Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category

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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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.

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.



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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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Anti-union advocates pervert notion of bullying in the workplace

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.


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Greedy management locks out Atlanta Symphony musicians

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.”

CBS46 News


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MA workplace bullying advocate profiled

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.


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Two tales for 2014 Labor Day

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!

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Remember without workers CEOs would have no income and investors would have no companies to push to their limits of productivity.


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NH workplace bullying bill vetoed by governor

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Gov. Hassan Vetoes Workplace Bullying Bill
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.



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