Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

$450K Cap Proposed on Hospital CEO Salaries in California
By Michelle Leming, June 14, 2016, NPQ
One of America’s largest labor unions is taking a third attempt at capping hospital CEO salaries. The latest proposal by Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-United Healthcare Workers West would give authority to the California attorney general’s office to oversee a salary ceiling equal to the compensation of the President of the United States, or $450,000 a year. However, unlike the U.S. president’s total package, which also includes housing, a personal chef, transportation, and so on, the proposed compensation cap for California hospital CEO’s is all-inclusive. According to a letter from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) to California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, the regulation would apply to the state’s private for-profit and nonprofit hospitals, as well as district hospitals. The AG’s office would have the authority to pull nonprofit status and/or enforce civil penalties up to $200,000 on hospitals found to be out of compliance. (read article)

California maintenance union pact costliest since at least 2005

By Jon Ortiz, June 14, 2016, Sacramento Bee
A tentative labor contract for California’s state craft and maintenance workers hikes costs to taxpayers more than any deal bargained by the union in at least 11 years, according to a new report by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. The pact with International Union of Operating Engineers Bargaining Unit 12, adds a total $473 million over four years to the state’s pay and benefits costs, the analyst’s office estimates. The figure includes increased pension, health care and other costs for the roughly 11,000 employees in Bargaining Unit 12 from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2019. In sum, the analyst wrote, “this agreement would increase annual state costs more than any of the Unit 12 agreements ratified since at least 2005 (when the Government Code was changed to require our review of labor agreements).” (read article)

U.S. Labor Secretary alleges Metro union elections were a fraud, demands new vote
By Faiz Siddiqui, June 14, 2016, The Washington Post
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez is demanding the union representing Metro workers conduct new officer elections, alleging candidates were improperly steered away and the integrity of the December vote was compromised, according to documents filed in federal court Monday. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents more than 12,000 Metro workers, is named as the defendant in the civil suit, which raises questions about the validity of the union elections conducted Dec. 2. In the suit, Perez alleges that the union did not uniformly apply its qualification requirements to all candidates, says members who were ineligible to vote were permitted to do so, and that ballots of eligible members were not counted. The suit also alleges that the union violated its own bylaws by failing to give members proper notice of the elections; notifications were not mailed to their home addresses at least 15 days in advance of the vote, the suit says. (read article)

Labor Department Seeks to Protect Regulation From Red State Onslaught
By Sam Sacks, June 14, 2016, Truth-Out
The Obama administration is asking a federal judge to throw out a challenge brought by ten states against a new labor regulation that will force union busters out of the shadows. Finalized in April by the Department of Labor, the “Persuader Rule” is under assault in federal court, where several Republican-led states, are seeking an injunction against it. According to a brief filed last week, the department argued that the state interveners claims should be rejected, and the regulation preserved. “The public interest would be undermined if the Court were to enjoin a rule that seeks to bring greater transparency to attempts to influence employees’ decisions about whether to organize and bargain collectively,” the filing reads. The persuader rule clarified a portion of the 1959 Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), which required businesses to inform the public whenever they sought the help of an outside firm to squash an organizing drive. (read article)

Labor agreement divides Kern oil fields
By John Cox, June 11, 2016, The Bakersfield Californian
A senior executive with one of Kern County’s largest oil producers sat on stage in front of hundreds of his peers, chatting with a prominent congressman, when someone from the audience put him on the spot. Why, he was asked at last fall’s West Kern Petroleum Summit, did his employer, California Resources Corp., sign an exclusive labor agreement with union organizations? CRC Executive Vice President Bob Barnes fidgeted nervously and stumbled over his words as he explained the pact was intended to secure not only a quality workforce but also the “political power” labor unions bring to the table. Although the agreement was unremarkable in some ways — it wasn’t unheard of in Kern’s oil industry, where union members have long worked alongside non-union laborers — Barnes’ visible discomfort that day was an indication of how controversial the agreement had become. Managers at some local oil service companies have complained privately that the arrangement rolled out last year unfairly discriminates against non-union contractors and workers. (read article)

