attorneys. (read article)

Wage regulation impacts farmers
By Don Curlee, May 15, 2016, Visalia-Times Delta
Farmers and other agricultural enterprises in California will likely be as negatively impacted as any industry in the state if new minimum wage regulations strike next year. With 500,000 or more farm workers employed in the state’s gigantic agricultural complex you’d expect the increase by imposed state wage control to be a boon and a boost. However, many farmers and farm employers view it as an impending disaster. The grass roots cause for their pessimistic view is that the pay demand flies in the face of basic economic principles, no matter how much they, state legislators, bureaucrats or labor union leaders might want workers to take home more money. (read article)

Labor Secretary Gets Verizon and Unions Back Together
By Aaron Pressman, May 16. 2016, Fortune
Weekend meeting in D.C. reopens bargaining talks in monthlong strike. Representatives of Verizon Communications and two striking unions will return to the bargaining table this week after meeting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on Sunday. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America, and Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers met with Perez in Washington to discuss the conflict that has kept almost 40,000 workers off the job for more than a month. Perez’s effort to resolve the biggest U.S. labor action in five years came as both sides appeared to be digging in and negotiations were stalled. A similar walkout in 2011 ended after only two weeks. (read article)

Labor unions launch $50 million super PAC
By Fredreka Schouten, May 12, 2016, USA Today
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and four labor groups are launching a new super PAC to elect Democrats to the White House and Congress this year. The new group, For Our Future PAC, has a short-term goal of raising $50 million and plans to “mobilize working families” in key battleground states, according to a news release. Organizers say the group will remain active beyond November’s election and collaborate with other liberal organizations in the years ahead. The AFL-CIO, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have joined together with Steyer’s NextGen Climate organization to form the super PAC. (read article)

Missouri Republicans fail to override veto of union legislation
By Jason Hancock, May 13, 2016, Kansas City Star
When she woke up Thursday morning, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal didn’t know how she would vote on one of the most high-profile bills of the 2016 legislative session. The University City Democrat joined 22 Republicans in March to vote in favor of legislation enacting new restrictions on public employee unions. Not long after that Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the bill. Thursday night Chappelle-Nadal found herself the swing vote that would decide whether or not the governor’s veto would stand or fall. And for three hours, as Democrats stalled the bill with a filibuster, no one in the Capitol — not the media, her Republcian colleagues or even her fellow Democrats — had any idea what Chappelle-Nadal intended to do. (read article)

BART Board Approves 5-Year Union Labor Pact
By NORCAL PATCH, May 12, 2016, Patch.com
A five-year labor contract with BART’s major unions was approved Thursday, a year before the current contract expires. A five-year labor contract with BART’s major unions was approved Thursday, a year before the current contract expires, in an effort to avoid another round of acrimonious negotiations at a time when BART officials are looking to rebuild the system infrastructure and planning to ask voters to approve a $3.5 billion bond. BART made the surprising announcement last month that it had reached tentative agreements with its biggest labor unions, granting its 3,300 workers a 10.5 percent raise over the next five years. (read article)

Paxton joins challenge against Department of Labor’s Persuader Rule
By Denise Marquez, May 11, 2016, Lubbock Online
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined representatives from the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce to support a lawsuit filed Tuesday challenging a new U.S. Department of Labor rule on union organizing. Chamber officials hosted a news conference Tuesday afternoon where Paxton said the state of Texas, along with nine other states, filed a request with the federal court challenging changes to a U.S. Department of Labor regulation known as the Persuader Rule. The Department of Labor’s final Persuader Advice Exemption Rule eliminates an exception employers have used since the 1950s when seeking advice on how to respond to union organizing drives among workers. The government requires employers to disclose the hiring of outside consultants who directly speak to workers to discourage organizing a union. (read article)

NYCLU sues NY seeking labor protections for farmworkers
By Matthew Hamilton, May 10, 2016, Albany Times
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the exclusion of farmworkers from labor law allowing workers to organize. The complaint, filed on behalf of former North Country dairy worker Crispin Hernandez, alleges the man was fired last September from Marks Farms in Lowville, Lewis County, after he and other workers contacted the Workers’ Center of Central New York, also a plaintiff, for assistance in organizing the dairy farm’s employees. The suit alleges that Hernandez and fellow employee Saul Pinto were intimidated by the farm manager and were forced out of the rooms they rented from the farm within four days of their termination. The complaint does not name Marks Farms as a defendant. The lawsuit is rooted in labor protections awarded in the 1930s at both the federal and state levels. (read article)

Ag at Large: Will California minimum wage increase hurt farmers?
By Don Curlee, May 10, 2016, Western Farm Press
Farmers and other agricultural enterprises in California will likely be as negatively impacted as any industry in the state if new minimum wage regulations strike next year. With 500,000 or more farm workers employed in the state’s gigantic agricultural complex, you’d expect the increase by imposed state wage control to be a boon and a boost. However, many farmers and farm employers view it as an impending disaster. The grass roots cause for their pessimistic view is that the pay demand flies in the face of basic economic principles; no matter how much they, state legislators, bureaucrats or labor union leaders might want workers to take home more money. (read article)

World Labor Leaders Call For ‘Global New Deal’ To Combat Demagogues Like Trump
By Daniel Marans, May 10, 2016, Huffington Post
Dozens of senior European labor union officials gathered this week at the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. federation of labor unions, to trade ideas for fighting a xenophobic far right ascendant on both sides of the Atlantic. The conference on Monday and Tuesday, jointly organized by the AFL-CIO, Working America, the federation’s outreach arm to non-union workers, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a social democratic foundation funded by the German government, illustrates the extent to which progressive movements across the developed world have begun to view the far right as a common, and urgent, threat. (read article)

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