Sunday, July 15, 2007


The dramatic decline in union membership over several decades--in large part the result of deliberate, effective, and often illegal tactics by employers--has a substantial negative impact on the welfare of all American workers. Organized labor not only protects and strengthens the rights of union workers, it is the most powerful voice for fair treatment of all employees and the most effective check on corporate influence in Congress and legislatures across the nation.



irudedog said...

The dramatic decline in union membership over the last several decades is one of the most important trends affecting American workers. Organized labor not only protects and strengthens the rights of union workers, it is the most powerful voice for fair treatment of all employees and the most effective force to check the power of corporate interests in Congress and legislatures across America. Protecting workers’ right to organize, therefore, is essential to protecting the welfare of all working Americans.
The percentage of workers in the United States who belong to a union has decreased from a high of over 35% at the end of World War II to approximately 13% today. Although a higher percentage of government employees belong to unions, only approximately 9% of employees in the private sector are union members. The weakening of organized labor has been most notable since the early 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan replaced air traffic controllers who were on strike. The number of workers who belong to unions has plummeted despite the fact that many unorganized workers in America would join a union if they could, as many as 42 million workers according to some polls.
the facts:Although the transfer of many manufacturing jobs overseas and the elimination of jobs because of technological advances account for some of the drop in union membership, much of the decline is the result of employers’ increasing sophistication and effectiveness in opposing the ability of their employees to organize. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees the right to organize for most workers. Despite legal protections, however, there is substantial evidence that a significant percentage of employers are effectively challenge union organizing through illegal as well as legal means. The unfair and often illegal tactics employers use to challenge the right to organize have become so pervasive in large part because the U.S. government does not effectively enforce these laws.
Workers who try organize are often required to attend anti-union meetings and are threatened with termination, workplace closure, and reporting of immigrant workers to the INS. Employees who are identified as leading organizing efforts are often singled out for particularly unfair treatment. As a result of these anti-union tactics, millions and millions of American workers who would choose to join a union never get to exercise this legally protected right.
Consider these statistics about organizing and the tactics many employers use to keep unions out of the workplace:
[Arrow] Share of U.S. workers who would join unions if elections were fairer: 44%
[Arrow] Employers that illegally fire at least one worker for union activity during organizing campaigns: 25%
[Arrow] Employers that hire consultants to help them fight union organizing drives: 75%
[Arrow] Employers that force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with managers: 78%
[Arrow] Employers that force employees to attend mandatory anti-union presentations: 92%
[Arrow] Employers that threaten to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service during organizing drives that include undocumented employees: 52%
[Arrow] Companies that threaten to close the plant if the union wins the election: 51%
The laws that are supposed to guarantee the right to organize unions are clearly no longer as effective enough to protect American workers. As a result, the labor movement is seeking new approaches to ensure the right to organize and rebuild the voice of the American worker.
One strategy organized labor and workers’ advocates are currently pursuing to make it easier for workers to form unions is to pass legislation that will eliminate the elections now required by law and allow a union to be certified when a majority of workers in a workplace sign union "authorization" cards. This legislation will also increase the penalties employers face when they use illegal means to oppose union organizing.
Other strategies to protect union organizing include the strengthening of employee rights at the state level by passing new state law to grant employee status and bargaining rights for new categories of workers, prohibit use of state funds to support or oppose union activity, and provide for mandatory arbitration for first contracts for certain workers. Labor unions and federations such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU and USWA are also forming new associate membership programs so that workers who do not belong to unions enjoy certain group benefits and can take part in the movement to strengthen the rights of working people and restore a sense of fairness in the American workplace.


Anonymous said...

FedEx is planning to freeze its traditionally-defined benefit plans, moving employees to an existing cash-balance plan. The FedEx freeze of its $11.5 billion plan is effective June 1, 2008.

Watchdog groups have long suspected that older workers are being "squeezed out" of FedEx in order to reduce pension payments and other benefits to employees based on seniority.

An Early Retirement "Incentive"?
FedEx bean-counters may be hoping the news of the pension freeze will cause more of FedEx's older workers to choose early retirement.

Because benefits earned before the point of the pension freeze are protected by law, workers and retirees who leave employment before the freeze do not stand to lose benefits. A pension freeze only affects those employees who continue to work for the company.

