BUSINESS TEL:   281.593.1690

BUSINESS FAX:  832.218.1996

Breaking News

Labor Relations News Update December 8, 2014

Today’s Labor Update’s:

Blue-Green Alliance calls for planet-wide move to clean energy

Select events and news from the world of organized labor

Board ALJ Hits Phillips 66 For Media Gag Policy 


Blue-Green Alliance calls for planet-wide move to clean energy

by: Special to December 5 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 5, 2014) – The BlueGreen Alliance today said that some of North America’s largest environmental and labor organizations are calling for United Nations (UN) negotiators at this week’s 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru to push for a smart, world-wide transition to clean and renewable energy at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“We must act now to address global climate change and promote the creation and maintenance of good jobs in the clean energy economy,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard, who co-chairs the BlueGreen Alliance. “The economic and ecological welfare of the planet cannot wait.”

“From the landmark deal between the U.S. and China to slash emissions to the sizable contributions committed to the Green Climate fund, momentum toward significant international action to tackle the climate crisis is quickly growing. The negotiations in Lima give us the chance to build on those successes by setting the table for progress in Paris that will expand the clean energy economy at home while protecting our communities from the worst consequences of climate disruption,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director and co-chair of the BlueGreen Alliance.

In a letter sent today, the groups asked for President Obama to continue his leadership on addressing climate change and to take advantage of the opportunities presented to us in moving to a cleaner economy. Specifically, they urged national and global collaboration to develop and share best practices for a just transition for all workers. This includes financial support, social and worker protection policies and job impact data, all of which must be part of a comprehensive program for building opportunities and equity around the world.

“Climate change is an issue that affects working families no matter where they live. We hope the agreements to come out of Lima result in real, enforceable action,” said Communications Workers of America president Larry Cohen.

“Strong commitments to curtail carbon pollution are a necessary, critical step forward in the fight against climate change. We are hopeful leaders can collectively agree on ambitious measures,” said Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC.

The COP 20 in Lima, Peru is expected to set the framework of a larger climate agreement prior to the Paris climate negotiations next year.

“Thousands of working people who joined the largest climate change protest in history set the stage for world leaders to seize momentum toward making progress in Lima. The landmark agreement between the US and China also paved the way for leaders in Lima to embark toward climate action that we can all get behind,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“Regardless of national boundaries, we all have a stake in protecting the environment and investing in our own economic competitiveness. We look forward to finding new ways for working families to reap the benefits of these investments,” said William P. Hite, general president of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA).

“As millions of people around the world experience the realities of climate change firsthand-on the safety, health, and livelihoods of their families and communities- their call for climate action will only continue to grow. We’re hopeful the result of the COP 20 will be that countries, which to this point have stood on the sidelines, will step up, engage in a productive dialogue about the future we’re facing, and pave the way for meaningful commitments to reduce emissions,” said Dr. Kathleen Rest, executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“We hope future generations can benefit from a more level playing field, a more sustainable environment and stronger economy. The decisions we make today can set an example of what we’re capable of when we work together,” said American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten.

“There’s always more that needs to be done to invest in a strong, clean energy economy and to protect good, middle class jobs, and we hope to see strong commitments to meet these needs and priorities of workers,” said D. Michael Langford, national president of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA).

 In June, BlueGreen Alliance members showed their support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed action to regulate carbon pollution. They also urged the administration to consider how working families have already been affected by America’s energy transition, and how they will be impacted in the future as this rule is finalized and implemented.

“It’s vital that the U.S. engage other nations and lead the way to reducing the carbon pollution driving climate change. We’re excited for the opportunities the COP 20 provides to move us toward an international agreement that will create resilient and sustainable solutions to the problems facing our environment and wildlife,” said Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

In a recent letter to President Obama, the leaders emphasized the importance of moving forward now with smart initiatives that facilitate the transition to cleaner fuel, more resilient infrastructure and a robust workforce that is supported by good economic and social policies.

“Our members’ work reduces the carbon pollution that’s driving this change every day because riding public transit is one of the best ways to combat climate change, but we need global action in addition to local action,” said Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). “Today we’re looking to those who have a seat at the table to find common sense solutions that will strengthen economies, build resilient communities, expand public transit systems and create family-sustaining jobs.”

