A bill that would have extended the length of time for filing workers’ compensation claims in Louisiana has been vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal. The bill passed both the House and Senate overwhelmingly. It would have extended the amount of time a worker could file work-related injury claims from two to three years.
By Doug Cunningham
Economist Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research is calling for an immediate second economic stimulus. Baker says with the economy continuing to shed jobs at a rapid pace a new stimulus is needed. He says unemployment is likely to hit 11 percent in the first half of 2010 – much worse scenario than envisioned by the Obama administration when it crafted the first stimulus.
Ford is seeking to renegotiate contracts with the Canadian Auto Workers. According to the union, Ford is looking for concessions similar to the ones that were recently given to Chrysler and GM. The Chrysler agreement only saw benefits cut and those cuts are projected to save the company $240 million per year. The GM agreement freezes wages until 2015 and cuts benefits by $8000 per worker. Ford told the CAW it needs to reopen the contracts so it can stay competitive with the other two automakers.
By Doug Cunningham
Lear – a major auto parts maker – filed for bankruptcy Tuesday. Auto parts makers have been hit hard by both the general economic crisis and the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Lear will continue in business under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Bell Helicopters continues to bring in temporary workers as negotiations remain in stalemate. Jesse Russell reports:
A strike by 2,500 workers represented by the United Auto Workers at Bell Helicopter has entered its fourth week. As weeks go by the helicopter manufacture brings in more temporary workers to maintain production. This week the company brought in 100 additional workers bringing the number of temps up to 1,000. The last time Bell sat down with the union was on July 1 and no new date for negotiations has been established. The most recent contract offer was rejected by the workers
By Doug Cunningham
Wells Fargo bank has instructed Quad City Die Casting not to pay contractual wages and benefits legally due to workers at the Illinois company. So the union is filing charges to make sure the workers get paid. Leah Fried is an organizer with the United Electrical workers.
[Fried]: “They’re clearly illegal. Wells Fargo’s decision not paying benefits is in violation of the law. It’s also immoral and repugnant – and just outrageous.”
UE is fighting Wells Fargo’s decision to cut off financing for Quad City Die Casting. The bank’s decision means the plant is scheduled to close by the end of August.
Time and again, the evidence shows that when workers try to form unions, they often face harassment and intimidation from their employers. In fact, an analysis of labor board elections by University of California-Davis professor David Brody shows the odds of making it all the way through the process, from filing a petition to getting a first contract, years later, are only 573 out of 2,388 or less than one in four.
Pulling facts from the latest Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which covers the fiscal year (FY) running from October 2007 to September 2008, Brody notes:
- During FY 2008, the NLRB closed 2,388 representation cases (NLRB annual report, Table 10).
- Of these, 782 were withdrawn and another 46 were dismissed, presumably before they ever got to an election (NLRB annual report, Table 10).
- Of the 1,610 representation case elections held, unions won 1,024 or 63.6 percent (Table 13).
- If recent trends continue, of these 1,024 newly formed unions, only 573 or 56 percent will succeed in bargaining a first contract.
- So the odds of making it all the way through the process, from filing a petition to getting a first contract, years later, are only 573 out of 2,388 or less than one in four.
- The workers involved in this process had a 97 percent chance of being subjected to an anti-union campaign by their employer—usually orchestrated by a professional union buster—and usually featuring captive audience meetings and one-on-one closed door meetings with supervisors, frequent threats to close or move the workplace if workers vote to form a union, and a one-in-five chance that active union supporters would be fired illegally.
- Bottom line: Only 68,000 workers managed to form unions via the corporate-dominated NLRB representation process in FY 2008—and only a little more than half of these will ever obtain the protection of a collective bargaining agreement.
But corporate mouthpieces are desperate to attack any change in the nation’s labor laws that would level the playing field for workers seeking to form unions. So they distort reality to make it appear that America’s workers can easily form unions.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), for instance, says, “Workers who wish to become union members are able to do so.” But check the facts and you’ll find a much different reality. In fact, most of the workers who have successfully joined unions during the period NAM refers to, between 2007 and 2008, did so in the public sector, often through majority sign-up—the kind of worker-directed, voluntary formation that all workers would have access to under the Employee Free Choice Act.
Only a small minority used the corporate-dominated NLRB election system, which requires not only the same gathering of signatures used in majority sign-up, but a second, company-dominated election process. And of the minority of workers who were able to successfully use the NLRB election system, thousands still don’t have contracts.
UPDATE: BCTGM Local 50 says it will fight Stella D’oro’s decision to close the plant and soon file retaliation charges against the company with the NLRB. We will keep you updated.
Just days after a federal administrative law judge (ALJ) found Stella D’oro Biscuit Co. guilty of several labor law violations and ordered the company to reinstate more than 130 workers who have been on strike since August, the cookie maker announced it was closing its Bronx, N.Y., plant.
Last year, members of Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) refused management demands for wage cuts by as much as $5 hour and slashes in health and pension benefits by the private equity firm that took over the company in 2006.
On June 30, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ALJ Steven Davis ruled Stella D’oro—now owned by Brynwood Partners—refused to bargain with the union, improperly declared an impasse in negotiations and illegally refused the workers’ May 6 offer to return to work. Davis ordered the company to reinstate the workers with back pay and interest.
The Local 50 members returned to work today. Yet the company not only is appealing the judge’s ruling, it announced yesterday it will close the factory’s doors in October. Union leaders are meeting today to determine their next actions.
After the judge’s decision last week, BCTGM Local 50 President Joyce Alston said:
This decision vindicates the struggles and sacrifices of our members at Stella D’oro. The private equity predators at Brynwood Partners thought they could refuse to bargain with us, deny us information, break the law, tear up our contract, force a strike and break the union. But our members’ solidarity has held with the help of the community and our many supporters around the country and world.
During the strike, the workers received tremendous support from New York-area unions and the community. The bakery workers were joined on the picket lines by nurses, staff at the City University of New York, textile workers and many others, with the New York State United Teachers union presenting the workers with $2,500 for their strike fund. The workers have taken their struggle to the luxurious offices of Brynwood Partners in Greenwich, Conn., and to the home of Brynwood Partners and Stella D’oro Chairman Hendrik Hartong III, son of Henk Hartong Jr., former Pittston Coal CEO and Brynwood founder.
Fredric Rolando, a former letter carrier in South Miami, Fla., took office July 3 as the new president of the Letter Carriers (NALC). He succeeds William Young, who announced his retirement last month.
Rolando has been NALC executive vice president since 2006. His first union post was shop steward at South Miami’s NALC Branch 1071, and he later became president of Sarasota Branch 2148. He was also director of education for the Florida State Association of Letter Carriers and served as a regional officer and national director of city delivery.
Young served six and a half years as NALC president after beginning his letter carrier career in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where he was elected shop steward in 1969. He held several regional and national positions before being elected NALC president in 2002.
Although I am clearly biased, letter carriers represent what is best about America—our diversity, our commitment to hard work and community service, and our dedication to serving America.