Labor News Briefs

Weekly Digest – May 30, 2013

Shop Steward Loses Home After Illegal Firing
Last year, the NLRB ruled that Marcus Hedger, a 56-year-old pressman and Teamsters shop steward at a label-making plant in Illinois, had been illegally fired in 2010 for union activity. The decision said he was entitled to reinstatement and back pay—but Hedger, unable to make the payments on his home while waiting, lost it to foreclosure. That decision was one of the ones voided when a federal appeals court ruled that President Obama’s recess appointments to the board were illegal. Read more

German Amazon Workers Go on One-Day Strike
About 500 workers at Amazon.com’s logistics center in Leipzig, Germany staged a one-day strike May 27 to demand pay and working conditions similar to those at other mail-order retailers in the country.  The strike was the second in two weeks at Amazon’s German operations, which employ about 9,000 people. The company, which claims its facilities are “logistics” and not mail-order retail, is refusing to negotiate with the ver.di (United Services) union. Read more

Protesters Disrupt Cablevision Meeting
Cablevision CEO James Dolan had police eject seven Communications Workers of America members from the company’s annual meeting May 23 in Bethpage, NY, after organizer Tim Dubnau asked him too many questions about contract negotiations with 280 workers in Brooklyn who joined the union last year. The company has denied them raises given other employees. CWA organizer Chris Calabrese said Cablevision is “refusing to sign a fair contract in Brooklyn” and trying to scare its workers out of joining the union. Read more

OUR Walmart Files New Unfair Labor Practices Charges
OUR Walmart filed over 30 new counts of unfair labor practices against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board May 23. The organization alleges that Walmart fired longtime workers in retaliation for speaking out for better wages and conditions, such as Carlton Smith, a 17-year employee from California who was sacked for poor performance on May 8—not long after he’d been named “Associate of the Month.” The accusations involve actions against workers in Colorado, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington State. Read more

California Hospital Workers Stage Two-Day Strike
About 30,000 workers at the University of California’s six hospitals went on strike May 21-22. “What we hope to achieve is for the UC to take patient care seriously,” said Owen Li, a representative of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, instead of “cutting corners and prioritizing lavish salaries for executives.” The University Professional and Technical Employees joined the strike in solidarity. Read more

Unions Fear Obama Health-Care Law Will Jeopardize Benefits
Several large labor unions, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE, and the Teamsters, have expressed concerns that their members will lose coverage when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect next year. The law will not provide subsidies for low-income union workers who get insurance through multiemployer “Taft-Hartley plans,” which cover about 20 million people and are intended to keep them insured through seasonal or temporary unemployment. “We’re concerned that employers will be increasingly tempted to drop coverage through our plans and let our members fend for themselves on the health exchanges,” said David Treanor, director of health care initiatives at the Operating Engineers union. Read more

Food Workers Fend Off Firing in Federal Building
Four food-court restaurants in Washington’s Ronald Reagan federal building tried to fire 10 workers after a one-day strike May 21, but took them back after about 100 protesters converged on the food court. The strike was part of the Good Jobs Nation campaign to improve wages and conditions for workers at private companies backed by public spending. Read more

UAW Says Nissan Mississippi Plant Will Get $1.3 Billion in Tax Breaks
Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi might get $1.33 billion in tax credits and rebates between now and 2030, says a United Auto Workers-commissioned study released May 17. That’s more than four times what state officials said the incentives would cost when the plant was announced in 2000. The UAW has been trying to organize the plant’s 5,000 workers. Read more

Strike One-Day! San Francisco Ballpark Concession Workers Walk Out
More than 700 concession workers at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park struck May 25 before the Giants took on the Colorado Rockies. The workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, are trying to get their first raise in four years from Centerplate, the company that manages the concessions, and stop it from cutting their health benefits. The Giants say the dispute is between the union and Centerplate, and Centerplate called the strike “unnecessary, unfortunate, and illegal. Read more

Federal Workers Furloughed Before Memorial Day Weekend
More than 110,000 federal workers were furloughed May 24, as the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development closed for the day because of the budget sequester. The American Federation of Government Employees called it “a disgrace to our nation” that federal employees were “forced out of work without pay.” Read more

May 29, 2013

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