Category Archives: Labor Unions

Labor History: Primary Source Set

Source: Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Primary Source Sets, 2016

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources. Drawing online materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States, the sets use letters, photographs, posters, oral histories, video clips, sheet music, and more. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. These sets were created and reviewed by the teachers on the DPLA’s Education Advisory Committee.

The Labor History Primary Source Set includes:
The Populist Movement
The Homestead Strike
Boomtimes Again: Twentieth-Century Mining in the Mojave Desert
When Miners Strike: West Virginia Coal Mining and Labor History
Mexican Labor and World War II: The Bracero Program
The United Farm Workers and the Delano Grape Strike

Faculty Preferences over Unionization: Evidence from Open Letters at Two Research Universities

Source: Joel Waldfogel, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. 22149, April 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
What determines employee preferences for unionizing their workplaces? A substantial literature addresses this question with surveys on worker attitudes and pay. Unionization drives at the Universities of Minnesota and Washington have given rise to open letters of support or opposition from over 1,000 faculty at Washington and support from over 200 at Minnesota. Combining these expressions with publicly available data on salary, job titles, department affiliation, research productivity, teaching success, and political contributions from over 5,000 faculty, we provide new estimates of the determinants of faculty preferences for unionization at research universities. We find that faculty with higher pay and greater research productivity are less supportive of unionization, even after controlling for job title and department. Attitudes matter as well: after accounting for pay and productivity, faculty in fields documented elsewhere to have more politically liberal participants are more likely to support unionization.

Internal Union Organizing Centered on Building Community

Source: Kris Rondeau, Negotiation Journal, Volume 31 Issue 4, October 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
….In our unions — the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW), which represents support staff at Harvard University; the two State Healthcare and Research Employees’ (SHARE) union locals at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Healthcare and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts; and the Union of Social Workers at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts — the process of forging a pre-negotiating consensus is more about continuous organizing to build friendships than it is about preparing internally to bargain with management.

Internally, a union is never done organizing. Organizing — that is, talking and listening — happens every day. The thousands of stories that members share help them build community and develop friendships that bridge the differences among us. Unions initiate these conversations so that we may understand each other deeply. Special interests or identity politics are diminished because bridges and friendships have been built…..

Bargaining for the Common Good

Source: Joseph A. McCartin, Dissent, Spring 2016

….Two things made the Minneapolis People’s Congress particularly significant. First, it signaled a deep alignment of community and labor organizations, a potentially potent melding of their interests, organizational energies, and agendas that went well beyond the merely transactional forms of coalition-making that we have often seen between labor and community organizations in the past. Unions did not merely enlist community groups to support their contract campaigns; instead unions and their allies built a common agenda from the ground up. Second, this extraordinary gathering was the most fully articulated example of a growing phenomenon: unions and community partners collaborating to challenge twenty-first century capitalism, reviving democracy and government integrity in the process….. But the Minneapolis gathering was more than simply another iteration of an oft-repeated union tradition. It represented something new, a conscious effort to tie union-community mobilization to the function that lies at the very heart of unionism: collective bargaining. Since the rise of a routinized collective-bargaining regime—first in the 1940s and ’50s in the private sector, and then in the 1960s and ’70s in the public sector—collective bargaining had come to mean a binary negotiation between unionized workers and their direct employers. Although unions repeatedly sought community allies, they never tried to enlist them in a common effort to break out of the employer-union binary and bargain together on behalf of workers and their communities. The Minneapolis effort is a significant step in that direction…..

Imagining U.S. Labor Relations without Union Security

Source: Ann C. Hodges, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, First online: 05 April 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Attacks on union finances are intensifying. These assaults, which come in various forms, have the potential to jeopardize the current systems of labor relations in the United States in both private and public sectors. This essay analyzes what might happen if the challenges are successful. Unions may shrink further in size or power, or alternatively, respond to new conditions in ways that strengthen them. Removal of union security might prompt legal change such as elimination of the duty of fair representation, elimination of the system of exclusive representation, or permitting the union to charge nonmembers for actual representation. These changes, if they occur, will be disruptive although they might result in a system more suited to today’s workplace. Regardless of the immediate outcome, it seems certain that labor-management conflict will not be eliminated, though it may be diverted for a time or changed in form.

