State workers' union backs partying parole officers

The largest state employees' union is standing behind two parole agents charged last week with cocaine possession in connection with an all-night party last year. In a statement issued today, the Wisconsin State Employees Union claimed that the charges against Paul N. Marx, 27, of Marshall and Bobbi J. Knarr, 24, of Sun Prairie are "an unconscionable abuse of power" and that local prosecutors are "persecuting two good people based on jailhouse hearsay."

The two agents are charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of cocaine and obstructing an officer.

According to the criminal complaints filed against them in Dane County Circuit Court last week, the charges were based on information supplied by a jail inmate who told a detective that Marx and Knarr were at a party with him in May 2006.

The inmate said the two agents were part of a group that played poker, drank whiskey and beer, and snorted cocaine. The agents told police that they were at the party and acknowledged drinking heavily but said they did not use drugs either there or anywhere else. Marx, however, told police that he had seen Knarr using cocaine on another occasion and admitted that he had snorted cocaine with her at that time and on another occasion two years earlier.

Tom Corcoran, president of AFSCME Local 2748, which represents the two men, claimed that prosecutors are "far too eager to ruin lives based on the flimsiest of accusations from known lawbreakers who have all kinds of motives for getting back at probation and parole agents."

WSEU director Marty Beil called the case "nothing more than a fishing expedition" and dismissed the charges as based on an inmate's "drug-addled memories" from 15 months ago.

The two men were scheduled to appear in court on the charges today.


Oregon's SEIU - just another corrupt gov't union

The largest union for state employees in Oregon is embroiled in a messy political and legal struggle over a claim from its elected president for nearly $110,000 in back overtime pay. Outraged members of Local 503 of the Services Employees International Union, including several board members, launched a recall campaign against the president, Joe DiNicola.

In turn, DiNicola is seeking a court order charging that union and government resources are being used to aid the recall, which SEIU denies. He also has filed a civil rights complaint charging he has been discriminated against for making his wage claim. Meanwhile, the case has forced both SEIU and the state of Oregon to burn up thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Several union members involved in the recall say they are mystified why DiNicola is so determined to seek thousands of dollars in overtime pay when the president's job has traditionally been seen as a management position exempt from overtime -- and when his pay is already well above that of rank-and-file SEIU members. But they say they are determined to protect the union's reputation by taking action against DiNicola.

"I know there are people who are going to say, 'Oh, this is just another corrupt union,' " said Barbara Casey, an SEIU board member backing the recall. But, she added, "we are correcting this internally. . . . We want to hold our leaders accountable just like the public wants public employees held accountable."

DiNicola would not comment. His attorney, Kevin Lafky, said DiNicola repeatedly tried to file time sheets showing he was working extra hours soon after he was elected president in 2004 but was discouraged from doing so. Lafky said that under the agreement between the state and the union, DiNicola should be entitled to the same compensation -- including overtime -- that he received in his regular job as a corporate tax auditor for the state Department of Revenue.

Under the agreement, DiNicola continues to collect his public employee salary from the state, which is then reimbursed by the union.

SEIU also paid DiNicola a $400 monthly stipend, a monthly car allowance of $245 and a flexible medical benefit of $140. All told, DiNicola received $83,562 in compensation from the union in 2006, according to a report by Bredhoff & Kaiser, a Washington, D.C., law firm hired by the union to investigate DiNicola's wage claim.

Though DiNicola had on several occasions asked the SEIU staff about his eligibility for compensatory time off when he worked weekends and evenings, he did not ask for overtime until late February or March of this year, the Bredhoff report said.

At that time, he submitted a request for 96 hours of overtime for February, which was turned down by the board. Bredhoff concluded it would violate SEIU bylaws to pay overtime to DiNicola.

DiNicola responded by filing a wage claim with the Department of Revenue for 2,596 hours of overtime accumulated since he became president in 2004. In May, he filed a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court asking that he be paid time-and-a-half for those hours, for a total of $109,603. He asked for an equal amount in damages.

The state then filed its own lawsuit, saying the union should be responsible for any wage claims won by DiNicola. Peter Shepherd, the deputy attorney general, expressed confidence that taxpayers won't be stuck with any back overtime charges. But he said they probably would be on the hook for the state's legal fees.

Members of the Local 503 board instituted new rules ordering DiNicola not to work more than 40 hours a week because they did not want to expose themselves to further wage claims, Casey said. Since then, she and other recall supporters said, DiNicola has left board meetings early at least twice, announcing he had used up his 40 hours for the week.

