WBEZ | National Labor Relations Board http://www.wbez.org/tags/national-labor-relations-board Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago charter school subject to private-sector labor laws http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-charter-school-subject-private-sector-labor-laws-104660 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_0663.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Teachers at a Chicago charter school are now subject to private-sector labor laws, rather than state laws governing public workers. The move could impact how public schools are run down the road.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.nlrb.gov/case/13-RM-001768">ruling</a>, made by the National Labor Relations Board last month, said the Chicago Math and Science Academy is a &ldquo;private entity&rdquo; and therefore covered under the federal law governing the private sector.</p><p>The decision overrules a vote taken by teachers last year to form a union in accordance with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. At the time, two-thirds of teachers at the school approved the union and it became official under state law. &nbsp;</p><p>But school managers wanted to follow federal labor law, which among other things would require a vote by secret ballot.</p><p>&ldquo;This case was really about whether you organize via one method or another,&rdquo; said Andrew Broy, director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t about you can organize at all, whether you can bust unions, or anything like that.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the case was watched closely by unions and charter supporters across the country. Several groups, including the American Federation of Labor and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools filed briefs.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because charter schools are publicly-funded, but privately-run. The public-private, hybrid nature of charter schools creates a number of gray areas when it comes to accountability and governance.</p><p>In many ways, they are like government contractors, said James Powers, the attorney representing CMSA. A school district signs a contract with a private group, usually a non-profit organization, to run a school and allocates public money based on the number of students served.</p><p>But as the charter sector grows in cities across the country, teachers unions and other pro-labor groups have said expanding charters is a &ldquo;union-busting&rdquo; tactic.</p><p>Labor laws and charter school laws vary widely from state to state. Some require charter teachers to belong to the same union as teachers in district-run schools, others prohibit charter teachers from forming unions altogether. &nbsp;</p><p>Zev Eigen is an expert in labor law at Northwestern University and says the ruling could be seen as good or bad depending on who you ask.</p><p>The NLRB is consistent across state lines, which helps charter teachers in right-to-work states and other places where public sector employees have limited bargaining power, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;I would much prefer to work at a charter school now, and be covered by the federal, National Labor Relations Act, than to be at the whim and mercy that public school teachers are of being under state law,&rdquo; Eigen said<strong>.</strong> &ldquo;The state has much less power to change the rules underneath them. To say, &lsquo;oh, sorry we just changed the law so now you&rsquo;re not allowed to strike or you&rsquo;re not allowed to collectively bargain over length of school day&rsquo; or whatever it is.&rdquo;</p><p>But the national law also gives management more latitude, and allows them to campaign against a union, he added.</p><p>Apart from the legal ramifications, deeming a charter schools as &quot;private&quot; adds fuels to the debate over the future of traditional public schools.&nbsp;</p><p>A spokesman for the Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff, which helped CMSA teachers organize, said they are still analyzing the ruling to determine what impact it could have on existing charter school unions and future organizing efforts.</p><p>Both sides said it&#39;s still a gray issue.</p><p>&ldquo;This technical area of labor relations is one that&rsquo;s developing,&rdquo; Broy said. &ldquo;This is a chapter of it, but it will continue in the coming weeks, and months, and years to be an issue, both here in Chicago and nationally.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 16:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-charter-school-subject-private-sector-labor-laws-104660 Loretto Hospital registered nurses vote to unionize http://www.wbez.org/news/loretto-hospital-registered-nurses-vote-unionize-99670 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LorettoHospital2.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 248px; height: 328px;" title="The balloting enables the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to negotiate for 144 RNs at the hospital’s main facility, 645 S. Central Ave. (Flickr/Zol87)" /></div><p><em>Updated June 6, 2012, to include hospital management comments.</em></p><p>A union that has been trying for a decade to gain a foothold among hospital nurses in Chicago has won an election to represent 144 of them in the Austin neighborhood.<br /><br />Registered nurses at Loretto Hospital voted 80-37 to bring in Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The two-day vote, which ended Saturday, allows AFSCME to negotiate the pay, benefits and work conditions of RNs at the hospital&rsquo;s main facility, 645 S. Central Ave.<br /><br />&ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have happy nurses, you don&rsquo;t have happy patients,&rdquo; said Kora Fields, an RN in the hospital&rsquo;s behavioral health unit who says she voted for the union.<br /><br />&ldquo;I live in the Austin area,&rdquo; Fields said. &ldquo;I grew up in the Austin area. My family comes to this hospital. My friends are treated here. I do love Loretto Hospital. But there needs to be increases in wages and we need to be respected as the professionals that we are.