Daily Archives: May 9, 2010

News on the SEIU: New President Differs in Style, But Not Aggression

Although it was a mere formality, Mary Kay Henry’s ascendancy to the top of the union food chain became official today.  The replacement for Andy Stern as the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was chosen because she is thought to be different.  However, if anyone thought there might be some labor peace with the changing of the guard at the SEIU, they were mistaken.  Mary Kay Henry may prove to be even more aggressive than her predecessor and, perhaps, less clumsy.

Though her style may be different, according to multiple accounts of a conference call with reporters on Saturday, Henry is vowing to keep some of the SEIU’s old battles very much alive, while ending others and starting some new ones:

Old Battles [via WaPo]:

Henry said there have been “no discussions” about SEIU’s returning to the AFL-CIO, as several other unions in Change to Win are considering. She said the union was hoping to negotiate a settlement in the UNITE-HERE fight, but she made clear that she has every intention of continuing the union’s battle with a large breakaway chapter in California that has cost SEIU heavily both in dollars and reputation within the labor movement.

Translation: The SEIU leadership knows Andy Stern & Co. were wrong in raiding UNITE-HERE’s members as that union was splitting up.  However, there is no truce in the California Civil War with the former SEIU-UHW leaders.

New Battles [via BusinessWeek]:

Mary Kay Henry, elected today as president of the Service Employees International Union, pledged to spend $4 million organizing employees in businesses such as banks and supermarkets.

[snip]

Henry said she has “a fire in her belly” for fighting management interference in labor organizing efforts. Henry said she will fight such efforts by “creating complaints” with the National Labor Relations Board.

[snip]

The $4 million fund will be used to organize industries that have traditionally not had employee representation, Henry said. She cited banks, grocery stores, biotechnology companies and independent contractors as prospects, without mentioning specific firms. The union said it spends about $250 million annually to help local officials on organizing.

Some interesting points from the above:

Without clarification, it is difficult to know the context in which Henry referenced unionizing supermarkets. If she is intent on unionizing supermarkets through the SEIU, she is clearly stepping on the UFCW’s turf.

Her use of the term “creating complaints” (in quotes even) with the NLRB signifies the SEIU’s every intent to use the NLRB (with its recess appointed SEIU/NLRB member Craig Becker) to push the envelope by making up frivolous unfair labor practice charges against employers.

Yes, Mary Kay Henry may be bringing a new face to the SEIU.  However, it appears that she will be every bit as aggressive in continuing the SEIU’s legacy as the Union of Purple People Eaters.

UPDATED:  The video below is Mary Kay Henry’s “acceptance speech” and a call for SEIU to organize new workers:


__________________
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Filed under Andy Stern, SEIU, Service Employees International Union

TSA Tussle: Apparently, this man needs more than a union…

Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts.  Our plane trip to Miami International Airport is going to be a bumpy ride and our film today is rated PG-13.
First, some background:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency comprised of those blue-shirted workers with badges who are responsible for ensuring that the airplane you board is devoid of any jihadists preparing to lay claim to their 72 raisins.  The TSA was created as a result of 19 men who, nine years ago, decided turn commercial airliners into missiles and killed over three thousand Americans.
When the TSA was created, it was created to ensure America’s safety in the skies and, when not doing that, to make your trip to the airport a living hell by making sure you don’t carry any liquid containers greater than three ounces in your carry-on luggage.  And, because the nation’s security is its primary purpose, it was intended to be exempt from collective bargaining [which is different from not being allowed to join a union].
When TSA was created during the Bush administration, its head was given the authority to decide if agency employees would have the right to bargain. Former administrator Kip Hawley decided against extending bargaining rights.
The rationale for keeping the TSA free from collective bargaining was fairly simple.  As the TSA is responsible for keeping America’s skies free from evil people with bad intentions, the TSA should not be overburdened with union contracts that protect the lazy and incompetent and rules that impede flexibility.
Again, TSA officers can join a union, but they are not covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Many news reports have stated for years that this is about denying workers their right to join a union. That is false.  Today, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), the screeners at the airports, ARE permitted to voluntarily join a union.  About 12,000 TSA workers already belong to the American Federation of Government Employees union (AFGE) . They are represented, at their request, by a union representative in grievance procedures and job safety complaints. The TSA will also withhold union dues for an employee, if he so chooses.


