Friday, July 10, 2020

Trump's Labor Board Eyes Striking Down FDR-Era Union Protection

Poultry Workers Facing Down National Right-Wing Anti-Union Group and Trump Megadonor

Pres. Trump’s labor board is considering killing a legal precedent that has protected unions since before he was born, according to a recent filing by the board.

One professor of labor law said he was “stunned” when Trump’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it would review the precedent. An AFL-CIO lawyer told The Young Turks it is “highly likely” that the NLRB will at least narrow its scope.

The upcoming NLRB review arose from a dispute between a union representing 800 Delaware poultry workers and the Trump megadonor who owns the plant where they work. Many workers are immigrants and, according to legal filings, about two-thirds have required documents to be translated into Spanish or Haitian Creole.

The dispute has been joined by lawyers for a national right-wing group funded by rich conservativesthat has long opposed the New Deal-era precedent.

Historically, when a union and employer sign a contract, the board has ruled that the contract bars attempts to decertify the union until at least three years later, or after the contract expiress. Without this precedent, known as the contract bar doctrine, deep-pocketed companie--or even third parties--could hammer a union with one vote after another to decertify the union as the workers' representative.

Even if the decertification votes fail, the repeated do-overs could become a dire strain on union resources. And unions nationwide are already bracing for impact: The record of this NLRB--all appointed by Trump--has unions expecting a setback.

As AFL-CIO General Counsel Craig Becker told TYT, “This [NLRB] board is very aggressive in its attempt to displace unions and so it’s highly likely that they’re gonna cut back on the contract bar rule in some way.”

Ironically, eroding the contract bar doctrine could also hurt companies, by destabilizing corporate relationships with unions.

Becker said that, “One of the arguments in favor of these bars is it gives both sides an incentive to be reasonable…as opposed to feeling you’ve got to fight to the hilt about everything.”

With the contract bar doctrine, unions have some wiggle room to make reasonable concessions. For instance, if an employer complains about a bad worker, union leaders don’t have to fear an immediate member uprising if they agree to address the employer’s complaints.

Becker’s not alone in claiming the contract bar doctrine benefits both sides. The doctrine “always had the support of not only unions, but employers. The only one who doesn’t like it is the National Right to Work Committee,” said Martin Malin, professor of law and co-director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Malin told TYT that the contract bar doctrine is “meaningful for unions, but it’s also meaningful for employers… You could have a race where one union is seeking to take over for another… it’s a potential minefield for employers: What do you do?”

Neither Becker or Malin would say with certainty what effect losing the contract bar doctrine might have.

According to Becker, it could give employers “more of an incentive to try to create dissatisfaction with the [union] as opposed to trying to have a productive relationship.”

Malin said the impact of losing the precedent “all depends on how often [decertification] is tried and that’s really hard to gauge.”

The answer, Malin said, could depend on the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC). The group's legal foundation requested the NLRB review. “What’s the Right to Work Committee’s next move going to be? Lots of active decertification campaigns?.. It’s something that unions will then have to devote resources to deal with."

Either way, a negative ruling would be “one of those thousand cuts: Death by a thousand cuts,” Malin said.

Both he and Becker referred to the NLRB’s recent decision to let union elections proceed even when allegations of unfair labor practices have yet to be settled. The NLRB is expected to implement that decision at the end of this month.

Both the NLRB and NRTWC have been called out for going beyond even what employers are seeking.

“This board is notorious for reaching out beyond what the parties are arguing,” said Becker, the union lawyer. “They’ve basically done everything they can to obliterate the last eight years of precedent--but now they’re going back even farther.”

“The [NLRB] board--as this board has often done--is seizing on a narrow question and using it to issue a broader ruling,” Becker said. “It looks like even the employer wasn’t arguing to abolish the contract bar.”

Instead, the contract bar challenge arose in late April, from the NRTWC. In an April 28 filing, NRTWC lawyers advocated for the NLRB to “overrule or greatly narrow” the contract bar doctrine.

The NRTWC argued that barring do-over elections thwarts the primary goal of the original National Labor Relations Act: Employee free choice. The NRTWC touts its main goal as defending individual workers from what the group refers to as forced unionization.

However, Malin said, “Trying to create chaos in stable collective-bargaining relationships has nothing to do with what they claim their main activity is.”

Referring to the NRTWC as “more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Malin said, “a lot of positions they take go beyond simply advocating statutes or the courts against union security arrangements.” The NRTWC did not respond to a request for comment or questions about its involvement in the dispute.

Malin said the NRTWC has lost its suits on other labor issues, but that “it has cost the unions lots of money to defeat those claims.”

“The Right to Work Committee bills itself as a public-interest law firm protecting the rights of individual workers, but their funding comes almost entirely from employers and employer organizations, groups like the Koch Brothers,” Malin said.

Mountaire’s owner and chairman, Ron Cameron, has a long history of funding right-wing causes but reportedly failed to convince the Kochs to back Trump this year.

Mountaire’s workers are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27. Local 27 has been at odds with Mountaire on several fronts.

The union has alleged workplace safety issues (TYT reported that Trump’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruled against the union because Mountaire said there was no problem).

And the vote on whether to decertify Local 27 comes amidst a pandemic that has stricken an unknown number of Mountaire workers. Mountaire stopped disclosing infection numbers, but told the NLRB that one month after ostensibly implementing coronavirus mitigation measures, 34 more workers--all asymptomatic--tested positive.

