DENVER, Colo. – On Wednesday, March 16, the Colorado State Senate shot down SB 55 that called for Colorado to become a Right-to-Work (for less) state. The packed chambers included union members from all crafts. Click here to read the entire article from the Denver Business Journal.
Click here to send a quick message to your Congressional reps in opposition of the National Right-to-Work Act, HR 785.
Tire builder Jesse Isbell outlines in his recent blog post how the Right-to-Work bill is nothing more than a pack of lies intended to break unions and make the rich richer.
Isbell and thousands of his co-workers lost their jobs when the Oklahoma City Bridgestone Tire plant that was the core of an entire community, closed – a casualty of the passage of Right to Work legislation in his home state of Oklahoma.
Read how the so-called Right-to-Work measure devastates working families across our country and has a detrimental economic impact on everyone – union or not, from medium.com, here.
The National Labor Relation Board just ruled that Trump’s refusal to bargain with the 500+ unionized employees at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas is in violation of federal labor laws. Read the complete article here.
The Progressive Magazine reported Dec. 8, 2015, that in a union-busting move, Menards (a home improvement chain store) was threatening 60 percent pay cuts to managers if workers under their supervision organized a union in a 2015 managers contract.
The Progressive Magazine later reported on Dec. 15, 2015, that Menards backpedalled under negative public scrutiny and lawsuits filed after The Progressive published their first article. In the subsequent story, Menards states they removed the union busting language from 2016 managers contracts.
Read the original story here. Read the follow-up story here.
The state of Oregon’s House and Senate have been working to pass bills that are labor-friendly.
Most recently, H.B. 3342 passed through the House and has made its way into the Senate. If passed, the bill would outlaw public sector union-busting. Public employers will no longer be able to use public funds or use public property to hold meetings whose purpose is to deter or assist union organizing.
Two other bills that have passed the House and are awaiting Senate approval are H.B. 2950 and H.B. 2646. These bills would allow workers to take up to two weeks of unpaid leave to deal with the death of a family member and would require prevailing wages on all construction projects on public university lands, even if donor-funded.
Another pro-worker bill in the House is H.B. 3390, which seeks to mandate that employers with six or more employees provide employees with seven days of paid sick leave per year.
Yet another packet of right-to-work bills has made an appearance, this time in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania legislators drafted House Bills 50, 51, 52 and 53 to become a “Right-to-Work” state.
Ten different unions marched in downtown Chambersburg, Pa., in protest of the bill over the weekend. If passed, the bills would allow non-union members the same benefits that dues-paying members receive, such as higher wages and benefits and union representation.
House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, seeks to end union membership or dues payment by non-members as a condition of employment.
House Bill 51, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp, seeks to prohibit unions from collecting dues from non-union public school employees.
House Bill 52, sponsored by Rep. Fred Keller, would prohibit unions from collecting dues from non-union state employees.
House Bill 53, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox, seeks to prohibit unions from collecting dues from non-union local government employees. Rep. Stephen Bloom is also proposing House Bill 250, that would repeal a state law known as “maintenance of membership.” The bill would essentially allow dissatisfied union members to quit their union at any time, as opposed to a current 15-day window toward the end of contracts. Rep. Jerry Knowles also seeks to pass an umbrella bill that would prevent union membership from being a condition of employment in the private sector.
Metcalfe has introduced this union-busting legislation in every session over the past 14 years. This year is viewed as different, because Republicans control both the House and Senate of the Pennsylvania Legislature, as well as the governor’s seat.
Legislators in favor of the bill hope to introduce it to the House speaker soon.
Whether we like it or not, union busting is a part of our world history. Unions have always fought against big business, government and those that would trample the everyday union worker.
The union busting that occurred last year in Wisconsin, Ohio, Arizona and other states continues today, with local and state governments trying to push through right-to-work (for less) legislation.
The death of the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher makes us remember that union-busting is not just here in the United States, but is a world-wide issue. During her time in office from May 1979 to November 1990, Thatcher’s legacy of union busting was world renown. She was able to pass legislation to take away the rights of the union worker like none other was able to do before her.
Last year, Gov. Scott Walker tried to take a page out of Thatcher’s notebook when he tried to put through union-busting legislation in Wisconsin. Many were shocked when they heard about the legislation that Walker was trying to pass. Other states were quick to follow Walker’s example and tried to push through their own right-to-work and union-busting laws. This was our wake up call to come together in solidarity and fight like the unions fought in the days of Thatcher’s reign.
We must not allow ourselves to become complacent. For it is when we become complacent and stop keeping watch over our rights that we open ourselves up to our enemies’ strikes against us.
