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- STRIKES & LABOR DISPUTES
- MAJOR CONTRACT SETTLEMENTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
- ADMINISTRATIVE & COURT DECISIONS
- LEGISLATION & POLITICS
In the first half of 2007, unions won 444 of 756 (58.7%) representation elections, compared to 501 of 824 (60.8%) over the same period in 2006. The Teamsters participated in the greatest number of elections (214), winning 48.6% of contests and organizing 4,576 workers as a result. The Service Employees International Union won 79.7% of the 59 elections in which it participated, adding 4,208 to its numbers (which pales in comparison to the membership gains SEIU has achieved though through card-check).
Registered nurses at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada voted for union representation by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC). Just days before the vote, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which had intervened in the election and filed an unfair labor practice charge, withdrew from the contest, asserting that it could not "compete fairly" after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dismissed its unfair labor practice charge. This is CNA/NNOC’s first entry into Nevada; the union represents nearly 10,000 nurses at Catholic Healthcare West in California where it recently settled a master contract for nurses in Southern California.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) filed a petition for representation of the nearly 10,000 active mechanics at United Airlines. Currently, the mechanics are represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. The IBT already represent 40,000 airline workers, of which 9,000 are professional mechanics.
Production and maintenance workers at Dannon Co. in Minister, Ohio voted for representation by the Bakery, Confectionary, Grain Millers, and Tobacco Workers (BCTW).
Teamsters Local 317 won a runoff election conducted by the NLRB, defeating the incumbent IAM Lodge 2001 and winning representation of employees at BorgWarner plans in Ithaca and Cortland, New York. The IAM local had previously represented utility, production, assembly, and other skilled trades workers at the plants for almost 60 years.
Warehouse workers at FreshDirect, a New York online grocer, voted no union, rejecting representation by either the United Food and Commercial Workers or IBT in a December 22-23 election. IBT Local 805 claimed that the election had been disrupted by an announcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that it would begin an audit of FreshDirect, causing many allegedly pro-union voters to leave their jobs prior to the election.
The NLRB certified Teamsters Joint Council 37 as the bargaining representative of approximately 550 emergency medical technicians, systems controllers, and clerks employed by the American Medical Response Inc. (AMR) in Portland, Oregon. The workers had previously been represented by the Independent National Emergency Medical Services Association. Earlier in the month the IBT succeeded in winning the right to represent AMR workers in New Haven, Connecticut.
In two separate NLRB-run elections in Little Rock, Arkansas and Willingboro, N.J., the Teamsters won union elections at First Student, Inc., increasing the number of First Student employees organized by the Teamsters in 2007 to 3,600. The two elections were part of the Teamsters’ systematic campaign to organize school bus operators employed by First Student nationwide.
B. Strikes & Labor Disputes
Members of the International Union of Electronic Workers/Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) Local 313 returned to work at the Dresser-Rand Group, Inc. manufacturing plant in Painted Post, N.Y. on December 4, 2007, ending an unfair labor practice strike that began on August 4, 2007. The company declared impasse, and announced its intention to implement the terms of its last contract offer. The union fought Dresser-Rand’s proposals to increase caps on out-of-pocket health care costs, raise premiums, and eliminate retiree health care benefits.
The California Nurses Association struck Sutter Health Hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area for two days. Approximately 5,000 nurses working under nine contracts are represented by the CNA. Negotiations over new agreements began last spring but stalled over issues pertaining to nurse-patient staffing ratios and retirement.
C. Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations
There are a number of major labor agreements up for negotiation in 2008. A sampling of some of the largest include:
- Boeing and the IAM, plus the Society of Professional Engineering Employees
- American Airlines and the Transport Workers Union
- American Axle & Manufacturing and the UAW
- Catholic Healthcare West and the SEIU
- US Steel Corp and the Steelworkers
- Northrup Grumman Newport News Shipyard and the Steelworkers
- Saint Gobain Container and the Glass and Pottery Workers
IAM members ratified a three year agreement covering 4,100 employees at three Pratt & Whitney plants in Connecticut. The agreement increase wages 3.5% each year of the agreement, shift more health costs to employees and increases the company match under the 401(k) plan.
