- STRIKES & LABOR DISPUTES
- MAJOR CONTRACT SETTLEMENTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- ADMINISTRATIVE & COURT DECISIONS
- NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD
- LEGISLATION & POLITICS
- CRIME & CORRUPTION
- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”) launched its “FedEx Drivers Aren’t Pilots” campaign over legislation that would make it easier to organize FedEx Express workers who are not directly involved in air transportation. On its Web site, FexExDriversArentPilots.com, IBT says that FedEx is the only freight and package delivery company in the U.S. allowed to classify truck drivers, sorters, loaders, and unloaders as airline workers under the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”). The controversy revolves around a provision in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act that would amend the RLA to remove coverage of “express carriers” from RLA jurisdiction. Organizing under the RLA is seen as more difficult by unions because a bargaining unit consists of a nationwide workforce, while under the NLRA the bargaining unit can be a group of workers located in one geographic area or from a certain craft. Also, the RLA requires a majority of all workers in the prospective unit to vote for union representation as opposed to a simple majority of those voting under the NLRA. FedEx Express is the only part of the company currently under the RLA, with some 90,000 FexEx Express employees who have never touched an airplane being treated as airline workers under the RLA. FexEd has labeled the proposed legislation as a “bailout for UPS.”
- The United Auto Workers union filed a petition with the NLRB seeking a representation election for 1,800 graduate teaching and research assistants at NYU. The UAW said it is hopeful that the NLRB will reverse a 2004 decision that found that teaching and research assistants at Brown University have a predominantly academic relationship with their schools and do not have the right under the federal labor law to bargain collectively. In 2002, the NYU graduate assistants voted for representation by GSOC/UAW and negotiated a first contract. When their contract expired in 2005, NYU refused to negotiate a new contract, citing the Brown University decision.
- Registered nurses at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center in Houston voted for the second time in favor of union representation by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. In March 2008, the RNs voted the first time for CNA/NNOC representation, becoming the first nurses in a Texas private hospital to unionize and the NLRB certified CNA/NNOC to represent 270 nurses at the hospital. However, Tenet Healthcare Corp., which owns the hospital, filed objections with both the NLRB and an arbitrator overseeing the election procedure agreement (EPA) between the union and Tenet, claiming that CNA/NNOC violated provisions of the agreement. A petition for decertification filed by a hospital employee led to the second election conducted in June 2009. NLRB had blocked the ballot count of the decertification election until unfair labor practice charges filed during and after the election period nearly one year earlier could be resolved.
- Home health care workers in Missouri, who provide services for the elderly and persons with disabilities in their homes under a state Medicaid-funded program, voted to be represented by the Missouri Home Care Union. The union is affiliated with both the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The state’s home care workers gained the right to organize in 2008 when Missouri voters approved Proposition B, which established a mechanism for home health workers to gain representation if 10 percent of those workers favor a union representation election. Once the union is certified, bargaining would take place between union representatives and the Missouri Quality Homecare Council, an entity established under Proposition B to function as the employer. The SEIU and/or AFSCME have organized home care workers in at least 10 other states, including California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington.
- Mary Kay Henry, the newly elected president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), pledged her commitment to finding innovative organizing strategies and addressing the nation’s economic crisis. Currently, SEIU and its local spend more than $250 million annually on organizing. Under her leadership, the union’s primary organizing focus will remain on its three core industries—property services, health care, and public sector workers. Henry also asserted that she hoped to take SEIU’s partnership with the Nurses Association/National Nurses Organization Committee to the “next level.” The two unions have agreed to work together on organizing and bargaining and Henry expects several joint organizing drives to result in elections in the next several weeks.
