Workplace Issues Today
Just one month after a U.S. federal judge threw out their lawsuit against the U.S. and Mexican governments and private corporations in part because of an expired statute of limitations (see WIT for August 30, 2002), WWII Mexican guest workers have been given another chance for justice. California Governor Gray Davis yesterday signed legislation passed by the State Legislature that extends until 2005 the originally six-year statute of limitations on the non-payment of wages violations alleged by the braceros. The bill means that a statute of limitations that the 300,000 workers who aided in the U.S. war effort on the home front likely did not even know about, will not prevent them and their descendents from seeking at least those back wages owed them by the U.S. government.
See CA Legislature, Governor Reopen Door for Bracero Lawsuits., Tribune News Services, Chicago Tribune, Sep 29 2002
A landmark settlement was reached yesterday in a human rights case involving indentured servitude and other violations committed on the island of Saipan by garment factories manufacturing clothing for major U.S. retailers (see WIT for Oct. 18, 2001). Involving twenty-six companies and $20 million for back pay and funding of a monitoring program, the settlement may be the largest ever in a U.S. lawsuit over violations of international human rights. Having decided to settle the case only after suffering several major legal defeats in the case in the past year (see WIT for May 15, 2002), the companies involved still deny that they are guilty of any crime and many have attempted to publicize the settlement as altruistic action willingly taken in the best interest of workers on the island.
See Settlement Reached in Saipan Sweatshop Case., NANCY CLEELAND, Los Angeles Times, Sep 26 2002
According to a report released yesterday by the state auditor, Missouri is experiencing what can only be described as persistent and widespread disregard by employers and insurance agencies for state workers? compensation regulations requiring the speedy reporting of worker injuries. The report shows that insurers and employers who self report injuries failed to meet filing deadlines for ninety-three percent of the 459,673 worker injuries recorded from July 1997 to June 2001---a crime which can delay benefits for injured workers and carries a penalty of $50 to $500 and as much as a year?s imprisonment. Although the auditor recommended that the State Legislature end the Workers' Compensation?s Division?s reliance on the attorney general's office for enforcement of the law, the fact that the Division has not referred any violations to the attorney general?s office hints at a larger problem.
See Missouri Sees Massive Employer Non-Compliance with Workers? Comp. Laws., The Associated Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sep 26 2002
For only the second time in his eight-year tenure as Britain?s Prime Minister, Tony Blair faces an embarrassing defeat on policy at the Labour Party?s annual conference, as his government yesterday ruled out the possibility of compromise with British unions on privatization issues. Outraged over what has been widely perceived as a betrayal by Mr. Blair?s ?New? Labour over the impact of privatization schemes (see WIT for Sep. 9, 2002), Britain?s unions will likely command the majority needed to pass a non-binding but highly symbolic resolution calling for a halt to Blair?s Private Finance Initiative at the conference. If pubic sector union Unison, and general union GMB are able to convince the Blair government aligned Transport and General Workers? Union not to break ranks with the rest of the labor movement, promises of a conference revolt by the Unison leadership will almost certainly be realized in a most damaging way for Mr. Blair.
See Blair Faces Conference Defeat on Privatization., CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Sep 26 2002
The five unions representing employees of financially troubled United Airlines last night sent the company a counterproposal on concessions the company says are necessary to avoid a bankruptcy filing that could result in the nullification of union contracts covering tens of thousands of employees (see WIT for Aug 27, 2002). While dismissing former United CEO John Creighton?s demands for $1.5 billion in annual concessions for six years, the unions have offered new CEO Glenn Tilton a $1 billion reduction in annual labor costs for five years in order to help the company win $1.8 billion in federal loan guarantees. Although the exact details of how the concessions would be distributed amongst the five unions have yet to be settled, union officers have said that they will draw on the first-hand knowledge of their memberships to create labor savings by increasing productivity rather than relying solely on concessions on wages and benefits.
See Unions Send Concession Proposal to UAL., EDWARD WONG, The New York Times, Sep 25 2002
A discrimination lawsuit was filed against the Federal Bureau of Investigation?s New York field office---the Bureau?s largest field office and a key player in the 9/11 investigations--- by five highly regarded black and Hispanic agents. The agents have accused their supervisors of ongoing and pervasive discrimination including over supervision of minority agents, and posting of pictures of minority agents on bulletins of gang members and criminals. The seriousness of the charges is compounded by allegations that at least one supervisor?s continued disdain for minority agents and failure to take their recommendations seriously, may have directly led to a failure to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
See Bias Charges Filed against FBI?s NY Office., DAVID JOHNSTON, The New York Times, Sep 25 2002
In a sixty-page report card on recent progress in minority relations at Coca-Cola, an independent task force set up as part of a $79 million settlement in a 1999 race bias case, found that the company has made strides towards greater diversity and toleration. Black employees continue to rate the company lower than their coworkers, however, on perceptions of fairness in pay and promotions, and commitment to being an equal opportunity employer. Only the second such court established task force of its kind, the diversity panel praised Coca-Cola for the establishment of uniform evaluation systems for compensation and advancement, but criticized the company?s failure to find and appoint qualified minority candidates for two board positions filled earlier this year.
See Coke Makes Progress on Diversity, but Much Remains to be Done., Coke 'Passes' First Diversity Test, The New York Times, Sep 25 2002
The last senator to take a position on the debate over worker and union rights in the proposed Homeland Security Department, Moderate Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island crossed party lines yesterday, reaching a compromise with Democrats on a plan that has the support of federal labor unions (see WIT for July 10, 2002). Under the compromise legislation, presidential changes in civil service rules could be challenged by federal unions and brought to binding arbitration, and the president would only be able to remove union representation rights from Homeland Security Department employees whose jobs directly impact national security. Chafee?s decision counters the earlier cross-party move by Democratic Georgia Senator Zel Miller, setting the stage for Senate passage of a long-awaited Homeland Security bill and raising the possibility of a political showdown over legislation opposed by the president and at odds with the Security bill passed by the House of Representatives.
See Senate Compromise Reached on Homeland Security., DAVID FIRESTONE, The New York Times, Sep 24 2002
In a report released last week, the nonpartisan Aspen Institute revealed that shifting workforce demographics in America may intensify income polarization and retard national economic growth over the next two decades. Decreasing fertility rates, an increase in the number of non-native workers relative to native workers, and slower growth in higher education participation rates will lead to a distinctly bifurcated labor market in which there is a glut of low-skilled labor and a shortage of professional and high-skilled labor. The overall effect of these changes on the economy will be to slow growth in gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as one percent per year, threatening up to thirty percent of annual economic growth unless the government takes action to increase worker education and training in order to maintain productivity.
See Workforce Changes May Restrict Future Economic Growth., DANIEL ALTMAN, Chicago Tribune, Sep 24 2002
According to U.S. Census Bureau data revealed today, the U.S. poverty rate rose last year for the first time in almost a decade---a trend compounded by a decrease in household income. From a 26 year low of 11.3 percent in 2000, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty level jumped to 11.7 as 1.3 million Americans descended into poverty. Poverty rates were highest among blacks, who experienced the greatest decline in average income in 19 years, while Asians experienced the largest percentage decline in household income.
See Incomes Fall, Poverty Rate Increases., The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Sep 23 2002
One week after securing a contract covering almost 20,000 workers with primary negotiations target General Motors (see WIT for September 18, 2002), the Canadian Auto Workers union is putting pressure on the Ford Motor Company for a favorable agreement. Having lost 15,000 Canadian auto-making jobs in the past three years, and facing the loss of 1,400 when Ford closes one of its Canadian truck plants by 2004, the CAW has given Ford one week to come up with ways to create hundreds of jobs or face a crippling strike. Under pressure from the investment community to go through with its plans to shutter the factory and take other steps to decrease overcapacity, Ford is considering several alternatives for creating new jobs in Canada to avoid work stoppages at factories producing engines for its most profitable vehicles.
See CAW Gives Ford Ultimatum on Creating Jobs., MIKE HUDSON and MARK TRUBY, Detroit News, Sep 23 2002
U.S. unions, human rights groups, student activists and religious leaders will meet today in Washington, D.C. to launch a new national campaign to put an end to sweatshops by restricting the import of sweatshop products into the U.S. While acknowledging that former strategies of shaming companies into adopting and adhering to voluntary codes of conduct have been effective in a few well publicized cases, the groups have pointed out that the codes of conduct are often more about public relations than about real change. In an attempt to create regulations with teeth, the campaign?s organizers plan to shift their focus from consumer pressure and public shame tactics, to a push for national laws aimed at preventing the import of sweat-tainted goods.
See Anti-Sweatshop Groups Renew, Refocus Efforts., EDWARD ALDEN, Financial Times, Sep 23 2002
The British government is hoping that new flexible working provisions legislation passed as part of the Employment Act will make the workplace more accommodating for parents by requiring employers to seriously consider requests for flexible schedules and other working accommodations, and justify any refusals on legitimate business grounds. The legislation follows last year?s successful suit by a single father who alleged that his employer was guilty of sexual discrimination for failing to give serious consideration to his request to work part-time in order to take care of his infant son, despite agreeing to similar requests by female employees. Whether the flexible working regulations will have the desired effect is questionable, however, as the legislation does not incorporate strong penalties for employer retaliation against employees requesting flexible working accommodations, and parents who need such accommodations are usually those who can least afford to lose their jobs due to retaliation.