The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communication Workers reached a tentative agreement for a new four-year contract covering about 2,500 employees of ABC Inc., in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Details of the agreement are not available.
A 19-day strike by Broadway stagehands’ ended after members of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 1 ratified a new agreement. The previous contract expired July 31, 2007 and negotiations broke down in early November. The new agreement calls for a 3.5% increase retroactive to July 31, as well as additional increases over the life of the contract.
The Teamsters reached a tentative agreement with Trucking Management, Inc., a multi-employer organization representing five large national or regional companies including ABF Freights System Inc., New Penn Motor Express, Roadway Express Inc., USF Holland, and Yellow Transportation. The five-year National Master Freight Agreement (“NMFA”) covers about 75,000 workers in the freight industry and comes well in advance of the expiration of the current contract in March 2008.
UAW members ratified a three-year agreement with the International Truck and Engine Corp., ending a seven-week strike. The new agreement, covering about 4,000 workers represented by 11 UAW locals in six states, expires in October 2010. While the contract provides for pension improvements, health care protections for active and retired workers, and safety improvements designed to reduce work-related injuries, it provides for no general wage increase.
Nurses from nine hospitals owned by Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Kentucky and West Virginia settled a new agreement, ending a 12-week strike.
United Food and Commercial Workers (“UFCW”) Local 1149 ratified a new agreement covering about 900 employees at the Perry, Iowa, pork processing plant of Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. The contract runs until June 24, 2012. Among key terms of the new agreement are general wage increases of $1.50/hour over term.
BNA reports that for all settlements, the average first-year wage increase in 2007 was 3.6%, up from 3.3% in 2006. The median first-year increase for 2007 settlements was 3.2% compared to the 3% increase in 2006. The weighted average was 2.7%, lower than the 3.8% reported in 2006.
Canada's Department of Human Resources and Social Development reported that labor settlements in 2007 have resulted in wage increases averaging 3.3%, up from 2.5% the year before.
SEIU Local 32BJ reached a tentative four-year agreement with the Realty Advisory Board (RAB) on December 29, two days in advance of the expiration of the prior contract. Members of the union, which represents approximately 26,000 New York City commercial office workers, had previously authorized a strike if a contract was not reached by December 31, 2007. The new agreement provides for an a 16% increase in wages over the term of the contract, in addition to a 20% increase in employer contributions to health care union to maintain employer-funded coverage as well a 40% increase in employer contributions to the pension plan. Union members are expected to vote on the agreement in January.
D. National Labor Relations Board
In a 3-2 decision, the NLRB ruled that an employer did not violate section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA by maintaining a policy barring employees from using the employer’s email system for “non-job-related solicitations.” In doing so, the Board announced and applied a new standard for determining whether an employer violates the NLRA by discriminatorily enforcing company policies. In this case, a majority of the Board found that while the employer had allowed personal, non-work-related emails, it had never permitted emails to solicit for a group or organization. Therefore, the company did not violate section 8(a)(1) by reprimanding an employee who used the company’s email system to solicit support for the union. The Guard Pub’g Co., d/b/a The Register Guard.
Effective December 21, the NLRB has delegated to its General Counsel fully and final authority to initiate and prosecute all court litigation that would otherwise require full Board authorization. In addition, the Board delegated powers to three of its members (Wilma B. Liebman, Peter C. Schaumber, and Peter N. Kirsanow), which will permit a two-member quorum of Liebman and Schaumber to issue decisions regarding unfair labor practices and representation cases; Kirsanow is serving in a recess appointment that will expire upon the adjournment of Congress. These delegations are temporary and will be revoked when the NLRB returns to at least three members.
A joint Congressional Labor and Employment subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee criticized the NLRB during a hearing December 13 concerning Board decisions that are alleged to circumscribe workers’ rights to form unions and collectively bargain with employers. House and Senate Democrats, including Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), pointed to recent Board decisions as undermining employee rights. No legislation is being proposed to address the issues raised, and it was widely understood to have served the primary purpose of a pro-labor public relations ploy.
