The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that protects workers’ rights to organize and demand better conditions, will announce a decision today to prosecute Walmart for violating workers’ rights by firing, disciplining, and threatening workers who went on strike or attempted to unionize, according to OUR Walmart, the group that has been helping to organize the strikes.
The group says the NLRB will prosecute the company for illegally firing and disciplining more than 117 workers, including some who went on strike last June. It also includes threats by managers and spokespeople meant to discourage workers from striking. Workers could potentially see back pay, reinstatement to their former positions, and the reversal of disciplinary actions. Neither the NLRB or Walmart returned a request for comment by the time of publication.
Workers have gone on strike multiple times over the past year, with a wave of 400 walking out on Black Friday last year. The latest saw strikes in three cities over a week-long period. Workers have been demanding higher pay, more full-time work, and an end to retaliation.
But workers have repeatedly claimed that they are fired or disciplined for going on strike. The company itself has also admitted to threatening workers who look into forming unions that their benefits could disappear if they organize.
Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, a South Florida gambling, dog-racing and hotel complex, has been around in some form since the 1930s. What started as a pari-mutuel betting track is today a Las Vegas-style destination for beachgoers, part of Florida’s booming gaming economy responsible for 2,600 jobs and nearly $382 million in spending in 2012. But Mardi Gras has made national news for something else entirely: an explosive labor dispute now before the Supreme Court.
On Nov. 13, the court will hear oral argument in Unite Here Local 355 v. Martin Mulhall and Mardi Gras Gaming. It is the latest case testing the boundaries of workers’ right to organize and could be among the most significant labor-related decisions since John Roberts was appointed chief justice of the United States in 2005.
At issue in Mulhall is the neutrality agreement, a contract widely used by private employers and unions to govern conduct and set ground rules for workplace unionization campaigns. About a decade ago, Mardi Gras employees began talking with Local 355 of Unite Here, a union focused on organizing hotel, casino and airport workers. Like other casino employees, they hoped that the union could help them bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Local 355’s website motto — “Lifting South Florida above the poverty line” — reflects the measured aspirations of this area’s low-wage service sector.
The trouble started in 2008, when Mardi Gras refused to comply with the neutrality agreement. Local 355 initiated legal proceedings, and the casino invoked an unorthodox defense: The contract it signed was unlawful under an anti-corruption statute.
Federal criminal law prohibits employers and unions from trading money or other “things of value.” According to Mulhall and Mardi Gras, neutrality agreements flout this interdiction and improperly circumvent employees’ right to secret-ballot elections, set out in the National Labor Relations Act. According to Local 355, the law forbids bribery and corruption, not mutually beneficial agreements between cooperating employers and unions.
A powerful conservative nonprofit group opposed to organized labor helped shape Mardi Gras’ strategy. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) — whose stated mission is to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism” — came to represent Martin Mulhall, a Mardi Gras employee opposed to the union.
Mulhall sued Local 355 and Mardi Gras, but the case was thrown out by a Florida district court. On appeal by Mulhall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit sent the case back down. In the appellate court’s view, the kinds of promises and information exchanged in neutrality agreements are things of value and therefore foster corruption as much as cash bribes do. Unite Here then appealed to the Supreme Court.
Sisters’ Camelot in Minneapolis is a small collectively run organization that does wonderful work. They distribute organic food in impoverished neighborhoods in Minneapolis. They’ve also, historically, been supportive of political causes such as the Occupy Movement and, on occasion, labor unions.
However, when faced with labor organizing within their own organization their response was to, initially, not negotiate. Later, they agreed to negotiate, but then fired one of their canvassers (a classic divide and conquer union busting strategy).
Please read the statement of support below and, if so inclined, sign on. If you’re outside of the Twin Cities you may state where you from if you wish to.
Wisconsin’s Republicans got most of the attention, but Michigan’s Republicans have recently proven to be the best example of a midwest gerrymandered Republican majority drunk with its power.
In 2010, in the lowest turnout since 1990, Michigan elected a Republican governor who ran as a moderate backed by big majorities in the state House and Senate. Many of the freshly minted Republicans proudly waved the banner of the Tea Party — a banner that read ‘Taxed Enough Already!’
