Video: Chicago Workers Occupy Factory
December 8, 2008: When Republic Windows and Doors announced it was closing their Chicago factory, workers decided they wouldn’t leave until they got their back pay.
The company has refused to pay workers their back pay, vacation pay, and front-pay required by the WARN act for the sudden closure.
Over 200 members of the United Electrical Workers union at Republic have been staging a peaceful occupation of the factory since Friday. And Chicago Teamsters are showing their support.
Their union, backed by Chicago labor, is also targeting Bank of America. The bank instructed Republic to refuse to pay workers the compensation they are owed—only weeks after Bank of America took $25 billion in bailout money.
Click here to watch a video about the protest. The pictured rally includes Teamsters from such locals as 705 and 673. Local 743 president Richard Berg addressed the rally.
Click here to send a message of support to Republic workers.
Teamsters Organize 40,000 New Members in 2008
December 3, 2008: The International Union announced it will achieve the organizing goal of 40,000 new members in 2008.
UPS Freight was the single largest company organized by our union this year. Twelve thousand UPS Freight drivers and dockworkers joined the Teamsters this year. More than 8,700 First Student workers also joined the Teamsters this year as well as 8,500 United Airlines mechanics.
We’ll have the chance to maintain this momentum in the coming year by pushing for Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to form a union. Teamsters need to be in the front lines pushing for this legislation’s passage.
More Teamster organizing can mean more Teamster Power if we win strong contracts that bring the nonunion competition up to union scale.
At UPS Freight, the new contract allowed the company to keep the 12,000 new Teamsters out of union pension and medical plans. UPS Freight also maintained substandard work rules that other Teamster freight employers pushed for and won in the 2008 National Master Freight Contract.
It’s good to see the membership numbers of our Teamsters Union growing. We can grow Teamster Power too—passing the Employee Free Choice Act, organizing the nonunion competition in our core industries, and launching strategic contract campaigns to bring newly organized companies up to union scale.
Click here to sign a petition in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act.
BNA Daily Labor Report: Next NLRB Can Only 'Incrementally' Improve Labor Law
November 24, 2008: Even when the National Labor Relations Board gains a Democratic majority in the upcoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama, the board can be expected to make only incremental improvements in labor law, and Congress instead is the starting point for labor law reform, Member Wilma B. Liebman said Nov. 20.
Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, Liebman said the board “operates under serious constraints” that prevent it from making “fundamental changes in labor law.” Liebman, who has served on the board since late 1997, would be a logical choice for Obama to designate to chair the board.
Current labor law is “a product of the Great Depression and the New Deal that responded to it,” Liebman said. She observed that the National Labor Relations Act's promotion of collective bargaining succeeded for decades in increasing “the purchasing power of wage earners.” But as there have been major changes in the economy and the workplace during the past several decades, “unionization rates have steadily gone down,” income inequality has gone up, and jobs and benefits have disappeared, Liebman said.
The NLRA, which has not had a major revision since 1947, currently “does not effectively protect workers' right to organize” and “does not effectively promote the institution of collective bargaining, let alone encourage constructive labor management relations,” Liebman said. She asserted that the board during the Clinton administration made modest efforts to try to keep labor law relevant in the changing economy but that the board during the Bush administration “moved backward” and caused “a loss of faith” in the agency. “The legacy of the Bush Board is troubling—and not an easy one to change,” Liebman said.
In addition to limitations imposed by the NLRA, such as barring the board from conducting economic analysis, the board is bound by decades of precedent and its decisions are subject to judicial review that is “often skeptical and sometimes even hostile,” Liebman said. She also cited turnover among board members and bureaucratic problems such as delay in processing cases. Consideration of these factors “does not suggest that the path to a revitalized labor law starts at the NLRB,” she said.
Congress the Starting Point for Labor Law Reform.
Instead, “the starting point” for labor law reform “seems more likely to be on Capitol Hill,” Liebman said. Citing the current economic crisis, Democratic control of Congress, and the election of a Democratic president “with a powerful message of change and a demonstrated commitment to advancing the interests of working people,” she said “it seems that we are poised for big changes in labor law.”
