Tag Archives: Unions

Unions Recruit

Hysterical much?

Gunshots ring out from the nearby hunting range across the railroad tracks in Westmoreland City, Pennsylvania, but Jason Davis is not easily deterred.

“You never know what’s going happen when you knock on someone’s door,” says Davis as we get out of his car to start walking the hills of this blue-collar, Trump-supporting community in the foothills of the mountains of south-western Pennsylvania.

Davis is going door-to-door to rally support for a teacher’s union after a historic supreme court decision – Janus vs AFSCME – that threatens its funding and that of all other US public sector unions.

“Gunshots ring out…” Geez, what is he expecting? There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Davis trying to rally support for his union. Now that people aren’t forced to be in a union they don’t want to be in, I suspect that the passions around them will diminish with time.

Unions Should Look to the NRA

Interesting thought. Of course, unions are supposed to be about negotiating with business owners on behalf of their members, but so many of them have just become political activist groups.

One model for unions in the post-Janus era could be another modestly financed and increasingly unpopular membership organization: the National Rifle Association. Though a villain in the eyes of labor’s allies on the left, the gun lobby’s staying power in American politics should be an inspiration to activist groups across the spectrum.

What could unions learn from the NRA? For one thing, you can have clout without money. To be sure, the NRA throws money around, but not as much as you think. Last year it spent $4m on lobbying – about the same amount as the dairy farmers’ lobby, and just over a tenth of what the National Association of Realtors spent. The Chamber of Commerce, the country’s main business lobby, spent $100m more than the NRA did. For presidential elections, the NRA spends more: $30m on Trump, more than twice what it spent on Romney in 2012, but less than the top Super Pacs and two individuals, the conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and liberal hedge fund manager Tom Steyer. In 2017, the NRA spent just over $1m on federal races, compared to the $12.7m spent by Comcast.

To even call the NRA a “gun lobby” obscures the real source of its power: its members. The respective opponents of unions and the NRA both focus disproportionately on their money. Gun control advocates organize boycotts to “defund the NRA”; unions still get called “big labor” with a straight face by business lobbies that outspend them 10 to 1. This kind of economic reductionism misses the real added value membership organizations offer to the parties they favor: boots on the ground for elections.

Wisconsin Public Safety Unions Face Changes

It will be interesting to see if public safety unions will see the same erosion of dues paying members as other public unions did.

Public-safety worker unions in Wisconsin cannot require that fees be paid by non-union members under a pivotal ruling issued Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Scott Walker touted the national ruling as a sign Wisconsin was ahead of the curve seven years ago when it passed a landmark law curtailing the power of public unions.

Most public unions in Wisconsin were barred from collecting so-called “fair-share” fees by Act 10, the 2011 state law that broadly curtailed their power. But that law exempted public-safety unions such as police, firefighters and the State Patrol.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies the ban on requiring payment of fair-share fees by non-union members to all public unions nationwide. It overturns a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay such fees to unions that represent them in collective bargaining even if the workers choose not to join — so long as the fees cover only the unions’ costs to bargain and their administration, not their political or advocacy work.

As was the case in Wisconsin after Act 10, the national Supreme Court ruling is likely to cause public union membership elsewhere to decrease and their political clout to wane, one expert said.

SCOTUS Rules Against Forced Union Dues

Excellent. Forced unionization has been a century-long stain on the freedom of association.

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has barred public-employee contracts requiring workers to pay union dues, dealing a severe blow to perhaps the strongest remaining redoubt of the American labor movement.

The 5-4 vote, along conservative-liberal lines, overruled a 1977 precedent that had fueled the growth of public-sector unionization even as representation has withered in private industry. More than one-third of public employees are unionized, compared with just 6.5% of those in the private sector, according to a January report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The impact is likely to stretch far beyond the workplace, sapping resources from unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Education Association that have provided funds, resources and activists largely in support of Democratic candidates.

[…]

Under that theory, it would violate the First Amendment for government to condition a job on subsidizing political speech a worker may oppose—and therefore public-employment contracts including union-security clauses would be unconstitutional. The court majority has now accepted that argument.

