On Saturday August 3rd, The Bloomington City Council hosted a reunion of figures who were influential in the 70’s in Bloomington. Previous episodes had focused on free speech and politics; but today we have the story of the labor unions of 70’s Bloomington. Speakers included Milton Fisk, Nell Levin, Ike Nahem, Robin Hunter, and labor leader Tom Balanoff. This event was recorded on location at the Monroe County Public Library for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
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Last night in an unanimous decision, the Monroe County Council renamed the Community Services Grant Program in honor of the late Sophia Travis; The Monroe County Airport will close its main runway for two months to repair a sinkhole, according to officials who spoke to the County Commission last week; On Monday, a city utilities engineer said construction crews were running about a week behind on a repair project at the Griffy Dam.
Remembering September 11th
For today’s WFHB feature, we bring you The City of Bloomington’s commemoration ceremony, which took place this morning, downtown at Showers Plaza.
The elderly are particularly juicy targets for swindlers and con artists, and the problem is getting worse as the country’s aging population grows. Young people need to know more about cons, just as much as senior citizens, on a new edition of our consumer watchdog segment Bloomington Beware!
Anchors: Cathi Norton, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Casey Kuhn
Along with Joe Crawford for CATS week, in partnership with Community Access Television Services
Today’s Bloomington Beware was by Andrew Huddleston and produced by Richard Fish
Today’s feature was produced by Ilze Akerbergs
Editor is Drew Daudelin
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh
This week on Interchange, host Joe Crawford speaks with Rahaf Safi and Shadi Alkattan, both Syrian Americans who are also college students living in Bloomington. Safi and Alkattan discuss their past experiences visiting family and friends in Syria as well as what they have seen and heard about the government under President Bashar al-Assad. They also talk about the effects of the civil war on the ground in Syria and why some are calling for an international intervention in the conflict.
Joan Wood spent twelve years in the Indiana University Department of Biology, and is the namesake of an annual lecture promoting women in the sciences. Biologist Margaret McFall-Ngai is in Bloomington this week and to present “Adventures in Pioneering a Model System of Symbiosis” – this year’s Joan Wood lecture. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh has the report for today’s Daily Local News feature exclusive.
Management at the local GE Appliances plant has informed its hourly employees that one third of them will be laid off.
Carven Thomas, President of Local 2249 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at the Bloomington plant, confirmed this today.
He told us that he wouldn’t be able to provide us with much detail on the layoffs until he had met with his fellow members to discuss the issue.
He did agree to give us some basic information, such as the numbers they were given.
“They’re going to take our numbers down from 496 hourly employees to 360,” Thomas says.
Thomas says the employer cited a thirty percent decline in side-by-side refrigerator production since 2010 as the root cause for these layoffs.
Several years ago, the Daily Local News covered reports about GE’s plans to close its Bloomington plant entirely and move production to Mexico.
The local union and the company negotiated a collective agreement, wherein the company agreed to upgrade the plant, to enable it to make more energy efficient and competitively priced side-by-side refrigerator, in return for pay concessions from the union, thereby retaining and even increasing hourly jobs.
Thomas says GE has turned its back on this agreement.
“They decide they’re not going to make the investment so they’re going to turn that wage freeze,” Thomas says.
The Bloomington GE plant is one of the few remaining consumer goods manufacturing facilities in the region.
Local 2249 members will meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss the employers’ announcement and their response to it.
Following a bank robbery Monday afternoon, a suspect has been apprehended and detained by the Bloomington Police Department, charged with two counts of robbery and a charge of resisting law enforcement.
According to Captain Joe Qualters with the Bloomington Police Department, money was taken from the People’s State Bank located at 301 East Winslow Road, and all of that money has now been recovered.
The controversial ‘Right to Work’ pushed through by the State Republicans last year suffered its first legal setback last week.
This law forbids unions from forcing employees covered by their collective agreements to pay dues or service fees to the union which negotiated and enforces the particular employment agreement.
On Thursday, Judge John Sedia, of Lake County, ruled that the law violates a provision of the state constitution. We spoke to Professor Ken Dau-Schmidt, of the Maurer School of Law here in Bloomington, who is an expert on U.S. labor law and has studied the ruling.
“They challenged the law under several constitutional provisions. They argued that it violated Equal Protections Act, that it infringed on free expression, and they also argued that it violated a provision of the Indiana constitution that prohibits requiring people to provide services without compensation. The judge ruled against all of them except the last one.” Dau-Schmidt says.
The specific provision of the constitution is meant to protect individuals from having their property seized without compensation or their labor taken without payment.
“The problem with Right To Work Laws, under our Federal Labor Law, unions are required to represent everyone in the bargain unit, whether that person is a member or not,” Dau-Schmidt says.
He also says that a union has to cover the cost of representing the workers, and that it can get expensive.
The National Labor Relations Act prohibits unions from requiring workers covered by their collective agreements to join the union or to pay the union dues.
However, it does allow unions to include clauses in the agreement allowing the union to charge these non-members to pay agency fees for union collective agreement services.
The Indiana ‘Right-to-Work’ law makes it a crime to negotiate these service agreements in the state of Indiana.
“The unions in this state are required to provide services like this and can be sued if they don’t. This state law says you don’t have to compensate them for this, and the Judge said this was a violation of Indiana’s constitution,” Dau-Schmidt says.
Judge Sedia was actually appointed by former republican governor Mitch Daniels. The office of the Indiana Attorney General has announced that it will appeal Judge Sedia’s ruling to the state supreme court. Four of the five members of this court were also Republican appointees, three of them by Daniels. Nevertheless, Professor Dau-Schmidt does not think a ruling in favor of the state is a done deal.
“I suspect this will be struck down by the Supreme Court, I can’t guarantee that. I think there will be a lot of careful consideration of this matter,” Dau-Schmidt says.
We will continue to follow this and other similar challenges to the state right-to-work law as they make their way through the courts.