Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

How to Cover Right-to-Work and Union Fees

By Adam DeRose, March 15, 2016, Reynolds Center

Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, many media organizations are following the tussle between President Obama and Congress about naming a successor to the court. Scalia’s death also impacts a number of cases under review of the country’s highest court including Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The decision affects the labor movement and how some unions can be financed. If you’re looking to report on how the court case could affect unions, unionized businesses and workers, here are some ideas and info to get you started. (read article)

Could Obama send SoCal native to the Supreme Court?

By Will Kane, March 15, 2016, Politico

It’s has been a month since Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a Texas hunting ranch and many expect Obama to name a replacement this week. The LAT reports that Obama is considering nominating 9th Circuit Judge Paul J. Watford, who was confirmed 61-34 in 2012. If he’s nominated and confirmed, Watford, 48, would be the fifth Supreme Court justice from California but only the first from Southern California. So far his appellate rulings have been twice confirmed — by both conservative (Thomas) and liberal (Sotomayor) justices. (read article)

Unions face delays in handling grievances as state agency backlog persists

By Austin Weinstein, March 15, 2016, The Daily Californian

Unions representing employees from across the University of California face delays in the processing of contract disputes, as the state agency responsible for processing them confronts a large backlog of cases. The California Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, the state agency responsible for adjudicating allegations of unfair labor practices, has a large backlog of cases, which has more than doubled the amount of time it takes to process them. Unions representing UC employees, which can file those cases, are feeling the brunt of the effects, with response times sometimes reaching a year — a scenario that may spur employee strikes. (read article)

Another Major Union Just Endorsed Bernie Sanders

By Dave Jamieson, March 14, 2016, Huffington Post

A national transit workers union threw its weight behind presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday, endorsing the Vermont independent over Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The Amalgamated Transit Union waited longer than most major unions before endorsing a candidate in the race for the White House. Union leadership said it had carried out a careful and deliberative process with union members before deciding to side with Sanders. (read article)

EXCLUSIVE: Meet The Teacher Fighting To End Forced Union Dues

By Connor D. Wolf, March 12, 2016, Daily Caller 

The U.S. Supreme Court could soon upend decades of established federal law by banning mandatory union dues for public sector workers, and Rebecca Friedrichs is the teacher at the center of it all. Friedrichs alleges the California Teachers Association (CTA) is violating her right to free speech by requiring union dues. Lawyers argued the case Jan. 11 before the highest court on behalf of her and nine other teachers. Friedrichs remains optimistic about the case even after major upsets like the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and accusations that she is a pawn for rich special interests. (read article)

Anti-Union ‘Right-to-Work’ Laws Have Passed in Majority of States

By Teddy Wilson , March 11, 2016, RH Reality Check 

When West Virginia’s so-called right-to-work law takes effect in May, the majority of states will have laws designed to strip labor unions of their collective bargaining rights. West Virginia Republican lawmakers in February overrode Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s (D) veto of SB 1, which prohibits employers from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of their employment. Opponents of “right-to-work” policies argue that they allow workers who are not union members—known as free riders—to benefit from the union’s bargaining without having to contribute financially. (read article)

Exclusive: U.S. labor powerhouse to launch anti-Trump ad campaign

By Amanda Becker, March 11, 2016, Reuters

The AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. federation of labor unions, will launch digital attack ads targeting Republican front-runner Donald Trump next week as part of a multi-pronged effort to derail the New York billionaire’s bid for the White House and dampen union workers’ enthusiasm for him. Officials at the AFL-CIO, an umbrella group of 56 unions representing 12.5 million workers, told Reuters the ads will depict Trump as anti-union, and will appear on Facebook and Twitter. The officials said the anti-Trump advertising effort would likely expand over the coming months. At the same time, an AFL-CIO affiliate organization will ramp up a door-to-door campaign to undermine the candidate in Ohio and Pennsylvania, key battleground states in the Nov. 8 presidential election. (read article)

