Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category
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.
Thursday, September 25th, 2014
For 12 years we have led advocacy for state laws to prohibit health-harming abusive conduct (workplace bullying). The bill — the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill — has no hidden agenda. It is straightforward in its purpose and language. We are trying to right a wrong. Opponents are apologists for employer abuse, plain and simple. They choose to protect employers’ rights over workers’ rights to employment free from abusive interference. When they oppose the HWB, they distort and pervert the terms of the bill. They lie in their testimony without consequences. Lawmakers blindly appease the business lobby.
Michigan, a state dominated by Republicans in recent years, became a right to work state. That means if unions exist, they must serve all workers whether or not they pay union dues. It is a tactic designed to bankrupt unions. Now comes Michigan State Rep. Kevin Daley with an “anti-bullying bill” (HB 5847) that purports to “protect” workers from unions who post names of workers who opt out of union membership.
We are mired in distorted semantics. The moniker “right to work” is promoted as freedom while it actually discourages unions who can bargain with employers for more rights and privileges than workers as individuals can never attain.
Opting out of union membership violates the free market concept of fairness in that one must pay for services received. Benefits of union membership should accrue only to those who belong to unions. If you want the benefits without paying for them, you are a freeloader. So, while proponents of “free markets” and unbridled capitalism feel no sympathy for those lowest on the economic rung, even calling them lazy (as Speaker of the House John Boehner did while on a 7 week vacation), they are the same people who want workers in right to work states to bleed unions dry by forcing services to be provided to non-members.
If Rep. Daley cares about workers not being bullied, then he should introduce the HWB! We dare him.
Tags: freeloading, Healthy Workplace Bill, Kevin Daley, Michigan, right to work, Unions, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
The Board and management of the Atlanta Symphony repeated their 2012 tactic of locking out their musicians and canceling concerts. In 2012, 95 musicians agreed to be shrunk to 88 accepted a 15% cut in pay and 10 weeks of no pay to help the organization after a 1-month lockout. The CEO Stanley Romanstein then promised the compromises would be a one-time cut. The symphony is part of a larger organization the Woodruff Arts Center with CEO Virginia Hepner. The WAC boasts of reducing its deficits but wants further cuts that jeopardize the integrity of the once-great ASO that was led by Robert Shaw as artistic director for 21 years (1967-1988).
Now just days prior to the 2014 season’s start, the musicians are locked out again. The lock out (not a work stoppage or strike by the players association) was ordered by Romanstein despite the symphony ending its most recent fiscal year on target and within its budget. Essentially, the lockout is an “austerity” move by management to force employees to bear all hardships while deficits are cut.
Lock outs, undertaken entirely by ownership, are attempts to portray the musicians as greedy belligerent workers. Romanstein wants to reduce the size of the orchestra further, shrinking it well below other “world-class” symphonies.
Remarkably, the conductor Donald Runnicles and music director Robert Spano wrote in a public letter:
The lockout is essentially the board and management punishing the orchestra: it means they have no access to the place where they work, where they make music; it means their health costs are not going to be paid. And what on earth has that punishment got to do with two invested parties in a discussion-finding consensus? It’s a one-sided attempt to force the orchestra to its collective knees. It also paints the orchestra as this intransigent group of musicians. But in fact they have shown extraordinary willingness to come to a common agreement, as what happened two years ago proves. The fact that it should have come to a lockout again is simply devastating.
The contract is negotiated between WAC/ASO and the ASO Players Association. Paul Murphy is president of the union and claims the major disagreement is about the size of the future orchestra. If too small, the ASO “cannot function in the first league of orchestras.”
Tags: Atlanta Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Musicians, Donald Runnicles, management lockout, Paul Murphy, Robert Spano, Stanley Romanstein, Virginia Hepner
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Unions | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Friday, September 5th, 2014
WBI partner, Greg Sorozan, described his work as a “patient activist” to Dr. Lisa Gualteri of Tufts University School of Medicine. Greg is a mental health counselor, the President of SEIU/NAGE Local 282, Massachusetts State Coordinator for the Healthy Workplace Bill, co-director of the Mass. Healthy Workplace Advocates, and graduate of and instructor for the Workplace Bullying University.
