Teamsters backpedal in Tennessee

Teamsters Local 327, which represents Metro police officers, distanced itself Friday from former Police Lt. Calvin Hullett, and at the same time called for the police department to recommission Officer Roy Dunaway. Hullett, a national Teamsters organizer charged with allegedly placing hidden cameras at a Fraternal Order of Police camp in Wilson County, has been the focus of an evolving Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe.

The Teamsters supplanted the FOP as bargaining agent for Metro officers in 2006, but the FOP has been trying to regain control. Teamsters Local president Jimmy Neal acknowledges "there has been an ongoing dispute between the FOP and us." Hullett has been on disability pension since 2006. Before becoming a Teamsters organizer, he was FOP president.

In a news conference Friday afternoon, Teamsters attorney Jack Byrd stressed, "Mr. Hullett does not work for or at the discretion of Neal."

He also said the union has cooperated with the TBI and that neither Neal nor Dunaway has been interviewed or identified as a suspect.

Tuesday the TBI raided the Teamsters offices on Antioch Pike.

Dunaway, a 16-year Metro officer, had been full-time police liaison with the Teamsters, with an office in its headquarters. He was decommissioned Thursday, surrendering his badge, ID and gun when he was reassigned to a desk job in the warrants division.

Decommission defended

During the news conference, Byrd said Dunaway's only offense was "guilt by association."

He said Dunaway was acquainted with Hullett, who had access to the computer on which Dunaway conducted his police union business. That computer was among items seized by the TBI.

"It's a punishment before he has had his due process or even been accused of anything," Byrd said.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said Friday that "the decommissioning of Roy Dunaway was not punitive."

According to arrest warrants, two unidentified individuals accompanied Hullett to the FOP camp.

The Teamsters said they know nothing about them or about two Shelby County sheriff's officers, interviewed by the TBI, who are off-duty with pay pending an administrative investigation.


BC Steelworkers suspected in picket line violence

Masset RCMP are investigating a hit-and-run accident near the union picket line outside Port Clements, British Columbia Wednesday morning. It happened at about 7:30 am. Police were called after reports that a vehicle had struck a man, throwing him into the ditch, then left the scene. It occurred on the Port Road leading from the village to Juskatla.
The pedestrian was taken to hospital in Masset where he was treated for minor injuries and then released. RCMP are continuing to interview witnesses, but have not determined yet if the incident was accidental or if it was connected to the ongoing labour dispute.

Members of the Steelworkers' Union have been on strike since last weekend, and there's a picket line on the way to Juskatla as well as another in Queen Charlotte.
Police have a description of the vehicle and know the identity of the driver. They ask anyone who witnessed the incident or have any information to call them at 626 3991 or Crime Stoppers.


Vancouver gov't union strike: Garbage piles up

Garbage piles are showing up on some Vancouver streets as a strike by more than 5,000 civic workers continues into the weekend. The 1,800 outside workers, represented by CUPE Local 1004, first walked off the job on July 20, forcing city hall to suspend some municipal services, including residential garbage collection.

The city's 3,500 inside workers, who belong to CUPE Local 15, walked off the job Monday, affecting services such as city-run day-care facilities, building inspections and parking bylaw enforcement.

The 800 library workers, represented by CUPE Local 391, began a full-blown strike on Thursday, shutting down 22 branches of the Vancouver Public Library.

Striking library workers and outside civic workers will resume talks with city negotiators Monday morning, following a day of bargaining between the city and its inside workers on Friday.
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There is no word on any progress between the two sides because of a media blackout.

CUPE Local 1004 president Mike Jackson said a five-year contract reached by the City of Richmond and its civic workers set the stage for positive bargaining.

"I do feel optimistic. A new standard has been set, so we'll have to wait and see," he told CBC News on Friday evening.

Richmond's inside and outside workers on Wednesday and Thursday voted to accept a five-year agreement that includes a 17.5 per cent salary increase.

While the impact of the Vancouver civic strike has been relatively minor so far, all sides are saying they hope a deal will get done before more garbage piles up on Vancouver streets.

Vancouver's Downtown Eastside — the city's poorest neighbourhood where drug use is common — is looking a lot worse than even its usual down-at-the-heels appearance.

United We Can, a private crew that usually works in the inner city alongside municipal workers, is now left holding the bag.

"Normally we have the city to help us," said Richard Ivanauskus, the organization's spokesman.

