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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan workers overwhelmingly ratify agreement


DETROIT -- UAW members at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan have voted 76 percent to 24 percent in favor of a new contract.

The 1,399 to 509 vote in favor of the three-year agreement took place Sept. 9-13.

The contract, which covers 2,700 UAW-represented Blue Cross workers, includes 3 percent wage increases each year of the contract, an additional 3 percent automatic progression increase in each year for workers who are below their maximum pay grade, expanded tuition benefits, decreased prescription copays and increases in retirement benefits. UAW members also will receive a $2,500 ratification bonus.

"The bargaining team was able to protect not only the excellent benefits of members but maintain health insurance for current and future retirees," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"This agreement improves wages and benefits and it addresses the job security needs of our members," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the Technical, Office and Professional Servicing Department. "Our members at Blue Cross will be able to realize economic improvements that are necessary to live in this time of rising prices and economic uncertainty."

The contract covers Michigan members of UAW Locals 2256 (Lansing), 1781 (Southfield), 2500 (Detroit) and 2145 (Grand Rapids).

The new agreement expires Aug. 31, 2011.

UAW members file unfair labor practice charges against temporary management at Tropicana


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Members of the UAW bargaining team at Tropicana have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the temporary management of the casino, charging a failure to bargain in good faith.

"We won our representation election by 80 percent to 20 percent," said Al Welenc, a UAW bargaining team member. "That's a strong mandate for a strong contract -- but Judge Stein has said flat out that he won't reach an agreement with us."

Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein was appointed by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission as conservator of the Tropicana casino in December 2007, when the previous management lost its operating license.

In January 2008 Judge Stein told UAW representatives that he would engage in bargaining but would not reach an agreement because he would not bind a prospective purchaser. Since then he has engaged in surface bargaining during negotiations, has refused to bargain over disciplinary issues and has unilaterally changed terms and conditions of employment.

"Even if he's only running the casino for a limited time, Judge Stein of all people should understand he has an obligation to follow the law," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and western New York. "Federal labor law is very clear: If you come to the table and state up front you have no intent to reach an agreement, that's bargaining in bad faith -- and that's illegal."

"Our goal is to reach a fair agreement at Tropicana, and our bargaining team is prepared to make this process work," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional Department. "Casino workers expect and deserve that whoever is managing the casino will recognize our rights and comply with the law."

Full- and part-time dealers, dual rate workers and simulcast workers at Tropicana voted to become part of the UAW on Aug. 25, 2007. In all, six groups of workers at four Atlantic City casinos voted in favor of UAW representation in 2007, in addition to workers at Casino Aztar in Evansville, Ind., and Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Conn.

On June 21 thousands of casino workers, UAW members, trade unionists, political and religious leaders, as well as community supporters marched in Atlantic City to support the UAW campaign for fair contracts.

The UAW is one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions with more than one million active and retired members, including more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.




Trump Plaza workers call for immediate negotiations following NLRB ruling


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Casino workers at Trump Plaza called today for immediate negotiations for a first labor agreement, following a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling which found the company has committed unfair labor practices by refusing to bargain.

"We won our election and we've won every hearing and every ruling before the National Labor Relations Board," said Vinnie Steele, a dealer at Trump Plaza. "It's disgraceful that Trump Plaza management thinks they can continue to ignore the law."

"Stalling by the casino won't work because we're going to stand up for our rights and win a first contract," said Mike Caplis, a Trump Plaza dealer. "If management at Trump won't follow our labor laws, how can we trust them to obey all the other laws that a casino is supposed to follow?"

Workers at Trump Plaza voted by an overwhelming 68 percent majority in favor of UAW representation in March 2007. In May 2008, after rejecting a number of company objections to the election, the NRLB certified the UAW as the union elected by a majority of Trump Casino workers.

Trump has refused to bargain, and on Aug. 29 the NLRB issued a new ruling ordering the company to bargain with the representatives elected by casino workers, and to stop "interfering, restraining or coercing" workers who exercise their rights to join a union and bargain collectively.

Trump Plaza will also be required to post a notice stating that it has violated federal labor law.

"The labor board has it right, and Trump is all wrong," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "Casino workers are going to win this fight because they have a strong majority in the workplace and strong support in the community."

