Today’s News & Commentary — November 2, 2018

Published November 2nd, 2018 -  - 11.02.181


Temporary workers hired to replace striking employees at Marriott hotels in San Francisco and San Diego are alleging labor violations.  The workers claim that Marriott and its contractors have failed to pay them on time—in some cases for up to a month—and have underpaid for travel time to and from the hotels.  One temporary worker alleges that he was fired for being a “spy” after speaking to an organizer from Unite Here Local 2 for five minutes outside of the hotel.  He has filed charges with the NLRB for discrimination and interference related to union activity.  Unionized Marriott employees across the country have been on strike since October 3, seeking better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

The Graduate Workers of Columbia University will begin an indefinite strike on December 4, just days before final exams begin.  The announcement comes after months of stalled negotiations with university administration, which has thus far refused to bargain with the graduate student union.  The president of United Auto Workers, which represents the students, stated that university administration has until 5:00 PM on November 30 to negotiate with the union.  The graduate students, who unionized in December 2016 after the NLRB ruled that graduate students have the right to form a union, last went on strike in April 2018.

The NLRB is reportedly considering suing Johns Hopkins Hospital in connection with allegations that it suppressed nurses’ attempts to unionize.  In June, National Nurses United filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB claiming that Johns Hopkins had interfered with its nurses’ ability to discuss unionization during non-working hours, including by preventing off-duty nurses from entering break rooms, and hired anti-union consultants to dissuade employees from signing union cards.  In response, Johns Hopkins claimed that the charges were meritless and stated that it “deeply respect[s its] nurses . . . and all of their rights as employees, including their right to support or oppose a union.”

UPS may go on strike as early as next week, according to company spokesperson Glenn Zaccara.  The company warned customers that it will stop picking up heavy packages next Wednesday as unionized workers prepare to vote on a final contract offer between November 9 and 11.  The employees’ current contract, which covers some 12,000 Teamsters, expires on November 12.  In June, the workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike should the vote fail.  

The WNBA Players Association will exercise its right to terminate its collective bargaining agreement at the close of the 2019 season.  The current agreement, which the players signed on March 5, 2014, is set to expire at the end of October 2021.  Nneka Ogwumike, executive council president for the players union and Los Angeles Sparks team member, stated that opting out of the agreement was about “rejecting the status quo,” called on the league for greater financial transparency, and suggested that management could make a number of “small changes” like better travel arrangements for its players.  The top WNBA player is currently paid $115,500 per year.

General Motors announced that it has offered to buyout approximately 18,000 of its 50,000 salaried workers in North America.  The company cited declining sales in North America and China as well as rising costs due to tariffs on steel and other commodities.  A spokesperson stated that layoffs were possible if the buyout fails to sufficiently cut costs.  The employees have until November 19 to accept GM’s offer.

Yesterday, a court in the Netherlands ruled that Ryanair could not transfer 16 Dutch pilots overseas.  The court accused Ryanair of retaliating against the pilots for participating in strikes at its now-closed Eindhoven base and stated that, although the pilots’ employment contracts are governed by Irish law, the company could not “deprive [them] of the protection offered by Dutch law.”  In response, Ryanair stated that it would fire the pilots if they do not transfer.  Ryanair has been embroiled in a series of labor disputes since December, when it agreed to recognize cabin crew and pilot unions after months of organizing.

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