Republicans In The U.S. House Push A New Union-Busting Bill As A Campaign Prop

Buckle up brother and sisters.  Republicans in the U.S. House are trying to pass legislation to steal away your right to due process. By eliminating due process, workers lose their collectively bargained protections against wrongful termination.

Rep. Todd Rokita

Rep. Todd Rokita

This week The Hill reported:

“Rep. Todd Rokita, R- Ind., introduced the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency Act to turn all federal employees into at-will workers shortly before the House recessed so members could campaign in their home districts.”

That’s right. He wants to turn all federal workers into at-will employees giving them the right to fire workers “at will.”

“The at-will portion of the measure would only apply to new employees hired one year after its enactment, and allow agency heads to fire workers ‘without notice or right to appeal.’”

This would eviscerate federal workers current, collectively bargained, due process procedures that require evidence and third-party review, prior to termination.  Due process is just a form of checks and balance to ensure that workers are not being arbitrarily fired because the manager has an axe to grind.  It requires that management show documentation of poor performance or of unacceptable behavior.

The bill would also completely eliminate “official time” that allows both sides to work collaboratively to resolve issues.

“By passing a law to cut official time for government workers, Congress would eliminate the ability of federal employees to represent all of their coworkers (those who pay dues and those who don’t) while in an official duty status,” said AFGE in opposition to previous attacks on official time. 

“Official time gives workers the ability to resolve disputes efficiently so employees can get back to work. It protects whistleblowers from retaliation, and helps implement new technology and other innovations to solve workplace problems.”

divided-we-begThis is exactly what Republicans want.  They want to bust federal unions who have been organizing and growing over the last few years. If they can bust unions at the federal level, it will only be a matter of time before identical legislation is passed in our State House’s taking away the rights of all public employees.

Republicans will use this bill in their campaign speeches and rallies, while raking in donations from their anti-union, corporate campaign funders.

Remember it was President Reagan’s mass firing of 13,000 air traffic controllers that empowered the private industry to oppose unions and fire workers, instead of resolving contract disputes.

We do not need another federal lead assault on working people that will end with the destruction of all unions, public and private.



Trump and Pence’s Union Busting Is Nailed Into The GOP Presidential Platform

AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump brags that he has “tremendous support within unions.”

He claims “the workers of this country are going to vote for me, [because] I’m going to create jobs.”

Jobs? Trump, the narcissistic, neo-Know Nothing GOP presidential nominee, has yet to reveal anything remotely resembling a comprehensive jobs plan. Meanwhile, he’s paying workers in China and other low-wage countries to make his line of duds and other products.

Unions? Trump says he prefers “right to work” states to non-RTW states like Kentucky, where I live and pack a union card. He chose a running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who is gung-ho for RTW. (So are tea party Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.)

Trump is cool with U.S. companies exiting one state for another. In other words, he’s down with bosses busting unions in non-RTW states and moving to RTW states.

At the same time, Trump has battled to keep his Las Vegas hotel workers from organizing a union.

Meanwhile, Trump and Pence are running on a GOP national platform that promises, “We will restore the rule of law to labor law by blocking ‘card check,’ enacting the Secret Ballot Protection Act, enforcing the Hobbs Act against labor violence, and passing the Raise Act to allow all workers to receive well-earned raises without the approval of their union representative. We demand an end to the Project Labor Agreements; and we call for repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, which costs the taxpayers billions of dollars annually in artificially high wages on government projects. We support the right of States to enact Right-to-Work laws and encourage them to do so to promote greater economic liberty. Ultimately, we support the enactment of a National Right-to-Work law to promote worker freedom and to promote greater economic liberty. We will aggressively enforce the recent decision by the Supreme Court barring the use of union dues for political purposes without the consent of the worker.”

There’s more from the platform that Trump’s people helped nail together: “We salute the Republican Governors and State legislators who have saved their States from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions. We urge elected officials across the country to follow their lead in order to avoid State and local defaults on their obligations and the collapse of services to the public. To safeguard the free choice of public employees, no government at any level should act as the dues collector for unions. A Republican President will protect the rights of conscience of public employees by proposing legislation to bar mandatory dues for political purposes.”

“Many a truth has been spoken in jest,” is an old expression.

“A union member voting Republican would be like a rabbit voting for hunting season to open,” former Kentucky labor secretary and Machinists union official J.R. Gray joshed when he was chair of the House Labor and Industry Committee and one of labor’s best friends ever in the state legislature.

