Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category


WBI Workplace Bullying University set for May 20

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

The Workplace Bullying UniversityThe nation’s only comprehensive training in the phenomenon of workplace bullying designed for professionals

The next 3-day public session in Boise, Idaho is May 20-21-22.

Visit the WBI Workplace Bullying University website for program details. Taught personally by Dr. Gary Namie & Dr. Ruth Namie.

Designed for professionals in Labor, Healthcare, Mental Health, Counseling, Management, Higher Education, HR, Training, Consulting, and those in life & career transition.

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With Scalia gone, Unions win in Supreme Court

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Today, well ahead of the expected June decision, the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 in the decision regarding Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

The SCOTUS is short one member since the passing of Antonin Scalia. The tie vote allows previous appellate court verdicts to stand. As described in earlier posts — here and here, the cocky anti-union plaintiffs were so confident of using SCOTUS to bankrupt public sector unions that they asked both trial and appellate courts to rule against them so they could expedite the process to get to the Supreme Court.

Justice Scalia’s death was unexpected. His vote would have delivered an anti-union majority vote. The tie, however, allows the lower court decision (made at plaintiffs’ request with no evidence ever presented as in a real trial) to stand. The anti-union plaintiffs lose. Unions win (for now). Here is the entire SCOTUS decision.


(more…)

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Mourning a champion for the cause. We will miss her spirit.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Over the years we have heard the personal tales of well over 10,000 individuals, met thousands more at speaking and consulting engagements and gone in-depth with litigants for whom I’ve provided expert witness services. So, forgive us for not personally bonding with many of those who have been bullied.

Emelise Francesca Aleandri was the exception and an extraordinary woman. Ruth and I came to know not only her plight but her spirit. Our relationship with her began with her 2004 legal case in federal court against the City University of New York (CUNY). The culprit was a jerk named Joseph Scelsa who directed the Calandra Italian-American Institute at CUNY. Scelsa’s wrath impacted several people, including Emelise and her co-plaintiff Gloria Salerno, a clinical psychologist, who had counseled students for decades successfully and without interference until Scelsa meddled with her too. Both women claimed sexual harassment by Scelsa within CUNY before filing in court.

The definitive attributes that bonded Emelise to Gloria was their Italian heritage and their activity in women’s advocacy group that Scelsa resented beginning in 1988. Perpetrator Scelsa had pledged to “get them big time.” The Institute gained its autonomy in 1994 and Scelsa ran his kingdom with impunity. The diminutive petty tyrant was an autocrat who demanded unquestioning loyalty. And the married Scelsa had a mistress who used to engineer Emelise’s downfall.

Emelise was the artist. She was born in Riva Del Garda, Italy, emigrating to the U.S. at age four. She was an actress, singer, folk dancer, author and theatrical producer and director of historical plays celebrating Italian culture and its contribution to American theater. Her major opus was the 14-volume book series on the Italian-American Immigrant Theatre, 1746-1899. She also wrote books on Little Italy.

With her MA (Hunter) PhD (CUNY) in Theater, she was the Director of the Center for Italian-American Studies at Brooklyn College (part of the CUNY system). Through my involvement in her legal case against Scelsa and CUNY, I learned that she was the creator and producer of the first nationally syndicated cable TV program about Italian-Americans: Italics: the Italian-American Magazine. She also produced documentaries about her heritage. Scelsa’s mistress was the script typist for the Aleandri’s CUNY show. The bullying Emelise experienced revolved around Scelsa stripping her from the TV show, putting the mistress-typist in charge!

However, her CUNY job did not define all that Emelise had become in a remarkable life. She was the Artistic Director of Frizzi & Lazzi The Olde Time Italian-American Music & Theatre Company, a not-for-profit group. She also was an actress who had roles in two Spike Lee films. She did TV commercials.

On Italian-American culture issues, she was the go-to expert for media. She gave walking tours of Little Italy in NYC. She lectured on Italian culture for the New York Council for the Humanities, in the tri-state area, nationally, and in Naples and Genova.

