Labor Relations INK – February 2017

In this issue:

Union Membership Drops Yet Again Just Another Lazy Union Afternoon… Union Pension Turmoil Insight, Right-to-Work, Sticky Fingers and more…

The bottom of each story contains a link to the individual post on our site.

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Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson

Is there a “Trump Effect” on Union Organizing?

Just about every call I’ve had since Donald Trump’s November surprise gets around to THE question. Will Donald Trump’s election mean the end for labor unions? Or will unions rise like a phoenix from the ashes and organize like never before as a reaction to the new administration? Or maybe something in between?

I’ve mostly answered this question the way lawyers tend to answer questions (sorry): “It depends.” But we are now beginning to get some data that is shedding light on the “Trump Effect” on labor unions. And for unions the data is not looking good.

First,

Continue reading Labor Relations INK – February 2017

Labor Relations Insight – February 2017

By Phil Wilson Is there a “Trump Effect” on Union Organizing?

Just about every call I’ve had since Donald Trump’s November surprise gets around to THE question. Will Donald Trump’s election mean the end for labor unions? Or will unions rise like a phoenix from the ashes and organize like never before as a reaction to the new administration? Or maybe something in between?

I’ve mostly answered this question the way lawyers tend to answer questions (sorry): “It depends.” But we are now beginning to get some data that is shedding light on the “Trump Effect” on labor unions. And for unions the data is not looking good.

First, we got the overall union membership numbers. Membership dropped by nearly a quarter-million people – an astounding number. Private sector membership dropped (again) to an all-time low of 6.4%. Ouch.

But you can afford to lose members if you are

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Union Bailout Update

Alex Acosta

All employers will be able to breathe more easily once the union-friendly DOL officials have been swept from the administration. Case in point: DOL General Counsel Richard Griffin’s January memo claiming that football players at all 17 private schools in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) are employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), conflicting with an earlier decision by the NLRB in which it declined to exercise its jurisdiction over a representation petition filed by a union seeking to represent Northwestern University’s scholarship football players. Rep. Virginia Foxx, head of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, called on Griffin to “abandon his partisan agenda or step down immediately.”

Union Bailout Update

Union Membership Drops Again

As we reported earlier when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first released their report, union membership fell again this year, down to 10.7% for total membership, and 6.4% for private sector employees. Some have chastised Big Labor for continuing to squander union dues dollars on a single political party, much to the distaste of union members who do not align with their union’s political bent. Others have suggested that unions need to move away from trying to organize a large body of employees (such as the latest failed organizing attempt at Boeing), and instead focus on small carve-out segments of the employee population – the micro-unit approach.

Just Another Lazy Union Afternoon…

Just another day at the docks for the International Longshoremen’s Association as they shut down a shipping terminal at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina, while another Virginia ILA official was sentenced to 3 ½ years in federal prison for defrauding his union members of $1 million. Robert Smith, a former business agent for the dockworkers, pleaded guilty last October.

Meanwhile, the UFCW demonstrated their method for dealing with employees bold enough to speak out against discrimination and harassment. When Chula Vista-based UFCW organizer Anabel Arauz filed a complaint against beleaguered UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian, the single mother was sent to frigid Utah and demoted to handling paperwork and grievance filings. Arauz said Steven Marrs, president of the Federation of Agents and International Representatives (FAIR – an offshoot of the UFCW) told

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SEIU Watch

SEIU is facing more accusations of fraud; similar to those from 2014 when the Supreme Court ruled that the union was illegally collecting dues from personal home health care workers. “Members” of the union have recently filed a petition to decertify SEIU, making this the “largest union decertification effort ever” with 27,000 supposedly organized people.

Christine Boardman, former President of SEIU Local 73

Christine Boardman, President of SEIU Local 73, appealed the International’s decision to keep the Local under trusteeship for the time being. Local 73 was placed into an emergency trusteeship last August. The most interesting part about all of this is that when it comes to SEIU, you never really can tell who you can trust less—the Local who has been placed under

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Union Pension Turmoil

The Iron Workers Local 17 in Ohio has become the first pension fund to get Treasury Department approval to cut benefits. Had cuts not been approved, the fund was projected to go insolvent by 2024. “As for current retirees, there are 336 who will see cuts of 30 percent to 60 percent.”

In Nebraska, two cities are looking to change their police and fire benefits plan from one that is defined to a cash-balance plan, similar to a 401k. The proposed bill drew protests from firefighters and police officers in Omaha and Lincoln.

Fight For 15

Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive, vetoed legislation late last month that would have made it the first county in Maryland to require a $15 minimum wage. Leggett argues that because Montgomery is not a “destination city,” like Seattle or New York, their “residents will essentially shoulder the bulk of the cost” should a $15 minimum wage be implemented.

A recent report by James Sherk, a former research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, provides evidence that supports Leggett’s reasoning. According to the report, “fast food prices would rise by 38 percent under a $15-an-hour minimum wage and cause a 36 percent drop in employment.” Click here to see a detailed chart of how consumer prices at some of the most popular fast-food restaurants would be affected.

Right To Work

On Feb 6th, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed a Right-to-Work bill into law, making Missouri the 28th state to adopt the measure and leaving Illinois now surrounded by right-to-work states. According to Jim Schultz, the former director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, over 1,100 businesses have black-listed Illinois because it is not a Right-to-Work state. Big Labor has vowed to block the measure by seeking a public referendum. The AFL-CIO teamed up with the NAACP to file the petition paperwork and begin the signature gathering process.

New Hampshire was not so lucky, as a Right-to-Work measure in that state failed to pass by a margin of 200-177 in the state house. The Republican-controlled body then voted to ban

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Auto Workers

According to UAW President Dennis Williams, the union is preparing a Buy American ad campaign urging consumers to buy U.S.-made cars and trucks. First, from union facilities (of course). But second, from non-union facilities still made in the U.S. Williams hasn’t said when the ad campaign will begin.

It is evident Williams has not thought through the unintended consequences of his admonition that “If it’s not built in the United States, then don’t buy it.” He’s telling people to buy a U.S.-made Toyota Camry over a Mexican-made Ford Fusion. We’re not so sure the Detroit automakers will appreciate his point of view.

It also looks like the union has picked out their next big fish—Tesla in California. We’ll keep you posted as that campaign is sure to be an interesting one.