"It's a slap in the face to those of us who have put in countless hours of volunteer time" on union activities, said Star Holmberg, another board member backing the recall.

In July, DiNicola filed a civil rights claim with the Bureau of Labor and Industries, saying he faced employment discrimination, including attempts to remove him from office.

An Oct. 4 court hearing is set on DiNicola's request for a temporary restraining order to prevent any state or union resources from being used in the recall. Backers of the recall said they want to gather about 6,000 signatures, which will allow them to force an election. They are particularly angry that DiNicola waited until after he was re-elected to a second and final term to make his wage claim.

"It's devious," Casey said. "This is a corporate tax auditor who waited until his 30th month in office to say, 'Hey, I'm $110,000 in arrears.'"


UAW strike bosses get ready

United Auto Workers union locals are preparing for a strike if talks on a new labor agreement with the Big Three auto companies fail, officials say. Negotiations are ongoing between Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Chrysler and the UAW as the end of the current, four-year labor agreement approaches at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Members of both UAW Local 588 at the Chicago Heights Stamping plant and Local 551 at the Ford Chicago Assembly plant approved strike authorization votes in August.

Ford has told UAW negotiators that it wants to cut hourly labor costs to about $50 per hour, down from more than $70 per hour, now paid to average hourly employees, according to news reports.

Bill Jackson, president of Local 588, said although he, union officials and his members are hopeful the strike preparations will prove unnecessary, his local "is getting ready for the potential of a strike."

"I'm confident in the bargaining committee locally and nationally will do everything they can to avoid a strike," Jackson said Monday. "If both parties are close, they could extend our contract and things are moving."

Local 551 officials could be reached for comment, but Jackson said it and the other locals "should be" making preparations for a strike, despite the fact everyone hopes it can be avoided.

"It takes weeks to prepare each step, and to have each step in place," he said. "You have to schedule people, so you have to do that ahead of time. It's not saying, 'We'll strike.' It's saying, 'We'll be ready to strike.' Right now, I'm looking at burning a little midnight oil."

Negotiations on the agreement between Ford and Local 588, which covers plant-specific items and work rules, began in August. There is no deadline in place for the completion of the local agreement, Jackson said

"We're meeting and we're moving forward," he said.


Comic Senate candidate: A reliable labor vote

Al Franken visited campus Monday to support the University workers on strike. The democratic candidate for Minnesota's 2008 Senate spoke in front of Walter Library at 12:30 p.m. before joining multiple picket lines throughout campus.

Franken said supporting labor unions and workers is one of his top billings as he gears up for the U.S. Senate race. Franken said he is currently a member of four unions - the Writers' Guild of America, the Directors' Guild of America, the Screen Actors' Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors.

Union members were pleased with Franken's support, Barbara Bezat, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local 3937, said. "We are delighted that Al Franken supports AFSCME employees," she said. "We have an enormous amount of community support."

Franken said he didn't understand why the administration wasn't granting the workers high wages when the legislature has already set aside finances specifically for that reason.

He went on to say he could understand the denial of increased wages if workers were already earning too much, but he feels that isn't the case.

"Clearly the legislature voted the money, and this seems very pennywise and foolish of the University," he said.

Franken said he feels that a high turnover rate can be damaging to a University and the motivation for workers to stay in one place for many years is due to appropriate wages and treatment.

Students came to hear Franken and get a chance to shake his hand.

"Al Franken's a really cool guy and has a lot to say," said junior William Leitzman. "It's great for the union because he's so popular and he brings publicity."

Leitzman said Franken will gain political support for joining the workers on strike, but said he feels that wasn't Franken's ultimate reason for visiting the picket lines.

Although Franken received a strong showing of support from the approximately 100 attendees, he isn't without his detractors.

Franken is "not the only candidate using the strike to shop for votes," said University spokesman Dan Wolter. "(It) is part of the political process."

Wolter also expressed the administration's hope that Franken will continue to address higher education in the future.

Franken said higher education has been a concern of his before the strike, and it would continue to be after the dispute is resolved.

He expressed a concern that the University is moving backward.

"We now have a country in which the gap between those at the top and those toward the bottom is getting wider and wider," Franken said. "The University is not the place to be going in the wrong direction."

Franken said it's important for University students to learn from this strike.