See New Law Aimed at Making British Workplace More Family Friendly., ALISON MAITLAND, Financial Times, Sep 22 2002
California is once again taking the lead in the protection of workers? rights and the support of healthy work/life balance, as members of Governor Gray Davis? administration announced Sunday that the governor will sign paid family leave legislation passed three weeks ago by the state legislature (see WIT for Aug. 29, 2002). Although the Governor?s request to the bill?s authors to forgo an earlier plan to make employers pay for half the benefit was met, and the benefit will be financed entirely by deductions from workers? paychecks, business groups have still vehemently opposed the legislation all the way. Despite the final bill?s limiting of pay to only six of the twelve weeks of leave most working Americans are entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers have argued that the landmark bill will result in huge costs to California businesses in terms of lost productivity, and training and hiring replacement workers.
See CA Governor to Sign Paid Family Leave Bill., GREGG JONES, Los Angeles Times, Sep 22 2002
Having only recently reached a settlement with the NYPD over accusations that it supplied the department with defective bulletproof vests, body armor manufacturer DHB Industries Inc. is facing unfair labor practice charges brought by the National Labor Relations Board. The charges being brought against the company by the NLRB relate to accusations by workers that it illegally retaliated against union supporters and threatened other employees in ongoing attempts to defeat an organizing drive by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). Despite a recent ruling by an NLRB administrative law judge that company allegations of illegal picketing and threats by UNITE were groundless, the union recently asked the NLRB to delay a representation vote until a stop has been put to management intimidation and coercion of workers.
See NLRB Brings ULP Charges Against Body Armor Manufacturer., Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times, Sep 22 2002
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) called off a lockout at Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports yesterday when the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) sent full crews of equipment operators to the Stevedoring Services of America stations at the two ports (see WIT?s for August 28 and 21, and July 22 and 18, 2002). The PMA set a lockout deadline after the ILWU failed to dispatch full complements of workers to the two terminals starting this week, accusing the union of engaging in a slow down in an attempt to gain leverage in negotiations---a tactic the association had promised to respond to with lockouts. The union vehemently denied the accusations of engaging in a slowdown saying that it simply had not had enough workers to deal with a backlog of shipping, and both sides have said that industrial action is still a very real possibility even as the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service asked both sides to put an end to brinksmanship.
See LA and Long Beach, CA Lockouts Averted, West Coast Trade Flows for Now., NANCY CLEELAND and LOUIS SAHAGUN, Los Angeles Times, Sep 19 2002
With contract talks set to begin tomorrow for 34,000 New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority employees, Transit Workers Union Local 100 president Roger Toussaint has made it clear that management will have to negotiate in good faith over several difficult issues to avoid a strike. Foremost among the issues that Local 100 will be bringing to the bargaining table is respect and fair treatment from a management structure that is widely perceived by workers to manage with the whip---issuing over 14,000 disciplinary charges in a one-year period. Other issues that will have to be dealt with in order to avoid a strike when the current contract expires on December 15, are increased funding for a troubled health benefit system, prescription coverage for retirees, and the $6.00 pay gap between MTA employees and Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North employees.
See Tough Negotiations Ahead for NYC MTA, TWU., BOBBY CUZA, Newsday, Sep 19 2002
After almost two years of rancorous contract negotiations, Nassau County and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) agreed yesterday to submit to binding arbitration by a five member panel, and drop State Supreme Court and state Public Employment Relations Board cases against each other. Although the union has taken a risk by agreeing to allow the panel to reconsider contract provisions that had already been negotiated to agreement, it won a major victory in convincing County Executive Thomas Suozzi to cease his opposition to a generously pro-union arbitrator that the PBA had long sought to include on any arbitration panel. Although the PBA strongly opposed to Suozzi?s demands for a retroactive salary freeze, and givebacks on minimum staffing levels, sick days, work schedules and night shift bonuses, there is some optimism that the agreement to arbitrate signals a shift towards less antagonistic relations between the two parties.
See In Nassau County, NY, Police Contract to be Submitted to Binding Arbitration., MICHAEL ROTHFELD, Newsday, Sep 19 2002
Overturning an earlier decision, a federal court of appeals panel issued a trailblazing decision yesterday that multi-national energy corporation Unocal can be sued in U.S. courts for abetting and benefiting from civil rights abuses in Burma. The suit brought by thirteen Burmese villagers alleges that the company knew about and ignored civil rights violations including forced labor, murder and rape by soldiers overseeing a natural gas pipeline construction project in which the company was a partner. A federal judge had previously ruled that without ?active participation? Unocal?s knowledge of the use of forced labor was not grounds for a suit---prompting lawyers for the villagers to file a separate suit that is still pending in a California state court.
See Federal Appeals Panel Sides with Burmese Villagers, Against Energy Giant., LISA GIRION, Los Angeles Times, Sep 18 2002
Narrowly averting a strike that would have affected over 2,200 patients (see WIT for Sept. 13, 2002), health and human services union 1199/Service Employees International Union and Premier Home Health Services Incorporated reached a contract agreement yesterday. The several thousand 1199/SEIU members employed at Premier unanimously approved the fifteen-month contract which contains a twenty percent increase in pay and benefits, including employer paid health insurance, paid holidays, overtime and sick days. The contract represents a major victory for the low paid home health aides in an often rancorous two-year fight for a first contract (see WIT for Sept. 16, 2002), and may serve as a basis for settling contract negotiations covering 8,000 city-employed home health workers.
See Premier Healthcare, 1199/SEIU Settle., RANDI F. MARSHALL, Newsday, Sep 18 2002
A tentative agreement between the maintenance and support contractor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Plum Island Animal Disease Center off the coast of New York and Local 30 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) fell through yesterday. On strike for five weeks now, the seventy-six employees decided to remain on strike after the company tied their latest contract offer to holding on to fifteen to twenty of the replacement workers they have hired, and firing an equivalent number of union members. Since the workers went on strike over the company?s ?final? offer, there have been at least two accidents involving replacement workers, and area politicians from both parties have begun questioning the safety of continuing to operate the facility without its normal workforce.
See Tentative Settlement Falls Through at Plum Island., BILL BLEYER, Newsday, Sep 18 2002
With five hours left until a union strike deadline, the Canadian Auto Workers and General Motors reached a tentative three-year contract settlement covering 19,000 workers and setting the pattern for the union?s ongoing negotiations with the Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler (see WIT for Aug. 26,2002). In addition to three percent raises in each of the first two years of the contract, and a two percent raise in the third year, the CAW also won $632 signing bonuses and an extra two-and-a-half days of paid vacation time for all members. Perhaps the greatest victory for the workers, however, was their achievement of the increased job security that was their primary goal in negotiations (see WIT for July 17, 2002), in the form of a commitment from GM to invest $506 million in its Canadian plants.
See GM, UAW Reach Tentative Agreement., BERNARD SIMON, The New York Times, Sep 17 2002
Battered by last year?s terrorist attacks, the collapse of the dot com bubble, and corporate scandals and mismanagement, the U.S. economy may also be suffering from decreased entrepreneurialism. According to a new study of US Labor Department data, self-employment dropped to a record low in February---a sharp departure from the increased self-employment that has followed, and played a role in pulling the country out of, every other recession in the past fifty years. Among the possible reasons behind this decrease in entrepreneurial initiative are skyrocketing health care costs that make it harder for entrepreneurs to insure themselves and their employees, increased consumer credit card debt and decreased venture capital investment that have cut into financing options for start-up companies, and corporate scandals that have tarnished the American perception of business people.
See US Economic Recovery Hurt by Lack of Entrepreneurs., JIM HOPKINS, USA Today, Sep 17 2002
In an attempt to end widespread violations of Fair Labor Standards Act wage and hour regulations in New York City?s 2,000 grocery stores, State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer yesterday announced the successful negotiation of a greengrocer code of conduct with groups representing major stakeholders in the business. Over twenty grocers have already signed the code of conduct, and Mr. Spitzer is optimistic that several hundred will sign on in the next few months alone, in order to gain the amnesty from government prosecution of past violations that agreeing to the code confers. The code of conduct requires grocers to allow inspectors to check their businesses and financial records at least twice a year to insure that they are paying their employees the minimum wage and time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond a standard forty-hour workweek, offer paid sick days, and at least a week of pad vacation.
See New Program to End FLSA Violations in NYC Groceries Announced., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Sep 17 2002
Despite voting down a final contract offer by a sixty-two percent margin last Friday, the 25,000 members of the International Association of Machinists employed by aerospace giant Boeing Co. did not vote to strike by the necessary two-thirds margin and under union bylaws were required to settle on management?s terms. The vote came after pressure from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) failed to bring Boeing back to the negotiating table after making its final offer in the often discordant talks (see WIT?s for Aug. 30, 28 and 22, 2002), and is the first time the union has rejected a contract offer but failed to approve a strike. Although IAM members will have to wait for the three-year contract to expire before they can negotiate a new contract, Boeing is still locked in negotiations with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) over issues similar to those in the IAM negotiations (see WIT for March 14, 2002).
