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Service Unions Agree on Labor-Owned Bank (Read More…)

July 27, 2010

The Service Employees International Union and Unite Here, the main American union for hotel and restaurant workers, announced on Monday night that they had settled a bitter 18-month dispute in which each occasionally undermined the other’s union organizing drives, Steven Greenhouse writes in The New York Times.

As part of the settlement, ownership of Amalgamated Bank, the nation’s only labor-owned bank, will be transferred to the service employees’ union, if federal regulators approve.

The bank had been previously owned by Unite, an apparel workers union, which merged with the hotel workers union in 2004, but then sought a divorce, beginning an unusual internal labor war and a fight over ownership of the bank. When the apparel workers union split from Unite Here, it renamed itself Workers United and merged into the far larger service employees union.

The settlement calls for Unite Here to retain ownership of the apparel workers’ former headquarters on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan’s garment district. It also calls for letting Unite Here retain about $75 million in challenged assets that the service employees had sought to control, arguing that those assets rightfully belonged to the apparel workers union, according to an individual familiar with the settlement who did not want to be identified because the terms were confidential.

The two sides declined to disclose the exact amount of money involved, but the settlement would end federal litigation over which union would control the bank and the financial assets.

Labor Spat Stalls Air Safety Bill (Read More…)

July 26, 2010

In the 17 months since a commuter plane crashed into a suburban house outside Buffalo, N.Y., killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground, Kevin Kuwik has visited Washington 32 times to push for more-stringent training and rest time for pilots.

Mr. Kuwik, whose 30-year-old girlfriend, Lorin Maurer, died in the crash, has buttonholed lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in district offices as far away as Minnesota, passing out a business card emblazoned with Ms. Maurer’s photo. But though his cause has won sympathy and support, the proposals he backs have become just one of many air-safety initiatives stymied by a struggle over union organizing.

The union struggle has stalled action on a wide-ranging bill whose main purpose is to fund the Federal Aviation Administration through 2012, but which also includes pilot-safety provisions and money to modernize air-traffic control.

The Senate could vote on the latest version in coming days. But passage remains uncertain given several major unresolved issues, many having little to do with airline safety. Congress has roughly five weeks left in the legislative calendar this year, and supporters fear the bill’s chances will diminish with time.

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