Posts tagged "Unions"

Sign the petition to say NO to RTWFL in Missouri: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-the-out-of-state 

h/t: Olivia Sandbothe at AFSCME

mediamattersforamerica
Far right anti-worker shill Eric Bolling DEFENDS China’s law labor laws. 

From the 04.15.2014 edition of FNC’s The Five:

Hopefully the Missouri House GOP doesn’t succeed in getting the 82+ votes needed to pass anti-worker HB1770 for it to get sent to the Senate. 
Call or email your Missouri State Representative now to tell them to vote NO on anti-worker RTWFL bill HB1770 to keep the Show Me State from being put on the Right To Work For Less list!!! 

h/t: Jo Mannies at STL Public Radio

Joan Banks wrote this excellent editorial about Missouri’s awful “right-to-work” for less bill in the Joplin Globe:

Right-to-work legislation is up in the air right now in the Missouri Legislature.  Last week, the bill failed to get enough votes to advance to the Senate, but supporters are working to get those votes and move it forward.

It sounds so good. Who doesn’t want the “right to work”? In fact, who doesn’t have the “right to work” now? What does the slogan mean?

“Right-to-work” is a deliberately misleading phrase intended to appeal to two basic American values: rights and work.

Here’s what it’s actually about: The law would make it optional for workers to pay dues to a union in a company in which the workers are protected by a union contract while allowing those who don’t belong to the union to reap the benefits of the contract.

A basic conservative value is that people shouldn’t get a free ride. But in a right-to-work environment, some workers, by not paying dues, would be getting benefits from union activities without paying their fair share. In other words, some workers would be getting a free ride to better working conditions and wages. So what would be the effect of making joining optional? Very simply, it would further erode and ultimately destroy unions.

Unions have given us some of the best working conditions in the world. Do you get paid vacation days, sick leave and holidays? Two breaks a day? Do you have a 40-hour work week? Are there workplace safety requirements? Wrongful termination protections? The list goes on. All of these important benefits were brought about by unions.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s op-ed column in the Globe (April 6) cited statistics supporting right-to-work. I don’t believe his staff did enough homework.

When researchers rigorously separated the impact on states with right-to-work laws from other variables like tax incentives, the general business climate in a state and other factors, the evidence shows that right-to-work was associated with a decrease in per-capita personal income and wages and had no effect on economic growth.

These were the findings reported in an Economic Policy Institute briefing paper. A search on the Web can uncover many such supporting studies.

Workers who think they can depend upon the goodwill of corporations for good working conditions and good wages are deluded. (There are some socially conscious corporations.) CEOs may talk about “being part of the team” with their rank-and-file employees, but first and foremost, their goal is about maximizing stock performance and profits. Their “team” is made up of them and their stockholders, not the declining middle class.

Unions, pushing for living wages and better conditions for workers, fostered the growth of the middle class. Looking at the history of union membership and the health of our economy suggests that the current decline in union membership correlates with our soaring income inequality.

Our economy has the highest corporate profit margins in history, the lowest wages as a percent of the economy and one of the highest unemployment rates. This has contributed to the huge gap between the wealthiest 1 percent and the very large group of low-income people.

The main backers of right-to-work policies are big business and Republican lawmakers, who get generous donations from corporations. They have joined together with a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has drafted “model” right-to-work legislation that Missouri’s proposed law mimics very closely.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also a supporter and has long lobbied for right-to-work and against the increase of the minimum wage and fair labor practices. These people do not have the backs of workers or the middle class. They are the one percent.

Stand up for the middle class. Urge your legislator to vote no on right-to-work.

Joan Banks lives in Joplin.

h/t: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board

h/t: Phil Williams at newschannel5.com

Great news for Missouri!!! It will NOT be a Right To Work For Less state!!! 

Missouri Lt. Gov Peter Kinder (R)’s lying like usual:

image

h/t: Kenneth Quinnell at AFL-CIO

Let’s hope the attempt to make the Show-Me State a Right To Work For Less state fails in the Missouri House today!

Missouri voters should reject RTWFL, if it comes to the ballot!! 

Will they or won’t they?

The question gripping the capital is if the House will take up Right to Work legislation, which would prohibit union membership from being required as a condition of employment.

The evidence suggests they will.

First, take part of this tweet from Grover Norquist this past week: “Missouri House will vote to put “Right to Work” on the August ballot next week.”

The tweet did not come from some random observer. This was tweeted by the Grover Norquist — the man who is famous nationally for his crusade against taxes and for smaller government.

Exactly how Norquist would know what the House is going to do this coming week remains a mystery. But the liberal advocacy group Progress Missouri said Norquist’s tweet points to national involvement in the Right to Work debate.

Second, on Thursday the American Conservative Union sent me an unsolicited email noting the group will be sending letters to lawmakers urging them to support Right to Work. The email, from Meghan Snyder, the organization’s communications director, said the House would vote Tuesday on the bill.

I emailed back to Snyder asking how the American Conservative Union knows when the vote will take place. She never replied back.

Third, statements from bill sponsor Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, suggest the House is nearing a debate.

“Now it’s kind of getting close to the time and it’s looking like it’s really going to happen, there’s a lot of eyes on it,” Burlison told me Friday.

The skeptic in me is still surprised a debate seems at hand. After all, this is an incredibly divisive issue. There’s no guarantee supporters will prevail on a vote.

The House barely passed so-called Paycheck Protection, which bans unions from collecting employee fees for political purposes without annual written permission from workers, on Thursday. The vote was 83-69, only one vote above the 82 needed to pass legislation.

In addition, in the past lawmakers have often been more talk than action on Right to Work. Last year’s Right to Work bill was never debated on the floor, much less voted on, despite House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, expressing support for the idea early in session.

Anything can still happen. But everything I’ve read or heard suggests lawmakers are as close to a debate as they’ve ever been.

So hold on to your seats. I think things are about to get interesting.

Could Missouri be the next state to join the “Right To Work” For Less club? 
There will possibly be a House vote this week on this issue, and I hope to see the vote to make the Show-Me State an RTWFL state a major failure. 
If this gets on the August ballot, please vote NO to making Missouri RTWFL! 

h/t: Jonathan Shorman at Springfield News-Leader

Leaked documents obtained by Nashville TV station NewsChannel 5 WVTF reveal communications between the employees of two Tennessee Republicans—Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam—and a network of prominent anti-union professionals during the United Auto Workers’ union drive at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga earlier this year.

Sen. Corker and Gov. Haslam have been blamed by the union for contributing to the drive’s defeat by making public statements against the UAW. Prior to the election, Corker claimed that the plant would add an additional SUV assembly line if workers voted against the union, while Haslam implied that businesses had told him that they might not relocate to Tennessee if workers at Volkswagen voted to join the UAW.

There was no direct evidence, however, that these politicians were coordinating with the various anti-union forces that had gathered in Chattanooga to oppose the drive, although In These Times reported in November 2013 that Washington, D.C.-based anti-union campaigner Matt Patterson had bragged about developing anti-UAW messaging with “politician [sic] and businessmen” in Tennessee. The documents by NewsChannel 5 provide the first direct proof of such coordination. In addition, In These Times magazine has obtained documents and conducted interviews with a top anti-union consultant that shed new light on the origins of the anti-union videos referenced in the communications.

Chain of evidence

The documents released by NewsChannel 5 show that, just before the union election, Sen. Corker’s chief of staff and one of Gov. Haslam’s cabinet members were part of an email chain with both Chattanooga-based and national anti-union consultants about efforts to draw attention to three videos produced to fight the UAW at Volkswagen. The videos feature testimonials from workers at previous UAW plants claiming that the UAW destroyed Detroit and led to the closure of a former Volkswagen auto plant in Westmoreland County, Pa. (Full disclosure: This author’s mother worked at the Westmoreland County Volkswagen plant until it closed, and was a member of UAW.)

In a February 10 email with the subject line “Video views so far today,” Peter List, the CEO of the anti-union labor-relations consultant group Kulture LLC and editor and chief blogger of LaborUnionReport.com, boasted of the videos’ web traffic. The email was addressed to, among others, Sen. Corker’s chief of staff, Tony Womack; Maury Nicely, the head of the local Chattanooga anti-union group Southern Momentum; Charleston, S.C.-based anti-union consultant Jim Gray; and former Volkswagen plant manager Don Jackson, whose role in campaigning against the UAW has been previously detailed by In These Times. Also on the chain was Tim Spires, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers’ Association, which promoted anti-UAW events, and Ron Harr, president and  CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

The next day, Corker’s Chief of Staff Todd Womack forwarded List’s email to Tennessee economic and community development commissioner Bill Hagerty—a member of Gov. Haslam’s cabinet—and Hagerty’s chief of staff Will Alexander (who is the son of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander) with a message saying “If you would, please don’t forward this version, but this is the video I mentioned. Thanks much, Todd.”

Womack did not return request for comment about what level of coordination Senator Corker’s office had with anti-union consultants. Likewise, Peter List refused to answer questions about why he was emailing Senator Corker’s staff, stating in an email to In These Times, “It seems you’ve fallen into the trap that people actually pay attention to what politicians say.”

The other major revelation of the NewsChannel 5 investigation is a document titled “Project Trinity,” dated August 23, 2013 and labeled “confidential,” in which Haslam offered $300 million in incentives to Volkswagen if the company would bring a new SUV line to its Chattanooga plant and add 1,350 jobs. At the time, the UAW and Volkswagen were discussing the process by which the company would recognize the union and how the UAW would interact with a potential German-style works council being at the plant. In the “Project Trinity” document, Haslam’s office informed Volkswagen that the “the incentives … are subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.”

