Category Archives: Organizing

In Florida, An Organizing Drive that Doubled the Union

Source: Paul Ortiz, Labor Notes, July 11, 2011

Republican Governor Rick Scott recently signed measures making it harder to vote, moving Florida back toward its Jim Crow past. We are one of several states with no department to enforce wage and hour standards.

Despite these obstacles, faculty members in Florida’s public institutions of higher learning have been building unions in our right-to-work state at an outstanding rate in recent months. At the University of Florida union density was about 20 percent last year. Now it’s over 40 percent and rapidly rising.

….One key impetus was the state legislature’s attack on public employee unionism….Faculty started to see their union in a different way. It wasn’t just about bargaining on campus. It was about the bigger picture of state and national politics, budget cuts to education, and ongoing attacks on public sector workers–us!

Organizing in Hard Times

Source: Academe, Volume 98, Number 4, July-August 2011

Articles include:
Angry Badgers
By Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle
Protests in Wisconsin revive the state of “badgerness.”

Learning from Wisconsin

By Jamie Owen Daniel
The wolf is now inside your house, so organize.

Social Protest and the Future of Higher Education in Puerto Rico
By Victor M. Rodríguez
Repression and civil rights absuses have accompanied protests against tuition hikes.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube–and Democracy
By Bob Samuels
The shape of new social movements shaped by social media.

Academic Librarians in the Breach

By Steve Aby
Distinctions matter, even in the heat of attacks against collective bargaining.

Notes on: A World Without the Employee Free Choice Act; Certification Elections in the Hospital Industry

Source: Edwin Arnold and Trevor Bain, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 62 no. 1, Spring 2011
(subscription required)

We do not claim that a complete turnaround in union organizing success is on the horizon. However, there is clear historical; evidence that some opportunities for growth are possible. The unions’ success in labor relations in hospitals bears some resemblance to events in manufacturing during the Great Depression.

Bargaining for Rights in Luxury City: The Strategic Dilemmas of Organized Labor’s Urban Turn

Source: Ian Thomas MacDonald, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 36 no. 2, June 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A number of service-sector unions in the United States have turned to urban land-use strategies in alliance with community organizations to achieve organizing goals and sustain bargaining regimes in a hostile environment. These union strategies typically entail the formation of project-specific “common cause” coalitions with community organizations in order to leverage local benefits, living wages, and union rights from private developers and growth-oriented local governments.The labor studies literature on community unionism understands these strategies through the analytical frame of social movement theory, and closely associates them with labor movement renewal. In approaching the question from the perspective of critical human geography, this article highlights a contradiction that emerges in labor’s land-use campaigns in cases where redevelopment entails the transformation of working-class neighborhoods into spaces of production and luxury consumption. The article argues that a strategy of negotiating distributional shares out of prospective increases in land values in such cases encourages union-community coalitions to prioritize workplace over residential demands, in turn reproducing structural divisions between labor and community. The argument is sustained through a discussion of the involvement of the New York City hotel workers union, UNITE-HERE Local 6, in a labor-community coalition formed to contest the terms of the redevelopment of Coney Island. The case study casts some doubt on whether labor-community land use strategies of this type are consistent with labor movement renewal.

The Wagner Model of Labor Law is Dead, Long Live Labor Law!

Source: Paul M. Secunda, Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 12-15, September 13, 2012

From the abstract:
The Wagner Model of labor law no longer fulfills the promise of protecting and promoting employees’ collective voice in the American workplace. Legislative and administrative developments in the Wagner Model have made employees subject to intense intimidation and interference by employers with regard to their right to freely choose whether to belong to a union; employers can too easily engage in unlawful conduct as the cost of doing business and practice surface bargaining routinely without ever intending to agree to a contract with the union; and unions are helpless in counteracting these employer organizational and collective bargaining tactics because the ability to engage in strikes is largely illusory in the face of the employer’s right to lawfully and permanently replace their striking workers.

In response to this growing void in workplace representation, others have attempted to “fix” the Wagner Model from within by seeking to pass reforms such as the Employee Free Choice Act. Still others have shifted away from Wagner-style, command-and-control regulation and have urged a new governance approach which seeks to give employers incentives to justly treat their employees. This paper believes EFCA’s enactment is highly unlikely in the short-term and in any event, unlikely to change the current power dynamics hindering effective workplace voice for employees. It also finds the traditional new governance approach to be largely ineffective in securing anything but cosmetic employer compliance with new regulatory schemes and to not provide a secure mechanism for protecting and promoting meaningful employee voice.

Although the ideal solution might be to harness the remaining energies of the labor movement to an Occupy Wall Street-type style movement and to use those energies and passions to forge a new labor-oriented political party in the United States, past history has given proponents little reason to believe that such political reform will happen in the short-term in the two-party, money-soaked political environment of the United States. Instead, this paper has forwarded three promising alternative approaches to labor law reform outside of the Wagner Model. Through use of some combination of pre-recognition framework agreements, the coworker.org open-source internet platform, and Ghent System-like approaches, the hope is that American labor law will start again to provide workers with the institutional voice they need to promote fair and just workplaces.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, Congressional Research Service, RS21887, January 12, 2011

From the summary:
This report discusses legislative attempts to amend the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) to allow for union certification without an election, based on signed employee authorizations. The Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”), introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 1409 and S. 560, would have allowed union certification based on signed authorizations, provided a process for the bargaining of an initial agreement, and prescribed new penalties for certain unfair labor practices. This report reviews the current process for selecting a bargaining representative under the NLRA, and discusses the role of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in resolving bargaining disputes under that act. The EFCA has been introduced in the past four Congresses. During the 110th Congress, the measure was passed by a vote of 241-185 in the House. In the Senate, proponents of the EFCA fell nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and proceed to final consideration of the measure. The EFCA is widely expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress.

Internet Union Organizing Brings On-The-Ground Victory

Source: John Wojcki, People’s World, Published Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:00 pm

Laptops might forever replace leaflets as the way people get the word out when they want to form Unions at their workplaces.

A Union Organizing Campaign at a can plant north of New York City finally succeeded this year after workers at the Anheuser-Busch InBev Metal Container Corporation in Newburgh had failed twice, in recent years, to form a Union.

The workers at the plant attribute their victory to a totally new form of Union Organizing.

It involved no leaflets, no T-shirts, no secret meetings in people’s homes, no bosses singling out the individuals responsible for the organizing drive, no fear of talking among themselves on the shop floor and a company management unable to harass or fire a single worker.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, Congressional Research Service, RS21887, January 12, 2011

This report discusses legislative attempts to amend the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) to allow for union certification without an election, based on signed employee authorizations. The Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”), introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 1409 and S. 560, would have allowed union certification based on signed authorizations, provided a process for the bargaining of an initial agreement, and prescribed new penalties for certain unfair labor practices. This report reviews the current process for selecting a bargaining representative under the NLRA, and discusses the role of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in resolving bargaining disputes under that act. The EFCA has been introduced in the past four Congresses. During the 110th Congress, the measure was passed by a vote of 241-185 in the House. In the Senate, proponents of the EFCA fell nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and proceed to final consideration of the measure. The EFCA is widely expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress.
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