Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AMERICAN LABOR IS UNDER SIEGE AS 2012 DAWNS

Americans, especially voters, are going to have to get wise to the fact that the wealthiest are mis-running the land. A spate of pro-American and pro-labor candidates need to be elected in 2012. The wealthy Koch brothers and other powerful and anti-American or anti-labor plutocrats and oligarchs have run the place with their money (and our money) for far too long.–KAS for Prez

More Lockouts as Companies Battle Unions

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times

America’s unionized workers, buffeted by layoffs and stagnating wages, face another phenomenon that is increasingly throwing them on the defensive: lockouts.

From the Cooper Tire factory in Findlay, Ohio, to a country club in Southern California and sugar beet processing plants in North Dakota, employers are turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock. Even the New York City Opera locked out its orchestra and singers for more than a week before settling the dispute last Wednesday.

Many Americans know about the highly publicized lockouts in professional sports — like last year’s 130-day lockout by the National Football League and the 161-day lockout by the National Basketball Association — but lockouts, once a rarity, have been used in less visible industries as well.

“This is a sign of increased employer militancy,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “Lockouts were once so rare they were almost unheard of. Now, not only are employers increasingly on the offensive and trying to call the shots in bargaining, but they’re backing that up with action — in the form of lockouts.”

The number of strikes has declined to just one-sixth the annual level of two decades ago. That is largely because labor unions’ ranks have declined and because many workers worry that if they strike they will lose pay and might also lose their jobs to permanent replacement workers.

Lockouts, on the other hand, have grown to represent a record percentage of the nation’s work stoppages, according to Bloomberg BNA, a Bloomberg subsidiary that provides information to lawyers and labor relations experts. Last year, at least 17 employers imposed lockouts, telling their workers not to show up until they were willing to accept management’s contract offer.

Perhaps nowhere is the battle more pitched than at American Crystal Sugar, the nation’s largest sugar beet processor.

Last summer, contract negotiations bogged down, with the company insisting that its workers agree to higher payments for health coverage, more outsourcing and many other concessions. Shortly after the 1,300 unionized workers — spread among five plants in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa — voted overwhelmingly to reject those demands, the company locked them out and hired replacement workers.

That was on Aug. 1, more than five months ago, and since then the workers and their families have been scrounging to make ends meet. Some face foreclosure and utility disconnection notices.

American Crystal has hired more than 900 replacement workers to keep its plants running. Federal law allows employers to hire such workers during a lockout, although they cannot permanently replace regular employees. Employers can pay the replacements lower wages, although as is the case with American Crystal, the companies sometimes need to offer higher wages and help pay for housing to attract replacements.

With many private-sector labor unions growing smaller and weaker, and with public-sector unions under attack in numerous states, some employers think the time is ideal to use lockouts, a forceful approach they were once reluctant to use.

Many employers, though, say they have little choice.

Robert Batterman, a labor lawyer who represents employers, said whether it was the N.F.L. or Sotheby’s, which locked out 43 art handlers in Manhattan last July, “the pendulum has swung too far toward the employees, and the employers are looking in these tight economic times to get givebacks.”

“Employers,” he continued, “are using lockouts because unions are reluctant to do what the employers consider reasonable in terms of compromising. Employers are looking to reset their collective bargaining relations.”

After being out of work since Aug. 1, Paul Woinarowicz, a warehouse foreman employed at American Crystal Sugar for 34 years, sees another rationale for lockouts.

Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/business/lockouts-once-rare-put-workers-on-the-defensive.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2
and
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/business/lockouts-once-rare-put-workers-on-the-defensive.html?pagewanted=2&_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

Labels:

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home