Misc. Mondays: Obama’s New Board Members

We knew this day was coming.  It’s almost finally here.  Obama announced his intention to fill two of the three (out of 5) open seats on the National Labor Relations Board (the Supreme Court of judges for labor law issues).  And without much surprise, he announced two lawyers who happen to represent labor unions – to go along with Wilma Liebman who he appointed Head of the Boardand who used to represent labor unions.  One of the appointees, Craig Becker is the Associated General Counsel for both the SEIU and the AFL-CIO.  The other is Mark Pearce, who is in private practice in New York and represents trade unions in labor and employment law issues. 

Click here for a fullbio on these two appointees courtesy of Ross Runkle’s LawMemo Blog.

Now just 1 seat is left to fill, and by law that has to go a Republican.  But by when must it be filled is a better question than who will get it.  The Board has been operating as a 2 person Board for over a year – 1 Republican and 1 Democrat.  Obama just announced he will fill it with 2 more people – both Democrats.  Obviously the Board is the most left it can be at this moment.  So there really isn’t any incentive for Obama to pick that last Republican.  I expect to see many 3-1 decisions in favor of Unions for quite some time.


Misc. Mondays: WalMart Went Union!

At least that’s what the unions want you to believe.  Actually, the very first WalMart in North America did become unionized earlier this month.  By North America, I mean in Quebec, Canada.  And by Canada, I mean a country that has labor labour laws similar to the Employee Free Choice Act and card check and arbitrated contracts.

So what does a unionized WalMart look like now?  Not a whole lot different then before.  After three years of negotiations and lengthy arbitration, the wage and benefit increased – promised by the union in return for a signed card – were rejected by the arbitrator.  In fact, “new workers at the store, in the small-community of Saint-Hyacinthe, south east of Montreal, will now find themselves paying union dues to a union that didn’t get them anything.

Misc. Mondays: NLRB Modernization Act

I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this, but when I was catching up on other reading, I ran across the National Labor Relations Modernization Act (H.R. 1355) that I meant to share with you.

The NLRB Modernization Act would require employers to provide labor organizations with equal access to employees prior to a representation election.  Specifically upsetting for employers is the provision that requires it to notify the union of “any activities the employer intends to engage in to campaign in opposition of the union” – this includes meetings, announcements, signs, literature, etc.  It also contains EFCA-like provisions like increasing employer penalties for unfair labor practices during organizing campaigns and to expedite the bargaining process for first agreements.  Unlike EFCA, though, this bill lacks the controversial card check provision.

This bill was introduced by Democratic Representative Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania in early March in what appeared to be the first compromise bill for EFCA.  Since then, EFCA has lost many key Senators and a compromise is certainly required if any form of the Employer Free Choice Act will become law.  I don’t think that this compromise will be what we see, but it at least got the ball rolling on how Democrats view the compromised bill.

Misc. Mondays: UnionBook the New Facebook?

Unions started “UnionBook” which is designed solely for trade unions around the world.  Why was UnionBook created?  Because Union members were being blocked from spamming others on more traditional social media platforms.  No joke!  Here’s an excerpt from the AFL-CIO’s blog:

“Union activists are, well, active.  Sometimes that’s a problem on social network sites like FaceBook, MySpace and others that tend to limit an individual’s activity if it exceeds their arbitrary limits. . . If you’re too active doing the kind of networking that we trade unionists do all the time – recruiting friends, sending out messages, and so on – FaceBook can blacklist you and close your account.  This has already happened to a number of union activists.”

Reading between the lines, it is clear that the likes of EFCANOW and the others that litter anything on the Internet that remotely pertains to labor with spam and propaganda have suffered the penalties described above from Facebook.  So now, the union activists all preach to the choir on UnionBook – doesn’t that defeat the purpose of trying to spread their message to the masses?

Misc. Mondays: LM-2 Transparency Regs Delayed Again

Remember when we learned that Obama signed an Executive Order freezing all of Bush’s proposed federal rules changes, including the rule that required more information be contained in LM-2?  And remember when we discussed how Obama’s team planned on revising the LM-2, but we didn’t know to what extent?  And if you remember those, then you’ll remember what Obama’s new rule looks like.  What?  You don’t remember that? 

