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- STRIKES & LABOR DISPUTES
- MAJOR CONTRACT SETTLEMENTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- ADMINISTRATIVE & COURT DECISIONS
- LEGISLATION & POLITICS
- AIRLINE INDUSTRY
Dealers, keno, and simulcast workers at Bally’s Atlantic City voted 628-255 in favor of representation by the United Auto Workers (“UAW”), marking the third victory in Atlantic City for the UAW since mid-March. In a separate election on June 3, 2007, security officers at Bally’s voted for representation by the International Union of Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (“SPFPA”).
Drivers at FedEx Home Delivery voted for representation by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”) Local 671. The NLRB Region Director rejected FedEx’s challenge to the election, based on the argument that the drivers were independent contractors, and the election was allowed to proceed.
A majority of nonsupervisory administrative workers at Rutgers University have signed cards authorizing the Union of Rutgers Administrators (“URA”), an American Federation of Teachers (“AFT”) affiliate, to represent them and negotiate a labor agreement on their behalf. Under New Jersey’s card-check law, public employers must recognize and negotiate with a union that collects signed authorization cards from a majority of employees in the proposed bargaining unit.
Members of Boeing Corp.’s Wichita, Kan., Technical and Professional Unit voted to decertify the Society of Engineering Employees in Aerospace (“SPEEA”) Local 2001, citing their inability to participate in Boeing’s profit-sharing plan as one of the core reasons. Nearly 70 percent of the SPEEA workers in the bargaining were non-dues payors.
The number of resolved representation elections supervised by the NLRB by the NLRB in 2006 decreased to 1,648 from 2,142 in 2005. The number of eligible voters and workers organized through NLRB elections also decreased. However, union win rates in both representation and decertification elections increased slightly from 2005. The Teamsters was the most active union, while the SEIU claimed the highest winning percentage.
The Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”) announced that its new national healthcare union (“SEIU Healthcare”) will have an annual budget of about $120 million and around 4,000 organizers dedicated to unionizing 10 million unorganized non-supervisory healthcare workers as part of its campaign to “create a movement” for a universal health care plan. SEIU Healthcare also plans to join the United American Nurses (“UAN”) in launching a campaign for safe staffing and mandatory nurse ratios.
B. Strikes & Labor Disputes
Members of United Food and Commercial Workers (“UFCW”) Local 540 in Dallas voted to authorize a strike against Kroger Co. after contract negotiations halted in early June. Kroger’s proposal to shift significantly more health care costs to employees in the key issue.
Members of UNITE HERE and other advocacy and student groups are urging customers to boycott American Eagle Outfitters clothing stores due to American Eagle’s alleged failure to take action against National Logistics Services (NLS), a third-party distributor for the Company in Canada. The organizations allege NLS is violating the retailer’s code of conduct by mistreating employees and suppressing union activity.
On June 24, 2007, members of UFCW authorized strikes against two large grocery store chains, Ralphs and Vons, in Southern California. The 59,000 UFCW-represented workers rejected contract proposals at Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons; UFCW has previously authorized a strike against Albertsons. No immediate action is planned, according to the seven locals involved.
Members of International Association of Machinists (“IAM”) Local 2016 struck the Kennedy Space Center and two other Florida facilities of the United Space Alliance, a consortium of aerospace companies that have contracts with NASA to operate the space shuttle. The strike comes after a the labor agreement with IAM Local 2016 expired on June 10 and contract negotiations broke down on June 13. Local 2016 represents approximately 570 of the United Space Alliance’s employees.
C. Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations
Members of IBT Local 744 and Local 673 voted to ratify a five-year contract with Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers covering approximately 800 delivery drivers, warehouse staff, and bottling plant workers in the Chicago area. The new agreements, which will be effective until April 28, 2012, increase wages and commissions and grant a one-time signing bonus to all union-represented workers employed at the time of the contracts’ ratification. Changes in the contracts’ language provide union locals with successorship protection in the event the company changes ownership and provide Pepsi with more flexibility in scheduling and assignments.
Members of United Mine Workers (“UMW”) ratified a three-year contract with the Association of Bituminous Contractors covering about 2,000 construction workers in eight different states: Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia. Under the new contract, workers at the top of the pay scale will see hourly wages increase by 15.7 percent. The new contract also increases the pension multiplier and maintains retiree health care benefits.
Members of the Service Trades Council Union approved a 41-month contract with Disney World covering about 21,000 employees in central Florida.
Members of the SEIU Florida Healthcare Union voted to ratify four-year contracts with six HCA-affiliated hospitals throughout Florida. The new contracts provide a three percent wage increase each year of the contract and require any successor of HCA to assume the contract.
Private security workers from around the country met in San Francisco on June 27, 2007, and decided to adopt a set of national bargaining standards for their upcoming negotiations with various employers. “SEIU” has been organizing security workers throughout the country since December 2005 and is currently negotiating a new contract for about 5,000 workers in San Francisco.
