Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category

Do Unions Cause Inequality?

We hear quite a bit about inequality today.  This seems to be the mantra in the waning of the Obama Administration with the President saying, “Income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.”  This is all code for another of President Obama’s descriptions of the same policy, the need to, “Spread this wealth around,” or in other words “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.”

Let’s spread the wealth around and end inequality.  One of the President’s and the Democrat Party’s most powerful allies in this long march to the promised land of a worker’s paradise where everyone is truly equal are the unions.

At one time it was dangerous to belong to a union in the United States.  They were considered illegal combinations in restraint of trade even though freedom of association has long been considered a right under the First Amendment to the Constitution.  People died organizing and participating in strikes.  Names like the Matewan Massacre, the Haymarket Riot, and the Battle of Blair Mountain convey the very real image of war that was fought for the right to organize.  This was a war that was decisively won by the unions.  This war for the allegiance of American labor was not won through the superior organizing techniques of the union bosses.  From the major battles of the 1800s and the early 1900s the unions were failing.  The workers just didn’t want to join.  Then along came FDR and his New Deal.  He passed pro-union legislation and with the patronage and support of the Federal Government unions not only flourished they triumphed.

According to the Progressives monopolies are terrible.  They benefit few and penalize many.  Never mind that before Rockefeller established his powerful Standard Oil a gallon of kerosene  cost 58 cents and after he had gained 90% of the market the price had fallen to 7 cents.  Or that under Carnegie’s US Steel, which controlled all steel production, the price of steel dropped.  Monopolies in production were universally branded as evil and they were made illegal by the progressives under Teddy Roosevelt “The Trust Buster” as he rigorously enforced the Sherman Antitrust Act and saved the people from the exploitation of efficiency and lower prices.

Monopolies were and are considered universally evil except when it comes to unions.  Unions have been allowed to exercise absolute control of entire industries.  Just ask yourself, how many auto worker unions are there?  How about Electricians, plumbers, carpenters?  How many unions compete with the NEA or SEIU?  These powerful unions have gained strangleholds over entire sectors of our economy.  They exercise coercive authority to allow some to work at their given professions and to deny others the same opportunity.  Through their unlimited power to exact unwilling support from anyone in their grasp they gain billions to support the very politicians who pass laws giving them the power to extort the money.  Through their government granted authority to become the sole negotiators of everyone’s pay, even those who don’t belong to the union, they effectively come to control the employers to a major extent.

Using the government awarded monopolistic and coercive power to drive up wages and benefits they drive up operating costs and prices.  By artificially driving up the wages of their members so that they can then collect bigger dues they distort the market place and artificially force down the wages of non-union workers.  You see unions can force wages above the levels that would be achieved in a free market only by limiting the supply with the threat to withhold labor if their demands aren’t met.

Workers in the private sector have been rejecting the big union cartels for generations.  Their participation rate has fallen from a high of 35% in the 1950s to its present dismal level of 11.1%.  According to the Washington Examiner, “The job sectors with the highest unionization rates in 2015 were in “protective service occupations,” primarily law enforcement, at 36.3 percent and education at 35.5 percent. The lowest rates were for retail sales at 3.3 percent and farming and forestry at 1.9 percent.”

And even this declining state of unionism is only possible because of the heavy hand of government patronage.  Rick Berman, president of the business-backed Center for Union Facts, attributed the stability in the numbers to pro-union policies under President Obama. “Union membership is apparently receiving a boost from an activist National Labor Relations Board. By tilting the scales in favor of labor organizers, the board and the sympathetic Obama administration are propping up Big Labor rather than helping the rank-and-file.”

As private sector employees bailed out of unions every time they had a chance, the employees-for-life in the civil service bureaucracy organized to gain an inordinate level of power over the government.  In 2009, for the first time in American history, government employees accounted for more than half the nation’s union membership.

Even FDR, the patron saint of unions warned about the distortions and disruptions of public sector unions.

In the President’s Aug. 16, 1937 correspondence with Luther C. Steward, the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees he said “meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.”

He added, “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.  It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.”

And, “The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations.”

He continued, “The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”

He concluded, “The pay is fixed by Congress and the workmen are represented by the members of Congress in the fixing of Government pay.  In other words, you would not have the representatives of the majority as the sole bargaining agents?  Not in the government, because there is no collective contract.  It is a very different case. There isn’t any bargaining, in other words, with the government; therefore the question does not arise.”

