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- STRIKES & LABOR DISPUTES
- MAJOR CONTRACT SETTLEMENTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- ADMINISTRATIVE & COURT DECISIONS
- LEGISLATION & POLITICS
The Association of Parcel Workers of America filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a representation election at a South Carolina UPS Freight terminal. The Gaffney, S.C., facility is the largest UPS Freight terminal in the southern United States. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters continues to negotiate a first contract with UPS Freight that would cover approximately 125 employees at UPS' Indianapolis terminal.
Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, launched a free Internet service where people can submit questions related to workplace rights. Questions are answered by volunteer lawyers and firms, but the service does not guarantee that all questions will be answered nor does it provide specific legal advice.
B. Strikes & Labor Disputes
Members of the International Association of Machinists voted to accept a contract with Freightliner LLC at the Portland, Ore., manufacturing facility on July 9, ending a one-week strike. The union struck to protest cuts in retiree health benefits and mandatory overtime proposals, which the union ultimately accepted as part of the contract settlement.
Nurses at Sharp HealthCare hospitals near San Diego voted to authorize a strike if Sharp and the United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals are unable to reach a contract. The negotiations have lasted two months. UNAC/UHCP represents between 40 percent and 50 percent of the 3,300 nurses that Sharp employs.
C. Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations
Five more unions representing railroad workers reached agreements with the major U.S. freight railroads. The agreements cover more than 30,000 employees who are represented by the Transportation Communications Union, the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen-TCU, the International Association of Machinists, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Transport Workers Union. The agreements provide general wage increases totaling 17 percent or 18.2 percent compounded over the life of the contracts. United Transportation Union, representing about 45,000 conductors and other rail employees, is the only major rail union that has not yet settled a new agreement.
The NLRB General Counsel, Ronald Meisburg, directed his bargaining representatives not to bargain with the NLRB purportedly in order to obtain judicial review of the appropriateness of a bargaining unit that combines NLRB staff and Mesiburg's staff.
The United Auto Workers ratified a four-year agreement with Delphi Corp. The agreement includes wage reductions and lower initial wages. It also provides that Delphi will keep four plants open, close 10, sell four, and return three plants to General Motors. The bankruptcy court overseeing Delphi’s reorganization approved the agreement on July 19.
Collective bargaining data on 381 agreements covering more than 718,000 employees for the first half of 2007 showed that the average first-year wage increase was 3.6 percent, compared with 3.2 percent in the comparable period of 2006. The second-year average increase was 3.2 percent, compared with 3.3 percent in the first half of 2006, and the third-year average increase was 3.2 percent, compared with 3.1 percent in 2006.
Data on 36 major Canadian collective bargaining agreements reached in May covering 100,330 employees showed an average base-rate annual wage increase of 3.4 percent, compared to 2.8 percent in April, 3.1 percent in March, 3.2 percent in February, the 3.1 percent average for the first quarter of 2007, and the 3.0 percent average for 2007 to date.
Seven United Food and Commercial Workers locals ratified a new four-year contract with major Southern California grocery chains Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons. The contract provides $1.65 per hour wage increases over term and eliminates a two-tier wage system. The contract also increases health benefit deductibles from $250 per year for an individual to $1,000 per year, and $750 per year for a family to $2,000 per year, and creates “Health Reimbursement Accounts."
The “global settlement” agreement, consisting of three agreements between Dana Corp., the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, and a private-equity investor, was approved on July 26 by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing Dana Corp.’s reorganization. Under the new agreements, Dana will shift its retiree health benefits liabilities to a union-run Voluntary-Employees Beneficiary Association trust funds. The agreements implement a two-tier wage structure at certain plants, limit disability benefits, and freeze accruals for pension benefits. Dana agreed to buyout payments for employees affected by the closure of two unionized facilities; successorship provisions governing the sale of stock or assets of any organized facility; a moratorium on moving work out of unionized plants to nonunion facilities; post-bankruptcy emergence bonuses; and a commitment to source new product lines to union-represented facilities. In addition, the agreements provide for a neutrality and card-check agreement for all but three unorganized plants.
