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Labor Watch

A monthly newsletter that tracks the increasing activism of labor unions that are trying to achieve through political coalition-building the goals they have failed to achieve at the bargaining table.

Labor Watch: A Bad Day for Bad Teachers: Sixty years after Brown, a California court strikes a blow against the 21st Century equivalent of Jim Crow

A Bad Day for Bad Teachers
Sixty years after Brown, a California court strikes a blow against the 21st Century equivalent of Jim Crow [PDF here]

By Richard Berman

Summary: In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down racially segregated schools because, the court said, they were inherently unequal and they unjustly harmed poor and minority children. Last month, a California court cited Brown as it struck down multiple state laws, passed at the behest of teachers’ unions, which the court said unjustly protected incompetent teachers and unconscionably harmed children, especially the least fortunate.

In a landmark decision that sent shock waves through the educational establishment, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled last month that California’s teacher tenure laws unconstitutionally deprive students of their guarantee to an education and to equal rights. “The evidence is compelling,” Judge Treu wrote. “Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

In Vergara v. California, nine students sued the State of California, claiming that ineffective teachers were disproportionately placed in schools with large numbers of “minority” and low-income students. Judge Treu agreed and quoted the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that education “is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

The Vergara decision came down less than one month after the 60th anniversary of the Brown decision Read all »

The Untold, Racist Origins of ‘Progressive’ Labor Laws: Protecting “white jobs” was the purpose of union-backed legislation

The Untold, Racist Origins of ‘Progressive’ Labor Laws

Protecting “white jobs” was the purpose of union-backed legislation (pdf here)

By Horace Cooper

Summary: Most Americans take for granted that the minimum wage and the 40-hour work week came about as a result of an effort in the early 20th Century to improve the lives of working Americans. Not true. In fact, these measures were rooted in the racism of the era and were part of an effort to benefit white workers at the expense of black tradesmen. The policies helped create persistent high unemployment among blacks—and shed a light on the real motivations of so-called Progressives.

“The Caucasians . . . are not going to let their standard of living be destroyed by negroes, Chinamen, Japs or any others.” — Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), 1905

W ith support from labor unions, politicians and bureaucrats often intervene in labor markets, creating laws and regulations that (they say) are needed to improve wages and working conditions for working people. The truth is that many of these efforts do harm to the economic interests of blacks, particularly black males. Most people would be surprised to learn that this harm to blacks has historically not been an unintended consequence of these pro-union policies, but the intended result.

From Davis-Bacon “prevailing wage” requirements to the creation of a government agency mockingly labeled the “Negro Removal Agency,” the government has undermined blacks’ efforts to achieve success and to make the American Dream a reality. Many federal labor laws in the United States originated in efforts to saddle black men with extra burdens and limitations, in order to (as racists often put it) “protect white jobs.”

Tragically, these laws, in one form or another, remain on the books today and continue to hamper the ability of blacks, especially men, to enjoy gainful employment. Yet so-called Progressives hail these laws for their [Click here for the rest.]

Labor Watch: De Blasio and Friends: Unions bring a Far Left government to power in New York City

De Blasio and Friends
Unions bring a Far Left government to power in New York City (PDF here)

By Alec Torres

Summary: Ever wonder what it would be like if radical unions and their allies gained control of New York City? Wonder no more. With the critical backing of the nation’s most powerful union local, SEIU 1199, and with advisors like Patrick Gaspard of SEIU (and the Obama White House) and Bertha Lewis of ACORN, Mayor Bill de Blasio is pursuing policies that threaten the future of the world’s most important city.

[Note: Many of the individuals and organizations in this story have been subjects of previous reports by the Capital Research Center. See, for example, Organization Trends May 2011 (ACORN) and September 2013 (the community organizers’ network) and Labor Watch December 2009 and January 2010 (SEIU) and November 2013 (Local 1199’s role in Obamacare).]

New York City, once prosperous and free, is entering an unnecessary age of darkness brought on by the foolishneess of bad governance. The new mayor, Bill de Blasio, is an unapologetic admirer of Soviet-backed thugs, a supporter of the Occupy movement, a foe of school choice, and a crony of the same sort of leftists who destroyed Detroit, once the nation’s richest city and now a ruin. With likeminded ideologues in command of other key offices, de Blasio’s power within city government is near absolute. His closest backers, Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and its radical allies such as the former ACORN organization, dominate city government at nearly all levels.

