Labor unions | St. Louis Public Radio

Labor unions

BJC Healthcare is in middle of a large construction project employing a lot of workers.
file photo | Provided by BJC HealthCare

In his 35 years as president of the St. Louis chapter of the Coalition for Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Lew Moye has seen a lot of initiatives to increase diversity in construction.

There have been agreements to include minorities in specific projects, such as building the Edward Jones Dome and expanding Interstate 64.

And there have been protests demanding greater minority representation, such as the 1999 shutdown of I-70, where Reverend Al Sharpton led minority contractors in a call for more state highway jobs.

Striking fast food workers in south St. Louis, MO.
Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Many St. Louis fast food workers will walk off the job Thursday as part of a national call for a $15-an-hour wage and for union rights.

National organizers behind #StrikeFastFood say workers in more than 100 cities will strike, but St. Louis workers won’t be picketing here.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

 

In a quest to make job training count, the Obama administration is taking an interest in work-based apprenticeships. A St. Louis program is serving as a model for the administration.

The White House is highlighting about 40 programs across the country that are doing it right under the so-called Ready to Work Initiative. Only one such program in Missouri has made the list, the St. Louis Carpenter Union’s Mid-Apprenticeship Program.  

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
Wikipedia | government photo

In a case from Illinois that may not reach outside that state, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pamela Harris, whose child’s disabilities required that he have around-the-clock care. She became his home health worker and objected to having to pay union dues that she thought reduced the amount of money she had to care for her child.

UFCW Local 655

Union workers at area Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Shop'n Save ratified a three-year contract with the supermarkets late Wednesday night. Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 voted 1,641 to 662 to approve the contract at the Family Arena in St. Charles following a meeting of employees from the three companies.

The contract, which covers roughly 9,000 members working at 104 stores and pharmacies in the area, allows for a $0.60 wage increase over the life of the contract and includes no overall reduction in benefits.

Striking fast food workers in south St. Louis, MO.
Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Fast food workers around the globe and in St. Louis went on strike Thursday. Workers, wearing black T-shirts that say "Show Me $15," rallied in front of a Wendy's in south St. Louis. The workers are asking for $15 an hour, about double what many workers currently receive. 

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

'Right-to-work' legislation in the Missouri House hit a snag Wednesday.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Roughly a thousand labor union members crowded onto the south lawn of the state Capitol Wednesday to rally against legislation to turn Missouri into a "right-to-work" state.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson Cowie is a professor in Cornell University’s School of Labor and Industrial Relations teaching courses in labor relations, law and history.  His most recent book, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class served as inspiration for Rebecca Gilman’s play, “Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976” which is now playing at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.  While Cowie was in St.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Republican lawmakers in Missouri are again trying to pass so-called "paycheck protection" legislation to  bar some unions from automatically withholding dues from employees.

File photo

When Republican Steve Tilley was speaker of the Missouri House, he flatly told fellow Republicans that he would not bring up any bills to make Missouri a "right-to-work" state.

At the time, Tilley said publicly that he viewed the issue as too divisive and potentially destructive to Missouri Republicans. He also discounted the arguments of "right-to-work" advocates who said that such a law would create jobs.

Now, the Missouri AFL-CIO has hired Tilley as a lobbyist to block this session’s "right-to-work" efforts of his successor, Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A bill to turn Missouri into a right-to-work state was the subject of a hearing in Jefferson City Monday.

As written, the so-called "Freedom to Work Act" (House Bill 1099) would bar workers from being required to "engage in or cease engaging in specified labor organization practices" as a condition for employment.  It's sponsored by State Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield.

Provided by governor's office

Updated noon Monday, Jan. 13

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon joined Ford officials in Detroit on Monday to highlight the automaker’s production in Missouri, most notably its 2015 Ford F-150, which will be built at the company’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo.

On Sunday, the governor had done the same thing:  He appeared with General Motors officials at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to promote the auto manufacturer’s new mid-size truck, the 2015 GMC Canyon, which is to be built in Wentzville.

Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has announced an agreement with St. Louis-area labor unions leaders designed to further entice Boeing into awarding its 777X contract to Missouri.

Nixon told reporters during a conference call Tuesday that leaders from three construction union groups have all committed to a 24-hour work schedule with no overtime pay, while constructing the facility where the new passenger jet is to be built.

St. Louis Public Radio Staff / St. Louis Public Radio

The mass transit agency Metro says buses and trains will run as usual for Fair St. Louis this week, despite the possibility of a labor strike.

Vice president of marketing and communications Dianne Williams says Metro is monitoring negotiations with its union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788.

"We do expect to be able to serve Fair St. Louis this week," Williams said. "We will, if we're able, have extra services out on the street. We do every year for Fair St. Louis to accommodate the crowds."

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House has given final passage to legislation that would limit labor unions' ability to deduct dues and fees from the paychecks of public employees.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Labor union members from across Missouri descended on the State Capitol today, hoping to convince lawmakers to defeat bills they say are anti-worker.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Following on the heels of the Missouri Senate, the state House has given first-round approval of a bill that imposes restrictions on the use of union dues. But Tuesday’s vote of 93-62 was well below the number of votes needed to override a possible veto by Gov. Jay Nixon.

A second vote will be needed to send the measure to the Senate.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The Missouri Senate has given first round approval to a scaled-backed version of the so-called Paycheck Protection bill.

The original bill would have barred unions from automatically withholding dues from the paychecks of public employees, but Senate Democrats spent nearly ten hours Monday night and Tuesday morning blocking the bill. The filibuster ended when the bill was changed to allow annual consent for withholding union dues from paychecks.