The proposed Employee Free Choice Act, which Obama has endorsed, is “the most significant labor-law initiative in many, many years,” Liebman said. The legislation would require employers to recognize a union if NLRB finds that a majority of their employees signed authorization cards. It also would provide for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to mediate and arbitrate first bargaining contracts if the parties fail to reach agreement within certain time periods, and would establish tougher penalties for unfair labor practices committed by employers during an organizing campaign or during bargaining for a first contract.
In March 2007, the House passed EFCA (H.R. 800) by a vote of 241-185 (41 DLR AA-1, 3/2/07), but in June 2007, supporters of the Senate bill (S. 1041) fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and proceed to final consideration of the bill (123 DLR AA-2, 6/27/07).
Although Liebman refrained from taking any position on EFCA, she said “it is not hard to see why” the bill is the top legislative priority for organized labor. She observed that the percentage of private sector workers who are represented by unions “is at a historic low” and that “the gap between the percentage of workers who have unions and the workers who want them is remarkably high.”
Unions see a flawed representation-election process that gives unfair advantages to anti-union employers, Liebman said. She commented that “EFCA addresses this dilemma by allowing unions to win representational rights through a card-check process that employers are required to honor, and by imposing meaningful consequences on employers who unlawfully fire union supporters during organizing drives.”
Regardless of whether the current representation election process actually is flawed, “perception really is reality,” Liebman said. She asserted that unions “have already made a dramatic turn away from using the NLRB's election machinery, in favor of winning voluntary recognition directly from employers.” According to Liebman, the number of representation petitions filed with the board declined by 46 percent between fiscal years 1997 and 2007. And even when workers vote for union representation, it often can be difficult to reach a first contract with the employer, she said.
‘Fundamental Re-Examination' Needed, Liebman Says.
EFCA “does not represent comprehensive labor-law reform,” Liebman said. But she described it as “a logical place to begin, if the aim is to restore the original promise” of the NLRA. “Everything surely starts with being able to win union representation in the workplace,” she said.
A “fundamental re-examination” of labor law “would have to address a whole range of issues that are not yet on the agenda,” Liebman said, suggesting a number of issues to be discussed:
“What, if any, changes in the law's coverage should be made, so that workers in non-traditional employment relationships are protected and can effectively organize? Does the bargaining-unit model of representation, based on majority rule and exclusive representation, still make sense, in an economy where workplaces are in constant flux? Is the current scope of mandatory collective bargaining too narrow to adequately take into account workers' interests and competencies as well as the urgent need for labor and business to engage strategically in this hyper-competitive global economy? … [A]re there better ways for administering labor law than the New Deal-agency model? And what should be the relationship between federal and state law, and between our domestic law and international labor standards?”
Liebman expressed hope that in contrast to decades of stalemate in Congress on whether to amend the NLRA, “the law will be periodically revisited and revised.” She called for integrating “labor law and policy into an overall strategy for transforming the American economy in ways that would both strengthen competitiveness and provide working families a path to a middle class standard of living.”
“What we need is a labor law we can believe in, and I have hope that we will get one,” Liebman said.
Video: Pass the Employee Free Choice Act
November 18, 2008: How can we punish employers who break the law when workers try to join a union?
That’s what the Employee Free Choice Act would do. The proposed law would make it easier for workers to join a union—and make employers pay when they break the law to intimidate workers who want to unionize.
Now our union and other unions are coming together to get the law passed by the new Congress. President-Elect Obama has already said he will sign the law.
Read more about the Employee Free Choice Act and how you can help at the AFL-CIO blog.
Support Workers’ Right to Join a Union this Labor Day
August 29, 2008: Workers who want a union often face threats and harassment. Some even lose their jobs. This Labor Day, you can help level the playing field.
Today, when workers try to organize, employers are taking the gloves off and responding with anti-union lies, mandatory meetings, and sometimes firings. And when they break the law, they only get a slap on the wrist.
As Teamsters, we know how important it is to have a say over our wages, benefits, and working conditions. Having a voice on the job shouldn’t take an act of courage.
The Employee Free Choice Act would change that.
The proposed law would strengthen the penalties for employers who coerce or fire workers who are trying to get a voice on the job.
And the new law would make it easier for workers to join a union after a majority of them say they want to have one.
Do your part this Labor Day to support workers’ right to organize. Sign the petition and be a part of One Million Strong for the Employee Free Choice Act.
