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The Supreme Court Takes Another Swing At Organized Labor

Photo by DBKING

By Matt Murray

There has been a lot of buzz circling the internet about the new Supreme Court ruling against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  The case is very complex and the ruling seem to fall right in line with the Citizens United ruling.  Before we get in too deep, let me say this up front. This Supreme Court decision does not mean that agency fees are unconstitutional.  No matter what the Fox news stations are saying, this decision does not change the negotiated right of the union to charge a fee for the service they provide to non-members.

This is why the case seems to fall more in line with the Citizens United ruling.  The case was more about what money the union could spend as part of the political process.  This is just another attack on unions.  “It should be noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the right of corporations to put millions of dollars into the political system,” said Jim Herron Zamora, spokesperson for SEIU Local 1000. “Yet shareholders currently have no right to object to the spending of that money against their political or ideological beliefs.”.

The AFL-CIO also released this statement:

“We are disturbed – but unfortunately not surprised in the wake of Citizens United and similar rulings – that the Court’s activist conservative majority went out of its way to make broad statements about issues not raised or argued in the context of the highly unusual facts of this case.  Likewise, we are disturbed but not surprised that the conservative majority places special burdens on public sector unions in their efforts to represent working people’s economic interests through the legislative process that the Court does not apply to corporations when they spend shareholder money on politics.”

The reason that many news organizations are confusing this case with “agency fee’s” is due to the fact also that the court ruled that the SEIU did not give enough time to the non-members to “opt-out” of paying for an increased fee.  Once again, I want to confirm that the Supreme Court did not say that agency fee’s are unconstitutional.   “Nevertheless, the Court reaffirmed that in all ordinary circumstances public sector unions may continue to use the existing system for regular dues payment that has been in place and worked well for many years” (from AFLCIO statement).

Joe Biden Speaks at AFSCME Convention and Praises Labor and The Middle Class Workers

On Tuesday (June 19th), Vice President Joe Biden was in California talking to the members of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employee’s (AFSCME) 40th Convention.

VP Biden and President Obama have not been shy about their support for labor unions and especially public sector unions.   Here are a few great quotes from the video:

“They (the GOP) talk about you like your taking advantage of the communities you live in, as if you weren’t part of the communities you live in.”

“They hear labor and they think Enemy”

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I will tell you what you value”

“It is a Public Employee that runs into that fire”

“When a woman dials 9-1-1, it is a Public Worker who answers that telephone. It is a Public Worker who is dispatched to save her life”

“They (the GOP) don’t get it.  They don’t get that your the most professional, disciplined, well trained workers the American People can get and deserve”

NH Labor News Highlights 6/21/12: Firefighters Bike for MDA, Lynch Vetos Contract Bill and Voter ID, More Layoffs For Public Employees

Via Google Images

Acton Firefighter Bikes for a Good Cause – Acton, MA Patch: “Acton Firefighter, Brent Carter, 42, of Townsend, is no stranger to hard work, dedication, motivation and determination; and I’m not talking about his full time gig as a firefighter.

For the past 12-years, Carter has participated in a three-day, 250 mile bike ride from the New Hampshire/Canada border to Portsmouth, NH – all to help benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Approximately 60 firefighters will be participating in the Trans-NH Bike Ride and another 60 or so riders will join. The ride will start on Friday, June 22, and finish on Sunday, June 24.

Carter is looking to raise $2500.00 — Donate Here”

Trans NH Bike Ride » Trans NH Bike Ride: “This ride is a partnership between MDA, the firefighters of New Hampshire and all of the riders and staff who come together to make this the premier cycling fundraiser in New England.  We’re not the biggest by any means but we endeavor to make this the ride that you can’t stop coming back for. Held on the weekend after Father’s Day each year, the dates of this year’s ride are June 22, 23 and 24.”

