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Unions

The Takeaway

Union Radio Fades from the Airwaves

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

During the heyday of American unions, there were more than 250 programs produced or funded by labor unions. Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, history professor at West Virginia University and author of “Waves of Opposition: Labor and the Struggle for Democratic Radio, 1933-1958,” explains the history of a now lesser-known news source. The Union Edge is the only nationally syndicated labor program remaining. Its co-host and executive producer, Angela Baughman, explains how these newscasts have evolved.

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Money Talking

VW auto workers consider German-style "works council"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday is the final day of voting for what could be a different type of relationship between management and labor in this country, and it's happening in a place not usually associated with unions: Tennessee.

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WNYC News

Unionized Fast Food Workers Get a Raise

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Some of New York's only unionized fast food workers are getting a raise.

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WNYC News

Comptroller Puts Brakes on 311 Contract

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A contract signed in the last days of the Bloomberg administration to overhaul the city's information hotline is getting a second look. The company, CGI, is the contractor widely blamed for the botched federal healthcare website.

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WNYC News

In Surprise Move, Casino Lays Off Workers Who Won Big Pay Raise

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Workers celebrated last October when an arbitrator raised their pay, but now many of them are getting pink slips.

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Transportation Nation

Majority of Bay Area Residents Support Transit Strike Ban

Friday, December 13, 2013

KALW

Over half of Bay Area residents support a ban on transit strikes, bucking the region’s pro-union reputation, reveals a new Field Poll. The rest of the state is split, but more Californians still believe public transit workers should have the right to strike.

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The Takeaway

Fast Food Workers Strike in 100 Cities

Thursday, December 05, 2013

As fast food workers in 100 cities strike for a wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference, The Takeaway hears from two fast food workers about what it's like working in the industry—Naquasia LeGrand, a cashier at KFC who earns just $7.70 an hour, and Eduardo Shoy, a delivery man for KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as a forklift operator at JFK airport. Angelo Amador is the Vice President of Workforce and Labor Policy at the National Restaurant Association. He is on the opposite side of the debate, opposing the wage hike. 

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Transportation Nation

Proposal to Raise Gas Tax Has Allies Outside Congress

Thursday, December 05, 2013

WAMU

The federal gasoline tax, last raised in 1993 to 18 cents per gallon, would increase five cents per year over three years and have future increases tied to inflation, under legislation proposed Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). With the Highway Trust Fund set to go broke in ten months, the congressman called on leaders of both parties and the Obama administration to raise the tax to replenish the pot of money that pays for rail and road improvements.

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The Takeaway

Seattle Labor Dispute Causes Boeing to Take Flight

Monday, November 25, 2013

Earlier this month, Boeing machinists in Seattle refused a new contract. Now, Boeing is looking for a new location to build the 777x, a place where unions have less of a foothold. Washington State is still lobbying to keep 777x production at home. But Aviation Industry Analyst Scott Hamilton explains why the state expects a lot of outside competition and what this means for American labor overall.

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The Takeaway

Supreme Court to Hear Two Pivotal Union Cases

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today over a strategy commonly used by unions to organize workers. The practice involves pressuring an employer to sign a "neutrality agreement." This case is just one of two major organized labor disputes the Court is scheduled to hear. The other involves a worker who objected to being asked to pay fees to a union she didn't support. Benjamin Sachs, a Harvard Law School professor, explains the legal arguments in both cases.

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Transportation Nation

Cabbies of Washington Unite! Taxi Drivers Lock Arms with Teamsters

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WNYC

D.C. cabbies -- frustrated with a spate of city mandates requiring drivers to modernize their vehicles -- have voted to unionize.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

30 Issues: Budget Battles

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Brian Lehrer Show's election series 30 Issues in 30 Days continues this week with a series of conversations about a variety of topics. See the full 30 Issues schedule and archive here.

What issues will top the next NYC mayor’s budget agenda? James Parrot, Deputy Director and Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, and Nicole Gelinas, contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, discuss budget issues – including union contracts – that the next mayor will face.

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The Takeaway

Union Unease Over Implementation of Affordable Care Act

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Labor Unions were nothing short of a major force in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, so it may surprise you to learn that at the ALF-CIO's convention earlier this month, Terence O'Sullivan, President of the Laborers' International Union of North America, was speaking in terms of repeal. Steven Greenhouse, the workforce and labor reporter for The New York Times, explains the friction between the White House and unions.

