Labor Family News - Winter 2002

INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Child Care Subsidies for Overtime

Center Based Child Care Assistance

AFL-CIO Passes Work/Family Resolution

Union Strategies for Layoffs

Resources

UNION NEWS

Child Care Subsidy for Overtime

Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 378 negotiated for a subsidy to reimburse employees for child care expenses incurred when employees are required to work overtime or be away overnight. When employees have to pay additional child care expenses, they are entitled to reimbursement up to $25 per day with a receipt for a maximum of 15 days a year. (OPEIU Local 378 and British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority)

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2316 negotiated reimbursement for dependent care expenses incurred as the result of having to work unscheduled overtime of an emergency nature. The employer agreed to reimburse expenses "provided they are reasonable" and with supervisory approval. This contract does not stipulate a limit on the amount to be claimed. (Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2316 and Children's Aid Society)

Child Care Assistance

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776 has a child care fund which was negotiated with multiple grocery store employers through a Trust Fund. The funds are used to provide slots in child care centers at greatly reduced prices. The Fund works with a "network" of thirteen centers where members can send their children for $6 for a full day and $3 for a half day. The Fund pays the remainder of the cost. These "network" centers are required to keep a set number of slots open for the children of Fund participants. Network centers, operated by one company, are open from 6:30 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday. Some facilities also provide before and after school care. If a worker is unable to use a "network" center, the Fund reimburses up to $10 per day per child for 5 days a week in a licensed center. (UFCW Local 1776 and Participating Employers)

Reduced Hours, Full Pay
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1060 negotiated reduced work hours with the same rate of pay for shiftworkers. Employees who work weekends doing preventative maintenance are paid for 40 hours of work, but work 36 hours. Employees work 12 hour days on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and are protected from mandatory overtime. These shifts are voluntary. The union also negotiated to maintain five hours of voluntary overtime on Saturdays for those who wanted it. (IBEW Local 1060 and Thomas Industries)

Work and Family Resolution passes AFL-CIO

On December 5, 2001, the AFL-CIO Biennial National Convention voted to pass a resolution, "Respect Work, Strengthen Family." The AFL-CIO has 66 member labor unions, representing about 13.2 million workers in the U.S. Speaking strongly in favor of work and family issues, including more funding for child care, paid family leave, control over work hours and organizing child care workers were Art Pulaski, Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, Tom Mooney, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, AFT, Larry Mancino, Vice President of the Communication Workers of America and Sherri Chiesa, Secretary-Treasurer of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. Among other issues in the resolution, the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions voted to:

The resolution also states that it is time to "invest significant resources in making affordable, high-quality, noncompulsory preschool programs universally available to all children in the United States." These programs would need adequate funding, credentialed teachers, good curriculum and a voice at work for teachers and child care workers. |


Feeling Secure During Insecure Times - Unions Respond to Layoffs

The recent downturn in the economy has already resulted in over 1.8 million layoffs, with over 625,000 of those announced after September 11. The telecommunications industry alone cut almost 300,000 jobs and, in the last quarter of 2001, the hotel and airline industries were both devastated by the sharp drop in travel and tourism. While layoffs are an automatic response to slumps in the economy, the costs that accompany this strategy are often overlooked. First, there is no guarantee that skilled employees will return when the economy improves, leaving the employer with hefty training costs of new employees. Second, a study by the Loyalty Institute found that following layoffs, remaining employees feel less secure in their employment and productivity can decline as staff view their employer in a more negative light.

Determined to keep their members working, unions have been finding and negotiating alternative solutions to layoffs. A good example of an innovative strategy is the volunteer package recently negotiated by the Canadian Auto Workers union, Locals 1990 & 2213, which represent sales and service workers at Air Canada. The current bargaining contract between CAW and Air Canada contains a 'no lay-off' agreement. However, the recent sharp decline in air travel resulted in the grounding of 84 aircraft and talk of potential layoffs, despite the contract language. Last November, CAW sat down with Air Canada, to negotiate alternatives to member layoffs. According to Tom Walker, consultant to CAW, "The union recognized that the layoff protection in the collective bargaining agreement could become moot in the face of corporate financial distress". The negotiations resulted in a comprehensive package of alternative solutions to cutting the workforce. The options are all voluntary and the expectation is that enough workers will participate so that no layoffs take place. The options include, but are not limited to:

