Posts tagged ‘Unions’

December 20, 2012

Unraveling What Happened in Michigan

 

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Unraveling What Happened in MichigaNow that the dust has settled, there are still some loose ends that need to be addressed in the Wolverine State’s right-to-work battle.

Last Tuesday, Michigan became the nation’s 24th right-to-work state. Much has been written about this and yet there still is much misinformation in circulation – mostly being spread by the unions, of course. And President Obama, an outspoken union supporter, has uttered some mistruths (if unintentional) or lies (if they are not.)

What does “right-to-work (RTW)” mean? It simply means that workers don’t have to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Many have publicly lamented that collective bargaining in Michigan is going to be imperiled. President Obama jumped on that bandwagon saying,

What we shouldn’t be doing is try to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. We don’t want a race to the bottom. Right-to-work laws have nothing to do with economics and they have everything to do with politics. They mean you have the right to work for less money.

No, Mr. Obama, Michigan’s new law – for better or worse – will not affect any union’s right to collectively bargain.

Another erroneous assertion – a long time mantra for organized labor – is that workers who choose not to join unions in RTW states are “freeloaders” or “free riders.” As Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk points out,

Unions object that right-to-work is actually “right-to-freeload.” The AFL-CIO argues “unions are forced by law to protect all workers, even those who don’t contribute financially toward the expenses incurred by providing those protections.” They contend they should not have to represent workers who do not pay their “fair share.”

It is a compelling argument, but untrue. The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate unions exclusively represent all employees, but permits them to electively do so. (Emphasis added.) Under the Act, unions can also negotiate “members-only” contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on this point. As Justice William Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Lion Dry Goods, the Act’s coverage “is not limited to labor organizations which are entitled to recognition as exclusive bargaining agents of employees … ‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”

Even though, as Sherk says, unions don’t have to represent all employees, they do so voluntarily to eliminate any competition. So instead of “free rider,” a better term would be “forced rider.” Teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci explains,

The very first thing any new union wants is exclusivity. No other unions are allowed to negotiate on behalf of people in the bargaining unit. Unit members cannot hire their own agent, nor can they represent themselves. Making people pay for services they neither asked for nor want is a “privilege” we reserve for government, not for private organizations. Unions are freeloading on those additional dues.

…The “freeload” crack is especially ironic coming from MEA (Michigan Education Association), which ran an $11 million budget deficit in 2010-11 and is a cumulative $113 million in the red. In other words, the union has spent millions of dollars in dues it hasn’t collected yet, some of which will be paid by people who might not even be members yet. Who is freeloading?

In any event, it is undeniable that unions are taking it on the chin these days. In 2011, Wisconsin banned collective bargaining for some employees, and earlier this year Indiana became the 23rd RTW state. Michigan union leaders, well aware of the zeitgeist, tried to enshrine collective bargaining into the state constitution in November via Prop. 2. The amendment, however, was solidly defeated – 57 to 43 percent – even though the unions outspent the opposition by a 22:1 factor. (H/T John Seiler.)

What’s next for the unions in Michigan? Undoubtedly more thuggery and distortions, and then there is 2014. Last Tuesday, at a rally outside the building which houses Governor Rick Snyder’s office,

The main battle cry of the anti-right-to-work protesters…had a common theme: wait for 2014. Many of the GOP seats, including Snyder’s, will be up for grabs during the midterm elections. Rather than attempt to recall Republicans, as Wisconsin Democrats tried and failed to do to Gov. Scott Walker, the Michigan unions are set to mobilize behind Democrats and pro-union Republicans in two years.

But will the people of Michigan be taken in by the unions’ demagoguery? Organized labor is blaming their loss on everyone but themselves – the Koch Brothers, right wing legislators, the Tea Party et al. But as Kim Strassel in the Wall Street Journal points out,

The unions lost in Michigan—as they’ve lost elsewhere—because they and their White House compatriots have forced the issue, and in the process forced Americans to take a side. And what we’ve discovered is that when the choice is between more freedom for workers, more choice for parents and more tax dollars for vital services or, on the other side, more coercive powers for a special interest—well, that isn’t such a hard choice after all.

