Some union leaders stand with Trump. It’s not the first time some choose the wrong side.


Leaders of the New York construction trades encouraged attacks on anti-war protesters following Kent State, 1970.

Naomi Klein has written a column in today’s NY Times calling attention to the disturbing scene of skilled trade union leaders meeting and applauding Trump.

A new administration can always count on many organizations to issue pro forma statements expressing a nonpartisan willingness to work with the new leader. Let’s be clear: This was not that. This was a new alliance. As Terry O’Sullivan, head of Laborers’ International Union of North America, put it on MSNBC: “The president’s a builder. We’re builders.”

I am a long-time admirer of Naomi Klein who wrote the influential book, The Shock Doctrine.

But with all due respect, this is not a new alliance.

There have always been some union leaders who feel more comfortable with the powerful than with those who remain powerless, whose view of the world is almost inseparable from management, bosses and the political elite.

Reading Klein I immediately thought back to what were known as the hard hat riots in New York following the murder of four Kent State students protesting the invasion of Cambodia in 1970.

Peter Brennan was president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. He served as the vice president of the New York City Central Labor Council and the New York State AFL-CIO. Brennan was a registered Democrat but supported Nixon and the Vietnam War.

A few days after Kent State, anti-war protesters announced they would hold a rally near City Hall to commemorate the four dead students. Brennan decided to organize a counter-rally of construction workers to show support for the Nixon administration.

Rioting construction workers violently attacked the protesters. The construction workers then invaded two nearby Pace University buildings, smashing lobby windows with clubs and crowbars and beating up students. More than 70 people were injured, including four policemen. Most of the injured required hospital treatment.

But you don’t have to go back 40 years.

Just last September we saw AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka endorsing the Dakota Pipeline using the same argument or excuse that those supporting Trump used: Jobs.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) came out this week in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the construction of which was delayed last week by an order from the Obama administration—a decision that itself stemmed from months of protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux.

In a statement, Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president, said, “We believe that community involvement in decisions about constructing and locating pipelines is important and necessary, particularly in sensitive situations like those involving places of significance to Native Americas.”

As Klein points out, neither the pipeline nor Trump will provide jobs in a vibrant economy needed to improve the lives of union and not-yet union workers.

Union support of the Pipeline and Trump only divides the union movement from those who fight for social justice.

Union leaders like that are nothing new.

We have been here before.

A bad day for working people: Right to Work and Gorsuch. This is not a head fake.


When Antonin Scalia bought the farm, it left the Supreme Court split on the issue of agency fees and Right to Work laws.

Trump’s choice – really any choice he would have made – will end the four/four split on the court unless the Democrats obstruct any Supreme Court appointment for the next four years at least.

Right. That will happen.

What were once called “union shops” have been outlawed in the United States since Congress enacted the Taft-Hartley law in 1947. Nobody is compelled to  join a union.

In Illinois if a teacher doesn’t want to join the IFT or the IEA they don’t have to. But they have to pay the share of dues that go to fair representation and bargaining.

These are agency fees, fair share or security agreements.

The next Supreme Court will outlaw all that.

And they might not have to if the Republican controlled Congress passes national right to work legislation which they have promised to do. Trump will sign it.

Some observers expect a full repeal of the National Labor Relations Act.

I’m not taking any time here to defend agency fees. The TrumpTrolls that read this blog won’t be convinced. But workers and union members understand that people benefiting from a free ride is essentially unfair.

The existence of organized labor in the United States is threatened.

Union leadership needs to fight like our lives depended on it.

Past practice being the best predictor of future performance, I am not optimistic.

Others may have to step up.

This is not a head fake.

Breaking. Judge orders TRO against Rauner and for state workers.


A circuit court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) issued Dec. 6 will halt the Rauner administration’s attempts to unilaterally impose its contract terms on state employees for now.

AFSCME requested the TRO because Governor Rauner was moving to impose his demands even before the Labor Board had issued a formal, written finding of impasse between the parties.

