Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Calif. Grower Interfered With Union Election

By Elizabeth Warmerdam, April 19, 2016, Courthouse News Service 

California’s farm labor board upheld a ruling that the state’s largest tree fruit grower interfered with its employees’ election on whether to decertify the United Farm Workers as their union representative. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board voted unanimously Friday to uphold an administrative law judge’s decision to nullify a 2013 petition by workers for Gerawan Farming of Fresno to reject the United Farm Workers of America as their bargaining representative. The board found that Gerawan tainted the election process, making it impossible to know the true sentiments of the employees. (read article)

High court deadlocked on war between states

By Richard Wolf, April 19, 2016, USA Today

The Supreme Court deadlocked Tuesday for the third time since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left it with only eight members, but it found a narrow way to settle a spat over taxes between California and Nevada. The major question before the court was whether a state can be hauled into another state’s court system — in this case, by a man who moved from California to Nevada, then sued his former state in his new state’s courts. The Supreme Court allowed that in 1979, but it agreed to reconsider the issue in Gilbert Hyatt’s lawsuit against California over back taxes. (read article)

Airbnb Is In Negotiations With A Major Labor Union

By Sarah Kessler, April 19, 2016, Fast Company 

Airbnb is in the “final stages” of a deal with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), under which Airbnb would direct hosts to union-approved cleaning services that pay employees at least $15 per hour, a source close to the discussions tells Fast Company. Despite its apparent good intentions, the deal faces backlash from labor unions, city governments, and housing activists. Members of the New York state senate assembly and New York City council, according to the Guardian, went so far as to send the SEIU president a letter that called the agreement “troubling.” (read article)

Teachers union chief to parents on possible strike: ‘Be prepared’

By Mitch Dudek, April 18, 2016, Chicago Sun Times

If language used Monday by the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools to explain their positions on a looming teachers strike is any indication of a deal getting done soon, well, perhaps best not to hold your breath. “They want to stand on us, put their boots on our necks and then tell us we have to like it,” CTU President Karen Lewis said at a news conference on Monday. Minutes later, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool stepped to a lectern at the CPS central office in the Loop and denounced such rhetoric before offering some of his own to slam the logic used by the labor union’s leaders: “It’s sort of an Alice in Wonderland world within the CTU these days.” The earliest the teachers can strike is May 16, about a month before the end of the school year. (read article)

Union, not workers, behind push for $15 wage

By Richard Berman, April 17, 2016, HeraldNet

When the Fight for $15 hosts its “Day of Action for Worker Justice”recently, the picket signs might as well have “SEIU” written all over them in big letters. The Service Employees International Union has been pulling the strings for a $15 minimum wage from the start. According to the SEIU’s federal filings with the Department of Labor, released at the end of March, the labor union spent roughly $20 million on the Fight for $15 in 2015. That brings the estimated total up to around $70 million since the campaign began in 2012. And the trail of money suggests anything but a grass-roots effort: The SEIU’s fingerprints can be traced from lobbying vehicles known as “worker centers” to pricy political consulting firms. (read article)

Union Claims New Victory in California Farm Labor Battle

By AP Wire, April 16, 2016, Fox 40 News

The Agricultural Labor Relations Board has upheld a ruling by an administrative law judge who found one of the nation’s largest fruit growers interfered with its employees’ process to decide whether to reject union representation. The board says Gerawan Farming Inc. allowed employees in favor of decertifying the United Farm Workers from representing them to gather signatures during worktime but prohibited pro-Union workers to do the same. (read article)

Orcutt Union School District Reaches Labor Agreement with Educator’s Association

By KEYT Newsroom Staff, April 15, 2016, KEYT News

The Orcutt Union School District says that it has reached a labor agreement with the Orcutt Educator’s Association. The Union School District released the following: Under the terms of the Agreement, the Association membership will receive a 4% increase in salary. The 4% increase will be permanent and added to the base salary teachers currently receive. The District and the Association had previously agreed to a temporary pay increase of 2% in exchange for additional teacher collaboration time designed to increase student learning. The District is pleased to inform the community that the additional teacher collaboration time shall become permanent pursuant to this agreement. (read article)

Labor activists stage mass protests at restaurants nationwide

By Jonathan Maze, April 14, 2016, Nation’s Restaurant News

Labor activists and union organizers staged protests in more than 300 cities across the country beginning in the early morning hours on Thursday in a growing fight to increase wages to $15 an hour. “Fight for $15” organizers, led by the Service Employees International Union, organized what has become an annual push to raise wages and unionize restaurant workers. The group has concentrated mainly on McDonald’s restaurants in cities across the country. But protesters also disrupted a breakfast hosted by the Minnesota Retailers Association on Thursday. (read article)