See IAM Settles with Boeing, Unwillingly., HELEN JUNG, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sep 16 2002
Unable to reach a contract agreement with the Maintenance Contractors of New England (MCNE) in the two weeks since its 10,000 members authorized leadership to call a strike (see WIT for Sept. 3, 2002), Local 254 of the Service Employees International Union set a Sept. 30 strike deadline yesterday. Following through on its promise to selectively target high profile buildings, Local 254 announced that only members employed by the region?s largest cleaning contractor Unicco will go on strike on the 30th---a decision that will allow the union to picket some of Boston?s most prominent buildings while conserving its $500,000 strike fund. Local 524 has accused this agenda setting member of the MCNE of standing in the way of a settlement, and has said that it is willing to resume talks if Unicco takes seriously its demands for health insurance, raises and opportunities for full-time employment for low-paid part-time employees.
See Boston Janitors Pick Target, Set Strike Date., DIANE E. LEWIS, The Boston Globe, Sep 16 2002
Members of Colombia?s public sector unions went out on strike across the country yesterday to protest plans to cut benefits, despite Colombian President Alvaro Uribe?s use of emergency security powers to curb civil liberties and prohibit some demonstrations in support of the workers. Having made a crackdown on increasingly powerful rebel groups financed by a thriving drug trade a central issue in his recent election campaign, and faced with a fiscal crisis that threatens that promise and will force the government to finance half of next year?s budget through borrowing, Mr. Uribe is looking for massive spending cuts. Pressure for benefit cuts is also being placed on Colombia by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which wants to see major reductions in the costs of the state pension system and is currently negotiating new financial support for the country.
See Public Sector Employees Strike in Colombia over Proposed Benefit Cuts., JAMES WILSON, Financial Times, Sep 16 2002
With unemployment still high in what many are calling a jobless recovery from the past year?s economic downturn, the days of large signing bonuses, creative perks and massive recruitment campaigns are gone. Replacing them is a buyer?s job market in which applicants are resorting to increasingly original and desperate measures to stand out from a reserve army of the unemployed swollen with the ranks of those recently laid off as a result of downsizing or scandal induced corporate bankruptcies. In addition to the flowers, cakes, doughnuts, lottery tickets and singing telegrams sent to hiring managers, some job seekers have taken to handing out resumes on the street, agreeing to work for stock options instead of paychecks, and standing in business suits on street corners with ?seeking work? signs.
See In Loose Job Market, Necessity is the Mother of Invention., STEPHANIE ARMOUR, USA Today, Sep 12 2002
2,000 home healthcare workers represented by powerful New York health and human service union District 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have scheduled a Wednesday, September 18 strike date in their negotiations with Queens and Brooklyn centered Premier Home Health Services Inc. Making only $6.50 an hour, most Premier employees make over $1.00 less an hour than the NYS average, and almost $2.00 less than the national average, have no health insurance, no paid sick leave, no vacation time, and are only offered part-time employment. Having organized just under two years ago, the Premier workers have gone out of their way to safeguard the health and safety of the over 2,200 patients they care for if this their first strike takes place, giving the company three times the minimum required advanced notice, and working with other organizations to ensure continuation of critical care.
See Strike Deadline Nears in Negotiations for 2,000 NY Home Healthcare Workers., KELLY McCARTHY, Newsday, Sep 12 2002
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class action lawsuit against the Cendant Corporation?s travel service Cheap Tickets yesterday, charging the company with allowing blatant and widespread sexual harassment of female employees by supervisors at its now closed Los Angeles office. Stemming from allegations of sexual propositioning, verbal and physical abuse, and retaliation against the former employee who first contacted the EEOC, the suit on behalf of at least seven former employees was filed after attempts at a settlement fell through. In addition to up to $300,000 in compensation for each of the victims, the EEOC is seeking injunctions against the company preventing it from engaging in sexual discrimination or retaliation against employees who speak out, as well requirements that the company take concrete action to reform a corporate environment pervaded by discrimination and harassment.
See EEOC Files Harassment Suit against Travel Company Cheap Tickets., DAVID ROSENZWEIG, Los Angeles Times, Sep 12 2002
On Tuesday the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to begin offering domestic partner health benefits to the county?s 14,000 employees next year, earning the praise of gay rights advocates and joining fourteen other counties and nineteen cities in California that offer such benefits. Under the policy, eligible county employees and their domestic partners who register with the state, will have to pay the entire premium for the domestic partner but will benefit from the guaranteed availability of health insurance cheaper and more complete than most private plans. An earlier bill under which the financially troubled county would have footed some of the bill for the domestic partners benefits was defeated 3-2 last week over cost concerns and anti-gay sentiment, but the elimination of any cost to the county allowed the new legislation to pass.
See Sacramento County, CA Votes to Offer Domestic Partner Benefits to Employees., Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, Sep 11 2002
Long used to a forty-four-hour workweek that includes a half-day on Saturday, Korea has over the past year moved towards the five-day, forty-hour standard, pushed by the demands of labor unions and the realities of international trade in a world where most major businesses are unavailable on weekends. Under legislation proposed by the Labor Ministry and currently before the National Assembly, public corporations and companies with over 1,000 employees would be required to adhere to forty-our workweeks next July, with the regulations eventually extending to companies with at least 30 workers in 2006. Opposition from business interests that view a forty-four-hour workweek as vital to Korea?s continuing economic development, and from labor unions who object to phasing in the regulations and the Korean president?s sole authority over extending the regulations to companies with less than thirty employees, may still sink the legislation, however.
See Korea Moves Towards a Forty-Hour Workweek., DON KIRK, The New York Times, Sep 11 2002
Faced with an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) supported lawsuit alleging that its 10/80/10 system for classing employees into best, middle and worst categories assigns a disproportionate number of older employees to the lowest category, the Goodyear tire company announced yesterday that it will discontinue the system. Although the company has insisted that the discontinuation has nothing to do with the lawsuit, the Ford Motor Company discontinued its so-called ABC rating system last year and paid $10.6 million to settle a similar lawsuit that was also supported by the AARP, and was filed by the same law firm and representing the plaintiffs in the Goodyear case. Once touted as an effective means of eliminating under performers and improving productivity, ABC rating schemes have come under increasing fire, and few corporations aside from as yet un-sued General Electric remain outspoken advocates of the systems.
See Goodyear Abandons Controversial ?ABC? Employee Rating System., DEL JONES, USA Today, Sep 11 2002
One year after what has been called the Pearl Harbor of our times, lasting effects of the September 11 attacks on the workplaces and working lives of Americans are, for most, subtle but undeniable. Although high unemployment has made many workers unwilling to rock the boat, many have begun to reevaluate where their jobs fall in terms of life priorities, and have made or at least contemplated changes that allow them to spend more time with their loved ones. The prevalence of employee assistance and emotional counseling programs has increased in the American workplace, as has the prevalence of security measures and background checks---even as employees continue to debate whether too little is being done to protect them or too much done to infringe upon their privacy. The worst of the American people continues to show itself as Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs and individuals mistaken for members of these cultural and religious groups face ongoing hostility, discrimination and even violence on the job because of the ignorance and prejudice of a few and the fear of many. The best is also seen, however, as many Americans continue to condemn not only the terrorist attacks on our country, but also the racist attacks by some of us against fellow Americans singled out because of their beliefs or skin color. On this anniversary of a day as hard to comprehend as it is impossible to leave behind, perhaps the best legacy that we can hope for from the past year is an appreciation for the working men and women who one year ago risked or gave their lives to save others. Whether the police officers, firefighters and EMT?s whose jobs it is to risk their lives every day to protect the rest of us, to run in when others run out, or the countless everyday heroes---the teachers who made sure that not a single one of the city?s students was lost, the ironworkers who worked non-stop at Ground Zero amid the smoke and flames cutting through the wreckage in the search for survivors---we owe a debt of gratitude to these working heroes. Your WIT Editor, Steven Quinn
See The Workplace a Year Later., STEPHANIE ARMOUR, USA Today, Sep 10 2002
About as popular with the vast majority of American unions as a yellow-dog contract, President Bush has nonetheless developed a close relationship with President Douglas J. McCarron of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (UBC). The relationship between Bush and McCarron has clear benefits for a U.S. president who lost several swing states in the last election because of union voters, and who has been trying to find Republican friendly labor leaders in order to fragment a labor movement that will present a major challenge to him in the next presidential election. Many unionists and labor relations experts, including Professor Richard Hurd of Cornell?s ILR School, have pointed out that McCarron---who recently pulled the UBC out of the AFL-CIO in the biggest split in the labor movement in the past three decades---has so far failed to parlay the relationship into any tangible gains for the UBC rank and file.
See Carpenters? President Cozy with Bush, Many Question Benefit for Members., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Sep 10 2002
The state arbitration panel which last week reached a binding decision on a new contract for New York City?s police men and women (see WIT for Sept. 5, 2002), yesterday released its official written decision explaining the reasoning behind the terms of the contract. The decision reveals that Mayor Bloomberg?s defeat on extracting extra working time, and the Patrolmen?s Benevolent Association?s (PBA) minor victory in achieving the same raise as other uniformed city unions over a shorter time, were the result of the panel?s recognition of the major pay gap between the NYPD and surrounding forces. The pay disparity argument made by the PBA was unsuccessful, however, in convincing the panel to break the pattern set by contracts negotiated between the city and other uniformed unions, and it seems that it was largely the unwillingness of the panel to break this pattern that prevented the PBA from winning the higher raises it sought.
