Janus and the war on unions

It’s no secret that Big Business and those who profit from it have long harbored a grudge against working people and their unions, often resorting to some shameless and desperate tactics to erode workers’ rights, wages, pensions, and benefits in order to grab an even bigger share of the nation’s prosperity for themselves. An important battle in this war is currently being fought in the Supreme Court in a case called Janus v. AFSCME.

Legislation, Action

Labor unions: What's their future under Trump?

By Deborah Abrams Kaplan • Bankrate.com

Many sectors in the U.S. are wondering what changes will be made since the country elected a Republican president and majority in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Of the 99 state Houses and Senates in the country, 68 are also now a Republican-majority, and in 32 states, Republicans control both chambers. In the governor's office, 33 states are headed by a Republican, with 25 of these states totally controlled by Republicans.

The net effect has labor unions on alert.

"It's going to be the most challenging period for organized labor since the 1930s," says Susan J. Schurman, a labor studies and employment relations professor at Rutgers University and former labor union leader. "It's clear to everyone at this point that if conservatives had their way, we'd not have unions."

Labor union members made up 11.1 percent of American workers in 2015, the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union membership for public sector workers was 35.2 percent, compared to 6.7 percent of private sector workers in unions.

Union leaders have expressed concern about some of President-Elect Trump's statements.

Is the minimum wage at risk?

Trump said he'd support a $10 federal minimum wage, but also that U.S. wages were too high to compete with other countries. He has attacked United Steelworkers 1999 and its president Chuck Jones on Twitter, blaming them for driving jobs from the U.S.

 "We saw that our president-elect is more than willing to attack a local union leader who merely pointed out a fact," Schurman says.

Trump's cabinet selections also are causing unions concern. His choice for secretary of labor choice, Andrew Puzder, is a prime example. As CEO of CKE Restaurants, "Puzder outsourced key jobs overseas, planned to replace workers with machines to avoid paying benefits, repeatedly and loudly opposed raising the minimum wage, paid union-busting firms to stop his own workers from forming a union and opposes the Affordable Care Act because it requires that he provide high-quality health care for his employees ," says Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers in a statement.

The incoming administration also will appoint new members to the National Labor Relations Board, which may quickly reverse decisions like whether graduate students are eligible to unionize, Rutgers' Schurman says.

What's at stake?

With the Republican majorities, unions face threats to their existence and their purpose. Here are some issues that may be contested in the upcoming administration:

Collective bargaining:"That's the target. Everything else is secondary," Schurman says. Collective bargaining is the basis of the labor relations framework. She worries about states changing legislation to contravene the Federal Labor Relations Act, preventing or changing public employees' rights to collective bargaining.

"Republican governors, where they can, remove bargaining rights and seek to pass right-to-work legislation," she says.

Right to work: Right-to-work laws exist in 26 states, allowing employees to decide whether to join a union or pay dues. This results in workers not having to pay an agency fee in union-represented workplaces, but the union still represents them.

"The net effect is it's making it much more difficult to collect union dues, which is what they use to perform their collective bargaining," Schurman says.

Should the right-to-work issue stay at a state level or move to federal law, asks John Raudabaugh, a labor law professor at Ave Maria School of Law in Florida, and a former management-side labor attorney. Raudabaugh also served as one of five NLRB members appointed by President George H. W. Bush.

"If it's still at the state level, what do we do about the current and emerging debate about allowing local governments to create their own law on right to work apart from state law?" Raudabaugh says.

Friedrich versus California Teachers Association: "At the federal level, unions need to worry about the Friedrichs' case," Schurman says.

"Had (Supreme Court Justice) Scalia not died, the bets were that the plaintiffs would prevail," she says, which means that workers who don't want to join the union or pay agency fees would still be entitled to representation in collective bargaining.

Joint employers: Under rulings made during the Obama administration, companies are held jointly liable for unfair labor practices committed by their contractors or franchisees.

