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In This Issue
- STRIKES & LABOR DISPUTES
- MAJOR CONTRACT SETTLEMENTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- ADMINISTRATIVE & COURT DECISION
- LEGISLATION & POLITICS
- CRIME & CORRUPTION
- AIRLINE INDUSTRY
The Union of Rutgers Administrators asked New Jersey officials to certify it as the bargaining representative for approximately 2,000 employees at Rutgers University after an “overwhelming majority” of authorization cards were returned by administrative workers at Rutgers indicating a desire to unionize. The employees are supported by the American Federation of Teachers. Rutgers has not disclosed how it intends to respond.
The United Auto Workers ("UAW") won an election among the dealers at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., by a vote of 324 for the UAW to 149 against. This election follows a March 17 election in which employees of Caesars Atlantic City casino overwhelmingly voted to be represented by the UAW. The UAW has also filed a petition for an election among dealers at the Trump Marina Hotel Casino.
Employees of Dyn Corporation International, which provides aviation services at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, voted in favor of representation by the International Association of Machines("IAM"). The bargaining unit consists of 770 Dyn Corp. employees.
Registered nurses at St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock, Ark., voted against decertifying the Office and Professional Employees International Union as their official bargaining agent.
Registered nurses at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, decided not to decertify the UAW as their bargaining agent by a vote of 587–263. Approximately 400 nurses had signed the decertification petition.
B. Strikes & Labor Disputes
On April 1, employees represented by the USW struck at nine hospitals and other medical facilities owned by Appalachian Regional Healthcare ("ARH") in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. The strike involves 2,700 licensed practical nurses, certified nurse's aides, and housekeeping, maintenance and clerical staff.
Employees of Rexam Beverage Can North America Co., represented by the USW, struck on April 10 at nine manufacturing plants. Rexam and the union had previously agreed to two tentative agreements but both were rejected by workers in a ratification vote. The USW says that healthcare coverage, particularly for retirees, is the number one issue to be resolved by the parties.
The United Mine Workers struck Foundations Coal Holdings Inc. three mines in Pennsylvania and Illinois, affecting 1,200 workers. After the Company threatened to permanently close one of the mines, the UMW settled after a nine-day strike, agreeing to new five-year contracts. The agreements contain the terms in the 2007 National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement, but the Company closed its Wabash, Ill., mine, nonetheless.
C. Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations
IAM District 837 in St. Louis voted against an agreement proposed by employer Boeing Co. A major issue appears to be Boeing's proposal to reduce the number of job classification and change retention rules. Under Boeing's proposal, the Company would have the right to designate employees for retention based on qualifications deemed "essential to production" during layoffs. The union, representing 2,600 Boeing employees, opposes the proposal claiming it would undercut seniority rules.
Members of six USW locals ratified a three-year master contract with Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire on April 25. Members at two other plants in Tennessee and Illinois simultaneously ratified separate contracts; altogether, the new contracts cover 5,100 Bridgestone employees. The contracts provide for a 17 percent wage reduction for new hires, as well as increased cost sharing for health benefits for active and retired employees. The Company agreed not to reduce pay rates for current employees, added certain job protection for employees at two of its plants, and committed to investing up to $100 million in the protected plants.
The average first-year wage increase in the first quarter was 3.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent over the first quarter in 2006. The statistics were based on 189 agreements affecting 480,000 workers.
Through April 23, average first-year wage increases in manufacturing contracts was 4.4 percent (compared to 2 percent in 2006) while the average increase for construction contracts was 3 percent, a decrease of 1.2 percent from the same time period in 2006.
Members of Teamsters Local 89 ratified new six-year agreements with Transervice Logistics and Zenith Logistics, operators of a warehouse and distribution center in Louisville, Ky. The agreements, which ended a two-day strike, cover 700 workers, and provide for wage increases consistent with a previous agreement with the Kroger Company, the facility's prior operator. The agreements provide for wage increases of 65 cents per hour in each of the last two years of the term.
A tentative agreement was reached April 24 between Starwood Hotels and UNITE HERE, Local 26, representing approximately 5,000 hotel employees in Boston. The six-year agreement calls for wage increases, employer contributions to a defined benefit pension plan for employees at 19 Boston hotels, and lower room-cleaning quotas.
