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Topic: Unions (Read 43888 times)
June 09, 2010, 09:54:22 AM »
SEIU has been part of another thread for quite some time now, but I am thinking the subject of unions needs its own thread.
- The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -
Morning Bell: Unions Just Flushed $5 Million of Your Tax Dollars Down the Toilet
Posted By Conn Carroll On June 9, 2010 @ 9:31 am In Enterprise and Free Markets | No Comments
It is not every day we get to agree with the Obama administration. But after Sen. Blanche Lincoln defeated Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter in the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary runoff election, after the AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME poured millions of dollars into Halter’s campaign, a senior White House official told Politico : “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet.” But it wasn’t just “their members” money that those unions were wasting. This year the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed that for the first time in the history of the United States, a majority of union members work for the government, not the private sector . To be exact, 52% of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments. That means more than half of the $10 million that unions wasted just in Arkansas first came from your tax dollars. And the waste goes well beyond Arkansas.
In his ongoing battle with teachers unions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) recently told  a town hall in Robbinsville: “My argument is not with teachers in New Jersey. My argument is with a union who collects $730 a year from every teacher and school employee in the union in mandatory dues. And if you don’t want to join the union here’s your option: you can be out. You pay 85% of $730 … to be out. It’s like the Hotel California. You can check in anytime you like but you can never leave. That raises for the teachers union, get ready, $130 million a year. What do they spend that money on? … $6 million in negative advertising against me since March 16th. Think about that. That’s a little over two months they have spent $6 million on New York TV and Radio, Philadelphia TV and radio to attack me. That’s dues money that is coming from their teachers, mandatory no choice, and from all of you because those salaries come from your property taxes and your state income taxes.”
Christie’s fight with government unions is over his constitutional amendment that would limit annual property tax increases to 2.5 percent. Government unions hate this policy because lower taxes mean less government spending which means less dues from government employees. At a meeting with conservative journalists yesterday at The Heritage Foundation, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels called government unions “the new privileged class in America.” He told Politico  earlier this week: “We used to think of government workers as underpaid public servants. Now they are better paid than the people who pay their salaries.”
As Heritage fellow James Sherk has documented  this battle between government unions and the people who pay their salaries is playing out across the country. In Maine, the Maine Municipal Association, the SEIU, the Teamsters, and the Maine Education Association collectively spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign against a ballot initiative that would have prevented government spending from growing faster than the combined rate of inflation and population growth. In Illinois, AFSCME Council 31 ran television and radio ads pushing for tax increases in their “Fair Budget Illinois” campaign. In Oregon, government unions provided 90 percent of the $4 million spent advocating two ballot initiatives to raise personal income and business taxes by $733 million.
When a private sector company agrees to an unwise labor contract, it goes out of business (unless it gets bailed out by the government). But government never goes out of business, and in fact, always grows. In 2009 private-sector unions lost 834,000 members while public-sector unions actually gained 64,000 members. This is untenable. Something must change before government unions bankrupt this country.
According to a Treasury Department report to Congress, the ratio of debt to the gross domestic product will rise to 102 percent by 2015 .
According to Rasmussen Reports , 84% of Americans oppose a three percent (3%) tax on monthly cell phone bills to help newspapers and traditional journalism.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wooed Hugo Chavez ally  Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Tuesday.
Turkey hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  at a regional security summit meeting in Istanbul yesterday.
Members of Israel’s National Student Union are organizing a “reverse flotilla”  to bring humanitarian aid to the “oppressed people of Turkish Kurdistan” and to members of the “Turkish Armenian minority.”
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.:
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 for the first time in the history of the United States, a majority of union members work for the government, not the private sector:
 the ratio of debt to the gross domestic product will rise to 102 percent by 2015:
 Rasmussen Reports:
 wooed Hugo Chavez ally:
 hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
 “reverse flotilla”:
Pay Dues or Get Fired
Reply #1 on:
June 10, 2010, 03:02:06 PM »
Marine to be fired for not giving money to Democrats
June 10, 10:15 AM · Robert Moon - Conservative Examiner
AP Photo/Mel Evans
In yet another demonstration of how incapable liberals are of competing on a level playing field, Retired Maj. Stephen Godin, who runs a high school ROTC program in Massachusetts, is being given an ultimatum: Pay $500 in union "representation" money (i.e., give money to Democrats) or be fired.
Godin refuses to be brow-beaten into paying involuntary union dues, saying, "It's the principal of the matter. I think they're trying to extort money from me. They do nothing for me."
But in Massachusetts (as well as dozens of other states), his rights go straight out the window. Despite our Equal Opportunity laws, if you don't want to join greedy, self-serving union parasites as they needlessly bankrupt the system at every turn (see here, here and here) while keeping Democrats from having to get campaign contributions legitimately, you simply don't get to have a job.
Reply #2 on:
June 10, 2010, 04:13:10 PM »
Unions and Dems. Yes it seems like a viscous cycle. People are forced to join unions, give dues, and invariably every union I am aware of spends money getting Democrats elected who in turn are obliged to cow-tow to the unions and probably willingly do so to keep the cash and other support coming.
In NJ the teachers union do this and *always* support the Democrat.
Reply #3 on:
June 10, 2010, 04:59:25 PM »
Here is data on union political spending.
While labor spends freely, it is very compared to
or heaven forbid
Reply #4 on:
June 10, 2010, 05:13:01 PM »
It seems to me if you want to opt out of the union's political activities, you may.
"Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), as amended by the Taft-Hartley Act, a union may only require that employees either join the union or pay the equivalent of union dues. Nonmembers who object to that requirement may only be compelled to pay that portion of union dues that is attributable to the cost of representing employees in collective bargaining and in providing services to all represented employees, but not, with certain exceptions, to the union's political activities or organizing employees of other employers."
Reply #5 on:
June 10, 2010, 06:15:12 PM »
And when they cheat on the proportion that goes to political activities, are you really going to invest your life in fighting it?
Reply #6 on:
June 10, 2010, 07:28:50 PM »
Quote from: JDN on June 10, 2010, 05:13:01 PM
It seems to me if you want to opt out of the union's political activities, you may.
False. They get around this by demanding "fair share" payments. I know because I refused to join the SEIU in the late '80s. When I was duking it out with them they claimed that "fair share" amount was 85 percent of the normal dues and it was the portion devoted to collective bargaining and other supposed benefits. When several of us asked them to show us their budget to prove this, they refused to.
It was a very interesting times. Got to contend with sundry locker room attitude adjustment efforts and deal with various other intimidation attempts. Finally beat it by becoming management, but have seen the underbelly of the SEIU and know it's as un-American as it gets.
Reply #7 on:
June 10, 2010, 08:12:32 PM »
I can say from personal experience that the only thing I could count on Teamsters Law Enforcement League membership was the regular deduction of dues from my bank account. I was slugging it out with a corrupt police administration at the time, and they did nothing for me.
Reply #8 on:
June 10, 2010, 08:56:04 PM »
Quote from: Body-by-Guinness on June 10, 2010, 07:28:50 PM
Quote from: JDN on June 10, 2010, 05:13:01 PM
It seems to me if you want to opt out of the union's political activities, you may.
Actually, BBG the answer is TRUE. Read the Law... It is quite clear. As you pointed out, as per the law, they reduced your dues by 15%. As Crafty questioned, is this the correct amount? I don't know; in non election years, maybe less, but probably in election years, maybe more.... But, the answer is TRUE; you can technically opt out of the political activities portion of dues. Period.
GM; I am not defending unions here per se and definitely not the Teamsters, however my neighbor behind me is a LAPD Captain. We've had discussions about this;
he's true blue, and conservative, but he acknowledges that the Police Union does help it's members; i.e. hours, pay, and particularly in time of need. Just his opinion, I guess, but I have a very high respect for the LAPD and frankly, given the politics, I think having a union to represent the police officer is important. I don't know about their political contributions. My other neighbor, a Judge, happened to join us one night over drinks and he too agreed. "The Police Union looks after the police officer; that's their job". And it's important in my opinion.
Reply #9 on:
June 10, 2010, 09:03:41 PM »
All I can comment on is my own personal experiences with unions. I'd hope they were more useful to police officers elsewhere.
Reply #10 on:
June 10, 2010, 09:14:11 PM »
Yet false as they devoted more than 15 percent to political activity and refused to open their books until we took them to court. By the time that resolved I was management, but those still in the class were refunded a substantial portion of their accrued dues. The percentage eludes me 20 years later, but I think it was in the neighborhood of 75 percent.
All of which is besides the point as the SEIU is comprised of corrupt thugs that really ought not be forcibly underwritten by anyone.
Union Dues Don't Represent Union Members
Reply #11 on:
June 11, 2010, 11:44:30 AM »
Labor Bosses Have Egg on Their Faces
Friday, June 11, 2010
Labor unions were big losers in this week's elections, but you won't hear them admit it. After pouring $10 million into a campaign to defeat incumbent Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln -- who won anyway -- the AFL-CIO hailed their embarrassing loss as "a tremendous victory" for working families. And the Service Employees International Union, which spent more than $3 million to oust Lincoln, is signaling it will sit out the Senate race in Arkansas in the fall, as well as several congressional races where more centrist Democrats will be on the ballot.
Ever wonder why unions have become so irrelevant in recent years? They've been hemorrhaging members for six decades and now represent only 7 percent of private-sector workers and 12 percent of the total labor force. And they've basically given up on representing their members' interests, instead devoting most of their efforts and money to currying political favor and access.
But exactly what do the billions in members' dollars spent on politics actually buy? The SEIU's Andy Stern (who stepped down as president in early May) demonstrated he was a lousy kingmaker in Arkansas, but he still managed to visit the Obama White House more often than any other person on the planet in 2009. And that is really what it's all about. Labor bosses don't give a hoot about the workers they represent. They push a left-wing agenda rooted in their own ideological proclivities, regardless of whether it helps or hurts working men and women.
And the Arkansas Senate race is a perfect example. The SEIU and Big Labor in general were big fans of Sen. Lincoln until she did the unthinkable -- she sided with the voters in her state rather than her labor backers on a couple of key issues.
Arkansans didn't think much of Big Labor's proposed card check legislation, which would abolish secret ballot elections in determining whether employees want a union to represent them at the bargaining table, so Lincoln didn't back the bill. According to national polls, 74 percent of voters say they oppose card check, and the percentage of persons in union households who oppose the legislation was identical. But that hasn't stopped the SEIU and other unions from trying to punish anyone who dares disagree.
The same holds for voter opposition to a public option in health care reform, which the unions claimed Lincoln opposed -- though she came down on both sides in the public option debate, depending on what was politically expedient at the time.
But why did unions push the public option in the first place? In addition to being wildly unpopular with all Americans, it wouldn't have helped union members one whit. Union workers already have health insurance -- and many have so-called Cadillac plans whose benefits are far more generous than any government program could offer. A public option would have meant higher taxes and no benefits for union members.