When all is said and done, it is instructive to examine why RTW is a good thing. First, despite Mr. Obama’s insistence to the contrary, RTW laws do indeed have a great deal to do with economics: they are beneficial.

According to the West Michigan Policy Forum, of the 10 states with the highest rate of personal income growth, eight have right-to-work laws. Those numbers are driving a net migration from forced union states: Between 2000 and 2010, five million people moved to right-to-work states from compulsory union states.

Other policies (such as no income tax) play a role in such migration, so economist Richard Vedder tried to sort out the variables. In the 2010 Cato Journal, he wrote that “without exception” he found “a statistically significant positive relationship” between right to work and net migration.

Mr. Vedder also found a 23% higher rate of per capita income growth in right-to-work states. An analysis by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance finds that Michigan is now the 35th state in overall prosperity measured by per capita income. Had Michigan adopted a right-to-work law in 1977, the group estimates, per capita income for a family of four would have been $13,556 higher by 2008. (Emphasis added.)

And secondly, RTW is a fairness issue for the worker.

… the best case for right to work is moral: the right of an individual to choose. Union chiefs want to coerce workers to join and pay dues that they then funnel to politicians who protect union power. Right to work breaks this cycle of government-aided monopoly union power for the larger economic good.

The question that unionistas can’t seem to come to grips with is this: if the unions are so beneficial, why must they force workers to sign on? The reality is that, given a choice, many workers will just say “no” and the unions will lose money and influence, their real raison d’être. And for the refuseniks, it is an uncoerced step on the road to freedom.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

December 8, 2012

Open Letter to Democrats: Truth Hurts

by Edwin R Williams

seek_truthI’m sure you are all sick of reading this stuff, but if I stop speaking out against socialism I will have no right to complain when it takes over our nation. I have to mention that so many of you have taken the lies of the socialist left as fact without doing a minute of independent research. In the 1970’s when nobody had convenient access to information, it was understandable how lies, rumors and

misconceptions were able to flourish. Today, however you have the power to research at your fingertips, but still you refuse. So, I have a few points to make before you continue on with your downloads of increasingly shameful pornography and meme’s of cats.

Things you know that just aren’t so…

1. Socialism doesn’t work on paper, in theory or in fact. It never has and it never will.

2. The Democrat and Republican Parties never “switched” agendas. It’s a boldfaced lie perpetuated by Democrats trying to explain their racist past. However, the Democratic Party did change direction in 1968 during the convention, the Republican Party never did and has the same basic platform since it was formed to abolish slavery and give women the right to vote.

3. The mentality of “By any means” of the left does not excuse them from lying. If you have to lie to further your agenda, you are still a liar and you don’t deserve the trust of the American people.

4. Just because you like to do drugs, doesn’t make you a Libertarian. Libertarians believe in the most freedom for the most people. No nanny laws, restrictions on firearms, oppressive taxation, prohibitions, unions or government regulations of business. The absolute opposite of Libertarianism is Socialism.

5. Unions are not the champions of the workers. Workers do and should have the right to bargain collectively, but international unions using thug tactics and supporting political parties are in opposition to freedom, not support of it. Businesses are not allowed to ban together to further their interests, labor should not be allowed either.

6. If you support President Obama without reading his book “Dreams of my Father”, you are a fool. Just like every other totalitarian Socialist of the past, Obama has clearly laid out what sort of sociopathic asshole he is. If you don’t read it, you are a “useful Idiot”.

7. Despite his promise of transparency, the Obama Whitehouse has been the most secretive and least transparent administration since Roosevelt. He has abused his power to punish political enemies and hide his past, a situation you would never tolerate from a Republican.

8. Roosevelt didn’t save us from the great depression, he caused it to perpetuate. It was war that caused America to recover from the failed policies and destructive socialism of the progressive Democrats of the 1930’s.

9. It’s not Bush’s fault. Stop allowing a pretentious liar to blame one person for a complicated mess that the former Democratic Congress and Senate had much more to do with than former President Bush. Remember, the Constitution doesn’t allow a President to spend money, that’s Congresses job.