At least 18 U.S. states, including California, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, and Washington have also implemented workshare programs, designed to help retain employees during a temporary slowdown. The programs only run for a maximum of 26 weeks, though it is possible to petition for an extension. Employees hours are reduced (usually by 10% or more) with the reduction in pay being supplemented by unemployment insurance. It can apply to one department but must include at least 10% of the workforce. Each state program varies. For example, in Massachusetts the program also includes a dependency allowance for employees with dependent children under 18 years of age. In 2001, states saw a huge increase in program participation. Minnesota's "Shared Work Program" had over 4,000 workers participate, an increase of 460% over the previous year. Currently, in California, there are 1,400 employers and 108,000 employees participating and the State has initiated an educational outreach campaign to inform California employers and unions about the worksharing program.

Last November in New York, when Verizon announced an "employee surplus", the Communication Workers of America Local 1034 negotiated a voluntary early retirement package for its members. According to Donna Dolan, CWA spokesperson, "We had already negotiated the model for our package in the 1994 contract to protect our workers during times of surplus". CWA's contract contains an Income Protection Plan (IPP) that is activated during periods of "employee surplus." Rather than laying people off, employees who choose to participate in the early retirement option receive a monthly income and lump sum payment. The number of monthly payments and lump sum amount are based on years at Verizon.

To meet this latest announcement, CWA negotiated a rich retirement package that doubles both the lump sum and monthly payments, gives employees the ability to cash-out pensions (if eligible) and provides an additional 5% in Pension Bonds. To help with the decisionmaking, Verizon is providing members with a financial advisory service. The hope is that 2500 employees will take the package.

Still suffering from the effects of September 11, the hotel industry has laid off thousands of workers as occupancy rates around the country have yet to pick up. 3,000 members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 2 in San Francisco are now without work and the union has kept busy not only providing food packages to those affected but also finding workable solutions to this devastating situation. First, the Union negotiated for the continuation of health benefits for 6 months, with money being redirected from its Trust Fund. Second, like CAW, the union is proposing a voluntary option where members can choose to work a 4-day week with the ability to supplement the loss in pay with a vacation day. Also, as part of the Child and Elder Care Plan negotiated by the union in 1994, participants in the plan whose hours drop below the eligible requirement will still receive reimbursement for their child and elder care costs for 3 months.

During an economic downturn, employers have usually responded by adopting a layoff strategy, not always realizing the costs involved. "You will be seeing more efforts at mitigating layoffs", states Walker, "in part because the smart employers realize that even though they may have a temporary labor surplus today, they may very well face a severe labor shortage in the near future." Unions have created their own strategies for minimizing layoffs by negotiating voluntary options. This has changed the climate in the workplace by keeping morale high amongst workers and creating a sense of security during insecure times.



Resources


Know Your Rights: Pregnancy Discrimination. On the Road from Welfare to Work. National Partnership for Women & Families. A basic fact sheet covering what pregnancy discrimination is, your rights under the law, what you can do if you have a problem and some related issues. Available in English and Spanish.

Why Americans Need Family Leave Benefits and How They Can Get Them. National Partnership for Women & Families. This guide addresses the need for paid leave, as well as cost-effective ways paid leave can be implemented. It highlights innovative proposals, such as establishing independent family leave funds, providing allowances for new parents who stay home with their babies, and allowing employees to donate their annual or sick leave to fellow employees, that have been proposed or already exist in some states.

Both publications are available at www.nationalpartnership.org or contact the National Partnership for Women and Families at (202) 986-2600.

Labor Project Resources:
Bargaining Fact Sheets Available

Fact Sheets on Bargaining for Work and Family. Child Care, Family Leave, Elder Care, Control Over Work Hours, Bargaining Questions on Work and Family. Produced with the AFL-CIO, Working Women's Dept. Available at http://www.working-families.org or call us at (510) 643-7088 or the AFL-CIO at 1-888-971-9797, http://www.aflcio.org/women

Family Fact Sheets for California: Available January 2002! Fact sheets on family friendly laws in California.

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
lpwf@berkeley.edu
www.working-families.org

Netsy Firestein
Editor

Jenya Cassidy
Managing Editor

Reprints Permitted With Acknowledgement. Call us for an email version.

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