UNITE HERE Local 634 Members Beat Back SEIU Raid By 2:1 Vote

Last week the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) announced the results of the election to represent the 2,300 cafeteria workers and noon time aides in the Philadelphia School District: members of UNITE HERE Local 634 voted by a 2:1 margin to stay with their union and rejected SEIU's anti-union tactics.

After months of attacks directed by New York-based SEIU 32BJ, the PLRB counted 1121 votes for UNITE HERE Local 634 and only 551 votes for SEIU Philadelphia Joint Board.  There were 10 votes for no union and 198 challenged ballots.

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Labor links roundup

Last week's labor news roundup went pretty well, so I thought I'd follow up with a slight twist this week.  The labor-o-sphere has been lighting up this week, partially due to an odious NLRB ruling.  Here are a few interesting tidbits I found.  Check them out, and add any interesting essays you might have found in the comments:

  • Prof. Ellen Dannin, Professor of Law at Pennsylvania State University, posted a long and thought-provoking piece about unions and their stance towards the Wagner Act (which, together with the Taft-Hartley Act, forms the bulwark of US law related to labor organizing) and the NLRB, titled Unasked Questions and Unasked for Answers on the State of Labor Today.  The post encourages labor leaders and union activists to challenge privatization and globalization.  Drawing on her 2005 book Taking back the worker's law, Dannin also argues for a concerted litigational effort to roll back two key anti-union interpretations of labor law - striker replacement and the employer's right to impose terms if an impasse occurs during contract negotiations (called implementation-upon-impasse).  This is a fascinating post and highly recommended.  Anyone who's interested in follow-up reading should check out Taking back the worker's law.

  • Also at Workling Life, Jonathan Tasini posted about NLRB's recent decision to entertain a union-decertification petition filed shortly after the original union certification law.  This decision overthrows NLRB's longstanding precedent to allow a union certification election result to stand for a reasonable amount of time, in order to allow a union a chance to succeed in its collective bargaining efforts.  The decision, which is hard to square with the Wagner Act's unequivocal demand that the government favor collective bargaaining arrangements, could potentially make union busting even easier, and unionization yet more difficult.

  • An alert reader pointed me to CWA Votes, a website which allows members of Communications Workers of America to sound off on the presidential election and, presumably, sway the union's endorsement decision.  This reminds me of SEIU's decision to allow the membership to vote on the 2004 endorsement take a straw poll of some of its activists in order to gather input on the 2004 endorsement (resulting in the surprising Dean endorsement), and I think it's a great step. (For more on the SEIU process and general info on unions soliciting members' opinions in endorsement decisions, see this comment by user Skipster.)

  • A few tidbits of high-profile union news: UAW will negotiate its next contract with Chrysler.  I can't really say whether this is a good decision or not, but it seems to me that it might be interesting to gather opinions on this decision through some kind of web-based crowdsourcing system, like an electronic market or broad-based voting system.  Such an experiment might yield some very interesting collective wisdom (or, it could get spiked by paid company shills; hard to say.)  In other news and UNITE-HERE Tama workers have voted to end a 15-week strike and authorized a 3-year contract.

Any other tidbits?  Drop 'em in the comments!

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Guerrilla Vlogger: AFL-CIO hosts John Edwards in Manchester, NH with oreos

"LABOR UNIONS are more than just 'the folks who brought you the weekend,' as the bumper stickers say. A union contract may be the best bulwark against the widening income gap afflicting America even as worker productivity climbs."

-- Boston Globe Editorial September 4, 2006

On Monday I was able to attend the annual NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast held at the Chateau Restaurant in Manchester, NH. It was quite a large turn out, I'd say 500 and maybe more. Most of the people that I talked to were happy to be there to see Edwards, represent their crew and have a great time. And most of them were concerned about the possible Verizon sale that could affect thousands of jobs in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The story that I heard over and over is that unions are getting weaker because their numbers continue to decline. NH-erites that I spoke to on Monday were fairly upbeat and positive about their local union, but union participation among American workers has steadily declined in the past 30 years. So why fewer unions and union members? Well may you ask...

Cross-posted at DailyKos

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Queers + Immigrant Rights + Standing up for Hotel Workers = Justice

Cross-posted at Creative Trouble!

Two things happened this week that could potentially be very important long-term in getting the queer community more engaged on issues of economic justice and the labor and immigrant rights communities more engaged on queer issues.

On Wednesday Matt Foreman, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, issued this incredible statement on the need for the queer community to support the immigrant rights movement - both because it is the right thing to do and because it will tremendously strengthen the political power of both movements in the long term. The whole statement is worth reading, but this part in particular struck a chord with me:

We need to recognize that the leaders of the forces of political and religious intolerance are not driven primarily by anti-gay animus, even though it often feels that way. Instead, under their frame, anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-welfare, anti-sex, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT philosophies not only fit together but are all intertwined...Those of us on the other side, however, lack this overarching and elastic frame. We're all desperately fighting defensive battles to protect our own very narrow slices of an ever-diminishing pie. By ignoring Ben Franklin's advice to all hang together, we are most assuredly in imminent danger of hanging separately, each in our own silos.

This is a stark reality for our own community. At between 4-6 percent of the population, we are simply too small to win equality by ourselves. That means we must build alliances and relationships of trust with other communities and causes. Building these kinds of alliances requires more than words, it requires reciprocal work.

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Unions supporting pension-gutting bill!

There was a piece here yesterday (my own modest contribution with some links) which flagged the enormous hole (around $150 billion) that the latest pension bill currently in conference would dig in private pension schemes - that's the amount, according to the Federal agency the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, that the bill will permit employers to avoid contributing to such schemes.

Sounds like corporate welfare to me (though I'm no expert).

Now, I find (Boehner's boasting list) that several unions, including Unite To Win member UNITE HERE (but not fellow breakaways SEIU and the Teamsters, it seems) are backing the bill.

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