Rather than re-post the interview. I suggest reading the interview at the source. It’s the portrait of a compassionate and committed professional.
Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Happy Labor Day. Two tales about unionism. Abraham Lincoln said it best:
Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.
Good news in an unexpected place: Workers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen auto manufacturing plant have created UAW Local 42 to represent workers. The company is expected to recognize the union once a threshold number of workers join the union. The company favored the union in the Feb. 2014 election. Outside Tennessee politicians fought hard to defeat the union winning the support of workers to keep Tennessee hostile to unions. It is a “right to work” state.
Bad news where least expected: Amazon fights its workers’ right to unionize in Germany, a union-friendly country. Along with GMO and fast food, another horrible American export — anti-unionism!
Remember without workers CEOs would have no income and investors would have no companies to push to their limits of productivity.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
By Holly Ramer, Associated Press, July 28, 2014
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill Monday aimed at protecting New Hampshire state employees from abusive work environments, saying it was well-intentioned but unworkable.
Lawmakers passed the measure after hearing from current and former state workers who said they experienced workplace bullying. It would have required state departments and agencies to develop policies to address harassment.
But Hassan said the legislation’s definition of “abusive conduct” was overly broad and would have made the most routine interactions potential causes of action. For example, workers could claim abuse if they believed they had “unreasonable” workloads, felt co-workers weren’t answering emails in a timely manner or had received constructive criticism from supervisors or peers, she said.
“The bill also attempts to legislate politeness, manners and the interpersonal relationships of co-workers,” Hassan said.
The governor said state employees deserve respect and the opportunity to work in respectful environments, but she argued the legislation would lead to a dramatic increase in lawsuits, which would in turn hinder productivity.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diane Schuett, said she hopes lawmakers will override the veto.
“We all know there’s bullying in school, and just because someone graduates from school, doesn’t mean they stop doing it, and it carries over into the workplace,” she said. “It undermines the efficiency within state government if you end up with one or two employees being harassed on the job, either by another employee or a supervisor, and you end up with the entire agency being aware of it and feeling like they have to pick sides.”
Schuett, D-Pembroke, and other supporters said the state has no written policy against abuse in the workplace nor any office procedure to follow to address such issues. But Hassan said existing state rules give employees an avenue for making complaints.
Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees’ Association, disagreed. She said in the two years since the bill was first introduced, the governor has done little more than have the state personnel division develop an online “Respect in the Workplace” training presentation.
“It just feels like more stalling,” she said. “The governor has the power to issue an executive order to take this more seriously … If the governor wasn’t going to support the legislation, the governor’s office should’ve pitched an executive order and has not done so. So we’re very upset.”
As for the concern about litigation, Lacey said state employees already have been using the courts to seek relief.
The WBI response to the veto.
Tags: abusive conduct, bill, bill veto, HB 591, Healthy Workplace Bill, law, legislation, Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984, SEIU/NAGE, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
The President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is calling on Boeing CEO Jim McNerney to apologize to Boeing’s workforce for offensive remarks made during a quarterly earning call with reporters on July 23, 2014.
“The heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering, I’ll be working hard,” said McNerney in response to a reporter’s question about whether he had plans to retire after he turns 65 next month. Boeing’s policy is for executives to retire at age 65.
McNerney is ranked #126 on the Forbes list of CEO compensation earning $13.36 million per year.
“Boeing’s CEO would have been far better served to give credit to the workforce that has driven the company’s sales and profits to record levels,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Instead, his unfunny and unnecessary remarks serve as reminder that the Jack Welch style of anti-personnel management is still alive and well at Boeing. If he is able to get his foot out of his mouth, the very next thing we hear from Mr. McNerney should be a sincere apology to all employees at Boeing.”
