Will the Labor Department disarm employers in their struggle with the unions? (Labor Watch, May 2013 – PDF here )
By Diana Furtchgott-Roth
Summary: At the behest of unions desperate for new members, the U.S. Labor Department plans to make a major regulatory shift. The change has no basis in existing law or precedent, and it will harm labor-management relations while costing billions of dollars.
A shocking change in American labor relations is brewing at the U.S. Department of Labor, which is expected sometime soon to alter a major regulation. The change involves a new interpretation of the “advice exemption” of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Specifically, businesses would have to disclose the names of, and fees paid to, attorneys and consultants who advise them on union-organizing activities. In turn, attorneys and consultants providing such advice would be required to disclose their client lists and the fees they receive.
In making this change, the administration would sweep away over a half-century of precedent and contravene both the clear intent of Congress and the law’s express language. This new regulation would violate Read all »
The Sinking Ship of Cabotage
How the Jones Act lets unions and a few companies hold the economy hostage (Labor Watch, April 2013 – PDF here)
By Malia Blom Hill
Summary: The Jones Act is a 1920 law that protects the U.S. maritime industry from competition. It also raises costs for many other industries, keeps foreign ships from helping when disasters like the BP oil spill strike, and seems to be slowly killing the very industry it’s supposed to protect.
It’s just a few lines of legislation, but it makes it necessary for Jacksonville, Florida, to bring in coal from Colombia rather than from American mines; it requires Maryland and Virginia to bring in road salt from Chile rather than Ohio; and it makes it cheaper for livestock farmers to buy feed from grain farmers in Argentina and Canada than from Americans. It has helped put many new ventures out of business, from an artisan pastry manufacturer Read all »
Jindal vs. the Teachers’ Unions
Louisiana leads the way to dramatic school reforms at the state level (Labor Watch, March 2013 – PDF here)
By Steven J. Allen
Summary: In Louisiana, a tough and savvy governor has succeeded in enacting an impressive package of school reforms. The teachers’ unions are horrified and using every legal trick to stop changes. But citizens—and legislators from both parties—are pleased. Could this portend similar reforms in other states?
The battle for education reform in Louisiana has major implications both for the future of the nation’s schools and for the future of American politics. Reform legislation pushed through the state’s legislature by Gov. Bobby Jindal promises to remake Louisiana’s educational system, freeing schools from the chains of bureaucracy, corruption, and union dominance. First, though, the Jindal measures must survive a series of union-backed legal challenges. (More on that later.)
How significant are the reforms?
► The Economist noted that Jindal’s “bold plan weakens teacher tenure, and therefore the teachers’ unions, while greatly expanding the use of school vouchers and the reach of charter schools.” Read all »
Taxpayers paying for union work is officially a scam (Labor Watch, February 2013 – PDF here)
By Trey Kovacs
Summary: Few Americans are aware that, through their tax dollars, they finance labor unions through a practice known as “official time” or “release time.” The cost to taxpayers is skyrocketing, while—thanks to Obama administration stonewalling—accountability is declining. Fortunately, reformers are working to rein in this costly, corrupt practice.
Each working day, government employees report for work but do not perform governmental duties. Instead, they work for a private enterprise void of any public purpose—their union. Taxpayers pay for these employees’ wages, pensions, and health care benefits. Taxpayers pay for office space, supplies, and travel, too.
It’s all part of an expensive government subsidy to labor organizations known at the federal level as union “official time,” and on the state and local level as union “release time.” Government employees receive paid time off to perform union activities unrelated to their government responsibilities. Thanks to haphazard recordkeeping and lack of transparency, Read all »
Michigan Becomes 24th Right-to-Work State
Backlash against union power grab alters state’s balance of power (Labor Watch, January 2013 – PDF here)
By Steven J. Allen
Summary: Michigan, the home of the United Auto Workers, now has a law guaranteeing a worker’s right to choose whether to join, or pay dues to, a labor union. The law was passed after the failure of a union-backed constitutional amendment that would have given unions unprecedented power. Some are calling that amendment, known as Prop 2, “the unions’ Afghanistan.”
Michigan has become the 24th state in the nation with a right-to-work law—that is, a law prohibiting workers from being fired for refusing to join or pay dues to a union. But a state representative told pro-union demonstrators that the fight for union power is far from over. “There will be blood!” he said. Read all »
Michigan’s Prop 2: The Great Union Power Grab
Government unions try to set themselves up as a super-legislature—and fail
By F. Vincent Vernuccio (PDF here)
Summary: Led by a reform-minded governor, Michigan enacted a series of reforms to rein in government unions that were bankrupting the state. The unions responded with a proposed amendment that would have given them unprecedented power to overturn state laws. Despite Michigan’s history as a strongly pro-union state, voters resoundingly rejected the amendment—proving that reform is possible almost everywhere in the country.