Labor fight threatens inmate health care

By Kevin Johnson, April 14, 2016, USA Today

A bitter labor dispute pitting unionized civilian staffers at the federal Bureau of Prisons’ medical facilities against uniformed members of the U.S. Public Health Service is threatening to worsen already critical staffing shortages within the vast prison system, officials said. The little-noticed fight, which questions whether the nearly 900 Public Health Service (PHS) members are entitled to the same seniority rights as their union colleagues for such things as shift assignments and time off, has some uniform members discussing an exodus from the prison system where existing staffing shortages are at “crisis” levels in some institutions, according to a recent Justice Department internal review. (read article)

California Court Sides With Teacher Unions, Protecting Tenure

By Dan Frosch, April 14, 2016, The Wall Street Journal

In a victory for unions, a California appeals court on Thursday reversed a lower court decision that found the state’s job protections for teachers were unconstitutional and kept students from getting a good education. The original ruling in Vergara v. California was viewed as an important breakthrough for those who argued it should be easier to fire bad teachers. The case is being watched closely for its potential impact on teacher employment practices and education policies nationwide. In 2014, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu had sided with nine public school students, backed by an advocacy group, who sued the state and argued that California’s tenure, dismissal and layoff policies for educators helped keep ineffective teachers employed. (read article)

Verizon’s Political Strike

By Editorial Team, April 13, 2016, The Wall Street Journal 

As Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders chase each other further to the left, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to capitalize on their competition. The Democrats have now helped inspire the largest domestic strike in years—and it’s pure political performance art. On Wednesday, more than 36,000 Verizon workers on the East Coast walked off the job after their unions rejected the telecom’s latest contract offer in a 10-month negotiation. The Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers wanted a public spectacle, and did they ever get one. (read article)

LA unions call for exemption from $15 minimum wage they fought for

By Jana Kespervic, April 12, 2016, The Guardian

Los Angeles city council will hear a proposal on Tuesday to exempt union members from a $15 an hour minimum wage that the unions themselves have spent years fighting for. The proposal for the exemption was first introduced last year, after the Los Angeles city council passed a bill that would see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020. After drawing criticism last year, the proposed amendment was put on hold but is now up for consideration once again.Union leaders argue the amendment would give businesses and unions the freedom to negotiate better agreements, which might include lower wages but could make up the difference in other benefits such as healthcare. (read article)

Department Of Labor ‘Persuader’ Rule Revision Is A Gift To Organized Labor

By J. Bruce Cross, April 12, 2016, Daily Caller

It would be unprecedented to ask the Boston Red Sox to file its playbook with Major League Baseball before it takes on the Bronx Bombers. It would be unheard-of for a columnist at the New York Times to disclose a list of news sources before delivering a blow to the presidential front-runner. And it would be unfair to ask any U.S. business to tell the U.S. government when they seek counsel to deal fairly with their employees – and yet, last week the U.S. Department of Labor leveled a rule that would require exactly that from American businesses. The “persuader” rule is one of several disclosure requirements imposed by Congress in 1959 as part of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. It was designed to require employers to disclose their hiring of “middlemen” to speak with employees and influence their opinions about unions.(read article)

Does Wisconsin’s Right-to-Work Law Expose a Fatal Flaw?

By Justin Miller, April 12, 2016, The American Prospect

Labor advocates may have found a legal strategy for combating the anti-union laws, and eyes turn to the New York primary. For many in the labor movement, it was hard not to take pleasure in Friday’s news that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s right-to-work law was found by a judge to be in violation of the state’s constitution. The ruling was a small bright spot for a union movement that’s been subjected to the governor’s anti-worker crusade for more than five years. It was also a potential victory for the national labor movement, which in recent years has seen right-to-work laws pass at a startling pace in states that were once formidable union strongholds. (read article)

BART officials, union leaders announce tentative labor agreement

By Adam Iscoe, April 12, 2016, Daily Californian

Hoping to avoid a repeat of BART labor strikes that immobilized the Bay Area in 2013, union leaders and BART officials announced a tentative labor agreement Monday — more than one year before the current contract expires. The proposed agreement would increase worker salaries to keep pace with projected inflation rates each year, among other provisions. If approved by BART union members and the BART Board of Directors within the next 30 days, the agreement will extend the current contract with the announced modifications until June 2021. (read article)

Obama court pick favors labor, says business group

By Lydia Wheeler, April 12, 2016, The Hill

Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, has ruled in favor of federal agencies 77 percent of the time, according to a scorecard produced by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The group’s report released on Tuesday found that businesses lost 90 percent of the time when they came before Garland while he has served as chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The NFIB said the findings show Garland is not a down-the-middle moderate, as his supporters have claimed. (read article)

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