Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Faculty Union Approves Proposed CSU Contract
By City News Service, May 3, 2016, KPBS
Members of the California Faculty Association, including instructors at San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos, overwhelmingly approved a proposed contract with California State University that would give them 10.5 percent raises over three years, the union announced Tuesday. The proposal still needs to be approved by the CSU Board of Trustees, which will consider the issue at its May 24-25 meeting. Under the agreement, faculty would receive a 5 percent raise effective June 30, followed quickly by a 2 percent increase on July 1 and another 3.5 percent on July 1, 2017. Faculty eligible for a years-of-service increase would receive another 2.65 percent boost in year three of the agreement. (read article)

Bay Area janitors strike averted — union reaches agreement with contractors
By Bryce Druzin, May 3, 2016, Silicon Valley Business Journal
A threatened janitors strike that would have affected Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech companies has been averted following the approval of a labor agreement that covers 23 janitorial service contractors in the Bay Area. Northern California master agreement that covered 8,000 Bay Area janitors represented by SEIU-United Service Workers West expired on Saturday. Janitors were scheduled to vote Monday whether or not to authorize a strike, but on Sunday, union and contractor negotiators were able to come up with a proposed agreement. (read article)

Bill puts project labor agreements in crosshairs
By Jim Siegel, May 3, 2016, Columbus Dispatch
Another battle with labor unions is brewing in the Ohio Statehouse. A bill that would prohibit cities from imposing local hiring quotas on public projects now also includes a provision banning the state and local governments from requiring use of project labor agreements on state-funded construction. Continuing a debate that has gone on for two decades, the House State Government Committee voted along party lines for a project labor agreement provision that, supporters say, puts union and non-union contractors on equal footing when bidding on projects that include state funding. (read article)

Faculty union at Univ. of Illinois ends strike; contract vote May 5
By Michelle Zacarias, May 2, 2016, People’s World
After 19 months of negotiations, and a five day strike cut short, the faculty union at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign-called the Non Tenured Faculty Coalition (NTFC)– and the administration tentatively agreed on a contract Saturday evening. At one point, according to the union, the faculty was told that the university was “not interested in changing” the terms of their employment. In several cases the administration accused the union of launching an online smear campaign against Interim Chancellor Wilson and Interim Provost Feser to try to coerce negotiations. (read article)

Uber drivers in New York form labor union
By Reuters, May 2, 2016, Bangor Daily News
Uber drivers in New York state have formed an association to strengthen their hand in dealing with the ride-sharing service, labor leaders said Sunday, days after the company agreed to a $100 million settlement with drivers in two other states. The recent settlement with Uber Drivers in California and Massachusetts over expense claims also allowed them to form associations that can bring grievances to the attention of management. The step follows a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board that blocked the formation of a traditional union for Uber drivers. (read article)

NJ Transit Union Rejects Labor Deal That Averted Rail Strike
By Julio Cortez, April 30, 2016, The Wall Street Journal
Members of a union representing some NJ Transit rail workers have become the first group to not ratify a new contract with the agency. The New Jersey Transit Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen announced its decision in a statement posted Friday on its website. But a vote tally wasn’t disclosed. Union officials say they will return to the bargaining table with NJ Transit, though it isn’t clear when that will happen. NJ Transit declined to comment on the matter, saying it hadn’t yet received official word of the vote. (read article)

Labor Department to lower proposed overtime threshold
By Brian Mahoney & Marianne Levine, April 29, 2016, Politico
The Labor Department will lower the salary threshold in its forthcoming final rule to extend overtime coverage, Morning Shift has learned. The new threshold under consideration is $47,000, according to sources familiar with the Labor Department’s deliberations. The overtime salary threshold determines the level below which virtually all salaried employees qualify for time-and-a-half pay if they work more than 40 hours in any given week. The threshold was $50,440 in the rule as proposed in July. A $47,000 threshold would be almost exactly double the current threshold, which lies below the poverty line for a family of four. The final rule is expected in mid-May. (read article)

The Hypocrisy of Big Labor’s Politics
By Akash Chougule, April 28, 2016, The Blaze
One of the great ironies of the Obama presidency has been that while the president and his liberal allies rail incessantly against income inequality, income inequality has actually gotten worse over the past seven years. Unfortunately, today’s labor unions are a far cry from what they once were, and this departure is accentuated by the hypocrisy of union leadership. Rather than represent workers on the job site, these days it seems as though unions are more focused on electing progressive politicians, criticizing employers, and advocating against public policies that would actually benefit and empower working families. At the same time, union bosses are living the life of “the one percent” while simultaneously railing against them and claiming to fight for average Americans. (read article)

Former ABA Leader Takes Aim at ‘Persuader’ Rule in House Hearing
By C. Ryan Barber, April 27, 2016, National Law Journal
In 2011, when he was president of the American Bar Association, Bill Robinson III sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor expressing “serious concerns” that a proposal to require more disclosure of companies’ union-busting activities would compromise attorney-client confidentiality. The so-called “persuader” rule, he said, will effectively “wipe out the statutory advice exemption” that previously shielded companies and attorneys from disclosing their arrangements for countering union campaigns. With the “persuader” rule, the Labor Department removed a bright-line exemption that generally required disclosure only when a lawyer or labor consultant communicated directly with employees to dissuade them from unionizing. (read article)

Labor Board Finds CTU’s April 1 Strike Likely Illegal
By Jeffrey Schwab, April 27, 2016, Jeffrey Schwab
On April 21, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, or IELRB, found that the Chicago Teachers Union’s, or CTU’s, one-day strike on April 1 was likely illegal, and that, accordingly, Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, should be allowed to pursue a court order to prevent CTU from holding future illegal strikes. “Contrary to the union’s argument, I don’t think that there’s a serious legal issue about the illegality of the strike,” IELRB Chair Andrea Waintroob said. If the board ultimately finds against the union, it could also require CTU to reimburse CPS (and taxpayers) for the cost of the strike. (read article)

South Bay teacher-district impasse heats up
By Christine Huard, April 27, 2016, The San Diego Union Tribune
With an impasse declared in January, labor negotiations in the South Bay Union School District are now being overseen by a state mediator whose job is to broker a settlement. Teachers, however, say their boss is not fit to lead the South County district. A no-confidence vote was approved early this month by educators upset with how Superintendent Katie McNamara is running the district. According to the Southwest Teachers Association, 84 percent of its membership took part in the no-confidence vote, with almost all casting votes in favor. Voting spanned from April 8 to 11. McNamara said she was disappointed with the vote of no confidence, and called it a common strategy teachers unions use when negotiations are not progressing. (read article)

US Attorney must decide how to handle Boston Mayor’s alleged involvement in union tactics
By Amanda Hoover, April 27, 2016, Boston.com
Federal prosecutors have opened a probe into union officials, investigating reports that some labor leaders threatened developers and businesses which hired nonunion workers. Walsh was not an immediate focus of the investigation, but came to prosecutors’ attention after they recovered a recording in which he allegedly told a development company it should hire union workers for a Somerville-based project if it wanted to easily secure a permit for a Boston high-rise. The recording was from 2012, when Walsh served as a prominent labor union leader. (read article)

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