See Arbitration Panel Recognizes NYPD Pay Gap, Balks at Breaking Pattern., STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times, Sep 10 2002
The government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday circulated a discussion paper proposing that local government councils and agencies follow the lead of private employers (see WIT for Aug. 15, 2002), in switching to pension plans in which benefits are lower and/or the risks are shifted to employees. The government is currently considering similar changes for most national government employee groups, and will begin offering civil service employees the option of defined contribution plans as an alternative to traditional defined benefit plans---citing the need to adapt to more flexible employment patterns and a weak stock market. The move is sure to enrage British unions, who have vociferously opposed the erosion of worker pensions in the private sector (see WIT for Sept. 5, 2002), and yesterday passed a resolution at the annual Trades Union Congress conference demanding that the government require all employers to provide pension plans to all employees.
See British Government Considers Embracing Private Sector Pension Plan Trends., NICHOLAS TIMMINS, Financial Times, Sep 9 2002
As America?s economy has shifted from an industrial base to a post-industrial service base, four-year colleges, professional and graduate schools have become the gold standard of education, with vocational and technical schools increasingly looked upon as second-class educations leading to dead end jobs. With technology playing an ever greater role in the workplace, however, and an increasing number of high-school graduates choosing to pursue four-year degrees, a growing demand for highly skilled craft and technical workers has created a job market now being explored by some unlikely candidates. Some companies that rely on highly skilled manual labor have begun recruiting efforts at high schools, and are finding that many topflight students are attracted to non-desk jobs where they can make starting salaries on par with those earned by undergraduate degree.
See Employers, Students Give Vocational and Technical Programs a Second Look., PAULINE M. MILLARD, Los Angeles Times, Sep 9 2002
In August of 2000, the board of oil field service and equipment company Halliburton voted to grant now vice president Dick Cheney an early retirement he was ineligible for under his contract, so that he would be able to collect millions in stock and options that he would have forfeited had he resigned. Apart from any alleged corporate accounting scandals, over the past three months it has come out that as part of a corporate acquisition the Halliburton Company obtained the assets of three pension funds covering 400 employees of the Dresser-Rand Company, and then spun off the company---minus much of the workers? pensions. The end result was a $215 million profit for Halliburton, and the loss of early retirement provisions and approximately $25 million in benefits for current and former employees of the Dresser-Rand Company.
See Halliburton?s Double Standard., MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, The New York Times, Sep 9 2002
Although U.S. unemployment rates have been in a state of flux in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, economists were surprised by the release last week of Labor Department data showing that from a six-year high in April of six percent, the unemployment fell to 5.7 percent in August. Expecting joblessness to have increased to 6.5 percent in that time period, some economists have pointed out that the seemingly positive movement is due more to their failure to take into account unemployed workers? increasing loss of hope in their ability to find a job. Despite longstanding questions of misrepresentation, calculations of U.S. unemployment rates continue to exclude from the ranks of those considered unemployed, workers who have given up looking for a job---a group which over the past few months has grown at the fastest pace since the mid-1970?s and accounts for the lower than expected unemployment rates.
See Unemployment Rate Drops, But Only Because of Record Worker Despondency., PERONET DESPEIGNES, Financial Times, Sep 8 2002
Accusing British Prime Minister Tony Blair of failing to live up to promises regarding the privatization of public services and the resulting creation of a two-tiered public workforce (see WIT?s for April 16, and June 26, 2002), Britain?s largest trade union Unison is promising a major revolt at this year?s Labour Party conference. Made to avoid a similar revolt at last year?s conference, Blair?s promises led to a code of practice for private contractors providing government service that union leaders say has failed to prevent the erosion of terms and conditions for new hires from the levels enjoyed by previously government-employed workers. Unison?s leaders are demanding that the government suspend its Private Finance Initiative until an independent study is conducted to prove that privatization is providing better value for cost to the public, and are preparing to table a motion to this effect at next week?s annual Trades Union Congress conference.
See Privatization Battles Again Loom Large in Britain., DAVID TURNER and CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Financial Times, Sep 8 2002
Released yesterday, the Kaiser Family Foundation?s annual report on employer-based insurance reveals that an increasing number of small businesses are canceling, restricting or charging employees more for their health insurance. In the twelve months from the first quarter of 2001 the number of businesses with between three and nine employees that do not offer any health benefits to their workers rose by three percent to forty-five percent---an increase that means an additional 150,000 Americans with no health insurance. In the same period companies have increased drug co-payments, cut coverage of retirees, and raised the premiums that employees pay for health insurance by 12.7 percent overall and by fourteen percent among companies with under fifty employees.
See Employees of Small Businesses Face Contraction, Elimination of Health Insurance., MILT FREUDENHEIM, The New York Times, Sep 5 2002
A pending lawsuit against India?s largest software exporter Infosys Technologies and the departure from the company of its head of global sales and marketing, over accusations that he sexually harassed a former U.S. employee of the company, are creating waves among Indian companies. Although sexual harassment can be tried in criminal courts in India, and the country?s Supreme Court promulgated an official definition of sexual harassment and standards for company action five years ago, sexual harassment remains a widespread problem that is rarely dealt with in the open. With approximately sixty-five percent of India?s exports going to the U.S., and its massive software industry intimately linked to the U.S., many Indian companies are realizing that they have long been sitting on a powder keg and are moving quickly to defuse the situation with anti-harassment policies, sensitivity training and dismissal of problem employees.
See Sexual Harassment Becoming Major Issue for Indian Businesses Following Lawsuit., SARITHA RAI, The New York Times, Sep 5 2002
Despite an arbitration panel?s binding decision to give members of the New York Police Department little more than half of the raises they were seeking to put them on an equal footing with policemen in surrounding areas (see Yesterday?s WIT), most are praising the leadership of their union the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA). Although the union?s membership has in the past been quick to blame union officials for contracts that fell short of expectations, support remains strong for four-year PBA president Patrick Lynch and his decision to take the contract negotiations to binding arbitration. Denouncing Mayor Michael Bloomberg?s attempts to force them to put in more time on the job to receive raises they feel they deserve for the hard work they already do, the city?s police officers condemned the administration?s and the arbitration panel?s greater emphasis on the economic hardships facing the city than on their sacrifices for the city.
See NYPD Rank and File Feel Betrayed by Mayor, City, Arbitration Panel, but not by Union., JACOB H. FRIES, The New York Times, Sep 5 2002
The day before the International Manufacturing Technology Show was set to begin---bringing approximately 120,000 visitors and $221 million to Chicago---Local 1 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union (HERE) won a huge victory in contract negotiations with the representative of thirty area hotels (see yesterday?s WIT). The investment of large amounts of strike funds, personnel and prestige by HERE in the once troubled local, was met by an outpouring of rank and file activism by mostly low paid minority workers whose solidarity and willingness to fight for decent wages and benefits paid off in an impressive tentative contract agreement yesterday afternoon. The four-year proposal raises wages by $1.17 per hour in the first year and $0.70 per hour in subsequent years, and decreases dependant health insurance charges by $55 per month---major improvements over last week?s ?final? offer of $0.60 per hour raises after the first year and a decrease of $40 per month in dependent coverage charges.
See Chicago Hotel Workers Win Big., STEPHEN FRANKLIN, Chicago Tribune, Sep 3 2002
After agreeing to sixty-five separate one-day extension of their previous contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (see WIT for June 28, 2002), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union allowed the contract covering 10,500 West Coast dockworkers to expire Sunday evening citing bad faith bargaining by management as the reason. Although under its constitution the union is required to conduct a ballot by mail before calling a strike, the decision allows the union to engage in slowdowns---a tactic that has proven successful in the past, and one that the union has not ruled out despite management?s threats to respond to any such industrial action with a lockout. Both sides insist that they are willing to engage in real talks, and continue to trade blame for the current breakdown, much as they did when talks stalled in late July (see WIT?s for July 22, and August 21, 2002).
See Port Talks Fall Through, Cargo Still Moving for Now., MARLA DICKERSON, Los Angeles Times, Sep 3 2002
In the increasingly hectic and high pressure world of work, more and more workers are finding that their lunch hour is no longer a reprieve from the nine to five grind, but rather a chance to fight the onslaught of the inbox, put in a little extra work on the project that might get you that promotion, and dine a la cubicle. A 1999 report by the National Restaurant Association found that forty-one percent of workers do not consider their lunch ?break? a real break---up three percent from 1996. More recently, career network Vault Inc. found in 2001 that ninety percent of office workers eat lunch at their desk at least once a week.
See Lunch Break No Longer a Break for Many., MARK KAWAR, Chicago Tribune, Sep 3 2002
As working men and women across America celebrated Labor Day yesterday with 8.3 million of their brothers and sisters unemployed, there was one thing that conservatives and liberals, business and labor all agreed on---workers are fed up. The management oriented Employment Law Alliance found that in a survey of 1,000 Americans last month, fifty-eight percent were in favor of union organizing campaigns, seventy-three percent wanted laws requiring employee representation on corporate boards, and eighty-four percent wanted more corporate accountability. In a similar poll of 800 American workers also conducted last month, the AFL-CIO found that half would join a union tomorrow if given the opportunity---up eight percent from last year---and fifty-eight percent had negative feelings towards CEO?s.
See Labor Day Studies Show Workers Upset, More Receptive to Unions., KIRSTIN DOWNEY GRIMSLEY, The Washington Post, Sep 2 2002
Despite a vote by its 10,000 members authorizing the leadership of Service Employees International Union Local 254 to call a strike after its contract with the Maintenance Contractors of New England (MCNE) expired Saturday, the union held lengthy talks on Monday and has agreed to delay a strike at least until after the end of today?s day shift. At issue in the negotiations are the union?s demands for raises for workers who make as little as $6.50 an hour, improved health benefits, and assignment to full-time work of many of its 8,000 members who are employed only part time and do not receive health insurance. If the union does strike, it has made it clear that it would target specific high profile office buildings to maximize its leverage, and has secured promises from the Teamsters? union that its members will not cross Local 524 picket lines to deliver packages or collect garbage in the event of a strike.