BNA Daily Labor Report: United Steel Workers Creates Global Union
July 3, 2008: The heads of the United Steelworkers and the United Kingdom-based Unite the Union July 2 signed an agreement clearing the way for the creation of Workers Uniting, the world's first global union.
Prior to the signing, USW President Leo Gerard said Workers Uniting will be a "fully functional and registered labor organization" in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada, with the ability to fully represent all of the members of its founding unions immediately. The new union unites USW's 1.2 million active and retired members with the more than 2 million active and retired members of Unite, which was created last year with the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers.
Gerard said the two unions represent workers in every sector of the global economy, with 46 percent of the members in manufacturing and mining and 44 percent in transportation and services.
Both USW and Unite will continue to operate independently, but through the new structure, they will be able to work collectively on such issues such as strategic campaigns, collective bargaining, and organizing, according to the USW. In addition, the structure will allow other unions to become part of Workers Uniting in the future.
Structure of Workers Uniting
The new union will be governed by a steering committee with equal membership from each participating union. The new union's staff will be headed by an executive director, who will oversee an initial budget of several million dollars, and a staff that includes research, international affairs, and communications specialists.
Because of different laws in the various countries, the new union probably will not be registered until sometime in the fall, a USW spokesman told BNA. Neither the steering committee nor the executive director has been appointed yet, nor has a decision been made on where the union will be headquartered, he said. All of that will occur after the union is registered, he said. "It's a work in progress," he said.
According to Gerard, creating the multinational union is "crucial for challenging the growing power of global capital. Globalization has given financiers license to exploit workers in developing countries at the expense of our members in the developed world. Only global solidarity among workers can overcome this sort of global exploitation wherever it occurs."
Gerard said in order to "challenge exploitation anywhere in the global economy, the new union, in conjunction with the National Labor Committee, a human rights advocacy group in the United States, is creating a Global Labor Rights Network that will have allied staff on the ground in Central America, the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and other regions. He added that the union cannot fight exploitation by limiting itself to North America and the U.K.
Derek Simpson, general secretary of Unite's Amicus section, who was on hand to sign the agreement, told the convention that USW and Unite members have much in common--workers in both countries are under attack and their job security and pensions are being threatened.
Tony Woodley, general secretary of Unite's Transport and General Workers sector, addressed the convention by video. "The creation of our new union is only the beginning. We're laying the foundations of an even larger and stronger global union yet to come," he told the delegates.
The two unions first announced plans to work toward a merger in April 2007 (75 DLR A-6, 4/19/07 ). According to the new agreement, the two unions in the last year have engaged in joint collective bargaining efforts in the paper, chemical, and titanium industries; international solidarity projects to protect the rights and safety of trade unionists in Colombia and Mexico; participated in each other's education, rapid response, health and safety, civil rights, and women's conferences; and engaged in extensive discussions about strategies that the unions have taken in order to save manufacturing jobs in their respective countries.
A large delegation of union leaders from around the world attended the convention and witnessed the signing of the agreement. According to Gerard, there are more than 70 guests from more than 20 countries at the convention.
First Woman Elected to Board
In other action, USW's 27-member International Executive Board unanimously voted to appoint Carol Landry, the president of a Canadian local, to a newly created position of vice president, making her the first woman to serve on the board. Gerard swore in Landry during the opening session of the convention July 2.
Delegates earlier voted July 1 to create the new at-large position and provided for the appointment for a term to expire Feb. 28, 2010. After that, the international vice president at large will be elected for the same terms as the other executive board members.
Striking Drivers Clog the Roads in Spain
June 12, 2008: Truck drivers in Spain are on strike for the fourth day in a row over rising fuel costs.
Strikers picketed, clogged Spain’s highways with their trucks, and shut down a border crossing with France.
The strikers are mainly owner-operators who want a guaranteed minimum rate for their jobs.
The strike has led to fuel shortages throughout Spain and Portugal, and idled production at six Spanish auto factories.
Click here to read more in International Herald Tribune.
BNA Daily Labor Report: AFL-CIO, Guatemalan Unions Say Trade Deal Violated
April 24, 2008: In the first complaint of its kind, the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan labor unions April 23 alleged violations of the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement's (CAFTA-DR) labor chapter.