Even Big Labor's political allies are getting fed up with the unions' tactics. After Lincoln's victory against her labor-backed opponent, an anonymous White House spokesman told Politico newspaper, "Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise." Of course, that won't stop Democrats from continuing to use unions as cash cows for their political campaigns. Without union contributions, Democrats would not have won the White House and control of both houses of Congress.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Government, six out of the top 10 donors in federal elections since 1989 are unions -- amounting to almost $191 million in direct contributions, more than 90 percent of which has gone to Democrats. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Unions also spend money by organizing get-out-the-vote drives, printing and distributing campaign literature, and running their own advocacy ads. And they disburse thousands of campaign "volunteers" -- who are most often on union-paid vacation or administrative leave -- to provide shock troops for union-backed candidates.
But union members have little say about which candidates their unions support, and they don't always vote for the candidates their unions endorse. In the hotly contested Massachusetts Senate race earlier this year, 49 percent of union households backed Republican Scott Brown to 46 percent who backed the union-supported Democrat Martha Coakley.
Union dues still help fund Big Labor's political juggernaut by paying the political union operatives who run the show and paying for efforts to persuade union members how they should vote. So, while labor bosses may have egg on their face after their embarrassing losses this week, it is labor union members who foot the bill, whether they want to or not.
NY Teacher Union Office in . . . FL?
Reply #12 on:
June 11, 2010, 05:19:01 PM »
The NYC Teachers Union's Local Office... in Boca Raton?
By Rick Hess on June 10, 2010 9:41 AM | 6 Comments | No TrackBacks
New York City's teachers may do well to ask why their union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), has an office in Boca Raton, Florida. A recent article in the New York Post figured that rent alone for the Boca Raton branch costs UFT members $183,603 per year. That's not peanuts for a union fretting about its financially strapped members.
One reason for the Boca branch, as I noted a little while back, is that the retirees in the UFT are more active in UFT elections than the current teachers. The UFT website notes, "The UFT maintains an office in Boca Raton to service our retired members in Florida. These members make up a potent voting bloc, last year helping to elect two new members of Congress with favorable positions on our issues." NYC teachers may wonder whether their retired brethren are allies, or a competing constituency.
It turns out that the Boca office also helps retired teachers more easily take advantage of their "retention rights," a little known contractual clause that gives priority to established teachers, regardless of effectiveness, in "per session" extracurricular activities (that is, time not included in the contracted school day). Per session activities include vacation day camps, adult ed, summer school, and coaching.
Retention rights mean that coaching assignments or summer school instruction work a lot like taxi medallions. They give the holders a death grip on the position until they choose to relinquish it. The UFT contract states that, "Teachers with at least two years of continuous satisfactory service in a particular activity shall have priority for retention in the same activity for the following school year." NYC Department of Ed's Regulation of the Chancellor C-175 confirms that this provision applies to retirees as well, noting, "Persons who are not primarily employed by the DOE (e.g., retirees and part-time employees)...may claim retention rights under the Teachers' Agreement."
In other words, former teachers who desire a few extra bucks for greens fees or lawn care can up and keep returning to New York City to teach summer school--bumping current teachers from these per session jobs. And, so long as they keep doing it, they can keep doing it.
One reliable source in the NYCDOE estimates that there are "hundreds of teachers who take advantage of retention rights." At the per session hourly rate of $41.98, with average summer school lengths ranging from 60 to 150 hours, the average per session teacher is earning between $2,500 and $6,300--that's probably a million bucks or more a year that snow birds are claiming from current teachers.
Especially when cash is scarce, giving retirees the right to lay claim to summer jobs that would otherwise go to current employees seems foolish--forgetting for the moment even about whether these folks are still sharp in the classroom. This is a clear case of where the UFT is serving dueling masters--current teachers and retirees--and seems to have opted for the latter.
Reply #13 on:
June 12, 2010, 12:32:25 AM »
There was a time I suppose when organizing workers made sense because the greedy capitalist had too much power as perhaps the only employer within commuting distance of a town and whatever paltry sum they paid is what you had to accept or not work. For one thing, that is NEVER the case with a public employees union. There is no greedy capitalist involved - just the will of the people / consent of the governed - and it can't possibly be the only employer in town because the public sector necessarily feeds off of a private sector, that is until it destroys it. A city hall or county highway department for examples can't pay below market wages by definition. They compete in the market for workers. They may pay a little less in exchange for the safety/security or convenience of actually getting to leave the office at a fixed time but if no one fills those jobs the pay would go up to market level - without a union.
We all know this I think but when unions 'negotiate' 'successfully' with private companies, it is not win-win. It is a parasite or disease destroying its host. I had to explain to one union member 'employee' of United Airlines on 'disability' pay who hadn't worked in years why companies like that go bankrupt. Bankruptcy was the only way to clear the exploding obligations that they could no longer stay in business and honor. In the case of General Motors I think the ratio was 10:1 of the number of people's healthcare they were paying to the actual number of people working. It just doesn't work and there was no relief valve. These unions forced unaffordable contracts on these companies with the threat of shutting down operations until they really did shut down operations.
The hospitals in our metro are currently fighting with the nurses union over 3% pay increases, pension issues and work rules. The average pay before the increases is $78k during this economic recession/depression for everyone else, the pension benefits are guaranteed - unheard of in the real world, and the work rules tie the hands of the doctors and hospitals from innovating or trying to improve utilization or efficiency in order to afford the high salaries and benefits. The hospitals by state law are non-profit, so again there is no greedy capitalist to protect against. Just the embattled consumer stuck with the bill until the sick system, with no check or balance, implodes.
Unions Drop Big Bucks on City Council Race . . . and Loses
Reply #14 on:
June 12, 2010, 10:39:58 AM »
Taking On The Unions In Calif. — And Winning
By STEVEN GREENHUT
Posted 06/11/2010 06:40 PM ET
A political candidate can take on the public-employee unions in a nasty street rumble and emerge bloodied but victorious. That's the message from Tuesday's election to fill a board of supervisors seat in Orange County, Calif.
It was a race that could have statewide and even national implications because of the particularly gutsy role the Republican Party played in directly challenging union power.
The county's two most powerful public employee unions, the Orange County Employees Association and the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, spent upward of $1 million in independent expenditures on behalf of their candidate, Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu, a go-along, get-along Republican who promised to drop a county lawsuit challenging a 2001 retroactive pension increase for deputies.
Most of the union money went toward hit mailers against Shawn Nelson, a Fullerton councilman who played a key role in stopping an egregious pension hike in his city and the conservative choice for the seat.
County supervisor races don't usually generate that level of spending. But the unions — with their nearly bottomless pit of cash from dues-paying members — dropped one mailer after another championing Sidhu and depicting Nelson as a man who wants to free child molesters because his law firm does criminal defense work.
The unions had so much money, they even bought radio spots on Los Angeles talk radio — an astounding use of funds, given that Orange County accounts for only a portion of the L.A. radio market.
But the unions had to make a point. Nick Berardino, president of the OCEA, told the Orange County Register that his union went after Nelson because he doesn't "tell the truth about us being a reform union" and because Nelson "vilifies us to get votes."
My sense is the union had to strike hard against Nelson because of his hard-line stance in favor of pension reform and because of Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh's line-in-the-sand manifesto.
In January, Baugh gave a speech to the county Republican central committee deploring the influence of unions and berating Republicans who "have been just as guilty as Democrats" in giving in to pension increases and debt spending.
"I don't want to see Republicans voting the so-called right way on the pension issues facing us today," he said. "I want to see Republicans taking political risks by offering pro-active solutions that include creating two- or three-tier pension systems that would allow us to get our books back in order. For elected officials, this means risk and political courage to place your principles above your office."
He said the party will no longer endorse candidates who receive support from public employee unions.
Baugh and the party got behind Nelson, an outspoken pension reformer and county GOP elected official of the year. Nelson refused union support and embraced Baugh's controversial stance. Sidhu not only made a promise to the unions (regarding the county lawsuit), but also sat back and enjoyed enormous union support in the form of independent expenditures even though he signed the no-union-support pledge.
More than a supervisor seat was on the line. Baugh's manifesto and the party's credibility were put to the test. Few people, however, expected the amount of union support that would flow Sidhu's way, or the number of establishment Republicans who backed Sidhu — in my view because they preferred the malleable candidate who might be more amenable to their lobbying.
I talked to Nelson, Baugh and others involved in the race right up until Election Day, and everyone was on pins and needles. Many OC political observers believed Sidhu would prevail, given the union onslaught.
In the end, Nelson won big and Sidhu barely edged out low-spending, second-tier candidates who weren't viewed as serious factors in the race. Nelson will fill the seat immediately, given that the seat is vacant after another libertarian-oriented pension reformer, Supervisor Chris Norby, was elected to the state Assembly.
As the top two vote getters, Nelson and Sidhu will face off again in November to fill the seat for the next four years. But it's clear union spending accomplished little, and it's unlikely the unions will spend so much again after getting beaten so badly Tuesday.
The OC race, coupled with the failure of national unions to unseat Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, reminds us that it's possible to stand up and beat the unions in a head-to-head battle, especially in the current political climate, where the public is increasingly frustrated by overly generous pensions and mounting debt. The key is having the courage to stand up and fight.
May this be the first of many such battles.
• Greenhut is director of the Pacific Research Institute's journalism center in Sacramento and author of "Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation."
Presidential Patronage Pays
Reply #15 on:
June 14, 2010, 10:27:23 PM »
Union Contract Can Exempt Health Plan From ObamaCare
On Monday June 14, 2010, 7:11 pm EDT
Under new rules, your employer can't change insurers without losing your health plan's exemptions from ObamaCare regulations.
That is, unless a union negotiated your coverage. The administration has granted a special exception to those — and apparently only those — health care plans.
A health plan is deemed "grandfathered" if it was purchased before March 23, 2010, and no major changes are made later. Such plans are exempt from most ObamaCare requirements.
But new rules, officially announced Monday, make it hard to keep that status. IBD previously reported that the Obama administration estimates that 51% of all employers — 66% of small firms — would have to relinquish their current coverage by Jan. 1, 2014.
Hail The Collective
But the rules that limit grandfathering are less stringent for unions. Under the regulations, if "an employer or employee organization enters into a new policy, certificate, or contract of insurance after March 23, 2010 ... then that policy, certificate, or contract of insurance is not a grandfathered health plan."
However, that rule does not apply to health care plans that are part of collective bargaining agreements negotiated by unions and set up by March 23, 2010. As long as the collective bargaining agreement is in force, the health plan retains its grandfathered status even if the employers and unions agree to change insurance carriers.
