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Today’s Labor Updates, January 20, 2018

Summary of NLRB Decisions for Week of January 8 – 12, 2018.

The Summary of NLRB Decisions is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for the opinions of the NLRB.  Inquiries should be directed to the Office of the Executive Secretary at 202‑273‑1940.

Summarized Board Decisions

IronTiger Logistics, Inc.  (16-CA-027543; 366 NLRB No. 2)  Kansas City, MO, January 9, 2018.

Upon remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Board reversed its previous decision (362 NLRB No. 45 (2015), aff’g. 359 NLRB 236 (2012)), and found that the Respondent did not violate the Act by failing to timely respond to the Union’s request for information. Given the Administrative Law Judge’s unexcepted-to finding that on the day after requesting the information the Union conceded that all of the information sought was irrelevant, the Board concluded that the Respondent was not obligated to do anything more.  It, therefore, vacated its prior Order and dismissed the complaint.

Charge filed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO. Administrative Law Judge George Carson II issued his decision on May 6, 2011.  Chairman Kaplan and Members Pearce and McFerran participated.


Unpublished Board Decisions in Representation and Unfair Labor Practice Cases

R Cases

Paragon Systems, Inc.  (05-RC-205598)  Herndon, VA, January 10, 2018.  The Board denied the Intervenor-Union’s Motion for Extraordinary Relief and its Motion to Cancel the Election and Dismiss the Petition.  The Board noted that the motions were not properly before the Board and that the denial is without prejudice to the Intervenor’s right to raise its contentions to the Region.  Petitioner – Fraternity of American Protective Officers.  Intervenor – National League of Justice and Security Professionals.  Members Pearce, McFerran, and Emanuel participated.

C Cases

SEIU, United Healthcare Workers-West  (31-CB-195763)  West Hollywood, CA, January 8, 2018.  The Board denied the Union’s Petition to Revoke an investigative subpoena duces tecum, as the subpoena sought information relevant to the matter under investigation and described with sufficient particularity the evidence sought, and the Employer failed to establish any other legal basis for revoking the subpoena.  Charge filed by an individual.  Members Pearce, McFerran, and Emanuel participated.

American Medical Response, Inc.  (28-CA-188389)  Mesa, AZ, January 8, 2018.  The Board denied the Petition to Revoke an investigative subpoena duces tecum filed by American Medical Response, as the subpoena sought information relevant to the matters under investigation and described with sufficient particularity the evidence sought, and the Petitioner failed to establish any other legal basis for revoking the subpoena.   The Board stated that the Petitioner was not required to produce materials already furnished, provided that it describes those documents and provides all subpoenaed information.  The Board also evaluated the subpoena in light of the Region’s statement that it would withdraw certain requests if the Petitioner stipulates that there were no responsive collective-bargaining agreements in addition to those already provided by the Petitioner.  Charge filed by General Teamsters (Excluding Mailers), State of Arizona, Local Union No. 104, an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  Members Pearce, McFerran, and Emanuel participated.

Dichello Distributors, Inc.  (01-CA-183436)  Orange, CT, January 12, 2018.  The Board denied the Employer’s Petition to Revoke an investigative subpoena duces tecum, as the subpoena sought information relevant to the matter under investigation and described with sufficient particularity the evidence sought, and the Employer failed to establish any other legal basis for revoking the subpoena.  Charge filed by International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 443.  Members Pearce, McFerran, and Emanuel participated.

Richfield Hospitality, Inc. as managing agent for Kahler Hotels, LLC  (18-CA-187974 and 18-CA-198527)  Rochester, MN, January 12, 2018.  In this case alleging independent Section 8(a)(5), (3), and (1) allegations, the Board approved a formal settlement stipulation between the Respondent, the Charging Party, and the General Counsel, and specified actions the Respondent must take to comply with the Act.  Charges filed by Unite Here International Union Local 21.  Chairman Kaplan and Members Pearce and Emanuel participated.

Menard, Inc.  (18-CA-181821)  Minneapolis, MN, January 12, 2018.  No exceptions having been filed to the November 17, 2017 decision of Administrative Law Judge Paul Bogas’ finding that the Respondent had not engaged in certain unfair labor practices, the Board adopted the judge’s findings and conclusions, and dismissed the complaint.  Charge filed by Local 153, Office & Professional Employees International Union, AFl-CIO.

Montauk Student Transport, LLC  (02-CA-174131, et al.)  New York, NY, January 12, 2018.  No exceptions having been filed to the November 30, 2017 decision of Administrative Law Judge Benjamin W. Green’s finding that the Respondent had engaged in certain unfair labor practices, the Board adopted the judge’s findings and conclusions, and ordered the Respondent to take the action set forth in the judge’s recommended Order.  Charges filed by The Transport Workers Union of Greater New York, Local 100.


Appellate Court Decisions

No Appellate Court Decisions involving Board Decisions to report.


Administrative Law Judge Decisions

Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca, Inc.  (03-CA-185233 and 03-CA-186047; JD-02-18)  Ithaca, NY.  Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Sorg-Graves issued her decision on January 8, 2018.  Charges filed by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

PrimeFlight Aviation Services, Inc.  (29-CA-191801 and 29-CA-196327; JD(NY)-01-18)  Brooklyn, NY.  Administrative Law Judge Kenneth W. Chu issued his decision on January 9, 2018.  Charges filed by Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ.

Organized Labor’s Lawbreakers

Organized labor has a long history of corruption, but federal records show it’s not improving. In the past two years a total of 143 labor leaders and staffers have pleaded guilty or been convicted of federal crimes, according to the Labor Department’s recently updated disclosures on criminal enforcement actions.

The federal government’s felonious list includes the presidents of more than 30 union locals, as well as more than 60 officials who held a treasurer or secretary-treasurer post. The crimes overwhelmingly involve top brass stealing from the union, and the incidents range from pilfered thousands to multi-million- dollar embezzlements. Union members are the victims.

For instance, Tamika Bullock was a secretary- treasurer for the boilermakers union in Chesapeake, Virginia, who last November pleaded guilty to embezzlement. She had stolen more than $20,000 from an account that was supposed to aid workers coping with a serious illness or economic crisis. She used some of that money to go on a cruise.

Raymond Ventrone of the boilermakers Pittsburgh local embezzled at least $1.5 million from the union. Ventrone dropped $527,000 on Louis Vuitton purses and $38,000 on drums, and a U.S. Attorney recounted how the former business manager’s house was “literally lined with Best Buy purchases.”

David Fleury, president of a bricklayers local in Rockford, Illinois, stole more than $250,000 from the union, spending heavily on gambling and vacations. David Sager, president of the steelworkers union in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, embezzled hundreds of thousands, which he used in part for tickets to see Carrie Underwood, Disney on Ice and Sesame Street Live.

The list goes on, and the extent suggests problems that go beyond temptation and human nature. One issue is probably the lack of adequate financial controls, especially given how much money unions get in member dues. The cash is handled by union locals, which means many opportunities for corruption. National union outfits like the AFL-CIO should provide education and technology to help locals keep track of the money. Public companies face internal and external audits and scrutiny by multiple regulators. The Labor Department conducts organized-labor audits, and in 2016 nearly one in five led to a criminal case.

Corruption stories spread by word of mouth, and they may help explain the continuing decline in union membership when workers have a choice about joining. Why pay dues for minimal benefits if there’s a good chance the money will be stolen? This crime spree is one more reason for more states to pass right-to-work laws that let workers decide if they want to pay those dues.

At least 143 union leaders have admitted to crimes since 2016.

Union Membership Bottoms Out At Record Low

Posted to Politics January 19, 2018 by Connor D. Wolf

The union membership rate stalled at a record low last year after suffering a decades-long decline, according to federal data released Friday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found in its report that the union membership rate for wage and salary workers was unchanged from the year prior – sitting at 10.7 percent in 2017. The total number of unionized workers increased by 262,000 to 14.8 million. That increase wasn’t enough to push up the overall percentage of unionized workers.

The BLS has found that the union membership rate has been in decline since at least 1983. The union membership rate at the time was 20.1 percent at 17.7 million unionized workers. Since that time, the rate has steadily fallen – with a notable two-year bump starting around 2006.

Interestingly, while membership rates have declined, unions are still fairly popular. The Pew Research Center found in a survey last year that union favorability has been on the rise and now sits at 60 percent. Union favorability was only at 48 percent back in 2015.

Labor unions have the strongest presence when it comes to public-sector workers. The union membership rate for those workers remained steady at 34.4 percent. The public-sector rate was more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers at 6.5 percent.

The BLS report also highlights how the union membership rate breaks down among workers. Those that work in protective service, education, training, and libraries had the highest unionization rates. Men had a slightly higher union membership rate at 11.4 percent compared to women at 10.0 percent. Black workers are also more likely to be unionized than other races at 12.6 percent.

The declining membership rate goes back much further according to separate sources. The Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the legislature, found that the union membership rate peaked around 1955 – following a dramatic climb starting in the 1930s.

Former President Barack Obama saw the decline and worked to reverse it when he was in office. He argued numerous times that unions are critical to protecting workers. His administration implemented regulations to help bolster the number of unionized workers, but the downward trend continued.

President Donald Trump has not been as welcoming to labor unions despite building his agenda around workers. He has instead focused on helping workers through overall economic expansion and protectionism. Critics of the previous administration argued those reforms helped unions at the expense of both workers and employers.

“The larger trend is where the focus ought to be,” Center for Union Facts executive director Richard Berman told InsideSources. “The heart of the union movement was manufacturing, and manufacturing has suffered two events in the last half-century. One is outsourcing and the other is robots.”

Berman adds that those factors have reduced the amount of workers unions can potentially organize – adding that other union heavy industries like mining have experienced similar changes. Labor unions might also not be as appealing with how federal laws have codified many workplace protections and employer and employee relations have changed.

“Not as many people are interested because, quite frankly, management is more enlightened than it was in the 40s and 50s,” Berman said. “Jobs are not as dangerous, job environments are far more comfortable, people are working in air-conditioned environments, as opposed to oppressive environments, and there are a fewer amount of issues unions can use to sell people in terms of making the jobs better because management has made it better without the need for a union.”

Berman adds that there are also more subtle issues like people becoming more individualistic. Labor unions derive influence with collective action, but many workers may just decide to forge their own path. He also notes that labor unions have become less effective at organizing new workers with their focus on other things like politics.

Labor unions and their supporters have argued that the decline has hurt workers. Unions are often seen as being critical to advancing workplace rights and protections on behalf of workers. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found in a 2016 report that the decline has even resulted in lower wages for nonunion workers.

“Working class men have felt the decline in unionization the hardest,” Washington University sociologist Jake Rosenfeld, who co-authored the report, said at the time. “Their paychecks are noticeably smaller than if unions had remained as strong as they were almost 40 years ago. Rebuilding collective bargaining is one of the tools we have to reinvigorate wage growth, for low and middle-wage workers.”

The BLS report found that the typical nonunion worker will see a median weekly earnings of $829 – while unionized workers make $1,041 a week. The report does add that this doesn’t account for other factors that might explain the difference – including variations in the distributions of employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, and geographic region.

Berman counters that the decline won’t really have an impact on the workforce considering how few workers are unionized anyway. He also notes that the number of union members has stayed fairly steady, with the decline arising primarily from a growing workforce. He notes established unions tend to be very difficult to get rid of once they’re in place.

“The trend has, quite frankly, leveled off to a point where it’s probably going to stay for quite some time unless the law changes,” Berman said. “They’ll continue to be a smaller percentage of the workforce as the workforce grows.”

Labor unions do face the possibility that federal law will change in a devastating way. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case on whether to ban mandatory union dues in the public-sector. House Republicans introduced a bill last year aimed at making union dues and fees optional for all workers.

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