Labor Law Guy

Hawaii Passes Its Own EFCA

Posted in Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on July 20, 2009

Over the veto of Governor Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s legislators have enabled card-check unionization and, copying the federal Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) even further, mandated contract arbitration if no labor agreement is reached within 110 days.

Hawaii thus joins four other states with their own mini-EFCAs: New York,  New Jersey, Illinois, and Oregon. However, these state laws pertain only to intrastate businesses, which limits their scope. The federal EFCA could change all that.

Now that Congressional negotiators seem to have rescinded the majority card authorization provision from the EFCA, it appears that labor’s goal all along has been the mandatory arbitration provision to force a contract on newly organized businesses. Absent this provision, employers can stall and stall until the union loses its legitimacy without a contract and just disappears.

EFCA lives on and could be exacting a costly toll on American business sometime soon through mandated employer-union contracts. If you can’t beat ’em, then legislate and arbitrate them into submission.

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SEIU Adopts Tactics It Wants Outlawed for Employers

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on June 24, 2009

Betraying its own selfish interests in trying to castrate business owners when it comes to union organizing, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is now employing the very tactics it wants to outlaw for employers.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the SEIU in California is blocking elections at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities as the nascent National Union of Healthcare Workers gathers signatures and calls for elections.

Behind the battle lies the brutal takeover of United Healthcare Workers West (UHW West) earlier this year when SEIU President Andy Stern installed some henchmen at UHW and then accused the native leadership of embezzelment. The ousted UHW quickly morphed into the National Union of Healthcare Workers and is now battling SEIU for representation of healthcare workers in the Golden State.

Stern is fighting back like any good employer by trying to block elections while accusing the rival union of illegal tactics.

So far, two elections have been held, and each union has won one.

Since unions are unions no matter if one or more of them is an aggrieved party, it matters little who wins, but it would be nice to see Stern get his much-deserved comeuppance.

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Democrats Seek to End Agriculture in New York

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on June 8, 2009

I’m picking this up from a blog I just stumbled upon. The author is someone named Homer, whose name appears under a drawing of Homer Simpson.

Homer’s take is a little different from my headline–he claims the Democrats in the state legislature are trying to drive out farmers from upstate New York because they tend to vote Republican.

The Democrats’ vehicle to do this is something called the Farm Workers Fair Practices Act.

Let’s have Homer explain it:

In short, it would subject farmers to a host of labor regulations including: requiring 8 hour days, paid overtime, providing workers a day of rest each week, mandatory payment of unemployment insurance for small farm employers (even for seasonal workers), and coverage for disability insurance for off the job injuries. And of course, it would make it easier for workers to unionize and then immediately send contribution checks to Susan John.

As he goes on to explain, farming is a unique industry, which is seasonal and requires working sun-up to sundown during the planting and harvesting seasons. That’s why farm labor has always been exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other labor laws. The New York Farm Bureau predicts devastation to the tune of $200 million a year if the bill passes.

Thought the EFCA was bad? New York just one-upped D.C.

EEOC Sues Strip Club for Firing 56-Year-Old Waitress

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on May 14, 2009

I stumbled upon this attorney’s employment law blog that focuses on the bizarre, humorous and unusual in case law (Wal-Mart execs dressed in drag and filmed at a meeting, for instance).

On his site, CurrentEmployment.net, Tim Eavenson brings up the tale of a lawsuit filed this past week by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a strip club that burned to the ground–two years ago.

However, the year before the club’s demise, the owners of Cover Girls in Houston had fired 56-year-old Mary Bassi, who had waited tables there for nigh on to 15 years and raked in almost $100K a year from a loyal suite of customers. Younger babes were seen taking her place.

Bassi says the bosses used to call her “old” and make jokes at her expense about Alzheimer’s.

Meanwhile, the suit will go on because the owners also operated four other Houston strip clubs. Bassi, now 59, is working for a competitor. I wonder if her loyal customers followed her over to the competition.

Personnel Concepts Jettisons ‘Final Notice’–Cheers Are Heard

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 30, 2009

final_noticeThe cheers I’m referring to actually came from within Personnel Concepts as management announced it was no longer mailing its marketing piece with the words “Final Notice” on the envelope’s cover. Evidently, employees had heard enough complaints about the piece over the years to be happy about its demise.

So my sources inform me, at any rate. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any public confirmation.

In truth, I frequently get mail that resembles the “Final Notice.” You know, envelopes that look as if they’re coming from the government, sometimes even the IRS, but you can usually smell them out by looking at the bulk postage on them, a dead giveaway.

I’ve read through the “Final Notice,” and it appears to have plenty of disclaimers in it. Still, Americans love to feel deceived and picked on, so you get the idea.

Anyway, if the company has actually ended the marketing piece, those who found it objectionable will move on…to find much more that’s objectionable to them elsewhere.

Can’t win for losin’.

Canadian Province Decides Not to Fund Sex-Change Operations

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 27, 2009

I guess for a country that’s had a nationalized health care delivery system for years and years, Canada proves how tough it is to make cuts to balance the equation. I’d always heard of long waits and denied treatments, but now the governor of Alberta Province is facing flack for axing chiropractic procedures and sex-change operations from the list of covered treatments and operations. This, of course, is to save money in tough economic times–and it doesn’t hurt that the guv (actually, premier) is a member of the Conservative Party.

Here in the U.S. of A., with “Medicare for all” now virtually assured following the Democrats’ decision to go the reconciliation route in so-called health care reform, I’d always worried (actually, it’s a certain outcome) that a government takeover would lead to rationing in medicines and procedures.