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The Takeaway

A New Kind of Organized Labor

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Unions these days no longer have the man power, or political clout, they once did. But a new form of labor organization is making a difference in addressing the needs of workers—especially Latino and immigrant laborers—who work in jobs like construction that are typically not unionized. Cristina Tzintzún is the Workers Defense Project executive director.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Fighting for the Labor Movement

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Today, fewer than 7 percent of American private-sector workers belong to a union, the lowest percentage since the beginning of the 20th century. Union organizer Jane McAlevey looks at the state of the American labor movement and describes her experiences fighting the bosses and national labor leaders. In Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement, she tells the story of a number of dramatic organizing and contract victories, and the unconventional strategies that helped achieve them, and looks at ways to revive the labor movement.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Waning Labor Movement; Competitive Yoga; the Changing Arctic; Remaking Detroit

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

On today’s show: Jane McAlevey talks about her struggles as a union organizer and discusses ways the labor movement might be revived. Benjamin Lorr describes his experience with competitive yoga. Frances Beinecke, the President of the NRDC, and acclaimed photographer Paul Nicklen, discuss changes in the Arctic and his photographs a changing worlds at the earth’s poles. And we’ll look at efforts by urban planners, land speculators, and utopian environmentalists to remake Detroit.

Transportation Nation

Carpooling Eases Impact of BART Strike

Monday, July 01, 2013

KALW

With BART transit workers on strike for the first time since 1997, San Francisco residents are getting creative with their commutes. 

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WNYC News

UFT Backs Thompson, Putting Major Unions At Odds: Your Guide to What it Means

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WNYC

For the candidates, union backing can be an important seal of approval on their policies, and for the unions with the mobilization muscle, an important turnout machine.

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Transportation Nation

BART Labor Negotiations Stall, State Mediator to Step In

Friday, June 14, 2013

KALW

BART has asked a state mediator to step in and helps the stalled labor talks between the Bay Area transit agency and its five unions. The mediator, whom unions have welcomed, is scheduled to start next week. The current labor contract expires on June 30th. 

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Transportation Nation

BART, Unions Begin Contract Negotiations as Agency Emerges from Deficit

Friday, April 05, 2013

BART train (photo by Keoki Seu via Flickr)

Rising ridership and sales tax revenues on San Francisco's BART system mean the agency is no longer operating at a deficit, which has triggered labor negotiations that could give union workers their first raise in four years.

BART contracts for its union workers – who make up almost 90 percent of BART’s over 3,000 employees– are set to expire on June 30th. And that has sent BART and union leaders to the negotiating table. Both sides are hoping to avoid the bitter and contentious fight that happened during the last contract negotiations in the summer of 2009.

But things were different in 2009. Ridership was declining, and the system was facing a $250 million deficit over the next four years. BART went into negotiations with the goal of cutting $100 million in labor costs through reductions in health care and pensions, and changing what they considered “wasteful” work rules, like unnecessary overtime. A last-minute deal that kept wages static, prevented a strike by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, or ATU – the union that represents the system’s approximately 900 station agents and train operators.

That deal did save BART the $100 million it wanted and laid out plans for four of the five unions and non-union employees to get a one percent raise if strict guidelines were met, including increased ridership and sales tax revenues. This week, BART announced the guidelines have been met, so most of their employees will be receiving their first raise in since 2009.

“With record ridership and an aging system, our employees are working hard to provide on-time, reliable service for our riders,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said in a press release. “The bar was set high for our employees to receive this increase and the predefined standards were met.”

Since 2009, BART has increased its ridership – from 340,000 to over 390,000 in the latest monthly report. And it’s no longer operating on a deficit, but the system does have a $10 billion unfunded capital need for renovation and expansion projects.

“This year’s labor negotiations will be focused on bargaining a fair contract for our hard working employees as well as ensuring the long term financial health and sustainability of our system,” Crunican said.

BART says they’re looking at the same issues as last negotiation: employee health care, pensions, and work rules.

“We must pave the way for BART to continue to be the backbone of Bay Area transportation for decades to come,” Crunican said. “BART is looking to protect its future fiscal stability with measures to more effectively share the risks and costs associated with its employee benefits program.”

Antonette Bryant is the president of ATU Local 1555. She said calling last negotiation contentious was “a gross understatement.” But this time, she said, she wants to have the contract settled June 30th.

“We want them to pay a fair wage for our employees and increase safety and service for the BART patrons,” Bryant said. Meaning, they want a pay raise.

Bryant also said the one percent raise announced this week should not be considered as the transit workers’ only salary increase.

“I want to make it clear that this is not benevolent,” she said. “This is something they have to do. They owe us the money from the previous contract negotiations.”

As negotiations go on, both parties hope to have a deal by June 30th and to prevent the fighting that happened four years ago.

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