See In Boston, Janitors? Strike Delayed at Least Until Tonight., HIAWATHA BRAY, The Boston Globe, Sep 2 2002
Three days after the expiration of a previous contract and a union strike deadline (see WIT for July 25, 2002), Illinois Governor George Ryan continues to hold together the fractious talks for a new contract for 7,300 hotel workers employed at thirty Chicago-area hotels (see WIT for Aug. 13, 2002). With the area?s largest convention of the year set to bring 120,000 visitors and $221 million to the city starting on Wednesday, Governor Ryan has been pushing both Local 1 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union and the Hotel Employer Labor Relations Association to reach a settlement. The hotels made a ?final? offer last week including a $3.57 raise over the next five year, and a reduction in the cost of family health care coverage to $45 per month, which the union rejected as falling far short of its bargaining goals of $18.15 per hour and free family health coverage paralleling the its New York City hotel industry.
See In Chicago, Illinois Governor Keeps Hotels, Workers Talking., STEPHEN FRANKLIN, Chicago Tribune, Sep 2 2002
As the WIT was being sent out today, the Chicago Tribune posted an update to its online site that the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 1 and the Hotel Employer Labor Relations Association have reached a tentative contract agreement. Details of the agreement will be covered tomorrow if they have been made public.
See UPDATE!, Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, Sep 2 2002
With much of America out of work as corporate scandals continue to batter the stock market, and talk of a jobless recovery instilling little faith in job markets, many workers who never finished high school and have now lost the manufacturing and service jobs they had relied on are ending up on federal disability pay. Far from an indicator of laziness or attempts to exploit the system, the jump in recipients of disability pay over the past eighteen months is actually an indicator of just how much the average American worker will suffer in order to avoid relying on welfare. Most of the recent increase in disability pay applications has come from workers who, while they could find steady employment worked through injuries and conditions that meet the requirements for disability pay, and are seeking benefits only now that the jobs they had relied on have disappeared.
See In Loose Job Market Laid Off Workers are Deciding Not to Tough Out Injuries., LOUIS UCHITELLE, The New York Times, Sep 1 2002
A study released yesterday by the business supported Employment Policy Foundation reveals that the pay gap between men and women is narrowing and may soon disappear, and that despite making up only forty-seven percent of the American workforce women hold forty-nine percent of managerial and professional jobs. The AFL-CIO was quick to counter that many women still face discrimination in the workplace, and women?s research group Catalyst pointed out that at the very top of the ladder only a handful of women are CEO?s and they still experience massive pay inequality when compared to their male counterparts. A study by professors Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn of Cornell University's ILR School confirms that overall gender-based pay inequality has indeed decreased, as does a study by Jane Waldfogel of Columba University which shows that the gap has narrowed the most for childless women and especially workers in their twenties and thirties.
See Glass Ceiling Crumbling Says Business Group., PERONET DESPEIGNES and NANCY DUNNE, Financial Times, Sep 1 2002
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) today released the 2002-2003 edition of its "The State of Working America" report on income equality---or the lack thereof---and its implications for the working men and women of America and the country as a whole. The overall results of the study coauthored by EPI president and former Cornell Professor Lawrence Mishell reveal that the same trends of growing income polarization, the disappearance of the middle class and the loss of family time as parents work longer hours to make ends meet, are all continuing in the absence of high union density. And while low and middle income workers made real gains in wage levels in the second half of the 1990?s, and the rate at which the income gap is growing appears to have slowed, the report points out that the possibility of a jobless recovery from the recent recession may mean we are returning to a period of accelerated growth in income inequality.
See Bi-Annual Labor Day Study Finds that Income Gap is Still Growing., DAVID MOBERG, Chicago Tribune, Sep 1 2002
Citing the potentially devastating effect on an important sector of the economy already reeling from last year?s Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service yesterday asked that the International Association of Machinists and aerospace giant Boeing resume negotiations. Although the request to extend the current contract for thirty days and meet with the FMCS this Wednesday came as the IAM was counting strike votes on management?s ?final? offer (see WIT for Aug. 28, 2002), the union responded by delaying the final count of the strike vote and promising to attend the meeting even if Boeing representatives do not. In the strongest proof yet that it wants a strike (see WIT for Aug. 22, 2002), Boeing has expressed outrage at the request and said that it may well decide not to attend the meeting, while trying to cast itself in the role of a defender of its employees? right to take industrial action.
See FMCS Asks Boeing, IAM to Return to Table., JAMES P. MILLER, Chicago Tribune, Aug 29 2002
In a blow to World War II Mexican guest workers seeking hundreds of millions in wages taken from them by the U.S. and Mexican governments (see WIT for April 11, 2002), and possibly private banks, a U.S. federal judge dismissed their lawsuit on Wednesday. The judge wrote in his decision that he believed the claims of the braceros, but ruled that a six-year statute of limitations and the U.S. court?s lack of jurisdiction over Mexican institutions barred the suit. The braceros? search for justice is not over, however, as the judge left open the possibility of an amended claim against the U.S. if the braceros can prove that statute of limitations does not apply because they did not know about it, and legislation to allow the case to proceed despite the technicalities has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
See Braceros Lose Lost Wages Suit on Technicalities., OSCAR AVILA, Chicago Tribune, Aug 29 2002
A report released last week documents a frightening increase in the number of attacks against Park Service rangers, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife employees in the past year---over 900%, over 100% and 22 percent, respectively. Although Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials have questioned the accuracy of the report released by non-profit federal employee defense group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has requested a government study of the causes of the attacks. PEER is pushing for the Justice Department to begin obeying requirements under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act for the keeping of records on attacks against government employees, but the Justice Department has said it lacks the necessary resources.
See Attacks Against Federal Park and Forest Employees Increase Dramatically., BRIAN FALER, The Washington Post, Aug 29 2002
On Tuesday the California State Assembly joined the State Senate in approving legislation that would make California the first state in the U.S. to provide paid leave for workers who need to take time off to care for ill or aged loved ones, or new children (see WIT for July 29,2002). Although paid family leave bills were introduced in twenty-five states and the U.S. Congress this year, and the last few years have seen Minnesota, Missouri and Montana establish limited paid leave for infant care, the U.S. remains the only one of 130 advanced industrial nations that does not provide paid family leave for its workers. The legislation passed by the assembly will provide workers with fifty-five percent of their pay for up to six weeks instead of the sixty-five percent for twelve weeks originally called for, and will be funded entirely by payroll taxes on workers instead of splitting the cost between employers and employees, but is still opposed by business groups.
See Paid Family Leave Bill Passes CA Assembly, Goes to Governor., V. DION HAYNES, Chicago Tribune, Aug 28 2002
In a major victory proving the efficacy of a rising wave of group efforts by workers to fight corporate corruption and injustices (see WIT for Aug. 8, 2002), a U.S. bankruptcy judge yesterday approved almost $29 million in additional severance pay fought for by former employees of the Enron Corporation (see WIT for June 12, 2002). The ruling will provide up to $13,500 in additional severance pay for workers laid off by Enron between its bankruptcy filing and the end of February, who were not included in a previous severance agreement covering only those workers laid off since February. Furthermore, the judge ruled that former Enron employees could challenge in court the over $80 million in bonuses paid to senior executives in the months before corporate accounting scandals led to the company?s bankruptcy filing (see WIT for March 11, 2002).
See Judge Approves Additional Severance for Enron Workers, Gives Go Ahead to Challenge Executive Bonuses., JEFF ST. ONGE and DANIEL TAUB, Los Angeles Times, Aug 28 2002
A week after management at California?s Port of Hueneme declared an impasse in negotiations with eighteen employees represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 998 (see WIT for Aug. 21, 2002), two days of intensive bargaining have yielded a tentative contract settlement. The three-year contract proposal splits the difference between the seventeen percent raises sought by the union and the thirteen percent last offered by management last week, raising workers? salaries fifteen percent on average by 2005. The proposal decreases health benefits for current employees and retirees, but also provides for increased pensions, allows workers to accumulate more sick days that they can cash out when they retire, maintains current seniority provisions and workers? rights language, and adds Cesar Chavez? birthday as a paid holiday.
See Tentative Settlement in Port of Hueneme Dispute., GREGORY W. GRIGGS, Los Angeles Times, Aug 28 2002
In a survey released last week by the business-interest research group Conference Board, only half of the 5,000 households surveyed reported that they were pleased with their jobs---a nine percent drop since the survey was first conducted in 1995. The drop in job satisfaction reached across all income, age, and geographic location categories, but was largest among middle-age workers who were once the most satisfied of employees with satisfaction levels of just over sixty percent. Dissatisfaction was found to have risen in a wide range of areas including bonuses, promotion practices, training programs and co-workers, and the single strongest indicator of satisfaction was found to be salary level.