Although the Board’s written decision was issued while the TRO request was pending, the judge found that “by implementing new terms and conditions of employment without notice to and the agreement of the union”, the Rauner administration “has violated that Tolling Agreement” that extends the terms of the current contract.

Under the TRO, the administration must honor the tolling agreement and rescind any changes it has made, at least until a hearing now set for January 13 (possibly sooner).

“Although temporary, this order sends a message to Governor Rauner that he is not above the law,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “Instead of sparking further conflict in the courts and at state worksites, Governor Rauner should return to bargaining and work with us to find common ground.”

Rauner’s demands include a 100% increase in employee costs for health care, a four-year pay freeze, and a blank check to outsource public services for private profit. The governor has refused to negotiate with AFSCME ever since the administration broke off talks and walked away back in January.

The Rauner-appointed Labor Board’s impasse decision threw out the recommendations of the administrative law judge who presided over two months of hearings in the case. The ALJ had found no impasse on major issues such as wages and health care, and had said Rauner should be ordered to return to bargaining.

AFSCME has appealed the Labor Board decision in Cook County appellate court. The union will request a stay to prevent Rauner from imposing his terms during the appeal process.

Rauner’s labor board ruling on AFSCME. Do you believe in magic, coincidences and Santa Claus?

In his continuing attempts at destroying public employee collective bargaining in Illinois Governor Rauner, announced that negotiations between him and the union representing state employees, AFSCME, had reached an impasse following his last and final offer of a four year wage freeze.

AFSCME filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County circuit court seeking an injunction to block Rauner from imposing the contract on state workers.

A ruling from the judge had been expected Monday afternoon. It was expected the judge would rule in favor of state workers.

Suddenly, early yesterday, the Rauner-friendly Illinois Labor Relations Board issued a ruling favoring the Governor.

The governor’s office argued that the ILRB ruling made any court ruling moot.

AFSCME will appeal the ruling in a Chicago state appellate court.

(AFSCME’s Anders)Lindall said the union found it “more than coincidental” that the labor board “suddenly” issued its written decision about the time a circuit court was “set to block the Rauner administration from illegally moving forward” on implementation of contract provisions.

Melissa Mlynski, executive director of the labor relations board, said the board’s timing had nothing to do with the St. Clair County case, and it was “absolutely” a coincidence that the written decision came on a day an order was expected from that southern Illinois court.

Do you believe in coincidences? Magic?

Santa Claus?

Trump’s Carrier hocus pocus. Sanders says it stinks. AFL CIO is quiet. UPDATED: Steelworkers union supports Trump/Carrier deal.


The silent AFL CIO President Richard Trumka.

This is the corporate scam we have seen time and again. A corporation employing hundreds or thousands of people threatens to move to another state – usually one with right-to-work-for-nothing laws – or to Mexico or China and local state government throws every tax break they got at them to get them to stay.

Often, a year later they close anyway. Or cut wages. Or go after the union.

With Trump’s announcement that he saved Carrier production in Indiana, we see the practice expanding as a national economic policy.

Note: Most of the United Technology/Carrier jobs in Indiana are still moving to Mexico.

Despite the cheers Mr. Trump received as he walked around the factory floor, where the lines continued to run and he had to shout at times to be heard, another 1,000 workers for the company in Indiana will be losing their jobs.

This includes 700 at a United Technologies factory in nearby Huntington, as well as several hundred here. The 800 or so jobs that are being preserved are mostly on the lines that build medium- and high-efficiency gas furnaces.

Bernie Sanders got it right in his Washington Post op-ed.

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

President-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Pence have convinced air conditioning manufacturer Carrier to keep 1,000 jobs at its Indianapolis, Ind. plant instead of moving them to Mexico. This is a major publicity score for Trump who had previously criticized Carrier and other manufacturers on the campaign trail. But putting pressure on individual businesses doesn’t make for a winning long term strategy. 

Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be reevaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America?

The working class of America.  

