Wash. Times: Unions agree to cut pension benefits

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WashTimesLogoBy Jeffrey Scott Shapiro

When it comes to standing by the obligation unions made to provide pensions to retirees, UFCW pleaded poverty in persuading Congress to let chronically underfunded union pension plans cut the benefits of workers, including those already retired.

“Declining participation and factors like the Great Recession have created a new reality for Taft-Hartley multiemployer plans wherein many of them are substantially underfunded,” departing UFCW President Joseph T. Hansen wrote to the House Education and the Workforce Committee in a letter this month.

“The simple fact is that in order to save some of the most vulnerable pension plans trustees must be given the ability to slightly reduce benefits. This is the only realistic way to avoid insolvency and preserve as much of the promised pension benefits as possible,” the union boss wrote in a letter urging lawmakers to allow underfunded union pension plans to cut promised benefits.

Numerous other unions, many of them big spenders on the political front, also lobbied for the concession.

Congress obliged in a last-minute deal approved by lawmakers as they fled town for Christmas break. On Dec. 15, President Obama signed the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 into law, empowering any multiemployer pension fund — commonly managed by unions — to cut benefits for workers and current retirees if the plan is 20 percent or more underfunded.

In another words, Congress and the president let workers who spent decades toiling away to vest in retirement programs take the hit for union managers who failed to keep pensions fully funded.

In all, more than 10 million U.S. workers rely on multiemployer pension plans. About 1 million of those could get notices next year informing them that the pension benefits they were promised when they signed on to their jobs may be cut. Only those older than 75 get any relief.

Get full story  here.

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By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro When it comes to standing by the obligation unions made to provide pensions to retirees, UFCW pleaded poverty in persuading Congress to let chronically underfunded union pension plans cut the benefits of workers, including those already retired. “Declining participation and factors like the Great Recession have created a new reality for […]

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UFCW Local 700 Forced Dues on Members, Served NLRB Complaint

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ufcw-local-700-forced-dues-here-foreverFort Wayne Kroger employees alledge unfair labor practices on United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 700 for forced dues, file allegation with NLRB

The UFCW may be adopting a new motto for members- like in the Simpsons quote from Montgomery Burns, “Don’t forget: you’re here forever.” At least UFCW Local 700 is not taking no for an answer when it comes to collecting dues money from Kroger employees:

Eleanor Haynes and Barbara Peter, filed the unfair labor practice allegation with the NLRB against the United Food & Commercial Workers UFCW International Union Local 700 for, they say, ignoring their right to refrain from paying union dues.

The National Labor Relations Board has been shown to heavily favor union issues. Our previous coverage of them here shows they have recently been siding with the UFCW for micro-elections and allowing them to pay members to protest on Black Friday with gift cards.

While the UFCW Local 700 is downplaying the concerns, the case is being represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. NRTW Foundation President Mark Mix claims their case is central to upholding the Right to Work law:

“These two Kroger workers followed all necessary procedures to exercise their legally-protected right to resign their union membership and cut off union dues,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores just how important Indiana’s Right to Work law is for workers who want nothing to do with scofflaw union bosses.”

If the UFCW Local 700 is indeed continuing to withhold dues money from former members who have done everything necessary to remove themselves from the union, they are in for some real trouble. While the NLRB may not be particularly friendly to challenges to unions, they are still bound by the law and this seems to be a clear case of the union violating the law.

 

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Fort Wayne Kroger employees alledge unfair labor practices on United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 700 for forced dues, file allegation with NLRB The UFCW may be adopting a new motto for members- like in the Simpsons quote from Montgomery Burns, “Don’t forget: you’re here forever.” At least UFCW Local 700 is not taking no for […]

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NLRB Approves UFCW’s Micro-Unit Election at Macys

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National Labor Relations Board upheld United Food and Commercial Workers Union’s Macys Micro-Unit, which may undermine the union

Micro-units have arrived, and the UFCW is one of the first on board, with a small, two-department micro-unit at a Macy’s department store:

Earlier this week, in a 3-1 decision in Macy’s Inc., the NLRB applied its controversial Specialty Healthcare decision in upholding as appropriate a bargaining unit that consists of 41 employees in the cosmetics and fragrances department at a Boston-area Macy’s store, and excludes all other sales employees at the store.