This is in effect a money laundering scheme.  The unions bargain with the politicians who raise the pay of their members which raises the dues collected by the unions who then contribute money to the very politicians who raise their pay.  And even in the public sector when given the choice to remain in unions or leave when given the chance as in Wisconsin they are leaving in droves.

So how do unions cause inequality?  By controlling the labor in major industries they distort the free market by artificially raising the cost of labor over what it should be according to production costs and sales receipts.  This in turn contributes to economic misallocations of resources and malinvestments which sets the stage for the creation of bubbles, booms, and busts.

In America all people are equal before the law and all should have equality of opportunity.  However, it is a fact apparent to anyone who has interacted with anyone else that all people are not equal in talent, motivation, experience, or desires.  Therefore inequality as a result of the varying application of these four attributes will always exist.

Such horror shows as the USSR, Cuba, and Venezuela have tried this through collectivist pipedreams that became the nightmares of their captive people.

If unions are all about the free association of workers go to Chicago or New York and try to start a competing carpenters union.  See how well that goes.  I would suggest that you wear a hard hat.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens




by Matthew Boyle

Amalgamated Transit Union local 689 president Mike Golash, now an “Occupy” movement organizer, was caught on tape Sunday revealing his political goals: overthrowing capitalism in the United States and instituting a communist government.

“Progressive labor is a revolutionary communist organization,” Golash said during an Occupy DC “People’s Assembly” on August 19.

“Its objective,” he added, “is to make revolution in the United States, overthrow the capitalist system and build communism.”

Golash said he and his comrades are “trying to learn something from the historical revolutions of the past: the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the revolutions in Cuba and Eastern Europe.”

“What can we learn from them so we can build a more successful movement to transform capitalist society?”


“An organization has to be built which can bring down capitalism,” Golash said.

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The SEIU and the Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Factor writes, later coordinated with other public-sector unions to spend “literally hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Obamacare.”

The Daily Caller requested comments for this article from the SEIU, AFSCME and a White House spokesman. None of them responded.

A booklet published by SEIU during the 2008 election season called for “building a new American health care system,” in part by “organizing workers.” The publication argued for outcomes nearly identical to those later adopted in the Obamacare legislation.

“We … will not stop until every man, woman and child has quality, affordable care they can count on,” it read. “The time to fix health care is now.”

And in an April 9, 2011 memo, the United Healthcare Workers — a union affiliated with the SEIU — articulated its future vision, including “an ambitious plan to fight for our future by organizing healthcare workers.”

In 2010 the SEIU elected Mary Key Henry as its new International President. Henry’s background was in health care organizing. She led efforts to unionize workers at Beverly nursing homes, Catholic Health Care West, Tenet Healthcare Corporation and HCA Healthcare.

Factor, who is also a Forbes columnist and senior editor of money and politics for The, recounts emails from former federal Office of Labor-Management Standards staffer Don Loos, now a senior adviser to the president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

“It is clear that Big Labor is banking on the probability that all healthcare workers eventually become federal, state, and municipal healthcare employees,” Loos told Factor. That, he said, would make them eligible for involuntary unionization through public-sector unions like AFSCME and the SEIU.

“Obamacare is an SEIU and AFSCME membership ‘net,’” Loos claimed, “designed to eventually capture 21 million forced-dues paying government workers.” New health care jobs created by Obamacare, he said, will eventually be filled by “federal, state, and municipal healthcare employees.”

The Obamacare law, once fully implemented, will dramatically increase the number of health care workers receiving payment for their services through government programs, including Medicaid and so-called “public option” government-run insurance plans.

“The government employee unions can then enlist pro-union state governments to treat these health care workers as ‘government employees,’” Factor told The Daily Caller, “and unionize them just like they unionized the care providers” themselves.

“For every million additional health care workers unionized in the 27 non-right-to-work states,” he told TheDC, “the unions stand to earn $1 billion in dues.”

Factor writes in “Shadowbosses” that Canada’s national health care system has provided an apt example. Heritage Foundation labor economist James Sherk told him that “60 percent of Canadian health care workers and a stunning 80 percent of nurses belong to unions — more than quadruple the levels in America.”

Only 10 percent of them were union members before the advent of socialized medicine in Canada, Factor said.

