Labor Relations INK July 2015

In this issue:

Criminals & Bullies Will Labor Issues Figure Prominently in the 2016 Campaign Season? High Tech and New Media Employers Beware Exposé of Union Fat-Cats SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight and more…

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

Labor Relations Insight

By Phil Wilson

One of my audience members became so bored and distracted that he shoved both his hands down the front of his pants. And that’s when I knew I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Maybe I should back up a bit. I volunteered to help my daughter’s school start a debate team this year. I know what you’re going to say – just think of it as my nerdy version of playing catch with my kid. In order to get these middle schoolers up to speed the speech teacher and I decided

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Labor Relations Insight July 2015

One of my audience members became so bored and distracted that he shoved both his hands down the front of his pants. And that’s when I knew I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Maybe I should back up a bit. I volunteered to help my daughter’s school start a debate team this year. I know what you’re going to say – just think of it as my nerdy version of playing catch with my kid. In order to get these middle schoolers up to speed the speech teacher and I decided to hold a debate camp. Since the speech teacher doesn’t know much about debate we decided I’d teach the class.

Here’s the thing. I love to teach. Not to brag, but I’ve taught classes and given keynotes to hundreds of audiences all over the country. I’m don’t pretend to be the best teacher in the world, but I

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Union Bailout Update

The National Labor Relations Board has seemingly been all over the map in recent weeks. Here’s just a partial list of topics and decisions they have bounced around on. The board –

asserted jurisdiction over religions educational institutions. reinforced the Piedmont Gardens decision severely limiting witness protection and confidentiality issued an invitation for briefs to re-examine the issue of unionizing temp workers determined that tugboat captains (in charge of the boat and its crew) are not supervisors

A Sixth Circuit Court decision sent mixed signals by ruling that a tribal casino did not fall under the jurisdiction of the NLRA, while at the same time stating that NLRA jurisdiction would apply in this case because of a 2-1 decision by a different three-judge panel in a case involving a different tribe three weeks earlier.

There were a few glimmers of hope in governmental/court action.

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Criminals And Bullies

Some people truly believe the days of union corruption, bullying, and intimidation tactics are a thing of the past; well it’s not – far from it in fact.

Joseph Dougherty - Source: Philly.com

Joseph Dougherty – Source: Philly.com

Take the Ironworkers Local 401 for example who, under the charge of Joseph Dougherty, committed an immense array of flagrant acts in recent years including: attempted arson at a Malvern construction site after the builder resisted calls to hire the union, the successful 2012 arson of a Quaker meeting house in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, the baseball-bat beatings of nonunion workers outside a Toys-R-Us, and the extortion of a nonunion builder who was erecting an apartment complex in Philadelphia. Dougherty was found guilty on 6 counts in January. Government prosecutors are seeking a 22-year sentence for the 73-year-old former union leader.

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Will Labor Issues Figure Prominently in the 2016 Campaign Season?

Depending on how far Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker progresses in the run as the GOP presidential contender, labor issues may be lifted into the spotlight during the campaign season.

Why? Big Labor hates him.

chart-1

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

When Governor Walker took over in a state that twice backed Barack Obama, he made no bones about taking on the public sector unions. The result – union density in the union-bastion state has dropped to near the national average, and in the public sector, has dropped precipitously.

And – the public seems to love him for it.

chart-2

Source: Unionstats.com

 

Alt-Labor

Things are heating up in Missouri. Kansas City became the first city in the state to increase its minimum wage. Beginning August 24, 2015 minimum wage will increase to $8.50 an hour, up from $7.65, with the goal being to reach $13 by 2020. Enforcement will prove to be the most difficult part as many business owners question the legality of the decision. Nonetheless, expect St. Louis to make a similar move in the near future as SEIU has been focusing a lot of their resources in the area – more specifically, $2.3 million in the last two years. In Massachusetts, home health care workers won a starting wage increase to $15 an hour, up from $13.38.

Unfortunately, emotion rather than reason drives voter responses to issues like this. Economic studies, such as the one conducted by California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office, found that raising the minimum

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High Tech and New Media Employers Beware

cheeseUnions may seem to be clumsy at strategy, but eventually even a blind mouse can follow a trail of cheese crumbs leading to a bigger prize. Such seems to be the case in Silicon Valley, which in recent years has become the focal point of money streams into new businesses, especially high tech and new media. (Even blind unionistas can follow the scent of money…)

With this channeling of the most union-coveted of all assets (cash), and the rash of changes to labor law (faster elections, smaller units, and possible joint-employer relationships), employers in these niches, whether in Silicon Valley or not, should be on the alert.

Similar to the Fight-For-$15 movement in retail, organized and funded by unions, Silicon Valley Rising is a new, well-financed coalition of unions (Teamsters, SEIU, CWA, UNITE-HERE), the South Bay Labor Council, the NAACP and other community

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Social Media Spotlight

In an inevitable gaff, a woman who voted for unionization ruined the effort by tweeting a picture of herself casting her ballot, which was the deciding vote in a 5-vote turnout at Webster University in St. Louis. The NLRB Regional Director ruled that by ruining the secrecy of her vote, she nullified her ballot, thus creating a 2-2 tie which goes to the employer.  In a world where folks seem to think everybody wants to see what they had for breakfast via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, be prepared to see more of this.

Another social media development is worth keeping an eye on, for two different reasons.  A recent campaign on social organizing site coworker.org, led by Starbucks baristas, forced the company to make changes to dress code policies. Coworker.org has facilitated similar campaigns since its inception in 2013, none of which have been led by unions.

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Right To Work

When the United Steelworkers attempted to make a Buckeye Florida Corp. employee pay to be represented in a grievance case, although he was in a right-to-work state and had opted out of paying dues to the union, an administrative judge ruled that the USW violated the NLRA. The USW appealed to the NLRB, which gave the board the opening it needed to request briefs as to whether it should change the rules, to allow unions to charge “fair share” fees for such representation.

Fortunately, the case was settled (in the employee’s favor), and with the impetus no longer existing, the NLRB suspended the request for briefs. One can imagine that the unions are frantically looking now for another case to push this question back onto the board agenda.

Exposé of Union Fat-Cats

fat-catThis is an intriguing article partly because of its source.  Shannon Jones, writing an article for the World Socialist Web Site, pivots on the term “freeloaders,” which is usually used to describe those who take advantage of right-to-work laws to opt out of paying dues to a union, using the term instead to apply to the bureaucrats who run the union, in this case the UAW.

I cannot verify all of the facts quoted, but even if the numbers are off slightly, we know enough about how unions operate via public documents to know they probably are not far from the truth.

Recommended reading, particularly if you have issues with the United Auto Workers.