Posts

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Gap Co-Founder Doris Fisher Is Behind the Charter School Agenda
By Joel Warner, September 27, 2016, Capital & Main
As co-founder of the Gap, San Francisco-based business leader and philanthropist Doris Fisher boasts a net worth of $2.6 billion, making her the country’s third richest self-made woman, according to Forbes. And she’s focused much of her wealth and resources on building charter schools. She and her late husband Donald donated more than $70 million to the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and helped to personally build the operation into the largest network of charter schools in the country, with 200 schools serving 80,000 students in 20 states. (read article)

Knight wants delay in OT rule
By Bartholomew Sullivan, September 27, 2016, Ventura County Star
Rep. Steve Knight hopes to get a floor vote this week on a bill he co-sponsored to delay the Dec. 1 implementation of the Department of Labor’s overtime rule that would provide time-and-a-half pay to 4.2 million people earning less than $47,476 a year, including 392,000 Californians. Knight, R-Lancaster, took issue with the rule in a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez in December. He contends employers won’t be able to afford the new rule, which would exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act certain employees who perform executive, administrative or professional duties beyond 40 hours a week. (read article)

What the Jersey City PLA ruling means for union labor in construction
By Kim Slowey, September 27, 2016, Construction Dive
A recent New Jersey appeals court decision has stoked the fires of the union versus nonunion debate, which continues to grow across the U.S. as unions are reportedly losing their grip on critical markets. In 2007, as the country was feeling a kick in the teeth from the recession, Jersey City enacted a law under which developers, using private funds, would receive short-term (five years) and long-term (20 years) tax abatements for building $25 million-plus projects there, according to attorney Russell McEwan with employment and labor law firm Littler Mendelson. In exchange, those developers had to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) obligating them to use union-only labor on their projects. (read article)

Court throws out suit over Wisconsin ‘right-to-work’ law

By Patrick Marley, September 26, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A federal judge on Monday threw out a lawsuit challenging a 2015 law that banned labor contracts requiring workers to pay union fees. The ruling by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller is the latest setback for unions, which have challenged the state’s “right-to-work” law in state and federal courts. Two locals of the International Union of Operating Engineers argued the law violated the National Labor Relations Act and unconstitutionally took something of value from the unions without compensation. Stadtmueller disagreed, citing a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that upheld Indiana’s “right-to-work” law. Terry McGowan, president of one of the union locals, said the unions would appeal, putting the issue back before the 7th Circuit. (read article)

Long Beach reaches tentative labor agreement with city’s largest union

By Courtney Tompkins, September 26, 2016, Long Beach Press Telegram
Long Beach’s largest labor union has reached a tentative agreement with the city after nearly two years of negotiations, officials announced Monday. The general terms of the agreement with the International Association of Machinists (IAM), which represents nearly half of the city’s labor force, include a 2 percent annual wage increase for fiscal years 2017 through 2019, healthcare reform provisions, and creation of a labor management committee to develop a pathway for temporary workers to obtain permanent employment. (read article)

Union leaders struggle to turn members against Trump
By Sean Higgins, September 26, 2016, Washington Examiner
Every four years, the AFL-CIO labor federation engages in a quixotic mission: to attempt to dissuade many of its own members from voting for their first choice for president, the Republican candidate. Between one-quarter and one-third pull the lever for the GOP, anyway. The labor leaders’ efforts have taken an added urgency this year because the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, may have the strongest appeal in decades of any GOP candidate to the union rank-and-file. The AFL-CIO has conceded as much. An internal poll it did in June found that 41 percent of its members in five key battleground states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin — favored Trump. (read article)

Under pressure from union, L.A. County makes it easier for probation workers with discipline problems to get promotions
By Abby Sewell and Garrett Therolf, September 25, 2016, Los Angeles Times
More than 50 employees working inside Los Angeles County’s juvenile lockups received promotions despite a history of disciplinary problems or criminal arrests under a deal county leaders quietly cut earlier this year. The workers had previously been denied promotion for actions ranging from mistreatment of children in custody to off-duty drunk driving.  The county softened the policy after the union representing the employees filed a lawsuit challenging the denial of promotions. A judge ruled in favor of the county. But when the union appealed, the county decided to settle the case and create a new policy allowing more employees with discipline records to receive promotions. (read article)

