Tag: SEIU

Arguments Pro and Con on NLRB’s Plan to Allow ‘Micro Unions’

The National Labor Relations Board has posted the amicus briefs submitted in response to the NLRB’s review of a case that the board could use to justify a radical change in labor policy, the authorization of “micro unions.” (See our posts immediately below here and here.)

The case is Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile and United Steelworkers, District 9. The National Association of Manufacturers is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which submitted its amicus brief in alliance with the HR Policy Association.

To simplify the sides, employers and employer groups believe the NLRB is going too far in turning one specific labor dispute into a broader review of what legitimately constitutes a bargaining unit. Labor unions want a million units to bloom, allowing organizers to pick and choose small groups of employees whom they can more efficiently persuade and pressure into joining a union.

The employer’s brief: Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile

The union’s brief: United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO/CLC, i.e., USW

Amicus briefs from labor unions:

Amicus briefs from employer groups:

Submitting a letter were three Republican members of the Senate Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions Comittee: Senators Mike Enzi, Orrin Hatch, Johnny Isakson (continue reading…)

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Pushing Labor’s Agenda Through the Executive Branch, the NLRB

President Obama visited a Fairfax, Va., family last September to promote his Administration’s agenda before the 2010 elections. Asked about the prospects for passing the Employee Free Choice Act, i.e., card check, the President said [our emphasis]:

Frankly, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate. So the opportunity to actually get this passed right now is not real high. What we’ve done instead is try to do as much as we can administratively to make sure that it’s easier for unions to operate and that they’re not being placed at an unfair disadvantage.

The move (discussed below) by the National Labor Relations Board to redefine acceptable bargaining units and allow “micro unions” sure looks like the President’s plan put into action, doesn’t it? Don’t pass a law, don’t even hold a formal rule-making procedure, just solicit amicus briefs and then issue a ruling that overturns decades of precedent and rewrites labor law.

Three U.S. Senators have registered their objections to the NLRB’s attempt to circumvent the policymaking branch of government, Congress. In a March 8 letter to the board, Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) wrote:

As United States Senators and members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (“HELP”) Committee, we have a vested interest in the outcome of the underlying case. When an independent government agency, acting within its discretion, creates policy that conflicts with federal statute, or attempts to circumvent the legislative or rulemaking process, Congress must weigh in to ensure constitutional boundaries are not crossed. What we have learned from various stakeholders is that the decision in Specialty Healthcare could result in changing the determination of appropriate bargaining units in every workplace under the Board’s jurisdiction. We believe such a major change should only be done by amending the statute, which is the exclusive province of Congress.

The Senators acknowledged that the board can at times change policy through adjudication, i.e., ruling on a case, and it would be appropriate to seek amicus briefs in those circumstances. However, that process should not be a substitute for formal rulemaking, they argued.

The NLRB voted 3-1 to go ahead with its review in the Specialty Healthcare case, with the three votes coming from the Democratic members: Chairman Wilma Liebman, former labor lawyer Mark Pearce, and former SEIU and AFL-CIO counsel Craig Becker, a recess appointee. In his dissent, the sole Republican on the board, Brian Hayes, delineated how the majority’s overreach in entering the policymaking realm. Indeed, neither of the two parties in the case sought the broad review the board is undertaking. Hayes concluded: (continue reading…)

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NLRB Plan Would Revive Big Labor Through ‘Micro Unions’

The National Labor Relations Board is opening the door to a new and radical reinterpretation of labor law, allowing the formation of “micro unions” that could force employers to deal with multiple bargaining units at a single workplace. If the scheme is pushed through, labor organizers could approach small groups of employees to form unions, even though the majority of workers at a job site would oppose unionization. The multiplying of bargaining units at a single business location would create enormous management problems and grant a few employees the ability to disrupt business operations through a labor action. Big Labor loves the idea.

The case, Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile and United Steelworkers, District 9, involves the attempt of the Steelworkers to organize a group of certified nursing assistants at a nursing home. The employer, Specialty Healthcare, maintained that the only appropriate unit consists of all nonprofessional service and maintenance employees.

The NLRB’s Regional Director sided with the Steelworkers, finding the smaller bargaining unit acceptable, and Specialty Healthcare appealed. Rather than rule on its own, the NLRB sent out a request for amicus briefs to comment on what constitutes an appropriate bargaining unit. This unusual step strongly suggests to us that the board’s three-member Democratic majority wants to use the case to overturn precedent and allow creation of these small “micro unions.”