E. Administrative & Court Decisions
The Fourth Circuit held that the NLRA does not permit workers to walk-out in protest over their employer’s firing of managers where the walk-out was not in protest of the employee’s working conditions and was not a reasonable reaction to management change. In so finding, the court denied enforcement of an NLRB order, and the Fourth Circuit joined other Circuit Courts of Appeals in determining that employee protest over management changes is protected by the NLRA only if (1) the protest relates to employment conditions and (2) the method of protest is reasonable. Smithfield Packing Co. v. NLRB, No. 06-1541 (4th Cir. Dec. 5, 2007).
The Supreme Court of California ruled 4-3 that a shopping mall could not bar union members from its property who sought to distribute flyers encouraging boycotts of mall tenants. In 1998, members of the Graphic Communications International Union Local 432-M were engaged in a labor dispute with the San Diego Union-Tribune, a newspaper with which the Robinsons-May department store placed advertisements. Union members decided to handbill outside of Robinsons-May, a Fashion Valley Mall tenant, but were forced off Mall property to public property near the mall entrance. Local 432-M filed an unfair labor charge with the NLRB claiming that Robinsons-May had interfered with union members’ right to hand out leaflets, thereby violating Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. An administrative law judge agreed, as did the NLRB. The Mall petitioned for review from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which found the issue of whether a shopping center could lawfully ban speech urging boycotts of mall tenants to be unresolved under California law and consequently certified the question to the California Supreme Court. In a December 24, 2007 ruling, a majority of the California Supreme Court found that the mall’s rule prohibiting speech that urged boycotts was not content neutral, and therefore, the Mall could not, consonant with California’s Constitution permitting free speech, maintain and enforce its anti-boycott rule. Fashion Valley Mall LLC v. NLRB, No. S144753 (Cal. Dec. 24, 2007).
F. Legislation & Politics
The Office and Professional Employees International Union (“OPEIU”), representing about 125,000 professional, technical, and administrative employees, endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for president. In doing so, the OPEIU joined other unions representing more than 4 million workers who have endorsed Clinton, including: the International Association of Machinists, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
The Painters and Allied Trades as well as two large SEIU locals in New York City representing about 400,000 workers also endorsed Senator Clinton for president, while the UAW International Executive Board took a “no endorsement” position with respect to the presidential primaries.
An agreement reached between IBT president James P. Hoffa and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (“BLE”) president Don Hahs was rejected as insufficient by the Independent Review Board (“IRB”) December 13, 2007. Hahs had previously been charged with embezzling approximately $57,000 of union funds by improperly charging personal expenses. Under the terms of the rejected agreement, Hahs would have accepted a six-months suspension from union office and would have paid restitution in the amount of $40,000. While the IRB does not have independent authority to order a particular punishment, it does have broad discretion to approve or rejection IBT disciplinary action. The IRB was established pursuant to the terms of a 1989 consent decree settling corruption charges against IBT following its merger with BLE.
U.S. and Australian unions announced the launch of a global campaign to hold Carlyle Group, a private equity firm based in Washington, D.C., "accountable" for treatment of workers" at certain companies it has previously purchased. The campaign stems from the proposed takeover of Coates Hire (Australia's largest equipment rental company) by a syndicate including Carlyle Group. The campaign will involve contacting Carlyle Group investors, as well as asking workers employed by Carlyle-owned companies to speak about their experiences following a Carlyle-sponosred acquisition.
The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, which is the collective bargaining representative of 4,000 licensed marine officers working on U.S. commercial ships, ferries, and military vessels, announced Don Keefe defeated the incumbent, Ron Davis, for president, Bill Van Loo was elected Secretary-Treasurer, Bill McHugh won the position of Atlantic Coast Vice President, and Marc Huber is the new Gulf Coast Vice President.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a report December 5, 2007 in which it concluded that women’s presence in the leadership ranks of unions is not proportional to their participation as union members. The report noted that while nearly half of all union members and the majority of newly organized members over the last 20 years are female, women face special obstacles in taking leadership roles.
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