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Manchester Newspaper Guild to Hold Informational Picket at Debates

MANCHESTER TNG

MANCHESTER TNGMANCHESTER — Unionized workers at the New Hampshire Union Leader are standing up and fighting back Wednesday and Thursday by walking an informational picket line at the Union Leader-sponsored Granite State Debates.

Members of the Manchester Newspaper Guild, which represents about 75 employees in the editorial, advertising, circulation, IT and janitorial departments at the statewide newspaper and website, have been living under what they consider an unlawfully imposed 18% pay cut since March in their ongoing fight to secure a new contract. Bargaining began more than a year ago. The contract between the employees and publisher expired Dec. 31, 2013.

Guild members, their families and supporters will picket and leaflet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday outside The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, prior to debates between the candidates for Governor and Senate.

“The Union Leader wants its union workers to continue to bear the brunt of repeated rollbacks in pay and benefits over the past several years,” the Guild’s bargaining team said. “The workers will not buckle to the company’s unreasonable demands.”

The company initially sought to gut workers’ job security to allow it to lay off workers with impunity and outsource their work. It later sought an 18 percent retroactive wage cut before imposing conditions that include the 18 percent wage cut and a huge hike in health-care deductibles while continuing to attack workers’ job security. Combined, the pay cut and insurance hike amount to an approximate 28 percent cut in pay and benefits for an average union member’s family.

Since 2009, and in addition to the currently imposed cuts, Guild members have agreed to additional pay cuts totaling about 14 percent, as well as higher insurance deductibles and a longer work week. Management and non-union employees have not shared in many of those cutbacks.

The Union has seven Unfair Labor Practice charges against the company pending with the National Labor Relations Board. Since the imposition of the huge cutbacks, approximately 20% of the union’s employees have given their notice and left the company.

While bargaining with the company since September 2013, the Manchester Guild, a local of The Newspaper Guild-Communication Workers of America, has engaged in numerous job actions and community outreach efforts. Guild leaders have vowed that if the Union Leader sponsors, co-sponsors, or is involved in an event, Guild members will be there in force to protest the company’s unfair treatment of its workers.

Local leaders have made clear the Union has no dispute with anyone other than The New Hampshire Union Leader, and is not asking anyone to cease performing work or to refuse to do business.

Statement By Richard Trumka On American Airlines And US Airways Unionization Vote

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)
Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

“Today, thousands of workers embraced a union future. The hardworking men and women of American Airlines and US Airways voted for union representation and a legally binding contract. Their collective skill has built successful airlines, and their collective voice will build successful workplaces.

“It should not be lost on the pundits that most of the nearly 14,500 new union members work in southern states. The right to a voice at work doesn’t have a geographic predisposition, and this victory will energize ongoing organizing efforts in the South.

“I want to thank all parties involved, including elected officials, for enabling workers to have a free and fair election. And I especially want to congratulate CWA and the Teamsters on helping give these workers a voice.

“Clearly, one of the largest labor organizing victories in the South in decades is a historic day. But it also shows that the future of the U.S. labor movement is alive, as these workers can be found at airports, call centers, even working from home. The right to collectively bargain will always be what our working family fights for.”

Rep Annie Kuster Lays Out Her Agenda For Working Americans (VIDEO)

Annie Kuster

Annie KusterRecently she spoke at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast where Congresswoman Annie Kuster laid out her agenda for rebuilding the middle class and helping all working families.

You can see her full 5 minute speech just below, but I will give you a couple of highlights.

  • Raising the federal minimum wage.
  • Protecting workers rights, including attacks against the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Protecting collective bargaining rights.
  • Fought against federal Right to Work for less legislation.
  • Ensuring access to healthcare for all Americans.
  • Increasing funding for schools, and community & technical colleges.
  • Increasing manufacturing right here at home.

We need more people like Annie in Washington who are working to get things done, not just create more gridlock.

