Posts Tagged ‘Big labor’
Big Labor must be counting its blessing to have an administration in place willing to ignore the will of citizens and job creators. In last year’s midterm election, voters sent a powerful message to the executive and legislative branches of government: less government intervention and no paybacks. Despite this, the Obama Administration continues to signal their willingness to reward their Big Labor allies through a series of appointments, regulatory favors, and other paybacks.
Big Labor remains intent on empowering government bureaucrats that will force unionization on employers and employees alike. Their agenda of eliminating the secret ballot and mandating contracts on workers could not and would not pass the legislature. As the Workforce Fairness Institute gears up for the New Year, we must remain vigilant and ready to take action against threats from Big Labor that could undermine small businesses wherever they may arise.
And to make that point, just last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) threatened to sue four states for approving amendments to their constitutions guaranteeing the right to a secret ballot in union elections.
Big Labor’s 2011 Wish List is long, but the small-business community is strong. Together, we can work to preserve American jobs, support small businesses, and beat back Big Labor.
Big Labor’s 2011 Wish List:
#1 – More “Payback” From The Obama Administration.
#2 – Fewer Rights For Workers & Small Businesses.
#3 – NLRB Supported Electronic Voting Allowing Workers To Be Intimidated & Coerced.
#4 – NLRB Supported Reversal Of 45-Day Window For Election Request.
#5 – Kicking Out Girl Scouts & Salvation Army In Front Of Stores If Union Bosses Can’t Access Shoppers & Employees.
#6 – Eliminating Employees’ Rights To Hear Their Employer’s Perspective On Union Organizing.
#7 – Take More Dues From Members’ Paychecks To Use On 2012 Political Campaigns.
#8 – Force More Companies Into Bankruptcy By Making Demands That They Can’t Meet.
#9 – Seek More Bailouts At The Expense Of Taxpayers.
#10 – Insert More Cronies Into Administrative Agencies To Do Their Bidding.
Big Labor’s latest scheme may surprise you, too. The most recent targets in the push by union bosses to force unionization on employees and employers are groups like the Girl Scouts, American Red Cross and Salvation Army. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that companies must place notices in workplaces to inform employees about their right to form a collective bargaining unit.
January 1, 2011 By Katie Gage
With the White House doling out appointments, regulatory favors and other paybacks, Big Labor must be counting its blessings to have an administration in place willing to ignore the will of citizens and job creators. It does not seem President Obama feels inhibited in paying back union bosses even though his initiatives could not and would not pass in the legislature. Instead, he has taken to using unelected bureaucrats not accountable to voters to enact sweeping changes in labor laws.
All of this takes place in the context of Big Labor having spent half a billion dollars to elect Obama in the first place and hundreds of millions more in the midterm elections just a few, short months ago. So instead of engaging in public dialogue and advancing initiatives in Congress, the Obama Administration has settled on a skewed and secretive rulemaking process largely driven by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Just a year ago, we heard over and over again from union bosses that they would be able to achieve enactment of the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act. Friends of Big Labor in the Senate echoed the sentiment, confident that they would push this job-killing bill through, but small business owners and voters refused to allow it. The bill would remove workers’ rights to a secret ballot in union elections and force government-mandated contracts on employees and employers alike without their consent.
Frustrated with this failed effort, Big Labor turned its sights elsewhere and redirected its focus to the White House where they handpicked advocates to serve on the NLRB and do their bidding. It began with Craig Becker, the former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) attorney who received a recess appointment after being rejected in a bipartisan fashion by the U.S. Senate and who now refuses to recuse himself from matters directly related to and benefiting his previous employers.
Just this month, the NLRB decided in favor of union bosses in its ruling on the Dana Corporation. In this decision, employers and unions can conspire to identify the workers most easily persuaded into forming a collective-bargaining unit having them sign cards, while leaving the remaining half of the workforce without a voice or vote in the process which affects their wages, benefits and workplace rules.
In addition, the NLRB also pushed this year for electronic voting in unionization elections, which would take voting out of the workplace and introduce a myriad of potential problems – not the least of which would be coercion of workers. Factor in the high potential for fraud and it is easy to see where the NLRB’s loyalties lay – with union bosses, not workers.
As if changing the mode of voting wasn’t enough, the NLRB is now considering reversing a determination that employees have a 45-day window to file petitions for an election after being notified that the employer has recognized a union through a so-called “voluntary” card check agreement. Shortchanging workers by rushing them into a union vote and not giving them ample time to educate themselves before making a decision is just another way this government agency is paying back Big Labor.