10. Welfare, abortion and affirmative action have done more damage to the Black community than any other factors (including racism). Instead of assimilating and becoming one nation, we still have major divides between races that are the direct result of “special treatment” and the assumption that Blacks aren’t equal to Whites. These policies have destroyed Black families and have turned generations of Black men into self-centered narcissists.

Now you can look into what I have written here, or you can dismiss it as the ravings of a lunatic. The problem comes with the knowledge that I am not insane and that I am still willing to listen. Many of the people on the right have stopped listening, stopped debating and are simply preparing for the worst. No matter what path you take, you can’t say you weren’t told.

June 14, 2012

What is a “job” a gift, a right or an expense?

Caroline May at the Daily Caller had an interesting piece about union efforts to organize the unemployed on Wednesday.  It seems the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has created an organization called the Union of Unemployed Activists (UCubed), which claims “it now has more than 100,000 jobless activists in their ranks.”

No, I’m not making this up, and I don’t think Caroline May is, either.  If she is making this up, she’s really good at it, and the producers of all future Atlas Shrugged movies should hire her as a screenwriter immediately.  She even got a quote from UCubed’s executive director, Rick Sloan, who also happens to be the communications director of the IAM: “Our objective is to pull together unemployed Americans in a way that allows them to connect, communicate, and press their political leaders for policies that will get them back to work.”

What sort of policies would that be?  Right-to-work laws would be a great start.  Collective bargaining increases the price of labor.  The modern union survives by using government power to establish monopoly environments for the labor it sells.  Union leadership is painfully aware of the exodus of jobs to right-to-work states.  South Carolina governor Nikki Haley can tell you all about it.

But no, that’s not what the IAM has in mind for its puppet organization of “jobless activists.”  Instead, they would like to see lawmakers seize taxpayer funds, and run Uncle Sam’s melted credit cards a few billion more times, to “recreate the Works Progress Administration, WPA 2.0, which in the 1930s put between 6.5 and 8 million people back to work.”

Ah, “progressives!”  Always bursting with fresh ideas, aren’t they?  Forward – to 1935!

Meanwhile, unionized teachers in Chicago voted on Tuesday to authorize their first strike in 25 years, unless they get a plump 30 percent raise.  They also think they’re being asked to work too many hours.  If they don’t get what they want, the strike will hit sometime in the next school year.

This places them at odds with the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, who used to be chief of staff for the Obama White House.  An Emanuel spokeswoman tried to make peace, saying “our teachers deserve a raise, but our kids don’t deserve a strike, and taxpayers cannot afford to pay for 30 percent raises.”

These two stories illuminate the great question facing Americans, as they wrestle with public and private-sector unions, command economics, demands for more government “stimulus” spending, and a shrunken workforce: What is a “job?”  After all, we can’t efficiently create something we cannot define.

Does a “job” simply involve performing services, in exchange for a paycheck?  That’s not a good definition, because it describes any number of activities, including things we certainly don’t have in mind when we speak of “job creation.”

Suppose your neighbor offers to pay you $1000 per day to spend an hour walking his dog.  That’s a “job,” right?  And a pretty sweet deal to boot!  But you might feel a bit nervous about basing your life upon such employment.  Who can afford to shell out a thousand bucks for an hour of dog-walking?  That guy might pay you once or twice, and then run out of cash.

Well, what if you know for a fact that your neighbor is insanely wealthy, and can easily afford your services indefinitely?  You might still feel a bit nervous about making this your sole employment.  Why?  Because your employment would exist entirely at the whim of this eccentric billionaire.

It was silly of him to offer a thousand dollars a day to walk his dog.  There is no true demand for such an overpriced service.  He can find plenty of cheaper alternatives.  He could also find plenty of other people to accept his absurdly inflated offer, if he tires of you for any reason… or no reason at all.  Your dog-walking skills don’t have an intrinsic value of anything like $1000 per hour.