The United Auto Workers will pursue commenced labor contract negotiations with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler Group. UAW’s contracts with the three Detroit automakers expire at midnight on September 14. The agreements will cover 177,498 workers, and will affect an additional 419,621 retired members and 120,723 surviving spouses.
On July 30, the United Steelworkers announced that it ratified a five-year contract with a private equity company that is purchasing four plants currently owned by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The settlement is a tri-party agreement between the Carlyle Group, Goodyear, and four locals, and it largely tracks the contract reached last year with Goodyear.
D. Administrative & Court Decisions
A divided panel of the NLRB ruled that chemical manufacturer 3-V didn't violate federal labor law when it did not award a wage increase and a safety bonus after the United Steelworkers won representation in 2005. The Board found that 3-V discontinued its regular practice of granting annual wage increases and semiannual safety bonuses in 2003 due to financial problems, and had not restored the practice by the time the union was certified. 3-V In
Two recent NLRB decisions set aside union election victories because of the pre-election behavior of supervisors and union committee members. In Madison Square Garden CT LLC, statutory supervisors signed a flyer announcing that they were committed to forming a union and stated that they encouraged employees to sign union authorization cards as part of an American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees’ council organizing effort. Supervisors also handed cards to staff, spoke to them about the benefit of unionization, and attended meetings where employees and AFSCME representatives were present. While Madison Square Garden’s manager held meetings and explained to nonsupervisory employees that the company was opposed to unionization, the Board held that did not mitigate the effect of the supervisors’ pro-union activity. In PPG Indus. Inc., the Board held that the United Auto Workers’ election win should be set aside because of pre-election threats by union supporters. Madison Square Garden CT LLC; PPG Indus. Inc.
A federal district court for the District of Minnesota granted interim injunctive relief under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) against the new owner of a Holiday Inn Express that refused to hire union members when it assumed control over the hotel. The court ordered the owner, CMPJ Enterprises, to rescind all unilateral changes in terms and conditions of employment, and recognize and bargain with the union, UNITE HERE. The court rejected CMPJ’s argument that it is not a successor employer, finding that the Regional Director of the NLRB presented sufficient evidence to support allegations that housekeeping and maintenance employees were coerced or intimidated into withdrawing their applications after many reports that CMPJ intended to keep unions out of the hotel. Chester v. CMPJ Enterprises d/b/a Holiday Inn Express.
The NLRB held that graduate students employed by private research corporations as research assistants are entitled to unionize. In Research Found. of State Univ. of N.Y., the Board found that graduate research project assistants were employees under the NLRA because they were employed by a private corporation rather than by the State University of New York. In Research Found. of City Univ. of N.Y., a union seeking to organize research assistants who worked for a similar research foundation was entitled to proceed with an NLRB representation petition. Research Found. of State Univ. Of N.Y.; Research Found. of City Univ. of N.Y.
The NLRB ruled that a Connecticut nursing home/assisted living facility violated federal labor law by failing to reinstate approximately 100 service and maintenance employees who participated in an economic strike and later made an unconditional offer to return to work. Church Homes Inc. began secretly hiring permanent replacement workers approximately one month into the strike, telling the New England Health Care Employees Union nothing about the decision, and took active measures to keep the replacement campaign a secret. The Board’s decision follows a Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of the Board’s original decision that the Avery Heights facility did not have an unlawful motive in failing to reinstate all of the strikers. Church Homes Inc. d/b/a Avery Heights.
A federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois certified two classes of current and former United Airline pilots in litigation alleging that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) breached its duty of fair representation in its allocation of proceeds from promissory notes. Under the union’s method, furloughed pilots who had not been offered or had not accepted recall prior to United’s exit from bankruptcy were not eligible to share in the proceeds of notes that United provided to the ALPA when the Association agreed not to oppose the United’s termination of the United Airlines Pilots Defined Benefit Pension Plan in 2005. Mansfield v. Air Line Pilots Ass’n.