We must be diligent in our watch and stay informed about those who want to take away our rights as workers. One way to do this is to contribute to the UTU’s PAC fund. This fund enables us to stay alert and fight the legislation that would harm the middle-class worker and take away our hard-won rights.
Let Thatcher and Walker be reminders to us that we need to band together as unions in solidarity and continue to stay alert to fight against union-busting legislation.
It is said by some opinion leaders and decision makers that labor unions are on the decline — that labor unions have become irrelevant in our society and ineffective in influencing public policy.
Recent events in Ohio and Wisconsin properly send such notions to the rubbish bin.
Recall that political extremists in both states used extraordinary tactics to muscle through legislation stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
It was the first step toward weakening the link between workers and labor unions – the first step toward privatizing Social Security, Railroad Retirement and Medicare, weakening workplace safety regulations, and returning to the days of take-it-or-leave-it offers by employers to their workers.
What union-busting lawmakers did not expect is the public backlash generated by organized labor and its members, whom they thought were so weak and irrelevant that they would retreat with barely a whimper.
In the wake of the Ohio and Wisconsin assaults on collective bargaining rights, union brothers and sisters worked collectively and tirelessly to educate the media and the public – through, for example, the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund — about the assault launched by political extremists on middle-class values.
First by the hundreds, then the thousands, then the tens of thousands, and then by the hundreds of thousands did citizens respond to the messages of union brothers and sisters. The outrage initially was expressed in huge and loud rallies around the states. Then came the action.
In Ohio, UTU members joined with brothers and sisters in other labor organizations to launch a petition drive to put the union-busting legislation on hold pending a voter referendum in November. With Ohio State Legislative Director Glenn Newsom coordinating the efforts, members from 22 UTU locals in Ohio fanned out across the state seeking signatures on the petitions. They were joined by brothers and sisters from other labor organizations.
To succeed, 231,000 voter signatures were required. Five times that number — more than 1.2 million voters – signed the petitions.
You can be certain that the number of signatures obtained on these petitions is sending waves of remorse through the ranks of those who voted with the political extremists. After all, they, too, must face the voters.
In Wisconsin, meanwhile, petition drives coordinated by State Legislative Director Tim Deneen – and other labor organizations — are forcing many of the political extremists responsible for the anti-union legislation in that state to face recall elections in July and August. By the scores – and of this you can be certain — lawmakers in Wisconsin are discussing how to separate themselves from the anti-union political extremists facing recall, and regain the support of voters.
On July 5, International President Mike Futhey will hold, via telephone conference call, town hall meetings with Ohio and Wisconsin UTU members to discuss the next steps to ensure voter repeal of the Ohio legislation in November, and the recall of the anti-union Wisconsin lawmakers in July and August.
When union brothers and sisters act together in solidarity, organized labor proves not just to be relevant, but to be darn effective in influencing public policy.
Need we say more as to why UTU members should donate to the UTU Collective Bargaining Fund, and to the UTU PAC, which helps to elect and re-elect union-friendly lawmakers at the state and federal level?
Ok, we will say just a few more words: The jobs and economic futures you save through these actions may well be your own jobs and the economic futures of your families.
To learn more about the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the following link:
UTU members are stepping up to the plate in the fight to preserve collective bargaining rights, Amtrak, workplace safety, Railroad Retirement, Social Security and Medicare by mounting a counter attack on political extremists intent on destroying organized labor and all it has achieved for working families.
Hundreds of active and retired members — individually and through their locals, general committees and state legislative boards — have contributed to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC.
A $10,000 contribution to the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund was made by Amtrak General Committee of Adjustment 769 and delivered by General Chairperson Roger Lenfest.
In Arizona, , the 292 members of UTU Local 113 in Winslow recently almost doubled their monthly PAC contributions. “They have a lot of pride and they talk about the UTU PAC at every meeting,” said State Legislative Director Greg Hynes. “All the officers of this local are dollar-a-day PAC members or more — and some contribute $50 monthly.”
Three of Local 113’s officers made clear why they are active in the UTU PAC:
Alternate Delegate Chris Todd: “PAC is our political voice. Without it we’re just rolling the dice on our future.”
Local Chairperson Jim Polston: “I was able to convey to our membership the importance of PAC. Once you do that our members are proud to help out.”
Treasurer Mike Branson: “I contribute to our UTU PAC because without action there would be no union.”
In the wake of UTU members — in solidarity with brothers and sisters from other labor organizations — demonstrating against state legislative action to destroy organized labor, anti-labor bills have been slowed and education of the electorate and the media has generated public outrage.
