- STRIKES & LABOR DISPUTES
- MAJOR CONTRACT SETTLEMENTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- ADMINISTRATIVE & COURT DECISIONS
- LEGISLATION & POLITICS
- Change to Win, a coalition of unions with more than 6 million members, is targeting workers at warehouse and distribution centers in California's Inland Empire counties of San Bernardino and Riverside. Together, these two counties make up one of the nation's biggest logistics networks and handle much of the container cargo that comes through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. There are nearly 2,900 warehouses of at least 50,000 square feet in the Inland Empire, employing nearly 113,000 people. A labor group calling itself Warehouse Workers United is leading the local organizing effort, but has not unionized any workplaces yet.
- The International Association of Machinists (IAM) filed a petition with the National Mediation Board seeking a representation election among fleet service, passenger service, and reservation workers at AirTran Airways. The union said it submitted signed authorization cards from at least 35 percent of the more than 2,000 AirTran workers, but AirTran said that it employs 3,500 workers in the classifications that IAM is seeking to represent. IAM and AirTran will argue the counts for the employee classification before the National Mediation Board, and the board will determine whether the union has sufficient support to warrant an election.
- The California Department of Industrial Relations certified that United Healthcare Workers-West, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, received the majority of the ballots cast in a contested election by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) for some 10,000 in-home health care workers in Fresno County. NUHW has filed a complaint with the state's Public Employment Relations Board alleging that SEIU staff engaged in voter intimidation, illegal threats, and ballot manipulation. The complaint is pending.
B. Strikes & Labor Disputes
- After an administrative law judge told Brynwood Partners, owner of the Stella D'Oro bakery in the Bronx, N.Y. to reinstate striking employees under the terms of an expired contract, Brynwood Partners announced its plans to close the Stella D'Oro bakery one day before it reinstated employees pursuant to the ALJ's order. The company issued notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to returning workers, citing that the employees' wages and benefits were "far higher" than the costs of its local competitors and the union's refusal to grant any wage concessions as reasons for the closure.
- Dealers and slot technicians represented by United Auto Workers (UAW) at Bally's Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City casinos in Atlantic City, N.J. gave union leaders authorization to call strikes if they are unable to reach initial collective bargaining agreements with casino management. Negotiations for a first contract have been ongoing for more than two years, following the UAW's success in organizing dealers and slot technicians at the two casinos.
C. Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations
- Collective bargaining data compiled by the BNA from January 2009 through July 27, 2009 shows an average first year wage increase of 2.8 percent, down from 3.5 percent reported in the comparable period of 2008.
- United Steelworkers Local 8-675 ratified a six-year agreement with MeadWestvac that provides nearly 900 workers at a paper plant in Covington, Va. with wage increases of 16 percent over the term of the year contact, and establishes the first union-operated health clinic on the East Coast.
- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached a tentative agreement with YRC Worldwide Inc. on modifications to the terms of their current collective bargaining agreement that, among other things, would permit the company to temporarily suspend the company's participation in the union's pension plan.
- Members of the International Association of Machinists ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with financially troubled Air Canada covering 12,300 employees. The agreement provides a moratorium on pension plan contributions and a freeze on wages and benefits.
- The Communication Workers of America and AT&T Inc. announced a three-year tentative agreement covering 18,500 core wireline workers in the company's Midwest region. Under the agreement, workers will receive an 8.75 percent wage increase, but would have to pay premiums for their health coverage for the first time.
- Members of the Boston Newspaper Guild Local 31245, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, accepted a revised package of wage and benefit concessions intended to save the publisher of the Boston Globe $10 million a year. Under the new agreement, salaries will be reduced by 5.94 percent, workers will take five unpaid furlough days, lose pay for two vacation days and one holiday, pensions will be frozen at current levels, and company pension contributions and the 401(k) match will be eliminated.
- Members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ratified three-year national contracts with Avaya, Inc., covering more than 1,600 workers that continue fully employer-paid health care benefits and a no-layoffs pledge for nine months.
- Members of United Auto Workers Local 218 ratified a new four-year labor agreement with Bell Helicopter Textron and ended a six-week strike at eight plants in the Fort Worth, Texas area. The agreement provides wage increases and improved benefits and drops a provision to eliminate and outsource the company's janitorial jobs.
- Ford Motor Co. announced that it reached an agreement with the United Auto Workers union that would allow the company to fund the stock portion of its contributions to the union's voluntary employees' beneficiary association based on valuing the stock portion at current market prices, rather than fixed prices as initially specified.
- Members of the Service Employees International Union ratified a first contract with Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. covering approximately 2,000 building security guards at Kaiser Permanent medical facilities nationwide. The three-year contract provides annual wage increases, paid health care premiums, and additional paid leave. It is the first collective bargaining agreement for security officers at Kaiser Permanent and the first national union contract covering security officers in the country.
- Forum Health settled concessionary contracts covering more than 1,600 employees at Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, Ohio. Members of both the Ohio Nurses Association/Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association and the Service Employee International Union ratified the renegotiated agreement, which freezes wages, increases employee contributions to health insurance, and ends employer 401(k) contributions.