Metro-North Railroad reached tentative agreements with seven of eight unions it has been bargaining with for more than four years. The proposed contracts, extending until June 15, 2010, and retroactive to January 1, 2003, were ratified by members of six of the unions on April 23. Among other things, the new contracts provide for a one-time bonus, wage increases, a defined benefit plan (with service credit back to 1983), a cap of 3 percent on defined benefit contributions by employees, and a guarantee of no health insurance contributions by current or newly hired employees. These terms, affecting 4,000 Metro-North employees, are better than those recommended by the Presidential Emergency Board, which had been established in December of 2006 pursuant to the Railway Labor Act in an effort to resolve the negotiations impasse. The unions that have settled with Metro-North include: the Transportation Communications Union, the American Railway & Airway Supervisors Association, the International Association of Machinists, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and the Transport Workers Union. The Sheet Metal Workers reached a tentative agreement with Metro-North, but members failed to ratify it. Teamsters Local 808 (representing 560 employees) has yet to reach an agreement with Metro-North.
Members of the Illinois Nurses Association employed by the University of Chicago Medical Center ratified a new contract by a 4 to 1 margin. The new agreement covers 1,300 nurses and calls for a 13 percent wage increase over the term of the two-and-a-half year contract. The University also agreed to create a task force to provide nurses with a voice in staffing decisions at the Medical Center.
1,813 out of 1,939 members of Chocolate Workers Local 464 in Hershey, Penn., voted in favor of a proposal to eliminate 600-650 jobs as part of the Company's plan to cut costs. The reduction will cut the number of employees represented by the union to 1,500.
Members of two UAW locals ratified agreements negotiated to help Ford Motor Company increase efficiency and keep facilities open. UAW Local 2000, representing 2,500 workers at Ford's Avon Lake, Ohio facility, approved the agreements April 1while Local 862, representing 3,000 workers in Louisville, Kentucky, ratified its agreement on March 29. As part of the agreement, certain job classifications will be changed and some positions outsourced; in exchange, Ford pledged to invest $60 million in the plant. Meanwhile, Local 862 agreed to a four-day work week and the elimination of certain jobs following the retirement of current employees.
Freightliner LLC and UAW Local 5286 settled a three-year contract on April 1. The agreement, covering 800 workers, provides for hourly wage increases and improvements to vision and disability benefits.
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems reached a tentative agreement with 15 unions at its Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard. The agreement, which would end a 27-day strike, affects 6,300 workers, is subject to ratification.
Bridgestone Firestone reached an agreement with the USW covering approximately 4,000 workers at six different plants. The agreement is modeled after past BF Goodrich and Goodyear contracts that gave job security in exchange for reduced wage rate structures for new employees and a larger portion of healthcare costs to be paid by workers. If ratified, the new contract will run through July 18, 2009.
By a 1,600–1,133 vote, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen ratified an agreement with CSX Transportation and ended more than two years of collective bargaining. The agreement, which links employee bonuses to the railroad's financial health, covers 5,500 employees. The performance bonus program replaces traditional wage increases.
The Teamsters approved a 15 percent wage concession as part of a plan to save jobs at Allied Holdings. In exchange for the IBT's approval of the 15 percent wage concession, Allied Holdings will continue making payments to the IBT pension, health and benefit funds for the next three years. The proposed agreement must still be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is overseeing Allied's reorganization under Chapter 11.
D. Airline Industry
Sixty-eight percent of voting members of the Airline Pilots Association ("ALPA") voted against a proposed concessionary agreement by United Airlines. The rejected agreement would have permitted United to discontinue separate rules for 6,500 pilots working for United's discount air carrier, "Ted," giving the company greater flexibility as it prepares to enter the busy summer travel season.
Northwest Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants ("AFA") reached an agreement on a multi-year contract that would cut pay, benefits and other labor costs by $195 million. In exchange for the cuts, the AFA gains unsecured creditor status for a claim of $182 million. The contract, which still must be ratified by members of the AFA, would replace the terms imposed by Northwest after negotiations failed in 2006. Earlier in April, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion by the AFA to void the imposed terms, consisting mostly of pay and benefit cuts unilaterally implemented by Northwest after the AFA rejected Northwest's final collective bargaining agreement proposal.
E. Administrative & Court Decisions
The Region 2 (New York City) of the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint on April 3 concerning allegations by the Industrial Workers of the World that Starbucks retaliated against workers at the coffee shops who are attempting to unionize. The complaint enumerated various instances of alleged retaliation by Starbucks managers, including threats, poor performance reviews, and termination of union sympathizers. The complaint also asserted that Starbucks managers had interrogated workers about their attitudes toward unions.
In a 2-1 decision on March 30, the NLRB ruled that a deauthorization petition may be filed before a union-security provision exists. In so ruling, the majority relied on the fact that section 9(e)(1) of the Nation Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") does not specify when the deauthorization petition must be supported by 30 percent of covered employees, only that the support must exist when the petition is filed. The majority also pointed to legislative history, policy considerations, and past board decisions as supporting the conclusion that employee signatures to a petition need not post-date the union-security provision of the contract. Covenant Aviation Sec. LLC.
