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NLRB Issues Complaint Against General Dynamics Information Technology For Federal Labor Law Violations

Complaint follows a call for investigation into ‘systemic’ wage theft by GDIT; workers could be owed more than $100 million.

The National Labor Relations Board Region 5 has issued a complaint against General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., for violating federal labor law at its Alexandria, Va., facility last year.

The roughly 80 GDIT employees worked on a contract to provide call center services for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., and in 2016 began to organize for representation by the Communications Workers of America. These workers take customer calls and provide information to people whose pensions have been taken over by the PBGC, often due to an employer’s bankruptcy filing.

“I’m happy that GDIT is finally being taken to task for breaking the law,” said Sabrina Batta-Hopson, who works at the call center. “I hope this labor board complaint will prevent the company from spreading more misinformation to other workers. I also hope that the DOL complaint helps me and my coworkers get the pay that we deserve for the hard work we’ve done for GDIT.”

GDIT management threatened employees that if they voted for CWA representation, they would lose benefits and the company would lose the contract. Management also falsely told employees that they could not get a raise “without an act of Congress.”

A hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2018.

“These federally contracted workers are entitled to the protections of our labor laws. GDIT not only abuses workers’ rights, but is also the focus of serious complaints about wage theft and other abuses, and may owe its employees over $100 million in back wages” said Alex van Schaick, an attorney at CWA.“

The NLRB action follows a series of complaints filed by CWA with the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, calling for an investigation into the systemic and serious wage violations being committed at GDIT call centers.

GDIT currently employs about 10,000 workers at 11 call centers under its contract with CMS. These jobs are covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA), a federal law that sets prevailing wage standards for federally contracted service work. But CWA has uncovered an extensive pattern of misclassification of workers under the SCA to avoid paying workers the wages they deserve.

CWA estimates that tens of thousands of current and former GDIT employees at CMS call centers stand to recover more than $100 million in back wages since the contract with CMS was signed in 2013. Such a sum would be the largest SCA recovery in history.

CWA Commends Confirmation of Lauren McFerran to NLRB

Washington, D.C. — CWA President Larry Cohen issued this statement on the Senate vote confirming Lauren McFerran as a member of the National Labor Relations Board:

U.S. working women and men, but especially 80 million who don’t have union bargaining rights, rely on the National Labor Relations Board for a path to workplace justice. The confirmation of Lauren McFerran as a member of the NLRB ensures that current NLRB policy will continue for the next two years.

As labor counsel to Senator Tom Harkin and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, McFerran has extensive knowledge of labor and employment law. Her confirmation means the Board can continue to carry out its responsibilities under the National Labor Relations Act.

It is unfortunate that the nomination of another highly qualified candidate, former Member Sharon Block, did not proceed despite a positive vote of the HELP committee before the Senate election recess. Soon-to-be Majority Leader McConnell, in his initial meeting with the President, demanded Block’s withdrawal even though he did not have the votes to block her confirmation and at least one Republican on the committee had voted for her. The President agreed; we should all view that as a wake-up call for attacks on workers’ rights in the next Congress.

The anti-worker ideological bent exhibited by the new Senate majority is without precedent since the passage of the NLRA 80 years ago. Working people now are on notice that Senator McConnell will be aiming at workers’ rights as a core part of his leadership, and with the full support and encouragement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It is up to the rest of us, not just labor, to support workers’ rights as we build a movement for economic justice and democracy.

NLRB Charges Kellogg With Serious Violations Of Federal Law

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Earlier today, the U.S. government charged the Kellogg Company with multiple and serious violations of federal law stemming from its October 22, 2013 lockout of more than 220 workers at the company’s Memphis cereal production facility.

In filing a Complaint against Kellogg based on charges filed by Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 252G, the local representing the locked out members, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – the official charged with prosecuting employers for violating the National Labor Relations Act – determined that the company’s conduct in the supplemental contract negotiations in Memphis that led to the lockout was in clear violation of the federal law governing labor and management relations in the U.S.

In the March 27 Complaint, the Board’s General Counsel validated the charges filed by BCTGM Local 252G. The Complaint outlines that, during the course of the negotiations that led to the lockout, Kellogg insisted that the union bargain on and agree to changes to a contract that was still in effect – a subject Kellogg had no right to insist on – and in so doing, “threatened to lockout employees” and “locked out all bargaining-unit employees . . .in support of its bargaining demands if the union did not ratify  [Kellogg’s] last contract offer before October 22, 2013.”  By doing that, the Complaint asserts, Kellogg “interfer[red] with, restrain[ed], and coerc[ed] employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act”; “discriminat[ed] in regard to the hire or tenure or terms or conditions of employment of its employees” and “ fail[ed] and refus[ed] to bargain collectively  and in good faith with the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of its employees.”