Martin Luther King Was Assassinated On This Day in 1968—While Fighting For Unions

Source: Peter Cole, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, April 4, 2106

Today, April 4th, we remember the life and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for on this day, in 1968, he was murdered by a white supremacist at the age of 39.

King literally died while fighting for a union, murdered in Memphis in 1968 while helping that city’s sanitation workers, a majority of whom were black, organize a local of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). King had repeatedly visited the city in his final months to aid the organizing effort. The city’s elected officials were both racist and anti-union—no coincidence.

Though hardly unknown, King’s deep commitment to unions remains largely left out of the traditional telling of his story. Indeed, many do not know he championed multiple union causes in addition to fighting to end white supremacy. In fact, King devoted a large part of his short life to advocating that workers—whether African American or not—join unions, for one of his foremost goals was eradicating poverty. ….

A pivotal role? The AFL–CIO and the 2008 presidential election

Source: Timothy J. Minchin, Labor History, March 29, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article explores the role that organized labor played in the landmark presidential election of 2008. In particular, it explores the work of the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), which ran its biggest ever election campaign in 2008, spending upwards of $250 million. While there is a vibrant emerging literature on the election, particularly from political scientists and former reporters, labor’s role in the story has been largely overlooked. Drawing on new parts of the AFL–CIO’s papers, as well as interviews with key staffers and federation leaders, this article highlights the important – and overlooked – role that labor played in putting Barack Obama into the White House. Especially important were its extensive efforts to educate – and pressure – white members, many of whom had backed other candidates during the Democratic primaries, to support Obama. Indeed, the Washington Post asserted that union members played a ‘pivotal role’ in Obama’s victory, especially in terms of delivering the white vote. It was a conclusion largely supported by exit polls, which showed that white union members were much more likely to support Obama than whites who were not in unions. The article highlights that despite the decline in union density – by this time only about 12% of American workers belonged to unions, compared to 35% in the 1950s – the labor movement retained considerable political influence, chiefly because of reforms carried out by AFL–CIO President John J. Sweeney. While Obama was unable to fulfill many of the expectations generated by his campaign, the story of labor and the 2008 election is an important one in its own right, showing that contemporary labor could still be a powerful and constructive force.

Monetary Compensation of Full-Time Faculty at American Public Regional Universities: The Impact of Geography and the Existence of Collective Bargaining

Source: Stephen G. Katsinas, Johnson A. Ogun, and Nathaniel J. Bray, Education Policy Center, Research Paper Presented at the 43rd Annual National Conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, April 3, 2016

This paper examines monetary compensation of 127,222 full-time faculty employed by the 390 regional universities in the United States who are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Compensation data published by the U.S. Department of Education and organizations concerned with faculty, including the American Association of University Professors and others, typically lump all four-year public university faculty together, ignoring well-known differences in teaching workloads at different types of public four-year universities (four instead of two courses taught each term, etc.). Further, many compensation studies do not examine fringe benefits, which are 330 percent of total monetary compensation. ….. As large numbers of “baby boom” era faculty at regional universities approach retirement, an accurate base-line assessment of total monetary compensation (salaries and fringe benefits) is important. This study examines (1) salaries and fringe benefits, (2) includes the entire universe of U.S. regional universities, (3) examines differences by geographic peer institutional types, and (4) examines if the presence or lack of collective bargaining matters. ….. The differences are even wider when the presence or lack of collective bargaining is considered. Among the 127, 222 full-time faculty at regional universities, 74,468 or 63% worked at the 219 institutions in the 30 states that in 2011 had collective bargaining (as reported in the 2012 Directory of Collective Bargaining published by the National Center for Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions), while 52,754 or 37% were employed at the 171 regional universities in the 20 states that did not. Full-time faculty at rural, suburban, and urban regional universities with collective bargaining received on average $92,407, $116,353, and $108,399 in total monetary compensation in FY2011; this compared to averages of $82,722, $84,813, and $86,594 at rural, suburban, and urban regional universities without. …..

