Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Labor Support Could Be Important For Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders
By Abigail Abrams, November 24 2015, International Business Times
When the Laborers’ International Union of North America endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, it marked the Democratic presidential front-runner’s 15th major labor union endorsement. It was the third such indication of support for her in the past week, following endorsements from the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers union Monday and the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on Nov. 17. It was also likely a disappointment for her main opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has historically championed labor causes. The pile of endorsements marks a departure from 2008, the first time Clinton ran for president, when organized labor was deeply divided between backing her and then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. The support of unions, which have since seen membership plummet, typically comes with grassroots financial and volunteer commitments, leaving super PACs to mostly pick up the political funding slack. But in an election where Clinton has been her party’s presumptive nominee for months and voters seem to pay little attention to traditional measures, just how much weight do union endorsements still hold? (read article)

Laborers’ union endorses Clinton
By Ben Kamisar, November 24, The Hill
Another national labor group has backed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, siding with her against rival Bernie Sanders, who has sought to frame himself as labor’s champion. The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which represents about 500,000 people, announced its endorsement of Clinton on Tuesday, one day after she secured the backing of the 11 million member International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Ironworkers. “LIUNA members and leadership believe that Secretary Clinton is the right leader to move our country forward and the most qualified candidate to address the many challenges facing the United States,” Terry O’Sullivan, the group’s general president, said in a statement. “LIUNA members are deeply concerned about the direction of our country and are looking for a real leader who will create good jobs, rebuild our country, and grow our economy. Secretary Clinton’s record proves that she is a tough and tested fighter for our nation and for working men and women.” Clinton now has the backing of 15 national unions, compared to just two for Sanders. The Vermont senator did, however, win the endorsement of some New Hampshire Service Employees International Union branches after the national union broke for Clinton. (read article)

Sacramento Police Commission holds first meeting
By David Bienick, November 24, 2015, KCRA Sacramento
Sacramento’s new police commission held it’s first meeting Monday night. Commission members learned how to do their jobs and voted on leadership during the meeting. The City Council voted in August to create the commission as a way to improve the police department’s relations with the community. “This commission was formed to foster community trust,” said Les Simmons, a south Sacramento pastor who was named to the commission. The commission includes 11 members who represent various aspects of the community. For example, one seat is reserved for a member of a faith-based organization, another for civil rights representative and another for a minority-interest group. The labor union which represents Sacramento police officers also has a reserved seat on the commission. According to a staff report, the city bypassed the normal nomination process and allowed Mayor Kevin Johnson to name the initial members of the commission to expedite its creation. In San Francisco, the police commission sets policy for the department and conducts disciplinary hearings for officers accused of misconduct. In Los Angeles, the commission evaluates the police chief and sets his or her salary. It also has the final say in deciding cases where officers used deadly force. (read article)

Chicago Teachers Union to flex muscle with downtown rally
Juan Perez Jr., November 23, 2015, Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Teachers Union is set to flex its muscles with a rally in Grant Park on Monday designed to energize members and send a message to the city amid stalled contract talks with the school district. CTU President Karen Lewis is scheduled to address the crowd during the afternoon rush hour “Winter Labor Solidarity Rally & Community Tailgate.” The union has distributed leaflets urging members to “be a part of this striking scene.” Buses will shuttle people downtown from some two dozen city schools. Similar rallies were held by the 27,000-member union three years ago before a seven-day strike ended a quarter-century of relative peace with the city. City teachers are without a new contract to replace one that expired June 30. After months of fruitless negotiations, the union and the Chicago Board of Education in August enlisted a mediator’s help, part of a long process that has to play out under state law before a strike can occur. (read article)

A Union Fight For More Members, Not A $15 Minimum Wage
By F. Vincent Vernuccio, November 23, 2015, Forbes
On the same day union-backed demonstrators in Detroit used a mockup of boxer Joe Louis’ fist to punch out Ronald McDonald, the Michigan state Senate passed two bills to protect the independence of small business. What do the two have in common? The November 10 union protests in several cities across the country called for a $15 minimum wage and “union rights,” but are actually part of a larger effort to make it easier to unionize employees at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s. The unions’ goal is to take away the secret ballot from employees by having corporations like McDonald’s recognize them without an election. Further, instead of having to convince millions of employees in thousands of small businesses to sign up for paying union dues, unions know it’s much easier to engage in one massive campaign across the country and put pressure on one large company. To do this, they are trying to destroy the independence of thousands of small mom and pop-owned businesses through the federal National Labor Relations Board. (read article)

Blighted Detroit homes to be given to National Labor Union
By Dave Spencer, November 23, 2015, Fox News Detroit
Thirty million dollars is coming to Detroit neighborhoods to fight blight, but that money won’t be spent knocking down vacant houses. Every penny will be spent repairing and renovating properties and putting Detroiters to work. “It’s another good day for neighborhoods here in Detroit,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. Flanked by Detroit city officials and members of the labor union, Mayor Duggan talked about a partnership to tackle blighted homes in the city. Basically, the plan is to let the National Labor Union have them. “They will responsible for rehabbing and selling. Split the pros and cons,” said Duggan. The AFL-CIO plans to invest millions in the rehab process, tackling 25 homes at first. “We’ll see how the first 25 go, and then they will continue up to 30 million dollars,” said a spokesperson. (read article)

