Labor Relations Today

Labor Relations Today

FairPoint Workers Hit The Pickets

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

Union members working for FairPoint Communications across New England hit the pickets this morning after the company refused to come back to the bargaining table.  The employees, represented in negotiations by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communication Workers of America (CWA), offered “significant concessions” in their most recent offer, but to no avail.

“The company is not willing to negotiate on anything, so we felt that we’ve exhausted all of our options and this company has no interest in reaching an agreement. They’ve really backed us into a corner. We have no choice but to strike,” said Jenn Nappi, assistant business manager with CWA Local 2327.

Negotiations between the parties began in April and ended abruptly in August when the company declared an impasse and subsequently imposed its last, best, and final offer.  We will keep you posted as this dispute continues to unfold.

More on this story can be found here:

 

 

IL Teachers’ Strike Enters Second Week

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

Teachers in Waukegan, Illinois will hit the pickets for the ninth school day in a row.  Negotiations between the school board and teachers’ union officials took place yesterday, but broke down with no signs of a deal nearing.

A spokesperson for the teachers’ union slammed the school board, claiming that no board members have attended any of the negotiations thus far. 

“There would be no point in caving in to demands that our members on the line wouldn’t accept,” said Teachers Local 504 President Kathy Schwarz in a news release. “All that would do is delay the process even further because if it were voted down, we would be back at square one with the district. The board must know this. We need the board to come back to the table with a substantive proposal that recognizes the dedication and service of our teachers. The public showed that they understand this, we need to board to listen to the voices of the community it serves.”

For its part, board members have accused the teachers of using local students as “pawns.”

With no new negotiations scheduled, the strike could drag on for days or even weeks.  We will keep you posted.

Truckers Reinstated Pending Outcome Of Labor Dispute

Posted in Federal Court Litigation, NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ordered Green Fleet Systems to reinstate two Los Angeles Harbor-based truckers who allege they were terminated in the midst of a labor dispute.  The Judge’s Order requires Green Fleet to reinstate the two workers during the pendency of proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.  In the Board case, the company has been accused of over 50 separate violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

In particular, the two reinstated truckers allege that they were retaliated against by Green Fleet for engaging in union activity and for lobbying for better wages.  A spokesman for the Teamsters Union trumpeted the ruling:

“This sends a message throughout the Port of Los Angeles and the shipping industry that misclassified drivers are in fact employees,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, the attorney for the truckers and the Teamsters Union port division.

The company has denied the allegations in previous statements.  We will be watching this dispute unfold and will keep you posted.

CWA Files ULP Charges Against SEIU

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging in pertinent part that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been contracting out union work in the run-up to the November elections.  The CWA represents employees who work for the SEIU’s Local 1021, which is very politically active in Northern California.  This election season, according to the CWA, Local 1021 has contracted out union labor to temporary workers and consultants.  Needless to say, the CWA is not pleased.

“We oppose, and we challenge, and we picket, and then our own union is contracting out our jobs,” said Daz Lamparas, the CWA shop steward who filed the original complaint in July. CWA Local 9404 represents the organizers and other staff at SEIU Local 1021.   

An SEIU spokesperson has denied the charges.  Interestingly, the NLRB’s San Francisco regional director ordered the dispute to arbitration.  The CWA will have the ability to request that the RD review any award that is rendered.

UAW Hit With ULP Charges

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

Last week, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed unfair labor practice charges against the United Auto Workers union on behalf of a truck driver who alleged that the union has been trying to stop her from exercising her right not to join the union.  In a statement filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the employee claimed that union officials told her that she could had to show up to the local office and give officials a photo ID before they would consider her request to resign her membership and not pay union dues.

If true, these allegations are particularly troubling for the UAW because Michigan is a “right to work state.”  Accordingly, no one can be compelled to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

“Across the state, union officials are pulling out all the stops to keep workers from exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law,” Mark Mix, the foundation’s president, said in the statement. “UAW union officials’ latest tactic to show up in person and furnish photo identification is designed to dissuade or intimidate workers from exercising their rights to refrain from membership.”

Stay tuned to @LRToday as we will keep you posted throughout the investigation process.

Teamsters Call For Bus Strike In SF

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

San Franciscans take heed: the Teamsters Union has announced a one-day strike effective October 17.  The Teamsters represent bus dispatchers, supervisors, and maintenance crews working for Golden Gate Transportation in the Bay Area.  The parties are currently in contract negotiations, but those talks are stalling.  Bus drivers represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union will most likely honor the Teamsters’ picket line, so bus service will effectively be non-existent next Friday.

The Teamsters have stated that the major sticking point in contract negotiations is that management officials want to revamp their employees’ health care benefits.  A Teamsters spokesperson characterized the change as a “high-deductible plan with up to $12,000 a year out of pocket.”  Not surprisingly, a spokeswoman for the District disputes the Teamsters’ characterization of the proposed benefits plan.

Interestingly, the hit that commuters take will supposedly not be as bad as it could be.  Statistics show that only about 20,000 riders use the bus lines on Fridays, compared to between 30,000-40,000 for the other days of the workweek.  Regardless, the strike will cause major snafus for those who depend on the bus lines to get to work. 

