4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

USA

The ITUC affiliate in the USA is the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO).

In practice

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Employers undermine unions31-03-2014

Although direct dealing with individual employees is unlawful once an exclusive bargaining agent bargaining agent A workers’ representative authorised to bargain collectively on behalf of workers in a bargaining unit.

See collective bargaining
has been designated by the majority, violations are not uncommon. For example, in the case of Hotel Bel-Air, 358 NLRB No. 152 (2012), decided by the National Labor Relations Board in September 2012, the employer was found to have engaged in unlawful direct dealing when it wrote a letter proposing severance benefits in return for a waiver of recall rights directly to employees who were being laid off, sidestepping the union. The letter began by stating that the respondent was “very happy to give you [the employee] the opportunity to decide for yourself whether you want to accept the” offer of severance pay.

Employers refuse to negotiate in good faith31-03-2014

In FY 2010, the last year for which data are available, unions filed more than 9,100 charges alleging that employers failed to bargain in good faith. These charges accounted for more than 53% of all unfair labour practice charges filed. In many instances, employers circumvented unions and unilaterally implemented changes to employees’ terms and conditions of employment to avoid the bargaining process.

During 2013 and 2014, private employers were often likely to refuse to negotiate regarding changes in employee benefits plans, as in the National Labor Relations Board’s recent decisions in the Tesoro Los Angeles Refinery, 360 NLRB No. 46 (Feb. 20, 2014) and Enterprise Leasing Co., 359 NLRB No. 149 (July 2, 2013), cases.

State Influence on Union Elections 31-03-2014

In February 2014, Tennessee Republican politicians—including U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Governor Bill Haslam, State Senator Bo Watson, State House Speaker Beth Harwell and State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick—initiated several weeks of intense anti-union campaigning at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee prior to a major election. The politicians urged workers to vote against the United Auto Workers in the election, threatening to withhold tax and financial benefits from the company if the workers chose to be represented by the union. The United Auto Workers have filed an objection with the National Labor Relations Board to set aside the election because the politicians’ interference violated U.S. labour law’s requirement that workers have the right to vote in union elections in an atmosphere free of coercion, intimidation, and interference.

Employer Influence on Union Elections31-03-2014

Because of the latitude given to employers under U.S. law to campaign against unionisation and the weakness of the protections against outright anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

, a USD $4 billion union-busting industry has developed in the United States consisting of consultants who advise employers on tactics to employ during union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaigns to discourage and intimidate workers from exercising their rights to unionise. These outside consultants are hired by employers in more than 80% of all organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. drives.

Studies have shown that in the vast majority of organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaigns, employers require workers to attend group “captive audience” meetings as well as one-one-one meetings with their supervisors to hear anti-union propaganda—tactics which are permitted under current law despite their intimidating effect on workers. A recent academic study found that workers were required to attend captive audience meetings with top management in 89% of all organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaigns surveyed, and that a majority of employees were required to attend at leave five of these meetings during the course of a campaign. In 66% of the campaigns, workers were required to meet alone with their supervisors at least weekly.

Additionally, a recent academic study found that in 57% of the campaigns surveyed, workers were threatened that their workplace would shut down if they chose to be represented by a union, and that in 47% of campaigns they were threatened with a loss of wages or benefits. In 64% of campaigns, workers were interrogated about how they and other workers were going to vote, and 14% were put under surveillance by their employer. To intimidate workers, 21% of employers called in police to do walkthroughs in the workplace, and 14 percent bring in security guards or put up security fencing. Most egregiously, workers were discharged in 34 percent of the campaigns.

For example, in January, 2012, Cablevision installers in Brooklyn voted 180-86 in favor of joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Throughout the weeks leading up to the vote, they faced an intense management campaign to dissuade them from choosing to join the union. In spite of the employer campaign, workers in three facilities chose to join the union and the NLRB certified the bargaining unit bargaining unit A group of workers within a particular company, establishment, industry or occupation that constitutes an appropriate unit for the purpose of collective bargaining.

See bargaining agent
in February, 2012. The parties have still not settled a first contract.

In September, 2013, Metro PCS workers in a New York store sought union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. through an NLRB election process. T-Mobile management intensely campaigned to prevent 9 employees from forming a union. The employees voted 7-1 to join a union, but had to overcome a severe management fear campaign which included over 30 one-on-one sessions in which managers instructed the workers on the reasons they should not participate in the union. Both regional and corporate management, including the CEO, flew into the store to influence the vote.

