Union In the News- Weekly Highlights

Union In the News- Weekly Highlights

Lincolnshire creates right-to-work zone that unions oppose

By Russell Lissau, December 15, 2015, Daily Herald

Lincolnshire has become the first town in the Chicago area to establish itself as a right-to-work zone, a move critics have assailed as anti-union. It’s also a move experts say is sure to face a legal challenge. To create the zone, the village board approved an ordinance preventing local employers from requiring workers to pay union dues with payroll deductions. That proposal was a major tenet of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s controversial Turnaround Agenda for Illinois, which many people have blasted as being anti-union. Elements of the Turnaround Agenda — especially the right-to-work proposal — have been criticized as unconstitutional, too. In a formal opinion issued in March, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said federal labor law allows such policies to be enacted only on a statewide basis. But that didn’t stop Lincolnshire’s village board Monday, which quickly approved the plan after listening to an hour of public comments. (read article)

U.S. Department of Labor Pushes “Persuader Rules” to Final Approval Stage

By Patrick DePoy and Christopher A. Johlie, December 14, 2015, JD Supra

Last week, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) forwarded long-delayed revisions to its “persuader rules” to the Office of Management and Budget – a key final step before the new rule takes effect. The DOL hopes to have the revisions finalized by March 2016. Employers, management-side consultants, and attorneys should prepare for significant changes when facing a union organizing campaign. The DOL’s new regulations would significantly narrow its interpretation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) that has been in force since 1962. Dubbed the “persuader rules,” these regulations address Section 203 of the LMRDA, which, among other things, requires employers to file reports with the DOL when they hire consultants or contractors (including attorneys) to persuade employees on the issue of unions. (read article)

Bath Iron Works union approves contract seen as vital to shipyard

By Beth Quimby, December 14, 2015, Portland Press Herald

Bath Iron Works’ largest union narrowly approved a new contract Sunday that could put the shipyard in a better position to land shipbuilding contracts in the future. The vote on the contract, which requires workers to make concessions on work rules, pay, pensions and health benefits, was fairly close, with 1,343 in favor of ratification and 1,045 against. Machinists Union Local S6, which represents 3,600 workers, voted on a four-year contract that both sides said they hope will make the company more competitive in the future. The new contract changes work rules so that shipbuilders can perform additional tasks outside their specialties and some work can be outsourced to subcontractors. The former contract was not due to expire until May. Jay Wadleigh, Local S6 president, expressed surprise at the outcome of the vote. He said few members were happy with the contract provisions and most endorsed it only reluctantly. “Although it did pass by a narrow margin, the vote is in no way indicative of the feelings of the people. Only a few people were happy with the contract, but the majority were not,” said Wadleigh. The shipyard said after the vote that the new contract will help make the company more competitive. (read article)

Labor Board Decision and Worker Scheduling Requests on Congress’ Plate

By Garen E. Dodge, December 14, 2015, The National Law Review

Congress will grapple with bills to overturn the federal labor board’s decision on joint employers and to make work schedules more predictable for workers in 2016. Lawmakers have introduced identical legislation in both chambers of Congress to overturn a landmark decision by the National Labor Relations Board intended to broaden joint employer liability. By including employers who may only indirectly affect employees’ terms and conditions of employment, or have the right to affect such terms and conditions, the controversial Board decision has swept many more businesses under the “joint employer” umbrella and increased labor union bargaining power. The bills, H.R.3459 and S.2015, have been referred to committee. The House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions has held hearings on the H.R.3459. (read article)

Bernie Sanders Urges Cuomo to Raise CUNY Professors’ Pay

By Kate Taylor, December 14, 2015, The New York Times

While the rest of the presidential field was talking about how to confront global terrorism, Senator Bernie Sanders in recent days had a very local issue on his mind: getting a raise for professors at the City University of New York. Roughly 25,000 CUNY faculty and professional staff members have been without a contract since 2010, and have not had salary increases in that time. Part of the reason is that the amount of per-pupil funding CUNY receives from the state has declined, adjusted for inflation, since before the recession; roughly 45 percent of the system’s $3.2 billion budget comes from the state. Mr. Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination, on Friday sent a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that called on him to provide funding for a new contract with raises. (read article)

