Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breaking News

Indiana is about to be the first State in my adult lifetime to become a Right to Work State. 

Details here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

February 1, 2012 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Union Membership In Private Sector Declines To Below 7%

On Jan. 27, 2012, the BLS released its annual set of statistics on unions. For those of us supportive of unions the news continues to not be good. Overall union membership declined to 11.8% from 11.9%. Public sector union membership is at 37% and private sector union membership is down to 6.9%. Among States, New York continues to have the highest union membership rate (24.1%) and North Carolina again had the lowest (2.9%). 7.6 million workers belong to unions in the public sector as opposed to 7.2 million in the private sector. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 28, 2012 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Changing Face of Unions

Redefining the Union Boss is an interesting Nov. 19, 2011 New York Time article. It highlights Susan Pope, who is the first woman to ever woman to run for President of the Teamsters. So are unions changing? Unions are simply a reflection of society. Society is becomming more white collar so I would expect more female union leaders. The Teamsters are certainly not a white collar workforce. Any time leaders such as Ms. Pope want to get involved, that is a great thing.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

January 21, 2012 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Major League Baseball-Employer Lawyers and Player's Union Lawyers

MLB as well as the Players Union pays their lawyers very well. The Am Law Daily ran a story about this on Nov. 19, 2011. The article only points out what the Union pays their lawyers. If you ask me, the Union lawyers have done a great job over the years and given the salaries that are paid in MLB, the amounts paid to their union lawyers are worth it. No, I am not one of them...

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

 

November 22, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gov. Walker To Now Use Prison Labor

Remember Gov. Walker and Wisconsin. Whatever your views on the so called "Budget Repair Bill," you must admit that this guy is radical. He now wants to use prison labor to replace union labor with prison labor. The Cap Times reports:

Gov. Scott Walker ran for election on a promise to create 250,000 jobs during his first term in office. Now it seems some of that job growth has found its way to at least one county jail in Wisconsin.

Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig told several media outlets earlier this week he plans to add shoveling, landscaping and painting to the to-do lists of county inmates. Until recently, inmates were only allowed to cut the grass along highways.

That changed Wednesday when the state's controversial collective bargaining law took effect.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/capitol-report/article_abc24a50-a362-11e0-bef3-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1Sqwooa8h

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

July 22, 2011 in Public Sector Labor Law, Recent Developments, Unions | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Union Busting Law

In case you have not heard (it has been all over the media), late yesterday afternoon the Supreme Court of Wisconsin reversed Dane County Circuit Court Judge Sumi’s decision. Act 10, Wisconsin's union busting law, becomes effective upon publication. he link to the decision is: http://wicourts.gov/supreme/scopin.jsp?begin_date=06/14/2011&end_date=06/14/2011&SortBy=date.

I am sure that this is not the end of the battle. But round one goes to Governor Walker

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 15, 2011 in Public Sector Labor Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

8 Recall Petitions Filed In Wisconsin

Courthouse News Service reported that 8 recall petitions have been filed in Wisconsin (5 with respect to Republicans and 3 Democrats) and more are expected. Democrats need to pickoff 3 Republicans to gain control of the Chamber. 

This is certainly an important development and something worth keeping an eye on.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 1, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Breaking News Judge Enjoins NFL Lockout

A federal judge recently issued an injunction ending the lockout impose

d by the NFL. Details here.                    Mitchell Rubinstein

 

 

April 26, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Indiana bill restricting teacher collective bargaining rights clears state senate, goes to governor

A bill to restrict Indiana teachers’ collective bargaining rights has cleared its final legislative hurdle, and has been sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. The Indiana Senate voted 30-19 in favor of a House-passed version of the bill, which would prohibit contracts between school districts and teachers’ unions from including anything other than wages and wage-related benefits. The limits would affect contract agreements between districts and unions for teachers and any other school employees, such as bus drivers, custodians and nurses, starting July 1, 2011. 

Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/19/11, By Deanna Marti

April 25, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interesting NYT article about AFSCME President McEntee

Countering the Siege is another excellent New York Times article by Steven Greenhouse. Students of the labor movement will certainly want to read it. It is about Gerald McEntee, a name that you do not hear very often in the news, but Mr. McEntee heads one of the most powerful public sector unions in the country, AFSCME with 1.2 million members.

