Saturday, August 04, 2007

SEIU Criticizes Clinton for Lack of Health Care Plan

ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has undercut her standing with a politically powerful labor union with her go-slow approach on health care.

"We're disappointed in what she's released so far," Stephanie Mueller, the spokesperson for the powerful Service Employees International Union, told ABC News. While expressing disappointment that Clinton has not yet released a health care plan offering coverage for all Americans, Mueller was quick to add that when it comes to winning the union's coveted endorsement "no one has been disqualified at this point."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nobu/De Niro Restaurants Take Cue from Snotty French Chefs: Wage Violations, ULPs

De Niro's NY restaurant latest celeb venture sued
Thu Aug 2, 2007 11:43PM BST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two former waiters employed by a Manhattan restaurant chain partly owned by actor Robert De Niro sued it over wages on Thursday in the latest legal battle involving celebrity-owned New York establishments.

The lawsuit, which does not directly name De Niro, accuses Nobu, Nobu 57 and Nobu Next Door of failing to pay overtime and unfairly splitting tips.

It is among several recent lawsuits to accuse New York restaurants of wage violations and unfair labour practices.

New York restaurant staff are commonly paid tips instead of full wages. But many including immigrant busboys and food runners are underpaid and cut out of the larger tips, worker advocates say.

The suit filed in Manhattan federal court says that more than 100 waiters and busboys were cut out of their proper tips at the three Nobu establishments, and that the tip pool unfairly included managers and other usually untipped staff.

A spokeswoman for Nobu did not immediately return calls for comment.

Other lawsuits have accused celebrity French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of not paying proper wages or dividing tips at his upscale New York restaurants, and hip-hop producer and rapper Jay-Z of paying incorrect wages at his Manhattan nightclub.

Another famous chef, Daniel Boulud, agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit this week after workers at his Manhattan restaurant Daniel accused the restaurant of promoting white French workers ahead of nonwhite workers.

In yet another case, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was recently sued by a New York restaurant manager who said he exaggerated the restaurant's conditions on his television reality show "Kitchen Nightmares."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

UNITE-HERE members to Vote on Las Vegas Casino Strike Authorization

Culinary Workers Union Slates Las Vegas Strike Vote Sept 12


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 members will vote on Sept. 12 to authorize the union's negotiating committee to call for strikes at Las Vegas casinos without new contract settlements.

The union has been in negotiations with MGM Mirage (MGM) in Las Vegas since March for new agreements covering more than 21,000 workers at nine of the company's Las Vegas Strip properties.

Earlier this month, the union began negotiations with other casino operators in Las Vegas covering an additional 14,000 workers.

As of July 31 only workers at seven of Harrah's Entertainment Inc.'s (HET) Las Vegas properties have settled new contracts covering 15,000 workers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

CTW Investment Group Calls on Vegan A-Hole to Resign

Group Urges Whole Foods' Mackey
To Step Down as Firm's Chairman
July 26, 2007

Wall Street Journal

CHICAGO -- An investment group affiliated with union pension funds said John Mackey, the embattled chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc., should step down as chairman of the natural-foods giant in the wake of revelations that he posted anonymous comments on Internet stock-market forums.

CtW Investment Group, a branch of Change to Win, a coalition of labor unions, wrote a letter Wednesday to John B. Elstrott Jr., the lead independent director at Whole Foods, urging the board to immediately name an independent chairman "who can quickly establish credibility with regulatory authorities and shareholders."

Union pension funds affiliated with CtW own some 900,000 shares of Whole Foods, according to the letter. That's less than 1% of the Austin, Texas-based company's outstanding shares.

Whole Foods' board said last week it had formed a special committee to launch an internal investigation into Mr. Mackey's online statements. Over a roughly eight-year period, Mackey used a pseudonym, "Rahodeb," on Yahoo Finance message boards. He touted Whole Foods, derided his rivals and got into lengthy debates with other users.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has begun an informal probe to determine if the comments violated the law.

The investment group said even if Mr. Mackey didn't violate the law or the company's code of conduct, his "poor judgment has already damaged his credibility" and jeopardized the company's proposed purchase of rival Wild Oats Markets Inc. "With Whole Foods under mounting legal and regulatory scrutiny, its share price down 37% in two years, and Mackey's leadership in question," the group wrote, "we do not believe the creation of a special committee alone is sufficient to restore investor and regulatory confidence in the company and its management."

Mr. Mackey's postings as Rahodeb surfaced as part of a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission aimed at blocking the $565 million acquisition of Wild Oats. The government contends the deal would reduce competition and raise prices for consumers.

For years, labor unions have been at odds with Mr. Mackey, who has opposed efforts to organize workers at Whole Foods stores and criticized the broader labor movement.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman declined to comment.