“President Obama’s leadership has set the bar high on climate change. We’re hopeful that this year’s COP can advance policies that protect jobs and move us forward in our efforts to fight climate change,” said James Boland, president of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC).

“Reducing the carbon pollution and greenhouse gases driving climate change is vital to protecting our environment and our communities. Along with the initiatives launched at the Leaders Summit in September and the historic US-China announcement earlier this month, the work in Lima can help set the groundwork for success for strong international action now,” said Elizabeth Thompson, president of EDF Action, the political action partner of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

“The United States is leading by example; now is the time for others to step up. The decisions made over the next few weeks must work to lay a foundation for further international action to significantly reduce carbon emissions and to help keep America’s manufacturing sector on a level playing field,” said Kim Glas, BlueGreen Alliance executive director.


Select events and news from the world of organized labor


Volkswagen (VW) announced a new policy that will grant eligible organizations at its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant status as a “representative group” belonging to one of three tiers, based on representative percentage. This is the first time the company will recognize and meet with groups with less than majority support. VW’s announcement follows the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) February 2014 representation election loss. The policy cannot be used to request recognition as the exclusive representative of employees for purposes of collective bargaining and requires that employees select only one primary group for purposes of membership percentage. The UAW is pursuing the 45 percent tier to establish meetings with management, hoping to begin negotiating as a minority union but to eventually gain collective bargaining rights when membership is substantial enough.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) has been actively pursuing organizing campaigns at several FedEx Freight facilities across the country, with decidedly mixed results. Following an initial victory in October at an East Philadelphia facility, where workers voted 26 to 18 for representation, IBT held successful elections at freight facilities in Monmouth Junction, N.J., where workers voted 66 to 42 for representation, and Charlotte, N.C., where workers voted 110 to 97 for representation. FedEx is contesting the East Philadelphia election and may contest the Monmouth Junction and Charlotte facilities elections as well. The victories, however, coincide with FedEx workers at facilities in Cinnaminson and Newark, N.J. voting down representation. IBT also withdrew election petitions at facilities in Middletown, Pa. and South Newark, N.J., which FedEx officials say was based on a lack of union support. On November 20, IBT also cancelled an election at the Richmond facility in Chester, Va. The IBT is continuing to campaign, with recent representation petitions filed at freight locations in Pocono Summit, Pa. and Parkersburg, W.Va.

Bus drivers at Loop Transportation providing shuttle transportation to Facebook employees at its California facility voted 42 to 28 for representation by the IBT. Loop employs 87 drivers who are allegedly seeking schedule changes that often require them to wait, unpaid, between picking up and dropping of employees at Facebook, as well as pay raises and improved working conditions

Adjunct faculty at Burlington College and Champlain College, both in Vermont, voted in favor of representation by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with a count of 23 to 4 in Burlington and 118 to 30 in Champlain. SEIU claims to represent more than 20,000 contingent faculty across the country, with active organizing drives in 11 metropolitan areas. The union’s organizing effort is targeting mostly small, privately owned colleges.

 A group of 268 licensed practical nurses, radiology technologists, and other technical workers at Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital in Connecticut, voted, 120-108, in favor of representation by the Connecticut affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The union already represents registered nurses at the two hospitals.

A group of 84 food distribution drivers at Roma of Southern California, a division of Performance Food Group (PFG), voted 68 to 15 in favor of representation by the IBT. The union victory is the first organizing win at the company on the West Coast, although the Teamsters have contracts at several PFG terminals on the East Coast.

Strikes & Labor Disputes 

Members of the National Nurses United (NNU) walked off the job November 11 and 12 to protest what they view as a lack of preparedness for an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. nationwide. The union also cited safety conditions and training as central issues during their ongoing contract talks with Kaiser Permanente. The strike occurred at multiple hospitals in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Hundreds of federally contracted employees walked off the job November 13 to demand that President Obama order agencies to give preference to those companies that pay $15 per hour, provide benefits, and honor union rights. This was the first time employees at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center participated in a walkout, although it is the 10th one-day strike since May 2013. The strikes are backed by labor federation Change to Win, which has changed its demand for a “living wage” to a $15 wage floor, benefits, and collective bargaining rights. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which supports the striking workers, discussed how President Obama’s previous executive order, which raised the minimum contractor wage to $10.10 and forced companies bidding for government contracts to disclose previous labor violations, was not enough.

