Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Farmworkers win court battle over access to California labor board’s proceedings
By Geoffrey Mohan, May 10, 2016, Los Angeles Times
A District Court of Appeal panel has revived a constitutional case involving public access to contract mediation proceedings held by the state’s farm labor watchdog. A farmworker and business owner now can air their case against the Agricultural Labor Relations Board in a Fresno County Superior Court, which had refused to hear it because a state law limited its jurisdiction, the Fresno-based panel ruled Monday. That limit, part of a 2002 law governing mandatory mediation of collective bargaining agreements, is unconstitutional, the panel held. The dispute arose from a prolonged struggle between workers at Gerawan Farming, in the eastern San Joaquin Valley, and the United Farm Workers union, which had been seeking a collective bargaining agreement covering about 3,000 fruit pickers — even as those workers had begun a campaign to oust the union. (read article)

Uber just agreed to let a labor union represent its drivers in New York
By Johana Bhuiyan, May 10, 2016, Recode
Uber has struck a five-year labor agreement with the New York arm of the International Association of Machinists that allows the union to represent the company’s more than 35,000 drivers in the city. Under the agreement, the IAM has developed a separate affiliate group called the Independent Drivers Guild  through which drivers can meet with Uber’s management on a “regular basis” and appeal deactivations. Uber’s agreement with IAM is practically a carbon copy of the terms of a settlement the company agreed to forge in order to put a pair of misclassification lawsuits to rest in California and Massachusetts. (read article)

New York sued over anti-farm union law, refuses to defend it
By Marcus E. Howard, May 10, 2016, Reuters
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday he would not defend a state law that excludes farmworkers from the right to unionize, hours after the state was sued by a dairy worker who claimed he had been fired for meeting with labor organizers. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of Crispin Hernandez, who said he lost his job in September at Mark Farms, a large dairy farm in upstate New York where he worked for three years. The other plaintiffs were employee rights groups Worker Justice Center of New York and Workers’ Center of Central New York. The lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany against Cuomo and the state of New York seeks to provide farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation, court documents showed. (read article)

W.Va. Labor Unions Will Sue Over Right-to-Work Law
By Ashton Marra, May 9, 2016, West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Several labor unions say they intend to sue West Virginia over a recently enacted Right-to-Work law. Lawmakers approved the bill in February after Governor Tomblin vetoed it. Senate Bill 1 took effect last week. The bill makes it illegal for unions to require nonmembers to pay union dues or fees. Unions argue the fees cover the cost of contract negotiations that these nonunion members benefit from, but several members of the Republican-led Legislature argued the measure would help create jobs. The state’s largest labor union, the AFL-CIO, and several other labor organizations, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Mine Workers of America, notified the Attorney General’s office by letter Monday that they intend to sue the state over the law. (read article)

Funding Ideology, Not Research, at University of California ‘Labor Institutes’
By Steven Greenhut, May 6, 2016, Reason.com
One of the ongoing stains on the integrity of the University of California system is its publicly funded labor institutes. They are union-controlled “think tanks” that are about engaging in left-wing political activism rather than balanced thinking. They churn out one-sided studies that provide fodder for union political objectives. Their most recent efforts gave cover to California’s decision to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Universities are rightly home to varying ideologies and research. But it’s wrong to publicly fund a think tank that engages in bald-faced advocacy for one particular group. Union leader Muir found it “disturbing” that Assemblyman Matt Harper (R-Huntington Beach) introduced Assembly Bill 2302 that merely urged the UC regents to “refrain” from forming such a center at Irvine. (read article)

Union files unfair labor charge against state over overtime ban
By Tina Sfondeles, May 6, 2016, Chicago Sun-Times
The union representing 24,000 home health care workers has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the state for eliminating overtime rules — dubbing it a violation of federal policy and a “bait and switch” that hurts thousands of seniors and people with disabilities. On May 1, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration eliminated overtime work at time-and-a-half pay for home health care workers. Last week, Rauner called abuse of overtime “a big problem.” In the midst of stalled contract talks with the union, Rauner has said his administration isn’t trying to drive down wages. He called those claims “misinformation.” (read article)

NLRB General Counsel Seeks More Control Over Labor Law
By Bill McMorris, May 6, 2016, Washington Free Beacon
Former union attorney Richard Griffin is attempting to centralize his control over the administration of federal labor law, a move critics say will lead to increased handouts to unions. Griffin, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, sent a memo to the agency’s regional directors in March telling them to cede discretion over numerous areas of labor law to the Washington, D.C., office. Griffin instructed the regional directors to refer union withdrawal elections, at-will employer disputes that affect companies such as Uber, and Beck cases in which employees attempt to stop funding union politics, among other controversial decisions to the general counsel’s office. (read article)

California unions crush bid to open their books
By William La Jeunesse, May 5, 2016, Fox News
California’s public employee unions used their muscle this week to fight back a legislative bid to open their books, killing in committee a bill that would force them to post online how dues are spent — and a second bill requiring a union vote every two years. “These members want to belong to a union. They want to be represented by a union. They just want to know where their money’s at,” said bill sponsor Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, a Republican. The two bills went down Wednesday on a party-line vote, after dozens of union members came out against the legislation. “The whole issue is not so much about these bills, but it’s about right-wing billionaires fighting for their interest and fighting to stymie the rights of the union,” testified Theresa Rutherford, of SEIU local 1021.The fight, though, actually began with an internal complaint from a union member, five years ago. (read article)

2 Big Labor Unions Share Efforts to Gain Power and Scale
By Steve Greenhouse & Noam Scheiber, May 5, 2016, New York Times
The leaders of two of the nation’s biggest, most powerful labor unions — the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — are completing a plan that calls for unusually close cooperation in political campaigning, organizing and bargaining in states and cities across the United States. The effort begins a process that could lead to a merger of the two organizations, an outcome that would create the nation’s largest labor union, with some 3.6 million members. (read article)

California lawmakers kill bills pushed by dissident union members
By Jeremy B. White, May 4, 2016, Sacramento Bee
Dissident public union members left the Capitol unhappy on Wednesday after lawmakers rejected legislation to crack open their unions’ books. Both that bill and one allowing periodic votes on union representation died in committee, thwarting the effort to illuminate organized labor’s finances and illustrating the steep odds for an effort that has openly defied union leaders. For years, a DMV employee and SEIU Local 1000 member named Mariam Noujaim has waged a legal battle to see how her union spends the more than $60 million drawn from member dues and representation fees. Noujaim and other disaffected SEIU 1000 members joined a press conference backing Assembly Bill 2753, which would require public employee unions to post itemized budgets online and to respond to members’ written requests for more information. (read article)

How Labor Unions Defend Causes that Harm Workers
By Vanessa Vallejo, May 3, 2016, PanAm
Labor Day is celebrated on May 1 throughout different parts of the world, and throughout those different parts of the world, trade unionists march in demand for better working conditions while denouncing the past and present abuses against them. It turns out the union movement’s best-known arguments are extremely deceptive, and hurt the lower class. Many trade unionists who support such arguments are not aware of the terrible damage caused by their actions. Some speeches made by them seem so noble that it is normally very difficult to foresee the implications of their suggestions. It could be said that the union leaders’ main struggle refers to minimum wage. Many might say this is a very important fight, and that earning at least a minimum salary should be a guarantee to ensure everyone lives comfortably. Except that imposing a minimum wage actually pushes the poor into unemployment. (read article)

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