Chicago teachers authorize a strike if contract talks break down

By Juan Perez Jr. and Grace Wong, December 14, 2015, Chicago Tribune

Chicago teachers made clear they’re prepared to walk off the job for the second time in three years absent a deal with the city’s school board, presenting one more political challenge to Mayor Rahm Emanuel even though a potential strike remains months away. The Chicago Teachers Union said on Monday that in three days of voting last week, 88 percent of 24,752 eligible members agreed to authorize union leaders to call a strike. That’s well above the 75 percent necessary for a strike to occur under state law. CTU President Karen Lewis and her team now have the authority to brandish the biggest weapon the union carries in talks with the Chicago Board of Education, which have stalled after more than a year at the table. “Rahm Emanuel really does not need a teacher’s strike,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told reporters gathered at union headquarters Monday. “He really doesn’t. And what we’re telling him is that if he doesn’t listen to us, that’s what he’s going to get.” (read article)

Labor secretary pitching Clinton to unions

By Sean Higgins, December 13, 2015, Washington Examiner

Labor Secretary Tom Perez is using his position to try to build union support for Hillary Clinton. The Cabinet official has been doing campaign stops on her behalf, speaking to labor groups. Perez met with two members of unions, Unite Here and the Service Employees International Union, in Las Vegas on Dec. 7. “I’m proud as hell to endorse Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States,” Perez told SEIU members, according a YouTube clip the union posted. “What gets her up in the morning is all of the issues that you fight for every day.” It is unusual for sitting Cabinet members to campaign for a presidential candidate, but it is not unprecedented. Kathleen Sebelius, then the Health and Human Services secretary, was found in 2012 to have violated the Hatch Act when she campaigned for Obama at a taxpayer-funded event in North Carolina that year. (read article)

Seattle Considers Measure to Let Uber and Lyft Drivers Unionize

By Mike Isaac, Nick Wingfield and Noam Scheiber, December 13, 2015, The New York Times

After burning out the clutch on his Kia Soul last year, Don Creery bought a new car with an automatic transmission. He went into debt for the vehicle because he considered it an investment: He had just started driving full time in Seattle for Lyft and Uber, the ride-hailing start-ups, and was making money. Since then, Uber and Lyft have cut the rates they charge passengers for rides and ended the incentives used to recruit drivers. Mr. Creery said he now has to drive 10 to 12 hours a day to make the amount of money he once did working six to eight hours. He is not taking it lying down. On Monday, the Seattle City Council plans to vote on a proposed law to give freelance, on-demand drivers like Mr. Creery the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions, a right historically reserved for regular employees. Mr. Creery and hundreds of fellow drivers in Seattle helped push for the legislation. The hope, he said, is to give drivers more say on how much they should be paid. (read article)

Hillary Gets Another Major Union Endorsement Over Bernie

By Connor D. Wolf, December 12, 2015, The Daily Caller

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) announced Thursday it endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a major blow to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. AFGE is the largest federal workers union in the country with 670,000 members. Union leadership conducted a poll finding the vast majority of members support Clinton. The endorsement is the latest in a surge of union support going to Clinton over Sanders. AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. believes Clinton will help to strengthen the federal workforce. “Secretary Clinton shares AFGE’s vision for a strong and vibrant government workforce that has the necessary tools and support needed to deliver vital programs and services to the American public,” Cox says in a statement. “The American people count on government employees to keep their streets safe, deliver their Social Security checks on time, and care for our nation’s heroes at veterans’ hospitals, and AFGE can count on Hillary Clinton to help us get it done.” (read article)

Major New England Police Union Endorses Trump

By Connor D. Wolf, December 11, 2015, The Daily Caller

A major New England police union announced Thursday it endorsed Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump. Unions, for the most part, don’t tend to endorse Republicans. The New England Police Benevolent Association, however, insisted its primary concern is not the party but what is best for its members. The union rallied against President Barack Obama for what it feels is anti-police rhetoric coming from the administration. The decision was made after a vote from the union general membership. “Listen, our message very clear: It’s what is the next president of the United States going to do to unite this country in an effort to save police officers? Because it’s open season on police officers,” Union Executive Director Jerry Flynn told The Associated Press before the vote. “At this point, those of us who are supportive of any party have to look at what is the best interest of our members.” (read article)

Illinois contract with SEIU should have you seeing red

By Scott Reeder, December 11, 2015, Chicago Tribune

Government contracts given to organizations that give major campaign contributions to the politicians who write the agreements can produce some pretty bizarre documents. I remember back when Rod Blagojevich was governor, PWS Environmental, a Cicero firm that had given big bucks to Democratic candidates, suddenly had a contract to clean road-salt storage domes. Only problem was, some engineers said it was unnecessary work. So taxpayers may have received no discernible benefit from the work done. It smacked of a sweetheart deal. Illinois now bars giving major state contracts to companies that have contributed to the campaigns of the politicians making those decisions. It was a good move to eliminate this “pay-to-play” practice. But what about labor unions? They also give lavishly to politicians, and they sign enormous contracts with state government sometimes worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (read article)

