Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

California Farmworker Overtime Changes Cheered By Union
By Drew Bollea, August 29, 2016, CBS Sacramento
Statewide rules regarding farmworkers’ overtime pay passed in the legislature on Monday. Assembly Bill 1066 reshapes the pay structure for farm laborers. While many farmworkers are celebrating a victory, others, including politicians, farmers, and farmworkers aren’t so sure.  “We’re asking for equality eventually. It starts today,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). She presented AB1066. A similar version of the bill was defeated by two votes in June. This time, the bill passed 44-37 and includes a phasing in of the payment for smaller farms over several years. (read article)

As Union Membership Declines, Organized Labor Focuses on Nonunion Workers
By Mariam Baksh, August 30, 2016, The American Prospect
In an election season dominated by populist appeals, globalization and trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership have come under fire for offshoring the manufacturing jobs that helped create a healthy American middle class. But there has been less attention to another factor that has contributed to the increase in income inequality: The dramatic decline in union membership since the late 1970s. (read article)

Election Reveals Limits Of Hawaii’s Biggest Labor Union
By Nathan Eagle, August 30, 2016, Honolulu Civil Beat
The state’s largest labor union backed a slate of Democratic candidates heading into the Aug. 13 primary election, shelling out thousands of dollars in contributions and providing extra bodies to do campaign grunt work. The Hawaii Government Employees Association, which represents more than 42,000 state and county workers, endorsed the winner in most races. But a closer look at the results shows the union had far greater success keeping incumbents in power — which constituted the vast majority of the 74 endorsements it announced in June — than in its rare attempts to remove a Democrat from office or influence who should fill an empty seat. (read article)

Cleveland Metropolitan School District, teachers union reach tentative labor agreement to avert strike
By Scott Suttell, August 30, 2016, Crain’s Cleveland Business 
There’s labor peace, for now, for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. On Aug. 16, the union gave notice of its intention to strike starting the evening of Sept. 1. In a joint news release issued Tuesday morning, Aug. 30, the Cleveland Teachers Union and the school district announced they had reached a tentative agreement for a collective bargaining agreement. The agreement now will be sent to union members and the school board for ratification. (read article)

California Doubles Down On Green Economy, But Kicks Cap-And-Trade Down The Road
By Dean Kuipers, August 26, 2016, The Huffington Post
California doubled down on its green economy Wednesday as the legislature passed a pair of bills that set ambitious new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new goals are being hailed by environmentalists for providing the certainty needed to ramp up clean-tech investment. Governor Jerry Brown announced in a press conference that opponents of the new targets were “vanquished.” Indeed, there had hardly been a squeak from the oil industry or anyone else. (read article)

Chase Brexton union vote to be certified next week, unless health system objects

By Scott Dance, August 26, 2016, The Baltimore Sun
A vote by Chase Brexton Health Care workers to unionize will become official next week unless the clinic’s leaders raise concerns about the election before then, the National Labor Relations Board said Friday. The employees, expressing concern over what they said are long workdays, heavy patient loads and limited training opportunities, voted 87-9 Thursday to join the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union. Chase Brexton leaders opposed the unionization effort and sought to delay the election, accusing some of their managers of encouraging subordinates to vote in favor of joining the union. The labor board rejected a motion that could have blocked the vote, a spokeswoman said. (read article)

Labor Day signals need for labor reform
By Richard Berman, August 25, 2016, The Detroit News
On Labor Day, millions of Americans will celebrate the contributions of working men and women. Now a grand occasion for backyard barbecues, the holiday was dreamed up in the late 19th century by America’s labor movement to honor the “social and economic achievements of American workers.” But that same labor movement is now turning its back on employees. According to a recent Rasmussen poll of likely U.S. voters, only 20 percent of Americans believe that labor leaders “do a good job representing union members.” Almost 60 percent of voters also claim that most union bosses are “out of touch” with most of their members. (read article)

Big Labor Tries To Eliminate Right-To-Work By Lawsuit
By George Leef, August 25, 2016, Forbes
If the judge is on your side, you can win a case despite pathetic arguments. So if the cost of losing is near zero and the possible gain from winning is huge, why not launch a suit and see what happens? That’s the thinking behind a case challenging Idaho’s Right to Work (RTW) statute on the grounds that the state is taking property that belongs to labor unions when it allows workers to keep their jobs even if they don’t pay the dues demanded by the union. The theory of the suit is that Idaho’s law (and, logically, all other state RTW laws) is unconstitutional because it violates the Fifth Amendment’s provision that private property cannot be taken for public use unless just compensation is paid. (read article)

Labor Dept. issues new pro-union rule for contractors
By Sean Higgins, August 24, 2016, Washington Examiner
The Labor Department finalized a new rule Wednesday requiring all federal contractors to disclose any past violations of labor law when bidding for a project. In effect, any company that has had run-ins with unions or labor law enforcement agencies will find themselves at the back of the list. The rule is the latest pro-union regulation issued by the Obama administration, which has aggressively sought to use new federal rules to aid its union allies. (read article)

How construction unions helped kill Gov. Brown’s plan to fight the housing crisis
By Roland Li, August 23, 2016, San Francisco Business Times
It was the boldest California housing policy proposal in years: Allow any residential project that complies with local zoning and sets aside as few as five percent of its units as affordable to be built “as of right,” removing review from local municipalities. The idea was to fast-track approvals and reduce the cost of building as the state struggles with a crushing housing crisis. But after three months of debate and widespread opposition, the proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown, meant to boost the state’s housing production in the face of record-high housing prices, appears to be dead. (read article)

In long-awaited decision, labor board says graduate students can unionize at private universities
By Andrew Joseph, August 23, 2016, STAT News
Private universities will need to recognize graduate students who conduct research and help teach classes as employees and therefore accept the unions that they form, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday. In a 3-1 decision, the board ruled that undergraduate and graduate student assistants and research assistants are statutory employees and are therefore covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The decision opens the door for the students and research assistants at private universities to band together to negotiate issues like pay, benefits, workload, and class size. (read article)

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