Labor Relations Round-up for April 2014

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Here are three big on-going stories from the wonderful world of labor relations. Take four minutes to get caught up on these hot new developments from the old school of HR!

NLRB holds hearings on expedited union elections

The National Labor Relations Board has proposed major revisions in the process they follow when holding a union certification election. The net impact of the new rules would be to reduce the time frame for scheduling an election from the current 38 day average to something closer to two weeks from the time a petition requesting an election is filed.  Most labor experts agree this would make it easier for unions to win elections, since employers would have less time to communicate with their workers under this scheme. Many employer advocacy groups including SHRM participated in the hearings, advocating that the Board maintain a more moderate approach.

UAW drops appeal in Volkswagen election

In a bit of a surprise, the UAW announced yesterday that they were dropping their objections in the recent union election at Volkwagen in which VW workers rejected the UAW by a 712 to 626 margin.

UAW President Bob King said the decision was made in the best interests of Volkswagen employees, the automaker, and economic development in Chattanooga.

King said in a news release about an hour before a hearing was slated to begin on the appeal that the NLRB has a “historically dysfunctional and complex process” that potentially could drag on for months or even years. Additionally, the UAW cited refusals by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker “to participate in a transparent legal discovery process, which undermines public trust and confidence.”

Given the millions of dollars the UAW spent on this election, it’s unlikely that they are done with their efforts to organize Volkswagen.  Speculation is rampant that this move may have been a precursor to an agreement with Volkswagen in which the company will offer voluntary recognition to the UAW, clearing the way for them to represent workers at the plant. Keep an eye on this one.

Disney offers $10 an hour wage to union employees in Florida negotiations

Numerous media outlets are reporting that Disney has offered to increase wages for new hires to $10 over the next tow years, up from the current starting rate of $8.03 which is barely above the Florida minimum wage.

Bloomberg reports that Disney made the offer earlier this week to the Service Trades Council, a consortium of six labor groups representing more than 30,000 Disney World workers.

New full-time hourly employees at the park currently earn a wage starting at $8.03/hour, about 75 cents more per hour than the federal minimum wage. The offer from Disney to the unions would gradually increase that amount to $10/hour by July 2016, which is just shy of the $10.10/hour being proposed by President Obama and some legislators.

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