The SEIU’s designs on health care reform surfaced in a meeting at the union’s headquarters held in November 2007, during the early days of the 2008 presidential election season. During one session, former Clinton senior health care policy adviser Chris Jennings made a presentation titled ’”Rx for Successful SEIU Strategy for Health Care.”

Making comprehensive health care reform a key issue during the election, Jennings’ PowerPoint presentation indicates he told an audience of mostly SEIU policymakers and executives, would be good union policy because it “creates demand for SEIU-provided services.”

Ultimately, the Obama administration granted Obamacare waivers to 1,231 employers, making them exempt from the law’s requirements for at least 30 months. Those waivers cover 613,625 employees overall, of which 88.6 percent are represented by unions and just 11.4 percent work for private employers. (RELATED: Labor unions primary recipients of Obamacare waivers)

Unions’ support for President Obama’s health care reform vision was initially tepid after his inauguration because he proposed paying for some of the legislation’s cost by levying a 40 percent excise tax on unusually expensive insurance plans.

These so-called “Cadillac” plans, which feature low deductibles and offer benefits covering expensive treatments that other plans exclude, were common among unions themselves — meaning that the unions lobbied for Obamacare despite the fact that it promised to upgrade the insurance plans of relatively few of their members.

But the administration later agreed to a moratorium on taxing those Cadillac plans, giving labor unions until 2018 to lobby for other ways to spare themselves the extra cost.

That delay added nearly an extra $120 billion to Obamacare’s overall calculated cost, a shortfall that the law made up by making additional cuts to Medicare Advantage, the “Medicare Part C” program that allows some senior citizens to receive benefits through private insurance companies

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Dirty UK Unions Offer Reward To Anyone Who Can Reveal Location of Romney Fundraisers…

Two unions representing members in four different countries offered a reward today to the person who can reveal the location of Mitt Romney’s fundraiser in London and thus enable them to protest his campaign.

“Romney is in town for the opening of the Olympics and to raise funds from rich bankers for his campaign to be the next president of the United States,” a press release from Unite and the United Steel Workers notes. “The unions want to ‘award’ Romney with two gold medals, one for austerity (for others) and the other for financial secrecy.”

The unions offer “a dinner for two in London at a American style restaurant” to the person who tells them where the Romney fundraiser will take place. Unite, a union from Britain and Ireland, couched its attack in the language of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. “It’s no surprise then that Romney is in London for a secretive but lavish fundraising event where bankers and other city elite can continue to back austerity for the 99 per cent while they continue as if it’s business as usual,” said General Secretary Len McCluskey.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard, whose union has members in the United States and Canada, hit Romney for “refusing to disclose his tax returns.” Romney has published last year’s tax returns and promises this year’s when they are available, but he has published less than presidential candidates traditionally release.

DIRTY UNION TACTICS - SEIU Workers Intentionally Endanger Nursing Home Patients

After the collapse of 17-month-long union negotiations on July 3, unionized health-care workers walked out of five nursing home facilities in Connecticut, but not before placing some elderly patients in dire medical risk through acts of sabotage, according to the company that owns and operates the facilities.

“In the hours leading up to the strike by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU (the Union) against five HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers in Connecticut, Union members engaged in multiple illegal and dangerous acts against Center residents,” reads a statement released by HealthBridge on Tuesday afternoon.

According to police reports obtained by The Daily Caller and reported Monday by the RedState blog, HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers alleged that union employees in at least three of its facilities intentionally mixed up or removed patient name plates, photos, medical bracelets and dietary advisories as they began their strike. Additionally, the police reports include allegations of both vandalism and larceny.

A July 3 police report from the Danbury Health Care Center in Danbury, Conn., states that “between the hours of 2300 [11:00 pm] on 7/2/12 and 0700 [7:00 am] today, 7/3/12, there were several incidents that directly affected and potentially could have negatively impacted patient care.”

“The incidents ranged from clean linens being thrown on the floor to more serious incidents whereby patients’ identification wrist bands were removed as well as patient identifiers on room doors and wheelchairs.”

“There are no suspects,” the report continues, but “the persons involved are presumed to be employees who are part of a protest taking place outside outside against the Danbury Health Care Center.”

At the Newington Health Care Center, in Newington, Conn., police reported that “several items were discovered missing,” including six handles used to operate patient lifts for individuals with mobility problems. Several stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs were also reported missing.