"Unions should expect a new (NLRB) board to re-evaluate many of the current issues, with joint employers near the top of the list," says labor law professor Raudabaugh.

Occupation and health administration: Schurman anticipates a very different approach to enforcement, as conservatives tend to favor little to no regulation.

"The underlying theory is that the market will take care of wages. You'll get the wages you deserve because the market will determine that," she says.

It's the same theory with regulation. "Those of us in the field of labor studies don't believe there's any factual basis to that view. Certainly, unions will be struggling to prevent that," Schurman says.

State-specific union issues: "I suspect that unions are going to find themselves facing huge uphill battles everywhere in the country where Republicans control the governor's office and legislature," she says.

For example in Wisconsin, union membership has declined since 2011, when the state curtailed public employee bargaining.

What should unions do?

Unions continue to speak out on issues of interest, commenting on incoming presidential policies and appointments. Schurman recommends two strategic directions that unions should pursue.

The first is for unions to reconnect with their members in a more robust way. Unions successfully doing this are growing, including service employee and teacher unions.

Unions need to persuade workers of the value of membership. "That's hard to do when they can get the collective bargaining benefits without paying for it," as well as those who don't have union dues automatically collected through the employer's paycheck, Schurman says.

The second suggestion is for unions is to organize more workers outside of the traditional employer/employee work model. The current labor relations framework says that relationships should be between workers, their representatives and an employer.

Represent workers politically

"The growing share of our economy are workers who don't have an employer as we know it in the 20th century. Corporations have devolved," Schurman says.

That includes outsourcing and hiring casual laborers not eligible for collect bargaining representation. "However, they are eligible to become union members," she says.

Unions have to convince existing members that there's a huge block of workers with a different employment relationship, and these workers need representation in the political sphere to advocate for their rights, not for collective bargaining. The role is similar to what unions did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as mutual aid societies, before collective bargaining became the basis of the industrial relations framework, Schurman says.

Overhaul labor laws

Raudabaugh suggests that the federal government take a look at existing labor laws. "In the long term, Congress has to step in and evaluate our 1935 National Labor Relations Act," he says. "We're dealing with quite an ancient statutory structure which needs to be reevaluated because the nature of work has changed."

He questions whether unions are necessary to maximize employee rights and interests in the workplace, and whether there might be a better model.

Work councils in Europe are one option, where employees talk directly with employers on topics of concern.

"Why is there a need for an outside entity to come in and do the talking for them? They have brains. Why do they have to pay money to do that? What if the union is doing similar work for a competing company? These are all issues," Raudabaugh says.

Healing the wounds

It was surprising to many that union leaders supported Hillary Clinton, while many union workers supported Trump.

"There was clearly a disconnect with primarily white working class people," Schurman says. "There's no question that a lot of people are feeling left behind, particularly those who don't have education beyond the high school level. The economy is moving beyond that, and nothing is going to change that."

One thing unions and the government can do is support secondary education for those already in the workforce, she says.

Still, the split votes shouldn't be totally surprising. "Not all represented individuals are Democrats," says Raudabaugh, and not all union members want to be represented by an outside group.



Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/politics/labor-unions-future-under-trump.aspx#ixzz4Wc0iZwPR 
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Legislation

Governor Cuomo Presents 27th Proposal of the 2017 State of the State: "Buy American" Plan will Implement the Nation's Strongest State Procurement Laws Mandating the Preference of American Products

Sweeping Legislative Reforms will Institute “Buy American” Policy for All New State Procurements Over $100,000

Policy Will Apply to All Goods and Products Procured by State Entities Moving Forward 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a groundbreaking new proposal that would implement the nation’s strongest mandate for the purchase of American-made products by state entities. Under the Governor’s “Buy American” plan, all state entities will be required to give preference to American-made goods and products in any new procurements more than $100,000. While other similar, less comprehensive policies exist throughout country, this proposal demonstrates the strongest commitment to growing the manufacturing sector, and supporting the men and women who work in it, nationwide.

“Nowhere on Earth can you find another workforce that rivals the skill, quality and dedication of American labor,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s time that our nation recommit itself to these hardworking men and women and New York is prepared to lead the way forward. When we Buy American, we not only keep our companies and our employees where they belong, but we foster growth and development in leading industries right here at home. This initiative will reinvest in the talent that made this state and this country what it is today and strengthen our role as a global leader in manufacturing for years to come.”

Each year, New York State spends billions of dollars on the procurement of goods and services. However, existing regulations place little emphasis on ensuring this spending power is leveraged to support all American manufacturing, many which are right here in New York State. In fact, only procurements of structural steel, reinforcing steel and other major steel on construction contracts greater than $100,000 are subject to existing “Buy American” provisions. With manufacturing representing one in every nine Upstate jobs and over 5 percent of the state’s total workforce, as well as close to $70 billion in goods being manufactured here each year, New York has been missing a critical opportunity to strengthen a key industry sector. 

Governor Cuomo’s proposal seizes on this opportunity by placing an enhanced focus on growing American manufacturing and support its workers through a number of legislative remedies to the state’s procurement laws. These include:

  • Expanding the current standard to include all goods and products, as well as all procurements—not just construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance or improvement of public works;
  • Clarifying that preference should be given to goods and products that are substantially produced or made in whole in the United States, its territories or possessions

To qualify as “American-made” under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, end manufacturing processes should take place in the United States and more than sixty percent of the components of the manufactured good should be of domestic origin. Exceptions to this requirement include:

  • If the specified goods or products are not manufactured or produced in the United States in the quantities required by the state entity or cannot be manufactured or produced in the United States within the entity’s specific timeframe;
  • If obtaining American-made products would significantly increase the cost of the contract; and
  • If the best interests of the state would be served by exempting the procurement from the preference based upon:
    • an immediate or emergency need existing for the item or service; or 
    • a need to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the public

  

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-presents-27th-proposal-2017-state-state-buy-american-plan-will-implement-nations

Deceptive Right to Work Laws Hurt Everyone

By many measures, quality of life is worse in states with right to work laws. Wages are lower, people are less likely to have health insurance and the necessary resources for a quality education, poverty levels are higher as are workplace fatality rates.

States with Right to Work Laws Have Lower Wages and Incomes

 

  • On average, workers in states with right to work laws make $6,109 a year (12.1%) less annually than workers in Free Bargaining states ($44,401, compared with $50,511).1
  • Median household income in states with these laws is $8,174 (13.9%) less than in other states ($50,712 vs. $58,886).2
  • 29.6 percent of jobs in right to work states were in low-wage occupations, compared with 22.8% of jobs in other states allowing Free Bargaining.3

States with "Right to Work" Laws Have Lower Rates of Health Insurance Coverage

  • People under the age of 65 in states with right to work laws are more likely to be uninsured (13.0%, compared with 9.4% in free-bargaining states).4
  • Only 47% of private-sector employers in states with these laws offer insurance coverage to their employees, compared with 52.2% in other states.5 That difference is even more pronounced among employers with fewer than 50 workers: only 30.1% offer health insurance compared with 38.1% of small employers in other states.6
  • Workers in right to work states also pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums, on average, than those in free-bargaining states (28.5% of the premium compared with 25.4% in free-bargaining states).7

States with Right to Work Laws Have Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates

  • Poverty rates are higher in states with right to work laws (15.3% overall and 21.4% for children), compared with poverty rates of 12.8% overall and 18.0% for children in states without these laws.8
  • The infant mortality rate is 12.4% higher in states with right to work laws.9

States with Right to Work Laws Invest Less in Education

  • States with right to work laws spend 32.5% less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states.10

States with Right to Work Laws Have Higher Workplace Fatality Rates

  • The rate of workplace deaths is 49% higher in states with right to work laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.11

