Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Pot shop vote in LA?
By Debbie L. Sklar, September 20, 2016, MyNewsLa.com
Will you get to vote to keep and permit pot shops in Los Angeles?
Proponents of a measure to repeal Proposition D, a city ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, say they have turned in more than 100,000 signatures to the City Clerk’s office in an effort to qualify for the March ballot. The measure calls for creating a permitting process that would replace the ban. It was put forward by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, a labor union, and the UCBA Trade Association, which is consists of dispensaries that were given immunity to continue operating under Proposition D despite the ban. The City Clerk’s office still needs to verify whether the petitions meet the 61,487 minimum threshold for valid signatures. The proponents are aiming to put the measure on the March 2017 ballot. If the signatures are deemed sufficient, the City Council also has the option to adopt the ordinance language as-is or call a special election. (read article)

Chicago Teachers Union Questions Governor’s Appointment
By Sarah Karp, September 20, 2016, WBEZ
The Chicago Teachers Union claims the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board was further compromised Friday when Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a former attorney for Chicago Public Schools. With Lara Shayne’s appointment, three of the five members have been appointed by Rauner, who is known for his anti-union views and dislike of the Chicago Teachers Union. Until just last week, Shayne served as senior manager of labor relations for CPS. CTU attorney Robert Bloch said Shayne occasionally participated in negotiations with the union over the contract dispute. Now, as a member of the board, Shayne will be asked to decide disputes between school districts and unions, including disagreements between CPS and the CTU. (read article)

The Pension Gap
By Jacquelin Sullivan, September 18, 2016, Los Angeles Times
With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation that gave prison guards, park rangers, Cal State professors and other state employees the kind of retirement security normally reserved for the wealthy. More than 200,000 civil servants became eligible to retire at 55 — and in many cases collect more than half their highest salary for life. California Highway Patrol officers could retire at 50 and receive as much as 90% of their peak pay for as long as they lived. They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come. (read article)

Graduate-Student Unions Mean Good News for Professors, Too
Alex Gourevitch and Suresh Naidu, September 18, 2016, Chronicle
The National Labor Relations Board’s recent decision that graduate students are employees who have a right to unionize has produced a predictable bout of hand-wringing among university administrators. Elite institutions, like Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and Princeton University, have issued warnings that unions suppress the individuality of graduate students under the weight of “collectivist” solutions. (read article)

Detroit teachers ratify new union contract
By Anne Zaniweski, September 16, 2016, Detroit Free Press
Detroit teachers have ratified a new contract. Under the deal, teachers will see pay increases, mostly in the form of bonuses; an added prep period for elementary school teachers, and the creation of a committee to address teachers’ health and safety concerns. About 60% of the votes cast were in favor of the deal, according to officials. The contract will be for six months, retroactive to July 1 and lasting through December. The new school board that takes office in January can maintain it through the end of the school year or renegotiate it. More than 2,900 teachers and paraprofessionals will be covered by it. (read article)

Report outlines how to make equity part of California’s low-carbon economy
By Jacqueline Sullivan, September 14, 2016, Phys.Org
Governor Jerry Brown’s signing last week of two landmark climate bills, SB 32 and AB 197, demonstrates the emergence of a powerful coalition of environmentalists, labor unions and grassroots “environmental justice” organizations that will be crucial to achieving the new emissions goals, as explained in a new report by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California.
The report, “Advancing Equity in California Climate Policy: A New Social Contract for Low-Carbon Transition,” identifies ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring that the low-income and working class in California do not bear the brunt of the costs and are included in the benefits of the state’s transition to a low-carbon economy. (read article)

Major Union Sits Out Ohio Senate Race
By Morgan Chalfant, September 14, 2016, Washington Free Beacon
A major labor union in Ohio is refraining from endorsing a candidate in the state’s contested Senate race, despite having previously backed Democrat and former Gov. Ted Strickland. The Ohio State Building and Construction Trade Council, which boasts 94,000 members, said Thursday that it would not endorse either Strickland or incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R.), the Dayton Daily. The revelation comes after several labor unions have broken with histories of endorsing Strickland and backed Portman instead. The decision was made by the organization’s 21-member executive board, which discussed the issue at a recent meeting in Columbus. (read article)