"If there were a big pile of garbage, we'd sweep it out of the roadway or alley and the city would come along and pick it up. But that's just not happening now," he said.


SEIU investing in NY law officials

Albany, NY County District Attorney David Soares has more than $35,000 in his re-election war chest, including close to $10,000 from the state's largest health care union, the latest campaign filings show. The prosecutor, elected to a four-year term in 2004 after he upset incumbent Paul Clyne in the Democratic primary, reeled in $9,747 from the political action fund for the 1199 SEIU, according to the state Board of Elections filings for July. Other noteworthy contributions to Friends of David Soares include $5,000 from the New York State Laborers, $2,500 from the Drug Policy Alliance Network and $1,000 from the New York State Troopers political action committee.

Meanwhile, the top individual contributor was activist Alice Green, executive director of Albany's Center for Law and Justice and a failed 2005 mayoral candidate, who contributed $1,000.


Striking Machinists 'humiliate' scabs

In and around tents set up outside the entrance gate to Kennedy Space Center, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 sit in defiance of their employer, United Space Alliance. As of today, the union's strike over stalled contract negotiations with the company - NASA's main space shuttle contractor - has gone on for 45 days, still with no end in sight, according to both sides.

The strike by an estimated 450 to 500 blue-collar workers in the shuttle program has developed into an exercise in labor rights - and management's ability to adapt to it - not often seen on the Space Coast. Local 2061 leaders - some who have worked at the Space Center for more than 30 years - said their union has gone on strike several times through the years, more than any other union at the Space Center, as far as they can remember. "The membership in this local has a strong desire to stand up for themselves," Local 2061 President Lew Jamieson said.

With the shuttle program scheduled to end in three years, it raises the likelihood of a conflict, as both sides can see a potential end to their income, said Bruce Nissen, director of the Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University in Miami.

The company could have the upper hand in the standoff if, as it has said, it has been getting by without the strikers without problems, Nissen said.

United Space Alliance - a joint venture of aerospace and defense giants Lockheed Martin Corp. and The Boeing Co. - said it is doing fine without the strikers.

A portion of the 570-member union's bargaining unit never joined the strike, and some have crossed the picket lines, while the company has hired 64 replacement workers, and assigned other workers extra duties.

Leverage issue

"The way I would describe it is everything is going safely, smoothly and on schedule," United Space Alliance spokeswoman Tracey Yates said about preparations for the launch of shuttle Endeavour, scheduled for Aug. 7.

"In situations like this, it's routine for the company to say everything is OK," Nissen said. "There always a lot of posturing" by both sides.

If the company is truly coping well without the workers, and the union does not have support from the community or other political forces, the strikers could be at a disadvantage. A lot of it depends on how difficult it would be to replace them permanently, Nissen said.

"The real difference is," he added, "what kind of leverage do they have?"

The strikers said the walkout isn't just about money. It's also about respect. They described feeling "beaten down," as the company pushes to meet its deadlines and "milestones" for the shuttle program.

The strikers said they believe professionals at the Space Center look down on them because "we don't have college degrees."

The other day, someone they believe worked at the Space Center driving by the picket line tossed out a leaflet to the strikers, they said.

The leaflet - which they showed to a reporter - depicted a photo of the strikers holding signs on the picket line with the face of the caveman from the Geico insurance commercials superimposed on their faces.

"So easy a caveman can do it," the leaflet read, a reference to the Geico commercials, as well as the workers who have been assigned to do the strikers' jobs.

However, the strikers said, they are the ones who do the physical jobs that keep the Space Center running - including day-to-day maintenance work that, contrary to what the company has said, is falling behind, according to "our people inside."

On another occasion, the strikers said, someone driving through the gate swerved at them to give them a scare. Some others going into the Space Center raise their middle fingers as they drive by, they said.

'I hate scabs'

The strikers said such actions are indicative of the resentment that is building among the company's white-collar workers for having to do extra work, outside their normal job descriptions, during the strike.

Meanwhile, tensions over those who cross the picket line are obvious.

"They can burn in hell," said Larry Tucker, a Local 2061 striker who has worked at the Space Center for 37 years. "I hate scabs. They're low-life scum."

At the picket site on North Courtenay Parkway, the strikers have put up a sign by the road listing the names of nearly 30 workers who have crossed the line.

"To humiliate them," Tucker said.

