A battle royal is brewing at the AFL-CIO convention, which will take place in late July. Five major unions with 40 percent of the membership WILL challenge the leadership of President John J. Sweeney, and his new organizing and political spending plans which were recently approved by the Executive Council. The five disaffected affiliates – the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Laborers’ International Union, UNITE-HERE, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters – have united to form the “Change to Win Coalition” and have publicized their own proposals for reform. The affiliated dissidents have now been joined by the Carpenters and Joiners of America, which left the AFL-CIO in 2001 in disagreement with policies concerning organizing, spending and political action. The Carpenters’ Union adds another 500,000 to the Coalition, which will lead “large-scale, coordinated campaigns.” SEIU President Andrew Stern has already announced that his union will host a meeting this August in Chicago that will gather union leaders from other nations. Stern observed, “In the end, country-based unions in a global economy are not sufficient. You can’t have global companies and national unions.” Stern will meet with his Executive Board on the final day of the AFL-CIO convention to decide whether to remain within the Federation. If the Executive Boards of all the dissidents authorize their leaders to disaffiliate, more than 5 million of the AFL-CIO’s membership of 13 million could be lost.
Department of Justice RICO suit says International Longshoremen’s Association is corrupt. The 83-page lawsuit, filed against the ILA, its President and top officials, some union-sponsored benefit plans, and alleged members of organized crime, says that the purpose of the charged unlawful “enterprise” was “to exercise corrupt control and influence over labor unions and businesses in the [Waterfront] Ports of New York and New Jersey, the Port of Miami and elsewhere.” The suit seeks dismissal of the ILA President, Secretary-Treasurer, Executive Vice-President, the General Vice-President and the General Organizer, to be replaced by court-appointed trustees under the supervision of the Department of Justice. Many of the allegations arise from criminal convictions of Mafioso John Gotti and other members of the Gambino and Genovese families. The suit bears many resemblances to that brought against the Teamsters in 1989, also under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which led to the current Consent Decree.
D.C. Circuit says employees from one location should have been allowed to handbill at another location for same company. The Court agreed with the NLRB, finding that the off-site employees are acting in concert with plant employees to increase the power of the Union and therefore have an interest that the employer must recognize. This is so, said the Court, even though non-employee organizers may be banned from company property. Judge Garland explained: “The right claimed by such off-site employees is personal rather than derivative: employees who seek to make common cause with separately situated employees of the same employer are seeking to advance their own interests – not just those of the employees they target, as is the case for non-employee organizers.” The Company failed to show that there were legitimate security concerns that could justify preventing off-site employees from entering the property.
The NLRB has agreed to review whether it should exercise jurisdiction over Transportation Security Administration airport security screeners who are privately employed by contractor companies. Constangy attorney Steve Schuster won this preliminary battle for the contractors by requesting review of a Regional Director’s decision to conduct a representation election. Airport screeners employed directly by the TSA are not eligible for union representation under the terms of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Member Liebman dissented from the Board’s ruling, arguing that although private-sector screeners employed by TSA contractors may not have the right to strike, nothing in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act suggested that they were otherwise to be deprived of protections under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB has asked for “Friend of the Court” briefs analyzing the issues raised by this case.
Ronald Meisburg has been nominated to become General Counsel for the NLRB, replacing Arthur Rosenfeld. A Republican, Meisburg has 20 years of experience as a management attorney. Meisburg served an interim appointment as a member of the Board during most of 2004, and in January of this year was nominated to be a Board member for a full five-year term. That nomination is now withdrawn, and another new member nomination is expected soon. The nominations of Member Schaumber (R) and former Member Walsh (D) are now before the Senate for confirmation for full five-year terms.