See Only Fifty Percent of Americans like Jobs, and they May Just like the Money., Reuters, Chicago Tribune, Aug 27 2002
Officers of the International Association of Machinists yesterday urged the 25,000 IAM members employed at the Oregon, Kansas and Washington state production facilities of world?s largest plane manufacturer Boeing to reject management?s ?final? contract offer. Although the proposal includes a twenty percent increase in pension benefits that is eight percent higher than the company?s initial offer on pensions, it falls far short of the 100 percent increase sought by the union whose membership averages forty-six years of age and is more concerned with pensions and job security than raises (see WIT for Aug. 22, 2002). Members of the historically tenacious union will vote tomorrow on whether to accept the proposal which also includes a signing bonus but does not offer the production-level based job security provisions that the union is fighting for, and would raise annual health insurance premiums for some members by $10,000.
See IAM Strike at Boeing Looks Imminent., PETER ROBISON, Los Angeles Times, Aug 27 2002
Contract negotiations covering 10,500 dockworkers and 29 West Coast ports resumed yesterday between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association for the first time since talks deadlocked five weeks ago (see WIT for July 22, 2002). Little progress was made on the closely linked and controversial issues of technology implementation, the elimination of union represented jobs and the inclusion of new job categories in the collective bargaining unit (see WIT?s for May 13, July 18, 2002). A proposal on port security introduced by the ILWU seemed more an occasion for the two sides two take PR shots at each other, than to work towards agreement on significant points of disagreement.
See ILWU, PMA Resume Talks., MARLA DICKERSON, Los Angeles Times, Aug 27 2002
US Airways yesterday entered a request in bankruptcy court to be allowed to default on its labor contracts with 7,200 Communications Workers of America represented reservation and ticket agents, and 12,000 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM), who have not agreed to concessions sought by the airline. US Airways is so far holding to its promise not to attempt to default on contracts with dispatchers and crew trainers represented by the Transport Workers of America, or members of the pilots? and flight attendants? unions---all of whom have agreed to wage and benefit concessions (see WIT for Aug. 9, 2002). Having made it clear that they do not support management concession demands that their membership will vote on tomorrow, officers of the IAM expected yesterday?s action by management and announced that they are ready to fight for the 12,000 mechanics and baggage handlers whose contract is threatened.
See US Airways Seeks to Void Labor Contracts., KEITH L. ALEXANDER, The Washington Post, Aug 26 2002
Its application for federal loan guarantees rejected in part for not including significant enough cuts in labor costs, United Airlines? CEO Jack Creighton yesterday announced that it will reapply on September 16---and delivered an ultimatum to employees unions to agree to concessions by that date or face the possibility of company bankruptcy. Creighton?s message to members of the Communications Workers of America, International Association of Machinists and flight attendants? union came on the same day that US Airways asked a bankruptcy court to void contracts with its CWA and IAM represented workers who have not approved similar requests for concessions. While US Airways? actions lend weight to his statements, in United?s workers Creighton does not face pushovers (see WIT for June 14, 2002)---Creighton became CEO after UAL workers forced out his predecessor James Goodwin for leaking bankruptcy threats last year to obtain concessions in the wake of September 11 (see WIT?s for Oct. 25, and Oct. 29, 2002).
See Following US Airway?s, Predecessor?s Lead, UAL CEO Threatens Bankruptcy., JOHN SCHMELTZER, Chicago Tribune, Aug 26 2002
With new allegations of corporate mismanagement and accounting and securities fraud sending ever more companies into bankruptcy proceedings and eating up employees? pensions, benefits and severance packages, workers are increasingly choosing to fight back instead of accepting the pittances they are often left with. Starting with Enron and picking up momentum with the collapse of WorldCom and Global Crossing, a grassroots activism has taken shape among laid off workers who are realizing that as a group they can exert considerable political and legal pressure (see WIT?s for June 12, and July 12, 2002). With assistance from the American labor movement, ex-employees have pressured politicians into redirecting donations from companies involved in corporate scandals into relief funds for laid-off employees, achieved tax exempt status for relief funds to encourage donations, and have gone toe-to-toe with corporate and financial groups in their former-employers? bankruptcy proceedings to recover lost severance pay, pensions and benefits.
See In Increasing Numbers, Victims of ?Enronomics? are Fighting Back., ANDREW BACKOVER, USA Today, Aug 26 2002
As the intensity of ongoing contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler increase in anticipation of the September 17 expiration of current contracts (see WIT for July 16, 2002), the 46,000 members of the Canadian Auto Workers union have voted to give their officers the power to call a strike. The overwhelming margin by which the strike votes passed---97% at General Motors, 95% at Ford Motor and 97% at DaimlerChrysler---are indicative of the resolve of this union which has gone on strike in all but two of its negotiations with the Big Three automakers. The CAW will announce after Labor Day weekend a strike date and the target company with which a deal setting the tone for deals at the remaining two companies will be negotiated, in this the first round of contract talks with the Big Three not being held at the same time as the United Auto Workers? contract talks.
See CAW Members Overwhelmingly Approve Strike Vote., Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Aug 25 2002
In a move reminiscent of the campaigns that secured the 1975 passage of California?s Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the United Farm Workers yesterday marched on the California State Capitol to put pressure on Governor Gray Davis to sign what could be the most significant agricultural labor bill of recent times (see WIT for July 8, 2002). Passed by the State Senate in May and the State Assembly earlier this month (see WIT for Aug. 6, 2002), bill SB 1736 would implement binding arbitration for deadlocked agricultural labor contract negotiations---putting an end to the bad faith negotiating and delay tactics farm workers say growers have used to subvert their union rights. Despite the outpouring of support for the farm workers by celebrities, democratic leaders in the State Legislature and his own Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante who participated in the rally that capped the 150-mile march, Governor Davis? recent political maneuvering suggests that he may veto the bill.
See UFW Holds Massive Rally to Push for Governor?s Signature on Arbitration Bill., GREGG JONES, Los Angeles Times, Aug 25 2002
With eighty percent of its members unemployed, British actors? union Equity has been struggling with a widespread and growing trend towards the hiring of American actors both famous and relatively unknown for theatre productions. Equity recently declared that enough is enough when the taxpayer subsidized National Theatre cast American actress Glen Close in the role of Blanche DuBois, and American actor Robert Pastorelli in another major role in an upcoming production of ?A Streetcar Named Desire.? While the union was careful to point out that it does not want the production cancelled or the American actors dismissed, it is pushing hard for the National Theatre to give more roles to British actors in the future to correct imbalances in the number of American actors performing in Britain relative to the number of British actors performing in the U.S.
See British Actors? Union Upset by Over Use of American Actors., DAVID GRITTEN, Los Angeles Times, Aug 25 2002
After almost a year of intense negotiations and a five-week strike this past winter (see WIT for Nov. 29, 2001), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the 450 members of the Lay Faculty Association who teach at the ten Catholic high schools owned directly by the Archdiocese have reached a tentative contract settlement. Pressure on the Archdiocese to settle the contract has mounted as it cancelled a major fundraiser over threats of a teacher picket, was found guilty of bargaining in bad faith by the state labor board, and faced the threat of another strike at the beginning of the coming school year. A September 10 ratification vote is scheduled for the agreement, which keeps health care costs to teachers at current levels, and includes large increases in employer contributions to the teachers? annuity plans, and retroactive raises of three percent annually for the first two years of the contract, and five percent in the final year.
See NY Archdiocese, Lay Faculty Association Reach Tentative Agreement., Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, Aug 22 2002
In the first of a series of moves that will put California at the forefront of the fight against corporate scandal and fraud, Governor Gray Davis will today announce increases in the maximum penalties for securities fraud from $10 million in fines to $25 million, and from two to five years of imprisonment to five to twenty years. Governor Davis will also announce his appointment of a leading consumer advocate to the state Board of Accountancy regulating the California accounting industry, and the board?s decision to seek the revocation of the accounting license of the scandal tainted Arthur Andersen firm. Furthermore, Davis has indicated that he will sign three bills passed by the State Legislature that will create additional legal barriers to Enron-style document shredding, ensure independent public control of the Board of Accountancy, and decrease incentives for private accounting firms to cover up corporate book-cooking.
See Governor Davis to Sign Tough Corporate Reform Legislation., Gregg Jones, Los Angeles Times, Aug 22 2002
With contract negotiations between University of California at Berkeley administrators and the unions representing clerical workers and untenured lecturers deadlocked, close to 3,000 workers may go on strike during the first three days of this year?s fall semester. The 2,300 members of the Coalition of University Employees who work as clerical staff are planning a three-day strike over pay starting on the first day of classes this coming Monday, and the 450 members of the UC Council of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are planning a one-day strike for Wednesday over job security. Although university officials insist that the impact on students will be minimal, the AFT is planning to ask students to join its walkout, and the approximately sixty members of the California Nurses Association who work at campus health centers are planning a three-day sympathy strike starting on Monday in support of the lecturers and clerical workers.
See UC Berkeley Students Likely to get Lesson in Labor Disputes., STUART SILVERSTEIN, Los Angeles Times, Aug 21 2002
Representatives of the 25,000 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) working at aerospace giant Boeing Co. yesterday accused the company of trying to force workers out on a strike with unreasonable demands for concessions on all major issues. Earlier this year the IAM was hopeful that the two sides could avoid a strike despite a history of confrontational relations that have led to strikes in two of the past four contract negotiations (see WIT for March 14), and reach agreements on job security, pensions and health benefits. The company has taken a seemingly hard-line approach, however, setting an August 27 deadline for making its ?best and final? offer on a contract to replace the one that expires on September 1.
