Filed under: Unions

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U.S. panel OKs final duties on China drill pipe

A U.S. trade panel Monday approved combined final duties ranging up to nearly 450 percent on steel drill pipe from China used in oil production.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said there was sufficient evidence U.S. companies are threatened with harm by unfairly low priced competition from China. Get the full story »

Union authorizes strike at Caterpillar plants

Union workers at Caterpillar Inc. voted by a 94 percent majority to stage a strike against the company should a new contract not be drawn up by March 1, when the existing agreement expires, Illinois’s Peoria Journal Star reported on its website Sunday.

The vote involved union members at seven locals in Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, according to the report. Get the full story »

Only 11.9% of workers in a union

The nation’s labor unions saw another sharp decline in membership last year even as the economic recovery began and job losses slowed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says unions lost 612,000 members in 2010. That drops the unionized share of the work force to 11.9 percent from 12.3 percent in 2009.

Union membership in the private sector fell from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent, a low point not seen since the infancy of the labor movement in the 1930s. The steepest decline was among construction workers. Get the full story »

Flight attendants weigh union merger at United

Flight attendants at United Airlines and Continental are represented by separate unions, but the union at United filed papers Tuesday that could start the process of combining them as parent company United Continental Holdings Inc. combines the two airlines into one. Get the full story »

GM contributes $6B in stock to pension plans

General Motors Co. has completed the contribution of 60.6 million shares of its stock to its U.S. hourly and salaried pension plans, wrapping up the last part of its planned $6 billion in payment. Get the full story »

GM wants to tie union pay to performance

General Motors Co. wants pay for union-represented workers be tied to employees’ work performance and the company’s financial health — much like the way its salaried workers are paid — in what would be a major shift in how generations of auto workers have been compensated.

“They are trying to give hourly workers the same metrics as salaried workers,” GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky said Tuesday at the Detroit auto show. “There is a big pay-for-performance element going through the company and there is going to be more of it.” Get the full story »

Caterpillar suspends Aurora mining shovel plan

Caterpillar Inc. suspended a plan to build mining shovels at its Aurora facility, which would have created 300 jobs through 2014.

The change of plans is due to the company’s acquisition of South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International, a maker of shovels, walking draglines, drills and other mining equipment. The $7.6 billion deal, which was announced in November, is expected to close in mid-2011.

The company said in a statement that it suspended the all development and capital investment for mining shovels in Aurora “to conserve resources and eliminate business risks associated with internal development.” Get the full story »

Jewel asks employees to take time off without pay

A Jewel-Osco at 370 N. Desplaines in Chicago. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Jewel-Osco is offering all corporate employees unpaid time off between now and Feb. 26, representatives for the store’s parent, SuperValu, said. The offer extends to all SuperValu chains, including Save-a-Lot, Acme, Cub and Albertson’s.

The money-saving program is voluntary, SuperValu added, a point that was also made by the union that represents Jewel-Osco employees, Local 881. Union employees cannot be forced to take unpaid time off. The program is directed at office employees, not grocery-store workers.

On Wednesday SuperValu announced that it was closing about 20 underperforming stores in New England, Philadelphia and the West Coast. Stores in the Chicago area will be unaffected, a SuperValu spokesman said. Get the full story »

Continental fleet service workers ratify contract

Continental Airlines fleet service employees have ratified a contract reached with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The airline, a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc., called the vote a “positive step forward” in a statement released Wednesday.

Caterpillar, UAW halt contract talks for holidays

Negotiators for Caterpillar Inc. and the United Auto Workers are taking a break for the holidays and plan to resume talks on a contract on Jan. 11. The contract covers about 9,500 workers at a number of sites around Illinois and in three other states. Get the full story »

Strike today at Palmer House Hilton

Workers picket outside the Palmer House Hilton Thursday. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Tribune)

In the second such demonstration at a Hilton property in two months, workers at the Palmer House Hilton are on temporary strike today.

The strike at the property at 17 E. Monroe St. is joined by similar strikes at Hiltons in Honolulu and San Francisco and follows a 3-day strike two months ago at Hilton Chicago.

Unite Here Local 1 union spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel said workers are “outraged that Hilton finagled $180 million in bailout funds” while their expired contracts lingered. Get the full story »

Continental Airlines in deal with Teamsters

Continental Airlines said Monday that it reached a labor contract with negotiators for about 7,000 union employees.

The fleet-service employees, represented by the Teamsters union, will hold a ratification vote in the coming weeks.

Terms were not disclosed. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart to open D.C. stores in urban expansion

Wal-Mart plans to open four stores in the District of Columbia, The Washington Post reported in its Thursday edition.

The retailer continues to move forward with plans to open smaller outlets in major metropolitan areas. In Chicago, Wal-Mart won approval for its second and third stores in Chicago in the middle of 2010. Get the full story »

Experts say Congress may slow green job growth

Republican gains in the next Congress will likely curtail spending on green construction projects, but the sector promises to be a source of job growth for an economy that sorely needs it, advocates say.

“America needs 30 million jobs. Our mission ought to be to make those green jobs,” David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of nine labor unions and four environmental groups, told the Greenbuild Expo in Chicago. Get the full story »

Hyatt defends safety record after OSHA complaints

Hyatt Hotels Corp. defended its safety record Tuesday, following an announcement by the hotel workers union that it has filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of Hyatt housekeepers.

The complaints are being filed on behalf of workers at 12 Hyatt properties, including four in Chicago, citing more than 780 injuries that have been recorded on OSHA logs at those hotels. Unite Here, the union filing the complaints, cited injury rates that are 50 percent higher than the rest of industry.

Robb Webb, chief human resources officer for Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corporation called Unite Here’s accusations of a dangerous work environment “false” and aimed at increasing union membership and dues. Get the full story »