Archive for the ‘Labor Relations’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 14-20, 2014)

Monday, April 21st, 2014


Nonprofits Caught in Pension Crossfire Between Foundation, Unions Well-Known Nonprofits in Middle of Tussle Between Billionaire Donor John Arnold and Labor Groups.” By Cameron McWhirter. Wall Street Journal. April 15, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 7-13, 2014)

Monday, April 14th, 2014


Operatic Drama Swells in Labor Talks at the Met.” By Michael Cooper. New York Times. April 8, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 6-12, 2012)

Monday, August 13th, 2012


SF Museum workers move closer to strike.” No by-line. San Francisco Chronicle. August 6, 2012. A picket line could soon become the newest attraction at San Francisco’s two fine arts museums if a contract dispute between some museum employees and management continues. Workers in the union that represents about 90 employees of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor Museum in Lincoln Park completed voting last week to authorize their two-person bargaining team to call a strike if talks fail. The museum employs about 500 public and private workers. Cristal Java, a chief negotiator with the union, said talks with the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums , which runs the museums, have dragged on for nine months. She said workers are angry that the museums have seen an increase of $19.6 million in assets over the past two years while proposing to reduce wages for future hires and raise health care costs. COFAM executives have said they are not proposing wage cuts for anyone and want museum workers to pay a portion of their health care insurance premiums like city workers. They also dispute the union’s characterization of their finances – a COFAM spokesman said the museums “barely broke even last year.”


Monday, January 23rd, 2012


City Opera Strikes Deal With Unions.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal. January 19, 2012. New York City Opera has reached a tentative deal with its two unions, ending a lockout that began on Jan. 9 and opening the door to a final resolution for a labor dispute that had threatened the future of the company. The agreements on two proposed three-year contracts—which still must be approved by opera’s board and ratified by members of the chorus and orchestra unions—cleared the way for rehearsals to begin Wednesday for “La Traviata,” the opera said. Performances of that production are scheduled to begin Feb. 12 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera, which was seeking to eliminate the musicians’ five months of guaranteed work and instead pay them by the hour, had sought help from a federal mediator. Those talks broke down on Jan. 7, prompting a lockout starting on what would have been the first day of rehearsals for the spring season. Facing persistent deficits and a shrinking endowment, the company last year left its longtime home at Lincoln Center—which it said it could no longer afford—and slashed its budget to $13 million from $31 million. The orchestra’s ratification vote is scheduled to close Thursday at 4 p.m. Members of the American Guild of Musical Artists, representing choristers, principal singers, stage managers and assistant directors, will cast ballots by mail and email over the next few weeks, said Alan Gordon, the union’s national executive director. Officials revealed few details of the proposed contracts, which City Opera general manager George Steel said put the company on track to balance its budget this year for the first time in a decade. “The good news is now we are solvent,” he said.
Related stories:
New York City Opera Announces Deal With Unions.” New York Times. January 18, 2012.
Opera Union Agrees to Cut in Annual Pay.” Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2012.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 9-15, 2012)

Monday, January 16th, 2012


Talks Break Down at City Opera.” By Daniel Wakin. New York Times. January 9, 2012. New York City Opera’s future darkened this weekend when the company declared a lockout for the first rehearsal of the season, scheduled for Monday, amid a labor dispute with its unions. The impasse raises the possibility that the struggling company may have to cancel its first production, “La Traviata,” and possibly the season. The move came after mediated talks broke down on Saturday night. Negotiations between the company and its two unions, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, and the American Guild of Musical Artists, have grown increasingly bitter since City Opera announced last spring that it was moving out of its Lincoln Center home, the David H. Koch Theater, to save money. Local 802 represents the orchestra, and the guild represents the chorus and singers as well as stage managers and directors. The lockout most immediately affects the chorus, which was scheduled to report for a “Traviata” rehearsal at 3 p.m. on Monday, along with a rehearsal pianist. The orchestra is not scheduled to rehearse until Feb. 1. City Opera’s spokeswoman, Risa B. Heller, said the company had no plans to hire replacement workers. The unions predicted that the lockout would lead to the season’s cancellation, but Ms. Heller said there was no change in the company’s plans to put on 16 performances of four operas in various locations around the city, starting with “La Traviata” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Feb. 12.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 26, 2011-January 1, 2012)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012


