New York Can Lead the Way to Higher Pay
The Fight for $15, a global effort to raise the pay of low-wage workers, has circled back to where it began. Protests by fast-food workers in New York City in 2012 got the movement started, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has now given the effort its biggest boost so far by announcing the creation of a board to look into raising wages for the state’s more than 180,000 fast-food workers. Its first public meeting will be in New York City on Wednesday.
Under New York law, a Wage Board, composed of business, labor and public representatives, has the power to propose a raise for any occupation where pay is judged to be too low to support the health or “adequate maintenance” of its workers. The state labor commissioner can then order the raise without legislative approval.
Click here to read more at The New York Times.
Expand Social Security
We need to expand Social Security to prevent the looming retirement crisis, and we can do it simply by asking billionaires to pay their fair share.
Senators urge caution on multiemployer cuts
Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee asked Treasury Department officials to tread carefully as they develop the process for implementing multiemployer pension reforms enabling some plans to cut benefits.
“These reforms are unprecedented and, therefore, we ask the Treasury Department to take its role in overseeing the benefit suspension provisions very seriously. In particular, it is critical that you ensure that participants’ and retirees’ rights are protected,” Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Ron Wyden, Ore.; Debbie Stabenow, Mich.; Bill Nelson, Fla.; Robert Menendez, N.J.; Ben Cardin, Md.; and Robert Casey, Pa., said in a letter sent Thursday to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.
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Building a Stewards Council
Want a stronger union at work? Consider building a stewards council.
With only five stewards for 1,700 workers, demoralization was high at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
NetJets Pilots Union Conducts Largest Picket in Company History
More than 400 pilots and family members took the fight to preserve their livelihoods and security to the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting by staging the largest informational picket in NetJets history on Saturday; NetJets is a subsidiary of the Warren Buffett-owned conglomerate (NYSE: BRK.A and BRK.B). The pilots, whose professional interests are represented by the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), were joined by NetJets flight attendants and Flight Options pilots represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
"In 2005, our pilot group conducted its first informational picket in Omaha during a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting with 75 pilots sending the message there was a labor problem at NetJets," NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said. "Ten years later, more than 400 pilots and their families traveled from all points across the United States to communicate what we have today is not a labor problem – it is a labor disaster created by management."
Click here to read more at PR Newswire.
Fired Disney World performers win arbitration over sweaty costumes
Three Walt Disney World performers who were fired from the Festival of the Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom after refusing to wear sweaty, soiled costumes will get their jobs back after winning an arbitration case.
A representative from the Teamsters Local 385 Union said Monday the arbitration process was finally over, and a federal arbitrator ruled in favor of the cast members, who lost their jobs in June 2014 after they said they would not perform in dirty costumes.
According to witness testimony in the case, the sweaty costumes were caught outside in the rain on June 10, 2014. When the time came to prepare for the 6 p.m. show that evening, some performers found the soiled costumes pushed up against their clean clothes.
"They went to management and said, 'We need new unitards. These need to be washed, something,'" said Teamsters representative Donna-Lynne Dalton.
The union said management wanted them to wear the soiled costumes for the sake of the show, but the three performers refused, saying it was unsanitary. Management then cancelled the performance that evening.
The performers did eventually get clean unitards and perform for the next show, but the three, full-time cast members were later suspended and then terminated.
In November, the Teamsters union showed News 13 a copy of the character addendum that stated:
"All costume pieces shall receive a minimum of 12 hours of drying and sanitation between performances…
No character performer shall be required to wear any costume piece worn by another Character Performer."
Now that an arbitrator has ruled in the cast members' favor, the three performers will not only be rehired, but they'll also receive full back pay.
"Disney will comply with the decision," a media representative for Walt Disney World told News 13 on Monday.
Freightliner Gets First License for Autonomous-Driving Truck (with video)
Freightliner Trucks has received the first license in the United States for an autonomous-driving truck to operate on public highways from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The Freightliner Inspiration was previewed for the media at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on May 5, an occasion Sandoval hailed as “a historic day in the areas of transportation and innovation” and a “monumental day for the human race.”
