Labor News Briefs

Weekly Digest – July 9, 2014

Compiled by Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

1199 Wins Raises at Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Local 1199 SEIU reached a tentative agreement July 8 on a new contract that will raise the minimum pay for current workers to $13 an hour by 2018. The 4½-year deal, which covers about 2,000 service workers from janitors to surgical technicians, establishes an immediate $15 minimum wage for members with 20 years of experience. The hospital’s lowest-paid workers now start at $10.71. Workers staged a three-day strike in April after rejecting a previous offer, and Gov. Martin O’Malley intervened to prevent a second walkout last month. Union spokesperson Jim McNeill said the deal, which will give some lower-paid workers 38% raises, “is setting a higher standard for the entire city.” Read more

SAG-AFTRA Reaches Deal for New Film and TV Contract
SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced July 4 that they had reached an agreement on a new three-year film and TV contract that will give the union’s 165,000 members raises of 2.5% to 3% a year. The deal creates a single master contract that replaces the separate pacts negotiated by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists before they merged in 2012. It also improves rates paid to actors on subscription-video and Web shows, including Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards.
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L.A. Port Truckers Strike Three Companies
About 120 truck drivers went on strike July 7 at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach against Green Fleet Systems, Pac 9, and Total Transportation Services Inc. International Brotherhood of Teamsters spokesperson Barb Maynard said the strike would be indefinite and had shut down all three companies’ operations at the ports. She said the three misclassify truckers as independent contractors, and Green Fleet has fired drivers who complained about wage theft. The companies ship goods for shoe manufacturer Skechers; retailers Walmart, Target, Costco, and IKEA; and designer brands Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Read more

Teachers, Postal Workers Push Staples Boycott
Teachers’ unions in California, Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are urging their members not to buy supplies at Staples to protest the chain’s plan to run U.S. Postal Service counters in its stores, where workers are paid about one-third of what regular postal clerks earn. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is expected to approve a boycott at its convention in Los Angeles this weekend, and is already planning to join California postal workers for a demonstration July 12 in front of the Staples Center arena there. American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein said the Postal Service’s program, which is expected to spread to 1,600 Staples stores, “absolutely represents a shift of living-wage jobs to low-wage, non-benefit jobs.” Read more

NEA Urges Arne Duncan to Resign
Delegates at the National Education Association’s convention in Denver voted July 4 to adopt a resolution urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign. The vote was a “venting of frustration of too many things that are wrong,” said outgoing union president Dennis Van Roekel. Those things included the “department's failed education agenda focused on more high-stakes testing” and “continuing to promote policies and decisions that undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions,” such as Duncan’s support for a California judge’s ruling last month that struck down tenure and seniority protections for the state's public school teachers.
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LIUNA Uses Crushed Bus to Push for Bridge Repairs
Holding an orange banner that read “This Bridge Is Structurally Deficient” and standing in front of a school bus crushed when a piece of concrete fell off a bridge, about 20 Laborers’ International Union of North America members rallied July 3 under the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati. The rally was part of the union’s “Fix Our Bridges” campaign, urging Congress to appropriate $2.6 billion to repair the bridge, which carries Interstate 71/75 over the Ohio River to Kentucky. “The bus is symbolic but the stakes are real,” said LIUNA vice president Robert Richardson. The union previously bought billboards on the highway that advised drivers to carry life preservers. Read more

United Outsources Jobs at 12 Airports
United Airlines announced July 7 that it is outsourcing more than 600 jobs at 12 airports, including Detroit, Buffalo, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The outsourced jobs include ticket and gate agents and baggage handlers. The International Association of Machinists said it negotiated seniority protection for many of the workers if they relocate, and that about 400 outsourced jobs would be brought back at four airports, including Denver, Phoenix, and Dulles International near Washington. Union spokesman James Carlson called the outsourcing a "race to the bottom. How can you compete with vendors paying $12 an hour?" He said United's top pay for the work is about $24 an hour. Read more

UFCW Wins Recognition at Texas College Cafeteria
Food-service workers at Texas Christian University who voted last March to join United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000 have won a tentative collective bargaining agreement with Sodexo, the company that runs the Fort Worth college’s cafeteria. The workers decided to unionize after Sodexo reclassified many of them as part-time to avoid having to pay for health-care benefits. The agreement came less than a week after the company announced plans to restore its employees’ health coverage. Read more

NJ Court Nixes CWA Bid to Stop Lottery Privatization
A New Jersey appeals court July 3 ruled against the Communications Workers of America’s lawsuit to stop the state from hiring a private company to manage the lottery’s sales and marketing branches. The union, which represents New Jersey’s lottery workers, had argued that the state constitution says the lottery can be conducted by the state only and not by a private entity, and that a state Treasury Department had unlawfully approved a payment to the company, Northstar New Jersey. The court rejected both arguments. Read more

Employment Up in States That Raised Minimum Wage
Jobs increased at a rate faster than the national average in nine of the 13 states that raised their minimum wages in 2014, according to an analysis released June 30 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. The study, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for the first five months of 2014, found that employment rose by an average of 0.99% in the 13 states that increased their minimum wage, compared with 0.68% in those that didn’t. Of the eight states that reported job losses, the only one that had raised its minimum was New Jersey. “While this kind of simple exercise can't establish causality, it does provide evidence against theoretical negative employment effects of minimum-wage increases,” the report said. Read more

August 14, 2013

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