Unions Using Dirty Tricks to Skirt Law

Typical.

In Wisconsin, for instance, United Steelworkers Local 2-482 makes workers wait up to 13 months before the union will stop grabbing dues from their paychecks.

That’s the subject of an ongoing legal battle led by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of Donald Dillabough, an employee at the Clearwater Paper Corp. plant in Neenah. 

In December, Dillabough emailed the SteelWorkers local informing officials there that he was resigning from the union and revoking his authorization for the union to automatically collect dues from his paycheck. Easy enough under Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, right? 

Wrong. 

Union officials denied the request. They claimed it was not submitted during the union’s self-created “window period.” The labor organization had established a 13-month waiting period in between windows in which employees are able to withdraw their membership, according to the foundation. 

Patrick Semmens, vice president of Public Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said the prolonged waiting period is just one of many tricks unions have pulled in emerging right-to-work states like Wisconsin, which became the 25th state to adopt a worker freedom law more than three years ago.

“What we see are these union policies where they go, ‘Okay, you’re allowed to resign your union membership at any time, but you have to keep paying union dues, except when you revoke in this small, little window,” Semmens told MacIver News Service this week on the Vicki McKenna Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. “This is something we are seeing all around the country.”

Unions are Killing Air France

For those of us who remember Midwest Express, this is a somewhat familiar tale.

Air France’s trade unions are demanding an immediate pay rise of 5.1%. That looks bearable set against profits of €1.5bn ($1.8bn) last year. But a decent-looking performance in 2017 owed much to low oil prices. Its finances are weakening fast. Mr Janaillac had warned of a big drop in profits this year. A series of 14 one-day strikes has already cost Air France at least €300m in recent weeks.

The threat of Air France’s inflated cost base swelling further scares investors, says Daniel Roeska of Bernstein, a research firm. Some Air France pilots may earn two to three times as much as those at Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, Ryanair. Since 2012 Air France has made much less money than its rivals (see chart). Rising fuel costs, only half of which are hedged, and a squeeze on fares caused by airline overcapacity in Europe threaten to plunge Air France into the red sooner than its peers. A huge debt pile also leaves the group looking vulnerable. Ross Harvey of Davy, an investment firm, says its net debt last year (including leases) was 2.4 times gross operating profits, compared with 0.4 for Ryanair and 0.7 for easyJet and Lufthansa.

Other flag-carriers across Europe have also been squeezed, on short-haul routes by the rise of low-cost outfits and on long-haul routes by carriers from the Middle East and China. But their answer has been to slash costs to return to the black. IAG has forced through big cuts to jobs and pay at British Airways and Iberia of Spain, as has Lufthansa in Germany. Facing intransigent unions, Alan Joyce of Qantas in Australia even grounded his airline until they caved in. All have launched their own low-cost carriers to take the fight to their new rivals.

Unable to make much headway against the unions, Air France’s management chose another track. After cancelling Mr de Juniac’s proposed restructuring, Mr Janaillac launched a plan to cover the airline’s costs by improving service and by lobbying in Brussels against low-cost and Middle Eastern competitors.

The problem is that the market is shifting/has shifted. Most consumers are not willing to pay more for the “extras” in air travel. As a frequent flier, I miss the days of bigger seats, better food, and more room. But the market has spoken. And, frankly, I’m willing to pay a little more for the extras, but not a lot.

The the case of Air France, the market won’t allow them to increase their prices to a level to keep up with the costs that the unions are demanding. Fuel prices will continue to fluctuate, but the labor costs are relatively fixed. Air France is attempting to fight their competitors by asking the government to protect Air France, but that’s not working. Air France’s management have limited options and the unions aren’t willing to recognize that the market won’t allow what they are asking for.

Absent a government bailout, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Air France go bankrupt by the end of next year. Their union issues make them unattractive for acquisition or merger, so their competitors will just wait for them to fold and then pick up the pieces.

Unions Want to Eat the Cake

This is kind of funny… except for the workers.

