Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Union-backed bill would mandate up to 10 weeks of family leave, at higher pay
By Allen Young, March 24, 2015, Sacramento Business Journal
Workers would receive higher wages and up to 10 weeks off when they leave work to care for sick family members or to bond with a newborn, under a California bill that has backing from organized labor. The legislation from Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, a Los Angeles Democrat, would increase the paid family leave program up to 10 weeks instead of the current maximum of six weeks, and would increase wages earned during that time on a new formula based on a worker’s regular wages. (read article)

L.A. Actors Protest Union Plan For Minimum Wage At 99-Seat Theaters
By David Robb, March 24, 2015, Deadline Hollywood
Armed with picket signs and the support of such recognizable stars as Tim Robbins and Helen Mirren, some 350 people marched Monday afternoon a mile-long route to the North Hollywood office of the Actors’ Equity Association to protest the union’s proposal that would require small theaters to pay actors the minimum wage for performances. Stretching in a line several city blocks long, the marchers called on the union to retain the current plan that allows professional actors and stage managers to work in theaters seating fewer than 100 people for little more than car fare. “We want change, but not this change,” they chanted. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, 99, it cannot go.” (read article)

Unions win round over Rauner in fee lawsuit
By Monique Garcia, March 24, 2015, Chicago Tribune
Labor unions won an initial victory in their effort to block Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s attempt to withhold fees that nonmembers must pay in exchange for collective bargaining when a federal judge ruled Monday that the matter should be settled in state court. (read article)

Kansas lawmakers considering proposals on public employees
March 24, 2015, Associated Press
The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature is considering proposals to restrict public employee unions and potentially shrink the state’s civil service. (read article)

Where Have All Our Wages Gone?
By Megan McArdle, March 24, 2015, Bloomberg
Many theories have been advanced for why unions, and median wages, aren’t growing very fast. Some say there’s a causal link, which runs something like this: The Reagan administration gutted union protections, making it harder to organize workers. (read article)

America needs labor unions
By Dale Hansen, March 24, 2015, Huffington Post
Speaker of the House John Boehner website says “Helping to build a stronger, healthier economy for all Americans is priority number one for House Republicans”. He also is one of a small but growing number of Republicans that admit income inequality is a huge obstacle to reaching this goal.  (read article)

California Democrat goes rogue, feels party’s wrath
By Gloria Romero, March 23, 2015, Orange County Register
It didn’t take long for “the brotherhood” of status quo politics to pile on. Within hours of former Assembly member Joan Buchanan having lost her election bid for Northern California’s 7th Senate District seat in last week’s special election to fill the vacancy, she endorsed labor-embraced and fellow Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. Together, they joined the panoply of monied special interests led by public sector unions that are largely funding the Democratic Party, to defeat a third Democrat – independent Steve Glazer. Glazer describes himself as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive.” He is the mayor of Orinda and former political aide to Gov. Jerry Brown. Glazer brandishes “blue” credentials in California, having worked for decades to support Democratic candidates and causes. (read article)

Pay If You Do, Pay If You Don’t
March 23, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Bruce Rauner is trying to pull Illinois out of financial free-fall, and that effort got a legal boost Monday that could affect public unions nationwide. Three state workers filed a motion to intervene in the Governor’s lawsuit seeking to end mandatory fees for public workers who do not want to join a union. (read article)

Biggest U.S. Automakers Said to Study Lower-Pay Tier for UAW
By David Welch & Keith Naughton, March 23,2015, Bloomberg
U.S. automakers General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., heading into negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, are considering asking to create a new tier of lower-paid union workers in their U.S. factories, people familiar with the matter said. (read article)

Shocking: Alabama’s Non-Union Daimler Workers Make More Than The Big Three’s UAW Workers?
March 23, 2015, LaborUnionReport.com
When it comes to pay and benefits for autoworkers in the United States, Daimler union-free workers in Alabama are at the top of the proverbial car heap—even above General Motors’ UAW-represented workers. (read article)

