Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Pension cost liability vexes Humboldt County

By Daniel Mintz, April 21, 2015, Mad River Union

With the county’s budget in a state of recovery, supervisors are considering ways to put a dent in a $220 million pension funding liability. The impacts and options for addressing the county’s unfunded California Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) liability were described at the April 14 Board of Supervisors meeting. The county’s contribution to PERS retirement benefit costs has skyrocketed over the last 12 years. (read article)

Expoloding Public Pension Costs Hit Public Employee Wages

By Chriss W. Street, April 21, 2015, breitbart.com

Public pensions in California are among the richest in the nation, and union resistance to shifting more costs to deductibles and co-pays has caused government employers’ insurance premium expenses to climb faster than in the private sector. (read article)

N.J. public employee unions build Supreme Court case for pension funding

By Samantha Marcus, April 21, 2015, NJ.com

Lawyers for unions seeking larger state contributions into New Jersey’s public worker pension system urged the state Supreme Court in a legal brief filed Monday to uphold a ruling that the contract protecting those payments is iron clad. (read article)

Unions Get Free Pass From The NLRB When It Comes To Facebook Postings?

David J. Pryzbylski, April 21, 2015, National Law Review

Anyone who even remotely monitors labor relations issues knows employers have been getting hammered by the NLRB in recent years for disciplining employees for making inappropriate comments on Facebook (as well as maintaining policies meant to deter such conduct). So what happens if a union allows illegal content to be posted on its Facebook page? (read article)

FDNY Union Vows To Fight Public Release Of Pension Records

April 20, 2015, Labor Relations Information System

Following a court ruling ordering the New York City Fire Pension Fund to release the names and pension amounts of retirees, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association is vowing to continue efforts to keep the records from being made public. The recent state Supreme Court ruling requires the New York City Fire Pension Fund to release information to Empire Center, a conservative fiscal watchdog group. (read article)

America’s top labor union bosses raked in millions in 2014

By Jason Hart, April 20, 2015, Watchdog.org

Union bosses known for bashing the rich are often millionaires themselves, paid with dues taken from workers’ paychecks. Laborers’ International Union of North America president Terry O’Sullivan, who was paid $670,403 in 2014, slammed Charles and David Koch and other critics of big government in a speech last July “Today’s Republican party has been hijacked, poisoned and taken over by a bunch of Tea Party maggots,” O’Sullivan shouted. “These anti-union, anti-worker bastards are not only crazy, they’re mean!” (read article)

How Poway Unified Went from Big Happy Family to Family Feud

By Ashly McGlone, April 20, 2015, VoiceOfSanDiego.org

Poway always attributed its uncommonly friendly atmosphere between teachers and district officials to an equally uncommon approach to the bargaining process. It turns out that process broke labor laws, and unions and new school board members are questioning whether it was so great to begin with. (read article)

Money Shapes Power of Capitol Committees

By Marisa Lagos, April 20, 2015, KQED

Assemblyman Matthew Dababneh had some compelling reasons for wanting to chair the state Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee. The San Fernando Valley Democrat worked for U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, for nearly a decade, including during the recent recession as Sherman tackled Wall Street and credit rating reform. Improving financial literacy in the congressional district was also a key issue during Dababneh’s time as Sherman’s district chief of staff. (read article)

Union seeks labor board injunction over Wal-Mart store closings

By Nathan Layne, April 20, 2015, Reuters

A union working on behalf of Wal-Mart employees laid off in the sudden temporary closure of five stores filed a claim on Monday to the National Labor Relations Board accusing the retailer of retaliating against workers for organizing activity and seeking to get them rehired. Wal-Mart Stores, which announced last week that it was temporarily closing five stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and California to fix plumbing issues, denied the union’s claims. (read article)

Big Labor’s Legislature in Sacramento

April 19, 2015, Orange County Register

If there were any doubts about who runs the show in Sacramento, a new report from the California Labor Federation should put those notions to rest. Based on a scorecard of 33 votes taken during 2014, 32 state lawmakers – all Democrats – earned a perfect 100 percent rating from the labor group that represents more than 1,200 local unions and 2.1 million union members. (read article)

Labor Board Move Against Worker Rights Prompts Concern

By Conner D. Wolf, April 18, 2015, Daily Caller

Federal labor board officials attracted mixed reviews Wednesday by issuing a request for legal briefs on state right-to-work laws. The policy, which has passed in 25 states, outlaws mandatory union membership or dues as a condition of employment. The call for legal briefs from policy experts by the National Labor Relations Board looks to examine whether unions should have the ability to extract dues payments from nonmembers. (read article)

