This Thanksgiving, Help Strikers at Kohler

WI AFL-CIO
Brothers and Sisters,

As you know, the workers of UAW Local 833 at Kohler have been on strike for over a week. On Sunday, November 15, workers took a strike vote with 94% voting to strike.

We, as labor brothers and sisters, must do our part to help them in their fight. We must stand strong in solidarity.

At issue, is a two-tier wage system.

At the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, we will keep you updated as things develop.

Thanksgiving is just two days away. Workers will be walking the picket line on Thanksgiving Day. It would be a great show of support to join them Thursday in solidarity.

These are things that we all can do to help our brothers and sisters at UAW Local 833.

Join the picket line anytime including Thanksgiving Day at the Clock Tower, 444 Highland Drive, Kohler, and stand in solidarity with the families of UAW Local 833.
Donate to the Kohler UAW 833 Workers Relief Fund

 

Sign the petition calling on Herbert and David Kohler to return to the negotiating table, give fair and equal treatment to their employees, and move away from the two-tier wage structure.
Donate to the food bank.
Donate wood and fire wood for burn barrels to help keep strikers warm in the Wisconsin winter.  Food and wood donations can be dropped off at:

Emil Mazey Hall
5425 Superior Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53083

The entire labor movement proudly stands with Kohler workers as they fight for fair wages for all workers and a strong middle class for America.

In Solidarity,

Phil Neuenfeldt, President

Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer

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PSC-CUNY Contract Update & Other News

CONTRACT UPDATE

August 11, 2014 

Momentum is growing in negotiations for a new contract, with two formal bargaining sessions and several subcommittee meetings held during the last month.  Both PSC and CUNY management representatives have expressed a commitment to reaching a settlement as expeditiously as possible, given that several other public-employee unions in the city have already completed bargaining.

Adjunct Health Agreement a Victory for All
A major advance occurred last week, when the union won our 14-year campaign to transfer responsibility for adjunct health insurance from the Welfare Fund to the University. The adjunct agreement means that one of the union’s major goals for this round of bargaining—equity in health benefits for adjuncts—has already been largely achieved.  It also means that in these contract negotiations, unlike many in the past, we do not start with a crisis in the Welfare Fund to resolve.  The agreement helps to stabilize the finances of the Welfare Fund, which provides supplemental health benefits to faculty and professional staff.  It is a material as well as a moral victory for all of us.

Productive Discussions, But No Economic Offer Yet
Discussions at the bargaining table have been productive, as have the discussions in smaller subcommittee meetings on specific contract issues.  In this round of bargaining, the labor and management negotiating teams have agreed to do some preliminary work in subcommittees in order to make progress quickly.  The two formal sessions in July focused on management’s preliminary response to our demands, the union’s response to theirs, and the PSC’s detailed presentation of certain demands.

CUNY management representatives acknowledged the importance of raising salaries, especially after the long wait for this contract.  On the other hand, they stressed that they will have to work within an economic package approved by both the City and the State.  CUNY contracts typically take longer to resolve than those of many other public-sector unions.

The union bargaining team understands that dynamic, but we also know that PSC members cannot wait much longer for a raise.  We have pressed CUNY management to make an economic offer—one that will lift salaries and provide financial relief to our members.  Management has not put an offer on the table, but we have had promising discussions of economic needs.

Bargaining Sessions
The PSC presentations at the bargaining table have focused on the urgent need for salary increases, and at the same time the importance of addressing other longstanding needs. The union continues to raise four overarching priorities: the need for more competitive salaries, especially given that CUNY recruits nationally; the need for a more reasonable teaching load for full-time faculty; the need for HEOs to be able to advance in their careers; and the need for progress toward equity and fairness for adjuncts.  We recognize that these will be difficult to achieve at a time of continued austerity politics and limited collective bargaining settlements, but the quality of education at CUNY depends on the quality of our working conditions. CUNY will not be competitive nationally—or reach its full potential for the people of New York—if it does not invest in its entire faculty and staff.

The union has also begun detailed presentation of specific demands.  At the July 30 session, library faculty representatives made a compelling presentation on the need for equity with other faculty in annual leave and research time. The PSC bargaining team is working with other groups to prepare presentations of specific demands.  Meanwhile, we have indicated to CUNY management that we are willing to work with certain proposals they have made, but that we will not compromise on fundamental issues, such as the preservation of salary steps—rather than management’s proposal of discretionary increases under the control of college presidents.