- In 2009, unions won 68.5 percent of representation elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, up from 66.9 in 2008. NLRB conducted 1,293 elections in 2009, down from 1,612 in 2008. Unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO won 354 of 528 representation elections in 2009, or 67 percent. Unions in the Change to Win Federation won 359 NLRB elections, or 60.7 percent of the 591 elections they participated in last year. Of the 10 most active unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters again led all other unions by participating in 366 elections in 2009 with a win rate of 62 percent in 2009. The United Food and Commercial Workers ranked second by participating in 106 elections, winning 57 or 53.8 percent in 2009. The Service Employees International Union, which had consistently participated in the second largest number of elections each year after the Teamsters, ranked third in 2009 participating only in 93 elections, winning 64 or 68.8 percent. The International Association of Machinists was the most successful of the 10 most active unions, wining 80 percent of the NLRB elections in which it participated. The Communications Workers of America ranked second, wining 72.2 percent of the elections followed by SEIU (68.8 percent), IBT (62 percent), and the International Union of Operating Engineers (60 percent).
- Registered nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) voted nearly 2-to-1 in favor of representation by the National Nurses United over continued representation by the Illinois Nurses Association, which had represented them for more than 30 years. The election of NNU brings into question the future of the four-year contract the employees ratified one month ago, which raises wages 13 percent over the term. NNU is a new national union formed in December. The new union was formed through the consolidation of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, the United American Nurses (UAN), and the Massachusetts Nurses Association. UAN, the former national union for INA, had voted last fall to consolidate and affiliate with NNU.
- 900 flight attendants at Denver-based Frontier Airlines voted to be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), rejecting a bid for representation by the Teamsters. The AFA is an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, which represents more than 50,000 flight attendants nationwide. Frontier is a wholly owned subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. The National Mediation Board recently declared Frontier was not part of a single transportation system with other Republic subsidiaries, including Shuttle America, Chautauqua Airlines, and Midwest Airlines, which led to the election that resulted in the AFA’s victory for representation of the Frontier flight attendants.
- Nearly 100 medical marijuana workers at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif. are now represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5. The unit is believed to be the nation’s first union-organized marijuana dispensary.
- Strikes & Labor Disputes
- Members of International Association of Machinists Local 837 in St. Louis voted to authorize a strike if Boeing Corp. does not offer an acceptable contract by June 13, the expiration date of the current contract. Seniority rights, outsourcing, pension, and health care are among the key issues being negotiated.
- Approximately 30 Chicago–area employees of the equipment rental company Sunbelt Rentals walked off the job in a purported unfair labor practice strike protesting management’s alleged distribution of a comprehensive contract proposal directly to its employees, bypassing agents of Operating Engineers, Local 150.
- On May 26, approximately 400 hotel workers at the Hyatt Regency Chicago staged a spontaneous three–hour work stoppage citing deteriorating working conditions and lack of progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement. The parties’ labor agreement expired in August 2009, and progress toward a new agreement has been slow.
- Unions affiliated with National Nurses United representing 25,000 registered nurses in California and Minnesota announced a one-day strike for June 10 to protest staffing levels, patient safety standards, and proposed reductions in pensions. The California Nurses Association and Minnesota Nurses Association gave the federally required 10-day notice to six hospital systems in Minneapolis-St. Paul, four Southern California hospitals, and the University of California campus medical centers and clinics.
- Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations
- Members of the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees Local 1096 (IAPE) ratified a new four-year collective bargaining contract with Dow Jones and Co. covering 1,700 employees. The IAPE represents reporters, copy editors, and information technology employees, as well as sales, professional, administrative, production, and support staff at the Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com, Dow Jones Newswires, MarketWatch, SmartMoney, Barron’s, Factiva, and other periodicals, community newspapers, and financial news services. The contract freezes wages in the first year but raises wages 6 percent over the contract term, reduces most employees’ monthly contribution to the health insurance premium, expands company contributions to members’ 401(k) accounts, but eliminates the annual Money Purchase Plan deposit to retirement accounts.
