PSLabor News

PSLabor News

After NLRB announced its intent to re-evaluate its position on employer email policies, senators sent letter to board urging agency to leave its current stance in place... Read Story
A group of employees at UPMC hospitals in Pittsburgh are vowing to go on strike on Oct. 4 to focus attention on what they say ... Read Story
After talks fail, road builders turn to non-union engineers The Detroit News Published 8:37 PM EDT Sep 25, 2018 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and roads chief Kirk Steudle inspect a bridge on I-96 at Cedar St. in Lansing on Friday to highlight the need for additional funding for road repair in the state. Dale G. Young Lansing — An infrastructure association that locked out union engineers over a contract dispute says its contractors are now replacing union workers with non-union operators to restart roadwork after a meeting with the governor failed to break the standoff.  “Contractors are going back to work as we speak, using other non-union operators. So many projects will be up and running in very short order,” said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, Tuesday afternoon. Nystrom wouldn't disclose the number of non-union operators being utilized but said they are "private operators from other states or non-union operators from Michigan who say they want to help out." He added contractors "are looking at all options" and making decisions "contractor by contractor." Nystrom wasn't specific about which or how many projects would be receiving new workers. "I think projects started up even today in small bits and pieces," he said. "It will take time to get up and running, and we’re certainly going to make an effort.” The move by contractors comes after Gov. Rick Snyder met earlier Tuesday with union and contractor groups but was unable to broker a short-term or long-term deal to break the road building stalemate that has stalled nearly 150 projects across the state since after Labor Day.  The governor discussed the situation after emerging from a face-to-face meeting with officials from MITA and the Operating Engineers Local 324, which oversees the locked-out union workers. "The situation is challenging — very challenging," Snyder said. “It’s clear the parties were not in agreement." Snyder's spokesman, Ari Adler, said Tuesday afternoon that MITA's contractors already use union and non-union employees, and it's "their call as the contractor" on staffing projects. But with lack of clarity on whether contractors will have enough of a labor force to complete the road construction, Adler said the state will continue to explore its options. “You need to ask them if they think they can stay on schedule with the workers they have," Adler said. "It is incumbent upon the contractor to complete the work. "Until we have assurance that can happen, we will continue to review other possible options.” Local 324 Communications Director Dan McKernan told The Detroit News he was unaware of construction work restarting Tuesday afternoon. “Not to my knowledge,” he said. “But that’s not to say it’s not true. I just haven’t received word of that yet.” McKernan declined to comment further on developments. The state, meanwhile, remains in contact with the National Guard as it considers using the guard's engineering units to address critical projects with higher safety risks or commuter challenges before winter. “We’re not taking sides … in a labor dispute, but we have an interest for our citizens because our roads are critically important,” Snyder said. “We have a lot of road projects that are currently under construction that are not making progress, and we have the winter coming, so we have a real concern about the safety of our citizens and their quality of life.” Asked about bringing in the National Guard to help out, Nystrom said contractors “certainly are looking at out-of-state operators. We’re looking at all options, including the National Guard. We have had very productive conversations with them.” Nystrom also noted as result of the three-week stoppage, “there may be projects affected by the onset of winter, and the industry is used to dealing with this seasonal window of opportunity on an annual basis.” After its five-year contract expired in June, Local 324 said it didn't want to negotiate a new contract with MITA, an industry group representing contractors. The union said it wanted to bargain with individual contractors. MITA then imposed a work stoppage on Sept. 4 in the midst of a busy summer construction season. "This has never happened before," MDOT spokesman Jeff Cranson said. "This is unprecedented. No one did see it coming." The dispute has partially or fully shut down 89 Michigan Department of Transportation projects and 72 local projects, including the major Interstate 75 River Rouge Bridge construction project and Interstate 696 reconstruction and maintenance project in Macomb County. The I-696 project still needs two-and-a-half more months of work before it will be completed, according to state officials. Local 324 last week accused MITA of "torpedoing" a hand-shake agreement with the governor's office that could have restarted work, a claim MITA denied. The union said Tuesday it will honor Snyder's request not to negotiate through the press.  "We're going to abide by his wishes and keep our comments to ourselves and keep hoping tomorrow is the day our members get back to work,"  McKernan said. The Snyder administration two weeks ago asked Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office to determine whether the impasse should be defined as a labor dispute. If not, the state could take more aggressive action, including payment penalties for contractors that could compel them to reach a deal with the union. While the issue remains unresolved, “we’re in ongoing dialogue” with the Attorney General’s Office, said Travis Weber, chief legal counsel to Snyder.  The union does not consider it a labor dispute and has consistently said so because of the "unfortunate decision by contractors to lay off their staff and try to strong-arm the union," McKernan said. The governor said he thinks he has clear authority to use the National Guard, if needed. It's unlikely the National Guard would be tasked with completing major road construction projects, Cranson said. Instead, the National Guard would likely prepare work zones for winter in an attempt to normalize traffic as much as possible at key areas. But it remains a hypothetical at this point. "I think we’re waiting to see how these talks go," Cranson said. "We were hopeful that today would yield something, but I think the National Guard is on notice." Snyder said the administration plans to follow up with the contractor and union groups later this week and plans to continue the dialogue. "Our public is not going to be happy about this," the governor said. "I'm not happy. This is not a good situation." Cranson said t contractors can ask for time extensions on projects, but they would be on the hook for damages, an amount of money specified in a contract that MDOT would get if contractors breach their original deadlines. “MDOT has notified contractors that, based on the information that MDOT currently has, the lockout is an action under the contractors’ control,” he said. “Therefore, requests for extensions of time will be granted, but damages for not being complete on time will still be enforced per the terms of each contract.” Cranson said he did not have "any specifics" on extension requests or the possible number of contracts that could be penalized because of the lockout, noting "the vast majority of projects have not reached their original completion date yet." “For the benefit of the traveling public, MDOT is enforcing the terms of our contracts," he said. "We are not taking sides but exercising due diligence.” Nystrom said Tuesday a “labor dispute industry-wide is something that should have a contract extension and not have penalties applied." "We believe case law and specifications will support that position,” he said. Nystrom also showed no signs of MITA backing down on its position with the union. “The lockout will end when the union ratifies the industry-proposed contract, which is a very fair and equitable proposal,” he said. Published 8:37 PM EDT Sep 25, 2018 Read Story
Chief urges elected leaders to 'wake up to the economic threat'... Read Story
NEW YORK -- MTA took at least half a dozen New York City buses out of service because of concerns about bed bugs.The buses are in isolation, on the outskirts... Read Story
State officials said they've never seen anything quite like this, so they are not sure what to do. In the meantime, hundreds of construction projects across the state are still shut down. Read Story
RSS. Epeak Daily Epeak Daily Bitcoin OldTwitter As technologies threaten to displace service workers, unions are making job protection and new opportunities a priority in contract talks. The bosses have not yet introduced facial recognition technology at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Read Story
Amazon currently has over 100,000 robot "employees." The company has not hidden their devotion to efficiency, and automation has made many aspects of the business smoother and more profitable, like ordering inventory and checking out customers. Read Story
Impatient communities hope for quick resolution as road work labor standoff enters its fourth week. Read Story
The union that won an election to represent workers at Boeing Co.'s plant in North Charleston says it isn't a threat to South Carolina's economy and it won't bring about... Read Story
About 100 workers from UPMC facilities in Pittsburgh are expected to strike Oct. 4 to gain support for their goal of unionization, according to a Pittsburgh City Paper report. Read Story
Becker's Hospital Review reported the following hospital-union events — including protests and legal issues — on or after Sept. 13. Read Story
A federal appeals court canceled at the request of the National Labor Relations Board the Oct. 9 oral argument for a pair of labor law cases involving employee use of work email for unionizing. Read Story
As of Tuesday, union workers at the majority of mines on the Iron Range are without a contract. Read Story
A nationwide strike shut down much of Argentina’s air travel Sept. 25, as aviation-sector employees joined the country’s public transportation and port workers in a full-day protest called by the country’s major labor unions. Read Story
The dialogue between the government and public sector unions that aimed to end the general strike stalled this Monday. There were mutual accusations of intransigence between the parties, which are preparing to resume talks another day. Read Story
Portman ‘disappointed’ in lack of GM commitment to Lordstown plant... Read Story
Ford and the UAW were among the major automotive organizations to oppose a rollback of national fuel economy standards during a public hearing Tuesday with federal officials. Read Story
In-N-Out Burger committed an unfair labor practice when it maintained a policy requiring clean uniforms without any pins or stickers supporting any causes, which it used to prohibit employees from wearing "Fight for $15" buttons. Read Story
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said Monday it would not issue a 72-hour notice of job action, giving the Crown agency’s negotiators an opportunity to address the union’s demands, which include higher wages and better working conditions. Read Story