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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: 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 »

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 »

Labor Watch: The Obamacare ‘Oops!’: Unions got the healthcare program passed, now want to exempt themselves

This is the first of three articles from the November 2013 issue of the Capital Research Center publication Labor Watch.

►Coming Thursday, November 7: Part 2: ‘Rivera and the War Room: How unions got Obamacare passed’ by Steven J. Allen.

►Coming Monday, November 11: Part 3: ‘ACORN spinoff, other left-wing groups push people into Obamacare’ by Matthew Vadum and Steven J. Allen

The Obamacare ‘Oops!’
Unions got the healthcare program passed, now want to exempt themselves (Labor Watch, November 2013 – PDF here

By John Vinci

Summary: Unions are largely responsible for the passage of Obamacare, but once the program was passed, they fought to get themselves excluded from it because of the costs it would impose on them. They have already succeeded in receiving hundreds of waivers, and now they’re proposing even more extreme waivers that would cost taxpayers billions.

Leaders of labor unions provided the political muscle that got Obamacare through Congress. They furnished the troops at the grassroots level and in the nation’s capital to block efforts to repeal or reform the program. They declared that Obamacare is the law of the land and must not be altered or abridged.

Today some of those same union officials say that Obamacare is a disaster that will harm working people in general and union members in particular. Now—surprise!—they want Obamacare changed in ways to benefit their unions. Read all »

Above the Law: Unions are often exempt from laws on extortion, identity theft, and whistleblower protection

 Above the Law

Unions are often exempt from laws on extortion, identity theft, and whistleblower protection (Labor Watch, October 2013 – PDF here)

By Kevin Mooney

Summary: At the moment, labor bosses are demanding exemptions from the pains of the Obamacare law they fought to en­act. But that’s just the latest in a long list of laws that unions are allowed to skirt.

 

It’s illegal for you to use violence or the threat of violence for economic gain. It’s unlawful for you to steal someone’s identity. If you try to freeze out competition to obtain a monopoly, regulators may come down on you. If someone in your organization exposes you for wrongdoing, that whistle­blower is protected from retaliation.

On the other hand, if you’re a union boss, sometimes those rules simply don’t apply. You’re exempt from many laws that apply to regular people. Read all »

Mexico’s education reform law expels teachers unions from power

Amid violent protests from angry teachers and very powerful teachers unions, on Tuesday the Mexican government put its final touches on sweeping education reforms it hopes will not only improve school quality—but also reduce labor union influence.

Lawmakers and other critics argue that these powerful teachers unions are corrupt and have exerted too much control over hiring and review practices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “[p]ublic disapproval (of teachers unions in Mexico) also derives from the growing awareness that the teaching profession is a union racket, not a public service.”  The newspaper opined that, “[a] more powerful explanation (why teachers lost favor with the general public) may be that civil society is fed up with a corrupt system that gives a select few a free ride at the expense of the nation’s children.”

Until recently, teachers were able to sell their positions or pass them on to family members. They lived privileged lives at the expense of their students.

Mexico’s citizens and political leaders grew tired of the union corruption and failing schools.

And now, the unions have lost power.

Attack of the UFOs: “Alt-labor,” worker centers, and the rise of United Front Organizations

Attack of the UFOs

“Alt-labor,” worker centers, and the rise of Union Front Organizations (Labor Watch, September 2013 – PDF here

By F. Vincent Vernuccio

Summary: As union membership continues its steep decline, labor union leaders are trying to use new organizations, including “public charities,” to harass employers and keep the money coming in.

Organized labor’s old business model is failing and union leaders know it. Top officers like AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka acknowledge that to survive—to keep the rivers of dues money flowing—unions need to change. Trumka and his colleagues now talk openly about alternative forms of unionization in which the first goal is to not be the exclusive bargaining representative for workers.

They claim that the new models, if properly executed, would be beneficial to workers and unions, and to society. But the reality is different. For all the talk of reinventing organizing, Big Labor is really doubling down on top-down politics and on old tactics of intimidation.

In recent years, new labor organizations known as “worker centers” have been growing in number and in size. Little-known concepts such as “members-only agreements” have gone mainstream. Both of these entities do not need to go through the normal organizing process—which means unions do not need to persuade the majority of employees in a workplace to sign off on union representation. Increasingly these organizations are being called alternative labor unions or “alt-labor” Read all »

Labor Watch: The Unions’ Own ‘1%’: The Laborers and other unions pay big, while feds look the other way

The Unions’ Own ‘1%’

The Laborers and other unions pay big, while feds look the other way (Labor Watch, August 2013 – PDF here)

By Luke Rosiak

Summary: Union leaders are increasingly distant from the everyday workers they claim to represent, with faster-growing pay and an entrenched ruling class, data show.  Nepotism is in full force, union members complain, and the closest some second- or third-generation officials have been to a day on a job site is a class on labor relations at Harvard.  With a small handful of persons controlling a multitude of related trusts, sometimes for decades, it should be no surprise the Department of Labor has found at least 89 cases where union members had funds embezzled by their own officials in the first half of 2013.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America says it fights for equality, for lowering the gap between the highest- and lowest-paid, and against the corrupt practices of corporate fat-cats who have politicians in their pockets and avoid paying their fair share in taxes. That’s the image the union wants to project.

The reality is different. The LIUNA presents a case study in the hypocrisy, self-dealing, and good-old-boy networking Read all »