Labor Relations Today

Labor Relations Today

GOP Senators Introduce NLRB Reform Act

Posted in Legislation, NLRB, Quick Hits, Senate

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, proposed new legislation designed to rein in what they believe to be a very “activist” National Labor Relations Board.  Dubbed the NLRB Reform Act, the legislation is also intended to reduce the powers of the Board’s General Counsel.

Senator McConnell discussed the Act in a short statement:

“The NLRB’s politically motivated decisions and controversial regulations threaten the jobs of hardworking Americans who just want to provide for their families.  So it’s time to restore balance and bipartisanship. The NLRB Reform Act  would help turn the board’s focus from ideological crusades that catch workers in the crossfire to the kind of common-sense, bipartisan solutions workers deserve.”

Senator Alexander further explained that the legislation is designed to encourage the Board to issue timely decisions.  Under the proposed Act, either party in a case before the Board can go to a Court of Appeals should the Board fail to render a decision within a year.

More on this story can be found here:

Doctors At UC Go On Strike

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

For the first time in 25 years, licensed medical doctors in the United States have gone on strike.  Doctors working at student health centers across 10 different University of California campuses walked off the job and hit the pickets yesterday, purportedly because they are upset that UC administrators have refused to provide the doctors’ union certain information the union has requested.

The striking doctors have been represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (the union) since November of 2013.  Since the November 2013 certification of the union as the doctors’ collective bargaining representative, the union has been negotiating the doctors’ first collective bargaining agreement with UC officials.

With regards to the strike, which the union has admitted is an incredibly rare action for doctors to take, a spokesperson blasted UC officials for not handing over information relating to “how student fees are spent.”

“We asked them for the information and we get stonewalled,” [the spokesman] said, speaking by phone from a picket line at UCLA.

The doctors are expected to return to work today.  We will keep you posted as this dispute continues to unfold.

More on this story can be found here:

 

 

Ithaca Adjunct Faculty Begin Organizing Effort

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Unions

The Ithaca Journal reports that adjunct faculty members working at Ithaca College in upstate New York are planning to file a petition for election with the National Labor Relations Board by the end of the current semester.  With the assistance of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), several adjunct faculty members leading the organizing campaign have been working to measure the interest in unionizing for the better part of a year.

Organizers have argued that the more than 200 part-time adjunct faculty at Ithaca would be better served by a union presence.  In making their case, organizers contend that a union would bring in better pay, a competitive benefits package, and a measure of job security.

In a short statement, a spokesman for the college urged employees to educate themselves:

“This is an important issue, and the college encourages those involved to get as much information as possible before making a final decision,” [the spokesman] said.

The organizers have yet to file a petition for election with the Board.  But they would certainly not be the first group of adjunct faculty to unionize.  Starting in 2013, adjunct faculty members in the Midwest and New England have voted in unions, although other organizing efforts have failed.  We will be watching this one closely and will make sure to keep you posted, so stay tuned.

Union Membership Declines In 2014

Posted in Department of Labor, Quick Hits, Unions

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of employees belonging to labor unions in the United States decreased slightly in the past year. Across the United States, total union membership stood at 14.6 million, which was a decrease of about 0.2 percent from last year.  In total, about 11 percent of the workforce belongs to a labor union.

The Department of Labor began collecting unionization data in 1983, when approximately 17.7 million workers (20 percent of the workforce) were in labor unions.

Interestingly, the Department of Labor’s report shows that the union rate among public sector employees is over five times higher than the union rate for employees in the private sector.

More on this story can be found here:

Democrats Support Quickie Election Rules

Posted in Federal Court Litigation, NLRB, Quick Hits, Senate, Unions

Yesterday, 16 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Mark Gaston Pearce, the Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, urging him to “vigorously defend” the Board’s controversial quickie election procedures.  Issued last month, the “quickie election” rules are designed to cut down the time between the filing of an election petition to a vote to as little as eleven days.

In the letter, the 16 Democrats underscore how important they believe the new rules to be:

“Reports indicate this rule will likely be challenged in court by those who oppose workers efforts to unionize,” the senators wrote. “We believe this rule will restore balance and certainty to the union election process and strongly encourage you to vigorously defend this rule in the face of such challenges.”

While Democrats believe the new rule will “level the playing field” by preventing companies from delaying elections, employers believe the rule unfairly constricts their ability to discuss the unionization process with their employees.

We have been following the quickie election rules since they were first discussed almost five years ago.  Stay tuned to @LRToday, where we will offer in-depth analysis of the rules as their April implementation date creeps closer.

Teamsters Lose FedEx Election

Posted in NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Unions

Yesterday, a representative for FedEx Corp issued a statement announcing that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) lost a union election at FedEx Freight’s Charleston, WV facility.  The election was conducted on January 15, but the vote count was delayed while the parties hashed out which workers were actually eligible to vote.