 (If you would like to attend a negotiating session, tell us by sending a message here. The PSC bargaining team will do our best to accommodate you.  With some preliminary negotiations occurring in subcommittee meetings, however, there may be fewer formal bargaining sessions than in the past.)

Next Steps
Contracts are won by the power of the union members, not by the bargaining team.  The PSC bargaining team will need your help as negotiations intensify or if we need to call for movement on economics.  Please be ready to join in speaking up for our needs and fighting for a contract worthy of the work we do.  The PSC has seen before, and we will see again, that our collective pressure on management works.

Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY

CUNY will receive extra NYS funding to provide health insurance for adjuncts

The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York have reached a landmark agreement with the City of New York on inclusion of eligible CUNY adjuncts in the New York City Health Benefits Program. The agreement provides regularized health insurance for an important part of the CUNY teaching workforce and contributes to stabilizing the finances of the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund.

Extending health insurance to this significant group of part-time employees at CUNY has required the vision and persistence of many partners, said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and PSC/CUNY President Barbara Bowen. “We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, legislative leaders, budget and labor relations offices and the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund for their critical roles in making this agreement possible,” they said.

Adjunct health insurance has been provided by the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund for several decades, through funds negotiated in collective bargaining. As the number of adjuncts grew and the costs of health care skyrocketed, however, the burden on the Welfare Fund escalated to an untenable level, necessitating stop-gap measures to maintain the Fund’s solvency.

The PSC, including the affected adjuncts, vigorously advocated for equitable adjunct health insurance. The University responded, and successfully sought and obtained additional funding from New York State to provide support for adjunct health insurance. Shortly thereafter, the University and the PSC entered into negotiations regarding the benefit and began working with the City of New York to allow coverage for eligible adjuncts to be transferred from the Welfare Fund to the City Health Benefits Program. During the negotiations, the Welfare Fund Trustees voted to extend the adjunct health insurance coverage through September 30, 2014.

“This accomplishment assures equitable access to health insurance, which will profoundly affect the lives of dedicated adjuncts, many of whom have been teaching core courses for decades. Qualified CUNY adjuncts will now be able to receive their basic health insurance through the City Health Benefits Program, on an equitable basis with full-time CUNY employees,” Bowen and Milliken said.

Qualified adjuncts may enroll in the City Health Benefits Program effective October 1, 2014; the University has established a deadline of September 19 for enrollment through college human resources offices. The University will provide additional funding to the Welfare Fund to enable it to continue to provide coverage until October 1.

AFSCME DISTRICT COUNCIL 37 MEMBERS OVERWHELMINGLY RATIFY CONTRACT

By an overwhelming 96 percent, members of District Council 37 ratified a new economic agreement, Executive Director Lillian Roberts announced today. It gives employees 10.41 percent in compounded wage hikes and maintains basic health and welfare benefits with no additional out-of-pocket costs. The pact covers the period from March 3, 2010 to July 2, 2017.

 

The seven-year, four-month agreement passed with over 96 percent voting yes, according to tallies by the American Arbitration Association. Of the approximate 88,000 eligible members, 45,561 voted yes and only 1,673 voted no.

 

“I want to thank all the members for their overwhelming support for this contract,” said Ms. Roberts. “This just shows what is possible, even in a difficult economic climate, when you have a union that does its research and finds real savings for the city and an administration willing to listen and treat employees with respect. In addition, this contract contains a ground-breaking Joint Recruitment and Promotion Committee, which addresses inequities and increases promotional opportunities for public employees, the majority of whom are women and people of color.” Additionally, it includes a gain-sharing proposal which lets workers benefit from mutually agreed upon cost-saving strategies.

 

The tentative agreement was reached on July 2. The ratification vote was conducted in accordance with the DC 37 Constitution, which mandates that all union-wide contract votes be conducted by an independent third party.

 

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District Council 37 is New York City’s largest public employee union, with 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees.

Justices Rule Certain Workers Can’t Be Forced to Pay Union Fees: Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory Fees for Illinois Home-Based Care Workers

from http://online.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-avoids-broad-ruling-on-public-sector-union-fees-1404138001

By

Brent Kendall And
Melanie Trottman
Updated June 30, 2014 3:05 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON-A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that Illinois home-based care workers can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join.

However, the high court avoided the broadest possible ruling in the case, declining a request by the challengers to limit the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from all nonmembers.

