Unions using interns

The Labour Party got most of the limited attention given by the media to the intern issue. This is because it was clearly a Labour Party scheme – Andrew Kirton eventually acknowledged it was an ‘Auckland Labour Party’ scheme, but that isn’t a separate party.

But unions were intertwined.

Andrew Little has a union background but claims to have had no knowledge of the scheme, apart from hearing about the idea at the start of the year, and finding out an unauthorised scheme was  up and running in May, and then finding out in mid-June it had got out of control so he stepped in as soon as he knew. Or something.

Matt McCarten has been what someone described as a ‘voluntary scapegoat’. He certainly seems to have been a major player in the scheme, while working for Andrew Little in Auckland, while Little knew nothing about it apart from what he knew.

Before being recruited by David Cunliffe as the Labour leader’s chief of staff in 2014 McCarten was secretary of the Unite union since 2005.

Despite working for Labour for three years McCarten still seems to have kept his @unite.co.nz email address. He registered the movementforchange.org.nz domain using it on 15 May, when he was still working for Little. And he registered it under a Unite Union office address.

McCarten registered campaignforchange.org.nz five days later using Little’s Auckland office address (postal and physical).

Unions were a major part of the plans for financing the intern scheme. A document obtained by Newshub had details (this is claimed to be an unfulfilled plan):

LabourInternDocumentFinance

This refers to contracts with the Unite and First unions.

The project was said to be managed by “the project manager in paertnership with the Labour Party, CTU (Council of Trade Unions) and AUSA (Auckland University Students’ Association).

The document detailed three parts to the campaign:

LabourInternsManagement

So an aim was to recruit and support volunteers for union GOTV (get out the vote) campaigns. Unions were involved in trying to get votes for Labour last election too. I’m not sure that all their union members would be happy with that.

More on money:

LabourInternsMoney

But when this document was published unions distanced themselves. Newshub:  Labour’s botched intern scheme planned on union funding

Council of Trade Unions (CTU):

CTU national secretary Sam Huggard says the plan was never shared with them, and the CTU actually turned down a request to manage the interns.

“We’ve never seen this document and the CTU was not involved as described. I presume this was an early proposal document of some sort,” he told Newshub.

“Matt [McCarten] asked CTU to run the worker aspect of Campaign for Change on the 12th of May this year, but we declined.”

Note “the CTU was not involved as described”. That doesn’t rule out being involved, it leaves many possibilities.

The document describes “member recruitment contracts” with the Unite and First unions.

First Union:

Robert Reid, General Secretary of First Union, said it had not provided any funding: “There’d been discussions but no formal request.”

Unite Union:

Gerard Hehir, Secretary of Unite, said: “We had some discussions with Matt but there was no funding and no promises.”

Neither ruled out a contract or agreement for them to pay on recruitment results.

Despite Hehir’s statement there (that Newshub article was dated 23 June 2017) on the same day NZ Herald reported in Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who quotes Unite’s National Director Mike:

“Matt is ambitious, and where there is a will there is a way is often his attitude. He may have tried to reach too far in this case. We thought there were positives and are a little bit sorry to see it’s all fallen on its face.”

Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for a programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding.

So Unite and First both say there was no direct (up front) funding but Treen says Unite planned to use foreign students to recruit union members with the proceeds to be channelled into funding a Labour party election campaign.

Reid and Hehir may have been technically correct if they hadn’t yet handed over any money to Labour’s campaign.

This suggests a plan for unions to use foreign workers to recruit for them, with the bounty going to Labour, rather than using New Zealand workers earning wages for themselves.

Unite Union’s Mike Treen said unpaid interns were common around the world. “It’s stupid to call it ’employment.’ I know the difference between people being taken advantage of and volunteers and being looking to be political agents in the long term. It was probably a very useful experience for many.”

It may be common use to use unpaid interns to campaign for political parties, but is it common to use unpaid interns to work on union recruitment at the same time?

The document refers to Unite/First contracts to “recruit 800 additional members – $40,000”.  That’s $50 per recruited member.

This sounds like an odd campaign – targeting people trying to get them to vote for Labour and join a union at the same time.  It’s either just a crazy mixed up scheme, or it could be a way of trying disguise campaign donations to Labour as commission for services rendered – by foreign volunteers.

Andrew Little said “Somebody had an idea earlier this year that we could get some people down here from other parts of the world. It looks to me like it’s gotten wildly out of control and people have found they can’t manage it” – Intern scheme got ‘wildly out of control’ – Little.

