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Posts Tagged ‘collective-bargaining’

FDR Knew Collective Bargaining Didn’t Work for Public Employees

Posted on June 17, 2011 by Conservative Byte

I think FDR was right, and a number of other Democrats from way back. You simply cannot have state or federal workers unionized. Who do they collectively bargain against? They’re bargaining against the people. Who is it that pays the state workers? It’s not the fat cat in a corporate suite smoking a cigar flying around in his jet. The person who pays the federal or state government worker is his neighbor or a total composition of his neighbors. And to go into collective bargaining against those people, what FDR knew, he was a smart Democrat, what he knew was the last thing that he wanted to happen was for the people to hate government. As a liberal he wanted people to love government.

FDR, if he were alive today he would be ecstatic that people are calling 911 because the Chinese restaurant screwed up. He would be ecstatic people are calling 911 because they’re outta Chicken McNuggets. He would be ecstatic they’re calling 911 cause the guy got the wrong change in a drug deal. You know why? Because guys like FDR have devoted their careers to creating total dependence of government on people. This is a home run. This is what’s sad. This is what really sickens me and infuriates me. We sit here and laugh about the stupidity, but, folks, there’s a reason. There’s a reason that it happens now and it used to not happen. There’s a reason that poor people, when they don’t get their Chicken McNuggets or when the wrong recipe is delivered from the Chinese restaurant, call 911 because they’re told the government’s where they go to get everything fixed. And 911 is an emergency number. They know somebody’s gonna answer that.

 

Why Gov Scott Walker is Fighting in Wisconsin

The Wall Street Journal     March 10, 2011   By SCOTT WALKER

We can avoid mass teacher layoffs and reward our best performers. But we have to act now. In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.

Ms. Sampson got a layoff notice because the union leadership would not accept reasonable changes to their contract. Instead, they hid behind a collective-bargaining agreement that costs the taxpayers $101,091 per year for each teacher, protects a 0% contribution for health-insurance premiums, and forces schools to hire and fire based on seniority and union rules.

My state’s budget-repair bill, which passed the Assembly on Feb. 25 and awaits a vote in the Senate, reforms this union-controlled hiring and firing process by allowing school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.

Most states in the country are facing a major budget deficit. Many are cutting billions of dollars of aid to schools and local governments. These cuts lead to massive layoffs or increases in property taxes—or both.

In Wisconsin, we have a better approach to tackling our $3.6 billion deficit. We are reforming the way government works, as well as balancing our budget. Our reform plan gives state and local governments the tools to balance the budget through reasonable benefit contributions. In total, our budget-repair bill saves local governments almost $1.5 billion, outweighing the reductions in state aid in our budget.

While it might be a bold political move, the changes are modest. We ask government workers to make a 5.8% contribution to their pensions and a 12.6% contribution to their health-insurance premium, both of which are well below what other workers pay for benefits. Our plan calls for Wisconsin state workers to contribute half of what federal employees pay for their health-insurance premiums. (It’s also worth noting that most federal workers don’t have collective bargaining for wages and benefits.)

For example, my brother works as a banquet manager at a hotel and occasionally works as a bartender. My sister-in-law works at a department store. They have two beautiful kids. They are a typical middle-class Wisconsin family. At the start of this debate, David reminded me that he pays nearly $800 per month for his family’s health-insurance premium and a modest 401(k) contribution. He said most workers in Wisconsin would love a deal like the one we are proposing.

The unions say they are ready to accept concessions, yet their actions speak louder than words. Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.

Local governments can’t pass budgets on a hope and a prayer. Beyond balancing budgets, our reforms give schools—as well as state and local governments—the tools to reward productive workers and improve their operations. Most crucially, our reforms confront the barriers of collective bargaining that currently block innovation and reform.

When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.

Passing our budget-repair bill will help put similar reforms into place in Wisconsin. This will be good for the Badger State’s hard-working taxpayers. It will also be good for state and local government employees who overwhelmingly want to do their jobs well.

In Wisconsin, we can avoid the massive teacher layoffs that schools are facing across America. Our budget-repair bill is a commitment to the future so our children won’t face even more dire consequences than we face today, and teachers like Ms. Sampson are rewarded—not laid off.

Taking on the status quo is no easy task. Each day, there are protesters in and around our state Capitol. They have every right to be heard. But their voices cannot drown out the voices of the countless taxpayers who want us to balance our budgets and, more importantly, to make government work for each of them.

Mr. Walker, a Republican, is the governor of Wisconsin.

Ohio Vote Puts Curbs on Unions in Reach

MARCH 3, 2011 By KRIS MAHER And AMY MERRICK
Ohio state senators narrowly approved a bill that would prohibit public-employee unions representing 400,000 state and local workers from bargaining over health benefits and pensions, while also eliminating the right to strike.

Supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 5 demonstrated outside the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday.
While national attention has focused for weeks on a similar battle in Wisconsin, the vote, by 17-16 in Ohio’s Republican-controlled Senate, virtually ensured that the Buckeye State will become the first to strip collective-bargaining rights from public employees as states grapple with recent gaping budget deficits.

The move is especially significant because Ohio is larger than Wisconsin, and like its fellow Midwestern state, is both a stronghold of public-sector labor unions and a swing state politically.

The bill now goes to the House, where the Republicans have a 59-40 majority. If approved, as expected, it will move for signature to Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who supports the bill.

Mr. Kasich believes it would help local governments control labor costs, spokesman Rob Nichols said.

Ohio’s labor leaders, while noting the narrow passage in the Senate, weren’t optimistic about stopping the bill in the House.

“We’re expecting it to pass,” said Jason Perlman, a spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO. But, he added, “We are hopeful those in the Ohio House will see this bill is nothing more than an attack on the middle class.”

Republican lawmakers say worker pay and benefit cuts are needed to offset projected budget shortfalls. “If we’re going to grow in Ohio, we cannot raise taxes,” Republican state Sen. Keith Faber said Wednesday.

William Batchelder, Republican Speaker of the Ohio House, said a House committee will begin holding extensive hearings on the bill next week. “I think the bill has a good chance of passing. What form it will take I would have to say will be unclear,” he said.

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis criticized the moves in Ohio and other states to curtail bargaining rights. “Some state leaders have gone too far,” Ms. Solis said Wednesday night, in a conference call with thousands of activists from the Communications Workers of America. “Budget sacrifices are one thing, but demanding workers give up their rights as union members is another.”

The Senate approval in Ohio of the controversial measure could send a sweeping message across the industrial heartland and in states with relatively high union density that the clout held by organized labor has weakened. Multiday protests by teachers and firefighters on the steps of state capitol buildings haven’t necessarily swayed Republican lawmakers who see labor contracts as expensive and inflexible.

Protests have been held over the past two weeks in state capitals across the country to protest proposed legislation to limit rights of public and private sector unions. The protests were sparked more than two weeks ago when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker presented his budget repair bill that included stripping unions of the right to bargain over pension and health care contributions. While the unions would retain the right to collective bargaining over pay, the bill would also cap wage increases to the rate of inflation.

In Indiana, Republican lawmakers proposed a right-to-work bill that would have allowed private-sector workers to opt out of joining unions, a move that prompted House Democrats to flee the state to avoid a vote.

All three of those states have a relatively large union presence. Ohio has 655,000 union members, both public and private, representing 13.7% of its workers. In Wisconsin, 355,000, or 14.2%, of its public and private workers belong to unions; in Indiana, 279,000, or 10.9%, of its workers belong to public or private unions.

In Ohio, Republicans have a 23-10 majority in the Ohio Senate, but six broke with GOP leaders and opposed the bill. “It was as close as it could be,” said Joe Schiavoni, the ranking Democrat on the Senate insurance, commerce and labor committee. He said he hoped House Republicans would “make sweeping changes if not throw the whole bill out and start all over.”

Union officials have conducted a coordinated effort to try to block bills in Wisconsin and Ohio that would curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers, and right-to-work legislation introduced in 13 states, including New Hampshire and Missouri. Those bills would allow workers in the private sector to opt out of paying dues or belonging to a union. Such legislation threatens the unions’ funding and their political clout heading into the 2012 elections.

Taking away collective bargaining rights for state public employees has occurred before. In 2005, Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed an executive order ending those rights for state workers.

In Wisconsin, Republican state senators on Wednesday passed a resolution fining 14 Democrats who left the state Feb. 17 to prevent a vote on Republican Gov. Walker’s bill restricting public employees’ collective-bargaining rights. The vote on the resolution didn’t require a quorum, unlike the budget bill that would curb bargaining.

The Wisconsin Democrats, who are in Illinois, will be fined $100 a day for their absence when the Senate is in session. Several of the Democrats went to Kenosha, Wis., Monday to meet with Republican Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said Fitzgerald spokesman Andrew Welhouse. But the fines seemed to set back efforts to break the impasse.

“Sen. Fitzgerald’s schoolyard-bully tactics aren’t productive to resolving the serious issues at stake,” Democratic Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said in a statement. “His actions today undermine Democrats’ ability to have a professional relationship with him.”

Mr. Walker says his bill’s restrictions on bargaining rights, and a provision requiring employees to contribute more of their take-home pay toward pensions and health insurance, could be used to offset major cuts to school districts and local governments in the two-year budget he presented Tuesday.