It’s enough to make one long for the days of Michael Bloomberg. Read all »

Faulty Inspection: The transit union’s bus overtime campaign endangers drivers, passengers, and everyone on the road

Faulty Inspection
The transit union’s bus overtime campaign endangers drivers, passengers, and everyone on the road
By Carl F. Horowitz
Labor Watch, April 2014 (PDF here)

Summary: The Amalgamated Transit Union is working with its political allies on a proposed federal law that it claims will make bus travel between cities safer. Not surprisingly, the law ignores the most important safety factors in such travel and will likely make passengers less safe. But the law does have one advantage for union leaders: they think it will raise wages.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents some 200,000 transit workers across the U.S. and Canada, is trying to make the nation’s roads less safe, while it pretends to work to make them safer. In politics, one of the most important skills is to make one’s special interest seem like the public interest. Unions are adept at this. With regard to buses and bus drivers, the ATU is particularly effective at advocacy (or “spin”), in part because of people’s emotional response to news reports whenever a horrible bus accident occurs.

Bus travel in the United States is gener­ally safe, but as with air travel, the rare serious accident that occurs usually receives wide coverage on the news. In addition, people tend to respond emo­tionally to bus accidents, because they can imagine themselves as the victims who suffer injuries after putting their safety in the hands of drivers who may  be unqualified or inattentive.

One scenario that’s particularly terrify­ing to the average person is of a bus driver who falls asleep, and the ATU knows how to play off people’s fears. [Click here for the rest.] Read all »

Labor Watch: Scott Walker, Indian Casinos, and Unions: Will the Wisconsin governor greenlight a controversial casino deal that’s a golden opportunity for unions?

Scott Walker, Indian Casinos, and Unions
Will the Wisconsin governor greenlight a controversial casino deal that’s a golden opportunity for unions? (pdf here)

By George Landrith

Summary: For years, a Wisconsin Indian tribe has tried to open a new casino hundreds of miles from its reservation. The controversy over the casino has encouraged the tribe to cut deals with labor bosses in which the unions trade their political support for the tribe’s agreement to help coerce casino workers into joining unions. Now Gov. Walker must decide whether to approve the proposed casino.

Indian casinos make fertile ground for controversy. They mix identity politics involving a long-oppressed group; heavy government regulation, which leads to wheeling and dealing, favoritism and corruption; and the involvement of the gambling industry, labor unions, and other elements often considered shady.

In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker must now choose whether to approve a new casino in Kenosha that would be owned by the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin and managed by Hard Rock International, a company owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that Walker, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, is up for re-election this year. Walker, who pushed through labor reforms in his state, famously survived a recall effort led by unions (which are currently pushing government “investigations” of people who advertised in support of Walker’s reforms). Union officials relish the prospect of making an example of Walker by defeating him in November.

Meanwhile, union officials are greatly interested in the proliferation of Indian casinos, which they see as targets. They typically pressure the Indians to use unionized labor in building the facilities and to agree that, once the casinos open, their Indian owners will help the unions organize their workers. Read all »

The ‘Living Wage’ Strategy for Unions: Campaign in Washington State helps elect avowed socialist, leads to wide range of regulations

The ‘Living Wage’ Strategy for Unions
Campaign in Washington State helps elect avowed socialist, leads to wide range of regulations
By Max Nelsen (pdf here)

Summary: Amidst a national debate about wages and so-called income inequality, labor unions are pushing local “living wage” laws to build support for a hike in the federal minimum wage law. Recently, a Seattle suburb became the first city to adopt a $15 “living wage” law. The city’s experience, which included a wide range of other restrictions on businesses, reveals that the real purpose of such laws is to enhance union organizing.    

The City of SeaTac, Washington, is small—10 square miles with a population of approximately 28,000—but a recent referendum there may have nationwide impact. Voters in November approved Proposition 1, a $15-an-hour “living wage” initiative that the Seattle Weekly called a “bellwether of labor politics.”
Two other developments that may be indications of things to come:
► On the same day Prop 1 passed in SeaTac, voters in nearby Seattle elected Kshama Sawant, an “Occupy Seattle” activist and avowed socialist/Marxist, to the city council. A college professor, she ran on a platform that included a $15-an-hour minimum wage, rent control laws, and a “millionaire’s tax” on income.
► Two months later, officials of the local Machinists’ union in Puget Sound (the region that includes Seattle and Tacoma) suffered a setback when members voted to accept a contract with Boeing that gave back some pension rights and made other concessions. Interestingly, the new contract was supported by the national Machinists’ union but opposed by the local union. [See “Labor Notes,” page 8.]
In SeaTac, the $15 minimum wage provision was the headline-generator, yet Prop 1 was far more than a living wage bill. Under the initiative, certain transportation and hospitality employers are also required to provide paid sick leave, promote full-time jobs over part-time and keep extensive new records. Perhaps most importantly, the law is structured to encourage businesses to enter into collective bargaining, because companies can escape the law’s effects if they unionize.