After her bullying experience and trial, WBI called on Emelise repeatedly to give articulate voice to the millions of bullied targets forced to the shadows. Here is a print version. For radio, among other shows, she helped WBI on The Takeaway with John Hockenberry. Here is an appearance she made on New York WPIX-TV.

She justifiably won several awards for her tireless advocacy on behalf of Italian-Americans. She was an Elena Cornaro Award Honoree(OSIA), New York State Woman of Distinction, and an Honoree of Leone de San Marco, Commission for Social Justice (OSIA), Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge (OSIA), Italian-American Educators.

It is little wonder that the jealous Scelsa felt threatened by her brilliance and absolute command of the Italian-American culture. I opined in the case brought by Aleandri and Salerno against Scelsa and CUNY:

Aleandri was the more invested of the two in the creative arts and was quite entrepreneurial prior to the Institute’s status as an autonomous research entity under Queen’s College. Scelsa interfered with, stole, or expressly prevented her role in the production of the Italics TV show that she had conceived. She was not given an office phone to conduct business. She had to use a hallway pay telephone on the floor below that afforded no working space for handling the phone duty associated with producing a TV show. She was a very public person as the creative producer and co-host of the show. Scelsa humiliated her in the eyes of guests by forbidding her to personally write thank-you letters. To the unknowing guest (and who could have known about Scelsa’s dominating influence from outside the Institute?), she must have appeared unprofessional. The nefarious manner in which Scelsa replaced Aleandri with the show’s technician (Schempp) and promoted the original script typist (Fosco) to a position higher than Aleandri had to have been degrading. She was then made to train the relatively unqualified staff that Scelsa hired to replace her. Ultimately, the theft of the master tapes for Festa and the copyright infringements compounded the insults.

The lawsuit was filed by both plaintiffs, Salerno and Aleandri, in 2001 [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York – 191 F. Supp. 2d 352 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)]. The two week trial in 2005 ended in a $1.4 million settlement for Emelise and Gloria. Though it never did provide the justice sought or deserved. It was never about the money, and in the end, after paying attorneys, there wasn’t that much.

To its credit, the union, PSC (Professional Staff Congress), a higher education branch of the AFT, was supportive. You can read the union’s summary of the case here.

The bond between the two strong women, Emelise and Gloria, forged during the long internal struggle against Scelsa at CUNY and the nearly as long legal battle was further strengthened after the trial. After a few years, they decided to write the definitive account of what had happened to them. A publisher was found that agreed that the two would produce an unvarnished tale, naming names. However, after they completed the manuscript (not simply a book proposal), the cowardly publisher reneged, not wanting to offend CUNY backers of Scelsa. Again, the pair of advocates had been betrayed. Being lied to was becoming the institutional norm when dealing with straight shooters Salerno and Aleandri.

With CUNY and the publisher in the rear view mirror, the two began the next phases of their lives.

I made it a point to visit with Emelise every time there was a reason to be in New York City. She had moved north to Riverdale, but always drove into the city to graciously take me around. She was as warm and upbeat as ever. Her limitless energy drove her to engage in so many projects, she made this observer dizzy in amazement.

Though our own petty distractions keep us from reaching out to everyone we knew and loved, the infrequent trip to NYC or opportunity to ask Emelise to once again speak on behalf of all bullied targets brought us instantly close again. Despite the demonstrable accomplishments listed above, she was unpretentious. Her humanity leaped across the table from you, enveloping you like a warm blanket on a frigid day. She unabashedly showed her love.

Now we’ve come to learn that another of her battles of which she seldom spoke was her fight against cancer. Bouts of remission kept her going. On January 17, 2016 cancer treatment-related complications took her from us.

A beautiful soul was lost to us all. We were so lucky to have crossed paths, however briefly.

Requiescat in pace dear sweet Emelise.

Ruth & Gary Namie

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WBI presents at Oregon Labor Law Conference Jan. 29

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Oregon Labor Law Conference

The goal of the Oregon Labor Law Conference is to help officers and staff of unions serve their members better, be better equipped to organize the unorganized, and get training on how to avoid legal liability.

