The National Labor Relations Board finally issued its long-in-the-works rule speeding up union representation elections. Currently, employers can drag out the election process by withholding information from organizers and with frivolous lawsuits, time they often use to intimidate and coerce workers away from union support.
The new rule, set to take effect on April 15, will cut waiting times between when an election is set and when it happens, put off litigation—often filed by businesses to drag out the election process—until after the election, allow election petitions to be filed electronically (hi there, 21st century!), require businesses to share additional worker contact information with union organizers, and consolidate the post-election appeals process.
Click here to read more at Daily Kos.
A group of 74 drivers and dockworkers at Con-way Freight in Miami Lakes, Fla., voted today to join Teamsters Local 769 in North Miami, Fla.
“The Con-way workers have taken a bold step today to improve their lives and have a more secure future as Teamsters,” said Mike Scott, President of Teamsters Local 769. “As we have seen across the country, the company spent lots of money to wage a vicious anti-worker campaign, but the workers remained strong and united and didn’t let management’s bullying get to them.”
Click here to read more.
WASHINGTON -- Federal officials unveiled new rules on Friday that will streamline and simplify the union election process, a reform long sought by labor unions and fiercely opposed by businesses.
Among other changes, the rules issued by the National Labor Relations Board will limit some of the litigation that can precede a union election, making it harder for parties to stall or drag out the process. The reforms will also allow unions to file election petitions and other documents via email, and they will require employers to provide unions with the email addresses and phone numbers of workers eligible to vote.
Many employers favor the older, slower election process, as it gives them more time to dissuade workers from unionizing. The reforms announced Friday have long been discussed and debated, and businesses have argued that they would infringe on the businesses' free speech rights and lead to "ambush" or "quickie" elections.
The labor board -- or at least its left-leaning majority appointed by President Barack Obama -- disagrees. In a statement Friday, the agency said the changes would "modernize" procedures and allow it to "more effectively administer" the laws on collective bargaining. In a sign of the partisan divide at play, the rules were approved by the board's three liberal members, while its two conservative members dissented.
Labor groups have long bemoaned the current process as outdated and tied up with red tape, giving employers ample time to bust unions. Companies often dispute which workers should belong in the bargaining unit -- that is, the people who would be covered by the union contract -- and the reforms announced Friday will shift that litigation to after the election. Employers will also have to prove that a review of the election is warranted, as opposed to merely requesting one.
Mark Gaston Pearce, the labor board's chairman, said in a statement that he was "heartened" that the board is enacting the amendments.
"Simplifying and streamlining the process will result in improvements for all parties," Pearce said. "With these changes, the Board strives to ensure that its representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all."
The rules were announced in the Federal Register on Friday and will go into effect on April 14, 2015.
The board put forth a similar batch of rules more than three years ago, drawing heat from various business lobbying groups as well as congressional Republicans. After a federal court ruled that the board had lacked a quorum when it issued them, the board formally withdrew those rules early this year. It had been expected to reissue similar rules now that it has five confirmed board members.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor federation, applauded the announcement of the rules Friday.
"The modest but important reforms to the representation election process announced today by the National Labor Relations Board will help reduce delay in the process and make it easier for workers to vote on forming a union in a timely manner," Trumka said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation, an industry lobby, said it was considering "both a legal and legislative strategy" to block the rules from going into effect, calling them "the latest attempt by the Obama Administration to aid their allies in Big Labor at the expense of employers and employees."
Republicans in Congress have already held hearings on what they deem the "ambush" election rules and may well hold more once the GOP takes control of both chambers next year. They could potentially try to block the rules from going into effect -- though not in the immediate future, since members of Congress are already far along in hammering out a deal this week to fund the government. By waiting to release the rules Friday, the labor board may at least have avoided a GOP-sponsored rider in the spending bill that could gut the rules.
December 4, 2014: With the retirement of the dean of labor reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal is now the only newspaper with a full-time labor reporter.
As of today, the number of reporters assigned to primarily cover labor and workers' issues in the US has fallen by half: from two to one!
Steven Greenhouse, labor reporter for The New York Times, took a buy-out this week and retired. He will not be replaced.
That leaves just one paper with a labor reporter: The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and its editorial posture is anti-labor and pro- right to work (for less).
Twenty years ago, there were dozens of reporters covering unions and workers’ issues. The two Detroit papers had two labor reporters each, for example.
Ken Crowe, who wrote the definitive book Collision on the rise of Ron Carey, covered labor full-time for Long Island Newsday.
Almost every major newspaper, from Washington to Pittsburgh to St Louis to Seattle and Los Angeles had a full-time labor reporter.
These reporters developed contacts in the labor movement and understood workers’ issues. Now they are gone from the scene, and as result, workers’ issues are often invisible.
Our union and working class issues are covered by business reporters. These reporters usually have contact with Wall Street, CEOs, and investment experts. When they cover unions – or issues of pensions, health care, free trade, workplace safety, or minimum wage – it is too often from the perspective of their corporate contacts.
All the more important for the labor movement and our community allies to work together to get our stories – the stories of the majority of Americans – out to the public and keep workers’ issues on our nation’s political agenda.
Here’s what’s really being missed in most snapshot explanations of Detroit’s bankruptcy: the unprecedented hit being taken by retirees who believed that, after working throughout their lives, they would be secure in their old age.
And Detroit sets a dangerous precedent. Your city’s retirees may be next in the crosshairs.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
December 1, 2014: Walmart workers and allies ramped up the pressure for $15-an-hour with protests across the country.
Walmart workers held pickets, rallies and walk-outs at more than 1,600 stores nationwide on the biggest shopping day of the year. Some workers fasted and risked arrest to highlight their demands for $15-an-hour and full-time work at Walmart, the nation’s largest employer. In Washington, organizers reported protests at 64 stores—every store in the state.
Click here to read more from protesting Walmart workers and see a survey of the protests.
According to a Bloomberg BNA report, unions won more representation elections, with a higher win rate, in initial NLRB-monitored representation elections in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013, but the number of newly organized employees fell drastically, and unions have been losing decertification elections more often.
Unions won 8.6 percent more elections in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013 (428 to 465). Unions were more successful not only at increasing the absolute number of representation elections held and won, but also their win rate improved 3.7 percent, to 69.2 percent (428 out of 653 in the first half of 2013, to 465 out of 671 in the first half of 2014).
Click here to read more at The National Law Review.
November 20, 2014: The 222 city and road drivers at the big Charlotte terminal voted Yes for the Teamsters Union in an NLRB election. It’s the largest union win at FedEx Freight to date, and brings the number of Teamster-represented FedEx Freight workers to about 400.
Congratulations to the FedEx Freight brothers and sisters, and to Local 71.
The IBT press release on the vote is here.