One Big Union: 1/07/08.

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Utah school workers shun teachers union, seek Legislature’s ear: (Salt Lake Tribune) – Hundreds of Utah school workers, many of whom don’t want to be a part of the state’s largest teachers union, have joined a new group that’s hoping to catch legislators’ ears on education issues this year.

The Utah Council of Educators, now about 18 months old, was founded partly out of frustration with the Utah Education Association (UEA), council President Dave Barrett said. Like the UEA, the council collects dues. Unlike the UEA, the council is not a union, won’t do collective bargaining and pledges to spend members’ money only on Utah education issues. The group has, for the first time this year, hired the Salt Lake City firm Sego Strategies & Consulting LLC to help it lobby when the Legislature starts Jan. 22, Barrett said.

“It’s part of a larger national trend,” Barrett said. “Teachers don’t want an organization to spend money on issues they don’t agree with.”

The council and UEA have several positions in common, such as wanting to reduce class sizes and raise teacher salaries. But they also differ on some issues. Barrett said most of his group’s members were against vouchers, but the group’s position was to let the public decide and then work with the outcome. The National Education Association (NEA), which is the umbrella organization for many state unions including the UEA, poured more than $3 million into the fight against vouchers in Utah.

“I’m not going to tell our members how to vote,” Barrett said.

UEA President Kim Campbell, however, sees the union’s efforts to defeat vouchers in Utah as an example of how effective the UEA and NEA can be.

Hmmm.  Yes, the NEA can be effective.  There’s a word for what these folks are doing.  Rhymes with “crabs…”   Am I being too hard on them?  You tell me.

WGA strike goes from pinch to burn in Week 10: (San Francisco Chronicle) – The Writers Guild of America strike just passed the two-month mark and only now is it entering the realm of real difficulty. And viewers are about to see not only its damaging effects on television, but also some of its dirty laundry.

Meaning: This is where it gets interesting.

Make no mistake about it, the group on the other side of this issue, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, hasn’t exactly been painting itself with glory. It’s holding onto the money without giving a convincing argument as to why. Greed, always a bad look.

And the WGA has made some convincing claims that the producers alliance hasn’t negotiated in good faith or, lately, negotiated at all. Only the most hopeful (naive?) ever thought it would up until now. Why would it? When the WGA went on strike Nov. 5, there were enough television shows in the can to get into the dead zone of the holiday season – and sometimes beyond, which is where we are now. In fact, mixed into a smattering of lowbrow reality series that were strike induced, viewers will see some new scripted dramas and some returning favorites (all shot prestrike).

Those who know about acrimonious strikes never thought any real negotiation was going to happen until mid-January at the earliest.

That meant that the writers had to stick out the lean holiday period – and stick together. They have certainly done that, but recent decisions by the WGA and a brewing high-profile fight are curious and ill timed.

Guinea PM meets unions in bid to avoid general strike: (Reuters) CONAKRY – Guinea’s prime minister held talks with leaders of the country’s powerful unions on Monday in a bid to avert a general strike called for later this week, almost a year after anti-government protests killed 130 people.

Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate, who earlier met President Lansana Conte, told union leaders he hoped to resolve the stand-off “amicably”, a government source close to the negotiations told Reuters.

Union leaders on Friday called a general strike from Jan. 10 in response to Conte’s dismissal of a member of a consensus government, a move which they said violated a power-sharing deal to end the disturbances in January and February 2007.

“Efforts are being made to defuse the crisis, besides all the efforts made by state institutions, religious leaders and union leaders,” Kouyate told a private radio station in Conakry.

“I met the head of state today and we had a very conciliatory exchange. I hope all of that will bring some results.”

Guinea is the world’s top exporter of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminium, and last year’s unrest caused major disruption to shipments and hurt an economy already prone to high inflation and sporadic food and fuel shortages.

Human rights groups have accused the police and military of grave abuses during a crackdown last year on the protests against Conte, who has exerted tight control over the former French colony since seizing power in 1984.

Electrical union ratifies labor contract with CN’s Canadian operations: (Canadian Press) Montreal – CN Railway (TSX:CNR) is looking forward to several years of labour peace after members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union ratified a five-year collective agreement at the railway’s Canadian operations.

The agreement, providing improved wages and benefits, affects about 700 workers who maintain Canadian National Railway’s signals and communication systems in Canada.

Workers will see wage increases of three per cent annually between 2008 and 2010, and four per cent in 2011 and 2012. They will also receive $1,000 lump-sum bonuses within 30 days of ratification and again on Jan. 1, 2012.

The new deal, effective Jan. 1, replaces a four-year contract that expired Dec. 31.

CN said Monday the contract resulted from good communications and a commitment by both sides to resolve issues early through regular meetings.

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