Tag Archives: labor

New Rules Hinder Collective Bargaining

According to its website (nlrb.gov), the five-member National Labor Relations Board is “an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative.” In December, the board quickly overturned several union-friendly rules. This follows the Republican Senate confirmations of two nominees in August and September, and Trump’s selection of Republican Philip Miscimarra as chair. The decisions were quickly pushed through because Miscimarra’s five-year term on the board was to end December 16. Each of the rulings were decided 3-2, with Democrats dissenting. These NLRB decisions include:

  • Overturning a 2016 rule requiring settlements to provide a “full remedy” to aggrieved workers.
  • Reversing a 2004 decision bolstering workers’ rights to organize free from unlawful employer interference.
  • Overturning a 2015 decision holding employers responsible for bargaining with workers if they have indirect control over those workers’ employment or have the ability to exercise control.
  • Reversing a 2016 decision safeguarding unionized workers’ rights to bargain over changes in employment terms.
  • Overturning a 2011 decision protecting the prerogative of a group of employees within a larger company to form a bargaining unit.

These new rules could affect millions of workers hoping to unionize.

Farmworker Unions Ensured Contracts Through Mediation

The California Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, upheld a law that aims to get labor contracts for farmworkers whose unions and employers cannot agree on wages and working conditions.

The law prevents the employers from stalling contract talk until the workers lose their enthusiasm to organize. Under the law, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board can order mediation to achieve a contract and gives mediators the authority to set the terms of the agreement if there is a stalemate. Unions can seek mediation 90 days after demanding to bargain.

Creating Visibility Within the Labor Community

joe-parenteby Joe Parente, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA)

Several years ago I wrote an article about the importance of our connection and involvement with other labor organizations in our communities. I feel it bears repeating.

Normally, when we think about the union, we think of our locals and the Federation. That’s where we look first to get work. But there are hundreds of unions out there apart from the musicians union—American unions covering the building trades (electricians, carpenters, roofers, etc.), the American Federation of Teachers, the Teamsters Union, unions of nurses, city workers, hotel workers, sheet metal workers, stagehands, and so on. These organizations represent thousands of union workers and are a valuable resource of potential employment for musicians.

I have (and you may have as well) attended various events held by other unions. On occasion, I have discovered that, these same unions that preach union solidarity and the use of union labor, hire nonunion musicians to provide entertainment for their functions. That is unacceptable. The concept of union solidarity must extend to and include musicians, especially on the local level, where the work is available. It’s up to us to remind them.

To take advantage of these employment opportunities within the labor community, musicians have to be visible to other unions. Not all unions belong to the AFL-CIO, but most do, so I’ll lump everyone under that umbrella. AFM locals should be in touch with their area AFL-CIO to let other unions know that union musicians are available to them.

Get a mailing list with all the contact information for each union and send them information about your local and its members; send them referral lists and CDs of bands in the local. Ask for a calendar of annual events. All unions have some sort of function during the year—banquets, holiday parties, conferences, even conventions. For years, my local has provided a band representing Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA) in the annual Labor Day Parade. Many unions have their own catering hall. They wouldn’t think of having an affair without union bartenders or waiters. Why shouldn’t they feel the same about using union musicians?

However, it’s not only the local’s responsibility to go after work for its members. No one is going to knock on your door and ask if you want to work. Anyone who is working with any type of group—rock band, top 40s band, big band, trio, string quartet, or whatever—has a vested interest in promoting his/her own product. Everyone has a spouse or family member, friend, or neighbor who belongs to some union, somewhere. Talk to them; find out about their union and who the contact person is. Send out your promo packages. Call the union directly to let them know that you’re out there and available to meet their needs.

Nothing brings attention to the American Federation of Musicians more than supporting our brother and sister unions when they are involved in a labor dispute with an employer. Volunteering to play on a picket line or at a rally yields publicity within the labor community that goes much further than you might think toward instilling the idea of using live music. Building coalitions and partnerships within the labor community is how we stay visible and viable.

When you contact other unions, let them know that you use their members when you need work done. If you’re not using union labor, you should be. After all, how can we expect them to use our members, if we don’t use theirs? We can’t allow other members of the labor movement to ignore our union.

Labor Groups Stand with Native Americans in Opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline

The Labor Coalition for Community Action has announced its support for Native Americans in protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and defending Native lands from exploitation by corporations and the US government. Though pipeline proponents cite it would bring 4,500 jobs, the DAPL also threatens tribal sovereignty, sacred burial grounds, and the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux and potentially 17 million others.

“We remain committed to fighting the corporate interests that back this project and name this pipeline ‘a pipeline of greed.’ We challenge the labor movement to strategize on how to better engage and include Native people and other marginalized populations into the labor movement as a whole,” the Labor Coalition said in a press release. “Lastly, we applaud the many labor unions working to create a new economy with good green jobs and more sustainable employment opportunities for all. We also encourage stakeholders—labor unions including the building trades, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and others who would be impacted—to come together to discuss a collective resolution.”

The Labor Coalition for Community Action includes the AFL-CIO constituency groups: A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trace Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work.

AFL-CIO President Demands End to Deportations

At a worker center in Pasadena, California, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined the Los Angeles Labor Federation of Labor President, Pasadena City Mayor, and California State Labor Commissioner to oppose the ongoing deportations of immigrants, saying it undermines family unity and weakens rights for all workers. He said, “The future of immigrant workers is not in detention centers. It’s in worker centers like this one.”

“America’s deportation crisis is a bipartisan failure. I could not come here today without saying how disappointed I am with the Obama Administration’s recent decision to send women and children back to dangerous Central American nations.” He continued, “I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for President Obama, yet the plague of immigration raids in America is nothing less than a travesty—a human travesty.” Trumka and others demanded safe haven for workers to who speak out and called on the Supreme Court to give Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) the green light.


Worker Summit Set for October in Toronto

The Industrial Workers of the World’s Toronto General Membership Branch will host the Working For Each Other, Working For Ourselves: A Revolutionary Worker-Organizer Summit, October 3-4. The event will gather grassroots workplace organizers from around North America. The event is open to the public, but anyone interested in attending must register by September 7. For more information and to register visit: