by Phil Wilson
How carefully do you craft messages to your employees? Have you ever announced something and then wished you’d said it a different way?
We recently ran across a messaging document posted on Facebook originally produced by the PR firm Park Street Strategies for the United Food and Commercial Workers. (Memo to self: The Google sees ALL the web pages).
According to their 2015 LM-2, the UFCW payed Park Street Strategies nearly $800,000 in member dues in 2015. That should give you some sense of how important they take this stuff. And if you happen to be a UFCW member reading this you might question whether this is the best use of your dues money. But that’s a discussion for
Continue reading Labor Relations Insight
The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its annual report, indicating union membership has fallen yet again. Total membership fell from 11.1 % in 2015 to 10.7 in 2016, and private-sector membership fell from 6.7% to 6.4%
Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s during organizing campaigns remains critical, as the recent URS Federal Services, Inc. case demonstrates. In this case, the employees overwhelming voted against unionization (91-54). However, although the union had been provided the Excelsior list by the required deadline, it called for an overturning of the election results because the union received the list from the NLRB regional director instead of directly from the employer, as the rule specifies, as amended in December 2014. The NLRB reversed the regional director’s ruling and nullified the election.
The issue of whether or not employer arbitration policies that prohibit employees from filing class or collective actions are a violation of the NLRA is on it’s way to the Supreme Court. The NLRB contends such policies inhibit concerted protected activity and are thus a violation of the law. The circuit courts are split on the issue,
Continue reading Union Bailout Update
A new tech tool has emerged on the scene for union organizers and bargainers. It’s called Trokt and it has two basic functions.
The first is a grievance tracker. This feature will make it easy to see what kinds of grievances were filed at what times. It takes away a lot of the grunt work that goes into figuring out what section of the contract need reviewed when negotiations come around. The second feature is a contract changelog. This would keep track of all changes made by both sides at the bargaining table. The tool also makes it easier to share documents amongst all parties.
For individual union members and stewards, Trokt’s app also has an option to “file grievances, look up contract language, or check on the status of an already filed grievance.”
If you need a current example of how entrenched union leaders hold onto power and stack the deck of candidates, despite the wishes of the union membership, the Washington Post includes a good description of how ATU Local 689 President Jackie L. Jeter was “reelected.” The violations were so egregious that outgoing DOL head, Tom Perez, was forced to order a new election. According to the Post,
In a 35-page report, the department says a confluence of factors combined to invalidate the results of election: the union mailed election notices only 14 days before the vote took place, in violation of its bylaws and a 15-day notice provision of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act; that the union allowed any member whose dues payments were less than two months late to remain in good standing, in violation of an established provision; and that the union held “secret” payment standards
Continue reading Union Leadership Manipulation of Election Results
The Service Employees District 5, currently in bankruptcy, have asked a judge to reject Professional Janitorial Service’s bid to liquidate the organization. SEIU argues that the janitorial company is trying to force SEIU out of business in Texas. Others might say that PJS is simply trying to collect on the debt SEIU owes them after a jury ruled the union pay over $7.8 million for malicious actions taken against the company in an organizing campaign.
SEIU’s International is also making some big financial decisions in light of the recent inauguration of President Trump. They plan to cut their budget by 30 percent in preparation for what they expect to be a rough road ahead for unions in general. Their current budget is set at $300 million per year.
One SEIU local is suing former members after they decided to pull out of the local and form their
Continue reading SEIU Watch
Staples and the U.S. Postal Service created something unusual: a winning innovation combining a private enterprise with a government agency, that created a solid benefit to the American public. The pair teamed up to open mini-post offices within Staples stores. Starting in 2013, getting to the post office became way more convenient.
You already know the end of the story. The American Postal Workers Union lambasted the move, calling for boycotts and involving other unions in the protest. The NLRB eventually chimed in, deeming the action a violation of federal labor law.
Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, disgusted with the outcry, called the union/NLRB move “an example of the narrow, near-sighted view winning over the broader, long-term strategy.”
The experiment was downgraded from postal services to preferred shipping status, but will end entirely in March.
Two former employees have sued Mickey Kasparian, president of Food and Commercial Workers Local 135. While the two cases themselves are very different in substance, one theme is a constant among them both. Kasparian created a hostile work environment and used intimidation to discourage employees from reporting acts against them.
Specifically, Kasparian has been accused of forcing one woman to carry on a sexual relationship with him for years. He has also been accused of wrongly firing another woman when she was “incorrectly suspected of being on the wrong side of a political issue.”
On January 1, new minimum wages went into effect in nineteen states. Click here to see the list. The effect of an increased minimum wage remains controversial. How much does it benefit individual workers at the cost of the overall economy?
Ed Rensi reported last week in Forbes that due to these raises, some small businesses have had to close their doors – from daycare centers in Washington to independent eateries in Arizona. Even apparel manufacturers in California join a growing list of businesses leaving the state for less-expensive operating costs.
And still the question remains: what is the real benefit for unions, who have reportedly spent over $70 million funding the Fight for $15 campaign? To some major proponents, like David Rolf, the changing landscape is clear. Traditional
Continue reading Fight For 15
It is too early to make any real judgments about exactly how Trump’s presidency will impact the world of labor relations. Phil has already addressed the possible impact on the NLRB specifically, but if you want to review a few other prognostications, here’s a recent list. We won’t spend much time on theory, but will keep you apprised once words become actions.
Chicago Tribune: How will the workplace change under Trump? Here are a few clues, issues
International Labor Rights Forum: Trump’s Pro-Worker Rhetoric: Reality or Ruse?
National Law Review: What to Expect From a “Trump” NLRB
Washington Examiner: Labor awkwardly promises to work with Trump
Labor Secretary Nominee Andrew Puzder