Favouritism31-03-2014

Employers sometimes attempt to dominate or interfere with the formation of unions or contribute support to particular unions. In FY 2010, the last year for which the government collected this data, 539 charges alleging violations of the prohibition against employer domination or interference with a union were filed. These charges constituted 3.1% of the 17,145 unfair labour practices filed against employers by workers and unions that year. In some instances, employer favouritism towards one union in a contested election may provide a basis for setting aside the results of the election and directing a new election, as in the National Labor Relations Board’s decision in Seton Medical Center/ Seton Coastside, 360 NLRB No. 60 (2014), in which election results were set aside because an employer discriminatorily provided preferential access for one union to engage in electioneering while denying a rival union similar opportunities.

Thousands of charges are filed against employers 31-03-2014

Every year, thousands of charges are filed against employers alleging discrimination against workers because of their union membership or support, and every year the National Labor Relations Board awards millions of dollars in back pay back pay Wages or benefits due an employee for past employment. Often awarded when the employee has been unfairly dismissed. Not to be confused with retroactive pay (delayed payment for work previously done at a lower wage rate). to workers that have been unlawfully discharged.

In FY 2012, the last year for which data is available, employers were required to pay workers backpay totaling more than $44.3 million dollars, and more than 1200 illegally terminated workers were offered reinstatement.

Employers have sometimes given benefits to its non-unionised employees but denied the same benefits to employees who have chosen union representation to deter future organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. efforts. These tactics are often effective in suppressing workers’ rights to organise and engage in collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

For example, after a unit of Cablevision workers in Brooklyn voted 180-86 in favor of joining the Communication Workers of America (CWA), workers at Bronx Cablevision location began to organise. To thwart the campaign, the company granted all of its technicians—except for those who chose to join CWA in Brooklyn—raises of between US $2 and $9 per hour. Unsurprisingly, the employer’s message dampened the organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. effort at the Bronx location, where the union was later defeated by a vote of 121-43.

Attacks on public employee bargaining31-03-2014

Between 2011 and 2014, over 1,000 bills seeking to eliminate or curtail collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights for public employees have been introduced in state legislatures. A number of these bills were enacted into law.

The most notorious was legislation introduced in Wisconsin in February 2011. The legislation strips away most of public sector workers’ bargaining rights, limiting bargaining to negotiations over wages only (subject to a cap based on inflation); prohibiting collective agreements of more than one year’s duration; and requiring annual union recertification votes to determine if workers can continue to have union representation. The anti-collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
bill spurred demonstrations in the state capital of over 100,000 protestors at a time in 2011. While resistance to the law continued in court through 2012, it appears that a vast majority of the provisions will not be overturned by courts.

Also in 2011, Ohio legislators enacted a similar bill, which raised additional barriers to public sector strikes and eliminated binding arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
to resolve contract disputes. However, the anti-collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
bill in Ohio was soundly defeated by public referendum at the end of 2011.

The organised effort to push through anti-collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
laws state-by-state continued in 2012, when five states passed prohibitions on collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
for some piece of the public sector workforce. The most notable anti-worker legislation to take effect was in Michigan, where 17% of the workforce is unionised, and a number well above the national average of 11%. The Michigan legislation prohibits automatic dues deduction for public school employees, bans union security clauses for public and private sector unions (“right-to-work” provisions), and prohibits graduate assistants, child care workers, and home health care workers from collectively bargaining. These extensive anti-worker restrictions were pushed through by conservative legislators with specific provisions added solely to circumvent the ordinary right of citizens to petition for repeal by referendum.

Republican legislatures in other states also pushed to expand the reach of so-called “right-to-work” laws. Under those laws, unions—which are required by law to provide equal representation services to workers in the bargaining unit bargaining unit A group of workers within a particular company, establishment, industry or occupation that constitutes an appropriate unit for the purpose of collective bargaining.

See bargaining agent
regardless of whether or not they are union members—are prohibited from charging service fees to non-members. “Right-to-work” laws provide financial incentives to workers not to join the union and pay dues, since by not joining they can receive the benefit of the collective agreement and grievance and other representation services from the union without having to share in the cost of those services. These laws produce a drop in union membership as “free riders” cancel the payment of dues.

In 2012, the Michigan and Indiana Legislatures passed “right-to-work” laws. Although certain provisions within these laws have been or are being challenged in court, most of their provisions will likely remain in effect. The trend continued in 2013, as 19 states introduced “right-to-work” bills and proposed state constitutional amendments to entrench “right-to-work” principles.

