Labor Family News - Winter 2001

Union News

- Carpenters Union Passes Child Care Resolution

- Nurses Limit Mandatory Overtime

- More Work/Family Benefits for CWA and Verizon

People in Action

Unions Respond to Shiftwork



Carpenters Unions Passes Child Care Resolution
United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America passed a resolution on child care at their 38th General Convention in August 2000. It resolved that: Union affiliates become active in their communities to help secure and locate funding for affordable, high quality childcare that is available during working hours; and work with employers to encourage flexibility to meet the needs of working parents. In addition, the International Union will serve as a clearinghouse to disseminate news and information about efforts of local unions and other labor organizations to meet the childcare needs of our members.
(United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America)

Nurses Limit Mandatory Overtime
California Nurses Association (CNA) and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) successfully negotiated drastic limits on mandatory overtime. CNA negotiated no mandatory overtime in many of their contracts with exceptions for government declared emergencies. MNA won limits by utilizing volunteers from on or off the unit and if necessary, no nurse will work more than 12 consecutive hours. Nurses may refuse overtime for fatigue or illness. (CNA, MNA and various employers)

More Work/Family Benefits for CWA and Verizon
Communication Workers of America won a number of work/family provisions in their recent contract with Verizon:

(CWA and Verizon Communications - see Fall 2000 newsletter for limits on mandatory overtime)

People in Action

UAW, Ford Motor Co, and Visteon (formerly part of Ford) are developing Family Service and Learning Centers, negotiated in 1999 under the union theme "Bargaining for Families". The Centers recall the unions of the 1930's when the union was a hub of social and family support activities. The Centers will offer a wide range of programs for workers and with a strong emphasis on multi-generational programs as well as links to the larger community.

The Centers will offer a range of services, programs and resources to all Ford and Visteon workers, (UAW represented and non-represented) families and retirees. Programs and services include:

Family Education and Services:
Family services, adult education, teen programs and health and wellness. Classes may include parenting, home repair, financial planning as well as before and after school programs, fitness and weight loss programs, summer and holiday camps and intergenerational activities.

Early Childhood Education Services:
By September 2003, 13 on site child care centers will be developed where there are large concentrations of workers - Detroit metro area, Cleveland, Chicago, Louisville, and Kansas City. The centers will be open 24 hours, seven days and include back up care, and care for mildly ill children.

The Centers will also develop networks of community child care, including family child care homes. They will provide training to improve quality and accessibility of child care in the community.

Community Service Education and Outreach:
A major component of the Centers will be a Volunteer Support Network to support volunteer activities and provide volunteer training and coordination. The program will link community groups with volunteers to do mentoring, tutoring, support for shut-ins and other community work.

Some level of programs will be offered at every Ford/UAW and Visteon/UAW location but will vary depending on needs. Other communities served, besides the cities listed aboveinclude: Cleveland, Indianapolis, St Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Atlanta, Tulsa, Nashville, Buffalo, Norfolk, Edison, NJ, and Sharonville, Lima, Sandusdy, Batavia and Maumee, Ohio, Monroe, MI, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tetersboro, NJ and Dallas.

For more information, check out the website at:

Unions Respond to Shiftwork

For better or for worse, the United States has embraced the 24-hour economy. The move toward non-standard shifts, covering both nights and weekends has forced families to juggle work and family responsibilities twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week. With more than 42% of shift work found in the service sector where lower-paid jobs prevail, finding a work/ family balance is an increasingly stressful challenge.
For workers covered by a union contract, the shift change is often accompanied by hard won benefits which can make the change a little easier on the employee. Unorganized workers, however, are not so well protected from the changing demands of management.

In her article "Non-standard Work Schedules and Marital Instability," Harriet Presser shows how the stress of working non-standard hours can increase marriage instability. Her figures also illustrate how widespread non-standard work hours have become:

Presser found that night and rotating shifts increased marital instability for families with children. Men with children working nights, married less than five years, were six times more likely to divorce than men working days. For women with children, the likelihood of marital failure was three times more likely. Presser noted that the effect on marriages without children was negligible which gives the impression that the added burden of child care responsibilities increases the stress within the home.

