Labor Relations Ink May 2016

In this issue:

What The Uber Settlement Means Unions And Modernization Don’t Mix Treasury Determined to Bilk Taxpayers In Pension Demise Another Union Marriage Ends In Divorce Scoreboard, SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers and more…

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

Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson

I’ve been everywhere, man

I am home for the first full week in a month and looking forward to a holiday weekend before I hit the trail again. Traveling can get old, but there are parts of it I really enjoy. It is great to meet new people. Of course I like to talk about what’s going on the world of labor relations and approachable leadership. But traveling also gives me a great opportunity to learn and grow too.

I thought for this month’s insight I’d take readers on a quick tour of the last

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Labor Relations Insight

by Phil Wilson I’ve Been Everywhere, Man…

I am home for the first full week in a month and looking forward to a holiday weekend before I hit the trail again. Traveling can get old, but there are parts of it I really enjoy. It is great to meet new people. Of course I like to talk about what’s going on the world of labor relations and approachable leadership. But traveling also gives me a great opportunity to learn and grow too.

I thought for this month’s insight I’d take readers on a quick tour of the last month, along with what I learned along the way. Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up a thing or two yourself?

My first swing took me to Green Bay, Denver, Washington DC, and Minneapolis. This trip included doing labor relations training and updates for HR leaders and a C-Suite group, an approachability workshop,

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Union Bailout Update

NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin

NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin

The NLRB continues almost weekly to throw grit into the gears of American businesses. In March, General Counsel Richard Griffin sent a memo toNLRB regional directors directing them to cede discretion over numerous areas of labor law to his office. Among the cases Griffin wants to come across his desk are union withdrawal elections, at-will employer disputes, Beck cases and other controversial issues.

Former NLRB board chairman Peter Schaumber characterizes Griffins move as a power grab, and explains that the intent of the memo “is to reverse legitimate, long-standing board precedent. The reversals are going to increase the power of organized labor and restrict the influence of employers.” Because the GC’s office is less bound by Board precedent, Griffin is in

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What The Uber Settlement Means

uberMost folks are aware of the high-profile class-action suits against Uber and Lyft. The two companies’ drivers – independent contractors – are claiming they should be classified as employees.

In Uber’s settlement, it retained the right to classify the drivers as independent contractors while amending some of its policies, changing the nature of the relationship to look more like an employer/employee model in some respects.

The case is interesting in that it presages a possible third category of workers that share characteristics of both employees and independent contractors. It has been suggested that American labor law is due for such modifications to bring it out of the 20th century. With the rise of the “gig economy,” some such changes are probably inevitable.

Another interesting result of the agreement was the formation of the Independent

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Unions And Modernization Don’t Mix

Nearly 40,000 workers from Massachusetts to Virginia entered their sixth week in the strike against Verizon yesterday, making this the largest work stoppage since 2011. The workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communication Workers of America. Workers are being paid from a union fund while on strike.

Unlike most strikes, the main area of contention here is not about workers getting raises, it’s about keeping Verizon from changing their business model. “Over 99 percent of the striking workforce work on the wireline side of its business.” It’s called Fios and it offers subscribers Internet, voice and video service.

There’s another side to Verizon’s business – wireless. Think 4G. This part of the business requires less linemen and service providers. It’s also “where the future growth is,” according to Jan Dawson, an independent technology analyst for Jackdaw Research. Verizon as a company is

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Alt Labor

Mary Kay Henry - President SEIU

Mary Kay Henry – President SEIU

We’ve known that the Fight for $15 movement was started by unions to potentially boost up dwindling membership numbers. Well it looks like it might finally be happening. Last week leaders of the movement met with Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, where it was decided that Fight for $15 members will vote on an official affiliation with the union soon. Should the affiliation be decided on, fast food workers will not pay dues at first. No doubt SEIU leadership will work that out eventually.

In other alt-labor news, Fight for $15 groups are protesting at McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois; the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has declared a national boycott against Wendy’s; and

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SEIU Watch

SEIU and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are considering a merger. This partnership, which will be voted on first by SEIU members and then ratified by AFSCME members, will result in establishing the largest labor union in the country. SEIU votes on Sunday. Stay tuned.

Assemblywoman Shannon Groves

Assemblywoman Shannon Groves

California Assemblywoman Shannon Groves had two bills on deck for SEIU Local 1000 members – AB 2753 and AB 2754. The first would require California’s public employee unions “post an itemized version of its budget online, making it accessible for its members.” The second would “require public unions to hold an election every two years to determine if the current labor union should continue to represent its members.” Both these bills were

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Right To Work

Wisconsin has been a right-to-work state for about a year now; but in a bold move last month, Judge William Foust of Wisconsin suspended it. Foust found that “forbidding unions from collecting fair share payments from non-members who benefit from their services is an unjust taking.” The International Union of Operating Engineers locals 139 and 420 had filed suits claiming the law violates the NLRA. The ruling was revoked yesterday by a state court of appeals judge. Wisconsin is right-to-work again…for now. We’ll see if the same thing happens in West Virginia…

After becoming the 26th state to pass right-to-work legislation earlier this year, the West Virginia AFL-CIO and the state’s unions are taking the decision to court.

It makes sense why unions hate right-to-work so much – it allows people who don’t want to be union members to opt out. However, Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor

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Treasury Determined To Bilk Taxpayers In Pension Demise

cspf-rescueThe Teamsters Central States Pension Plan is swirling the bowl, just waiting for the final flush. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department, which must approve any plans to cut pension benefits, rejected that proposed by the union. The Treasury official appointed to review the planned reorganization said the proposal was based on flawed assumptions and did not demonstrate it would successfully rescue the ailing fund. He also claimed the plan’s proposed cuts were not “equitably distributed” among the retiree population, and the notice provided to plan participants about the cuts was too “technical” and “overly complex.” However, the reality is that the Treasury, in cahoots with the DOL and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, used the rejection as a way to ignore the 2014 law Congress passed specifically to solve such a

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Another Union Marriage Ends In Divorce

Sal Rosselli - head of NUHW

Sal Rosselli – head of NUHW

Like the failed 2004 merger of Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE) and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE), the shotgun wedding of the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) has crumbled after only 3 years.

As in most union insider intrigues, money and competition between unions appear to be the driving factors in the dissolution of the relationship. NUHW, formed when a large SEIU local went its own way, balked when the AFL-CIO labor federation agreed to an anti-raiding policy with the SEIU, NUHW’s favorite poaching target. When the NUHW suggested leaving the AFL-CIO, the CNA refused. There was also the matter of the $7.2

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