Student Workers Unionize

Original source: unionreview.com

First student school bus drivers, monitors and mechanics in West Point, Mississippi, are now Teamster members, after an overwhelming 21-6 vote in favor of representation by Local 891 in Jackson. The workers united in order to secure fair pay, affordable and decent health insurance, respect and a say on the job.

“We’re going to start bargaining the second week of June, and look forward to negotiating the first contract in the state of Mississippi for bus drivers,” said Willie Smith, President of Local 891 and Secretary-Treasurer of Joint Council 87.

There are 42 workers in the bargaining unit, who are now part of the more than 400 First Student workers in Mississippi who have joined Local 891 since September.

Since the Teamsters national Drive Up Standards campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry began in 2006, more than 17,600 drivers, monitors, aides, mechanics and attendants have become Teamsters.

Assault On The Workers

Do you know what the “Employees Free Choice Act” is?  It is a bill in the US Congress which basically states that workers have the right to employees have the right to join, form or assist labor organizations to provide for injunctions for unfair labor practices.  Does that sound like something that would be objectionable?  Well, it is….and especially in Mississippi a right to work state that gets constipation every time the word union is mentioned.

They are so afraid of unions, by they I mean the paid for politicians in the state legislature, that they have gone so far as to offer a bill to order the Mississippi representation in Washington to vote against it.

That bill is SC 550 which states:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION URGING MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO OPPOSE PASSAGE OF THE FEDERAL “EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT”

Has anyone in Jackson actually asked any worker in the state of Mississippi what they think of the idea of the Free Choice Act?  I do not think so.  Business in the state does not want it, so they pay these a/holes in Jackson to oppose it…and like good little puppies they do what they are told.

When…just when will the workers in Mississippi wake up and realize that the state is NOT on their side…that the state does all it can to keep them at the bottom of the economic ladder….the Mississippi worker deserves better from their politicians….it is beyiond time to throw these a/holes back into the sewers they crawled out of and start with the governor and go through the entire list…..start over could be no worse than it is now.

AL: Investigation Of State Workers Union

The board that oversees state employees voted Wednesday to request investigation of a pension deal between the Alabama State Employees Association and Nationwide Life Insurance Co.

The vote by the Alabama State Personnel Board followed a lawsuit filed by a pair of state employees against the association and Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide.

The suit claims that the employees union agreed to a bad deal for state workers and received millions from Nationwide in return.

“I’m worried about the 11,000 state employees and how these funds have managed to be kept a secret,” said personnel board member John McMillan. “There’s just a very distinct line between right and wrong.”

McMillan said the investigations conducted by four agencies, including the attorney general’s office, could result in financial penalties or even criminal prosecution.

FL: Vote On Union Ties

A secret ballot vote will be taken Tuesday and Wednesday by 303 county employees represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 to determine whether the union will continue to represent them.

Florida’s Public Employees Relations Commission — the state agency that resolves disputes about the makeup of labor unions — has issued a ruling saying an election should be held based on a petition requesting one. PERC will conduct the election.

In July, Tom Moore, a building technician for Facilities Management, filed a petition of more than the minimum 30 percent of the county employees represented by the union. This group of county employees is one of six labor contracts represented by the Local 1395.

The union contract with Escambia workers includes 303 public employees among nine county departments. It was formed in 2001. Only about 70 of the 303 are members who pay $33 a month in dues. The remainder are covered as a collective bargaining unit and receive union-negotiated benefits.

MS: Tensions With Immigrants And Unions

Union bosses in this region of rural Mississippi have long grumbled that the largest factories here hire illegal immigrants, and that the immigrants were starting to get more overtime and supervisory positions.

Friction between the union and immigrant workers, along with a tipoff at an electrical manufacturing plant, boiled over this week into the biggest workplace immigration raid in the nation’s history.

When the first of the 595 suspected illegal immigrants was taken into custody Monday, some fellow workers broke into applause. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the investigation started three years ago after agents received a tip from a union member.

Union members said they resented immigrants, who were often allowed to work as much as 40 hours of overtime a week when other workers were discouraged from doing so. All declined to give their names, saying they feared for their jobs.

In 2002, Mississippi lawmakers approved a $31.5 million, taxpayer-backed incentive plan for Howard Industries to expand. The company, with 4,000 workers, is the largest employer in Jones County, which includes Laurel.

About 2,600 of Howard Industries’ workers are in the union. Shaffer said he did not know whether any of those picked up in the raid were union members, or if nonunion workers were offered overtime while union workers were not.

Shaffer said offering immigrant workers union membership would depend on the situation, but he doubted it could be done if immigrants were in the country illegally.

AL & MS: Teamsters Strike

I wish I had more info to pass on about the strike against Coke, but there is few comments and recently I went by the local plant to see if the strikers needed anything, but there was no one out there.  It could have been too early and regretably I could not make it by later to see if there were any strikers.

I apoplogize for the lack of info but we are trying to keep all up to date as best we can.

AL & MS: Teamsters/Coke Update–#4

This was sent to me in an email by the Teamsters:
The Teamsters and Coke Consolidated are scheduled to meet next week.  The workers are still on strike and shall remain on the picket line until management and the union resolve the pension issue.

I was also told by a Teamsters spokesperson that the strike was going well and that only 6 of the 275 strikers have crossed the picket lines.

Remember:  These strikers are out in the heat and sun, if you are in the area show them your support.  Stop by and shake hands, bring some water and some snacks.  These strikers are fighting for their economic lives and need your help.  Please give them all the support you can, it will will appreciated.

MS & AL: Teamsters/Coke UpDate

A week into the strike against local Coca-Cola operations by the Teamsters union, neither side is showing any signs of budging. The company is importing workers, while the union rallied Friday morning near the Tillman’s Corner plant.

On July 12, union members rejected a contract offered by Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated of Charlotte, N.C., the nation’s second largest Coke bottler, and walked out. The Teamsters’ contract covers about 275 of 300 local workers.

The main dispute is over worker pensions. The company wants to stop paying into the traditional pension fund run by the Teamsters and instead put more money into workers’ 401K retirement accounts. Workers would still collect benefits they’ve already earned, but the company, after one last payment, would no longer contribute.

Typically, a company makes its biggest pension deposits as a worker nears retirement, and the union says the proposal is a money-loser for such employees.

Though a federal mediator is involved, there have been no talks since the strike began. Steele said the company wants the union to vote again on an offer that was rejected by a 176 to 15 margin. Jim Gookins, secretary-treasurer of Mobile’s Teamsters Local 991, said the union wants new talks.

Steele said the company is importing workers from other operations. He also noted that union members will soon have to pay for their own health insurance — $1,155 a month for family coverage.

“When our volume is 3 percent ahead of last year for July and we’re not skipping a beat, they miscalculated on whether they are going to hurt our business in Mobile,” he said.

Steele said Coca-Cola Consolidated announced Thursday that it would cut 350 employees, or 5 percent of its workforce, as it gets hammered by rising costs for things like fuel and corn syrup.

FL: Union Members Want Out

An Escambia County worker is petitioning fellow employees to try to dissolve the local transit union that represents them

A lengthy wage dispute between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 and the county has caused some employees to sour on the union.

“I really don’t believe the union can do us much good,” said Tom Moore, who is heading up the effort to decertify the union. “(The union) has been arguing with the commissioners for two years and still hasn’t gotten us our raise.”

But as a union member, equipment operator Bill Robertson, 48, disagrees.

“Before they vote to have the union taken out, they need to do two things,” said Robertson, who works in the Roads and Bridges Department. “They need to understand the union is the only protection we as county workers have. Secondly, those people need to come to union meetings and hear what goes on and be able to voice their opinions.”

If the union’s contract with county employees is ended, the 307 county employees represented by the union will go back to being “at will” employees. That means they can be fired at will, without cause, and no longer will have a representative to look out for their interests as employees.

Moore thinks the union is holding up his pay raise. He refers to negotiations between the union and a county negotiating team, which agreed to a 3 percent cost-of-living wage increase for union employees. However, county commissioners instead approved a 2 percent cost-of-living increase and a 1 percent merit raise because of its tight budget.

LA: Union Sues Jefferson Parish

When Jefferson Parish gave employees of its largest fire department a 35 percent pay raise last year, all debts seemed settled.

But the firefighters union is suing the parish and the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department for skipping a relatively small, regular wage increase the year before it enacted the huge 2007 raise. And in a separate petition, the union is suing to protest the department’s drug-testing policy.

Beyond the fairness issues now being tested in court, the lawsuits, coming at a time when Parish President Aaron Broussard is knee-deep in deciding who will lead the department, demonstrate how difficult it can be to manage the 220-employee department.

Both cases revolve around what is called the “red book,” a 1991 ordinance that dictates most of Jefferson’s relationship with the Fire Department and its employees, including pay scales and personnel policy. In 2006, however, the council agreed with Broussard’s administration to freeze pay raises across all of parish government as Jefferson began its recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The freeze included the firefighters.

In April that year, the firefighters sued, alleging that the skipped raise violated the red book and threw off the pay scales among junior and senior employees, said Louis Robein, the union’s attorney.

Firefighters with less than 15 years on the force receive a 5 percent salary bump each year. After 15 years, a firefighter’s annual raise is 2.5 percent until retirement. Without these raises in 2006, the 35 percent increase in 2007 pushed the salaries of some firefighters with less seniority ahead of some of their department elders, the union has argued.