The program includes a workshop on Unions and Workplace Bullying led by Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Director. This is a return visit by WBI to OCCL; the first appearance was in 2013.

Founded in 1996 by Norman Malbin, the Oregon Labor Law Conference is now also sponsored by IBEW Local 48, Oregon AFL-CIO, Center for Worker Rights, Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Labor Education and Research Center (LERC), Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council and Oregon State Building & Construction Trades Council.

When: Jan. 29, 2016
Where: IBEW Local 48 Meeting Hall, 15937 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR
Details: OLLC website

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American public sector labor unions’ future weighed by Supreme Court today

Monday, January 11th, 2016

A most important 80 minutes of oral argument is heard today, Jan. 11 2015 by the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), Docket No. 14-915.

The case was brought by a group of California teachers who don’t want to pay any fees to unions for anything. Essentially, they want to enjoy benefits of having a contract — wages and other work condition protections (alas, not full protection from bullying yet) that are negotiated — for free. The CTA represents teachers in public schools; public school districts are government employers.

There are 39 years of history dealing with this issue. A May 1977 unanimous U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education [431 U.S. 209 (97 S.Ct. 1782, 52 L.Ed.2d 261)] divided union dues into two parts. One part is costs associated with providing union workers with a contract, the collective bargaining agreement with the employer, and its administration, the subsequent services of representation at adversarial meetings with management, grievances and arbitrations. Fees for those services are called “fair use” or “agency” fees. In other words, Abood said that non-members who benefit from union services have to help cover costs.

The second part of union dues is “expenditures for ideological causes not germane to its duties as a collective-bargaining.” This has been dubbed the political activity of the union, including overt politicking, lobbying lawmakers for specific legislation and financial support for political candidates. People who object to this part of union activity can refuse to pay that portion of dues to the union.

In the specific case before SCOTUS today, Friedrichs, plaintiffs are challenging California law. If a teacher wants to protest the political portion of the CTA dues, she or he can give the union a written objection — an “opt out” declaration. That portion of the contested fee is then refunded or a portion is reduced. The anti-union plaintiffs want that teacher to have to “opt in” and agree to the fees. Plaintiffs frame the issue as one of free choice and the First Amendment (whether or not the non-administrative fees constitute speech).

The Case’s Strange Origin

The union-busting groups, typically with a libertarian or right-wing political bent, found this case in order to abolish the last bastion of unionization in America — in government. The private sector unionization rate is now under 7%. If government, public sector, unions can be further weakened, the U.S. labor movement will be effectively gutted.

According to Maryann Parker, SEIU Associate General Counsel, speaking at an American Constitution Society expert panel, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association made it to the Supreme Court in two fast years without any facts associated with the case. The reason is that the plaintiffs filed the case in both District and Appellate courts and asked for a verdict against them just so they could take the case to the Supreme Court. Since the union-busting groups are well funded, the case raced to the Roberts pro-employer court. Unlike any other case, no facts have been argued in court before a judge or jury. No discovery of evidence on either side was completed.

The only facts have come via several amicus briefs written by advocates for both sides. The list of briefs filed before the Nov 6, 2015 deadline can be found here. On the anti-union side are organizations such as Pacific Legal Foundation
National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Goldwater Institute, Former California Governor Pete Wilson, Cato Institute and the NFIB. On the defense side, briefs were filed by Kamala Harris, California Attorney General (who also argued the case before SCOTUS today), California State Employees Association, and several California and New York cities that, as government employers, described the benefit of having a unionized workplace.

The other unusual aspect of the origin of the case is that the five majority justices in the 2014 Harris v. Quinn decision called for a reconsideration of Abood. In other words, the doctrine of stare decisis, of letting earlier case decisions stand, is betrayed by calling out for a case to challenge Abood.

The Anti-Union Argument

Here’s the argument by the union busters in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Collective bargaining in the government context is inherently political because government worker wages are public funds. Therefore, if the government compels “fair use” fees collection, it is a violation of a worker’s First Amendment rights. It forces an association with a political cause (bargaining with the state) with which a worker might not agree.

