Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Transparency measure won’t be on ballot

By David Garrick, July 12, 2016, San Diego Union Tribune

A proposal to increase government transparency in the city of San Diego suffered a setback this week when the City Council decided not to place it on the November ballot. The proposal would have made city business conducted by employees on private devices, such as cell phones and personal computers, subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act. The goal is preventing city workers, particularly elected officials and their staffs, from avoiding disclosure by conducting business privately instead of in the city’s email system. No council members expressed opposition to the new policy, but they voted 7-2 against placing it on the November ballot based on concerns that the city still must negotitiate the change with labor unions that represent the bulk of city employees. (read article)

The War over Obama’s Labor Agenda

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

The NLRB’s latest pro-labor ruling comes just as Republicans turn up the heat on their plan to undermine the president’s labor legacy. The National Labor Relations Board is reaffirming its view that labor law must now address the brave new world of the fissured workplace—where workers are often separated from their actual employer by layers of subcontractors and staffing agencies. On Monday, the board announced a decision on the case Miller & Anderson, ruling that unions that want to represent bargaining units including direct employees as well as “permatemps,” contract workers, and other indirect workers that share a “community of interest” are no longer required to get permission from the parent company. (read article)

In Historic NLRB Ruling, Temps Win the Right To Join Unions

By Alex Ding, July 12, 2016, In These Times

A new ruling will enable temporary and permanent employees to come together to negotiate with their bosses in mixed bargaining units. The National Labor Relations Board on Monday overturned a Bush-era standard that said a union could only organize a bargaining unit of jointly employed and regular employees if both employers consented—even if those employees worked together closely. “Jointly employed” includes temps who are hired through staffing agencies. The new decision allows jointly employed temps to bargain collectively in the same unit with the solely employed workers they work alongside, ruling that bosses need not consent so long as workers share a “community of interest.” In a 3-1 decision, the Board overturned a 12-year-old ruling in Oakwood Care Center, where the Board said that a group of temporary workers could not unionize with permanent employees without the approval of their employer and the appropriate staffing agency. (read article)

Unions rejoice after federal judge strikes down Georgia labor law

By Greg Bluestein, July 12, 2016, Atlanta Georgia Constitution

A federal judge nixed part of a Georgia law criticized by the state’s labor organizations as an effort to chip away at their influence. The most contentious part of the 2013 law allowed employees to cancel their union membership at any time, rather than only after a one-year period. It was backed by Republicans as a way to bolster Georgia’s “right to work” status and burnish the state’s pro-business reputation. Opponents of the legislation, including some leading Democrats, saw it as another threat to the waning power of union groups. U.S. District Judge William O’Kelley ruled this month that the Georgia rules were “unenforceable” because they were at odds with federal labor rules. He let stand other provisions of the law, including a “statement of rights” that reinforces the right of employers to oppose the recognition of unions. (read article)

CCSF labor negotiations shift gears as new school year looms

By Michael Barba, July 12, 2016, San Francisco Examiner

The faculty union and administration at City College of San Francisco returned to a mediator Monday in an attempt to resolve their labor dispute as the first day of school approaches next month. CCSF and the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, which represents the school’s faculty members, met three times with a panel of fact-finders in recent weeks after unsuccessful talks with a mediator ended in March. Faculty at the college have worked without a contract since it expired in June 2015 amid salary negotiations. Both sides have accused the other of unfair labor practices, which the union went on a one-day strike over in April. The strike followed an offer from the administration to boost faculty pay, but the union declined the offer saying it would have been a minimal increase from their 2007 wages. Unless the two sides come to an agreement, the fact-finders will release a nonbinding report to establish a factual basis for the negotiations. (read article)

California governor looks to extend climate-change efforts

By Ellen Knickmeyer & Juliet Williams, July 11, 2016, Albany Times Union

California Gov. Jerry Brown has launched a campaign to extend some of the most ambitious climate-change programs in the country and ensure his environmental legacy when he leaves office in two years. The centerpiece of the push is a cap-and-trade program that aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels by forcing manufacturers and other companies to meet tougher emissions limits or pay up to exceed them. The program has been one of the most-watched efforts in the world aimed at the climate-changing fuels. The four-year-old program, however, is only authorized to operate until 2020 and faces a litany of challenges, including a lawsuit questioning its legality, poor sales of credits, and lukewarm support among Democratic legislators to extend it. On Tuesday, the California Air Resources Board will release a proposed blueprint for continuing the cap-and-trade program until 2030, with a vote expected next year. (read article)

Labor unions file injunction to halt West Virginia Right to Work law

By Associated Press, July 11, 2016, PR News Channel

When West Virginia legislators passed The Workplace Freedom Act, a.k.a. Right to Work, earlier this year, labor leaders vowed to defeat it. Two days before the law was supposed to be implemented a coalition of AFL-CIO and other labor leaders made good on their promise with a last minute injunction in hopes of stopping the controversial legislation. The injunction argues that the law is unconstitutional because it takes away property without due process. The labor groups are hoping that the courts can help stop what the governor couldn’t. Despite the long odds of success with an injunction, labor supporters see hope in a similar case in Wisconsin where a lower court overruled a recent Right to Work law. (read article)

Strike Threat Again Facing UFCW, California Grocers

By Rhonda Smith, July 10, 2016, Bloomberg BNA

The increasingly crowded supermarket industry in Southern California might make negotiating a new labor contract for some 48,000 affected workers harder than it has been in recent years, analysts told Bloomberg BNA. “It’s been such a topsy-turvy, highly competitive market in San Diego, so for the unions it’s a different negotiating environment,” said Miro Copic, a marketing lecturer and branding authority at San Diego State University who monitors retail trade developments. Two developments are limiting the bargaining power wielded by the United Food and Commercial Workers and traditional grocery stores operating in Southern California. Two developments are limiting the bargaining power wielded by the United Food and Commercial Workers and traditional grocery stores operating in Southern California. The UFCW, among other unions, is losing members employed in the private sector. (read article)