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In the seedy world of the Chicago unions and the political pawns they control, there is a family dynasty whose name is at the top of heap in terms of power and political muscle. That is the Coli family. Without the blessings of the Coli family and the union they control, Teamsters Local 727 and Joint Council 25 (the governing body of 20 Teamster locals in Illinois and Indiana), Chicago might not have Rahm Emanuel as its mayor and America might not have Barack Obama as its president. Now, however, the Coli union dynasty may be in jeopardy due to a RICO suit filed against several members of the Coli family, including John Coli, Sr., and Teamsters Local 727.SCI Illinois Services, Inc. is a company that provides funeral services in Chicago and vicinity. Being in the Chicago area, the company’s employees (which consist of funeral directors, embalmers, embalmer trainees, and auto livery drivers) are represented by Teamsters Local 727.

According to the RICO suit, SCI is required under its union contract with the Coli-controlled Teamsters, to pay money into the union’s health, pension, and education funds for its Teamster-represented employees. The health, pension and educations funds are where out of the four fund trustees, according to the suit, the Coli family has installed three of its family members.

The funds are also where the Coli dynasty has, according to the RICO suit, allegedly created a “scheme to defraud and extort” money from SCI by inflating audit findings. Over many years, the union would claim that the company owed more money than it believed it owed to the Coli-controlled funds.

Defendants have conspired to and have falsely and intentionally inflated audits relating to how much was owed to the Local 727 Funds, continually abusing the legitimate audit process year after year to extort as much money as possible from Plaintiff for the Funds.

Finally, after years of Plaintiff submitting to extortion and incurring enormous legal expenses, Plaintiff decided to fight instead. In litigation brought by the Funds at the control and direction of the Defendants, Plaintiff sought the deposition of key individuals, including Defendant John Coli, Sr. Coli Sr. resisted his deposition vigorously. When the court finally ordered him to attend he did appear, but was belligerent and uncooperative, stating, “For the record, go f**k yourself.”

According to the RICO suit:

By engaging in the scheme to extort contributions from Plaintiff into the Funds, the Coli Defendants are seeking to increase the viability and perceived financial soundness of the Funds by any, including illegal, means.

By engaging in the scheme to extort contributions from Plaintiff into the Funds, the Coli Defendants and the Union are seeking to serve and protect their own direct and indirect financial interests. The Union’s pension fund is seriously underfunded and a source of potential embarrassment and criticism for the Union and its leadership. The underfunded status of the Funds impacts the Union’s ability to recruit and retain members, which has the effect of diminishing membership dues − the primary revenue source for the Union. The Coli Defendants and the Union are therefore seeking to augment the pension fund by engaging in this fraudulent and extortionate scheme to reduce the level of underfunding. The seriously underfunded status of the pension fund is also a potential source of embarrassment for and criticism of the Coli Defendants, causing their job performance to be called into question, and raising questions about their competence and issues of nepotism, cronyism, qualifications, experience and general fitness to carry out their responsibilities, placing at risk their job security and generous compensation packages. Similar motives exist with regard to the other union benefit plans. The Coli Defendants are engaging in this scheme to wrongfully extort money that the Funds are not entitled to for the purpose of improving their image, consolidating their control and thereby protecting their own financial interests and maintaining control of the Funds and the Union.

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge denied the Coli’s motion to dismiss the RICO suit.

In his denial of the motion to dismiss, Judge Zagel summarized the complaint as follows:

The gravamen of the complaint is that Defendants have manipulated a series of audits to fraudulently inflate the amounts for which the Funds billed Plaintiff. Specifically, the complaint alleges that beginning in August 2002 and continuing to the present, Defendants have deliberately withheld records from auditors, signed off on final auditing reports that they know to be materially flawed, imposed unreasonably burdensome procedures on Plaintiff to challenge the audits, and sued Plaintiff to collect payments to which they were not entitled. For years, Plaintiff capitulated to the fraud by settling rather than incurring the costs of litigating each individual audit. The complaint states that, between April 2004 and April 2008, Plaintiff settled seven lawsuits with Defendants for amounts far exceeding what Plaintiff actually owed the Funds.

The most recent scheme allegedly involved an employer-wide audit covering all of Plaintiff’s funeral homes in the State of Illinois. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant deliberately withheld information from the auditing firm which “caused the draft audit report to have intentional misrepresentations,” such as the inclusion of non-Local 727 employees, as well as employees and funeral homes covered by previous settlement agreements.

