Mackenzie discussed yesterday the growing number of voices and organizations criticizing police agencies and police unions and calling for the AFL-CIO to disaffiliate from them. More union voices have joined the fray. The Writers Guild of America East union published a statement yesterday calling on the AFL-CIO to disaffiliate from the International Union of Police Associations. The statement condemns police unions as “incompatible” with the AFL-CIO’s goals, that they “do not belong” in the labor coalition, and that they are sources of “authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and terrorism”. Meanwhile, leaders of the United Teachers of Los Angeles union have called for the elimination of the Los Angeles School Police Department and a broader defunding of police agencies, funneling the savings into mental health services. While the union leaders have been outspoken this issue, the union directors voted to put the issue to a broader vote to the union at-large before moving forward to pressure the school board.
While the U.S. jobs report has been inundated with criticism for its statistical counting, new revelations are coming out through further analysis of the data. While the report touted job growth in a wide array of private sectors, government employment and public sector employment has continued to fall. From April to May, across federal, state, and local governments, employment continued to fall at 3%. State and local education and general local government jobs were hit the hardest by the pandemic-induced unemployment. The year-to-year 2019-2020 numbers were also not optimistic for state and local government jobs, though federal government jobs, with the exception of the Postal Service, did experience 2% growth since last year.
Bath Iron Works, a shipyard in Maine that builds vessels for the Navy among other clients, has been in conflict with the Local S6 of the Machinists Union over raises, layoffs, retirement, alleged union-busting, and return-to-work policies amidst state reopening. The union has now announced that it is prepared to strike over failed negotiations regarding the shipyard giving work to subcontractors, a move that could force over 1200 mechanics into early retirement. The union has also criticized the shipyard’s pay freezes and removal of benefits, and that some workers have gone 12 years without a pay increase. Groups of workers have begun organized banging of scrap metal amidst vocal calls for strikes at the workplace, and some of the union members have said they were reprimanded for these organizing efforts.
A variety of unions in California have been heavily negotiating with studios regarding worker safety now that filming in the state has been allowed to resume on June 12. Unions involved in negotiations include the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the Teamsters, the Art Directors Guild, the Costume Designers Guild, and more. These unions were involved in a collaborative white paper organized by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that advised the California government on proper industry reopening and health procedures. Though filming is allowed to resume in June, it is likely that even pre-production will not begin until at least July, as multiple unions are emphasizing the necessity of outlining strict safety procedures to protect their members. Negotiations over these procedures will likely persist through June.
Texas call center workers have sued AT&T in two federal district courts for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and depriving them of overtime wages by requiring them to work off-the-clock without pay. Employees allege they were expected to take calls at the beginning of their shifts, but that the grace period afforded them was not enough time to complete the necessary start-up tasks, requiring employees to perform uncompensated work before their shifts started to avoid being “late”. Employees also allege that they were not compensated for the requirement that they finish ongoing calls beyond their scheduled hours, their follow-up work with customers after shifts ended, and their required work done during meal and rest breaks. Though AT&T had a mechanism to request compensation for this work, employees allege use of this mechanism would negatively impact their performance reviews and opportunities for promotions or transfers.