The regulations include an example of a union-negotiated plan that enters into a new group policy "with Issuer Y for the plan year starting on January 1, 2011." In this case, "the group health plan, and the group health insurance policy provided by Y, remains a grandfathered health plan."
Thus, unions could switch to another carrier that offered similar benefits at cheaper prices without losing grandfathered status. Non-union employers that changed insurers would face benefit mandates, caps on out-of-pocket expenses and limits on age-based premiums.
Gerry Shea, health policy analyst and special assistant to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, downplayed the language's import, characterizing it as "boiler plate stuff."
"This is not something that we particularly lobbied on but we did say that, like other changes, there should be a collective bargaining transition period," Shea told IBD. "This is typical for any major change in federal law that affects employee benefits. Not just health care, but other ones too."
According to analysis accompanying the rules, up to 69% of employer plans — 80% for small firms — would forfeit grandfather rights in the worst-case scenario.
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said, "This is an egregious example of the lengths the Obama administration will go to shelter unions from any negative consequences from ObamaCare, while putting the cost and burden on everyday, hard-working Americans."
Gingrey, who is also co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, added: "While up to 80% of workers in small businesses will be forced off of their current plan, unions are given 'special status' to negotiate better rates for their members."
Working Hard For Big Labor
This is hardly the first time that President Obama has gone to bat for Big Labor, which backed his candidacy in 2008. He guaranteed the UAW pension funds during Chrysler's bankruptcy and crafted a deal where the union got a 55% stake in the company.
Obama appointed union ally Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary and used a recess appointment to put Craig Becker, a former lawyer with the Service Employees International Union, on the National Labor Relations Board.
During the health care debate, legislation included a 40% excise tax on high-cost "Cadillac" coverage starting in 2013. Unions initially won a deal with the White House and Congress to exempt collective bargaining deals until 2018. The final health law delays the excise tax until 2018 for all.
Union Thugs v. Successful Schools
Reply #16 on:
June 15, 2010, 11:03:55 AM »
Revolt Against the Blob
New York City teachers’ unions have created an indefensible system, and they don’t appreciate being forced to defend it.
Eva Moskowitz has become an expert at being hated.
It started a few years ago when the “bleeding-heart liberal,” as she describes herself, served on the New York City Council as chairwoman of the education committee. In an excess of public-spiritedness, she subjected the contract of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), as well as the contracts of the principals and custodians, to critical scrutiny at public hearings. Her life would never be the same.
Moskowitz still talks of those contracts with outraged astonishment. When she visited schools, she would ask what sounds like a set-up for a joke: “Does your custodian change your light bulbs?” The answer: Not quite. They would change the bulbs, but not the ballast — which starts the current in a fluorescent bulb — because that’s not in their contract.
Custodians can paint the walls of a classroom only up to ten feet high, after which the official painters must take over. It’s like Christian sects squabbling over space in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
A teacher can be fired only after an elaborate arbitration procedure. Since the union approves the arbitrators, it will nix anyone who has been notably unforgiving of teacher malfeasance in the past. Only ten teachers were fired out of 55,000 tenured teachers in 2008.
All of this is indefensible, and the unions didn’t appreciate being forced to defend it. Some of Moskowitz’s witnesses backed out for fear of their jobs. “I felt like I was in a Godfather movie,” she says.
The UFT took its revenge by defeating her in a race for Manhattan borough president in 2005. But it is not yet rid of this meddlesome woman. As the hard-charging CEO of the Harlem Success Academy, a network of four — soon to be seven — charter schools, she is on a righteous mission to demonstrate how education can work unencumbered by the insane constraints of the established system.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish, she says, when you design your schools “around teaching and learning and don’t think of yourself as an employment program for grown-ups.”
Almost all of Harlem Success’s students are black or Latino, and three-quarters qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Last year, 100 percent of Harlem Success’s third-graders passed the standardized state math exam, and 95 percent passed the English test, far outpacing the local school districts and ranking the school 32nd among all of New York state’s 3,500 public schools.
For Moskowitz, it’s the result of “high behavioral and high academic expectations.” For her critics, it’s another reason to hate her. The union imports activists to protest her schools. Last year, a charming mob greeted Harlem Success children arriving for the first day of school with chants of “Don’t be fooled, abort charter schools.”
This union bullying is a thread throughout the affecting new documentary The Lottery, which follows four Harlem families who enter the annual, heartbreakingly oversubscribed lottery to get their kids into Harlem Success. Newark mayor Cory Booker says he can no longer attend such events because they are so sad for the kids who don’t make it. Anyone watching The Lottery who doesn’t carry a UFT membership card will feel the same way.
Moskowitz didn’t set out to be a union target. “I’m not a Milton Friedman,” she says. “I just think kids are getting screwed by a system that’s horrible.” She is now part of a nationwide revolt against the union-dominated education blob, running the gamut from liberal reformers like her on the left to fiscal conservatives like Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey on the right. For the unions, it should be a worrisome sign that you can engage in a conspiracy against the public interest for only so long before creating a backlash.
As a Harlem Success parent said over and over again in a rejoinder to protesters outside one of the schools: “My baby is learning.” Courtesy of the education establishment’s Public Enemy Number One.
— Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.
Taxpayers to Fund Failed Union Pensions?
Reply #17 on:
June 15, 2010, 02:47:39 PM »
Congress Wants To Bail Out Union Pensions
by Connie Hair (more by this author)
Posted 06/15/2010 ET
A new bill introduced by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania would set up a taxpayer bailout of underfunded, multiemployer union pension plans.
The Pennsylvania senator recently introduced the latest in Orwellian-named Democratic bills—the “Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act of 2010.”
Multiemployer plans were designed to let union members move from union job to union job and keep the same pension plan. But if a company participating in the plan as part of its collective bargaining agreement were to go bankrupt, the other participating companies in the plan are forced to fully fund these Cadillac union pensions.
The vested members with no participating company are called “orphans.” Casey’s bill seeks to partition out these “orphaned” union members, putting taxpayers on the hook for their full retirement benefit funding.
As previously reported on HUMAN EVENTS, Democrats plan to federalize pensions while bailing out their union supporters who’ve botched funding pensions for their rank-and-file members.
Democrats are not content with a one-time bailout of these failed multiemployer pension plans. Now, Casey’s bill would make a line item on the federal budget through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to fund these union pension bailouts annually.
Currently when one of these funds is in distress, the PBGC has the power to partition out these orphans and pay a guaranteed benefit of $12,870 at taxpayer expense, similar to what the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) does when a bank goes belly up.
At a recent Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) hearing, Charles Jeszeck, an acting director at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said that union multiemployer pension plans are in deep financial trouble.
A chart found on page 12 of Jaszeck’s written testimony clearly illustrates that by 1998, there was only one active worker in the multiemployer pension plans for every retiree.
“In 1998, the multiemployer plans overall got to one worker for every retiree,” Brett McMahon of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a national trade association, told HUMAN EVENTS. “They’re much worse now. The Teamsters in particular right now are about four retirees for every worker. The coal miners are about 12 retirees to every worker. When you hit one to one it is impossible—actually even earlier than that—it’s impossible to recover.”
Jeszeck testified at the hearing that unless union membership grows exponentially, the multiemployer pension funds are headed for collapse.
“The future growth of multiemployer plans is largely predicated on growth of collective bargaining,” Jeszeck said. “Without a new stream of contributions, plans will increasingly have to tap into assets to meet benefit obligations and, everything else being equal, will generally lower the plans’ funded status.”
One of the largest of these multiemployer funds, Central States Funds, is in such bad shape that UPS paid $6 billion in penalties to extricate itself from employee participation in the fund.
“All that got them was the right to leave the plan. It transferred no benefits to their employees,” McMahon said. “They now have their own plan, though, which is doing great because it’s properly funded and they’re not responsible for everyone else’s employees.”
According to the financial and analytical report compiled for a January 2009 trustee meeting, by the end of 2008, Central States had approximately 80,000 current participating workers and over 200,000 retirees.
The fund is headed for an implosion.
“A collapse of this sort of Ponzi scheme was foreseeable 25 years ago,” McMahon said.
The Casey bill seeks to bailout and then expand participation in these defined benefits plans that give unions control over the funds, as opposed to a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k) where employers contribute and individuals control their own retirement investments.
Further, union members are indentured to their unions, unable to accept other work at the risk of forfeiting these pension benefits outright.
In May, the PBGC partitioned the Chicago Truck Drivers, Helpers and Warehouse Workers Union (Independent) Pension Fund which now sets the pensions for the new partitioned plan workers at the federally guaranteed benefit level of up to $12,870 per year after 30 years of service.
According to the PBGC, “The Chicago plan’s administrator applied for partition because the plan was running out of money to pay benefits. The shortfall resulted from the bankruptcy and withdrawal from the plan of 52 contributing employers from 1982 to 2004, which reduced the plan’s funding levels.”
“If a union knows that if they drive a company into bankruptcy, which they clearly have a talent for doing, they can still say to those union members that taxpayers will cover your full retirement bill, removing further incentives for a union to work productively with an employer,” McMahon said.
There are 57 contributing employers left in the Chicago plan and no new employers agreeing to enter into any multiemployer benefit plan.
With union-controlled, multiemployer pension plans clearly becoming a failed model, the Associated Builders and Contractors—representing 25,000 construction and construction-related firms employing over 2 million people—offers guidelines on how to deal with the problem:
• Immediately freeze the troubled multiemployer pension plans to new entrants, followed by paying out the remaining assets among those already enrolled based on the length of time people have been invested in them.
• Amend the existing Employee Retirement Income Security Act provisions that allow termination of a multiemployer plan if all contributing members of a plan withdraw (a mass withdrawal).
• Require yearly written notices to be issued to all participants and beneficiaries when the ratio of the number of retirees, beneficiaries of deceased participants, and terminated vested participants in a multiemployer plan to the number of active participants in the plan for each such year is 3:1 or less.
Casey’s bill seeks to bailout the union plans on the taxpayer dime to give unions more leverage to drive up membership. That’s the Democrat plan: continue the Ponzi scheme by expanding it with taxpayer dollars.
Connie Hair writes daily as HUMAN EVENTS' Congressional correspondent. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and a former media and coalitions advisor to the Senate Republican Conference.
Non-Union Paid Union Demonstrators
Reply #18 on:
July 18, 2010, 04:59:29 PM »
To Protest Hiring of Nonunion Help, Union Hires Nonunion Pickets
Jobless Recruits Get Minimum Wage 'To March Around and Sound Off'
By JENNIFER LEVITZ
WASHINGTON—Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work.
Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor.
View Full Image
Jennifer Levitz/The Wall Street Journal
A protester pickets a building contractor outside the McPherson Building in Washington last month.
"For a lot of our members, it's really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else," explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.
So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he's grateful for the work, even though he's not sure why he's doing it. "I could care less," he says. "I am being paid to march around and sound off."