How a pension deal went wrong and cost California taxpayers billions
By Jack Dolan, September 24, 2016, The Bakersfield Californian
With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation that gave prison guards, park rangers, Cal State professors and other state employees the kind of retirement security normally reserved for the wealthy. More than 200,000 civil servants became eligible to retire at 55 — and in many cases collect more than half their highest salary for life. California Highway Patrol officers could retire at 50 and receive as much as 90 percent of their peak pay for as long as they lived. Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. The state employees’ pension fund, they said, would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full. They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come. This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. (read article)

State Labor Council fined for campaign finance violations
By Associated Press, September 23, 2016, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
The Washington State Labor Council will pay the state $16,622 over the organization’s failure to file lobbyist employer reports of in-kind and cash contributions properly and on time. The state attorney general’s office said Friday the group agreed to a civil penalty of $18,500, with half suspended for four years as long as there are no further violations of the law; $5,240 in attorney fees and court costs; and $2,132 in investigation costs to the Public Disclosure Commission. The attorney general’s office received a complaint last year from the Freedom Foundation against WSLC alleging multiple violations of the state’s public disclosure laws. (read article)

LA Police Union: Police Commission Wants Cops To Run From Armed Suspects
By Kerry Picket, September 23, 2016, Daily Caller
The Los Angeles Police Commission wants LAPD police officers to run away when a suspect confronts them with a weapon, warns the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union of the city’s police officers. The organization posted a blog post critical of the commission’s recent decision to find that fault lay upon an LAPD officer who used deadly force when a female suspect, Norma Guzman, came at him and his partner swinging a large knife. The commission — composed of five mayoral appointees and city council-confirmed civilians who broke ranks with Police Chief Charlie Beck — claimed the LAPD Officer violated deadly force rules, in the case which happened last year. Despite support from Beck, Guzman’s family and local activists want the officer to be charged criminally, the Los Angeles Times reported. (read article)

Faculty union leader: ‘If we have to go on strike we are going to do whatever it takes’
By Jan Murphy, September 23, 2016, PennLive.com
Anyone who thought the state universities’ faculty union wasn’t serious about calling the first-ever strike in the 33-year-old system’s history better brace themselves.  “I say with a heavy heart that we feel we have no choice but to say by October 19, if we don’t have a contract, all the faculty at all 14 of our universities will be on strike,” said Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties President Ken Mash on Friday at a news conference at the Red Lion Hotel in Swatara Twp. This announcement came as a result of the more than 5,000 faculty members employed by the system have grown increasingly frustrated over working under an expired contract since June 30, 2015. (read article)

Dakota Access Pipeline Exposes Rift In Organized Labor
By Dave Jamieson, September 23, 2016, Huffington Post
The nation’s largest federation of labor unions upset some of its own members last week by endorsing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. Some labor activists, sympathetic to Native American tribes and environmentalists, called upon the AFL-CIO to retract its support for the controversial project. The rift within the federation may be even deeper than it first seemed. The day before federation President Richard Trumka issued a statement supporting the pipeline, Sean McGarvey, the head of the AFL-CIO’s building trades unions, sent him and the presidents of the federation’s other unions a blistering letter. McGarvey said unions’ resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline had helped upend the lives of union workers employed on the project. (read article)

Chicago Teacher: Why We May Strike Again
By Gabriel Sheridan, September 22, 2016, Labor Notes
The Chicago Teachers Union announced this morning that members have voted to authorize a strike, with 90.6 percent turnout and 95.6 percent voting yes. The union’s House of Delegates will meet September 28 to decide the next step. A strike could begin as soon as October 11. Chicago teachers are voting September 21-23 on whether to authorize another open-ended strike. I remember how worried I was as a rank-and-file teacher on the eve of the 2012 strike vote. I thought we’d never get a majority. Our contract has been expired for more than a year. We already voted by 88 percent in December to authorize a strike, and walked out for one day in April. The union is holding this second vote partly to discourage any legal attacks from the mayor or governor over technicalities—and partly to solidify our solidarity. (read article)

