NILRR Right to Work News March 23, 2018


Featured Video — I Was a Union President. Now I Support Right to Work, March 20, 2018

Ben Johnson spent the last decade as treasurer and then president of AFT Vermont, the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the country. For three of those years, Johnson also served as president of the Vermont AFL-CIO. Surprising to some, perhaps, he now supports Right to Work nationwide.

Missouri Union Faces Federal Charges from Power Plant Worker for Illegal Forced Dues Increase, March 21, 2018

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Missouri power plant worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 53 union for failing to provide an adequate breakdown of how the union spends workers’ forced union dues.

Durham City Council wants to overturn N.C. ban on collective bargaining

Herald Sun Online, March 22, 2018

City workers seeking more influence for unions got some symbolic support Thursday when the Durham City Council said it will pass a resolution supporting public employees’ rights. Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson presented the resolution, “In Support of Public Employee Collective Bargaining Rights and Rights for Employee Organizations,” at the council’s work session. The council will vote on it April 2 as part of the consent agenda, where items are typically approved without discussion.

State Supreme Court sides with teachers in Right-to-Work dispute with their union, March 22, 2018

The Michigan Supreme Court has cleared the way for public school employees to quit a union at any time. The court this week rejected an appeal from the Michigan Education Association, known as the MEA. It means a 2017 appeals court decision will stand.  The appeals court said restricting school union resignations to just one month a year conflicts with the Legislature’s goal of giving employees more choices under Michigan’s right-to-work law.  The law says workers can’t be forced to support a union to keep a job. The MEA had argued that the resignation rule should be an internal union matter.

Judge Drops Boston Extortion Case

Boston Herald Online, March 23, 2018

U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin yesterday tossed the extortion case for which Walsh lieutenants Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan were facing up to 20 years in prison after prosecutors told him Wednesday they would not fight having the case broomed. Prosecutors said they couldn’t win without first appealing Sorokin’s controversial jury instruction on Hobbs Act extortion — a ruling they matter-of-factly told him last week was “wrong.”

Labor Watchdog Demands Records on NLRB Recusal

Washington Free Beacon Online, March 22, 2018

Foundation president Mark Mix said the records are necessary to ensure fairness before the five-member board, which is partisan by design with three members from the majority party and two from the minority. He is interested in finding out whether management-side attorneys face increased scrutiny from nonpartisan ethics officials than their union attorney counterparts. “The public deserves to know the truth surrounding this double standard, especially given that it advances the concerted effort by Big Labor and its allies to block a full NLRB from reviewing controversial Obama-era rulings that limit the rights of workers who don’t want to associate with a labor union,” Mix said in a statement.

NLRB Rolls Back Obama-Era Workplace Handbook and Rule Restrictions, March 21, 2018

For the past several years, folks in the HR space have had to pay special attention to the language in their handbooks and employment policies out of fear of violating rules established by a series of decisions from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Those decisions established a tough standard for evaluating facially neutral employment policies that complied with their interpretations of labor law. Combined with an aggressive NLRB enforcement strategy, employers have understandably been on edge with respect to their workplace rules and policies. On December 14, 2017, however, the NLRB replaced that standard with a new one.

Feds charge ex-UAW official in widening scandal

Detroit News Online, March 21, 2018

The meal factored into a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday that alleges Adams Johnson, 57, of Macomb Township and other union and Fiat Chrysler officials engaged in a broad conspiracy to corrupt the labor negotiation process. She received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments and benefits from Fiat Chrysler during the alleged conspiracy, including $1,100 designer shoes, first-class flights to California, resort stays and limousine rides, according to federal prosecutors.

Detroit Operating Engineers Boss Sentenced for Extortion, March 20, 2018

Last Wednesday, March 14, Hamilton, former business manager and general vice president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to two years in prison for conspiring to commit extortion with at least two other Local 324 officials. He also was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to the people he shook down.

Union Organizing Threat: Are Worker Centers Labor Organizations?

