Winter 2015

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57 WINTER 2015 / CINEMONTAGE compiled by Jeff Burman A measure that would for the first time allow the benefits of current retirees to be cut has been attached to a massive spending bill, and passed — part of an effort to save some of the nation's most distressed pension plans, writes Michael Fletcher in The Washington Post in early December. Fortunately, our Motion Picture Industry pension plan is not one of those distressed. The rule would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle- income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets. The change would apply to multi-employer pensions, where a group of businesses in the same industry join forces with unions to provide pension coverage for employees. The plans cover some 10 million US workers. The strategy of cutting benefits is supported by some unions and retirement fund managers who see it as the only way to salvage pensions in plans that are in imminent danger of running out of money. The strategy has also fanned opposition from retirees who could face pension cuts, and from advocates eager to keep retiree pensions sacrosanct, even in instances when funds are in a deep financial hole. In its annual report, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal insurance program that backs private-sector pensions, warned that problems facing multi-employer pensions could cause the safety net that secures them to collapse in the next decade. WALMART ILLEGALLY PUNISHED WORKERS A National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that Walmart managers in California had illegally disciplined employees for going on strike and unlawfully threatened to close a store if its employees joined a group demanding higher wages, writes Steven Greenhouse in The New York Times. Geoffrey Carter, an NLRB administrative law judge, also found that a Walmart manager had illegally intimidated workers by saying, "If it were up to me, I'd shoot the union." The judge also said it was unlawful for Walmart managers to tell employees that co-workers returning from a one- day strike would be looking for a new job. OUR Walmart, a union-backed group of Walmart employees, filed the complaint with the labor board, asserting that officials at Walmart stores in Placerville and Richmond, California, had illegally intimidated workers. UAW TO REPRESENT TENNESSEE VW WORKERS The United Auto Workers has been certified as the representative of more than 45 percent of Volkswagen's workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee — a major victory for the union, which has been trying to gain a foothold in the South for decades, writes Brent Snavely in The Detroit Free Press. The results of an independent audit of union membership cleared the way for the union to meet regularly with management on workplace issues. The UAW said it believes the final tally could be more than 50 percent, which would give the union more leverage. LABOR MAT TERS Congress Declares Open Season on Pension Benefits

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