"Trump Plaza's behavior is shameful, and its efforts to evade the law will not succeed," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs organizing for the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department. "Casino workers won a clear and clean election victory -- and they're going to win fair treatment and a fair labor agreement."

Thousands of casino workers, UAW members, trade unionists, political leaders and community supporters marched in Atlantic City on June 21 in support of the UAW campaign for fair contracts.

Since March 2007 casino dealers, slot technicians, keno and simulcast workers have organized and won six union representation elections at four major Atlantic City casinos: Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally's and Tropicana. Casino workers, who are members of UAW/AC Dealers, have also successfully lobbied for the first-ever comprehensive smoking ban in a casino community, and have joined with their co-workers to advocate for workers' rights on the casino floor.

The UAW, one of the nation's most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.



UAW members at Mitsubishi Motors reject contract proposal


Ready to continue talks

Members of UAW Local 2488 in Normal, Ill., today voted unanimously to reject a contract offer from Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. The 1,250 UAW-represented Mitsubishi workers are to report to work as regularly scheduled while union negotiators remain ready to bargain.

"The membership and its leadership have come to these negotiations with the hope of helping the company grow its business in the Bloomington-Normal area and they remain committed to obtaining a contract that is fair and equitable for all the stakeholders involved," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

The previous contract between the union and the company expired Aug. 28. Negotiations began July 14 and both parties agreed to a Sept. 5 deadline extension. The company presented its latest offer to UAW negotiators at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.

"In 2006 UAW members made concessions worth millions of dollars to improve Mitsubishi's bottom line," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Transnational Department. "So it's extremely disappointing that this latest proposal asks these loyal workers for the kind of drastic cuts that would have a devastating impact on their lives and on the communities in which they live."

"Throughout these negotiations the UAW bargaining team has worked tirelessly to address the needs of UAW members and the company," said UAW Region 4 Director Dennis Williams. "Our members will continue to build the high quality Mitsubishi vehicles they always have as further bargaining sessions are schedule."



UAW: Obama-Biden team 'the right choice for America'


DENVER -- The campaign team of Barack Obama and Joseph Biden "is the right choice for America," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

"We have a chance to elect two proven leaders who have a track record of support for working families, and fighting for the good-paying jobs that keep our country strong," Gettelfinger said.

"Both Senator Obama and Senator Biden are from auto-producing states -- and they both understand the critical importance of manufacturing to our nation's economy."

Obama and Biden, Gettelfinger said, "have been leaders in the U.S. Senate in developing plans to build the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States so we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create good-paying jobs here at home.

"Joe Biden," said Gettelfinger, "is a veteran and effective legislator who wrote the bill to put 100,000 police officers on the streets, helped pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, and has been a critical and thoughtful voice on foreign and military policy. He will be a dynamic partner in Senator Obama's campaign to change America for the better.

"Senator Obama has opened up the political process this year in new and innovative ways, raising tens of millions of dollars from small donors and inspiring millions of new voters," said Gettelfinger. "He reminds many people in our union of a young maverick we supported in 1972, when nobody thought he had a chance to win: Joe Biden, during his successful underdog campaign for the U.S. Senate from Delaware."

The Obama-Biden team's support for manufacturing jobs, said Gettelfinger, "offers a very sharp contrast to Senator McCain's dismal record on this issue." While McCain has belatedly joined a bipartisan effort to support federal loans to finance re-tooling of the auto industry, said Gettelfinger, "he has supported every one of the terrible trade deals negotiated by President Bush, which will send more of our jobs overseas -- and he still supports tax breaks for companies that outsource.

"McCain's plan to tax our health benefits will impose a huge new tax increase on working families," said Gettelfinger, "but it offers no solution at all to the rising health care costs that are crippling the U.S. manufacturing sector.

"Instead of the failed policies of the past, Obama and Biden are offering a bold new approach," said Gettelfinger. "They'll take tough action on trade to protect American jobs; end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, expand access to health care, and provide real tax relief for the middle class.

"That's the kind of change America needs -- and that's why our union is proud to support Barack Obama and Joe Biden."

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse trade unions, has more than one million active and retired members, with active members working in manufacturing, public service, higher education, health care, casinos, and other industries.

This portion of this Web site is paid for by the UAW V-CAP (Voluntary Community Action Program), with voluntary contributions from union members and their families, and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.



UAW and Mitsubishi agree to 8-day contract extension


NORMAL, Ill. -- Representatives of the UAW and Mitsubishi Motors North America continue to meet to negotiate a new labor agreement.