Nurses Picket Outside SLU Hospital

Mar 11, 2013
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Close to 100 nurses from Saint Louis University Hospital and Des Peres Hospital picketed in the cold outside of SLU Hospital on Monday morning, saying they are required to do too much with too little staffing and insufficient equipment.

Marchelle Bettis is an RN on the trauma unit, and works with critical victims of stabbings, shootings and accidents. She says it's hard for her and her coworkers to do their jobs appropriately with the current staffing.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Reporting by Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey used in this report.

It looks like an impending strike of workers in Illinois' largest government-employee union has been avoided - tentatively.

Governor Pat Quinn reached a tentative contract deal with The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) early this morning.

Officially, the union is keeping mum about what's in the contract.

File photo by Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The percentage of Missouri workers who are members of a union dropped to less than 9 percent in 2012, following two years of slight gains.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report on Monday. It showed that 51,000 fewer Missouri workers were in a union in 2012 than 2011. The state was part of a larger national trend, but that 2 percent drop was among the largest.

Waitscm / Flickr

Tuesday night the St. Louis County Council passed a new ordinance that in part requires contractors have a U.S. Department of Labor approved apprentice program.

That provision drew criticism from some civil rights groups who said it was unfairly pro-union.

“You know there are any number of minority owned contractors who are not union contractors,” said Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis branch of the NAACP.   “We’ve fought this fight a hundred times about this language and how it excludes them simply because they’re not tied to the union.”

Flickr | david_shane

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that not only must public bodies like school boards and cities collectively bargain with their employee unions, but that bargaining must be done in good faith.

The Court issued two rulings Tuesday - one dealing with unionized teachers at a St. Louis charter school, and the other dealing with police officers in University City and Chesterfield who wanted to unionize.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

A four-year legal struggle over whether Missouri’s home care workers can unionize is finally over.

The Missouri Supreme Court has chosen to let stand the most recent ruling surrounding the results of a 2010 election, in which a majority of home care workers voted to form a labor union.  A circuit court judge had blocked the state from certifying the election results, but the Court of Appeals for the Western District reversed that decision.  The High Court’s decision to take no further action means that home care workers can begin negotiations on a union contract with the state.

(via Flickr/Senator McCaskill)

A group billing itself as non-partisan is calling on U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D, Missouri) to reveal where she stands on micro-unions.

Micro-unions are smaller groups of workers within an officially-sanctioned labor union.  The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) issued a ruling last year that allowed the creation of micro-unions.  Jason Klindt with the Coalition to Protect Missouri Jobs says micro-unions are a threat to small businesses.

(david_shane)

Mo. Senator accuses state labor department of improperly manipulating wages with unions

A top Missouri Senate leader says the state labor department is improperly working with unions to manipulate wages paid on public works projects. The state calculates an annual "prevailing wage" for various construction trades in each county based on surveys of wages already paid on jobs.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a Republican from Dexter, said Wednesday that state bureaucrats and labor unions had engaged in what he called "collusion.

File photo by Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Well over a thousand labor union members rallied outside the State Capitol Tuesday against various bills in the General Assembly they say is anti-worker.

In particular, they oppose legislation that would suspend the prevailing wage law in tornado-ravaged Joplin and other parts of Missouri declared to be federal disaster areas.  Governor Jay Nixon (D) spoke at the rally, accusing Republican lawmakers and their backers of attacking working people in Missouri.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Good morning! Here are a few of today's starting headlines:

  • The Jennings City Council voted 6-to-1 last night to enter a contract with the St. Louis County police department to handle the municipality's police services. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the lone no vote came form Councilwoman Yolanda Austin , who is claiming she has flied a lawsuit to block the contract. St. Louis County has been overseeing the Jennings police Department since November 1. The one-year contract would cost $2.8 million. The Post-Dispatch reports the current budgeted cost for Jennings to run its own department is about $3.1 million.
  • A Missouri House Republican wants to require labor unions to get written permission from their members before deducting dues form their paychecks. The legislation by House Speaker  Pro Tem Shane Schoeller would require workers to sign a forma every year authorizing the deductions. They would also have to give written consent for their dues to be used for political activities. Schoeller, from Willard, says workers should be able to decide how to spend their own money. Labor groups say the bill would require too much paperwork. They also say dues are not used for political activities. They say those activities are financed from a separate fund to which members make voluntary contributions.
  • According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Police Retirement System endorsed changes Monday to pension benefits for newly hired St. Louis police officers. The changes call for all participants, including those currently enrolled, to contribute 9 percent of their salary, up from 7 percent. According to the system's executive director, the changes would saved the city about $600,000 a year to start, and about $10 million annually after about 20 years. The Post-Dispatch reports that new officers would have to wait longer to be eligible for benefits and would not be able to receive a lump sum refund on their contributions upon retirement. Exacerbated by the bad economy, cost for city contributions to police, firefighter and other employee pension systems have ballooned by millions in recent years. City leaders have said employees face almost certain layoffs if cost cannot be trimmed.

The Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. Legislative action here on Thursday by Sen. Jason Crowell would refer the "right-to-work" issue to voters next year.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Some Republican senators want to prohibit union-only work places, which they contend could deter some businesses from locating in Missouri.

Missouri businesses currently have the option of requiring union fees from employees.

Legislation filed Thursday by Republican Sen. Jason Crowell, of Cape Girardeau, would refer the union issue to voters next year.

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