Labor Dispute Shakes up Democratic Debate

By Alex Seitz-Wald, December 11, 2015, NBC News

The Democratic National Committee on Friday dropped a top New Hampshire TV station as a sponsor of its upcoming presidential debate over a labor dispute with the union representing some of the station’s employees. The pension dispute involving just around a dozen employees of WMUR, the ABC affiliate in Manchester, had roped in all three Democratic presidential candidates and the DNC, whose chairwoman has been trying to play a mediating role between the union and management ahead of next Saturday’s debate. WMUR holds unique sway for a local TV station as the only network affiliate in New Hampshire, and one of only of two TV news stations based in the state. In addition to holding the nation’s first presidential primary, New Hampshire is also a general election swing state, so the station is perennially a top source of political advertising spending. IBEW Local 1228’s threat to picket next Saturday’s debate in Manchester put the candidates and the DNC in the awkward position of having to decide between siding with the top TV station in a key state, or with organized labor, a critical constituency to the Democratic Party. (read article)

Oakland: Alta Bates Summit union election ballots impounded

By Rebecca Parr, December 11, 2015, San Jose Mercury News

The federal government impounded all ballots cast in a union representation election this week at Alta Bates Summit Hospital after one of the unions filed an unfair labor charge. The National Labor Relations Board will delay counting the ballots while it investigates the allegation filed by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. NUHW and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West competed in the election to represent 850 Alta Bates Summit workers. NUHW alleges SEIU and Sutter Health illegally distributed false messages to its workers about the election. It also accuses an agent in the NLRB’s Oakland office of spreading the messages. “We are confident we followed NLRB election rules and await a final determination by the NLRB,” the hospital said in a statement. (read article)

Obama administration spends millions to push labor unions overseas

By Kellan Howell, December 10, 2015, The Washington Times

Uncle Sam wants you! To be protected by a union, that is, if you work overseas. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) this summer posted a little-noticed grant inviting all eligible organizations worldwide to apply for a program to promote labor unions around the world. USAID will provide $37.5 million to help the grant recipient “promote workers’ representation in policy processes; improve access to justice; advance the effective worldwide application of core international labor standards; and improve the welfare and livelihood opportunities of workers and their families and communities.” The Global Labor Program, according to the grant description, would demonstrate “medium-term results” with “long-term impact.” But the agency said it estimates the government will provide a total of roughly $70 million for the program. “This will include the stated estimated ceiling of $37.5 million for a Leader award, and additional ceiling of $32.5 million to cover any future buy-ins or associate awards,” according to a question-and-answer sheet attached to the grant notice. Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, labeled the grant as wasteful in his “Federal Fumbles” report. The U.S. government should not be using tax dollars to push a labor agenda overseas, he argues. (read article)

Raises OK’d for city’s largest union

By David Garrick, December 10, 2015, The San Diego Union Tribune

San Diego City Council members approved a four-year deal this week with the city’s largest labor union that includes a wide range of compensation increases aimed at boosting employee recruitment and retention. City officials praised the contract with the Municipal Employees Association, which represents more than 4,000 of the city’s nearly 11,000 workers, as the right balance between rewarding employees and protecting taxpayers. It aims to alleviate problems San Diego has had retaining and recruiting employees since pay was cut during the recession and the city eliminated pensions for new hires. The $38 million deal abides by the city’s Proposition B pension reform measure by delaying any salary increases that would hike pensions until July of 2018. And the vast majority of those annual pay increases won’t make the city’s pension system vulnerable because, at 3.3 percent per year, they’re within actuarial estimates of future employee pay hikes. (read article)

Transit Police Union President in NYC Sentenced for Fraud

By Carl Horowitz, December 10, 2015, National Legal and Policy Center

John Earvin used union funds to pay for personal expenses, much of it gambling-related. Now he’s about to pay a debt to society. Earvin, formerly president of the United Federation of Law Enforcement Officers (UFLEO), was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to six months of home confinement, three years of probation and 600 hours of community service for embezzling funds from the Bellerose (Nassau County), N.Y.-based union. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $28,012. Earvin had pleaded guilty in June after being arrested and indicted on one count of wire fraud in March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (read article)