Apparently the shock waves didn’t find their way to AFl-CIO headquarters where President Richard Trumka has yet to comment.

Not even a Tweet.

Trumka was quick to side with those building the pipeline at Standing Rock, but has lost his voice on this corporate black mail.


(Pittsburgh) — The United Steelworkers (USW) today said it is pleased that Carrier Corp. has decided to retain nearly 1,000 of the 1,400 manufacturing jobs that it planned to move from Indianapolis to Mexico beginning in 2017. The union looks forward to learning the details of the proposed deal, whose jobs will be saved and how much production will remain in Indiana.

“The dedicated USW members in Indianapolis who build quality heating equipment for Carrier deserve credit for bringing the union’s fight to save their jobs to the attention of the nation during the 2016 presidential campaign,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

“The details are yet to be known, but America needs good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. We thank President-elect Trump for listening to our members and following through on his campaign pledge to persuade Carrier to keep production of quality heating equipment in Indianapolis.”

“We also appreciate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ efforts in keeping this issue on the front burner,” said USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap.

During the campaign, the president-elect spoke out vigorously for the need to bring jobs back home, to invest in domestic manufacturing, take a hard line with trading partners and reform our nation’s failed trade practices. The USW shares those goals.

The USW has long fought, and will keep fighting in both Republican and Democratic administrations, for government policies to promote and support domestic manufacturing and the interests of working people.

“America’s manufacturing sector was once the path to middle class prosperity and has been the envy of the world. But, for too long, it has had to compete against unfair trade practices and flawed trade policies that have promoted outsourcing and offshoring,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries, including metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, mining and the service and public sectors.  For more information:

Steve Bannon is a bigot in the White House. The Illinois Labor Relations Board just shot a bullet into the heart of collective bargaining.


“Never say ‘impasse’,” our IEA Uniserv Director always warned us when we bargained with our school board.

He said it so often that we would joke about it.

During breaks, mostly after hours and hours of bargaining, acting goofy from too much pizza, candy bars and bad coffee, someone might silently mouth the word. Or say, “in pass,” or “imp ass.”

Our UD didn’t find it funny.

But it’s not really funny. That is because the way collective bargaining rules are set up – a way that not surprisingly favors management – the bosses can make a “last, best and final offer.” Then bargaining ends and the union can take it or leave it.

That is an impasse.

Last year Governor Rauner vetoed a bill that would have essentially prevented him from creating an impasse in his negotiations with AFSCME which represents state workers.

Madigan’s Democrats could not organize their members, which should have been a veto proof majority, to override the veto.

Yesterday the Illinois Labor Relations Board ruled that an impasse exists. AFSCME, concerned about both their members and the citizens of Illinois who they serve, want to continue to bargain and not strike.

Rauner’s last, best and final offer to the 38,000 state workers  includes a four-year wage freeze and a 100 percent increase in employee health insurance costs.

The ruling rejects recommendations by an administrative law judge in September who said an impasse existed on some contract issues – including privatization – but not on the issues of a pay increase or health insurance benefits. She recommended the two sides return to the bargaining table on those. She found the administration did not provide information to the union, such as savings from changes to health care, that the union needed for bargaining.

“If the state were able to implement its entire last, best and final offer, the implications and impact would be so enormous that, when applied to this case, it would be destructive of the collective bargaining process and not serve the statutory mission of the board,” Sarah Kerley wrote in her recommendation to the labor board.

The ruling fires a bullet into the heart of collective bargaining.

AFSCME says they will appeal the ruling.

Rahm’s SEIU 73 local taken over by trustees.


My cartoon from June, 2014.

When Chuy Garcia challenged Rahm Emanuel for the Mayor’s job the Chicago union movement was split. Although SEIU 73 did not officially endorse Emanuel, they contributed money to his campaign and undermined union support for the progressive Chuy Garcia.

When Rahm was looking to cut a deal to cut pension benefits to city employees, SEIU 73 was willing to cut that deal.  It was a deal that the Illinois Supreme Court quickly ruled unconstitutional.