It’s still true with the union-despising Trump-Pence and Bevin-Hampton teams.

Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump: The GOP Grifters

AFT Local 1360

Four sentences from Hillary Clinton’s Columbus, Ohio, speech should be tacked on bulletin boards in every union hall:

“Trump ties are made in China. Trump furniture in Turkey. Trump picture frames in Indiana. Trump barware in Slovenia and I could go on and on, but you get the idea.”

Donald Trump Fool AidIndeed most union members do, including this retiree who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Kentucky primary. We’re backing Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee who the AFL-CIO recently endorsed.

But it’s crucial that she keep hammering home the fact that Donald Trump is as phony as his orange-is-the-new blonde hair hue. That’s especially so on issues vital to those of us who pack union cards.

Oh, Trump the big-time outsourcer never misses a chance to trash U.S. companies that ship jobs and production to cheap labor countries—often after busting stateside unions.

It’s funny, though. The all but certain GOP nominee hasn’t denied what Clinton said about him. Nor did the self-appointed media “fact checkers” cry foul at her remarks.

Anyway, with Trump “it’s déjà vu all over again,” to quote the late Yankee great Yogi Berra. Trump is running a scam on working stiffs that reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s almost identical con job.

The Gipper, the most anti-union president since Herbert Hoover, claimed to champion blue collar America. The Donald does, too.

Sad to say, Reagan’s sucker play worked on more than a few union members. They helped elect the guy.

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost!” pre-President Reagan said. Only months after he took office, he smashed the Professional Air Traffic Controllers, one of the few unions that endorsed him.

When PATCO members went on strike for better pay and working conditions, Reagan fired them. Their union was decertified and strikers were prohibited from ever working for Uncle Sam again. (President Bill Clinton lifted the ban.)

By crushing PATCO, Reagan flashed “an unambiguous signal that employers need feel little or no obligation to their workers, and employers got that message loud and clear – illegally firing workers who sought to unionize, replacing permanent employees who could collect benefits with temps who could not, shipping factories and jobs abroad,” the Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson wrote.

(Before he decided to run for president, Trump was on board with outsourcing.)

Reagan’s bare-knucks union-busting shouldn’t have surprised PATCO. The AFL-CIO repeatedly warned that his sometimes pro-union rhetoric was a far cry from his anti-union positions. Reagan touted “right to work” laws when he ran for president.

The AFL-CIO endorsed President Jimmy Carter’s reelection. So did nearly every union.

“A union member voting for Ronald Reagan is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders,” said a sign in a Paducah union hall 26 years ago.

I don’t know if anybody saved the sign. But if somebody did, it ought to go back up with “Ronald Reagan” painted out and “Donald Trump” painted on.

Like Reagan’s in 1980, Trump’s record is out there, plain for all to see.

Trump says he prefers “right to work” states to non-RTW states.

Trump is fine with U.S. companies pulling up stakes in one state and relocating in another. Translation: Trump is cool with companies busting unions in non-RTW states and moving to RTW states.

Trump is fighting tooth-and-nail to keep his Las Vegas hotel workers from organizing a union.

“Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.,” is the tagline The Huffington Post puts on its stories about the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

I’ve packed a union card for more than 20 years. Trump mocks the fundamental principle of trade unionism: In a union, everybody is a brother or sister, regardless of race, creed, religion, ethnicity, sexuality or anything else.

In a 1967 speech, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, one of labor’s best friends ever in Washington, told a story that captured the essence of our movement:

“…Trade unionism is about human dignity, just as much as it is about wages, hours and working conditions. I remember vividly what ·an old Polish-American worker told a good friend of mine here:

“‘You know what the union really means to me. Twenty years ago, when I first came to this shop, everybody called me ‘dumb Polack.’ Now they call me ‘Brother.'”

Grifters Reagan and Trump also put me in mind of the old expression, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Reagan was once. Trump would be twice.

Union Busting: Legal Team Creates Unions To Raid Memberships, Benefiting Employers

A union busting legal firm, Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen, is working to undercut workers through divisive tactics and raiding the membership of United Association of Flight Attendants members.

union-busterUnion busting is nothing new. For over a hundred years employers have fought against unionizing efforts and worked to break unions after they win an election.

They use fear and intimidation to push people against forming a union. After a union is elected they hold up negotiations, even sending out false information to workers, in an effort to splinter union support.

