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LIKE/SHARE: From WI Radio Network — “Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, said the latest round of court records “show massive sums of money were solicited and received on Gov. Walker’s behalf from millionaires, billionaires and special interests across the country, including from groups that subsequently received significant changes in state law to benefit them.” MORE:


LIKE/SHARE: From WI Radio Network — “Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, said the latest round of court records “show massive sums of money were solicited and received on Gov. Walker’s behalf from millionaires, billionaires and special interests across the country, including from groups that subsequently received significant changes in state law to benefit them.” MORE:


WASHINGTON — This weekend, local organized labor will rally in support of Michael Brown — and local organized labor will keep working in support of the police and Darren Wilson, the man who shot Brown.

Brown’s death has united progressives and Democrats, while bolstering growing coalitions skeptical of police tactics on the conservative side of the aisle. But labor is split: Organizations that represent law enforcement are warning against demilitarizing police forces and rushing to judgement on Wilson. At the same time, unions that represent big numbers of minority workers are putting their resources into vocal criticisms of police.

In New York City, unions representing teachers and health care workers expect to bring thousands to an anti-police violence march Saturday let by Al Sharpton. Meanwhile, on Friday, a Washington-area police union was celebrating being the largest donor to the controversial GoFundMe site aimed at funneling money to Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson.

“We cannot live in communities where men are targeted and can be killed by the police,” said Chelsea-Lyn Rudder, spokesperson for SEIU 1199, a 400,000-member local of the larger Service Employees International Union. SEIU 1199 is a lead sponsor for this weekend’s March For Justice For Victims Of Police Brutality, an effort led by Sharpton aimed at drawing attention to Brown’s death as well as other high-profile police-related deaths like Sean Bell and Eric Garner.

Rudder said SEIU 1199 was invited to the protest by Sharpton, but the union’s participation is personal.

“Sean Bell’s mother is an SEIU member,” Rudder said. She said that many of her union’s members have personal experiences with the kinds of police tactics they’re hoping to draw attention to at the march.

“A lot of our members are people of color,” she said. “It’s not superfluous to them, these are issues that they’re actually living.”

The United Federation of Teachers, New York’s subsidiary of the national American Federation Of Teachers, is also sponsoring the march. That’s led to an inter-union dispute.

“The UFT has other issues,” the leader of a city police union told the New York Post. “This is not their issue.”

Some police locals are rallying around Wilson. In Missouri, a national GoFundMe campaign in support of Wilson is now sending donations to a charity that appears to share an address with a St. Louis County police union.

In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, a Fraternal Order of Police Lodge donated $1,070 to the GoFundMe page set up for Wilson Thursday. BuzzFeed was unable to reach anyone at the Maryland state Fraternal Order of Police for comment.

“Our state as well as our locals operate not independently, but they make their own decisions,” said Tim Richards, a spokesman for the national Fraternal Order of Police.

At the national level, leaders are also urging caution before judging the Ferguson police or calling for them to lose their military-style equipment.

In a letter posted Thursday to the website of the International Union of Police Associations, a member of the AFL-CIO, IUPA president Sam Cabral took the side of the Ferguson cops.

“It is the American tradition that we sometimes have heartfelt and polar opposite views of the same event,” he wrote. “We welcome the federal microscope. We have lived with it for years.”

Conversely, another AFL-CIO member president, Joe Hansen of the United Food and Commercial Workers President, blamed Michael Brown’s death on “systemic problems.”

“This entire episode highlights systemic problems that still plague our nation — abject poverty, the lack of good jobs, an absence of racial diversity in the halls of power,” he wrote.

Source: Evan McMorris-Santoro & Jacob Fischler for Buzzfeed News

On the heels of its recent Supreme Court victory in Harris v. Quinn, the National Right to Work Committee and Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) has initiated a bold new attack on unions.

In a recent fundraising appeal sent on August 10, the president of both organizations wrote that Harris “was just the beginning,” and that fair share provisions (or, as he called them, “forced dues”) were only “part of the problem.” Now, having succeeded in imposing a right-to-work model for home healthcare workers across the country, NRTW is gunning after a much greater and unexpected target: exclusive representation.

One of the bedrock principles of American labor law is exclusive representation, whereby a union represents all the workers in a bargaining unit after it shows majority support by the workers. In a new case filed on behalf of a few Minnesota home care workers, Bierman v. Dayton, NRTW is now arguing that a union elected by the majority of workers should not be permitted to represent anyone that does not choose to join. 

Last week, I wrote about a new positive experiment in members-only unionism at Volkswagen, which does not follow the exclusive representation model. If it is successful, Bierman v. Dayton would transform all public-sector unions into forced members-only unions, opening the door to a radical reconfiguration of public labor organizations.

