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United Steelworkers dispute with ArcelorMittal spills into public view

  • October 23, 2018

The United Steelworkers union today disputed a public update of bargaining negotiations released by the steel company ArcelorMittal Monday, signaling that the two parties remain far from a contract agreement.

In dueling statements over the past 24 hours, ArcelorMittal and USW each suggested that the other was standing in the way of a final agreement. On Monday, ArcelorMittal said it presented the union with a four-year contract proposal with raises up to 4 percent a year and additional contributions to the Steelworkers Pension Trust.

“Based on publicly available information, we believe our offer is consistent with the pattern established by other industry participants and the USW,” the company said in a written statement.

USW, in a statement to members today, called the company’s description “incomplete” and “misleading,” pointing the finger directly at ArcelorMittal CEO John Brett.

“As always, ‘the devil is in the details,’ and of course, Brett doesn’t want to talk about them,” the union said. “He also claims the offer meets the industry pattern, but what he really means is that [ArcelorMittal’s] offer ‘cherry picks’ the industry pattern.”

United Steelworkers has authorized a strike against the company, accusing it of not passing on to workers an expansion in its profits attributable to President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. Last week, the company reached a tentative agreement with U.S. Steel, which together with ArcelorMittal accounts for 40 percent of the country’s flat-rolled steel production.

Georgetown graduate student union election set for next month

  • October 22, 2018

Georgetown University graduate students will vote Nov. 5-8 on whether to unionize, the administration said today.

The student organizing committee this month filed for a union election supervised by the American Arbitration Association as an alternative to the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board, which is looking for a case to overturn an Obama-era ruling that allowed grad students at private universities to unionize.

The university has said it will recognize the union voluntarily if the students vote in favor. In an email to students today, the university said the third-party election “creates a framework recognizing that graduate students’ relationship with the university is fundamentally an educational one, while also responding to their desire to have a stronger voice in the terms of their service as Graduate Student Assistants.”

Students at Brown University also are seeking a third-party union election.

McDonald’s pushes back on recusal opinion from Bush ethics lawyer

  • October 11, 2018

POLITICO is reporting that McDonald’s has disputed an opinion from George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer that NLRB Chairman John Ring and member William Emanuel should recuse themselves in a case over whether the corporation is responsible for labor violations allegedly committed by franchisees and contractors.

Richard Painter, now a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said in a letter that the involvement of Ring’s and Emanuel’s former law firms clashes with President Donald Trump’s ethics pledge.

McDonald’s, in a response filing to the NLRB, described Painter as a “recently failed Democratic Senate candidate,” referring to his unsuccessful bid for the vacant seat left by former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn).

“Painter’s analysis ignores the plain language of the order and is based neither on the text of the recusal rules, nor board precedent,” McDonald’s wrote. “Instead, Painter urges this board to adopt a newly minted standard, based solely upon his misapplication of applicable rules and unsupported opinions. The board should disregard Painter’s letter and deny charging parties’ motion for recusal.”

The filing was obtained by POLITICO in advance of posting on the NLRB’s public docket.

While Ring’s and Emanuel’s law firms — Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson, respectively — were not directly involved in the McDonald’s case, Painter said that they did advise McDonald’s on matters related to employee pay and union organizing. The problem, Painter argued, is that the advice became tangled in the current dispute before the NLRB.

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