AFSCME is also under attack in several states, including Wisconsin which makes for some difficult times, to say the least.  As the article states: 

In Wisconsin and Ohio, Republican lawmakers argued that public sector unions had grown too powerful and that it was vital to weaken public employees’ bargaining rights, so as to give state and local governments flexibility to help erase their budget deficits. In what is largely a decentralized union, Mr. McEntee is doing his utmost to serve as national field marshal, strategist and megaphone for the counterattack.

He sent money to Wisconsin to help fight Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation, initially to mount the huge protests in Madison before the law was enacted and more recently to try to elect a labor-friendly Supreme Court justice and gather signatures to recall eight Republican state senators who voted for the law.

Mr. McEntee has also been pouring resources into Ohio to promote a statewide referendum to overturn that state’s new anti-bargaining law.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 18, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Airport Security Personnel Are Expected To Form Union

Steven Greenhouse, Labor Reporter, for the New York Times wrote an interesting article on the unionization of airport security screeners on April 15, 2011, here. The major point of the article is that even though public sector workers are under attack, these workers are likely to vote in favor of unionzation. As the article states:

By next Tuesday, the screeners, employees of the Transportation Security Administration, are to finish casting their votes on whether to unionize. Almost everyone agrees that they will choose to do so.

That may seem surprising when so many public employee unions are being forced into wage freezes and paying more toward health coverage and pensions, and when they have become the target of widespread public criticism. Many Republican leaders say public employees should not be allowed to bargain collectively, asserting that it pushes up costs for taxpayers and impedes management’s flexibility. What is more, they warn, letting airport screeners unionize could jeopardize national security if strikes and work slowdowns crippled airports and resulted in inadequate security checks.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

April 17, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Information and Copies of Legal Documents Concerning Wisconsin Union Busting Law

The Wheeler Report contains copies of documents concerning the Wisconsin Union Busting law, i.e, known by the Tea Party as the Budget Repair Bill. This is a wonderful resource where you can find copies of the pleadings, briefs and court decisions. Researchers will find this cite of great assistance.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 16, 2011 in Current Events, Unions, Websites, Faculty, Websites, Lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Judicial report to New Jersey Supreme Court concludes governor’s cuts to school funding unconstitutional

Reportedly, a report from Bergen County Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne concludes state aid cuts have left school districts across New Jersey unable to provide a constitutionally mandated “thorough and efficient” education, especially for the state’s poorer students. Doyne was appointed by the state supreme court to determine the constitutionality of Governor Chris Christie’s cuts in financial aid to the state’s public schools. It is now left to the supreme court to decide what, if anything, to do with the report’s conclusions. 

NorthJersey.com, 3/22/11, By Patricia Alex and John Reitmeyer

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 3, 2011 in Education Law, Law Review Ideas, Unions | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Breaking News-Wisconsin Union Busting Law Enjoined Again

The Washington Post just reported that a Wisconsin Judge again enjoined Wisconsin from putting into law a state statute which dramatically curtails the rights of public employees to organize and bargain collectively, here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 29, 2011 in Law Review Ideas, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 21, 2011

New York Lower Court Effectively Rejects Labor Union Privilege

As readers to this blog know, I wrote a law review article on whether a labor union privilege is developing ,here.  This is an area of law where there is relatively little authority and which is still developing. That is why each case is significant. As I pointed out in the article, New York has recognized a labor union privilege which protects confidential communications between a union member and a union officer concerning labor relations matters. 

Matter of Suffolk Co. Ethics Commission, ___Misc. 3d____, 2010 NY Slip Op 20418 (Suffolk Co. Oct. 9, 2010), effectively rejected this privilege at least with respect to an EMPLOYEE of the union and union members. Why? The court reasoned that the leading case in this area, Seelig v. Shepard, 152 Misc. 2d 699 (N.Y. Co. 1991), dealt with communications between members.

The courts logic is difficult to comprehend. A labor relations privilege is designed to protect confidential labor relations information and it should make no difference whether the discussion with the union is being held with other union members or union employees. The policy reasons behind this privilege (to encourage open and frank debate and to not chill union activity) remain the same. The court also confused the notion of a privilege (which prevents a union member from having to disclose conversations via a subpoena) with the notion of a Improper Practice under the Taylor Law which makes it unlawful for the employer to pry into internal labor relations strategy that a union may have formulated.