Like I said, this is nothing new. We have seen these tactics in action for decades. Now we are seeing a new type of union busting, where the employer encourages workers to form a new union to replace the current union. Yes, you read that right, the employer works with a “union” to raid the membership of an existing union to gain enough support to have the existing union de-certified, thereby loosing all of the gains made from previous contracts.

This tactic is very sneaky and very hard to pull off, but it has worked in the past for one specific law firm, Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen (SSM&P). The conditions have to be just right to make this work. There must be a certain level of discontent within the exiting union and this usually happens as contract negotiations fail.   The “company union” then organizes the discontent workers into forming a new union to replace the exiting union.

A Long History of Pro-Company Union Organizing

Over the last forty years members of the law firm of SSM&P have been forming these new unions, mostly during times of chaos like massive mergers or labor strife.

EL AL Israel Airlines - Boeing 767-3Y0(ER) - Tel Aviv Ben Gurion - 4X-EAP

EL AL Israel Airlines – Boeing 767-3Y0(ER) – Tel Aviv Ben Gurion – 4X-EAP

In 1983, Martin Seham, working for El Al Airlines, attempted to break the International Association of Machinists union that was in long and bitter contract negotiation that ultimately resulted in a 28-month strike.

“During the strike, some of the clerical workers decertified IAM in favor of an independent union. Management imposed severely concessionary terms and recruited scabs as replacement workers,” wrote Captain DD, who has done extensive research on SSM&P when his union, the Airline Pilots Association, came under attack from a new SSM&P union. “Labor law firms advising management typically play very significant roles in developing these anti-union strategies. It is an undeniable fact that it occurred on SSM&P’s watch, and it occurred after that firm played a leading role in helping management to divide the rank-and-file and then crush its workers and the lAM at EI AI.”

In the early 1990s, Seham worked for Varig Airlines, a Brazilian air carrier, to once again undercut the Machinists union.

“This negotiation resulted in another strike. During these negotiations, management-with Seham as its advisor- insisted on removing all restrictions on its right to subcontract work and to remove the union security clause,” explained Captain DD. “The IAM understood that the notice was specifically designed to intimidate and coerce union members to resign their membership with the organization.”

In the decades that followed, SSM&P has been connected with new start up unions at Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Air, Delta, and other carriers that were already represented by unions.

SSM&P say they are fighting for workers and trying to form a new union. What they are really doing is pitting worker against worker to completely break the existing union, leaving all of the workers without any protections and without a voice.

The Northwest Suicide Strike

Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen are most well known for forming the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Organization (AMFA), who some have called the worst union in the country, specifically for their raids on other unions and complete lack of leadership.

While AMFA was attempting to organize mechanics at Northwest Airlines, who were already represented by the International Association of Machinists, “Northwest assisted AMFA by allowing [AMFA] access to company property and equipment and that AMFA supporters were allowed to campaign while on company time.”

Northwest most likely assisted AMFA because they knew that a new union would be easier to negotiate with than the IAM and would eliminate all of the previously negotiated agreements.

The AMFA did ultimately win the right to represent the 10,000 mechanics at Northwest Airlines and in turn de-certified the IAM.

Striking union mechanics Don Diedrich, left, and Bert Atienza are on picket duty outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, just after the vote result was announced. Both voted "no." (MPR Photo/Jeff Horwich)

Striking union mechanics Don Diedrich, left, and Bert Atienza are on picket duty outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, just after the vote result was announced. Both voted “no.” (MPR Photo/Jeff Horwich)

In AMFA’s negotiations with Northwest, AMFA gave Northwest the ability to sub-contract work outside of the union. This resulted in nearly 8,000 good jobs being lost to outside contractors over the years that followed.

After 9/11, Northwest’s losses were piling up and they went to AMFA demanding concessions. AMFA refused to accept the concessions without holding a vote from the membership on Northwest’s “last best offer”. Then AMFA’s leadership took members out on strike, without holding a strike authorization vote, in what became known as the “suicide strike”.

Thousand of workers walked out in the strike. AMFA worked out a deal with Northwest for a “No Retribution, Retaliation or Harassment Due to Participation or Non-Participation in the Strike or Permanent Replacement Status.” In laymen’s terms, this let the scabs that crossed the strike line, keep their jobs and the rest of the unionized workers were laid off.

What union would ever agree to let scab workers keep their jobs while union members are being tossed aside? Any real, pro-worker union, not a company front group, would never have accepted these terms to allow scab workers to keep union member jobs.

