Labor News Briefs

Weekly Digest – February 10, 2015

Compiled by Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Steelworkers Widen Refinery Strike
The largest oil workers’ strike since 1980 expanded to two more refineries Feb. 9, with United Steelworkers members at refineries in Indiana and Ohio joining those at nine other facilities who walked out Feb. 1. The 11 plants account for more than one-eighth of U.S. refining capacity, and BP and other companies are using strikebreakers to run most of them without the about 5,500 workers on strike. Safety is the main issue. "Management cannot continue to resist allowing workers a stronger voice on issues that could very well make the difference between life and death for too many of them," Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard said in a statement issued Feb. 7. Read more

Illinois Gov Sets Anti-Labor Agenda
In his first State of the State address Feb. 4, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said that local governments in the state should be allowed to pass laws banning the union shop. The multimillionaire governor also said the state should ban some political contributions by public employee unions and weaken prevailing-wage requirements on public construction projects. “Public servants will be disappointed to learn that the governor is pursuing an aggressive agenda to undermine their rights to a voice on the job and in the democratic process,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. But Democrats in the state legislature were surprisingly lukewarm. “I wouldn’t characterize anything as a nonstarter,” Assembly Speaker Michael J. Madigan told reporters. Read more

Delta Flight Attendants Prepare for Massive Union Drive
Delta Air Lines’ about 20,000 flight attendants will vote in the spring or early summer on whether to join the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, and a union spokesperson says the IAM is planning “the biggest airline drive in the history of the industry.” Delta flight attendants rejected another union three times between 2001 and 2010, but the Machinists are optimistic. The airline has added 3,000 new attendants since 2010, and a two-year organizing campaign got 60% of the flight attendants to sign union cards. Read more

West Virginia Unions Protest Anti-Labor Bills
West Virginia union members rallied Feb. 4 in the state capital of Charleston, protesting a package of anti-labor measures pending in the state legislature.  The Republicans who now control both houses are looking to ban the union shop, repeal the state’s prevailing-wage law, and set up charter schools. Repealing the prevailing-wage law, said Steve White, West Virginia Building and Construction Trades Council director, “would be disastrous, hurt local contractors, lead to wage cuts, fewer training opportunities, less people who have benefits and more accidents on the job. All for no savings of taxpayer funds.” Read more

Arkansas Court Backs Comp for Ironworker Hurt on Way to Job
The Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 4 that an ironworker who injured his back slipping on ice as he entered the job site was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even though he hadn’t clocked in yet. Ronnie Nabors, an ironworker in Blytheville, had fallen in 2009 while walking from the gate to the trailer where he was going to clock in, and his employer argued that he wasn’t entitled to benefits because he hadn’t been on the job yet that day. The court held that because Nabors had already put on his protective gear, he “had already engaged in employment activity” and thus had been “injured while engaged in conduct that benefited [his employer], making his injury compensable.” Read more

August 14, 2013

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