- The Transport Workers Union has reached a tentative agreement with American Airlines on a new three-year contract for 11,500 mechanics and related employees that calls for a 6 percent pay increase over term and a 6 percent signing bonus. If approved by the mechanics, the proposed contract would include certain types of premium pay, including a skill premium increase to $5 per hour for mechanics/bench avionics and welders and a 50–cents–per–hour premium for working weekend shifts. For mechanics with one or more year of service, American Airlines will provide a 100 percent match for employee contributions to a 401(k) plan up to a maximum of 3 percent, for a total maximum company contribution of 5.5 percent.
- Members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 30 ratified a six-year collective bargaining agreement with Rio Tinto, allowing members to return to the borax mining and refining operation in California’s Mojave Desert, where they have been locked out for three months. The contract provides a $5,000 signing bonus and hourly wage increases of 2.5 percent in each year of the agreement. This new agreement came after employees were locked out because the union did not ratify the company’s first offer, which would have eliminated seniority in consideration for promotions, transfers, and shift assignments and given the company the power to covert full-time jobs to part-time jobs, with few or no benefits, whenever it wanted, among other things. The new contract will continue the defined benefit pension plan for current employees at a formula of $75 per month per year of service. New hires, however, will be eligible only for the 401(k) plan. The company will contribute 4 percent of an employee’s annual income into the 401(k) accounts.
- The Building Contractors Association of New Jersey (BCANJ) announced agreements with building trades unions representing 30,000 construction workers statewide to freeze wage and benefits packages for one year or more. The unions agreed to reopen their contracts in an effort to lower labor costs and kick-start building construction in the state.
- Major collective bargaining agreements reached in Canada during the first quarter of 2010 produced average base rate wage increases of 2.1 percent, matching the 2.1 percent average in fourth quarter 2009, reported Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The department reported that the 2010 first quarter average was larger than the 1.9 percent average for third quarter 2009 but smaller than the 2.7 percent average for second quarter 2009. In March, major bargaining agreements produced average base rate wage increases of 0.7 percent, which is significantly smaller than 4.3 in February and 2.6 percent in January. March also demonstrated that wage gains in the public sector were smaller in the public sector than private sector. In the first quarter, private sector bargaining agreements, based on 21 agreements covering 35,740 employees, reached in first quarter 2010, showed average annual wage increases of 1.8 percent. Meanwhile, public sector bargaining agreements that were based on 42 agreements covering 128,520 employees, reached in the first quarter, produced average annual wage increases of 2.2 percent, down slightly from 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.
- United Steelworkers members ratified a five–year agreement with Pinnacle Airlines covering 930 ramp workers, baggage handlers, and gate agents. The agreement provides annual wage increases and improvements to health care benefits and employees’ 401(k) savings plan. Pinnacle Airlines operates regional flights for Delta Air Lines as Delta Connection, with major hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Memphis.
- The Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ, ratified a four-year contract covering 30,000 New York City apartment building workers. The contract provides wage increases totaling nearly 10 percent over term, preserves fully employer-paid health care, and secures pension benefits, the union said.
- Members of Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 32 ratified a new three–year labor agreement with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Under the agreement, 1,160 claims processors and clerical workers, most of whom work in Horizon’s Newark, N.J. headquarters, will receive hourly wage increases of 2 percent in 2010, 2.5 percent in 2011, and 3 percent in 2012, effective May 1 of each year. The contract maintains current health care coverage frozen at the same level of employee contributions for the next three years but life insurance benefits will increase to $15,000. Employees who are laid off as a result of subcontracting will receive severance pay of four weeks of base pay or one week of base pay for each year of service, whichever is the greater amount. The new contract contains an “attendance control” provision that provides for employees to have up to seven unscheduled absences because of illness or another reason before becoming subject to disciplinary action.
- Teamsters Local 727 reached a pair of agreements with Jewel-Osco and CVS/pharmacy covering 550 Chicago-area pharmacists. A new three-year contract was ratified by 100 CVS/pharmacy pharmacists represented by Local 727 and a similar agreement affecting another 450 pharmacists was reached with Jewel-Osco on May 19. Both agreements provide wage increases of nearly 3.5 percent annually.
- Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions reached a tentative agreement on a two-year national contract covering 96,000 employees. The coalition represents Kaiser Permanente employees ranging from grill cooks to nurse practitioners and psychologists. Wages would increase 6 percent over term, and no changes would be made to any employee benefits. The tentative contract also would add new job security language.
- Communications Workers of America members ratified a four-year contract with AT&T Mobility covering 11,200 customer service workers in nine Southeastern states that increases wages 10 percent over term. The AT&T Mobility Southeast contract covers workers primarily in customer service, network organizations, and sales in the company’s wireless business. Under the new contract, employees will receive a $500 ratification bonus, a 2.75 percent hourly wage increase retroactive to March 27, and hourly wage increases of 2.25 percent effective Feb. 6, 2011, and 2.5 percent effective on both Feb. 5, 2012 and Feb. 3, 2013.
- The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union announced that it will not “tolerate” demands for concessions on wages and benefits from automotive parts manufacturers. CAW also agreed to efforts to develop common minimum standards for wages and working conditions in the vehicle assembly and parts manufacturing sectors. That process will include close examination of the European style of automotive sector bargaining, in which negotiations are conducted on a sector-wide basis. Steve Rodgers, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, said that Canada’s auto parts manufacturers support the CAW’s initiative to maintain workers’ wage and benefits levels.
- An analysis of collective bargaining data compiled by BNA through May 3 for all settlements showed that the average first-year wage increase was 1.7 percent, compared with 2.8 percent reported in the comparable period of 2009. When construction and state and local government contracts were excluded, the all-settlements average increase was 2 percent, compared with 2.9 percent in 2009; the median was 2.2 percent, compared with 3 percent; and the weighted average was 1.6 percent, compared with 3.2 percent. The average increase for manufacturing contracts was 1.6 percent, compared with 2 percent in 2009, and the median was 2 percent, compared with 2.5 percent. Excluding construction, the non–manufacturing average increase was 2.2 percent, compared with 3.3 percent in 2009, and the median was 2.5 percent, compared with 3 percent. Construction agreements posted an average increase of 0.1 percent, compared with 2.1 percent in 2009, and a median of 0.5 percent, compared with 2.1 percent. State and local government contracts showed an average increase of 1.3 percent, compared with 2.7 percent in 2009, and a median of 0.8 percent, compared with 3 percent.
- Administrative & Court Decisions
- A NLRB administrative law judge found that three union benefit funds, the Pavers and Road Builders District Council Welfare Fund, annuity fund, and apprenticeship and training fund, violated Section 8(a)(1) and (5) of the NLRA by failing to bargain in good faith and by contracting out some claims processing work without bargaining with the fund employees’ new union representative. The fund employees were previously represented by a different union, but Local 175 of the United Plant and Production Workers filed a representation petition, won the election, and was certified by the Board as the collective bargaining representative in July 2007. The fund unilaterally decided to contract with an outside company to print and mail checks, process out-of-network health benefit claims, and process prescription drug claims without informing the union of the change. Administrative Law Judge Raymond P. Green found that the decision to contract out is a mandatory bargaining subject, and that the decision to subcontract was motivated, at least in part, by labor cost considerations. Pavers & Road Builders Dist. Council Welfare Fund, NLRB ALJ, No. 29-CA29656.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the Air Line Pilots Association did not violate its duty of fair representation when it negotiated an agreement with U.S. Airways Inc. that allowed US Airways to terminate its defined benefit plan and replace it with a defined contribution plan. US Airways filed its first voluntary petition for a Chapter 11 reorganization in August 2002. During the bankruptcy, US Airways and ALPA began to negotiate changes to employees’ wages and benefits. During the negotiations, ALPA did not audit the plan to determine the accuracy of US Airways’ statement regarding the financial health of the plan. After the U.S. Bankruptcy Court granted US Airways’ motion to terminate the defined benefit plans, ALPA and US Airways agreed, without taking an ALPA membership vote, to create a new defined contribution plan to replace the terminated defined benefit plan. A group of 300 pilots who were at or near retirement age filed a lawsuit against US Airways and ALPA asserting several federal law causes of action. All claims against US Airways and ALPA were dropped except for a claim against ALPA for violation of its duty of fair representation and RICO claims. Vaughn v. Air Line Pilots Ass’n, 2d Cir., No. 08-4173-cv.
