Gaba Teachers can Strike: Labor Board

Language school Gaba must recognize the right of instructors to strike, the Tokyo Labor Commission ruled today. 

Tozen Union and its local chapter Gaba Workers Union sued the language giant in 2016 to overturn warning letters issued to strikings teachers. 

Gaba has its more than one thousand teachers on private service provider contracts called gyomu itaku. The company argued that since each teacher is just a service provider, they don’t have the rights of workers under Japan’s Trade Union Act. 

The board noted that the teachers effectively qualify as workers for the purpose of that law and that the company must apologize to both unions for interfering in their strike. 

Osaka Labor Commission had previously recognized the right to collective bargaining of a union organizing teachers at Gaba (General Union). 

Management tried to overturn that ruling and argued that even IF teachers have the right to bargaining, they should not also  have the right to strike. 

In Japan, the rights to solidarity, collective bargaining, and collective action (including strikes) are enshrined as a set in Article 28 of the Constitution. 

“This is a victory for all Gaba instructors, including non-union members,” said Gaba Workers Union President Tyler Christensen.       

“It confirms what we’ve always said – Gaba instructors have the same rights as regular employees,” he added. “Now that our right to strike is secure, we look forward to getting back to the bargaining table and continuing to improve working conditions for Gaba instructors.”

The board rejected Gaba’s claim to be able to split the three rights (rodo sanken) as a theory they “just made up.”

Tozen JCFL Local Scores Final Victory in Labor Commission

On August 9th 2019, Tokyo High Court ruled that Japan College of Foreign Languages interfered with union leafleting in June and October of 2013, violating trade union law and the constitutional rights of Tozen Union members.

The Tozen JCFL local, established in 2013, faced a hostile reception from the outset. At two union actions JCFL obstructed union leafleting. The union sued JCFL in the Tokyo Labor Relations Commission. On Jan 25, 2016, the commission ruled that the school had interfered with legitimate union activity and ordered the school to apologize.

JCFL appealed to the Central Labor Relations Commission, which upheld the ruling.

The school sued the government to overturn the ruling. On March 1, 2019 Tokyo District Court again ruled against JCFL. The school took the case to Tokyo High Court which rejected JCFL’s appeal.

On Aug 13, six years removed from the illegal obstruction, JCFL finally apologized to the union.

“Rather than take responsibility from the very beginning and simply apologize, JCFL has adopted a strategy of stonewalling and endless litigation, wasting time and prolonging the inevitable,” said Tozen Senior Organizer Gerome Rothman. “JCFL has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the union, except under court order.”

Union President Todd Williams said, “To call this a hard won victory for the union would be an understatement. It is a testament to the grit and tenacity of our members. JCFL cannot escape the consequences of its belligerence towards the union.”

Tozen Union wins another victory over JCFL

 

The Tokyo Labor Commission ruled Monday morning that Japan College of Foreign Languages (JCFL, a division of Bunsai Gakuen) illegally discriminated against a member of the JCFL local due to his union activity by reducing his work load.  The commission held that in doing so JCFL management inflicted financial damages against him.  The commission ordered that JCFL pay the member backpay for his unpaid wages.

Further, the commission ruled that JCFL has been bargaining in bad faith about student satisfaction score data that had influenced management’s decision to reduce the workload of a union member.  Management was ordered to bargain in good faith.

The commission has ordered management to apologize for violating the constitutional rights of our members and to post a large sign apologizing to the union at the workplace for ten days.

The victory was thanks to the relentless struggle of the local.

The union had also filed several other claims with labor commission including interference with a leafleting and failure to bargain in good faith with the union by refusing to disclose the official work rules.  While these claims were not upheld by labor commission the union is considering filing an appeal.

Tozen Union has grown to 235 members in 20 locals.