Category Archives: Labor Unions

PERB Addresses Need for Procedural Admonitions for Post Investigation Union Member Interviews

Source: William A. Diedrich, Neel Ghanshyam, and Marleen L. Sacks, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 1, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The authors of this article discuss a case that highlights the need for employers to conduct thorough, neutral investigations in any situation involving allegations where a union member accused of misconduct, or who files a grievance, has the right to an adversarial hearing.

For Public Employees, Speech Is Free, But Is Anyone Listening?

Source: Dina Kolker, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 1, Summer 2019
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In the current political environment many groups feel that “government” is not listening to their needs and issues, but most would be surprised to discover that the government has no legal obligation to listen to any of us. This legal “secret” is of particular import to the long-run wrestling match between the public sector labor movement and their right-wing opponents, where the so-called “right to work,” presented as a positive, often translates into the right to be ignored, a decided negative.

The “Right to Work” movement often touts its focus on empowering workers through the First Amendment. The name itself is designed to indicate a right to a job and implies some individual control over the terms of that employment. “Give yourself a raise,” and other variations of that sentiment, are declared on mass mailings targeting public employees in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, overturning a four-decades old precedent that had permitted unions to collect fair share fees from nonmembers. The decision is praised by some as a win for worker free speech, but what does it mean for a public employee’s right to be heard? Anyone who has ever repeated the same request multiple times to a distracted child knows that there is a world of difference between speaking and being heard.

Indeed, the admittedly catchy invitation only thinly veils the reality of what was won and what was at risk of being lost in Janus. The mailing does not say call your boss and demand a raise higher than the one your union was able to negotiate for everyone in the last contract. Yet, individual negotiation of terms and conditions of employment is implicit (if not explicit) in the employee-facing rhetoric of Right to Work groups. The implication is that by turning down the volume knob on public sector unions you somehow inherently amplify the voices of individual workers. Nothing could be further from the legal — and practical — truth. The simple fact is that, absent collective bargaining laws, the government, neither as employer nor as sovereign, has any obligation to listen. In fact, government generally has no obligation to listen to any citizen, from the president on down…..

US Labor Studies in the Twenty-First Century: Understanding Laborism Without Labor

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 45, July 2019
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From the abstract:
In recent years, labor studies has flourished even as labor unions in the United States have continued their long-term downward trajectory. One strain of this research has situated the labor movement, and its decline, at the center of economic inequality’s rise in the United States. Another has explored the labor movement’s interconnections with political dynamics in the contemporary United States, including how labor’s demise has reshaped the polity and policies. This body of scholarship also offers insights into recent stirrings of labor resurgence, ranging from the teachers’ strikes of 2017 to the Fight for 15 minimum wage initiatives. Yet the field’s reliance on official union membership rates as the standard measure of union strength, and on official strike statistics as the standard measure of union activism, prevents it from fully understanding the scope and durability of worker activism in the post-Wagner age.

How Democrats can win back workers in 2020

Source: Thomas Kochan, The Conversation, August 16, 2019

Labor unions and the workers they represent were once the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

The 2016 presidential election revealed just how much that has changed. Hillary Clinton lost in key battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin in part because she took labor support for granted.

A survey my team of labor scholars at MIT conducted about five months after the election showed that most workers feel they lack a voice at their jobs. Many Americans apparently felt that Donald Trump did a much better job than Clinton showing he was on their side and had a plan to help them.

As I watch the 2020 presidential debates, I wonder: Will Democrats make the same mistake? Or will they return to their roots and put the full range of workers’ needs and aspirations front and center in their campaigns?

Some of the candidates vying to be the 2020 nominee have offered plans to support organized labor, but they mainly endorse bills already in Congress to shore up collective bargaining rights. None have offered a clear vision and strategy for assuring workers have a voice in the key decisions that will shape the future of work.

This won’t be enough to give workers the stronger and broader voice at work they are calling for today.

In our 2017 survey, we learned two key things about what workers actually want…..