New Hampshire Labor News: Governor Lynch Vetos HB1666 A Bill To Change Contract Negotiations.: “Citing that “HB 1666 would dramatically change the process of collective bargaining in New Hampshire by requiring the fiscal committee to approve all collective bargaining agreements. This runs counter to established law and procedure in New Hampshire, and would, in effect, turn the fiscal committee into its own state negotiating team, potentially requiring dozens of fiscal committee meetings.

We must work to uphold the Governors Veto of HB 1666 and perserve our Collective Bargaining Process.  We need to keep the extremist in our current legislature from taking control of negotiations for State Contracts.   The last vote on HB 1666 was 232 to 120.  We need contact our State Reps and Senators to ensure that they UPHOLD THE VETO!”

State worker bargaining bill vetoed | New Hampshire NEWS06: ” House Bill 1666 would require the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee to approve any contract negotiated with state employees. Lynch said the bill would hamper the executive branch’s ability to negotiate contracts and dramatically change the process. The bill was the one of only a few dealing with labor agreements and collective bargaining to be approved by lawmakers this year. House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said lawmakers deserve to have a voice on state employee contracts. The bill creates greater accountability, he argued. O’Brien this session, continued to push for right-to-work legislation that would have prohibited unions from charging non-members for the cost of negotiating and administering contracts.”

Another Article on Governors Veto of HB1666

Governor Lynch also vetos SB 372 the Voter ID Bill
NH Gov. Lynch vetoes a handful of bills, override attempts likely: “One was aimed at making sure people registering to vote live in the state. The bill would require people registering to vote to sign a statement saying that they declare New Hampshire as their domicile and are subject to state laws, including laws requiring drivers to register their vehicles.
Lynch said that’s confusing because it uses the terms “domicile” and “resident” interchangeably even though they have different legal meanings, and that the motor vehicle provision is overly broad and would require retirees and young people who attend college in the state to register a car and apply for a license in order to vote.

“We need to encourage all New Hampshire citizens to vote and to participate fully in our democracy,” he said. “We also need to ensure that our election laws do not unfairly burden those voters that have recently established a domicile in New Hampshire and are qualified to vote in this state.””

Additional Sources on Veto of SB 372Gov. Lynch vetoes a handful of bills 
Lynch vetoes ‘early offer’ proposal 
Voter rules prove a hot topic with gubernatorial vetoes | New Hampshire NEWS06:

NH ranked in top 10 for manufacturing health | New Hampshire NEWS02: “MANCHESTER — New Hampshire posted a score of B+, putting it in the second tier of states with the best Manufacturing Industry Health, but still in the top 10, according to a report from Ball State University and Conexus Indiana. The 2012 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card ranked all 50 states on logistics, human capital, worker benefit costs and other factors affecting business. Only five got an A for Manufacturing Industry Health. New Hampshire scored highest on Human Capital — A.”

(National) Public Workers Face Continued Layoffs, and Recovery Is Hurt – NYTimes.com: “Companies have been slowly adding workers for more than two years. But pink slips are still going out in a crucial area: government.”

(National) 3 Labor Movement Victories You Didn’t Hear Anything About « Main Street: “Since June 5th, we’ve lost count of the number of Very Serious opinion pieces about the demise of the labor movement. Outside the DC bubble, however, it’s a different story. Using new tactics and old-fashioned gumption, workers are standing up all over the country, putting their jobs on the line, and advocating for a better life.

Here are three such instances that you didn’t hear anything about:”

American Airlines, Communications Workers of America Locked In Unionization Battle: “In December, Capasso signed a union petition with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), hoping a union would give her and the other roughly 10,000 passenger service agents at the airline giant more leverage in contract negotiations with the company.

“Many of us want a union because we want a voice in our future,” Capasso said. “As non-union [workers], we have no say in our future. American Airlines does to us whatever it sees fit.”

But the union election, which usually takes place a month after enough employees sign a petition, has been wrought with controversy and repeatedly delayed. On Thursday, a federal judge in Fort Worth will decide whether to issue an injunction to block the election, marking the latest chapter in a bitter seven-month battle between CWA and American Airlines.”