After four years of negotiations, IBT Local 808 ratified a new contract with Metro-North Railroad, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, retroactive to January 2003, and amendable in July 2010. The contract covers 600 maintenance-of-way employees and its provisions put an end to seasonal furloughs and increase pension payments for new hires. Most importantly, the new contract creates wage parity between Metro-North employees and employees of the Long Island Rail Road, another subsidiary of the MTA, by increasing Metro-North workers’ salaries to 95 percent of the rates earned by employees of Long Island Rail Road.
Members of UNITE HERE Local 226 and Local 165 ratified a new five-year contract with Harrah’s Entertainment covering approximately 15,000 workers in six different Las Vegas resorts. The contract is retroactive to June 1, 2007, and increases hourly wages by $3.47 over term. Other significant provisions include a “career ladder” that aids employees desiring to move up in the industry, a severance package based on years of service, and the establishment of legal defense and housing trust funds for employees.
The International Union of Electronic Workers (“IUE”) and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (“UE”) reached a tentative agreement with General Electric on June 17, 2007, which will add Veterans Day as a new holiday, increase wages by an average of 16 percent over term, improve health benefits, and strengthen pensions. The tentative four-year agreement would cover about 21,000 employees represented by IUE, UE and nine smaller unions.
UAW Local 3520 representatives settled a new contract with Freightliner, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler AG, which will spare 1,500 employees at the Company’s Cleveland, N.C. truck manufacturing plant from layoff, for the time being. The workforce reduction was scheduled for mid-July, but under the new agreement, all employees will share the available work pending further negotiations.
Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (“BLET”) ratified a new contract with four of the major U.S. freight railroads who were represented by their national bargaining agent, National Carriers’ Conference Committee: CSX, Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and Kansas City Southern. The new contract covers about 17,000 BLET workers, providing them with general wage increases of 18.2 percent over term and extended access to in-network medical benefits.
Members of Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 1700 ratified a new three-year contract covering 3,000 Greyhound bus lines employees throughout the country. Bus drivers receive a three percent wage increase in each year of the contract, while mechanics will make 75 cents more per hour in each year.
Members of the IBT ratified a new three-year contract covering 3,300 employees, including service assistants, service clerks, and meatcutters, at 16 Costco Wholesale Corp. retail outlets on the East Coast. The contract increases the starting rate for all employees by $1 per hour and employees’ semi-annual bonuses.
Delphi Corp. reached a tentative agreement and signed a memorandum of understanding with the UAW, which represents 17,000 Delphi employees, and General Motors Corp that will be subject approval by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Union members ratified the four-year agreement with 68 percent of members voting in favor of ratification. The agreement will reduce wages of current employees and new hires, but also provides a number of benefits including severance benefits, retirement incentives, and relocation packages.Collective bargaining data for all settlements through June 18, 2007 indicates that the average first-year wage increased 3.6 percent, compared with 3.2 percent in the comparable period of 2006. Excluding construction and state and local contracts, the all-settlements average increase was 3.7 percent, showing an increase of 0.4 percent from the comparable period in 2006. Factoring lump-sum payments into the wage calculations showed that the all-settlements average first-year increase through June 21, 2007 was 4 percent, compared with 3.4 percent in 2006.
D. Administrative & Court Decisions
Overruling more than 50 years of case law, the Supreme Court of Missouri held on May 29 that public employees have a right to enter into collective bargaining agreements under the state’s constitution and public employers cannot unilaterally change or rescind such contracts. The lawsuit was brought by three unions representing Independence School District employees after the school board unilaterally changed several provisions in their memoranda of understanding. Independence-Nat’l Educ. Ass’n v. Independence Sch. Dist.
In court documents filed on June 19, 2007, UAW opposed Collins & Aikman’s plan to sell its Belvidere, Ill. and St. Louis facilities before confirming that its successors will assume company’s obligations under the CBAs. According to UAW, the Belvidere CBA contains a “successorship” clause that requires Collins & Aikman to make assumption of the CBA by a purchaser a condition of any sale or transfer.
In a 3-2 decision released June 5, 2007, the NLRB ruled that the usual rebuttable presumption that a worker who was not hired because of his or her union activity would have continued to work indefinitely for the employer and is entitled to receive back pay for the time between the initial date of discrimination and the date of a valid job offer does not apply to union organizer “salts.” Salts seeking back pay as a result of hiring discrimination must now present affirmative evidence that he or she, if hired, would have worked for the employer for the duration of the time period for which back wages are being claimed. Oil Capitol Sheet Metal, Inc.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that an arbitration clause in a cruise line’s labor agreement supersedes the Seaman’s Wage Act and, as a result, a stateroom attendant for Celebrity Cruises must arbitrate his wage claim. The Eleventh Circuit found that the Supreme Court’s 1971 decision in U.S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles was distinguishable because the Foreign Arbitration Convention (9 U.S.C. § 202) had not been enacted at the time. According to the Eleventh Circuit, the Convention “compels federal courts to direct qualifying disputes to arbitration” and supersedes other conflicting federal laws, including the Seaman’s Wage Act. Lobo v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc.
