Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump’s Labor Board Likely to Strip Auto Workers of Southern Victory by Chris Brooks

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After losing a high-profile election at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant in 2014, the Auto Workers won a smaller unit: the skilled-trades workers at the plant. Now a Trump-appointed Labor Board is about to undo even that small victory. Photo: Volkswagen
Two years ago the Auto Workers (UAW) broke new ground when skilled-trades workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant voted 108 to 44 in favor of unionizing.
It was the union’s first victory at a foreign-owned automaker in the U.S. South.
But the success was short-lived. The UAW went on to suffer several high-profile losses, including at Nissanand Fuyao last year.
But now, even that small victory at Volkswagen is likely to be stripped from the union by the D.C. Circuit Court and Trump-stacked National Labor Relations Board.


Only 162 skilled-trades workers in the maintenance department at the Chattanooga plant were eligible to vote for unionization in 2015. The year before, the union had lost an election to represent all 1,500 hourly employees.

Timeline of UAW Organizing Drive at Volkswagen

  • February 14, 2014: UAW loses union election 712 to 626.
  • July 10, 2014: UAW charters Local 42, a “members-only union.”
  • December 5, 2015: Skilled-trades workers win union recognition by a vote of 108 to 44. The company refuses to negotiate, claiming the skilled-trades unit is improper.
  • August 26, 2016: The NLRB issues a unanimous decision that Volkswagen violated federal labor law and orders the company to bargain with the union. However, the company does not comply. Instead, it appeals the decision.
  • September 25, 2017: The Senate confirms Trump’s second appointee to the Labor Board, giving the Republicans a 3-2 majority.
  • December 15, 2017: The Labor Board overrules Specialty Healthcare in favor of position that benefits employers.
  • December 19, 2017: The Labor Board asks D.C. Circuit Court to remand Volkswagen case back to the Board to be considered under the new Board’s decision to overturn Specialty Healthcare.
  • December 26, 2017: The D.C. Circuit Court remands the case to the Labor Board.
What allowed this vote by a smaller section of the workforce was the Labor Board’s 2011 Specialty Healthcare ruling, which gave unions more influence over which workers would be included in a bargaining unit.
The Auto Workers were falling in the footsteps of retail workers at Macy’s and Target, where the ruling allowed specific departments like cosmetics or the pharmacy to form their own bargaining units. Specialty Healthcare meant that unions could target their campaigns to the areas where they had greater support, rather than be forced into wall-to-wall elections.
Volkswagen had previously pledged neutrality, but as soon as the UAW had a foot in the door the company went on the attack. The company announced that it would fight any Labor Board decision to recognize a unit that did not include all hourly-wage production employees at the plant.
Volkswagen refused to bargain with the skilled-trades workers—a violation of federal labor law, but one that allowed the company to buy time. The UAW brought unfair labor practice charges, which Volkswagen appealed.


As the appeal slowly made its way through the courts, Donald Trump was elected president and the Labor Board was reconstituted with a Republican majority.
In December, the Trump Labor Board rammed through a series of pro-employer rulings demolishing Obama-era gains for unions. Among these rulings was a complete reversal on Specialty Healthcare, once again giving employers substantial power to ensure that the size and composition of a bargaining unit benefits the company, not the union.
Following the Board’s reversal, the D.C. Circuit Court kicked Volkswagen’s appeal back down to the Labor Board to be decided under the new precedent—all but guaranteeing that the skilled-trades vote will be overturned.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The FedEx Corporation’s History of Opposing Unionization

