Posts Tagged ‘collective bargaining rights’

Collective-bargaining defense goes nationwide

Throughout America Monday, UTU members joined with brothers and sisters across craft and industrial lines in We Are One rallies reinforcing labor solidarity and raising public awareness of mean-spirited attacks on collective bargaining rights by right-wing extremists.

The word went forth that labor will not stand passive as anti-union zealots elected to state legislatures seek to dismantle public-employee unions through laws revoking collective bargaining rights, curtailing dues check-off and forcing costly annual representation elections.

There is an end-game: Reminding elected officials that organized labor remains a potent political force able to mobilize millions of voters, and to set the stage for recall elections of anti-union lawmakers and voter referendums to nullify the legislative assault on collective bargaining rights.

“The immense activity this week is a direct result of the backlash provoked by overreaching governors and legislators,” said AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka.

Labor leaders nationwide recognize that the assault on public-employee collective bargaining rights is part of a right-wing effort to extend the anti-union assault to private sector unions. Anti-union extremists already have urged an assault on Railroad Retirement Tier II and the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).

The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, established to help support public awareness of anti-union actions by right-wing extremists is just one example of union solidarity, being duplicated by dozens of other labor organizations in the public and private sectors.

Thousands of dollars already have been contributed to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund for this purpose, and UTU members and retirees are urged to add to the contributions already received from locals, general committees and state legislative boards.

In Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill curtailing public-employee collective bargaining rights, the effort to nullify that law in a November voter referendum already has begun.

Over the next 90 days, union members and their supporters in Ohio will collect the necessary 231,000 signatures to put the Ohio legislation to a voter referendum in November.

Efforts also have begun in Wisconsin to recall legislators who voted in favor of curtailing public-employee collective bargaining rights in that state.

“If you believe in something strong enough, you fight for it,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey in urging donations to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund. “Together, in solidarity, we can and will win this fight and emerge stronger than ever.”

Checks to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund should be sent to:

UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund
United Transportation Union
Suite 340
24950 Country Club Blvd.
North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333

 

Ohio lawmakers smash bargaining rights

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s official. The Ohio House and Senate have passed anti-union legislation that limits public-employee collective bargaining.

Gov. John Kasich intends to sign the bill into law.

The legislation bars strikes by public employees and limits collective bargaining to wages — but only if the public body chooses to bargain collectively. Otherwise, wages — as well as health care benefits, pensions and outsourcing — will be set unilaterally by public bodies.

The bill also limits payroll deduction for union political action committees and eliminates the use of seniority in determining layoffs.

In the works is a voter referendum for the fall that would overturn the legislation. The UTU, through the newly created UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, will help in that effort.

A labor-law professor at Ohio State University told The New York Times, “The essence of collective bargaining is when you can’t agree on terms of a contract, you have a dispute resolution mechanism, by strikes or perhaps binding arbitration. Here, you have none of that. That’s not collective bargaining. I’d call it collective begging. It’s a conversation that ends whenever an employer decides that it ends.”

Said the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: “[The legislation] undermines our basic American values by attacking the right of Ohio workers to have a voice on the job.””

In Wisconsin, similar legislation was passed without Democrats voting; and is now being challenged in state courts.

Other states, where right-wing extremists control the legislature — as in Ohio and Wisconsin — are also considering Ohio- and Wisconsin-like anti-union legislation.

To learn more of what is happening in your state, contact your state legislative director.

Our strength is in our PAC and numbers

By Assistant President Arty Martin

The attack on public-employee collective bargaining rights by right-wing extremists is intended to destroy labor unions.

Union busting is something expected in the private sector; that’s why we have laws to level the playing field, with most differences settled at the bargaining table or in neutral arbitration — not through management dictatorship, as in Wisconsin and other states.

Should right-wing extremists succeed in destroying public-sector unions, the assault will spread to the federal government workforce and then the private-sector.

In my 45 years as a proud union member and officer, I have never witnessed such blatant attacks on working families.

The source of the attacks is corporations, financial institutions and wealthy investors bankrolling right-wing extremist lawmakers. A Supreme Court decision virtually removing caps on corporate political donations certainly helped the effort.

Many right-wing candidates use emotional issues such as gun control, school prayer and abortion to stir the emotions of union members, recruiting many to inadvertently participate in destroying the right of collective bargaining and, eventually, the economic security unions provide working families.

If labor-union survival and the economic survival of working families is going to be preserved, we in organized labor must respond to the attacks on our collective bargaining rights.

We must maintain our right to join a union, our right unify and our right to make political donations (if we so choose) through payroll deduction to those politicians supporting workplace democracy.

We cannot match the level of donations of the huge corporations and others financially backing the attacks on labor, but we have something our enemies don’t have — millions and millions of members who can vote for labor-friendly candidates.

The UTU Political Action Committee (UTU PAC) helps identify labor friendly candidates, helps finance their election campaigns, and helps to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates on Election Day.

Please consider joining this voluntary effort and contribute to the UTU PAC. If you already are a member, please consider increasing your contribution. Our job security and the economic security of our families hang in the balance.

Let’s not forget that the attacks on labor we are witnessing today have not been seen in generations, and what is happening in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere today are only the beginning if we don’t stand in solidarity to protect the rights labor fought so long, so hard and at such a great cost to achieve.

Martin: We must fight attacks on collective bargaining

By Assistant President Arty Martin

The attack on public-employee collective bargaining rights by right-wing extremists is intended to destroy labor unions.

Union busting is something expected in the private sector; that’s why we have laws to level the playing field, with most differences settled at the bargaining table or in neutral arbitration — not through management dictatorship, as being attempted in Wisconsin and other states.

Should right-wing extremists succeed in destroying public-sector unions, the assault will spread to the federal government workforce and then the private-sector.

In my 45 years as a proud union member and officer, I have never witnessed such blatant attacks on working families.

The source of the attacks is corporations, financial institutions and wealthy investors bankrolling right-wing extremist lawmakers. A Supreme Court decision virtually removing caps on corporate political donations certainly helped the effort.

Many right-wing candidates use emotional words such as gun control, school prayer and abortion to stir the emotions of union members, recruiting many to inadvertently participate in destroying the right of collective bargaining and, eventually, the economic security unions provide working families.

If labor-union survival and the economic survival of all working families is going to be preserved, we in organized labor must respond to the attacks on our collective bargaining rights.

We must maintain our right to join a union, our right to unify and our right to make political donations (if we so choose) through payroll deduction to those politicians supporting workplace democracy.

We cannot match the level of donations of the huge corporations and others financially backing the attacks on labor, but we have something our enemies don’t have — millions and millions of members who can vote for labor-friendly candidates.

The UTU Political Action Committee (UTU PAC) helps identify labor-friendly candidates, helps finance their election campaigns, and helps to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates on Election Day.

Please consider joining this voluntary effort and contribute to the UTU PAC. If you already are a member, please consider increasing your contribution. Our job security and the economic security of our families hang in the balance.

Let’s not forget that the attacks on labor we are witnessing today have not been seen in generations, and what is happening in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere is only the beginning if we don’t stand in solidarity to protect the rights labor fought so long, so hard and at such a great cost to achieve.

United we bargain, divided we beg

The signs — carried, pasted and nailed about the Wisconsin state capitol building this past weekend — say it all: “United we bargain, divided we beg.”

For labor, this may be our finest hour, as working families have gathered peacefully, but strong, confident and determined, in hundreds of cities nationwide to protest the most coordinated union-busting efforts since the early 1900s.

Collective bargaining rights, union membership rights, the right to strike and check-off for union-member PAC contributions are all under attack in numerous states.

Some 70,000 workers and their families — union and non-union, and joined by hundreds of UTU members — protested in Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison, Saturday, Feb. 15.

Students of history know the struggles of the early 20th century, when workers were at the mercy of employers. Armed Pinkerton detectives and even armed federal troops were called out to put down efforts of workers for better pay, benefits and working conditions.

It was not until the Railway Labor Act of 1926 and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 that workers could lawfully join a union free of employer interference, engage in collective bargaining and be safe from the bayonets and bullets that once met organizing attempts and workplace protests. It took until 1959 — with Wisconsin leading the way — that state workers gained a right of collective bargaining. Federal workers did not gain such rights until 1962.

Today’s right-wing, anti-union zealots — many who have gained political office, bankrolled by similar thinking millionaires and billionaires — would turn back the clock.

But united labor must stand, lest we be divided and conquered.

One right-wing blog already is predicting the end of labor unions in America, recklessly blaming collective bargaining for scores of society’s economic ills.

Of course it’s rubbish, but unless the millions of working families making up America’s labor movement counter the lies and distortions being spread, and stand-up to the assault on the middle class, we will, indeed, be divided and reduced to begging status.

We have seen American corporations close factories and move production to third-world nations in search of cheap labor, destroying the hopes and dreams of tens of thousands of American workers and their families.

Now the assault on the American worker has been expanded to destroying the labor unions that helped to create America’s middle class.

The right-wing lawmakers, resolute in destroying collective bargaining and labor unions, assert that the reason is to balance state budgets and save millions of dollars.

The truth is that reducing wages, making health care unaffordable to working families and undermining retiree pensions will only reduce domestic consumption, destroy worker morale and productivity, add to unemployment rolls, increase the number of food stamp recipients, create more homelessness and incite social unrest.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Egyptians, who have overthrown a dictatorship that eliminated that nation’s working class, have found the time and energy to lend support to American labor’s fight against the would-be dictators who want to determine — free of collective bargaining — the wages, benefits and working conditions for public employees.

If the assault on public-employee collective bargaining is successful, it will be but a matter of time before the same assault is launched on private-sector collective bargaining.

Our great-grandfathers fought with blood, sweat and tears to gain laws assuring our rights to join a labor union of our choice and engage in collective bargaining. To sit idly by as a minority of right-wing zealots seeks to eliminate those rights is to mock the sacrifices and gains of our forebears.

As UTU International President Mike Futhey says in supporting pro-collective-bargaining demonstrations, “We are not going away and we will not forget. This fight is making organized labor stronger than ever. This will be our finest hour.”