In addition to a flurry of “right-to-work” bills, 2012 and 2013 saw the introduction in dozens of states of so-called “paycheck protection” bills. Those bills are designed to make it difficult for unions to collect dues from their members, and to use dues from members for political or advocacy purposes.

With regard to public employees, these bills would prohibit state employers from agreeing to allow union members to pay their dues to the union through automatic payroll deductions—this either altogether or with respect to any portion of their dues that the union uses for political purposes.

With regard to private sector employers, the bills would not prohibit such payroll deductions (which are permitted under federal law) but would require that the individual employee reauthorise the deduction every year in order for it to continue.

Teachers have been specifically targeted. The states’ use of both unilateral contract changes and systematic closures of unionised schools (which are reopened as non-union charter schools) has become increasingly popular throughout 2012 and 2013. In 2013, more than half of American states attempted to pass legislation to promote charter schools or private school vouchers. State legislators and officials have implemented various restrictions on teachers’ collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
, including prohibiting teachers from bargaining over layoffs, shortening maximum contract length, unilaterally imposing terms of employment, and, in some cases, abolishing collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
altogether.

In 2013, municipal bankruptcies and preemptive efforts to limit public employees’ pensions and benefits were a major threat to workers’ rights. In 2013, Detroit filed for bankruptcy, and a United States Bankruptcy Court judge issued a ruling that allowed the city to move forward with developing a restructuring plan. The proposed plan would slash public sector employees’ pension rights. Under the proposal, most public employees and retirees are facing up to a 34 per cent cut in their pension benefits, along with the elimination of cost of living adjustments. Police and fire retirees face up to a 10% cut.

While the Detroit bankruptcy is the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, there have been several other recent city and county bankruptcies that also dramatically reduced workers’ pension and compensation. In 2013, legislatures in 8 states enacted various forms of legislation designed to preemptively limit public employees’ pension benefits. Workers’ rights advocates are deeply concerned by these trends and continue to urge that workers and retirees should not be forced to bear the costs of municipalities’ financial distress.

No tri-partite consultative body to address labour law and policy31-03-2014

The U.S. government does not maintain a formal tri-partite consultative body to address labour law and policy. There are some opportunities for consultation, as with the Labour Advisory Committee within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Some government agencies seek input from interested parties by conducting notice-and-comment rulemaking prior to formulating new regulations or policies. Unions may also file amicus curiae briefs in court and agency adjudications to provide their views on disputed matters that will affect labour law or policy.
Far from consulting with unions regarding labour law and policy, some states and U.S. politicians have taken deliberate steps to roll back workers’ collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights.

Kellogg’s locks out Memphis workers to force the expansion of disposable jobs29-01-2014

Transnational cereal maker Kellogg’s has locked out 220 members of the IUF-affiliated BCTGM since October 22 2013 at its factory in Memphis, Tennessee in an effort to force union acceptance of a plan to radically increase the use of casual workers. With this plan all newly employed workers would be employed as casuals with no guaranteed hours at significantly lower pay and benefits, effectively transforming over time the entire employment structure at the facility. The company calls this “The New Workforce of the Future”.

Kellogg’s organized this assault while the Master Agreement of 2012, which limits casual work, is still in force. The union insists that casual work must be negotiated within the framework of the agreement - and their members are watching the end of year festivities approach from the street side of the factory gate.

Labor board files complaint on Walmart violations16-01-2014

The US National Labor Relations Board issued a formal complaint on 16 January 2014 against giant retailer Walmart, saying it violated labour rules by threatening and punishing workers who joined pro-union protests.

The complaint says that the country’s largest employer and a long-time foe of unions violated employee rights in 14 states during the November 2012 Thanksgiving holiday protests.

The NLRB complaint, which consolidates a number of separate cases, involves more than 60 employees, including 19 who were fired or laid off illegally after taking part in the protests.

It names 60 Walmart supervisors and one corporate officer for taking action against workers that allegedly violated their rights.

At stores in numerous states, Walmart “unlawfully threatened, disciplined and/or terminated employees” for legally joining the protests and engaging in other legal activities that November, the NLRB said in a statement.

“The National Labour Relations Act guarantees the right of private-sector employees to act together to try to improve their wages and working conditions with or without a union.”

The NLRB issued the complaint after giving the company time to reach settlements with complainants that did not resolve the problems.

The complaint related to a nationwide campaign by pro-union Walmart workers and supporters from union groups during the 2012 Thanksgiving weekend, normally the heaviest shopping period of the year.