Opinion analysis: Result but no guidance on public unions’ fees

Source: Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog, March 29, 2016

The most important labor union controversy to reach the Supreme Court in years sputtered to an end on Tuesday, with a four-to-four split, no explanation, and nothing settled definitely. The one-sentence result in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will leave intact, but on an uncertain legal foundation, a system of “agency fees” for non-union teachers in California — with the legal doubts for public workers’ unions across the nation probably lingering until a ninth Justice joins the Court at some point in the future.

The practical effect was to leave undisturbed a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had simply found itself bound by a prior Supreme Court precedent upholding such fees against constitutional challenge. The Ninth Circuit had before it a case specifically filed as a test of that precedent, and only the Supreme Court could revisit that prior ruling, binding on all lower courts…..

Friedrichs Opinion
Source: Juhyung Harold Lee, OnLabor blog, March 29, 2016

In case you missed it, the Supreme Court has handed down a 4-4 affirmance of the lower court’s opinion in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The Court’s 1977 opinion in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education thus remains good law, and public-sector unions may continue to collect agency fees from nonmembers.

A Narrow Escape for Public-Sector Unions
Source: Matt Ford, The Atlantic, March 29, 2016

The justices split 4-4 in Friedrichs v. CTA, leaving a pro-union ruling in the lower courts intact. …. Tuesday’s deadlock means that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of the teachers’ union will stand. But it also signaled that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who almost certainly joined Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas on one side of the split, would be willing to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the decision that became the basis for public-employee contracts. That tosses the precedent’s ultimate fate to the next justice who serves on the Court. ….

Supreme Court Deadlocks On Challenge To Union Fees
Source: Nina Totenberg, NPR, March 29, 2016

Split Supreme Court Means A Win For Public Sector Unions
Source: Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed News, March 29, 2016

The Supreme Court split 4-4 on a case over public union fees for non-members, leaving in place a lower court decision that allows the fees to continue.

Mandatory Union Fees Survive as U.S. Supreme Court Deadlocks
Source: Greg Stohr, Bloomberg, March 29, 2016

BREAKING: The Biggest Legal Attack On Unions In Decades Is Dead
Source: Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress, March 29, 2016

Supreme Court deadlocks over public employee union case; Calif. teachers must pay dues
Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post, March 29, 2016

SCOTUS 4-4 decision hands public sector unions a victory
Source: Ariane de Vogue, CNN, March 29, 2016

Unions Win Fee Victory as Supreme Court Ties 4-4
Source: Adam Liptak, New York Times, March 29, 2016

The Labor Prospect: How Garland Would (and Would Not) Be a Pro-Labor Justice

Source: Justin Miller, American Prospect, March 22, 2016

Predicting how Garland would rule on labor cases, Trump’s working class appeal, and measuring the “gig economy.”
Merrick Garland’s Nomination to the Supreme Court: Initial Observations
Source: CRS Reports & Analysis, Legal Sidebar, March 17, 2016

On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland of the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. As noted in an earlier Sidebar posting, the vacancy has significant implications for the Court, Congress, and the nation as a whole. The scope and nature of those implications depend on who ultimately succeeds Justice Scalia. As a follow up to the previous Sidebar, this posting—one of several CRS projects on Justice Scalia and the Court vacancy—discusses the potential implications of Judge Garland’s confirmation as the newest Justice, were he to be confirmed. It is presently unclear whether, when, or how the Senate might act on Judge Garland’s nomination….

The Supreme Court Vacancy and Labor: Merrick Garland
Source: Hannah Belitz, OnLabor blog, February 23, 2016

This post is part of an ongoing series on the labor decisions and positions of some of the likely potential picks to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.

On February 13, 2016, Justice Scalia unexpectedly passed away. In the aftermath of his passing, the legal and news worlds have been abuzz with talk of prospective replacements. Included on numerous shortlists of potential Supreme Court nominees is Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Judge Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit since 1997, when he was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in a 76-23 vote.

Judge Garland has an extensive record and while generalizations about his opinions are difficult to make, certain themes do emerge. An analysis focusing on his opinions in cases involving the NLRB reveals one particular theme: agency deference. This deference to the NLRB has had favorable consequences for labor and unions…..