Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Obama Promises Rare Veto As House Votes to Slow Down Union Elections, Curb NLRB

The House vote to slow down the union election process was largely symbolic, but one expert emphasizes that how "easily see how this could be signed into law overnight" under a Republican president. (Wikimedia Commons)  
In a show of electoral strength by anti-union Republicans in Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives easily passed legislation Thursday to curb an effort by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to ease procedures for union organizing. Passed by the Senate earlier this month, the measure now heads to the White House, where President Barack Obama has promised a veto.
The NLRB measure passed on a vote of 232-186, with all but three Republicans voting in favor, and all House Democrats voting against. The vote mirrored the partisan divide on labor issues in the Senate, where 53 Republicans voted in favor, with 44 Democrats and just one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voting against the bill.
Republicans pushed the vote forward as an expression of disapproval of steps by the NLRB to ease worker election procedures in union organizing campaigns at private-sector workplaces. The NLRB had announced last year that it will change its procedures to allow many union elections to take place more quickly, leading opponents to dub the change the “ambush rule,” meaning that labor unions would ambush anti-union employers with quick elections. With the promised veto from Obama, the NLRB rule is currently scheduled to go into effect next month.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement in response to the vote:
Today’s vote by House Republicans against the NLRB’s common-sense modernization of its election rules is a direct attack on workers and their right to be heard in the workplace.
Working men and women want an agenda from their Congressional leaders that raises wages and grows our middle class. Instead, they have gotten Republican policies that roll back progress and silence workers while protecting their biggest donors.
President Obama is right in his commitment to vetoing this harmful legislation, and Congressional Republicans should focus their efforts on lifting workers up instead of shutting them out.
The Congressional vote was “mostly symbolic,” says Ross Eisenbrey, a labor expert at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think thank, because Republicans were aware that Obama intends to  veto the bill and anti-labor legislators lack the necessary votes to override the veto.
“It’s a phony issue, really. Obama will veto it, so it won’t have any real effect,” Eisenbrey tells In These Times.
Nevertheless, the vote does signal problems for the future, he says. “Two years from now, if we have a Scott Walker as president, you can easily see how this could be signed into law overnight. In fact, I think any one of the current Republican candidates for president would be likely to sign something like this, or something even worse,” Eisenbrey comments.
Bill Samuel, Director of Government Affairs at AFL-CIO, says pro-labor groups would have needed about 30 Republican votes in the House to defeat the bill. “That’s a tall order in this Congress,” he says.
Instead of 30 Republican votes, just three Republican House members voted on the side of labor unions. They were Rep. Peter King (New York), Chris Smith (New Jersey) and Frank LoBiondo (New Jersey).
 According to a report in The Hill, strong support for the ant-union legislation came from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and the National Federation of Independent Business.
“These are the usual suspects,” Eisenbrey says. “They are happy with a system that allows employers to do whatever they want. They hate to give it up.” 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

This week in the war on workers: Judge tells T-Mobile to stop breaking labor laws

T-Mobile has been breaking the law, as a matter of corporate policy, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge ruled on Wednesday. Judge Christine Dibble wasn't hearing complaints of abuses against individual workers—because T-Mobile has settled quite a few of those—but was looking at the company's employee handbook, its official policies for workers. Basically, the employee handbook issued a series of gag orders:
According to the ruling, T-Mobile US’s email policy and various confidentiality policies violate the law by restricting employees’ ability to disclose or discuss basic workplace issues, such as their wages. Similarly, Judge Dibble has ruled that the company’s policy restricting employees’ communications with the media is illegal, as it prohibits employees from speaking out on inquiries about wages or other conditions of employment. In all, Judge Dibble found that 11 of the 13 corporate policies or provisions at issue in the case are illegal.
The judge ordered T-Mobile to remove the illegal passages from the rules and post notices letting workers know about the changes. T-Mobile is trying to downplay this as some kind of boring "technical issue in the law," but:
“This is not the case of a rogue manager here or there,” said Joseph A. McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University. “This is saying that the company’s handbook contained a number of prohibitions that clearly violate the workers’ rights.”
Labor law is still law. Breaking labor law is still breaking the law. And that's what T-Mobile did. What's more, T-Mobile's German parent company is unionized, and that union has already been raising questions about the American company's dodgy labor practices, giving American workers a pressure point beyond the weak penalties the NLRB can impose. Larry Cohen, the president of the Communications Workers of America, said in a statement that "Deutsche Telekom, the principal owner of T-Mobile US, has claimed that its U.S. subsidiary follows the law. Now we have the official word: T-Mobile US is a lawbreaker. Bonn, the headquarters of DT, no longer can hide behind the false statements made by T-Mobile US executives. These behaviors would be almost unimaginable in Germany or any other democracy in the world." No kidding. What's Deutsche Telekom going to do about its law-breaking subsidiary?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Latest On ULA and ULX

ULA has a NLRB hearing scheduled for Feb 17th at the NLRB offices in downtown LA. The union has multiple charges against the Conway and are looking to get the election over turned and possibly have another election. Or who knows we might take the high road and walk out for a few days to show Conway who really runs this company.

As for ULX, the company is holding back the certification of our election. Once the NLRB forces Conway to certify us then we could move forward and start talking about negotiating our contract.
We have to make something clear, CONWAY IS HOLDING US BACK FROM NEGOTIATING A CONTRACT! We need to stand as the UNION at our yard so that management stops playing games with our future. We voted yes and we should start acting like a UNION!!!