Not surprisingly, the apparent intellectual instigator of this exercise is Craig Becker, the radical labor theoretician and former SEIU and AFL-CIO counsel. (Becker serves on the board as a recess appointment, having failed to win Senate confirmation.) In another NLRB case, Wheeling Island Gaming, Becker argued for letting a casino’s poker dealers form their own bargaining unit, supposedly because they had separate and distinct interests from blackjack dealers and craps and roulette operators. Even his fellow Democratic board members, Chairman Wilma Liebman and former labor lawyer Mark Pearce, thought he went too far. Correction (3:20 p.m.): Chairman Wilma Liebman, a fellow Democrat, and former Republican appointee William Schaumber, disagreed. The NLRB order is here.

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), to which the National Association of Manufacturers, and the HR Policy Association have filed an amicus brief (download here) raising strong objections to any attempt by the NLRB to overturn longstanding precedent. From the CDW’s news release, “Activist NLRB To Hear Case On Special(ty) Interests“:

At issue in Specialty Healthcare is whether Big Labor may organize by cherry picking groups of workers that support the union without providing many co-workers who may oppose the union an opportunity to vote. Such a ruling would reverse over 50 years of standards for bargaining units. (continue reading…)

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It’s Secretary of Labor, Not Secretary FOR Labor

Washington Examiner editorial, “It’s time for Labor Secretary Solis to go,” following her inflammatory remarks at last weekend’s meeting of the Democratic National Committee:

Nothing wrong with Solis speaking at the DNC, of course, as she is a former Democratic representative from a California district. The problem is that her DNC remarks made clear that Solis labors under the flawed assumption that she represents only the steadily dwindling sliver of the American work force that is still unionized. As a result, Solis is leaving the other 90 percent of American workers high and dry.

Here’s the key passage from Solis’ remarks at the DNC on public employee protests in Wisconsin and Ohio that points to her fractured understanding of whom she represents: “The fight is on. We work together. We help those embattled states right now where public employees are under assault.” She called members of the protesting public employee unions “our brothers and sisters” and pledged to help them against Republican Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio. With those remarks, Solis effectively put the federal government in the de facto position of aiding protesters opposing governors doing what they were elected to do less than five months ago.

The Examiner also publishes a special report today with two commentaries on organized labor.

UPDATE (4:55 p.m.): More labor agitation from the Secretary, reported by The Examiner’s Byron York.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis took part in a Communications Workers of America conference call Wednesday night in which she expressed her strong support for unions fighting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.  “Let’s keep fighting,” Solis told CWA president Larry Cohen and thousands of CWA shop stewards listening to the call…

On more than one occasion, Solis referred to herself as part of the pro-union, anti-Walker cause.  “I say let’s keep fighting,” Solis said, “let’s stand up for all workers, and let’s mobilize and do what we do best, and that is to make sure that the American public understands that union rights are no different from human rights.”

The audio is here, courtesy of the Communications Workers of America, which trumpeted the call here.

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Misdirection and Attacks Amid the Union Protests

From AP, Nevada, “NV Rally Supports Fight vs. Wis. Anti-Union Bill“:

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – More than 100 protesters turned out in Carson City to support thousands of public workers who’ve set up camp at the Wisconsin Capitol to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.The Nevada Appeal of Carson City reports protesters waved signs in front of the Legislative Building on Saturday and chanted “Money for Kids, not for Koch.”

We can imagine the exchange.

Hey, you here for the protest? Great! Now take this sign and chant along with us.

OK. Sure. Who are the Kochs?

Doesn’t matter. Just wave the sign.

Um, all right. Boo, boo!

If ever you want to see a cynical PR campaign in operation, take a look at the coordinated rallies in state capitals organized by the labor unions. All around the country, unions protested Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to control state spending by limits on collective bargaining for public employees.

There was a consistent talking shouting point: Unions built the middle class! In New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, even at the Oscars, the rhetoric was all the same.

It’s misdirection.  AFSCME and the SEIU did not build the middle class.  Even if one agrees that industrial unions contributed to rising private sector wages in the 1950s, the growth of American middle class had next to nothing to do with public sector employees and collective bargaining. Those unions took off with the explosion of state and local governments in the ’60s and later.

