Daily Archives: January 13, 2012

AFL-CIO’s Trumka: “I’m With Newt On Bain.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka found one thing to agree with Newt Gingrich on: the attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.

“I agree with some of the things Newt Gingrich says – not a lot, but some,” Trumka said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” continuing on to say that he thought Gingrich’s line of attack on Romney was fair game.

“I heard [host Joe Scarborough] say it’s going to backfire because of the attack on free enterprise. The question is what kind of free enterprise, and who does that free enterprise benefit?” Trumka said. “If that kind of free enterprise only benefits the top percent, you’re going to see more of what you saw on the street.”

“It resonates with people” when you explain leveraged buyouts, said Trumka, asserting that 22 percent of the time, Bain’s buyouts failed.

The labor leader also said he thought President Barack Obama would be reelected, praising him for his efforts to restructure the car industry, pointing out that labor unions had no incentive to drive industries out of business.

“The president saved the car industry,” Trumka said. “The autoworkers jumped in with Ford and Chrysler and with GM and said, look, ‘let’s do a different deal’… it does us no good to kill the golden goose, because if the jobs are gone, we lose, we pay the price for that.” You can see the full video of the interview on the Morning Joe show here.

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Illegally Appointed NLRB Official Helped Block Reform at Corrupt Union.

Lachlan Markay for Heritage.org.

One of the officials President Obama illegally appointed to the National Labor Relations Board advanced policies in his position at a major labor union that hindered efforts to reform corrupt union locals.

Incoming NLRB member Richard Griffin, formerly the general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, pushed a union rule in 2007 that barred union leadership campaign websites from being made available to the general public. We spoke with Mike Quigley, a member of IUOE Local 150, about his experience challenging a corrupt union official, and the difficulties the website rule presented.

Here’s an excerpt from the column in the Washington Examiner:

…in 2007, Quigley, a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers IUOE) Local 150, which covers much of Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, was fed up with the corruption he felt pervaded his local.

So he teamed up with an insurgent candidate to unseat Bill Dugan, Local 150’s longtime president and business manager. Quigley created a rudimentary website to document the malfeasance of the local’s leadership under Dugan.

But IUOE headquarters stepped in, passing a rule that forced all candidates to password-protect their campaign websites, allowing access only to union members and barring the general public.

Quigley, who spoke with me about his experience, says the rule, upheld by a federal court in 2009, unquestionably contributed to his campaign’s failure to unseat Dugan, though he admits “it’s something you can’t prove.”

The rule “makes it difficult for a lot of guys to speak up,” he explained.

Local 150 was not the only one with serious legal troubles plaguing its leadership.

Only a couple months before Griffin was tapped for the NLRB, leaders of Local 17 in Buffalo, NY, were indicted on racketeering charges after a slew of violent and destructive incidents dating back to 1999: a non-union company executive stabbed in the neck, another’s wife threatened with sexual assault, a truck driver’s face lacerated with broken glass, other non-union workers doused in scalding hot coffee, and Local 17 members allegedly sabotaging construction equipment.

While less violent, other IUOE locals have engaged in very shady, often illegal, practices. Leaders of Local 14 in New York City, for instance, took payoffs from infamous developer Frederick Contini, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2004 after “hiring” IUOE workers who didn’t actually exist.

Members of Local 14 and New York-based Local 15 pleaded guilty a year earlier to racketeering charges after installing friends at high-paying no-work construction jobs.

That case put many of the two locals’ leaders behind bars, but in May of this year, the New York Daily News reported that as many as 56 of 204 Local 14 and Local 15 positions at the Ground Zero construction site were no-work jobs.

Such IUOE malfeasance might add nearly $100 million to the final cost of the Ground Zero project.

A host of New Jersey Local 825 leaders were arrested in 2007 on racketeering charges for similar no-work deals. The former bookkeeper for Ohio-based Local 18 pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges the year before, as did the former business agent for Local 66 in Pennsylvania in 2002. Florida Local 675’s business manager was convicted of racketeering in 1999. The list goes on.

Griffin’s role in forming this rule – and hence helping to cement the status quo at IUOE locals – has gone unexplored due to the lack of Senate confirmation hearings. Unless Congress reasserts its authority to hold such hearings, the American people may never get an explanation.

EEOC’s Views On Accommodation Under Amended ADA Discussed.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is working on new guidance regarding reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act as the ADA Amendments Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2009, put new emphasis on accommodating otherwise qualified applicants and employees with disabilities, EEOC commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic said during a recent American Bar Association webinar.

In the online session co-sponsored by the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, the Commission on Disability Rights, and the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education, Feldblum said the ADA Amendments Act clarified who is a person with a disability under the ADA, but did not change the reasonable accommodation analysis.

The starting point for analyzing reasonable accommodation issues remains EEOC guidance originally issued in 1999 and revised in 2002, Feldblum said. But she said the ADA Amendments Act “sort of hit the reset button,” and EEOC currently is re-evaluating its guidance as it anticipates an increasing focus by employers and courts on reasonable accommodation issues.

EEOC last year issued a final rule revising its ADA regulations to account for the ADA Amendments Act (62 BTM 99, 3/29/11). EEOC also held a public meeting regarding leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA (62 BTM 185, 6/14/11).  Read the full article on Bloomberg BNA here.

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