Labor News Briefs

Weekly Digest – February 18, 2015

Compiled by Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SUNY Cops Push for Pension Parity
Police union officials say the State University of New York is having a hard time keeping campus police officers because their pensions are inadequate compared to those of other police. SUNY cops currently have to work until they are 63 before they can collect a state pension, says Dan De Federicis, executive director of the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, while other officers can retire after 20 years. This means many officers trained at SUNY transfer out to local police forces, causing “a serious recruitment and attrition problem,” De Federicis added. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a bill in 2014 that would have provided pension equity for nearly 600 SUNY police officers.
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Illinois AG Calls Rauner’s Anti-Union Order Unconstitutional
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 9 executive order to eliminate “fair share” fees for state employees who won’t join unions has hit a few obstacles. State Comptroller Leslie Munger, appointed by Rauner, has not yet complied with the order, and the state attorney general’s office said it was unconstitutional. “There’s no question that under the current law that fair share fees are constitutional,” chief of staff Ann Spillane told the Chicago Sun-Times. “[Munger] can’t ignore validly signed contracts.” “The governor’s actions were a blatantly illegal abuse of his power, so we’re glad to see a bipartisan confirmation that the constitution still matters,” the Illinois Federation of Teachers said in a statement. A democracy does not allow one man to implement his ideological will as he chooses, and so Comptroller Munger and Attorney General Madigan rightfully put the law over politics.” Read more

Missouri House Passes ‘Right to Work’ Bill, but Veto Likely
Missouri’s state House passed a so-called “right-to-work” bill banning the union shop Feb. 12, but the 91-64 margin was a dozen votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a likely veto by Gov. Jay Nixon, who said before the vote he’d never seen a right-to-work bill he would sign. Twenty-three Republicans crossed party lines to vote against the measure. It is not certain whether the state Senate, which also has a large GOP majority, will take up the bill this session. But Ed Martin, chair of the state Republican Party, said he believed the legislature was “making progress” toward passing a right-to-work law. Read more

How Sleazy Restaurants Steal Your Tip Money
Montana restaurant manager Laurie Zabawa is suing the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman and the Gateway Hospitality Group for illegally pocketing tip money. When the Hilton outsourced its banquet service to the Ohio-based Gateway in 2012, she charges, Gateway continued to charge customers a 20% service fee—but kept the money for itself instead of letting the servers, buspeople, and bartenders split it, as has been done in the past. Servers got a $1 an hour raise, but had to sign papers giving up their rights to the tips. When Zabara told her bosses that she believed the fee was illegal, she was fired. Read more

Texas Unions See Oil Strike Energizing Local Workers
Union members and supporters say the United Steelworkers strike at five Houston-area refineries and petrochemical plants say the two-week-old walkout, the biggest in the area’s oil industry in 35 years, might energize the labor movement in one of the nation’s least union-friendly states. “They’re tired of getting taken advantage of,” millwright Forrest Probst said at a barbecue to support strikers and their families. At ECO Services, a chemical plant in the industrial suburb of Pasadena, all 80 workers are union members, said Steve Ballesteros, president of the Steelworkers local there, and the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council reports “a surge in apprentice training.” Overall, the number of union members in Texas rose to 543,000 last year, 25,00 more than in 2013, but still only 4.8% of the state’s workforce. Read more

August 14, 2013

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