Labor Notes #476

An internal National Labor Relations Board directive issued in September has raised the bar for how diligently unions must pursue grievances.

A union can now be found guilty of violating the duty of fair representation (DFR) for losing track of a grievance or failing to promptly return a member’s phone calls about it.

That’s a departure from long-established standards. Until now, you put the union at risk only if your treatment of a case was arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith—not if the steward or union rep simply made a mistake, or did a poor job.

Seven thousand hotel workers across the U.S. are on strike against Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain. A strike that started with seven hotels in Boston quickly spread to San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Detroit, and Hawaii.

Marriott’s profits have doubled in five years. In 2016, the hotel chain expanded its empire when it acquired Starwood’s 1,200 properties, including the Westin and Sheraton hotel chains.

With UPS Teamsters steaming after their union brass declared a contract ratified despite a 54 percent vote to reject it, we thought this was a good time to reprint this excerpt from the Labor Notes book Democracy Is Power about common obstacles to a democratic vote, and how to do it right. –Editors

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