Monthly Notes

Labor Notes

[From the upcoming issue of the Capital Research Center publication Labor Watch]

During the partial government shutdown, the Obama administration barricaded the World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, and elderly veterans who pushed through the barriers were threatened with arrest. At one point, approximately 20 protesters arrived and started chanting “Boehner, get us back to work!”—suggesting that Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner were responsible for the shutdown. But it turned out that they were from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the union most closely aligned with the White House, and they were pretending to be government employees. One protester wearing a McDonald’s employee shirt admitted that the SIEUers were paid $15 an hour to protest.

Although the Mall was closed to veterans visiting their memorial, it was opened the next day by the National Park Service for a rally in support of illegal aliens, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) among the speakers. The sponsors of the rally included the AFL-CIO and the SEIU.

A survey by the California Public Policy Center (CPPC) and the California Teachers Empowerment Network (CTEN) has found that 37% of Californians in union households would opt out of the union if they could do so without penalty.

CPPC and CTEN have launched a campaign to inform teachers of their right to receive a $300-$400 rebate from the California Teachers Association (CTA), representing money the union spent on politics. Over the past 14 years, CTA has reported political spending of more than $290 million. That outlay has been effective: The teachers’ union has won 75% of the ballot initiative votes in which it fought, and it recently carved out a “pedophile exemption” for teachers—an exemption from a law that gives victims of child abuse a “window” in which to sue their abusers’ employers.

Union Corruption Update reports the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has signed an agreement with Mexico’s Foreign Ministry “to promote the rights of Mexican workers on U.S. soil,” including “undocumented workers.” To promote awareness of the right to unionize and other employee rights, the NLRB will work with some 50 Mexican consulates throughout the U.S. The consulates exist mainly to serve illegal aliens, such as by issuing matricula cards that some financial institutions and local and state governments accept as identification.

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government paid more than $156 million in 2011 to civil service employees for work they did for unions. Last year at the Department of Veterans Affairs, 258 workers were each paid $26,420 to $132,000 for “official time” (union work). So what happened during the partial government shutdown? The Obama administration quietly changed the rules “to allow government employees who are union representatives to return to work and receive a regular paycheck,” according to the Washington Examiner. After first ruling that only “excepted” (i.e., “essential”) government employees could do union work on the taxpayers’ dime, “OPM issued updated guidance that provides several carefully crafted carve-outs for furloughed government workers to perform union work on official, paid time.”

The Kansas City Star reported last year that officers of the 60,000-member International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) had great deals: more than $600,000 in compensation for the president, $340,000-$495,000 for eight other officers, and more than $110,000 each for more than half of the union’s 125 employees. As lead administrator for a job training program conducted by the IBB, Angela Heninger made $173,000 in pay and benefits in 2011. But apparently that wasn’t enough. In federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, Heninger has pled guilty to embezzling some $50,000 (although the missing amount was reported to be $480,000).

The U.S. Circuit Court in Michigan has upheld that state’s ban on government-mandated Project Labor Agreements, which require the unionization of large taxpayer-funded projects. Currently, mandatory PLAs are banned in 18 states.

The case of UNITE HERE Local 355 v. Mulhall involves a sweetheart deal between a union and a racetrack-operating company. The union would conduct a $100,000 campaign to legalize casino gambling at racetracks and, in return, the company would help push employees into the union. The company promised to give the union personal information about nonunion employees, allow the use of company property for organizing, allow unionization by “card check” (i.e., without a secret ballot), and guarantee the union a collective-bargaining agreement. Now the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has taken the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court could outlaw such deals, called “neutrality agreements,” that are (as one expert put it) “perhaps the most important tool the union movement has created” to overcome private-sector employees’ lack of interest in unionization.

CRC’s Haller intern Paul McGuire contributed to this report.

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
+ More by Dr. Steven J. Allen