And last week, the NLRB stated that it would require companies to publicly alert their employees of their right to unionize under Federal law, requiring postings on bulletin boards, and sometimes even calling for emails to be sent to all staff members. But there was no mention made of the right of employees to remain without a collective bargaining unit or even how to decertify one. Claiming the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 as its justification, the NLRB is taking one more jab at small business as we approach the end of the year.
Job creators will not simply look the other way and will hold to account those who advocate for job-killing policies.
Imagine the outcry if McDonalds executives demanded that franchise owners collect “voluntary” contributions totaling $25,000 for the company’s Political Action Committee (PAC) from employees at every restaurant.
What if the fast food titan’s headquarters followed up with a threat – pay us, or face a $37,500 fine? Do you think this heavy-handed scheme would raise a few eyebrows at the Federal Election Commission (FEC)?
Replace “McDonalds” with “SEIU” in that description and you’ve got a pretty good idea of Big Labor’s latest political fundraising strategy. To meet their ambitious fundraising targets, Service Employees International Union bosses are now threatening to fine any local affiliate that doesn’t meet its PAC contribution requirements.
The only problem with this racket is that FEC guidelines explicitly prohibit organizations from collecting PAC funds by threatening members with financial reprisals. SEIU bosses aren’t exactly hiding their intentions, either – they actually wrote this fundraising provision into the union’s constitution at their annual convention.
If McDonalds had the nerve to collect contributions from employees using similar threats, you can bet the FEC would be all over the case. The SEIU, however, seems to have gotten away scot-free.
After SEIU bosses announced their new policy, the National Right to Work Foundation filed a formal complaint with the FEC. Foundation attorneys argued that the union’s new constitutional provision coerces political campaign contributions from employees.
Although the FEC dismissed the Foundation’s complaint in April, Foundation attorneys were only notified of the decision 23 days after the fact. Adding insult to injury, the FEC finally got around to releasing the reasoning behind its dismissal in August, 111 days after the original decision was made.
Coincidentally, all FEC appeals must be filed within 60 days of any ruling. By delaying its announcement and only releasing its reasoning until well after the window period had expired, the FEC effectively made it impossible to appeal the decision to federal court.
Meanwhile, Big Labor’s massive fundraising apparatus continues to churn. Fueled by threats and forced-dues dollars from workers across the country, SEIU bosses have already become one of the biggest power-brokers in Washington, doling out money and favors to hand-picked candidates.
In 2008 alone, the SEIU spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect President Obama and other pro-forced unionism politicians. Now that the FEC has legitimized this latest scheme, its political influence will only continue to spread.
But payback is a two-way street, and SEIU operatives expect a handsome return on their investment. Obama has already signed a series of pro-Big Labor executive orders, including one directing federal tax dollars to union-only projects and another ending the practice of posting notices informing workers of their right to cut off union dues spent on Big Labor’s political activism.
Meanwhile, Obama’s latest appointment to the National Labor Relations Board, an organization charged with overseeing American labor law, worked as a top SEIU lawyer before he joined the presidential transition team. Unsurprisingly, in just a short few months on the job, he has already pushed to eliminate independent audits for union expenditures.
The DISCLOSE Act, a bill being pushed in Congress that would require political organizations to release the names of top donors, features yet another Big Labor carve-out. Prompted by union operatives, Obama and the Democrats have largely exempted unions from the bill’s disclosure requirements, but other activist groups are out of luck.
Naturally, the same FEC that refuses to look into the SEIU’s shady fundraising tactics would be responsible for implementing DISCLOSE if it passes.
The FEC’s antics reveal what should have been obvious as soon as Big Labor’s money started pouring into Obama’s campaign coffers: Under Obama, the union bosses have effectively bought themselves immunity from any laws that get in the way of their massive forced-dues money-making machine.
Dear Fellow Conservative,
I just got off the phone with my campaign manager, Marty Wilson, who informed me that The Wall Street Journal has reported Big Labor has pledged to spend $88 million in the next ten weeks on behalf of Barbara Boxer and other liberals around the country who are the exclusive beneficiaries of these special interest union dollars.
I’ve included the photo that accompanied the story. There she is — Barbara Boxer looking like the cat who ate the canary. Looks like she knows she’ll be cashing in on years of supporting unions at the expense of the taxpayers she was elected to serve.
Friend, I’m under constant attack from Barbara Boxer and her liberal friends. These attacks will only be more frequent and better funded between now and Election Day. We are in a dead heat with her in the polls and the momentum is heading our way, but we need your help to keep it up. Election experts predict the polls will remain tight all the way through Election Day.