A “job,” therefore, is demand for a commodity, which employees sell.  This transaction follows the general laws of supply and demand.  It is possible to assess the value of labor, which becomes less attractive when priced above its value.

One of modern liberalism’s defining psychoses is its obsession with denying these simple truths.  Liberals regard jobs as a gift, which can be showered upon deserving citizens from a bottomless New Deal cornucopia held by wise and benevolent politicians, but that’s not true.  This “gift” must be purchased, and government does not have limitless funds for doing so.  Worse, the funds it does have access to are taken from the private sector, which is far better at determining the true value of labor.  Every dollar moved into the public sector is a dollar which allocates labor less efficiently.

Likewise, the private sector doesn’t have unlimited resources to pay artificially high prices for labor, due to regulations and mandates.  When the cost becomes too great, corners are cut, and expansion plans are canceled.

Some government spending on labor is necessary and proper, of course. The State will always have employees. However, government employment is an expense borne by society, for common benefits that can’t really be provided at a profit. Police and military forces are a good example. The moral and practical rationale for government employment is that some things simply need doing, and society must bear the cost.

Any good businessman will tell you that such expenses should be kept to a minimum. As more jobs are brought wholly or partially under the influence of politics, expenses balloon, and efficiency is diminished. Political influence is anti-competitive, by definition, so the benefits of competition are lost when the public sphere grows. The result is what you see around you today: bloated government spending, a weakened private sector, and towering public debt.

What is a “job?” The definition can either be negotiated in a competitive environment, between free buyers and sellers of labor, or it can be decreed. Political muscle is a poor way of determining how many employees are needed, and how much they should be paid, so that muscle should be flexed sparingly. Unfortunately, this lesson will be lost on the horde of “jobless activists” pressuring politicians for a new New Deal, and unionized public employees who don’t want to think about the realistic demand for their labor.

via What is a “job?” | | Conservative News, Views & Books.

April 26, 2012

Union boss & thug Richard Trumka makes millions in salary while telling the rank & file to eat the rich.

In an email announcing the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch website, the leader of the nation’s largest union organization encourages members to fight excessive executive salaries. But in doing so, he risks training fire on his own impressive pay package.

In a recent email to union “e-Activists,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka encourages union members to visit the site, calling it “your one-stop shop for the most recent information on out-of-control CEO pay and what you can do to stop it.”Trying to stir union members into protesting the disparity between the wages of CEO’s and the worker’s they manage, Trumka’s email said, “Runaway CEO pay isn’t just bad for our economy, it’s bad for the morale of working families, too. All workers, from the executive suite down to the shop floor, contribute to making a company successful. But these corporations are buying into the myth that the success of a corporation is the result of its CEO alone.”

As President of the union, Trumka makes over eight times as much as the average American worker.

According to the Center for Union Facts, Trumka brought home a gross salary of $264,827 in 2010, plus another $18,513 in additional compensation, to represent his union. The union leader has earned well over $200,000 every year since he was promoted to Secretary Treasurer in 2003.

In 2011, Trumka earned $293,750.

According to the recent email from Trumka’s desk, the average American worker makes about $34,000 a year.

The president is also onboard with Trumka’s message. Obama’s union connections are well documented: White House visitor rolls show the godfather of organized labor making some 70 visits to Obama’s White House.

The AFL-CIO is a major contributor to Democrats during election years, spending almost $1 million on the 2010 midterm elections, 93 percent of those donations going to Democratic candidates. In 2008, over a million dollars, a full 91 percent of the $1.3 million the union donated to congressional campaigns, went to filling Capitol Hill with Democrats.

Trumka ended his email with a call to action: “America can continue with failed policies that offer increasing rewards to corporate profiteers who cut jobs and load up their own pockets—like Mitt Romney did when he was at Bain Capital—or we can work together to make our economy work for everyone. A simple place to start is getting CEO pay under control.”

via Trumka’s Big Bucks | Washington Free Beacon.

November 1, 2011

Unions Continue to Swindle the Public

Unions are still treacherous, but with a generous helping of legislative malfeasance, their tactics are more subtle.

