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Union Matters Archives

State of Unions

With the passage of another Labor Day, which was surprisingly quiet in regard to demonstrations and parades supporting organized labor, it is time to take a "quick look" across the landscape to see what the current status of organized labor truly is.

Common Business Records Are the Key to Handling Most Aggressive Union Audit Findings

In the current environment, aggressive union audits have become the rule rather than the exception. The distressed condition of many union pension funds and dwindling union membership (resulting in fewer benefit contributions) are the chief reasons driving this trend. Employers are usually shocked, stressed, and frustrated with the result of an aggressive audit; findings claiming they owe hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, on many instances there is a simple solution to dealing with this problem; creating and maintaining time and payroll records.

Voter Eligibility List - An Employer's Nemesis

Over the Author's lengthy career in practicing Labor and Employment Law (since November, 1972), I have had the privilege to represent a vast number of Employers in National Labor Relations Board matters (representation in Elections and Unfair Labor Practice Charges). Over that period of time, I have seen numerous vacillations with regard to Board Policy, but none strike me as more vindictive towards Employers than the NLRB's recent position taken with regard to Voter Eligibility Lists.

Chickens Come Home to Roost

As a number of Clients of the Firm would state, over the last ten (10) years, the author has been advising them to get out of/not participate in the Unions' Multi-Employer Pension Funds. It has long been the opinion of the author that this is a quasi-Ponzi Scheme and was destined for failure from the start. When half of the Trustees of such a Plan are Union Business Agents who have little, if any, financial background, how can actual and cogent financial guidance about investigating/managing millions of dollars be provided? The author had the privilege in the early 80's to serve as a Trustee of a Multi-Employer Pension Plan in California and got out of the Trustee Position because of the stupidity of the day-to-day Administration of the Pension Plan and its investment strategy. As an aside, the next time the author negotiated a contract with the Union that had that Pension Plan in it (Retail Clerks Union - Northern California), he got the Client out of the Plan prior to the creation of MEPPA in 1989.

What Non-Union Private Sector Employers Need to Do

For the last several years, my advice to union-free clients has been consistent. Even in the face of quickie NLRB elections, employers have the upper hand. Unions in the private sector today are a pale shadow of what they once were. Labor unions can be kept out of your organization with only modest preventative measures. Most of you have a copy of and use my 25 point "ABCs of Staying Union Free". I further distilled these recommendations down to my "Top Ten Tips for Staying Union Free" and they form the basis for a seminar presentation earlier this year. Here they are:

NLRB Rejects Wisconsin's Dues Checkoff Restriction

Wisconsin's Right-to-Work law, which became effective on March 11, 2015, prohibits employers and unions from entering into agreements which require membership in the union or the payment of dues as a condition of employment ("union security agreements"). The law also prohibits employers from deducting union dues from an employee's wages unless the employee has signed an authorization that is revocable upon thirty days' notice ("dues checkoff"), rather than the one-year period permitted under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA expressly allows states to enact Right-to-Work laws that prohibit union security agreements - but it does not contain a similar provision relating to dues checkoff. So, do the provisions of the NLRA that relate to dues checkoff supersede, or preempt, the more employee-friendly provisions of the Wisconsin law?

Racial Slurs Are Acceptable?

In what, to the author, seems like the most illogical position for a Government Agency to take, the National Labor Relations Board is pushing the 8th Circuit to rule that racial statements made by an Employee on a picket line are protected under Federal Labor Law.

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