Protest organizers and advocacy groups are reaping an unexpected benefit from continued high joblessness. With the national unemployment rate currently at 9.5%, an "endless supply" of the out-of-work, as well as retirees seeking extra income, are lining up to be paid demonstrators, says George Eisner, the union's director of organization. Extra feet help the union staff about 150 picket lines in the District of Columbia and Baltimore each day.
Online postings recruit paid activists for everything from stopping offshore drilling to defending the Constitution.
In California, one group is offering to pay $10 and up per hour to activists to hold signs in demonstrations against foam cups and plastic bags.
In Bellevue, Wash., the Faith and Freedom Network plans to hire activists for about $10 an hour next month to promote statewide candidates with Judeo-Christian values for the fall elections, says Gary Randall, the group's president. Recruits will knock on doors and will be dispatched in large groups, hoping to draw media attention, he says.
Pierce Hutchings, a Chicago businessman and baseball fan, staffed a rally at Wrigley Field on the Cubs opening day in April by posting an ad on Craigslist offering $25 of his own money to anyone willing to show up.
The cause? To protest plans to erect a big Toyota advertising sign in left field. The sign drew criticism from many Chicago residents and merchants who said it would impede their rooftop views of games. About 50 people showed up, put on yellow "No Sign @ Wrigley" T-shirts supplied by Mr. Hutchings, and urged passersby to call their local elected officials. The sign was put up anyway.
While the money offers some relief for the unemployed, plugging a cause, even one that seems worthy, can be dispiriting.
"I told one guy today that I was fighting global poverty, and he looked me in the eye and said, 'I don't care,'" says Stephen Borlik, a new college graduate posted outside a D.C. subway stop recently as a $13-per-hour street fundraiser for CARE, the antipoverty nonprofit organization in Atlanta.
Mr. Borlik moved here in May after graduating from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. He is living with his brother while looking for a job. "It can be extremely frustrating sending out résumé after résumé and getting no response. It almost makes you not want to do anything."
To keep his job at CARE, Mr. Borlik says, he must hit a weekly quota of new donors giving a minimum of $20. A CARE spokeswoman says "team members" in the organization's "Face-to-Face" fund-raising program have a goal of two new donors per day.
In Atlanta, Timothy Baker, a 40-year-old unemployed warehouse worker, says his money-making strategy has been to walk picket lines for $8.50 an hour for the Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council. "It's something to do until you find something better."
While many big unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, frown on using nonmembers in picket lines, "we're not at all ashamed," says Jimmy Gibbs, director of special projects for the Southeastern Council. "We're helping people who are in a difficult situation."
For four hours at the recent Mid-Atlantic carpenters' union protest in D.C., about 50 picketers-for-hire—some smoking cigarettes, reading the paper, or on their phones; a few leaning on canes—walked in a circle outside the McPherson Building. The place is home to a Starbucks, a spa and offices. "Some days, the beat is very good," said James Harff, chief executive officer of Global Communicators LLC, a public-relations concern, tapping one foot in his second floor office. Other days, he can hardly hear himself think.
"Low Pay! Go away!" and "That Rat Gotta Go!" the union stand-ins chanted as other workers banged cow-bells and beat on a trio of empty plastic buckets. Eric Williams, a 70-year-old retiree who said he needs extra cash to buy groceries, wore a sign saying that Can-Am Contractors, a nonunion Maryland drywall and ceiling concern, "does not pay area standard wages & benefits."
The target of the campaign is the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, which is opening new classrooms on the second floor of the McPherson Building, and is having renovations done, including dry-walling by Can-Am.
"It is bizarre," says Lynne Baker, a school spokeswoman, about the union's hiring of nonunion picketers.
Inside, Juan Flores, Can-Am's foreman, said his nonunionized workers are paid fairly. Of the protesters, he said, "I don't blame them—they need the money, but they look like they are drunk or something."
The union's Mr. Garcia sees no conflict in a union that insists on union labor hiring nonunion people to protest the hiring of nonunion labor.
He says the pickets are not only about "union issues" but also about fair wages and benefits for American workers. By hiring the unemployed, "we are also giving back to the community a bit," he says.
Well Conflicted Interests
Reply #19 on:
July 21, 2010, 10:07:14 AM »
The SEIU’s Friendly Inquisitor
NLRB member Craig Becker is voting on cases related to his former organization.
Carole Jean Badertscher was a California nurse who just wanted to go to work and take care of her patients — but the SEIU was determined not to let that happen. The union’s contract with Badertscher’s employer, the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, had expired, and the union had called a strike in response. Badertscher and other nurses, unwilling to abandon their patients for the sake of a stronger SEIU hand in contract negotiations, resigned from the union and went to work. In turn, she was threatened by the union bosses, who promised to have her prosecuted under California’s antique professional-strikebreaker statute, which was long ago pre-empted by federal law. Badertscher and other nurses were told that they would be fined and could be thrown in jail for months.
But there was more at stake in the case for the SEIU than the right to bully nurses in the Pomona Valley. The SEIU local had also informed hospital employees that they were legally required to keep paying union dues. If the hospital’s employees stopped paying their dues, the SEIU chapter would be starved of its income — and it was not about to let that happen. The national SEIU, which takes a piece of the locals’ dues, would take a hit, too. So the local SEIU bosses distributed a flyer full of false and misleading information. It read, in part: “You may have been mislead [sic] into believing that you are not obligated to pay dues and fees during the period of negotiations. This is untrue and retroactivity may occur prior or upon ratification of the contract. Please ask yourselves why all the anti[-SEIU] leaders are still paying dues. Could it be they don’t want the possibility of owing more in a lump sum?” Translation: The SEIU owns your paycheck and will come after it.
When Badertscher sought legal relief from the threats and paycheck-plundering of the SEIU, her lawyers did not expect to find themselves arguing their case in front of the man who was the SEIU’s own chief lawyer until a few months ago, when President Obama named him to the National Labor Relations Board. Craig Becker, former general counsel for the SEIU, was a controversial appointee to start with, owing to his radical and anti-democratic views on union power. But surely, Badertscher’s lawyers thought, he’d recuse himself from a case involving the SEIU.
Becker refused to do so. In fact, he was part of a three-member panel that reviewed the SEIU/Pomona Valley case, and he has made it clear that he intends to continue involving himself in cases involving his former employer.
“There are 13 or 14 cases in which we’ve sought recusal for Craig Becker,” says Patrick Semmens, legal information director for the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF), which represented Badertscher. Becker has been highly critical of the foundation, Semmens says, casting aspersions upon its mission and good faith. “But the main thing in this case is the SEIU connection. In other cases, he’d written briefs on the issues in question in the course of litigation in his role at the SEIU.”
So far, Becker has accommodated the NRWF in exactly one case in which his recusal was sought. “In that case, Becker had signed the legal brief and was the counsel of record,” Semmens says. “If you can’t recuse yourself from that . . . well, then when would you?”
In the Pomona Valley case, Becker published an opinion in which he concluded that he was not obliged to recuse himself because, even though he had been general counsel for the SEIU, he had not, in the past two years, represented the local chapter in question. The distinction between the national SEIU and the locals is a questionable one. The SEIU’s national body exercises a high level of control over the locals. In fact, the SEIU is the locals — the union’s constitution defines the SEIU as an organization that “shall consist of an unlimited number of Local Unions chartered by it, and the membership thereof, and such affiliated bodies as may be established from time to time.” More to the point, the finances of the national SEIU are directly dependent upon those of the locals, and the SEIU is an organization with money on its mind: It funds itself through a “tax” on dues paid to local chapters, the rate being $7.65 per member per month. With 2.2 million members nationwide, that’s a substantial monetary motive: nearly $17 million a month. So bottom-line-oriented is the SEIU that workers granted lifetime memberships, retirees, and others paying less than the full dues to the union are barred from voting under the SEIU constitution.
The Obama administration has made a lot of fuss about its high ethical standards, though it has taken many opportunities to skirt them. Big Labor has insinuated itself deeply into the administration, and no union more so than the SEIU. But imagine for a moment that this was not a labor-relations case. The Obama administration is full of Wall Street veterans, too. Imagine that a former Goldman Sachs executive had been named to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and was ruling on Goldman issues under the argument that he hadn’t worked in the division in question. There would be a whole Chinese opera of discord.
“The basic rule, which applies to all federal employees, is that there is a one-year period in which they cannot deal with issues involving a former employer — or former clients, in the case of lawyers,” explains SEC spokesman John Heine. “President Obama announced a policy that the period was going to be extended to two years for presidential appointees, which would include any commissioner.”
But apparently it does not include Craig Becker at the NLRB.
“We think he should be recusing himself in all these cases,” Semmens says. “The Obama administration has made much ado about its ethics pledge. It’s quite clear that you can’t do anything on issues relating to your former employer, but here’s Becker saying, ‘That doesn’t apply to me.’ The SEIU’s forced dues are dependent on the outcomes of these cases — it’s obvious that they have a strong interest in the outcomes.”
Semmens isn’t alone in his concern. Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) requested that the NLRB’s inspector general investigate Becker’s non-recusals, and a report on that investigation was released on Tuesday. The report concluded that Becker had not acted improperly, since the local affiliates are separate legal entities. So, the next time the federal government asks the CEO of a fast-food corporation to render legal judgment on the conduct of an independently owned franchise, that apparently will pass federal muster. (I wonder, can we get McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner in charge of Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity crusade?)
In the Pomona Valley case, Becker voted to give the SEIU chapter the gentlest of slaps on the wrist. Finding that they had violated the law, the NLRB ordered them to . . . hang a sign up in their office, reading, in part: “We will not restrain or coerce you in the exercise of your right to refrain from protected union activity.” We will not restrain or coerce you: But if they do, they’ll be defending themselves in front of a friendly board.
— Kevin Williamson is a deputy managing editor of NR.
Minimum Wage Non-Union Union Protestors
Reply #20 on:
August 31, 2010, 05:30:48 PM »
Murdering Thugs Incorporated
Reply #21 on:
September 04, 2010, 12:36:36 AM »
Big Labor’s Legacy of Violence
When it comes to terrorizing workers, the head of the AFL-CIO knows whereof he speaks
To mark Labor Day 2010, President Obama will join hands with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in Milwaukee, and they will pose as champions of the working class. Bad move. Trumka’s organizing record is a shameful reminder of the union movement’s violent and corrupt foundations.
The new Obama/AFL-CIO power alliance — underwritten with $40 million in hard-earned worker dues — is a midterm shotgun marriage of Beltway brass knuckles and Big Labor brawn. Trumka warmed up his rhetorical muscles this past week with full-frontal attacks on former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He indignantly accused her of “getting close to calling for violence” and suggested that her criticism of tea-party-bashing labor bosses amounted to “terrorizing” workers.
Trumka and Obama will cast Big Labor as an unassailable force for good in American history. But when it comes to terrorizing workers, Trumka knows whereof he speaks.