Thanks to AMFA’s leadership the 10,000 mechanics at Northwest, were replaced by 500 scab workers.

After Northwest and Delta merged, “AMFA extinguished their certification with no fight at all.” This appears that they were never really in it for the workers.

Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen Strike Again With Another “New Union”

SSM&P are the legal team behind the United Flight Attendants Association, a new union trying to win representation rights from the Association of Flight Attendants (CWA-AFA), who currently represent United Airlines Flight Attendants.

AFA is currently deep in negotiations with United as their current contract is expiring and possible strikes are on the horizon. This situation is nearly identical to all of the other “new unions” formed by SSM&P to fracture the membership.

The newly formed UFAA is trying to get current AFA members to give up their membership and join with UFAA. If they gain enough support AFA would be ousted leaving SSM&P to negotiate on behalf of the workers. What could go wrong with that?

Sito Pantoja, General Vice President of the International Association of Machinists addressed this attempt to raid AFA’s membership without calling out UFAA by name. In an email to AFA members Pantoja clearly stated that IAM stands with CWA-AFA against this fake union.

International_Association_Of_Machinists_and_Aerospace_Workers_logo1“That is why I was extremely dismayed to hear that a few misguided individuals are trying to fracture your union. If they succeed, it will dismantle our successful partnership and all Flight Attendants will lose.”

“Your solidarity and bargaining strength is being undermined by an attempt to lure you away from AFA with promises from a union that does not even exist. This upstart has no finances, no structure, no resources and no experience. A website and a constitution written by a union-busting lawyer does not make a union.”

“The IAM has faced similar challenges from the same people directing this group, and each time airline workers lost…”

“…These divisive efforts surface only during contract negotiations, which cripples the Union bargaining committee and only benefits the company. When unionized workers sign an election authorization card to change unions they play right into the company’s divide and conquer strategy, making it much harder for your negotiators to attain the contract you have earned.”

“The Machinists Union strongly supports the AFA and looks forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership. I urge you to do the same and soundly reject any request to sign a card for this splinter group. Each card that is signed weakens your solidarity and position at the bargaining table.”

Do not be fooled by these union busting lawyers who are looking to steal your voice. They want you to sign a union authorization card, a legally binding document, to de-certify the AFA.

I do not have any proof that SSM&P are working for, or in collusion with, United Airlines but the parallels of their previous union busting actions are uncanny.

United flight attendants should beware that these union busting lawyers are behind this coup and their goal is to destroy the strength you have gained through years of negotiations, contracts and solidarity.

New Department Of Labor Rule Will Expose Union Busting Industry

The Persuader Rule Will Close Loopholes and Increase Transparency

 (Washington, DC) – Today, the Department of Labor released the final persuader rule, which closes a current loophole that allows corporations and management consultants to avoid reporting certain anti-union activities.

 “This long-awaited rule will increase transparency about employers’ activities when they hire outside third parties to do their union busting,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It takes great courage for working people to come together to form a union. Working men and women deserve to know who their employer is hiring and exactly how much they are spending to discourage workers from forming a union.”

 The new persuader rule will give working people more information on whether their employer is hiring third party consultants and lawyers to write anti-union speeches, prepare anti-union videos, and write anti-union fliers meant to dissuade employees from forming a union.  These tactics are all too common in the multi-million-dollar union-busting industry.

 Mike Lo Vuolo, a former American Airlines passenger agent, and his co-workers tried three times to form a union at American Airlines with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), under the company’s previous management.  In 2012, despite having filed for bankruptcy, American Airlines spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the law firm Sheppard Mullins. Mike recalls glossy fliers, video cassettes and DVDs used to discourage and scare employees during organizing drives.

 “This rule is long overdue,” said Mike Lo Vuolo. “Corporations and consultants should be required to report how much money they spend fighting workers.”

 While unions are required to file lengthy annual LM-2 financial disclosure reports that detail all receipts and expenditures, the LM-20 form that management consultants will be required to file is two pages, much of which simply requires checking boxes.

 Joe Earleywine, an Organizing Director with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), oversaw an organizing campaign of registered nurses, technical employees and other nonprofessional employees at Harrison Health Partners in Washington State. The parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives, hired Sebris, Busto and James to do its union busting. The day after collecting a majority of union authorization cards and asking the company for voluntary recognition, employees were forced to watch union-busting videos, as the employer tried to scare workers about strikes, dues and initiation fees.