The rallies also featured a consistent target: Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Labor’s modus operandi requires picking a target to attack, personalizing their campaigns by demonizing an individual, or in this case individuals. You fire up the troops and discourage a more reasoned discussion of the issues. This time the target is the Kochs. (continue reading…)

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Renomination: Craig Becker Gets Another 11 Months on the NLRB

President Obama on Wednesday renominated Craig Becker, the former SEIU and AFL-CIO counsel and Big Labor expansionist, to the National Labor Relations Board. Labor leaders have been miffed — or expressed their miffedness as a political feint — over the President’s comments about the burden of regulations and his overtures to employers. Still, we doubt Becker’s reappointment is an overt gesture meant to appease labor. Becker’s name was on a long list on renominations; any President sticks by his appointments or risks looking weak.

The President originally nominated Becker to the NLRB on July 9, 2009, and after the Senate returned the nomination to the White House at the end of 2009, made the recess appointment in April 2010 (and subsequently renominated him). This latest renomination is required to keep Becker’s recess appointment in effect through the end of 2011.

Becker is known for his radical writings that argue employers should have no voice when unions attempt to organize a workplace, as well as his view that aspects of the anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act can be implemented through rules, without approval by Congressional policymakers. On the NLRB, there have been occasions when Becker should have recused himself from decisions because of a clear conflict of interest, but he went ahead and supplied his pro-union vote anyway.

Becker’s appointment created an NLRB majority that views business first as offenders rather than employers, undermining the Administration’s claims to be promoting job creation. Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation before, and we see no indications Becker’s nomination has somehow become more politically palatable. Nor should it. Becker is a pro-labor activist serving on what should be a balanced quasi-judicial panel.

The recess appointment expires Dec. 31, 2011. Good.

Recent coverage …

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One Nation March: Labor’s Ever-Widening ‘Progressive’ Agenda

Last year for the first time in history, organized labor in the United States represented more government workers than private-sector employees.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-sector unionization fell to 7.2 percent in 2009, down from 7.6 percent the previous year.

Labor’s declining relevance to workers in the private sector has many roots: Generally improved wages and job conditions, the imperative of workplace flexibility, global competition, and union corruption all play a part.

There’s another important but less recognized factor: Organized labor’s leadership has abandoned the very reason unions first came into existence, which is to represent the economic interests of its workers. In their drive to amass political power, union leaders have aligned themselves with left-wing and “progressive” groups who often agitate against the interests of union workers and show contempt for their deeply held beliefs.

Take the “One Nation” march scheduled for Saturday in Washington. The unions are major sponsors and organizers, busing in union members and doing PR for the effort. The SEIU touts its leadership, the AFL-CIO is making a huge online push for the march, and AFSCME is promoting the effort.

Then take a look at other groups on the list of endorsing organizations, the “partners.”

(continue reading…)

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Labor Policy Round-Up

Yee-haw – we felt it was about time that we did another labor round up at the shopfloor.org corral.

Recusal refusal: The Wall Street Journal echoed our concerns with the National Labor Relations Board when it published an editorial earlier that examines recess-appointed NLRB member Craig Becker’s conflict of interest with his consideration of NLRB cases that involve his former employers – the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes: Can’t help but to think of the lyrics of the old Bowie tune when we learned of Anna Burger’s impending departure from the labor groups Change to Win and the SEIU: “I still don’t know what I was waiting for And my time was running wild”. And run wild they did. During Ms. Burger’s time the labor group has tirelessly advocated expanding government, the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act and radical changes at the NLRB to seat one of their own (Craig Becker.) Perhaps she realized: “Every time I thought I’d got it made It seemed the taste was not so sweet.”

When the Data Doesn’t Help Your Case, Question the Data! The top brass over at OSHA have had a hard timing understanding why injury and illness rates have shown such marked improvement over the years. So instead of acknowledging that America’s workplaces were getting safer, they questioned the accuracy of the data. In October of last year the agency launched an initiative to ferret out an alleged widespread underreporting of workplace safety incidents by employers. However, the agency quietly “paused” the program recently as regional OSHA officials expressed doubts about the program’s effectiveness, saying they were not finding significant violations.

