Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Cal State Faculty Union Plans 5-Day Strike for April

By Lisa Leff, February 9, 2016, KQED News

The union that represents California State University faculty said Monday it is preparing for a five-day strike at the system’s 23 campuses, by far the largest walkout since professors and instructors won collective bargaining rights in the early 1980s. The California Faculty Association’s board of directors voted Friday night to schedule a strike for April 13-15 and April 18-19, unless Cal State administrators before then increase the size of the pay raises the union’s 26,000 members will receive this school year, CFA president Jennifer Eagan said. The strike holds the potential to bring the campuses to a virtual standstill. The association represents counselors, librarians and coaches, as well as faculty members who would cancel classes and skip scheduled office hours to walk picket lines, Eagan said. “The strike would be a historic strike,” Eagan said. “If it happens, it will impact the CSU for a very long time.” Allied labor organizations that represent custodians, bus drivers and other support staff have agreed not to cross the lines if a work stoppage is called, she said. The CSU chancellor’s office did not have immediate comment on the union’s plans. The administration previously has said the raises the union is seeking would cost $69 million that already has been pledged to increasing enrollment, hiring more faculty and initiatives to improve graduation rates. (read article)

CSU strike days set if contract talks remain fruitless

By Steven Moore, February 9, 2016, Redwood Times

The union representing some 25,000 faculty, counselors, librarians and coaches at the 23 California State University campuses, including Humboldt State, could stage a five-day strike in April. The California Faculty Association Board voted over the weekend to set dates for potential strikes if no agreement is reached with California State University management. For the past two years, faculty members have waged a “Fight for Five,” a 5 percent general salary Increase for all faculty. Chancellor Timothy White and CSU management have repeatedly rejected the 5 percent raise and instead have offered 2 percent. Michael Camann, president of the HSU Chapter of the California Faculty Association, said a strike is the last resort, but the faculty members have experienced salary stagnation the past 10 years. The 5 percent raise they seek will allow them to partially recover from . “No one, of course, wants to go on strike, but the feeling I’m getting from my colleagues is we don’t have any choice,” the zoology professor said. “The chancellor’s office is not bargaining in good faith.” The five strike days will occur April 13-15 and April 18-19 unless an agreement is reached. If a strike takes place, all faculty work on behalf of the university will halt. Camann said he expects CSU management to highlight how the strike days will hurt students, but he recalls the 18 days the faculty members were idled in 2010 because of furlough plan. (read article)

Republicans lead on guaranteeing citizens their right to work

By Julio Fuentes, February 8, 2016, Miami Herald

After the events in Paris and San Bernardino, Americans are concerned with security, and rightly so. The defeat of ISIS is essential to our safety and the continuation of our democratic way of life. Troubling as this threat is, hard-working people also worry about their financial security as this country struggles to build an economic recovery that reaches deep into our communities. President Obama has made it clear that Democrats cannot lead on either front. As Election Day approaches, we must look to the other side of the ticket for solutions. Among the problems Republicans alone are willing to address is Big Labor’s increasing stranglehold on the workplace and economic growth. Unfortunately, the current administration has done everything in its power to boost union dominance. Employees who prefer not to unionize are being denied a voice by a process designed to hand them — and a portion of their paychecks — over to labor organizations. We must reverse this trend before the worst of union aggression reaches the Sunshine State. To do that, we need the Employee Rights Act. So far, Floridians have been fortunate. The right to work — without being forced to join a union in order to get or keep a job — is enshrined in the state’s Constitution. Given a choice, our workers have been reluctant to join unions that provide little benefit to members while serving the whims of union bosses. Accordingly, only 7 percent of our workforce is unionized, and labor organizations have tended not to cross our borders because we don’t grant them mandatory dues. (read article)