In Wisconsin, six state lawmakers who led the fight to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights now face a recall election; and an injunction against implementation of the legislation was ordered by a state court, with the law now facing state supreme court review.
In Ohio, a petition drive led by union members placed a similar law as Wisconsin’s on hold pending a voter referendum this fall.
The UTU Collective Bargaining Fund is providing assistance to UTU members who are engaging in demonstrations and other voter outreach activities nationwide.
The UTU PAC, meanwhile, is helping labor-friendly state legislative and congressional candidates prepare to mount challenges against political extremists who have declared war on working families and organized labor.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that since 2009, 729 anti-labor bills have been introduced in 48 separate states. In Congress, a bill is pending to invalidate a National Mediation Board ruling that representation elections be decided on the number of votes cast, without counting those not voting as having voted against union membership.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision known as “Citizens United” opened the door to unlimited political donations by corporations for political advertising that will accelerate attacks on organized labor. While labor unions cannot match such donations, labor-union PACs can make a difference on behalf of labor friendly candidates; and our primary strength is in getting out the vote — and then casting ballots — on behalf of labor-friendly candidates.
It is well established that union families are more likely to vote in elections, and the combination of PAC contributions to labor friendly candidates, voter outreach by union members and union families casting votes for union-endorsed candidates is a powerful response to corporate interests and their candidates whose intent is to destroy organized labor.
For more information on the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the link at the end of this article, and please consider increasing your UTU PAC contributions. If you are not yet a UTU PAC member, please consider joining.
As President Mike Futhey has said, “If you believe in something strong enough, you fight for it. Together, in solidarity, we can and will win this fight and emerge stronger than ever.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis coined the term, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Indeed, sunlight cast by labor-union members on the dark-of-night action by political extremists in the Wisconsin legislature is having a meaningful impact in Wisconsin and beyond.
Recall that the Wisconsin legislature’s Republican majority voted in March — in violation of the state’s open meetings law — to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees. They gathered on less than two hours’ notice in the dark of night to vote without a single Democrat in the chamber.
State Judge Maryann Sumi last week granted a permanent injunction against the law’s implementation, and chastised those Republican lawmakers for the method in which they conducted the vote.
Judge Sumi called the action a trashing of “transparency of government,” adding that “one of the core principles of democracy [is] the right of the people to monitor the people’s business.” In the wake of the injunction, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments on the bill in June.
Some of the credit for Judge Sumi’s ruling belongs to the UTU’s Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and similar efforts by other labor organizations.
Almost immediately after that now infamous in-the-dark-of-night Wisconsin senate vote, union members began demonstrating against union-busting by political extremists — demonstrations joined by tens of thousands of citizens that led to extensive media coverage and editorials criticizing the political extremists.
Public sentiment quickly turned against the political extremists in Wisconsin and in other states. A lawsuit followed, seeking the injunction issued by Judge Sumi; and public outrage resulted in petitions for a recall of the extremists, who now must face Wisconsin voters in a special election in July. Hundreds of UTU and other union members fanned out across the state seeking signatures for the recall petitions.
Also significant following the union demonstrations against union-busting was a surprise result in a race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The conservative incumbent, seen as a shoo-in, barely squeaked by as Wisconsin voters flocked to the polls in record numbers to support a moderate challenger. The Madison, Wis., Capital-Times newspaper said the close vote “would almost certainly never have happened had Democrats, unions and other liberal groups not channeled anger against Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature into support” for the moderate challenger.
In Ohio, where extremists passed a similar union-busting law, union demonstrations also induced public outrage, and petition signings that have put the Ohio union-busting measure on hold pending a voter referendum on the law in November.
The UTU’s Collective Bargaining Defense Fund has one objective: Reminding elected officials that organized labor is a potent political force able to mobilize millions of voters, and to set the stage for recall elections of anti-union lawmakers.
To learn more about the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the following link:
Former UTU International President Al Chesser (1972-1979) is now 97 years old, and the fire in his belly in support of organized labor has never dimmed.
The following was written by Chesser in response to creation by President Mike Futhey of the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, intended to create public awareness of — and opposition to — the attack on collective bargaining rights by political extremists in scores of states and in Congress. Before his election as UTU International president, Chesser was the UTU’s national legislative director.
By Al Chesser
The objective of political extremists — those holding elective office and those seeking elective office — is to destroy labor unions, which are among the most patriotic and democracy-loving organizations in our nation.