The story goes on to note that these 41 employees constitute only about one-third of the Macy’s approximately 120 employees. Not only that, but the employees are from two different departments, on two different floors of the store. As the NLRB acknowledged, in the two departments, “employees worked in separate departments, reported to different supervisors, worked in separate physical spaces, and there was no significant contact between the employees.”

The UFCW’s support for micro-units may actually blow up in their faces. There are significant risks to the employees in the union, not only from experiencing a degraded level of support, but from competition from other unions:

Micro-units create unnecessary barriers and inherently sow discord between different small groups of workers and lead to different segments of the workforce negotiating against one another. It’s possible that different groups of employees could organize under the auspices of different major unions – some could join the UFCW while others may opt to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for instance. And inordinate amounts of time would be taken up dealing with the different unions’ competing demands.

Not only are micro-units a threat to the experience of employees, but it may actually threaten the position of the union itself. The NLRB’s rush to allow all kinds of smaller sized units to organize may actually undermine the very unions they intend to help. With more fractured representation and more time lost on organizing, employees may not want to stick with this model and reject unions entirely.

The UFCW may think they have the upper hand with the ability to target more employers with micro-unit elections, but they may in fact be setting themselves up for failure. Not only does the micro-unit undermine the union’s position as the best way of representing themselves to the employer, it also means other unions like the SEIU may compete with the UFCW for the same employees.

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National Labor Relations Board upheld United Food and Commercial Workers Union’s Macys Micro-Unit, which may undermine the union Micro-units have arrived, and the UFCW is one of the first on board, with a small, two-department micro-unit at a Macy’s department store: Earlier this week, in a 3-1 decision in Macy’s Inc., the NLRB applied its […]

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UFCW Local 23 Sues Grocer for Offering Employees Higher Pay

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ufcw-sues-giving-raisesUnited Food and Commercial Workers UFCW Local 23 is filing a lawsuit against Giant Eagle grocery to defend seniority practices

Ironic, coming from the union advocating for a $10.10 minimum wage… Defending this industrial-era practice is stopping a local UFCW union from letting their members earn more money:

Why did UFCW Local 23 oppose higher pay for its members? Because it upended their seniority system, allowing junior employees to make more those with more seniority. Local 23 wanted uniform pay scales—even if that meant cutting some of their members’ wages.

This kind of thinking is very much in line with the kinds of jobs that were prevalent in the days when unions were being started. In those days, there was a real concern that there would be employers that would show favoritism as a method to separate employees from their union. There were many jobs that were interchangeable, such as production lines or industrial positions.

Nowadays, the labor market has changed significantly. While automation has significantly reduced low-level industrial jobs, customer service as a service is becoming a commodity. Manufacturing jobs are disappearing as service jobs increase. This means less people are on production lines and more people are dealing with customers directly in a personal way.

Additionally, there has been a significant shift in attitudes towards long-term jobs. During the industrial era, it used to be more common for one person to stay with a single company for many years. Now millennials, the youngest generation in the job market, are more likely to hop from one job to the next. This undercuts another key benefit of seniority, that employees staying with the company longer get paid more. In an economy where there’s been a lot of turnover and many people have lost their jobs and found new ones, longevity is less and less of a motivating factor in payment.

This shift creates a different motivation for service-based companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. A company known for good customer service can set itself apart from their competitors even if they offer a more expensive product because of the experience customers have buying their product. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, poor customer service is the biggest reason why people discontinue business with a company.

The fact of the matter is that people respond to rewards. Without added incentive for people to invest more effort into their work, why would they put any more energy into it than what’s required? The concept of seniority only works if there are no additional benefits for additional work. And in today’s consumer service-based economy, that is no longer the case.

Seniority is outdated. What today’s worker needs is a system that rewards extra energy and effort, and rewards doing a good job. These days, seniority only protects those who don’t care to invest more in their own work. The only people who benefit under seniority system are workers who may not care about their work as much, but stay at their jobs longer.

Today’s worker also needs a union that provides benefits for what they need, not just taking their money and spending it on their own needs. And it’s not just UFCW Local 23. The UFCW International has its own share of corruption, mismanagement and scandals that they should be focusing on rather than trying to make sure their workers don’t get paid more.