Both sides have agreed to extend the current contract for eight days until 11:59 p.m., Sept. 5, 2008, to facilitate arriving at an agreement that is in the best interests of both parties. The original agreement was due to expire at 11:59 p.m., Aug. 28, 2008.

Both parties have continued their agreement that neither the union nor the company will make any additional public comment regarding our ongoing negotiations.

5,000 University of California post-doctoral researchers want union; state labor board verifies majority support


SAN FRANCISCO -- The California State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has verified that a majority of the 5,000 post-doctoral researchers (postdocs) working at the University of California (UC) have signed union authorization cards with their union, Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/United Auto Workers (PRO/UAW), establishing their right to bargain collectively with their employer.

"We are ecstatic that PERB has verified our majority mandate to have PRO/UAW be our union," said Zhaowei Liu, a postdoc in mechanical engineering who works on nanoscale imaging at UC Berkeley. "We've been preparing for this and look forward to beginning bargaining with the university as soon as possible."

The UAW currently represents more than 11,000 teaching assistants, readers and tutors on UC campuses, as well as more than 6,000 teaching associates, graduate assistants, tutors and graders on California State University (CSU) campuses.

PERB's confirmation followed PRO/UAW filing a petition with the labor board on June 30 to have the union certified. With majority status confirmed, postdocs now have the right to bargain with UC over wages, working conditions, and terms of employment.

"This is a historic moment," said Dilnawaz Kapadia, a postdoc who does research in immunology at UC San Francisco. "The UC is a world-renowned institution and we look forward to working productively with the administration to address our concerns around wages, benefits, workload, and our workplace rights. We are confident that this will prove to be a long and fruitful relationship with mutual benefits to the university and to the postdocs on all UC campuses."

After receiving a PhD or equivalent degree, researchers work as postdocs at UC and other institutions for up to five years in a faculty supervisor's lab, making up a large and influential portion of the nation's non-tenured academic research workforce. Certification of PRO/UAW will be a major development in the academic labor movement, as UC's postdocs make up about 10 percent of all postdocs working in the United States.

Postdocs perform complex research in diverse fields, ranging from AIDS and cancer research to developing more sophisticated electron microscope technology. Postdocs also publish scholarly articles and write grant proposals, helping to bring in billions of dollars in grants and contracts to the 10 UC campuses each year. Given the significant contribution these workers make to the university's research mission, their fate is crucial to the continued success of the university.

"It's great that the PERB has verified the decision of the postdocs at UC to become part of the UAW," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "Academic workers in California and elsewhere who have made the decision to join the UAW and bargain collectively with their employers have made significant economic gains and enhanced their working conditions. Postdocs at UC will now have the same opportunity."

"We always welcome workers who want to stand up for themselves and join thousands of other workers who have chosen to be part of the UAW," said Jim Wells, director of UAW Region 5, which includes California and other states between the West Coast and Missouri.

One of the nation's largest and most diverse unions, the UAW has more than 1 million active and retired members, with active members working in manufacturing as well as public service, higher education, health care, gaming and other industries. The UAW represents workers at more than 40 universities and colleges nationwide, including 25,000 academic student employees (ASEs) -- teaching assistants, research assistants, graders, tutors, and others -- at the University of California, California State University, University of Washington, and University of Massachusetts.



Statement of UAW President Ron Gettelfinger on Obama, McCain and the U.S. auto industry


DETROIT -- UAW President Ron Gettelfinger released the following statement today regarding the policies of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain towards the U.S. auto industry:

"When it comes to supporting the U.S. auto industry and the U.S. manufacturing sector, the choice in this election could not be clearer.

"Sen. Barack Obama is taking action to support American workers and American companies. As a senator, he is supporting our effort to fund the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP), which will help automakers build the cars of the future here in the United States. And as president, Obama has pledged $4 billion in investment and low-interest credit for America's auto companies to help them re-tool facilities to build the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S.

"Sen. John McCain, judging by his campaign statements while in Michigan, is content to rely on the failed policies of President Bush, which have resulted in the loss of millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs. In a newspaper article published today, McCain claims he will open overseas markets to U.S. goods -- but he has supported all of the flawed trade agreements negotiated by President Bush, which have led to the largest trade deficits in U.S. history.