- The NLRB approved a settlement agreement under which the Service Employees International Union, District WV/HY/OH is required to mail notices to 1,200 home care workers employed by ResCare throughout West Virginia informing them of their rights to be nonmembers and to object to paying full union dues for activities not germane to the union’s representation. The settlement resulted from six employees filing an unfair labor practice charges against District 1199, alleging that the union was failing or refusing to reduce the dues and fees of objecting nonmembers as required under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Communications Workers of America v. Beck, which held that nonmembers can object and pay reduced agency fees only for their share of the union’s costs related to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment. SEIU, Dist. 1199, NLRB Reg’l Dir., No. 11-CB-4118.
- The NLRB found that Roadway Express Inc. and a Teamsters local both violated federal labor law by their actions regarding the 2001 discharge of Amadeo Bianchi, a shop steward. The Board found that the Teamster local breached its duty of fair representation to Bianchi because the union business agent who represented Bianchi in the arbitration acted in bad faith by deliberately misleading the arbitration panel about crucial matters and thus virtually ensuring that Bianchi’s grievance would be denied. The union agent who represented Bianchi was a long time political rival. The Board ordered Roadway and the union to cease and desist, ordered the company to offer full reinstatement to Bianchi, held the company and the union jointly and severally liable for making him whole for any loss of earnings and benefits, and ordered the posting of notices about the Board decision in the workplace and the union office. Roadway Express Inc., 355 N.L.R.B. No. 23.
- National Mediation Board
- The National Mediation Board voted 2 to 1 to adopt its proposed rule revamping the Board’s representation election procedures for airline and railroad workers. Under the new rule, the outcome of an election will be determined by a majority of the workers in a craft or class who cast ballots. As sought by the AFL-CIO and other unions, the change will end the Board’s 75-year-old practice that required a majority of workers to vote for representation before a union would be certified as the representative, even if fewer than half cast ballots, effectively counting all those who do not participate in the election as “no” votes. The Board upheld its current standards, requiring workers or groups seeking to represent employees who are already represented to provide authorization cards from more than 50 percent of the class or craft in order to petition for a representation election, compared with a showing of interest threshold of 35 percent by those seeking to represent employees who are not represented. The proposed rule, which was supported by more than 30 unions and 200 members of Congress, drew opposition from the airline and railroad industries and some two dozen senators and House members. Opponents of the proposal, including some members of Congress, argue that NMB lacks the legal authority to change the policy. Air Transport Association, which represents most major U.S. carriers, is challenging NMB’s final rule in court.
- After the ATA sued to stop NMB’s implementation of its new election procedures rule, NMB agreed to delay, the effective date until June 30 to allow the court time to consider the parties arguments. ATA, on behalf of 10 major airlines, filed suit in federal court May 17 seeking to nullify the rule, arguing that under the plain meaning of the Railway Labor Act, only Congress has the authority to change the board’s previous representation election policy. The group also contends NMB violated APA standards by changing its previous longstanding rule and representation election standard without sufficient justification, showing that it had predetermined the issues raised in its notice of proposed rulemaking. NMB denied exceeding its authority under RLA and denied that members had prejudged the issues raised.
- Legislation & Politics
- Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin signed a law making it an unfair labor practice for the state or University of Wisconsin System to use taxpayer money to hire an outside firm to conduct activities that would discourage union organizing activities in relation to employees covered under the state Employment Labor Relations Act.
- Federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to post at their workplaces a prescribed notice that lists employees’ rights under the NLRA, which governs the right of employees to form unions, to engage in specified protected concerted activity with or without a union, and to refrain from all such activity. The poster will also list unlawful union activities, including threats by a union not to process a grievance or to cause a worker to lose his job if he does not support the union. The poster itself must be posted in the workplace, but an employer who routinely posts notices for employees on a website must use an electronic posting in addition to the physical posting. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will enforce the posting of the poster and the inclusion in federal contracts of language explaining the requirement.
- In an effort to respond to criticism that onerous wage and labor terms are affecting the city’s competitiveness as a trade show destination, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation modifying work rules for unionized carpenters, decorators, and electricians performing duties at Chicago’s two primary convention venues. The bill requires substantial changes to operations at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), the municipal corporation that owns and operates the McCormick Place and Navy Pier convention centers in Chicago. Key changes include an “exhibitor’s bill of rights,’’ giving trade show exhibitors greater freedom to set up and manage their own booths without interference from union workers, making Chicago more competitive as a trade show destination. The bill also eases rules governing “straight-time’’ pay. Under the bill, an exhibitor would be required to pay straight time during any eight-hour shift commencing between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on a weekday. This change would end the practice of time-and-a-half wages for any hours worked after 4:30 p.m. The bill requires time-and-a-half pay for shifts worked on Saturdays and double time for shifts worked on Sundays and holidays.
- An effort by the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) and its parent, the Service Employees International Union, to field candidates under a new political party — North Carolina Families First — for the 2010 congressional midterm elections has fallen short because the unions were unable to collect sufficient voter signatures. The unions are now aiming to get statewide ballot access for the part in time for the 2012 contests, and they intend to draft an independent candidate to run in November in North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District.
- Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) signed a bill requiring corporations and labor unions to meet new campaign finance disclosure requirements and to report to the state any independent expenditures exceeding $1,000 which are used to advocate for or against a candidate or an election issue. The measure took effect immediately and makes changes to state law in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC (130 S. Ct. 876, 187 LRRM 2961 (2010). In that decision, the Supreme Court swept aside limits on corporate and union spending in federal election campaigns based upon First Amendment considerations.
- Crime & Corruption
- The former president of Waterfront Guard Association Local 1852, I.W.A., an independent union in Baltimore, was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for embezzling more than $300,000 from the union and the union’s pension and welfare plans. According to a plea agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, from January 2002 through September 2005, while acting as the union’s president and the administrator of the plans, Paul S. Peters II embezzled, stole, and unlawfully converted more than $300,000 in union money and plan funds for his own use. The indictment in the case alleged that Peters spent the money on vehicles, boarding costs for horses, home improvements, stock transactions, and mortgage payments. Peters also was charged with wrongfully making cash withdrawals from the union operating account, and improperly depositing, cashing, and transferring union operating account checks. In addition to being sentenced to prison, Peters also was ordered to make restitution of $320,000.
- The General Executive Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters upheld charges of official misconduct by the two top officers of Local 743 in Chicago and imposed penalties removing the pair from office. The GEB sustained a single charge of misconduct against former Local 743 president Richard Berg and former secretary-treasurer Eugenia Alvarez. Berg was removed from office and suspended from union membership for two years while Alvarez was also removed from office, with a one year suspension from union membership. Berg was charged with entering into a $21,000 severance agreement with a former business agent named Antonio Caldera and Alvarez was charged because she authorized the payment to Caldera failing to question Berg’s authority regarding the transaction without the GEB’s approval. The GEB decision represents a setback for Berg, a reformer affiliated with Teamsters for a Democratic union who waged a lengthy battle with corrupt elements within Local 743, which represents 11,000 warehouse, office, maintenance, and medical services workers in Chicago and has had a colorful and controversial history. In 2004, Berg and his “New Leadership’’ slate of candidates ran for election at the local and lost. At Berg’s request, the Labor Department investigated various election irregularities and then filed suit against the local under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. A federal judge ordered the DOL to supervise a rerun election, which Berg and his New Leadership slate won.
