Posts Tagged ‘unions’

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The National Labor Relations Board [ht: sm] has decided that Northwestern University football players cannot form a union.

The board cited the unique nature of college sports in saying it would foster instability to permit Northwestern football players to form a union while players elsewhere in the National Collegiate Athletic Association are not.

“Our decision is primarily premised on a finding that because of the nature of sports leagues…it would not promote stability in labor relations to assert jurisdiction in this case,” the decision said. . .

The unionization effort, along with recent lawsuits seeking to increase college players’ rights, had the potential to upend the business of college sports. Schools in college football’s top division turned a $1.4 billion profit on $3.4 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ended June 2014, according to data schools submit to the U.S. Department of Education.

While the NLRB’s decision leaves no recourse for Northwestern players to appeal, it did leave open the door to other college athletes’ winning the right to unionize in the future.

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As Emily Flitter reports,

For Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, there’s something awkward about the Harley-Davidson motorcycles that he has been posing on at presidential campaign stops: each one bears a sticker on its frame that reads “Union made in the USA.”

Walker has made the iconic American brand a centerpiece of his campaign kick-off tour this month, visiting four dealerships and sometimes showing off his own 2003 Harley Road King as he seeks to harness its appeal to older white male voters.

But there is another side to Harley that the Republican candidate has been less vocal about – it is a leading example of a successful company that has a strong relationship with labor unions.

Indeed, as Adam Davidson explained last year, Harley-Davidson’s resurgence has been on the basis of, not (like the rest of U.S. manufacturing) at the expense of, union labor.

But, in another U.S. irony, Harley-Davidson’s success has involved significant sacrifices on the part of its unionized workers:

Harley’s very existence was in question in 2009. Today it is a manufacturing role model, and that has a lot to do with its workers. The average tenure of a line worker at the York plant is 18 years, and these workers are extremely devoted to the company. (“How many factory workers have the company logo tattooed on their arm?” Dettinger asked me.) Magee said there was no question that the workers were earning their relatively higher wages. Costs have fallen by $100 million at the plant and quality has improved even more significantly. Customer demand is extremely high, especially now that people can get a bike within a couple weeks of ordering rather than waiting a year and a half. Harley’s stock price is back near the peak it reached at the top of the bubble in 2006. Craig Kennison at the research firm Baird told me that “it’s certainly the best turnaround I’ve ever seen.” Recently, the York plant won the Oscars of manufacturing: an IndustryWeek Best Plants award.

This sort of success wasn’t without a cost. The machinist union agreed to let Harley lay off 1,000 plant workers and implement a multiyear pay freeze. But every machinist I spoke with said that he understood that the alternative would be no jobs at all in York.

Yep, on both counts, only in America!

folks who brought weekend-labor

Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans have been doing their best to take away unions. Now, they want to take away one of the things organized labor brought us: the weekend [ht: sm].*

Currently, the law in Wisconsin requires that workers employed in a “factory or mercantile establishment” must receive “at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every 7 consecutive days.” If an employer would like a worker to work seven days in a row for a limited period of time, then the two can jointly petition the Department of Workforce Development for a waiver. . .

The new bill, which is being sponsored by Republican Van Wanggaard in the State Senate alongside Born in the Assembly, would add a provision to the “day of rest” law that could effectively nullify it. The bill would create an exemption that would allow employees to “voluntarily choose” to slave away for seven days in a row without at least twenty-four hours of rest.

As Marquette University law professor Paul Secunda explained,

the idea “completely ignores the power dynamic in the workplace, where workers often have a proverbial gun to the head.” Indeed, the reason Wisconsin had passed a “day of rest” law in the first place was because employers had been abusing employees by pressing them to work too many days without break. “Now this bill will force many workers to strike a bargain with the devil,” Secunda said.

*What I didn’t know before reading this article is that only thirteen states have laws mandating a day of rest for some or all workers.

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Union membership in the United States, which has fallen to its lowest level in the postwar period, may finally have bottomed out.

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Opinions of unions even seem to have recovered from lows reached in 2010 and 2011—while young people (18-29) especially have a positive (55 percent favorable versus 29 percent unfavorable) view of unions.

Now, the employees of Gawker Media [ht: sm] have voted by a substantial margin (80 to 27) to form a union, “a first for a prominent digital media outlet.”

the appeal of a union was clear to the employees, whose careers have been buffeted by instability and layoffs during the Great Recession and the unsettled economic recovery that has followed.

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