• According to a U.S. Department of Labor report, 2012 continued a nationwide trend of declining union membership, with eight of the 10 largest unions losing between 4,000 and 99,000 members each. Significant losses were reported by the National Education Association (“NEA”) (99,175 members), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”) (51,924 members) and the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”) (44,960 members). The NEA blamed the losses, at least in part, on public sector job cutbacks, especially in educational services.
  • UNITE HERE and Caesars Entertainment Corp., which is currently seeking to build a Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Maryland, are reportedly close to an agreement that would all but ensure the casino’s permanent staff is unionized. The agreement comes on the heels of a separate “Project Labor Agreement” that required a majority of the construction project to be completed by union-contracted firms. The deal with UNITE HERE is part of a multi-union pact that includes the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers, International Union of Operating Engineers, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The deal provides for a “card check” recognition procedure, allowing unions to be certified upon obtaining and presenting signed authorization cards from a majority of workers in the proposed bargaining unit. In addition, Caesar’s agreed not to actively oppose unionization. With the deals in place, construction on the project is expected to move forward quickly.
  • The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) certified the incumbent New York City District Council of Carpenters (“NYCDC”) as the bargaining agent for more than 1,000 New York and New Jersey-based dockbuilders and related crafts workers. In so doing, the Board overruled election objections raised by the Dockbuilders Local of Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union (“Dockbuilders”). The Dockbuilders, who initiated the election in order to form an independent union separate from the NYCDC, was formed in the summer of 2011 by members of a dockbuilders local that had originally been affiliated with the Carpenters and Joiners of America since 1914. The certification means the NYCDC now represent all dockbuilders, pier carpenters, shorers, house movers, pile driers, tenders, foundation workers, drillers, and marine constructors employed by members of the General Contractors Association of New York.
  • Hyatt and UNITE HERE announced that a majority of Hyatt employees at properties in Long Beach, California, voted for union representation by UNITE HERE Local 11. The newly represented employees include housekeepers, bartenders, front desk personnel, and others. Prior to the vote, the union had been advocating for a boycott of Hyatt properties in the area to demand a new minimum wage floor for employees. To that end, the union partnered with the larger Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community to pass ballot initiative “N,” which requires hotels with 100 rooms or more to pay employees at least $13 an hour unless they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The initiative gained voter approval in the November 2012 election, which prompted some large hotel chains in the area to either close rooms to fall under the 100-room threshold, or attempt to enter into collective bargaining agreements.
  • Working America announced plans to expand organizing efforts to all 50 states by 2018 as part of its “50 in 5” campaign. The 3.2 million member organization, consisting of individuals not represented by labor unions, plans to continue its model of knocking on doors to build membership. Working America also plans to launch a website, www.fixmyjob.com, to provide tools for employees to improve their workplaces, including information on basic job rights, steps to organize changes in the workplace, the ability to connect with employees in shared industries, and even how to organize a union. Working America is the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO for non-union members. The AFL-CIO cited the expansion as a major component in the effort to combat recent declines in union membership.