United Parcel Service and the Teamsters Union agreed to a new six-year contract two weeks prior to the expiration of the existing agreement on July 31. Freight deferrals to Federal Express and other non-union transportation companies had pressured an early settlement. Wage increases for full-time employees will add $5 to their present $22.10 per-hour average rate over the six-year term, whereas part-timers (more than one-half of those covered) will receive $6 to their average rate of $10.72. UPS committed to add 10,000 new full-time jobs during the last four years of the agreement, and another 10,000 jobs currently performed by outside contractors or non-union UPS employees are to become Teamster-represented positions. Increased funding for health/welfare and pension benefits will amount to $3.75 per hour over the agreement's term. A new long-term disability plan will allow disabled employees to receive 60% of their regular pay up to $500 a week for five years.
A decision by the NLRB that non-union employees have the right to have a co-worker accompany them to employer interviews that may result in discipline has been upheld. Thus, the "Weingarten" rights that have long applied to unionized employees who are entitled to a representative "upon request" are now applicable to non-union employees who seek such a "concerted activity." Refusal of a request for co-worker presence could result in an employee’s becoming entitled to reinstatement and back pay, if terminated. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the ruling of a Circuit Court ruling upholding the NLRB decision. For a refresher on employees’ Weingarten rights, go to http://www.constangy.com/Legal Updates/Employer Bulletins/July 2000 (No. 326).
Oklahoma's newly adopted right-to-work law has withstood the challenge of seven unions in a federal court action. Oklahoma is the 21st state to have a law which prohibits union-security clauses in bargaining contracts. The law does not apply to workers covered by the Railway Labor Act, employees of the Federal Government, or workers on military bases within the State of Oklahoma.
An analysis of NLRB elections for the year 2001 shows that even though the number won by unions decreased slightly from the prior year, the union win rate increased to 53.6%, up from 52.7% the year before.
The new president of the United Auto Workers, Ron Gettalfinger, told convention delegates that UAW had been wounded by "anti-union forces" but would make a comeback in the years ahead. He promised to follow UAW's political agenda: "We will do anything in our power to elect those who support us. If they are there for us, we will be there for them, and you can take that to the bank." He credits his predecessor Stephen Yokich for making election day a holiday for employees of Big Three Automakers.
The NLRB invalidates a "hot-cargo" provision in an agreement calling for the New York Post to subcontract only with wholesalers that have collective bargaining agreements with the union that delivers the Post’s newspapers. Section 8(e) of the Act prohibits contract provisions that require employers to stop doing business with any other person. The Board also ruled that the union violated the secondary boycott provisions of the Act by using a contractual grievance procedure to enforce this invalid provision. The work in question had never been performed previously by members of the bargaining unit, and was not a valid "work preservation" clause.
Two Courts of Appeal have recently overturned NLRB election certifications because of actions or threats by fellow employees who were pro- union. In both cases, the NLRB had found that the actions were not those of official union representatives. In the first case, the 11th Circuit overturned an election that the Steelworkers had won by a 53-50 vote. Three days before the election, a pro-union machine operator had told a co-worker that the co-worker would "pay" for refusing to accept union literature and had caused a hot batch of rubber weighing 450 pounds to fall on the co-worker. The Court found the election atmosphere was far from that which the Board says it requires. In the second case, the 4th Circuit overturned an election in which two pro-union employees threatened co-workers with job loss if they did not support the Boilermakers. The organizer had minimal involvement, but the two employees who made the threats were the "pushers" perceived to speak and act on the organizer's behalf. The Court found that the two could reasonably have been seen as able to get rid of co-workers if the Union prevailed "…either by 'setting [the co-workers] up' to be terminated by management or by making their working conditions so miserable as to force them to leave."