McCarten’s plans as “fantasy world stuff” and an “embarrassment” – see McCarten may have left Labour in debt after intern scheme (27 June)

In this I think Little’s comments are credible. I can imagine he might have turned a blind eye to McCarten bringing in foreign interns to campaign for Labour, but I can’t imagine him or Labour’s head office agreeing to including union recruitment in the same scheme.

But the Labour Party in Auckland seems to have been very much involved in the scheme, possibly with some Little/Head Office plausible deniability distancing from  the machinations of the scheme.

Auckland Labour’s NZ Council representative Paul Chalmers (also with a union background) has “stood down” from his party responsibilities so the inference is that he was involved with McCarten and at least Treen on this.

A bad look for some Auckland unions and the Labour in Auckland at least.

There are plenty of questions still unanswered by Little and Kirton.

Shanna Reeder: Key is a sexual harasser who “should resign immediately”

Shanna Reeder, a Hotel organiser from the Unite Union, has implied that John Key could be a serial sexual harasser and has said “in my view this behaviour is abhorrent and he should resign immediately”.

Five days later it was announced that Reeder would advise and represent Amanda Bailey, the ponytail waitress.

As posted earlier today here is Reeder in a Radio New Zedaland interview:

The Unite Union has announced it will represent Amanda Bailey and support whatever action she decides to take. Union organiser Shanna Reeder is with us.

What does Amanda Bailey want to do?

Reeder : Ah well that’s a really good question. Um everybody’s been asking that question today. Um unfortunately we’re unable to give you a clear answer on that because we haven’t decided at this stage.

You haven’t decided or she hasn’t?

Reeder : Um well obviously we’re advising Amanda on what the best course of action will be, and Amanda hasn’t decided at this stage.

What are you advising her to do?

Reeder : Um well there’s actually I means there’s there’s a whole bunch of different um options that she could take. A lot of experts have been out in the media um recommending you know what she could do at this point, um so basically we’re just trying to help her through all of those options, um and help her find…

As it turns out Reeder was one of those ‘experts’ out in the media making recommendations.

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

That was Wednesday 29 April. She sounds a bit like a neutral spokesperson and an unbiased adviser.

But before she took up this role she posted about the Bailey/John Key issue at The Daily Blog (April 24). This doesn’t sound much like an employment/union organiser point of view.

GUEST BLOG: Shanna Reeder – The repercussions of having a PM who is a sexual harasser

Today our Prime Minister John Key admitted to repeatedly sexually harassing a waitress in a cafe he frequents.

She told her story anonymously via The Daily Blog

Clearly this presents many questions which may or may not be answered in the coming days. In my view this behaviour is abhorrent and he should resign immediately.

We also know that men with wealth and power usually consider themselves teflon-coated and he will probably spend the next two weeks taking the advice of those who were in charge of Roger Sutton’s damage control.

That’s a bit ironic when she is now giving advice to Bailey.

Although Key has admitted his behaviour, he is now trying to minimise, minimise, minimise his conduct just as all abusers do. It was just a harmless bit of fun he will say. He’ll add that he didn’t realise she didn’t like it but he is very sorry.

However he did know his behaviour offended her because she made that clear to him in a number of different ways. As she wrote: “I posted on the National Party and the John Key Facebook pages a message along the lines of “Stop pulling my hair – I don’t like it!” “I told his security that I was sick of having my hair pulled and one day I’ll snap and I’ll punch him in the face.”

When he continued his behaviour he simply followed the pattern of all abusive bullies in ignoring the protests, continuing the behaviour and pretending it was OK. Disturbingly he even tried to bring his wife into his “game”.

It is my hope the people of New Zealand will not stand for this. But I also know that Rape Culture and misogyny is denied and protected in our society from the average kiwi, all the way to the top. If only there was no name suppression.

That’s laying it on the thicker end of the scale of severity.

What no one has realised or commented on yet is that this young lady was an employee, being harassed at work. She had a right to be safe at work. Her employer had a responsibility to protect her.

They failed in that responsibility. “I exclaimed “Really?!!” to my manager beside me, and shot him a look of utter disbelief and frustration.”

This young lady could quite rightly take a case against her employer now and potentially win thousands of dollars.

She has already made this judgement. It would be interesting to know when she first started advising Bailey.

Sexual Harassment in the workplace happens daily in this country. Employers ignore it; they brush it off as a bit of fun, a misunderstanding. Only in very rare cases, usually involving a lawyer or union advocate are they complained about, followed up on, and resolved.

Who would come forward to offer help on that?

Unfortunately resolution usually involved a confidential settlement which cannot be talked about so these harassers stay on in the workplace, or go elsewhere and are free to repeat their behaviour to un-suspecting new colleagues, extended family, or even the waitress at the local cafe.

She’s implied that Key could be a serial sexual harasser.

