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Labor Relations Insight

by Phil Wilson

The Real Impact of Ambush Elections

In just a couple of months we will have one year of experience under the NLRB’s ambush election rule making. This is one of the most significant changes in US labor law since… Ever. It has slashed the amount of time employees have to consider their decision about whether or not to choose representation. More important, it has fundamentally altered how decisions about who is included (and excluded) from bargaining are made.

But what are the actual “on the ground” differences? Let me start with the latest statistics. First, number of days till an election. Here is what has happened since the rule went into effect:


You can see from the chart, election periods are substantially faster since the rule went into

Continue reading Labor Relations Insight

New Blood

bela-lugosi-dracula-ftrUnions are getting creative in their attempt to stem their declining membership roles. While they still have not made inroads in some of their recent high-profile targets, such as big box retail stores and fast food restaurants, they have found some new blood in some interesting places.

A handful of notable digital media companies succumbed to organizing pressure last year. Although print newspapers have been churning out union members for decades, the move into the world of online media is recent.

Tech company shuttle drives in the San Francisco Bay area and bike share companies across the country have begun to migrate into the union fold as well. Although small, these first three groups all represent the young, hip and tech savvy. The trend might be worth

Continue reading New Blood

Mixed Media

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Arianna Huffington has publicly supported her employees’ right to organize since negotiations around their eligibility first began in October 2015. In a letter to staff earlier this month, Huffington Post management announced that they have reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGEA) to voluntarily recognize the union, pending a count of signed authorization cards. Perhaps HuffPost will have better luck than Al Jazeera.

Two weeks ago, Al Jazeera America CEO, Al Anstey, announced that the company will be closing its doors on April 30.

“[O]ur business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” Anstey told staff in a memo.

This comes just months after staff members of the digital newsroom voted to unionize under the News Guild of New York (CWA).

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.


Whistlin’ Dixie

By now you’ve likely heard that, after a year of working the system, the Auto Workers finally made their way into the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee as the official representative of 162 maintenance workers.

Volkswagen plans to appeal this decision to the NLRB because they believe that this carve out group shared a compelling community of interest with the balance of the plant’s 1400 employees. According to the company:

“We believe that a union of only maintenance employees fractures our workforce and does not take into account the overwhelming community of interest shared between our maintenance and production employees.”

The American Council of Employees, who share the UAW’s interest in organizing the plant, support Volkswagen’s appeal saying that the avenue the UAW took would serve to “subdivide maintenance workers with no concern for how this might negatively impact employees’ long-term interest.”

For further insight from LRI’s Phil

Continue reading Whistlin’ Dixie

Media Overtaken By Big Labor?

media-logosAs the largest digital newsroom yet looks to unionize, we should probably start asking when enough momentum in this media-organizing trend will begin to impact the nature of online journalism.

The HuffPost campaign is just another in a recent spate of online newsroom organizing campaigns, including successes at Gawker, Salon, Vice, ThinkProgress, The Guardian, US and Al Jazeera America.

Because the media typically leans left, it has tended to treat Big Labor kindly. But it brings up some new questions about conflict of interest, when the typical union constitution disallows any dissent or disparagement by its members against the union. Should we consider these newly minted union members extracted from the ranks of “unbiased” journalists? How much farther will this trend go before the impact in reporting is noticeable?

Labor Relations INK November 2015

In this issue:

Right-To-Work Takes the Spotlight Steelworkers Learning The Hard Way Detroit News Labor Around The World SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight and more…

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


Labor Relations Insight

by Phil Wilson

Big Labor’s $6.6 Billion Payday

Big Labor has a lot to be thankful for in 2015. Let’s face it. If you’re counting blessings the National Labor Relations Board offered quite a few. From the Ambush Election Rule to expanded online organizing to the Browning Ferris joint employer decision, unions received a lot of gifts this year.

In spite of these gifts, Big Labor is still running in place. For example, unions got the NLRB to rewrite how it conducts union elections – slashing the average election time by nearly one-third (from 38 to around 25 days). But unions have conducted nearly the

Continue reading Labor Relations INK November 2015

Big Labor Grasping at Straws

Last week, Al Jazeera posted an interesting article on the revitalization of the labor movement. Simply put, it over-glorifies millennial support of organized labor. While it’s true that millennials currently have the most favorable view of unions, the fact is that most of the major worker movements right now (Fast Food Forward, Black Lives Matter, and campaigns in higher education) aren’t about being able to unionize. They are about rallying together for change. This is different than shelling out money for third party representation. It’s about representing yourself. If anything, what millennials are proving right now is that you don’t have to be a part of a union to effect change.

The face of labor is changing and unions know it. They’re struggling to remain relevant, and hoping that they will find some way to monetize their efforts on the back end.


NLRB GC Provides Examples in Electronic Signature Memorandum

As we mentioned in last week’s edition of INK, the General Counsel of the NLRB, Richard Griffin, issued a memorandum detailing the guidelines for submitting electronic signatures as an official declaration in “showing of interest” for union representation. Monday night, Griffin updated that memo to include examples of the necessary documents.

This story was first reported by Politico.

UNIFOR All In! Campaign

Canadian super union UNIFOR is presenting a nicely designed image with their latest All In! Campaign Toolkit booklet. If you’ve got operations in Canada, take a look here.