The only thing TSOs are not currently permitted to have through their union is a collective bargaining agreement – a written contract that legally binds the TSA to specific wages, hours of work, assigned responsibilities and procedures, and union rules.


But that was then.
With the election of America’s union-controlled backed president and the appointment of his incompetent Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, one of the priorities given to the TSA has been to find a way to catch terrorists give TSA workers the right to bargain contracts.  In fact it was a campaign promise made by then-candidate Obama to the President of the American Federation of Government Employees:
Advocating for TSOs to receive collective bargaining rights and workplace protections will be a priority for my administration.  It is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections – this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs.  Since 2001, TSA has had the unfettered ability to deny its workforce even the most basic labor rights and protections.  Other law enforcement officers – from Border Patrol Agents to Federal Protective Officers to the U.S. Capitol Police—all have collective bargaining rights. 


[snip] 


As President, I will make sure that the documented waste and mismanagement at TSA is subject to the same rules regarding contracting as other federal agencies.


Oh.  And one last thing: Those TSA workers are also the ones that will be viewing some of your most private “data” at an airport near you.

Now, for your inflight movie…
Meet TSA officer Rolando Negrin.
Rolando Negrin is a very possibly going to be ex-TSA officer Negrin.
Now, you may be wondering, why might Rolando be terminated from his job as a TSA worker?
Was Rolando among the TSA workers fired for allegedly using dugs?
Did he cause a terminal to be shut down for hours because someone got past his expertise screening?
050610 rolando negrin

No, no, and no.
Rolando got in trouble because of his ‘package’…or, more precisely, because of the smallness of his package.
You see, Officer Negrin was involved in a training session involving those body scanners when his supervisor allegedly made fun of Rolando’s rather small…er…package.  And that’s where things got out of hand (so to speak).

A TSA worker in Miami was arrested for aggravated battery after police say he attacked a colleague who’d made fun of his small genitalia after he walked through one of the new high-tech security scanners during a recent training session.


Rolando Negrin, 44, was busted for assault after things got ugly at Miami International Airport between Negrin and some of his fellow Transportation Security Administration workers on Tuesday.


Sources say Negrin stepped into the machine during the training session and became embarrassed and angry when a supervisor started cracking jokes about his manhood, made visible by the new machine.


[snip]


According to the police report, Negron confronted one of his co-workers in an employee parking lot, where he hit him with a police baton on the arm and back.


“[Negron] then told victim to kneel down and say ‘your sorry,'” the report reads. “Victim stated he was in fear and complied with [Negron].”


Negron was arrested the next day when he arrived for work. He told police he had been made fun of by coworkers on a daily basis.


“[Negron] stated he could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind,” the report reads.


Negrin was arrested and booked into Miami-Dade County Jail. His arrest photo (above) shows him wearing his blue TSA shirt at the time of the arrest.

While this “little” incident raises questions about just how much the full-body scanners actually show, it also raises the question of whether or not having a union contract would benefit a TSA worker like Mr. Negrin.

Would a union use a union contract to hammer the TSA about the head as it fights to keep Rolando’s job (despite the fact that he beat on a colleague)?

It’s clear from the above that Rolando’s defense would be temporary insanity, so it is likely that a union would pursue that as its line of defense.

Moreover, after all the taxpayer dollars that would be wasted on grievance meetings and arbitration costs, what precedence would this set if Rolando were to get his job back?

Would all TSA workers be free to beat on their co-workers if they ‘lost their minds’ over teasing?  After all, were one be able to get away with it, and another get fired, the union’s argument would be that the TSA’s actions are “disparate treatment.”

In the end, while this incident in Miami seems rather small, it’s ramifications could be quite large if TSA workers are put under union contract.

__________________
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

For more news and views on today’s unions, go to LaborUnionReport.com.

Cross-posted.

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Filed under Janet Napolitano, Transportation Security Administration, TSA