Posts Tagged ‘unions’

AFL-CIO: union support and numbers on the rise

Union Yes; Union check yesWASHINGTON – Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

More Americans are backing worker efforts to speak out: According to a new Gallup poll released last week, nearly 6 in 10 Americans stated they approve of labor unions. Efforts by working people to rally around issues ranging from raising wages to improved access to collective bargaining have led to the highest approval rating since 2008. In addition, millennials reported being more pro-union than any other age group, while the number of respondents who want workers to have more influence in public debate has risen 12 points since 2009.

Online newsmakers make news with organizing wins: The last month has seen significant wins for reporters, especially those whose work is primarily focused online. From The Guardian’s United States based staff, to writers for online giants GawkerVice, and Salon, writers have pointed to a greater voice in the workplace, raising wages, and increased benefits as reasons for forming unions.

Hoosier workers win first contract battle: Earlier this month, workers at the Bloomingfoods Co-op, a co-op grocery store chain in Bloomington, IN ratified their first union contract as members of UFCW Local 700. The approximately 250 workers across the co-op’s five stores pointed to raising wages and a fair process for resolving workplace issues as big wins for their first contract.

Department of Energy workers win 2 ½ year contract fight: After nearly three years of negotiations, workers for Battelle, a contractor which operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State, have agreed on a new contract. The members of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council have cited raising wages and strong benefits as significant victories from the contract.

Sweet home raising wages: Last week, the Birmingham, Alabama City Council passed an ordinance to increase the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the next two years. Alabama does not have a state minimum wage, and instead uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  

North Carolina City approves significant raising wages victory: By an overwhelming margin, the Greensboro, NC City Council voted to raise wages for city employees, citing a high percentage of working people living below the poverty line. The council’s decision will raise wages to $15 by 2020 for city employees, and will begin with an initial wage hike to $10 an hour for regular employees and $12 for employees who receive benefits.

Working people score major sick leave win in Pittsburgh: Earlier this month, working people rallied the Pittsburgh City Council to pass sweeping new paid sick leave legislation. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming margin, requires employers with 15 employees or more to provide as much as 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, while smaller companies must provide up to 24 hours per year.

Obama vetoes GOP bill on union elections

whitehouselogoPresident Obama March 31 vetoed a Republican effort to overturn controversial union voting rules.

Congress passed a resolution of disapproval this month on a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that sped up union elections.

Read the complete story at The Hill.

Want a raise? Join a union

Union membership still pays…at least in terms of higher wages.

The typical union worker made $970 a week in 2014, compared to $763 for non-union workers, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

That 27 percent spread has remained relatively constant at least since 2000, when the agency started tracking the data.

Read the complete story at CNN Money.


Ill. governor acts to curb public sector unions

ilinoisGov. Bruce Rauner, the newly elected Republican who has often criticized public sector unions, took his first step toward curbing their power on Monday by announcing an executive order that would bar unions from requiring all state workers to pay the equivalent of dues.

Mr. Rauner, who faces a Democratic-controlled legislature with strong ties to labor, took the unilateral step saying that he believed those fees violate the United States Constitution.

Read the complete story at The New York Times.

Opinion: Want to be happy? Join a union

Fewer and fewer Americans belong to a union. Membership is down to a historic low of 11.2 percent of the work force, and only 6.7 percent of workers in the private sector.

And if the nation’s confidence in the institution is any measure, not many people are mourning its diminishment. According to a Gallup poll, organized labor inspires less confidence than banks.

Read the complete story at The New York Times.

Public unions can't make non-members pay fees

scales_gavelWASHINGTON — The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.

In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

Koch brothers rallying to hurt pensioners

LANSING, Mich. – Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group supported by the Koch brothers, has launched an effort to torpedo a proposed settlement in the Detroit bankruptcy case, potentially complicating chances for completing the deal just as its prospects seemed to be improving.

