12/4/08

Thursday wrap

Prez Bam to press for Job-Killer Act ... Asked if Obama's support for the Employee Free Choice Act remained as strong as his public proclamations suggested on the campaign trail, transition spokesman Dan Pfeiffer responded, succinctly, "Yes." The reaffirmation may not seem like a political breakthrough on its surface. But in the current political climate, in which the Obama team has steadfastly refused to comment on various legislative priorities, it does signal that the President-elect is not shying away from progressive pledges made during his campaign. (prospect.org)


Ugly card-check 'neutrality' rears head ... It was disappointing -- and frankly, surprising -- to learn the United Auto Workers was demanding Johnson Controls Inc. turn over names, addresses and phone numbers of employees at the Southview joint venture in Holland. We were told the UAW wanted the information to organize employees at the plant using card check, under the terms of a so-called "neutrality agreement" the union had with the bankrupt former operator of the plant. It has been awhile since we've heard much about neutrality agreements. We thought they had taken their rightful place in the graveyard of bad ideas. They are essentially agreements in which unions and employers cut a deal to facilitate the unionization of the employees, without employees getting much of a say in the deal. (mlive.com)


DINOs unite against worker-choice ... Organized labor's Number One priority in the new Congress is a bill called the "Employee Free Choice Act." Its name an Orwellian lie, the bill would dramatically change U.S. labor law. Today, employees are entitled to a private-ballot election when deciding whether they want union representation in their workplace. With the new law, that would end. All organizing unions would have to do would be to speak with any company's employees (some would say strong-arm them), one at a time. When they got signatures from 50 percent of them, the union would be in. It would be a terrible new system where pressure would be the rule, and the right of employees to make a decision privately, without coercion from either labor or management, would end. Unions love this idea, and it's no wonder. (valleybreeze.com)


Worker-choice is too important to leave up to workers ... Currently, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board will certify a union as the exclusive representation of employees if it is elected by either a majority signature drive, the card check process, or by secret ballot NLRB election, which is held if more than 30 percent of employees in a workplace sign cards asking for union representation. However, if the EFCA is enacted, it would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing a secret ballot election, as long as a majority of the workers signed cards. “It’s going to strip workers of their right to government-supervised private ballot votes,” Hancock said. Now, “the workers themselves must publicly declare their support for a union and publicly sign a binding contract,” Hancock said. “And if 51 percent of those employees sign up for the union, the other 49 percent never gets a choice, and that’s a big deal.” (memphisdailynews.com)


Teachers Union docked $1 million for political thuggery ... Washington state law requires public school teachers to pay union fees for the cost of bargaining, even if the teacher declines to become a member of the union. State law required unions to obtain “affirmative authorization” from non-member teachers before using their payments for political activity. After discovering potential violations by the WEA, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation filed a complaint with the Attorney General in 2000. A trial court judge found that the union intentionally violated the law and imposed a $590,000 penalty against it. The WEA challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Court, siding with the state's and EFF's position, unanimously upheld the law as constitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that “unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of nonmember-employees,” and states are free to place restrictions on the union’s ability to collect political funds. Under the terms of the settlement, WEA will pay the State $735,000 to resolve the litigation. In addition, WEA will return up to $240,000 to eligible agency fee payers during the 2003 – 2007 school years. The state’s settlement does not affect a related, private class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of teachers (Davenport v. WEA), which seeks refunds for additional school years. (effwa.org)


No penalty for strike-breaking tax workers ... The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that unions cannot ask courts to enforce the fines they slap on members who cross a picket line. In a two-to-one ruling yesterday, the court agreed with a lower court finding that the Union of Taxation Employees Local 70030 could not use the courts to force two members to pay a penalty of $476 each – three days gross wages – for working three days during a 2004 strike at the Canada Revenue Agency. The court's decision stated that a fine is "unconscionable" when one party, such as a union, has an unfair advantage over a member by virtue of its constitution. The Court also agreed with the lower court finding that the fine was excessive. (thestar.com)


