Politico Morning Shift: “‘Banner Year’ For Union Organizing”
Union density in the U.S. stayed flat at 11.1 percent in 2015, but the year was still a good one for organizing, according to a new analysis from Bloomberg BNA. Union elections hit a five-year high at 1,628, with unions winning 1,128, the most in 10 years. The union win-rate, 69.3 percent was down slightly, but it was the second highest win-rate since BNA started keeping score 20 years ago. …
SEIU beat out the Teamsters for the highest union win-rate, clinching 77 percent of its elections. The Teamsters’ 58 percent rate was its best showing in six years, … New York beat out California. New York State won 182 elections relative to California’s 162, according to BNA. …
“Of elections involving fewer than 50 workers, labor prevailed 73 percent of the time, compared to 62 percent for mid-size units (50-99 workers) and 59 percent for larger units. Compounding the advantage is the fact that these smallest elections account for seven out of every 10 that the NLRB holds.”
Corporations are “trying to have it both ways — have the benefits of the control, and not the disadvantages.” — Timothy Glynn, professor at Seton Hall University Law School (see Meyerson story below)
Politico: “Obama labor board flexes its muscles”
President Barack Obama may end up doing more for the struggling labor movement than any president in three decades.
Using a thin partisan majority on the National Labor Relations Board, Obama’s Democratic appointees have issued a string of rulings that favor unions — including six pro-labor decisions in just the past few days. On Thursday, the NLRB issued a momentous 3-2 ruling along party lines that may make it easier for McDonald’s to unionize, reversing a 34-year precedent. The board subsequently issued five additional decisions ruling for unions … . Two of these new rulings were made public Monday, concluding a flurry of NLRB votes from a board that observers say is more pro-union than any since the early 1980s.
Washington Post Opinion: “The pushback against unfair labor practices”
by Harold Meyerson
On this Labor Day, American workers may be beginning to reclaim what by right should be theirs. To be sure, the economic statistics continue to appall: In the second quarter of this year, for instance, labor costs rose at their lowest rate since the early ’80s — a measly 0.2 percent, despite steady economic growth and falling unemployment. That’s what happens when the income gains from work accrue almost entirely to owners, stock players and top executives.
But the pushback against the imbalances of power and income between workers (who have little) and employers (who have lots), which has been spurred by fast-food workers’ “Fight for 15,” is showing some distinctly positive results. …
Unions are polling better, too: In a mid-August Gallup Poll, they had a 58 percent approval rating, including 66 percent among adults under 35. That’s radically at odds, of course, with the percentage of private-sector workers who actually belong to unions, which is just 6.6 percent. The chasm between the number who approve and the number who belong stems from decades of union smashing by employers, ranging from illegal firings of union activists to corporate restructurings that enable employers to claim their workers aren’t actually theirs. …
[M]illions of workers have had no legal right to knock on their parent employers’ doors if they’ve been paid subminimum wages, been injured on the job or wished to form a union. Now, that’s beginning to change. …
No effort to reduce our towering levels of inequality can succeed unless workers can amass more power. On this Labor Day, they appear to be finding ways to do just that.
A federal labor board voted Thursday to redefine the employee-employer relationship granting new bargaining powers to workers caught up in an economy increasingly reliant on subcontractors, franchisees and temporary staffing agencies.
The decision by the National Labor Relations Board could upend the traditional arms-length relationship that has prevailed between corporate titans such as McDonald’s and its neighborhood fast-food franchises. And it comes as concerns are growing about a generation of new Internet-fueled business such as Uber and Lyft that depend heavily on independent contractors.
Politico Morning Shift: “Union Elections 40 Percent Faster Since NLRB Rule”
We’ve seen analytic and anecdotal evidence suggesting the NLRB’s new union election rule is speeding up elections. Now the Wall Street Journal’s Melanie Trottman has crunched the numbers and found the average election time down 40 percent since the rule took effect in April.
“The revamped process has whittled down the election process for private-sector workers to about three weeks on average, compared with about five weeks or more during fiscal 2014,” Trottman writes. “The finding — based on data from the National Labor Relations Board, which completed the rule in December to streamline the election process — is drawing fire from groups concerned that companies won’t have enough time to push back against union campaigns under the new guidelines.”
“Unions said the changes would prevent employers from using frivolous litigation to stall a vote, and have long complained that the longer the election, the more time employers have to unlawfully intimidate workers into voting no.”
Politico Morning Shift: “McConnell Trolls Obama with NLRB Pick”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made a provocative choice for the NLRB’s soon-to-be vacant Republican seat: the lawyer who successfully challenged the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s 2013 recess appointments.
McConnell has asked the president to appoint G. Roger King to replace outgoing Republican member Harry Johnson, whose term expires Aug. 27. King is a former partner in the white shoe law firm Jones Day and was a lead lawyer on Noel Canning v. NLRB, which nixed three of the president’s appointments to the board and required the agency to rehear 103 cases, a task only recently completed. We’re guessing Obama will find it difficult to nominate the very lawyer who dealt him one of the biggest courtroom losses of his presidency.
The AFL-CIO’s not happy about the pick: “Mitch McConnell’s audacity is reaching new heights,” AFL-CIO spokesperson Josh Goldstein said in an email to Morning Shift. “It’s a finger in the eye to the President and all working people.”
Politico Morning Shift: “NLRB drops right-to-work battle”
The National Labor Relations Board will no longer reconsider a 39-year-old legal precedent that forbids unions in right-to-work states from requiring non-union members to pay “fair share fees” when filing grievances with their employer. …
The NLRB’s decision to suspend its invitation for briefs is welcome news to right-to-work advocates, congressional Republicans and some labor lawyers. … Republicans in Congress cheered at the news.
Politico Morning Shift: “NLRB Takes On Right-to-Work” (April 16)
The National Labor Relations Board’s newest target is the right-to-work movement. In a call for briefs yesterday, the agency said it may allow a union to collect a fee from a non-member in a right-to-work state if that member avails himself of union grievance procedures. Under current NLRB caselaw, unions are prohibited from collecting any fees from non-members in right-to-work states, regardless of whether those members actually use that union’s resources in a conflict with their employer. That’s what the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which created the right-to-work option for states and territories, has always been understood to mean.
Labor supporters say the NLRB should deem it legal for unions to collect fees from non-members using grievance procedures even in right-to-work states. In a blog post last night, Harvard Law Professor Ben Sachs wrote: “There is no seeming rationale for this inequity, and nothing in the federal labor law nor in state right-to-work laws requires it. If unions are prohibited from collecting fair share fees, they should at a minimum be permitted to charge workers for the costs of individual grievance representation.”
Opponents think the board will make the change. “When this board is asking for an amicus brief on the reconsideration of a rule, the majority’s already decided that it wants to change the rule,” said Michael Lotito, a management-side attorney at Littler Mendelson. “This is a signal from this board that [says]: ‘we’re going to push back against the expansion of these right-to-work actions.’”
Read the April 20 follow-up story.
Chicago Sun Times: “Emanuel calls for City Council hearings on Rauner’s ‘right-to-work’ zones”
The public rift between (just re-elected) Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his pal, (Illinois) Gov. Bruce Rauner, got wider Wednesday over Rauner’s provocative proposal to create local “right-to-work” zones.
At a City Council meeting, Emanuel introduced a resolution declaring opposition to the governor’s plan, setting the stage for City Council hearings that will undoubtedly turn into a forum for labor leaders to bash the rookie governor.