The IAM and Boeing have a contentious relationship with Boeing always threatening IAM with shutting down production plants and moving to anti-union states (as they did for one plant moving to South Carolina from Washington state).
On that same Friday, McNerney issued an apology distributed companywide. He said the comment made during a call about the company’s quarterly results was a “joke gone bad.”
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
For our Union friends, we have created a Guide to Workplace Bullying that includes help with introducing Workplace Bullying into your Contracts (CBAs). Visit the WBI Union site.
Monday, July 14th, 2014
The Healthy Workplace Campaign is WBI’s effort to enact anti-bullying legislation for the American workplace state by state. The model bill is called the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB).
Features of the HWB
• Suffolk University Law Professor David C. Yamada, text author, used federal Title VII Civil Rights laws as basis
• Defines severe abusive conduct — does not use term workplace bullying
• Provides legal redress for anyone subjected to abusive conduct, whether or not the person is a member of a protected status group
• Requires that abusive conduct result in either demonstrable health or economic harm to plaintiff
• Plaintiffs who file lawsuits make public formerly hidden, confidential employer processes that hide and deny bullying
• Prohibits retaliation against any participant in procedures involved in dealing with the abusive conduct complaint
• Requires plaintiffs to hire private attorneys, no fiscal impact on state government
• Provides incentives (affirmative defenses) for employers who implement genuine corrective procedures
• Preserves managerial prerogative to discipline and terminate employees
• Does not interfere with state workers’ compensation laws or union CBAs
We named the HWB in 2002. All other uses of the name HWB are unauthorized by us. California first introduced the HWB in 2003. It has been carried in over half of states and two territories since. The Workplace Bullying Institute trains and provides support to a national network of volunteer Sate Coordinators who lobby their respective state legislators to sponsor the HWB. You can track its status at the HWB website.
Botched Amendments & Unanticipated Consequences
As authors of the HWB, we naturally want the full and original version of the bill enacted into law. And we realize compromises will be made during the process. It is “sausage making,” after all. We just wish all bill sponsors would refuse to allow major revisions that change the spirit of the bill from protecting abused workers to something else. Since the HWB was first introduced, different amendments have been proposed or made.
Often the well-intended sponsor, a pro-worker advocate, agrees to compromise adopting the belief that the law can be built in steps. Let’s get this version passed now and it will be revisited in the coming years and supplemented with the other desired provisions.
Tags: amendments, business lobby, Chamber of Commerce, David Yamada, Gary Namie, Healthy Workplace Bill, Unions, vicarious liability, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Tutorials About Bullying, Unions, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Monday, June 30th, 2014
Unions have certainly become punching bags recently for anti-union zealots — Republican Governors, mainstream media, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and their long-standing arch enemy, the National Right to Work foundation. The right to work meaning without union protections so you can work for minimum wages and absolutely no say in how your work is organized and assigned. Incredibly, 24 states have adopted “right-to-work” legislation that undermines unionism. The NRTWF is the organization that sues unions on behalf of workers fed up with their unions.
So arose the court case Harris v. Quinn (the State of Illinois). The SEIU has been organizing low-paid workers in the home health industry for years. Those workers are typically women of color. They serve disabled individuals in their home — hard work by compassionate underpaid people. When they unionize, wages rise a bit.
Unions, like corporations, engage in political activity. Unions contribute to politicians’ election campaigns at a fraction of the amount corporations do, given that the latter have all the cash. Two SCOTUS decisions — Citizens United decision and one this session — made limits of corporate giving disappear. Anti-union groups like the NRTWF exaggerate the amount of union dues spent on political activity and have successfully separated union funds set aside for that activity from funds to run the business of the union — being advocates for their members. Some states require non-members to pay a “fair share fee” to the union in order to take advantage of workers’ benefits negotiated in collective bargaining agreements between unions and government employers. In other states, anti-union legislation has allowed public sector employees to benefit without having to join or to pay the union. Unions call this “free riding.” Alito thinks the phenomenon is “something of an anomaly.”