The truck was partially camouflaged at the afternoon event, with a full unveiling taking place in a spectacular evening ceremony at Hoover Dam that included a video presentation on the wall of the dam and the arrival of Inspiration Truck itself, driving across the top of the dam.
Click here to read more at Transport Topics
Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of California Meal-Break Rule
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear appeal of rulings that upheld a California law that requires employers to provide meal breaks to workers.
Penske Logistics was asking the court to overturn decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, that said the companies must abide by the state law.
The second case involved Vitran Express, a Canadian carrier. In both cases, drivers were the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court announced May 4 its decision to reject the appeals.
The high court’s decision means that the circuit court decision stands.
The meal-break law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day.
The law also requires a second “duty free” 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day.
Lawyers for the logistics company, a division of Penske Truck Leasing Co., had argued that federal law governing trucking companies pre-empted state laws.
The trucking company law is contained in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, which provides that a state “may not enact or enforce a law . . . related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier with respect to transportation of property.”
The plaintiffs in the original lawsuit against Penske represented a certified class of 349 delivery truck drivers. They work on an account Penske has that services Whirlpool appliances.
According to court documents, the drivers delive products in California and are on the job more than 10 hours a day.
Truck driver scarcity pulls down Con-way volume, profit
Fired Teamster wins $6.6 Million from UPS?
Law360, Los Angeles (April 23, 2015, 8:16 PM ET) -- The Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s punitive damages award of $6.6 million to a former employee of United Parcel Service Inc. who had alleged wrongful termination in connection with a previously filed overtime class action suit, ruling that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.
Former employee Michael Marlo filed suit against UPS in 2008 alleging wrongful termination in retaliation for filing a 2003 class action against the company for unpaid overtime. UPS contends that it fired Marlo because of an abusive confrontation he had with a customer. A jury sided with Marlo in 2012, awarding him $2.2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $16 million in punitive damages, later reduced to $6.6 million.
On appeal, UPS challenged the punitive damages award, saying the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that Tim Robinson, the vice president and district manager who fired Marlo, was a “managing agent” of UPS.
A three-judge Ninth Circuit panel disagreed, ruling 2-1 in favor of Marlo.
“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Marlo, as we must … we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict,” the panel wrote in the five-page unpublished opinion. “The evidence showed that Robinson was the highest-ranking supervisor in a 7,000-employee district that covered a vast geographic area.”
Robinson viewed part of his role as maintaining company culture, the Ninth Circuit said, and that he had viewed Marlo’s overtime class action as a threat to company culture which also had a negative effect on employee morale.
“The jury could thus reasonably conclude that Robinson’s decision to terminate Marlo was a policymaking decision aimed at protecting the company ‘culture,’” the panel states. “We also conclude that Robinson’s conduct was sufficiently reprehensible to qualify for punitive damages under California law. The award, as reduced by the district court, was not unconstitutionally excessive.”
Thursday’s order makes the case the largest punishment ever upheld on appeal in California in a single-employee wrongful termination case, as stated by UPS in its opening brief to the Ninth Circuit.
In a one-sentence dissenting opinion, U.S. District Judge James G. Carr, sitting by designation, said he was “aware of my lesser familiarity with California law relating to managing agents.”
A UPS spokeswoman told Law360 on Thursday that it was disappointed with the ruling and is currently mulling its options.
“UPS has a strong compliance program that includes professional conduct, anti-harassment and no-retaliation policies,” spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said.
A representative for Marlo did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
U.S. Circuit Judges Andrew J. Kleinfeld and Jacqueline H. Nguyen sat on the panel that wrote Thursday’s opinion, along with U.S. District Judge James G. Carr.
Marlo is represented by John Furutani of Furutani & Peters LLP and Mark Christopher Peters of Duckworth Peters Lebowitz Olivier LLP.
UPS is represented by Elena R. Baca of Paul Hastings LLP, Elizabeth A. Brown of Grube Brown & Geidt LLP and Mark A. Perry of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
The case is Michael Marlo v. United Parcel Service Inc., case number 12-57170, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.