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In the News
AMENDMENT 1 COULD LET ILLINOIS POLICE UNIONS UNDO SAFE-T ACT MANDATES
December 2, 2022 // In fact, government unions could override more than 350 state laws through their collective bargaining agreements. That includes at least 11 provisions related to DCFS workers and 38 provisions in the School Code aimed at protecting children. With nearly 30 state contracts expiring in 2023 – and more than 6,000 units of government in Illinois that could also negotiate union contracts in the next few years – Illinoisans could soon find out just how much power government unions have been granted. And they could see it thousands of times over.
‘A huge opportunity for the labor movement’: Unions jump on newly won Democratic trifectas
December 1, 2022 // And if Democrats succeed in repealing certain laws in Michigan — and in pushing through other union-backed measures — union officials and campaign operatives hope to rekindle the labor movement’s influence in other states. Democrats are putting their energy toward raising the minimum wage, banning so-called captive audience meetings where employers can warn against unionization, and more. “We’re busy preparing our legislative agenda, because we put everything we had into the ground game for this election,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in an interview. “How can we go on offense to pass legislation to protect people’s voice and ability to exercise their rights?”
Eight Individuals Charged in Alleged $30 Million Unemployment Benefits Scheme
December 1, 2022 // According to court documents, Tyshion Nautese Hicks, 30, of Vienna, Georgia; Shatara Hubbard, 34, of Warner Robins, Georgia; Torella Wynn, 30, of Cordele, Georgia; Macovian Doston, 29, of Vienna; Kenya Whitehead, 35, of Cordele; A’Darrion Alexander, 27, of Warner Robins; Membrish Brown, 27, of Vienna; and Edith Nate Hicks, 45, of Atlanta, Georgia and others allegedly caused more than 5,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance (UI) claims to be filed with the Georgia Department of Labor (GaDOL), resulting in at least $30 million in stolen benefits meant to assist unemployed individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. To execute the scheme, the defendants and others allegedly created fictitious employers and fabricated lists of purported employees using stolen personally identifiable information (PII) from thousands of identity theft victims and filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims on the GaDOL website. The defendants allegedly stole PII from a variety of sources, including by paying defendant Edith Nate Hicks, an employee of an Atlanta-area health care and hospital network, to unlawfully obtain patients’ PII from the hospital’s databases. The defendants also allegedly caused the stolen UI funds to be disbursed via prepaid debit cards mailed to addresses of their choice, many of which were in and around Cordele and Vienna.
After right-to-work’s anniversary in Arkansas, Fayetteville Starbucks becomes the state’s first location to unioniz
December 1, 2022 // Arkansas' right-to-work law turned 78-years-old on Nov. 7, and a little over a week after its anniversary, a Fayetteville Starbucks became the first location in the state to unionize. Although right-to-work effects how unions function, other factors like deindustrialization impacted the state's labor movement.
‘Fight for $15’? How quaint. Powerful Chicago union now wants $25 per hour minimum wage – Wirepoints
December 1, 2022 // Order employers to pay at least $25 per hour. That’s the new position of Chicago’s powerful chapter of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, as reported by Crain’s and ABC Chicago. It would be a 60% increase in Chicago’s current wage of $15.40 per hour. SEIU wants candidates for Chicago mayor, alderman and other city offices to take a position on that increase, and “the group appears quite serious about that,” according to Crain’s. So far, no candidate has said no to the increase, SEIU told Crain’s. The union’s full candidate questionnaire is here. It seems like the ink on Fight for 15 posters has barely dried. That movement to push wages up to $15 per hour might appear to be largely successful on the surface. The Fight for $15’s “success is inspirational” to labor activists, as The Guardian reported last week.
Judge tells Amazon: Stop retaliating against employees
December 1, 2022 // According to the decision, the NLRB's argument was that failing to rehire the terminated employee would result in a weakening of the ALU's ability to organize. There wasn't any evidence presented to indicate that, the judge said, adding that the employee "was terminated approximately one year before the ALU was formed." Per the judge, that means this case is distinguishable from similar ones in which reinstatement would be justified. JFK8 employees voted to join the ALU in April 2022, not long after the ALU petitioned the NLRB for the right to hold a union election. Another vote to organize a second Staten Island warehouse in May of this year failed to pass, which led the NLRB to file another complaint against Amazon in September alleging unfair treatment of union organizers. The NLRB alleges the treatment may have affected the vote, and the case is still ongoing.