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (all industries, all establishments, average annual pay), 2014 data. Numbers are rounded ($50,510.58 and $44,401.17).
2 U.S. Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State: 1984 to 2014.
3 CFED, Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, Low Wage Jobs, 2013.
4 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Insurance Coverage of Nonelderly 0–64.
5 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Percent of Private Sector Establishments that Offer Health Insurance to their Employees, 2013.
6 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Percent of Private Sector Establishments That Offer Health Insurance to their Employees, by firm size, 2013.
7 CFED, Employee Share of the Premium, 2014.
8 U.S. Census Bureau, POV46: Poverty Status by State: 2014 Below 100% and 50% of Poverty — All AgesPOV46: Poverty Status by State: 2014 Below 100% and 50% of Poverty — People Under 18 Years of Age, Weighted Person Count.
9 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Infant Mortality Rates (deaths per 1,000 live births), 2013.
10 National Education Association, Ranking & Estimates - Rankings of the States 2015 and Estimates of School Statistics 2016, Table H-11. Current Expenditures for Public K-12 Schools Per Student in Fall Enrollment, 2014-15 ($)Note: Wisconsin was excluded from the free-bargaining states vs. right to work state analysis for education spending because the state enacted its right to work law in 2015. The impact of right to work policies would not have been fully experienced in the 2014–2015 school year. In addition, West Virginia is included as a free bargaining state in this analysis of 2014–2015 school year data because the state passed right to work legislation in 2016.
11 Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2014.

Membership

LOCAL 355 SHOP STEWARD RETIRES

Congratulations to Koeppel Nissan shop steward Franklyn Kerr who is retiring after 30 years as lead parts counterman in the Koeppel Parts Department, and as shop steward for Local 355 for the last fifteen years. 

Franklyn has been a key player in everything Local 355 has been able to accomplish at Koeppel Nissan over the years. 

The USWU and IUJAT wish Franklyn the best in his retirement and thank him for all his contributions to the Union.

United Welfare Fund, Benefits

UNITED WELFARE FUND–SECURITY DIVISION UPDATE

The United Welfare Fund-Security Division is a unique benefit that is only available to members of the USWU and its affiliates. Many of you have been participating in the Security Division for many years but may not have a solid understanding of what the fund is and how it works. What is most important about the fund is the manner in which we handle our investments. The Security Division has in excess of $347 million in assets and pays benefits of more than $34 million annually. With such a large fund, wise investment is absolutely critical.

The Security Division’s investment philosophy is to maintain the highest quality of investments it can, by investing in fixed income securities. These investments include U.S. Treasury securities and Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities that are 100% guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S Government, which makes them the safest vehicles in which to invest. By contrast, bank accounts and CDs are not backed by the US Government, and are only backed by the FDIC—and there are limits to the insurance the FDIC provides.

The Security Division adheres to a long-term investment approach that is meant to provide steady growth over the course of participants’ careers and give them peace of mind knowing that their account balances are stable and secure. It is the Trustees’ and my belief that our greatest responsibility to our participants is to protect their account balances and not put them at risk by subjecting them to the volatility and daily fluctuations of the markets or other investment vehicles.

We have intentionally avoided riskier investment options such as the stock market. When the stock market plummeted in 2008, the participants in the Security Division were all thanking the Trustees for investing in US Government Securities.

We did a fifteen (15) year study comparing the Dow Jones averages compared to the Security Division dividends: Dow Jones was 4.8% compared to the non-risk taking Security Division of 5.58%. 

Many other union-sponsored ERISA Funds have not been as cautious and are now paying dearly for their poor choices. If you follow the news, you will hear regularly of union-sponsored benefit funds cutting benefits anywhere from 25% to 50% because of risky investments gone bad in recent years. We are proud to say we continue to provide positive dividends. 