"First, McCain said NAFTA was a good idea; then he said jobs are not coming back to Michigan. And now he has slammed the door on any real support for the domestic auto industry. Senator McCain is offering 'prizes,' which will not bring any jobs or production to Michigan or anywhere else, while Senator Obama is offering real solutions.

"Our industry is adapting and focused on building advanced technology vehicles that will free us from our dependence on foreign oil while creating good-paying American jobs. Barack Obama is committed to making these changes happen; John McCain has nothing to offer but more of the same -- which means more lost jobs."



Casino workers hail National Labor Relations Board ruling to overturn unfair election result


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Casino workers in Atlantic City said today that a decision by a federal labor board judge to overturn an unfair election vote is "right on the money."

"The judge got this one exactly right," Mario Spina, a Trump Marina dealer, said of the ruling by U.S. National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Earl E. Shamwell. "The company broke all kinds of rules and interfered with our right to vote -- and we're not going to allow them to get away with it."

Full- and part-time casino dealers, as well as dual-rate supervisors, keno and simulcast employees, and slot techs at four major Atlantic City casino properties voted last year to join the UAW, including workers at Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally's and Tropicana.

The votes in favor of unionization were by strong majorities, with two-thirds or more workers voting in favor of UAW representation.

Union supporters narrowly lost a vote at Trump Marina on May 11, 2007, by only eight votes. According to a finding of fact by Shamwell, the election was tainted by illegal behavior by Trump Marina management and supervisors, including:

-- Interrogation of employees about their union sympathies.

-- Threats of retaliation against union supporters.

-- Threats that workers would lose their jobs if a majority supported joining the UAW.

In response to the employer's illegal actions, Shamwell recommended that the May 11, 2007, election be set aside and a new election be held.

"Whether casino owners like it or not, workers want to organize," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "The law is clearly on our side in this case -- and workers are going to stand together and win the contracts they deserve in Atlantic City."

"It's just plain wrong to interrogate and threaten working people when we stand up for our basic rights," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, as well as parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

"This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere -- especially not in Atlantic City, where gaming has been a union industry from day one."

"What we're seeing, unfortunately, is a pattern of illegal behavior by casino operators," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's casino organizing campaigns. "At Trump Marina, the company interfered with the basic right to vote. At other properties, management is refusing to bargain in good faith, even though our election majority has been certified by the NLRB. And in still other cases, they're using old-fashioned stalling tactics.

"None of their attempts to undermine democracy in the workplace will succeed. Casino workers are united, with strong support from our union, the labor movement and community leaders."

Thousands of casino workers, UAW members, trade unionists, political leaders and community supporters marched in Atlantic City on June 21 in support of the UAW campaign for fair contracts.

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.



Casino dealers call for 'immediate bargaining' after bipartisan, unanimous labor board decision certifies UAW as Foxwoods union


Workers at Foxwoods Casino called for bargaining for a first contract to begin immediately following a unanimous, bipartisan National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) decision to certify the UAW as the elected representative for full and part-time dealers.

"We voted, we won, we've been certified," said Steve Peloso, a 16-year veteran dealer at Foxwoods. "It's way past time for Foxwoods to come to the table and work with us on a fair contract."

In a 2-0 decision issued on June 30, NLRB Chairman Peter Schaumber and Board Member Wilma Liebman affirmed a March ruling by Administrative Law Judge Raymond Green, certifying the results of the union representation election at Foxwoods. Casino dealers at Foxwoods voted to join the UAW in November by an overwhelming 1,289 to 852 majority.

"Workers have spoken, the labor board has ruled, and it's time for Foxwoods to obey the law and bargain a contract," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "Casino dealers formed their own union because they have concerns about wages, tokes, benefits, working conditions, and other issues that can and should be resolved at the bargaining table."

The NLRB affirmed previous findings that under relevant case law -- San Miguel Indian Bingo and Casino, 341 NLRB 1055 (2004), affirmed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2007 -- workers at tribally owned casinos have the right to organize and bargain under federal labor law.

"Foxwoods Casino is a very successful business that has made a significant contribution to our community and our state," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, which includes Connecticut, other New England states, New York City and Puerto Rico. "Foxwoods workers have decided to form a union so they can talk about how to share in the success they helped to create.

"Workers made their decision last November, and the labor board has now issued its final decision. There's no excuse for further delay."

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.