House Appropriations marks up labor spending bill

By Marianne Levine, July 7, 2016, Politico

The House Appropriations subcommittee for labor this morning will mark up a spending bill for fiscal year 2017 that blocks the Labor Department’s overtime and fiduciary rules. The bill also extends provisions from last December’s omnibus that allows H-2B employers to use private wage surveys to determine the prevailing wage for their workers. In addition, the measure blocks the National Labor Relations Board from enforcing its newly broadened joint employer standard and its December 2014 rule to speed up the union election process. The bill would also bar the NLRB from issuing any regulation that would allow workers to vote electronically in union elections or from recognizing smaller bargaining units. Whether the appropriations bill will actually go anywhere is unclear. The bill, as of now, is not likely to make it to the House floor. (read article)

San Joaquin County, California strikers sent back to work with no contract

By Genevieve Leigh, July 9, 2016, World Socialist Web Site

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) shut down a three-day unfair labor practices strike by thousands of San Joaquin County, California public employees Thursday after three days on the picket line. The nearly 4,400 workers, whose contract expired June 30, are still without a collective bargaining agreement. SEIU Local 1021 is the bargaining agent for the county workers, whose jobs include hospital techs, road maintenance, sewer maintenance, park workers, juvenile hall behavioral health services and many other important public service jobs. Last week union officials and county negotiators failed to reach an agreement on a new contract after three months of negotiations. The most contentious issue in the negotiations was the county’s proposal of a dismal 6 percent wage increase over the course of three years, a figure that would not even manage to cover the rate of inflation, currently around 2.2 percent annually in California. The union is asking for a 14 percent increase over the same period of time. (read article)

Labor board rules against Rauner in union case

By John Byrne and Monique Garcia, July 7, 2016, Chicago Tribune

A state labor panel on Thursday rejected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s attempt to skip a step in his ongoing dispute with the largest state employee union over a new contract. The Illinois Labor Relations Board voted unanimously that the case should stay with an administrative law judge rather than come straight to the board as the Rauner administration had sought. The ruling came after the judge, Sarah Kerley, explained how long it would take board members to get up to speed on the complex case involving the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. If the board sides with the union, contract talks would resume. If it sides with the administration, Rauner could impose his own terms, at which point the union could go on strike. (read article)

Fed Says Brexit, Slowing Labor Market Were Factors in Decision to Leave Rates Unchanged

By Ali Meyer, July 6, 2016, July 6, 2016, Washington Free Beacon

The Federal Reserve said that uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, a slowed labor market, and economic uncertainty were factors in its decision to leave the federal funds rate unchanged, according to the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s June meeting. “After assessing the outlook for economic activity, the labor market, and inflation, and after weighing the uncertainties associated with the outlook, members agreed to leave the target range for the federal funds rate unchanged,” the minutes read. “An additional factor in the Committee’s policy deliberations was the upcoming U.K. referendum on membership in the European Union. (read article)

Lawsuit: California Workers’ Compensation System Biased Against Women

By Associated Press, July 6, 2016, CBS Local

California’s workers’ compensation system discriminates against women by judging benefits on the basis of stereotypes and ignoring harm done to women — such as refusing permanent benefits when a woman loses a breast to cancer, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday. The suit, filed on behalf of several women and a labor union, argues that women’s equal opportunity rights are violated by a system where the medical examiners are overwhelmingly male and the guide used to determine the level of disability from a work injury is gender-biased. The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of several women, including two veteran police officers who had mastectomies. (read article)

This Latest Labor Gambit Is a Piece of Work

By David Rivkin Jr. & Jay Krupin, July 5, 2016, Wall Street Journal

The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Richard F. Griffin Jr., recently launched another salvo in the board’s continuing assault on the rights of employers and employees. He aims to alter labor law by punishing employers who—following the publicly expressed wishes of their employees—withdraw recognition from unions. Currently, employers can refuse to recognize or bargain with incumbent unions if most of their employees wish to free themselves from the union’s grasp. Under the proposed new National Labor Relations Board policy, employers will be precluded from walking away from a union, and will be sanctioned by the NLRB, unless employees first vote to leave in an NLRB-conducted secret-ballot election. Such elections tend to be costly and protracted affairs, which may be part of their appeal to the NLRB now. (read article)

Judge’s Ruling Re-Opens a Major Loophole that Allows Union Busters To Remain in the Shadows

By Moshe Z. Marvit, July 5, 2016, In These Times

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) passed the “persuader rule” that closed a major loophole, which has for decades allowed employers to hire attorneys and consultants to secretly assist them in what is politely referred to in the industry as “union avoidance.” The goal of this activity is to persuade and prevent workers from organizing unions. The new rule did not try to make the consultants’ and attorneys’ practices illegal, or regulate the types of activities that employers and consultants could engage in; it was simply intended to provide transparency to workers who are the subject of a coordinated anti-union campaign. But last week, a Texas federal district court judge issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the DOL from implementing the rule. (read article)

Teachers Union Boos Clinton For Charter School Comments

By Connor D. Wolf, July 5, 2016, The Daily Caller

Presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was booed by union delegates Tuesday for saying public and charter schools should share ideas. The National Education Association hosted the presidential hopeful during its annual representative assembly. Clinton spoke on educational policies but ran afoul with union delegates when she discussed charter schools. “When schools get it right, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working,” Clinton said before the union delegates, according to Politico. “And share it with schools across America.” Clinton urged the delegates to rise above the fights happening within the educational system. (read article)


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