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IBEW Local 396
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
September 30, 2014
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       Jesse Newman                    Shannon Skinner

                     Business Manager/Financial Sec.                                                     President

What's New at IBEW 396


This is not a fight we want

This is not a fight we chose

This is not a fight we will walk away from



CenturyLink Plant Contract Update

Sisters and Brothers,

For those of you who work under the CenturyLink Plan Agreement we have posted a new update regarding the ongoing contract negotiations in the secured CenturyLink tab to the left of the page. You will have to register on the website to gain access. We have also sent a copy of the update to each of you who are already registered on the site via email.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to seeing you at your October Unit Meeting to discuss the update, including the next steps and job actions we will be taking.

Jesse Newman
Business Manager/Financial Sec.
Labor Board Under Attack

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans say they have a plan to save U.S. labor law from partisanship and dysfunction. But their prescription for reform could make for even more gridlock -- and critics say that's the whole idea.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) unveiled a bill that would make sweeping changes at the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces labor law on unions and employers. The proposal would permanently change the board's makeup from five members -- three of whom, per modern tradition, hail from the sitting president's party -- to a more equitable six members, divided evenly at three Democrats and three Republicans.

Sounds great, right? Everybody hates partisan bickering. As Alexander claimed on the floor, the change would "require both sides to find a middle ground."

There's just one hitch: A permanent, even split along partisan lines could ensure that the most contentious labor cases go unresolved for years, with conservative and liberal board members at loggerheads. The reform would be akin to establishing a 10-member Supreme Court, permanently comprised of five liberals and five conservatives.

"This is the destruction of the NLRB, and they know it," said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 700,000 workers. "It is a disgrace. Lamar Alexander is a disgrace."

"That’s exactly what we’d expect a union leader to say about a bill that threatens to make a partisan board that, under Obama, has been favorable to unions into a board that’s fairer and more responsive to businesses and employees across the country," countered Jim Jeffries, a spokesman for Alexander.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Alexander said the proposal would encourage the fair resolution of cases by making the board into an "umpire" rather than an "advocate."

But Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate committee that handles labor issues, told HuffPost in a statement that he believed the bill was "intended to undermine and debilitate the agency, rather than improve its functioning."

"I would welcome the opportunity to work with any of my colleagues on legislation that would actually improve the Board’s ability to serve its important mission," Harkin said, "but I fear that this legislation is a step in the wrong direction."

Wilma Liebman, a past chair of the board under President Barack Obama, agreed that the Alexander proposal could paralyze the board when it comes to the thorniest of cases.

"I guess the idea is that neither side can sway things and that in theory at least the members would have to find a way to achieve consensus," Liebman said in an email. "In the atmosphere we now live in, however, I think... that the difficult legal issues would be gridlocked.

"It is possible that on some issues, the six members might find a common ground, in the interest of deciding cases," Liebman added. "But for anything novel, controversial or difficult, it is hard to see how they would find a way forward. They would spend a lot of time negotiating, I guess. Or at war."

The labor board has found itself in the GOP crosshairs throughout the Obama presidency, with House Republicans hosting more than a dozen hearings and markups criticizing the agency as being too union-friendly. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), infuriated by a complaint the agency brought against the Boeing Company in 2011, went so far as to say that "inoperable could be considered progress" at the agency.

And last week, GOP legislators blasted the general counsel, who acts as a kind of prosecutor, for deeming McDonald's a "joint employer" alongside one of its franchisees, which could make the fast-food giant newly liable for labor violations.

The proposed reform bill would "rein in" the general counsel's office, according to Alexander. Under the legislation, any complaint brought by the general counsel could be quickly appealed to a federal judge for review. Such a change could hamstring the general counsel's ability to pursue charges of illegal firings and other forms of union-busting.

Alexander's bill also threatens the NLRB's funding. If the agency were to fail to issue decisions for at least 90 percent of its cases each year during the first two years after the bill passes, its funding would be slashed by 20 percent. While Alexander said this is meant to encourage board members to find common ground, in practice, the dead-even partisan split could make it even more difficult to reach decisions.

Fred Feinstein, a former NLRB general counsel during the Clinton years, said the bill would probably make it easier to take cases away from the labor board and into the federal courts. But the board currently manages to settle most cases efficiently, Feinstein maintained, and moving cases to federal court wouldn't keep employers or unions from delaying the process when they wanted to.

"I don't think the bill would do much to change any of that," Feinstein said in an email. "It might inhibit the high settlement rate of NLRB cases, and it would likely create new burdens on already clogged federal courts that lack the NLRB's expertise on labor relations."

Though the board manages to settle the vast majority of complaints, it can take years to resolve the more contentious cases. Just this Monday, it ruled that the cable network CNN hadillegally fired workers a whopping 11 years ago; by now, the affected workers have no doubt moved on with their lives. But Cohen argued that such a decision might never even be issued under a six-member board that required one member to cross the aisle to find consensus.

Though Alexander's legislation might find strong support in the GOP-controlled House, it is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"Bottom line is NLRB 'reform' bills get introduced all the time and go nowhere," Feinstein said. "There's little doubt that in the current political environment that will be the fate of this one as well."

CenturyLink Unit Meeting Reminder

Sisters and Brothers,

All active members are encouraged to attend their monthly Union Meeting. This is the time to find out what’s going on in your Union. If you have questions or concerns regarding issues in your work place, or just a basic question, this is the place to get your answers. If you have concerns with something being done here, come and join in the discussion. This is where you, as a Union member, get to be heard and get information pertaining to your work place and the Local Union. Don’t forget to bring a friend; anyone who brings a member who has not attended a meeting in at least three (3) months will get a free shirt, or anyone who organizes a new member will get one of their choice. I look forward to seeing you, Tuesday, October 7, 2014 @ 6:30 p.m..

In Solidarity,
Jesse Newman
Business Manager/Financial Sec


 IBEW Local 396 continued its shame on CenturyLink campaign last week in front of the Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas, where over a hundred thousand people were able to view the banner and show their support for the Members of Local 396 who have been working under an expired agreement since February of 2013.

Business Manager Jesse Newman stated “the response and show of support by those who attended the CES show was overwhelmingly favorable to our Members” he also stated “ that Local 396 will continue with all means necessary against CenturyLink until a fair and equitable agreement is reached by the parties”.

Continue to follow and show support for our “Shame on CenturyLink Campaign”

NV Energy Healthy Living Program Phone # List
IBEW 396 Now on Facebook

Brothers and Sisters,

You can now follow us on facebook @ IBEW Local 396 for all the latest updates and history of the IBEW. I would encourage all of you to take part; this is an excellent tool to notify you about upcoming Unit Meetings, Contract Updates, Job Actions and much more.

If you have any questions or need help finding us on twitter do not hesitate to contact us here at the Union Hall 702-457-3011.

In Solidarity,
Jesse Newman
Business Manager/Financial Sec.


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