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On Labor and Workers Rights
Author: Raine    Date: 09/05/2011 14:30:37

On Friday, the President signed the following proclamation:
The right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value. Since its beginnings in our country, organized labor has raised our living standards and built our middle class. It is the reason we have a minimum wage, weekends away from work to rest and spend time with family, and basic protections in our workplaces. Many Americans today are given opportunities because their parents and grandparents fought for these basic rights and values. The principles upheld by the honorable laborers of generations past and their unions continue to fuel the growth of our economy and a strong middle class.

This year has seen a vigorous fight to protect these rights and values, and on this Labor Day, we reaffirm that collective bargaining is a cornerstone of the American dream. From public employees -- including teachers, firefighters, police, and others who perform public services -- to workers in private industries, these men and women hold the power of our Nation in their hands.
This has been a very rough year for Organized labor. In Wisconsin, we saw Gov. Walker and Republicans move to eliminate public employees' collective bargaining rights and have them pay more for their benefits. Similar moves are being made in Ohio, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Indiana. House Republicans shut down the FAA in an attempt to weaken collective bargaining rights for airline workers. Not all of the news is grim though.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board issued 3 big rulings, 2 of which overturned Bush era Labor rules aimed at weakening the ability to organize. From Kos Diarist, Laura Clawson:
The NLRB has issued three more rulings following last week's announcement that employers would be required to notify workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Two of Tuesday's rulings overturn Bush-era NLRB rulings, both having to do with union decertifications.

The Lamons Gasket decision reestablishes a waiting period between when workers vote to join a union and when a decertification challenge to that union can occur:
For over forty years, federal law had barred challenges to a union’s representative status for a "reasonable period" following voluntary recognition, in order to give the new bargaining relationship a chance to succeed. In its 2007 decision in Dana Corp., the Board allowed for an immediate challenge to the union’s status by 30% of employees or a rival union. Today’s decision in Lamons Gasket returns the Board to the law as it existed before Dana Corp.

Similarly, the Bush NLRB had ruled in 2002 that if a company came under new ownership, a preexisting union could be immediately challenged by the new owner, 30 percent of employees, or a rival union. Tuesday's UGL-UNICCO Service Company ruling reestablishes a reasonable waiting period in which the union is protected from challenge.

A third decision actually reaches back to the George H.W. Bush era, when the NLRB had created a "special test for bargaining unit determinations in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other non-acute health care facilities." In the Specialty Healthcare case decided Tuesday, a nursing home owner had applied this special test, arguing that the home's Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) could not unionize by themselves but had to be joined by the home's cooks, dietary aides, data entry clerk and other non-CNA support staff. The NLRB overturned that special standard, and "Employees at such facilities will now be subject to the same 'community-of-interest' standard that the Board has traditionally applied at other workplaces."
Check it out at the source, all links are there.

The Los Angeles Times reminds us of what led to this holiday:
The Central Labor Union held the first Labor Day celebration in 1882 in New York City. The AFL-CIO, which represents about 12.2 million members, says that first holiday was marked by a march to demand an eight-hour workday and other labor law reforms. About 20,000 workers made their way up Broadway carrying signs that read “Labor Creates All Wealth” and “Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation.” (The AFL-CIO site offers a chronological look at such events via a timeline.)

Other unions followed suit and by 1894, the holiday had been adopted by 23 states. Then came that year's deadly Pullman strike, in which government forces shot and killed several striking railroad workers in Illinois. It gave birth to the modern labor movement and added new urgency to the formation of a holiday that honors it.
The fight goes on for workers rights, so today, If you get a chance, hug a Union member. Here are 36 more reasons why you should:
Weekends
All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
Paid Vacation
FMLA
Sick Leave
Social Security
Minimum Wage
Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
8-Hour Work Day
Overtime Pay
Child Labor Laws
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
40 Hour Work Week
Worker's Compensation (Worker's Comp)
Unemployment Insurance
Pensions
Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
Employer Health Care Insurance
Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
Wrongful Termination Laws
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Whistleblower Protection Laws
Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
Sexual Harassment Laws
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Holiday Pay
Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
Privacy Rights
Pregnancy and Parental Leave
Military Leave
The Right to Strike
Public Education for Children
Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States
Like many things, Unions are not perfect, but we would be in a far darker place in this nation without them and the brothers and sisters that fought so hard to achieve these very basic civil rights in our nation.

Happy Labor Day --

and
Raine

8 comments (Latest Comment: 09/05/2011 21:53:18 by Mondobubba)
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