 “Using union-busting law firms to intimidate workers is one more tool in the toolbox that the global elite uses to keep workers from exercising their rights to improve their working conditions by joining a union,” added Joe Earleywine.

Union-Busters Cry “State Sovereignty” As Judge Overturns Right To Work Ordinance

Anti-union group raises ‘state sovereignty’ cry over judge’s ruling against county ‘right to work’ ordinances in Kentucky   

AFT Local 1360

Right to work is wrong for KentuckyPredictably, the union-busters are in high dudgeon over Federal District Judge David Hale’s ruling that, in effect, invalidated a dozen county “right to work” ordinances in Kentucky.

One of those conservative, anti-union groups griped that the ruling “not only pushes aside the will of the people as expressed through their Legislature, it completely negates the intention of this nation’s founders in establishing a Constitution that empowers sovereign states and their citizens.”

“Will of the people expressed through their Legislature?”— In 2014, a slew of Republicans running for the state House of Representatives made RTW a central issue in their campaigns. They promised to vote in a RTW law if they flipped the Democratic-majority House. (The Senate is Republican).

I can’t think of a better example of “the will of the people” than an election.

Well, the Democrats went into the 2014 election with a 54-46 House majority. After the votes were counted, the House was still 54-46 Democratic.

“A Constitution that empowers sovereign states and their citizens?” – The U.S. constitution does indeed grant states important powers. But the United States is a federal republic. The constitution has a supremacy clause (Article VI, Clause 2) that says: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

In other words, federal law trumps state or local law. Ultimate sovereignty lies with the central government, an issue the Civil War settled.

I wouldn’t for a minute accuse this anti-union group of being pro-slavery or pro-segregation. But before the Civil War, white supremacist Southern politicians, editors and other leaders said slavery was legal in their states under a national constitution that empowered “sovereign states” and their citizens, meaning white folks. 

Likewise, Southern white supremacist supporters of Jim Crow laws—which denied the vote to African Americans and created a system of racial apartheid throughout the old Confederacy—trotted out the “sovereign states” line.

Is Hearst’s Anti-Union History Repeating At WMUR?

What’s the Agenda Behind the News and Entertainment You Watch?

IMG_2193Hearst Corporation is one of the largest media corporations in the world. It has ownership interests in 360 different businesses, including cable networks A&E and ESPN; 30 television stations that reach one in five American households; dozens of magazines; and even digital outlets such as BuzzFeed (which reaches 190 million unique visitors around the world each month). Hearst Television is “the largest ABC affiliate group” and “the second-largest NBC affiliate owner” – and it even owns two CBS-affiliated stations. When you stop and look, Hearst seems to be pretty much everywhere.

Hearst also has one of the longest histories of opposing labor unions, starting with the Newsboys Strike of 1899. In 1944, Hearst Publications went all the way to the Supreme Court trying to keep its employees from forming a union.

And it looks like Hearst is still fighting unionization today. A group of 20 WMUR employees voted to form a union last April – and it’s now December, and Hearst management still doesn’t want to negotiate with the union about workers’ retirement benefits.

Even after receiving letters from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Even after being contacted by Martin O’Malley’s campaign. Even after the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party removed WMUR as a sponsor of the December 19th presidential candidates’ debate, citing “WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228.”

Workers have a right to join together in a union.  Employers have the legal obligation to bargain – in good faith – with their employees’ union.

WMUR’s employees have decided to exercise their right to form a union. But it looks like WMUR management – following Hearst’s long history of fighting unions – is now refusing to allow those newly-unionized workers to keep their retirement plan.

Do you wonder if the anti-union agenda might be finding its way into the news and entertainment you watch?

Last year, Hearst Corporation “achieved record revenue and profit for the fourth straight year” – logging $10.3 billion in sales with profits benefitting the Hearst Family Trust. CEO Steven Swartz even sent out a “Thank you” letter celebrating employees’ “hard work and creativity.”

But that fourth-year-in-a-row CEO “Thank you!” is probably sounding pretty hollow to those 20 WMUR employees faced with losing their retirement plan.

Please sign this petition to tell CEO Swartz and the Hearst Family Trust to end their campaign against unions, and to negotiate fairly with the employees who helped the corporation make record-breaking profits.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, The Case To Push Right To Work Nationally

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Another day, another attack on working families.

