Labor Roundup | January 2021

Illinois nursing-home workers settle strike. A tentative agreement between Infinity Healthcare Management and its nursing-home workers was reached Dec. 4 after about 700 employees went on strike for almost two weeks, according to Service Employees International Healthcare Illinois which represents them.

Negotiating for a new contract since June after their previous contract expired in May, the cooks, housekeepers and certified nursing assistants will get an average increase of $2/hour in the three-year pact.

Also, workers in facilities with coronavirus cases or those being monitored because they might have COVID-19 also will receive a raise in pandemic pay of from $2 to $2.50 an hour, plus five additional days of COVID-19 related sick time and adequate personal protective equipment guaranteed.

“This contract is about more than base wages and pandemic pay,” said Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “It’s about improving the lives of the workers and the residents that they take care of.”

Google allegedly was so blatant in violating labor law that even the Trump administration’s National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint with the giant corporation.

The NLRB accuses Google of illegally spying on workers, firing several employees in retaliation for attempting to unionize, and illegally blocking employees from sharing work grievances and information with each other using office tools.

The complaint comes a year after reports that the NLRB was investigating Google’s labor relations, including allegations the company was interrogating and discharging workers for sharing work-related information with other workers.

The NLRB said it will hold a hearing April 12, 2021, in San Francisco.

About 10% of Biden transition teams are from organized labor. Showing strong ties between President-Elect Joe Biden and the labor movement, Biden’s transition teams planning to take office include more than 20 union staffers, out of 200 spots.

Those unionists range from AFL-CIO Chief of Staff Damon Silvers to activists from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Amalgamated Transit Union, Communications Workers, Letter Carriers, Machinists, Plumbers, SEIU, Teachers, Teamsters, Transport Workers and the UAW.

There’s not yet equal pay for equal work – even for the medal-winning U.S. women’s soccer team.

However, the celebrated athletes are going to get everything else they fought for in their long-running battle with the U.S. Soccer Federation, and the pay issue remains open, awaiting a trial next year.

In a settlement announced in December, the federation, soccer’s ruling body, agreed to equalize hotel arrangements, staffing, travel and practice and playing fields available to the women and to the U.S. men’s team. The women also will get equal USSF promotion and support (although the women, who consistently win, just as consistently outdraw the men).

But none of that addressed the huge pay difference between the two (favoring men), and that was the key point of the women’s class-action sex discrimination suit against USSF filed on International Women’s Day in 2019.

The current arrangement “doesn’t account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job,” said team spokeswoman Molly Levinson, who added that the USSF has never offered an equal-pay contract.

CWA at Lumen won’t get MLK Day off, according to a note from management at Lumen (formerly CenturyLink). Employees were told non-union workers will get a paid holiday for Martin Luther King Day, but not members of Communications Workers of America.

“If Lumen executives care for diversity and inclusion, they must correct the wrongful exclusion of union workers from the holiday,” said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts. “Dr. King was assassinated while in Memphis organizing for workers’ rights, and throughout his life, workers’ rights were a core part of his work. It is deeply wrong to give this holiday to non-union workers and withhold it from union workers.”

Trump hurts farmworkers on his way out. Days after Donald Trump lost the Nov. 3 election to Joe Biden by 7 million votes, his administration issued a rule freezing wages of farm laborers until 2023.

The wage freeze is the Trump administration’s second attempt this fall to cut pay for H-2A visa holders after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in September tried to suspend the Farm Labor Survey, a data tool used for a century to set wages for migrant workers. A federal judge blocked that effort, so Trump officials enacted the new rule.

In a public comment on the Labor Department’s rule, a coalition of 42 labor groups and allies warned that because of the wage freeze “many workers will suffer increased debt, lower wages, worse housing conditions, and more uncertainty regarding job terms.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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