Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Diablo Canyon Settlement May Hinge on Cost Allocation
By Patrick Ferguson, July 19, 2016, JD Supra
On June 21, 2016, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) announced a plan to close down the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant, the 2.3 gigawatt Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo, by 2026. Diablo Canyon currently produces about 9% of the electricity California uses and supplies the electric needs of more than 3 million people. The Diablo closure plan is set forth in a Joint Proposal agreed to by PG&E, several of the main environmental groups that have long called for Diablo Canyon’s closure, and two of the major labor unions that represent Diablo Canyon’s large workforce. PG&E currently plans to submit the Joint Proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) for approval by the end of July. (read article)

Obama Admin Throws Temps to Unions
By Bill McMorris, July 18, 2016, Washington Free Beacon
The Obama administration’s top labor arbiters handed organized labor another major victory that will ease the path to unionization for temporary workers and expand the definition of joint employer. The National Labor Relations Board, which oversees workplace disputes and union elections, overturned a 2004 ruling that said that temp workers could not join collective bargaining units at their placements without the approval of their direct employer. The ruling in Miller & Anderson returns to a 2000 board precedent that allowed temp workers who demonstrated commonality with their directly employed counterparts to join bargaining units without the consent of their agency. (read article)

My Mom Was A Unionized Public School Teacher. That’s Why I’m A Reformer
By Dmitri Mehlhorn, July 18, 2016, Huffington Post
More specifically, teachers are sympathetic to the ideas behind education reform. Teachers believe that tenure is automatic, and that about 10 percent of their colleagues are ineffective. Three-quarters of all teachers and an even higher percentage of highly recognized teachers believe it needs to be easier to dismiss ineffective teachers. A close look shows that many teachers believe in parent engagement and choice. When the chips are down — in other words, when it comes to their own children — public school teachers are much more likely than other parents to send their kids to private schools. (read article)

Labor Board Ruling Could Allow Grad Students to Unionize
By Melanie Trottman & Douglas Belkin, July 17, 2016, Wall Street Journal
The National Labor Relations Board is expected to decide on his status this summer in a ruling that could pave the way for graduate students at private schools across the country to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has flip-flopped on its categorization of the roughly 535,000 graduate students now enrolled at private colleges. For decades, it held they weren’t employees, then in 2000 declared they were. In 2004, the board reversed itself in a case involving Brown University. Since most of the current board members are Democrats appointed by President Barack Obama, observers expect the board is more likely to side with the students and the union. (read article)

Green Billionaire Joins Infamous Labor Union In Fight To Defeat Trump
By Chris White, July 16, 2016, Daily Caller
Mega-wealthy environmentalist Tom Steyer and a services union with deep pockets announced a $10 million joint effort on Friday to derail Donald Trump’s GOP presidential candidacy. Steyer’s political action committee, NextGen Climate, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are teaming up this election season to defeat Trump and elect his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Steyer, who made the bulk of his billions as a hedge fund manager with Farallon Capital, railed Thursday against Trump’s pick as running mate, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, calling the governor an enemy to the gay and lesbian community. (read article)

Obama’s Big Labor Power Grab Hurts Small Business
By Orrin Hatch, July 15, 2016, U.S. News & World Report
With the Department of Labor’s new “persuader rule,” the Obama administration has put big labor before small business, and the president’s own political agenda before the Constitution. Under this sweeping new unilateral regulation, companies that seek advice from legal counsel or outside consultants on labor-related issues must report these activities publicly. Union organizers, on the other hand, are under no obligation to disclose their relationships with labor lawyers and other experts. In effect, the rule gives unions the upper hand in negotiating labor management contracts by placing costly requirements on companies that seek outside advice during organizing drives. Because this onerous regulation tips the balance of labor relations in favor of unions, the persuader rule is a godsend for union bosses. But it’s a nightmare for America’s job providers, especially small business owners. (read article)

