Tag Archives: union news

New Bill Includes Tax Break for Union Members

As part of the new $3.5 trillion budget plan, labor groups are pushing lawmakers to include a provision that would allow workers to deduct the cost of union dues from their taxable income. Such a tax break could reduce the cost of union membership and encourage more workers to join unions. 

One union source says organized labor groups have urged Democrats to make the tax benefit an “above the line” deduction with the IRS. That means workers would be able to take advantage of it regardless of whether they itemize their tax deductions or take the standard deduction.

Lawmakers are also considering the possibility of creating a tax credit for union dues, which, unlike a deduction, would reduce a filer’s tax liability dollar for dollar. Democrats view the bill as possibly their final chance to enact major changes for years and are considering a wide range of policies. They’ve offered only a broad outline of major elements of the bill, including “pro-worker incentives and worker support.” If such a break came to fruition, the policy would improve on a tax deduction that union members had until Republicans killed it in 2017.

In the past, workers had been able to deduct union dues, but only if they had enough other eligible deductions to file an itemized tax return. And even then, the eligible expenses had to amount to more than 2% of the tax filer’s adjusted gross income. Republicans eliminated the break on union dues when they did away with an entire category of miscellaneous deductions. It was one of several changes Republicans made in their effort to simplify the individual tax code as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed corporate taxes.

The most important simplification for individuals was a much bigger standard deduction that has resulted in far fewer households filing itemized returns. That’s one reason Democrats are considering union dues as an “above the line” deduction, which allows taxpayers to subtract certain things—such as up to $250 for teachers’ classroom expenses—above the line on tax form 1040 where filers report their adjusted gross income.

CFM Presents List of Copyright Reform Recommendations House of Commons

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Caption: CFM representatives appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology to outline their recommendations for amendments to the Copyright Act (L to R) are: AFM/CFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, Canada Music Publishers Association Executive Director Margaret McGuffin, and Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) Secretary-Treasurer Eric Lefebvre.  (Photo credit: Isabel Metcalf)

June 5, 2018—Yesterday, representatives of the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to outline recommendations for much-needed amendments to the Copyright Act. The consultation follows a presentation made to the Heritage Committee on May 29. In their statements, AFM/CFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert and Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) Secretary-Treasurer Eric Lefebvre called on the committee to lay the foundation for regulatory and policy tools and provide the financial support needed to ensure that Canadian professional musicians thrive in the digital environment now and for the years ahead.  

“Our government must respect the contributions of our creative communities, and the indelible mark that recording artists and professional musicians have made on our cultural identity,” says Willaert. “The amendments we strongly urge the committee to adopt would increase revenue streams to musicians, create sustainable employment, and help to preserve arts and culture in our country.”

Among the list of recommendations, CFM identified changes to the definition of sound recording, eliminating the exemption for radio advertising, and expanding the definition of private copying to include new media devices to be its top priorities.

“Professional musicians are losing a significant part of their livelihood to streaming.  Many can no longer support themselves solely through their music career and are living in poverty,” adds Lefebvre. “Changes to the Copyright Act are critical to the long-term success of all content creators in this digital, globalized world”.

Singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle of Local 820 (St. John’s, NL), urges the committee to look at the issues on the table and make the amendments that will give the creative community the opportunity to make the choice to continue to be musicians in this country. “Throughout my 25 years as a longstanding and proud member of Local 820 of the Musician’s union, I have only seen the standard of living decrease for those of us who have chosen to make this our profession,” she says. “We are being hammered from every angle, from piracy to streaming, to being at the losing end of exemptions to broadcasters and losing our royalties for our work in film and TV because the definition of “sound recording” needing be redefined, while our American counterparts do get paid for their efforts. Meanwhile the cost of living is continually rising and our middle class has been eviscerated.”

Unions Oppose Trump’s Pick to Head Government Personnel Office

A broad coalition of labor organizations, including the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers and AFL-CIO, have launched strong opposition to President Donald Trump’s pick to head the government’s personnel office. The 16 unions stated in a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that George Nesterczuk has a failing record in fostering a federal workplace “free of discrimination, nepotism, and political influence.” A former Republican Office of Personnel Management official, Nesterczuk helped develop the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System (NSPS), which was a discriminatory system with disdain for due process worker protections and merit system principals—hallmarks of modern civil service. NSPS was repealed in 2009.


Bakers End 50-Year Business Relationship with Wells Fargo

Oregon and Washington unions are under attack by the Freedom Foundation, a business-funded organization targeting government employee unions. The anti-union group has filed numerous lawsuits against unions and has campaigned vigorously to get workers to drop union membership, even producing a weekly anti-union radio show.  

One of the group’s largest funders is Vancouver-based M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, led by three trustees, one of whom is Wells Fargo senior executive Jeffrey T. Grubb.

In a counter move, the union established Northwest Accountability Project, which has publicly criticized Murdock, a big funder of other right-wing groups such as the anti-gay-rights legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom.  

In his rebuke to Wells Fargo, Local 114 Secretary-Treasurer Terry Lansing says, “We feel strongly that Mr. Grubb’s support for these groups, through his paid role as one of three trustees, undermines many of the values we hold dear as labor activists in the Pacific Northwest.” Opened in 1963, the union’s Wells Fargo account has now been transferred to IBEW and United Workers Federal Credit Union.

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USPS/APWU Reach Impass

apwu logoThe American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and USPS failed to reach an agreement before the expiration of the current contract in May. According to an APWU news bulletin the USPS is insisting on severe cuts in pay and benefits, though progress has been made on many non-economic issues. “Management’s economic demands and proposed changes to the workforce structure were completely unacceptable,” says APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

Among the Postal Service proposals are:

  • eliminate of current cost-of-living adjustments.
  • Increased employee contribution to healthcare.
  • Permanent lower payscale for future career employees with reduced benefits.
  • Increased percentage of noncareer employees.
  • Weakened layoff protection.

APWU proposals include fair and reasonable wage increases, limits on subcontracting, more career jobs, improvements for Postal Support Employees, limits on excessing, and better service for our customers, explains Dimondstein. The talks will now go to mediation.