"Students here need to know, they need to be reminded what unions and what labor is about," Franken said. "The unions gave this country a middle class. The unions gave this country the weekend.

"Imagine that, a learning moment at a University," he said.


Unions cheer as leftists shut down Port

More than 100 demonstrators shut down a major terminal at the Port of Seattle today to protest alleged U.S. labor law violations by Seattle-based National Frozen Foods Corporation (NFFC). The protest, led by Washington State Jobs with Justice, took place at the Hanjin Shipping Terminal 46. NFFC uses the terminal to ship frozen vegetables to customers in Asia. The Hanjin Boston, chartered by Hanjin from German shipper NSB, was set to transport NFFC products from Seattle.

NFFC is one of the five largest private-label frozen vegetable processors in the United States. NFFC workers in Chehalis have been represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters since 1945.

Armed with fliers and noisemakers, the group blocked the main entrance to the 88-acre terminal, chanting slogans in support of workers' rights and demanding that longshore workers not load the cargo, while distributing fliers calling on NFFC to return to the bargaining table.

In response, longshore workers and marine clerks from the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) stood by in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement until the issue was resolved. The terminal operator agreed to isolate the NFFC cargo, put it on wheels and have NFFC remove the cargo from the terminal.

Paul Bigman, a rally organizer and officer of Jobs with Justice, explained that the group was sending a message to NFFC and shipping companies that do business with the food processor that Seattle will not tolerate employers "that continually disrespect the rights of their workers." Bigman vowed to work with Jobs with Justice coalitions and their allies in other areas to confront shipping lines that carry NFFC products. "What happened today in Seattle makes it clear that there will be problems throughout the logistics chain whenever and wherever NFFC cargo is involved," said Bigman.

Both the Teamsters and the ILWU are members of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), made up of 681 labor unions representing 4.5 million workers in 148 countries.

The action took place against the backdrop of growing demands by unions and community groups that NFFC cease all anti-worker activities and negotiate a fair contract with workers at its facility in Chehalis, Washington.

Since 2004, NFFC workers have made concessions to meet alleged financial difficulties at NFFC, including pay cuts of 16%, loss of health care benefits for seasonal workers, loss of retiree health care benefits, and increases in the number of qualifying hours for health care, pension benefits and pay increases. These concessions have hit hardest at those least able to afford them, particularly Latino workers and new hires.

NFFC has engineered two decertification votes in recent years, in 2004 and 2007. The workers beat back these efforts, voting to keep their Union, Teamsters Local 252 by better than 60% majorities. On July 14, 2007, NFFC illegally declared bargaining to be at an impasse, and ended their contract with the workers' Union. The Teamsters have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. NFFC has denied access to any pension plan for workers aged 18-21, eliminated entry into the defined benefit plan for new hires, stopped the Union grievance process, and put into effect minimal pay increases that come nowhere near making up for recent concessions.

Additionally, NFFC is under investigation by the State of Washington for alleged child labor law violations, including having children work into the night, denying minors legally mandated meal breaks, using minors to operate machinery, and forcing minors to work at legally inappropriate work stations.

Craig Dameron, Co-Chair of Washington State Jobs with Justice, stressed that the community has no dispute with Hanjin or NSB. But he vowed that "disruptions and delays at ports used by National Frozen Food will continue until NFFC returns to the bargaining table and signs a fair contract that honors its workers."

Washington State Jobs with Justice is a coalition of over 140 community, labor, faith and student organizations that mobilizes around issues that affect working families. It is part of the national Jobs with Justice network of more than 40 coalitions in over 25 States.


Militant SEIU nurses practice healthcare politics

Nurses aren't just taking orders anymore. From intensive care wards to the halls of Congress, they're exerting growing influence over hospital practices and patient treatment. With the clout they've gained through unionization, they've raised their incomes and their profession's profile.

Now they're lobbying for a radical change to the country's healthcare system, starting in California.

On Monday, hundreds of members of the California Nurses Assn. marched on the Capitol in Sacramento and pledged to continue to campaign for universal healthcare coverage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would call a special session of the Legislature to write a law to significantly expand coverage in the state -- though not by nearly enough to satisfy the nurses union.

For Rose Ann DeMoro, the union's executive director, the goal is to end what she called the "pay-or-die system" once and for all. "We are a very, very strong and, some say, militant organization," said DeMoro, an AFL-CIO vice president. "And, honestly, in this environment it takes a militant organization. It's very hard for a registered nurse to go home at the end of a shift and feel good about the care she's able to give."