Replacement workers 08-08-2013

Replacement workers were hired in numerous strikes during 2012, most notably in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
against Caterpillar Inc., which despite earning a record $4.9 billion in profits in 2011 insisted on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the production workers at its Joliet, Illinois plant.

In 2012, the National Football League locked out its referees and hired replacement referees. Most notoriously, 1,300 workers spread across five plants in the Midwest have been locked out by American Crystal Sugar since August 2011, with replacement workers performing their jobs.

15% of the private sector workforce excluded from the right to join unions08-08-2013

In the private sector, managerial and supervisory employees, independent contractors and domestic workers have no right to form or join union, nor do agricultural workers except in a small number of states. These excluded categories of workers constitute approximately 15% of the private sector workforce. In the public sector, workers cannot be prevented from or punished for forming or joining organisations of their own choosing, including unions. However, as noted below, more than 7 million federal, state and local government employees, representing more than a third of the public sector workforce, do not have the right to collectively bargain—an essential corollary of the right to form unions.

Workers do not have access to an effective system to remedy violations of their rights08-08-2013

Although workers whose rights have been violated may file unfair labour practice charges with the National Labour Relations Board, remedies for violations are notoriously weak and often are not imposed until years after the violation. Employers who illegally fire workers for union activity are only required to pay back wages minus what the worker has earned in the meantime—a sum that is typically so negligible that, as a 2000 report by Human Rights Watch concluded, employers consider it to be a “minor cost of doing business”. The only remedy imposed when an employer threatens workers with retaliation for union activity is a cease and desist order and a requirement that the employer post a notice saying it will not violate the law again, and the typical remedy for a refusal to bargain is simply an order to bargain in the future. These remedies are inadequate either to deter violations or to adequately compensate the victims of unlawful conduct.

Prohibition of publications19-08-2013

Under U.S. law unions have no right to maintain their own bulletin boards in employer workplaces and the employer is not required to allow the union to post notices on its bulletin boards unless it permits workers to use the bulletin boards to post other, non-work-related material. Employers may also establish rules prohibiting the distribution of union literature in work areas, even if the employer itself distributes materials in those areas. Although workers generally have the right to distribute news and leaflets in non-work areas, these rights are frequently violated during union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaigns.

Prohibition of demonstrations31-01-2013

Workers in the U.S. are restricted in their ability to engage in picketing picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. and other forms of protest on employers’ property. The law also prohibits secondary picketing picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. and limits picketing picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. which has the object of organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. workers or obtaining recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. from the employer. In January 2013, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and its community affiliate, Our Walmart, which had engaged in nationwide demonstrations at Walmart stores protesting about the retaliatory action taken against Walmart workers who had spoken out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care, had to disavow any intent to represent Walmart workers and promise not to picket for a period of 60 days to forestall the government from going to court to obtain an injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. to stop the demonstrations.

Illegal discrimination by employers against workers seeking to organise unions or otherwise engage in union activity remains widespread31-12-2011

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reported in 2011 that in the year ending September 30, 2009, as a result of complaints brought to the agency, 1,549 workers who had been illegally discharged or denied employment because of their union activities were offered reinstatement. In addition, 15,554 workers received backpay totalling USD 76.8 million.
Experts consider these numbers to reflect only a portion of the total number of workers illegally terminated or discriminated against, since many workers never file charges.

Government officials and candidates for office openly attack unions and union-represented workers31-12-2011

During 2011, a number of high-ranking government officials and candidates for high office openly expressed their hostility to unions and workers’ exercise of freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
.

The newly-elected Republican governor of South Carolina, for example, announced to the press that she was appointing a lawyer specialising in “union avoidance” to head the state’s department of labor because “we’re going to fight the unions and I needed a partner to help me do it”. Notwithstanding that there are more than 59,000 union members in South Carolina, she subsequently declared in a televised address to the state legislature that her administration would “make the unions understand they are not needed, not wanted, and not welcome in the state of South Carolina”.

Mitt Romney, the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, ran televised campaign ads in which he referred to the members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the government agency which administers the federal labour law, as “union stooges”. He, and other Republican candidates for the presidency, repeatedly attacked unions and the NLRB during televised candidate debates.

Conservatives in Congress work to cripple government agency responsible for enforcing rights of private sector workers to organise and bargain collectively31-12-2011

In the U.S. Congress, dozens of anti-union measures were introduced in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Many of them aimed specifically at curtailing the ability of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to effectively enforce federal labour laws.