Abood had separated the functions of the union, administrative work versus political activity. Fredrichs says that ALL activity of unions is political.

If the Supreme Court decision agrees with Friedrichs, it will overturn Abood. It will end the practice of a “union shop.” The absence of any requirement to pay unions for services rendered will make it too easy to be a “free rider.” In turn, unions will wither and die from not having a budget.

Remember, even with a negotiated union contract, employers — only governments in this case — are entitled to all rights over workers which are not covered in the contract. With this line of reasoning, without unions, employers will have unchallenged, unbridled control over workers with no ability to contest mistreatment or abuse.

The undermining of unions, the only organizations that advocate for rights of workers, will contribute to the Republican-led state legislatures’ move to right to work laws. Currently 25 states have right to work provisions. The RTW advocates characterize states where unions represent government workers as “forced-unionism” states.

Advocates for “free bargaining” states label the right to work as the “right to work for less.” The quality of life for workers in RTW states is lower than in public sector union states — lower wages, more low wage jobs, higher rates of workers without health insurance, higher poverty and infant mortality rates. And if working in a RTW state, you have a 54% higher chance of dying at work.

Finally, by gutting union budgets, opponents will also thwart overt political activity by unions. Unions support Democratic candidates. Union-busting groups are partisan. By reversing Abood, the law of the land since 1977, Republicans will be able to reduce funding for Democratic opponents. However, this is not a realistic fear by Republicans. It seems closer to a zero-sum game in which Republicans want to eliminate all opposition. According to the Center for Responsive Government, 2015-16 interest group donations to the upcoming elections finds that labor has given to date a total of $19.2 million compared to $839.6 given by donors other than unions. Non-labor groups outspend unions by 43.7 times. A successful Friedrichs SCOTUS decision would nearly eliminate the influence of unions on candidates. Rights of workers will be driven further underground buried in a corporate post-Citizens United deluge of cash.

If the Court does not overturn Abood, the plaintiffs could still win a partial victory. Its a nuanced part of the practice in California. Contained in the fees charged to non-members are other expenses not involved with the costs of collective bargaining. If a teacher wants to protest that portion of the fee, she or he can give the union written objection — an opt out declaration. That portion of the contested fee is refunded or a portion is reduced. The anti-union plaintiffs in the case also argue that an employee should have to “opt in” and agree to the fees.

Stay tuned. The decision should be announced in June.

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You can listen to the oral arguments and read the transcript of Jan. 11 hearing here.

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A look back at 2012 Freedom Week at the National Press Club: American Unions

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015


Gary Namie introduction

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry

NAGE: Nat’l President David Holway & VP Greg Sorozan

AFGE: Local President Charletta McNeill

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Posted in Freedom Week, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week in San Francisco

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Dozens of workers from the Bay Area who have faced workplace bullying attended a rally and speak out at San Francisco City Hall on Monday October 19, 2015. It was held in conjunction with the Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week held throughout the country. Workers from San Francisco General Hospital, City of Oakland, SF Recology, City of Oakland and other employees spoke out about the systemic bullying and terrorism on the job. Workers reported on their vicious treatment on the job and the use of bullying to drive senior workers, minorities and others off the job. They also reported on the racist attacks on African American workers including at San Francisco Recology using hanging nooses to terrorize workers and the need for the unions to start fighting these racist attacks on workers.

The rally was endorsed by:
• SEIU 1021 SEJ Committee,
• SF General Hospital Chapter,
• SEIU 1021 COPE
California Healthy Workplace Advocates, the WBI Affiliate in the fight to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill as state law
The Stop Workplace Bullying Group SWBG, of San Francisco
United Public Workers For Action
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee
Injured Workers National Nework
• Production of Labor Video Project

WBI thanks and honors its good friend and tireless labor advocate, Steve Zeltzer, for organizing the event.