A new union is born in the South
December 1, 2022 // USSW workers and staff are bullish on their new union, believing that its fusion of labor and human rights organizing will help them secure livable wages, stronger safety protections, control over their work schedules, and new respect for the African Americans and Latinos who make up the majority of their members. They are encouraged by the growing public approval for labor unions and the increase in worker protest during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among essential or frontline workers. They are also building off of nine years of organizing through Raise Up — the Southern expression of the Fight for $15 and a Union and an affiliate of the sprawling Service Employees International Union. Raise Up veterans like Gas and Smalls, and the Durham, North Carolina-based Ieisha Franceis and Jamila Allen, will be critical to the USSW's success. Beginning in September 2020 and continuing over the next year, Franceis and Allen led three walkouts that forced their employer, Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, to agree to their demands for raises, paid leave for employees in quarantine, and new sanitation procedures. Franceis was initially hesitant about striking, but she trusted the much younger and more soft-spoken Allen, who had been meeting with Raise Up organizers for a year and gently prodding her coworkers to take collective action.
NY POST Opinion: Union Joe suddenly turns into Union-Buster-in-Chief — to save himself
December 1, 2022 // With Americans already facing Bidenflation and a potentially painful recession, a rail strike would utterly slam the nation’s economy — and his legacy. “I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement [reached in September by] railroad workers and operators,” Biden said Monday, insisting no “path to resolve the dispute at the bargaining table” exists. Hmm. Just this year he was backing unionization of Amazon workers, warning, “Amazon, here we come. Watch.” Last year, too, he pushed unionization drives and praised organized labor for winning workers better terms. His proposed Protecting the Right to Organize Act and American Jobs Plan aimed to unionize practically the entire US workforce (by nixing states’ right-to-work laws, for example).
Fears rise that UC strike could have long-lasting consequences on vaunted research, teaching
November 30, 2022 // “As long as this strike lasts, faculty across the system will be exercising their right to honor the picket line by refusing to conduct university labor up to and including submission of grades — labor that would not be possible without the labor of all other academic workers as well as university staff,” the faculty said in a statement. “We do this toward bettering the working and learning conditions of all students present and future.” The union is demanding significant pay increases to ease the burden of high rents in the pricey areas where UC campuses are located, along with more support for child care, parental leave, transportation, healthcare and international students. UC’s offers of wage increases don’t come close to meeting union demands but would make academic workers some of the highest paid among comparable public and private institutions, university officials say.
This East Bay Coffee Company Just Entered Its Union Phase
November 30, 2022 // A new coffee company union effort just launched not far from California’s state capital. No, it’s not more Starbucks locations demanding better working conditions. This time it’s the East Bay’s own Peet’s that’s looking to get a union started. According to More Perfect Union, workers from two Davis stores will submit their cards to the NLRB on November 28, signaling a formal intent to unionize. The stores have near-unanimous support from staff and have been organizing for about five months, according to Alyx Land, a leader at the North Davis location. The worker says one of his main reasons for getting involved was receiving a 50-cent raise at his last performance review which, given inflation, means his promotion sees him making less money than last year.
Chris Smalls Taunts Musk, Says ‘Disgruntled’ Employee Wants Help Unionizing
November 30, 2022 // Labor organizer Chris Smalls taunted Elon Musk Monday evening, saying a "disgruntled" Tesla employee reached out to him, seeking help with unionizing. Smalls tweeted an image showing an email he received from an unidentified individual with the subject line: "Organizing activity at Tesla." He captioned the picture with a barb aimed at Musk, the Tesla CEO who has made headlines in recent weeks over his purchase of social media giant Twitter.
NLRB Rejects USW Union Boss Attempt to Impose Contract Workers Voted Down to Block Election to Remove Union
November 30, 2022 // Steelworkers union officials attempted to wield anti-worker “contract bar” to trap workers in union they oppose, using union contract workers twice rejected With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Kerry Hunsberger and her coworkers at Latrobe Specialty Metals Company have scored a victory in their effort to vote United Steelworkers (USW) union officials out of their facility. Hunsberger and her coworkers are challenging USW officials’ secret “ratification” of a union contract that workers had overwhelmingly voted down twice, and union officials’ contention that the employees should be barred from exercising their right to oust the union because of that contract. A decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director in Pittsburgh now orders a union “decertification election” to be held among Hunsberger and her colleagues on December 6. In August, Hunsberger submitted to the NLRB a petition backed by the requisite number of her colleagues to trigger such a vote, but USW union bosses dragged their feet and argued that a non-statutory NLRB policy, the so-called “contract bar,” should block the employees’ right to vote because a contract was in place.
