Labor Relations Headline Round-Up For May 19, 2017

  • May 19, 2017
CUE Labor Newsletter for Friday, May 19, 2017
From the CUE Blog
Local Legislation to Watch

President Trump can influence, but certainly can’t control, issues and legislation at the state and local level. Local issues rose in importance during the Obama administration, when gridlock in Washington forced states and cities to address minimum wage, scheduling, paid family leave, and overtime legislation.

It’s Yuuge – Labor Law Update & Trump’s First 100 Days

President Trump said he’d be an instant disrupter, and our lives will certainly be disrupted over the next few years. Here are some labor law predictions from our panel of experts at the 2017 CUE Spring Conference.

International Labor Update

One of the most enlightening sessions at the 2017 CUE Spring Conference was the international labor update. If you operate as a part of an international company, this is a case of “what you don’t know can and will hurt you.”

Regional Differences Matter

International labor experts identify major differences in four major regions of the world: Mexico, Japan, US/Canada, and Europe.

Here’s a real example of how these differences can play out. The United Auto Workers (UAW) recently distributed brochures in the US and Canada that asserted that a global auto manufacturer has more unionized plants, worldwide, than non-union plants. That’s a bold statement, but it doesn’t reveal the entire truth: in some countries, employers with over 25 – 50 employees must have unions.

Labor Relations
Canada: WestJet pilots vote to form union

More than 1,400 WestJet pilots have voted 62 per cent in favour of forming the first union at Canada’s second-largest airline.

Labor Side: Republicans Will Turn the NLRB into a Force for Union Busting. We Can Turn It Back.

Here comes the anti-union crackdown.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, Donald Trump has submitted the names of two anti-union lawyers to the FBI for vetting. This is a precursor to nominating them to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by June to cement a Republican majority that will reverse many of the pro-worker decisions and policies that the federal agency has advanced in recent years.

Union Tells Picket-Crossing Worker to Pay Up

A year after winning raises for Verizon workers in a nationwide strike, the Communications Workers union has brought a court complaint against one of its own who crossed the picket line.

Nearly 40,000 workers walked off the job in mid-April 2016 after Verizon failed to reach a labor agreement with the two unions representing its landline and cable workers – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America — eight months after their contract expired.

CWA’s Local 1400 spent the six-week standoff outside a Verizon store in Lowell, Massachusetts, but filed suit last week against one woman who ignored the order to strike.

Anti-Trump groups have a new target: McDonald’s

Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets this year to march for women’s equality, environmental issues and an overhaul of the president’s immigration policies. Now for the first time, the anti-Trump resistance movement is setting its sights on a corporation: McDonald’s.

Organizers from the Women’s March, and the Bernie Sanders campaign spinoff Our Revolution will join forces next Tuesday to march from Trump Tower in downtown Chicago to the Rock N Roll McDonald’s, a half-mile away. Their goal: to rally the fast-food giant — and the country’s second-largest employer — to pay an hourly minimum wage of $15 and allow its workers to unionize.

“McDonald’s, frankly, is the Donald Trump of corporations,” said Kendall Fells, organizing director of “Fight for $15,” a labor movement backed by the Service Employees International Union, which is leading the effort. “There’s no way to resist Donald Trump without resisting the corporations that are bringing us all down.”

Labor Side: GOP Uses Voter Suppression Playbook to Attack Unions

In an effort to consolidate power, a group of extremist Republican lawmakers are running roughshod over worker rights, deploying tactics similar to those used to block a number of African Americans, Latinos, and millennials from voting. In recent years, attacks on voting and union rights have largely been focused in the states. But now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House, federal action on both fronts is becoming increasingly more likely.

Much like the right to vote or assemble peacefully, the right of workers to join together as a group to bargain collectively should be considered a fundamental right. In fact, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right of workers to form and join unions. Even President Ronald Reagan once said the right to belong to a union is “one of the most elemental human rights.”

Canada: Union leaders must get with the times

Canada’s labour movement is dominated by union leaders mired in 1950s-style thinking and in need of a shake up, Unifor President Jerry Dias argues.