In Minnesota, 26,000 home health care workers are currently voting by mail-in ballot whether to elect SEIU as their union. Those ballots are due by August 25. In its first maneuver of Bierman v. Dayton, NRTW filed for a preliminary injunction to invalidate the state law that authorized these workers to vote for a union—in other words, an exclusive representative—to bargain with the state. Expedited oral arguments were held on Tuesday, and on Wednesday afternoon the federal judge denied NRTW’s request for an injunction.

This early loss was to be expected, as NRTW is mounting a novel legal argument that runs counter to decades of labor and constitutional law. And NRTW’s litigation strategy generally includes repeated early losses as its representatives work their way through the judicial circuits to the Supreme Court.

NRTW’s argument in Bierman is not unprecedented, either. The group, whose mission is “is to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs,” included a similar measure in its brief to the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn. However, after Justice Sotomayor challenged the NRTW attorney on whether the group truly intended to radically challenge a core principle of American labor law, he backed off the argument.

Now, after having secured a major win in Harris, the Bierman case represents the next step in a multi-pronged attack on public-sector unions, which appears to be directed toward the goal of stripping from all public-sector workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

So far, most First Amendment challenges to public-sector unions have relied on the argument that membership, or any required payments of any fees, is the equivalent of forced association or compelled speech. However, in Bierman, NRTW is relying on the Petition Clause, which provides the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” According to this argument, a free rider who has benefitted from union representation but refused to pay any fees—a circumstance made possible under Harris v. Quinn—would have suffered constitutional harm by having the union bargain on her behalf.

Through this attack on exclusive representation, NRTW is almost certainly trying to diminish unions’ strength. Seattle University School of Law professor Charlotte Garden points out that a members-only system might lead some states to simply revoke the right to bargain collectively. 

“Members-only bargaining might create a level of complexity that some public employers aren’t willing to deal with, leading states to eliminate public-sector bargaining altogether,” she says.

“For example, imagine a situation in which groups of employees within a single job classification voted for representation by several different unions that all demanded separate bargaining,” she continues. “That could create conflict among the employees and instability in the workplace that public employers were simply unwilling to deal with. States might then decide the best way forward was simply to eliminate collective bargaining.”

In an ironic twist, however, many labor advocates have also called for a revision of the rules on exclusive representation.

SUNY Buffalo Law School professor Matthew Dimick, who has written widely about some of the problems with the system of exclusive representation, explains to In These Times, “Since the representative of the bargaining unit is almost always chosen by some majoritarian process, there is always a danger that exclusive representation carries with it a suppression of minority interests and points of view.”

He notes that in the past, this has led to people already in positions of power using the union to further their agendas. “Historically,” he says, “the biggest problem has been ignoring or even suppressing racial minority interests.”

Others have argued that it is unfair to expect unions to represent those who choose to pay nothing.

Even so, though, if states were to adopt NRTW’s argument in Bierman, the next step for anti-union groups would likely be to argue that the Constitution prohibits bargaining with even a members-only union—a devastating move for the labor movement in both the private and public sectors. Though this argument may currently seem extreme and untenable, so did the argument that NRTW raised and dropped in Harris, only to pick up again in Bierman.

H/T: Moshe z. Marvit at In These Times

FUCK Bruce Rauner, and he needs to be kept out of office! 

h/t: David Sirota at

Scott Walker’s cronies have ruined Wisconsin once again. It’s time to get rid of him at the ballot box in November! 

h/t: Scott Bauer at TPM

The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that McDonald’s is jointly responsible for workers at its franchisees’ restaurants, a decision that if upheld would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.

Richard F. Griffin Jr., the labor board’s general counsel, said that of the 181 unfair labor practice complaints filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees over the last 20 months, he found that 43 had merit on such grounds as illegally firing or threatening workers for pro-union activities.

In those cases, Mr. Griffin said he would include McDonald’s as a joint employer, a classification that could hold the fast-food company responsible for actions taken at thousands of its restaurants. Roughly 90 percent of the chain’s restaurants in the United States are franchise operations.

McDonald’s said it would contest the decision, warning that the ruling would affect not only the fast-food industry but businesses like dry cleaners and car dealerships.

The N.L.R.B. ruling is wrong, according to a statement by Heather Smedstad, a senior vice president for McDonald’s, because the company does not determine or co-determine decisions on hiring, wages or other employment matters. “McDonald’s also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small business, and goes against decades of established law,” Ms. Smedstad said.

Throughout the debate to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, alongside the efforts by fast-food workers and labor advocates to pressure McDonald’s and other restaurant chains to adopt a $15 wage floor, the companies have often said that they don’t set employee wages, franchise owners do. That defense would be weakened considerably by the workers’ push to have them declared joint employers.

In a statement, Angelo Amador, vice president of labor and work force policy for the National Restaurant Association, called the ruling another example of the Obama administration’s anti-small-business agenda. The ruling, he said, “overturns 30 years of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States, erodes the proven franchisor/franchisee relationship, and jeopardizes the success of 90 percent of America’s restaurants who are independent operators or franchisees.”