- Patrick James Brennan, a former New Jersey Painters and Allied Trades union official, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark, N.J., to embezzling union money to benefit himself and his family. District 711 gave Brennan a credit card to use for purchases of items and services he needed for official union business. Brennan admitted to using the credit card and corresponding memberships rewards points to make airfare purchases totaling nearly $5,000 for him and others’ personal use and benefit. He also admitted to giving a family member a car valued at $11,200 that belonged to District Council 711, without requiring payment. He also acknowledged that he paid himself year-end bonus checks totaling $8,652 in 2004, 2005, and 2006, which were not approved by the union’s trustees. Brennan faces a maximum of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each of the three counts to which he pleaded guilty.
- A federal jury in Trenton, N.J. convicted Shawn Clark, the former business manager of a New Jersey Carpenters and Joiners of America local, of embezzling $90,000 from the local between December 2000 and December 2007. Clark was found guilty of conspiring with others to spend Local 455 funds for his personal use and the use of others, including some 450 separate charges on the Local 455 credit card at 14 different New Jersey gentleman’s clubs for a total of more than $65,000. Other allegedly improper credit card charges included those spent at restaurants and bars. Clark was fired from the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters in June 2008 and was expelled by the Carpenters international union in January 2009 and fined $50,000.
- The Public Review Board, an independent watchdog panel that oversees UNITE HERE, referred an audit of the union’s finances to federal officials at the Department of Labor and Department of Justice for consideration. The Public Review Board said that Bruce Raynor’s actions in late 2008 and early 2009 suggested that he was engaged in a conspiracy with the leaders of affiliates loyal to him to transfer large amounts of international union funds to those affiliates so that they could take those funds when they seceded from UNITE HERE. The panel urged the DOL and DOJ to consider whether Raynor and the union officials who acted with him violated Section 501(c) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which criminalizes a union officer’s or employee’s actions to unlawfully and willfully abstract or convert union funds to his own use or the use of another.
- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka proposed that the labor movement must be part of efforts to increase the nation’s reliance on clean energy and to boost employment in green industries. Trumka outlined several steps he said were necessary to boost employment while helping improve the environment, including clean energy production, weatherization of residential and commercial buildings, new electricity transmission lines, and additional investments in mass transit and high-speed rail. Trumka also emphasized that the new jobs created by investments in green technology “need to be high-skill, high-wage jobs, with safe conditions, bright futures, and the right to be free from discrimination and free to form and join unions.”
- The International Executive Board of the Service Employees International Union elected International Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry to head the 2.2 million-member union. Henry will be the union’s first female president, succeeding Andy Stern. Among Henry’s immediate goals is repairing SEUI’s relationships with other unions, particularly, with UNITE HERE. That dispute involves an intraunion fight that led to the breakup of UNITE HERE. Most former UNITE members left the union, forming Workers United, and affiliating with SEIU, leaving UNITE HERE made up mostly of former HERE members. UNITE HERE then left the Change to Win federation, which SEIU helped form by leading five other unions out of the AFL-CIO, and rejoined the AFL-CIO. Additionally, under Henry’s leadership, the union will continue to press for legislative priorities that were set at the 2008 SEIU convention, including health care reform, immigration reform, passage of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, and fair taxes.
- A putative class action was filed alleging YRC Worldwide Inc., one of the largest transportation service providers in the world, and the Teamsters discriminated against black workers. The lawsuit alleges that black employees endured racial epitaphs and graffiti at the workplace, dangerous physical intimidation by white co-workers, and a “hit list” of minority employees marked for termination. According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, black subordinate employees were held to different standards, given the most severe type of work, and the ones who were called in to work received the worst shifts. The lawsuit alleges that the Teamsters union declined to represent black employees and allowed them to be fired for unjust reasons. This is not the only suit of its kind. Another lawsuit in Texas contained similar allegations against the company regarding black supervisors, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pursuing a similar action on behalf of fired workers in Illinois. YRC has denied the allegations and the Teamster has yet to comment. The case is Stuckey et al. v. Yellow Transportation Inc. et al., case number 10-998, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
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