Unions representing about 35,000 Disney World workers say Disney is refusing to pay their members $1,000 tax cut bonuses.
Disney (DIS) announced the $1,000 bonuses last month for 125,000 U.S. employees. The company said at that time that the bonuses would go to full and part-time employees, including those represented by unions “currently working under existing union contracts.”

[…]

Disney said its offer to the union was a raise of 50 cents an hour or 3% of pay, whichever is greater.

As to whether the employees should get the same bonuses as other employees Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said, “Wages and bonuses are part of our negotiation process. We will continue to meet with the union to move toward a ratified agreement.”

The unions want to negotiate everything to do with the compensation plans – except when they don’t. They want the $1,000 bonuses paid outside of the contract negotiations even though bonuses would normally be something included in the negotiations. They know that it makes them look bad when all of the non-unionized employees are getting nice bonuses while they are mired in negotiations. Funny how that works.

Supreme Court Rules on Open Records

 This looks like a good balance.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, deciding along ideological lines, said Tuesday that a state agency that oversees public employee union recertification elections can delay the release of voter records to prevent voter intimidation.

Government openness advocates warned that the ruling could have a broad impact on the public’s right to know how its government works because it allows records custodians to consider the perceived motivations of requesters when determining whether to release records.

The court’s 5-2 decision overturns a ruling in Dane County Circuit Court that favored Madison Teachers Inc.

MTI sued the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which in 2015 denied MTI’s requests for lists of teachers who did and did not vote in the annual union recertification election. MTI had sought the records under the state’s open records law, but WERC denied the release of the records during the election because it feared that MTI would use that information to intimidate voters who had not yet voted.

[…]

Roggensack wrote that WERC Commissioner James Scott properly balanced the considerations of the state’s open records law with concerns about voter intimidation before deciding not to release voter records during the election.

“Preventing voter intimidation during elections conducted by phone and email, as occurred here, is challenging,” Roggensack wrote. “Given MTI’s repeated requests for the names of those who voted before the election concluded, it is entirely possible that those employees who had not yet voted would become subject to individualized pressure by MTI of a type that MTI could not exert when speaking to all members of the bargaining unit collectively.”

These records are public and should be released, but there is good reason to not release them as an election is in process. This is especially true when it comes to groups that have a history of using intimidation tactics.

Less than Half of School Districts Have a Certified Union

Looks like teachers aren’t choosing the union.

Six years after Gov. Scott Walker and state Republicans made labor unions’ ability to retain members much more difficult, fewer than half of the state’s 422 school districts have certified unions.

In the latest certification election — held in November and required by Walker’s signature 2011 legislation known as Act 10 — staff and teachers in 199 school districts voted to remain in a bargaining unit, or 47 percent, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

What’s frustrating is that it is now clear that Wisconsin’s forced-unionization laws kept so many teachers in unions against their will for so many years. How much money was taken out of their pay over the years to support a union they didn’t want to be in? How many decisions were made on their behalf that they didn’t want? Now that they have a choice, we see how many teachers don’t want to be in a union.

Union Membership in Wisconsin Plummets

The MacIver Institute churned through the numbers for us. For all of the wailing from unions, they really aren’t that popular when people aren’t forced to be in them.

Since Act 10 and right to work, there have been some interesting developments across Wisconsin. UnionStats.com compiles Census Bureau data and provides a great look at some of the Wisconsin metro areas’ union data.

In the metro area of Madison, a hive of organized labor, union membership has decreased significantly since its peak of 21.1 percent of the workforce in 2010. When the law really started to effect change in contracts in 2012, the rate dropped to 10 percent. The state’s capital city employs many of the state employees affected by the legislation, – many of whom joined the massive, big labor-led protests against Act 10 at the Capitol in late winter 2011.

Despite liberal Madison’s seeming love of unions, only 5.4 percent of Madison area workers were union members in 2016. While there were well over 56,000 members in the Madison metropolitan area in 2010, there were just over 20,000 as of the most recent data.