The NLRB ruled that Correctional Medical Services, a company that operates a medical clinic in a New York state jail, did not violate federal labor law when it fired five employees for picketing outside the facility because the employees failed to comply with Section 8(g) of the NLRA by providing Correctional Medical 10 days advance notice of their intent to strike. Corr. Med. Servs., Inc.
A federal district judge in Illinois upheld a $105,000 jury award to the former president of IBT Local 722. The former Teamster union official sued the Teamsters after he was suspended and disciplined by IBT for violating the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Serafinn v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 722.
In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Washington state law that prohibits public sector unions from using individual nonmembers’ agency fees “to make contributions or expenditures to influence an election or to operate a political committee” without first obtaining the nonmembers’ affirmative authorization. The public union in each of the consolidated cases, the Washington Education Association (“WEA”), argued that the law’s limitation on public sector unions’ actions serves as a content-based regulation of speech and, therefore, violates the First Amendment. The Court rejected WEA’s argument and found that the law “is a constitutional condition on the authorization that public-sector unions enjoy to charge government employees agency fees.” Davenport v. Wash. Educ. Ass’n.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that DuPont’s failure to provide the United Steelworkers with requested information about the company’s subcontracting proposal prevented it from declaring an impasse in negotiations. The court reasoned that the union needed the information in order to independently consider DuPont’s assertion that it would save $1 million per year if it subcontracted all finishing and milling work. Despite the Court’s determination with respect to the declaration of impasse on the subcontracting issue, the court found that DuPont did not violate the NLRA when it declared an impasse in general negotiations for a new CBA because subcontracting “was historically separate” from the overall CBA. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. NLRB.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the NLRB erred in finding that Sheet Metal Workers illegally threatened to picket a department store that used a nonunion contractor and that the union engaged in illegal picketing when it conducted a mock funeral outside a hospital that used nonunion construction workers. The court held that a union planning to picket a worksite with multiple employers is not required to provide an assurance that the union will limit picketing to the gate set aside for the employer with whom the union has a dispute. Additionally, the court held that the NLRB’s ruling regarding the mock funeral conflicted with U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding freedom of speech. Sheet Metal Workers’ Int’l Ass’n Local 15 v. NLRB.
E. Legislation & Politics
Iowa House Representative Steve King introduced “The Truth in Employment Act of 2007,” which would amend the NLRA to allow employers to refuse to hire individuals “who seek or gain employment in order to disrupt the workplace of the employer or otherwise inflict economic harm designed to put the employer out of business.” South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint (R) and Louisiana Senator David Vitter (R) introduced a companion bill to The Truth in Employment Act in the Senate. The chances that the Democratic Congress passes either of these bills is almost non-existent.
In a June 21, 2007 vote, a slight majority of the U.S. Senate rejected the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have amended the NLRA by eliminating the need for secret-ballots in union certification elections.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an amendment to a funding bill for federal air traffic control operations that would remove truck drivers, couriers, and other employees at FedEx’s Express unit from the federal Railway Labor Act of 1926 (the “RLA”). The RLA only recognizes nationwide bargaining units, as opposed to facility-based bargaining units, as are common under the NLRA. This legal structure has frustrated union organizing efforts at FedEx, and UPS, which is under the NLRA, claims that it allows FedEx to preserve its cost advantage. The full House of Representatives will consider the legislation at some point this term.
The United Transportation Union (“UTU”) and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (“SMWIA”) plan to merge, creating the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (“SMART”). The merger is subject to a vote by the membership of both unions.
Members of both the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association and the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots (“MMP”) voted in favor of a proposed plan to merge the organizations.
G. Airline Industry
A ratification vote on a tentative agreement between National Pilots’ Association and AirTran Airways covering 1,400 pilots has been postponed to allow the parties to return to the bargaining table. The announcement came after members expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed four-year agreement during meetings held to explain the agreement.
NLRB General Counsel Ronald Meisburg released a memorandum detailing additional remedial measures that Regional Directors should consider in cases where an employer or union engages in unfair labor practices during the initial contract bargaining stage. Some of the special remedies Meisburg suggested to deter bad-faith bargaining at this stage include: requiring bargaining on a prescribed or compressed schedule, periodic reports on bargaining status, minimum certification year extensions of six months, and ordering reimbursement of negotiation costs for the full period of negotiations, as opposed to the standard six-months. The memorandum also instructs Regional Offices to submit “all cases involving unfair labor practices during bargaining for, or attempts to bargain for, an initial contract” as well as their recommendations regarding Section 10(j) injunctive relief.
New York University held its annual labor law conference on May 31 and June 1, 2007. Wilma B. Liebman, member of the NLRB, and Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE HERE, were among those who spoke at the conference and both criticized the current state of NLRB. Liebman stated that the NLRB “is in decline, if not failed” and expressed her dissatisfaction with the NLRB’s narrow interpretation of the NLRA. Raynor described the environment for labor relations as “dysfunction” and questioned whether organized labor would be “better off without” the NLRB.
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