You are Why Politics Matter
Message from the President

There’s a phrase I used to hear fairly often. “I vote for the person, not the party.” I usually heard it whenever someone needed to avoid a conversation moving too uncomfortably close to politics. I don’t hear that much anymore. Perhaps our politics have become so polarized the personal qualities of a candidate no longer seem to matter. Or maybe it’s because over time our local has taken a less active role engaging members on policy issues that impact our union and our working lives.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately for reasons having little to do with the fallout from impeachment, the latest poll numbers or candidate debate. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people pay attention to all of those things. But while all of that gets plenty of press, the policy and regulatory decisions that are taking a real toll on Unions and working folks in general rarely make headlines.

Take a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board as example. There was a time when a company controlling an employee’s work and workday was recognized as the employer of record responsible for everything from salary and benefits to employment taxes and unemployment insurance. Not anymore. A few weeks ago, the NLRB decided to give companies who control the work a green light to off-load employment responsibilities to third party contractors.

The NLRB hasn’t stopped there. They’re now taking on the state of Oregon arguing that state’s law granting Weingarten Rights to all state workers is pre-empted by federal law.

I’m hoping Weingarten Rights are familiar to members. It’s a right bestowed on represented employees to have a union rep present during a disciplinary meeting (for a copy of the text, see the bottom of this newsletter). Once under President Clinton and then again under President Obama, Weingarten Rights were extended by Executive Order to all private sector workers only to have President Bush and more recently President Trump, rescind them. Oregon’s attempt to protect workers may soon be thwarted by the very agency established to, you guessed it, protect workers.

The erosion of the employer – employee relationship and the assault on worker’s rights is real. With the number of private sector workers represented by unions at historic lows and wealth disparity among all Americans at historic highs, there’s little question that policy and politics are having profound effects on workers, unions and how fairly the economy treats us all.

Wisconsin is again shaping up to be a battle-ground state this year. With all the noise that is sure to come at us from campaigns or about horse races, our challenge will be to stay focused on policy issues that unite us as a Union and that will help us improve the working lives of all. In the coming months we’ll be sharing information about local, state and federal issues that we believe align with that goal. More importantly, we’ll be asking your support and creating opportunities for holding candidates accountable to our mission and purpose, because in this Union you are why politics matter.
Google's Shadow Work Force: Temps Who Outnumber...

SAN FRANCISCO - Mindy Cruz had an offer for a full-time position at another big tech company when she accepted a temporary job as a recruiter at Google in 2017. The pay was less and the benefits were not as good, but it was one step closer to her ...

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Contractor outsourcing overtaking IT
With the City of Madison positioning itself to become a major IT hub, it’s all the more important to become intentional about ensuring that the local community and the workers in these fields are also positioned to benefit from one of the areas fastest growing economic sectors.

Unfortunately, the industry itself might be standing in our way. In Google’s Shadow Work Force: Temps Who Outnumber Full-Time Employees, New York Times contributor Daisuke Wakabayashi, uncovers labor utilization trends that are fueling the IT industry. 

It isn’t pretty. Vast majorities of workers powering Google’s technology empire are temporary workers or outsourced positions filled by contractors as needed. None of these workers share in the salary, benefits, bonuses, perks or employment stability of Google’s permanent employees. 

Sadly, Google’s employment practices are not an aberration. The outsourcing/temp worker is the norm throughout the industry, witnessed by our own Local 39 members at CUNA Mutual Group who have seen the number of contracted workers incrementally grow to where they now far exceed the number of represented employees on campus.  
NLRB challenges Oregon workers’ choice law
When the state of Oregon passed the nation’s first law giving worker’s the choice not to attend employer captive audience meetings in 2009, it was seen as a way to level the playing field during organizing campaigns by honoring a long standing principle of American democracy to allow individuals to freely associate, or in this case not associate, with whomever they please. 

Ironically, the National Labor Relations Board has stepped in to challenge the law on the very same first amendment grounds it is based. But rather than upholding individual rights, they’re seeking to expand an “employers’ right to free speech.”
An employer’s right to hold captive audience meetings traces back to the passage of Taft-Hartley in 1947. But even that law, which is perhaps more commonly known for permitting so-called “right-to-work” laws, contained limits on employers’ “speech” to the extent that “such expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit.”

Yet, that’s precisely what these meetings have become. During union organizing drives, captive audience meetings are cited as just one of many coercive tactics – legal and not – used by employers to scare employees away from supporting the union. The award winning Netflix documentary, American Factory, includes scenes of nearly all of these tactics, including the firing of union supporters and coercive captive audience meetings. 
National Labor Relations Board sues Oregon, wants judge...

The National Labor Relations Board wants a federal judge to throw out an Oregon law that prohibits employers from disciplining workers who refuse to attend mandatory meetings on politics, religious matters or unions. The board filed a complaint...

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Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff. These are called Weingarten Rights.

An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.

You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview. Management does not have to remind you of this right. If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer. Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed. If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."