For the most part, Presser states, employees do not choose to work non-standard hours but do so as a result of employer demand, an idea echoed in "Not Just 9 to 5: The Problems of Nonstandard Working Hours", an article in Working USA by Peggy Kahn and Linda Blum. Looking at non-standard hours in the service sector Kahn and Blum found that a unionized workforce did have certain advantages over their nonunion counterparts. Although management can still change the work schedule in a union setting, it is constrained by the terms of the bargaining contract. For example, contracts may require that workers have regular schedules and consistent start and finish times for a certain period of time. Contracts can also contain language that requires a notice period of any changes to a work schedule. In contrast, Kahn and Blum found that workers in nonunion settings were often subject to working irregular and unpredictable hours, sometimes not knowing shift hours until one week before which can greatly increase employee stress.

Endicott Microelectronics is an IBM subsidiary with a non-union workforce. In October, it introduced mandatory 12-hour shifts for the 500 workers employed there. The shifts include weekends and holidays as scheduled workdays. Since its introduction, workers have reported high levels of fatigue and stress in trying to balance work with family responsibilities.

Organized workers have fared much better than their non-union counterparts. Unions have successfully negotiated contract language securing certain benefits for members who have to work such shifts. This year, IBEW Local 1060 successfully won "non-traditional shift" contract language that gives members who work weekends, doing preventative maintenance, 40 hours of pay for 36 hours of work. For six years, Thomas Industries has pushed the idea of a workweek that included weekends. The union was adamant that the long-term employees who made up the maintenance department were not going to be forced to work weekends. In April the union negotiated the new shift. "During this period machines were breaking down regularly and we definitely needed regular preventative maintenance work," Pam Darling, President/ Business Manager of IBEW Local 1060 explained. "We knew the Company was desperate for a weekend shift of some kind, as workers had been subject to at least five hours of mandatory overtime every Saturday for a while. So we proposed the nontraditional shift and the Company jumped on it." Employees on this schedule work 12-hour days Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and are protected from mandatory overtime. Voluntary overtime on Monday is at time and a half, Tuesday overtime is compensated at double time.

Working this non-traditional shift is a voluntary decision, "Our maintenance staff are long-term employees; some have been here for 20 years. The Union made it clear that the weekend shift would not be forced on any current employees but should be filled from the outside." Recognizing that some employees had come to rely on the weekend overtime, and since there was enough weekend work available, the union included language for five hours of voluntary overtime on Saturdays for those wanting it.

Moving to a non-traditional shift means a change not just for the employee at work but also at home where family responsibilities are rearranged to meet the new schedule. IBEW Local 1060 was able to find a solution to management demands for a weekend shift while successfully protecting the existing work hours of current employees.

With non-traditional hours now firmly established in the U.S. workplace, we are able to see its effects as families struggle to meet the new time demands at work and still maintain a family life. The change in work hours is not usually an individual choice but, for the most part, an employer demand. In reaction, unions have bargained for benefits such as higher pay differentials and less work hours for members who are required to work the nontraditional shifts, limits on mandatory overtime and the ability to swap shifts. Unorganized workers are left to the mercy of the employer and the demands to be competitive in the new 24-hour economy.


Pocket Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Acts. Produced by the California Public Employees Program. A clear, concise reference for employees, union officials and labor relations managers, it covers the FMLA as well as the California Family Rights Act. Specifically written for the public sector, it covers eligibility, calculating leave, record keeping and notice requirements. Cost: $8.00 plus shipping and handling. Lower rates for bulk orders. To order, contact: Online orders:

What Unions Can Do: Domestic Violence. Produced by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and AFSMCE and adapted from "The Workplace Responds to Domestic Violence: A Resource Guide for Employers, Unions and Advocates". Covers domestic violence as a union issue, union training, workplace safety plans and collective bargaining language. To order the complete guide or for more information, contact the Family Violence Prevention Fund at (415) 252-8900.

Status of Women in the States. The Institute for Women's Policy Research has released the third edition of a series of reports that examine the status of women across the nation. They rank each state relative to its region and the nation as a whole for women's political, economic, social, and health status. To order your state's report or a national overview, contact IWPR at (202) 785-5100 or the website at

Labor Family News is published quarterly by:

Labor Project for Working Families
2521 Channing Way #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720
Ph: 510-643-7088
Fax: 510-642-6432

Netsy Firestein

Jenya Cassidy
Managing Editor

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