“We have a bunch of 67-year-old labour leaders that are afraid of change.” Dias told the Toronto Sun. “And that’s why they are comfortable with the status quo.”

Who Knew? Union CEO-Shamers Are Hypocrites

The AFL-CIO just published its annual hit piece against America’s best-compensated CEOs. The union behemoth worryingly reports that “CEO pay for major U.S. companies has risen nearly 6 percent, as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased. According to the new AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 — 347 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker.” Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) notes, “That’s up from 123 to 1 in the mid-1990s, and 20 to 1 in the 1960s.”

But as usual, there are some major caveats — and hypocrisy to boot. Two issues — a highly dubious methodology and a damning contradiction — completely undermine the AFL-CIO narrative.

Second Circuit Identifies Outer Limits of NLRA-Protected Speech

After decisions by the Administrative Law Judge and the NLRB in favor of the employee, the case made its way to the Second Circuit, which also found that the employee’s Facebook message was not so egregious as to lose the protection of the NLRA. In reaching its conclusion, the court relied heavily on the NLRB’s factual findings and interpretation of the NLRA, but it also determined that the post was “vulgar and inappropriate” and sat at the “outer-bounds of protected, union-related comments.” The court cited the following factors in support of its decision:

State and Local Issues
Retail workers union pushes for veto of minimum wage bill

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 are urging Gov. Eric Greitens to veto the recently passed legislation that blocks local minimum wages, including that of the city of St. Louis.

According to the union, about 500 UFCW workers in the city of St. Louis would see their paychecks shrink if Greitens signs the bill. “Taking the money that someone has earned out of their pocket is shameful,” Local 655 President David Cook said in a statement.

Congress Could Follow Some States to Add Benefits for Gig Workers

Some federal lawmakers want to make it easier for on-demand workers to get health insurance, retirement and other portable benefits, mirroring efforts already going on in some states.

Fast Food Workers in New York Fight for Fair Schedules, Rights and Dignified Conditions

Fast food workers in New York – the U.S.’s most expensive city – already launched and won the #FightFor15. Now, they insist that they deserve more.

Fast food workers are continuing their push for rights and benefits, converging Wednesday on New York City Hall to deliver thousands of petitions urging members of the City Council support a package of bills known as the Fair Workweek.

Among the demands are the right to organize, an end to unpredictable and unfair scheduling and a range of specific improvements that would ease the lives of upwards of 50,000 hard-working fast food service employees across the city.

The action, organized by the Fast Food Forward campaign, comes as fast food workers continue to push for gains after successfully leading the fight to win a statewide minimum wage of US$15, a victory that set in motion after hundreds of workers walked off their jobs in New York City, sparking a nationwide struggle. However, the increases will only take effect incrementally, and over the course of a few years. Given the exorbitant cost of living in the city, among other factors, workers insist that they deserve more.

Freelancing Just Got A Little Less Horrible

The New York City act makes it easier for freelancers to collect payment they’re owed. And it’s made unlikely allies of on-demand companies and labor advocates.

Leadership and Best Practices
In Comey Dismissal, A Lesson in How Not to Fire Someone

Politics aside, President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is a stark example of how not to fire someone.

How Noncompete Clauses Keep Workers Locked In

Restrictions once limited to executives are now spreading across the labor landscape — making it tougher for Americans to get a raise.

Keith Bollinger’s paycheck as a factory manager had shriveled after the 2008 financial crisis, but then he got a chance to pull himself out of recession’s hole. A rival textile company offered him a better job — and a big raise.

When he said yes, it set off a three-year legal battle that concluded this past week but wiped out his savings along the way.

“I tried to get a better life for my wife and my son, and it backfired,” said Mr. Bollinger, who is 53. “Now I’m in my mid-50s, and I’m ruined.”