In one case, a United Space Alliance employee who recently crossed the picket line and returned to work said he found his car and home vandalized. James Celli of Port St. John told police he found all four tires on his car flattened and the words "scab" sprayed in black paint on his car and garage.

No one has been charged, and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office has not received any other reports of such vandalism.

Jamieson, the union's president, said the public shouldn't jump to conclusions about the vandalism in Port St. John.

"It's premature and callous to even insinuate that it was a Machinists' union member," he said.

$150 a week

The strikers, meanwhile, said they are finding ways to make ends meets. The union pays strikers $150 for eight hours a week on the picket line. Some work extra shifts for extra money, while taking odd jobs on the side. The strikers said some of their colleagues have found permanent jobs, and are never expected to return.

The picket line at the North Courtenay entrance resembles a refugee camp.

The only house in sight is occupied by a former member of the United Auto Workers union, who has allowed the strikers to draw electricity from his property to power fans and lights under the tents on the picket line, at the union's expense.

Under the tents, amid the grass and the dirt, there are barbecue grills, stacks of drinks, a refrigerator, lawn chairs, even a makeshift bulletin board. At least several strikers at a time are expected to man that and other picket sites around the clock.

Of the 570 members of Local 2061, nearly 500 are on strike, Jamieson estimated.

According to the company's calculations, that number is lower -- 449. Yates said 94 workers are not part of the strike. That includes a number who are part of the union's collective-bargaining unit, but don't pay dues and are not considered full-fledged members. It does not include 27 workers who have been on a leave of absence since before the strike, she said.

"Some USA employees who are performing replacement tasks are working overtime hours," Yates said. "That's not unusual. IAM workers routinely put in overtime when they were on the job."

Yates said she doesn't think anyone from management has even spoken to the union's leadership since the strike started June 14.

Still, the stressfulness of the walkout is evident on both sides, as they have been careful not to say anything publicly about the bargaining issues and each other that would inflame the situation, and make chances for a settlement less likely.

When asked if the company is willing to never bring the strikers back to work, Yates said: "That isn't the goal. I can't speculate on the future and what's going to happen."

The union's leadership, meanwhile, has cautioned the strikers to choose their words carefully when speaking with the news media.

"We've told them this strike can't be won in the press, but it can be lost in the press," Jamieson said.


Nashville police-Teamster relationship changing

The investigation led by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into the activities of the Teamsters Union has resulted in a Metro Police officer being decommissioned. Metro Police Officer Roy Dunaway was decommissioned and assigned to desk duty in Metro's Warrants division on Thursday. Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said, "As part of the expanding investigation by the TBI, the criminal matter that began with the arrest of Calvin Hullett, certain information has now been received by the police department we believe required the decommissioning of Officer Roy Dunaway."

Dunaway was the Teamsters’ liaison with Metro Police department. The Teamsters Union represents Metro Police. In a statement, Police Chief Ronal Serpas said he has gotten sufficient information to require Dunaway to be relieved of law enforcement authority. Aaron said, “Decommissioning should not be seen as a punishment in any way. Officer Dunaway has been relieved of his law enforcement responsibilities, his law enforcement powers, until this investigation can be resolved.”

As far as the Teamsters’ relationship with Metro, Chief Serpas said Metro Police will not talk with the Teamsters until the investigation is resolved. “It is necessary that the administration of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department refrain from any direct contact or communication with any persons/officials employed by the Teamsters organization,” he said.


Metro Officer Questions Reassignment

A Metro officer who was the former liaison between the department and a union questions his recent reassignment. On Thursday, the department announced that Officer Roy Dunaway would not continue to serve as a liaison between the department and the Teamsters union.

"I've been a police officer 16 years," Dunaway said. "It's shocking to me and my family." Dunaway has been put on restricted assignment pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into the actions of a union organizer. The organizer was recently arrested after agents said he placed hidden cameras at a youth camp run by a rival union, the Fraternal Order of Police.

Metro said that Dunaway's decommissioning should not be looked at as punishment. But Dunaway's attorney said there's no other way to look at it and his client deserves an explanation.


UFCW bullying Arizona grocery workers

As a member of the Bashas' workforce, I am glad to see some truth coming to light in this conflict. Believe me, you have only scratched the surface. The United Food and Commercial Workers has waged an unethical (at best) campaign of harassment and intimidation against our company and its employees.