FedEx’s effort to keep FedEx Express’ ground transportation employees under the RLA is not– as the FedEx website would have it – a battle between rival package-delivery companies, specifically, FedEx Express and UPS. It is rather a battle between FedEx Express and its own employees, who seek the same opportunity to be represented by a union as counterpart employees at other package-delivery companies. In this regard, the actions taken by FedEx are just the latest in a long history of vigorous resistance to efforts by its employees to unionize:
• As early as 1983, a FedEx booklet titled “Managers Labor Law Book” credits the company’s success in large part to being “union free.” 66 On the second page, the booklet declares that the corporate goal is to remain “union free;”
• In 1989, shortly before acquiring Tiger International Airline, many of whose pilots were union members, FedEx’s founder and chief executive officer, Fred Smith, declared: “I don’t intend to recognize any unions at Federal Express;” 67
• In 1993, FedEx distributed to its managers a booklet produced by the company’s legal department titled “Keeping the People Philosophy Alive: Making Unions Unnecessary.” The cover letter said, “Enclosed you will find a new guide designed to provide Federal Express managers with basic information about union avoidance and union organizing;” 68 and
• As recently as 2006, FedEx’s Human Resource Services and Diversity Organization published a paper calling on human resources staff to “co-develop strategy with Labor Relations team on union avoidance,” and listing five “union avoidance strategies.” 69
The Leadership Conference recognizes the right of an employer, including FedEx, to resist unionization by its employees – provided that in doing so, the employer respects the rights of the employees and complies with its own legal obligations. But that has not always been the case with FedEx.
In 1991, for example, the National Mediation Board found that FedEx Express illegally interfered with the representation election for the company’s pilots. 70 In another election, the pilots voted for union representation, becoming the only group of FedEx Express’ employees to unionize. 71
In 2007, The Leadership Conference issued a report titled “Fed Up with FedEx: How FedEx Ground Tramples Workers Rights and Civil Rights,” which documents how another division of FedEx, FedEx Ground – a shipping company that relies entirely on trucks rather than airplanes, and whose employees are covered by the NLRA – misclassifies approximately 15,000 of its truck drivers as “independent contractors.” 72 This misclassification excludes these employees from the coverage of labor, employment, and civil rights laws, including the NLRA, and among other things, denies them the right to form and join unions. Although several courts, federal agencies, and state officials have ruled that these FedEx Ground truck drivers are employees – as one court put it, FedEx Ground’s agreement with its drivers is “a brilliantly drafted contract creating the constraints of an employment relationship …. in the guise of an independent contractor model” 73 – FedEx Ground continues to adhere to this policy in most of the nation.
The tactics used by FedEx in its campaign to keep FedEx Express’ ground transportation employees under the RLA – while aggressive and disingenuous – have not to date been unlawful. But the statement made by Sen. Kennedy in the 1996 Congressional debate to restore the special exception for FedEx Express is as apt today as it was then:
Federal Express is notorious for its anti-union ideology, but there is no justification for Congress becoming an accomplice in its union-busting

Friday, December 29, 2017

FedEx thanks Congress and Trump for tax reform

Lead Reporter, Memphis Business Journal

The largest Memphis-based public company has officially thanked Washington for the recent tax reform.
FedEx Corp. released a statement Dec. 22, which said:

“We applaud Congress for passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and thank the president for signing this legislation, which will modernize the U.S. tax code and increase America’s competitiveness. FedEx has long supported tax reform efforts which offer pro-growth, pro-business solutions that will power the economy, increase business investment and expand job opportunities.”
FedEx and Fred Smith, the company’s founder, chairman and CEO, have remained vocal on tax reform — especially over the past year.
In June, Bloomberg reported Smith had pushed an alternative tax plan. When asked about those efforts, FedEx provided a statement to the Memphis Business Journal from Robert Brown, corporate vice president of Tax for FedEx Corp., that said, “We are actively discussing various tax reform alternatives with key stakeholders to fix our broken tax code with a focus on growing GDP and investment for the country.”
Smith then joined forces with David Abney, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based UPS to author an August op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Business Rivals Agree on Policy.” The piece touched on a variety of topics including the simplification of taxes.

And in November, FedEx “applauded” the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee for the passage of the tax legislation and encouraged Congress to deliver the final votes.
During FedEx’s Dec. 19 second quarter 2018 earnings call — just prior to the official passage of the tax reform — Alan Graf, executive vice president and chief financial officer for FedEx Corp., said any capital acceleration would primarily be allocated for equipment, technology and pension funds and would grow earnings per share.
FedEx has more than 400,000 employees, averages 13 million shipments per business day — except for the peak holiday shipping season — and connects more than 220 countries and territories. In fiscal 2017, FedEx reported $60.3 billion in annual revenue. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Analysis: FedEx’s Good News Could Get Big League