The Supreme Court is about to hear a case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association that could overturn a nearly forty-year decision that allows unions to negotiate “fair-share” fees for non-union members who benefit from the union’s contract.

“We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America—that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life,” wrote NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, AFT President Randi Weingarten, CTA President Eric C. Heins, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in joint statement.

For decades corporations have been trying to bust our unions in an effort to suppress workers and pocket more of the fruits of our labor. Twenty-five states have already passed, so-called Right To Work laws, that make it illegal for unions and employers to negotiate a fair share clause’s in their contracts.

Nearly forty years ago the right for unions to charge a fair share fee was challenged in the Supreme Court. In the case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the court upheld the union’s right to negotiate a fee from non-members who benefit from the contract.

For generations unions have protected workers and help to counterbalance the corporate race to the bottom. In free-bargaining states, workers on average, make $1553 dollars more annually.

“It’s abundantly clear that right to work laws are negatively correlated with workers’ wages,” said Elise Gould, Senior Economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

This case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is just another example of the extreme right wing pushing their anti-worker agenda on all workers. The case has been pushed by the Center for Individual Rights with strong support from wealthy businessmen and ultra-libertarians Charles and David Koch.

“The list of foundations and donor-advised funds supporting the Center for Individual Rights reads like a who’s who of the right’s organized opposition to labor,” wrote Adele M. Stan in the American Prospect.

The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) is also known for taking cases to the Supreme Court to overturn rulings on Immigration, Affirmative Action, and the Voting Rights Act. CIR quickly gained support from anti-worker groups including “the Cato Institute, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, and the Mackinac Center, a major force behind the 2012 anti-union legislation enacted in Michigan,” who filed amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiff, Friedrichs.

The AFL-CIO and AFSCME also filed amicus briefs opposing this corporate funded attack on workers rights. Along with the AFL-CIO and AFSCME more than 70, civil and human rights groups, including the NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Women’s Law Center, and GLAD, filed their own amicus brief opposing this attack on workers.

“For nearly 40 years, unions have bargained to further opportunity for women, people of color, and LGBT workers,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “At a time of increasing inequality, and when the odds are increasingly in favor of the wealthy and against the American worker, we urge the Court to adhere to its own precedent and reaffirm Abood so that unions representing all public sector workers, both members and non-members, may continue to effectively bargain for vital workplace benefits and protections.”

When workers stand together, we win. These attacks on our rights and freedoms have not gone unnoticed and will not stop us from continuing to organize to make the lives of working people better.

California Judge Issues A Restraining Order Against Union Busting Tactics In Charter School

Judge Orders Temporary Restraining Order to Protect Teachers at LA’s Largest Charter School Chain from Harassment and Intimidation 

Alliance College-Ready Public Schools must immediately stop coercive tactics, along with surveilling teachers, blocking emails, and denying access to teacher union organizers 

LOS ANGELES – Late Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant signed a temporary restraining order (TRO) forbidding managers at LA’s largest charter school chain, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, from continuing harassment of the 27-school chain’s 700 teachers.

“It’s very rare for the courts to find it necessary to issue a TRO to protect teachers from abusive behavior by charter school managers,” said United Teachers of Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “Alliance employs hard-working, dedicated educators who only want to improve their schools and advocate for their students. Instead of respecting their rights and treating them as professionals and valued employees, they’ve faced an onslaught of unfair and illegal actions. This behavior would be wrong in any workplace but is totally unacceptable in a publicly funded school setting.” 

Last week, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) had asked the court for a TRO and also had filed for “injunctive relief” to stop illegal anti-teacher coercive activity by the charter school chain’s board and managers. PERB made the decision to take Alliance to court and seek an injunction after more than six months of an unlawful anti-union campaign by the Alliance against its own teachers and numerous unfair practice complaints.  A decision on injunctive relief will not be determined until after the parties meet in court on November 17. In the meantime, through the TRO, the court has ordered Alliance to immediately:

  • Stop coercing teachers; 
  • Stop polling teachers on their support for or against the unionization effort; 
  • Allow union organizers access to teachers at the worksite — after school; 
  • Forbid managers from coming within 100 feet of a conversation between union representatives and teachers; 
  • Not block union generated emails to teachers sent via the employer’s email system. 