Among measures passed by the House of Representatives in 2011 that were pending before the U.S. Senate by the end of the year was a bill that would deny the NLRB authority to get workers reinstated where their employer has illegally eliminated or transferred work in retaliation for the exercise of protected rights. Another bill would prevent the agency from implementing new regulations intended to streamline the process leading up to union certification elections so as to limit opportunities for employer interference. Other measures introduced sought to cut off or sharply curtail funding for the agency.

Republican-controlled legislative committees also conducted nine official “investigative” hearings regarding actions by the independent agency and demanded the production of thousands of pages of documents and emails relating to cases decided by the agency with which business organisations disagreed. These actions were widely seen as an effort to intimidate agency personnel and prevent the agency from enforcing the law. In the Senate, the Republican minority unsuccessfully sought to block President Obama from filling vacancies on the NLRB so as to prevent the agency from functioning.

Newly elected conservative majorities join with corporate allies to wage war on unions, collective bargaining and worker rights31-12-2011

Elections in late 2010 that swept Republican Party conservatives into control of the U.S. House of Representatives and a majority of state legislatures and state governorships were followed in 2011 by an explosion of legislative initiatives. Those initiatives intended to weaken legal protections for workers against anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

, limit or terminate collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights for millions of public sector employees as well as eliminate important sources of financial support for trade unions and curtail their ability to advocate on behalf of their members in the political and public policy arenas.

A substantial percentage of these bills were drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded organisation whose “members” - some 2.000 conservative legislators and more than 300 of the world’s largest corporations - meet together behind closed doors to develop and vote on model legislation sought by corporate interests that the legislators then introduce and promote in the US Congress and in state legislatures around the country.

In addition to weakening unions and rolling back worker rights, ALEC’s agenda includes enactment of voter eligibility rules making it harder for minorities, the poor, students and the elderly to vote; reductions in and privatisation of public services; limitations on government regulation of commerce to protect consumers, the environment and public safety and health; and other measures to benefit particular industries and corporations that provide its corporate support.

Violations of ILO standards unremedied31-12-2011

Over the years, in a number of cases before the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
’s Committee on Freedom of Association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
, the U.S. has been found to be in violation of freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
principles - for example, by permitting the use of permanent striker replacements (1991), by denying workers the right to meet with union representatives in the workplace to discuss organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. (1991), by imposing restrictions on secondary boycotts (1992), by denying undocumented workers meaningful remedies for anti-union retaliation (2003), by denying collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights to airport screeners (2006), by the maintenance of state laws that prohibit collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
by public employees (2007), by excluding low-level supervisors from the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (2008) and by subjecting transit union officials to imprisonment, the union to fines in excess of USD1 million, and individual workers to financial penalties for engaging in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in violation of a state law prohibiting strikes by public employees (2011). None of these violations have been remedied.

Ineffective remedies fail to punish or deter violations and compensate workers harmed31-12-2010

In contrast to other workplace anti-discrimination laws, under which employers who violated the law can be required to pay compensatory and punitive damages, the remedies for violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) are weak, and often are not imposed until years after the violation. The typical remedy for an illegal threat by an employer to fire or otherwise discriminate against a union supporter or to close down a workplace in retaliation for unionisation is a requirement that the employer post a notice stating that it will not make such illegal threats in the future. The typical remedy for an illegal firing is a requirement that the employer reimburse the worker for lost wages, minus any wages the worker may have earned since the firing, offer the worker reinstatement, and post a notice saying that it will not fire workers for union activity in the future. The typical remedy for an employer’s unlawful refusal to bargain in good faith for an agreement is a requirement that the employer bargain in good faith in the future.

Reforms at the U.S. National Mediation Board30-11-2009

The U.S. National Mediation mediation A process halfway between conciliation and arbitration, in mediation a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement to an industrial dispute by suggesting possible, non-binding solutions.

See arbitration, conciliation
Board (NMB), the federal government agency that oversees labor-management relations in the rail and airline sectors, has proposed amending its election procedures to make it easier for workers to organize. It would permit a majority of workers who actually vote to decide the election and stop assigning “no” votes to workers who do not participate. As of this writing, the NMB has solicited public comment on the proposed rule change; after the comment period, a final rule will be issued.

The new rules would finally permit airline and rail workers to vote for unions under the same standards as other private sector workers (covered by the National Labor Relations Act). The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department and its 32 unions requested the NMB to allow airline and railroad workers to vote either “Yes” or “No” for union representation and to determine the outcome by a majority of the votes cast.

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