See Boeing Seeking Labor Showdown Say Machinists., The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Aug 21 2002
Accepting a last offer from Radio City Entertainment?s parent company Cablevision, the forty-one senior Rockettes on the dance group?s permanent roster agreed last night to a contract that guarantees them job security for the upcoming run of Christmas performances. Although the forty-one core members of the Rockettes were able to win one more year of job security by boycotting the open auditions held under a plan unilaterally implemented by management nine days ago (see WIT for Aug.14), their job security will be phased out, with only forty-percent of them guaranteed jobs in next year?s show. In addition to buyouts for their job security the Rockettes will also receive a 401(k) plan and 2, 2.5 and 3 percent raises over the next three years, respectively.
See Rockettes, Radio City Entertainment Reach Agreement., LEONARD POST, Newsday, Aug 21 2002
The British Insurance Brokers' Association is today expected to recommend to British Treasury officials that the country?s four decade old employer liability laws be changed to more closely mirror the U.S.?s workers? compensation system. Under such a system, set compensation amounts are established for different types of injuries, and easier access to compensation for injuries is supposed to make up for limits on the amount of compensation that can be received for a given injury. The push by insurers to adopt such a system has been occasioned by increases in the number of small firms making the decision to operate illegally without insurance as the growing number and size of lawsuits for on the job injuries drive up insurance costs.
See British Insurers Recommend Changes to Employer Liability Laws., JANE CROFT, Financial Times, Aug 20 2002
In a port labor contract dispute separate from the larger negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the eighteen members of Service Employees International Union Local 998 employed as wharf and clerical workers at the Port of Hueneme, this Monday authorized their negotiators to call a strike. Having reached agreements on sick leave and holidays, but still at odds over pay, pensions and medical benefits, the union has secured promises from the ILWU and the Teamsters that they would honor Local 998 picket lines if the union strikes. Apparently upset by the forceful tactics of the union, managers at the port declared an impasse in talks on Monday and no new meetings have been scheduled despite management?s claims that it wants to return to bargaining.
See At Port of Hueneme Workers Take Strike Vote, Management Declares Impasse., GREGORY W. GRIGGS, Los Angeles Times, Aug 20 2002
With the one-year anniversary of last year?s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and three passenger jets fast approaching, many employers are unsure how to proceed this September 11 according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Between the sixty-nine percent of companies surveyed by SHRM that plan to go about business as usual, and those that plan to shut down for the day, many are searching for a middle-ground acknowledging these tragedies that took the lives of so many people at their places of work. Among the measures planned to help workers address the issues surrounding this date without sending everyone home for the day, are blood drives, moments of silence, the wearing of pins commemorating the victims and heroes of September 11, and reminders of the availability of emotional assistance programs.
See As 9/11 Approaches, Employers Unsure Whether and How to Observe Anniversary., T. SHAWN TAYLOR, Chicago Tribune, Aug 20 2002
Labor unions and business groups are wondering how this election year will affect decisions on bills dealing with issues such as paid family leave, binding arbitration for farm workers, annual cost-of-living increases for minimum wage workers, and more.
See Governor Gray Davis of California will make approval decisions on numerous labor-related bills in the upcoming months., Gregg Jones, Los Angeles Times, Aug 19 2002
More than 96% of airline pilots eligible to vote did so. The 68.5% voting in favor of the extension went against union leaders? recommendation to reject the proposal on the basis that it did not grant full pay parity with pilots at other major airlines.
See A current labor agreement between Southwest Airlines and its pilots will be extended by two years after a vote of the union?s members., Micheline Maynard, The New York Times, Aug 19 2002
The latest consumer price index (CPI) report from the Labor Department revealed a continuation of a negative trend in the apparel component of the CPI Index since September 1998. Production moving to countries with cheap labor, stiff competition, and changing shopping habits favoring large discount stores are some reasons cited for the decline.
See Despite the fact that prices of most goods and services have been increasing over the past fours years, clothing prices in the United States have been falling steadily., The New York Times, The Associated Press, Aug 19 2002
Over 15,000 members of the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York took to the streets of New York City today to protest raise offers from Mayor Michael Bloomberg that will leave these 9/11 heroes significantly underpaid compared to colleagues in surrounding areas. NYC firefighters make only $425 a week as rookies and have been working without a contract for twenty-seven months without a contract, having decided not to accept a tentative agreement on a five percent raise after 343 of their brothers died in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center (see WIT for June 12, 2002). NYC police officers are concerned by rumors that a binding arbitration panel it has submitted its contract negotiations to for the first time will be won over by the mayor?s fiscal crisis arguments for offering a five percent increase over two years, instead of the twenty-three percent sought b y the officers to achieve parity with surrounding areas (see WIT for Aug. 9, 2002).
See NYPD, FDNY Take to Streets for Better Wages., LEONARD LEVITT and PETER BAILEY, Newsday, Aug 15 2002
The first strike in thirty-eight years at utility company Dominion Resources Inc. ended today as 3,700 electrical workers represented by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 50 returned to work. The strike was called off by the union?s leadership after the two sides reached a tentative contract agreement yesterday following management?s new offer to increase the monthly retirement pay of workers who retire between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-two by up to $450 until they become eligible for Social Security at sixty-two. Despite the gains for retirees, reductions in wage raises in the new offer mean that the overall pay and benefits members will receive are the same as those offered by the company before the thirteen-day strike, and union officials have sent the offer to a membership vote without any recommendation to members on whether to accept the offer.
See Tentative agreement reached after thirteen day strike., KENNETH BREDEMEIR, The Washington Post, Aug 15 2002
Starting at 10:00 am this morning, the executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and representatives from all thirty teams began a conference call in which they are expected to set an August 30 strike date in their ongoing negotiations with team owners. As expected, the issue of a luxury tax on payrolls above a certain limit have proven to be the sticking point in negotiations (see yesterday?s WIT), with the owners and players still $29 million apart on the cutoff salary and twenty percent apart on the tax rate on pay above that limit. A World Series ending strike like that experienced in 1994 is still far from inevitable, however, with the two sides already having agreed on raises to the minimum salaries for both major and minor leaguers, time limits on deferred compensation and improved benefits for players.
See Citing Lack of Progress on Luxury Tax, Players Set Strike Date., LAURA-PRICE BROWN, Newsday, Aug 15 2002
Members of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) yesterday struck three of the Caparo Steel Group?s plants over the company?s attempts to eliminate the current defined-benefit pension plan and switch to a defined-benefit plan with a reduced pension salary or to a defined-contribution plan in which workers shoulder all the risks. Although workers at some plants have been engaged in a work-to-rule for forty days and have been boycotting overtime work (see WIT for July 5, 2002), this is the first time they have struck over the issue at this company owned by a member of the Labour Party in Britain?s House of Lords. Having continued to contribute to their pension plan even as the company took a ten-year leave from contributions from 1990 to 2000, workers insist that they are willing to help the company through a tough steel market and are simply seeking the pension security they have long saved for.
See Steel Workers Strike Plant Owned by Labour Lord., DAVID TURNER, Financial Times, Aug 14 2002
After several weeks of promising developments that prompted the Major League Baseball Players Association to put off setting a strike for the second times in as many months this Monday (see WIT for Aug. 13, 2002), the momentum towards an MLB contract settlement stalled yesterday. Although the two sides are close to reaching agreements on revenue sharing and steroid testing (see WIT for Aug. 8, 2002), and agree in principle on a worldwide draft, the issue of a luxury tax is proving to be the monkey wrench that many had feared. Despite six hours of talks yesterday, the two sides remain approximately $30 million apart on the threshold for a luxury tax, and far apart on the percentage that salaries above that level would be taxed.
See Baseball Talks Hit Bump., LAURA-PRICE BROWN, Newsday, Aug 14 2002
Having recently won large wage increases for the 1.4 million employees of Britain?s local government councils (see WIT for Au. 6, 2002), British unions Unison, TGWU and GMB are pushing private employers, who contract with the government to provide public-sector services, to match the raise. The general union GMB has informed contractors that it will ballot its private-sector government members on strike action if matching raises are not forthcoming, and the Transport and General Workers Union has also stated that it is determined to win raise parity for the 600,000 contractor-employed government workers nationwide. Officers of public-sector union Unison are still discussing the matter with members, but have made it clear that they also plan action on the issue raise and other differentials in the ?two-tier? government workforce created by the use of private contractors.
See British Unions Adamant on Raise Parity for Private-Sector Government Employees., JIM KELLY, Financial Times, Aug 14 2002
In a study released yesterday of 319 of the largest corporations in America, the advocacy group Human Rights Campaign found that private business is far ahead of the federal government in pushing for sexual orientation equality. Of the companies surveyed, ninety-two percent have written policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, and sixty-nine percent provide health insurance for same-sex domestic partners of employees. Same-sex domestic partner health benefits are not offered to federal public sector employees, and while some states such as California prohibit sexual orientation-based job discrimination, there is no federal law against such discrimination.
See Federal Government Trailing Private Business in Advancing Gay Rights., LISA FACKLER, Los Angeles Times, Aug 13 2002
Seven months after the contract covering the forty-one dancers on the permanent Rockettes roster expired, Radio City Entertainment and its parent corporation Cablevision Systems yesterday unilaterally implemented terms of employment eliminating the dancers? job security. Radio City Entertainment has been trying for several years to open up all 200 slots in the nationwide roster and force the Rockettes who formerly formed the perennial core of Radio City Music Hall?s almost century old Christmas show to compete for their jobs each year. The company decided to unilaterally end year-to-year job security for the dancers---who earn approximately $1,300 to $1,600 a week but are only hired for fifteen weeks per year---after they turned down the company?s offer of a buyout in return for eliminating job security.