Emboldened by the nation's huge need for their skills, bulked up through unionization, and energized by their last dust-up with Schwarzenegger, organized nurses have become a bona fide political force.

"They have a very strong hand," said Darry Sragow, a Los Angeles lawyer and political strategist.

That's due in part to organized labor's big gains among nurses in recent years. In strongholds like California, Florence Nightingale is almost as likely to carry a union card, and a picket sign, as she is to wear clogs.

For Irene Gamboa, an operating-room nurse at USC/University Hospital in Los Angeles, the decision to join the California Nurses Assn. last year was about having a say in how the hospital operates.

Last month, the union won raises of about 25% over four years for Gamboa and 6,500 other nurses who worked for Tenet Healthcare hospitals. The new contract also sets minimum staffing levels and seeks to ensure that a nurse's judgment is not usurped by new medical technology.

"It's not only about the money," Gamboa said. "It's about quality patient care, which is very important to nurses."

Organized nurses' agenda includes changes that can't be won at bargaining tables, such as universal healthcare coverage. So nurses also are taking their demands to statehouses and to Congress.

"By coming together, they can really influence public policy," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

Nurses have come a long way since the late 1980s, when hospitals were laying them off in droves to cut costs amid the managed-care revolution. Factions of frustrated, change-seeking nurses broke away from professional associations in California and elsewhere to form collective bargaining units.

Their unions continue to grow even as organized labor is in critical care. In labor's heyday, more than one-third of all U.S. workers, almost all of them blue collar and male, belonged to unions. Today, about one in eight workers carries a union card.

Among the largely female ranks of nurses, however, the figure is closer to one in five.

About 325,000 nurses belong to 11 AFL-CIO affiliates, including the United American Nurses, the nation's largest nursing union. The California Nurses Assn., which claims 75,000 members, joined the giant labor federation this year, and the various unions recently formed a coalition called RNs Working Together.

Another 85,000 nurses belong to the Service Employees International Union, which touts itself as the nation's fastest growing union and is focused on organizing the nation's 10 million non-union healthcare workers, from home health aides to hospital nurses.

United American Nurses, which represents 115,000 nurses in 25 states, recently formed an alliance with the SEIU, and is boosting its organizing efforts with $8 million for membership expansion this year alone.

In the mid-1990s, when the California Nurses Assn. made organizing hospitals a priority, it had about 17,000 members. Both it and the SEIU gained ground as staffing shortages emerged, and skirmishes over hours, wages and staffing levels were fought hospital to hospital.

Then, in 1999, Gov. Gray Davis signed the nation's first nurse-patient ratio mandate into law, requiring that nurses on typical wards be assigned to care for no more than five patients each.

Hospitals complained that they couldn't hire enough nurses to comply with the ratio.

Schwarzenegger attempted to delay the law's full implementation -- touching off a firestorm of protest that is now widely viewed as a watershed in the politicization of the profession.

The association bought attack ads and rallied nurses who heckled him at public appearances around the state. The nurses' version of the Boston Tea Party came when the union hired a banner-toting blimp to fly over a Super Bowl party Schwarzenegger was hosting. The mandates eventually took effect.

Publicity over the flap catapulted the California union onto the national stage. The union launched an effort to organize nurses across the country. It now bargains for nurses in Maine and Illinois and has its sights set on several Texas hospitals.

Nurses' newfound power owes a lot to an aging population and a workforce miscalculation of gargantuan proportions.

As baby boomers grow older, their medical needs increase the demand for nurses. But the supply isn't keeping up.

Like the boomers she cares for, the average working nurse is also nearing retirement age. Half are older than 50. And the nation's nursing schools -- many of which closed down when hospitals were laying off nurses two decades ago -- don't have the capacity to replace them at the rate they are leaving.

Unlike many jobs, however, nursing can't be shipped offshore. "Workers in other nations cannot do it like they can produce flat-screen televisions," said Robert Reich, a public policy professor at UC Berkeley who was secretary of Labor under President Clinton.

Looming physician shortages and efforts to cut costs are likely to push even more of the patient-care workload onto nurses, further stoking demand, as is ever-changing medical technology, which requires skilled workers, often nurses, to operate.

As a result, Reich said, "we're going to see more and more pressure put on hospital systems that are not yet unionized."

