Please continue reading about wins and losses in the war on workers below the fold.A leading supermarket chain in New England began recruiting scabs on a large scale this week as the union representing some 40,000 of its workers girds for a potential strike later this month.Stop & Shop, with more than 250 grocery stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, opened 14 recruitment sites across the region with the goal of hiring “replacement workers,” confirms company spokeswoman Suzi Robinson. The recruits would replace members of five local units of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union in the event of a strike or lockout on February 24, when current collective bargaining agreements expire. The hitch in negotiations has been over the implementation of the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. [...]“Instead of spending the money on setting up
these [replacement worker] hiring centers,
why don’t they spend the money on their
existing employees?” asks Taunette Greene,
a 39-year New England Stop & Shop
employee on the union’s negotiating team.
Stop & Shop is currently demanding the right to cut off insurance coverage for many part-time workers in early 2014, according to a statement from Rick Charette, chairman of the New England UFCW negotiating committee. The demand is based on the supposition that good health insurance coverage will be available to those workers through state-operated insurance “exchanges” envisioned by Obamacare, Charette indicated.
New Hampshire legislators nix right to work bill: The state's House of Representatives rejected a "right to work" for less bill Wednesday. H.B. 323 would have prohibited employers and labor organizations from including fees for non-union members in collective bargaining agreements. The bill was overwhelmingly knocked down with a vote of 212-141.
Just goes to show how much elections count. Tea party-backed candidates won big in 2010 and took over both legislative houses in New Hampshire. But last year, Democrats regained the House and brought the senate within reach.
Chamber, AFL-CIO seek to quell immigration differences. They are at odds over what a guest-worker program should look like:
[T]he AFL-CIO and other labor unions have supported the creation of a new, independent commission envisioned by former Carter Labor Secretary Ray Marshall that would “measure labor shortages and recommend the numbers and characteristics of employment-based temporary and permanent immigrants to fill those shortages.” AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka has called the approach “a data-driven system that is actually driven by needs and not by aspirations of employers.”Acting Labor secretary Seth Harris taking prominent role.
CenturyLink workers in 14 states ready to walk out: Negotiations with management on a new contract with the nation's third largest phone company began in August. Workers authorized a strike in October and the Communication Workers of America executive board announced Thursday that it had voted for a strike. All that is left, unless progress is made in negotiations, is for the union's president to set a strike date. At issue, among other things, are a 350 percent increase in worker contributions to health premiums and the union's push for the company to employ fewer contract workers and more staff workers.
Advice not taken: United Steelworkers Union president Leo Gerard wrote in a column that the State of the Union address would be for President Obama "an important moment [...] to say the word 'union' loudly." There was not one mention in the 6,900 words of the speech.
NYC school bus strike heading for fifth week: The 8,800 New York City bus drivers, matrons and mechanics of Amalgamated Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1181, have been on strike since Jan. 16. They work mostly for the privately owned Atlantic Express Transit Group, the second largest transit company in the country. Workers struck after Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided not to enforce the Employee Protection Provision in bids for new school bus contracts. EPP, place for 33 years, requires that companies must hire workers based on seniority. No EPP means bus companies can slash wages and benefits by replacing experienced workers with green recruits. Bus drivers now max out at $50,000 annually and matrons (who provide assistance to the large numbers of disabled and other special needs children who ride the buses) max out at $26,000. Bids for the contracts are due on Monday. The city now pays $1.1 billion a year for its school bus service.
California unions fighting recent reform of pension calculations: The reform was at the state level, agreed to by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators. But in various counties and municipalities, unions have filed lawsuits against the specific manner in which the changes are being made. The suits have one thing in common: The unions argue that all types of pay considered for pension purposes can be changed for new hires, but not for existing members.
Under the reform, workers are required to pay for half the cost of their pensions, which means they will have to work longer than was previously the case or take benefit cuts. The reform is slated to save the state $60 billion over 30 years.
OSHA pushes oilfield safety campaign after recent deaths: Region VIII OSHA Administrator Gregory Baxter made a three-hour presentation to oil and gas operators in North Dakota, asking them to "stand down" long enough to run safety inspections:
The event began with a video highlighting some recent oilfield fatalities in North Dakota, from a 22-year-old who fell 75 feet to his death to a 38-year-old who died after an explosion in a boiler to a 52-year-old who died from a fall during a rig move.NY region reports 2011 workplace injuries and illnesses: Reports of this nature always take a long time to compile, which is why the statistics are from 2011, not 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regional office in New York City announced:
Almost 163,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported among New York private industry employers in 2011, resulting in an incidence rate of 2.9 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported [Thursday].Two large segments of the workforce—education and health services; and trade, transportation, and utilities—cover some 44 percent of private-sector jobs. But they accounted for 56 percent of the occupational injuries and illnesses in 2011.
Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett's lottery scheme shot down: Attorney General Kathleen Kane rejected the governor's plan to take the public lottery program and turn it over to a private company because, she says, he overstepped his constitutional authority.
His latest attempt is to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery. Currently the lottery is staffed by union workers from AFSCME Local 13; they get paid a decent wage and are accountable to the taxpayers. Lottery revenue is also currently used for programs that help Pennsylvania seniors.Camelot has been under fire in the United Kingdom for doubling the price of a lottery ticket and setting aside $8 million for executive bonuses.
Gov. Corbett isn’t a fan of any of that, and instead wants to hand over management of the lottery to a British corporation called Camelot Global Services PA LLC “for the next 20 to 30 years.”