Are you a part of Working America?
As a result, the most important political initiative in America this year will not be any quickly thrown-together GOTV effort or additional political canvassing funded by liberal donors; it will be the organizing campaign that most faithfully and successfully builds on the traditional, grass-roots trade union model.

The organization that is most clearly following this approach is Working America—the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. As a result, it is, in the long-run, the most potentially game-changing progressive project in America.


What States Are The Worst Offenders When It Comes To Wage Theft

This chart shows the worst offenders when it comes to wage theft in the United States.

For many weeks there have been many articles circling the net about companies stealing pay from their employees.  This is known a Wage Theft.  This could be a simple as miscalculating a workers pay and then giving them a paycheck based on that. In most cases it is much more serious.

Today the Progressive States released a report on the wage theft problem throughout the US.  You can see the full report here.

Why is Wage Theft so important?

“Our research shows that states’ wage theft laws are grossly inadequate, contributing to a rising trend in workplace violations that affects millions of people throughout the country. The growth of this and other forms of the “underground economy” also have a serious impact on state revenues, amounting to billions of dollars per year in tax and payroll fraud.” (Progressive States)

One other thing to note is that the states with the best record are pro-union states likes Massachusetts and New York.  However the worst offenders are also Right To Work States.

Coincidence, I think not,

BREAKING NEWS: Teamsters Local 633 Endorse Maggie Hassan for Governor

                          Teamsters Local 633 Endorse Maggie Hassan for Governor
MANCHESTER– Saying she will work for economic growth and to help ensure middle-class families have the opportunities they need to succeed, the Teamsters Local 633 today endorsed Maggie Hassan for Governor. 
“We are proud to endorse Maggie Hassan for Governor,” said David Laughton, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 633.  “In the state Senate, Maggie consistently stood up for middle-class families and we know she’ll do the same as our next Governor. As Governor, Maggie Hassan will bring people together to make New Hampshire an innovative, business-friendly state where companies can create good jobs and families can succeed.”
Teamsters Local 633 includes thousands of members working for Anheuser-Busch breweries, soft drink production and delivery, beer distribution, bakeries, laundry facilities, power plants, municipalities, public works, airport maintenance, sheriffs, police departments, librarians, school principals and race track employees. 
“Maggie Hassan is running the strongest campaign to take on Ovide Lamontagne in the fall and we are proud to help her win in September and November,” Laughton said. 
“I am honored to receive the Teamsters endorsement,” said Hassan.  “From law enforcement to brewery workers and truck drivers, they represent some of the hardest working men and women in our state and I am proud to have them on my side in this campaign.  I’m running for Governor to continue to move New Hampshire forward with a strong, innovative economy that gives every middle-class family the opportunity to succeed.”
Hassan has earned the support of six other unions including the Carpenters Local 118, Iron Workers Local 7, UFCW Locals 1445 and 791, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Council #35, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local #6 and the Communications Workers of America Local 1400.   She also has the support of EMILY’s List and the Women’s Campaign Fund.

Members of Local 668 Picket and Pass Out Flyers At New Merrimack Outlet Mall

Cross Posted from the Nashua Patch

VIDEO: Union Workers Protest at Outlets

Workers say Simon reneged on promise to use local labor to build the Merrimack Premium Outlets.

By Carol Robidoux  Email the author
June 14, 2012

MERRIMACK – Dennis Robertson stood along Industrial Drive, outside the main artery channeling a steady flow of traffic into the new Merrimack Premium Outlets, which officially opened to shoppers at 9 a.m.

He was flanked by about 40 fellow union members and a giant inflatable rat.

They weren’t there to stop anyone. They weren’t trying to disrupt the hoopla associated with the grand opening.

On behalf of Labors Local Union 668, which includes about 14 various building trades unions, Richardson said they were there to make a statement. The giant inflatable rat was the punctuation – signifying the Simon Malls, which Robertson said reneged on previous promises made by the national mall management company to hire local workers.