Pension freezes often have the strongest impact on older workers. In 2005, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report which found that a typical cash balance plan provides lower benefits for most workers than a traditional plan. The report states that this decline in benefits tends to be largest for older workes, And our old pension plan, you all got a letter from FedEx corp.,
stating that anybody over
20 years and over, that our old pension would be frozen, now lets say FedEx contributes
11/2% to 3% per year over a course building amount, which is call an annuity lump sum paid per year, now some of us still have 5 to 20 years to retired.
Let’s say an example, me I will retire in 20 years in June 2028, and I will collect from the annuity of 20 years from my frozen pension of a monthly payments till I died, while collecting on the 20 years more annuity will add to my monthly payments, for one thing our retirement payments will probably less than the original retirement plan, plus no retirement medical benefits.
Now when I die, what will happen to the principle pension I’ve earned?

Now we weren’t giving an option about our retirement plan , on how they could control our earned pensions that we all worked so hard in years, remember this a non-union company and they could do what ever they want, having a union mean having some control, a voice, respect, dignity and a fair contract, and not a this is a non-union company and they could do what ever they want handbook!!

sansooman said...

With the new fedex retirement plan, once you reach the age and years of service, which will take you about 15 years and 45 years of age, you get the 5 or 6 % contribution on your salary, lets say the average driver makes 50,000 a year, that qualifies you to a whopping 6% of 50,000 or 3,000 big ones a year into a self directed treasury or annunity, now don't forget you will be around 50 years of age when these numbers fall in line for this generous 6%. So now your 50, and maybe you can drive ten more years to 60, well you just racked up 3000 x 10 years for a very generous 30,000 dollars for you to live on for the rest of your life....and guess where fedex is stealing this money from ? How about that old defined pension, that would have paid after 30 years, and now, in their own numbers will be short 20% if you make it 25 years around 6/08, at which time the old guard pension deseases, and the new kicks in...5/6th of a whole is 20% less than a whole, and they depend and arrogantly know that no one at the driver level will realize this until they are 62 and on social security, and their first fedex check hits the mail box, and then IT IS TO LATE, PERIOD.....If they really care like they say, then why would they allow this to happen ? Because then can. Ask the people at Enron or Worldcom, or all the other companys who promised and did not deliver, It is a stock holder issue, and there is nothing you can do to change that great capitalist mentality,it's not personal,they don't know you, or care about you and your family,kids,ect,, So the goal has to be to make this company as accountable as they expect you to be, and the only way to do this is with some back up, and the only back-up around is a union.....You Guys need to wake up and acknowledge this before its alpo for dinner in the golden years, I guarentee that those senior management mouth-pieces won't have those problems, because they are the 800 lb gorrilla who with there small numbers can intimidate and dis-organize you with their rediculous stupid 3rd grade school yard tricks,how can 10 or 20 senior managers stop 30 or 40 thousand drivers ? that is the question that needs answering....

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

NLRA SEC 2(5) The term "labor organization" means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.( THER IS NO 3RD PARTY )

Anonymous said...

I have been a human-resources person for 25 years, and I love the field, in the same abstract way that I love my country and the thought of peace on Earth. But I also see how things actually work in real-life companies, and that's why I advise employees to think twice (or three or four times) before they spill their guts to their local HR representatives. The fact is, sharing your woes with an HR person can be a self-destructive move.

For one thing, HR people aren't typically trained in employee counseling and their advice may not be so great. But that's the least of your potential worries when you lay out your troubles with an HR type. Human-resources people typically follow a confidentiality guideline known as the "Need to Know" standard. Here's how it works: When an employee comes to HR with a problem and asks that the conversation stay in confidence, the HR person can say, "Oh, absolutely. I will only share our conversation with others on a 'Need to Know' basis."

Well, what the heck kind of standard is that? I have asked HR people about this slippery standard for years, but I have never met one who can produce a written definition of it. I don't think such a thing exists. It's funny, too, because HR people document every other imaginable standard and protocol, from the number of pay-per-view movies an employee is allowed to watch during his business-travel hotel stays to the exact relatives whose death could entitle an employee for bereavement leave (grandmother, yes; step-grandmother, no). HR people are documentation and policy fiends. But the Need to Know protocol stands alone, undefined. And the risk is all yours.

Shocking Confessions
Let's say the head of HR makes the casual comment in the next HR meeting, "Gee, people in Accounting sure seem worked up about that new controller." Then your friendly HR person may chime in with, "Yes, Susan and Carlo have both been to see me about him." Next thing you know, the HR chief mentions those two names to the chief financial officer, who charges into the controller's office and asks, "What have you done to upset Susan and Carlo?" If the controller is the "Let's improve our relationship—how have I offended you?" type, then everything might be O.K., but if he's more of a "If you're not on my team, you're fired" type, too bad for Susan and Carlo.