The NLRB is now reviewing Local 27’s challenge to the ongoing mail-in election. Ballots on whether to decertify the union must be received by 3pm on July 14. If the union succeeds in quashing the election, the votes will not be counted.

But regardless of how the Mountaire vote goes, the NRTWC could still win a national victory against organized labor if the NLRB strikes down the contract bar doctrine.

When the NLRB said it would review the contract bar doctrine, it said it would solicit briefs on the matter. According to Becker, the NLRB’s language seeking those briefs could reveal a lot, by indicating whether the board is looking, for instance, at shortening the three-year bar against decertification elections, or eliminating it entirely.

In contrast to rulings where the NLRB did not even seek outside comment, Becker noted that, “It actually looks--uncharacteristically for this board--that they’re doing this in an open way and letting people file briefs.”

“This board has rarely done that,” Becker said. Typically, he said, “They’ve gone in and ripped up precedent willy nilly.”

Jonathan Larsen is TYT’s managing editor. You can find him on Twitter@JTLarsen.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Teamsters Union Lauds CARES Act Relief For YRCW Workers

Loan Will Protect Livelihoods of 30,000 Workers Impacted by Pandemic

 

NEWS PROVIDED BY

International Brotherhood of Teamsters 

Jul 01, 2020, 06:13 ET


WASHINGTONJuly 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A $700 million loan provided by the United States Treasury under the CARES Act will help YRC Worldwide, Inc.'s operating companies pay its employees' health care and other benefits and get through this pandemic while protecting the livelihoods of about 24,000 Teamsters and their families, Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said today.

"I want to thank Congress for passing the CARES Act, and the President and the Treasury Secretary for their help in making this essential bridge loan possible," Hoffa said. "They recognized the urgency and acted swiftly to avoid our members' health benefits from being cut and, in the long term, to protect 24,000 Teamster jobs at YRC Freight, Holland, Reddaway and New Penn."

The CARES Act assistance will be used to pay for employee health care and pension costs and other obligations. YRCW employs 30,000 freight workers, including 24,000 Teamsters.

"I echo General President Hoffa in thanking the government for providing this loan and protecting our members' livelihoods" said Ernie Soehl, Teamsters National Freight Director. "Like so many Teamsters who are essential workers, our members working at the YRCW operating companies have continued to keep our nation's supply chain moving to serve millions of Americans," Soehl added. "They are true heroes. This assistance gives them some peace of mind moving forward and we hope it gives YRCW the economic stability it needs in the months and years to come."

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United StatesCanada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Contact:
David White, (202) 439-1904
dwhite@teamster.org

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Thursday, June 11, 2020

FedEx Employee Fired, NJ Corrections Officer Suspended After Video Surfaces Of Pair Mocking George Floyd’s Death During Protest In Gloucester County

FRANKLINVILLE, N.J. (CBS) — A FedEx employee caught on video mocking George Floyd’s death during a Black Lives Matter protest has been fired. A New Jersey Corrections Officer was also suspended following the incident.

The cellphone video was taken during a Black Lives Matter rally held Monday in Franklinville, Gloucester County.

One of the men was seen kneeling on another man who was lying down along Delsea Drive, in a pose similar to the one former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used on Floyd.

FedEx called the video “appalling and offensive.”

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“The behavior depicted in the video, which involved a FedEx employee, is appalling and offensive,” FedEx said in a statement. “The employee in question was immediately removed from all FedEx work duties while our investigation is concluded and all internal procedures are followed. FedEx holds its team members to a high standard of personal conduct, and we do not tolerate the kind of appalling and offensive behavior depicted in this video. The individual involved is no longer employed by FedEx. We stand with those who support justice and equality.”

In a tweet, the New Jersey Department of Corrections said, “We have been made aware that one of our officers participated in the filming of a hateful and disappointing video that mocked the killing of George Floyd. The individual has been suspended from their post and banned from NJDOC facilities during a thorough and expedited investigation.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also condemned the officer for his actions, tweeting “we won’t let the actions of  a few distract from our progress toward dismantling systematic racism.”

The act has since gone viral on social media and members from the community are in an uproar.

“It’s a terrible situation for someone to do such a terrible thing,” Franklinville resident Sophia Dagostino said.

“I was furious, I was disgusted, I’m horrified. I personally came out here to drown out their message,” resident Sarah Hill said.

Since the incident, the Black Lives Matter acronym and other messages have been painted in front of the property, and protesters continue to show up in small numbers.

“It’s sad to see that we’re dealing with this sort of stuff today,” Dagostino said.

Some Black Lives Matter Supporters Believe ‘End Racism Now’ Mural On Fishtown Street Served Only As Publicity Stunt

At least one friend of the corrections officer, who he refers to as Jimmy, says their anti-protest was against the Black Lives Matter movement and in support of law enforcement.

He didn’t want to appear on camera but says he had no idea what was in store. But by the time it happened, it was too late. He says he’s since cut all ties with his former friend.

CBS3 showed up to the officer’s house Wednesday while he was mowing the lawn, but he quickly disappeared and did not speak.

Another protest is planned for next Saturday at 11 a.m. Police say it was one the docket before the incident but they are now anticipating an even larger crowd.

CBS3’s Alecia Reid contributed to this report.