December 21, 2017 10:45 

A delivery truck stands in front of a FedEx Corp. shipping center in Miami. Scott McIntyre/Bloomberg News
FedEx Corp.’s delivery truck is heading in the right direction, but the turbo-charge from Uncle Sam won’t hurt. The $65 billion company reported earnings after the close of trading on Dec. 20, besting analysts’ quarterly estimates and raising its full-year outlook.
FedEx is now targeting $11.45 to $12.05 in fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings per share, up from $11.05 to $11.85 previously. That range rises to $12.70 to $13.30 if you adjust it further to exclude the integration costs from its purchase of Netherlands-based TNT Express last year (more on that later).
Intriguingly, FedEx also gave a third guidance range that reflects the effect of the tax cut Republicans are trying to pass.
It’s one of the few companies I’ve seen try to parse the legislation’s earnings impact, and the benefits are major: the tax bill would add an estimated $4.40 to $5.50 to FedEx’s fiscal 2018 adjusted EPS. To put that in context, that’s an extra $1.3 billion in earnings at the midpoint of the range, based on the company’s shares outstanding as calculated by Bloomberg News.
That FedEx of all companies would start running the numbers before the tax bill has even become law isn’t surprising. CEO Fred Smith is a major fundraiser for Republicans and earlier this year was pitching his own version of tax reform.
The biggest reason for the 2018 boost is the revaluation of net deferred tax liabilities, according to the company. FedEx, which gets the vast majority of its revenue from the U.S. even after the TNT deal, paid an effective tax rate of 34.6% in 2017 and had been expecting a levy of between 32% and 35% for 2018, per its annual filing.
The latest version of the tax bill targets a corporate rate of just 21%. The earnings boost comes as FedEx also gets a better handle on the surge of e-commerce shipments that have flooded its network over the past few years. Home deliveries are less profitable for the company than corporate drop-offs because drivers have to make multiple stops and take more circuitous routes. FedEx has invested heavily in building out its network, and those efforts are paying off.
Adjusted for TNT integration expenses, FedEx increased operating margins in each of its main divisions: Express, Ground and Freight. That hasn’t happened for quite a while.
The true test will come when FedEx reports its third-quarter 2018 results in the spring. That period will encompass the bulk of the all-important holiday season, but the company’s latest earnings should give investors more confidence that it will avoid the missteps of its past, perhaps better than rival UPS Inc.
It might have been a total slam dunk of an earnings report — if not for those darn TNT integration expenses.
That business was the victim of a cyberattack earlier this year, forcing FedEx to accelerate its transition to the parent company’s information technology and operational infrastructure. FedEx now expects $1.4 billion of integration expenses through fiscal 2020, up from $800 million.
About $450 million of that bill will hit during its fiscal 2018. That likely won’t be enough to overshadow the rest of FedEx’s good news, but it’s just another headache for a deal that has already delivered plenty of them.
FedEx ranks No. 2 and UPS No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Auxvasse location becomes first Dollar General in country to unionize

in News
By: Claire Kopsky, KOMU 8 Reporter

Auxvasse location becomes first Dollar General in country to unionize

AUXVASSE - After about a month of conversations, the Dollar General store workers in Auxvasse won a vote to unionize Friday night.
It took less than five minutes to tally the votes, six "yes" and four "no,"making the Auxvasse location the first Dollar General store in the country to unionize.
Adam Price is one employee who voted to join the union. 
“You know, we all love working here and it’s a fun place to work, we enjoy the customers and we like Dollar General," Price said. "It’s just that we haven’t really had a voice at the company and we think the company can do better for us and for itself."
Dollar General released the following statement: “We are very disappointed in the vote and continue to believe that a union is not in our employees' best interests. In the coming days, we will evaluate next steps.”
The workers will be part of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655.
The union's director of organizing, Billy Myers, attended the vote.
“UFCW Local 655 believes, if an employee wants to better themselves, and their coworkers, and reach for the middle class status, we should help.”
He noted many employees shared Price's opinion, that the company is a good place to work, but could improve.
"After all, we go to work to make a living wage," Myers said. "People need to stand up and believe they’re worth more.”
Price said the extra pay that the union brings wasn't "specifically what we’re going after.”
“It’s just, just in general to be able to have our voices heard, really, so that we can have a more consistent and fair and competitive pay and environment to work in,” he said