NLRB Lays Down The Law On McDonalds Franchisees

Mcdonalds

Mcdonalds Who’s the Boss? McDonald’s is, Feds Determine 

Contrary to Company’s Repeated Claims, Move by NLRB Shows Fast-Food Giant is An Employer

Labor Board says McDonald’s plays critical role in employment decisions at its restaurants; Company can’t hide behind franchisees any longer

New York, NY—Despite McDonald’s repeated assertions that it does not control employment decisions at its franchised restaurants, the federal government Tuesday said that the $5.6 billion company is indeed an employer that exerts substantial power over its employees’ working conditions.

In a determination that carries widespread implications for the fast-food industry, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel found that McDonald’s wields such extensive influence over the business operations of its franchisees that individual franchise operators have little autonomy in setting or controlling workplace conditions. McDonald’s, for all intents and purposes, is the employer.

The general counsel’s office Tuesday informed regional directors of the NLRB in offices around the country that McDonald’s should be treated as an employer. There are dozens of charges alleging illegal conduct by the fast-food giant pending in at least 17 cities that could now be adjudicated using the government’s new directive.

“McDonald’s can try to hide behind its franchisees, but today’s determination by the NLRB shows there’s no two ways about it: The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple,” said Micah Wissinger, an attorney at Levy Ratner who brought the case on behalf of McDonald’s workers in New York City. “The reality is that McDonald’s requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there’s no doubt who’s really in charge.”

For nearly two years, McDonald’s and other fast-food workers across the country have been joining together and going on strike, calling for $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. But time and time again, the company and other industry players have tried to sidestep workers’ calls, inventing a make-believe world in which responsibility for wages and working conditions falls squarely on the shoulder of franchisees.

“Now that the government has recognized what us workers have always known— that McDonald’s is the boss—maybe the company will stop making excuses for why we’re treated so poorly and pay us a wage we can live on,” said Richard Eiker, who has worked for the same Kansas City McDonald’s franchisee for 18 years.

“As the federal governments determination shows, McDonald’s clearly uses its vast powers to control franchisees in just about every way possible,” said Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fast Food Forward. “It’s time the company put those same powers to work to do something about the fact that its workers are living in poverty.”

The government’s determination is the latest challenge to the fast-food industry’s low-wage business model, in which franchisors reap rewards of a profitable industry, while forcing franchisees to shoulder all the risk. In March, McDonald’s workers in three states filed class-action lawsuits against the company, alleging widespread wage theft. The New York Times wrote that the suits, “argue that both the corporate parent and the independently owned franchises where many of the plaintiffs work are jointly responsible for illegal pay practices carried out by the franchises…That strikes at the heart of the low-wage fast-food business model.”

The SCOTUS Rules On “Recess Appointments” To The NLRB

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Yesterday the news broke that the Supreme Court of the United States had issued a ruling on whether or not the President could make “recess appointments.” A recess appointment is when the Senate is officially in “recess,” and the President nominates someone to an official Executive Branch position, like the National Labor Relations Board.

“Today’s ruling clears up the legal landscape on a question both Democratic and Republican presidents have faced for decades – the circumstances under which the United States Constitution allows them to make temporary recess appointments to executive branch positions,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“President Obama made the recess appointments to the NLRB because obstructionism by Republican senators was about to make the National Labor Relations Board inoperable due to a lack of NLRB members,” continued Trumka. “The President did the right thing and acted on solid legal authority in making these appointments. Had he not acted, millions of workers would have been deprived of their rights under our labor laws.”

This ruling did clear up a few things:

1) The President can make a recess appointment if the recess is longer than ten (10) days.

2) They ruled that the parliamentary trick of holding “pro-forma” session – a session where nothing gets done but technically there is a session – would be enough to break to officially keep the Senate “in session”, and would reset the clock on the any recess timetables. The effectively means that if the Senate held a “pro-forma” session every nine days during long breaks, the President would not make any recess appointments.

3) They ruled that President Obama appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional. This means all the cases where these NLRB appointees issued a ruling (before they were fully confirmed by the Senate), are now invalid.

Trumka pointed to the filibuster rule change that is allowing appointments to move through better than they were before. “Fortunately Senate leaders successfully changed Senate rules so that Executive Branch nominees can now be confirmed by a majority of the Senate and cannot be blocked by a minority of senators.”