Immediately, the newly elected governor and legislature raised taxes on pensioners and cut the earned income tax credit for the poor to help pay for a huge tax cuts for business. Over the course of the next two years, the legislatures explored the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation and even banned a female lawmaker from speaking because she used the word ‘vagina.’
But they saved the worst of their agenda until President Obama beat Mitt Romney in Romney’s birth state by 9.5 percent. Republicans lost seats in both state houses as gerrymandering protected Republican majorities. With only 4,000 more votes in four districts, Democrats would have tied up the House 55-55. Instead they only lost 5 seats and maintained a 59-51 majority.
Instead of moving to the center, Michigan’s GOP launched into an ‘inflamed duck’ session that shook the state and finally revealed to the nation what happens when a far-right Republican majority takes over a blue state.
1. Without one public hearing, the Michigan GOP enacted legislation that made Michigan — the heart of the auto industry and the union movement — into a ‘Right To Work’ state. Governor Rick Snyder claimed the law, which drew protesters from all over the state, was about jobs. But just last week, the governor said, ‘Over 90 percent of the jobs that you’re looking at aren’t going to be in a situation where right to work is even relevant.’ Weakening the unions doesn’t help the economy. It lowers wages and increases poverty. What it does help is strengthen the power of corporations who are interested in privatizing public resources. That’s been the agenda of former Republican gubernatorial candidate and Amway heir Rich DeVos for decades, which is why he made ‘financial contributions’ to the candidates who weren’t certain if they should support union busting.
2. Republicans have recognized that their only path to the presidency is to gerrymander the vote the way they have in the House. Despite voting for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1992, Michigan is represented in the House by nine Republicans and six Democrats, thanks to gerrymandered districts. And if the electoral college were to suddenly switch to relying on these same gerrymandered districts, Republicans would win the majority of the electoral votes despite losing the popular vote. So, of course, Michigan’s Republicans are ‘open’ to the possibility of rigging the next election. In fact, the only reason they didn’t in 2012 is because they assumed Mitt Romney would win the state.
Reuters has a piece out today that details how the cradle of organized labor, Michigan, became a Right to Work (for less) state, and explains why it happened when it did, and as fast as it did. The thing is, it wasn’t just because an attempt to enshrine collective bargaining rights into the state constitution went down in flames:
(Reuters) - As a trained aerospace engineer, Patrick Colbeck applied his penchant for data analysis and “systematic approach” to his new job in early 2011: a Michigan state senator, recently elected and keen to create jobs in the faded industrial powerhouse.
Those skills paid off handsomely for the first-term Republican this week as Governor Rick Snyder signed into law bills co-sponsored by Colbeck that ban mandatory union membership, making Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.
From outside Michigan Republican circles, it appeared that the Republican drive to weaken unions came out of the blue - proposed, passed and signed in a mere six days.
But the transformation had been in the making since March 2011 when Colbeck and a fellow freshman, state Representative Mike Shirkey, first seriously considered legislation to ban mandatory collection of union dues as a condition of employment in Michigan. Such was their zeal, they even went to union halls to make their pitch and were treated “respectfully,” Colbeck said.
Read the whole thing here.
Another casualty of the 2010 Tea Party wave. Elections do have consequences, and since the GOP won so many statehouses in a census year, they won the right to redistrict, and it looks like they have gerrymandered themselves into power until the end of the decade at least. So I doubt Michigan will be the last state to at least attempt passing a Right to Work (for less) law.
A narrative gaining currency among Rick Snyder’s defenders explains his flip-flop on right-to-work legislation as a reluctant response to labor unions who put Proposal 2 on the November ballot over the governor’s objections, then refused to bargain with good faith with him afterward.
But the truth? Snyder hasn’t gotten much respect from the groups backing right-to-work, either.
Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire tea party titans David and Charles Koch, is heralding Michigan’s imminent passage of right-to-work legislation laws in Michigan as “the shot heard around the world” in the fight to weaken unions.
But the group was also a significant financial backer of Proposal 5, an effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to bar tax increases without a two-thirds legislative supermajority.
So why would Snyder turn from labor unions to a group that was behind a constitutional amendment he described as “bad public policy”?
The answer may lie in another Koch-funded group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes a radical right-wing agenda in states across the country, supplying “model legislation” to sympathetic lawmakers.
The organization boasts more than 2,000 legislative members. It also has corporate members, who weigh in on the model legislation before it’s approved by the group’s public-sector committee, the group’s national chairman said in an interview he gave after dozens of pieces of ALEC-written model legislation were leaked last year in a joint project by The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy.
Michigan’s proposed right-to-work bills mirror the ALEC language practically word-for-word.
It’s unclear how many Michigan lawmakers are members of ALEC; the group doesn’t make its membership rolls public. But at least one of the lawmakers who introduced Michigan’s right-to-work legislation has been associated with ALEC.
Certainly, there are a large number of Michigan legislators who are beholden to Americans for Prosperity, or the Koch brothers. Word is the groups threatened Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s leadership post, and promised him a primary challenge in 2014, if he refused to move right-to-work forward.
There are valid arguments on all sides of this question - on the police force’s side is the fact that they appear undermanned due to the amount of overtime worked, but on the Governor’s side are five years of being among “the most crime ridden” cities. These are the puts and takes that will play out the next few years across the nation based on the outcome of the coming elections.
Camden Police Department closure opponents claim the city’s decision is a form of union busting. Approximately 49 percent of current Camden police officers will be transferred to the Metro Division of the Camden County Police agency and will undergo five months of training before hitting the streets again.
“This is definitely a form of union busting. This method is unproven and untested, to put your faith in an agency that doesn’t even yet exist,” Camden Fraternal Order of Police President John Williamson stated during an interview with Fox News. “The officers who are getting laid off are going to have to be the ones who train their replacements.”
The Camden Police Department has been under New Jersey state control since 2005. A “power struggle” between the department and then-Mayor Gwendolyn Faison allegedly prompted the Camden mayor to ask for state supervision. The Camden Police Department state arrangement will soon expire and New
Democrats in the Indiana state House of Representatives on Monday ended a three-day boycott blocking Republican-backed right-to-work legislation that opponents view as an assault on unions.
House Democratic leader Pat Bauer said the three-day boycott by most Democrats last week gave them a chance to circulate information about the measure around Indiana.
Republicans hold a 60-40 majority in the Indiana House, which needs a quorum of two-thirds of its members to be brought to order. With 98 representatives present on Monday, the bill was assigned to a committee for discussion Tuesday.
An Indiana Senate committee on Friday advanced a right-to-work bill to the full Senate for consideration.
Under the proposed right-to-work law, employees at unionized private workplaces would not be required to pay union dues. Supporters say the move would attract jobs to Indiana. Critics call it union busting.
In the 2010 elections, Republicans emerged with seven more governor’s mansions. They also won control of 26 state legislatures, up from 14. In many trifecta states, where a new Republican majority won control of both houses and the governorship, an odd thing happened. A steady stream of almost identical bills — bills to defund unions, require photo IDs that make it harder for democratic constituencies to vote, bills to privatize schools and public assets, bills to enshrine corporate tax loopholes while crippling the government’s ability to raise revenue, bills to round up immigrants — were introduced and passed. An almost identical set of corporations benefited from these measures.
It is almost as if a pipeline in the basement of these state capitols ruptured simultaneously, and a flood of special-interest legislation poured out. The blowout preventer — political power-sharing — was disabled. The source of the contamination? The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Read more: host.madison.com
A coalition of Wisconsin worker rights groups is going to court to block Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.
The groups are filing a federal lawsuit against the governor’s plan to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
The groups are challenging the bill’s constitutionality. The lawsuit contends the bill violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by stripping away workers’ rights to organize and bargain.
Organizations filing the challenge include councils of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the Wisconsin State Employees Union and the Service Employees International Union-Health Care Wisconsin.
Walker contends the law is needed to help address the state’s $3.6 billion budget shortfall.