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In the News
$11 billion was stolen from taxpayers in a massive fraud — will officials just ignore it?
November 28, 2022 // The Labor Department repeatedly blamed identity theft for its fraud problems — but the audit revealed it didn’t implement a system that could meaningfully curb identify theft until February 2021. Labor Department officials still can’t say how many fraudulent claims were paid or how long it took to detect them. Audits revealing incompetence and bad decisions aren’t uncommon. But DiNapoli’s team, to its lasting credit, found something worse: Labor Department officials had gone rogue, repeatedly misleading legislators and the public. When Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon addressed lawmakers in January 2022, she said the department had “prevented over $36 billion from falling into the hands of criminals.” Auditors, however, found that claim couldn’t be substantiated.
Park City Mountain mechanics, electricians followed path to union
November 28, 2022 // When Park City Mountain lift mechanics and electricians voted Tuesday to unionize, they embarked on the same path taken by ski patrollers at their resort and others in the western United States, to negotiate for better wages and working conditions through collective bargaining. In a 35-6 vote, the workers became what are believed to be the first unionized ski resort mechanics in the country. The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, with voting taking place Monday and Tuesday.
Uber and Lyft drivers strike over pay at Denver International Airport
November 28, 2022 // Car horns were blazing as members of Colorado Independent Drivers United, a union representing Uber, Lyft, and Doordash drivers, held a four-hour strike at Denver International Airport Saturday. The drivers also shut off their apps during that period. It is unclear how much of an impact the strike had on travelers looking for rides out of DIA. Uber stated that it did not see an impact on service at the airport. CIDU posted on Twitter that it had “near-total participation” from drivers. Transportation Network Companies (TNC) Act of 2014, Driver Advisory Council,
Op-ed by Marty Walsh: Protecting the Right to Organize Act will help unions win their first contracts
November 28, 2022 // The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is strongly supported by the Biden-Harris administration. Introduced by Sen. Patty Murray and co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, the act would establish a mediation and arbitration process for reaching a first contract agreement. The PRO Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2021, is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Longshoremen strike CSA operations at the Port of Mobile after mediation falls apart
November 28, 2022 // The International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1410 began striking CSA Equipment Company’s breakbulk operations at the Port of Mobile Tuesday, less than a month after the two sides agreed to federal mediation. There are four main issues at the heart of negotiations between the local chapter of the union and the stevedoring company: line handling (tying up vessels), retroactive payments to the union’s pension plan, the number of workers per unit and jurisdiction over stevedoring operations at the port. Currently, non-union workers can tie up vessels that union workers are contracted to unload with CSA, something that the union wants to change. Bass says the union wants to control line-handling for any vessels that they unload, which the union says was the case in the past. Line-handling control means more man-hours for union workers, Bass says, which is important because stevedoring work isn’t consistent. SSA Marine and Cooper/T. Smith,
St. Louis Apple Store abandons plans to unionize due to alleged ‘increased hostility’
November 28, 2022 // IAM previously filed an “Unfair Labor Practice charge at the NLRB against Apple for requiring the St. Louis Apple store employees to attend a captive audience meeting and making threats of reprisal if the employees choose to organize with the IAM.” Interestingly, IAM was who organized the first Apple Store in the US that successfully unionized in Maryland. But the situation changed quickly in St. Louis. As reported by Bloomberg, the staff has now withdrawn its plan to move forward with the process.
Amazon warehouse workers plan walkouts, call for strikes on Black Friday
November 25, 2022 // Labor stoppages are being planned for several warehouse locations throughout the country, including Bessemer, Ala.; Columbia, Md.; Detroit, Mich.; Durham, NC; Garner, NC; Joliet, Ill.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; and Washington, DC. There is also a planned work stoppage at several Whole Foods store locations. Whole Foods is a subsidiary of Amazon. Amazon employees and labor activists also plan to hold a protest rally in front of a New York City residence owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, according to CBS News. The labor actions are being organized on social media under the hashtag #MakeAmazonPay.
Sen. Braun Introduce Bill To Maximize Americans’ Retirement Funds
November 25, 2022 // Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to require plan fiduciaries to select investments solely on pecuniary factors. If a fiduciary cannot distinguish between investments on pecuniary factors alone they may use non-pecuniary factors, but must provide participants reasoning for their decision. Pecuniary factors are defined as any factors that a fiduciary prudently determines is expected to have a material effect on the risk or return of an investment. fiduciary duty of plan administrators, ESG (environmental, social and governance) funds,
Most NEA-Alaska Spending Goes to Its Staff, Not Members
November 23, 2022 // In fact, “benefits paid to or for members,” totaled to $0.00. According to the IRS description, this means no money at all went toward unemployment compensation, “death, sickness, hospitalization, or disability benefits” for members. Of NEA-Alaska’s 33 employees, seven received more than $150,000 in annual compensation from the union. The top-earning employee was UniServ Director Debra Omstead, who received $186,302 in total compensation from the union. Other top-earning employees were UniServ Directors Hedy Eischeid ($181,311), Valerie Baffone ($176,754), and Monica Southworth ($150,690), as well as Chief Financial Officer Karen Roope ($176,538) and Communications Director Zachary Mannix ($173,309). Glenn Bafia, the executive director, only received $11,416 in nontaxable benefits from the union but received $167,472 from “related organizations.” The union spent $125,962 on travel and $3,318 on conferences and meetings. Incredibly, the organization managed to spend $91,487 on dues and subscriptions, which does not include the $170,197 fee the union paid to the National Education Association, which had spent $13.6 million during the 2022 election cycle as of this writing on political activities and lobbying nationally. NEA-Alaska also spent $158,734 of its members’ dues on advertising and promotion. Anchorage Education Association, Classified Employees Association, Education Support Staff Association, Fairbanks Education Association, Matanuska-Susitna Education Association,
Amazon air hub workers launch campaign to form union
November 23, 2022 // A group of workers who handle planes and packages at Amazon’s national air hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) are trying to unionize the facility, demanding $30 per hour in starting wages and other benefits. The organizing committee says it is looking to affiliate with one of the national unions trying to organize workers at the giant online retailer, which has a history of aggressively combating efforts to form unions at its fulfillment centers. The disgruntled airport workers are also calling for 180 hours of paid time off, without a cap on accrued time, union representation at disciplinary meetings and more flexible working conditions.