“While today we have a fully functioning National Labor Relations Board to act on behalf of workers, this ruling invalidates countless other NLRB rulings that must now be decided again,” stated Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “This not only puts an additional burden on the NLRB, it creates uncertainty and additional pain for those workers who believed they had found justice. We are confident the NLRB will act swiftly on these cases”

Weingarten was very critical of the real people who were inhibiting the appointments to the NLRB.

“Let’s be clear—this case was the result of Republicans’ relentless obstructionism and their efforts to interfere with President Obama’s ability to make our government work and ensure the NLRB functions on behalf of working people,” continued Weingarten. “While the Senate reached a temporary compromise on presidential appointments, this ruling could embolden a minority of senators to take action in the future to prevent the president from making the appointments needed to ensure our democracy can function fully on behalf of the American people.”

The Communication Workers of America have been working diligently over the past few years to bring awareness to the problems with the antiquated filibuster rule that is allowing the minority to block important pieces of legislation and major appointments. They used their massive network of members to start a national conversation to “Fix the Senate” and pushed to “Give Us Five” referring to a full five member NLRB.

CWA released the following statement

Today’s Supreme decision is a sharp reminder that the U.S. Senate functions under archaic procedures that must change. That’s especially true of the rule requiring a super-majority, or 60 votes, for the Senate to recess.

The Senate rules are at the heart of this decision and the Constitution is clear that the Senate has the right to set its own rules.

In every other democratic meeting, from the local city council to any major parliamentary body, proceedings are recessed by a majority vote. Only the U.S. Senate requires a super-majority to proceed to debate on most motions, legislation and including the motion to recess.

We have seen the consequences of this rule. It’s been a key tactic used by the Senate minority to block confirmation of the president’s executive and judicial nominations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made his party’s intentions clear when he said his goal was to make President Obama a one-term president. When that didn’t succeed, the Senate minority stepped up a campaign of delay and obstruction, of appointments and any progressive legislative advances. The minority’s strategy of refusing to proceed to a vote for any recess has made a mockery of the Senate’s role in government.

The Senate’s constitutional duty is to review the president’s nominees through “advice and consent” – not use parliamentary tricks to impede his policy agenda.

For thousands of workers, this decision has real-life consequences. Some 120 decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board in the period contested by the Noel Canning lawsuit may be challenged and justice for thousands of workers will be delayed, and in practice, denied.

The need for real Senate rules reform has never been clearer, or more urgent. CWA and our allies, working together in the Democracy Initiative, are keeping up the fight for Senate rules changes. Critical is an end to the super-majority vote requirement that blocks debate and discussion of nearly all Senate business, even the motion to recess.

We need a functioning government if we are to ever recover from this economic slump, and the bitter partisanship that is crippling Washington. It just may be time to go “nuclear” on the filibuster rule, so we can make some real progress.

UAW Withdraws Volkswagen Election Objections, Ending The NLRB Review

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NLRB 1CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The UAW announced today it is withdrawing objections filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding February’s vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, effectively terminating the NLRB review process.

UAW President Bob King said the decision was made in the best interests of Volkswagen employees, the automaker, and economic development in Chattanooga. King said the UAW based its decision on the belief that the NLRB’s historically dysfunctional and complex process potentially could drag on for months or even years. Additionally, the UAW cited refusals by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker to participate in a transparent legal discovery process, which undermines public trust and confidence.

“The unprecedented political interference by Gov. Haslam, Sen. Corker and others was a distraction for Volkswagen employees and a detour from achieving Tennessee’s economic priorities,” King said. “The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.”

UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union’s Southern region, echoed that the UAW’s focus is advocating for Volkswagen to create more jobs in Tennessee by adding a new SUV line at the Chattanooga plant. The Haslam administration in August offered nearly $300 million in incentives to bring the new SUV to Chattanooga, but attempted to make the investment contingent on whether the Chattanooga plant is organized. The Haslam administration’s contingency is contrary to Volkswagen’s successful business model, which is premised on worker representation.

“The UAW wants to help create quality jobs and build world-class products for American consumers,” Casteel said. “With this in mind, we urge Gov. Haslam to immediately extend the incentives that previously were offered to Volkswagen for this new SUV line, and do so unconditionally.”