Alliance has a very high teacher turnover rate, with 25 percent of the chain’s teachers quitting every year. Some schools lose 40 percent of their faculty members annually.  Motivated by a desire to improve student learning conditions and educators’ working conditions, Alliance teachers began exploring unionization last year so that they could address professional issues with the charter chain’s board and executives and better advocate for their students.

In May 2015, roughly a quarter of Alliance’s teachers (146 out of the then 600 teachers) publicly signed their names to a petition and called on the charter school chain’s management to remain neutral as teachers considered forming a union. Earlier, last spring, 70 teachers had announced their intention to form a union with UTLA.  Since that time, according to legal documents, Alliance and its managers have engaged in an unrelenting and illegal anti-union campaign. Among other actions, Alliance management:

  • Sent principals, assistant principals, and other administrators to illegally surveil teachers during discussions with union organizers;
  • Directed Alliance employees not to sign union authorization cards;
  • Interrogated employees about their views on union organizing, and pressured employees to take a position against the union;
  • Interfered with the right of Alliance workers to communicate with one another about workplace issues during non-work times in non-work area;
  • Refused to meet with Alliance employees and union representatives despite state labor law requirements.

The Alliance board of directors, composed primarily of business leaders such as Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler, investment banker Frank Baxter and former Northrop Grumman Chairman and CEO Ron Sugar, has brought some of the worst private-sector anti-union tactics to these publicly funded charter schools. Alliance’s CEO and President is Dan Katzir, who previously served as the Managing Director for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, became Alliance’s top manager earlier this year.

As Scott Walker’s Poll Numbers Freefall, He Unveils His “New” Plan, Attack Workers

(Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

(Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Governor Scott Walker is desperately grasping to hang onto the spotlight as his Presidential campaign begins to go down in flames.

Today Walker is set to announce his new plan to attack federal workers and their unions in an effort to gain support from Republicans.

Scott Walker has based his entire Presidential campaign on “taking on unions in Wisconsin” and how he can do the same in Washington.  Attacking unions seems to be the only left for Walker to talk about as Wisconsin’s economy falls flat, as his failed job creation center collapses under controversy of corruption, and critics attack him for failing to properly fund the state’s education system.

The Hill reports:

“During a speech in Illinois Thursday, Walker said he would take on federal employee labor groups on his first day in office. His proposal would require the unions to disclose exactly what percentage of union dues are spent on political activity, and ban the automatic deduction from feds’ paychecks in a corresponding amount.

Walker said his plan was part of an effort to “wreak havoc on Washington” by transferring “power from the big government union bosses to the hardworking taxpayer,” according to the Associated Press.”

…his plan, which he is scheduled to unveil in full on Monday, would stop federal employees’ money from going to politicians or political activities they do not support. Unions can use mandatory dues to pay for certain political organizing.

The Hill also spoke with David J. Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees, clarified the union’s position on campaign donations and dues deductions.

“…union dues automatically withdrawn from federal paychecks do not go to supporting federal candidates. Those contributions instead come from optional donations from union members to the group.”

Just to be clear, it is already against the law for a union to use dues money for campaign contributions.  The law is as clear as night and day on dues and campaign contributions.

“…Union dues are used for negotiating with management on better working conditions, protecting employees from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, and educating lawmakers and congressional staff from both sides of the aisle on issues of vital importance to employees.”

Trying to repeal automatic dues deductions is union busting 101.

Walker is trying to break the unions by ripping out their funding stream, making it harder to collect dues money from members.  This tactic has been pushed by Republicans in dozens of state legislatures across the country in an attempt to break, state and public, employee unions.

Of course Walker’s plan has support of a few Republicans in Congress who have been using federal employees as their own personal piggy bank to balance their budgets.  Forcing pay freezes, increases in retirement contributions and pushing for a 10% cut in the overall workforce.

Of course Walker and Congress would have legal issues if something like, removing automatic dues deductions, were somehow get this passed.

“The feasibility of such a maneuver would likely prove difficult, as unions’ dues collection procedures are codified in statute and collective bargaining agreements.”

Here is a little tip for Governor Walker.

It is the hard working men and women, in cities and towns across the country, that keep the government running. They are the ones who are doing the work. They are the ones who are helping people when they have problems with their VA benefits or collecting their Social Security.  They are the ones who ensure our safety as we the people fly all across the world.  They are the ones who deliver our mail, inspect our food, and protect our environment.   It is federal workers who get the job done.

If Walker’s falling poll numbers indicate anything, it is that attacking workers is not a good campaign strategy.

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 188 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement