CWA Tries to Stop WorldCom-MCI Merger

On Jun. 19, Communications Workers of America opened new battle to block merger of WorldCom & MCI, saying in detailed analysis that deal would deprive the companies of access to capital and cut, rather than expand, local competition. CWA filed a statement with the FCC complaining the merger is anti-competitive, and in its latest disclosure its “union economist” claims the merger fails tests set by FCC. CWA’s action came the same day that European antitrust authorities moved close to approving the transaction. Analysts strongly believe, despite the best attempts of union radicals, the merger will go through. [Communications Daily 06/22/98]

Newspaper Workers Break from CWA
Employees of the San Diego Union-Tribune voted Jun. 11 to decertify Newspaper Guild Local 95 of CWA as their bargaining agent. In an NLRB-monitored election, 406 workers voted against continued representation by the Guild while 378 voted to keep the union. Some 844 employees in … Read More ➡

Militancy Pays in Madison

Billboards urging customers to shun Walgreens drug stores are up around Madison, WI, as part of a continuing battle between local union electrical workers and the pharmacy firm. The battle began when Walgreens hired a non-union electrical contractor as part of an expansion of a distribution center. But although the job is nearly complete, bitterness remains and could spill over into other states. The union is upset because a portion of the $50 million project went to a non-union contractor. The move so angered International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159 that it set up a picket line for 132 days calling it off only after Walgreens hired a union electrical contractor to do inside wiring as part of the renovation. [Madison Capital Times 06/09/98]

SEIU Organizing Blitz Descends on L.A.
For 2 weeks starting Jun. 14, some 70 organizers from Service Employees International Union locals around the country will … Read More ➡

Union Disrupts Delaware River Bridge Board Meeting

The Delaware River Port Authority ejected union members from its meeting Jun.17 following a rowdy protest on behalf of 12 workers terminated for blocking traffic during a demonstration in May. Unionists turned out to support the toll collectors, and maintenance and construction workers fired last week by the Port Authority. The workers were fired for shutting down the Benjamin Franklin Bridge during a protest May 16. The agency said they created an unsafe condition on the span.
 
Shortly after the meeting began, Bill Kane, president of the NJ State Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO, sought permission to address the commissioners. Union members, who lined the perimeter of the room, stood and began
clapping. They chanted,”Let him speak!”as the chairman pounded the gavel, attempting to restore order. The chairman declared the protesters out of order and directed the sergeants-at-arms and security to remove them from the room. The union members left … Read More ➡

From Worcester Telegram & Gazette editorial [06/23/98]: “Unreasonable concessions lead to more demands”:

“It is good that a prolonged bus strike has been averted in Worcester. But the question is: at what price?
[The] one-day strike, staged by the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, was described as an “illegal” job action by Robert E. Ojala, administrator of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority. That may have been an understatement. The specter of labor action by this union has been lingering for some time. It threatened to picket the Worcester Centrum Centre during the Democratic State Convention, but a last-minute compromise negotiated by the city manager and the mayor saved the city from embarrassment.
 
Evidently, this time the union was determined to call a strike, no matter how flexible management has been. And management has been flexible to a fault. Some of the concessions the WRTA made to avert a strike – often under political pressure – are outright unreasonable. For … Read More ➡

Court Denies Hoekstra Sealed Papers

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cornelius Blackshear has denied a request by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) for sealed documents pertaining to the bitter dispute involving Mademoiselle Knitwear, a union contractor; Liz Claiborne Inc., and UNITE. In an Jun. 8 order, Blackshear did not give a reason for his denial other than to say that his court, where Mademoiselle is in Chapter 11 proceedings, “is primarily concerned with maintaining the sanctity of the confidentiality agreement and the fidelity of the case.”
 
Hoekstra sought access to the documents as part of a congressional probe he is leading into the adequacy of U.S. labor law. A key element in the Mademoiselle controversy consists of multimillion-dollar payments made by Claiborne to UNITE under the practice of liquidated damages — penalties paid by union manufacturers to UNITE when they turn to nonunion production — and the issue of liquidated damages has become a focal point in … Read More ➡

Poshard & AFL-CIO Dance Around Disclosure Laws

U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-IL) has filed papers acknowledging help from a union, but he continues to deny GOP charges that he violated campaign finance disclosure laws. The Democrat’s gubernatorial campaign filed a statement with the Illinois State Board of Elections Jun. 23 disclosing the spending of $108,000 by the AFL-CIO to run radio ads boosting Poshard near the end of the primary campaign.
 
The Illinois Republican Party filed a complaint with the state board charging that Poshard failed to disclose the in-kind contribution within the required 2 business days. The GOP is claiming that Poshard’s filing of the statement is an admission that he violating the law by not filing it earlier. The federation spent more than $200,000 on radio spots for Poshard in the last 2 weeks before the Mar. 17 primary.
 
Poshard takes pride in refusing to accept donations from corporations, political action committees and … Read More ➡

Rep. Norwood Holding Program Accountable

The Labor Department’s removal of Guess? Inc. from its list of apparel manufacturers and retailers that have voluntarily taken steps to ensure their goods are not made in sweatshop conditions drew criticism at a Jun. 19 congressional hearing. The so-called “Trendsetters List” came under scrutiny as part of an ongoing congressional review of the agency’s program administration and law enforcement efforts. At issue is whether the Labor Department acted arbitrarily in designating companies for the list, possibly running afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.
 
How department officials decided which companies met its criteria for inclusion on the list was the focus of the hearing by the Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who chaired the hearing, questioned both the agency’s decisions as to which companies to place on the list as well as its subsequent move to put Guess on “probation.”
  … Read More ➡

N.Y. Teamsters Indicted

6 Teamsters were arrested in connection with a 14-man crime-ring that was stealing and reselling electronic equipment, clothing and jewelry in N.Y. Each faces up to 10 years in prison. Many of the stolen items were sold to an undercover FBI agent in 67 transactions according to U.S. District Court records. The 6 were UPS drivers. UPS notified the FBI that it had suspected criminal activity. [A.P. 06/11/98]

Violent Teamsters Shut Down CA Port
The Port of Hueneme, near L.A., was shut down on Jun. 1 due to a violent Teamsters strike sparked by a dispute over 2 forklift workers’ salaries. The reportedly illegal strike idled hundreds of workers and stranded 3 cargo-laden ships.
Police were present to stop Teamsters’ violence against Longshoremen wishing to cross the picket line. All 250 members of the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union honored the picket line until an arbitrator ruled that the strike … Read More ➡

Coia Warned Against Retaliating Against Witnesses

Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-IL), chairman of a House subcommittee examining union abuses against members, sent letter to Laborers Int’l. Union of North America president Arthur A. Coia, warning him against acts of retaliation against individuals testifying before the committee.

Coia as long-been suspected of being under the influence of organized crime. In 1997, LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor filed charges against Coia for knowingly associating with organized crime and permitting organized crime to influence LIUNA affairs.

“We can not, and will not, tolerate any retaliation against any witness and we will take every step necessary and possible to protect them,” wrote Fawell in the May 27 letter. Stephen Manos, vice-president LIUNA Local 230 in Hartford, told the committee his Congressional testimony has “further exacerbated” acts of harassment, intimidation and retaliation against him, including a recent complaint filed in U.S. District Court by Local 230’s business manager Charles LeConche accusing him of … Read More ➡

Luskin’s Big Bucks from LIUNA

LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin, who is responsible for the integrity of LIUNA’s “internal reform effort,” admitted to being paid about $4 million from LIUNA since Nov. 1994 in the Jun. 7 Washington Post . It’s a rare public account of what LIUNA has paid to Luskin and his 11-lawyer firm.

$4 million over 44 months (11/94 to 06/98) equals $90,909 a month, or… $1,090,909 a year… $20,979 a week… $4,196 a day…$524 a hour (at 40 hours a week)… $8.74 a minute… all thanks to the mandatory unions dues of LIUNA members. Note too that LIUNA is not Luskin’s only client.

Laborers Fired Over Pay Questions
On May 29, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority upheld the firings of 2 LIUNA electricians at Orlando’s airport for reportedly falsifying payroll records. The records in question show the 2 collected $34,000 for over 1,500 hours of allegedly bogus overtime. LIUNA Local … Read More ➡