Everyday our union works tirelessly to battle against bad employers who break the law, abuse, exploit and harass our workers, yet John Key and his National Government go out of their way to make it easier for employers to behave badly and harder for us to protect their workers.

So it’s political.

I have hope that we can beat rape culture; I have hope that sexual harassment and assault will no longer be a common experience for workers.

But it’s not going to happen whilst the New Zealand public allow a known sexual harasser to continue as our Prime Minister.

It’s clear what outcome she wanted before it was announced she would advise and represent Bailey.

Bailey will probably have read Reeder’s post at The Daily Blog. It was the day after the second of her posts. Four days later Unite Union put out this press release:

Unite to represent Amanda Bailey

Unite Union has agreed to represent Amanda Bailey, the waitress at the centre of the repeated harassment involving the Prime Minister.

Amanda Bailey has sought support from Unite after being named as the author of an anonymous story for the Daily Blog last week describing how the Prime Minister had repeatedly pulled her ponytail over a period of months.

Unite will be advising Amanda on employment issues and assisting to resolve concerns about how her identity was revealed by the New Zealand Herald.

And when interviewed later that day:

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

Perhaps it is completely up to Bailey, but if she decides to take any employment or legal action it sounds like she will have an adviser and representative who had already made up her mind what should happen and what the outcome should be.

Note that the Unite Union is a sponsor of The Daily Blog:

PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY:

Unite_logo_Gold_on_red-cdn

In the public interest I think it’s worth knowing when Bailey and Reeder first discussed this issue.

Before Reeder’s post? Before Bailey’s first post?

Bailey, Unite and Labour

I don’t have a problem with the ponytail waitress Amanda Bailey telling her story. John Key had acted poorly over a period of time, and Bailey’s annoyance and frustration seems to have been ignored. Normally a waitress in this situation would have few options for redress, but Key put himself in a vulnerable position and Bailey used that to make a valid point.

So I think it’s fine for her to have spoken up.

But the way the story has been played out raises some questions.

Bailey chose to put her story out via Martyn Bradbury and The Daily Blog. That guaranteed that her story would be seen by some as political and highly partisan. A more neutral medium would have avoided much of the political accusations, but Bailey went hard left.

Now Bailey is working through her options with the Unite Union. Was she a member of Unite? Or have the decided to represent her as a non-member?

Radio New Zealand interviewed the Unite Union organiser who is representing Bailey:

The Unite Union has announced it will represent Amanda Bailey and support whatever action she decides to take. Union organiser Shanna Reeder is with us.

What does Amanda Bailey want to do?

Reeder : Ah well that’s a really good question. Um everybody’s been asking that question today. Um unfortunately we’re unable to give you a clear answer on that because we haven’t decided at this stage.

You haven’t decided or she hasn’t?

Reeder : Um well obviously we’re advising Amanda on what the best course of action will be, and Amanda hasn’t decided at this stage.

What are you advising her to do?

Reeder : Um well there’s actually I means there’s there’s a whole bunch of different um options that she could take. A lot of experts have been out in the media um recommending you know what she could do at this point, um so basically we’re just trying to help her through all of those options, um and help her find…

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

What has she told you about ah issues we’ve just heard about what Graeme McCready just said about her feeling humiliated, ah being um comments being made to her by other customers, what’s she talking about the reaction she’s received from the public here?

Reeder : Ah she hasn’t commented on that to me so I’m unable to comment on that to you.

And you are not saying, are you saying to her she should support for example the action taken by Graeme McCready?

Reeder : That’s not something that we have discussed, I’m just unable to comment on it I’m sorry.

When do you think she’ll know what her course of action should be?

Reeder : Um I think she’s getting there, I think probably by the end of the week she’ll have a bit of an outline of what she wants to do.

Shanna Olsen-Reeder is listed as Unite’s ‘Hotels and Call Centres’ organiser in Auckland. While they have several fast food restaurant’ organisers they don’t have any designated as cafe or general restaurant organisers.

NZ Herald reported on progress on Saturday:

On Wednesday Mr McCready filed paperwork at the Auckland District Court on a proposed assault charge against Mr Key.

Mr McCready alleges a Crimes Act charge of male assaults female, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

To reach a trial Mr McCready would have to present sufficient evidence of the proposed charge and has asked for an oral evidence hearing with 11 witnesses, including Bronagh Key, to do so.

Bailey has wisely chosen to avoid dealing with McCready.

Today, he said Ms Bailey, through the Unite Union, had refused to speak with him and did not want anything to do with his private prosecution.

However, Ms Bailey was considering her own legal action and would be represented by the Unite Union if she choose to proceed.