Chicago Teachers Union Questions Governor’s Appointment
By Sarah Karp, September 20, 2016, WBEZ
The Chicago Teachers Union claims the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board was further compromised Friday when Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a former attorney for Chicago Public Schools. With Lara Shayne’s appointment, three of the five members have been appointed by Rauner, who is known for his anti-union views and dislike of the Chicago Teachers Union. Until just last week, Shayne served as senior manager of labor relations for CPS. CTU attorney Robert Bloch said Shayne occasionally participated in negotiations with the union over the contract dispute. Now, as a member of the board, Shayne will be asked to decide disputes between school districts and unions, including disagreements between CPS and the CTU. (read article)

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Pot shop vote in LA?
By Debbie L. Sklar, September 20, 2016, MyNewsLa.com
Will you get to vote to keep and permit pot shops in Los Angeles?
Proponents of a measure to repeal Proposition D, a city ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, say they have turned in more than 100,000 signatures to the City Clerk’s office in an effort to qualify for the March ballot. The measure calls for creating a permitting process that would replace the ban. It was put forward by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, a labor union, and the UCBA Trade Association, which is consists of dispensaries that were given immunity to continue operating under Proposition D despite the ban. The City Clerk’s office still needs to verify whether the petitions meet the 61,487 minimum threshold for valid signatures. The proponents are aiming to put the measure on the March 2017 ballot. If the signatures are deemed sufficient, the City Council also has the option to adopt the ordinance language as-is or call a special election. (read article)

Chicago Teachers Union Questions Governor’s Appointment
By Sarah Karp, September 20, 2016, WBEZ
The Chicago Teachers Union claims the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board was further compromised Friday when Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a former attorney for Chicago Public Schools. With Lara Shayne’s appointment, three of the five members have been appointed by Rauner, who is known for his anti-union views and dislike of the Chicago Teachers Union. Until just last week, Shayne served as senior manager of labor relations for CPS. CTU attorney Robert Bloch said Shayne occasionally participated in negotiations with the union over the contract dispute. Now, as a member of the board, Shayne will be asked to decide disputes between school districts and unions, including disagreements between CPS and the CTU. (read article)

The Pension Gap
By Jacquelin Sullivan, September 18, 2016, Los Angeles Times
With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation that gave prison guards, park rangers, Cal State professors and other state employees the kind of retirement security normally reserved for the wealthy. More than 200,000 civil servants became eligible to retire at 55 — and in many cases collect more than half their highest salary for life. California Highway Patrol officers could retire at 50 and receive as much as 90% of their peak pay for as long as they lived. They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come. (read article)

Graduate-Student Unions Mean Good News for Professors, Too
Alex Gourevitch and Suresh Naidu, September 18, 2016, Chronicle
The National Labor Relations Board’s recent decision that graduate students are employees who have a right to unionize has produced a predictable bout of hand-wringing among university administrators. Elite institutions, like Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and Princeton University, have issued warnings that unions suppress the individuality of graduate students under the weight of “collectivist” solutions. (read article)

Detroit teachers ratify new union contract
By Anne Zaniweski, September 16, 2016, Detroit Free Press
Detroit teachers have ratified a new contract. Under the deal, teachers will see pay increases, mostly in the form of bonuses; an added prep period for elementary school teachers, and the creation of a committee to address teachers’ health and safety concerns. About 60% of the votes cast were in favor of the deal, according to officials. The contract will be for six months, retroactive to July 1 and lasting through December. The new school board that takes office in January can maintain it through the end of the school year or renegotiate it. More than 2,900 teachers and paraprofessionals will be covered by it. (read article)

Report outlines how to make equity part of California’s low-carbon economy
By Jacqueline Sullivan, September 14, 2016, Phys.Org
Governor Jerry Brown’s signing last week of two landmark climate bills, SB 32 and AB 197, demonstrates the emergence of a powerful coalition of environmentalists, labor unions and grassroots “environmental justice” organizations that will be crucial to achieving the new emissions goals, as explained in a new report by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California.
The report, “Advancing Equity in California Climate Policy: A New Social Contract for Low-Carbon Transition,” identifies ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring that the low-income and working class in California do not bear the brunt of the costs and are included in the benefits of the state’s transition to a low-carbon economy. (read article)