The Fox Cities area, including Appleton, Oshkosh, and Neenah, also has seen declines, although not as pronounced as Madison. A peak of 16.5 percent in 2010 followed a drop in 2011 to 11.6 percent. Similar results followed the introduction of right-to-work freedoms, with a drop from 11.2 percent to 9.6 percent from 2014 to 2015. Union membership continues to decrease.

The Milwaukee metropolitan area saw a sharp decline in union participation following implementation of the right-to-work law. In 2014, the rate was 10.2 percent before dropping to 7.4 percent in 2015. The rate has since risen to 9.1 percent.

Overall, the state of Wisconsin has seen recent decreases across the board, including declines following both reform measures. The worker exodus from union was more dramatic early on. A 29.1 percent drop in union membership rates in 2015 was succeeded by a modest decline from 8.3 to 8.1 percent in 2016. Close to 355,000 employees were union members in 2010. More than 125,000 Wisconsinites have left their unions since 2010, with only 218,000 members today.

Union Membership Down in Wisconsin

It’s good to see people freely making choices about the organizations they join.

In 2016, the percentage of public and private workers who were members of unions was 8.1 percent, or 219,000 union members. That’s down by 136,000 members, or 38.3 percent, since 2010 levels, the year before passage of Act 10, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

SEIU Plans to Cut Budget

Good.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is planning to cut 30 percent of its budget by Jan. 1, 2018, the end of President-elect Donald Trump‘s first year in office.

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The SEIU will begin with a 10 percent budget cut immediately at the start of 2017. The union’s current annual budget is $300 million.

If it wasn’t clear that the SEIU is a radical liberal activist organization, their comments here should make it clear. This is not your parents’ union simply working for better working conditions for its members. This is an organization bent on societal change toward socialism.

It is also worth noting that many of the employees of government who will be charged with enacting Trump’s policies are active members in the SEIU. It will be difficult for him to enact change because many of these people will undermine him every step of the way.

It’s a good thing that they are being weakened. We should follow FDR’s advice and forbid government employees from unionizing altogether.

The Evolution of Wisconsin’s Public Sector Unions

The Milwaukee paper has a very good, and very long, story about the history of Wisconsin’s public sector unions. It goes back to their foundation, covers the illegal teacher strikes and responses in the 70s, the growth in the 80s, the political concentration in the 90s, and what’s been happening since Act 10. It is a pretty straight forward piece and worth the read.

I found this little tidbit interesting:

After Act 10’s passage, the 4,500-member Milwaukee union took a hard look at the local’s work and found that 85% of its time went toward litigating disputes and misconduct cases involving 2% of its members.

To broaden the union’s appeal to potential members, especially younger teachers, leaders shifted to working with the district on improved classroom practices, new student discipline techniques and culturally responsive teaching.

What a nice consequence of Act 10 for Milwaukee’s teachers. Instead of focusing the vast majority of resources on protecting bad apples, the union is trying to do things to benefit the majority of teachers. I know they will never admit it, but surely some of Milwaukee’s teachers are appreciative of the union’s renewed focus – even if it is a consequence of Act 10.

Dane County Judge Supports Voter Intimidation

A Dane County Judge strikes again.

Madison — A Dane County judge on Monday ruled a state commission violated the open records law last year when it refused to quickly turn over information about a union election.

[…]

The elections are overseen by the commission and held over 20 days, with ballots cast over the phone and over the Internet. Unions want to monitor who is voting so they can encourage those who haven’t done so to cast their ballots.

The union Madison Teachers Inc. on Nov. 10 sought documents under the open records law that would show who had voted so far in the election that ran from Nov. 4 to Nov. 24. The commission’s chairman, James Scott, denied the request while the election was ongoing.

After the election — which the union won overwhelmingly — the commission released records showing who had voted.

The union then sued the commission, a three-member panel appointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the architect of Act 10.

The commission had to promptly make available information about who had voted because the records law requires documents to be produced “as soon as practicable and without delay,” the union argued in its lawsuit.

Anderson agreed the records were wrongly withheld. He said the matter was important to resolve because it could come up again this fall, when hundreds of public-sector unions will hold elections.