The court, in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, said the aides, who provide care to the disabled, weren’t full-fledged public employees even though they are paid for their work by the state. Because of that status, the workers couldn’t be required to pay fees to a public-sector union, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision.

Justice Alito said requiring mandatory union fees violated the First Amendment rights of aides that didn’t want to join or support the union.

If the court sided with Illinois and the union, “we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support,” Justice Alito wrote.

The court’s majority decided against overruling a past precedent that was favorable to public-sector unions, though Justice Alito said the court’s earlier 1977 ruling allowing such mandatory fees rests on questionable footing.

The ruling split along ideological lines, with conservative justices in the majority and liberal justices in the dissent.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, said Illinois had ” a more than sufficient interest” in managing its workforce and administering home-care programs “to require employees to pay a fair share of a union’s costs of collective bargaining.”

Labor lawyers said that more broadly, unions dodged a bullet but may not be able to in the future. Monday’s ruling “sets the table for more challenges to agency fees down the road. And this fact will not make unions sleep any easier,” said Michael Lotito a labor lawyer at Littler Mendelson.

Illinois had authorized Medicaid-paid home-health workers to unionize and collectively bargain with the state. One group of health aides voted to join the Service Employees International Union. The union can’t force all workers to become members, but the contract it negotiated with the state requires nonmembers to pay a fee to the union to cover their share of costs related to workplace representation.

The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, an antiunion group in Springfield, Va., sued on behalf of eight Medicaid-paid aides, some of whom are covered by the SEIU agreement. Most of the challengers were caring for disabled family members.

The foundation said the Illinois arrangement had forced parents and other relatives taking care of disabled people into union associations they didn’t want. The group said Monday’s ruling would free “thousands of home-care providers from unwanted union control.”

The challengers argued that even though they’re paid by the state Medicaid program, they shouldn’t be classified as state workers because they can be terminated by the individuals who employ them.

Unions argued that because all covered workers benefit from the collective bargaining terms, the mandatory fees prevent nonmembers from free-riding on union members. Unions argued that states should have the right to choose how to manage their workforce and that collective bargaining helps create a stable, well-trained workforce for in-home care rather than caretaking at facilities they contend would be more costly.

“At a time when wages remain stagnant and income inequality is out of control, joining together in a union is the only proven way home care-workers have of improving their lives and the lives of the people they care for,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

The Supreme Court decision weakens a tool for organized labor to expand its ranks and could have an impact in several states that have similar arrangements with public-sector unions. Personal assistants in Illinois pay SEIU–Healthcare Illinois and Indiana more than $3.6 million in fees annually, according to court documents.

The Supreme Court has grown more skeptical of organized labor since two George W. Bush appointees arrived in the mid-2000s. The case was seen as a potential test of the more conservative current majority’s approach to collective bargaining issues.

The high court’s ruling declined to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court decision that allowed government entities to require public employees to pay “fair-share” fees to a union that negotiates on their behalf. That ruling did allow public employees to refuse to fund union activities outside collective bargaining, such as political campaigning.

—Jess Bravin contributed to this article.

Write to Brent Kendall at brent.kendall@wsj.com

 

Chicago Jobs with Justice Endorses HR 676

The Chicago Chapter of Jobs with Justice has endorsed HR 676, national single payer legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan.  HR 676 is also called “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.”

Susan Hurley, Executive Director of Chicago Jobs with Justice, commented on the resolution, “Single payer health care has to be our ultimate goal in the United States.  It is the only humane and civilized choice, as well as being the best choice for health outcomes and cost.”

“The longer the delay, the deeper our shame in the eyes of the world and future generations,” Hurley stated.

The resolution notes that an estimated 31 million Americans will remain uninsured in 2023 and that underinsurance is growing as many patients are forced into insurance plans with high-deductibles (> $1,000) and narrow networks of providers.

Chicago Jobs with Justice, a broad coalition of scores of unions and other organizations including the Chicago Federation of Labor, is dedicated to promoting workers’ rights and social and economic justice.

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HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare to everyone residing in the U. S.  Patients will choose their own physicians and hospitals.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments.  HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 58 co-sponsors in addition to Congressman Conyers.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 614 union organizations including 147 Central Labor Councils/Area Labor Federations and 44 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NJ, NY, NV, MA, RI, NH, ID & NM).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551

Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayer.org
6/23/14