Opinion leaders agree: It’s union busting

Rallies in support of public-employee collective bargaining are being held in scores of cities across America to protest legislative efforts in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin to revoke that right.

A new attack on public-employee collective bargaining was launched Feb. 23 in Idaho, reports UTU Idaho State Legislative Director George Millward. Idaho Senate bill 1024 would prohibit state employees from joining unions and outlaw strikes. The UTU will participate in an AFL-CIO meeting this weekend to formulate opposition, Millward said.

UTU members wishing to participate in a rally supporting collective-bargaining rights for public employee should contact their state legislative director, as no formal schedule exists. Most rallies, in dozens of states, are being coordinated by state branches of the AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, newspaper editorials and opinion articles are exposing legislative efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights as union-busting tactics with no legitimate connection to state financial problems.

Here is a sampling:

Nationally syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson:

“It has long been common for unions to accept better health and pension benefits in lieu of higher salaries — in effect, taking the money later rather than sooner. Now that these IOUs are coming due, Wisconsin wants to renege. I thought Republicans were supposed to believe that a contract is a contract, sacred and inviolate. Guess not. This is pure, unadulterated union busting.”

Stanford University law professor William B. Gould IV, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board:

“It is downright obscene to strip workers of unions while deficit-spending tax breaks to the rich are being handed out as they are in Wisconsin. As the United States has argued for South Africa, Poland and now Egypt, unions are a basic part of democratic society. Yet that is the principal under attack by Gov. Walker in Wisconsin now. The answer is not to destroy the democratic fabric and the political opposition, but rather to engage in dialogue.”

Linda Kaboolian, lecturer in public policy at Harvard:

“Gov. Walker isn’t interest in saving money. He’s interested in crippling the unions that didn’t support him last fall.”

New York Times editorial:

“Republican talk of balancing budgets is cover for the real purpose of gutting the political force of middle-class state workers, who are steady supporters of Democrats and pose a threat to a growing conservative agenda. Conservative leaders in most states with strong unions have in the past generally made accommodations with organized labor, often winning support on social issues in return. That changed this year after wealthy conservatives poured tens of millions of dollars into the election campaigns of hard-right candidates.”

Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page:

“Without the right to collective bargaining, a union is little more than a social club.”

Gallup poll survey:

“While the public has ambivalent feelings toward public sector unions, they say they oppose any move by their state to eliminate collective bargaining rights by about a 2-to-1 margin.”

Madison, Wisc.,Capital Times editorial:

“Gov. Walker has made too many budget decisions not with an eye toward fiscal responsibility but with an eye toward rewarding his political benefactors. Now the governor says that Wisconsin needs to end collective bargaining for public employees and teachers. This is simply absurd. This is not about the money. This is not a fiscal crisis. This is a political crisis. And Walker has the power to resolve it by refocusing on fiscal issues, as opposed to pursuing the political goal of breaking unions.”

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein:

“Unions — through collective bargaining, strikes and other means — give workers power. They also make negotiations less lopsided … unions tend to see their constituents as not just their own members, but the ‘working class’ broadly defined. That’s why you’ll find labor’s fingerprints on everything from the two-day weekend to Medicare to the Civil Rights Act of 1965 — none of which require you to flash a union card before you can benefit from them.”

Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin:

“If you read the [Wisconsin] bill … the union busting is in pretty plain language. The union can only negotiate salary — but, it turns out, any raises above inflation must be approved by [voter] referendum. You try putting your next raise up for a vote and see how it works out. Under the bill, employers can’t collect dues. And it’s worse than that. Every year, under the bill, union members would have to vote to keep the union certified. You can figure this out. If the union can’t bargain, why would you keep voting to certify it — and also vote to keep paying your dues?

“This comes on the heels of last year’s Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, making it easier for corporations to contribute to political campaigns. If I understand the law, the ruling said, in effect, that corporations were people. And public-sector employees? The jury is still out.”

Ohio labor rally Tuesday to draw thousands

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the legislative standoff continues in Wisconsin, Ohio takes center stage Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the battle to preserve collective-bargaining rights for state workers.

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper reports that as many as 20,000 pro collective-bargaining rights demonstrators will be on the front steps of the legislature at 1 p.m., three hours before the Senate Labor Committee hears witness testimony on SB 5, which would revoke collective-bargaining rights for state workers.

State Republican Sen. Kevin Bacon, the Labor Committee chairman, told the newspaper, there would not be a vote on the bill Tuesday afternoon, nor would amendments be offered.

UTU Ohio State Legislative Director Glenn Newsom said that tens of thousands of telephone calls, emails and protest rallies are having an impact on Republican supporters of SB 5. For more information on how to help in Ohio, click on the link at the bottom of this article.

Were SB 5 to move out of committee and eventually become law in Ohio, state workers would no longer be permitted to engage in collective bargaining, through their unions, for health care or working conditions. Even binding arbitration would be scrapped.

Click on the following link to learn how you might help preserve collective-bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio:

https://smart-union.org/news/help-preserve-collective-bargaining-in-ohio/