UAW Local 2110 won a victory in its attempt to stall the sale of The Advocate of Stamford by the Tribune Company to Gannett Company. An arbitrator ruled on April 9 that because Gannett is a successor under the successor-and-assigns clause, the purchaser must assume the existing collective bargaining agreement. In the wake of the arbitrator's decision, Local 2110 filed a motion in federal court for a permanent injunction to block the proposed sale, unless and until Gannett agrees to honor the existing labor agreement covering newsroom employees. United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of Am. v. Southern Connecticut Newspapers Inc. (U.S. District Court, Conn.).
According to an April 6 ruling from the NLRB, an electrical contractor was permitted to give priority to applicants recommended to the Company by employees and nonunion organizations. The ruling reversed an Administrative Law Judge's previous determination that such a hiring policy violates section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA. The NLRB ruled that the Company had, in fact, reviewed applications submitted by union members but had rejected them for lack of recent experience. Pollock Elec. Inc.
F. Legislation & Politics
The USW and six of the largest industrial companies in the United States (including Alcoa, AK Steel, Allegheny Technologies, Goodyear, Mittal Steel and U.S. Steel) announced the formation of a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit lobbying group. The Alliance for American Manufacturing will address issues like international trade, currency manipulation, health care, energy, retirement security and the role of domestic manufacturing in national security.
A Missouri bill that passed the state Senate 33-0 and the state House 145-7 was signed on April 4 by Governor Matt Blunt. The new legislation prohibits public entities from either requiring or prohibiting state contract bidders from engaging in relationships with labor unions when a project is funded mostly by the state.
The Re-Employment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Trade Workers Act ("RESPECT"), introduced into the House of Representatives and Senate on March 22, 2007, continues to be the subject of much debate. The bill would operate to change the definition of "supervisor" in section 2(11) of the NLRA by deleting the words "assign" and "responsibility to direct" and requiring that an employee spend the majority of his or her time performing supervisory tasks (as defined in NLRA § 2(11)) in order to be deemed a "supervisor." Because "supervisors" are not protected by the NLRA, the change in definition proposed under RESPECT would result in the transformation of millions of workers currently considered "supervisors" into rank-and-file employees subject to union representation.
President Bush has issued an executive order creating a second Presidential Emergency Board ("PEB") in response to the labor dispute between the Metro-North Railroad and employees represented by the Teamsters. This second PEB prevents the union from striking for 120 days. As noted above, following the first PEB, seven unions settled with Metro-North Railroad, leaving only the IBT as odds with Metro-North.
The AFL-CIO is campaigning among shareholders of Verizon Communications, Inc. to support proposals urging the Board of Directors to obtain shareholder approval for certain compensation packages for high banking corporate executives. The proposals call for advisory shareholder votes prior to the passage of "golden parachute" packages. A bill recently introduced by Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass) would require companies to give shareholders an advisory vote on executive pay issues.
G. Crime & Corruption
John Daley, the former controller and chief financial officer of the New York State Nurses Association, will receive a sentence between three years and four months to 10 years in prison. Daley pled guilty in January to one count of grand larceny in the second degree for embezzling approximately $1.2 million dollars from the Association. Daley stole the money over a four-year period by issuing over one hundred checks to himself. The Association represents over 34,000 members.
William "Willie" Brown, the former president of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local Union 237 in Texarkana, Texas, was indicted on April 3 on multiple counts of embezzlement. Brown, who held his position from 1997–2002, is accused of having embezzled at least $80,000 from the apprenticeship and training fund and the general fund. If convicted, Brown faces a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Matthew "Matty the Horse" Iannello, a former "Capo" in the Genovese organized crime family, was sentenced on April 17 to 18 months in prison. Iannello pled guilty in late 2006 to various corruption charges and admitted that the Genovese organized crime family had maintained an unlawful relationship with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181.
Eighty-nine percent of eligible members of the Independent Steelworkers Union in West Virginia voted on March 30 to merge the union with the United Steelworkers ("USW"). The union—now called USW Local 2911—was originally formed in 1957.
In what has been termed the "Ottawa Accord," the USW announced on April 18 of its intent to work towards a merger with Amicus and the Transportation and General Workers Union("TGWU"), the two largest unions in Great Britain. The merger would affect more than three million workers and retirees on both sides of the ocean and would result in the formation of the first Trans-Atlantic trade union. The new entity, to be known as "Unite," will be headquartered in London.
The AFL-CIO announced that the data in its Tenth Executive Pay Watch Database showed an increase of 46.44 percent in median overall executive compensation between 2005 and 2006. In 2006 the ratio between an average CEO's compensation and that of the average worker was 411 to 1.
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