Baggage handlers at Philadelphia International Airport walked off the job to call attention to alleged retaliation and intimidation by their contracted employer, Primeflight Aviation Services Inc., for involvement with an SEIU organizing campaign. The SEIU said the Philadelphia strike was coordinated with protests by airport workers in eight other cities the same day. The unfair labor allegations are the subject of an upcoming NLRB hearing. Workers employed by Primeflight at La Gaurdia Airport in New York and Newark Airport in New Jersey also protested and asked airlines to pressure their contracted employer to improve working conditions. Joining the strikers, airport employees in Fort Lauderdale protested for wages owed and leafleted airline passengers in cities across the country. A day earlier, workers and supporters had protested Alaska Airlines’ pending lawsuit, challenging the validity of the local initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, at their headquarters outside of Seattle, Wash.

    Housekeepers at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Cambridge, Mass. held a 24-hour strike, demanding that hotel owner Harvard University allow the group to unionize without fear of retaliation. Union officials for UNITE HERE, which orchestrated the protest, say the strike was prompted by increased workloads, which have increased workplace injuries. The protestors asked Harvard to take a position on the strike, but Harvard has refused to get involved, saying the demands should be dealt with by Hilton and maintaining that it is not an employer. The union claims Harvard is “hiding behind Hilton.”

Dockworker members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union began a work slowdown on October 31, reducing container movement in Seattle and Tacoma Washington. The 20,000-member union has been negotiating for a new contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, representing terminal operators at shipping lines for ports along the west coast, after their six-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired earlier this year. The issues surrounding the negotiations involve health care expenses, salaries, work rules, and jobs preservation efforts in the face of increasing automation. On November 6, the dockworkers expanded the slowdown to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the biggest of the 27 west coast ports. According to a representatives for the Association, this will leave half the yard crane positions unfulfilled and threatens to exacerbate existing congestion. Full shutdown coast-wide would cost the U.S. economy an estimated $2 billion a day. In 2002, after a similar work slowdown, the association locked out workers for 10 days until President Bush obtained a court order to reopen the ports. Negotiators are discussing salaries, overtime, automation, and work rules, but announced they have resolved health care-related issues.

Leaders from the United Steelworkers (USW) union, representing two-thirds of workers in U.S. oil refineries, have announced that they are ready for a nationwide strike in order to ensure that their workers get a share of the industry’s recent boom. Oil industry production is at its highest level in three decades, and the USW believes workers deserve to share in refineries’ profits. The union is demanding substantial wage increases, rules to prevent fatigue, and measures to keeps union workers, not contract employees, on the job. A nationwide strike of USW workers could cause a halt to as much as 63 percent of U.S. oil production.

An estimated 750 IBT truck drivers at seven companies operating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as two rail yards, engaged in a nine-day strike. The strike began among port truck drivers from two drayage firms and expanded a few days later to include drivers at five other companies. The drivers are challenging their classification as independent contractors rather than employees of the trucking companies. The IBT said the drivers believe the trucking companies are also denying them basic protections, health and safety regulations, disability insurance, workers’ compensation, and unemployment benefits. The companies targeted by the protests accounted for just 500 of the 10,000 drayage trucks registered to operate at the ports.

Major Contract Settlements & Negotiations 

An analysis of data compiled by Bloomberg BNA through November 24 showed that the average first-year wage increase for all settlements was 2.1 percent, the same reported from the comparable period in 2013. The median first-year wage increase for settlements reported to date in 2014 was 2 percent, the same increase as that reported in 2013, and the weighted average was 2.6 percent, compared with 1.9 percent in 2013. The all-settlements (excluding construction and state and local government) average increase was 2.4 percent, compared with 2.7 percent in 2013; the median was 2.5 percent, an increase from 2.3 percent a year ago; and the weighted average was 2.6 percent, compared with last year’s 2.1 percent. When lump-sum payments were factored into wage calculations, the all-settlements average first-year increase to date in 2014 was 2.4 percent, the same increase reported a year ago. Median and weighted average increases were 2.1 percent and 2.9 percent respectively, compared to the 2 percent and 3 percent increases from 2013.