D. Administrative & Court Decisions
- The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) misapplied case law when it found that the new owner of a nursing home was a "perfectly clear" successor not entitled to changed terms and conditions without bargaining. A "perfectly clear" successor exists only when the successor employer has led the predecessor's employee to believe their employment status would continue unchanged after accepting employment with the new successor. In this case, the court found that the successor employer gave "every indication" that the company intended to institute new terms of employment through application forms, job interviews, and letters offering temporary employment, such that it was not bound by the substantive provisions of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the predecessor employer that it had not agreed to or assumed. S&F Market St. Healthcare LLC, d/b/a Windsor Convalescent Ctr. Of Long Beach v. NLRB.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed NLRB ruling that Guard Publishing Co. violated the NLRA by disciplining a copy editor who was also president of the union local for sending three union-related e-mails to her fellow employees' work e-mail address and by prohibiting a circulation employee from displaying union insignia. The court found that although the company had a non-solicitation rule, the company allowed non-work related e-mails and that the only difference between the e-mails leading to discipline of the copy editor and other non-work related e-mails was the union-related subject matter of the copy editor's e-mails. The court also reiterated the right to wear union insignia at work generally is protected by the NLRA, unless the employer demonstrates that special circumstances exist (such as safety, protecting the product, or maintaining a certain employee image). Guard Publishing Co. v. NLRB.
- The National Labor Relations Board ruled that a Kentucky hospital that discharged an X-ray technician for participating in a strike failed to show that her back pay award should be reduced because she was later convicted of a felony, left an interim job because of problems with child care, and took an eight-month medical leave. Jackson Hosp. Corp. d/b/a Ky. River Med. Ctr.
- An arbitrator ruled that AK Steel Corp.'s proposed plan to shut down its Ashland, Ky. plant for the remainder of the year and lay off approximately 750 workers violated the collective bargaining agreement with the United Steelworkers. The arbitrator found that the company made an explicit promise in its 2005 contract with the union to operate the Ashland plant to "full capacity" as long as there are customer demands for Ashland products.
- The NLRB ruled that a Teamsters local violated federal labor law when a union steward told a United Parcel Service Inc. employee in the presence of other employees that the union dropped his grievances because he had run against an incumbent in a union election and because the company did not like him. Teamsters Local 886 (United Parcel Serv. Inc.).
- The Saskatchewan Labor Relations Board erred by not directing a secret ballot representation election among employees of Wal-Mart Canada Corp.'s outlet in Weyburn before certifying United Food and Commercial workers as representative. Wal-Mart Can. Corp. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1400.
E. Legislation & Politics
- Members of the National Labor Coordinating Committee (NLCC) met at the White House with President Obama and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to discuss the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), health care legislation, and the economy. President Obama pledged to work with labor to pass EFCA, but no specific timetable was discussed. On health care issues, the NLCC supports employer participation in a universal plan, but not the taxation of health benefits of workers.
- President Obama announced his intent to nominate Brian E. Hayes (R) to serve as a member of the National Labor Relations Board. Hayes is currently the Republican labor policy director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. If confirmed by the Senate, he would fill one of three vacancies on the five-member board. President Obama's other two nominees are Craig Becker (D), who is an associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO, and Mark G. Pearce (D), who represents unions and is a partner with Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux in Buffalo, N.Y.
- The National Labor Relations Board's general counsel found that management of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) failed to bargain with its staff in good faith. The general counsel found that an unfair labor practice charge claiming that ALPA, the world's largest pilots union, had unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of the workers' employment without first bargaining to a "good-faith lawful impasse" was meritorious.
- Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a bill prohibiting employers from disciplining an employee who refuses to attend an employer-sponsored meeting if the main purpose of the meeting is about religious or political matters. Political matters include campaigns and candidates for political office, and the decision to join, not join, support or not support, any lawful political or constituent group, including labor unions.
- Congressman Joe Baca (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to remove the foot stamp ineligibility of individuals who participate in a strike. The bill, with no co-sponsors, was referred to the House Agriculture Committee.
- During a teleconference between the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and major business groups, business groups rejected alternatives to the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Business groups pointed out that even if lawmakers drop the card check provision of the bill, they would not support an amended version of the bill if it still contains a provision for binding interest arbitration. Under the proposed EFCA, parties that are unable to reach a first contract within 90 days of collective bargaining could refer the dispute to mediation by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). If FMCS is unable to bring the parties to agreement within 30 days, then the dispute would be referred to binding arbitration.
- UNITE HERE delegates elected John Wilhelm as the union's president and approved changes to the union's constitution. Delegates voted for decision-making governing bodies of the union between conventions (the executive committee and general executive board) to be composed of a voting majority elected locally and regionally. The new general executive board will have more power and accountability of the president and other general officers.
- The Alliance for Worker Freedom, an organization founded in 2003, created an online video game called "Card Checked." The game depicts alleged negative consequences that will ensue for workers should EFCA become law — what has been hotly debated in Congress.
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