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Canadian Govt Union Sets the Standard to Combat Workplace Bullying

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Unions are the only genuine advocates for workers worldwide. They all share the mission of protecting the safety and security of their members at work sites. European, Australian and Canadian unions keenly pay attention to members’ “psychological safety.” Some smart American unions are following suit (MAPE, UNAC-UHCP, IAM, NAGE). However, many are ambivalent about workplace bullying.

Here’s the account of one Canadian union in Nova Scotia, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) that developed an education program — Bully-Free Workplaces: Shifting Cultures. The union effort begins its fifth year this October and has spread to other provinces.

The program offerings include: 2-hour awareness sessions, 6-hour workshops, and 2-hour, four-module format which increases the options for employers and employees who want more information but with greater flexibility to schedule.

WBI respects this union’s program because it does not stop at awareness raising.

The union also offers training for supervisors, managers, human resources, and occupational health professionals who are responsible for policies and procedures, investigations of workplace bullying, and progressive discipline.

The union also strives to heal afflicted work teams, guide bullies through self-reflection, and special assistance for bullied complainant-members.

Hats off to NUPGE/NSGEU which has reached, to date, over 14,000 participants! Read the press release presenting program facts.
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All of the services NUPGE provides to its members and host employers can be made possible through the training of key American or Canadian Union leaders at the WBI Workplace Bullying University® by WBI founders, Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie.

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Minnesota Union and State collaboratively create Workplace Bullying policy

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Minnesota leap frogs Tennessee with respect to having a state policy to thwart workplace bullying. First a bit of background. In 2014, Tennessee passed a law (Public Chapter 997) that assigned policy writing to a state commission (TACIR) comprised of elected officials with technical support from WBI-affiliated professionals. The group did produce a model policy. However, several lawmakers refused to allow the policy’s implementation. The workplace psychological safety of public employees in that right-to-work state remains unresolved, treated as a political game.

Thus, the first state to implement a workplace bullying policy for all state workers is Minnesota. The successful story begins with the state employees union MAPE (Minnesota Association of Professional Employees) becoming aware of bullying-related problems for members in January 2012. Discussions of bullying surfaced in contract bargaining sessions. In February 2013, some bullying managers were removed in partnership with the union. Education accelerated in May 2013 when MAPE held a seminar for stewards with lessons gleaned from a public session sponsored by the Minneapolis Bar Association at which Dr. Gary Namie spoke.

Audio report:

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By August 2013, MAPE had produced videos of their bullying experiences. In September, results of a membership survey revealed that 1 out of 4 members were either directly bullied or they had witnessed it. State. The state Department of Human Services Commissioner, Lucinda Jesson, signed an anti-bullying petition to ensure safe, retaliation-free reporting of bullying.

(more…)

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Clubbing unions to death akin to fighting terrorists: president-wanna-be Scott Walker

Friday, February 27th, 2015

“We need a leader who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait until they take the fight to American soil,” declared Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a 2016 presidential hopeful, to the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. This is his reference to ISIS terrorists.

Then he said: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same in the rest of the world,” a clear reference to both ongoing protests against new anti-worker laws and a historic revolt in 2011 against Walker’s push to dismantle collective-bargaining rights for the state’s labor unions.

Walker denies he connected the dots but his “dog whistle” points were clearly heard by the radical right wing CPAC audience. He is bragging about busting unions — what he refers to as Democratic special interest groups.

“To compare the hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, grandmothers, veterans, correctional officers, nurses and all the workers who came out to peacefully protest and stand together for their rights as Americans to ISIS terrorists is disgusting and unacceptable,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt in a statement. “To compare hard-working men and women who work for a living to terrorists is a disgrace. Coming together to peacefully protest for freedom, to raise your voice for a better Wisconsin, this is not an act of terror.”

Let’s hope America doesn’t make the same mistakes that Wisconsin voters have made in recent elections.

The irony in America that not one word may be spoken against the military or those who serve in it (all are “heroes”) but defaming the working women and men who dare to organize to fight against abusive practices by government and corporate employers (who are well organized and funded) can go unpunished is not lost on us.

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