UAW-Ford deal passes, and new era begins for Detroit 3
By Alisa Priddle and Brent Snavely, November 21, 2015, Detroit Free Press
UAW talks are finally complete with Ford workers narrowly voting to approve their new four-year agreement late Friday after a nail-biting process that kept everyone guessing until the final ballots were cast and counted. UAW production members voted 51% in favor; skilled trades were 52% in favor and almost 92% of salaried workers voted yes. The results came hours after General Motors formally ratified its agreement and months after the arduous negotiating session began to replace the outgoing four-year contracts for all three Detroit automakers. Those contracts were to expire Sept. 14 but were extended. With the new contracts in place, GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles can look forward to four years of labor peace and prosperity as the industry heads to record U.S. sales and healthy profits margins with consumers buying more expensive trucks and crossovers. The positive end to negotiations also allows the three companies to concentrate on executing five-year product plans involving billions in investment in products and the retooling of plants. There are also thousands of jobs being secured under these plans. (read article)

Sanders scores NewHampshire labor union endorsement
Sentinel Staff, November 20, 2015, Keene Sentinel
New Hampshire’s largest public labor union is endorsing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in his run for the Democratic presidential nomination, its board of directors announced Thursday. “Bernie Sanders has a long history of fighting for working people,” Richard Gulla, president of the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire/SEIU Local 1984, said in a news release from the union. “He shares many of our members’ goals and values. He is not afraid to take on Wall Street and will fight against corporate greed and corruption. “ … He is also respectful and supportive of the collective bargaining process,” Gulla said. “He understands that many of our young people cannot afford to attend college so they can prepare for the jobs of this century; and that our senior citizens are not being afforded a dignified retirement.” The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire/SEIU Local 1984 represents approximately 11,500 public and private-sector employees in New Hampshire. (read article)

Cal State University faculty union files labor complaint against system
By Josh Dulaney, November 20, Long Beach Press Telegram
The union representing California State University professors has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the 23-campus system, saying management has violated the law and failed to bargain in good faith over salary. The California Faculty Association filed the complaint Thursday with California’s Public Employment Relations Board, citing the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, and saying the law requires CSU management and CFA to reach a salary agreement before the university forwards a budget to the governor and Legislature. Salary talks for the second year of CFA’s contract started in May, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state budget and approved CSU’s funding request in June. Kevin Wehr, chair of the CFA bargaining team and a professor at Sacramento State, said Chancellor Timothy P. White decided what was fair for faculty before the two sides started talking. “He has put the cart before the horse,” Wehr said in a statement. Management and faculty have reached impasse and are in mediation, with CSU offering a 2 percent increase, the same offer made to other unions in the system. The faculty union — which represents more than 26,000 tenured and tenure-track faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches — wants a 5 percent pay boost. (read article)

Solano County and its largest employee union meet in court over strike activity
By Ryan Chalk, November 19, 2015, Vacaville Reporter
Citing significant risks to the public health and safety, Solano County was granted a temporary restraining order against its largest labor union to prevent employees in critical positions from taking part in strike activities. On Thursday, attorneys for Solano County as well as the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) met with the chief labor negotiator and attorney for the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, (SEIU) in Solano County Superior Court. The meeting was a result of a lawsuit filed by PERB on Tuesday seeking a preliminary injunction against the union, which represents roughly 1,800 county workers. County officials and union members have been involved in labor negotiations since March. The parties remain divided on pension costs and health care benefits, according to county officials. Thursday, both sides engaged in a mediation session. Irrespective of the outcome of mediation, PERB attorneys, on behalf of the county, sought a restraining order this week against the union to prevent “essential employees” from participating in strike activities during their regularly scheduled work hours. The court filing came just as SEIU Local 1021 members began a two-day strike on Tuesday. Union members also held a two-day strike in October. (read article)

Labor Union to Start ‘Substantial’ Ad Campaign Hitting Republicans on Immigration
By Alan Rappeport, November 19, 2015, New York Times
Republicans have been talking tough on immigration this primary season, and on Thursday, they will get a taste of how Democrats might use that against them in a general election. On the anniversary of President Obama’s executive actions to ease burdens on immigrants, the Service Employees International Union and iAmerica Action are releasing a “substantial” national advertising campaign that targets Republicans on immigration. The executive actions, which were to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and would have allowed them to work in the country legally, have been delayed in the courts, and with the rise of Donald J. Trump, Republicans have been using increasingly heated language on the issue, threatening mass deportations and tougher border controls. The ads will run in Spanish on Telemundo and Univision and during the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday. The ads will also air in Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Texas through Sunday, and English versions will run online. “These candidates may be different, but their messages are all the same,” the narrator says, as clips of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Jeb Bush and Mr. Trump flash across the screen. “We will not accept hate. We will not allow anti-immigrant attacks.” (read article)

Sacramento union group endorses Steinberg for mayor
By Ryan Lillis, November 18, 2015, Sacramento Bee
The Sacramento Central Labor Council, one of the region’s most influential labor groups, has endorsed former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg in his campaign for mayor, the group announced Wednesday. Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of the labor council, said Steinberg “has a proven track record of working with labor.” He cited Steinberg’s tenure as Senate president pro tem during years in which the state faced historic budget deficits. While the city’s budget has rebounded in recent years, budget officials have warned that large deficits may be on the horizon after a temporary sales tax increase expires in 2019. “We feel confident that Darrell has the experience, the knowledge and the skills to ensure that the city of Sacramento workforce is protected, as well as our services,” Sasso said. (read article)

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