Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Does California shutdown mean the end of nuclear power? Not so fast.

By Jessica Mendoza, June 28, 2016, Christian Science Monitor

When California’s largest electric utility announced last week that it would close the state’s last operational nuclear power plant, supporters were quick to call the moment a potential game changer for America’s energy future. And the move, in which state regulators nudged Pacific Gas & Electric Co. toward a plan to close its Diablo Canyon reactor, comes as other states have also been closing nuclear plants or planning to do so. Solar and wind power are surging, and PG&E said the Diablo Canyon power will be replaced by renewables. Some new reactors are being built. Some governors even in other politically liberal states are trying to save old reactors rather than scrap them. And though cheap natural gas may have called the economics of nuclear plants into question, environmentalists are divided over whether a nuclear phaseout would be wise. (read article)

‘Labor Unions Now Play a Particularly Boutique Role in the Economy’

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown, June 28, 2016, Reason (blog)

As president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from 1996-2010, Andy Stern was called “the nation’s most politically influential union president.” Now Stern believes that labor unions are increasingly irrelevant. “Labor unions now play a particularly boutique role in the economy,” he told The Atlantic. “I believe that this is not our father’s or our grandfather’s economy, that the 21st century will not be employer-managed,” Stern said. “It’s going to be self-managed, because the growth in alternative work relationships—contingent, freelance, gig, whatever you want to call it—is clearly going to increase. Stern left traditional labor organizing because he “could not figure out anymore how a shrinking labor movement, a changing economy, a changing structure of work” could lead to economic security for Americans. (read article)

Justices reject request to rehear union case that tied 4-4

By Associated Press, June 28, 2016, The Denver Post

The Supreme Court has turned down a long-shot request to hold new arguments in a major labor union case that ended in a 4-4 tie. The justices on Tuesday denied without comment a petition from a group of California teachers urging the court to reconsider the case once a new justice is confirmed. The court almost never rehears cases. It would have taken five justices to agree to a rehearing. The tie vote in March was a victory for unions in a case they once seemed all but certain to lose before Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. (read article)

Labor unions file lawsuit challenging ‘right-to-work’ law

By Associated Press, June 28, 2016, Huntington Herald Dispatch

Labor unions from around the state have filed petitions in Kanawha Circuit Court challenging West Virginia’s new “right-to-work” law as an illegal taking of union property and resources. The lawsuit, filed Monday by 11 unions, contends that the Workplace Freedom Act is intended to discourage union membership by “enabling nonmembers of unions to get union services for free,” reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. The petition cites other issues with the right-to-work law, including a definitions section that seems to limit the law to public employee unions. Some predict that the case will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court, including Josh Sword, secretary of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, one of the plaintiffs. (read article)

Assemblywoman Bonilla, a former teacher, takes on the powerful union

By George Skelton, June 27, 2016, Los Angeles Times

School reformers keep suffering setbacks in California — first in court, now in the Legislature. In Sacramento, the California Teachers Assn. — arguably the most powerful labor union in the state — is practically unbeatable because of its ability to spend millions supporting or opposing a legislative candidate. It’s an intimidating force. Reformers — those trying to make it easier to fire bad teachers and retain good ones — were jubilant when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in 2014 threw out tenure and other job protections.  But in April, a state appeals court agreed with the CTA and threw out the lower court ruling. Meanwhile, in the Legislature, a former high school English teacher introduced a bill that included many of the provisions sought by Students Matter and the Vergara plaintiffs. Last week, however, the measure was substantially watered down by the author, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), under pressure from the teachers union. She had no choice if any of her proposal was to survive. In its original form, the measure would have reduced the importance of teacher seniority in layoffs. (read article)

The Case for Unions to Support a Universal Basic Income

By Bourree Lam, June 27, 2016, The Atlantic

Andy Stern has been part of the U.S. labor movement for decades. He was formerly the president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents nearly 2 million American workers. During his tenure at the SEIU, he was hailed as “the nation’s most politically influential union president,” which made his resignation in 2010 something of a surprise. Stern’s new book, Raising the Floor, details his views on the changing nature of work in America and explains why Stern has come around to supporting a universal basic income—an idea that has gained a lot of traction in the past year when it comes to media coverage, policy debates, and efforts to study its efficacy. (read article)

MBTA union may agree to wage cuts for new worker

By Nicole Dungca, June 27, 2016, The Boston Globe

The leader of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s largest union said Monday the labor group would be willing to agree to pay cuts for new workers this coming year and lower raises in the future, as part of a deal that would stop the T from privatizing a number of jobs. As the MBTA grapples with an $80 million deficit for the 2017 fiscal year, the agency is pursuing privatization and voluntary retirement and separation packages, while considering possible future layoffs. But Carmen’s Union officials say they’re willing to agree to lower future raises and other concessions —which would add up to about $24 million over the next four years — to make sure many jobs aren’t outsourced. (read article)

Big labor breaks its promise to California taxpayers

By Michael Saltsman, June 26, 2016, OC Register

The people of California were told that a $15 minimum wage was not just a boost for employees – it was good for taxpayers, too. It’s a promise that the “Fight for $15” has carried across the country. David Rolf, one of the architects of the campaign, said explicitly in his book of the same name that a $15 minimum wage “would substantially reduce dependence on government welfare programs.” With the ink barely dry on California’s groundbreaking law, the credibility of this talking point is already crumbling. The popular labor argument goes something like this: Employers who fail to pay higher starting wages force their employees to rely on public assistance. Last year, San Diego State University economists examined 35 years of data and found that minimum wage increases cause no net reduction in participation in (or spending on) social welfare programs. (read article)

Rail unions fail to extend NJ Transit strike deadline

By Larry Higgs, June 24, 2016, NJ.com

Unions representing NJ Transit locomotive engineers and conductors as for Friday evening failed to extend a strike deadline to mid-July, putting commuters under the threat of losing rail service by June 30. The National Mediation Board, which supervises railroad labor negotiations, asked the agency and two rail unions on Tuesday to extend their no strike/no lockout pledge until July 16. NJ Transit had earlier agreed to the deadline. “The unions representing locomotive engineers and conductors have ignored NJ Transit’s agreement to extend their ‘cooling off period’ until July 16,” said Nancy Snyder, an NJ Transit spokeswoman. If there is no agreement and a strike or lock-out occurs, Congress could impose its own settlement under Federal Railway Labor law. Such a settlement would be proposed as a bill. (read article)

Supreme Court Delivers Bad News For Union Hoping To Bag Illegals

By Connor D. Wolf, June 23, Daily Caller

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against an executive order granting citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants Thursday in what is likely a major blow to union membership. Labor unions have been suffering a sharp decline in membership for decades. President Barack Obama signed a 2014 executive order opening the door to millions of new potential union members. The Supreme Court promptly closed that door by ruling that the president overstepped his authority. Union bosses claim their fight is about helping immigrants get the rights they deserve. Unions have already started to pave the road to get the millions of illegal immigrants into their ranks. They have set up training, workshop and recruitment programs all specifically aimed at the illegal immigrants that may be eligible for amnesty under the executive order. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leadership also condemned the ruling. (read article)

Sacramento judge moves to cancel a November ballot initiative limiting salaries of hospital CEOs

By John Meyers, June 23, 2016, Los Angeles Times

An effort to cap the salaries of hospital executives may be blocked from California’s Nov. 8 ballot, after a Sacramento judge wrote Thursday that its labor union backers broke a political peace treaty with hospitals. If upheld, Sacramento Superior Court Judge David Brown’s ruling would force Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West to withdraw an initiative that would limit executive compensation at nonprofit hospitals to $450,000 a year. SEIU-UHW turned in almost 650,000 voter signatures on the measure last month , and it’s likely to qualify for the ballot next week. “Unfortunately, the voters of California may be denied their ability to decide whether someone running a charity can make $5 million or $10 million a year,” said SEIU-UHW spokesman Steve Trossman. (read article)

CPS to file labor charge against union over April 1 job action

By Lauren FitzPatrick, June 22, 2016, Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday announced its intention to file an unfair labor charge against the Chicago Teachers Union over its treatment of teachers who did not participate in the union’s one-day job action on April 1. On that day, union members gathered downtown and marched in the streets in protest, calling on CPS, state lawmakers, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to find long-term funding solutions for public schools. CPS considered that an “illegal one-day strike,” and accuses the union of “forcibly expelling members who exercised their right to refuse to participate.” (read article)

Autoworker Union Accuses Volkswagen Of Violating 2014 Contract 

By Connor D. Wolf, June 21, 2016, Daily Caller

The United Auto Workers (UAW) accused Volkswagen Tuesday of ignoring a commitment it made to organized labor in 2014. UAW and Volkswagen have been in a bitter labor dispute for the last couple of years. Volkswagen was originally open to the idea of its workforce organizing, but opposed the union for trying to split its employees between union and nonunion. The automaker has instead advocated for a full vote of the more than 1,400 plant workers. UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel released a document allegedly showing the automaker ignored a pledge it made in 2014. Volkswagen spokesman Scott Wilson countered the claim by noting the written statement was not a contract. Rather, it was a policy to allow a formal meeting between the automaker and union leadership. (read article)


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