A Labor Union Filed an Uber-Huge Representation Petition With the NLRB

By Jon Hyman, February 8, 2016, WorkForce

Politico New York reported last week that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1430, petitioned the NLRB to represent 600 New York area Uber drivers.Uber is locked in a battles all over the country with its drivers, defending lawsuits claiming that its drivers are employees for wage-and-hour purposes. This case, however, brought in the most employee friendly forum Uber drivers could possibly find, is the first attempt by drivers to organize. And because of the employee-friendliness of the NLRB, this story has the potential to be absolutely huge. Of all of the issues facing employers in 2016, the most significant is the definition of who qualifies as an employee. The Department of Labor is examining the differences between employees and independent contractors, and employees and interns, the DOL (both its Wage and Hour Division and OSHA) and the NLRB are examining joint employers, and the EEOC is examining LGBT rights. We are a crossroads in the very definition of the employment relationship, and Obama’s federal agencies are leading the charge. Mark my words, the NLRB will conclude that Uber drivers have the right to organize as employees. The question, however, is whether that conclusion will hold up in court. (read article)

What’s Really Keeping Americans From Work

By Rep. Dave Brat, February 7, 2016, The Daily Signal

Friday’s labor report confirms that too many hardworking Americans are unable to find the jobs they seek because U.S. job growth remains anemic, and average wages are stagnant. The latest labor report numbers show that 41,000 additional Americans dropped out of the work force, leading to a total of 94,062,000 Americans not participating in the labor force in January when seasonally adjusted, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The “real” unemployment rate in January remained unchanged from December at 9.9 percent. Almost six million Americans worked part-time in January but would have accepted full-time jobs if they could have found them, according to the bureau. Americans want to work, but they’re hampered from doing so by labor laws that do not represent their interests and have calcified over the course of six decades. Congress needs to get serious about letting Americans get back to work, and that is why I am a proud cosponsor of legislation that brings our labor laws into the 21st century and protects the rights of workers. Eighty-eight percent of union members already believe they should have the right to decide whether a union negotiates their contract, and both the Employee Rights Act and the Federal Employee Rights Act that I am cosponsoring finally allow members to do so. Workers deserve the right to decide whether they wish to be represented by a union, instead of being forced to join one because they have taken a job where one is already in place. Both bills protect the free speech of workers and make sure they have the right to vote in private, free from unfair coercion. These bills require secret ballots in all union elections, and they prohibit union pressure tactics. (read article)

Union Workers in Tucson, Phoenix Go On Strike Against US Foods

By Maria Ines Taracena, February 5, 2016, Tucson Weekly

More than 200 union members in Arizona employed by US Foods declared an unfair labor practice strike last night as negotiations for a new contract with one of the nation’s largest food service providers has been stalled for months. Members of the Teamsters Local 104 Union have been working without a contract since October 2015. The union’s negotiating committee and US Foods tried to come up with an agreement throughout the summer. As the last contract reached its expiration date, the Teamsters “overwhelmingly” rejected US Foods’ “best final offer,” says Kevin Thomas, member of the Teamsters’ negotiating committee. “We had some additional days to negotiate, and there was no movement. We are trying to explain to the company that working without a contract is not benefiting the members. These folks have families, they are part of our community. You can’t go on with your life without some type of job security as far as health benefits…pension… wages,” he says. According to the Teamsters, US Foods negotiated in “bad faith” and discriminates against workers affiliated with unions. US Foods is currently under investigation with the National Labor Relations Board for violations of federal labor law, such as disciplining union workers and refusing to hire union members, the Teamsters say. (read article)

Clinton Surrogate Howard Dean Says Labor Unions Are Just Super PACs That Democrats Like

By Chuck Ross, February 5, 2016, The Daily Caller

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean isn’t a very good surrogate for Hillary Clinton. The failed 2004 presidential candidate threw labor unions under the bus during an interview on MSNBC on Friday while making a feeble attempt to defend Clinton against criticism over the millions of dollars she has earned on the corporate speech-making circuit. “Why does Hillary Clinton have to put up with a double standard?” complained Dean, who served as chair of the Democratic National Committee after his failed presidential bid. “I don’t hear anybody asking Bernie Sanders for his transcripts for some speech he made with a labor union,” Dean continued. He then took aim at Sanders’ frequent campaign stump claim that he does not receive money from super PACs, which have become a target of progressives who support campaign finance reform. Dean said that the statement is inaccurate since the 74-year-old candidate receives money from labor unions. “For Bernie to say that he doesn’t have a super PAC, labor unions are super PACs. Now they’re super PACs that Democrats like, so we don’t go after labor unions,” asserted Dean, who is perhaps most famous for a maniacal scream he made following a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses in 2004. (read article)

