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Labor Report

Missouri Unions Show the Way on Right-to-Work Referendum

Faced with a statewide referendum over a new right-to-work law, Missourians resoundingly sided with labor on Aug. 7 as they voted better than 2-to-1 to overturn the anti-union measure manufactured by their Republican legislature and then-governor last year.

With almost 1.4 million votes cast, 67.5 percent chose “no” on Proposition A, a question that made it on the state’s primary ballot only after labor unions and their supporters collected hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to suspend right-to-work and demand the referendum.

The election result comes in the wake of numerous high-profile, unfavorable outcomes for unions in recent months, including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case regarding public-sector employees known as Janus, as well as new regulations imposed by the National Labor Relations Board.

“Today Missouri gave hope to workers across the nation,” said Missouri AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Jake Hummel, who is a Democratic state senator, according to the Associated Press.

“Tonight we send a clear message to any politicians, CEO, dark-money donors who want to silence working people,” Reginald Thomas, the executive vice president of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the AFL-CIO, said according to the Kansas City Star. “We will stand together,” he said, “and yell louder than ever before, because our families depend on it.”

In early 2017, Missouri became the 28th state to enact right-to-work – which prevents unions from collecting dues or fair share fees from workers who opt out of union membership. Republicans hold more than 70 percent majorities in both houses of the state legislature, as well as the office of the governor.

Even in the U.S. Senate primaries also held on Aug. 7, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by almost five percentage points. But strong fundraising and door-to-door canvassing throughout the state by labor advocates buoyed the “no” cause.

Analyzing the outcome, the editorial board of The New York Times cautioned against over-interpreting the results of a single election. However, “the two-to-one margin by which Missouri voters overturned the so-called right-to-work law appears to be the latest sign of resurgent and effective labor activism,” the newspaper wrote.

The Washington Post noted that it wasn’t just the urban and suburban areas around St. Louis and Kansas City that voted “no.” All but 15 of Missouri’s 115 counties rejected right-to-work, although the state has voted Republican in the last five presidential elections and eight of the last 10.

Dislocated Worker Career Services Grants Available from USDOL

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has announced the availability of up to $100 million for Trade and Economic Transition National Dislocated Worker Grants to provide training and career services to dislocated workers affected by major economic dislocations.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Trade and Economic Transition grants provide funding to states, outlying areas, eligible tribal governments and other entities to address one or more of the following events:

  • the economic and workforce impacts associated with job loss or employer/industrial reorganization due to trade or automation;
  • the loss, significant decline, or major structural change/reorganization of a primary or legacy industry, such as a manufacturing downturn due to technological advances, including impacts on the agricultural industry due to trade or other economic trends;
  • other economic transition or stagnation that may disproportionately impact mature workers, putting them at risk for extended unemployment, lower wages, and underemployment.

Applications must be received by 11:59:59 PM EDT on September 7, 2018; however,ETA will fund applications that meet all requirements based on the order ETA receives them, until all funds are depletedETA plans to award funds by September 30, 2018. Information is available at

Proposed Health Plan Would Make Hospital Workers Travel for Basic Care

EmployeesUnionized workers at a Philadelphia hospital could find themselves in the inconceivable position of having to travel more than an hour outside the city merely to obtain basic healthcare services from an in-network provider under an insurance plan offered by their employer. spoke to some of about 200 Chestnut Hill Hospital workers who are represented by SEIU Healthcare PA in ongoing contract negotiations with their employer. Tower Health acquired Chestnut Hill last fall. The employees include nursing assistants, emergency room technicians, administrative staff and other positions who generally make between $12 and $20 an hour.

The health insurance on offer is a plan created by a joint venture between Tower Health and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Chestnut Hill is not in-network because the companies do not offer insurance within Philadelphia as part of an agreement with Independence Blue Cross, which holds a dominant share of the city’s health insurance market. IBX, in turn, agreed to keep Tower Health providers in-network on its plans.

Meanwhile, Tower wants to push its insured patients to the company’s own hospitals, including Reading, but the arrangement doesn’t make much sense for the Chestnut Hill workers.

“The biggest in-network hospital, the facility with the most extensive services and in-network doctors, is Reading Hospital — about an hour drive from Chestnut Hill,” reported.

“Why would I go to Reading?” said Jeanette Oakley, a Chestnut Hill secretary and SEIU representative. “I live in Philadelphia.”

Dallas Teachers, District Agree to Drop Lawsuits and Resume Negotiations

The Dallas Education Association and Dallas School District have agreed to resume negotiations for the first time since mid-July in the effort to resolve their acrimonious four-year contract dispute, according to the Times Leader.

Representatives for the Wilkes-Barre area school district walked away from the table on July 17 despite a court order mandating daily negotiating sessions, including weekends. The district cited unreasonable union demands in appealing the court order. DEA responded by petitioning the court to hold the district in contempt.

The sides stated jointly that they agreed to withdraw their court filings and resume negotiations on Aug. 11.

Dallas teachers have been working without a contract or raises since August 2015, although negotiations began one year earlier. Salaries and health care are two primary issues of contention. They went on strike twice for a combined nine days last school year and struck for 22 straight days in 2016.

Trump Administration Targets Home Health Aide Union Deductions

The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a new rule that could prevent hundreds of thousands of home healthcare workers from having their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.
About a half million of these workers belong to Service Employees International Union. The proposed rule would affect home health aides who are paid directly by Medicaid, NPR reported.

Home Health Aide“CMS' language affects only ‘individual providers’ — that is, those who aren't employed by the private, for-profit agencies that dominate this industry. Individual providers, who are technically state employees, are far more likely to be members of a union than employees of the agencies are,” the network said.

“The directive would overturn an Obama administration policy that was put in place to ease the collection of union dues and pay for other fees, such as health benefits. The rule is subject to public comment through Aug. 13; once finalized, it could take effect by the end of this year. The month-long comment period, which began July 12, has attracted more than 1,800 responses.”

National Job Openings and Turnover Report

The U.S. Department of Labor stated that the number of job openings remained relatively steady at 6.7 million nationally, month-to-month, as of the last business day in June, while hirings outpaced job separations, 5.7 million to 5.5 million for the month.

Over the 12 months ending in June, hires totaled 66.6 million and separations totaled 64.1 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.5 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the complete openings and turnover report for June.





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