The Power of Servant Leadership

Conversations around leadership aren’t going away anytime soon. And for obvious reason- leadership has the potential to make or break a company. Scroll through LinkedIn and you’ll see article upon article dissecting what makes a great leader. Here at Roam we value leadership just as much as the next guy- it’s hugely important as we select team members to champion our culture in our hospitality operation. Sure- accolades, awards, and leadership positions stand out on a resume. But there’s another aspect of leadership that carries even more weight. Servant-leadership.

The Case for Schools, Companies to Engage in Formal Partnership

Business and university partnerships can take many forms, but communication between parties is key to ensuring program and student success.

Does Your Employee Handbook Need a Midyear Checkup?

New workplace laws on minimum wage, paid sick leave, criminal background investigations and more are popping up all the time—and they don’t always take effect at the beginning of a new year. HR professionals need to communicate these changes with their workforce as the laws become effective, but how often should you revise your employee handbook? Employment attorneys told SHRM Online that the answer depends on a few factors.

The frequency of handbook reviews may depend on how big the employer is and how many states it operates in, said Lucas Asper, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Greenville, S.C.

Beyond Basic Income: Claiming Our Right to Govern Technology

One common characteristic of universal basic income advocates, and indeed progressives and labor more generally, is a near-fatalistic acceptance of the current path of technological development. It is a gaping hole in discussions about the future of work: either we are sticking our heads in the sand and avoiding the topic altogether, or we’re accepting automation as inevitable and therefore immediately ratcheting to basic income as the solution. For a movement that routinely challenges the market discipline of capitalism, this constitutes a striking retreat. To state the obvious, humans are the creators of new technology and can shape the path it takes (at least for now). Automation and displacement are not the only possible outcome.

How Do Unions Fit in the Modern Working World?

Labor unions in the United States have been on the decline for decades, but one group of technology workers are looking to revive it — albeit with nontraditional motivations.

Tech Solidarity was founded in November 2016. But rather than fighting for higher compensation and better working hours like most traditional unions, the group says it is organizing to deliver a different message: it won’t help companies collaborate “on dubious government policies from immigration to surveillance,” such as a Muslim database proposed by the Trump administration, according to a March 2017 Quartz article.

Shared interests that leads to traditional unionization appears to be on the decline, as evidenced by the number of wage and salaried workers belonging to a union dropping from about 20 percent in 1983 to 11 percent in 2014, according to Pew Research Center. This makes Tech Solidarity’s emergence significant, especially in an era of abundantly rich salaries and working conditions in the technology sector. Unique to the group is its motivation for organizing, which experts say nowadays doesn’t always need to be wage related. Its emergence has also brought to light a renewed conversation on the role of unions in the modern workforce.

Toward a Marshall Plan for America

Rebuilding Our Towns, Cities, and the Middle Class

The past few years have been marked by disruptive elections and political upheavals across the Western world. In the United States, the election of Donald Trump was preceded by the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and followed by the far-right National Front making the second round of voting in France’s presidential election. Since the U.S. election, there has been widespread discussion about the causes of the electoral shift from the decisive win for Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump’s win in 2016. Political analysts richly debate whether economic or cultural anxiety played the most critical role. While the election was decided by a small number of votes overall, there was a significant shift of votes in counties in critical Electoral College states, including Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

More Robots, Fewer Jobs

Are you about to be replaced by a robot? The question has broad implications for the U.S. economy, especially the manufacturing sector. Industries that robotize tend to increase output. But robots can have dire consequences for workers.

Two economists recently concluded that both jobs and wages fall in parts of the U.S. where more robots are installed. The March 2017 study by Daron Acemoglu of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University shows the commuting zones—i.e., local labor markets—where robot installations have grown the most.

Hot Links
Uber Has a Union of Sorts, but Faces Doubts on Its Autonomy

More workers are testing positive for drugs

Uber’s CTO and a board director are under pressure in its sexual harassment investigation

SEIU strikes deal with Partners for workers at Northampton hospital

UploadVR facing sexual harassment lawsuit

Labor Board Allows Evidence to Explain Employee Handbook Ban on Video Recording

Restaurant Chains Hit with Wage Theft Lawsuits

This overlooked labor rule could be a huge drag on U.S. businesses