When dictators take over a country, one of their first objectives is to destroy labor unions. If this no-compromise, labor-union hating group takes control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate — as they have done in a number of state legislatures — America could cease to be a democracy.
This group of extremists not only is targeting collective bargaining rights; it is intent upon destroying Railroad Retirement, Social Security and Medicare, threatening the financial security of current and future retirees.
If these political extremists are able to destroy organized labor, they will destroy the many achievements of the labor movement, and the principles we have worked and sacrificed so hard for on behalf of working families.
Overtime pay, paid vacations, employer-provided health care, retirement benefits and workplace safety laws and regulations all exist because of labor unions — and all are coming under attack by political extremists.
I am grateful for this opportunity to contribute $500 to the UTU’s Collective Bargaining Defense Fund to help fight this war against organized labor and working families.
I say to every labor union officer and union member: Don’t get caught asleep at the switch. Don’t let these political extremists fast talk you. If they destroy organized labor, our financial security will be a shambles. Our earnings, benefits and workplace safety will no longer be collectively bargained. We will be at the mercy of employers.
To my railroad brothers and sisters, I tell you that this would set us back to the 1800s, when the lives of working men and women were nearly the equivalent of slave labor.
The threat from today’s political extremists is the most dangerous we have faced since before enactment of the Railway Labor Act and the National Labor Relations Act.
Light the fire in your belly and join our fight. We can, will and must beat back this attack from those who want to destroy the union movement in America.
While we go about our daily lives, political extremists are gaining strength and working non-stop to undermine and eliminate much of what we cherish on the job and look forward to in retirement.
It’s not just Wisconsin and Ohio where right-wing majorities voted to eliminate public-employee collective bargaining rights.
In 20 states, bills have been introduced to restrict or eliminate collective bargaining rights.
In 14 states, right-to-work (for less) bills have been introduced, allowing workers to refuse to pay union-representation dues while unions remain required to represent the workers refusing to pay dues.
Right-to-work (for less) legislation is an dastardly effort to strangle union finances and disrupt the ability of unions to engage in collective bargaining, fight for better safety laws and prosecute work-place grievances.
In existing right-to-work (for less) states, workers earn 3.2 percent less and are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance and pension benefits.
In Congress, three conservative senators — Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) — have introduced national right-to-work (for less) legislation that would similarly amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act.
In seven states, bills have been introduced to eliminate laws requiring contractors on state-funded projects to pay prevailing wages. A university study of 10 states, where half of all highway and bridge work in the U.S. occurred, revealed higher-wage workers built 74 more miles of roadways and 33 more miles of bridges for a total cost of half-a-billion dollars less than was accomplished by workers earning less than the prevailing wage.
Bills have also been introduced in Congress to close the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces private-sector workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively; and to reverse a National Mediation Board decision that determines airline and railroad union-representation elections based on those actually voting and not count those not voting as “no” votes.
Political extremists — in every state legislature and in Congress — has chosen organized labor as a target to be attacked, weakened and destroyed.
At risk is all organized labor has achieved for the middle class in America — the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, injured worker compensation, unemployment insurance, workplace health and safety protections, restrictions on discrimination in hiring, time off for family and medical emergencies, and restrictions on child labor.
Eliminating collective bargaining doesn’t solve budget deficits; it demoralizes the workforce.
Cutting wages doesn’t create jobs; it depresses economic activity. For every $1 million in wage reductions, six jobs are lost, according to a study by the AFL-CIO.
Busting unions doesn’t make the economy more competitive; it widens the gap between the rich and poor and undermines the foundation of the middle class, which is the engine of economic growth.
Unions establish wage rates and worker benefits that non-union employers follow to stay competitive.
The time has come for our membership to get mad about this attack on middle-class wages, benefits and workplace safety.
Our jobs, our workplace safety, our benefits and our families’ economic security are at stake.
Contributing to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC is how we coordinate an effective and successful response to the political extremists’ attack on organized labor.
In union there is strength, and when members of all labor unions engage in political solidarity, the result is millions of union members and their families working toward a common goal of electing more labor-friendly lawmakers
As President Futhey says, “We have drawn a line in the sand from which we cannot retreat. We can and will make a difference. We will not go away. We will not forget.”
Please observe what is happening in state legislatures and Congress. The attack is on you and your family. Participate in the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC to the greatest extent you are able.
I will always encourage everyone to be passionate about their beliefs. But I also want our members to be more passionate about their jobs, because without our jobs, we would have no means to be passionate about the other things we want in life and for ourselves and for our families.
Be a proud part of labor solidarity to stop the attack on organized labor before we are destroyed and it is too late.