AFSCME union president urges members to stay strong

By Karen Florin, April 18, 2015, TheDay.com

The president of the country’s largest trade union for public sector workers is urging Connecticut members to fight back against “vicious attacks” on the middle class. Lee A. Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, spoke at a conference Saturday at the Mystic Marriott…The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing arguments soon in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, “a case that will determine, essentially, whether we continue to exist,” Saunders said. (read article)

Boeing’s Best Union Buster Is South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley

By Josh Eidelson, April 17, 2015, Bloomberg

On April 22, 3,000 Boeing employees in South Carolina were scheduled to vote on whether to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union that represents their co-workers in Washington state. The vote was a big deal for the IAM; it fought hard against Boeing’s decision to build its 787 Dreamliner at the nonunion South Carolina plant after repeated strikes in Washington. (read article)

BART looking to 2016 voters for property tax increase to fix ailing system

By Daniel Borenstein, April 17, 1015, Contra Costa Times

Lauded when it opened in 1972 as the transit model of the future, BART has deteriorated into a dirty, expensive and overcrowded metropolitan rail system…..If BART directors want more taxpayer money, their ballot measure should bind them to future fiscal discipline rather than allegiance to the labor unions that fund their re-election campaigns. (read article)

Rebirth of progressivism may breathe new life in labor unions

April 17, 2015, RawStory.com

A decade and a half into the 21st century, the American labor movement resembles a chronically ill patient suffering from multiple maladies. Unions have been pummeled by the converging forces of globalization, the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, an unfavorable political climate and fierce employer resistance to organizing. The result: in 2014 the share of the US labor force that belongs to unions fell to a 102-year low of 11.1%. (read article)

Ambushing Employers’ Speech Rights: The federal government is redoubling efforts to promote unions and keep companies quiet.

By Thomas M. Johnson Jr., April 16, 2015, Wall Street Journal

A popular narrative since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 posits that corporations have displaced political and religious minorities as the principal beneficiaries of First Amendment rights. There supposedly has been a “corporate takeover” of the First Amendment, as Harvard Law School’s John C. Coates IV put it in a February paper. (read article)

CA poll: Public schools good, tenure bad

By James Poulos, April 16, 2015, CalWatchdog.com

A new poll indicated that Californians broadly supported public school reform, even among respondents whose support for public education remained strong. The results were seen by analysts as a danger sign for teachers unions, which have long tied the success of public education to their own strength. A growing consensus that the two have fallen out of sync would make it harder for unions to maintain the status quo, which has famously protected even bad teacher. (read article)

Thousands unite with #Fightfor15 underpaid workers across CA for April 15th day of Action

By Rachel Johnson, April 16, 2015, CaLaborFed.org

Thousands took part in strikes and protests Wednesday in one of the largest mobilizations of underpaid working people in history. Actions across California from Los Angeles to Sacramento gave working people the opportunity to stand with low wage workers who bravely went on strike and walked out mid-shift to send the message: we will not stop until $15 and a union.(read article)

Labor Unions Adopt Civil Rights, Social Justice Issues

By Jennifer G. Hickey, April 15, 2015, NewsMax.com

In response to a decline in their ranks, labor unions have broadened their agenda to incorporate issues related to social and civil justice, both important issues to racial minorities who compromise a growing percentage of union membership. “We are walking in each others’ shoes. We’ve invested in the process of working together and of building in our community,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says of the relationship between labor and civil rights in an interview with the National Journal. (read article)

SEIU’S Astroturf Industry Grows

April 15, 2015. LaborPains.org

This week, the Service Employees International Union and its “worker center” front groups, led by political consultancy Berlin Rosen, will stage various media stunts claiming to be “strikes” against fast food restaurants. If we sound like a broken record, it’s because the SEIU, the worker centers, and Berlin Rosen have pulled stunts like this roughly eight times before this one. (read article)

LAUSD board backs $1 billion employee health care agreement

By Annie Gilbertson, April 14, 2015, SCPR.org

The Los Angeles Unified school board approved a $1 billion annual health care agreement for school employees Tuesday, but declined to call for details on the long-term budget impact. As more employees retire and live longer, LAUSD’s health care costs, which includes lifetime coverage for qualifying retirees, is expected to consume increasingly more of its $7.3 billion budget. “We – and the public – should have this information before the budget is approved,” said board member Monica Ratliff. (read article)

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