National Police Union Endorses Donald Trump
By Dave Jamieson, September 16, 2016, The Huffington Post
A labor union representing more than 250,000 police officers officially endorsed Donald Trump for president on Friday. The Fraternal Order of Police said its “member [had] spoken,” and that the Republican candidate had locked down the necessary two-thirds support from the union’s board. The union’s president, Chuck Canterbury, said in a statement that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hadn’t bothered seeking the union’s backing. (read article)

Local farmworkers will get expanded overtime pay
By Kaitlyn Bartley, September 14, 2016, Half Moon Bay Review
Jerry Brown signed a law granting state farmworkers overtime pay after eight hours of work per day or 40 hours per week instead of the current 10 per day or 60 per week. Assembly Bill 1066 removes exemptions for agricultural employees regarding meal break and specific wage requirements, bringing their state-mandated benefits in line with employees in many other industries. Agricultural workers currently receive some overtime pay under a state law from 2002, but AB 1066 will increase it to time-and-a-half pay for working more than eight hours in a day or 40 in a week, and it will double pay for those who work more than 12 hours a day. The bill will phase in the changes starting in 2019 through 2022, and allows the governor to temporarily suspend the pay increases for a year if he also suspends scheduled increases to the state’s minimum wage. (read article)

SEIU civil trial calls into question inner workings of labor union
By David Yates, September 14, 2016, SE TexasRecord
Earlier this month, a Harris County jury ordered Service Employees International Union to pay Professional Janitorial Services – Houston $5.3 million in damages, finding the Chicago-based labor union made false claims about the company’s business practices and treatment of employees. In the wave of news articles and press releases that followed the trial, questions were raised on the seemingly controversial methods SEIU employs to force companies to fall in line, calling into question the integrity of the organization’s leaders and past and current attorneys. (read article)

AZ Supreme Court OKs police pay for on-the-clock union work
By Peter Cheng, September 14, 2016, Cronkite News
The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that paying police officers while they did work for the police union does not violate the state constitution. The court’s split decision overturns two previous lower court rulings against the practice of so-called “release time” for Phoenix police officers. As part of the city’s agreement with the police union, Phoenix had for years allowed officers to do work for the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association – on the taxpayers’ dime. Over a two-year period, the union had negotiated release time provisions worth about $1.7 million, according to court documents. (read article)

California expands already historic farm overtime policy
By Alison Noon, September 13, 2016, San Diego Union Tribune
For the first time, farmworkers in California will soon be entitled to the same pay as other hourly workers after California’s governor signed an expansion of a labor policy. Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement came decades after labor leader Cesar Chavez and the thousands of farmworkers he organized pushed officials to recognize the union of agricultural laborers. The legislation will require that farm employers pay workers one and one-half times regular wages pay after eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, rather than the rate enacted in 1975 of 10 hours in one day or 60 hours in a week. (read article)

Construction unions gain in New York City
By Greg David, September 13, 2016, Crain’s New York Business
Construction union leaders are pushing hard for a requirement that all residential buildings built with the 421-a tax break be required to use union labor. Developers are resisting because using union labor in the city costs at least 30% more than nonunion and such projects will have to set aside at least 25% of the units at low rents, eroding profit margins. Yet, oddly, union leaders claim that their members worked on 65% of all residential buildings with more than 100 units and 80% of projects with more than 300 apartments. (read article)

Arizona court ruling OKs ‘release time’ for public employees’ union work
By Dustin Gardiner, September 13, 2016, The Arizona Republic
A five-year legal battle between the Phoenix police union and a conservative think tank ended Tuesday when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that public employees can be paid public money for time spent working on behalf of their union. The 3-2 decision found the city’s agreement with its police union for paid “release time” doesn’t violate a provision in the state Constitution barring public entities from making gifts or donations to benefit private individuals, associations or companies. (read article)

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