Bloomberg BNA analyzed 1,469 settlements providing for deferred payment increases in 2015 under contracts negotiated in earlier years. The all-settlements average wage increase payable in 2015 is 2.3 percent, an increase from the 2.2 percent reported for 2014. The median increase for 2015 is 2.2 percent, the same negotiated in earlier years for 2014, and the weighted average in 2.6 percent in 2015, compared with 2.3 percent this year. The highest average increase deferred to 2015 by employment sector is in the airline industry at 3.5 percent, then transit with 3 percent. Benefit revisions scheduled to occur in 2015 were found in 152 analyzed settlements, with changes occurring most frequently in insurance plans and pension plans. 70 percent of 124 contract reports itemizing changes to health and welfare plans for 2015 have measures to control for health care costs. Preliminary findings on all-settlement pay increases for 2016 under 728 contracts shows a 2.4 percent average wage increase, 2.3 percent median gain, and 3.8 percent average weighted increase. Benefit revisions in 2016 will occur most often in insurance plans and pension plans. Looking at 66 settlement reports itemizing insurance data, 92 percent have measures to control health care costs.

Members of Air Canada’s Pilots Association (ACPA) ratified a 10-year CBA covering 3,000 Air Canada pilots. The contract guarantees the airline labor peace in exchange for wage increases totaling 20 percent over the agreement’s term, along with a signing bonus, and profit incentives for senior management. The pilots will receive 2 percent annual pay raises and increases in pension benefits. The CBA also sets performance targets that if met, require the union to give up its right to strike under the Canada Labour Code. Air Canada and its pilots have not settled a new CBA without resorting to work stoppage or arbitration since 1996.

 The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) ratified two four-year agreements with Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc. that increase wages and maintain health care and retirement benefits for 2,200 workers at 25 grocery stores in New Mexico. The union agreed to a merger of the New Mexico and Arizona UFCW health funds after Smith’s agreed to add $5 million to the fund. Under the agreements, workers will receive wage increases and additional paid time off for holidays, and courtesy clerks will be eligible for health insurance. The union also agreed to drop an unfair labor practice complaint as part of the settlement.

In Arizona, UFCW members ratified a two-year CBA with Kroger (parent company of Fry’s Food Stores and Smith’s Food and Drug), covering 14,500 workers at 120 locations, and a two-year CBA with Safeway covering 8,500 workers at 113 stores. The contracts call for employees who have reached the top of their wage-progression scales to receive hourly wage increases of 25 cents for five consecutive years and includes seniority language to protect full-time employees. The contracts make no changes to existing employee bonuses, health care or pension benefits.

UFCW members also ratified a three-year contract with Kroger for 4,000 workers in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. The contract somewhat maintained health care benefits without forcing employees into inferior plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Employees will begin to pay more for health care in 2016 and 2017. The contract also imposes a slight increase in the number of hours part-time employees must work to maintain benefits. In addition to general wage increases, the agreement contains other wage perks for pharmacy technicians based on four different levels of training and wage premiums for working at night, as well as improvements in Sunday and holiday pay benefits.

UFCW members overwhelmingly ratified a three-year contact with Shopper Grocery for 2,500 workers in the Washington, D.C. area. Union representatives claimed the CBA increases workers’ wages by up to 90 cents per hour during the three-year term of the contract and maintains health care and pension benefits, despite increased costs for employers brought about by the ACA.

Accuride Corporation, a vehicle industry supplier, announced reaching a four-year CBA with the UAW, representing 291 hourly employees at their Rockford, Ill. facility. This follows other recently negotiated agreements at facilities in London, Ontario with the Canadian Auto Workers; Brillion, Wisconsin with the U.S. Steelworkers; and Erie, Pennsylvania with the UAW.

Administrative, Court & Other Decisions 

The NLRB ruled that ConAgra Foods Inc. violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for reprimanding an employee for discussing union activities and for maintaining an overly broad non-solicitation policy. An employee was reprimanded after informing coworkers during the work shift where they could find union authorization cards. The company also posted the non-solicitation policy and explained that the policy limited union discussions to non-working times. The NLRB found the warnings to be unlawful because the discussion only lasted a few seconds, did not interrupt work, and was not a solicitation. The Board also ruled that the letter constituted an overly broad rule that violated the NLRA because employees would understand it to be a prohibition of all union discussions during working time. ConAgra Foods, Inc. & United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 75.

