Labor Relations Ink January 2014

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In this issue:

SEIU’s Felony Fiasco Right-to-Work Laws – Reality vs. Myth Annunziata’s Encore Chattanooga Choo-Choo SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight 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

union-smileyIf unions are so darn good for you why don’t people join?

If you knew that the only thing standing between you and a happier life was union membership would you want to join?

The New York Times recently reported on a study claiming that people in unions are happier than those who are not. The authors of that study concluded, “union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union

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Labor Relations Insight – January 2015

union-smileyby Phil Wilson

If unions are so darn good for you why don’t people join?

If you knew that the only thing standing between you and a happier life was union membership would you want to join?

The New York Times recently reported on a study claiming that people in unions are happier than those who are not. The authors of that study concluded, “union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.” (emphasis mine)

If all this were true then why aren’t people joining unions in droves?

I suppose we should start by taking a little closer look at the research than, oh let’s say, the New York Times (I doubt

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Union Bailout Update

The office of the General Counsel of the NLRB issued consolidated complaints against McDonald’s franchisees, and included the franchisor, McDonald’s USA, LLC as a joint employer. Could this be the opening swell of a tidal wave, or a freshening breeze that will quickly dissipate? At least one district court begs to differ with the NLRB, ruling early this month in Vann v. Massage Envy Franchising LLC that the franchisor is not considered the employer of the individual businesses they contract out to.

The NLRB is going to have to fend off a pair of lawsuits over the Ambush Election rule.  It comes as no surprise that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would file suit, and they were joined by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Retail Federation (NRF), and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The first suit was quickly

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SEIU’s Felony Fiasco

Rob Murray - Photo: William Miller

Rob Murray – Photo: William Miller

Robert Murray, a top 32BJ SEIU organizer earning a six-figure salary, has been charged with two felony counts and three misdemeanors, including resisting arrest, inciting to riot, and obstruction of governmental administration, for his participation in the December 13 assault of two NYPD police officers on the Brooklyn Bridge.

A week after the incident, Murray turned himself into the police. The union has reportedly put Murray on unpaid leave until the matter is settled. Elaine Kim, a spokesperson for the 32BJ SEIU, said “The union did not organize any official contingent to participate in the protests.”

While that may be true, it is also true that the SEIU has a history of organizing protests without “officially” putting their name on it.

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For What It’s Worth

book-coverUnion membership is at a record low of 11.2 percent of the workforce with only 6.7 percent of those workers in the private sector. When considering why this is the case, Jake Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Washington, argues that it is because of What Unions No Longer Do.

So what do unions no longer do? According to Rosenfeld, everything that made them good to begin with. “Unions do not equalize incomes; counteract racial inequality; play a big role in assimilating immigrants; or give lower-income Americans a political voice.” Instead, they look for ways to skirt around government policy.

As we know, there are a number of municipalities across the country that have invoked a higher minimum wage than required by the federal government. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, a

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Right-to-Work Laws – Myth vs. Reality

Since right-to-work laws have been in the spotlight for the last year or so, this recent article highlighting some of the misunderstandings (read: union arguments) about such laws is a welcome refresher. In sum, the 6 myths (and the related truths) are:

Myth: Right-to-work laws prohibit unions.

Reality: Right-to-work laws make union dues voluntary.

 

Myth: Right-to-work laws undermine unions.

Reality: Right-to-work laws make unions work to earn worker’s support.

 

Myth: Right-to-work laws allow nonunion members to “free ride” on the benefits of union representation without paying its cost.

Reality: Unions voluntarily represent non-members.

 

Myth: Representing non-members costs exclusive representative unions a lot of money.

Reality: Unions often spend little on representational activities.

 

Myth: Right-to-work laws provide no economic benefits.

Reality: Companies consider right-to-work laws a major factor when deciding where to locate.

 

Myth: Right-to-work laws lower wages.

Reality: Workers have the same or higher

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(Non)confessions of a Big Spender

"Daddy Warbucks" from Annie

“Daddy Warbucks” from Annie

You will often hear unions bemoaning the fact that some “rich guy” or “corporate interest” is spending money to advance “right-wing” causes. We’ve also documented that unions spend an enormous amount of money on predominantly one side of the political aisle. What is usually missed in these discussions is the intent behind the source of the funding.

In the case of “big capitalists” spending, the money is theirs to do as they please, and if they desire to promote policy that falls on one side or the other of the political fence (yes – there are liberal capitalists – can you say George Soros?), that is their prerogative.

Unions are a different animal however. They have no “capitalistic” mechanism to generate revenue. Instead, they extract dues from their

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Annunziata’s Encore

Warren Annunziata - Credit: Byron Smith

Warren Annunziata – Credit: Byron Smith

Warren Annunziata is the founder and former president of United Craft and Industrial Workers Local 91. He was removed from his post as president in 2010 when he was found guilty of “forcibly extracting more than $600,000 in cash payments from bus companies that provide transportation for public school students.” In March 2011, he was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Prison, however, did little to keep Annunziata from conducting business as usual.

A Department of Labor special agent reported that during this time, Annunziata “sought information about and offered advice, guidance and consultation on matters such as negotiations between Local 91 and employers such as the Department of Education, pending lawsuits, hiring and dismissal of employees, office policy, logistics and strategy.” For these services,

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Teamster Beat

teamster-arrestedBecause of rampant corruption, since 1989 the Teamsters have had to operate under the watchful eye of the federal government. Federal lawyers have recently entered into an agreement with the Teamsters to dismiss the consent order. The order placed the union under federal oversight and required union leaders to be voted in by a secret ballot election. If approved, the agreement will phase out government oversight over a five-year period replacing it with an independent board named by the union.

John Perry

John Perry

Supporters of the proposal say that it’s important to recognize “the significant progress that has been made in ridding the International Brotherhood of Teamsters of the influence of organized crime and corruption.” Obviously those supporters haven’t seen the news recently: ex-president John Perry and representative Joseph

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Chattanooga Choo-Choo

The swirling situation at the VW plant in Chattanooga seems to be a bit of dog-chasing-tail. You have the UAW claiming at a minimum enough support to meet the highest bar set by VW for gaining access to managements ear. On the other side, you have the rival employee-led organization claiming that a) it has documents that would invalidate many of the signatures claimed by the UAW, and that b) the company is purposely favoring the UAW in the implementation of the new labor policy.

The effort by VW to seemingly smooth the way for recognition of UAW may jeopardize the planned expansion of the VW plant to add an SUV assembly line to the current Passat manufacturing effort. Not all legislators are pleased with VW’s moves.

TN Gov. Bill Haslam

TN Gov. Bill Haslam

Last

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