King said the UAW has accomplished a major goal with its election objections. “The UAW’s objections informed the public about the unprecedented interference by anti-labor politicians and third parties who want to prevent workers from exercising their democratic right to choose union representation,” he said.

King also said that outdated federal laws governing the NLRB never contemplated the level of extreme intimidation and interference that occurred in Chattanooga. Even if the NLRB ordered a new election — the board’s only available remedy under current law — nothing would stop politicians and anti-union organizations from again interfering.

Looking ahead, the UAW believes the congressional inquiry into the Haslam administration’s incentives threat to Volkswagen provides the best opportunity for additional scrutiny. The UAW will ask Congress to examine the use of federal funds in the state’s incentives threat, in order to protect Tennessee jobs and workers in the future.

“Frankly, Congress is a more effective venue for publicly examining the now well-documented threat,” King said. “We commend Congressmen George Miller and John Tierney for their leadership on this matter, and look forward to seeing the results of their inquiry.”

United Automobile Workers (UAW) has more than 390,000 members and more than 750 local unions across America. Since its founding in 1935, the UAW has developed partnerships with employers and supported industry-leading wages and benefits for its members. (FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Michele Martin, mmartin@uaw.net, (313) 926-5291 or    (313) 510-4269, or visit www.uaw.org/uawvw)

Following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America on the UAW withdrawing objections to the Volkswagen Election:

Washington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) stands with the United Auto Workers (UAW) as that union drops its objections to the NLRB representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Now the focus will shift to the congressional investigation into the third party anti-union campaign by elected officials, Grover Norquist and other outside groups.  Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and John Tierney (D-MA), the ranking Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions subcommittee, are investigating the interference and the shortcomings of our outdated federal labor laws.

In our increasingly globalized world, large foreign multinational corporations are investing in facilities in the U.S.   Some, like Volkswagen, have been greeted by hostile outside campaigns to undermine workers’ right to collective bargaining, usually with cooperation by US management.  In many cases US management embraces anti-union tactics they shun at home, where unions often have recognition and respect. This case was unique in that VW management in Germany and at least officially in the US adopted extensive neutrality provisions which only inflamed outside agitators like Norquist even more.  In a similar case, CWA and the large German services union ver.di have been supporting T-Mobile employees’ struggle to organize for more than 10 years.  Unfortunately the principal owner Deutsche Telekom and US management are anything but neutral.

For all of us the issue remains: What are the rights of employees in a global economy?  Will the U.S. continue to operate at the low end on workers’ rights, accepting the fantasy land of Tennessee elected officials like Governor Haslam and U.S. Senator Corker that markets alone provide a fair outcome?  Or will we build a movement and a consensus that Corker, Haslam and Norquist are way out of bounds and that if we don’t stop them, there will continue to be growing inequality and a falling living standard for most of us in the U.S.?

 

NLRB Charges Kellogg With Serious Violations Of Federal Law

KelloggsFactSheet_WebHead-550x204

KelloggsFactSheet_WebHead-550x204

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.

United Auto Worker Say: NLRB Wrong To Allow Right-Wing Groups To Intervene In VW Vote

UAW and VW

UAW and VWDETROIT –The UAW released the following statement in reaction to the NLRB ruling to let outside-funded groups participate in the hearing regarding the interference of state and federal politicians in the UAW election at Volkswagen in Chattanooga:

“It is an outrage that the Atlanta Region of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), deviating from the board’s own practice, is allowing groups with shadowy funding that are masquerading as legitimate worker representatives to participate in the process to determine whether the UAW election at Volkswagen was tainted by state and federal politicians’ threats of retaliation against workers if they exercised their right to choose UAW representation.

“Politicians subjected Volkswagen workers to a two-week barrage of anti-UAW propaganda, outright lies, distortions, and threats about the viability of their plant.  It is an outrage that their allies, who refused to reveal their funding sources and who openly republished the illicit threats in the media and among the Volkswagen workforce, will now be allowed to participate in the NLRB hearing.  They have mocked the NLRB process and have denigrated workers who are demanding that the federal government enforce their right to have an election free from outside interference.