SEIU 73 has been more than willing to collaborate and get along with the Mayor, to the detriment of its members.

Its leadership – President Christine Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Matt Brandon – have had an on again-off again relationship over who had the power.

Yesterday  SEIU had to step in on behalf of the membership and have removed both Boardman and Brandon from their positions, replaced by trustees.

In December of 2014 I wrote:

When city unions filed suit against Rahm’s pension cuts, Rahm said the cuts were good because he bargained them with city unions.

Those unions included Bricklayers District Council, Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW 134, Iron Workers District Council, IUOE 150, IUOE 399, Laborers’ District Council, Pipefitters 597, Plumbers 130, Sprinkle Fitters 281 and Christine Boardman’s SEIU 73.

The unions suing Rahm because he has violated the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution are the Chicago Teachers Union, AFSCME Council 31, IFT-AFT, Teamsters Local 700 and the Illinois Nurses Association.

That closely represents the progressive divide among unions in Chicago.

The fight between Boardman and Brandon has not been about which side of the divide SEIU 73 should be on or who best represents the interest of the rank-and-file.

Now, with the trustee take-over, perhaps SEIU 73 can move in the direction of representing its members.

Privatizing CPS. Are the crickets unionized?


A reader of mine writes:

Chicago Tribune reported on this a few days past. Even though schools are filthy to the point of parents needing to volunteer their time to clean the schools and supply bathroom essentials included in janitorial contracts, the board has decided to double down and expand contracted janitorial services to 70% of schools. Magic Johnson holds a large stake in the company. He also sells ancillary educational materials and has two other lucrative contracts with CPS. Is Rahm star struck? Why isn’t this travesty being investigated?

Why, indeed. Although by now the stuff by Mayor Shady that is under investigation is probably leading to a shortage of investigators.

They may have to outsource that job as well.

The other question is the lack of any serious response from the leadership of the local unions representing CPS non-certified staff that are not in the CTU.

It’s not as if the schools contracted to be cleaned by Aramark have proven to be models of success.

But SEIU has been largely silent on Mayor Shady’s lastest plan to expand the number of schools outsourcing  and to fire current employees and replace them with Aramark.

Aramark’s CPS custodians represented by SEIU barely make over $15 an hour and many full-time positions have been cut to half-time.

Rahm announced Friday his plans to out-source school engineer jobs to Sedexo.

In a letter to engineers on Monday, CPS said it would fully move to private management by the summer of 2018. That means more than 500 engineers could lose their jobs, and if hired back, would move into a separate union for private-sector workers, according to CPS.

“CPS appreciates the dedication and hard work of its engineers, and it is important that you know that the decisions are being made and contemplated are about efficiency and not about how much your work is valued,” chief administrative officer Jose Alfonso de Hoyos-Acosta wrote. He added that CPS will require vendors to hire back engineers who get laid off in the process.

Hoyos-Acosta also told principals in a similar letter that “Our objective is to minimize staff disruption; unlike previous service delivery models, we will work to minimize any potential turnover or bumping,” adding, “I know from conversations with many of you that the way facility services have been provided to you this year has been challenging.”

The Board of Education currently employs about 520 engineers in its 600-plus buildings who are in charge of each school’s boiler, heat and other major infrastructure. Many of them are responsible for more than one building, which some say leads to problems such as a boiler leak at Prussing Elementary School last fall. About 80 children and staffers were hospitalized after carbon monoxide pervaded the building. The engineer who was assigned to Prussing part-time had had complained about the boiler’s problems.

An official at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143, which represents the engineers, declined to comment. The local has a meeting scheduled for Thursday night.

“Declined comment.”

Do they need time to think about it?

Random Thoughts. Scalia is still dead and he took Friedrichs with him.


Like unionists everywhere, I supported the California Teachers Association side in the Friedrichs case.