Meet Eddie York. He was a workingman whose story will never scroll across Obama’s teleprompter. A nonunion contractor who operated heavy equipment, York was shot to death during a strike called by the United Mine Workers 17 years ago. Workmates who tried to come to his rescue were beaten in an ensuing melee. The head of the UMW spearheading the wave of strikes at that time? Richard Trumka. Responding to concerns about violence, he shrugged to the Virginian-Pilot in September 1993: “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.” Incendiary rhetoric, anyone?
A federal jury convicted one of Trumka’s UMW captains on conspiracy and weapons charges in York’s death. According to the Washington, D.C.–based National Legal and Policy Center, which tracks Big Labor abuse, Trumka’s legal team quickly settled a $27 million wrongful death suit filed by York’s widow just days after a judge admitted evidence in the criminal trial. An investigative report by Reader’s Digest disclosed that Trumka “did not publicly discipline or reprimand a single striker present when York was killed. In fact, all eight were helped out financially by the local.”
In Illinois, Trumka told UMW members to “kick the s**t out of every last” worker who crossed his picket lines, according to the Nashville (Ill.) News. And as the National Right to Work Foundation, the leading anti-forced-unionism organization in the country, pointed out, other UMW coalfield strikes resulted in what one judge determined were “violent activities . . . organized, orchestrated and encouraged by the leadership of this union.”
Trumka washed off the figurative bloodstains and moved up the ranks. As AFL-CIO secretary, he notoriously refused to testify in a sordid 1999 embezzlement trial involving his labor-boss brethren at the Teamsters Union. No surprise. Thugs of a feather: Trumka’s violence-promoting record echoes the riotous Teamsters strikes dating back to the 1950s, when the union organized taxicab companies to target workers with gas bombs, bottles, and fists.
And now, Trumka is spearheading a Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign by far-left groups — publicized in the revolutionary-Marxist People’s World — to “energize an army of tens of thousands who will return to their neighborhoods, churches, schools and voting booths to prevent a Republican takeover of Congress in November and begin building a new permanent coalition to fight for a progressive agenda.”
Take those as literal fighting words. The bloody consequences of compulsory unionism cannot be ignored.
Reply #22 on:
September 04, 2010, 06:56:52 AM »
The Unions wonder why they only have something like 10% of the non-gov labor market? The previous 2-3 posts are about the size of it. More and more people are recognizing that unions are a 2 edged sword, they help when you have a truly abusive employer, but they can also cut when they are working politicaloly to maintain that bargaining power...........
I Think the rust belt was created by the unions when they negotiated wages so high, that the product produced by their labor could no longer compete in the market place. The companies started to move the plants offshore or to cheaper labor areas in the USA, and that was the begining of the post modern- service sector economy we have now.......
Unionizing Non-Union Union Protestors
Reply #23 on:
September 21, 2010, 07:50:32 PM »
Reply #24 on:
September 22, 2010, 04:49:07 AM »
The casinos in vegas almost routinely ask picketers for union cards. If they have a card- they have legitamate business, if not, the police are called to get the Loiterers removed..........
Reply #25 on:
September 24, 2010, 01:34:16 PM »
SEIU pushes rapists, thugs as home health care aides in CA
Now we know - as if the Bell salary and pension scandal has not already taught us - why California is a mess. The bigger the government, the more absurd the taxing and spending becomes.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Scores of people convicted of crimes such as rape, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon are permitted to care for some of California's most vulnerable residents as part of the government's home health aide program.
Data provided by state officials show that at least 210 workers and applicants flagged by investigators as unsuitable to work in the program are nonetheless scheduled to resume or begin employment.
State and county investigators have not reported many whose backgrounds include violent crimes because the rules of the program, as interpreted by a judge earlier this year, permit felons to work as home care aides. Thousands of current workers have had no background checks...
In addition, privacy laws prevent investigators from cautioning the program's elderly, infirm and disabled clients that they may end up in the care of someone who has committed violent or financial crimes.
"We are allowing these people into the homes of vulnerable individuals without supervision," said John Wagner, director of the state Department of Social Services.
And who is fighting to keep the rules and regulations as they are? Need one ask? The public unions. The Times fingers another set of culprits responsible for this mess, "lawmakers with ties to unions representing home health care workers are wary of making changes to a program". Can anyone name the union behind standing foursquare behind this absurd program? Barack Obama and the Democrats favorite one: The Service Employees International Union:
spokesman for the Service Employees International Union, which represents most of the state's home healthcare workers, referred questions to Wilkins. SEIU is consistently one of the biggest donors to the Democrats who dominate the Legislature, contributing millions of dollars to political committees that the state Democratic Party and its leaders use to win legislative seats, register voters and even fund lawmaker retreats.
Members' wages from the home aide program provide millions of dollars in dues revenue that the union can use to fund such operations.
California is in the grip of the SEIU. Democratic politicians are in their pockets. Our most vulnerable group of people are in danger. Does the SEIU and the Democratic politicians care, seeing that the are permanently hooked into the spending spigots of unions' Political Action Committees and are addicted to the free labor provided by union members come campaign season? Nope. What the unions care about are dues paying members and what Democratic politicians care about are getting their cut of taxpayer dollars. The fiscal problem has been put on our shoulders since so much of the stimulus program went to paper over problems states - mostly blue ones - have created for themselves.
The role of the SEIU, one of the biggest donors to Democrats across the nation and whose former leader boasted of the amount of union dues that went to elect Democrats and Barack Obama (and also noted he expected payback) is a blight across America. Andy Stern, who headed the SEIU for years, was the most frequent visitor to the White House in 2009 and now serves on the commission supposedly created to examine the deficit.
Home health aides are a big market for them. The union is trying to get state legislators to force their unionization, As Obamacare is implemented, more taxpayer dollars will flow to such home health care aides. Nice deal - except for the patients and the taxpayers - but who cares about them?
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at September 24, 2010 - 01:32:21 PM CDT
Union says You Can't Volunteer at your Kid's School
Reply #26 on:
December 01, 2010, 11:08:21 AM »
No Volunteers, Please, We’re Unionized
Public-sector employees vs. parents in Petaluma, California
30 November 2010
Prior to giving a speech on civic participation for a group of city and county employees just north of San Francisco, I chatted with a county volunteer coordinator about her job. “It sounds like fascinating work,” I offered. “You must interact with a lot of different people on a variety of projects.” It was an interesting job, she said. “But,” she continued—lowering her voice to a near whisper—”you have to be real careful when you bring in a volunteer to help on certain jobs, that they can’t be seen as taking work from unionized employees.” She explained that her formula for placing volunteers in needed assignments had to incorporate the type of work and the time commitment. “I usually have no problem [with the unions] if I bring someone in for a couple of hours each week,” she allowed, “but I’m pushing it if it moves beyond five hours—even if the volunteer is willing to take longer hours.” She concluded: “And, of course, you’ve heard what’s happening in Petaluma with the school district?” I hadn’t.
Petaluma is one of those idyllic small cities (population 58,000) that dot Route 101 on the way north from the Golden Gate Bridge through the wine country. Most of us have seen the town on the silver screen without realizing it, as it’s been the setting for over a dozen movies from American Graffiti to Pleasantville. But Petaluma, struggling like most municipalities in California under the current fiscal crisis, has found delivering public services—from education to public safety—anything but pleasant.
The Petaluma City Schools district has trimmed millions from its budget over the last two years, as the deficit-ridden California state government has decreased its local support by 25 percent. The cuts have meant layoffs for district employees at all levels, from teachers to playground supervisors. In response, parents and concerned Petalumans have stepped forward to try to fill the non-teaching gaps, volunteering their time to maintain school services. The volunteers have worked in new roles identified by the school administration, but they’ve also stepped in to perform jobs eliminated by budget cuts. But those positions are unionized by the California School Employees’ Association (CSEA)—and that’s where the problems started.
When volunteers began to help answer phones in the office and support the school librarian at Petaluma Junior High School, CSEA Local 212 president Loretta Kruusmagi immediately objected. Representing 350 clerical and janitorial staff in the Petaluma school district, Kruusmagi betrays not the least concern for the kids her union supposedly serves when she glowers: “As far as I’m concerned, they never should have started this thing. Noon-duty people [lunchtime and playground assistants]—those are instructional assistants. We had all those positions. We don’t have them anymore, but those are our positions. Our stand is you can’t have volunteers, they can’t do our work.” Notice the possessiveness with which Kruusmagi regards these “public servants.” Nice to see that it’s “all about the kids” at the CSEA.
Like so many other public-sector unions across the country, the CSEA has proven unwilling to accept the new reality that budget shortfalls are imposing on local governments. That reality, as New York’s Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith has described it, is this: “The steady increase in the quantity and cost of public services, coupled with the needs of an aging population and public pension costs have produced a long term, structural deficit.” The Petaluma clash and others around the state are illustrating how public-sector unions work against citizens in budget-ravaged times.
The school-district leadership finds itself caught between the volunteers and the union, seeking to pacify both parents and the CSEA. Meanwhile, important positions lost to budget cuts that volunteers could handle remain unfilled. Deputy Superintendent Steve Bolman is left to quote from the union contract and labor law: “It’s not policy, this is law. [Volunteers] can’t do work ‘usually, ordinarily or regularly done by classified employees.’” For her part, Kruusmagi sounds a little sketchier on the legalities: “I can’t cite the exact thing,” she says, “but there are state rules. I believe it’s in [education] code that volunteers are not allowed at schools.”
The volunteers are rightly furious. Cathy Edmondson, the parent of a Petaluma Junior High student, and a volunteer who helps around the school office, retorted: “I guess the anger that I feel about it is, even though the union has contractual rights to what goes on, they don’t have the right to abridge my rights as a parent, volunteer, and taxpayer.” Lynn King, another parent and manager of the volunteer program, is more diplomatic: “Schools are losing personnel because of budgetary cutbacks, kids are being underserved by these budgetary cutbacks, so we are trying to do what we can.” Volunteers are continuing to work until the parties in Petaluma can work out an agreement of some kind, though it’s not clear how they will—especially when Kruusmagi says flatly, “They are not going to have volunteers at all.”
The work of volunteers in providing and supporting local services has been a hallmark of American citizenship since the nation’s founding. Alexis de Tocqueville described this characteristic most famously: “In America I encountered all sorts of associations of which, I confess, I had no idea, and I often admired the infinite art with which the inhabitants of the United States managed to fix a common goal to the efforts of many men and to get them to advance to it freely.” But Tocqueville never met Loretta Kruusmagi.