Unions say the benefit changes proposed for workers amount to an average 8% pay cut. Unions representing state workers have agreed to the governor’s proposed financial concessions.

On Wednesday in Indiana, B. Patrick Bauer, the Democratic House minority leader, traveled to Indianapolis and met with Republican House leader Brian Bosma for about an hour to discuss concerns the Democratic caucus has with several bills that would restrict union rights. Mr. Bauer and other House Democrats fled to Illinois last week to halt those measures.

“No negotiations took place,” said Tory Flynn, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bosma. “The speaker needs the Democrats to return to the statehouse to do their jobs.”

Unions vs. the Right to Work

The Wall Street Journal By ROBERT BARRO
FEBRUARY 28, 2011

Collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.

In Wisconsin, the angry faceof union power

How ironic that Wisconsin has become ground zero for the battle between taxpayers and public- employee labor unions. Wisconsin was the first state to allow collective bargaining for government workers (in 1959), following a tradition where it was the first to introduce a personal income tax (in 1911, before the introduction of the current form of individual income tax in 1913 by the federal government).

Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state—or even across states—can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.

In fact, labor unions were subject to U.S. antitrust laws in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which was first applied in 1894 to the American Railway Union. However, organized labor managed to obtain exemption from federal antitrust laws in subsequent legislation, notably the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

Remarkably, labor unions are not only immune from antitrust laws but can also negotiate a “union shop,” which requires nonunion employees to join the union or pay nearly equivalent dues. Somehow, despite many attempts, organized labor has lacked the political power to repeal the key portion of the 1947 Taft Hartley Act that allowed states to pass right-to-work laws, which now prohibit the union shop in 22 states. From the standpoint of civil liberties, the individual right to work—without being forced to join a union or pay dues—has a much better claim than collective bargaining. (Not to mention that “right to work” has a much more pleasant, liberal sound than “collective bargaining.”) The push for right-to-work laws, which haven’t been enacted anywhere but Oklahoma over the last 20 years, seems about to take off.

The current pushback against labor-union power stems from the collision between overly generous benefits for public employees— notably for pensions and health care—and the fiscal crises of state and local governments. Teachers and other public-employee unions went too far in convincing weak or complicit state and local governments to agree to obligations, particularly defined-benefit pension plans, that created excessive burdens on taxpayers.

In recognition of this fiscal reality, even the unions and their Democratic allies in Wisconsin have agreed to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed cutbacks of benefits, as long as he drops the restrictions on collective bargaining. The problem is that this “compromise” leaves intact the structure of strong public-employee unions that helped to create the unsustainable fiscal situation; after all, the next governor may have less fiscal discipline. A long-run solution requires a change in structure, for example, by restricting collective bargaining for public employees and, to go further, by introducing a right-to-work law.

There is evidence that right-to-work laws—or, more broadly, the pro-business policies offered by right-to-work states—matter for economic growth. In research published in 2000, economist Thomas Holmes of the University of Minnesota compared counties close to the border between states with and without right-to-work laws (thereby holding constant an array of factors related to geography and climate). He found that the cumulative growth of employment in manufacturing (the traditional area of union strength prior to the rise of public-employee unions) in the right-to-work states was 26 percentage points greater than that in the non-right-to-work states.

Beyond Wisconsin, a key issue is which states are likely to be the next political battlegrounds on labor issues. In fact, one can interpret the extreme reactions by union demonstrators and absent Democratic legislators in Wisconsin not so much as attempts to influence that state—which may be a lost cause—but rather to deter politicians in other states from taking similar actions. This strategy may be working in Michigan, where Gov. Rick Snyder recently asserted that he would not “pick fights” with labor unions.

In general, the most likely arenas are states in which the governor and both houses of the state legislature are Republican (often because of the 2010 elections), and in which substantial rights for collective bargaining by public employees currently exist. This group includes Indiana, which has recently been as active as Wisconsin on labor issues; ironically, Indiana enacted a right-to-work law in 1957 but repealed it in 1965. Otherwise, my tentative list includes Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska (with a nominally nonpartisan legislature), Kansas, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The national fiscal crisis and recession that began in 2008 had many ill effects, including the ongoing crises of pension and health-care obligations in many states. But at least one positive consequence is that the required return to fiscal discipline has caused reexamination of the growth in economic and political power of public-employee unions. Hopefully, embattled politicians like Gov. Walker in Wisconsin will maintain their resolve and achieve a more sensible long-term structure for the taxpayers in their states.

Mr. Barro is a professor of economics at Harvard and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Obama Administration Closes Year Paying Off Big Labor

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.