Major Union Sits Out Ohio Senate Race
By Morgan Chalfant, September 14, 2016, Washington Free Beacon
A major labor union in Ohio is refraining from endorsing a candidate in the state’s contested Senate race, despite having previously backed Democrat and former Gov. Ted Strickland. The Ohio State Building and Construction Trade Council, which boasts 94,000 members, said Thursday that it would not endorse either Strickland or incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R.), the Dayton Daily. The revelation comes after several labor unions have broken with histories of endorsing Strickland and backed Portman instead. The decision was made by the organization’s 21-member executive board, which discussed the issue at a recent meeting in Columbus. (read article)

National Police Union Endorses Donald Trump
By Dave Jamieson, September 16, 2016, The Huffington Post
A labor union representing more than 250,000 police officers officially endorsed Donald Trump for president on Friday. The Fraternal Order of Police said its “member [had] spoken,” and that the Republican candidate had locked down the necessary two-thirds support from the union’s board. The union’s president, Chuck Canterbury, said in a statement that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hadn’t bothered seeking the union’s backing. (read article)

Local farmworkers will get expanded overtime pay
By Kaitlyn Bartley, September 14, 2016, Half Moon Bay Review
Jerry Brown signed a law granting state farmworkers overtime pay after eight hours of work per day or 40 hours per week instead of the current 10 per day or 60 per week. Assembly Bill 1066 removes exemptions for agricultural employees regarding meal break and specific wage requirements, bringing their state-mandated benefits in line with employees in many other industries. Agricultural workers currently receive some overtime pay under a state law from 2002, but AB 1066 will increase it to time-and-a-half pay for working more than eight hours in a day or 40 in a week, and it will double pay for those who work more than 12 hours a day. The bill will phase in the changes starting in 2019 through 2022, and allows the governor to temporarily suspend the pay increases for a year if he also suspends scheduled increases to the state’s minimum wage. (read article)

SEIU civil trial calls into question inner workings of labor union
By David Yates, September 14, 2016, SE TexasRecord
Earlier this month, a Harris County jury ordered Service Employees International Union to pay Professional Janitorial Services – Houston $5.3 million in damages, finding the Chicago-based labor union made false claims about the company’s business practices and treatment of employees. In the wave of news articles and press releases that followed the trial, questions were raised on the seemingly controversial methods SEIU employs to force companies to fall in line, calling into question the integrity of the organization’s leaders and past and current attorneys. (read article)

AZ Supreme Court OKs police pay for on-the-clock union work
By Peter Cheng, September 14, 2016, Cronkite News
The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that paying police officers while they did work for the police union does not violate the state constitution. The court’s split decision overturns two previous lower court rulings against the practice of so-called “release time” for Phoenix police officers. As part of the city’s agreement with the police union, Phoenix had for years allowed officers to do work for the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association – on the taxpayers’ dime. Over a two-year period, the union had negotiated release time provisions worth about $1.7 million, according to court documents. (read article)

California expands already historic farm overtime policy
By Alison Noon, September 13, 2016, San Diego Union Tribune
For the first time, farmworkers in California will soon be entitled to the same pay as other hourly workers after California’s governor signed an expansion of a labor policy. Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement came decades after labor leader Cesar Chavez and the thousands of farmworkers he organized pushed officials to recognize the union of agricultural laborers. The legislation will require that farm employers pay workers one and one-half times regular wages pay after eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, rather than the rate enacted in 1975 of 10 hours in one day or 60 hours in a week. (read article)

Construction unions gain in New York City
By Greg David, September 13, 2016, Crain’s New York Business
Construction union leaders are pushing hard for a requirement that all residential buildings built with the 421-a tax break be required to use union labor. Developers are resisting because using union labor in the city costs at least 30% more than nonunion and such projects will have to set aside at least 25% of the units at low rents, eroding profit margins. Yet, oddly, union leaders claim that their members worked on 65% of all residential buildings with more than 100 units and 80% of projects with more than 300 apartments. (read article)

Arizona court ruling OKs ‘release time’ for public employees’ union work
By Dustin Gardiner, September 13, 2016, The Arizona Republic
A five-year legal battle between the Phoenix police union and a conservative think tank ended Tuesday when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that public employees can be paid public money for time spent working on behalf of their union. The 3-2 decision found the city’s agreement with its police union for paid “release time” doesn’t violate a provision in the state Constitution barring public entities from making gifts or donations to benefit private individuals, associations or companies. (read article)