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Union News

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago

Non-Library Union News


December 10, 2007

Historic Global Summit Kicks Off

By James Parks, AFL-CIO Now Blog News


With workers’ rights under attack around the world, some 220 top global union leaders from more than 63 countries kicked off the first-ever global summit on organizing at the National Labor College (NLC) in Silver Spring, Md. They plan to map strategies to restore the balance between working people and powerful corporations that ignore national boundaries and rules in search of the greatest profit.  


The Dec. 10–11 conference, hosted by the AFL-CIO, marks International Human Rights Day, held each Dec. 10 to commemorate passage of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Union members around the world commemorate Human Rights Day, and the Declaration serves as both benchmark and beacon for how well human rights, including the freedom to form unions and have decent working conditions, are respected and protected.





October 28, 2007

AFL-CIO takes case against Bush administration to International Labor Organization


By Mark Gruenberg, Workday Minnesota


WASHINGTON - Saying the Bush adminstration's National Labor Relations Board "has turned its back on workers precisely at the moment it should be invigorating the protections" of U.S. labor law, the AFL-CIO filed a massive complaint against the Bush board with the International Labour Organization on Oct. 25. Due to the actions of the Bush-named GOP majority on the 5-person board, "The National Labor Relations Act"--the nation's basic labor law--"has now become a regulatory regimen that enshrines the so-called rights of employers to oppose the efforts of their employees to engage in freedom of association," the federation states.


"Under Bush, America's labor board has so failed our nation's workers that we must now turn to the world's international watchdogs to monitor and intervene," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "The Bush board is kryptonite for America's workers. There is no historic precedent for such aggressive efforts by the board to curtail workers' rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining."





July 18, 2007

Hollywood Flicks Stiff the Working Class


This article by The Nation's Robert Nathan and Jo-Ann Mort explores the entertainment industry's marked disinterest in union affairs. Thanks to Steve Fesenmaier for posting on the apa-union listserv.




July 6, 2007

Last survivor of Ludlow Massacre dies at 94


The Pueblo Chieftain Online covers the death of Mary Benich-McCleary. The child of Colorado miners, she survived the 1914 retalliation of Colorado militia against miners on strike.






April 25, 2007

By Sheldon Friedman, Research Coordinator, AFL-CIO Voice@Work Campaign. Remarks delivered at meeting of Labor and Employment Relations Association, Washington  DC Chapter, April 25, 2007.




The Employee Free Choice Act is the most important legislative proposal in at least a generation, and arguably since passage of the Wagner Act, to protect the fundamental human right of America*s workers to form unions and bargain collectively.


Why does this matter?  It matters for many reasons*but especially for the economic situation and future of America*s workers and their families, for all those outside the top economic tier who have been bypassed by a growing economy*and it matters immensely for the quality of life of all Americans and the nature of the society we will pass on to our children.


Perhaps the central defining economic fact of the last thirty years or more is this: the productivity of the US economy has risen 75% since 1973, yet the real wages of non-supervisory workers are lower today than they were in 1973.  Why did this disconnect between wages and productivity happen?


A key reason can be found in another less well-known paradox: extrapolating from the latest survey by pollster Peter Hart, sixty million non-union workers want a union in their workplace*yet last year fewer than 70,000 workers were able to form unions via the NLRB*s current process.  Many more workers than this did form unions, but they did so by going around*rather than through*the NLRB process.


What is the explanation for the enormous gap between the number of workers who want unions and the tiny handful that succeed in getting them?  The biggest reason is employer interference and a broken law that fails to protect workers* most basic workplace rights. The current NLRB representation process has become a death trap for workers who are struggling to form a



The NLRB process encourages lengthy, confrontational campaigns aimed at snuffing out union support.  Weeks and months of employer threats, intimidation, surveillance, coercion, and even firings * usually orchestrated by professional consultants * are now the norms, as are months and years of debilitating delays.