Storm King Workers Push to Unionize Amid Art Center’s $45 M. Revamp
November 23, 2022 // Employees at the Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park in upstate New York, announced plans to unionize late last month, the Art Newspaper reported Tuesday. The move follows the non-profit’s announcement in August of a $45 million revamp of its campus. Staff organizers, who come across numerous departments of the outdoor destination, detailed their plans to join the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), an affiliate branch with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The Consumer Protection Bureau’s Union Is Pushing for Better Pay, Fewer Pay Gaps
November 22, 2022 // CFPB employee representatives said the agency is dragging its feet on plans to reduce gender and racial pay gaps, as well as to comply with federal law requiring compensation comparable with other financial regulators.
Fairfax Co. first responders vote to unionize for the first time in 40 years
November 22, 2022 // Firefighters and paramedics in Fairfax County, Virginia, became the first group in 40 years to unionize Friday, after members totaled more than 3,300 24-hour days of mandatory overtime in just one calendar year. The vote was announced by the union in a press release, stating that the roughly 1,500 emergency personnel would be the first public sector employees in over four decades to enter a collective bargaining agreement. Until 2021, employees in the public sector couldn’t legally unionize. That changed in Fairfax County in early 2022, when the jurisdiction passed an ordinance that allowed state employees to collectively bargain.
New service union seeks to inspire labor movement in South
November 22, 2022 // Organizers of USSW seek to supplement, rather than compete with, existing movements like Starbucks Workers United. The group will join the nearly 2 million members of the Service Employees International Union, and its demands include better pay, fair grievance processes, safe workplaces, health care benefits and consistent scheduling.
Christian worker files discrimination charges over forced SEIU membership
November 22, 2022 // A security officer has filed discrimination charges against his employer for taking union dues out of his paycheck even though he has repeatedly identified union membership as a violation of his religious beliefs. Thomas Ross, a San Francisco-based security officer who works for Allied Universal, has filed discrimination charges against his employer for forcing him to join the Service Employees International Union in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and federal labor law. While Ross repeatedly informed his employers of his religious objection to joining the union, his employer took union dues out of his paycheck anyway.
Las Vegas Police Officer Urges Supreme Court to Hear Case Battling Union’s Unconstitutional Dues Scheme
November 22, 2022 // Las Vegas police officer Melodie DePierro has submitted a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to hear her lawsuit defending her First Amendment right to abstain from paying dues to a union she does not support. DePierro is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. DePierro, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officer, contends in the lawsuit that officials of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (PPA) union seized dues money from her paycheck in violation of her First Amendment rights pursuant to a so-called “window period” specified in the union contract. PPA officials’ “window period” scheme prohibits police officers from opting out of union financial support for over 90% of the year. DePierro never consented to – nor was ever informed of – this limitation.
Workers unionize at Enoch Pratt Free Library
November 22, 2022 // Enoch Pratt Free Library is now unionized, following workers' demands for better wages, a safer working environment, consistency in hiring and promotion processes at the library, and an overall desire for respect as staff as primary motivations for organizing. Friday, the decision came down to a 218-12 vote to join Pratt Workers United. The new bargaining unit will now represent approximately 330 workers from EPFL system's 22 library branches throughout the City of Baltimore.
AFL-CIO raising dues to fund membership organizing
November 22, 2022 // The country’s largest labor union voted to hike union membership dues for the first time in 17 years – all in an effort to fund a 1-million-new-member recruitment drive. Bloomberg Law reported the union anticipates the hike in dues will raise $10 million per year for the recruitment drive from AFL-CIO’s membership of 12 million workers in 58 affiliated unions. AFL-CIO President Elizabeth Shuler called the recruitment drive an “unparalleled investment dedicated exclusively to organizing to build power for America’s workers seizing this unprecedented moment.” Yet the 1 million workers pledge, as Bloomberg Law noted, would try to grow the union population by 7% during a time of shrinking union membership.
SCOTUS Should Rein in Rogue Federal Labor Board in Ohio National Guard Case
November 21, 2022 // Americans for Fair Treatment (AFFT) today filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Ohio Adjutant General’s Department v. Federal Labor Relations Authority. This little-known case could rein in a rogue federal labor board that has dramatically expanded the definition of a federal agency and ignored public employees’ First Amendment rights—all to benefit public-sector union officials. The case concerns the Ohio Adjutant General’s authority to determine Ohio National Guard technicians’ conditions of employment, including collective bargaining rights. In 2016, the Adjutant General announced that he would stop abiding by a two-year-expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that previously represented National Guard technicians. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) then ruled on the union’s behalf in an unfair labor practice charge, ordering the Adjutant General to reinstate the union and abide by the expired CBA.
Largest U.S. rail labor union votes against contract, raising strike possibility
November 21, 2022 // Workers at the largest U.S. rail union voted against a tentative contract deal reached in September raising the possibility of a strike in the coming weeks that could cause significant damage to the U.S. economy. Train and engine service members of the transportation division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) narrowly voted to reject the deal, while members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) voted to ratify the agreement and SMART-TD yardmasters voted to ratify their national agreement, the unions said Monday.