PSLabor News

PSLabor News

By a majority vote Wednesday, support staff at Vernon's Rockville General Hospital agreed to unionize in an election moderated by the National Labor Relations Board. Read Story
Teachers have refused to cross their picket lines, shutting down the district’s schools last Thursday and Friday. Read Story
Thousands gathered on motorways across France on Saturday to protest against higher fuel taxes and President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies, in a campaign of road blockades in which one protester was accidentally killed and dozens were injured... Read Story
The union representing postal workers has just rejected an offer from Canada Post. It now seems the Crown corporation will head into its busiest time of year mired in a labour dispute. Read Story
A labor union says a 46-day strike by Marriott hotel workers in Boston is over after workers ratified a new contract agreement.The Unite Here Local 26 union announced Saturday evening that workers approved the... Read Story
Labor unions were dealt another blow in Kentucky after the state supreme court upheld its right to work law. Read Story
Paraeducators in Port Angeles, Washington, are on strike. In this year’s wave of teacher strikes, it’s the first one led by paraeducators. Teachers have refused to cross their picket lines, shutting down the district’s schools Thursday and Friday. The 115 paradeucators in this small coastal city, just across the water from Canada, assist with everything from reading lessons to recess. Paraeducators play an essential role in today’s schools, offering extra attention and care to students who need it—especially those with disabilities. Besides solidarity, another reason teachers were reluctant to cross the paras’ picket lines was “a lot of safety concerns,” said Eric Pickens, president of the Port Angeles Education Association. “They’re trained to help out our most fragile students, students with special needs.” The strikers are pushing the school district to grant wage increases they say they’re owed from state money. Paraeducators in the district currently make between $15.68 and $19.55 an hour, depending on seniority. Most work six hours or less a day. Many work second jobs—in homecare, retail, hairdressing, or at the local library. Some are single mothers, and take home so little that their kids qualify for free and reduced lunches at the school, said Terri Rothweiler, a 24-year paraeducator and vice president of the Port Angeles Paraeducator Association. Both unions are affiliates of the Washington Education Association. “We told our members last week: We either need to roll over and accept how they want to treat us, or stand up for ourselves,” Rothweiler said. Union members had voted 87 to 4 to authorize a strike if no contract agreement was reached by Wednesday evening. School officials initially planned to open schools during the strike—but changed their minds when the teachers union said it wouldn’t cross the picket line. “The district wasn’t really taking them seriously because they just figured they’ll try to run schools without them,” said Pickens. The teachers’ vote, he said, “forced the district’s hand, and now they seem to be bargaining.” Rothweiler said the district tried to recruit substitute paras to come into work, but union members called them and asked them not to cross the picket line. BOTTOM OF THE BARREL Low wages have long been a source of concern for the district’s paraeducators. The union is asking for a 22 percent increase. So far the district is offering only 3.5 percent, below all other groups of workers. Maintenance workers and bus drivers got a 4.1 percent raise. “Consistently the district keeps us on the bottom of the barrel, and we’ve been told, ‘That’s where we’re going to keep you,’” said Rothweiler. The union says pareaducators are entitled to the extra money the state legislature set aside for educator salaries this year. Contracts for teachers and support staff were opened statewide this year to bargain for $2 billion that the state legislature allotted specifically to salary increases. That money is a product of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, which ruled that the state was not meeting its constitutional duty to provide ample funding for schools. Port Angeles got a 39.8 percent increase in state funding thanks to the McCleary decision, and was granted $970,000 to raise salaries for classified staff. But the district, like many others throughout the state, has attempted to put the money toward other purposes. Fifteen Washington state school districts started the year on strike, as teachers battled to win significant raises. Paraeducators in the neighboring Sequim school district settled a contract in October that will raise wages by 15.9 percent over two years, with the starting salary set at $18.43 in 2019-2020. WEA created a video to transmit the lessons of the Sequim victory to Port Angeles paras. INSEPARABLE Paraeducators and teachers in Port Angeles spent the summer organizing together to demand that the district use the McCleary money to raise salaries. They spoke out at school board meetings and organized a big July rally. “They were by our side during the summer, so that’s why we’re by their side now,” said Pickens, who is in his fifth year with the district. The district’s opening offer included zero salary increases for teachers, even though it had received $2.3 million in McCleary money to put toward salaries for “certificated staff” such as teachers, nurses, and guidance counselors. “They said, ‘We’ve looked at the average salary and we think you guys are all set,’” said Pickens, who won election as union president in April. “We were like, ‘What?’” Negotiations stalled at a 3.1 percent increase until the July rally. Finally, the night before their scheduled strike vote in August, the teachers union reached an agreement with the district that increased funding for their salaries by 9.1 percent. The paraeducators’ contract expired August 31 without a new deal in place. WON’T BE BULLIED Two years ago, Rothweiler said, the district refused to budge on wages, and paraeducators worked without a contract all year. They were fighting the district on their own then, without much support from the teachers union. This time it’s different. “The paras have been fighting this battle for at least a few years. When you see another group like that getting bullied, you have to stand up and say that’s not acceptable,” Pickens said. Rothweiler believes community support is strong. Last month, parents and union members packed a school board meeting, with turnout so high they flowed out door. Once the strike began, Rothweiler and a co-worker went canvassing in the neighborhood where they teach with the message, “Sorry for the noise, we hope you’re supporting us.” “Every house we went to,” she said, the response was, “Oh yeah, you have our support.” To help families cope during the strike, the teachers’ union sent a donation to cover all-day childcare for 25 kids at a local swimming pool. Striking is a legally grey area for Washington school employees—technically illegal, but with no penalties written into law. The Port Angeles school board has threatened to individually sue individual employees participating in the strike. Negotiations continued Friday, while schools remained closed. For more on paraeducators, see What Vermont Paraeducators and School Bus Drivers Learned When They Almost Went on Strike by Emma Mulvaney-Stanak. On the Washington teachers' strikes, see Washington Walkouts Win Teachers Big Raises by Barbara Madeloni. Read Story
As 2018 draws to a close, employers are looking to the next wave of labor and employment laws and regulations that will take effect in 2019 and beyond.On January 1, and throughout the coming year, employers across the nation... Read Story
The Mortuary Staff Union in Ghana who will soon embark on a strike over their poor working conditions and demand of improved services including the salaries they say is not good enough, have told Ghanaians to postpone their deaths till the strike is over. Read Story
Universal Orlando announced yesterday morning that beginning in February, employee starting pay will be raised to $12 an hour. The wage increase, previously at $10... Read Story
Unionized employees with the Quebec Liquor Corp. walked off the job today and will remain on strike until Monday. Read Story
The National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of employees to act together to address conditions at work, with or without a union. This protection extends to certain work-related conversations conducted on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. In 2010, the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency that enforces the Act, began receiving charges in its regional offices related to employer social media policies and to specific instances of discipline for Facebook postings. Following investigations, the agency found reasonable cause to believe that some policies and disciplinary actions violated federal labor law, and the NLRB Office of General Counsel issued complaints against employers alleging unlawful conduct. In other cases, investigations found that the communications were not protected and so disciplinary actions did not violate the Act. General Counsel memos To ensure consistent enforcement actions, and in response to requests from employers for guidance in this developing area, Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon released three memos in 2011 and 2012 detailing the results of investigations in dozens of social media cases. The first report, issued on August 18, 2011, described 14 cases. In four cases involving employees’ use of Facebook, the Office of General Counsel found that the employees were engaged in "protected concerted activity" because they were discussing terms and conditions of employment with fellow employees. In five other cases involving Facebook or Twitter posts, the activity was found to be unprotected. In one case, it was determined that a union engaged in unlawful coercive conduct when it videotaped interviews with employees at a nonunion jobsite about their immigration status and posted an edited version on YouTube and the Local Union’s Facebook page. In five cases, some provisions of employers’ social media policies were found to be overly-broad. A final case involved an employer’s lawful policy restricting its employees’ contact with the media. The second report, issued Jan 25, 2012, also looked at 14 cases, half of which involved questions about employer policies. Five of those policies were found to be unlawfully broad, one was lawful, and one was found to be lawful after it was revised. The remaining cases involved discharges of employees after they posted comments to Facebook. Several discharges were found to be unlawful because they flowed from unlawful policies. But in one case, the discharge was upheld despite an unlawful policy because the employee’s posting was not work-related. The report underscored two main points regarding the NLRB and social media: Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees. An employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made in relation to group activity among employees. The third report, issued May 30, 2012, examined seven employer policies governing the use of social media by employees. In six cases, the General Counsel’s office found some provisions of the employer’s social media policy to be lawful and others to be unlawful. In the seventh case, the entire policy was found to be lawful. Provisions were found to be unlawful when they interfered with the rights of employees under the National Labor Relations Act, such as the right to discuss wages and working conditions with co-workers. Some of the early social media cases were settled by agreement between the parties. Others proceeded to trial before the agency’s Administrative Law Judges. Several parties then appealed those decisions to the Board in Washington D.C. Board decisions In the fall of 2012, the Board began to issue decisions in cases involving discipline for social media postings. Board decisions are significant because they establish precedent in novel cases such as these. In the first such decision, issued on September 28, 2012, the Board found that the firing of a BMW salesman for photos and comments posted to his Facebook page did not violate federal labor law. The question came down to whether the salesman was fired exclusively for posting photos of an embarrassing accident at an adjacent Land Rover dealership, which did not involve fellow employees, or for posting mocking comments and photos with co-workers about serving hot dogs at a luxury BMW car event. Both sets of photos were posted to Facebook on the same day; a week later, the salesman was fired. The Board agreed with the Administrative Law Judge that the salesman was fired solely for the photos he posted of a Land Rover incident, which was not concerted activity and so was not protected. In the second decision, issued December 14, 2012, the Board found that it was unlawful for a non-profit organization to fire five employees who participated in Facebook postings about a coworker who intended to complain to management about their work performance. In its analysis, the Board majority applied settled Board law to social media and found that the Facebook conversation was concerted activity and was protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Read Story
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker assembles a vehicle at a truck plant in Louisville, Kentucky By Daniel Wiessner (Reuters) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the state's so-called “right-to-work” law, which makes it illegal to require workers to join unions and bars the collection of fees from... Read Story
In Colombia, the national union of food workers, SINTRAIMAGRA, is denouncing the murder of one of its union leaders and is asking the government to identify, capture and prosecute those who perpetrated the crime. Read Story
Nurses and other health care workers experienced nearly 70 percent of all workplace violence reported in 2016. Read Story
My Take: UAW scandals show why Michigan needs to keep workers’ right-to-work protections hollandsentinel.com, November 03, 2018 Forced unionism is an important and under-reported aspect of the UAW/…... Read Story
Union members on South Western and Northern railways go on strike in train guard dispute... Read Story
Headline 46,000 nurses to vote on strike action... Read Story