Tocqueville’s observations on America’s civic participation were based on what he saw of our natural habits and on the contextual necessity of his time: there simply weren’t governing structures to deliver many needed public services back in the 1830s, so Americans had to fall back upon themselves. As local-government budgets feel the financial squeeze, this do-it-yourself ethos is making a comeback throughout the country. CSEA’s tagline is “Essential Work. Extraordinary Workers.” No one disputes the first sentence, but in Petaluma, volunteers now seek to be the latter. What happens in Petaluma will provide a glimpse of whether public-sector unions have learned anything from the nation’s ongoing fiscal difficulties. Are they willing to be part of a collaborative solution, or does their self-interest trump all?
Pete Peterson is Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.
Malkin: Public unions and privitazation
Reply #27 on:
December 31, 2010, 10:18:50 AM »
ligent English farmers of old once shared a motto about the blessings of work: "Industry produces wealth, God speed the plow." Indolent New York City union officials who oversee snow removal apparently live by a different creed: Sloth enhances political power, Da Boss slow the plow.
Come rain or shine, wind, sleet or blizzard, Big Labor leaders always demonstrate perfect power-grabby timing when it comes to shafting taxpayers. Public-sector unions are all-weather vultures ready, willing and able to put special interest politics above the citizenry's health, wealth and safety. Confirming rumors that have fired up the frozen metropolis, the New York Post reported Thursday that government sanitation and transportation workers were ordered by union supervisors to oversee a deliberate slowdown of its cleanup program -- and to boost their overtime paychecks.
Why such vindictiveness? It's a cold-blooded temper tantrum against the city's long-overdue efforts to trim layers of union fat and move toward a more efficient, cost-effective privatized workforce.
Welcome to the Great Snowmageddon Snit Fit of 2010.
New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Queens, told the Post that several brave whistleblowers confessed to him that they "were told (by supervisors) to take off routes (and) not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."
Denials and recriminations are flying like snowballs. But even as they scoff at reports of this outrageous organized job action, the city sanitation managers' unions openly acknowledge their grievances and "resentment" over job cuts. Stunningly, sanitation workers spilled the beans on how city plowers raised blades "unusually high" (which requires extra passes to get their work done) and refused to plow anything other than assigned streets (even if it meant leaving behind clogged routes to get to their blocks).
When they weren't sitting on their backsides, city plowers were caught on videotape maniacally destroying parked vehicles in a futile display of Kabuki Emergency Theater. It would be laugh-out-loud comedy if not for the death of at least one newborn whose parents waited for an ambulance that never came because of snowed-in streets.
This isn't a triumphant victory for social justice and workers' dignity. This is terrifying criminal negligence.
And it isn't the first time New York City sanitation workers have endangered residents' well-being. In the 1960s, a Teamsters-affiliated sanitation workers' strike led to trash fires, typhoid warnings and rat infestations, as 100,000 tons of rotting garbage piled up. Three decades later, a coordinated job action by city building-service workers and sanitation workers caused another public trash nuisance declared "dangerous to life and health" in the Big Apple.
New Yorkers could learn a thing or two from those of us who call Colorado Springs, Colo., home. We have no fear of being held hostage to a politically driven sanitation department -- because we have no sanitation department. We have no sanitation department because enlightened advocates of limited government in our town realized that competitive bidders in the private sector could provide better service at lower cost.
And we're not alone. As the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan reported: "The largest study ever conducted on outsourced garbage collection, conducted by the federal government in the 1970s, reported 29 to 37 percent savings in cities with populations over 50,000. A 1994 study by the Reason Foundation discovered that the city of Los Angeles was paying about 30 percent more for garbage collection than its surrounding suburbs, in which private waste haulers were employed. A 1982 study of city garbage collection in Canada discovered an astonishing 50 percent average savings as a result of privatization."
Completely privatized trash collection means city residents don't get socked with the bill for fraudulently engineered overtime pay, inflated pensions and gold-plated health benefits in perpetuity -- not to mention the capital and operating costs of vehicles and equipment. The Colorado Springs model, as city councilman Sean Paige calls it, is a blueprint for how every city can cope with budget adversity while freeing itself from thuggish union threats when contracts expire or cuts are made. Those who dawdled on privatization efforts in better times are suffering dire, deadly consequences now.
Let the snow-choked streets of New York be a lesson for the rest of the nation: It's time to put the Big Chill on Big Labor-run municipal services.
Reply #28 on:
December 31, 2010, 10:26:35 AM »
Yup. I hope a through criminal investigation is conducted. At least two people died because EMS couldn't make it through the snow.
Reply #29 on:
January 04, 2011, 10:38:43 AM »
And this is why FDR even in the 30's was against public employee unions. They hold taxpayers hostage. No surprise.
As ususal the taxpayers are spit on by our complicit elected officials and the unions who have this attitude they are entitled:
***Union Snow Saboteurs Caught on Tape: Criminal Investigation Launched
Fire it up 32
155 CommentsEmail Facebook Twitter
Call it the "blizzard backlash."
Criminal investigations are under way to find out why it took so long to dig out from last week's massive snow storm.
Videos released exclusively to CBS 2's Marcia Kramer suggest that the clean-up job may have been dirtier than once thought.
One video is now in the hands of prosecutors. It shows two sanitation trucks driving down 155th Street in the Whitestone section of Queens after the blizzard without removing the snow.***
Reply #30 on:
January 21, 2011, 12:07:44 PM »
Unions dominated by organized crime. I've had longershoreman patients who tell me about this. I suggested to one black patient who has arthritis to go for some sort of supervisory position. His response, Blacks don't get those. It is who you know. What is becoming evident is many of the union employees are now getting looted by the union bosses. I know of one union where the members are actually suing the union for money that disappeared out of their pension funds.
There is a definite tie with organized crime and the music business. It ain't just the Italian mafia. apparently there is a Irish one, posssibly a Jewish one and th eBlacks have their own gangs. Why cannot anyone get into these crooks can only be explained that it is not a poltical issue or the wealth from the entertainment business is too easy to spread around - I don't know.
In any case I am sure most Americans would be astonished at how organized crime permeates our culture, our society, all the way up to the highest levels of government.
I know that I am surprised by how easy it is to bribe almost ANYONE. I f I don't see it with my own eyes I am not sure I would believe. Few fully grasp it even when I explain it.
Fed subsidies to fed unions
Reply #31 on:
January 24, 2011, 06:55:40 AM »
Not the most highbrow of websites, but the argument seems sound enough:
Lines are being drawn and the fight to reduce overly generous pay and benefits to government employees at the federal, state, and local level is underway. Not too surprisingly, public employee unions are gearing up, rallying government employees, and exerting pressure to maintain the generous pay and benefits that has loaded government with unsustainable debt. Public employee unions are, even now, pressing the Obama Administration for additional benefits and power.
President Obama, either unwilling, or perhaps unable, to bring long-overdue accountability to powerful public employee unions, has instead issued guidance requiring greater Union representation and input into federal agency decision making. Obama's decision will likely embolden union bosses to think they can escape accountability and an honest review of benefits, salary, and pensions of government employees.
Perhaps it is time to send a different message. President Obama, like many Americans, is probably unaware that the federal government actually subsidizes federal government employee union operations. In fact, the federal government provides unions with free office space, pays for union member time and picks up travel and per diem costs. These “perks” represent a tax that has never been approved by American taxpayers--perks which operate at a level below the radar of Congress and well below the radar of the IRS. These hidden “perks” provided to government employee unions cost American taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
According to official data, federal employees currently spend some 2.9 million official work hours, at government expense, engaging in collective bargaining and union activities, representing a taxpayer cost of approximately $120 million. But the taxpayer costs and subsidizes to public employee unions is much higher than the official report because government does not account for all the expenses related to union activity.
Federal government unions are, in essence, running a business within the federal government. As we begin the debate over the proper role (if any) unions should have in government, one step Americans should all be able to agree upon is that taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize union activities.
Many Americans may be unaware that unions exist in every federal agency. In fact, most agencies have several unions competing for employee participation and funding which means that federal agencies are subsidizing the costs for several unions at the same time!
These federal agency union representatives have a large presence in Washington, DC, the seat of the federal government. But, most federal locations throughout the United States also have a union representative. So, for example, in a city, such as Kansas City, where the federal complex houses multiple government agencies, there will be multiple federal union representatives, from each federal union, within each federal agency, all at the same building location.
Why is this important?
Federal government union representatives are actually federal employees. They hold GS ranks and civil service status, and actually have federal jobs that they were employed to perform. Their union duties are, supposedly, performed over and above the requirements of their regular day job. However, because of the pernicious and growing power of federal unions, oftentimes, union duties often are performed in lieu of their job. Paid time off from regular government duties is allowed, in most federal agencies, for the union representative to solicit federal employees (i.e. market services), to attend union meetings (i.e. work for an entity other than their government employer) or travel to have “face time” with their union bosses in DC. All at taxpayer expense.
In addition, union representatives often request and are provided with office space that is more expansive than is warranted by their GS rank or than their federal job duties require. The cost of this additional square footage is also paid for by the American taxpayer, and is paid for at each federal agency, for each federal union representative, for each federal union. Federal government union representatives total thousands of federal employees, all billing their time, travel and per diem, for non-government related work, to the American taxpayer.
Perhaps an even bigger problem is that the federal government union representatives sometimes seem to operate under the mistaken belief that they were hired by the government to work for the union—and that union work is more important than the federal job they were hired to perform.
Unions seem, at best, indifferent to the performance of government and are exclusively concerned with pay and benefits of union workers. Therein lies another irony for the American taxpayer. Unions are organized to negotiate against employers, but, since the federal government is the employer, and since the American people pay for the federal government, then, technically, federal government employee unions might be construed as organizing against the American people.
It is time to bring some accountability to public employee unions. A good first step would be for Congress to get a grip on the proliferation of benefits for unions in the federal government, whose activities are an additional burden on federal taxpayers. Congress should change federal policies on payment of travel, per diem and office space for federal government union employees.
Better yet, perhaps President Obama should take the lead.
Reply #32 on:
January 24, 2011, 09:40:48 AM »
"Better yet, perhaps President Obama should take the lead."
No Democrat will do this. Federal, State, county or municipal level.
We the tax payers are being held hostage to government employee unions.
"President Obama, either unwilling, or perhaps unable"
What in Obama's history has EVER given the impression he is/was ever willing to do anything about this? Why can we not call an ace of clubs and ace of clubs?
Reply #33 on:
January 24, 2011, 09:49:53 AM »
It wouldn't surprise me that he includes some adorable soundbite in his con job speech tomorrow like "the era of big government is over". That said the writing is on the wall. But also thw swing voters will adore it tooth and nail:
Right off Drudge this morning.
What a corrupt administration!
***Three SEIU Locals--Including Chicago Chapter--Waived From Obamacare Requirement
Monday, January 24, 2011
By Fred Lucas
(CNSNews.com) – Three local chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), whose political action committee spent $27 million supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, have received temporary waivers from a provision in the Obamacare law.
