Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas To All Employees And Employers

Merry Christmas to all employees and employers. Maybe now is a good time to explain a little something so that people know where Hudson Valley Labor Report is coming from throughout the year. There are many employers in the Hudson Valley who are good employers. They treat their people well and with respect. Some may not be union employers either and that's ok.

(Here comes the but) ......but if they truly are good and caring employers they would allow their employees - when the employees chose to - to organize to bargain collectively in regard to the rules at their workplace. When that happens, the employees are doing the exact same thing that their employer does - joining an organization to "network" and "expand" their "opportunities".

The most important part of all of this is that the employees would have a better relationship with their employer. A more constant, upfront, specific and steady relationship. The employers business relationship with the employees would now be just like every other business relationship the employer has - it would be in writing.

I can already hear it - the "employee handbook" takes care of that. Not true. The handbook does not create the same business relationship the employer has with everyone else they do business with. Does anyone in the class know why?

The employee handbook is exclusively created, maintained and can be changed unilaterally by the employer. There is no other business or other business man that would agree to "work" under that type of agreement. Both parties need to have their concerns addressed and access to a method to fairly work out any kind of disagreement in the relationship.

The great part of the relationship is that when you have a contract both parties actually AGREE on it before it can go into effect. The unfair characterization of this arrangement is that somehow when employees want a contract in their business relationship with their employer they dictate what that contract contains. That is not true.

It is exactly like any other business relationship. We sell our labor and we prefer to have a written and fair contract just like those who sell objects and services.

Unfortunately, many employees were fired this year for wanting this.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pearl Rivers Pfizer Finally Notifies NYS About Layoffs

Pfizer of Pearl River, NY is a major private employer in the Hudson Valley that employs 2,931 employees, as many as 800 commute from Orange County and the vicinity around it.

The company has been in progress on some large layoffs and restructuring lately. But as usual, the labor law has been slightly ignored in the process. There is a LABOR LAW called the the "WARN ACT"- Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act - that requires companies with 50 or more employees to give 90 days' notice of layoffs to the state and workers who will lose their jobs.

Pfizer had apparently laid off 90 to 100 workers in an apparent violation of the law.

Workers there said that Pfizer had moved ahead with layoffs without notifying the state. In meetings with employees, managers told workers that at least another 600 employees would be laid off in waves during the next 12 months. When asked, though, managers told employees that WARN didn't apply to them.

Interestingly enough, Pfizer notified the state Tuesday that more workers would be laid off here in mid-March. That's on top of 200 layoffs Pfizer announced two weeks earlier.

Documents filed by Pfizer say 91 workers will lose their jobs. In another contradiction the same filing identifies 95 positions that will be eliminated: 49 union, 46 non-union.

The recent WARN filings appear to be an effort by the company to correct and distance themselves from their previous statements. The company filed the most recent WARN notices after a local newspaper reported that Pfizer appeared to be in violation of state law.

It seems that workers rights are always on the bottom of the list in too many corporate plans. While we don't expect them to be their number one concern - these laws and peoples rights should at least be on the screen. At the very least - don't brush it to the side by telling people it doesn't apply when it does.

Pay attention people - nobody is going to do it for you - except the unions, that is.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kingston Budget, Alderman Comments and the CSEA

Looks like it is time to comment on the Kingston Budget but in particular about the CSEA. I read another blog bashing them for not renegotiating their contract. I would respectfully ask Alderman Madsen to report on what other contracts the city has renegotiated.

I don't mean the police and fire contracts - I mean with businesses who do business with the city and have existing contracts. For example, did you go to the office supply person and renegotiate with him? Maybe you could have had him lower the price of paper by 25%. You know the answer to that one. What about the oil company? The gasoline stations? The electrical power company?

What about every other business who has contracts with the city? Of course you didn't - you wouldn't even consider that and neither would they.

No - you go after labor. They are the easy target. They also can take the heat off of you and your fellow Alderman. It's the unions, you say - they won't give anything back.

Not saying they couldn't or wouldn't do their share IF it would make a difference. In the case of the CSEA - they couldn't make a dent. So - to your untrained eye - they were unreasonable and you bash them. You are wrong.

Opening the contract would have a longer lasting and more devestating effect on bargaining for decades and possibly forever. It is not their fault the jobs are being lost - it's yours. You and the Alderman got your end of the bargain during contract negotiations. Concessions were made in bargaining and increases in employee health costs were had in return for a pay raise. Now you can't balance your books and you come to the well. You take the easy road.

You claim the union doesn't care for its members - you're wrong. The union is thinking AHEAD for the good of ALL of the members. Fortunately, they had the entire membership in mind when they considered this situation - not just the 14 you point to. If the gap could have been reached they would have done what they could have. They proved that with last years budget.

What you wanted from the CSEA this year was - excuse my french - equivilent to pissing up a rope - know what I mean?

Making up $1.2 million was impossible. So that being the case, they had a choice - insist on the contract staying intact or allow themselves to be whored out forever and during EVERY CONTRACT from now on.

So ease up on the CSEA - they hated losing those jobs more than you ever did. They did the right thing in the BIG PICTURE though. In comparison, so did the police and firefighters. The difference was those two unions goal was possible and reachable.

One message to the CSEA - you guys should be looking to bring back Ashdown next election. It's only gonna get worse from here boys and girls. You need somebody whose been around and who will stand up and be counted.