Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is Microsoft a joint employer? TWA files a charge with the National Labor Relations Board

Temporary Workers of America is a small independent union born on September 11, 2014 to represent 40 or so employees working for Microsoft via a supplier, Lionbridge Technologies. The union was created because of the accumulated frustration of years without any paid leave nor pay increase. 
On March 26, 2015 Microsoft announced it would require its suppliers to provide 'at least 15 days of paid time off' to their employees but nothing was set aside specifically for paid parental leave and no paid holidays were mentioned.
From the very start we thought the requirement was too weak and we were concerned about its implementation.

After a year of collective bargaining with Lionbridge Technologies the contract proposal they offer is very weak, only the minimum required by Microsoft, no retroactivity for accruing, still nothing for paid parental leave, no paid holidays and no pay increase.
On Friday October 23, at the 9th collective bargaining session, the union agreed to send the contract proposed by Lionbridge for a ratification vote by all the employees: the date is not fixed yet but it should be soon.

We have always considered this proposal is very bad but since it does include the very minimal implementation of the 15 days of pto required by Microsoft we feel the employees should decide if they want it that way or not.
On saturday October 17, the union had sent a letter and email to Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources for Microsoft, asking her to attend the collective bargaining session of October 23 as we considered Microsoft was a joint employer, in the context of the Brown Ferris decision.
On Friday afternoon, one hour before the meeting we received an email from Microsoft's Chief Procurement Officer declining our invitation as they did not consider themselves a joint employer.

This Monday we polled our members (not all employees) with 4 questions:

1. Do you think Lionbridge proposal is a good proposal?
Yes: 3  No: 7

2. Are you going to approve Lionbridge proposal?
Yes: 6. No: 4

3. Do you think Microsoft is s joint employer with Lionbridge?
Yes: 8. No: 2

4. Do you think  TWA should ask the National Labor RelationsBoard to determine if MSFT is a joint employer?
Yes:  9.  No: 1

Therefore the union filed this afternoon, October 28, a charge with the NLRB against Microsoft as they refused to bargain as a joint employer.

There are many issues that remain uncertain about this procedure: we don't know if the tentative agreement proposed by Lionbridge will be ratified or refused. We don't know what could happen in either case in relation with the charge filed today.
From the poll numbers you can see the people strongly feel Microsoft is a joint employer. There is a significant resentment about the way Lionbridge offers so little and how Microsoft offers so little while giving away millions to its CEO and increasing the paid leaves benefits of its own direct employees but letting Lionbridge offer zero paid parental leave, nor any paid holidays for our families.

A CBS poll mentioned 80 per cent of Americans are in favor of paid parental leave. It's hard not to recall that Satya Nadella thought women should not ask for a raise. Does he also think his suppliers employees should not have any parental leave?

According to our estimates, providing paid parental leave to the two co-workers who became fathers at the end of 2014 would represent (for 4 weeks) about 10 cents more per hour and paid holidays about 80 cents more per hour. 
That represents probably less than one day of Satya's compensation for the 40 of us...
We have had zero pay increase for the last 4 years (the pay ranges from $17 to $22 per hour).

People are struggling, they are suffering. Where are the geeks with empathy celebrated by Bill and Melinda Gates in their June speech at Stanford?

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