The complaint, filed with the Department of Labor's Office of Trade & Labor Affairs, charged that Guatemala failed to effectively enforce its own labor laws in five separate cases and failed to respect international workers' rights.
"The Department of Labor will thoroughly review and investigate these allegations within the parameters set by the [CAFTA-DR] agreement," Charlotte Ponticelli, deputy undersecretary of labor for international affairs, said in a statement. "Free trade agreements like [CAFTA-DR], provide a mechanism so that the United States government can address allegations of this nature."
The CAFTA-DR, which was effected between the United States and Guatemala on July 1, 2006, contains an "enforce your own laws standard" with respect to labor laws.
Four union leaders and/or their family members have been murdered in Guatemala in 2008 alone, the AFL-CIO charged in a statement. Others have been victims of attempted murder and/or have been subjected to death threats. Firings occur routinely when workers attempt to join or form a union, bargain collectively, or conduct a strike, the AFL-CIO said.
Workers' claims are not accorded serious investigation by Guatemala's Ministry of Labor and punishment for employers who break the law is infrequent, the complaint alleged. No arrests have been made in two murders and numerous threats outlined in the petition, the AFL-CIO said.
Freedom of Association
The complaint calls on the Bush administration to formally initiate dispute settlement proceedings to "require the government of Guatemala to take all measures necessary to assure that trade unionists in Guatemala can exercise their rights to freedom of association without intimidation, threats of violence, illegal dismissals by employers, or targeted assassination," the AFL-CIO said in the statement.
Under Article 16.6, a CAFTA-DR party may request consultations with another party on any matter arising under the labor chapter. If cooperative labor consultations fail to resolve the dispute, the United States should seek further consultations under CAFTA-DR Chapter 20, the complaint said. Chapter 20 is the dispute settlement chapter of the CAFTA-DR.
An AFL-CIO official told BNA that, assuming that the complaint made it through the process and Guatemala was found in violation, it could be assessed a maximum fine of $15 million, which it would pay to itself for the cost of addressing the underlying problems. If it failed to pay the fine, the United States could resort to other measures, including trade sanctions, the official said.
"This is really to send a strong message to Guatemala that they need to clean things up," the official said.
Labor fines are paid into a special escrow account and used for labor initiatives, including enhanced labor law enforcement in the defending country, according to a fact sheet issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The AFL-CIO asked the U.S. government to monitor closely the implementation of all remedies.
Before the CAFTA-DR was ratified in the United States, the Guatemalan government pledged to enhance the administration of labor justice, the AFL-CIO's complaint said. However, such changes were never realized and the United States "has applied little visible pressure" on Guatemala to comply with the CAFTA-DR's labor provisions, the AFL-CIO said.
In the summer of 2005, CAFTA-DR was passed by the House by a two votes, with only 15 Democrats voting in favor of it. Most Democrats objected to the agreement on the grounds that its labor standards were inadequate. The Senate subsequently approved the pact.
The AFL-CIO was one of the staunchest critics of the pact as it was making its way through the U.S. legislative process.
"This petition will demonstrate that ... labor conditions in [Guatemala] have remained unchanged or have worsened since the trade agreement was ratified," the complaint charged. "The level of physical violence against trade unionists increased markedly since the agreement entered into force in July 2006. Violations of freedom of association and collective bargaining continue apace, and access to fair and efficient administrative or judicial tribunals remains elusive."
"Guatemalan workers are being targeted for their union activity," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. "Without the freedom from fear to join unions and bargain collectively, how can we expect any workers to benefit from a trade agreement?"
By Rossella Brevetti
BNA Daily Labor Report: New Security Credentials for Drivers?
March 4, 2008: The American Trucking Associations is urging shippers and chemical facilities not to force drivers of hazardous materials to obtain a new security credential that is used for port facilities, saying those drivers already have a credential that requires a full background check.
In a letter to the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council dated Feb. 22, ATA encouraged chemical plants not to demand extra credentials from hazmat drivers who have already passed a security clearance. The advisory council is an industry organization that includes shippers, transporters, and chemical companies and that promotes the safe transport of hazardous materials.
Heightened security in ports has required the establishment of new security credentials, known as Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, or TWIC.