When their tactics failed to drum up enough support among the Bashas' membership to force a vote, they lowered themselves to the next level. They are now trying to damage our business by misleading our customers. Who gets hurt by this? The very workers that the UFCW says they are trying to help will suffer loss of income if this strategy succeeds.

In my opinion, this whole issue has nothing to do with helping the poor abused working man. It is nothing more than their desire to increase their income by whatever means they deem necessary. Union dues from 14,000 people (the approximate workforce at Bashas') is a lot of money, isn't it?

Steve Haegele, Phoenix (The writer has worked for Bashas' for six years.)


Illinois union locked out, replacements coming

Ninety union employees are without jobs, and most without benefits, following a three-month contract dispute and lockout at Quad City Die Casting, 3800 River Drive. Employees were informed Thursday night they would be locked out of work effective immediately. This will continue until their union, United Electrical Local 1174, agrees to the company's "last, best and final offer for a new labor agreement," according to a letter from company president Drew Debrey. "We take this action with regret, but believe it is necessary to protect the interests of our company, our customers and ultimately your job security," the letter says.

Quad City Die Casting -- which produces aluminum and magnesium components at a 40,000-square-foot plant -- had been negotiating a new contract with the union since May. Workers had been under a prior three-year agreement that froze wages until it expired June 30, said Local 1174 president Rich Nordholm, a toolmaker.

"Just to lock us out and pull back, I think, was very wrong. It was a shock," he said Friday, as about a dozen employees sat outside the building protesting the move, holding signs out to motorists. Some workers were out since 6:30 a.m. Friday.

The parties brought in a federal mediator to try to resolve the contract dispute, and they met at an unsuccessful nine-hour session on July 17.

The disagreement centers on the company's plan to use temporary and part-time employees to supplement the work force, to "reduce our costs so that we can meet the continuous demands of our customers to reduce our prices," Mr. Debrey's letter says.

Contrary to what the union has said, the proposal would not affect wages or job security, according to the company. Temporary employees only would be used when 75 full-time workers are scheduled and no employees are on layoff, and Quad City Die Casting would hire no more than five part-time employees at a time.

Mr. Nordholm said employees haven't been told details of that plan and fear that hiring temps or part-time workers could mean the loss of union jobs. "They'd be basically training their own assassins," he said.

"We have a hard enough time watching new full-time people, let alone temps," said Steve Bailey, a machine operator, union steward and contract negotiator. He called the sometimes dangerous work "stressful," and said the inside of the plant is typically 130 degrees.

The previous contract had a cap of 800 hours a year on the use of temp workers, and the union proposed allowing 10,000 hours a year, which the company rejected, Mr. Bailey said.

"I thought the whole point of mediation was to find middle ground," he said. "There was no middle ground. It was `our way or the highway.'"

The company letter said the temporary and part-time employees would be used only under "certain limited conditions." Mr. Debrey was not available Friday afternoon to comment on the dispute.

In early July, the company laid off 19 union employees, who still are on health insurance and collecting unemployment, Mr. Nordholm said. Many other workers wonder how they are going to pay their medical bills, he said.

"I am on 10 medications and they cost $980 a month without insurance," said Robin Carden, whose husband Jerry works at the plant. She has had a stroke, has high blood pressure and asthma.

"I was looking at back surgery, but my doctor canceled it because of this," Ms. Carden said.

"It's sad. All of us don't have health insurance because of this. I have a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old," said one laborer/metal tender.

Starting union wages at the company are $9.50 an hour and go up to $15, depending on the job, Mr. Bailey said. Labor and management were not far apart on the wage proposals, Mr. Nordholm said, declining to give details.

The lockout is "a big push to see if they'll just take it," he said of the last offer. "There's a lot of people working week to week, paycheck to paycheck. I'm not sure what they'll decide."

The union will meet at noon Sunday at the Silvis Eagles Club to discuss what to do, Mr. Nordholm said.

"I would like to see us hold the line," he said. "It's a toss-up what they'll do. Fifty percent feel they've been really done wrong. The other half, I think they're scared."

Quad City Die Casting is part of Moline-based QuadCast Inc., which has other casting plants in Davenport and Red Oak, Iowa. Both are non-union, Mr. Nordholm said.

During the lockout, the company will use employees not covered by the labor agreement, hiring temporary replacements, and shipping work to Red Oak, according to the company letter.


The San Francisco SEIU way

More pay. Less work.
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