Protecting Our Right to Collectively Bargain

USW Core Values Educational Series – Issue 2



Protecting Our Right to Collectively BargainUSW Core Values Educational Series – Issue 2For decades, CEOs and their well-heeled lobbyists have found allies in anti-union lawmakers. These partnerships have resulted in anti-union laws like so-called right to work and the appointment of judges who are quick to rule against us. And, as we’ve seen in the past few years, they’re also tilting power away from workers thanks to a team of corporate appointees at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the very agency charged with safeguarding the rights of workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining.Many of these decisions from the NLRB aren’t making headlines, but they matter a great deal for our ability to get, secure, and enforce good contracts. Some of the rules the Board is overturning have existed for decades. Here are just a few examples:Allowed companies to implement policy changes without bargaining. The Board issued a decision allowing for an employer to make changes unilaterally to its policies and practices without bargaining. Less than a month after one of our locals ratified their contract, their company made changes to their health insurance because management is trying to take advantage of this ruling. In other situations, we’ve seen companies change attendance, drug, and other policies.Allowed employers to put workers in danger. In a series of five memos to their regional directors, the Board concluded that an employer is not obligated to engage in midterm bargaining regarding union proposals for paid sick leave and hazard pay during the pandemic. They also said that an employer does not have to bargain about a temporary closure. For workers who speak up about a dangerous situation on the job, the Board has decided that is not protected speech. This means that they can be fired by their employer. This guidance came after a case was filed by a nurse who was fired after  refusing to work at a nursing home that was requiring workers to share isolation gowns.Allowed employers to retaliate against the union. One USW employer wanted to celebrate after a profitable quarter. Normally, the union and the company would get together and plan a day off; it was always considered normal communication. Instead, the employer gave management the day off while leaving union workers working. An administrative law judge saw this as a “straightforward punishment of union employees in retaliation for past protected activity under the Act.” The Board overturned the judge’s ruling, saying it was ok not to bargain and that it was management’s right to not grant the day off for these workers.And so much more. – The Board has also made it easier for employers to decertify unionsmore difficult for contract employees and workers at franchise businesses to join unions, and sought to dramatically lengthen the timetable for union elections and limit access to workers, giving employers major advantages when they seek to bust unions.

How do we reverse these trends? It is critical that Congress hold the NLRB accountable. Lawmakers must also prioritize reforms that will restore the original promise of 1935’s National Labor Relation Act, which has eroded over time. Our union has done that work by pushing for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which was successful in the House but was stopped in the Senate. It’s also critical to have people in all decision-making positions in our government who will encourage and promote the formation of unions and the practice of collective bargaining.

Protecting Our Right to Collectively Bargain

Protecting Our Right to Collectively BargainUSW Core Values Educational Series – Issue 1Our union understood right from the beginning that we couldn’t rely solely on negotiations to better our members’ lives. We would also have to push our government to act. Elected officials could help us by passing legislation to make us safer on the job, help us secure pensions, get better working hours, and more. A legislative gain meant one more thing we didn’t have to bargain over. We could then focus on even greater goals in our negotiations.We know to be powerful, we have to work for laws and policies that support us. Our core issues include: collective bargaining, safety and health, job security (trade), domestic economic issues (infrastructure investment, domestic procurement and policies that bring fairness to the workplace), health care, and retirement security. These are the fights that help us build family-supportive, good jobs and strong communities. They reflect our values and a vision of the America that works for workers.Over the next few weeks, Rapid Response will be doing a series of educational pieces around these core issues and how we work to protect them. This is the first of that series.Collective Bargaining, Our Right to Organize, and an Anti-Union NLRBOur legally-protected right to organize and collectively bargain – Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935, creating a clear legal pathway for workers to join together to form labor unions and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions. It also established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is tasked with overseeing union elections and handling labor rights violations. It is governed by a five-person board (one member’s term expires each year) and a General Counsel (four-year term), all of whom are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate.Anti-union NLRB appointees – Two recently-appointed Board members have long histories working for corporations to advance anti-worker and anti-union decisions. Bill Emanuel was a shareholder at Littler Mendelson and Chairman John Ring was a partner at Morgan Lewis, two of the largest union avoidance firms in the US. The Board takes their guidance from its General Counsel, Peter Robb.A General Counsel with a history of breaking unions – Robb, a notorious anti-union crusader, has worked for a series of union-busting law firms and, in 1981, was instrumental in President Reagan’s firing of striking air traffic controllers, one of the most notorious labor actions in U.S. history. Almost immediately upon assuming his role as general counsel, Robb issued a memo outlining the categories of cases issued by the NLRB under the prior Administration, for which he may seek to overturn precedent. The majority of those cases were wins for unions.

Become a Gatekeeper of Democracy

Become a Gatekeeper of Democracy

Sign up to work the polls this November.

Our democracy depends on ordinary people to volunteer to work the polls on Election Day. However, a significant majority of poll workers are over age 60 and at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. They’re less likely to work this year. This contributed to unprecedented shortages in the primaries. For instance, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an expected 180 voting sites for the presidential primary were consolidated into five. The city typically requires at least 1,400 election workers, but had less than 400 as Election Day approached. The result was long wait times for voters.

Volunteer in Your Community!

We know Steelworkers are always at the front of the line when it comes to lifting up and helping those in our communities – it’s what we do!  That’s why we are reaching out to encourage our members to sign up to work the polls this November.

What Does a Poll Worker Do?

Poll workers are recruited and hired locally and help with tasks such as verifying voters’ identities, answering questions, and assisting voters who require it. Most of these roles are temporary and paid, requiring a short training period commitment and attendance on the day of the election.

Click Here to Become a Poll Worker!

Our democracy depends on thousands of ordinary people to volunteer to work the polls and ensure that every vote is counted and the process runs smoothly.



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Please Support Our Member for Retirement Board

A pleasant day to all,
I Kempton Monty Flemming,a member of SENA9158 and one of the Trustees,  I work in the Treasury Department.I am running for a seat on the Retirement Board and is asking for your support buy voting for me.Voting  is from August 24, 2020 to September 25 2020. You will received a letter from the retirement department but you can vote online also.
I appreciate your support.

Thank you,
Kempton Monty Flemming.

GBLC Statement Regarding Janus v. AFSCME

No court decision can stifle the hopes, dreams and aspirations of working people that can only be achieved with a union and a voice on the job. I know with our strong group of innovative union leaders, a deep union culture and an energized rank and file membership Boston will always be a union city!

Richard Rogers, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Greater Boston Labor Council

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31:

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, abandons decades of commonsense precedent. In this case, a bare majority of the court, over the vigorous dissent of four justices, has conceded to the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who wish to take away the freedoms of working people. Until it is overturned, this decision will be a political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world. But more importantly, it will further empower the corporate elites in their efforts to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life.

But here’s the thing: America is heading in a different direction. All over the country, workers are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years. More than 14,000 workers recently formed or joined unions in just a single week. This followed a year where 262,000 workers organized and the approval rating of unions reached a nearly 14-year high. Working families know the best way to get a raise, better benefits and a voice on the job is through a union contract. The corporate narrative of the labor movement’s downfall is being dismantled by working people every single day.

We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now.

For more information, visit FreedomtoJoin.org.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb, 202-637-5018 or cbobb@aflcio.org