Well, don’t feel like you’ve been out of the loop.  Obama hasn’t released the new rules yet.  In fact, he’s blown past two of his self-imposed deadlines.  On February 20, 2009 the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) published a final rule that delayed the effective date of the regulations until April 21, 2009.  On April 21, the Department of Labor bought itself until October 19, 2009 to come up with the final rules. 

Actually, this is a good thing for management because the longer Obama’s new rules are delayed, the longer we have until the curtain drops on much of the transparency of LM’2s.  And, it’s not too late for you to weigh in with your opinion about the proposed changes.  Click hereand follow the directions on how to submit your electronic comments to the DOL.

Misc. Mondays: Top 10 Union Corruption Stories of 2008

I can’t take credit for this article that compiles the Top 10 Union Corruption Stories of 2008.  But I will post the list.  Click here to read more about these events.

1.  Barack Obama is elected president.  Enough said.

2.  Five dozen Gambino family mobsters and associates are arrested and plead guilty to a mob tax scheme involving construction projects.

3.  Federal prosecutors expose New Jersey construction locals engaging in pay-to-play to get construction contracts

4.  DOL puts more teeth into financial reporting rules which should result in more capturing of corruption (but Obama’s team already has begun to lose those teeth)

5.  Mexican unions are bastions of government favoritism and corruption

6.  Union investment in multiparty defined benefit plans

7.  Law enforcement agents arrest Operating Engineers Local after a decade of sabotaging projects and terrorizing anyone who got in their way

8.  Los Angeles SEIU chief is exposed and dismissed after diverting hundreds of thousands of union dollars to himself, family, and friends

9.  ACORN is knee-deep in voter registration and internal fraud

10.  Senate appointment scandal in Illinois has union connections

Unfortunately, the “dishonorable mentions” are too numerous to list.

Misc. Mondays: FedEx in the News

FedEx has been in the news over the last month regarding a couple of labor union issues.  FedEx is not unionized (except for some of its pilots).  UPS is heavily unionized.  FedEx wants to remain non-union.  UPS wants FedEx to become union.  Does UPS think it’s operating at a disadvantage against non-union FedEx?  Why else would it so desperately want FedEx to organize?  Here’s the skinny on the FedEx labor issues that recently made news.

1.  FedEx formed in the 1960s as an airline and thus falls under the 1926 Federal Railway Labor Act, which was designed to limit work stoppages and strikes.  UPS, on the other hand, began in 1907 as a trucking company and falls under the regulations of the National Labor Relations Act which permits (if not encourages) work stoppages and strikes.  UPS has been working behind the scenes in Washington D.C. to get an amendment to the Federal Aviation Authorization bill which could remove FedEx from the Railway Labor Act and in place it firmly within the confines of the NLRA.

2.  FedEx announced that it will consider canceling its plans to purchase up to 30 new Boeing cargo planes if EFCA passes.  Remember when Sir Richard Branson threatened to stop buying Boeing planes for Virgin Airlines after the Boeing strike stalled the production of several of his airplanes?  And now FedEx may also leave Boeing.  Looks like Boeing is suffering the same fate as most every other unionized operations. . . a slow, steady decline in business.

3.  FedEx won a court battle after refusing to bargain with a the Teamsters.  Specifically, the Teamsters have been relentlessly trying to organize FedEx drivers and actually thought they had succeeded.  But FedEx refused to meet with the Teamsters to negotiate a contract, so the Teamsters sued FedEx.  The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled last week that FexEx did not have to meet with the Teamsters because those drivers (and many FedEx drivers) are independent contractors, not employees, and thus not eligible to join a union.

Of course FedEx is on the short list, along with WalMart, McDonalds, and Burger King to be organized.  In fact, unions even have a FedEx Watchwebsite with anti-FedEx propaganda.  For the WalMart Watch website, click here.  Unfortunately, all of this union attention has resulted in FedEx stock being downgraded from “peer perform” to “underperform” while the price of the stock went from $120/share a few years ago, to around $50/share now, and an expected continued slide down to around $30/share in the next year.