Meet the new workers’ movement that is terrifying the wealthy and the powerful
By Jeff Spross, March 23, 2015, The Week
On Thursday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) re-introduced legislation to torpedo “micro unions,” the latest labor movement to terrify business management, right-wingers, and capitalists in general. (read article)

Unions Are Powerless. Workers Aren’t.
By Megan McArdle, March 23, 2015, BloombergView
The long-simmering dispute between West Coast port owners and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union had already been settled, but everywhere I went at the International Home and Housewares Show, people were still talking about it. (read article)

Labor groups fear ‘union Armageddon’ in Nevada Legislature
By Michelle Rindels, March 22, 2015, Associated Press
A woman behind a bullhorn yelled to a crowd of union workers in front of the Nevada Capitol on a recent Thursday, screaming until her voice broke for the governor to “quit attacking us” and rallying attendees to “stand up, fight back!” But Gov. Brian Sandoval didn’t come out, and a bevy of bills to weaken collective bargaining and restructure public employee pensions remain on the agendas — including one scheduled for a hearing Wednesday that labor groups call the “Union Armageddon Bill.” (read article)

Illinois AG: GOP Governor’s anti-union proposals illegal
By Sara Burnett, March 20, 2015, Associated Press
Illinois’ Democratic attorney general on Friday delivered a blow to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s efforts to weaken labor unions, saying two of the main ideas the Republican has been pitching across the state would be illegal. (read article)

Union lobbyist who worked one day as a teacher suing Illinois over $30,000 pension
By Eric Boehm, March 19, 2015, watchdog.org
After working one day as a substitute teacher in Illinois, David Piccioli could be entitled to an annual pension of more than $30,000. And he’s suing the state to make sure he gets paid. (read article)

House Passes Bill to Overturn Labor Board Rule
By Melanie Trottman, March 19, 2015, Wall Street Journal
The House Thursday passed a GOP-led resolution to overturn a National Labor Relations Board rule aimed at streamlining union-organizing elections, setting up what is likely to be President Barack Obama’s second veto since Republicans took full control of Congress. (read article)

Illinois: Governor Tells Agencies to Divert Union Fees
March 19, 2015, Associated Press
Gov. Bruce Rauner, dogged in his attempts to eliminate fees paid to unions by workers who choose not to join, has instructed state agencies to divert money from nonunion employee paychecks away from organized labor until a judge settles the matter. (read article)

Public Pension Cuts Exempt Police and Firefighters
By Noam Scheiber, March 19, 2015, New York Times
In recent weeks, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois has traveled the state promoting his proposal for more than $2 billion in cuts to pensions for public employees. All public employees, that is, except police officers and firefighters. (read article)

Unions, retirees blast Jerry Brown’s state worker medical plan
By Jon Ortiz, March 19, 2015, Sacramento Bee
Unions lined up Wednesday to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to offer high-deductible medical coverage to state employees, suggesting it could hurt workers’ health instead of improving it. “We think that high-deductible plans are a very bad thing,” SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said during a Senate subcommittee hearing into Brown’s plan. (read article)

House Committee: Even Labor-Friendly JFK Opposed Ambush Union Elections
March 19, 2015, LaborUnionReport.com
Members of Congress have an important opportunity to protect fundamental rights enjoyed by America’s workers and job creators. That’s the crux of a resolution the House is set to vote on later today that would block a radical rewrite of long-standing policies governing union elections. (read article)

Trade Policy Vote Could Affect Organized Labor’s Role In 2016 Election
March 18, 2015, NPR.org
Call it one of those conflicts that happen among friends – in this case, Democrats and labor unions. The sore spot is trade and the Obama administration’s push for authority to negotiate a big, new trade deal covering the Pacific region. Unions want to stop it. (read article)

Kentucky Right-To-Work Battle Shifts To Counties
By Lisa Autry, March 18, 2015, NPR.org
This past January, the Republican-led Kentucky Senate did what it does just about every year: It passed a statewide right-to-work bill. Keeping with tradition, when the bill arrived at the Democratic-controlled House, it died. (read article)

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