According to a flyer handed out by Richardson, workers from as many as 17 states were hired to complete the $100 million outlet mall, while many New Hampshire union workers, willing and able to work, remained unemployed.

Following an earlier protest by labor unions in May, Merrimack Patch submitted a handful of questions to be answered by MPO management, responding to the assertions made by the demonstrators. A response to those questions came in the form of a one-paragraph statement submitted through Kortenhaus, their public relations firm:

“We have cooperated with the unions from the beginning of the project. The project was always planned as a publicly bid open shop,” Merrimack Premium Outlets Management said. “Unions have had the opportunity to bid on all work. The process resulted in about 50 percent of the labor being union. We are pleased that Merrimack Premium Outlets has already brought many new jobs to the area and we look forward to our opening which will employ hundreds of area residents in new retail jobs.”

Stephen Colbert Talks About Mitt Romney and Public Workers

I just wanted to share a little comedy from the Colbert Report.  Stephen Colbert is a comedic news anchor who likes to poke fun at politics.  This time he talks about the Obama Jobs gaffe and Mitt Romney’s attacks on public sector employees


The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Barack Obama’s Jobs Gaffe & Mitt Romney’s Courageous Comeback
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

If you liked the first video, then you might enjoy another video from the last nights Colbert Report.  This one is a satire of the “Final Word with Bill O’Riley”.  The Colbert “Word” is about Unions in Pennsylvania fighting for the right to eat leftover lunch food as part of their contract.  If you choose to watch this remember that it is a complete SATIRE.  Steven Colbert has been a strong supporter of the workers in Wisconsin and Ohio over the last year.  He has also made fun of the New Hampshire House  Representatives as well.

We Want To Hear From You!

Are you opinionated? Are you able to send an email? If the answer to these questions is yes, then the NH Labor News would like to hear from you!

The NH Labor News is looking for people to send letters to the editor on issues surrounding labor in New Hampshire.  We would like to hear about why you oppose bills like Right To Work.  Bills like CACR 12 (education funding).  The possibilities are limitless.  Are you a Postal Worker who knows all about the funding issues in the USPS, then we want to hear about it.

We are specifically looking for Union Members who want to tell us, and the rest of New Hampshire, about what is going on with your union and your local.  What are your issues? What good things are you doing in your community?  If you have a story, the NH Labor News has an audience who is anxious to hear about it.

Email the NH Labor News at NHLabor@Gmail.com with thought, ideas, or stories.  If you have a topic that you think the NH Labor News should talk about send it to us.

NH Labor News 6/11/12: Issues Over Sick Time In Salem, Accountability For Legislators, O’Briens Blame Game, GOP Leaves Their Mark On NH, and more

NHLN: What is a reasonable limit for the number of sick days a person can accrue?  Selectmen from towns in the Salem area are saying 60 days.  I would disagrees since most long term disability insurance plans will not begin to cover you until you are out of work for 90 days.  If you have to cap the sick days number it should be above the long term disability standards. 

Southern N.H. officials sick over cost of accrued time off » New Hampshire » EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA: “Unused vacation and sick time can be cashed in once a worker retires or leaves. In Salem, that can cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Campbell said.

That’s why towns are looking to cut costs by negotiating with employee unions to reduce the number of days that can be accrued.

It’s worked in Windham, where Town Administrator David Sullivan said accrual time became an issue about a year ago.”

 My Turn: Wanted: Legislators who will put us first | Concord Monitor http://bit.ly/LLPHJ5
Words cannot express how infuriated I was last week reading headlines about House Speaker Bill O’Brien and his “ideological mandate.” A party majority in a two-party system is not a mandate, but when organized money eliminates moderate representatives and gains a majority, our state suffers from one-sided discussions and actions. O’Brien does not find it productive to meet on a regular basis with our governor; hence we have a state government not efficiently communicating and depriving us of the constitutional balance required for a healthy democracy.

