Labor Relations Insights

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Labor Relations Advisor, December 2014

December 31, 2014

TWU Wins Representation for a Second Bike Share Employee Group

Employees at Hubway, the bike share program in Boston, voted in the Transport Workers Union (TWU) as their exclusive bargaining representative on December 4, 2014. TWU won the election by 74 percent of the voters voting in favor. Thirty-six non-management employees will be covered.

Three months earlier, in September 2014, the TWU successfully unionized approximately 200 employees at CitiBike in New York.

After the election in New York, Citi Bike’s parent company, Alta Bicycle Share, Inc., did not extend voluntary recognition to its employees at the D.C. and Boston counterparts, Capital Bikeshare and Hubway, respectively, as the union had hoped.

Two more TWU elections are scheduled for similar workers in Chicago and Washington DC.

Alta was recently acquired by BikeShare Holdings, a new company whose investors are the real estate firm Related Companies and the fitness club chain, Equinox.

UNITE HERE SFO Restaurant Workers Ratify Six-Year Deal

On December 23, 2014, UNITE HERE announced the ratification of a six-year contract with multiemployer group, SFO Airport Restaurant Employer Council (AREC). The agreement covers about 1,000 workers at San Francisco International Airport.

The prior contract expired over a year ago in September, 2013. Still without an agreement in early December, workers engaged in a 48-hour strike on December 10, 2014. The strike forced many of the airport restaurants to temporarily close. In a statement, the union even recommended anyone flying out of SFO bring their own food to the airport.

Anand Singh, the union’s lead negotiator was quoted in a CNN article explaining, “This is a fight over ensuring that workers have access to affordable health care and that their jobs are secure."

In a December 18 statement, UNITE HERE said the tentative agreement provided for wage increases, strong job security protections in the event of a restaurant closures or lease terminations, significant pension contributions increases and stronger union rights and leadership development training opportunities.

In a joint statement released on December 19, SFO Restaurants’ President Steve Sarver said, “We are happy to have reached this agreement with our employees. The nationally recognized food & beverage programs at SFO now have a long-term contract for our important asset: our employees.”

Report Shows Employee Health Care Premiums Almost Doubled in Past Ten Years

A Commonwealth Fund report looked at federal health care data from 2003 to 2013 and found employees’ premium contribution increased by 93 percent.

According to the report, “National Trends in the Cost of Employer Health Insurance Coverage, 2003–2013” total insurance premiums paid by both employers and employees increased faster than median household income between 2003 and 2013.

Today, more employees are contributing to their premiums than ever before. In addition, more plans have deductibles and deductible amounts have more than doubled in the past decade.

The rate of the increase slowed following implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Premiums for employee-only plans grew at an average annual rate of 5.1 percent from 2003 to 2010 and 4.1 percent from 2010 to 2013. Currently, only 6.7 million people, about two percent of the population, are covered by the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans. That number is estimated to increase to between 9 and 9.9 million in 2015.

About 57 percent of the under-65 population have insurance through employers, 19 percent are insured by Medicaid/CHIP, 2 percent by marketplace plans, 2 percent by the military, 3 percent by Medicare, 4 percent by individual off-marketplace plans and 12 percent remain uninsured.