However, if it took Canada this long to figure out that sex-change operations are pretty much non-essential, one can only hope that the Medicare bureaucrats here are as dunder-headed and slow as those to the north.

I’m not shopping for a sex-change operation, but if I need a hip replacement, I want that to be covered.

Now the question is: While funding sex-change ops, did the Province of Alberta cover hip replacements? If the answer is no, then you know the U.S. is in for a rough ride–unless you represent some fringe constituency.

Another Union ‘Wins’ by Losing

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 21, 2009

When I worked for a teachers’ union a few years back, we supported the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) when its members went on strike against Southern California supermarkets.

The effort drug on for months (drug is a good metaphor here, as you shall see momentarily) with management and scabs handling the storefronts quite well and profitably, thank you. Meanwhile, those on strike faced extremely hard times. Many were forced to leave their profession and take new jobs. Others crossed the picket lines. Others lost their homes.

Months later, UFCW leaders–the president pulled down his $270,0o0 a year throughout the strike–were forced to accept a contract that was decidedly worse in pay and benefits than the one they initially–and arrogantly–rejected at the git-go.

The next day the UFCW Web site proclaimed a stunning victory. George Orwell would’ve been proud.

The same has now happened to a star-studded union called the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Months ago, it rejected a contract from the movie studios that was little different from the one they agreed to this week. Meanwhile, union members fought among themselves like Hatfields and McCoys–and ended up firing their executive director and chief negotiator before being able to get a contract. In the interim, since the new contract is not retroactive, SAG members lost a reported $65 million in compensation.

Another stunning victory.

(Sadly, it’s the same old union story. SAG operating costs have gone up 26 percent in the past three years while membership has grown just 3 percent and revenues barely 5 percent. Read it all here. Believe me, all unions are the same lousy bargain even when they represent the likes of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.)

‘Someone’s Gotta Go,’ a Fox TV Show That’s Gotta Go

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 15, 2009

Fox has announced plans for an upcoming reality TV show that’s based on downsizing an office staff in tough economic times called Someone’s Gotta Go. Here’s how it’s described at ABCnews.com:

The show will highlight a small business that needs to downsize because of the economy, but instead of the bosses deciding who gets the axe, co-workers must choose who among them has to go. Workers will have to defend themselves, justifying their work habits, all leading to a group discussion to determine who gets dumped.

To help make their decision, employees will have access to each others’ usually private records including budgets, human resources files and salaries.

I guess if workers want to sign waivers to participate, that’s their business, but employers will still be legally liable if the workers decide to break some non-discrimination or other labor laws and regulations in laying people off. Also, I’m not sure that the handing around of everyone’s personnel records would pass a Department of Labor compliance test.

Above all, it’s just a tacky, callous and mean-spirited attempt to make money off people’s hardships and misfortunes. The show has gotta go before it gets started.

EFCA Clings to Life Like a ‘Knife of the Living Dead’*

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 8, 2009

You can’t kill it, and it comes back to haunt you every time you think it’s safe to venture back into society again.

It’s the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and even though it lacks the votes to survive a Senate filibuster, it’s still stalking American businesses and filling the nation’s newsprint, airwaves and cyberspace with endless prattle (like this, huh?).

Somehow, I think the unions and their paid-off Democrats in Congress will devise a way to slip this bill through under the cover of darkness, perhaps attached to a spending bill and rushed into birth through the reconciliation process. But look for it soon, rising from the dead with endless life in it.

Thus, when I noticed an article about “Card Check Dilemma” on the Huffington Post site, I was expecting to find someone extolling the virtues of instant unionization, whether real or faked (I hear that ACORN is huddling at this very moment with union organizers to share their secrets on creating imaginary voters, or in this case, imaginary card signers).

Instead, the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro, son of a union organizer, came out steadfastly opposed, indeed calling for instant slaying of the EFCA monster. He writes:

Given the national economic crisis, unions need to do a reality check on card check and check out on this issue.

Only then can we all safely walk our own streets again.

* My woebegotten attempt to come up with a variation on “Night of the Living Dead.”

Payback Time for Pampered Government Workers with Fat Contracts?

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 3, 2009

Us taxpayers (bad Inglish intended) may get the last laugh, or as Karl Marx said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” This time around, the Great Depression II is indeed looking a lot like farce (see D.C., Washington; bailout, Paulsen and Gaithner; Detroit, UAW and Big Three; everywhere, public employee unions).

Unionized government workers have always felt, “They can’t touch me,” and laughed at the rest of us mere mortals who, in times of recession, would get laid off instead of enjoying six weeks’ vacation and a 5-percent pay raise.

Cities, counties and states are now watching with bated checkbooks as legal drama unfolds in the courthouse and City Hall of Vallejo, Calif., which ran out of money and filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy. One big problem for the city: What to do with bloated and impossible-to-pay public employee contracts?

Chapter 9 is used so rarely that no one knew for sure if it allowed government entities to void employee contracts. Union lawyers argued that their contracts were protected under California labor laws, but Judge Michael S. McManus curtly informed them that state law is trumped by federal law in bankruptcy proceedings. He gave the city the power to tear up the contracts.

The unions and the city are now negotiating, but what really matters is what the rest of the nation is doing, or going to do, in light of governments’ newfound power to evade and rewrite employee contracts.

The “gotcha” smirk now moves from the unions to the cities and states.