- A new Teamster Union plan for aggressive organizing campaigns, supported by a $60 million dollar organizing fund, was announced by Teamster President James P. Hoffa last month during a Las Vegas meeting focused upon rebuilding membership levels. The organizing fund is the result of a dues increase implemented last year. The four new strategies identified were:
- using the media, picketing, strikes, boycotts and lawsuits to attack large companies;
- seeking contract clauses that force companies to accept union coverage in new facilities;
- getting companies to agree to stay neutral and automatically recognize the union if a majority of employees sign organizing cards; and
- sending organizers to apply for work at firms the union is targeting.
Teamster membership has declined from a high of more than 2 million in 1980 to 1.4 million today, much of the loss in traditional transportation jobs.
- The National Labor Relations Board has argued to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that portions of the California Labor Neutrality Law are invalid, preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. The California statute prohibits employers receiving state funds from using those funds to "assist, promote or deter union organizing" by their employees, and requires private employers to keep records to show they did not use the public funds to influence unionization efforts. A federal district court judge ruled last September that portions of the law regulated "employer speech about union organizing under specific circumstances, even though Congress intended free debate." The NLRB's General Counsel has submitted a brief, and argument before the Ninth Circuit will occur later this summer. The focus for the NLRB's preemption argument is that Section 8(c) of the federal Act is explicit in permitting employers to express "views, argument or opinion" regarding unionization and respond to union campaign propaganda. The brief concludes: "The issue here is whether states are free to use their spending power to pressure employers to adopt neutrality policies. The answer, we submit, is that under established federal preemption principles, they are not."
- A Department of Labor proposal to revise union financial forms that are filed pursuant to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act has drawn criticism from labor unions. A total of 35,000 comments have been received on the proposal which the Bush Administration says will better inform union members on how their dues are being spent. Organized labor contends that the revisions are politically motivated and that "disclosure of sensitive, strategic information about unions' collective bargaining, organizing, and political practices would disrupt the balance of power between labor and management."
- General Electric and its 13 unions have concluded negotiations on a four-year contract that increases employee health care contributions but continues the same percentage splits. The agreements cover more than 24,000 union-represented employees. The employee share of family coverage will increase during the term of the agreement from $8.71 per week to $18.29 in 2006, and the employee share of individual coverage will increase from $2.96 per week to $5.35 in 2006. However, the proportional contributions will remain the same as before: 82% paid by GE, and 18% paid by the employees. GE initially tried to increase the employee share to 30%. The United Electrical Workers held a brief, high-profile strike early this year to protest GE’s proposal. With the current arrangement, both sides are claiming victory.
- A relocation of some operations of a Kentucky auto parts manufacturer following a union election victory, without bargaining over the decision and its effects on employees, was found to be an unfair labor practice by the NLRB and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The employer was ordered to return the operations to Michigan and reinstate 33 laid-off employees with back pay. The Court agreed with the NLRB that anti-union animus was the motive for the relocation, citing management statements, previous loan commitments inconsistent with the move, and the "stealthy manner" in which it was conducted.