National Law Review, March 20, 2018

Worker centers are attractive vehicles for unions. Union protests and picketing are limited by federal law. Unions also must file financial disclosures with the Department of Labor (DOL), and they further owe workers a duty of fair representation under the National Labor Relations Act. The centers offer a potential way for unions to circumvent these requirements. Once established, the worker centers often launch protests on behalf of unions, call for higher wages, paid leave, changes in working conditions, etc. In other words, they seek to leverage companies into recognizing unions as bargaining agents for employees or otherwise acquiesce to union demands.

Volkswagen Investing $340M To Expand Tennessee Manufacturing Plant For New SUV Production, March 20, 2018

Another manufacturing investment is coming to Tennessee as Volkswagen announced plans to invest $340 million into its manufacturing center in Chattanooga, Tennessee to add a new vehicle to its production line:

Grad Students Unionizing at Illinois State University, March 20, 2018

Organizers of a union that would represent Illinois State University graduate students have crossed a threshold. The students pushing for a union have received enough signatures to formally request representation from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Tops spars with union pension fund in bankruptcy case, March 19, 2018

Representatives of a Teamsters union pension fund are asking a bankruptcy court to reject a key agreement between Tops and C&S Wholesale Grocers, its main grocery supplier, claiming that it’s a bad deal for the supermarket chain. “It is not clear to Tops why you would object on any basis, other than for perceived leverage in connection with negotiations relating to the withdrawal liability claim,” said Richard W. Slack, an attorney representing Tops, in a letter to Teamsters fund attorney Vincent M. DeBella.

How New York’s trade unions run amok, March 18, 2018

Why is New York so expensive? Between overstaffing and hefty wages, union contracts cost taxpayers millions of wasted dollars. The MTA budget for a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting Grand Central Terminal to the Long Island Rail Road included 900 workers being paid to dig caverns, even though an accounting review found only 700 jobs that needed to be filled. Union officials also recommend tunnel diggers who, for overtime and Sunday work, earn more than $400 an hour. Unemployed workers are often paid $1,000 a day. Even many “legitimate” union jobs have no discernible value, including break room supervisors and workers paid to lubricate cranes that are self-lubricating. Elevators are also given their own operators, even though they are automatic.  And union officials don’t stop there.

Department of Education Eliminates Federal Employee Union Subsidies, March 19, 2018

Last week, the Department of Education ended contract negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees and implemented a new contract. Department spokesperson Liz Hill stated “The union spent more than a year dragging its feet on ground rules negotiations without reaching any agreement and then failed to respond in a timely manner to negotiate over the contract proposed by the department…

The new agreement cuts the “council president, national shop steward and Local 2607 president” official time use from 100 percent with pay to 50 percent leave without pay for union business. Further, instead of letting 75 union stewards use “reasonable amounts” of official time during the year, the Department will provide AFGE with a bank of 4,927 hours of leave without pay per year for union official to represent employees.

County employees’ union quits labor council after endorsement rift, March 21, 2018

The new San Diego Working Families Council has lost one of its biggest and most influential member organizations. The Service Employees International Union Local 221 decided to quit the council after it decided to endorse former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña for county supervisor. Local 221 backed former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher months ago.  The departure is the latest crack in San Diego’s increasingly-fractured organized labor community.

Bill would give public employee unions names of new hires; also, ban on conversion therapy; same-day voter registration., March 22, 2018

SB 677, sponsored by Madaleno, and its House companion bill HB1017, sponsored by Korman, would require officials from all state agencies and state universities and colleges to provide contact information of all new employees to collective bargaining units for the purposes of contacting the new hires within 30 days. SB819, also sponsored by Madaleno, and its House companion bill, HB811, sponsored by Luedtke, would require the same contact information from all Maryland public school employers.

With new center in Nashville, painters union hopes to recruit Latino construction workers, March 18, 2018

Labor organizations celebrated the opening of a new center for Nashville construction workers on Sunday.  The center, founded by District Council 91 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, provides resources for job training, immigrant rights, job safety and other issues affecting the area’s construction workers.