The complaint contains enough facts to infer the existence of an agreement between Defendants to violate § 1962(c). The conspiracy claim stands. Causation and injury have been sufficiently pled–there is no question that Plaintiff has payed out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Funds in order to settle ERISA actions based on disputed audits.

While the Coli case is about one individual union and the family that controls it, the case may have much farther reaching impact as there are thousands of companies across the United States that contribute to underfunded union pension plans.

If the allegations against the Coli-controlled funds prove to be true, not only might the Coli dynasty come to a well-deserved ignominious end, but there may be other companies that are overpaying moneys into ‘schemes’ such as the one the Coli’s are accused of masterminding.

Supreme Court rules against SEIU, overturns Ninth Circuit in Knox v. SEIU


On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against the SEIU and said unions must let nonmembers object to unexpected fee increases that all workers are required to pay in a closed-shop, Fox News reported.

In a lopsided 7-2 decision, the Justices overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Knox v. SEIU, a case dealing with coercive union dues collected from non-members that are used for political purposes.
Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg joined the majority in the case, but wrote a separate concurrence.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan dissented.

Fox News reported that the seven justices “ruled for Dianne Knox and other nonmembers of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 1000, who wanted to object and opt out of a $12 million special assessment the union required from its California public sector members.”

Stephen Hayward at Powerline called it “an important blow against labor unions,” but Townhall’s Guy Benson said the ruling “may not be the sweeping loss for the government sector unions that some conservative would like to think it is,” since it is limited to nonmembers and “focuses on a squabble over proper notification of special political dues.”

Amy Ridenour wrote at her National Center Blog that the ruling is a victory for free speech against a “tyrannical union.”

“A close connection exists between this Nation’s commitment to self-government and the rights protected by the First Amendment,” wrote Justice Alito, citing Brown v. Hartlage.

“The government may not prohibit the dissemination of ideas it disfavors, nor compel the endorsement of ideas that it approves… And the ability of like-minded individuals to associate for the purpose of expressing commonly held views may not be curtailed,” he added.

“When a State establishes an ‘agency shop’ that exacts compulsory union fees as a condition of public employment, ‘[t]he dissenting employee is forced to support financially an organization with whose principles and demands he may disagree.’ …This form of compelled speech and association imposes a ‘significant impingement on First Amendment rights.'”

Unions Are Fleeing From Obama

Four years ago, Mr. Hopeychangey could run an aggressive campaign against John McCain because he knew that he had unions under his control. Not only are unions a huge source of funding (reportedly, unions provided some $400 million in support in 2008), but they are an incredible source of manpower for get-out-the-vote efforts, nearly always on behalf of Democrats.

This time around, it would appear that unions can’t be relied upon quite so much:

The AFL-CIO has told Washington Whispers it will redeploy funds away from political candidates smack dab in the middle of election season, the latest sign that the largest federation of unions in the country could be becoming increasingly disillusioned with President Obama.

The federation says the shift has been in the works for months, and had nothing to do with the president’s failure to show in Wisconsin last week, where labor unions led a failed recall election of Governor Scott Walker.

“We wanted to start investing our funds in our own infrastructure and advocacy,” AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein told Whispers. “There will be less contributions to candidates,” including President Obama.

While there were “a lot of different opinions” about whether Obama should have gone to Wisconsin, according to Goldstein, “this is not a slight at the president.”

The AFL-CIO has been at odds with the president before Wisconsin on issues such as the public health insurance option and renewing the Bush tax cuts.

The shift in funding is significant due to the federation’s role in past presidential campaigns, where the AFL-CIO built up a massive political structure in the months leading up the election, including extensive “Get Out The Vote” efforts, as well as financial contributions.

Wonder if these unions are short some $20 million from a recent, ill-advised recall attempt in Wisconsin?

Speaking of Wisconsin

On the night of that now-infamous recall, many media outlets were attempting to spin the results as “meaningless.” As Obama spinmeister David Axelrod tweeted on that historic evening:

Bad night in Boston…WI raises big questions for Mitt

We’re not entirely sure what he was referring to, but we’re guessing it wasn’t this:

Mitt Romney now leads President Obama for the first time in Wisconsin where the president’s support has fallen to its lowest level to date.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Romney with 47% of the vote to Obama’s 44%. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

Yeah, you read that correctly. The state that gave us an elected Socialist mayor (of Milwaukee) is now trending towards Mitt Romney.

Uh oh.

After Walker victory, Indiana governor suggests public unions should go

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