"Guardian of Worker Freedom" named ... “I am honored to be receiving this award,” said Rep. Bachmann. “The men and women who make up America’s workforce are the heart and soul of this economy. And in the face of our serious economic challenges it is more critical now than ever to encourage job creation and expand workers’ freedoms and opportunities.” (hometownsource.com)


Congress to fix broken business model ... In the more static days of the past, the Big Three and the UAW had a business model that worked. Now it has fallen apart as the twin forces of globalization and nonunion labor competition have exposed the flaws of an outdated way of doing business. It's time to face reality: The Big Three-UAW business model is bankrupt, the era of above-market compensation for semi-skilled workers is unsustainable, the importance of unions is rapidly fading, and globalization is here to stay. Simply put, the American taxpayer should not be expected to bail out the excesses and undisciplined behavior of the UAW and the Big Three that have been going on for decades. Bankruptcy and reorganization, not a taxpayer bailout, is the best long-run solution for the Big Three. (ibdeditorials.com)


Inconvenient financial crisis may delay pro-union rush ... Obama, who got his start in politics as a community organizer in Chicago, has made clear that he strongly sympathizes with organized labor. Vowing to make the legislation a top priority as president, Obama said during his campaign that he was ready to "play offense" for organized labor. "It's time we had a president who didn't choke saying the word 'union,'" he said on the campaign trail. Big labor reciprocated. The AFL-CIO said it sent 250,000 members to knock on doors in the final days of the campaign in key battleground states, where Obama won among union voters 68 percent to 30 percent. Obama was a key sponsor of legislation that would allow workers to check a card to join unions instead of going through elections in which companies play a significant role. Critics of the "card check" measure say it would eliminate secret ballots and enable organizers to pressure workers to join unions. (boston.com)


Disincluding non-union labor ... The Michigan State University Board of Trustees soon may consider contracting provisions that are blatantly discriminatory. The first of the upcoming decisions may be whether trustees will allow a union-only project labor agreement to cover construction work on Brody Hall. MSU prides itself on inclusion. In MSU President Lou Anna Simon's own words, "Michigan State University is guided by values that are embedded in our rich heritage as a leading land-grant university and our current position as a world-grant institution among the best universities in the world. Foremost among our values is inclusion." Why, then, would MSU allow a union-only PLA that excludes 80 percent of our state's construction workers? (lansingstatejournal.com)


Gov. spares union dues cut for now ... O'Malley, a Democrat, met with union officials last week and asked them to share the burden of budget cutting that has affected nearly every state agency. He promised to compensate them for sacrifices when economic times improve, according to participants in that meeting. "We're not thrilled, of course," said Debra Perry, president of AFT Health Care Maryland, which represents 2,000 nurses, doctors, epidemiologists and other employees, mostly at the state health department. "But we're all in agreement that, yes, we know this is the reality, and we're all trying to figure out how everybody should have some part of it." (baltimoresun.com)


Congress to test U.S. economy with Job-Killer Act ... Say “card check” — and watch employers go weak in the knees, human resource managers sweat, and employment law attorneys gear up for business. “Card check” is shorthand for the Employee Free Choice Act, a piece of legislation expected to be a top priority when Congress reconvenes in January. The Employee Free Choice Act would change the organizing rules. If a majority of employees in a work group sign a union card (that’s the “card check”), the union would become the official bargaining unit — no more six-week waiting period giving employers time to make a case against the union; no more subsequent election. “It may be all done before you have any idea it’s going on,” warned one of several employment law attorneys I’ve heard speak in the last few weeks at seminars for human resource managers and business owners. There’s already a lot on the plates of human resource managers. Changes in the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act are vying for their attention. But nothing seems to lather up employment law attorneys — whose clients are employers — as much as the possibility that the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law. (kansascity.com)


Bailout for Big Labor ... In this year’s Congressional and presidential election cycle, the leading labor unions expended more than $61 million in campaign contributions. Democratic candidates received $55.7 million, with only $5 million going to Republicans running for office. Around $10.3 million was spent by the major unions on the presidential candidates beginning with the primary elections, with $10.1 million of that sum contributed to Democratic candidates this year. As shown in Table 1, labor unions have expended over $646.8 million in election campaign contributions during 1990-2008, with $595.4 million of that total received by Democratic candidates for federal political office. (aier.org)


Card-Check can wait ... Second, every entrepreneur who runs a business with a sizeable number of employees has concerns about what labor laws will look like in the future. It is important to recognize the value and benefit of good labor laws; however I don’t know a single entrepreneur or employer who thinks that the Employee Free Choice Act (commonly referred to as “Card Check” legislation) is good labor law. I understand the importance of this legislation to the labor unions that played a significant role in your election, but if the Act passes, it will have a stifling impact on the creation of new jobs. Entrepreneurs would suggest that you suspend consideration of card check legislation until the economy has recovered and job growth is once again on the rise. (logisticsmgmt.com)


Changing change ... A funny thing happened on his way to the White House: that old, left-wing community organizer Barack Obama has suddenly veered toward the center, and his incoming administration is looking more and more like the Daley Machine in Chicago than Hugo Ch├ívez’s administration down in Venezuela. Barack Obama, ardent disciple of the late Saul Alinsky, seems to have forgotten the iron-clad left-wing dictate — “no enemies to the left.” With every Clintonite or Wall Streeter appointment he makes a new enemy on the left. (citizen-times.com)


It's beginning to look a lot like Clinton ... President Bill Clinton cut my Social Security pension. Will Obama do the same? Clinton cut defense. Will Obama do the same? He's already promised to cut defense by 25 percent, reduce our nuclear arsenal and not weaponize "space." Are these prudent ideas with Russia, Iran and North Korea acting up? All the old Democratic "wannas" will resurface: Workers will lose their secret ballot in union elections (the "card check" legislation). Conservative talk show hosts will be decimated by the reborn "Fairness Doctrine." And there'll be two far-left progressives (no one is a liberal anymore) confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009. (dailynews-record.com)


News Union dues hit in Golden State ... The Californian and one of its subsidiaries on Wednesday laid off 25 employees, or about 10 percent of its work force, in the face of sharply declining advertising sales. Seven of the jobs lost were newsroom positions. The move follows the elimination of 40 positions at the company in June 2007. Only 10 of those resulted in actual layoffs. (bakersfield.com)


SEIU strikers have unfinished business ... With no resolution in sight to a contract dispute between the Service Employees International Union Local 113 and Regina Medical Center, union officials say another strike could be in the works. (hastingsstargazette.com)


UAL deals dues hit to Teamsters, IAM ... United Airlines plans to furlough 1,088 workers at bases around the country, according to layoff notices and the unions that represent the workers. The nation's third-largest airline also plans to close maintenance facilities at the Newark, New York-LaGuardia and Philadelphia airports on Jan. 11. (forbes.com)


News Union dues hit in Hawaii ... The companywide cuts that began in Gannett Co. newspapers across the mainland yesterday rolled through the Honolulu Advertiser today. Some 41 employees accepted the voluntary layoff, or buyout, offered in October and in order to meet cost-cutting goals, another 10 employees, six full-time and four part-time, were laid off.The company has laid off 81 people from its daily and community newspaper divisions in the last four months and just before Thanksgiving proposed a 31.5 percent across the board pay cut. It is in negotiations toward a new union contract to succeed the pact that expired in June of last year. (starbulletin.com)


Teamsters stave off dues hit ... Teamsters leadership will recommend to its rank and file membership at LTL giant YRC Worldwide a 10 percent wage cut to help the company avoid a financial crisis as freight demand weakens. A vote by membership is expected by next week, and a ballot count is expected later in December. (trafficworld.com)


York U. student supports strikers



Forced-Choice Act has problems

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