See At Radio City Music Hall, Negotiations Fall Through, Rockettes Lose Job Security., ROBIN POGREBIN, The New York Times, Aug 13 2002
Movie and entertainment industry giant Technicolor Inc. yesterday settled a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by eighteen former and current female employees---many of them minimum wage factory workers who speak little or no English. Although the corporation has not admitted liability, it agreed to pay $875,000 to the women, to provide anti-discrimination and harassment training to managers and employees, and to be monitored by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the next three years. The EEOC has described harassment and discrimination at the company as pervasive, involving supervisors in various divisions and levels from videotape assembly lines to executive offices, and consisting of everything from verbal abuse and explicit cartoons to groping and forced sexual acts.
See Technicolor Settles Harassment Suit., MEG JAMES, Los Angeles Times, Aug 13 2002
Accusing the Hotel Employer Labor Relations Association representing Chicago-area hotel managers of failing to make serious attempts to reach a compromise over the past week of negotiations (see WIT for July 25, 2002), the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 1 yesterday called for a vote to give them the power to call a strike. Although votes were still being counted last night, most officials expected the vote to pass as thousands of cheering members attended large meetings at which Local 1 President Henry Tamarin informed them that they would all receive $200 per week in strike pay if a walkout was necessary. In addition to its strike fund, the union has been stockpiling food at a pantry it has set up, and has secured the support of community groups and other unions in what looks like a potentially bruising fight to bring workers? pay up to the levels prevailing among hotel workers in New York City.
See Chicago Hotel Workers Prepare to Strike., STEPHEN FRANKLIN, Chicago Tribune, Aug 12 2002
Instead of yielding the strike deadline that many observers expected, a four-hour meeting of the Major League Baseball Players Association in Chicago yesterday produced a decision to hold off on setting a deadline until at least Friday. Citing continuing progress on several key issues (see WIT?s for May 15, and Aug. 8, 2002), and a new offer from management on its demands for a luxury tax that has been one of the main points of contention in the talks, representatives from the thirty major-league teams decided that a solution may be possible without the pressure of a strike deadline (see WIT for July 9, 2002). A settlement on the issue of revenue sharing may be close---with players offering to agree to the amount sought by owners in return for a method of distribution that the union prefers---and movement towards a compromise has even begun on the luxury tax that the lead negotiator for management has characterized as a potential deal breaker.
See MLBPA Delays Decision on Deadline., PHIL ROGERS, Chicago Tribune, Aug 12 2002
Four decades after Britain first set up the workplace dispute resolution system that became the Employment Tribunal Service respected by both management and labor, the two groups agree with an ETS Task Force that it is time for some changes. Originally designed as an informal, streamlined method of resolving employment disputes in order to keep the country?s high courts from being bogged down in employment law cases, the ETS has become more costly and complex as employment law has grown in complexity. Among the changes already initiated or under consideration, are this year?s Employment Act establishing minimum requirements for employer in-house grievance procedures, greater online dissemination of information on employment law to prevent cases arising solely from misunderstandings, and efforts to get plaintiffs and defendants talking more.
See Britain Looking to Adapt ETS to Changing Times, Employment Laws., DAVID TURNER, Financial Times, Aug 11 2002
Britain?s Trade Union Congress (TUC) published a statement today calling for a twenty-two to twenty-nine percent increase in the national minimum wage from $6.28 to between $7.65 and $8.11. The push to raise the minimum wage is part of the British labor movement?s new focus on improving the pay and benefits of the lowest paid workers in the British economy (see WIT for Aug. 6, 2002). The TUC also called in its statement for eliminating the separate lower minimum wage standards for eighteen to twenty-one year-olds and giving them the same wage protections as older workers, and for the establishment of wage protections for sixteen and seventeen year-olds.
See British Unions Call for Minimum Wage Increase., DAVID TURNER, Financial Times, Aug 11 2002
Opposition parties in Germany have indicated that they will not attend a ceremony at which the Social Democrat government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroder will accept the report of the Hartz Commission on labor market and employment reform (see WIT for July 2, 2002). Members of the conservative Liberal Democrat and Christian Democrat parties have accused Germany?s unions, Chancellor Schroder and other left-wing lawmakers of pressuring members of the commission into watering it down into a meaningless public relations ploy (see WIT for July 23, 2002). Mr. Schroder and leaders of Gemany?s unions have disputed these claims, and Mr. Schroder has said that a cabinet meeting will be held this week to decide how best to implement measures called for in the commission?s report.
See Center-Right Parties in Germany Boycott Labor Market Report., HUGH WILLIAMSON, Aug 11 2002
Paid as much as twenty percent less than police officers in surrounding areas despite their heroism on September 11 and their successful efforts to reduce crime in New York City to historic lows, the city?s finest have long sought to have their contract negotiations submitted to binding arbitration. After securing passage of a New York State law in 1998 that allows deadlocked NYC police contract negotiations to be submitted to an arbitration panel, and winning a State Court of Appeals ruling upholding the law, however, NYC police officers may find themselves victims of economic circumstances. While such State Public Employment Relations Board arbitration panels are known for giving much weight to prevailing wages and benefits, they must also take into account the financial situation of the governmental employer involved---in this case a cash-strapped city facing a deficit of $5 billion.
See Binding Arbitration May Fail Underpaid NYC Police Looking for Wage Parity., WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM, The New York Times, Aug 8 2002
4,800 pilots at US Airways voted yesterday by a margin of over seventy-five percent to accept a twenty-six percent average reduction in wages and benefits through 2008, in return for 19.3 percent of the company?s stock. The company, which will save $465 million a year for the length of the cuts, last month reached a tentative agreement on wage and benefit reductions with the 323 member Transport Workers of America local that represents its dispatchers and crew trainers, and its flight attendants will vote today on proposed $76 million a year cuts. Seeking an overall $1 billion in annual labor cost reductions, the airline has had significantly less luck in extracting $222 million annual cuts from the International Association of Machinists local representing 13,000 US Airways mechanics, and $70 million per year from the union representing its 7,200 reservation, gate and ticket agents.
See US Airways, Pilots Agree to Temporary Wage Cut Deal., KEITH L. ALEXANDER, The Washington Post, Aug 8 2002
Leader of Italy?s largest union CGIL, fierce opponent of the government of conservative prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (see WIT for ), and an immensely popular left-wing political figure, Sergio Cofferati is preparing to step down as secretary-general of the 5.6 million member union at the end of next month. After twenty-five years of working for the union, Mr. Cofferati will be returning to his job at tire and cable manufacturer Pirelli---a job which will leave him time to direct CGIL's research foundation and use it to promote a pan-European labor movement. Cofferati has long believed that the only answer to the resurgence of conservative governments in Europe and to long-term pressures to succumb to American-style corporate capitalism, is a united labor movement pushing for a socially responsible Europe.
See Italian Labor Leader Prepares to Return to Factory Work, Keeps Eye On European Situation., LAURA PAUL BETTS, Financial Times, Aug 8 2002
Assured by in-person meetings between union executive director Donald Fehr and all of Major League Baseball?s teams that players strongly support steroid testing, the MLB Players Association yesterday made an offer to management on random steroid testing. Under the union?s plan, random testing will be used to determine the size of baseball?s steroid problem, with two years of random unannounced testing following if more than five percent of players tested are found to be using steroids, and continuing until steroid use drops. While the union does not want to test for or prohibit players from using legal performance enhancers available to the public, its plan does provide for disciplinary measures and testing for cause, and could lead to an agreement on the issue according to management?s chief lawyer.
See As MLB Contract Negotiations Continue, Players Make Counter-Offer On Steroids., LAURA PRICE-BROWN, Newsday, Aug 7 2002
In a settlement reached yesterday in a class action lawsuit over the illegal failure to pay wages for time spent changing into and out of protective gear, Perdue Farms Inc. agreed to pay 60,000 workers at eighteen processing plants $10 million in back wages and to pay workers for time spent changing in the future. Yesterday?s settlement parallels Perdue?s $10 million settlement in a suit brought against the company by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this year on behalf of 25,000 workers who had likewise been denied pay for time spent changing (see WIT for May 10, 2002). In addition to extending the period for which back wages will be calculated beyond that in the Labor Department settlement, the class action settlement also retroactively credits the pensions of the 60,000 workers for the owed wages.
See Perdue Settles Class-Action Suit Over Wage Violations., ANITHA REDDY, The Washington Post, Aug 7 2002
Seven weeks after going on strike for the second time since their contract expired in May (see WIT?s for May 28, and June 19, 2002), health care workers at Los Angeles? Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have won a contract that addresses their over-staffing and wage concerns. Meanwhile, 350 registered nurses also represented by the California Nurses Association began a four day strike yesterday at Los Angeles? St. Vincent Medical Center, where contract negotiations have been deadlocked since a tentative agreement was rejected in a ratification vote. The RN?s are pushing for larger salary increases for senior members of the nursing staff, who make less than experienced nurses at other health care facilities in the area and often make less than younger nurses at St. Vincent because of bonuses for new hires.
See Nurses Settle Contract at One LA Hospital, Strike Hospital Where Talks Are Stalled., CLAIRE LUNA, Los Angeles Times, Aug 7 2002