In remarks in Chattanooga today, Haslam denied that he was attempting to use the incentives to influence the union vote. However, the emails show that top Haslam staffers conducted an extensive legal analysis of how quickly the union election could occur at Volkswagen once either the union or the employer filed for it. (Unions tend to advocate quick elections, since they believe that delaying organizing drives deflates their momentum.) In a February 4 letter to the Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations CEO Frank Fisher, Haslam also voiced concerns about union organizers being granted access to the plant.

Who’s behind the videos?

Through an interview with prominent “union avoidance” consultant Jim Gray and a leaked document from an anti-union consulting group, In These Times has learned the source of the videos discussed in the email chain. Gray, who was sent the email, tells In These Times that he played a large role in developing the videos, in conjunction with Southern Momentum, whose head, Maury Nicely, was also on the email chain. Gray says that he helped write the script for the video and “helped point towards” Projections Inc., a prominent anti-union consulting group, as a possible producer.

A document from Projections’ UnionProof.com website titled “Case Study: Volkswagen and the UAW” that is available to the site’s “insider members” reads, “On February 3, the call came in to Projections’ Union Proof Team from the Southern Momentum non-profit group. … When Volkswagen asked for a fast vote on February 3, the Union proof Team immediately went to Chattanooga to begin drafting a communications strategy. Scripts were written, testimonials shot, and in plant footage was recorded.”

Projections states that it in a matter of four days, it was able to produce three “highly professional” videos against the UAW and even traveled to Westmoreland County, Pa., to film a former Volkswagen worker who claimed that the UAW forced the plant there to close in 1988.

The videos were then made public at meetings organized by Southern Momentum on February 8 and 9, just a few days before the February 12-14 union election, and uploaded to www.no2uaw.com, a website run by anti-UAW workers at the plant.

The Case Study document quotes Projections CEO Walter Orechwa as saying, “The truth is, regardless of the timeframe, powerful employee communication is always key to remaining union-free.”

The legal ramifications

After the union defeat, the UAW filed a case with the National Labor Relations Board charging that outside political interference by Corker and the state GOP leadership prevented workers from receiving a fair election. On Tuesday, the UAW used the NewsChannel 5 report to file a supplemental brief with the NLRB, alleging that the leaked documents provide even greater evidence that government officials coordinated their efforts to hinder the union drive. “Doubtless there is more evidence of such coordination in addition to this particular leaked email chain, given the tone of familiarity among the email recipients,” wrote the UAW in the brief.

Also, the UAW cited the new connection in the email chain between the anti-union group Southern Momentum and government officials to challenge the NLRB’s decision to grant Southern Momentum “intervenor status” to participate in the NLRB hearings. In an unusual move in March, Southern Momentum petitioned for standing in the case, arguing that it was a group representing anti-union workers involved in the dispute. The NLRB agreed, which will allow Southern Momentum to bring in its own legal team to make arguments. Southern Momentum has deep pockets: Previously, In These Times quoted No 2 UAW anti-union VW worker committee activist Mike Burton as saying “not one of us [workers] raised a penny” of the $100,000 raised by Southern Momentum to fight against the UAW drive. The UAW however, argues that the email chain provides further evidence that Southern Momentum is tied to outside special interests rather than workers and that its intervenor status should be revoked.

According to labor lawyer Moshe Marvit, a fellow at the Century Foundation, the case has far-reaching legal implications, since outside groups with dark money sources are rarely allowed to fight unions in NLRB cases.

However, Marvit notes that “there is an irony to the Board’s granting intervenor status to outside groups” because “the hearing is only necessary because outside groups became involved in the election in an improper way. Now, the Board is affirming that these groups have a legal interest in the proceedings, and is thereby affirming their position as parties.”

The NLRB trial is set for April 21 in Chattanooga, Tenn. While it’s unclear whether the NLRB will be swayed by the new evidence to call for a do-over election at Volkswagen, to one local activist these documents represent something startling.

"When a billionaire governor, a millionaire senator, and the local Chamber of Commerce all unite to kill jobs in reaction to the mere possibility of one union local being organized at one factory in one city in the state of Tennessee, the full extent of the corrupting influence of the business community in our state government becomes clearly visible,” says Chris Brooks, an activist with the pro-UAW community group Chattanooga for Workers.  “What chance do workers have to organize a union when they are pitted against our state’s most powerful politicians who coordinate their attacks in secret with a shadowy corporate cartel composed of everyone from the local Chamber to out-of-state anti-union consultants?"

h/t: Mike Elk at In These Times

Hopefully this bill gets killed in the Missouri Senate and/or by the veto pen of Gov. Jay Nixon’s (subject to possible override).