First, the emergency board appointed by President Obama to deal with the mini-SEPTA strike we had last month announced its findings. The upshot, says the Inquirer, is that members of the engineers and electrical workers unions should get the deal that SEPTA management has been offering for years:
Remember how, just about a month or two ago, everybody was speculating that Philly’s unions were going to unite and pick the city’s next mayor?
Folks, it ain’t gonna happen.
In the last week, we have two major data points that suggest the city’s labor movement — while large and collectively powerful — is simply too diverse, and maybe too disjointed, to pull off a power play like picking a mayor for the rest of us.
While the day was subdued inside the Convention Center Monday, tensions between unions “erupted” outside, the Inquirer reports. The fracas started when leaders of IBEW Local 98, Laborers Local 332 and Stagehands Local 8 walked their workers into the Convention Center past a group of jeering Teamsters.
The dispute stems from new work rules at the Center, which told unions they had until Monday of last week to sign. Carpenters Local 8 and the Teamsters Local 107, didn’t, and are currently shut out of the process.
Teamsters picketed outside the Convention Center on Monday, leading to the Inquirer getting some fantastic quotes for the newspaper. Check out the war of words between IBEW Local 98 business manager John Dougherty and people from the Teamsters and Carpenters unions.
If you’re confused about the union protests at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, you’re not alone. So let’s break it down.
There are six unions that work at the Convention Center: carpenters, teamsters, riggers, stagehands, laborers and electricians. Of those six, two of them (the Carpenters and Teamsters) did not sign a revised Customer Satisfaction Agreement, which contains new rules governing the unions’ work at the Center. Some of the terms of the agreement were favorable to the unions, it seems, such as 3 percent pay raises for 10 years.
Other terms look less favorable, perhaps. For instance, exhibitors have been granted new leeway in setting up. As long as they use full-time employees (unionized or not) and don’t go beyond 600 square feet, exhibitors can assemble booths themselves, and even use “uncomplicated” power tools. That’s a big change.
The last of several union contracts with SEPTA expires on April 6, and the head of the Transit Workers Union told the Daily News Thursday he’s not taking the current offer.
[TWU Local 234 president Willie] Brown told the Daily News yesterday that he won’t accept SEPTA’s initial offer of a five-year contract with no raises during 2014 and 2015, a 6 percent raise spread over the next three years, increased employee contributions to health care and no pension plan for new hires.
Like Kurtis Blow, basketball is my favorite sport. I, too, like the way they dribble up and down the court.
Basketball’s a sport I enjoy at every level. I love the NFL, but I don’t care much for college football. Minor league baseball is even more boring than major league baseball. But I could watch pretty much every level of basketball: High-level NBA games on TV. Big 5 games at the Palestra. High school games in crumbling Philly gyms. Pick-up games on 10th Street. Little kid games at halftime of the Sixers. Everything is great!
Well, here’s a development I wasn’t expecting: Union boss John Dougherty has announced that he’s starting a think tank to explore the topic of electing a pro-union mayor in 2015. Nutter — long seen as a union foe (only in Philly) — presented a problem for organized labor when he first came up for election: He was a fairly typical big-city Democrat, which by definition, makes him pro-labor. The problem? Unlike most others who run for office in this town (looking at you, City Council), he didn’t feel he had to rely heavily on union support in order to get elected. How did that happen?
In Tom Ferrick’s new Publius column, “Welcome to Fantasy Island,” he explains:
According to union leader John Dougherty, it was because the city’s labor unions were split over whom to endorse. As a result, Michael Nutter slipped up the middle and got himself elected.
Since then, various union officials have linked Nutter to famed Wisconsin union bogeyman Gov. Scott Walker and to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, among other noted personages, simply because, as Ferrick puts it, “in his role of mayor of a city of 1.5 million people,” he attempted to “seek concessions from city employees and teachers in contract talks in the name of preserving the city’s scant resources.”
That is not a treasonable offense, not in most other jurisdictions in the United States of America. Here it is. Anyone who enunciates a slight variation in the orthodoxy is considered a heretic. You are either 100 percent for the unions or you are 100 percent against them.
There’s a fascinating story in today’s Inquirer by Jeremy Roebuck, detailing the Pennsylvania law that exempts union members in labor disputes from prosecution for stalking, harassment and terroristic threats. Hot dog! And here I thought fair pay and better working conditions were the only benefits of joining a union.
The exemption dates back to the New Deal 1930s, and Republican State Rep. Ron Miller says Pennsylvania “might be the only state to still have an exception like this.” At a hearing last year, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Frank Snyder defended the law — but worried the exemption could be used to shield employers. (No word on what William Green would think it.)