But drivers using a different security clearance, known as a Hazardous Materials Endorsement, are increasingly finding themselves shut out of nonport facilities, despite the fact that those drivers have passed an identical security screening, Richard Moskowitz, ATA vice president and regulatory affairs counsel, told BNA Feb. 28.
TWIC is required for entry into a facility covered by the Maritime Transportation Security Act. These biometric credentials are issued to workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports, vessels, and outer continental shelf facilities, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Nonport chemical and petroleum facilities are governed by Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or CFATS, which require a commercial drivers license with a Hazardous Materials Endorsement, also issued by TSA.
But according to the American Trucking Associations, some facilities covered by chemical plant rules are requiring drivers to have TWIC credentials. That could mean drivers who are fully credentialed for work at chemical facilities could still be barred from entering those facilities to do their jobs, according to Moskowitz.
Ted Cromwell, senior director of security and operations for the American Chemistry Council, told BNA he understands the challenges facing drivers. The problems, he said, are the result of having to comply with several different regulations. Facilities are simply trying to make the best security decisions they can, he added.
"It's about having a consistent approach and everyone having the same credential," he said.
'Enormous Burden' Seen
Requiring drivers working at nonport facilities to obtain the transport worker identification "imposes an enormous burden on drivers, who may be unable to obtain a TWIC card, especially at this nascent stage of the TWIC implementation process, where the number of locations processing TWIC applications are limited," Moskowitz wrote in the letter to the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council. The advisory council later issued a statement detailing the issue.
TSA began issuing the transport worker identification at the Port of Wilmington, Del., last October and will continue through calendar year 2008 at other ports.
Some facilities in landlocked states are requiring drivers to obtain TWIC clearances, said John Conley, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers Inc.
"They're saying just go get a TWIC, and use that as your security credential," he told BNA. "But there's no call for it now."
He said one company has 20 facilities, four of which are located in ports. To avoid confusion the company wants all drivers entering its facilities to have TWIC credentials, but drivers are not yet prepared to make a wholesale change.
In its statement, the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council noted that the background checks for a transport worker credential are the same as those for a Hazardous Materials Endorsement.
Biometric Information Required
According to the Transportation Security Administration's Web site, to obtain a TWIC, an individual must provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, sit for a digital photograph, and successfully pass a security threat assessment conducted by the agency.
"If you look at it from the perspective of the truck driver, it's simple," Conley said. "Most of our members haul hazmat. They've done the whole fingerprint thing. Now, all of a sudden, they have to go get this TWIC background check. The drivers are rightfully saying, 'What's changed since last year when I did it?' Why the duplication?"
Moskowitz said in the future it is likely that TWIC will become the over-arching security clearance, which is why some facilities are requiring drivers to have it now. But, he said, the TWIC cards were only introduced last year.
"It's an idea that's ahead of its time," he said. "We envision TWIC credential will be the single universally accepted security credential one day. But it's just starting to be rolled out, so it's not capable of functioning as such yet."
Making TWIC credentials mandatory in facilities where they are not legally required poses both financial and logistical problems, he said.
Cost Cited as Issue
"You could have a driver spend $97 on an HME and then have to go spend another $100-plus on a TWIC credential," Moskowitz said.
TWIC cards cost $105.25 for those workers with a comparable background check, such as a Hazardous Materials Endorsement, and $132.50 for those without a comparable check. The credentials are valid for five years.
Moskowitz and Conley said their organizations have proposed that TSA separate the Transport Worker Identification Credential and the Hazardous Materials Endorsement.
Ideally, they said, the hazmat endorsement would become a test of knowledge drivers had to take before hauling hazardous materials that could not be easily weaponized, such as paint or fingernail polish. It would not require fingerprinting and an in-depth background check.
TWIC would then become the credential used by drivers carrying "things bad people could use to do bad things," Conley said.
He said TSA understands and is interested in the idea, but that "right now the red-tape and bureaucratic roadblocks seem like you can't cut through them even with a machete."
State Requirements Pose Related Problem
Ed Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, said a related problem is that despite implementation of the national TWIC program, states are still allowed conduct their own checks.
For example, Florida requires workers entering a deep-water seaport to hold a Florida Uniform Port Access Credential (FUPAC). As a result, all port workers in those facilities will need both a TWIC and FUPAC to gain unescorted port access.
