Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Are private unions cooling toward Democrats?

By Shannon Bream, February 17, 2015, FoxNews.com

President Obama has long been a friend of organized labor, wholeheartedly supported by unions that helped boost him to victory in both his presidential campaigns.But increasingly, there now is a divide between unions in the public and private sector when it comes to supporting him. According to James Sherk, a labor policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, government employee unions want “bigger and more expensive government,” in contrast to private sector unions. Sherk added those private groups are “pushing back” and speaking out more publicly about things like the Keystone XL Pipeline, which they believe will benefit their members. (read article)

This Group Is Using A Pro-Labor Policy To Challenge A Union

By Conner D. Wolf, February 17 2015, The Daily Caller

A group opposed to the United Auto Workers announced Monday night that it had won bargaining rights under Volkswagen’s union-friendly organizing policy. Back in November, the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. released the Community Organization Engagement Policy to help clarify what bargaining rights labor groups get. However critics quickly attacked the rule change, arguing it was designed to help the United Auto Workers unionize employees at the plant. Now the American Council of Employees, a group opposed to the UAW, has used the union friendly policy to gain some representation rights as well. (read article)

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner: organized labor’s public enemy No1?

By Steven Greenhouse, February 17, 2015, The Gaurdian

Rob Fanti, a counselor for prisoners at the Sheridan correctional center outside Chicago, said he had expected Illinois’ new governor, Bruce Rauner, to begin his term by attacking the state’s outsize budget deficit. Fanti said he was “stunned” that Rauner instead began by attacking labor unions, pushing a half-dozen proposals that would weaken and shrink organized labor. Among those proposals, Rauner – the former chairman of a private equity fund who spent $27m of his own money to win election – would prohibit government-employee unions from contributing to state and local political campaigns. (read article)

Labor unions share the love with 31 Ohio House Republicans

By Jason Hart, February 17, 2015, OhioWatchdog.org

Labor unions donated money to 31 current Republican members of the Ohio House last year, dimming prospects for labor reform this session.  At the state and national levels, labor unions are known for their generous support of Democrats. But Republican supermajorities in the Ohio General Assembly have union bosses hedging their bets. (read article)

Use Recertification to Build Your Union

By Samantha Winslow, February 16, 2015, LaborNotes.org

Many thought Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union Act 10 would be a death sentence for Wisconsin’s public sector unions. They’ve been given a high hurdle to clear: every year they have to recertify the union with yes votes by 51 percent of the bargaining unit. Not voting counts as a “no” vote. But teacher unions around the state, while objecting to a law that ties two hands and a leg behind their backs, have taken the law’s obstacles and turned them into organizing opportunities. (read article)

Union retirees fear dramatic pension cuts under new federal law

By Jim MacKinnon, February 15, 2015, Akron Beacon Journal

Bill Hendershot and his wife live on his union pension and Social Security. Hendershot, a retired Consolidated Freightways long-distance truck driver, gets around now in a 12-year-old Toyota Corolla. The couple still pay a mortgage on their home in Canal Fulton. And he’s among a huge group of union retirees nationwide who could see their monthly private pension payments cut as much as 60 percent under a national reform measure signed into law in December by President Barack Obama. (read article)

With port talks gridlocked, White House move ramps up pressure for a deal

By Tiffany Hsu, Andrew Khouri, Tim Logan, February 14 2015, Los Angeles Times

With idled cargo ships piling up along the coastline, President Obama ordered his labor secretary to California to try to head off a costly shutdown of 29 West Coast ports. Obama dispatched Tom Perez on Saturday to jump-start stalled labor talks between shipping companies and the dockworkers’ union. The move ramps up pressure to resolve a dispute that stranded tens of thousands of containers on cargo ships over the holiday weekend. The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports account for some 40% of the nation’s incoming container cargo, with $1 billion in goods moving through daily. A prolonged shutdown could hobble some Southland businesses and ripple across the U.S. economy. (read article)

Labor unions troubled by Brownback’s policy changes

By Peter Hancock, February 14, 2015, Laurence Journal-World

Labor unions representing Kansas state employees said new policies that Gov. Sam Brownback announced last week would strip many workers of their civil service protection, cut benefits to state employees and make it easier for supervisors to hand-pick the employees they want to get rid of during a layoff. “It is definitely a loss of job security, especially if they’re moving to make more jobs unclassified,” said Rebecca Proctor, interim director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, or KOSE, the state’s largest public employee union. (read article)

State labor commission rules in favor of Taylor teachers opposed to union dues

By Holly Mahaffey & Ann Runkle, February, 14, 2015, The News-Herald

The Taylor teachers’ union plans to appeal a ruling issued Friday by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission that says Taylor teachers can’t be forced to pay union dues. The Taylor Federation of Teachers and the Taylor Board of Education approved an agreement in 2013 that gave the TFT 10 years until it would be subject to Michigan’s right-to-work law, which allows union members to opt out. TFT President Linda Moore called the MERC ruling “union bashing” and said she is confident the TFT will prevail when the Michigan Court of Appeals hears the case. (read article)

What would Big Jim do about labor unions?

By Rich Miller, February 14, 2015, Crains Chicago Business

Every governor over the past 25 years—Republican and Democrat—has learned a lesson from Gov. Jim Thompson. Every governor except one. Running for re-election in 1982, Thompson was in the fight of his political life, and the Republican speaker of the House was making things worse. Illinois had plunged into recession under Republican President Ronald Reagan, and Thompson was running against a household name, former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III. (read article)

Labor Unions: Effective. Political. Necessary?