For those living in a cave: If the SCOTUS ruled in favor of Friedrichs, it would have ended the practice of agency fees. In Illinois, for example, teachers don’t have to join the union in the district where they teach, but they must pay a fee to the union for the representation, rights and compensation that having a union provides for them. That right is guaranteed to workers in the private sector. The issue before the court was whether workers in the public sector have that same right.

The concern was that the five conservative justices seemed to give the impression that they would rule against agency fees for public workers.

With the death of Justice Scalia, The Grim Reaper seems to have sided with the unions. A four to four vote will leave the right to fair share in place.

There is a certain absurdity to the fact that in a democracy the death of one man decides the fate of millions of working people.

In the brief moment before Scalia left this mortal plane our national and state union leaders acted as if they were worried about keeping members who wouldn’t be required to pay dues. What I fear is that this means that the state leadership of our teacher unions can go back to sleep.

Although I am not entirely convinced they ever were really awake.

Union democracy by push polls.

I’m reposting my friend Jonathan Halibi’s blog post. The IEA also uses push polls rather than democratic debate at our Representative Assembly to justify decisions. Although we are not permitted to see the results. And I have never been polled.

– By Jonathan Halabi. Jonathan is a New York teacher and union activist. He blogs at JD2718.

My union e-mails me surveys. The right way to get member sentiment is to let chapter discussions happen, filter up from Chapter Leader to District Rep to the leadership on the 14th Floor of 52 Broadway.

Unfortunately, that chain is weak or broken. There are schools without Chapter leaders, chapter leaders who do not meet with their chapters or meet without discussion, chapter leaders who do not pass on information to their District Reps, DRs who do not solicit member thoughts from CLs, DRs who ignore schools where they do not get info, DRs who are afraid to share negative information with the 14th Floor, and times when 14 does not hear what some DRs are saying.

But even though it’s not the right way for a union to listen to members, certainly not to listen to chapter leaders, I fill them in. Last week I got a letter from Michael Mulgrew (well, signed by him, not actually from him, see below) asking me to fill in a survey that would just take 15 minutes (it took me more).

I was tooling along, answering what borough I was in and what I taught last year (I filled in for the year before, because of sabbatical), when I got to THE QUESTION.

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So I could check Community School, since some of the ideas of providing services make sense, but I really don’t know full details. The others are just plain unacceptable.

Plus, what do they mean by:

“…there are a number of schools that have been struggling for many years to raise student achievement….”?

We know that there are schools in poor neighborhoods where kids don’t do as well. And we would like to help more kids succeed. But “student achievement”? That’s what Cuomo, Rhee, Gates, Duncan etc call test scores. Do we really want our union to use “Klein-speak”? And do we really want our union to focus on test scores?  This sort of language is embarrassing.

In fact, the whole question accepts the premise that if a school’s scores are low, the school must be bad. Didn’t the delegate assembly reject exactly that premise just two weeks ago?  Isn’t the battle against that very premise part of the battle to preserve public education?

I decide to skip the question.

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Nope. They won’t let me leave it blank.

I try to check off “Community School”


Now we have another problem. They are serious about choosing two. I know what they want. They want me to push “more PD” – but teachers used to hate PD. And most NYC teachers still do. And I don’t think PD fixes schools. The best PD is voluntary, and out of the building. NYCDoE Professional Development is top down, and supervised. In some schools it’s gotten better, but it’s still neither what most teachers want, nor what most teachers need. And what is that “external support”?  And why are they asking teachers who are not in those schools about what teachers in those schools should have to go through?

Finally, I try clicking “proceed” with just “community school” checked off, and despite the warning it lets me move on.

But what is the union going to report? That most teachers want community schools and PD? Or, more honestly, given this limited list of options…

Where are the other options?

Where is “smaller class sizes?” Where is “more funding for after school activities and sports and clubs?” Where is “remove problem administrators?” Where is “more help, less rating?” Where is “repair our buildings?” Where is “build more schools?” Where is “allow principals to hire the best teachers without being penalized for preferring experience?” Where is “Other?” Where is “None of the above?”

Push polling doesn’t really fit with respecting teachers’ voices.

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