“One of these groups, ‘Southern Momentum’ – an ally of outside groups like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation – claims to be an organic group of Volkswagen workers who came together of their own accord to participate in the election campaign.  Instead, Southern Momentum, registered at a management law firm, disclosed after the election that in two weeks, it raised “funding in the low six figures” from “businesses and individuals” rather than Volkswagen workers, according to Reuters news service.

“With this secret business funding, this “grassroots” organization also hired one of the nation’s largest anti-union firms, Projections, to create propaganda for their anti-union campaign.  Southern Momentum neglected to publicly disclose these facts during the election campaign.”

Of Southern Momentum, the UAW reiterated, “Its money speaks louder than its words, but it does not speak for Volkswagen Chattanooga workers.”

The UAW plans to appeal the NLRB Region 10 ruling to full NLRB.

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

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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?

 

 

The Courts could destroy even MORE of our rights while we wait for Congress to fix Taft-Hartly

1947 CIO rally at Madison Square Garden
1947 CIO rally at Madison Square Garden

1947 Rally at Madison Square Garden

As I promised in yesterday’s post, here are a few examples of how things are getting worse, the longer we wait for Congress to fix (or repeal) the Taft-Hartley Act.

More states have passed so-called “Right to Work” laws. Nevermind what they’re called, RTW laws restrict employers’ rights: they prohibit employers from voluntarily agreeing to “agency fee” clauses in their union contracts. Last year, Indiana and Michigan joined the list of states that restrict employers’ rights; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is clearly still trying to spread their “model legislation” nationwide.

The Supreme Court will soon decide two cases that could further limit employers’ rights in their dealings with employee unions. Read the New York Times article here.

  • The first case will decide whether employers have the right to agree to remain neutral during a union organizing drive. (Shouldn’t employers be able to allow their employees to make their own decisions about union representation? In many worksites, unions and employers work cooperatively because they share the same goals. Why should federal law require the employer-union relationship to be adversarial, rather than cooperative?)
  • The second case attempts to impose “Right to Work” on the whole country through a court decision — rather than leaving it up to each state to decide for itself whether to limit employers’ rights.  (What happened to that old Tenth Amendment/states’ rights principle?)
  • The second case also challenges whether a state government has the right to allow union representation of home-care workers who are paid by Medicaid.  (Again: are we about to see the federal court system restrict a state government’s exercise of reserved powers?)

Taft-HartleyAnd then there’s Boeing. Just my personal opinion, but… it sure seems to me like Boeing is setting up another chance to litigate all those legal theories it came up with in 2011, back before the Machinists asked the NLRB to drop its complaint about Dreamliner production. The basic question at issue: whether a company has the right to relocate jobs in retaliation for (legally protected) union activity. That 2011 complaint was part of “a very long line of cases that the NLRB has been pressing since the 1940s, when employers began moving work from unionized workplaces in the industrial Northeast to non-unionized workplaces in the Southeast and later the Southwest.” Just think what the impact on unions could be, if Boeing persuades the courts to agree with its legal theories. (Read more NHLN coverage of Boeing here.)

Why am I so concerned about these Court cases (and potential court cases) ?  Well… because the Supreme Court is now headed up by Bush appointee John Roberts.  Back in 2005, he was described as one of the “three possible nominees that big business would cheer” — in part because they thought Roberts might “influence the court to decide more cases deemed critical to business.”  Quoting one observer of that nomination process: “Roberts has spent his career as a mind-for-hire on behalf of the rightwing Republican agenda.”  Quoting another: “if Roberts feels free to overturn precedent… Of particular concern is a return to the Lochner era, a time when free-market capitalists read their ideology into the Constitution by striking down statutes aimed at protecting workers’ health and safety.”

I guess we’re about to find out whether those observers were as accurate in their predictions as President Harry Truman was, in his.

(If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, to read Truman’s prognostications from 1947, click here.)

————

Sen. Edward M.KennedyAnd, in a sad epitaph for Sen. Ted Kennedy… as far as I can tell, no-one has re-filed the Employee Free Choice Act since he died.

(Read yesterday’s post to learn more about the economic and social problems caused by Taft-Hartley, and one possible reason why Sen. Kennedy filed EFCA to fix them.)

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