Click here for the entire issue of Labor Watch.

Labor Watch: Turning Points in the Fight Against Forced Unionism?

Turning Points in the Fight Against Forced Unionism?
Two cases offer the U.S. Supreme Court opportunities to stop abuses (PDF here)
by Stan Greer

Summary: The National Labor Relations Act declares that “encouraging the practice and procedure of [monopolistic] collective bargaining” is “the policy of the United States.” Federal courts have often treated that declaration as if it authorized union officials to do whatever they deem necessary to bring employees into unions. In one case heard in November and another this month, the U.S. Supreme Court examined some important limits on union officers’ special legal privileges.   Read all »

Labor Watch December 2013: The Germans are Coming! …and the UAW is organizing in Tennessee and throughout the South

The Germans are Coming!
…and the UAW is organizing in Tennessee and throughout the South (PDF here)

By Carl F. Horowitz

Summary: The United Auto Workers has seen membership decline dramatically in its Midwest stronghold. Now it is desperate to unionize new plants in the South built by foreign companies. Unfortunately, under pressure from a powerful union in Germany, Volkswagen may be colluding with the UAW to force membership on workers in Chattanooga who have no desire to jeopardize the success of their plant.

Membership in the United Auto Workers (UAW) has declined dramatically these past few decades—by three-fourths since 1979. But union officials may have found a way to recapture the glory days by teaming up with the Germans. Read all »

Labor Watch: The Obamacare ‘Oops!’ (part 3): ACORN spinoff, other left-wing groups push people into Obamacare

The Obamacare ‘Oops!’ (part 3)
ACORN spinoff, other left-wing groups push people into Obamacare (Labor Watch, November 2013 – PDF here

By Matthew Vadum and Steven J. Allen

[This is the third of three articles from the November 2013 issue of the Capital Research Center publication Labor Watch. Previously: Part 1: 'Unions got the healthcare program passed, now want to exempt themselves' by John Vinci; and Part 2: 'Rivera and the War Room: How unions got Obamacare passed' by Steven J. Allen]

A corrupt union official who orchestrated massive campaigns involving identity fraud in furtherance of voter fraud and who covered up a million-dollar embezzlement will soon have unfettered access to confidential information on thousands of people seeking health insurance.

That man is disgraced ACORN founder Wade Rathke, and his shady union will soon be helping people enroll in Obamacare exchanges. Rathke’s labor vehicle, United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 100 in New Orleans, Read all »

Labor Watch: The Obamacare ‘Oops!’ (part 2): Rivera and the War Room: How unions got Obamacare passed

The Obamacare ‘Oops!’ (part 2)
Rivera and the War Room: How unions got Obamacare passed (Labor Watch, November 2013 – PDF here

By Steven J. Allen

[This is the second of three articles from the November 2013 issue of the Capital Research Center publication Labor Watch. Previously: Part 1: 'Unions got the healthcare program passed, now want to exempt themselves' by John Vinci; coming Monday, November 11: Part 3: 'ACORN spinoff, other left-wing groups push people into Obamacare' by Matthew Vadum and Steven J. Allen]

Unions were at the forefront in the desperate campaign for Obamacare.

The organization “Health Care for America Now!” included some 1,030 organizations and was the principal coalition working to pass the program. HCAN’s 20-member steering committee included the AFL-CIO, the Communication Workers of America, the teachers’ unions (both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), along with Working America, an AFL-CIO front group.

Taking the lead in organizing unions and their allies for Obamacare was Dennis Rivera. Rivera was the longtime head of the nation’s largest union local—Local 1199 (SEIU Healthcare Workers East)—until he left that job in 2007 to run SEIU’s national effort to organize healthcare workers. In his new position, he was working for Andy Stern, the SEIU president who would later be the most frequent visitor to the White House Read all »