Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

California Democrat plans ballot proposal to cut public employee pensions
By Kevin Martinez, March 17, 2015, wsws.org
Chuck Reed, the former Democratic Mayor of San Jose, is planning to reintroduce a ballot measure that would eliminate constitutional protections for public employee pensions in California, Reuters reported last week. (read article)

LAPD officers union approves proposed labor contract with Los Angeles
March 17, 2015, Los Angeles Daily News
The union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers tonight approved a proposed labor agreement with the city that would provide cost-of-living salary increases over the next five years. (read article)

Obama butters up labor — because they’re about to lose on trade
By David Nather, March 17, 2015, Politico.com
If you think President Barack Obama has been going out of his way recently to say nice things about unions, you’re not wrong. The timing isn’t a coincidence: He’s about to have a fight with them over trade, which the labor groups are going to lose. (read article)

‘Right to work’ laws aren’t about jobs or rights. They’re about power.
By Ryan Cooper, March 16, 2015, The Week
A major plank of the conservative agenda these days is so-called “Right to Work” laws, something Scott Walker recently passed in Wisconsin. Such a law makes it illegal for an employer and a union to enter into a contract ensuring any new employee will be automatically enrolled in the union or its dues program.  (read article)

How ‘Right to Work’ Became Politically Possible
By Paul Moreno, March 15, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Last week Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state. Under the bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, workers cannot be forced to join a union or pay dues as a condition of keeping their jobs. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Great Society, the wave of liberal legislation enacted by the 89th Congress under the legendary browbeating of President Lyndon B. Johnson. (read article)

Erickson: Rauner attacks Big Labor, but says he’s not anti-union
By Kurt Erickson, March 15, 2015, Pantagrapgh.com
Gov. Bruce Rauner marked his two-month anniversary as Illinois’ 42nd chief executive last week by continuing his tirade against Big Labor. According to accounts from Democratic lawmakers who met privately with the Republican businessman, the governor suggested that if his policies are adopted by the legislature, union membership will be eliminated in Illinois within the next four years. (read article)

Obama, don’t abandon labor unions
By Julian Zelizer, March 15, 2015, CNN
Organized labor is up in arms about President Barack Obama’s effort to obtain fast-track authority to finalize a free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific that involves 11 nations. The agreement, union leaders argue, threatens to take even more jobs away from Americans. (read article)

Pension Fight Comes to a Head in Memphis
By Timothy W. Martin, March 15, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Last July, half of the police officers walking the streets and patrolling neighborhoods in this city of 650,000 called in sick as they protested reductions to their pensions. The “blue flu” established Memphis as a new axis in the struggle to shore up underfunded retirement systems across the U.S. Now, the city’s police officers and firefighters are doing more than just calling in sick—they are quitting, en masse. (read article)

Do unions have the oomph to stop Obama’s trade agenda?
By Brian Mahoney & Doug Palmer, March 14, 2015, Politico.com
The AFL-CIO’s bold announcement last week that it would withhold contributions to congressional Democrats in advance of votes on fast-track trade promotion authority thrilled labor supporters and annoyed many Democrats. But it remains to be seen whether the move will impede the Obama administration’s trade agenda — or merely become the latest illustration of unions’ declining clout. (read article)

To fix inequality, Democrats are pushing unions
By Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley, March 13, 2015, Washington Post
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was reclining in his Capitol hideaway, ticking through ideas to improve education, immigration, infrastructure and government-funded research, all in hopes of reviving the middle class. (read article)

Guess Who Was the Only Union Invited to March with President Obama, President Bush in Selma?
March 13, 2015, American Federation of Government Employees
You guessed it. AFGE was honored to be the only union invited to join a group of civil right leaders and activists led by President Barack Obama to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge last weekend to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the civil rights march. (read article)

‘Sharknado 3’ Producers Accuse Labor Union of Bullying
March 13, 2015,  Hollywood Reporter
The producers of Sharknado 3 fired back at the labor union protesting the production. The Asylum COO Paul Bales issued a statement in which he accused IATSE of intimidating a replacement crew who joined the project after IATSE members walked off the project. (read article)

Port of Oakland terminal reopens
By Chris Dupin, March 13, 2015, AmericanShipper.com
The Port of Oakland said Thursday all of its marine terminals were open and operating after its largest terminal was shutdown earlier in the week over a disagreement over work rules. Employers and shippers alleged longshoremen engaged in illegal work stoppages at Oakland International Container Terminal, (read article)

Confirmed: Big Labor Gouges Union Members
March 12, 2015, Political Calculations
Back in 2011, we did some back of the envelope math to estimate the degree to which big labor unions might be gouging their rank and file members. We went state by state in looking at how much “surplus” revenue that the local state branches of the National Education Association (NEA) or American Federation of Teachers (AFT) were collecting in member dues that might be considered to be far in excess of the amount actually needed to simply represent the interests of union members at their employers. (read article)

Government Employees Need 401(k)s, Not Pensions
March 12, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Regarding Robert Udall Glazier’s education of us all on Calpers’ fiduciary responsibility to California’s public servants (Letters, Feb. 24): It is my deepest hope that someday our politicians will take up the mantle of fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers who have to pay for these municipal pensions. (read article)

Union members rally against GOP labor bills outside Legislature
By Sandra Chereb, March 12, 2015, Las Vegas Review Journal
Hundreds of union members rallied in front of the Nevada Legislature on Thursday to protest Republican efforts to curb collective bargaining and push public employee retirement reforms. About 200 demonstrators cheered in the early morning chill when Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, told them to remind lawmakers that voters can remove them from office. (read article)

Can a Labor Union Save the US Mail?
By David Morris, March 12, 2015, OnThe Commons.org
Let’s begin with the bad news. The U.S. Post Office, the oldest, most respected and ubiquitous of all public institutions is fast disappearing. In recent years management has shuttered half the nation’s mail processing plants and put 10 percent of all local post offices up for sale. (read article)

Labor group wants say in Inglewood stadium plan
By Nathan Fenno & Tim Logan, March 12, 2015, Los Angeles Times
The NFL stadium plan that sped through Inglewood City Hall last month now faces its first major obstacle: A petition drive launched by a powerful labor group that could delay the project unless developers guarantee more union jobs and better wages.  (read article)

Union workers lobby in Augusta for higher minimum wage, better conditions
By Alanna Durkin, March 12, 2015, Associated Press
About 200 union workers packed the halls of the State House on Thursday to lobby lawmakers to support measures to boost the minimum wage and reject efforts to make Maine a right-to-work state this year. (read article)

GM faces union demands following stock buyback plan
By David Welch & Jeff Green, March 10, 2015, AutoNews.com
General Motors CEO Mary Barra started off her second year in the job with an activist investor at her door after her first year was largely consumed by a safety investigation over fatally defective ignition switches. Now she’ll need to contend with the UAW, another constituency looking for a slice of GM’s cash pile. (read article)

Unions to Fight Trade Pact by Freezing Political Donations
By Melanie Trottman, March 10, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Dozens of major labor unions plan to freeze campaign contributions to members of Congress to pressure them to oppose fast-track trade legislation sought by President Barack Obama, according to labor officials. (read article)

Is right-to-work the kiss of death for labor unions?
By Sarah McHaney, March 9, 2015
Wisconsin labor unions took another hit today as Governor Scott Walker signed a bill known as the “right to work” into law Monday morning. In 2011, Governor Walker won a bitter fight to restrict collective bargaining for public sector workers. (read article)

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