Know Your Members: Assessing the Bargaining Unit for Internal Organizing

Source: Steward Update, Vol. 30 no. 3, 2019
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To get a good contract, pass pro-labor legislation, support charities and community groups or just get one supervisor to stop harassing union members, unions need to do something called “mobilization.” Mobilization is a systematic effort to get members and other to act as a group in taking action – fill out a bargaining survey, lobby their elected officials, join an anti-cancer walk-a-thon, or challenge a supervisor.

A key part of getting members in motion is having a strong connection between union leadership and membership. Stewards who regularly share information from leaders with their members and communicate members’ concerns to leaders are the most important part of any effort to harness member power to make positive change. To perform this role well, stewards need to maximize their relationship with each member. ….

See Where Teachers Got Pay Raises This Year – Protests across the country swayed governors to push for salary bumps

Source: Daarel Burnette II & Madeline Will, Education Week, Vol. 38 Issue 36, Published in Print: June 19, 2019

More than a year after teachers across the country began walking out of their classrooms en masse to demand higher salaries, at least 15 states have given their teachers a raise.

And lawmakers in several more states are putting the final touches on plans to raise teacher salaries, according to an Education Week analysis…..

….Here’s what you need to know about each state’s plan (as of June 17) to raise teacher pay. (The average teacher salary for each state reflects the National Education Association’s estimate for the 2018-19 school year, which would not include these raises.)

Click a state in the dropdown to jump to that section: ….

How LGBTQ Union Activists Transformed the Labor Movement

Source: Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, No Class, June 7, 2019

….In 28 U.S. states, queer and trans workers can still be fired due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, and a strong union contract is often the only legally binding workplace protection available to LGBTQIA workers to fight employment discrimination. This is especially important because of the high unemployment rates for transgender and non-binary people — 16% overall — which can be compounded by other factors like racial discrimination, age discrimination, or national origin discrimination…..

‘We Want Both!’: pressuring Philadelphia unions for inclusion and equity during the long 1970s

Source: Alyssa Ribeiro, Labor History, Latest Articles, June 2, 2019
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From the abstract:
This article examines local labor insurgency in Philadelphia between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. Drawing on alternative press sources, it traces the efforts of Black, Puerto Rican, and female workers to reshape their unions as stable employment opportunities declined. Across industries and job sites, workers pressured both their unions and their employers through public criticism, running slates of candidates in union elections, and taking part in picketing and wildcat strikes. Existing scholarship has privileged rank-and-file activism among White men focused on wages and working conditions. Enlarging our view to include a more representative workforce at the local level while following workers’ resistance forward through time recharacterizes the rank-and-file rebellion to include defiant, multiracial coalitions demanding progressive reform. That broader rebellion, in turn, challenges some long-held assumptions about US labor during the 1970s.

Library Professionals: Facts & Figures

Source: Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), Fact Sheet, May 2019

Librarians and other library professionals provide essential services for schools, universities, and communities. Americans go to libraries for free, reliable, and well-organized access to books, the Internet, and other sources of information and entertainment; assistance finding work; research and reference assistance; and programs for children, immigrants, seniors and other groups with specific needs, just to name a few.

This fact sheet explores the role of library staff in the workforce, the demographics, educational attainment and wages of librarians, as well as the benefits of union membership for librarians and other issues faced by library staff…..

…..Librarians and library worker union members have leveraged their collective voices to earn fair wages and stronger benefits. Wages and benefits earned by union librarians and library workers are more commensurate with the skilled and professional nature of library work.

In 2018, librarians who were union members earned 38 percent ($284) more per week than their non-union counterparts. While this statistic is also subject to volatility due to the sample size, trends in the data show that it pays to be a union librarian.

– In 2018, union library assistants earned 48 percent higher hourly wages ($18.67) than their non-union counterparts ($12.62).
– Due to the small sample size, 2018 union wage data is not available for library technicians. In 2009, the last year comparative data was available, union library technicians earned 49 percent more than their non-union counterparts.

Union members are more likely than their non-union counterparts to be covered by a retirement plan, health insurance, and paid sick leave. In 2018, 95 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to a retirement plan, compared with only 67 percent of non-union workers. Similarly, 95 percent of union members had access to employer provided health insurance, compared to 69 percent of non-union workers in 2017. In 2017, 90 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to paid sick leave compared to 71 percent of non-union workers…..