The three SEIU chapters include the Local 25 in Obama’s hometown of Chicago.
The waivers allow health insurance plans to limit how much they will spend on a policy holder’s medical coverage for a given year. Under the new health care law, however, such annual limits are phased out by the year 2014. (Under HHS regulations, annual limits can be no less than $750,000 for 2011, no less than $1.25 million in 2012 and no less than $2 million in 2013.)
The SEIU, with more than 2 million members nationally, includes health care workers, janitors, security guards, and state and local government workers.
The three SEIU locals, covering a total of 36,064 enrollees, are covered by the federal waivers, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS gave a waiver to Local 25 SEIU in Chicago with 31,000 enrollees on Oct. 1, 2010; to Local 1199 SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund with 4,544 enrollees on Oct. 10, 2010; and to the SEIU Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund with 520 enrollees on Nov. 15, 2010.
So far, the Obama administration has issued waivers to 222 entities, including businesses, unions and charitable organizations. Of that total, 45 were labor organizations.
A total of 1,507,418 enrollees are now included in the waivers. More than one-third -- 512,315 – of the enrollees affected were insured by union health plans.
SEIU Local 1199’s health plan put a $50,000 cap on medical expenses for its New Jersey nursing home workers, according to 1199 SEIU spokeswoman Leah Gonzalez. That’s $700,000 under the 2011 limit stipulated by HHS regulations.
In September, HHS announced it would grant waivers to employers to prevent some workers from losing their benefits if the insurer could not meet new health care law’s requirements on annual limits. The waivers are granted by HHS if the department determines “compliance with the interim final regulations would result in a significant decrease in access to benefits or a significant increase in premiums,” according to a Sept. 3 memo by Steve L. Larson, director of the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.
Local 1199, SEIU's Greater New York Benefit Fund, requested the waiver specifically with respect to its separate plan for New Jersey members, according to Gonzalez. This waiver primarily affects low-wage New Jersey nursing home workers whose health care plan provides medical, hospital, prescription, dental and vision benefits.
The New Jersey members now have an annual maximum health care benefit of $50,000. Gonzalez said fewer than 1 percent of members have ever reached that cap, and that those members who did received additional help.
“The members’ health benefits are paid for by the employer and are negotiated through collective bargaining,” Gonzalez said in a written statement to CNSNews.com. “Several years ago, facing limited dollars from the employers for this small group, the members themselves chose how to shape their health plan to get the most out of their coverage.”
Gonzalez added that prescriptions are excluded from the cap. “For example, if a member maxes out from a hospital stay, she/he can continue to get their life-saving medications throughout the year while accessing alternative coverage at low-cost community clinics.”
Neither SEIU Local 25 nor Local 1, nor the national organization responded to CNSNews.com’s request for comment.
The SEIU's Committee on Political Education made $27,829,845.91 in independent expenditures on Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. SEIU-affiliated groups in Illinois have long supported Obama’s campaigns and endorsed him for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2004. In 2008, the national union backed Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.***
Reply #34 on:
January 24, 2011, 11:04:01 AM »
The top priority for the United Auto Workers this year is to organize one of the foreign, or so-called "transplant," car makers. That makes perfect sense—for the UAW. Their rich labor contracts and stifling work rules helped bring low Detroit's Big Three, so the union needs new dues-paying members.
We've long believed companies get the unions they deserve, but in this case it's worth noting that the UAW isn't confident enough to play by normal labor-organizing rules. New UAW chief Bob King has set out 11 "principles" that he says car makers must embrace or the UAW will "expose" them as "human rights violators." Yes, like dictatorships.
This is no idle intimidation, especially with the union's political allies manning key labor jobs in Washington. The threat is also backed with at least $60 million from the union's $800 million strike fund. With fewer than 400,000 members, down from 1.5 million in 1979, the union can afford to raid that fund since it isn't likely to strike the weakened GM, Ford or Chrysler anytime soon.
Mr. King's principles start by repeating the well-established ban on employer intimidation for union activity, but then go much further. He also wants car makers to give up their right to discuss unionization on company grounds "unless the UAW is invited to participate." In effect, the UAW wants companies to give up their right to free speech even in their own workplaces. Meanwhile, unions are free to visit employee homes whenever they wish.
The union chief is also demanding that "an impartial, third party" resolve "any disagreements" over the conduct of the organizing campaign. The National Labor Relations Board currently plays this role, but the UAW seems to want companies to agree to a separate judicial body and waive their rights under the law.
Last but not least audaciously, Mr. King sneaks in unionization by "card check." Not even the last Congress's Democratic supermajority passed this Big Labor priority. But the UAW principles commit companies to unionize if a majority of workers sign union cards, forgoing a secret ballot election. All the UAW would have to do to allow card check is claim a "history of anti-union activities" at the target company. It would also oblige arbitration on a first labor contract, if six months after a union is formed the two sides can't agree. This was also part of the card check bill that died quietly last year.
The UAW is making these demands because it knows how hard it will be to organize the 88,000 or so workers at Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and other foreign-owned plants. The union has tried and failed before, most notably in its repeated attempts to organize Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tennessee and Toyota's in Georgetown, Kentucky. These companies have for the most part built plants in business-friendly Southern states and showed employees that a nonunion job paid on par with UAW wages is better over the long term than a union presence that makes the company uncompetitive.
The UAW hasn't announced its first target, which might be the politically vulnerable Toyota or a new arrival like Kia or VW. The political campaign is already under way, and last week the UAW sent a thousand members to lobby Congress for support.
As much as GM and Chrysler, the UAW was also bailed out by the Bush and Obama Administrations in 2008-2009. And Mr. King's principles do acknowledge that the union should learn from that failure and build "relations with employers based upon a foundation of respect, shared goals and a common mission." But you wouldn't know that from the bullying way it has begun its latest organizing campaign.
WSJ: Origins of Public Sector Unions
Reply #35 on:
January 25, 2011, 08:39:17 AM »
By FRED SIEGEL
The turbulent years of the 1960s and '70s are best known by the headline-grabbing civil rights and women's rights movements. But there was another "rights" movement, largely overlooked, that has also had a profound effect on American life. The looming public-pension crisis that threatens to bankrupt city, county and state governments had its origins in those same years when public employees, already protected by civil-service rules, gained the right to bargain collectively.
Liberals were once skeptical of public-sector unionism. In the 1930s, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia warned against it as an infringement on democratic freedoms that threatened the ability of government to represent the broad needs of the citizenry. And in a 1937 letter to the head of an organization of federal workers, FDR noted that "a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable."
Private-sector union leaders were also divided. George Meany, the president of the AFL-CIO from 1955-1979 who came out of the building trades, argued that it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government." Private unionists more generally worried that rather than winning a greater share of profits, public-sector labor would be extracting taxes from a public that included their own workers. But in the late 1950s, with the failure of the labor movement's organizing campaign in the South, Meany's own executive council insisted on the necessity of winning the right to organize public employees.
The first to seize on the political potential of government workers was New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner. The mayor's father, a prominent New Deal senator, had authored the landmark 1935 Wagner Act, which imposed on private employers the legal duty to bargain collectively with the properly elected union representatives of their employees. Mayor Wagner, prodded by Jerry Wurf of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Afscme), gave city workers the right to bargain collectively in 1958.
Running for re-election in 1961, Mayor Wagner was opposed by the old-line party bosses of all five boroughs. He turned to a new force, the public-sector unions, as his political machine. His re-election resonated at the Kennedy White House, which had won office by only the narrowest of margins in 1960.
Ten weeks after Wagner's victory, Kennedy looked to mobilize public-sector workers as a new source of Democratic Party political support. In mid-January 1962, he issued Executive Order 10988, which gave federal workers the right to organize in unions.
View Full Image
The scene in downtown Manhattan during a sanitation workers' strike, 1968.
.Two young and militant public-sector unionists, Al Shanker of the American Federation of Teachers and Wurf of Afscme, both strong supporters of the still nascent civil rights movement, seized the opportunity. Shanker saw both teachers and African-Americans as second-class citizens fighting the old-line political bosses. He'd also called a brief teachers strike in 1960. Shanker called another strike in 1962 that shifted the balance of power from principals to teachers, where it has remained down to the present.
In 1958, there had been but 15 public-employee strikes nationwide, involving a handful of workers. By 1968, after the old guard in Afscme had been deposed by the so-called young Turks led by Wurf, more than 200,000 union members, mostly in local and state government, were involved in 254 strikes.
In 1968, amid rioting, civil rights and antiwar protests, Martin Luther King Jr. backed an Afscme strike by poorly paid, mostly African-American sanitation men in Memphis, Tenn. After King's tragic assassination, the city quickly settled with the union.
In the 1970s, government-worker unions became a political venue for New Leftist, feminist and black activists hoping to carry on in the militant spirit of the 1960s. The divisions within organized labor over the Vietnam War allowed Wurf and his allies to take on the declining private unions of the AFL-CIO, whose leader Meany backed the war. Wurf made himself a key player in George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, and public employees have had a lead role in Democratic Party politics ever since.
Public-employee unionism seemed to be moving from success to success—Afscme was gaining a thousand (mostly female) workers a week—until the summer of 1975. At that point there was a surge in strikes, and the government unions began to threaten Democratic officeholders.
On July 1, 1975, New York sanitation workers walked off the job, allowing garbage to pile up in the streets of a Gotham already in the throes of fiscal crisis. In short order, cops objecting to furloughs imposed by the city's liberal Democratic Mayor Abe Beame shut down the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, with marchers carrying signs that read "Cops Out, Crime In" and "Burn City Burn."
On that same July 1, 76,000 Pennsylvania state workers went on strike against liberal Democratic Gov. Milton Shapp's austerity measures. Afscme's leader in Pennsylvania, Gerald MacIntee, told his members "Let's go out and close down this God-damned state." And in Seattle, the fireman's union initiated a recall ballot on July 1 directed against the one-time union favorite, Mayor Wes Uhlman, who held back pay hikes in the midst of rising deficits.
Mr. Uhlman narrowly survived and he, like Beame and Shapp, calmed the situation by largely caving in to the striker's demands. But a line had been crossed: With New York's near-bankruptcy a visible marker, the peril posed by public-sector unionism became a problem for Democrats as well as Republicans.
The fiscal burden of public-employee unions briefly became visible again in the early '80s, when many warned of a looming public-pension crisis. That crisis was averted by the stock market boom that began in 1982-83 and lasted until 2007-08. It is now back with a vengeance.
Restraining the immense clout that government-employee unions have accumulated over the past half-century will be difficult, but not impossible. Civil rights for African-Americans and women was a fulfillment of the universalist American promise as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Collective bargaining by public employees was not rooted in deep-seated American tradition.
Instead, the decision to grant this privilege was a political decision designed to enhance the power of a pressure group whose interests, even many liberals assumed, would be at odds with those of the general public. Political decisions can be reversed.