Commenting on the NLRB ruling, BCTGM International Union President David B. Durkee stated, “The BCTGM commends the Board’s General Counsel on its action.  For more than five months, the locked out workers in Memphis have been victimized by a $14 billion multinational corporation so consumed by greed that it was willing to break U.S. law in order to get what it wanted from its workers.

“Today’s action by the Board’s General Counsel is the first step in validating all that the BCTGM and our locked out members have consistently said since the beginning of this tragic lock out – that the company violated the law by demanding to negotiate on subjects that are not legally proper for the Memphis negotiations.

“This decision also exposes the disingenuous and misleading public relations campaign Kellogg has been waging for the past five months in which it called on the Union to return to the bargaining table for negotiations.  As today’s Complaint alleges, Kellogg had broken the very law that governs the negotiations the company wanted the local union to resume.

“For more than 155 days and at a tremendous personal and financial cost, these courageous workers have remained steadfast in their belief in the rule of law.  Today, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel struck the first loud blow for justice.

“All these workers have ever wanted, since the day they were locked out is to return to the jobs they have performed skillfully and with deep dedication for many, many years in order that they can provide for their families.

“The BCTGM urges the Kellogg Company to finally drop its disingenuous public relations campaign, accept its responsibility for breaking the law and end this tragic lockout and immediately return these hard-working men and women to their jobs so they can begin rebuilding their lives shattered by a once-honorable company that has lost its moral compass. This horrendous injustice has gone on far too long,” concludes Durkee.

The BCTGM represents more than 4,000 Kellogg employees throughout North America. The BCTGM also represents thousands more workers in the cereal industry at such companies as General Mills, Quaker Oats, and Ralcorp.

The NLRB Finds Merit In Anti-Union Complaints At Orlando Health

Yesterday it was announced that the NLRB has begun the settlement process stemming from complaints by workers organizing at Orlando Health hospitals.

At the end of 2013 the National Nurses United filed multiple complaints of harassment with the NLRB.

Jennifer Lemmon, Assistant Director of Organizing for National Nurses United explained the charges in an email to the NH Labor News.

The National Labor Relations Board contacted the Union and indicated that the Tampa Regional Office found merit to many of the Union’s allegations that Orlando Health hospitals have been violating federal labor law during the nurses’ Union organizing campaign.  The NLRB informed the Union that the hospitals will be allowed a chance to settle these allegations but that if they don’t, the NLRB’s General Counsel will prosecute the hospitals before a federal administrative law judge, alleging:

•     at Winnie Palmer Hospital : the employer created the impression that employees are under surveillance because of their union activity; interrogated employees about their Union activity;  made threats of unspecified reprisals to employees because of their Union activity;  and  discriminatorily denied access to off-duty nurses to hospital property because of nurses’ Union activity. 

 •     at Dr. Phillips Hospital : interrogated employees about their Union activity;  and  discriminatorily denied access to off-duty nurses to hospital property because of their Union activity. 

•     and at South Seminole Hospital also  discriminatorily denied access to off-duty nurses to hospital property because of their Union activity. 

The NH Labor News reported on these anti-union tactics back in September before charges were officially filed. What Orlando Health did not expect is that by pushing back against the organizing efforts it would solidify the workers and their strengthen their resolve to form a new union.

“We hope the hospitals do the right thing and settle these charges against them and allow nurses their federally protected right to organize a union without their interference,” said Jennifer Lemmon. “But if it comes to a trial and the Judge finds in  favor of the NLRB’s General Counsel, the Judge will make recommended findings to the NLRB’s 5-member Board, who are appointed by the president, and will order the hospitals to refrain from their unlawful actions.”

Organizing efforts began as Orlando Health arbitrarily cut workers pay and laid off hundreds of workers which began taking effect just this week.

“We’ve expressed our concerns many times to OH administration, but it has fallen on deaf ears,” said Sarah Collins, RN, who works in the critical care nursery. “Now Orlando Health wants to worsen the blow with the second round of shift differential cuts. These cuts directly impact patient care. That’s why we’re holding a candle light vigil to mourn the loss of our experienced nurses and the loss of community health.”