A federal district court in the Northern District of Indiana ruled that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ (IBT) picketing of a Fidler Inc. suggested that the union was trying to force the company to recognize it at a newly acquired facility. The court rejected the union’s argument that its picketing was meant to publicize two minor grievances, concluding that the NLRB is more likely to find that the union’s picketing violated Section 8(b)(7)(C) of the NLRA, and issuing an injunction against the union under Section 10(l). Lineback v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters local 414.
The Texas attorney general brought a lawsuit against Deco-Akal Services LLC and the International Union, Security, Policy, and Fire Professionals of America seeking an injunction against their alleged practices of threatening to terminate employees if they did not join the union or pay dues. The lawsuit also seeks damages for employees who were forced to join the union and pay its fees or donate money to charity, and reinstatement for one employee who was suspended after he refused to join the union, pay dues, or donate money to charity. Texas v. Deco-Akal JV; Texas v. Asset Prot. & Sec. Servs. L.P.
Caterpillar Inc. filed third-party lawsuits on July 25 against seven locals of the United Auto workers for breaching the contract terms that they negotiated in 1998 and 2004. Caterpillar alleges that the union supported lawsuits brought by retirees who accused Caterpillar of denying them medical benefits in violation of collective bargaining agreements. Winnett v. Caterpillar Inc.; Kerns v. Caterpillar Inc.
The NLRB decided that Badlands Golf Course did not violate federal labor law by withdrawing union recognition slightly more than six months after resuming bargaining pursuant to an order of the NLRB. The Board applied the factors identified in Lee Lumber & Bldg. Material Corp. for extending the minimum six-month bargaining period, and found it relevant that the parties had bargained for eight months prior to Badland’s first withdrawal of recognition, in addition to the six months following the Board’s remedial order. Amer. Golf Corp. d/b/a Badlands Golf Course.
On July 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit enforced an order by the NLRB that Service Corp. International, a Texas funeral home company, had to accept the results of a 2004 union election, despite the fact that sample ballots had been altered to suggest that the NLRB supported the union. The court held that despite the altered ballots, employees had ample opportunity to become familiar with the Board’s declaration of neutrality. Serv. Corp. Int’l v. NLRB.
E. Legislation & Politics
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) plan to endorse a Democrat and a Republican primary candidate for president later this year. This is the first dual endorsement in IAM history. Approximately 35 percent of the union's membership identifies itself as Republican.
The House of Representatives passed the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 980). This legislation would set minimum standards requiring state and local governments to allow firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical service employees to form and join unions, bargain over working conditions, sign legally enforceable labor contracts, and use an impasse resolution procedure.
On August 16, a new final rule will take effect that revises the LM-30 disclosure form that must be filed annually by union officials and union employees who receive payments from or have other financial arrangements with union-represented employers, businesses with employees the union is actively seeking to represent, or other entities that raise potential conflicts of interest. The Office of Labor-Management Standards explains that the changes are intended to ease compliance and increase union transparency. The rule includes a “de minimis” exception under which payments of $250 or less from one source within a year need not be reported, and individual payments of $20 or less do not count in calculating annual payments. The final rule also narrows some Department of Labor exceptions on the former LM-30 form.
New legislation that takes effect September 20 amends Maine’s public employee labor law to allow deduction of union service fees without an employee’s authorization. The statute also specifies that employees cannot be forced to become union members and cannot be terminated for failure to make service fee payments.
Harry R. Hoglander assumed the position of chairman of the National Mediation Board on July 1. Hoglander is in his second term, and also served as chairman in 2004-2005.
Delegates to a convention of the International Longshoremen’s Association elected Richard P. Hughes, Jr. as the new president to succeed John Bowers. The delegates also approved a resolution to restrict union officials from receiving multiple salaries, and voted down a resolution that called for direct election of top officers by the union membership.
On July 26, the IBT announced an agreement with George Washington University to establish a Teamsters Union Archive at the university. The archive would be open to the public and include correspondence, papers, and memos between IBT presidents, U.S. presidents, and civil rights leaders, among other prominent figures. The Teamsters Supplemental Benefits Trust will contribute an initial $2 million to provide support for the exhibition.
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