Today in Labor History Aug. 14, 2003 The Northeast of the United States and Canada experienced a massive blackout, which affected 50 million people. Initially concerned that it could be a terrorist attack, it soon became clear that it was the failure of Ohio-based First Energy Corporation to maintain its portion of the electrical grid. In a statement following the costly blackout, the Utility Workers Union of America called on Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission to investigate the industry’s maintenance practices and urged the state legislature to revise its deregulation laws that led to lax standards and mass layoffs of line workers. ~ Voices of Labor
Webcast Oct. 7: Domestic violence as a critical workplace issue Oct. 5, 2015| When domestic violence enters the workplace, it can have significant repercussions for the targeted individual and the work environment. Union stewards and fellow coworkers can all be affected by, and have a role to play in, dealing with intimate partner violence as a critical workplace issue. A free one-hour webcast on Wednesday, Oct. 7th, beginning at 12 noon will explore labor's role in addressing domestic violence in the workplace. The webcast is a joint initiative between the ILR School's Scheinman Institute of Conflict Resolution and The Worker Institute at Cornell University. Click here to learn more and register
Reminder for members, stewards Oct. 5, 2015| Every Monday we post new information under the Members Info and Stewards Info tab in the left column. Today's educational tips offer information about the union's right to strike and the differences between the two types of strikes.
Baltimore Sun drivers, mailers and pressmen ratify contracts Oct. 25, 2015|After two years of difficult negotiations, tentative agreements for three departments at the Baltimore Sun represented by Local 355 and Local 888 were ratified at a jointly-held membership meeting Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. The company had sought to shift the full burden of healthcare premium costs to workers, among other regressive demands, but bargaining committee members representing drivers and printers (Local 355) and mailers (Local 888) endorsed agreements that preserve current healthcare contributions and enhances job security provisions, an important piece of the new collective bargaining agreements. In the middle of negotiations, the publishing company sold Sun Park, the land parcel the production plant sits on in Baltimore. If the paper is forced to move production from Sun Park, under the new contract Teamster jobs can follow the move. “These contracts look to the future. As long as we sort, print and deliver, it doesn’t matter what the product is, we’ll be on the job,” said Local 355 Business Agent Jim Deene. Local 888 President Lawrence Geho stressed the importance of joint bargaining. “We waged a long, hard and successful fight against regressive company proposals to ensure the security we need. And we got here because Baltimore Sun Teamsters stood together.”
Stand with Safeway Teamsters in their drive to keep jobs in Maryland Oct. 28, 2015| Safeway plans to move up to 9-- good union jobs from Prince George's County to a low-wage, non-union grocery warehouse in Pennsylvania. Maryland has been devastated by companies shipping out good jobs. It is painful to see that Safeway plans to join their ranks and put hundreds of Teamsters – members of Local 730 and 629 – out in the cold just days before Christmas. Stand with Safeway Teamsters – sign the petition asking the company to delay its decision and work with elected officials and its employees to try to find a way to keep these jobs in Maryland. Click here to sign.
A Summary of TheWorkplace Democracy Act
The policy of the United States is "to protect the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection." But current law effectively denies these fundamental rights to tens of millions of Americans.
As a result, we are falling behind our industrial competitors in many significant ways. Our real wages, once the highest in the world, have fallen below the levels of the early 1970s. Our manufacturing sector is in sharp decline, as large corporations move production facilities to underdeveloped countries to take advantage of exploitative wages and minimal environmental and safety standards.
The Workplace Democracy Act strengthens the federal laws designed to protect workers and close the legal loopholes which now deprive working people of their right to organize on behalf of their wages, their benefits and their working conditions. By amending the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and by establishing a National Public Employment Relations Commission, The Workplace Democracy Act provides a vehicle to achieve a comprehensive reform of American labor law.
Establishes card checkoff recognition. Once a majority of workers has declared its wish to be organized by conducting an election or by signing membership cards, legal recognition shall be given to their designated representative.
Guarantees the right to first contract. If by 45 days after certification, no collective bargaining agreement has been reached, the union then has the right to binding arbitration.
Strengthens and expands the enforcement authority of the National Labor Relations Board. Violations of labor law are violations of law, and must be both speedily prosecuted and remedied. Current penalties for violating the National Labor Relations Act are insufficient to serve as effective deterrents. The Workplace Democracy Act strengthens NLRB enforcement in the following ways:
Instructs the National Labor Relations Board to use its injunctive power whenever it finds an unfair labor practice.
Gives employees wronged due to such violations the right to be "made whole" for any economic losses they incur as a result.
Requires immediate reinstatement of discharged employees when unlawfully discharged.
Provides for treble (3x) back pay for employees who suffer economic hardship due to unfair labor practices.
Requires debarment of companies from Federal Government contracts for willful unfair labor practices.
Requires the National Labor Relations Board to assess civil penalties of not less than $10,000 against employers for each willful violation of the Act.
Repeals the prohibitions against strikes, boycotts and hot cargo agreements. Taft-Hartley provisions that prohibit one group of workers from engaging in actions in sympathy or concert with other groups of workers are eliminated, as well as the Landrum-Griffin Amendment that prohibits "hot cargo" agreements (when an employer and a union agree to refrain from handling any products of any other employer). The right to common situs picketing is thereby restored as well.
Prohibits state preemption of federal labor laws. Repeals Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, concerning "right to work" laws. All workers shall enjoy the rights guaranteed them under federal law, regardless of where they live.
Secures equal treatment for all employees. Repeals the exclusion of plant guards from bargaining units with other employees where they work.
Ensures equal protection under the law for state and local public sector employees. Establishes the National Public Employment Relations Commission to ensure that public sector employees of states, territories, possessions or political subdivisions thereof, are guaranteed the right to collective bargaining, to binding arbitration, and to strike. Establishes a mandatory impasse procedure for public safety officers and fire fighters.
Provides workers the right to act as guarantors of their financial future. Provides for workers to serve as trustees on pension plans which cover their retirement.
Extends NLRA coverage to workers for U.S. owned companies that operate in Free Trade Agreement countries. Gives workers in countries that are party to a Free Trade Agreement with the United States the right to file unfair labor practice complaints against the United States owned parent company of their employer either under the NLRA or under the laws and procedures of that country.