President California Teachers Empowerment Network

“On the Waterfront” portrayed union power at its rawest. In the 1950s, the unions typically got their way with nothing less than brute force. But today the tactics are different. In “Pretty Boy Floyd,” Woody Guthrie sang, “Some will rob you with a sixgun, and some with a fountain pen.” The unions are well entrenched in the “fountain pen” camp and recently, Illinois has been in their crosshairs.

In September, the Chicago Tribune broke a story about Dennis Gannon, a former sanitation worker who became a president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. He went back to work for the city for one day, then took a leave of absence and was legally allowed to collect a $158,000 pension, about five times the average sanitation worker.

Shortly after that, again in Chicago, two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience similarly gamed the system by taking advantage of a new law.

“The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.

“(Lobbyist) Preckwinkle’s one day of subbing qualified him to become a participant in the state teachers pension fund, allowing him to pick up 16 years of previous union work and nearly five more years since he joined. He’s 59, and at age 60 he’ll be eligible for a state pension based on the four-highest consecutive years of his last 10 years of work.

“His paycheck fluctuates as a union lobbyist, but pension records show his earnings in the last school year were at least $245,000. Based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.

“His pay for one day as a substitute was $93, according to records of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System.”

In a higher profile case, Reg Weaver was a teacher in Danville earning $60,000 a year. He worked his way up the union food chain and became National Education Association president in 2002. Termed out in 2008, he now makes a yearly $242,657 teachers pension. Weaver has the audacity to defend his outrageous pension which is based on his salary as a union leader. He told the Chicago Tribune,

“I worked seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Weaver said. “There was not a time when someone was not able to get in touch with me. You ask my family. I didn’t take vacation. I worked in the office long hours. I worked anywhere from 15 hours, 16 hours a day.

“If you want to divide that $240,000 into the amount of hours spent, I think you would find that the per hour was probably not much at all, considering the work that had to be done.”

But what Weaver and some others in Illinois don’t seem to get is that whatever work he may have done for his union, his pension should come from the union, not in large part from the average taxpayer who was never a part of that union. (Memo to the Occupy crowd in Chicago: Why are you not up in arms about this? Or does OWS really stand for “Obviously, We’re Stupid”?)

These cases are egregious and not just limited to Illinois.

But there is a bigger, more insidious union-involved scandal that is nationwide and ongoing: “release time” from school for teachers who are union reps. These teachers are regularly given time off from their teaching duties so that they can do union business on school time and still be paid…by the district, i.e. the taxpayers. For example, in New York,

The Department of Education pays about 1,500 teachers for time they spend on union activities — and pays other teachers to replace them in the classroom.

“It’s a sweetheart deal that costs taxpayers an extra $9 million a year to pay fill-ins for instructors who are sprung — at full pay — to carry out responsibilities for the United Federation of Teachers.”

“The UFT reimburses the DOE only about $900,000 of nearly $10 million it spends to replace the teachers, officials said.”

Far away from New York, in California’s conservative Orange County, there is a district that has this wording as part of their contract,

“The Association President or designee may utilize one (1) day per week for Association business. The District shall bear the cost of the substitutes.”

Just about every teacher union contract has this kind of screw-the-taxpayer clause written into it, usually in the area that deals with “Association Rights.” Yeah, every time the “Association” asserts a right, the taxpayers take it in the shorts. And all the while students are subject to a steady barrage of subs, which is never a winning formula for a good education.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network– a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

October 17, 2011

The Weekend Interview with Mortimer Zuckerman: The Exasperation of the Democratic Billionaire

Real-estate and newspaper mogul Mortimer Zuckerman voted for Obama but began seeing trouble as soon as the stimulus went into the pockets of municipal unions.

By JAMES FREEMAN

New York

‘It’s as if he doesn’t like people,” says real-estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman of the president of the United States. Barack Obama doesn’t seem to care for individuals, elaborates Mr. Zuckerman, though the president enjoys addressing millions of them on television.

via The Weekend Interview with Mortimer Zuckerman: The Exasperation of the Democratic Billionaire – WSJ.com.

%d bloggers like this: