Traditionally, criticism of public employee unions has come from politicians on the right. That's still true. But in Los Angeles and San Francisco, two progressive politicians have gained attention and prominence by taking on pensions and other expensive perks of such unions.(from nbclosangeles.com)
On paper, they couldn't be more different. San Francisco's Jeff Adachi, when he's not trying to rein in pension and retirement costs, runs the Public Defender's office, which represents poor people charged with crimes. Los Angeles's Bernard Parks, now a city councilman, made his name as a police chief dedicated to putting people in prison. Adachi is young and a progressive by any standard (save the wildly off-kilter standard of San Francisco, where one local pol explained to me once how Mayor Gavin Newsom was just like President George W. Bush). Parks, at 67 a senior citizen, has views on most broad economics and social issues that are liberal by most definitions, though on the labor-dominated city council he can seem like a conservative.
What binds Adachi and Parks together is their critique of public sector workers and their shared sense of alarm at the long-term threats to their cities' fiscal viability. Each argues that public employee perks must be reined in -- not in the name of lowering taxes or other right-wing ideological gains -- but so that there's enough money to protect progressive programs that benefit the public at large.
That's a powerful argument.
Division on the Left as labor-skeptic Dems emerge
But most Republicans won't promote an end to forced-labor unionism
Even as they scream for "workers' rights," the one workers' right that union bosses despise is the right to work. Big Labor and its overwhelmingly Democratic allies oppose a woman's right to choose whether or not to join a union. Instead, they prefer that predominantly male employers and labor leaders make that choice for her.(from courierpress.com)
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., understands that exercising this choice is a basic human right.
"Many Americans already are struggling just to put food on the table," DeMint said, "and they shouldn't have to fear losing their jobs or face discrimination if they don't want to join a union." Thus, DeMint introduced the National Right to Work Act. If not today, then soon, a federally protected individual right to work should be signed into law. The Act's economic rationale is compelling:
• Among America's 22 right-to-work states, nonfarm private-sector employment grew 3.7 percent from 1999 to 2009, while it shrank 2.8 percent among America's 28 forced-unionism states.
• During those 10 years, real personal income rose 28.3 percent in right-to-work states and sank 14.7 percent in forced-unionism states.
• In 2009, cost-of-living-adjusted, per-capita, disposable, personal income was $35,543 in right-to-work states versus $33,389 in forced-unionism states.
"Compulsory unionism ... should not be lawful under a free government or tolerated by a free people," Donald R. Richberg argued in his book, "Compulsory Unionism: The New Slavery." As a labor attorney and federal official, Richberg helped draft landmark union laws. Later, however, Richberg considered such legislation authoritarian.
Labor leaders should not fear voluntary membership. If their talents for securing higher wages, richer pensions, and cozier working conditions are truly as impressive as advertised, Americans should line up to sign up.
Last October, pollster Frank Luntz surveyed 760 private- and public- sector unionized employees. Eighty percent agreed that union membership and dues should be optional. Hence, the National Right To Work Act is good policy and good politics — if only Republicans and free-marketeers would promote it.
Show Me State moves to modernize out-of-date collective bargaining statutes
While the Missouri Senate was debating the so-called Right-to-Work legislation, the Missouri House debated another bill that sets off sparks among labor unions.(from ozarksfirst.com)
The House voted 101-57 Monday to support a change to the Missouri constitution that would guarantee the right of all Missourians to vote by secret ballot in all elections, including those that deal with labor representation.
Proponents say the protections are needed to keep workers from being intimidated during labor union elections.
Opponents of the measure say most union organizations already specify ballot issues must occur in secret, and that a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.
The bill has to pass one more vote in the House before moving on to the State Senate.
On this day: March 15
Community Organizing for the New Progressive Era
President Woodrow Wilson sends 12,000 U.S. troops over the U.S.-Mexico border to pursue Pancho Villa (1916)
Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicates the Russian throne and his brother the Grand Duke becomes Tsar (1917)
Dictator Theodoros Pangalos is elected President of Greece without opposition (1926)
Mikhail Gorbachev is elected as the first executive president of the Soviet Union (1990)
b: Élisée Reclus (1830), Berthold von Stauffenberg (1905), Mark J. Green (1945); d: William McFetridge (1969), Aristotle Onassis (1975), Benjamin Spock (1998)
Community Organizing for the New Progressive Era