An NLRB administrative law judge (ALJ) held that a Pittsburgh hospital, the target of a union organizing campaign, violated the NLRA when management blocked union representatives from speaking to employees in the cafeteria, required an employee to remove a union sticker when others were permitted to wear other types of insignia in immediate patient care areas, and prohibited workers from posting union material on bulletin boards, while allowing the employer-dominated employee council to post. The judge ordered the hospital to reinstate four discharged employees with back pay, to read the remedial order to the hospital’s 3,500 employees, and to disband the employee council. The judge declined, however, to require that the notice be posted for 120 days (rather than the customary 60 days), as requested by the NLRB General Counsel. UPMC.

  A district court judge in Arizona ordered the NLRB to pay more than $50,000 in attorneys’ fees to a food packaging company. The NLRB alleged that the company engaged in unfair labor practices after workers decided to unionize, and sought an injunction requiring the immediate reinstatement of four fired employees. The company argued that the employees resigned after they started using a software that verifies worker employment eligibility after hire. The court held that the NLRB’s demand for reinstatement without eligibility confirmation was illegal and granted the full amount of attorney’s fees requested. Overstreet v. Farm Fresh Company Target One LLC.

 An NLRB ALJ held that a New York Hospital violated federal labor law by failing to pay longevity-based raises to nurses after its CBA expired. Although the ALJ found the hospital did not have a contractual obligation to pay the wage increases nine months after the contract had expired, the hospital was required to abide by the wage increase provision under the NLRA. Because the CBA lacked language about post-expiration raises, the union had not waived its right to maintain such a provision. Wilkes-Barre Hospital Co. LLC and Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, AFL-CI.

In an advice memorandum, the NLRB General Counsel’s office advocated that the Board adopt its earlier position (in Alan Ritchey Inc., a decision invalidated by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Noel Canning) that an employer must bargain with a union before making discretionary discipline decisions in certain first contract situations. The Advice Memorandum adopted the reasoning of Alan Ritchey, but concluded a Washington nuclear power facility contractor was not under a bargaining obligation on the facts of the case because the employer applied a negotiated discipline policy that existed under a previously expired CBA. Washington River Prot. Solutions.

The Northern District of Indiana ruled that electronic parts maker DCX-CHOL Enterprises Inc., that had acquired a unionized company and acknowledged its status as a successor employer could not withdraw union recognition. Several months after the acquisition, the employer attempted to withdraw recognition after receiving a petition signed by a majority of employees stating they no longer wished to be represented by the union. The court held that the successor employer was required to recognize and bargain with the union for at least six months under the NLRB’s “successor bar” doctrine. The court ordered that the employer reverse certain unilateral changes to working conditions that had been made, and to recognize and bargain with the union. Lineback v. SMI/Div. of DCX-CHOL Enters., Inc.

The Indiana Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that the state’s right-to-work law violated the Indiana Constitution’s provision that prohibits the state from demanding work without compensation. The International Union of Operating Engineers had sued the state, arguing that the new right-to-work law forced unions to represent all workers, regardless of whether or not they paid dues, because federal law requires unions to represent every employee fairly. The court disagreed with the union’s position, holding instead that the union’s obligation to represent all employees in a bargaining unit is optional, occurring only when the union elects to be the exclusive bargaining agent. The union says it is considering its options for seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Zoeller v. Sweeney.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found President Obama’s appointment of Craig Becker to the NLRB during a 17-day Senate recess in 2010 was valid under the Constitution’s Recess Appointment Clause. The court determined the appointment was valid because, as the Supreme Court’s ruling in Noel Canning established, the President may make recess appointments during a recess of 10 days or more. The appointment confirmation meant that the NLRB had a quorum when it found that Mathew Enterprise, Inc. violated the NLRA for firing a union activist, lifting a stay on that enforcement order from December 2012. Mathew Enter., Inc. v. NLRB.

Airlines for America, a group representing airline carriers, sued Los Angeles International Airport to block a new city requirement for companies providing services to their planes, including aircraft fueling, cleaning, and providing baggage services, to bargain with unions. The rule mandates that companies providing services negotiate so-called labor-peace agreements with unions representing workers in those fields, even if their employees are not members. The group maintains that this gives the unions enormous leverage because they can seek concessions for agreeing to a no-strike provision. The group also filed suit against the Port of Seattle, seeking to block the planned minimum wage increase of about 3,500 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Airline Serv. Providers Ass’n v. L.A. World Airports.

Legislation & Politics 

In a November 4 letter, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin told the House and Education and the Workforce Committee that the NLRB has no open cases proceeding solely on a theory of joint employment. This was in a response to a letter he received from congressional committees in September voicing concern over what they considered a broader and unprecedented test for joint employment. The controversial theory permits complaints of unfair labor practices against franchisers as joint employers with franchisees.

Scott Walker won re-election as Governor of Wisconsin, despite unions spending hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing him. Walker gained notoriety among the labor movement for supporting a new state law limiting the collective bargaining rights of employees. The law prompted protests, court challenges, and a union-led recall, which Walker won. Some have pointed to Walker’s victory, as well as the recent re-election of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who signed Michigan’s right-to-work law, as evidencing organized labor’s reduced political influence in the U.S.

Republicans are likely to use committees to increase oversight of the NLRB, EEOC, and Labor Department. Congressional aides predict that Senator Lamar Alexander, who has previously criticized the NLRB as being a union advocate, will be named the HELP committee chairman. He previously introduced legislation with Senator McConnell that would expand the NLRB from five to six members and require a four-member majority to determine representation. Further, Representative John Kline from Minnesota will likely stay on for a fourth term as the House Education and Workforce Committee Chair, with Speaker Boehner granting a waiver to conference rules limiting members to three terms. At least two HELP committee seats and seven Education and the Workforce Committee seats currently held by Democrats will become available.

President Obama withdrew Sharon Block’s nomination to the NLRB after Republicans won senate control. Republicans had previously urged Block to step down from the NLRB when the validity of her 2012 recess appointment was challenged. Ultimately, her appointment was held invalid in the Supreme Court’s Noel Canning decision, and she left the NLRB in August of 2013. After withdrawing Block’s name, President Obama nominated Senate lawyer Lauren McFerran, who has served as chief labor counsel for the Senate HELP Committee since 2010.


The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) has asked the Labor Secretary to require two German auto unions who have shown support for UAW’s organization campaign at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, to file reports as labor organizations under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Under the LMRDA, labor organizations are required to file financial reports. The NRTW argues that the German unions should be required to file reports, reasoning that there is no exception for an organization because they are headquartered outside of the U.S. They are further encouraging an investigation into whether the German unions have attempted to persuade workers at the plant to join the union, arguing that the Labor Department’s failure to act would create LMRDA immunity for foreign-based organizations.

The SEIU will be sending a group of fast food workers on a tour of eight countries to meet fast food workers overseas that earn significantly higher wages and learn how to emulate their organizing efforts here. The SEIU global effort comes two years after fast food workers began staging one-day walkouts nationwide to demand a $15 minimum wage and union rights. The trip is part of SEIU’s continued partnership with IUF, a federation of 396 trade unions in 126 countries, who coordinated protests against fast food employers with SEIU members walkout protests.


Board ALJ Hits Phillips 66 For Media Gag Policy 

By Cary Burke on December 1, 2014

Last week, National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Lisa D. Thompson ruled that Phillips 66 violated the National Labor Relations Act by maintaining “an unlawful work rule that prohibits employees from speaking to the news media.”

The case arose in September 2011 when the United Steelworkers (USW) sought to organize five health and safety specialists who worked at the company’s Santa Maria facility.  During the campaign, the USW became aware of the company’s “media rule,” which prohibited employees from sharing information about “company operations” with the news media.  Because the rule was vague and ambiguous, the ALJ found that it could be interpreted to prohibit discussions of wages and working conditions.

“Because respondent’s ambiguous rule prohibits all ‘information exchange’ about ‘company operations,’ and those terms are ill defined, the guideline, as written, could also encompass and prohibit communications about ‘wages,’ ‘labor disputes,’ and other terms and conditions of employment,” Judge Thompson said in the ruling. “Because respondent’s guideline fails to define its terms so as to clarify what communication is permissible, I find that respondent’s rule reasonably tends to chill protected activity.”

Union officials predictably welcomed the ruling.  However, the company did not comment as of press time.  We will keep you posted on any appeal to the full Board, so stay tuned.

Comments are closed.