The organization, formed to fight big government and spending, is contacting 90,000 conservatives in Michigan and encouraging them to rally against a plan to provide $195 million in state money to help settle Detroit pension holders’ claims in the case, a key element of the deal.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

Tenn. Republicans want a union-free environment

The United Auto Workers are trying to organize a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, and opposition is building. But it’s not management fighting the union, it’s Republican politicians.

The Chattanooga factory, which opened in 2011 to build the Passat, employs about 1,550 hourly workers. On Wednesday they begin a three-day vote on whether to join the union.

Read the complete story at CNN Money.

Volkswagen backs union vote at U.S. plant

A Volkswagen AG (VOW) plant in Tennessee is poised to become the first foreign-owned car factory in the U.S. with a union after the company agreed to let employees vote on whether to be represented by the United Auto Workers.

Volkswagen has agreed for workers at a Chattanooga assembly plant to vote next week on whether to join the UAW. The U.S. National Labor Relations Board will supervise the Feb. 12-14 vote after a majority of employees there signed authorization cards, the union said yesterday in a statement.

Read the complete story at Bloomberg Businessweek.

Private-sector union membership grows in 2013

In 2013 the total number of workers in unions rose by 162,000 compared with 2012, led by an increase of 281,000 workers in private-sector unions. There were strong gains in construction and manufacturing, against a background of strike actions by low-wage workers in the private sector. But destructive, politically motivated layoffs of public-sector workers continued to hurt overall public-sector union membership, leaving the total percentage of the workforce that is unionized virtually unchanged.

“Wall Street’s Great Recession cost millions of America’s workers their jobs and pushed already depressed wages down even further. But in 2013, America’s workers pushed back,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said of the figures released Friday by the Department of Labor. “At the same time, these numbers show that as unorganized workers have taken up the fight for their right to a voice on the job, union employers are hiring—creating good jobs our economy desperately needs.”

Despite the overall gains of 2013, workers in the public sector continued to bear the brunt of the continuing economic crisis, weak labor laws and political assaults on their rights on the job. In Wisconsin, political attacks on public-sector workers’ right to collectively bargain resulted in bargaining coverage falling. Broadly, federal, state and local governments continued to lay off needed public workers, leading to an overall loss of 118,000 union members.

“Make no mistake, the job of rebuilding workers’ bargaining power and raising wages for the 99% has a long way to go,” said Trumka. “Collective action among working people remains the strongest, best force for economic justice in America. We’re building a stronger, more innovative movement to give voice to the values that built this country. From Walmart workers to fast food workers to homecare workers, the rising up of workers’ voices against inequality – both inside and outside of traditional structures – is the story of 2013.”

Key trends include:

  • The total number of private-sector union members rose by 281,000, while the total number of public-sector union members fell by about 118,000. There are now more private-sector union members than public-sector members.
  • Industries with the biggest growth include construction (up 95,000), hospitals and Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
  • Sectors hit hardest include social assistance and administration and support services.
  • Union membership rates did not change in any meaningful way by gender: 10.5 percent of women and 11.9 percent of men were in unions.
  • States with the largest union membership rate growth include: Alabama (1.5 percentage points), Nebraska (1.3 points), Tennessee (1.3 points), Kentucky, (1.2 points), New York (1.2 points), Illinois (1.2 points) and Wisconsin (1.1 points).
  • States with the largest union membership rate declines include: Louisiana (-1.9 percentage points), Oregon (-1.8 points), Utah (-1.3 points), Wyoming (-1.0 points) New Hampshire (-0.9 points), Montana (-0.9 points) and Texas (-0.9 points).

Rep. Rahall Says Unions Good For Business

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall told West Virginia union leaders on Tuesday that people who believe cheaper, non-union labor is good for American business are “short-sighted.”

“Union labor also helps increase corporate America’s bottom line with your safety standards and the quality of your work,” Rahall said at the event hosted by the State Building Trades Council.

Read the complete story at the Charleston Gazette.