Berryessa board of education approves union labor agreement for bond projects

By Aliyah Mohammed, December 10, 2015, Mercury News

As Berryessa Union School District gets into big campus modernization and repair projects voters approved with the bulk of a $77-million general obligation bond Measure L in November 2014, finding efficient and local labor to work on them has been a priority. In this vein, Berryessa Union School District’s Board of Trustees approved a project stabilization and construction careers agreement on Tuesday with the Santa Clara and San Benito Building and Construction Trades Council. The agreement will pay the labor councils to provide union employees for specific Measure L projects. This labor agreement covers renovation of the central kitchen at Toyon Elementary at 995 Bard St. — where all meals are prepared for district students and staff — and modernization projects at Noble, Northwood, Summerdale, Vinci Park elementary schools and Sierramont Middle School to be performed in 2016. Berryessa Union Superintendent Will H. Ector Jr. said the project stabilization agreement supports the district’s goals of achieving construction efficiency and providing employment opportunities to district residents and military veterans. (read article)

Volkwagen workers celebrate election win, but question union’s partnership strategy

By Chris Brooks, December 9, 2015, Facing South

Skilled-trades workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have won union recognition by a vote of 108 to 44. The 162 workers in this so-called “micro-unit” will be represented by the Auto Workers (UAW). It’s the first time that the union has won certification at a foreign-owned automaker in the U.S. South. The company says it plans to appeal, arguing the micro-unit shouldn’t be allowed. But while celebrating the victory, some pro-union workers in the plant have begun to question the UAW’s management-friendly approach to organizing here. It’s nearly two years since the UAW lost an election to represent the factory’s entire hourly workforce of about 1,500 production and skilled-trades workers. After the loss, the union chartered a “members-only” union, Local 42 — whose activities so far boil down to meeting with management to ask for union recognition. (read article)

American Airlines labor union negotiations set to begin

By Rick Maranon, December 9, 2015, FOX23 News

Intense negotiations between American Airlines and two labor unions, representing its national workforce of mechanics, are set to take place for three weeks in mid-January 2016. The Transport Workers Union and International Association of Machinists met with American officials for the first time to discuss the future of the airlines 30,000 person workforce on Dec. 3. FOX23 was told the meeting was primarily to introduce corporate officials with union officials and lay out initial terms, but in a document obtained by FOX23 of the schedule for future negotiations, the union reported that airline officials did not present their initial terms and conditions at the original meeting. The three weeks of negotiations should lead to a work contract that will bring U.S. Airways mechanics and American Airlines mechanics under one contract, and it would allow U.S. Airways planes to be repaired at the maintenance base at Tulsa International Airport, which is currently not allowed. (read article)

Here’s why union bosses hate California teacher Rebecca Friedrichs

By Jason Hart, December 9, 2015, California Watchdog 

Why are union bosses bashing California teacher Rebecca Friedrichs and the other plaintiffs in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case? In a word: money. In three words: heaps of money. Public employee unions nationwide stand to lose tens of millions of dollars if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Friedrichs and stops CTA from taking mandatory fees from non-members. CTA is a state chapter of the National Education Association, America’s largest labor union. NEA took mandatory fees from 94,080 non-members in 2015; annual fees for full-time teachers were $183. Even if mandatory “agency fee payers” paid an average of just $100, NEA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters took more than $9 million from non-members who had to pay the union so they could teach. State NEA chapter fees are much higher. If the Supreme Court decides teachers can opt out of paying NEA, union bosses will have to modify their spending to account for the loss of forced dues — and to avoid alienating members. (read article)

Rising pay for Sonoma County Board of Supervisors at issue in labor standoff

By Paul Payne, December 9, 2015, The Press Democrat

As Sonoma County and its largest labor union square off over compensation, pay for members of the Board of Supervisors has soared 45 percent over the past 10 years. The increase puts the board among the most well-compensated in the state, ahead of counterparts in many larger jurisdictions, an analysis shows. As of July 1, supervisors received base pay of $141,780 a year plus other earnings, pushing their total pay to almost $160,000. The latest raise added up to a more than $5,000 increase from supervisors’ base earnings in 2014, thanks to a formula that tethers their salaries to 75 percent of what state superior court judges earn. By comparison, San Francisco and Sacramento supervisors received annual salaries of about $118,000, according to a Bay Area survey released this summer. Only supervisors in a handful of urban counties such as Alameda and Los Angeles made more, the latest statistics from the California Controller’s Office show. (read article)

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