The UAW’s Election Loss at Chattanooga VW Plant Will Not End the Southern Auto Organizing Drive

by Paul Garver

Attributing its narrow loss at the Chattanooga VW plant to outrageous outside interference by anti-union special interest groups and right-wing politicians, on 21st February the UAW formally filed objections to the election with the NLRB. This is new legal terrain, since the electoral misconduct stemmed not as customary from management but from misleading and coercive statements by right-wing politicians and wealthy anti-union organizations.

The success of the UAW’s novel legal appeal is far from certain, despite its evident justification. It is also uncertain, even if a new election is granted, whether the union would  prevail in an unchanged hostile external political environment and continuing opposition to the union by some workers. However a new combination of political mobilization in the community and renewed organizing efforts by pro-union VW workers and their families can succeed.

I went away from a workshop with renewed hope at the recent Labor Notes conference in Chicago addressed by Volkswagon workers  and by Chris Brooks, of Chattanooga Organized for Action.  The workers and Chris explained with passion and clear analytical thinking how the union came close to victory, only to be blindsided by a massive anti-union campaign fueled by hundreds of thousands of dollars from shadowy outside special interests.

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UAW Appeals Election Loss at Chattanooga VW Plant

[Ed. note: Attributing its narrow loss at the Chattanooga VW plant to outrageous outside interference, the UAW formally filed objections to the election with the NLRB. This is new legal terrain, since the electoral misconduct stemmed not as customary from management but from misleading and coercive statements by right-wing politicians.

The success of the UAW's novel legal appeal is far from certain, despite its evident justification. It is also uncertain, even if a new election is granted, whether the union would necessarily prevail in an unchanged hostile external political environment and continuing opposition to the union by many workers. However a new combination of political mobilization in the community and renewed efforts to reach VW workers and their families could succeed. --Paul Garver]

The text of the UAW press release on the NLRB appeal follows below the line Continue reading

NLRB Office of the General Counsel Authorizes Complaints against Walmart

www.nlrb.gov

Walmart_2_cropped(November 18, 2013) The National Labor Relations Board Office of the General Counsel has investigated charges alleging that Walmart violated the rights of its employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests.  The Office of the General Counsel found merit in some of the charges and no merit in others.  The Office of the General Counsel has authorized complaints on alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act.  If the parties cannot reach settlements in these cases, complaints will issue.

The Office of the General Counsel found merit to alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act against Walmart, such as the following: Continue reading

The National Labor Relations Board Is Back at Full Throttle

By Bruce Vail

vail_griffin_NLRB_counsel_615_298

Before vote, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), pictured here at a preschool visit in Iowa, praised nominee Richard Griffin for his extensive knowledge of labor law. (Phil Roeder / Flickr / Creative Commons)

(Nov 1) On Tuesday October 29, the U.S. Senate took the final measure to restore the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to full strength with its approval of Richard F. Griffin Jr. as general counsel. Though Griffin’s start date has yet to be determined, his instatement marks the last step in the board’s resumption of its role as the principal agency of the federal government for settling labor-management disputes in the private sector. Given Griffin’s long history as a union lawyer, his confirmation also signifies a rare victory for organized labor on Captol Hill.

The Senate action brings to a close a nearly two-year struggle between the White House and Senate Republicans over nominations to the labor board. The partisan bitterness—which is likely to continue—was reflected in Tuesday’s 55-44 vote, in which Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the only Republican to back Griffin’s appointment.

Griffin’s nomination will likely go down in NLRB history as one of the most unusual, not so much for his official actions but for the partisan rancor and legal maneuvering that accompanied his selection. Continue reading

National Labor Relations Board Launches Mobile App

 

NLRB appAs Labor Day 2013 approached, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced the launch of a new mobile app, available free of charge for iPhone and Android users.  The app provides employers, employees and unions with information regarding their rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.