I hope this decision is appealed.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

March 21, 2011 in New York Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Resolution Introduced In House Supporting Unions

Rep. Edwards (D. Maryland) introduced a resolution supporting unions. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D. D.C.) introduced that resolution with the following statement:

Today, I rise in advance of leading a special order this evening, to offer a resolution supporting the rights of all workers, including federal employees and other public employees, and calling for an end to attacks on their ability to organize and to collectively bargain.  There are only a few salient rights recognized by every democracy, such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and on that list always appears the right for workers to organize in order to bargain collectively with an employer.  It has long been recognized that individual workers have little, if any, bargaining power sitting alone with an employer who has hired or could hire her.  When unions organize workers, the ground becomes more level and economic conditions decide the outcome.

            Mr. Speaker, the American labor movement has been a major catalyst for the formation of a majority middle class in the United States by leading the way for improvements for all workers, which unions gain through collective bargaining.  I ask the House to join me in recognizing the value of one of America's union movement and those who work for a living in the public and private sectors.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 20, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Resolution Introduced In House Supporting Unions

Rep. Edwards (D. Maryland) introduced a resolution supporting unions. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton 9D. D.C.) introduced that resolution with the following statement:

Today, I rise in advance of leading a special order this evening, to offer a resolution supporting the rights of all workers, including federal employees and other public employees, and calling for an end to attacks on their ability to organize and to collectively bargain.  There are only a few salient rights recognized by every democracy, such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and on that list always appears the right for workers to organize in order to bargain collectively with an employer.  It has long been recognized that individual workers have little, if any, bargaining power sitting alone with an employer who has hired or could hire her.  When unions organize workers, the ground becomes more level and economic conditions decide the outcome.

            Mr. Speaker, the American labor movement has been a major catalyst for the formation of a majority middle class in the United States by leading the way for improvements for all workers, which unions gain through collective bargaining.  I ask the House to join me in recognizing the value of one of America's union movement and those who work for a living in the public and private sectors.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 20, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

March 25, 2011 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire where 146 people mostly immigrant Jews and Italians who worked in a locked sweat shop lost their lives. Additional coverage, here. The building still stands today in Washington Square, NYC. The building is currently owned by NYU. 

What is significant about this fire is that it gave birth the modern labor movement. There is an excellent HBO documentary that will be showing March 21st and cermonies all week. 

With what is going on in Wisconsin, I can not help, but to be fearful that some of us may be forgeting about history as well as the importance of unions. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 20, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

HBO Film on Triangle Shirt Waist Fire

This Monday, March 21, 2011 at 9 pm HBO is airing a movie about the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire which, as you know, gave birth to the modern labor movement. (It will also be aired at other times). I saw excerpts played at the NYS Bar Assoc Labor and Employment Law annual meeting and it looked excellent. I thought you might be interested in watching.

Workers United (formerly ILGWU) is also having a number of events this Friday, March 25th (the 100th anniversary) in Washington Square Park, NYC which is where the fire occurred. The building still stands and is owned by NYU. Unfortunately, I have a hearing-otherwise I would be there.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

March 20, 2011 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Breaking News Copy of Decision Enjoining Wisconsin Union Busting Bill

Unless you have be living under a bus, by now you have heard that a lower court judge enjoined the enforcement of the union busting bill that was signed into law by Wisconsin Gov. Walker. The decision is Wisconsin v. Fitzgerald, (March 18, 2011) and can be downloaded here Download Wisconsin v. Fitzgerald (March 18, 2011)

The decision was based upon the following langague in the Open Meeting Law. 

“Public notice of every meeting of a governmental body shall be given at least 24 hours prior to the commencement of such meeting unless for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical, in which case shorter notice may be given, but in no case may the notice be provided less than two hours in advance of the meeting.”

There is no primary authority in Wisconsin interpreting this language. The decision by Judge Sumi is a bit disappointing to me. It is only 8 double spaced pages long and appears and reads like a speech. No doubt that this case is going to the Wisconsin Supreme Court so I am surprised that the decision was not more scholarly. 

However, this does not mean that the Judge was wrong or that the decision should be reversed. While the decision does not do a good job in documenting the facts, if less than 2 hours notice were given then the court's decision is clearly correct and ultimately the legislation will be declared void. Even if 2 hour notice were given, it seems that there is also a strong argument that 24 hours notice still should have been given. I fail to understand how it would have been "impractical" to give shorter notice.

Therefore, my view is that at the end of the day this decision will be upheld on appeal even though it could have been written in a more scholarly fashion.

More interesting to me is whether Gov. Walker will give up the fight on this Bill and simply pass another. My guess is that he will not because he does not want to admit that he was wrong-very wrong.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

 

March 19, 2011 in Law Review Ideas, Public Sector Labor Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)