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Union Pension Turmoil

The New York State Teamsters Conference pension fund withdrew their application to cut pensions after getting information that hinted their first application would be denied. While this doesn’t mean the 5,200 active and retired Teamsters members in New York are in the clear for good, it does mean that their pensions are safe for a few more months.

Meanwhile, four more unions filed applications with the U.S. Treasury Department asking permission to cut retirement benefits in order to keep their funds solvent (hopefully). The United Furniture Workers’ (merged with IUE-CWA) fund is in the worst shape of the new applicants with projected insolvency expected to take place in the next five years if nothing is done. In total, if all applications are approved, as many as 20,309 union members could

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Verizon Strike Ends

cwa-logoAfter six weeks of striking, nearly 40,000 Verizon employees returned to work earlier this month. Verizon and the unions involved in the strike, Communication Workers (CWA) and Electrical Workers (IBEW), reached a tentative deal that includes a 10.5% raise in worker wages over the next four years, 1,400 added call center jobs, and an increase in pensions. In exchange, the unions agreed Verizon could make changes to its healthcare plans to reduce costs.

Now that Verizon has its workforce back, it intends to focus primarily on boosting their wireless business to keep ground with competitors (details on that here).

Unions And Modernization Don’t Mix

Nearly 40,000 workers from Massachusetts to Virginia entered their sixth week in the strike against Verizon yesterday, making this the largest work stoppage since 2011. The workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communication Workers of America. Workers are being paid from a union fund while on strike.

Unlike most strikes, the main area of contention here is not about workers getting raises, it’s about keeping Verizon from changing their business model. “Over 99 percent of the striking workforce work on the wireline side of its business.” It’s called Fios and it offers subscribers Internet, voice and video service.

There’s another side to Verizon’s business – wireless. Think 4G. This part of the business requires less linemen and service providers. It’s also “where the future growth is,” according to Jan Dawson, an independent technology analyst for Jackdaw Research. Verizon as a company is

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CWA Throws In The Towel At IBM

After 16 years, the Communication Workers of America are “suspending” their efforts to make a union shop of IBM. The CWA local, dubbed Alliance@IBM, had 400 dues-paying members at its peak. Now they sit at about 200. IBM is estimated to have about 71,000 U.S. employees.

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SEIU Hires…Contractors?

Get this….a union is accused of contracting work out to non-union members! The Communication Workers of America, who represent employees of SEIU Local 1021, has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the SEIU local is contracting out what should be union labor for the upcoming November election to temp workers and consultants.

SEIU denied the charges, but the NLRB’s San Francisco regional director has ordered the case to arbitration. This can’t be good for SEIU’s mission statement.

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Labor Relations Ink September 2014

In this issue:

Strategy Rising Want My Cake and Eat It Too It Pays to Fight Back Union Dues Hard At Work Teamster Beat, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight and more…

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

View the web-based version of this newsletter (including links and graphics) by visiting:

http://lrionline.com/labor-relations-ink-september-2014

Labor Relations Insight

by Phil Wilson

Should union organizing be a civil right?

Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis (not that John Lewis, but still) think it’s an idea whose time has come.

Ellison and Lewis recently proposed the Employee Empowerment Act. The idea is that union organizing should be treated as a civil right, like the right to be free from discrimination based on race, sex, or religion. The proposed legislation simply allows any employee alleging an unfair labor practice against an employer to bring a discrimination claim

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Big Hissy Fit

cwa-logoAfter 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

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INK March 2014

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In this issue:

UAW-VW Aftermath Pennsylvania Union Members Can Flaunt The Law Worker Center Scrutiny Continues Congress Members Subpoenaed in SEIU Extortion Case SEIU Watch, Only In A Union, Insight & 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

Wildcat Strike: Northwestern Football Players Allowed to Unionize

The floodgates are open: Northwestern University football players will soon vote on whether or not to join a union. In a groundbreaking decision Peter Sung Ohr, Regional Director of Region 13 in Chicago, found that Kain Colter and about 84 other scholarship football teammates are “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. These players will therefore be allowed to vote

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Oh! No! Occupy Announces General Strike!

Well, don’t cancel your plans for May 1 yet because America might not grind to a halt that day afterall. Occupy Wall Street, the official front organization of the Occupy Movement, had announced last week that it was calling for a “crippling” general strike on May 1. And while the working title of the strike “The Day Without the 99%” has a post-apocalyptic feel to it, the street buzz is few people with a job to strike from will actually be participating.

“It won’t happen,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “They (Occupy) are not working with the unions in a serious way yet; nor are the unions working with them in a serious way. And

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Confirmed: Teamsters Have a Hit Out on the Twinkie

Labor Notes is now reporting that Teamsters bosses are telling their members at Hostess that it may be better to “remove” their bankrupt employer with a strike this spring than continue to negotiate with “a company set on destroying union standards.” Killing off the Twinkie would also presumably “clear the field” for unionized competitors to “pick up the pieces” and play nice with Teamsters. (Or else.)

A strike would “almost certainly put Hostess’ Brands out of business,” read a memo from the union’s bakery division director. “We wish we had better alternatives—but we do not.” The union is negotiating for “significant governance” and “significant equity” in Hostess should it survive and claims Hostess is not seeking substantial enough concessions from its lenders to

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