Not everyone believes the growing bargaining power and political influence of nurses is the best medicine.

When nurses win pay raises and lower staffing ratios, costs rise, said Steve Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank based in New York.

"So it's a little bit naive to expect that their victories are going to also be complete victories for the patient," he said.

And not every nurse believes joining a union is the best way to improve patient care or their own lot.

"I think unions are taking advantage of the crisis in healthcare today," said Suzanne Geimer, an emergency room nurse at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Geimer launched a website for nurses who opposed the unionization efforts at that hospital a few years ago. The California Nurses Assn. won the right to represent the Cedars nurses in an election in 2002, but the National Labor Relations Board overturned the election in a setback the union characterizes as an example of the Bush administration's efforts to undermine labor.

Geimer's website remains a forum for anti-union sentiment among nurses. She said many believed organized labor was merely interested in pumping up its numbers -- and collecting union dues.

"They see healthcare as a fertile field," Geimer said.

Union activists don't disagree.

"Everybody's looking at nurses," said United American Nurses President Cheryl Johnson, a nurse in Michigan.

"Everybody wants to have a say in how to fix" the problems with healthcare, she said. "There are big stakes in this game."


Negotiators lead unionized city workers to picket

Some Rock Island (IL) AFSCME members employed by the city say they've worked since March without a contract. These are the people who plow your streets and pick up the trash. This Thursday they plan to meet with the city's bargaining team for the 17th time.

Tonight the union showed its frustration during a picket in front of city hall. Rock Island has already negotiated contracts with the police and with clerical staff. But there are some sticking points with the city's streets department workers, maintenance workers, sanitation workers, mechanics, electricians, marian workers and equipment operators.

The major issue is working on standby and being paid overtime.

Rick Hitchcock a street's department employee. He describes his job fixing water main breaks in the winter, "It's sometimes a muddy mess but and it's cold, but you get through it and get it done."

He's marching in this picket because the city wants to pay workers 25 bucks a week for being on standby instead of the two hours of overtime a day they got last year.

Dino Leone a staff representative for AFSCME. Leone says, "The standby we have in place has been in place for decades and it works they can place employees on stand by 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

But the city says it hasn't always worked. There have been delays in response to emergencies and the need to pay outside, private contractors to do this work.

Leone says, "What happened was we had a major snow storm and water main breaks going on at the same time."

Hitchcock says, "I had gotten home in bed an hour and half later the phone rings they want me to come in for snow, I said man I just got off eighteen hours straight I physically can't do it."

Hitchcock says the city has gone from 100 workers to 73 workers but expects everything to get done.

He doesn't want the city to touch his standby pay and the union representative says they hope to get a pay increase like the police department did of 4 percent.

The city manager, John Phillips is out of town this week. But he told me a couple of weeks ago he is concerned that the city can respond in case of emergencies.

The information sheet he gave me says there are 4 language issues and 13 economic issues left to negotiate on Thursday with the union.

Rock Island's public works director says he doesn't think Thursday's meeting will be the last effort to hammer out an agreement.


Nader: Mandate union membership nationwide

This August marks the 60th anniversary of the Taft-Hartley Act, one of the great blows to American democracy, going into effect. The Act, which was drafted by employers, fundamentally infringed on workers' human rights.

Legally, Taft-Hartley: impeded employees' right to join together in labor unions; undermined the power of unions to represent workers' interests effectively; and authorized an array of anti-union activities by employers. Among its key provisions, Taft-Hartley:

Authorized states to enact so-called right-to-work laws. These laws undermine the ability to build effective unions by creating a free-rider problem -- workers can enjoy the benefits of union membership in a workplace without actually joining the union or paying union dues. Right-to-work laws thus increase employer leverage to resist unions by undermining individual workers' incentives to join a union; and thereby vastly decrease union membership, thus dramatically diminishing unions' bargaining power.

Outlawed the closed shop, which required that persons join the union before being eligible for employment with the unionized employer. (Still permitted are provisions that require any member of a bargaining unit to pay a portion of dues to that union, though not to join the union.)

Defined "employee" for purposes of the Act as excluding supervisors and independent contractors. This diminished the pool of workers eligible to be unionized, and has become an increasingly serious problem as courts and the National Labor Relations Board have authorized ever-expanding employer definitions of what constitutes a supervisor. The exclusion of supervisors from union organizing activity meant they would be used as management's "front line" in anti-organizing efforts.