‘Joe Biden blew it’: Rail workers union lashes out at the White House
November 30, 2022 // “Joe Biden blew it," Railroad Workers United said in a press release. "He had the opportunity to prove his labor-friendly pedigree to millions of workers by simply asking Congress for legislation to end the threat of a national strike on terms more favorable to workers. Sadly, he could not bring himself to advocate for a lousy handful of sick days. The Democrats and Republicans are both pawns of big business and the corporations.” Biden frequently calls himself the most pro-union president in history, yet he's now urging Congress to use the power granted it under the Railway Labor Act of 1926 to avert a strike that would cause severe economic disruption. After meeting with Biden at the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) vowed Congress would take up a bill this week to avert a strike. Biden has called on railway workers to accept the labor contract brokered by the White House in September, warning that a strike threatens “crippling” disruption.
Workers’ rights case appealed to Supreme Court by Washington think tank
November 30, 2022 // Kurk attempted to withdraw from the union in September 2018, but union officials denied the request, saying she could not resign until 30 days prior to the end of the collective bargaining agreement, Jun. 30, 2020. The Freedom Foundation sued LRCEA in 2019, asserting the union contract violates the First Amendment. Given the Janus ruling, the maintenance of membership provision is unconstitutional, the suit argued. Further, the 2017 California law could not be retroactively applied to Kurk. The suit was summarily dismissed by Judge Kimberly Meuller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The dismissal was upheld on appeal.
What Home-Based Care Agencies Should Know About The Independent Contractor Proposed Rul
November 29, 2022 // “In other words, just the ability to manage somebody that is not exercised in any way can be considered employment. I think that takes it a step too far. The question should really be about what is actually occurring, not what is possible.”
California Home Depot Freight Drivers Overwhelmingly Vote to Oust Unwanted Teamsters Union
November 29, 2022 // After over 80% of drivers voted against union, workers are free of union monopoly ‘representation’ and forced union fee demands. A group of freight drivers at Home Depot in San Jose, California, have overwhelmingly voted to remove the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 853 union from their workplace. The workers’ decertification petition was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 32 with free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
More Cannabis Workers Push For Unionization To Break Industry Barriers
November 29, 2022 // With cannabis workers in their ranks that range from processors, budtenders, chefs, and lab workers to cultivators and delivery personnel, the UFCW International sees their "Cannabis Organizing" campaign as a multi-pronged effort to increase the power of workers' voices, break the stigma around cannabis that exists in communities of color, increase the number of minority cannabis dispensary license holders and level the equity playing field in a rapidly growing industry.
ICE employees say agency canceled their union but still collected dues
November 29, 2022 // The ICE Council’s original complaint over the summer alleged that AFGE misused union money on strip clubs, solicitation of prostitutes and legal settlements to hush up allegations of sexual misconduct by AFGE’s leadership.
Biden to Congress: Intervene in labor dispute, avert rail strike that would ‘devastate’ US
November 29, 2022 // With a Dec. 9 strike deadline fast approaching, Biden urged Congress to adopt "without any modifications or delay" an agreement brokered by the White House in September between labor unions and rail operators. Four of the 12 unions have voted to reject the five-year agreement, which was intended to avoid a shutdown of the nation's freight rail system. "A rail shutdown would devastate our economy," Biden said in a statement. "Without freight rail, many U.S. industries would shut down. My economic advisors report that as many as 765,000 Americans – many union workers themselves – could be put out of work in the first two weeks alone. Communities could lose access to chemicals necessary to ensure clean drinking water. Farms and ranches across the country could be unable to feed their livestock."
Dates set for Ultium Cells to vote to join UAW
November 28, 2022 // Dates have been set for workers at Ultium Cells in Lordstown to vote to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. This voting comes after months of efforts from Ultium Cells workers to unionize. In August, 85% of Ultium Cells workers signed union authorization cards. 94% of workers have voted to strike should General Motors not recognize them as a union.