Wytkind told BNA that the state programs should be preempted by the federal program because multiple checks are costly and "make no difference in safety."
"No one can tell me a state-based program is going to create a safer system," Wytkind said.
He said drivers have to face "very obtrusive" checks "potentially more than once.
"[Drivers] have multiple tags around their necks," Wytkind said.
Is Fighting for Justice at Smithfield Racketeering?
February 26, 2008: Is it illegal for an activist group or union to criticize a company’s business practices? Is it a “conspiracy” if advocates call for boycotts, organize rallies, or press for resolutions from elected bodies?
Smithfield Foods, the largest producer of pork products in the world, is hoping so, after a lawsuit it filed last October passed an initial court challenge. The suit aims to halt the United Food and Commercial Workers’ campaign to unionize 4,600 workers in its Tar Heel, North Carolina, slaughterhouse. The company is using a 1970 statute originally designed to battle gangsters’ extortion schemes—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
“This is a terrible menace to rights of free speech and protest, and constitutional rights and freedom of expression,” said Lance Compa, Cornell University labor relations professor and an expert on the meatpacking industry. “It’s a really dangerous new offensive that employers have seized on to try to snuff out legitimate protest about abusive employer conduct.”
Jobs with Justice, which is named as a defendant in the suit, is launching a campaign against corporations’ use of the RICO act, which has surfced intermittently as one legal tactic among an arsenal to silence corporate critics. The act has been used to file suits in recent months against campaigns by the Service Employees (SEIU) at the Wackenhut security firm, and the UFCW at an Arizona-based grocery chain.
JWJ expects to work with unions, central labor councils, and city councils to pass fresh resolutions condemning the lawsuit.
“Our goal is to protect the right of not only unions to engage in these activities, but everybody fighting corporate abuses,” said Russ Davis, director of Massachusetts JWJ. “Hopefully we can deter corporations from going down this road. But if these things occur again we want to be ready.”
A VAST CONSPIRACY?
Smithfield sees a wide array of plotters conspiring against it, naming UFCW, JWJ, Research Associates of America, and Change To Win, the labor federation to which the UFCW belongs. Also named are eight individuals, including UFCW President Joe Hansen, the union’s Smithfield campaign director Gene Bruskin, and Andy Stern, SEIU president.
The defendants’ supposed crime? They employed strategies long used by unions and social movements to educate the public, garner support, and pressure corporations.
Since the UFCW’s Justice at Smithfield campaign began in June 2006, the union has asked city councils to pass resolutions and boycott Smithfield products, demonstrated at stockholder meetings, and filed health and safety complaints with OSHA. Stores in Massachusetts pulled Smithfield products from their shelves.
All these actions the company cites in its lawsuit as evidence of “formation of the conspiracy,” “delivery of the threat,” and “publication of false, misleading, baseless, negative and/or damaging information on the Internet and in the newspapers.”
“Whatever economic consequences flow, they are not considered in the law sufficient to deprive people of free speech,” said Joan Bertin, director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a member of the anti-RICO coalition.
The defendants’ supposed crime? They employed strategies long used by unions and social movements to educate the public, garner support, and pressure corporations.
The union said it had to turn to an aggressive campaign for consumer and community support because Smithfield repeatedly violated laws that are supposed to allow workers to organize.
The UFCW has lost two National Labor Relations Board elections at the plant, both of which were overturned after reams of unfair labor practice charges were sustained against the company. Smithfield’s violations include firing workers for talking about the union, and attempts to spy on and intimidate them.
“A TERRIBLE DISTRACTION”
“They’re trying to box us into a slow, NLRB process, because it doesn’t punish them for violations—all (workers) get is back-pay and reinstatement,” said Renee Bowser, UFCW’s assistant general counsel.
Court-watchers doubt the suit will survive. A similar RICO suit brought by Detroit’s newspapers last decade against striking newspaper workers ultimately failed.
“This form of coalition building, holding demonstrations—all of these are classic forms of freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly,” Compa said. “Ultimately the case won’t hold up. In the meantime it’s a terrible distraction.”
By Jane Slaughter
This article was originally published in Labor Notes magazine. Click here to read more at labornotes.org.