No one can predict the future, but we all know from past history that interest rates fluctuate over time. We also know that interest rates will begin to rise again soon. Your Security Division dividends rise and fall with interest rates. Today, with artificially lower interest rates, the dividends have been lower. We hope that in the December meeting of the Federal Reserve, they will raise the interest rate, which will thereby have a positive effect on future Security Division dividends.

As always, we will continue to invest in safe investments so that we can guarantee that your Security Division balance is there for you when you retire.

Membership

LOCAL 455 SHOP STEWARD AWARDED

Please join USWU Local 455 in congratulating First Transit Region 5 shop steward Robert McRae for receiving a plaque of recognition from his fellow members at a recent membership meeting. 

Robert has been a diligent advocate for his fellow drivers throughout his tenure as shop steward and is a valued member of the Local 455 team.

401(k)

Will You Be Able to Retire Comfortably?

401(K)logo

Studies are showing that Americans are feeling more optimistic about affording a comfortable retirement then in prior years. But that optimism was tied strongly to whether an individual and/or his or her spouse has a retirement plan since they themselves are not doing a better job or saving and preparing. Today you earn a paycheck, in retirement you will need to generate income from different sources.

It is estimated that you will need 85% of pre-retirement income to maintain your current standard of living while in retirement. You may need more or less depending on your retirement goals and level of debt.

Are you yourself doing enough?

The Principal Financial Group® can help you find your path with your personalized Retirement Wellness Score. At a glance, you can see if you’re on track for retirement by looking up your score at principal.com/myscore.

If your score is in the red or yellow, some quick changes could move you into the green.

Use the interactive Retirement Wellness Planner to see how you can improve your score.

You may boost retirement savings by thousands of dollars, simply by increasing the amount you’re contributing by 1 percent (1%) or more each year. Consider making the maximum contribution you can.

Then take the easy step of increasing your retirement plan contribution by contacting the IUJAT 401(k) Plan Department at (718) 658-4848.

You will want to check in on your score at least once a year and as major life events happen to make sure you are still on track.

United Welfare Fund, USWU President's Message

USWU President’s Message

“That’s what you have insurance for...”

“Don’t worry, my insurance will pay for it...”

How often have we heard or even used one of these statements? But, do you realize that the costs of health care impact you even if your insurance covers it? All the costs paid for medical claims are paid from the premiums that employers and members pay. When costs rise, premiums rise. It’s that simple. And, when costs go up, employee contributions towards premiums usually increase too. Even if the employer pays increases in premiums, that leaves less money on the table during negotiations for wage increases. No matter how you look at it, medical costs impact you. In addition to the out-of -pocket costs you pay, the amounts paid by your insurance still impact your paycheck. Thus, it’s important to be a smart health care consumer to keep costs down. 

 

WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR OUT-OF-POCKET MEDICAL COSTS:

  • Save on medications – purchase generic, mail order, and formulary

  • Talk to your doctor about your benefit plan to make sure services are in-network

  • Use in-network doctors and facilities

  • Grab the phone before the car keys: Can you be seen by your primary care provider for this health care need? Is a Specialist warranted, or is Urgent Care or Emergency Room needed?

  • Go to the most appropriate and cost-effective place for your condition (log onto www.anthem.com for cost comparisons and quality rankings of providers/facilities)

  • Save money on prescriptions by visiting Medtipsterfree.com. This site will help you find generic drugs for a lower co-pay or even zero co-pay.

  • Read your medical bill and explanation of benefit forms (EOBs)

 

REVIEW YOUR HEALTH CARE BILLS

By reviewing your health care bills, you will know what health care actually costs and could prevent your insurance plan from paying more than is necessary. Billing of health care services is very complex. For example, today, there are more than 14,000 procedure codes for physician services. Not to mention the numerous health conditions that could be diagnosed. Providers are human and billing errors do happen. Here are some things you should look for when you receive a bill or Explanation of Benefit (EOB) from your insurance company.

