Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Agriculture reacts to California’s new overtime law

By Todd Fitchette, September 13, 2016, Western Farm Press

California Gov. Edmund Brown doesn’t need to please farmers anymore as he will be termed out of office in a couple years and someone new, with probably the same penchant for over-regulating the state’s farmers, will take his place in the state capitol. That said, Gov. Brown signed (Sept. 12) signed AB 1066 into law, a bill that forces farmers to pay their employees overtime after eight hours per day. Current law exempts agricultural employees from the state’s overtime law. The law will be phased in over the next several years, meaning that farm workers who are not a part of a labor union won’t see the full effects of the law until 2020. Those who work under collective bargaining agreements will see none of this. (read article)

California’s Citizens United ballot measure: Who’s for it, who’s against it and what it could really do

By Sarah D. Wire, September 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times

California voters will get to weigh in on the flood of money in politics this November through a ballot proposition that supporters say sends a strong message and detractors say does nothing much at all. Proposition 59 is part of the uphill fight against the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen’s United decision, which said money spent to influence voters that isn’t funneled through a candidate’s campaign is free speech, and the federal government cannot prohibit corporations and labor unions from spending money that way. Since the decision, elections have become dramatically more expensive, with hundreds of millions being spent to influence elections at all levels by groups that don’t have to disclose their donors. (read article)

Fight for $15 Swarms 28 State Capital After Worker Dies

By Connor D. Wolf, September 12, 2016, Inside Sources

The Fight for $15 movement protested in over two dozen state capitals Monday in response to a low-wage worker dying. Fight for $15 organizers setup rallies and vigils at 28 state capitals across the country. Participants marched through the streets of cities like Dallas, Texas. They also held church services in cities, including Chicago, Illinois. Movement organizers dedicated the day to a low-wage worker who had died. The Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of the minimum wage push since it started in 2012. The movement is primarily backed by labor unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Those opposed argue raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would actually be detrimental for many workers who would lose their jobs. (read article)

Nuclear backers: California legislature, not PUC, should review Diablo Canyon closure

By Gavin Bade, September 12, 2016, Utility Dive

The pro-nuclear nonprofit Environmental Progress wants the California Public Utilities Commission to step aside and allow the state legislature to determine the fate of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, slated for closure by Pacific Gas & Electric. In a filing last Wednesday, the group said the CPUC should refuse to review the joint settlement PG&E made with environmental and labor groups on the closure of the 2,240 MW plant, arguing the agency is in a “crisis of legitimacy.” At the time, the group’s president Mike Shellenberger went as far to say the agreement was negotiated by “corrupt institutions behaving unethically and perhaps illegally” — a charge the utility and its partners in the joint settlement vehemently deny. (read article)

Union: UTA spends plenty of taxpayer money to block labor organizing

By Lee Davidson, September 9, 2016, Salt Lake Tribune

A labor union is complaining that the Utah Transit Authority is likely spending a lot of taxpayer money to try to persuade 44 TRAX supervisors to vote against organizing in an election scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. UTA declined to say whether it is spending any money on the effort or, if so, how much. The agency has delayed its responses to separate open-records requests seeking such information both by Teamsters Local 222 and The Salt Lake Tribune. “They are spending a lot of money,” asserts Britt Miller, business agent for the Teamsters local. “Our concern is tax dollars are being used to deny these workers their right to organize.” (read article)

Court orders board to probe complaint about labor union

By Michael Rubinkam, September 9, 2016, Williamsport Sun-Gazette

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board erred when it refused to investigate a college professor’s complaint involving the use of teacher union dues to promote the 2014 candidacy of Gov. Tom Wolf, a state appeals court ruled Thursday. State law prohibits public employee unions from using union funds to support political candidates. The board “ignored the General Assembly’s intent that it, and not the Attorney General, police compliance” with the law and thus “abdicated its statutory responsibilities,” the court said. (read article)

Prop. 52, a measure to fund Medi-Cal, is its own worst enemy

By Victoria Colliver, September 9, 2016, San Francisco Chronicle 

Supporters of Proposition 52, a California ballot measure that would lock in an existing hospital fee that helps fund the state’s Medicaid program for the poor, know their biggest opposition is the measure itself. While the proposition lacks organized opponents, it’s just the sort of wonky, complicated and arcane type of measure that frustrates voters and makes them likely to skip that box on their elections form or to simply vote “no.” “A lot of initiatives are not that simple, and this is included in that. That’s especially challenging given how large the ballot is,” said Kevin Riggs, spokesman for the Yes on 52 campaign, of the 17 statewide voter initiatives on the November ballot. Prop. 52, backed by the California Hospital Association, would make permanent the “hospital quality assurance fee,” a fee that’s been collected since 2009 on hospital stays, ranging from $145 to $618 a day. (read article)

The National Labor Relations Board Says Charter School Teachers Are Private Employees

By Rachel M. Cohen, September 8, 2016, The American Prospect

The National Labor Relations Board issued a pair of decisions in late August, which ruled that teachers at charter schools are private employees, therefore falling under the NLRB’s jurisdiction. The cases centered on two schools with teachers vying for union representation: PA Virtual Charter School, a statewide cyber charter in Pennsylvania, and Hyde Leadership Charter School, located in Brooklyn. In both cases, the NLRB concluded that the charters were “private corporation whose governing board members are privately appointed and removed,” and were neither “created directly by the state” nor “administered by individuals who are responsible to public officials or the general electorate.” (read article)

This Union Employee Has Never Voted for His Union. Here’s What He Says About That

By Leah Jessen, September 7, 2016, Daily Signal

Of the 8 million unionized, private sector employees in the United States, 94 percent have never voted for their own labor union representation. An hourly autoworker at the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Terry Bowman, told The Daily Signal that during his 20 years of employment at Ford he has never voted for the union that represents him. “I have no power to represent myself in any way, shape, or form,” Bowman, a UAW-Ford (United Automobile Workers) employee, told The Daily Signal. “Everything that I have and do is based on that collective bargaining agreement that I have basically been forced to accept if I want to work at Ford Motor Company.” (read article)

NLRB rules that graduate students at private universities can form unions

By Mimi Li, September 7, 2016, CSULA University Times

In a 3-1 decision last month, The National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants at private universities have the right to unionize. The decision was a response to a petition filed by the Graduate Workers of Columbia and the United Auto Workers. The decision overturned a 2004 Brown University ruling, which concluded that engaging in collective bargaining would interfere with the purpose of a graduate student’s education, which was the same argument that Columbia University made for this case.  (read article)

Jury finds against union, awards $5.3 million in damages to cleaning firm

By L.M. Sixel, September 6, 2016, Houston Chronicle

A Harris County jury on Tuesday awarded a Houston commercial cleaning firm $5.3 million in damages, finding that a labor union’s aggressive organizing campaign went too far when it maligned the reputation of the company. It opens the door for more employers to sue unions over hardball tactics often used in membership drives and contract disputes. The jury, by a 10-2 vote, found for Professional Janitorial Service in a suit the company brought nine years ago against the Service Employees International Union, which targeted the company as part of its “Justice for Janitors” organizing campaign and wrongly claimed Professional Janitorial Service had violated wage, overtime and other labor laws. (read article)

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