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Labor Relations Insight

by Phil Wilson Employee Handbooks: Finally, a Little Sanity

Every summer my family visits Dodgeville, Wisconsin to camp with my great friend Greg and his family. And almost every year we make the pilgrimage to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio just up the road in Spring Green.

If you don’t know much about Mr. Wright here are some highlights. He was a genius. His architecture work was at least 50 years ahead of his time. Like a lot of geniuses, he was a bit nutty. If you have the misfortune of being married to, or fathered by, me or my friend (we are also a bit nutty), you are subjected to a campfire reading of Mr. Wright’s description of his home. He called it a “shining brow” on a hill. We affectionately call this a “mockutecture” reading. This might be why Greg and I had to visit

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Union Bailout Update

If you belong to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (you should!) you received their Labor, Regulation, and Employee Benefits Division Labor Update. For those of you that don’t, just a taste of what the report contains, speaking of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018:

“The bill would also fund the National Labor Relations Board at $249 million, which represents a decrease in funding of $25 million (the Board is currently funded at $274 million). The legislation contains the following funding limitations with respect to the NLRB:

Prohibits the use of ‘any new administrative directive or regulation’ with respect to electronic voting in representation elections conducted by the Board; Prohibits the NLRB from asserting jurisdiction over Native American employers; Bars the Board from using funds to

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SEIU Watch

After receiving a formal complaint from the Freedom Foundation, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a charge this month against SEIU Leadership Council 14 for campaign finance violations including the union’s “failure to register and report as a political committee, find a treasurer for its committee, and identify a depository for funds with the State Public Disclosure Commission.” The suit also accuses the SEIU Council of making more than $5 million in unreported political contributions – $2 million of which were made during the 2016 election cycle.

You probably remember that last year, a jury ruled that SEIU Texas should pay $7.8 million to Professional Janitorial Service as settlement over a bitter organizing campaign that occurred years ago. This large of a payout was expected to put the SEIU local into bankruptcy. Lucky for them, the International stepped in recently and reached a confidential agreement with PJS

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Philly Building Trades Council Head Under Investigation

Johnny Doc Dougherty – Image: BigTrial.net

“Johnny Doc” Dougherty has been a key subject in a year-long FBI wire-tapping investigation. Additional wiretap targets Marita Crawford, political director for Mr. Dougherty’s Local 98 of the Electricians union, and City Councilman Bobby Henon. Prosecutors were looking at possible crimes ranging from embezzlement of union funds, tax evasion, extortion by an unnamed public official, mail and wire fraud, and the use of “economic fear” to pressure contractors. Considering the complexity of the investigation, it could be months, if at all, that charges come from the investigation.

Teamster Beat

John Coli Sr.

Early this month, one of the most powerful labor leaders in the country, John Coli Sr., Teamsters Joint Council 25 President, was indicted for extortion. Prosecutors allege he cheated a local business out of $100,000 in cash by “threatening work stoppages and other labor unrest unless he received cash payoffs of $25,000 every three months by the undisclosed business.”

Court proceedings began last week. Coli plead not guilty.

Alt-Labor

After a Jack in the Box announcement that it’s considering selling Qdoba, many of the brand’s franchisees have come together to form an independent union called the Qdoba Franchisee Association. 340 of the brand’s 717 total stores are represented by QFA. This is quite interesting considering most franchisees don’t support joint employment with their franchisor. And yet they are choosing to forego their independence, or at least the appearance of independence.

In another first for organizing, renters at a Glendale, California apartment complex are attempting to organize the city’s first union for tenants.

Fight For Fifteen

 

The Minneapolis City Council passed an ordinance on June 30th raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour over a seven-year-period.

This, after a report came out last month outlining the negative effects of Seattle’s minimum wage increase on the city’s low-wage workers. As expected, proponents of the Fight for $15 movement have come out attempting to refute the report. Click here to read more about their concerns and why authors of the study are shrugging off such criticisms.

Right To Work

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court upheld Wisconsin’s 2015 Right-To-Work law. A similar battle is playing out in Kentucky, where Governor Matt Bevin has asked a judge to dismiss a suit filed by the Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 against Kentucky’s recently enacted law.

In Michigan, the UAW and Harsco Rail ran afoul of that state’s right to work law when they illegally reduced a welder’s wages after he opted out of the union. According to the contract in place, the journeyman welder was entitled to an $0.75 premium, but when he opted out of union membership, the UAW revoked his journeyman card in retaliation and instructed the employer to pay him accordingly.

Whistlin’ Dixie

Workers at Nissan Motor’s Mississippi plant will vote on whether or not they want union representation on August 3rd and 4th.

So far, the Auto Workers have been unsuccessful in their attempts to organize auto factories in the South, with the most notable attempt being the botched campaign at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Which is why, should the workers at Nissan choose to organize, it will be considered a major win for organized labor. They will finally have a foothold in the South. We’re betting the opposite will play out though. There’s a reason auto workers in the South have never been organized…they don’t want to be.

Union Goats?

It appears unions have a problem with goats these days…

Not in general of course, just the ones who act like scabs. And yes…a goat can now be considered a scab for doing work that a union member should be doing. At least that’s what the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1668 thinks.

They’ve officially filed a grievance against Western Michigan University for bringing in a herd of 20 goats to clear a 16-acre lot instead of assigning that job to a union crew.