&rdquo;<br /><br />An AFSCME statement says pro-union nurses defied an &ldquo;aggressive anti-union campaign&rdquo; by Loretto management. The statement praises the nurses for their &ldquo;unwavering determination to improve patient care and ensure fair treatment on the job.&rdquo;<br /><br />Loretto spokesman Jim Waller called the hospital&rsquo;s nurse wages &ldquo;competitive for the marketplace&rdquo; and denied that management campaigned against AFSCME. &ldquo;We were just being clear what being in a union is and that what&rsquo;s paramount to us is patient safety,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Loretto, a 187-bed nonprofit facility, has helped lead an effort this year to exempt Illinois safety-net hospitals from proposed state Medicaid payment cuts.<br /><br />The vote, supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, makes Loretto the second Chicago hospital whose registered nurses have unionized this year. In January, National Nurses United won an election to represent 150 at the South Side&rsquo;s Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center.<br /><br />Until the Jackson Park election, unions had made little progress in Chicago-area hospitals except those owned by university and government entities.</p><p>The Loretto vote marks a rebound for AFSCME, which lost a bruising election battle last summer at the Northwest Side&rsquo;s Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center. RNs at that hospital voted against AFSCME after more than eight years of campaigning by the union.</p></p> Wed, 30 May 2012 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/loretto-hospital-registered-nurses-vote-unionize-99670 After 8-year union drive, Chicago nurses election begins http://www.wbez.org/story/after-8-year-union-drive-chicago-nurses-cast-ballots-88485 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-29/Resurrection picket.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some nurses on Chicago’s Northwest Side have begun two days of voting in a closely watched union election.</p><p>Since 2002, Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has been trying to organize thousands of employees at Resurrection Health Care, a nonprofit Roman Catholic hospital chain based in Chicago. But management has not recognized the union. To gain a foothold, AFSCME asked the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election among about 290 registered nurses at one of the hospitals, Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center, 5645 W. Addison St.</p><p>Some pro-union nurses say their top concern is a patient-to-nurse ratio that has risen over the years. “We don’t feel like we’re doing a good job,” says Kathy Haff, a telemetry unit nurse who volunteers on an AFSCME organizing committee. “If we had a union contract, it would help a lot.”</p><p>The union also claims Resurrection is bearing down about the vote. “People that were wearing ‘yes’ buttons are afraid to wear them because then they’re targets for harassment,” Haff says.</p><p>But management says the only thing it has asked employees to do is vote. Resurrection insists that the pressure is coming from the union.</p><p>“For almost nine years, the union has been harassing Resurrection Health Care,” says Brian Crawford, the corporation’s vice president of public affairs, who says AFSCME unfairly accuses the hospital of abandoning its mission and shortchanging services. “This is the first time [the union] has actually petitioned for a vote, so we’re delighted.”</p><p>Crawford attributes the staffing problem to a “nationwide shortage of nurses” and claims that the AFSCME campaign has scared some away. “Nurses can work anywhere they want,” he says.</p><p>The vote could reverberate beyond the Resurrection chain. Unions have made little progress in Chicago-area hospitals aside from facilities owned by university and government entities.</p><p>The balloting will end Thursday evening.</p></p> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/after-8-year-union-drive-chicago-nurses-cast-ballots-88485 Union loses close vote at Comcast facility in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/union-loses-close-vote-comcast-facility-chicago-87612 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-08/Dave_Webster.png" alt="" /><p><p>A union has narrowly lost a closely watched election among some Comcast workers in Chicago. They voted 92-79 against the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 21.<br> <br> Two days of balloting, which ended Wednesday, left 189 workers at Comcast’s facility in the Pullman area without collective bargaining. Those employees include installation technicians, maintenance technicians, warehouse workers and payment agents.<br> <br> “Our employees exercised their legal right to vote and decided not to unionize,” Comcast said in a statement. “We respect their decision.”<br> <br> This is IBEW’s third election defeat at the Pullman facility since 2003.<br> <br> Local 21 organizer Dave Webster said Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, ran an effective anti-union campaign. “They scared [the workers] about union dues and they made them think they wouldn’t be part of the big happy family anymore,” Webster said after the balloting.<br> <br> The vote, supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, had significance beyond the Pullman workers.<br> <br> “Comcast is a global employer and the telecommunications industry is growing,” said Robert Bruno, who directs the Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois. “If the IBEW is able to establish a beachhead, it could raise standards at the company. If that rippled through the industry, it would be the same dramatic impact that unions had in the car and steel industries and other manufacturing.”<br> <br> Nationwide, unions represent an estimated 2 percent of the Philadelphia-based company’s workforce. That’s apart from the media conglomerate NBCUniversal, in which Comcast acquired a majority stake this January.</p></p> Wed, 08 Jun 2011 22:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/union-loses-close-vote-comcast-facility-chicago-87612