If upheld, the general counsel’s move would give the fast-food workers and the main labor group backing them, the Service Employees International Union, more leverage in their effort to unionize McDonald’s restaurants and to increase hourly wages. The average fast-food wage is about $8.90 an hour.

Mr. Griffin said in a letter that of the 181 cases filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees since November 2012 – the month the first one-day strike was conducted against McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants — he dismissed 74. Of the 107 other cases, he said he was still investigating 64, while his office found 43 had merit.

The Associated Press first reported the ruling on Tuesday. Ms. Smedstad told The A.P. that the labor board had notified the company of the ruling on Tuesday.


David French, senior vice president with the National Retail Federation, called the decision “outrageous.” “It is just further evidence that the N.L.R.B. has lost all credibility as a government agency established to protect workers and is now just a government agency that serves as an adjunct for organized labor, which has fought for this decision for a number of years as a means to more easily unionize entire companies and industries,” he said.

The fast-food workers movement has argued that McDonald’s should be considered a joint employer because it owns many of the franchisees’ restaurant buildings and requires franchises to follow strict rules on food, cleanliness and hiring. McDonald’s has even warned some franchisees that they were paying their workers too much.

The cases were brought on behalf of workers who assert, among other things, that they were wrongfully fired, threatened or suspended because of their campaign for a $15 a wage and to unionize McDonald’s.

“McDonald’s can try to hide behind its franchisees, but today’s determination by the N.L.R.B. shows there’s no two ways about it: The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple,” said Micah Wissinger, a lawyer in New York who filed some of the cases against McDonald’s. “The reality is that McDonald’s requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there’s no doubt who’s really in charge.”

The next stages for the cases could involve Mr. Griffin’s trying to seek a settlement. But the cases more likely will be argued before an administrative law judge.

This is a major victory for workers, and a sad day for lobbyists such as the National Restaurant Association. 

h/t: Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times

h/t: Bryce Covert at Think Progress Economy

H/T: Kate Taylor at WISH TV


On Monday, the Supreme Court’s conservative justices on Monday defied some expectations by not decimating public-employee labor unions via their ruling in Harris v. Quinn. Given the opportunity to issue a sprawling decision that would overturn decades of precedent, and in the process kneecap the basic model of public-employee unionism, the five justices, led by Samuel Alito, instead issued a narrower decision. They ruled that home health-care workers in Illinois are not full-fledged public workers and thus cannot be required to pay so-called fair-share fees to unions—money that goes toward the cost of union representation for all workers in a particular workplace.

But we may be back in this same situation a year from now, with the Supreme Court holding the fate of public-employee unions in its hands. That’s because there are a handful of ongoing lawsuits in courts around the country that pose similar challenges to unions as Harris did and that could end up before the Supreme Court. It’s possible that one of these cases could do further damage to the labor movement—with the potential to wipe out the precedent set in 1977’s Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision. (In Abood, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of public-employee unions collecting fair-share fees from non-members to pay the costs of collective bargaining.)

If you’re looking for a common thread between these challenges, it’s the National Right-to-Work Legal Foundation, the driving force behind many anti-union suits around the country. The foundation represented the plaintiffs in Harris v. Quinn, and it has provided legal help in two of the following cases. 

Here’s a snapshot of four cases that could be the next Harris:

D’Agostino v. Patrick: A group of home child-care workers in Massachusetts filed suit after the state passed a law designating the SEIU as the exclusive union for those workers. Similar to the Illinois home-care workers who brought the Harris suit, the Massachusetts workers claim their rights are being infringed on by being represented by SEIU, meaning union members and non-members pay dues in exchange for the benefits that come with union representation. This case is in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: A group of public-school teachers in California claim that the requirement that they pay fair-share dues to the California Teachers Association infringes on their First Amendment rights. Their suit also seeks to ban the “opt-out” model of automatic dues deductions, in which teachers who pay dues must opt out to keep their money from funding union political activity. Instead, the plaintiffs want teachers to opt in to fund that political work. This case is with the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Parrish v. Dayton: After Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signed a bill in May 2013 allowing the state’s child-care providers to vote to unionize, opponents filed a suit similar to Harris to halt the new law. The suit was on hold pending the outcome of the Harris case. The plaintiffs hailed the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris, and their lawyers now expect movement in Parrish.

Hamidi v. SEIU Local 1000: This suit targets the part of California law that allows public-employee unions to use the opt-out model for dues paying, as described above. If Hamidi, who works for the state’s Franchise Tax Board, succeeds, his suit could take a bite out of Abood, which in part upheld the practice of opt-out clauses. Hamidi’s case is currently in California district court.

Source: Andy Kroll for Mother Jones

h/t: Andy Kroll at Mother Jones

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

I hate to predict this, but the decision will be 5-4 in favor of Harris and against unions (based on the 2 9-0 decisions handed down this past Thursday). 

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress Economy