Political scientists who have studied this process find it a parody of democracy.  Due to weak remedies for violating the law and delayed enforcement, the process rewards heavy-handed employer interference. One side *the employer * has lopsided access to workplace communications, campaign funding, and the voters themselves; the other side has virtually no access and is almost completely shut out.  The NLRB representation election process often resembles more closely the elections held in totalitarian countries than anything that a fair-minded person would recognize as a free and democratic election.


Not only is this a human rights issue*it is a huge economic and social policy issue as well.  A key reason for the widening gap between the wealth workers produce and what they are paid for their labor*perhaps the key reason*is the disappearance of effective legal protection for workers* freedom to form unions and bargain collectively.


It is no accident that rising economic inequality*and stagnant or declining real wages despite rising productivity*have gone hand-in-hand with declining unionization and the ever-tightening noose on the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively.


In terms of wages, union members enjoy a 30% advantage--$833 per week in 2006, versus $642 for non-union workers*a union advantage of $191 per week, or nearly $10,000 per year.


The economic advantage of union membership is even greater for workers who face discrimination in the labor market: 36% for African American workers, and 46% for Latino workers.


Collective bargaining is especially important to low-wage workers.  One of the more disgraceful domestic policy legacies of the current Administration is the five million-person increase in the number of persons who are poor*as officially measured*during the first five years of President Bush*s watch.  For workers in low-wage occupations, there is no better path out of poverty than collective bargaining and a union card. For example, union cashiers earn 46% more than non-union cashiers.  On a yearly basis, this spells the difference between earnings that are more than $4,000 above the poverty line for union cashiers with a family of four, versus more than $3,700 below the poverty line for non-union cashiers.  The numbers tell a similar story for waiters and waitresses, car wash workers, housekeepers and numerous other low-wage occupations.


In an era of mounting concern about lack of family time, union workers have a 28% advantage in paid vacation days over non-union workers.


In an era of mounting concern over the nation*s festering health care crisis, non-union workers are five times more likely than union members to lack

health insurance coverage.


Retirement income security has become a thing of the past for non-union workers; fewer than 15% of them have guaranteed defined benefit pensions today.  According to the BLS, nearly 70% of union members have guaranteed defined benefit pensions through their employers.


As important as these and other economic advantages of collective bargaining are to individual workers, they are equally if not more important to society at large and the economy as a whole.  When workers* freedom to form unions enjoys strong protection and collective bargaining, accordingly, becomes widespread, wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment are boosted*not just for union members*but economy-wide.  When collective bargaining is sufficiently widespread, it sets the economic standard that non-union employers must meet to compete.  Furthermore, everyone in society benefits from the stronger safety net programs that a strong labor movement is able to champion and defend.


Over time, collective bargaining transforms jobs from *bad* to *good**it did this in manufacturing after the birth of the CIO, and it could do it again in the economic sectors where employment is growing today*as examples from the hotel industry and others demonstrate.


Furthermore, workers without a union contract rarely have recourse if their employer disciplines or fires them unjustly; union members nearly always are

protected against wrongful discipline or discharge by strong contract language.  Collective bargaining brings an important element of democracy to the workplace and enhances workers* dignity on the job.



Indeed, unions are central to democracy not only in the workplace but also in the wider society.  Union members are more likely to register and vote than non-union workers.


In short, collective bargaining has many of the attributes of what economists call a public good*something that benefits everyone, but which the unregulated market left to its own devices does not adequately provide.  Given all of these, and other, benefits to workers and society*and given that it is a fundamental human right*we should embrace national policies that make it easy for workers to form unions in their workplaces, not risky and difficult as it is today.


The Senate has an important opportunity to put the nation on a path to economic justice by protecting workers* basic freedom to form unions and bargain collectively*something precious that they have lost*by passing S. 1041, the Employee Free Choice Act.





April 28, 2007

Today is Workers Memorial Day.


Brussels, 28 April 2007: The International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, in memory of workers who die or are injured at work as a result of unsatisfactory production methods or working conditions, is taking place for the 12th consecutive year today. Some 12,000 activities in 118 countries have been organised. Activities on HIV/AIDS and the causes of occupational and environment-related cancers will also be held during this World Day. According to figures issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), almost 2.2 million people die in accidents or due to illnesses related to their work each year. Over 270 million workers are injured at work and almost 160 million suffer from illness caused by their jobs.


Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.


Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say…The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.


“The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” said Dr. David Michaels, who has written extensively about workplace safety. “If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.”






March 1, 2007

U.S. House of Representatives to Vote on Employee Free Choice Act Tomorrow, March 1, 2007

The U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on H.R. 800, which protects employees' right to form unions. In June, 2006, the ALA Annual Conference, the ALA-APA Council voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Employee Free Choice Act - http://www.ala-apa.org/about/2005-2006APACD8_2R.pdf.


The ALA Washington Office prepared a statement of ALA-APA Support.


The AFL-CIO Web site has information about the Act and testimonies from workers who were penalized for trying to form unions and experts.




Union States Of America

Alec Dubro, TomPaine.com.


The House of Representatives probably hadn't seen such a pro-labor lineup of speakers since the Kennedy administration. It wasn't actually House business; it was a morning panel put on by the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute. But it filled the caucus room of the Cannon House Office Building with a determinedly union- boosting crowd....All the speakers stressed that the public had the right, and duty, to regulate the rights and benefits of corporations. [See entire essay at TomPaine.com, online public affairs journal of progressive analysis and commentary.]



Verizon Workers Fight Rural Telecom Redlining In New England

Steve Early in Feb. 2007, Labor Notes. (2/23/07).


Maine, and New Hampshire are waging a grassroots campaign against Verizon' abandonment of "low-value" landline customers in northern New England. Verizon's $2.7 billion sale of local "access lines"-- part of its older copper wire network--would sever these members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) from a 12-state regional bargaining unit with a history of militant strikes and contract campaigns.

"We are not going to let Verizon turn the information super highway into a dirt road in New England, " vows IBEW Local 2320 business manager Glenn Brackett.


Read more at Union Librarian.




February 9, 2007

Employee Free Choice Act.

By Rep. George DMiller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee,TomPaine.com


Consider the case of Ivo Camilo. For 35 years, Camilo worked at the Blue Diamond Growers plant in Sacramento, the world’s largest almond processing plant. But he and his co-workers were worried about job security and felt they had no voice at work. So, in 2004, Camilo joined with some of his co-workers to try to form a union. In 2005, just two weeks after Camilo and 58 of his coworkers informed management of their union efforts, he was fired.


In congressional testimony this week, Camilo described Blue Diamond’s campaign against the union. “They had put out more than 30 anti-union flyers. In group captive audience meetings and one-on-one talks, company officials and supervisors threatened that we could lose our pensions and other benefits if the union came in. They threatened that the plant would close.”


These kinds of actions on the part of employers are despicable and discouragingly frequent. In our broken union election system, companies harass, intimidate, reassign or fire workers every day for trying to form a union. In 2005, over 30,000 workers in the U.S. received back pay from their employers because they had been illegally fired or discriminated against.


As Camilo put it, “Getting a union shouldn’t be so hard.” He’s right.


Passing the Employee Free Choice Act would finally give workers the ability to join together to bargain for better wages and benefits. And there is no doubt about the difference that having this leverage would make for workers and their families. Union workers earn, on average, 30 percent more than nonunion workers. They are much more likely to have health and retirement benefits. They also tend to have more generous paid time off.


Our economy is more unequal than it has been at any time since before the New Deal. We cannot keep going in this direction. We need to make sure that people are paid decently for their work and treated fairly in the workplace. The Employee Free Choice Act will go a long way towards strengthening the middle class.






February 8, 2007



WASHINGTON -  - Despite public pledges of cooperation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to consult with its own employees about the effects of past or schedule of future library closures, according to an unfair labor practices complaint released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In the face of growing congressional opposition, EPA continues to shutter libraries and make collections unavailable both to its own staff and the public. For more info. see: Union Librarian.







For regularly updated Union News see also the blog, Union Librarian.


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