In Wisconsin, Indiana, and elsewhere around the country, governors, state legislators, and other officials are taking a stand against the unbridled power of labor unions. They are working to pull state and local governments back from the brink by limiting the ability of unions to drive governments into insolvency.
The unions are fighting back, of course, losing sometimes (as in the failed recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the failure to stop Indiana from becoming a right-to-work state) and winning sometimes (as with the repeal of reforms in Ohio).
But last month on Election Day in Michigan, unions lost a key battle Read all »
From the November 2012 issue of the Capital Research Center’s Labor Watch:
Battle Plan of the Shadowbosses: The strategy to unionize government employees who aren’t government employees
By Mallory Factor with Elizabeth Factor (PDF here)
excerpted from their book Shadowbosses
Summary: Unable to persuade most private sector workers to join unions, labor strategists are using political connections and dubious legal arrangements to unionize private citizens without their consent—including parents caring for their own children. Read all »
From the October 2012 issue of the Capital Research Center’s Labor Watch:
Knox v. SEIU: A new hope for restraining Big Labor’s forced dues power
By Patrick Semmens and Will Collins (PDF here)
Summary: One woman’s refusal to let union bosses take her money to spend on their political agenda has been vindicated by the U.S. Supreme Court after nearly a decade of legal battles. Even better, the Court suggested it is open to further restraints on union money grabs.
“I strongly supported one of the [ballot] propositions and was angry that I was forced to pay to oppose it,” said Dianne Knox, reflecting on what became her seven-year legal struggle against one of the most powerful unions in America.
Knox was referring to Proposition 75, a 2005 California ballot initiative that would have required union officials to gain nonmember employees’ consent before charging the employees fees that would be used to conduct political activities. To a layperson, that requirement sounds like a modest constraint, but to union officials, Proposition 75 represented a serious threat to their lucrative forced-dues-funded empire, in which they can even have nonmembers like Knox fired for failure to pay dues or fees to the union. Read all »
Best Practices for Reforming State Employee Pensions:
New Accounting Standards and Bold State Actions Show Momentum Gaining for Reform
By Ivan Osorio, Labor Watch, September 2012 (PDF here)
Summary: Bloated pensions and retirement benefits for unionized government employees threaten the finances of states and localities across the nation. New accounting standards and bold reforms in some states reveal the “best practices” for governments to use to regain control of their budgets.
Public awareness of America’s state pension crisis is growing. Years of overly generous pension commitments to government employees have wreaked havoc on state budgets. During the last four years, state governments across the nation have been trying to bring their labor costs under control, especially pensions, which now impose huge unfunded liabilities. This has been an uphill battle, thanks to fierce opposition to reform from government employee unions.
Underscoring the seriousness of the situation is the recently released report by the State Budget Task Force, a group of experts assembled by former New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Launched in April 2011, the bipartisan Task Force includes former Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady, former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and former Health Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
Read all »
Hospital Unionization Harms the Sick
By David Bier and Iain Murray, Labor Watch, August 2012 (PDF)
Summary: Nursing is a valued career in a civilized society. It combines helping people with the economic demand for health care. Now, however, this noble profession is the target of an organized campaign by Big Labor to make it yet another source for compulsory dues, at the expense of those whom the health care system is supposed to serve—patients.
In 2009, Deborah Burger, co-president of the then-newly formed National Nurses United (NNU), proclaimed, “We are going to make sure we organize every single direct care [registered nurse] in this country.” Burger’s organization has done much to advance that goal. Favorable political conditions and rising health care costs have created opportunities for unions to grow in influence in the health care industry. And in 2009, several health care unions put aside their differences and embarked on an unprecedented push for further unionization of hospital, medical care, and nursing home employees. Meanwhile, strikes by previously organized workers have increased in frequency over each of the last three years, which also saw the two largest nurses’ strikes ever.
Desperate for new members, nursing unions are exploring new tactics. These include organizing in states with right to work laws and incorporating religious messages in an effort to organize Catholic hospital employees. This push for members has affected both the number of strikes and the proportion of nurses who are unionized. It has also had negative effects on patient care and health care costs. Strikes put many thousands of patients’ lives and health at risk, and unionization contributes to increased health care prices, which reduces the availability of health care.
Read all »