Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Republicans take aim at union ‘official time’ for federal employees
By Josh Hicks, March 31, 2015, Washington Post
House and Senate Republicans have introduced bills to bar federal employees from performing union work on the government’s dime, a practice that has been allowed since 1978 under the Civil Service Reform Act. The measures, introduced by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) last week and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) in February, would prohibit federal employees from participating in collective bargaining or arbitration while on the clock with the government. “Official time,” as the practice is known, cost U.S. taxpayers about $156 million in 2012, the last year of data available from the Office of Personnel Management. (read article)

Obama vetoes measure blocking federal labor board from streamlining union election process
By Darlene Superville, March 31, 2015, Associated Press
President Barack Obama on Tuesday vetoed a measure passed by the Republican-run Congress blocking the National Labor Relations Board from streamlining the process for union elections, saying government should not make it harder for workers to be heard in the workplace. Obama also announced a fall White House summit on worker rights. (read article)

Former retail labor union boss gets $544,000 for 10 months of work
By Jason Hart, March 31, 2015, Watchdog.org
Ever think maybe you’re in the wrong line of work? Former United Food and Commercial Workers executive vice president Bill McDonough was paid $544,137 last year despite leaving the union in October. (read article)

CalPERS urged to avoid Obamacare ‘Cadillac Tax’
By Ed Mendel, March 30, 2015, CalPensions.com
Employer and employee groups are urging CalPERS to “undertake all efforts” to avoid the “Cadillac Tax,” a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans imposed in 2018 by President Obama’s health care law, a CalPERS staff report said this month. (read article)

McDonald’s Attorney Says Company is Victim of Union Attack on Brand
By Jacob Gershman, March 30, 2015, Wall Street Journal
An attorney for McDonald’s Corp. told a federal administrative judge the company is a victim of a union-orchestrated attack on its brand, as legal proceedings got under way in a labor dispute that could upend the relationship between big retailers and their franchisees. (read article)

Movement to Increase McDonald’s Minimum Wage Broadens Its Tactics
By Steven Greenhouse, March 30, 2015, New York Times
On a recent Friday, Kwanza Brooks, a $7.25-an-hour McDonald’s worker, climbed into a 14-person van to take a four-hour ride from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta……The Service Employees International Union, one of the nation’s largest and most activist unions, has quietly pumped more than $15 million into the movement, helping to hire dozens of organizers to rally fast-food workers nationwide. (read article)

The Rise and Fall of US Labor Unions, and Why They Still Matter
By Jake Rosenfield, March 30, 2015, TheConversation.com
The US labor movement was once the core institution fighting for average workers. Over the last half century, its ranks have been decimated. The share of the private sector workforce that is organized has fallen from 35% to approximately 6.5% today. (read article)

Four bills could wrap charter schools in red tape
By John Seiler, March 29, 2015, Cal Watchdog.com
Since their introduction in California 23 years ago, charter schools have grown like kudzu. According to the California Charter Schools Association, the state now boasts 1,184 charter schools, teaching an estimated 547,800 students. (read article)

Union fights school’s decision to let disabled student use teachers’ bathroom
By Victor Skinner, March 27, 2015, EAG.org
A Pennsylvania teachers union filed a grievance recently after officials allowed a special needs student to use one of three faculty only restrooms at Munhall’s Park Elementary School. The district superintendent initially denied the grievance, and the union pushed to take the issue to the school board, which upheld the superintendent’s decision in a meeting last night. (read article)

NFL in LA: How organized labor and Inglewood stadium developers struck a deal
By Ben Bergman, March 27, 2015, KPCC
The powerful umbrella group of unions – the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor – threatened to delay construction of Inglewood’s NFL stadium if its terms were not met by Thursday afternoon. (read article)

West Virginia Unions Suffer A Huge Blow By DEMOCRATIC Governor
By Conner D. Wolf, March 27, 2015, Daily Caller
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, broke from party lines Thursday by ending a common union-backed policy known as mandatory project labor agreements. (read article)

Public employee unions: what are they good for?
By Orin Johnson, March 26, 2015, Reno Gazette-Journal
How does Nevada currently benefit from public employee unions? Ask a union activist this question, and you’ll usually hear about child labor and the invention of the weekend. (read article)

Militant union faction opposes West Coast port pact – Says deal would give management ‘free hand to automate’
Powell Slaughter, March 27, 2015, Furniture Today
A militant union faction plans to meet next week in opposition to the tentative contract agreement for West Coast ports reached last month by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Assn. (read article)

CA prisoner population down, guard pay up
By John Seiler, CalWatchdog.com
Federal court orders forced California to cut its number of prisoners. That resulted in Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011 “realignment” program, which mainly shifted prisoners to local jails. Yet overall state prison-guard compensation is up sharply. (read article)

Businesses, organizers at odds over plan to remake union voting rules
By Matt Sepic, March 26, 2015, MPRnews.org
New federal rules set to take effect next month could make union organizing easier, but business groups suing to block the regulations warn they’ll give organized labor the upper hand. (read article)

Taxpayers foot bill for union work, lawmakers seek changes
By John Roberts, March 26, 2015, FoxNews
When he arrived on Capitol Hill in January, freshman Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., discovered something he had no clue was going on. Hundreds of federal employees spend their entire workday — not doing the business of the government, but working for their unions. (read article)

GOP Led Legislatures And ALEC Are Working To Do Away With Unions
By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., March 25, 2015, NH Labor News
The move to alter the laws to make all states a Right to Work state is gaining momentum. State legislatures overloaded with conservative elected officials who have strong ties to the innocuously named American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are hell-bent on doing away with unions. (read article)

Contra Costa Sheriff deputies won’t give up retaliation lawsuit
By Matthew Artz, March 25, 2015, San Jose Mercury News
Despite suffering a major setback in federal court, the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association said Wednesday it won’t drop a lawsuit that accused county lawmakers of threatening retribution over the union’s campaign to overturn their ill-fated 33 percent pay hike. (read article)

San Francisco to weigh tech buses’ labor practices
By Mike Snider, March 25, 2015, USA Today
San Francisco city officials voted Tuesday to consider transportation company labor practices in issuing future permits. (read article)

Report: Cost of Labor Union Subsidy in Missouri Unknown Due to Lack of Government Record Keeping
March 25, 2015, Competitive Enterprise Institute
A new report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute reveals an appalling lack of transparency in how Missouri’s government agencies account for taxpayer dollars going to labor union coffers. (read article)

GOP Budget Seeks Hundreds of Billions in Cuts to Federal Employees
March 24, 2015, NFFE.com
Last week, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, unveiled the GOP’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016. Continuing a trend from previous GOP budget proposals, the budget seeks deep cuts from federal employees – to the tune of $318 billion. One the most notable and deepest cuts calls for federal employees to “make greater contributions toward their retirement.” (read article)

Union-backed bill would mandate up to 10 weeks of family leave, at higher pay
By Allen Young, March24, 2015, Sacramento Business journal
Workers would receive higher wages and up to 10 weeks off when they leave work to care for sick family members or to bond with a newborn, under a California bill that has backing from organized labor. (read article)

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