Labor Supporters Want Sanders to Stay in Race, for Now
By Chris Opfer & Michael Rose, June 10, 2016, Bloomberg BNA
Hillary Clinton may have wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination and secured an endorsement from the current commander-in-chief, but Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters in the labor community aren’t ready for him to give up his White House bid just yet. The run of Sanders (I-Vt.) for the Democratic nomination has divided labor groups and helped push Clinton on issues critical to unions, such as trade policy, minimum wage and banking and investment reform. Some of Sanders’s labor supporters told Bloomberg BNA they’d like to see him ride that momentum to the Democratic convention to help shape the party’s platform. (read article)

MBTA union not happy with changes to attendance policy
By Adamn Vacarro, June 9, 2016, Boston.com
The MBTA’s largest labor union is challenging changes to the agency’s attendance policy that the T says have helped cut down on absenteeism and overtime spending this year. The Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589, which represents more than 4,000 T employees, filed a grievance with the T’s labor relations office in December, before the new rules took hold in January. The union put the grievance on hold to negotiate with management over the issues, but decided to advance it late last week. The grievance pointed to several changes the union took issue with. Under the new policy, employees must use FMLA concurrently with their paid leave. So if an employee is granted unpaid leave under the federal act, they must use their paid vacation and sick days while on leave. In the past, employees qualified for FMLA could use it separately from their paid time off, keeping sick and vacation days in the bank. (read article)

U.S. appeals court upholds ‘quickie’ union election rules
By Daniel Wiessner, June 10, 2016, Reuters
A U.S. appeals court on Friday dismissed a bid by construction trade groups to block controversial Obama administration rules designed to speed up union elections, saying the National Labor Relations Board had broad authority to implement them. The Texas-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by Associated Builders and Contractors Inc and a Texas chapter that the so-called “quickie” election rules violated employers’ free speech rights and would lead to union harassment of workers. “The board … conducted an exhaustive and lengthy review of the issues, evidence and testimony, responded to contrary arguments, and offered factual and legal support for its final conclusions,” Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement wrote. The rules, which took effect in April 2015, have shortened the period between a union filing a petition to represent workers and an election, from the previous median of 38 days to as little as two weeks. Under the rules, employers cannot bring legal challenges to the way union campaigns are conducted until after an election and are required to share workers’ names and contact details with unions once they file election petitions. (read article)

Labor contract talks between state government and its largest union progressing, officials say
By Jan Murphy, June 9, 2016, Pennlive.com
Progress continues to be made in contract talks with the largest state government employee union, one of 14 labor unions representing commonwealth workers with pacts expiring at the end of the month, union and commonwealth officials say. Neither Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration or American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13 officials would disclose details about the talks or elaborate much beyond that general characterization of their status. However, AFSCME 13’s executive director Dave Fillman expressed optimism that a deal can be reached by June 30. Moreover, he said the union isn’t alone in wanting to see that happen. “The commonwealth is anxious also to get it done,” Fillman said. (read article)

Stuck Between Clinton And Trump: Rust Belt Union Voters Face A Tough Choice

By Don Gonyea, June 9, 2016, NPR
The battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the White House is likely to center on the Rust Belt — the industrial Midwest where trade is a big issue for many voters and where the presumptive Republican nominee is predicting he will be able to cut into the Democratic Party’s traditional dominance among members of labor unions. A key part of Trump’s pitch on the campaign trail focuses on the trade deals that he says have hurt the U.S., and with the general election contest now taking center stage, that part of his message is resonating with a lot of union workers — even longtime Democrats. At the regular monthly meeting of Local 1123, union officials were talking about the need to mobilize on behalf of candidates who support labor’s agenda on trade, the right to organize and pushing for an increase in the minimum wage nationally. (read article)

Uber Disrupts Organized Labor and a Union may get More Dues Paying Members
By F. Vincent Vernuccio, June 8, 2016, Huffington Post
While disrupting the car-for-hire industry with its ride-sharing app, Uber created a new level of job flexibility and choice for the people who drive for them, allowing drivers to set their own hours and essentially be their own bosses. And now, Uber is doing something similar to the standard union model. In early May, Uber announced it had reached a deal with the International Association of Machinists District 15 to form the Independent Drivers Guild for New York City’s 35,000 Uber drivers. What makes the Guild interesting is, although organized by a large labor union, it won’t look much like a typical union. (read article)

 

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