California Voters Double-Crossed By SEIU — For The Second Time
By Sal Rosselli, July 15, 2016, Huffington Post
Earlier this month, a judge blocked an attempt by Oakland-based Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) to place on the November ballot an initiative that would have limited the pay of non-profit hospital executives. It’s hard to believe, but the courts blocked the ballot initiative because it violated a secretive, collusive arrangement between SEIU-UHW and the California Hospital Association (CHA). California voters are paying the price for the spectacular collapse of this shady backroom deal. More than 600,000 Californians signed petitions to qualify the measure for the ballot in both 2014 and 2016, only to see it snatched away — once by the union officials who wrote it and now a second time as an unintended consequence of the union’s self-penned gag clause. (read article)

Pence on labor
By Brian Mahoney, July 15, 2016, Politico
The Republican Indiana governor largely tracks the GOP consensus on most labor and employment policy issues, while departing from Trump’s views on trade. Unions won’t likely cheer the choice. Last year Pence signed the repeal of an 80 year-old state law that set a common wage for most state construction projects. “Wages on public projects should be set by the marketplace and not by government bureaucracy,” Pence said. Unions and Democrats who opposed the legislation said repeal would lower construction wages.
Indiana became a right-to-work state under Pence’s Republican predecessor, Mitch Daniels. But Pence’s administration prevailed in defending the law from union lawsuits. (read article)

San Luis Coastal school district will intervene in Diablo Canyon closure
By David Sneed, July 14, 2016, San Luis Obispo Tribune
The San Luis Coastal Unified School District has joined San Luis Obispo County in having an official role in state proceedings related to Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The district’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday afternoon during a special closed meeting to formally intervene in all of Diablo Canyon’s proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission, including the plant’s closure and the proposed three-year general rate case starting in 2017. “We are intervening to protect the interests of our 7,500 students, our 1,000 employees and the quality of education that we continue to provide in San Luis Coastal Unified School District,” said board member Marilyn Rodger, who read the board’s motion into the record after the closed session meeting. (read article)

Hospital Finance Measure On California Ballot May Stump Voters
By Pauline Bartolone, July 14, 2016, Kaiser Health News
California voters will be asked to weigh in this November on a hospital financing measure so politically and financially complicated that they might be tempted to avoid it altogether. The initiative, Proposition 52, would make permanent the “Hospital Quality Assurance Fee,” which the state collects from private hospitals to bring in additional federal dollars for Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid health care program for the poor. The federal government matches money that California puts up to fund Medi-Cal services. The dollars generated by the fee are used to fund hospital services and children’s health care under Medi-Cal, and the ballot measure would help ensure the money is not diverted by lawmakers for other uses. (read article)

CalPERS Suffers $30.8 Billion Annual Loss
By Chriss W. Street, July 13, 2016, Breitbart News
The California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) is about to report the world’s largest public employee pension suffered an actuarial investment loss of $30.8 billion last year. CalPERS manages the defined pension plan investments and record keeping for 3,007 California state and local government entities. The pension plan is also responsible for paying the pension benefits to 611,078 retirees and will eventually be responsible for paying retirement benefits to another 868,713 active and 335,908 inactive government workers. Despite Governor Jerry Brown last summer demanding CalPERS immediately “lower its investment risk and volatility of returns” by reducing its “assumed” annual investment return from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent, the CalPERS board voted 7- 3 on November 15, 2015 only to slowly reduce the investment return expectation over the next decade. (read article)

CCSF, faculty union settle labor dispute
By Michael Barba, July 13, 2016, San Francisco Examiner
City College of San Francisco and its faculty union reached a tentative agreement this week on a contract for its educators after a year and a half of contentious negotiations, the union said Wednesday. Both sides signed onto the deal Monday night while meeting with a mediator in an attempt to reach a settlement — a process that had failed before but started again last Friday at the recommendation of a factfinder. According to the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, the tentative agreement amounts to an about 11.3 percent salary increase for faculty members over a three-year period. That increase is on top of the average 3.7 percent restored to faculty salaries for wage cuts from previous years. (read article)

Labor unions petition OSHA for standard to prevent workplace violence in health care
By Associated Press, July 13, 2016, Safety & Health Magazine
A number of labor unions are calling on OSHA to create a standard aimed at preventing workplace violence in the health care and social services industries. A petition was sent July 12 to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez from a coalition of unions, including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Communications Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union and United Steelworkers. It claims OSHA’s current efforts are “insufficient” to protect health care workers, and cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that workers in health care and social assistance experienced 52 percent of workplace violence incidents in 2014. (read article)

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