“The National Labor Relations Act guarantees the right of workers to join together, with or without a union, to improve their working lives,” notes NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce.  “The promise of the law can only be fulfilled when employers and employees understand their rights and obligations.  With this app, we are using 21st Century technology to inform and educate the public about the law and their rights.” Continue reading

PIRG fundraising group on trial for labor violations

by Don McIntosh

In a hearing room at the downtown Portland offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), managers for the Fund for the Public Interest testified under oath Aug. 6-7 that firing union activist David Neel was business as usual.

David Neel

David Neel

The Fund for the Public Interest, based in Boston, is the money-raising arm of the national PIRG network and its affiliated green groups, like Environment Oregon. Neel, a telephone fundraiser in the Fund’s Portland call center, became an outspoken union activist when he and co-workers voted to join Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901 in October 2011. But Neel violated some Fund policies, testified Pat Wood, national director of the Fund’s Telephone Outreach Project. Neel didn’t stick to the script he was given, Wood said, and he failed to “triple confirm” a donor’s pledge. So Neel, a top fundraiser with 18 months experience at the Fund, was fired, by phone, on his way to work Nov. 6, 2012.

The NLRB — the independent federal agency that administers U.S. labor law — didn’t buy that explanation of Neel’s firing when it investigated. The agency issued a formal complaint against the Fund Feb. 27 saying Neel was fired because he engaged in union activities. Now, having heard two days of testimony, federal administrative law judge Margaret Brakebusch will decide which version of events to believe.

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Professors, Authors, Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Faith Leaders Urge Senate to Confirm NLRB Nominees


Letters signed by nearly 400 professors and 125 leaders nationwide argues for swift action on NLRB to ensure workplace rights 

 

nlrbWashington, D.C. – In two official letters last week, a diverse, prominent chorus of voices called for senators to swiftly confirm the full package of nominees submitted by President Obama for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a step necessary to free the agency from its current limbo status and allow it to function in its role protecting workers’ rights in the United States.

The first letter, signed by nearly 400 notable professors from colleges and universities across the country, states:

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We are Worth More

by Jack Metzgar

Jack Metzgar

Jack Metzgar

Last month a few hundred retail and fast-food workers, from places like Sears, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s, walked off their jobs for a rally in downtown Chicago.   Carrying signs saying “Fight for 15” (or “Lucha Por 15”) and “We Are Worth More,” these workers make $9 or $10 an hour, at best, and they figure they’re worth at least $15.

A one-shift walk-out and protest by a few hundred out of the thousands of such workers in the Chicago Loop and along Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile cannot have the economic impact of a traditional strike – one that shuts down an entire workplace or industry for an extended period of time and, therefore, can bend an employer’s will.   And these workers’ chances of getting $15 an hour any time soon are worse than slim.   This “job action,” bolstered by community supporters organized by Action Now and with help from Service Employees International Union organizers, is more in the nature of a public protest than a “real strike.”   You could even call it “a public relations stunt,” but you’d be wrong to dismiss it as inconsequential.

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Cablevision CEO’s Threats Prompt NLRB Complaint

By Mike Elk

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

Last June, Cablevision workers in the Bronx voted against joining the Communications Workers of America by a landslide, with 43 workers voting in favor of unionization and 121 workers voting against it. Now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says that it plans to file a complaint against Cablevision, accusing the company of engaging in illegal conduct in the lead-up to the election. Continue reading

Labor’s Turnaround: The AFL-CIO has a plan to save the movement

by  David Moberg

(March 3 2013)The mood at the meeting, one AFL-CIO top staffer said, was that the future of the labor movement Richard Trumka was at risk if they continued “business as usual.”

As I waited outside the AFL-CIO’s closed-door executive council meeting on Tuesday at a hotel near Disney World, I recalled a conversation at another AFL-CIO meeting some 35 years ago. The Democratic Socialist leader of the machinists union, William “Wimpy” Winpisinger, had called for retirement of the AFL-CIO’s aging, conservative president, George Meany, saying that labor was in crisis and needed to head in a new direction. I approached the teachers union president, Albert Shanker, known as a feisty Cold War liberal, to get his reaction. Wimpy was too impatient, Shanker said. The labor movement was like a battleship. It takes time to turn it around.

Who knew how long?

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