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Union Matters Archives

"Every Chicken Comes Home to Roost"

While the above title is really the restatement of a very old Farmer's Almanac comment, it has particular application for what is taking place with regard to Multi-Employer Pension Plans throughout the United States. An analysis of the Multi-Employer Pension Plan Funding Crisis that was released on or about November 1, 2018 by the Actuarial Consulting Firm Cheiron, Inc., claims that 121 of the current Multi-Employer Pension Plans are underfunded by approximately 49 billion dollars. This is an increase of approximately seven (7) Plans from the previous year, with an underfunding in 2017 of 36.4 billion - a 13.4 billion dollar increase in 2017 versus 2018! The Plan that faces the biggest deficit continues to be the Central States Pension Fund, which provides Retirement Benefits for more than 400,000 Teamsters and is currently 22.9 billion dollars in the hole.

Labor News

As our readers know, a significant portion of our practice here at Wessels Sherman is devoted to representation of employers in cases involving labor unions. This runs the full spectrum from remaining union-free to dealings with organized labor involving negotiations, arbitration, strikes, picketing, boycotts, and virtually all matters coming under the general description of labor-management relations. In connection with this we keep a close eye on what is happening with labor unions. Here is an update:

Weingarten Rights A'Changin'

A few years ago, there was grave concern that the "Weingarten Rights", 420 U.S. 251 (1975) were going to be extended from just Unionized Employers to Non-Union Employers with the Non-Union individual who may be subject to discipline getting the right to ask a coworker to be present during any Disciplinary Interview. This did not occur, but a recent Decision by the National Labor Relations Board in Circus Circus Casinos, Inc. 336 NLRB No. 110 (2018) has changed the rules going forward.

Historic Supreme Court Decision Today Goes Against AFSCME

The US Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v AFSCME minutes ago ruling against the union in the public sector union fee case. This is a devastating body blow to organized labor. Click below to read the historic decision.

Pro-Business Majority Now in Control at NLRB

Good news for business! On April 11, 2018, the US Senate confirmed Morgan Lewis & Bockius attorney John Ring to fill the National Labor Relations Board's only remaining vacancy. With this confirmation, the NLRB will be at full strength with a 3-2 pro-business majority. This clears the way for the Trump administration appointees to resume their pro-business agenda.

Unions Continue to Win Significant Percentage of Representation Elections in 2017

According to a report just issued by Labor Relations Institute (LRI), unions won 71% of the representation elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2017. This is consistent with union success rates in recent years and has resulted in over 54,000 newly organized union members last year. Meanwhile, unions lost approximately 4,000 members through decertification elections, where union members voted to oust union representatives. The appearance of a net gain of 50,000 new union members is offset by the fact that unions are filing far fewer petitions for elections these days.

Union Organizing--"This Is An Emergency!"

Nancy Joerg heard me talking on the phone with a client the other day. She liked the advice and asked me to write a commentary for our next Wessels Sherman Client Alert. The subject that I was discussing with a company president was one that doesn't get much attention these days-union organizing.

State of Unions

With the passage of another Labor Day, which was surprisingly quiet in regard to demonstrations and parades supporting organized labor, it is time to take a "quick look" across the landscape to see what the current status of organized labor truly is.

Voter Eligibility List - An Employer's Nemesis

Over the Author's lengthy career in practicing Labor and Employment Law (since November, 1972), I have had the privilege to represent a vast number of Employers in National Labor Relations Board matters (representation in Elections and Unfair Labor Practice Charges). Over that period of time, I have seen numerous vacillations with regard to Board Policy, but none strike me as more vindictive towards Employers than the NLRB's recent position taken with regard to Voter Eligibility Lists.

Chickens Come Home to Roost

As a number of Clients of the Firm would state, over the last ten (10) years, the author has been advising them to get out of/not participate in the Unions' Multi-Employer Pension Funds. It has long been the opinion of the author that this is a quasi-Ponzi Scheme and was destined for failure from the start. When half of the Trustees of such a Plan are Union Business Agents who have little, if any, financial background, how can actual and cogent financial guidance about investigating/managing millions of dollars be provided? The author had the privilege in the early 80's to serve as a Trustee of a Multi-Employer Pension Plan in California and got out of the Trustee Position because of the stupidity of the day-to-day Administration of the Pension Plan and its investment strategy. As an aside, the next time the author negotiated a contract with the Union that had that Pension Plan in it (Retail Clerks Union - Northern California), he got the Client out of the Plan prior to the creation of MEPPA in 1989.

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