Permitted employers to petition for a union certification election, thus undermining the ability of workers and unions to control the timing of an election during the sensitive organizing stage, forcing an election before the union is ready.

Required that the employer be able to demand hearings on key matters of dispute -- such as what constitutes an appropriate bargaining unit -- before a union recognition election, thus delaying the election. Delay generally benefits management, giving the employer time to coerce workers.

Established the "right" of management to campaign against a union organizing drive, thereby scuttling the principle of employer neutrality.

Prohibited secondary boycotts -- boycotts directed to encourage neutral employers to pressure the employer with which the union has a dispute. Prior to 1947, secondary boycotts had been one of organized labor's most potent tools, for organizing, negotiating and dispute settlement.

The political damage of Taft-Hartley was just as severe. In addition to starting an era of red-baiting with the American labor movement which led to harmful internal division (a now-invalidated provision of Taft-Hartley required union leaders to sign anti-communist affidavits), the Act sent a message to employers: It was OK to bust unions and deny workers their rights to collectively bargain.

In short, Taft-Hartley entrenched significant executive tyranny in the workplace, with ramifications that are more severe today than ever. Union membership is at historic 60-year lows, with only 8 percent of the private economy's workforce unionized. Employer violations of labor rights are routine, and illegal firings of union supporters in labor organizing drives are at epidemic levels.

Major unions in the United States have rallied around the Employee Free Choice Act, which would begin to repair some of the damage caused by Taft-Hartley and the anti-union culture it engendered. They should also speak out for abolition of Taft-Hartley, and not concede this monumental employer usurpation, during this period of giant multinational corporate power.

Once again, neither the AFL-CIO nor other major unions have denounced what they believe to be the most anti-labor law ever enacted by the federal government. Such chronic resignation would never be the case within the business community were there a similar law on the books stifling their organizational powers for so many years.

It is past time for the repeal of Taft-Hartley. That would be one important step in restoring workers right to organize into unions, achieve a living wage in the Wal-Marts, McDonald's and other workplaces, and in revitalizing American democracy.

Will any members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduce long overdue repeal legislation?

By Ralph Nader


NLRB: Unions' duty includes disclosure

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, ruled that union officials cannot force nonunion members to object twice simply to receive basic information about how union affiliates spend the workers' forced union dues.

By a vote of 3-2, the NLRB majority agreed with National Right to Work Foundation attorneys and chose to follow an earlier U.S. Court of Appeals decision (also won by Foundation attorneys) which the Clinton NLRB had refused to apply. This week's NLRB ruling decreed that refusal to provide a breakdown of union affiliate expenditures violates the union's "duty of fair representation" (DFR) owed to nonunion workers. The relatively vague DFR standard is intended to protect employees from arbitrary or deliberately discriminatory actions by union officials.

With free legal help from the Foundation, Brandon Jones, a former employee of Chambers & Owen warehouses, in Janesville, Wisconsin, originally filed unfair labor practice charges at the NLRB in October 2001. Jones challenged Teamster Union Local 579's policy of refusing to provide employees information about how union affiliates spend their mandatory dues until the employee not only "objects" to paying for non-collective bargaining activity, but also further "challenges" the union's diversion of funds to union affiliates. Affiliates include such entities as the national or regional union or the AFL-CIO.

Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck and Ellis v. BRAC decisions, the high court recognized that workers have the right to refrain from formal union membership and have the right to object to paying for non-bargaining activities (such as politics, organizing, and lobbying). Under Chicago Teachers v. Hudson, non-members are also entitled to receive an independently audited breakdown of union expenditures and to challenge the breakdown before an impartial decision maker.

But the Clinton NLRB dramatically undercut the Beck decision and piled additional burdens on dissenting employees. Specifically, the Clinton NLRB applied the weak DFR standard instead of a stricter statutory standard to processing of Beck objections. In part, this meant that employees must resign or refrain from union membership and affirmatively object before receiving any disclosure of union expenditures. In this week's ruling, dissenting NLRB members Wilma Liebman and Dennis Walsh (an activist union partisan who is reportedly jockeying for Senate confirmation with his recess appointment expiring in December) argued, like the Clinton NLRB, that employees should be forced to object a second time before receiving any meaningful disclosure from union affiliates. While this ruling does not correct many of the deficiencies of the NLRB's Beck enforcement procedures, it does reverse one of its many anti-employee elements.

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