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United Food and Commercial Workers UFCW Local 23 is filing a lawsuit against Giant Eagle grocery to defend seniority practices Ironic, coming from the union advocating for a $10.10 minimum wage… Defending this industrial-era practice is stopping a local UFCW union from letting their members earn more money: Why did UFCW Local 23 oppose higher […]

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Destroying Entry Level Jobs and Teen Opportunity – via NetRightDaily

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Today’s article brought to you by Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily blog. By By Rick Manning. Originally published Dec. 4, 2013.Minimum-Wage-McDonalds-UFCW

Fast food restaurants will get the joy of having labor unions stage protests demanding an increase in their worker’s wages and more than doubling the overall federal minimum wage this week.

Everyone wants to make more money, so what could go wrong?

Perhaps it would be wise to ask the United Food and Commercial Worker Union (UFCW) members in the Washington, D.C. area.  These union members have priced themselves out of jobs as the consuming public is being trained to scan their own food items, cutting out the middle man.  The union workers are so concerned about their dwindling numbers that they are threatening to strike on December 20th with a major complaint being that the implementation of self-scanning technology is eliminating their jobs.

Now the same Big Labor economic geniuses whose demands for ever increasing benefits and wages threaten the grocery clerks very existence are being equally helpful to entry level fast food workers.  Workers who perform low skill functions for a minimum wage or just slightly higher.

At a time when Amazon has built a drone to deliver packages, and hopes to have them operational with full Federal Aeronautics Administration approval within four to five years, it takes little imagination in our current culture to see a fast food restaurant operating with very few personnel.

You punch your order in at a display screen, or in drive thru, Siri’s younger, more advanced sister, takes your order showing you the results on the screen.  You put your credit card or cash into the ATM like payment system and drive to the pick-up window where you get your food that comes out when sensors tell the machine you are in place to receive it.  The food gets cooked by a series of machines that put the right patty on the grill, drop just the right amount of fries and automatically puts the appropriate soft drink cup under the right beverage.  A lid is attached and your meal is delivered to you when you drive up.

The restaurant has next to perfect food cost controls, and a labor force that doesn’t sleep in on Saturday or shut the restaurant fifteen minutes early because it is slow and they are bored.

Automakers build cars using very exact automation, is it so unreasonable to believe that a burger could be made similarly?

Yet, protestors are going to blithely march around fast food restaurants demanding wages that virtually guarantee mechanized product delivery, a result that has disastrous consequences.

Fast food restaurants are gateway jobs, and are not intended for the vast majority of people to be anything but that – entry level.  This is a great thing.

Teens learn that they have to get to work on time both from getting pinged by their bosses, and by having to stay late due to the tardiness of a coworker.  Teens learn about this FICA fellow who takes a bunch of their paycheck without their ever seeing a dime, and wonder how their $183.75 check for five, five hour days dwindled down to a mere $135.  And most importantly, teens learn that money to go to the movies, pay car insurance and put gasoline in the car has to be earned by trading time, energy and effort in a value creating way.

Read the rest of the article here.

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  Today’s article brought to you by Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily blog. By By Rick Manning. Originally published Dec. 4, 2013. Fast food restaurants will get the joy of having labor unions stage protests demanding an increase in their worker’s wages and more than doubling the overall federal minimum wage this week. Everyone wants to make […]

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More UFCW Strikes at Giant and Safeway Over Obamacare

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United Food & Commercial Workers UFCW Local 400 members authorized strikes against Safeway and Giant over Obamacare, could push customers to nonunion stores

The UFCW has authorized strikes against two major unionized grocery stores prominently located in the mid-atlantic region surrounding Washington, D.C. – Giant and Safeway:

Members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to authorize a strike against Safeway, joining their fellow members working at Giant who also voted this morning to authorize a strike against their employer. At both stores, UFCW Local 400 members are fired up about management’s refusal to offer a fair contract.

And the issue at the heart of the strikes should seem pretty familiar to those who have been following our recent coverage of UFCW:

“The big issue at the table has been health care and today, our union brothers and sisters refused to go backward and authorized our local union leadership to call a strike,” said Vivian Sigouin, a Bargaining Advisory Committee member who works at Safeway #1431.

That’s right – UFCW members are worried that they may end up on the Obamacare exchange systems and lose their current health care plans that they’ve bargained for through their union. The irony that Obamacare was pushed for- and celebrated by- the UFCW should not be lost. We’ve already discussed at length about how the UFCW’s support of Obamacare has backfired, and now the union is trying to take it out on employers.