This will be one of the most watched campaigns in the country, so we must be financially prepared to show just how angry we are with failed career politicians in Washington. Boxer has championed failed policies that have led California and the nation down a destructive path of increased government control, tax hikes and job loss. We can’t afford to sit back and allow her to coast to re-election again. So I’m turning to you for help.
Communicating with voters in a state as big as California is expensive. Barbara Boxer is able to dip in to her $11.3 million war chest and count on Big Labor and their $88 million. I’m counting on your support to fight back and move the polls in our favor.
There is tremendous excitement building in this campaign, and I have you to thank for this. But we don’t want to lose the excitement to negative attacks from Barbara Boxer. The reality is that we have the best chance in a generation to fire Barbara Boxer and replace her with a fiscal conservative who will stand up and fight back against the big-government agenda of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
I am truly thankful for your generous support, and I look forward to building more momentum to finally retire Barbara Boxer and bring new representation to Washington!
The Next Pension Bailout
New momentum to dump union retirement burdens on taxpayers.
Congress is gone for August—heaven be praised—but that hasn’t stopped unions from quietly mobilizing to push through a big new priority this fall: a pension bailout. Big Labor is going Code Red on the issue, in the face of a looming accounting change that would force companies to confront the Ponzi-style nature of multi-employer pension plans.
We wrote in June about this class of some 1,500 union-run retirement vehicles, in which companies across an entire industry pay into a single pension pool. Hundreds of these multi-employer pools are badly underfunded, thanks to years of labor funneling money into new pay and benefits, rather than into the funds for retirees.
The big problem with these plans is that when one company in the pool goes out of business, the other companies remain on the hook for the cost of the plan. These spiraling liabilities inspired Pennsylvania Senator and Big Labor favorite Bob Casey to introduce legislation to cordon off “orphaned” pensions—those for which an employer has stopped contributing or withdrawn from the plan—and drop them on the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
The PBGC is already significantly underfunded and taxpayers are its ultimate backstop. Yet the Casey bailout could dump as much as $165 billion in new liabilities on the PBGC, while multi-employer plans would get a clean bill of health. What a deal.
This cause has taken on new political urgency, and no less than Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has endorsed the bill. The reason for the rush is new rules that may soon be issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the green-eyeshade outfit that dictates how companies keep their books. Those proposed rules would expose the multi-employer time bomb.
Here’s why. In 1980 an amendment to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act established the principle that any company in a multi-employer plan had a right to assume that other members would pay in perpetuity. Those that did not, and left the plan, were required to pay a “withdrawal penalty” to make the plan whole. This is fine in theory, though in reality these penalties have rarely covered the true cost of withdrawal, which means liabilities for remaining companies have continued to grow.
As plan obligations climb, and a mediocre stock market has reduced fund assets, more companies are running for the exits. Most notably, UPS was willing pay a remarkable $6.1 billion in 2007 to flee its plan. FASB’s new rules are likely to acknowledge this new corporate reality, and they would in effect require companies to assume that they must pay the withdrawal penalty, and therefore to include that liability on either an income statement or balance sheet.
Ouch. Many companies have withdrawal liabilities that exceed their assets, and the result would be a painful reckoning. The accounting changes would also embarrass Big Labor, exposing its pension promises as bankrupt and perhaps leading to wholesale reform of multi-employer plans. One labor law firm, Groom Law Group, sent out an SOS in July, announcing its intention to form a group to fight the FASB rules, which it noted would put unions under “increased pressure at the bargaining table to decrease contributions and cut benefits.” Anything but that.
Thus the election year urgency to pass the Casey bill. If Democrats could shift orphan company pensions to the taxpayer, the liabilities for the remaining companies would fall dramatically, and the multi-employer scheme could continue. Unions and employers could keep promising current workers fabulous pay and benefits, without which they have little chance of stemming their continuing decline in membership.
The losers? Those would be existing retirees in multi-employer plans, who were also promised such benefits but whose pensions would now be dumped on the feds. Even under Mr. Casey’s bill, payouts to current retirees would be limited to $21,000 a year—a fraction of what workers expected to receive.
If this all sounds like it could never pass, keep in mind this is the most willful Congress in modern history. Congress just completed paying off the teachers unions with $10 billion, and unions will put enormous pressure on Democrats to pass the pension bailout before they lose their huge majorities.
Many companies with multi-employer plans such as the trucking firm YRC Worldwide (organized by the Teamsters) are joining the union lobby effort, and more than a few Republicans could go along. The outrageous all too often becomes the inevitable with this Congress, and it will again unless taxpayers raise a ruckus.
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