In a recent interview with Channel 9 WFTV in Orlando, the spokeswomen for Orlando Health, Kena Lewis, stated: “We haven’t done anything wrong and we’ll see what happens, but we don’t believe we’ve done anything wrong.”

If you have done nothing wrong why are you in resolution discussions with the NLRB?

 

 

AFL-CIO and CWA Respond To Senate Confirmation Of Richard Griffin To The NLRB

Today the Senate confirmed Richard Griffin to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. This means that we finally have five members on the NLRB again. After the Senate vote Richard Trumka (President of the AFL-CIO) released the following statement:

Earlier this year, a full complement of National Labor Relations Board members were confirmed for the first time in more than a decade. With today’s confirmation of Richard Griffin to serve as General Counsel, the NLRB is now running on all cylinders to meet its duty to fairly and impartially oversee the workplace rights of millions of Americans.

Richard Griffin is superbly qualified for this important post. He has deep knowledge of labor law and decades of practical experience. He will serve the NLRB with distinction.

A functioning NLRB is good news for all workers – whether they belong to a union or not – seeking to exercise the rights they are guaranteed by law. These essential rights include the right of workers to stand together and bargain  for fair wages, safe workplaces, and other improvements on the job.  America’s working families applaud the Senate for taking much needed action on all NLRB nominees.

The Communication Workers of America have been pushing very hard to get five members on the NLRB.  After the vote CWA released this statement:

“The Communications Workers of America commends the U.S. Senate confirmation of Tom Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission.

CWA looks forward to working with Mr. Wheeler on critical policy issues in the telecommunications industry, including affordable high-speed Internet access and how FCC policy should help create stable and quality employment in the industry.”

CWA: HELP Committee Moves NLRB Nominees to Full Senate Vote

CWA LogoWashington, DC – With today’s votes by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee approving the nominations of Democrats Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa, all five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board now proceed to full Senate confirmation.

The Communications Workers of America appreciates the commitment and efforts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to ensure that 80 million private sector workers will continue to have a fully functioning NLRB to turn to for economic justice.

American workers deserve a strong, functioning and full-strength NLRB, not Senate obstruction and gridlock. The expected vote by the full Senate to confirm five nominees will be welcome news to workers who know that the Board is the only agency that enforces the law and safeguards their rights on the job.

The five nominees are Democrats Schiffer and HIrozawa, and Chairman Mark Pearce, and Republicans Phil Miscimarra and Harry Johnson.

At the close of the hearing, Chairman Harkin reminded his colleagues and others of the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act by reading part of Section 1 of the law.

“It is declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self- organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.” (Emphasis added.)

The confirmation of a full NLRB is a first step toward justice for 80 million workers.

AFL-CIO President Trumka Praises Senate For Moving Forward With NRLB Nominees

Richard_TrumkaAlthough it took an eleventh hour deal, a shimmer of light has broken through the extreme Republican obstruction in the Senate. It is finally time to end the unprecedented blocking of President Obama’s nominees, which has spanned more than 700 days. More important, a confirmed National Labor Relations Board will provide millions of workers with real protection of their rights to organize and bargain with their employers.

Our founding fathers granted the Senate the power to advise and consent, not to obstruct and extort. It is downright shameful that some Republicans were willing to take the Senate to the brink of paralysis by playing politics with workers’ rights.

America’s working families applaud Senator Reid for following through on his promise to provide an up or down vote on President Obama’s nominees. Praise also goes to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and their strong leadership as well as the leadership of our affiliated unions and allies in ensuring that the National Labor Relations Board function to protect the rights of all workers.  And we thank President Obama for his leadership in ensuring that our country will have qualified public servants to run the Labor Department, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  These crucial agencies defend America’s workers, businesses, families, and consumers. As Kathleen Von Eitzen, a Panera Bread baker who traveled to Washington last week, said, “I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, I care that you work together and govern this country, that’s what you were sent to Washington to do.”

The labor movement and our allies will continue to hold our leaders accountable to maintain a functioning government that works for the American people. We have full confidence in the leadership of Senator Reid to continue to do whatever it takes.

Do Not Let The Senate Steal Your Voice In The Workplace

NLRB 1With all the trumped up scandals in Washington right now it is hard to keep track of what is going on.  The GOP are furious about Benghazi, even after Hillary Clinton stated she requested additional security funding.  Now there is an issue with the IRS.  Yes it is wrong to target political groups for extra scrutiny but none of the groups were actually hard either.  As the politicos in Washington battle over these issues some of the other important issues are going unnoticed.