The commission maintained it could not release the records while the election was pending because doing so could result in “voter coercion.” It also contended releasing the records would undermine the secrecy of the ballots because non-votes are considered “no” votes.

If the union truly wanted to just “encourage” people to vote, they wouldn’t need a list. They would just run campaigns encouraging everyone to vote. If they are doing calls, then they can simply mark someone as having voted if they are told so. No, the union wants the ongoing list of who voted while the election is going on so that they can bully and intimidate people.

 

94% of Private Sector Union Employees Never Voted for It

Wow. That’s a stunning statistic.

Of the 8 million unionized, private sector employees in the United States, 94 percent have never voted for their own labor union representation.

An hourly autoworker at the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Terry Bowman, told The Daily Signal that during his 20 years of employment at Ford he has never voted for the union that represents him.

“I have no power to represent myself in any way, shape, or form,” Bowman, aUAW-Ford (United Automobile Workers) employee, told The Daily Signal. “Everything that I have and do is based on that collective bargaining agreement that I have basically been forced to accept if I want to work at Ford Motor Company.”

Bowman, 50, said union representation is forced upon the workers as a condition of employment. His union representation negotiated a collective bargaining agreement on his and other employees’ behalf with employer management.

Thank goodness workers have a choice in Wisconsin now.

UW No Confidence Votes Were Really About Agitating for Union Membership

Heh. You didn’t think it was about the students or Wisconsin, did you?

United Faculty and Academic Staff (UFAS) circulated the resolution of no confidence in UW System leaders that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the campus faculty senate earlier this month, setting off a series of union-led actions across the state.

Chad Alan Goldberg, the UW-Madison sociology professor who drafted the resolution and helped marshal forces in support, is president of UFAS, Local 223 of the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin.

[…]

But UFAS leaders say the votes, and the media attention they received, were important because they got people talking. And they hope the attention convinces more faculty and academic staff to join the union.

[…]

Beyond fostering public discourse on public higher education, UFAS leaders say the energy around the no confidence votes translates into increased membership, which has hovered around 100 for years, they say.

Teachers Unions Focus on Community

Here’s another great byproduct of Act 10.

But the influence of unions has diminished in Madison. WEAC spent about $2.3 million on lobbying in the two legislative sessions leading up to the passage of Act 10. But by 2013-14 the union spent just $175,540, and so far has spent $93,481 in 2015-16.

Union leaders say they instead are focusing on local communities. The associations also invest in training and other support services for members.

“We offer professional development for things like license renewal, classroom management or teacher effectiveness,” said Cathey, who also is a Wisconsin representative on the National Education Association’s board and was in Washington, D.C., last week. “In the past it was more about politics, but now it’s more community oriented.We want to talk about our schools and share who we are with the community.”

Despite drops in membership numbers, Cathey said GBEA is more active than before Act 10.

For a lot of union members, they are getting better services from their unions. The unions have to provide better services for their members in order to justify their existence.

Act 10 Leading to More Competitive Pay for Teachers

Excellent.

Whereas nearly all teachers were once paid based on experience and education level, some Wisconsin school districts are experimenting with new ways to pay teachers.

In the Oregon School District, for example, technology education teachers receive $10,000 in supplemental pay annually for four years and a $2,500 annual retention bonus after that to remain in the district for four years.

School boards are also developing new compensation plans that take teachers’ evaluations or leadership qualities into consideration when figuring raises. Those new pay plans can cost a district more in salaries in some cases.

It’s great that school districts have the latitude to adjust their compensation plans to their needs instead of having a blanket tiered structure that doesn’t reflect the reality of the labor market.

But of course, here is the real reason that there was so much consternation over Act 10.

Meanwhile, the influence of teachers at the state Capitol has diminished. The state’s largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, spent $2.5 million and $2.3 million in the two legislative sessions leading up to the passage of Act 10. But by 2013-14 the union spent just $175,540, and so far has spent $93,481 in 2015-16.

Follow the money… so teachers with skills that school districts need are benefiting from the flexibility afforded in Act 10, but the union (read: special interest group) doesn’t have as much money to lobby. Why are we supposed to be upset?