More on this story can be found here:

Palermo’s Saga Ends With Withdrawal Of Petition

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

The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that employees working for Palermo’s Pizza in Milwaukee, WI withdrew their election petition in late July of this year.  A union election had been scheduled for August 14, but the employees filed withdrawal paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board several weeks before the election date.

The union campaign had been backed by Voceds De La Frontera, an immigrants rights group, and the United Food and Commercial Workers.  However, the campaign was derailed when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audited the employee’s immigration statuses. 

The president of Palermo’s issued a short statement after the petition was withdrawn:

“Palermo’s is a strong, family-owned company that succeeds because of its values, its integrity and its commitment to hard work. Our company will continue to focus on the efforts that help us deliver a great pizza experience coast-to-coast. This means we will continue to engage and respect all of our employees, provide a quality work environment and offer a good, family-sustaining job with great benefits. It also means we will continue to be a leader in demonstrating our corporate commitment to Milwaukee and the surrounding area.”

Neither spokespeople for Voces De La Frontera or the UFCW would comment on whether the union effort would continue.  We will keep you posted with any updates.

Union Plans To Block Highway As Protest

Posted in Quick Hits, Unions

Multiple news outlets report that Local 54 of Unite-HERE plan to block traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway tonight in protest against demands for contract concessions that are being put in place in order to keep a major casino’s doors open.  Trump Entertainment Resorts has been engaged in a long-running dispute with the union and is now threatening to close the once-thriving Taj Mahal Casino in November unless the union agrees to major cutbacks.

Of note, the Trump Entertainment Resorts insists that the union must agree to give up its current pension benefits and accept a drastically reduced health insurance plan.  Casino management is also asking for millions of dollars in state aid.

Unite-HERE and its constituents state that they are ready and willing to be arrested during tonight’s protest.  As of now, approximately 30 individuals are expected to block the highway.  We will keep you posted as this dispute unfolds.  

More on this story can be found here:

Board Rubber-Stamps Pair Of Recess-Appointment Decisions

Posted in Federal Court Litigation, NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, SCOTUS, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

The fall-out from the Supreme Court’s recent Noel Canning ruling continues.  Last week, the National Labor Relations Board revisited two cases that were brought back to life after the Supreme Court determined that the Board was unlawfully constituted when they were originally decided.

Not surprisingly, the Board entered summary judgments against both Enterprise and Huntington Ingalls in two separate unfair labor practice cases that were previously heard by President Obama’s infamous “recess appointees.”  The recess-appointees had ruled that both Enterprise and Huntington Ingalls had violated the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to bargain with their respective unions after the Board ordered representation elections.

The post-Noel Canning decisions in both cases reaffirmed the recess-appointees’ findings that both companies failed to present enough new evidence to warrant reconsideration of the Board’s previous certifications of the company’s respective unions.

“All representation issues raised by the respondent were or could have been litigated in the prior representation proceeding. The respondent does not offer to adduce at a hearing any newly discovered and previously unavailable evidence, nor does it allege any special circumstances that would require the board to reexamine the decision made in the representation proceeding,” the NLRB said in the Huntington Ingalls decision, issued Friday. “We therefore find that the respondent has not raised any representation issue that is properly litigable in this unfair labor practice proceeding.”

The proverbial rubber-stamping of the Enterprise and Huntington Ingalls cases should come as no surprise to labor watchers.  After the Supreme Court’s New Process Steel decision in 2010, a newly-constituted Board essentially reaffirmed any suspect or invalidated decision with little analysis.  And the current Board had already begun to reaffirm cases decided by the recess-appointees.  Most likely, we can expect the same kind of deference to the recess-appointees’ decisions going forward. 

Neither party commented on whether they would appeal the adverse rulings to the Circuit courts.  But based on the fact that Enterprise has already been up and down the Fourth Circuit with this case, it is likely we will at least see them appeal the Board’s affirmance.

GOP Looks To Rein In NLRB

Posted in Legislation, NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Senate, Unions

As we briefly mentioned last week, Senate Republicans will very likely seek to revamp federal labor law should they gain control of the Senate in November.  While the numbers are tight, politicos expect Republicans to take back the Senate from Democratic control.  If this occurs, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will likely reintroduce key measures from a previous bill styled the Employee Rights Act (ERA). 

The possible current legislation would likely mirror the ERA’s provision prohibiting labor unions from using member dues for political activities unless a given member gave the union permission to do so.  More importantly, the new bill would require all union elections to be conducted by secret ballot. 

“With Alexander as chair of the labor committee and Mitch McConnell as majority leader, it’s safe to say that reining in Obama’s Big Labor agenda will be a top priority for both of them,” said a senior Senate GOP aide.

Politicos predict that the President would veto the Bill even if it did pass the Senate.  However, other experts maintain that the longer the National Labor Relations Board and union activity remain in the public eye, the more likely it is that Republicans will be able to pass labor reforms should the GOP win the presidency in 2016. 

This is not the first time Republicans have considered changing the labor landscape.  A little over a month ago, legislation was introduced that would have added another member to the five-person National Labor Relations Board.  Under that scenario, both parties would be able to select three nominees.