  • Did you receive all of the services listed on the bill?

  • Are they in the correct amounts or dosages?

  • Even though you might only be responsible for a copayment or small percentage, note the total cost of care and how much your insurance paid.

  • Avoid duplication and actively participate in your care; know what services you received and why they were done

  • For some services you may receive bills from providers whom you never see face to face – such as radiologists

  • When your doctor orders blood work, ask to have the test results shared with all of your doctors (any specialists you regularly see) to avoid double testing. You should also keep a copy of your lab results for yourself so you have the information in case you see a new doctor or need to go to a walk in medical center. 

  • Anytime you see a discrepancy or a questionable charge, contact the United Welfare Fund at 718-658-4848

 

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE

Consumers need to play a key role in all aspects of health care delivery. Remember that money you save the Fund in unnecessary charges will help hold down health care costs – including costs you pay in the form of premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Learning how to use health care services helps to maximize your benefits. Leading a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk for the leading causes of preventable death. Being a wise health care consumer is an important choice in leading a long and healthy life. 

Membership, Organizing

ESPOSITO CONSTRUCTION, LOCAL 339

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When the men at Esposito Construction LLC were looking for a union to represent them, they came to the right place. After speaking to our Local 339 members at recently organized Mazzara Trucking & Excavation in Freehold NJ, they contacted the USWU.

IUJAT International Representative Christopher Kuehne and Director of USWU’s Construction Division Kevin Barry met with the men and showed them the benefits of having one union represent all the workers under one contract. The men agreed and of the 70 men involved, they overwhelmingly demanded USWU Local 339 represent them. With a "One Union - One Contract" approach, negotiating an agreement with the employer was much less complicated. 

The men now enjoy a contract that guarantees them wage increases, fully paid medical, paid vacation and holidays, paid sick leave, UWF Security Fund, Employer 401(k)contributions.

Thanks for choosing USWU Local 339!

Membership

ATLANTIC CITY AMBASSADORS, LOCAL 255

lou&ambassadors

Have you ever been on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and spotted the friendly people in lime green shirts? Or spoken to one of them for directions or a recommendation on where to have breakfast? 

These Atlantic City Ambassadors are proud members of Local 255, USWU. These members patrol and assist tourists on the boardwalk, greet you and thank you for visiting Atlantic City, and are always there to lend a hand. 

Next time you visit Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk, introduce yourself to your fellow members. I’m sure they’ll tell you a thing or two about the town that you’ll find interesting!

Membership

LOCAL 363 GRADUATION DINNER

363grad5

On June 3, Local 363 celebrated its graduation dinner. There were nearly 30 graduates this year. As 363 continues to grow through our aggressive organizing, we expect these graduating classes to continue to turn out well-skilled electricians. Thanks for everyone’s continued support. 

–Chuck Shimkus, Business Manager

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JATF

JATF: Answering the Call

Our industry, like many other industries, found itself in a bit of a quandary! The baby boomers who had been in leadership roles as Foreman, Project Supervisors, and Project Managers were starting to retire. This left a tremendous void in leadership.  Companies were finding this void costly and needed to fix this problem.  

The United Service Workers Local 355 Joint Apprentice Training Center was called upon to help meet these training needs. And we were able toanswer the call. We put together a two year program: Project Manager, and Foreman Advanced Training. This program covered Crew Leadership, Project Supervision, and Project Management. The results and feedback were outstanding.  We graduated seventeen future industry leaders on June 16, 2016.

These graduates are filling the leadership void in managing projects for the companies employing them. These companies are seeing a definite return on their investment. When a job is well-managed, morale is lifted, safety improves, productivity increases, and companies are more profitable.

We are proud of our graduates and wish them much success in all their future endeavors. The United Service Workers Local 355 Joint Apprenticeship Training Center is proud to be able to assist our signatories and answer the call.

We’re training the technicians of tomorrow, today! 

jatf.uswu.org - (631)589-5880