In a further sign that the Teamsters are losing influence with FedEx employees, the union also withdrew a union election petition from another facility.

The company welcomed the news:

“FedEx Freight drivers continue to reject the union and demonstrate their strong preference for a direct relationship with the company,” the company said in a statement.

In late 2014, the Teamsters were voted in at three separate FedEx facilities.  Since then, however, they have withdrawn six petitions and lost four other elections.

More on this story can be found here:

Gov. Haley To Highlight IAM Organizing In State Of The State Address

Posted in NLRB, Quick Hits, Unions

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is expected to use her upcoming “State of the State” address to highlight the International Association of Machinists’ (IAM) ongoing campaign to unionize employees working for The Boeing Company in South Carolina.  According to reports, Governor Haley will devote about 500 words to the IAM’s efforts, which includes the following thoughts about the state being largely union-free:

“I cannot express to you the extent to which this is a game-changer when we are trying to bring new businesses to our state,” her speech says. “We have a reputation — internationally — for being a state that doesn’t want unions. … Now, that reputation and, even more importantly, a South Carolina company, are under attack.”

South Carolina and Boeing are no strangers to the IAM.  The union represents Boeing workers at its facility in Washington, and in 2011 sought to halt the development of Boeing’s Charleston facility.  Gov. Haley is also quite familiar with the IAM, as she has previously been sued by them for speaking out against their organizing tactics.

More on this story can be found here:

 

 

Accusations Of Slowdowns At Port Of Los Angeles

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Uncategorized, Unions

Yesterday, employers at the Port of Los Angeles accused their unionized dockworker employees of instituting a labor slowdown.  This latest incident between the parties has brought major national scrutiny to the long-running labor dispute because container ships have been forced to sit idle while they wait for crews to unload their cargo.

While the Pacific Maritime Association blames the union, the International Longshore Workers Union blames the employer for the backlog.  However, it can hardly be called a coincidence that as soon as the parties hit a snag during their most recent collective-bargaining negotiations, work at the port began to slow considerably.

A federal mediator has gotten involved in the parties’ dispute, which centers primarily around what the dockworkers believe to be substandard wages.

More on this story can be found here:

PLU Adjuncts Withdraw Union Petition

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Unions

Earlier this week, adjunct faculty members working at Pacific Lutheran University voluntarily withdrew a petition to hold a union election.  The election saga has taken place over the course of a year and a half, with the faculty voting back in the fall of 2013 on whether to join a labor union for the purpose of collective representation. 

After the election, PLU lodged objections to the proceedings, arguing that it was immune from the National Labor Relations Board’s jurisdiction because it was a religious school.  Accordingly, the ballots were impounded. 

Even though the Board recently decided that adjunct faculty at schools like PLU should be allowed to organize as long as their job duties are not explicitly religious, the faculty members still withdrew the petition because of the uncertainty surrounding the election results.  At present, it is known that 30 faculty voted in favor of joining a union, 54 faculty voted against, and 38 ballots are currently being challenged.

We have been watching this campaign, as well as other adjunct faculty campaigns, closely.  Stay tuned to @LRToday for pertinent updates.

NFIB and ABC Join Fight Against NLRB’s ‘Quickie Election’ Rule by Filing Suit in Texas

Posted in Expedited Elections, Federal Court Litigation, NLRA, NLRB, NLRB Rule-Making, Representation Elections

On Tuesday, January 13, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Texas, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Texas and the Central Texas Chapter of ABC filed a joint lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the NLRB’s recently issued election rule expediting union representation elections. The Texas lawsuit comes on the heels of another lawsuit challenging the new election rule filed by business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Texas complaint alleges that:

the new Rule makes sweeping changes in pre-eelction and post-election procedures that depart from the plain language and legislative history of the Act and exceed the Board’s statutory authority. The evident purpose of the changes is to achieve the impermissible pro-union objective of accelerating the election process to such an extent that employers will be unable to respond effectively to union organizing campaigns. The new Rule achieves this result by preventing employers in most cases from exercising their statutory rights to appropriate hearings regarding voting eligibility, and by shortening the election period so that employers have no meaningful opportunity to lawfully communicate with affected employees about their electoral rights.

Similar to the DC lawsuit, the Texas lawsuit claims that the Board provided no adequate justification for overruling “decades of Board and judicial precedent that preserved a careful balance of employer, employee, and union rights in the election process.” It also alleges that the new rule will deprive employers of “their rights to appropriate hearings and due process relating to the conduct of pre-election and post-election proceedings.”

Given that the new rule goes into effect on April 14, 2015, we expect the plaintiffs in both lawsuits to move expeditiously in an effort to get a ruling from the courts prior to that date. Stay tuned to our blog, our Twitter feed (@LRToday), and our Flipboard magazine for additional details and updates.