Did you know that in less than two months the entire National Labor Relation Board could be effectively closed. The NLRB is where workers go to make their case when their rights have been violated by their employer. Without a functioning NLRB, workers would have no place to go to have their grievances heard and employers will continue to trample the rights of their employees.

Currently the NLRB has only three of its five members. Two seats are vacant. When Board Chairman Mark Pearce’s term expires in August, the Board will be down to two members, which is not enough to form the quorum the Board needs to make decisions.  The US Senate is set to take up the five new appointments by President Obama sometime this summer.  The Senate Republicans are well-known for being obstructionists who oppose anything that is being proposed by President Obama.  First we must overcome this obstruction before we can even begin to discuss filling the board with new members.

As previously stated the NLRB key in protecting the rights of working people. They ensure that workers have the right to free speech without fear of termination.  Time and time again the NLRB has ruled in favor of workers who are exercising their freedom of speech online.

Aside from all the advocacy groups pushing their agendas, social media is based on people talking about what is going on in their lives.  For some this is pictures of the fancy dinner they are eating or their daughters dance recital.  For others it is a chance for people to vent to the world about something that happened to them at work.  These rants about their employers have led to the termination of some employees.  This is why we need the NLRB.  The NLRB has ruled that employees were unjustly fired for speaking out against their employer, if they were speaking out in order to improve their situation at work.

The Communication Workers of America highlight three excellent examples of how the NLRB is protecting your voice in the workplace.

  • Social Media Policies: When T-Mobile USA revamped its social networking policy, it made anonymous comments on social media websites an offense that could result in termination. It was the company’s latest attempt to silence workers who had been articulating workplace issues and discussing joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA) on worker forums, Facebook and Twitter. CWA filed an unfair labor practice charge, asserting that this was a violation of employees’ “protected concerted activity” under the NLRA. But before the case went to trial, T-Mobile USA agreed to a settlement. The company was required to inform all of its employees that they may discuss work-related issues on Facebook and similar websites without fear of reprisal.More recently, because of another CWA charge, a NLRB judge ordered DISH Network to change its social media policy that prevented workers from making “disparaging or defamatory” comments about the company. The policy infringed on employees’ rights, as workers could “reasonably construe” this rule to mean they can’t criticize their employer’s labor practices.
  • Talking about your boss: At Bettie Page, a woman’s clothing store in San Francisco, a group of employees had lodged a number of complaints with the store owners about their manager’s unprofessional behavior. Frustrated with being ignored, employees finally took to Facebook. Holli Thomas posted, “needs a new job. I’m physically and mentally sickened.” Vanessa Morris responded that the manager is “as immature a person can be” and Brittany Johnson agreed that “bettie page would roll over in her grave.” Thomas, Morris and Johnson were fired on trumped up charges. But they filed a complaint, and a NLRB judge found that they lost their jobs as a direct result of their Facebook activity. Bettie Page had clearly violated the worker’s “protected concerted activity” rights under the NLRA, and the judge ordered that it reinstate the three clerks with compensation for any loss of earnings and benefits.
  • Discussing Work Conditions: At Hispanics United of Buffalo, a nonprofit social services provider in New York, Mariana Cole-Rivera started a Facebook thread, asking, “Lydia Cruz, a coworker feels that we don’t help our clients enough at HUB. I about had it! My fellow coworkers how do you feel?” Her colleagues immediately voiced their support, writing, “Try doing my job. I have five programs” and “What the hell, we don’t have a life as is.” Cole-Rivera and four caseworkers who responded to her lost their jobs. But the NLRB found that their posts were the type of “concerted activity” for “mutual aid” that is expressly protected by the NLRA, since it involved a conversation among coworkers about their terms and conditions of employment, including their job performance and staffing levels. The judge ordered that the fired workers be fully reinstated to their jobs with back pay.

These examples highlight the need for workers to have a place to go where their issues can be heard.  The NLRB is already overloaded due to the two vacant seats and this means that workers who are awaiting a hearing are waiting months to have their termination potentially overturned.  This puts an enormous financial strain on those people forced to wait for a hearing.  If the Senate does not take action before August the entire NLRB would effectively closed down, essentially silencing workers voices.

We need to protect our freedoms and our rights at work. To do this we need and NLRB that works.  We need the Senate to take quick action to approve the Presidential appointees.
In a related note, CWA President Larry Cohen went on the Ed Show explaining the importance of the National Labor Relations Board and what must be done to ensure that all 5 members are confirmed by the Senate.

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