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Labor Relations Ink May 2016

In this issue:

What The Uber Settlement Means Unions And Modernization Don’t Mix Treasury Determined to Bilk Taxpayers In Pension Demise Another Union Marriage Ends In Divorce Scoreboard, SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers and more…

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

Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson

I’ve been everywhere, man

I am home for the first full week in a month and looking forward to a holiday weekend before I hit the trail again. Traveling can get old, but there are parts of it I really enjoy. It is great to meet new people. Of course I like to talk about what’s going on the world of labor relations and approachable leadership. But traveling also gives me a great opportunity to learn and grow too.

I thought for this month’s insight I’d take readers on a quick tour of the last

Continue reading Labor Relations Ink May 2016

What The Uber Settlement Means

uberMost folks are aware of the high-profile class-action suits against Uber and Lyft. The two companies’ drivers – independent contractors – are claiming they should be classified as employees.

In Uber’s settlement, it retained the right to classify the drivers as independent contractors while amending some of its policies, changing the nature of the relationship to look more like an employer/employee model in some respects.

The case is interesting in that it presages a possible third category of workers that share characteristics of both employees and independent contractors. It has been suggested that American labor law is due for such modifications to bring it out of the 20th century. With the rise of the “gig economy,” some such changes are probably inevitable.

Another interesting result of the agreement was the formation of the Independent

Continue reading What The Uber Settlement Means


iamJohn Lehman and Ryan Hastings, employees at Spirit Aerosystems’ Wichita manufacturing plant, were well-known critics of their two IAM Local representatives – often finding themselves in the crosshairs of the union officials. When the two shared a video of a safety violation at the plant with colleagues, it ultimately ended up in the hands of their union rep who, rather than discussing this newfound knowledge of the safety hazard with management, chose to forward the video to Spirit’s leadership in an effort to get Lehman and Hastings fired. They succeeded

Leman and Hastings filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union for misrepresentation and last month an NLRB judge ruled in their favor, ordering the union to:

Cease and desist from: Attempting to cause or causing Spirit Aerosystems to discharge employee-members because of their dissident union and/or other protected concerted activities.

Continue reading Union “Representation”

Whistlin’ Dixie

After losing the election to organize Volkswagen employees at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant last year, the UAW set up an office just down the road to begin its efforts anew. Their hope has been that once they gather enough signatures, they will be approved as the bargaining representative through card check rather than another secret-ballot election. Currently, they claim to have signatures from about 55 percent of the employees.

ACEThe American Council of Employees, the other union looking to organize VW Chattanooga, believes those numbers to be unsubstantiated and urges all parties involved not to make any decision on labor representation without a secret ballot election.

Just south in Alabama the Auto Workers are having far less success. In fact, 80 percent of the employees at Renosol Seating, an extension of Lear Corp., recently signed

Continue reading Whistlin’ Dixie

Dire Straits

Source: http://www.pbgc.gov/

Source: http://www.pbgc.gov/

Teamsters Central States Pension Fund has been in trouble for a long time and it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting out of it anytime soon. Currently serving roughly 410,000 participants, the fund is not making as much as it’s paying out. If the situation continues as is, the fund’s trustees believe it will become insolvent within a decade. In order to stay afloat, Central States is looking to cut the amount it pays out to retirees – you know, the people who paid into it for 30 years and have planned their retirement around it.

This was made possible by a federal law passed last year that allows struggling multi-employer pension funds to cut benefits for retirees younger than

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Union Bailout Update – Nov 2014

NLRBphotoWhat would you think of a body of bureaucrats that ignored three circuit courts, more than a dozen federal district courts, and the California Supreme Court, to promote their own edict? As much as we’ve come to expect belligerence from the Democratic contingent of the National Labor Relations Board, this really does seem extreme. But the board’s recent Murphy Oil USA decision upheld their controversial D.R. Horton finding from nearly 3 years ago, limiting the use by employers of individual arbitration agreements. The ruling is certain to wind its way into a federal appeals court again.

The board also indicated it is willing to consider making it even harder than it already is to decertify a union. Under current board precedent established in Truserve Corp., a petition to decertify a union is

Continue reading Union Bailout Update – Nov 2014

Whistlin’ Dixie

industriallIt’s been a difficult and largely unsuccessful task organizing automakers in the South, but the Auto Workers are persevering with the help of groups like IndustriALL Global Union and the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan. The three groups told reporters that Nissan supervisors have been holding meetings with employees at their Canton, Mississippi plant during which they threatened employees with wage cuts or plant closings if the employees choose to unionize.

Nissan manager of Government Relations, Camille Young, called the allegations unfounded, stating: “Our history reflects that we respect the right of employees to decide who should represent them…Nissan employees in Canton enjoy jobs that are among the most secure in Mississippi and offer some of the highest manufacturing wages in the state, strong benefits, a working environment that exceeds industry standards

Continue reading Whistlin’ Dixie

Give ‘Em The Boot!

bootkickTwo more companies are proving that life does not get better when you go union.

Employees at Angeles Composite Technologies Inc. in Port Angeles, Wa. voted to decertify the International Association of Machinists last month to work directly with their employer again. In addition, workers at Tuscaloosa’s SouthFresh Aquaculture – after decertifying the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union last year – reconfirmed their commitment to their company by voting down the union once more.

Tom Scroggins, SouthFresh Aquaculture attorney, captured the opinions of both companies when he said that these workers “understand the value of a direct and open relationship with their employer without the need to pay dues to a third party.”

Same Song, Different Verse

The Teamsters For a Democratic Union have probably been the most high-profile insider union reformers in recent years, but now a similar group is attempting to gain traction in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). They face an uphill climb. The last time someone got enough nominations from local chapters to land a spot on the general election ballot was 1961.

Jay Cronk is heading up the slate, calling itself IAM Reform. Cronk was formerly employed on the International staff for 21 years, but was fired the week after he announced his run. Union democracy in action.

“We proudly promote ourselves as the most democratic union in America,” Cronk says in his campaign video. “When in reality, it is a select few who have chosen to decide who leads the IAM, without benefit of membership input.”

Jay reveals some of the problems with the IAM bureaucracy

Continue reading Same Song, Different Verse

IAM Levies Over $1 Million In Fines

finesSome may remember the Caterpillar strike in May of last year when International Association of Machinists (IAM) union bosses ordered 800 workers at the Joliet plant to go on strike. After 100 of those employees went against the demands of the union and showed up to work anyway, IAM bosses handed them over $1 million in fines.

In response to those fines, 50 workers filed federal charges which stated that they were not union members thus they could not be disciplined under union bylaws. Though most of the charges have been dropped, the National Right to Work Foundation is still rallying behind three workers. Two of them, Jarius Jackson and Darrel Roland, allege that union officials gave them permission to return to work. The last, Mark Jones, states

Continue reading IAM Levies Over $1 Million In Fines