Chicago Teachers Union Rallies with Community and Labor Allies Ahead of April 1 Mass Action

By Madeline Wensel, March 10, 2016, In These Times

Activists from across Chicago gathered in downtown Chicago last night at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple to demonstrate a united front in the face of continuing budget cuts and austerity measures proposed by state and city officials and a potentially impending strike of the Chicago Teachers Union. Organized by the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, a group of community activists dedicated to supporting the union, many sitting in the pews wore the CTU’s bright red t-shirts. But onstage, representatives from transit workers union ATU 308, AFSCME Council 31, the Black Youth Project (BYP) 100, University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 and the Chicago Student Union joined CTU President Karen Lewis in calling for solidarity across unions and non-union groups. (read article)

How McDonald’s Labor Trial Could Affect the Entire Fast Food Industry

By Whitney Filloon, March 10, 2016, Eater

A trial is scheduled to begin in New York City today that could have massive implications for the entire fast-food industry. McDonald’s years-long joint employer labor dispute is finally getting its day in court, and company executives are expected to take the stand, reports the Washington Post. The trial will determine the answer to one major question: Can McDonald’s the corporation be held legally responsible for what goes on at its thousands of independently-owned franchise stores? Here now, a simplified breakdown of how this case came to fruition, and what’s really at stake here: (read article)

Teacher files Right-to-Work unfair labor practice against unions

By Monica Scott, March 10, 2016, Michigan Live

A Grand Rapids special education teacher has filed unfair labor practice charges against her local teachers union and the Michigan Education Association. Becky Lapham accuses the unions of violating her rights under the state’s right-to-work law that prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Lapham, a district teacher for 13 years who now works at the Lincoln campus, filed the charges with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) on March 1. She is receiving free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Despite her rights under Michigan’s public employee Right to Work law, in January 2016 Lapham received a letter from MEA union officials demanding nearly $2,000 in union dues,” the foundation said in a press release. (read article)

California bill would let gig workers organize

By Jennifer Van Grove, March 9, 2016, San Diego Union Tribune

Gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers would gain the right to collectively bargain for benefits and wages under legislation introduced in California on Wednesday. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, seeks to amend state labor law and allow 10 or more independent contractors, who work for “hosting platforms” such as Uber and Lyft, to join in union-like groups and negotiate workplace protections. Called the 1099 Self-Organizing Act, the legislation applies to businesses and workers who participate in what’s sometimes called the “gig economy” or the “on-demand economy,” where companies use online systems and mobile apps to match laborers with customers. (read article)

Union Members Gravitating Toward Trump Amid Tough Talk On Trade And Immigration

By Cole Stangler, March 8, 2016, International Business Times

Brian Sepe has been a dues-paying member of the United Steelworkers for over three decades. Last week, he voted for Donald Trump in Massachusetts’ Republican primary. “My country is going to hell,” said Sepe, a 55-year-old utility worker and resident of Lowell, the famed mill town that is now one of the state’s poorest cities. “You look back at all the different trade agreements over the past 30 years, it’s always been to move jobs out of the country. That’s got us in so much trouble. We don’t have good jobs left in this country.” “ is a no bulls— kind of guy,” Sepe continued. “He calls it what it is.” (read article)

Labor Unions Fight For Relevance, While Candidates Petition Directly To Workers

By Philip Rosenstein, March 8, 2016, MediaPost Communications

“Blue-Collar Vote Key for Trump Win,” said the front page of The Wall Street Journal Monday morning. While this may be the case, labor unions are preparing to actively support the eventual Democratic nominee. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has amassed around two dozen national union endorsements, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders securing five. Notably, however, the AFL-CIO, the country’s major union federation, is yet to endorse either candidate and is unlikely to do so any time soon. Some have characterized the AFL-CIO’s decision not to endorse as a win for Sanders. (read article)

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