Blame game rings hollow for O’Brien – NashuaTelegraph.com: “It comes as no surprise that when New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien failed to achieve one of his most cherished legislative priorities – passage of a proposed constitutional amendment to strip the Supreme Court’s ability to oversee education policy – he blamed someone else for the defeat.
When criticized for his heavy-handed tactics or questioned about his legislative setbacks, O’Brien is prone to feign innocence and cast aspersions on others. This time, it was Gov. John Lynch’s fault the education amendment failed by 13 votes, after only one House Democrat voted in favor.”

Some good news on tuition front – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Its near 50 percent cut in support for the state’s four-year institutions was the deepest in the land. The cuts came in a poor economy and at a time when a growing number of young people are wrongly beginning to believe that a college education isn’t worth it.
College is expensive. Higher education costs range from several thousand dollars per year for students who live at home and attend a community college to nearly $60,000 per year at some four-year institutions. That’s led to enormous student debt loads – New Hampshire ranks No. 1 in that category – and an increase in student debt-
related bankruptcies.”

Better off without ed-funding amendment | SeacoastOnline.com:  You have probably heard that New Hampshire’s citizens will not have an opportunity this year to vote on an amendment to the state Constitution dealing with the way education is funded.

That’s because a compromise constitutional amendment, agreed to by the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, and Democratic Gov. John Lynch, failed to get the three-fifths vote in the House last week needed to put it on the November ballot.

If you’re feeling sad about not having the opportunity to have your say on this very important issue, don’t be. The amendment is only as good as the language it contains and the language in this one would just have added more confusion and contentiousness to the issue of how education in this state is funded.

As Economic Headwinds Pick Up, Employers Lay Low | New Hampshire Public Radio: “After adding a robust 275,000 new jobs back in January, job growth appears to be slowing. The Labor Department reports that the economy added only 69,000 jobs in May.

Meanwhile, despite the worst recession in generations, there are still countless small business owners plugging away around the country, seeking to expand and hire more employees.”

Squabbles aside, GOP leaves mark | Concord Monitor: “New Hampshire’s 2012 legislative session neared its end last week much the way 2011’s session did, with a highly publicized initiative dying on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Last year, the bill was right-to-work, an attempt to curb union power that House Speaker Bill O’Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican, pushed for months before his effort to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto was defeated by a coalition of labor-friendly Republicans and Democrats. This time, a long-sought constitutional amendment to give lawmakers, not the courts, the authority to determine the amount of education funding failed when libertarian-minded Republicans balked at their party’s efforts.”

Lisa Wexler: Admit It, You’d Like to Be in a Union Too: “Blaming unions for all the trouble we are in has become cool. We hear that public sector employees have juicy benefits, great health care coverage, guaranteed pensions. In some cases, the average public sector worker earns twice what the average private sector worker earns. We are envious — hey, we want that too! That’s not fair!

You are right — it’s not fair. But don’t blame the unions for doing their job, ensuring that thousands of people are able to afford retirement, pay their doctors and work in decent, sanitary conditions. Those people buy the houses you sell them, take their clothes to your dry cleaners, support your hardware store, clothing store and bank. The problem is not that union workers earn too much, it’s that the rest of us are earning too little.”

Are you a teacher looking for a new job? 
Title High School Social Studies Teacher – Multiple Positions Job in Concord, NH – Concord Monitor: “Merrimack Valley School District 105 Community Drive, Penacook, NH 03303 www.mv.k12.nh.us Vacancies For 2012-2013 Merrimack Valley School District is seeking to fill the following positions for the 2012-2013 school year: High School Social Studies Teachers (2) High School Life Sciences Teacher (Biology) PT French (August – January) High School Math Teacher (anticipated) High School Physical Education Teacher (anticipated) Applicants must submit a letter of introduction, resume, transcripts, HQT and certification information and 3 current letters of reference to above address. Application information can be found at http://fc.mvsd.k12.nh.us/employment. Positions will remain open until satisfactorily filled. EOE”

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