By Brandon Ferdig, February 14, 2015, AmericanThinker.com

I work for a school. Last week there was a board meeting, and as communication coordinator I was there to stay current on new business. Unbeknownst to me, the teachers had decided to attend as well. They came in large numbers filling the library and all wearing blue T-shirts with yellow lettering reading, “Because our WORKING environment is the school’s LEARNING environment.” My school is a great school, but there has been some friction between the teachers and the administration. I don’t write to disclose any particulars of the situation. Safe to say that the teachers like working there, too. That’s why they care about this justifiable concern. As a non-union employee, I was simply struck by the draw and the mentality of those who participate in unions. (read article)

Bruce Rauner, unions and Illinois taxpayers

February 13, 2015, Chicago Tribune

You could conclude from the hot political bombast across frigid Illinois that Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to destroy public sector labor unions, starving them of fees from state workers. Or you could conclude that Rauner wants to end what he calls a corrupt bargain between unions and Springfield politicians that’s crushing taxpayers. As the governor and organized labor square off, their battle to control the narrative — their battle for your approval, really — is ferocious. Rauner on Monday issued an executive order to free state employees who don’t belong to unions from paying fees that support union operations. (read article)

Bill takes aim at union labor pacts: Councilman Anderson says state bill would hurt 3,000 workers in Chattanooga alone

By Louie Brogdon, February 13, 2015, Times Free Press

Some Chattanooga officials say a Memphis-area state senator’s efforts to dissolve union agreements with city workers amounts to an attack on municipal employees statewide. At a news conference Thursday, City Councilman Chris Anderson introduced a proposed resolution asking his fellow council members to formally denounce state Senate Bill 123, drafted by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. Anderson says that, among other things, the legislation could negatively affect up to 3,000 workers in Chattanooga alone. The Senate bill seeks to prevent cities and metropolitan governments in Tennessee from recognizing or entering agreements with employee unions and rendering any “agreement, contract, understanding, or practice, written or oral, implied or expressed” between a city and a union “illegal, void and of no legal effect.” Kelsey said Thursday he is only trying to help cities. “If Tennessee wants to truly be a right-to-work state, we are going to have to apply those principles all the way down to the local level,” Kelsey said. “This bill will help cities to control their budget issues by giving them the ability to negotiate directly with employees. (read article)

IL governor joins fight against mandatory union dues

By Jason Hart, February 13, 2015, Watchdog.org

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued an executive order continuing a national trend toward letting workers choose whether to pay labor unions. The executive order forbids government unions from taking mandatory “fair-share” fees from state employees. Rauner also filed a complaint asking a federal court to rule on his assessment that forced government union dues violate the First Amendment. If the Republican governor’s court case succeeds, it could shield public workers throughout the country from forcibly paying fair-share fees. (read article)

Teachers union flatly rejects latest LA Unified labor contract offer

February 12, 2015, LA School Report

The teachers union today made it official, flatly rejecting LA Unified’s most recent contract offer, which included a five percent salary rise, a nine percent increase in minimum salary for first-year teachers and additional money to lower class size. With the union sticking by its demand of an 8.5 percent salary increase, the sides remain $800 million apart, according to district calculations. (read article)

Simmering Labor Fight Brings Crippling Delays to West Coast Seaports

By Erik Eckholm, February 12, 2015, New York Times

The container ships arrive here filled with appliances, toys, apparel, auto parts, computer components and untold other products from Asia, to head out to stores and factories across America. But a simmering labor dispute between the longshoremen’s union and shipowners has brought crippling delays here and to other West Coast seaports. And the slowdown escalated this week as owners said they would suspend the unloading of container and other cargo ships on Thursday, Monday and the weekend because of what they called “a strike with pay.” (read article)

Refinery Strike Talks Hit Roadblock-Union strike to drag on for at least another week

February 12, 2015, LaborUnionReort.com

The oil refinery strike affecting 13% of the nation’s fuel capacity will likely drag on for at least another week, according to Bloomberg News. The United Steelworkers, the union that has called for the partial-nationwide strike, appears to have made an information request to company negotiatiors that is causing the delay. (read article)

House panel advances bills aimed at restricting Missouri labor unions

By Eli Yokley, February 11, 2015, The Joplin Globe

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote on “right-to-work,” a Missouri House committee led by Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, passed legislation aiming to restrict the activity of labor unions in Missouri. On Monday, Lant’s committee heard two bills, one of which he sponsored, that would prohibit public employees from being required to pay dues or fees to a labor union and would require those who choose to pay to provide annual, written authorization for those dues to be deducted from their paychecks. (read article)

Labor union: Democrats have ‘perverted’ Keystone process

By Laura Barron-Lopez, February 11, 2015, TheHill.com

The president of a top building trades union is accusing Democrats of “perverting” the process for considering the Keystone pipeline. Just before a vote in which the House is expected to approve the pipeline,Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), charged that President Obama and Democrats are out of line with not approving Keystone. Obama is expected to veto the House legislation, and to argue that the House action is circumventing the proper process for the pipeline’s consideration. But O’Sullivan faulted the president’s logic. (read article)

American labor-union strikes are almost completely extinct

By Matt Philips, February 11, 2015, qz.com

In the US, the strike is pretty much extinct. In 2014, there were only 11 strikes or lockouts in the US involving more than 1,000 workers. That was down from 15 the previous year, and tied for the second-lowest total on record, according to just-released numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. You don’t have to be a professor of labor relations to discern a pattern. (read article)

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