Montefiore Nurses Set a Strike Date.” By Sumathi Reddy. Wall Street Journal. December 29, 2011. Unionized nurses at the Bronx’s Montefiore Medical Center have given notice they intend to strike on Jan. 10 unless a contract deal is struck, the hospital and union said. The notice comes as the union, the New York State Nurses Association, has reached tentative contracts with three other hospitals—most recently with Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on Tuesday. Mount Sinai’s 2,200 registered nurses will vote on the four-year agreement Jan. 3 to Jan. 5, said union spokesman Bernie Mulligan. The Montefiore strike threat comes amid a flurry of labor negotiations. NYSNA potentially avoided a strike Tuesday with an agreement with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. Another powerful union—the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ representing office cleaners and porters—rallied Wednesday in Midtown with a strike deadline looming on Saturday. And transit workers continue negotiating a new contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ahead of a Jan. 15 deadline. At Montefiore, the hospital agreed to cut the current ratio of seven patients to one nurse to six-to-one, a person familiar with the matter said, but disagreements remain over when. A Montefiore spokeswoman said the hospital has offered “generous salary increases and benefits” and called the strike notice “abrupt and reckless.” Mr. Mulligan said, “Our members…don’t feel that the hospital has been bargaining in good faith on the issue of staffing.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 19-25, 2011)

Monday, December 26th, 2011


Nurses Plan Walkout at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt.” By Nina Bernstein. New York Times. December 22, 2011. Nurses at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital will go on strike on Jan. 3 unless last-ditch negotiations succeed in bridging a divide over wages, according to leaders in the New York State Nurses Association, which issued a 10-day strike warning early Thursday on behalf of 1,300 registered nurses at the hospital. Intense labor negotiations continued until 4 a.m., with some progress but no settlement, said Betty Ann Lynch, a veteran nurse and union negotiator, who added that the talks with management are to resume on Monday. “We’re very, very close,” Ms. Lynch said. “I want to avoid a strike.” While recent nurses’ strikes in California were for 24 hours, the nurses at St. Luke’s will keep other options open, the union said. In a memorandum issued late Thursday, Stanley Brezenoff, the chief executive of Continuum Health Partners, which includes St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, called the action “most distressing.” While expressing hope that a resolution could still be reached, he vowed to operate the hospital at full capacity with replacement nurses in the event of a strike. And he warned, “We may, unfortunately, be unable to reinstate striking nurses as soon as they wish, since the contractual commitment required” may make that impossible.

Nurses stage 1-day strike at 2 Long Beach hospitals; Hundreds of nurses picket Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital over failed contract talks and staffing issues.” By Ruben Vives. Los Angeles Times. December 23, 2011. Hundreds of nurses from Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital staged a one-day strike Thursday over failed contract negotiations and staffing issues. Equipped with bullhorns and whistles, the nurses stood by the main entrance of the hospitals on Patterson Street and Atlantic Avenue. Many waved picket signs that read: “If nurses are outside, something’s wrong inside” and “Safe staffing at all times.” Amid the yelling and cheering for every car horn honk they got, the nurses sang out chants. The California Nurses Assn. has been working without a contract since Sept. 30 and has been at odds with hospital management over staffing conditions and rising costs of healthcare premiums. Union President DeAnn McEwen said most nurses are unable to take breaks or lunches and some nurses are forced to cover for one another by doubling patients. She said the hospitals also want to eliminate a 5% cap on healthcare premiums. Additionally, she said, the union wants the hospitals to create a patient lift policy — teams that lift and move patients out of beds — to prevent work injuries. Next year a state law will require that such teams be put in place at hospitals, union and hospital officials say. “This hospital is extremely profitable and they’re engaging in Wall Street-style gambling with the lives of patients and nurses,” McEwen said.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 12-18, 2011)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


Opera Plans Mediation.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal. December 15, 2011. New York City Opera is scheduled to begin mediation Monday with its two labor unions, in a bid to resolve a bitter contract dispute that is threatening to disrupt performances planned to take place across the city this season, opera and union officials said. The company—which aims to turn the orchestra and chorus members essentially into freelancers, paying them a fraction of what they earned last year—declared an impasse in negotiations on Dec. 1 and unilaterally imposed a new contract. Risa Heller, an opera spokeswoman, and Alan Gordon, of the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the chorus, said mediation was scheduled to begin Monday at 8:30 a.m. The opera announced earlier this year that because of chronic deficits and a withering endowment it could no longer afford to stay at Lincoln Center. It has slashed its budget to $13 million from $31 million. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s deputy director, Allison Beck, will be the lead mediator and will work with a mediator from the service’s regional office, said John Arnold, a spokesman for the service. The company moves its administrative operations to 75 Broad St. on Friday. It will occupy temporary quarters there before taking 14,000 square feet of renovated space in March or April.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 28-December 4, 2011)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011


Talks Break Down Between City Opera and Unions.” By Daniel J. Wakin. New York Times. December 1, 2011. Contract talks between New York City Opera and its two main unions broke down on Wednesday night shortly after midnight, leaving little immediate prospect of an agreement and raising the possibility of a strike by the orchestra and chorus. Financial problems have led the company to drastically shrink its season, to about four productions, and to abandon its Lincoln Center home, the David H. Koch Theater, to save money. It plans to perform at several sites around New York in the winter and spring. The budget was shrunk to $13.3 million from around $31 million. Management has said it must also severely reduce the pay and benefits to the orchestra and chorus to survive. The unions argue that the new strategy essentially guts the orchestra and chorus, turning them into freelance outfits. The unions, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians and the American Guild of Musical Artists, “refused to recognize the opera’s financial situation and demanded huge guarantees for work that won’t be realized, wage increases, and full-year health care coverage for mere weeks of work,” the company said in a statement. Gail Kruvand, a union representative in the orchestra, said the company’s offers were “severely diminished from anything we’ve had in recent history, in the last 30 years.” Proposed wage and benefit guarantees offers were for “ridiculously small amounts of money, down 90 percent,” she said. “It was actually kind of hopeless.” On Thursday the American Guild of Musical Artists called on donors in a statement to withhold their dollars from the company as an expression of support for the orchestra and chorus members. “Every dollar you contribute to City Opera is being wasted,” said the guild’s executive director, Alan S. Gordon.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 21-27, 2011)

Thursday, December 1st, 2011


Kaiser Permanente Workers Choose Sides.” By Steve Early. The Nation. November 22, 2011. In California, the Kaiser name has long been linked to innovations in work organization, personnel practices and healthcare delivery. During World War II, industrialist Henry Kaiser built America’s largest shipyard, virtually overnight, here in the East Bay. That now-famous facility turned out scores of “Liberty” ships, using new production techniques, female welders (a?k?a “Rosie the Riveter”) and African-Americans who had been excluded from higher-paying blue-collar jobs.Kaiser’s wartime experimentation with a pioneering group health plan, tied to hospitals in Richmond and Oakland, paved the way for pre-paid medical coverage of millions of workers and their families. As a broader nonprofit Health Maintenance Organization, Kaiser Permanente (KP) now operates the largest network of unionized hospitals in the country and has long been known as “the HMO that labor built.” To keep the peace on its own far-flung properties, Kaiser formed a much-heralded Labor Management Partnership (LMP) with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other unions in the mid-1990s. Through their embrace of “non-adversarial” labor relations, Kaiser caregivers were supposed to gain more say in workplace decision-making so they could improve service to patients. Their unions won the right to organize non-union KP workers without management interference—a “neutrality” deal only available to LMP participants. By 2007, there weren’t many healthcare employers who appeared to be so “patient centered” or “labor-friendly.” So the union-backed lobbying-group American Rights at Work, bestowed its Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award on Kaiser at a gala dinner in Washington, DC, attended by top union officials. As recently as this past July, the HMO’s “shared purpose” and “partnership approach” was still being praised on the AFL-CIO’s official blog. Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, the HMO has been attracting more picket lines than plaudits. On September 22, more than 21,000 Kaiser employees conducted the largest work stoppage in California healthcare history. This unusual European-style protest strike reflected widespread worker concern about contract concessions sought by Kaiser despite profits of $5.7 billion since 2009. At hospitals and clinics throughout the state, the one-day walkout (and accompanying smaller-scale strike activity the day before and after) generated unflattering publicity about Kaiser’s recent cost-cutting, rate increases, understaffing and unfair labor practices. The new National Union of Healthcare Workers backed up its strike-related critique of KP’s managed-care practices with a blistering report, released in mid-November, based on information provided by NUHW-represented social workers and psychologists, plus outside experts.