After four months of fruitless negotiations with the Communication Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, FairPoint Communications Inc. has declared an impasse to which the unions responded with a “red meat” rally in Portland, Maine.
“We’ve been at the bargaining table since April. When the unions say they want FairPoint to come back, what they really mean is that they want FairPoint to abandon its final positions on issues that are critical to the future of the company. This we won’t do,” FairPoint spokeswoman, Angelynne Amores Beaudry said.
The positions she is referring to are financial ones. In 2007, FairPoint purchased Verizon’s northern New England landline business – a decision that inevitably led to a declaration of bankruptcy in 2011. Since then, the company continues to struggle to regain the
Continue reading Big Hissy Fit
Service workers at St. Charles Medical Center-Bend in Oregon gave SEIU Local 49 the boot last week, nearly two years after voting in the union and after some 40 bargaining sessions failed to reach an initial contract.
The decertification vote came just days after St. Charles-Bend nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract, suggesting that either the SEIU was the main cause of the failed negotiations, or that the Oregon Nurses Association just plays a better bargaining game. That said, our money is on the first reason.
Naturally, the hospital and the union are giving very different descriptions of what happened and who is at fault for the short-lived unionization, but despite the SEIU’s insistence that the decertification was only successful because St. Charles-Bend hired
Continue reading SEIU Watch
The 40,000 employees of the Transportation Safety Administration won limited bargaining rights last week. According to TSA administrator, John Pistole, only “non-security” issues such as work shifts, transfers, vacation time and awards can be addressed by bargaining, and issues such as deployment of security personnel, job qualifications, testing or discipline are off the table. Work slowdowns are supposedly barred, but that hasn’t stopped other unions from violating similar restrictions.
Senator Jim DeMint disagreed that allowing bargaining on such issues does not pose a threat to security. “If who shows up for work, when they show up and what assignments they get is not a security issue, then nothing is a security issue,” DeMint said.
Now that the camel has his nose in the tent, we’ll see how long
Continue reading Camel’s Nose Is In The Tent
In Florida, Jackson Health System announced furloughs for 11,000 workers, while in the midst of negotiations with SEIU. The union lamented the move as a cheap shot, stating, “We believe this is an illegal action and cannot be implemented. It is merely a bargaining maneuver that he [Chief Executive Carlos Migoya] probably thinks will cause the employee unions to meet his demands for concessions.” Speaking of the protracted negotiations, Migoya said the measure was necessary to adhere to the balanced budget demanded by the public hospitals board and the County Commissioner. “In the absence of an agreement on concessions, we have an obligation to control short-term costs by other means,” Migoya.
At another public hospital across the country in Washington State, Olympic Medical center secured an injunction preventing SEIU
Continue reading Health Care Battles Continue to Rage
Teamsters in New York apparently staged another work slow down during a snow storm, once again coinciding with stalled contract negotiations. Town Supervisor John Coyne was forced to declare a state of emergency to force the employees to get to work clearing roads.
In Chicago, an attorney contemplated suing the Teamsters when he was forced to pay $1200 to use “approved” contractors to move his office into a new location, rather than the moving contractor he had secured for $500. The building lease contained a clause forcing tenants to submit any requests to use contractors to the building management, effectively creating a “secondary boycott.” In essence, the building is colluding with the union to keep non-union labor (ie. less expensive) out of the building.
In another display of
Continue reading Teamsters Watch
The United Auto Workers inked a new contract with GM, which will soon be mirrored at Ford and Chrysler. The contract retains the 2-tier pay system, bumping up those on the lower tier with a $2-$3 pay increase, and provides a “signing bonus” in lieu of cost-of-living adjustments. GM and the UAW have declined to comment on details until local labor leaders have had time to thoroughly review the contract.
Chrysler and Ford are currently operating on contract extensions, so look for similar contracts to surface soon.
In addition to Bob King’s “grievance gambit” discussed in the next post/article, other unions are looking for ways to hide the fact that they are not able to achieve for their members at the bargaining table what they originally promised they would. In this recent SEIU example, it appears the union staged a “fake fight” with a hospital, so it could appear that SEIU Healthcare Michigan president Marge Faville swooped in and solved the situation, taking attention away from the “bad deal” that the SEIU got for hospital employees.
The SEIU then pressed employees to ratify the deal – without letting them actually see it!
The Employee Free Choice Act’s mandatory arbitration provision has received way too little attention in the arguments over EFCA. This week Thomas Kochan posted a spirited defense of interest arbitration on the Center for “American Progress” blog in his attempt to add some context. While I disagree with much of what he says, it certainly gets the discussion focused on the “how would this whole arbitration thing work” question. He identifies 6 points of a solid arbitration system, and recommends that they be used as the framework for interest arbitration under the Free Choice Act (which is a backhanded way of pointing out one of the many glaring weaknesses of EFCA: that it provides exactly no guidance on how this arbitration system might work… but I digress).
Kochan’s main argument is that the experience of using arbitration in the public sector and in Canada proves that it will
Continue reading Employee Free Choice Act: Is Interest Arbitration a Good Thing?
In Today’s Issue: The Truth About “Union Scale” Wages
When a union targets your firm, it can quickly penetrate your uninformed people. It’s easy for them, because most people don’t know much about unions, and most of what they “know” isn’t really helpful.
Once a union is in, the process of getting rid of one is almost impossible. Unions create corporate survival pitfalls, so it is really important for your employees (and your first level leaders) to understand exactly how a union can impact a business BEFORE they are asked to sign a union card.
One thing people think they “know” about unions is that once a union comes into a company that all employees automatically start getting “union scale” wages and benefits. Most people are surprised to learn that outside of a narrow range of construction-industry area-wide agreements (and even there you’ll find lots of “exceptions” to the rules)
Continue reading The Truth About “Union Scale” Wages