 

Choice spreads throughout Wisconsin

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

Wisconsin has long been a state in which labor unions have thrived. With the state’s strong manufacturing and mining background, it always seemed natural that many Wisconsinites would be members of a union. As it turns out, it wasn’t so natural after all.

The most recent report about union membership from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that union membership in Wisconsin dropped precipitously in the last year. Between 2014 and 2015, membership declined by a whopping 29 percent to the lowest level in modern times. This was the largest single-year drop in union membership of any state in the union. Only 8.3 percent of Wisconsin’s workers are union members.

While the data does not attribute the cause of such a decline in union membership, it is not difficult to discern the reason. In 2015, the Wisconsin Legislature passed right-to-work legislation and Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law.

Prior to 2015, Wisconsin was a forced-unionization state. If a labor union convinced a company’s workers to unionize, then people who worked for that company were required to be members of the union as a condition of employment forevermore. Generations later, workers were still required to be a member of the union even though they never had the opportunity to vote on it.

Right-to-work is common in other regions — particularly the South — and is a simple concept based on workers’ rights. It says that a worker cannot be forced to be a member of union as a condition of employment. Workers can, of course, join a union of their free will. But just as the government should not force a person to be a member of the Masons, Rotary, Republican Party or other private organizations to work, nor should it force a person to be a member of a union as a condition of their employment. With the freedom to choose, 83,000 Wisconsin workers chose not to be a member of a union last year.

The last time Wisconsin had such a large drop in union membership was after the passage of Act 10 in 2011. In the year after Act 10, total union membership in Wisconsin dropped by almost 16 percent. Act 10 was essentially rightto- work for most government workers, but it did not go into effect until after the contracts in place at the time expired. As such, many unionized workers did not have the choice to leave the union for several years after Act 10 was passed.

When looking at union membership in Wisconsin since the passage of Act 10 and including the passage of right to work last year, union membership declined almost 38 percent as Wisconsin’s workers decided that being a member of a union was not right for them.

While it is wonderful to see the progression of liberty in Wisconsin as most of us are allowed to exercise our First Amendment right to belong to a private organization without the intervention of our government either way, there remains one bastion of forced unionization left untouched by both Act 10 and right to work. Police and firefighters are still forced to be in a union if they want to serve the public in either of those capacities.

When the new Legislature begins its session next year, it should take up the task of extending the same right to choose to police and firefighters as has been extended to the rest of Wisconsin’s workers. There is no reason why some of the best among us — our first responders — should not have the same ability to exercise their freedom of association as the rest of us. Given the nature of their jobs, maintaining their unions might well be in their best interests. But that should not be determined by the people who did the job 80 years ago when they were first unionized. It should be determined by the people doing the job today.

Unions Sue over Right to Work

Of course they did.

Machinists Local Lodge 1061, United Steelworkers District 2 and the Wisconsin AFL-CIO filed a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday, the day after Gov. Scott Walker signed the contentious bill into law.

The unions argue that the law results in an unconstitutional taking of their property without just compensation and that enforcing the law would cause them irreparable harm.

A hearing is scheduled for March 19 before Dane County Circuit Judge C. William Foust. Unions are also asking the court to permanently prevent the implementation of the law.

[…]

The unions argue that the right-to-work law violates the takings clause of the state Constitution: “The property of no person shall be taken for public use without just compensation therefor.”

Their argument is that the law transfers property from unions to nonmembers to a degree that will cause irreparable injury to the organizations.

The argument is similar to one made by unions suing against Indiana’s right-to-work law a few years ago. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled against that argument, upholding the law. Indiana’s law was also upheld by a U.S. Appeals Court.

Let me ruin the surprise and tell you what’s going to happen… the Dane County judge will issue the injunction. It will be appealed and, eventually, Wisconsin’s right to work law will be upheld, but not before a lot of time and money is spent to prove the obvious. In the interim while the law is enjoined, unions will push hard for long term contracts. The unions know they will eventually lose, but this tactic will give them time to hang onto those dues as long as possible.

And….. scene.