Mr. Siegel is a scholar in residence at St. Francis College and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Greece, woops I mean Wisconsin
Reply #36 on:
February 17, 2011, 01:21:09 PM »
I think this is a "union" thread post, not "education".
From Michele Malkin:
"The Badger State (like New Jersey before it, California and New York now close behind) is doing what needs to be done to challenge the unions’ grip without having to declare bankruptcy, as some GOP strategists, celebs, and 2012 aspirants including Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush have recommended."
Is that true? Newt and Jeb have recommended these states just declare bankuptcy? Wouldn't bankruptcy be worse for the government empolyees? Couldn't they in such a scenerio lose more?
Full article below:
*****Michelle Malkin Lead StoryWatch Wisconsin, Part III: A state government employee speaks; Madison schools, plus 7 other districts shut down a second day; Michael Moore says Wisconsin is the “new Cairo;” Dems boycott legis. debate
By Michelle Malkin • February 17, 2011 01:23 AM Scroll down for breaking updates…
Public employee unions who force state workers to join and force them to fork over dues have a lot of chutzpah posing as freedom-fighters, don’t they?
The letter of the day reprinted below comes from one of those dissenting state workers in Wisconsin, where the SEIU Purple Army and assorted Big Labor enforcers are trying to bring the state to its knees over the brave and necessary fiscal discipline that GOP Gov. Scott Walker has introduced.
The AFL-CIO is digging in its heels. The rent-a-mobs are fully activated and marching on Gov. Walker’s home. Mission: Persuasion of power.
As I said yesterday: As Wisconsin goes, so go the rest of the nation’s bankrupt and near-bankrupt states.
One compelling aspect that must be noted as we continue our Watch Wisconsin series (Part I here and Part II here):
The Badger State (like New Jersey before it, California and New York now close behind) is doing what needs to be done to challenge the unions’ grip without having to declare bankruptcy, as some GOP strategists, celebs, and 2012 aspirants including Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush have recommended. As E.J. McMahon pointed out in the WSJ last month: Politicians already have the power to tame public unions without roiling municipal bond markets. They merely have to use it.
Indeed, they are walking the walk in Wisconsin. No top-down federal intervention from Newt or another Bush or anyone else in Washington.
Start spreading the news. Big Labor’s heaving today…
From reader “Proud 5th Column Member in Wisconsin:”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Michelle, there are a significant number of conservative full time state employees in Wisconsin that support Scott Walker, but our voices are not heard and certainly not covered in the press. Many of us are afraid to get too public for fear of personal attacks at work and at home. Besides, it would not be reported or covered by the insanely liberal press in Madison, WI anyway. The only voice we have in Madison is Vicki McKenna on the AM radio, a conservative talk show host of some fame in the Madison area. We are jokingly calling ourselves The 5th Column like the counter insurgents on the “V” TV show. The unions are scared to death they will lose their gravy train, you are forced to join the union upon state employment as a condition of employment, what is more tyrannical than that? So, now, the workers would be able to CHOOSE to join the union or not, and many will leave it. The rest will have to cut an actual check to the union each month, instead of having it garnished from their check, and the union knows people will get tired of that. THAT is what this is really about.
Our benefit package in WI is almost 2nd to none in the US for state workers, this is a minor sacrifice when all is said and done. Under our former Democratic Governor, we had to take a 3% paycut the last two years in the form of mandatory furloughs. Walker intends to stop that, so we could regain that money, couple that with union dues we get back for quitting the union and it’s nearly a wash on the slight increase in pension and health care costs. That proves this is not about those changes, but about a political agenda by the left and the unions being threatened.
God speed Michelle. Long live the 5th Column!!”
And now, illegally striking teachers have succeeded in shutting down schools in Madison and seven other districts for a second consecutive day.
Madison public schools are closed again Thursday because too many teachers are taking the day off to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to limit union bargaining.
Several other school districts in the area have also canceled classes Thursday.
It’s the second consecutive day the Madison Metropolitan School District has canceled classes “due to substantial concerns about staff absences.”
The district said it has received reports Wednesday evening that there will again be significant staff absences in the district on Thursday in protest of the governor’s proposed changes in labor law.
…Superintendent Dan Nerad said teachers who are taking a sick day will be asked to show proof of a medical reason.
Many teachers in the Madison Metropolitan School District spent Wednesday at rallies at the Capitol in opposition to Walker’s collective bargaining proposal.
Other area school districts that have also canceled classes Thursday include the Oregon School District, the DeForest Area School District, Edgerton Schools, Monona Grove Schools, Middleton-Cross Plains Schools, Verona Schools and Waunakee Schools.
FOR THE CHILLLLLDRREN!!!****
Reply #37 on:
February 17, 2011, 04:08:04 PM »
It used to be one thing seeing unions picket outside private companies. But to see the state unions picketing outside state capitols and refusing to go to work.
Even FDR knew that it was wrong to let government employees hold taxpayers/voters hostage.
None of these picketers get one ioda of sympathy from me.
Here I NJ we pay the highest property tax in the country - enough.
Those who disagree are welcome to take shots at me.
I say non government union people should start picketing across the street.
Union civility in WI.
Reply #38 on:
February 17, 2011, 04:28:24 PM »
Reply #39 on:
February 17, 2011, 04:46:13 PM »
As a taxpayer I feel like my rights are being infringed.
No one ever asked me to the government-union-employee bargaining table to decide where my tax dollars go.
Their unions buy and pay for their Democratic candidates. Then they turn around and make deals behind the rest of our backs. Now the states are broke, they are annoyed?
I don't want to hurt these people but the money isn't there. And no, I am not for raising taxes on the "rich", the middle class, businesses or anyone else.
Maddow:Wiscon is "existential threat" to Dem Party
Reply #40 on:
February 18, 2011, 10:40:11 AM »
Last night Madcow was actually in obvious *panic* mode over what is happening here. She was ranting raving (more than the following video) as fast and nervous as possible that what is going on in Wisconsin is an "existential" threat to the survival of the Democratic party!
I disagree with this premise to start with but the larger more important point to the overwhelming Americans who are NOT government employees is to have it laid bare for all of us to see how the unions have outright corrupted our political process. Raise (occasionally steal- no choice) money from your members, siphon plenty off for their own personal benefit and than send payoffs to Democrats running for office, then if they get elected they always return the favor by making back-room deals with the unions. Always at taxpayer expense.
Thank God we are having this fight. It is about time.
Madcow says this is politics! Yup it certianly is. This is not about educating children, this is not about law enforcement, firefighting. This is about corruption of one of the two large parties in the US while other voters taxpayers are oblivious to what is going on. Well no more. That said she is wrong or lying about that this is an existential threat to the Dem party. Perhaps she is just panicking. Perhaps she is just trying to get all Dems riled up and on board with backing the unions. I am not sure which.
Reply #41 on:
February 18, 2011, 01:41:07 PM »
Young Mr. Maddow is correct, this is an existential threat to the dems, as the average voter sees what the real face of the left is.
"All your money are belong to us"-Unions
Look for the union label
Reply #42 on:
February 19, 2011, 01:33:19 PM »
Time to unionize the non-union picketers.
Reply #43 on:
February 19, 2011, 01:53:39 PM »
taxpayers should form our own union!
Reply #44 on:
February 19, 2011, 01:55:38 PM »
They did. It's called the Tea Party.
The left's high water mark
Reply #45 on:
February 20, 2011, 10:07:41 PM »
The left badly overplayed it's hand in WI.
This will be where Obama lost re-election in 2012.
Reply #46 on:
February 21, 2011, 09:40:42 AM »
I pray you are right.
Reply #47 on:
February 21, 2011, 09:43:10 AM »
Kill the public employee unions, you kill a lot of forced dem fundraising. Also, lots of voters are getting really pissed off by these union antics. There doing a great job of turning WI. red.
Why do dems hate black children?
Reply #48 on:
February 21, 2011, 09:48:06 AM »
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Meanwhile, Back at School
While hundreds of Wisconsin educators skip work to protest Governor Scott Walker's fiscal reform plan, we're getting a better look at the teachers' "accomplishments" in the classroom.
From the MacIver Institute, a conservative think tank based in the state:
When it comes to the U.S. Military, almost half of Wisconsin’s African American students aren’t even fit to serve.
That’s the story from the latest results of the United States Army’s Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) in Wisconsin. In 2009, 18.9 percent of all Wisconsin high school students failed to qualify for service. This included a 46.9 percent ineligibility rate amongst African American students and a 26.9 percent rate for Hispanic students. These figures come from a December study by The Education Trust in Washington, D.C
Overall, the Badger state ASVAB test takers graded as above average, but posted one of the worst rates for African American students. While Wisconsin’s near 19 percent failure rate was good for 17th nationally, the ineligibility rate for black students over the past five years was the fourth worst in the country. Amongst eligible states*, only Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas fared worse.
Regionally, Wisconsin ranked fourth out of six upper Midwestern states, including a last place finish for black students. Not surprisingly, the state led the nation in the achievement gap between African American and White students. On a more positive note, Wisconsin was only fourth in the region when it came to the gap between Hispanic and White students.
We've written at length about declining ASVAB scores and their impact on military recruiting. With fewer young Americans achieving passing scores on the test, it will be more difficult for the services to meet their quotas. And, qualification scores aren't excessive by any measure; the minimum entrance score for an Army recruit is 31; it's 32 for future Marines, 35 for the Navy, 40 for the Air Force and 45 for the U.S. Coast Guard. So, it's possible for future service members to score below 50 on the ASVAB and still meet service requirements for the aptitude test.
Unfortunately, most African-American students in Wisconsin don't have that option, given their 50% failure rate on the ASVAB. Among Hispanics, more than one in four in Wisconsin schools can't achieve a passing score on the military entrance exam.
And where do you find most of the black and Hispanic students in the Badger State? The Milwaukee public school system, the same one that was shut down for several days last week, because many of its teachers were protesting in Madison.
You can see why they're fighting so hard to retain collective bargaining. With that sort of job performance, many of those Wisconsin teachers would be out of work without their union protection.
Reply #49 on:
February 21, 2011, 10:37:29 AM »
Actually without addressing the protest issues, I feel obligated to comment since I was born and raised in Wisconsin.
If you look at tests, Wisconsin is always ranked near the top on SAT scores and other academic achievement tests.
Spending on education is high in WI, but it is no where near the highest among the 50 states.
Pay among teachers is also good, but again, no where near the highest.
Education has always been a priority in Wisconsin and in general, the teachers deliver a good product.
While I am not familiar with the ASVAB test, I would be willing to bet that most students in WI simply don't take the test.
I doubt if few or any educators look at the ASVAB.
To broadly say, based solely on the ASVAB test that WI "led the nation in the achievement gap between African American and White students." is
a misnomer and distortion.
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