@LRToday Morning Round-Up: May 15, 2012

"NLRB Rule Speeding Union Elections Thrown Out by Judge"Bloomberg

A rule change by the National Labor Relations Board that allows for faster votes on union elections was thrown out by a federal judge who said the agency lacked a quorum when it approved the measure.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said only two of the three members of the board required to constitute a quorum actually voted on the rule. He said representation elections will have to continue under previously established procedures unless the board votes with a proper quorum. The rule went into effect on April 30.

[Our take on Judge Boasberg’s order]

"USW Says Marathon Petroleum’s Actions Impinge on Safety and are Unlawful"MarketWatch.com

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 8-719 says that the terms and conditions of employment Marathon Petroleum unilaterally implemented do not promote safe staffing levels to safeguard the refinery’s employees and the surrounding community.

The local’s contract with Marathon expired on January 31, 2012. The company accepted the National Oil Bargaining Pattern Agreement the USW negotiated with the industry, but disputes arose over local issues involving work schedules, vacation allotments and re-alignments of departments that result in job duty and schedule changes.

"Dick Meister: Union rights are civil rights"San Francisco Bay Guardian

The right of U.S. workers to organize and bargain collectively with their employers unhindered by employer or government interference has been a legal right since the 1930s. Yet there are workers who are unaware of that, and employers who aim to keep them unaware, meanwhile doing their utmost to keep them from exercising what is a basic civil right.

Many employers often claim working people are in any case not much interested in unionization, noting that less than 15 percent of workers currently belong to unions.

But as anyone who has looked beneath the employer claims has discovered, it’s the illegal opposition of employers and the failure of government regulatory agencies to curtail the opposition that’s the basic cause of the low rate of unionization.

"Union’s pension plan targeted for criminal probe"Boston Herald

Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers’ pension and benefit plans, McClatchy Newspapers has learned.

The investigation began after federal agencies received anonymous complaints about mismanagement of the plans, according to court filings. The complaints included allegations that family members of some trustees received bonuses from companies that managed investments for the three funds, which total $8.5 billion. A grand jury investigation followed.