VW’s two-front fight: U.S. regulators, German unions

By Christoph Rauwald, February 5, 2016, Chicago Tribune

As Volkswagen brawls with U.S. regulators over its cheating on emissions tests, the automaker faces a different fight back home: Labor leaders are questioning cost- saving measures that could free up cash as the company faces what will likely be billions of dollars in fines. For the past two years, the automaker has sought to boost efficiency at the Volkswagen brand, where profit margins lag those of most competitors and other VW divisions. Though union chief Bernd Osterloh supports the 2014 savings push, last month he criticized a sweeping overhaul of operations laid out by Herbert Diess, a veteran of BMW who took over as brand chief last July. The “restructuring efforts are heating up friction between VW brand management and the works council,” said Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at Evercore ISI in London. The tension will probably increase as collective bargaining talks start this spring. Labor union IG Metall is asking for a wage increase between 4.5 percent and 5 percent, even though inflation is near zero. Those negotiations set the bar for VW, which starts its talks on April 26. Last year, Germany’s largest union sought 5.5 percent before settling for 3.4 percent, a deal VW sweetened with an extra pension contribution. With Volkswagen facing hundreds of lawsuits and fines of as much as $46 billion (though the actual number will likely be a fraction of that), it will be harder for VW to be as generous this time around. (read article)

Kentucky Labor Groups Cheer Right-to-Work Victory

By Kevin Willis, February 4, 2016, 89.3 WFPL

The leader of the Kentucky AFL-CIO says labor groups are ready to fight future efforts to pass what supporters call right-to-work laws. Union groups scored a major legal victory Wednesday when U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled that county governments can’t enact the rules on a local level. Right-to-work laws prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment. Twelve Kentucky counties enacted local right-to-work ordinances last year after efforts to pass a statewide version failed in the General Assembly. Hardin County was one of the dozen that did so, and labor unions filed a suit against the county challenging the legality of the move. Kentucky AFL-CIO executive director Bill Londrigan said unions know the legal battle isn’t over, despite this week’s court victory. “We fully expect the defendants to file an appeal on this case, and with the strong, strong ruling by the U.S. District Judge David Hale, we feel that they’re going to be unsuccessful at that level, as well,” Londrigan said. Supporters of right-to-work, including Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, say the laws make states more attractive to businesses. This week’s ruling against county right-to-work efforts could mean supporters redouble their efforts to get a statewide law passed. (read article)

Millennials rooting for the demise of labor unions

By Madison Gessiotto, February 4, 2016, The Washington Times

Unions nationwide are in distress, and millennials, who make up the largest portion of the American workforce by age, aren’t exactly worried. Millennials just flat-out aren’t interested in joining unions, unlike their Baby Boomer and Generation X parents, who previously joined in large numbers. In 2014 and 2015, union membership hit 100-year lows, with only 4 percent of workers aged 16 to 24 deciding to join. And, the upcoming Supreme Court decision in Friederichs v. California Teachers Association will likely deliver an additional blow to already suffering unions, further weakening their financial and bargaining powers. The case involves a group of teachers who sued a large and well-known public-sector union, arguing that their First Amendment rights had been violated. How? Well, for years, unions in California have been allowed to become the exclusive bargaining representatives for public school employees by simply showing that the majority of employees wished to be represented by the union. However, if an employee doesn’t join the union, they are still forced to pay a “fair share service fee,” which is oftentimes not much less than the union membership fee. Then, the unions use a portion of this “fair share service fees” for collective bargaining activities, and the remaining portion, titled the “non-chargeable” fee, is used for non-collective bargaining endeavors, such as political lobbying and campaign spending. Now, this “non-chargeable” portion of the fee may be returned, but only if it is requested. Sharp-eyed millennials see this as a backdoor union tax — one that can be used by the union to support candidates they do not like and fund issues with which they do not agree. (read article)

