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Senate rejects resolution to overturn union organizing rule at airlines (Read More…)

Sam Hananel Associated Press 09/23/10

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday failed in their bid to overturn a new rule making it easier for unions to organize workers in the airline and railroad industries.

The Senate voted 56-43 against a GOP resolution that would have prevented the Obama administration from enforcing the rule.

The new rule, approved by the National Mediation Board in May, changes how votes are counted in union representation elections. It allows employees to unionize if a majority of those voting support the union.

Under the old rule — in place for more than 75 years — a majority of all workers in a unit had to favor union representation. That meant workers choosing not to vote were treated as “no” votes.

Advocates say the change makes elections more democratic and brings airlines and railroads in line with other industries, where the outcome is decided by majority vote.

But Republicans called it political payback to unions and argued that such a dramatic change in the way votes are counted should rest with Congress, rather than a politically appointed board.

Medical marijuana growers join Teamsters union (Read More…)

By Associated Press |  Monday, September 20, 2010

OAKLAND, Calif.  As organized labor faces declining membership, one of the country’s most storied unions is looking to a new growth industry: marijuana.

The Teamsters added nearly 40 new members earlier this month by organizing the country’s first group of unionized marijuana growers. Such an arrangement is likely only possible in California, which has the nation’s loosest medical marijuana laws.

But it’s still unclear how the Teamsters will safeguard the rights of members who do work that’s considered a federal crime.

“I didn’t have this planned out when I became a Teamster 34 years ago, to organize marijuana workers,” said Lou Marchetti, who acted as a liaison between the growers and Oakland-based Teamsters Local 70. “This is a whole new ballgame.”

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