Time after time, I have talked to HR people who have heard shocking things in supposedly confidential conversations with employees, and either because of powerlessness or fear, they did nothing about it, or handled it badly.

One time, I worked with an HR manager who had heard from a Shipping Dept. coordinator about falsification of payroll records. The Shipping manager knew about the falsified records and was allowing certain employees to claim hours they hadn't really worked. It was his way of rewarding people. He just happened to choose an illegal and unethical way to show his gratitude. The shipping coordinator was afraid of being fired if her manager found out that she had reported the payroll theft to HR.

Stick to the Chain
The HR manager came to me in alarm because she didn't know how to report the payroll abuse to someone high enough in the organization to prevent the young department coordinator—the one who reported the problem—from getting fired in retaliation. I didn't work in the organization, but I advised her to bring the problem straight to the CEO or CFO, who should be above the political fray. Alas, she didn't feel comfortable doing that, so she met with the Vice-President of Manufacturing, who also oversaw Shipping & Receiving.

The errant manager was fired and replaced by his No. 2, who, a month later, fired the coordinator for her "disloyalty" in turning off the don't-work-get-paid-anyway faucet. Did HR protect her or her job? Heck, no.

The truth is that in nine out of 10 cases, you're better off addressing a problem via your own functional chain of command. It's terrifying, I grant you, to go over your boss's head, but doing so has two advantages over running to the HR people. The first is that the line manager in your function will appreciate your keeping the issue in the family, as it were.

The second is that, whether or not you approve of the resolution, your boss's boss has the power to fix the problem. The HR people can wring their hands and tell you they're sorry for your trouble, but very often that's as far as it goes. And by ratting out your boss to HR—however badly he or she deserves it—you can get a bad reputation in your own business unit.

Think Again
My brother worked at a large telecommunications company where a couple of the managers were amazingly incompetent, costing the company customers and sales. My brother and a few of his colleagues met with their local HR rep, who at least gets points for honesty. The HR person said, "There is nothing I can do. Maybe you would like to take advantage of the company's Employee Assistance Program, which can provide some free counseling sessions to help you with your stress over this." They were talking about a critical business issue and were being handed tissues!

Let me say that there are exceptions to every rule. You may work among the most pro-active and talented HR people on the planet, and if you do, you may find your HR colleagues willing and ready to resolve any issues you've got. Hats off to companies who actually empower their HR folks that way. But sadly, they are few and far between.

Next time you think, "I should just go tell HR about X," think twice. We all need a sympathetic ear and a chance to vent our frustrations, for sure. But perhaps your spouse, friends, or bar buddies can perform that function for you—and save you the risk of possibly getting fired, slimed, or written up as Not a Team Player.

Anonymous said...

Help Stop Union Busting in Oakland
by TeamsterPower
Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 06:32:12 PM PDT
On July 2 trash giant Waste Management Inc. locked out 500 Oakland-area Teamsters, despite a public pledge by the union not to strike after its contract expired June 30.

Now there's democracy in the workplace for you. "Just because I, the CEO, think you might strike, I'm going to lock you out and hire replacements to take your union jobs at lower pay.

"Vote?! Ha! Why should I even give you a seat at the table? ...Oh, I might consider a contract when your children are hungry and you're more desperate. You'll thank me for higher health insurance premiums then. Now go away, We are done with you."

TeamsterPower's diary

Anonymous said...

I am for a fair and decent wage,medical benfits that looks after ordinary working people, not just the rich c.e.o , I believe to stand up for our rights to work together through the unions. I want our economy to work for us - people should always be at the centre.

Anonymous said...

My partner is a full time worker and while her job is secure, there are others out there who's jobs aren't. Why can't it all be fair?! We also have a 6 year old daughter to support and with the cost of living today and the fuel prices it is VERY difficult. Give us a break! give part timers better benefits instead of this high price cobra insurance

Anonymous said...

I was tempted to just give up and say so much has been done now by,Fedex we can't wind it back and I felt so powerless, like I just wasn't hearing anything that I felt or believed in and then I said I am not giving up and I WILL fight it and I WILL go on rage against the UNfairness work condition no medical benefit for part timers,we need a union. Name withheld