Bernie Sanders Has His Own Shadowy Donors — And They’re Nurses

By Dave Jamieson, February 4, 2016, Huffington Post

During Thursday night’s Democratic debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) trotted out a variation on a line we’ve heard from him often on the campaign trail: “I’m the only candidate up here who doesn’t have a super PAC.” As a loud critic of money in politics, Sanders loves to rip super PACs while on the stump. And he’s right to suggest that super PACs backing rival Hillary Clinton’s candidacy are raising piles of dough right now. But Sanders’ bid for the White House also has a super PAC supporting it. It’s called National Nurses United for Patient Protection. National Nurses United is a labor union of 185,000 registered nurses known for its progressive politics. It was the first national union to endorse Sanders’ campaign for the presidency, though most big unions have lined up behind Clinton. NNU’s members have become a fixture at Sanders’ rallies in the early primary states, and they canvassed hard for him in Iowa, where he finished neck-and-neck with the presumed front-runner. While NNU’s money may not match the most powerful corporate super PACs, it’s hardly insignificant cash. As Politico recently reported, the group pulled in $2.3 million in 2015, its largest single-year haul ever.It shelled out $1.3 million during the second half of last year, with $400,000 of it going to other groups that support Sanders. (read article)

New bill could undo some federal union representation practices

By Nicole Ogrysko, February 4, 2016, Federal News Radio

Federal union members could see some big changes to their labor representation practices if a new bill from House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) passes. The Federal Employee Rights Act, a draft of which Federal News Radio obtained, would undo several longstanding provisions in the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, which Congress passed in conjunction with the Civil Service Reform Act in 1978. Price introduced the bill Feb. 4. Specifically, the bill would prohibit agencies from deducting labor union dues from federal employees’ paychecks. It would also change the way votes are counted among employees in a unit who are holding an election to consider union representation. The legislation requires that agencies use a secret paper ballot election to decide whether to accept union representation. It also requires that more than 50 percent of employees within a particular unit indicate that they want an election to consider possible union representation. Current law requires a petition from 30 percent of employees. When the vote occurs, the tally would only consider employees who submitted a ballot in the election. Employees who do not cast a ballot would be counted as voting “no” to union representation. Some federal labor organizations say the bill would make it more difficult for employees to join or continue union representation. (read article)

W.Va. House passes “right-to-work” bill

By Lacie Pierson, February 4, 2016, The Herald-Dispatch

West Virginia was on pace Thursday to become the 26th state to adopt right-to-work policies after the West Virginia House of Delegates voted 54-46 to approve SB 1 Thursday evening. The vote came after more than 4 1/2 hours of debate in the House, which included at least eight calls of order from Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, to quiet guests in the gallery who applauded the comments of delegates who spoke against the bill. The legislation eliminates agreements to require membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment, and the bill will go back to the Senate, since it was amended in the House of Delegates earlier this week. If the senate passes the bill, it would move to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s desk. Tomblin is expected to veto any right-to-work bill that makes it to his desk. If Tomblin were to sign the bill in to law, it would mean no person could be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join, not join or to pay dues to a labor union. Opponents of the bill voiced their concerns that the bill was being rushed through for political reasons, as opposed to improving state code or working conditions. They argued that the projected job growth that is anticipated with the bill’s transition into law isn’t significant enough ends to justify the means. Supporters of the bill said that while the projected job growth is less than 1 percent, the bill was one piece of a puzzle that could be used to improve the state’s economy and the job outlook of its citizens. (read article)

Hillary and Bernie’s Union Power — in Iowa and Beyond

By Justin Miller, February 3, 2016, The American Prospect

While major unions mobilize for Clinton in a big way, there are fiery Bernie backers pushing back within the labor movement. The American labor movement went up against itself in the weeks leading up to the Iowa Democratic caucuses. The operations staged in Iowa by the labor supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will serve as a test-run for higher-profile efforts as the primary season ramps up. Institutionally, the movement tilts heavily toward Clinton. Not since their campaign for Vice President Al Gore, in his 2000 primary battle against Senator Bill Bradley, have the country’s major labor unions mounted the kind of battle they’re waging now for Hillary Clinton. In all likelihood, unions helped push Clinton over the top in Iowa on Monday night. Among the 21 percent of caucus attendees who came from union households, Clinton claimed 52 percent support while Sanders garnered 43 percent. The linchpins of Clinton’s labor support are the nation’s four giant public employee unions: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the National Education Association (NEA); and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). These “Big Four” alone represent more than 7.5 million union members—roughly, half the nation’s union members. (read article)

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