The union did not say who any complaint or legal action would target.

Being a union I would presume Unite would be looking at employment matters with Bailey. But maybe not. This comment at The Standard describes Unite as political activists, not just worker representatives.

Unite union has been well represented at virtually every protest from TPPA, selling State assets, Oil drilling protests, opposing charter schools, defending Glen Innes State housing, etc., supporting Gaza/Palestine. In fact Unite’s Joe Carolan often speaks to the crowd at these protest rallies and is commonly on a megaphone during the marches. The Unite people have been very visible on social justice issues on all issues of social justice.

Carolan and Mike Treen (Unite’s National Director Day to Day Operations) are well known socialist activists.

Does “all issues of social justice” mean they could get involved in legal matters outside the employment arena that could potentially take down the current Government?

If they do this would ensure it remains a highly charged political issue. The Unite Union have had close links with the MANA Party/Movement.

And also with Andrew Little and the Labour Party. Matt McCarten has been heavily involved with Unite, leading the union from 2005 to 2014, and since then he has been and still is heavily involved with Labour as Little’s chief of staff.

Little and Labour have wisely kept a distance from the Bailey versus Key issue. But if Unite help Bailey take legal action outside of employment matters then dots will no doubt be connected.

Bailey will no doubt think through her options carefully. She justifiably felt aggrieved by Key’s behaviour. She will have seen the political reaction after publicising her grievance through a left wing political activist. She has been burned by some  apparently appalling behaviour by Rachel Glucina and NZ Herald.

If Unite are advising her well they will have pointed out not just what courses of action that are open to her but also the potential political implications of any action. Unite have a reputation of not just being a union representing workers on employment matters.

Unite may be able to keep Bailey’s issues separate from partisan politics, but that won’t be easy given how it has already been discussed in social media.

A union or an activist front?

This comment at The Standard makes me wonder what the main focus of the Unite Union is – representing worker’s or providing a front for an anti-Government protest movement?

Unite union has been well represented at virtually every protest from TPPA, selling State assets, Oil drilling protests, opposing charter schools, defending Glen Innes State housing, etc., supporting Gaza/Palestine. In fact Unite’s Joe Carolan often speaks to the crowd at these protest rallies and is commonly on a megaphone during the marches. The Unite people have been very visible o social justice issues on all issues of social justice.

I hope they sometimes manage to remember the workers who pay their union fees that make all this possible. And considering this is pertinent at the moment, especially if Unite goes ahead and aids the aggrieved waitress in legal action against John Key.

May Day

May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the day includes – Wikipedia

It is not celebrated much in New Zealand, barely at all as far as I’m aware. Of course instead of Spring springing we have Autumn fairly well set in, most of the deciduous leaves have turned colour and fallen, and we don’t celebrate harvests either which are mostly finished already.

In the late 19th Century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. In those countries that celebrate International Workers’ Day, the day may also be referred to as “May Day” but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day.

There may be a bit of minor recognition of International Workers’ Day in New Zealand but we have our own Labour Day in late October and even that isn’t recognised by most people by anything other than a long weekend.

Oddly Winston Peters spoke at an ‘International Workers’ Memorial Day Service’ on Wednesday:

Speech by New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland, Rt Hon Winston Peters

International Workers’ Memorial Day Service
Maritime Transport Union
Lower Hutt
11.45am, 28th April, 2015

Workers’ safety paramount

Thank you for inviting me to speak today on the occasion of International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Today is a day to remember all those workers who have paid with the lives, and those who have been hurt on the job.

http://livenews.co.nz/2015/04/28/international-workers-memorial-day-service/#sthash.m0W72X7K.dpuf

The Unite Union is marking today with a picket protest

McDonald’s workers need support on May Day

Unite Union is calling on all New Zealanders to give support to McDonald’s workers this Friday, May 1st by tooting their support when they see pickets outside stores and not buying a burger on that day.

Help the McDonald’s workers stand up to bullying and intimidation on May Day – international workers day.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1504/S00279/mcdonalds-workers-need-support-on-may-day.htm

And news this morning says this won’t go ahead, there’s an agreement been reached with McDonalds.

McDonald’s ends zero hour contracts

McDonald’s and the Unite Union have come to an agreement over zero hours contracts – they’re gone.

Union director Mike Treen says it means that now all the major fast food chains have committed to ending zero hours.

That’s where staff must be on standby for work with no guarantee of being called in.

He describes the deal as historic.

Planned strikes are now off – in some cases gatherings are likely to turn into victory celebrations.

http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/mcdonalds-ends-zero-hour-contracts/

Meanwhile for most New Zealanders it will be a fairly normal Friday.