• Texas Rulings Block Overtime Changes, Favor Union Busting Tactics

    In two separate decisions, federal judges in Texas undermined Department of Labor (DOL) efforts to add long-overdue protections for workers.

    On November 22, with just over a week before it was scheduled to take effect, a U.S. District blocked an Obama Administration rule that would have extended overtime eligibility to more than four million Americans.

    The DOL overhaul to the overtime rule required employers to pay time-and-a-half to their employees who worked more than 40 hours in a given week and earned less than $47,476 per year. The change to the current overtime threshold of $23,660 was intended to provide a much-needed boost to worker incomes.

    “We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans,” a DOL statement said. “The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule. We are currently considering all of our legal options.”

    The overtime ruling comes on the heels of another decision on November 16 that blocks a DOL rule giving workers more insight into employer consultations with legal counsel about thwarting union organizing campaigns.

    The DOL’s new rules attempted to strengthen the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which requires public disclosure when employers retain management consultants or firms to persuade employees in favor of or against forming a union at their workplace.  However, a loophole allowed firms that create anti-union materials and train supervisors on how to discourage employees from unionizing to avoid disclosure if they refrain from direct contact with employees.

    The “persuader” rule would have required employers to disclose such activities, thereby making it faster and easier to conduct union elections. By closing the loophole, workers would have been able to obtain information about whether their employer is spending money on professional union busters and whether the anti-union rhetoric they are hearing at work comes from their employer or from outside management consultants.

    With a new presidential administration beginning in January, the likelihood of a DOL appeal of the decisions is unclear.

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  • IAM’s Independent Drivers Guild is Giving ‘Deactivated’ Uber Drivers a Chance

    heroUber, the app-based ride hailing company, calls it “deactivation,” but for the drivers, it really means they’ve been fired.

    When a driver’s rating falls low enough on its five-star grading system, Uber can unilaterally fire drivers. That would’ve been the end of their Uber driving careers, until now—at least in New York City.

    Thanks to the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), an affiliate of IAM District 15, Uber drivers now have a real chance of getting their job back.

    Quartz.com reported on the policy change:

    “According to [IDG Founder Jim] Conigliaro, Jr., drivers can contest deactivation decisions in front of a five-member “peer panel” of drivers, selected by the guild and the company. The hearings will be overseen by the American Arbitration Association, a nonprofit group, and drivers can request representation from the IDG.

    “In a statement on its website, Uber noted that deactivations made for ‘zero-tolerance violations,’ such as criminal activity or sexual assault, cannot be appealed. Drivers who are kicked off for low ratings will also go through ‘a separate resolution process’ that involves taking a course on how to be a better Uber driver. Uber also said it will retain ‘ultimate determination of eligibility’ for appeals of all other deactivations.”

    IDG spokeswoman Moira Muntz told Quartz that “NYC drivers now have the best job protection of any Uber drivers in the nation.”

    The Independent Drivers Guild represents all of the more than 40,000 Uber drivers in New York City.

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  • Vancouver Airport Workers Reach New Agreement, Avert Strike

    Following nearly eight months of contentious bargaining, IAM Local 16 members avoided a strike at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) by agreeing to a contract late Saturday night. They were scheduled to strike the same day if an agreement was not reached.

    The agreement with Swissport Canada, a YVR airport contractor, covers 855 members—with the exception of wages for Baggage Service Operations workers, and will proceed to binding arbitration.

    The new three-year deal merges the collective bargaining agreements of the former Servisair and the new Swissport Canada. Improvements include wage parity for Swissport ramp employees, an enhanced lump-sum payment for Servisair ramp employees, increased wages for aircraft groomers and improvements in longevity pay and sick time credits.

    “I want to thank the bargaining committee for their resolve and the membership for its patience in this matter,” said IAM District 140 General Chairperson Todd Haverstock. “We were faced with a potential strike and I thank Grand Lodge Representative Ron Fontaine and District 140 President and Directing Chairperson Fred Hospes for their assistance in turning this into a positive result.”

    IAM Local 16 members provide ramp and grooming services, as well as operate and maintain the entire baggage belt systems at YVR.  Swissport Canada provides services to more than 20 airlines on the property.

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  • Make a Giving Tuesday Donation to Guide Dogs of America

    This Giving Tuesday, you can help provide the gift of mobility and freedom with a donation to Guide Dogs of America. Today kicks off the Fund-A-Need Campaign which allows you to donate needed items that will benefit the nursery, puppy, veterinary, kennel, training and student services departments.

    The Tuesday following Thanksgiving has grown into a global movement of contributing to non-profits, so please consider donating to GDA, the IAM’s favorite charity.

    The Fund-A-Need Wish List includes needed donated items such as whelping pads, dog beds, training tools and Puppy-Go-Home-Kits. All items and services are needed to insure GDA can continue to provide service dogs to those in need.

    Guide Dogs of America provides guide dogs free of charge to blind and visually impaired men and women in the U.S. and Canada. It costs approximately $42,000 to train a guide dog and provide instruction for its user.

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