This Day in Labor History: the Death of Eugene V. Debs

  • October 20, 2017

On October 20, 1926, Eugene V. Debs, a labor leader and tireless advocate for working people, passed away. Among his many critical successes was a strike in 1893 led by his organization, the American Railway Union, against the Great Northern Railway. The Great Northern Railway was a profoundly important artery between the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. According to the Debs Foundation, "the strike was settled after 18 days and a contract signed which met virtually all union demands." Debs and other labor…

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Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Targeting Gender Wage Gap

  • October 18, 2017

Governor Brown recently signed AB 168, which is targeted at narrowing the state gender pay gap. AB 168 bars employers from relying on candidates' previous salaries to determine 1) whether to offer them a job, and 2) how much to pay them. The idea behind the bill is that many women are trapped in a vicious cycle - they make less than their male peers at their current job and are often capped when they transition to the next job or the next job.…

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Pres. Trump’s Executive Order to Shake Up Apprentice Programs

  • June 20, 2017

Last week President Trump signed an executive order designed to shake up how apprentice programs work. According to the White House, the idea behind the order is to fill in the so called "skills gap." The skills gap is  the disconnect between the need for skilled labor and the lack of qualified workers to fill that need, although this gap is debated. The order does several things, including increasing funding for apprenticeship grants significantly and transferring elements of the oversight of apprentice centers…

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“United we are Stronger”: Telemundo Actors Vote to Unionize with SAG-AFTRA

  • March 17, 2017

Telemundo announced on Wednesday, March 8, that its actors have voted to unionize with SAG-AFTRA. The decision is a victory during a concerning time for unions and for Latinos in the U.S. After a January decision by the National Labor Relations Board that ordered the vote to proceed the vote tally was 91 to 21 (or 81 percent to 19 percent) that were sent out on February 7. Voting eligibility was restricted to those who had worked at least a…

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Emboldened Anti-Union Legislators Find New Target: Official Time

  • March 17, 2017

"Official time" is the time spent by union representatives to enhance working conditions, improve workplace safety, and arrange for training and educational opportunities, among other activities.  Under current law, employees on official time are prohibited from carrying out union-specific duties, such as solicitation of new members or electing officers. Nonetheless, emboldened anti-union lawmakers have taken dramatic steps to undercut the use of official time. Last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed two bills, HR 1364 and HR 1385, sponsored by Rep.…

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Anti-Union Bill Update: Official Text of National Right to Work Bill and Pres. Trump’s Position

  • February 16, 2017

Note: This post updates an earlier WKCHR alert concerning national Right to Work legislation.  Read the alert here. The official text of H.R. 785 has appeared on congress.gov. (It was previously only available on individual representatives' websites). The new bill, H.R. 785, which Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced in the House, aims “to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities." Read the full official…

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Alert: U.S. Representatives Introduce New Anti-Union Bill

  • February 3, 2017

On February 1, 2017, Congressmen Steve King (R) and Joe Wilson (R) introduced H.R. 785 which is also cited as the National Right to Work Act. According to text of the bill which was posted on Congressman King’s website, the purpose of the bill is “to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.”  Essentially, a national right to work law would enable non-union employees to…

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NLRB General Counsel: Companies Must Establish “Necessity” for Permanent Replacements

  • October 24, 2016

In a brief currently before the Board, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin argued that current law should be changed to require an employer to demonstrate "a legitimate and substantial business justification" for the hire of permanent replacement workers (also known as "scabs") "that outweighs the harm to employee rights."  Stating the necessity of hiring permanent replacements alone, without proof, has typically represented the extent of an employer's burden to bring in scabs during an economic strike (a strike after negotiations break down concerning wages, benefits or…

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Overtime Bill For Farmworkers Signed Into Law

  • September 13, 2016

Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1066 into law on September 12, 2016. The bill, which was sponsored by the United Farm Workers of America and authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez from San Diego, will phase in new overtime provisions for farmworkers in California. The bill’s passage is of great importance to farmworkers whose overtime protections are substandard compared to workers from other industries. Under current law, farmworkers are paid overtime if they work over 10 hours a day or 60…

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