What makes this potential strike fascinating is the area and locality. As mentioned, the vote merely authorizes a strike – whether the strike happens remains to be seen. Strike authorizations are a step in the direction towards an actual picket line, intended to signal to employers that agreements are in danger of dissolution. The actual strike may or may not happen, but the potential strike could actually create more dangers for the unions than their employers.

Over the last few years, the UFCW, in conjunction with their worker center front group, Our Walmart, have been targeting the non-union Walmart. They objected to Walmart’s expansion into the Washington, D.C. area and encouraged the D.C. City Council to pass prohibitive regulations. Despite their best attempts, their efforts failed. Now, even as they threaten to strike the most prevalent union-run grocery stores in the D.C. area, Walmart is opening hiring centers for their two new locations.

The implication is clear – unionized stores like Giant and Safeway face strikes, picket lines and loss of customers. The non-union, enemy of the UFCW evaded their tactics, is creating jobs, and stands to profit from UFCW’s protests. The UFCW is demonstrating what Walmart’s future could look like under union rule, and it isn’t a pretty picture.

Not only that, but the underlying conflict is over policy passed with the help of the union, and later objected to by the same union. Now, not only will the UFCW strikes potentially endanger seasonal profits for Giant and Safeway, but they may also be putting that business right into the hands of their biggest competition. With an example like this, what sane company would join the UFCW?

United Food & Commercial Workers UFCW Local 400 members authorized strikes against Safeway and Giant over Obamacare, could push customers to nonunion stores The UFCW has authorized strikes against two major unionized grocery stores prominently located in the mid-atlantic region surrounding Washington, D.C. – Giant and Safeway: Members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) […]

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UFCW President Hansen Shocked Obamacare Not As Advertised?

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United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President Joseph Hansen’s editorial criticized Obamacare after the UFCW got 28 waivers from the ACA.

In the fallout of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, more and more opposition to the national health care program has arisen. Even prominent Democrats who voted for the bill are now expressing their concerns that Obamacare will turn into a “train wreck.” Now voices are coming from even more surprising places- the leadership of unions who were prominent supporters of the legislation!

The UFCW, who worked incredibly hard to support the passage of Obamacare, is now expressing reservations about the bill now that we’ve passed it to know what’s in it. So why the big change of heart? Apparently, the Affordable Care Act actually hurts unions!

Many UFCW members have what are known as multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans. According to the administration’s analysis of the Affordable Care Act, the law does not provide tax subsidies for the roughly 20 million people covered by the plans. Union officials argue that interpretation could force their members to change their insurance and accept more expensive and perhaps worse coverage in the state-run exchanges.

Hansen’s editorial explains a number of places where the Obamacare promise has not met reality, chiefly in the promise that people could keep their coverage and their doctors. All of this starts to sound like a big change of heart, until you see Hansen’s real motivation. From UFCW International President Joseph Hansen’s recent editorial:

..the ACA would block these plans from the law’s benefits (such as the subsidy for lower-income individuals and families) while subjecting them to the law’s penalties (like the $63 per insured person to subsidize Big Insurance).

This creates unstoppable incentives for employers to reduce weekly hours for workers currently on our plans and push them onto the exchanges where many will pay higher costs for poorer insurance with a more limited network of providers. In other words, they will be forced to change their coverage and quite possibly their doctor.

So as Obamacare is implemented, more workers will be forced out of the UFCW’s healthcare plans and into the healthcare exchanges. Employers will be forced to cut hours and full-time employees. This also affects the UFCW as their membership struggles to pay their dues and rising healthcare costs.

And the ultimate irony- while the UFCW was a big cheerleader of Obamacare, they were first in line to be exempted from it:

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which celebrated the passage of Obamacare as “an achievement that will rank among the highest in our national experience,” secured waivers for 28 different affiliates.

So the UFCW’s crowning achievement is now their biggest anchor. But don’t let their about-face surprise you. They’ve been playing both sides of the issue for a long time, they’re just only now seeing the consequences.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President Joseph Hansen’s editorial criticized Obamacare after the UFCW got 28 waivers from the ACA. In the fallout of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, more and more opposition to the national health care program has arisen. Even prominent Democrats who voted for […]

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