Labor in Focus in the Rocky Mountain State: EFCA will continue to be an issue during the midterm elections. After this week’s primary elections in Colorado the voters will face a decision between two candidates that have different approaches to the card check legislation. There is incumbent Senator Michael Bennet who has not taken a clear position on the jobs-killing bill and Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, strongly opposes the measure.

Problems with EFCA in the Mountain State: West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democratic frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race for the late Sen. Byrd’s seat, has said he has doubts about the card check legislation if it hasn’t made it through a Democratic-controlled administration and Congress. ‘I told labor, “Something is wrong with that piece of legislation if you haven’t been able to get it passed by now,”’ Manchin said.”  Something wrong? The fact that the legislation would cost 600,000 Americans their jobs shows just how wrong it is.

We hope all candidates will realize the devastating economic impact that card check and related proposals will have on our economy and join the NAM in rejecting the misguided legislation.

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The Foreign Policy of the Communications Workers of America

You can learn a lot about the U.S. labor movement by reading the Communists. The reporters for People’s World, which used to be the People’s Weekly World, which used to be The Daily Worker, are competent and, in reporting on speeches by labor officials, are not restrained by the same internal censors that govern the union-employed writers. If a union leader says something extreme or activists embrace the outlandish, the union writers will overlook the damaging comments. In contrast, writers for People’s World are likely to regard the remarks as virtuous and worth highlighting.

Case in point, the PW’s report on last week’s 72nd Convention of the Communications Workers of America, “CWA takes sober look at labor’s challenges.”

CWA took time out from politics and organizing to pass a resolution demanding withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors from both Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure, pushed by U.S. Labor Against War, won by a majority show of hands. But delegates spent the rest of their time on U.S. politics and CWA internal business…[snip]

The Iraq-Afghanistan withdrawal resolution linked the wars together and demanded redirection of money spent on them to domestic needs, including care for returning injured and wounded troops.

One delegate, an Air Force veteran who recently returned from Afghanistan, opposed it, and two other delegates spoke for it.

That’s sounds like a really interesting story, especially if you interviewed the war veteran and reported on the activities of U.S. Labor Against War. Alas, this is the only report we’ve found on CWA’s foreign policy as discussed at the convention in Washington. It’s not mentioned anywhere at the CWA website.

P.S. For that matter, we didn’t know that organized labor has gone on the offensive against the American Red Cross. The PW reported that the CWA:

Blasted the Red Cross’ anti-union stand. The non-profit demands pay and benefit cuts from its CWA, UFCW, OPEIU, AFSCME and SEIU member-workers. CWA asked its locals to contact United Way area affiliates, since the Red Cross is a big beneficiary of United Way funds, “and request they contact ARC to demand” it “respect the collective bargaining process, consistent with United Way policy.”

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Agreed, the Head of the SEIU is a Powerful Lobbyist, Except …

The Hill newspaper today carries a special feature, “2010 Top Lobbyists,” the kind of list journalism that’s fun and draws a lot of attention. No knock here.

Although we note the inclusion of Mary Kay Henry, the new president of the Service Employees International Union, the SEIU:

Mary Kay Henry, Service Employees International Union. The new president of the politically powerful union will play a pivotal role in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform and getting out the Democratic vote in midterm elections.

But she’s not a registered lobbyist and hasn’t been one since 2006, according to House lobbying disclosure forms.

The Senate disclosures show the same – not a registered lobbyist since 2006.

The Hill’s inclusion of Henry must just be a recognition of her prospective lobbying clout. The paper did a feature on Henry after her surprise election in May, “Powerful SEIU elects first woman president, successor to Stern,” and the union’s political influence is BIG. Excerpt:

SEIU has the biggest political action committee among labor unions, with close to $11.8 million in cash on hand by the end of 2009, according to Federal Election Commission records. In addition, it spent more than $58 million on its political and lobbying activities in 2009, working with groups as varied as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to the National Gay Lesbian Task Force, according to financial disclosure records filed with the Labor Department.

Come to think of it, her predecessor as SEIU president, Andy Stern, wasn’t a registered lobbyist either. The omission caused a ruckus because of his obvious advocacy, clout and political access — being the most frequent outside visitor to the White House, for example.

Does the  SEIU have a “carve out” from the lobbying disclosure laws no one knows about?

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