Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Unions Spend Big to Curtail Worker Freedom

    The AFL-CIO— along with other major labor unions— recently poured money into an anti-right-to-work campaign led by advocacy group We Are Missouri. The group spent about $16.3 million on their campaign to vote “No” on Proposition A. The vote— which took place last week— removed Missouri as the 28th right-to-work state in the country.

    Unions spared no expense in overturning this law, despite the fact that employees in right-to-work states are reportedly more satisfied with their union than employees in other states. A higher percentage of these employees said their union was more helpful in protecting them against employer actions. In terms of representation, 80 percent reported being pleased with the results of their local union elections.

    Right-to-work laws allow employees to choose whether or not they want to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Vinnie Vernuccio, senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, highlighted the silliness of unions spending millions to curtail this freedom: “It is sad but not surprising that unions are spending millions of dollars to have the ability to get workers fired for not paying them.”

    This campaign demonstrates that unions will go to any length to keep their coffers full.

    Categories: AFL-CIORight-to-Work
  2. In Killing Obama-era Rule, A Victory For Workplace Privacy

    It’s been an eventful summer for unions. Following up on a win for workforce freedom in Janus, a final rule handed down by the Department of Labor (DOL) on July 17 will end an Obama-era ruling known as the “Persuader Rule.”

    The “Persuader Rule” was added to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) in 2016. Prior to the rule, employers were required to file a report explaining any labor-relations consulting they participated in– but only if the consultant communicated directly with workers.

    Under Obama, the DOL implemented the “Persuader Rule,” favoring union interests over employer rights. The rule required employers to report all acts of guidance, even if the consultants had not contacted employees directly. It didn’t take long after the “Persuader Rule” was installed for over 50 businesses to file suit against it– citing a clear violation of attorney-client privilege.

    In fact, the immense backlash prevented the rule from ever being enforced. A Federal Judge in Texas called for a permanent national injunction against it.

    The right to seek advice without fear of retribution is essential for workplace freedom. Officially removing this defunct law is a win for both employers and workers alike.

    Categories: DOLLegal
  3. DC Metro Union Workers Don’t Realize They Work For Taxpayers

    Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689– which represents the employees of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA)–made headlines by voting to authorize a strike a few days before the MLB All-Star Game.

    The threat follows a recent “late out” where over 500 employees showed up late to work and severely interfered with the morning commute for thousands of Metro riders.

    Local 689 President Jackie Jeter urged any angry, inconvenienced customers to remember that it wasn’t about them.

    “This is about the person that we work for. This is about the company.”

    One tiny detail she forgot: Because WMATA is a government agency, the employees Jeter represents ultimately work for taxpayers.

    It’s technically illegal for WMATA employees to strike, and the threat seems all the more silly given the source of the union’s grievance– WMATA’s decision to reassign a few dozen janitors to a different job site and replace them with contractors.

    More than just an inconvenience, late-outs and strikes hurt commuters the most.

    The self-serving actions of Jeter and her union bring to mind why none other than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was opposed to public sector unions: When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”

    Categories: AFL-CIO
  4. Supreme Court Backlash Highlights Union Hypocrisy

    President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has incensed union officials, who cite the nominee’s “pro-business stance” as cause for concern. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently warned that Kavanaugh “too often sides with employers in denying employees relief from discrimination in the workplace.” He even claimed the nominee has a “dangerous track record of protecting the privileges of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of working people.”

    Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), followed suit. In her words: “President Trump has doubled down on his rhetoric and policies that tilt our country further towards billionaires and greedy CEOs, and away from all working people.”

    Hypocrisy personified. Last year, four SEIU executives were fired or resigned amid allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct. Caleb Jennings, the leader of the union’s Fight for $15 campaign in Illinois, reportedly grew violent and shoved a female subordinate against a door frame. More than a dozen current and former staff members claimed the union’s culture of sexual harassment was an “open secret,” and that union leadership ignored their concerns until public pressure from the #MeToo movement became too much to ignore.

    Around the same time, the AFL-CIO’s chief budget officer, Terry Stapleton, resigned after the “lewd” messages he sent a secretary became public knowledge. So much for protecting workers’ rights.

    And don’t forget the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which has been linked to sexual harassment in the workplace by a group of female employees at a Ford plant in Illinois. Tonya Exum, a UAW member and one of the victims, put it bluntly: “Such harassment was not an isolated experience; it was pervasive behavior afflicting every corner of the plant.” Even worse, Exum’s union “representative” stopped at nothing to keep her silent—from slashing her tires to threatening her at home.

    The bottom line is this: Before union officials judge Brett Kavanaugh, they better take a long, hard look at the skeletons stacked in their own closets.

    Categories: AFL-CIOAFSCMESEIUViolence
  5. Labor Racket Weekly: Summertime Sadness

    Millions of Americans are ready for the July 4th holiday, and union officials need the day off more than most. Late June was littered with stories of embezzlement, theft, and wire fraud, as numerous labor unions were forced to grapple with trial dates and prison sentences. You can see many of the stories here:

    • On June 27th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Annette Jones, former Secretary-Treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 331 (located in Perry Point, Md.), was indicted on one count of bank fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1344, 18 U.S.C. 1341, and 18 U.S.C. 1028A, respectively.
    • On June 26th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Dorian Nicely, former business agent of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzle labor union assets for embezzling $57,310 from the union, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371.
    • On June 26th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Dennis Nicely, former Vice President of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzle labor union assets for embezzling $57,310 from the union, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371.
    • On June 18th, 2018, in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, Daniel Ross, former Treasurer of Transportation and Communications Union/International Association of Machinists (TCU/IAM) Lodge 6721 (located in Oakland, Calif.), pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of Grand Theft of Personal Property in the amount of $4,607, in violation of California Penal Code Section 487(a). Ross was immediately sentenced to 30 days of incarceration (suspended) and three years of probation.
    • On June 18th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Cheryl Angell, former Treasurer of United Steelworkers of America Local 2-144 (located in Combined Locks, Wisc.), was sentenced to 13 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Angell was also ordered to pay $98,711 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On March 22, 2018, Angell pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling $98,711 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C 501(c). The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit-Milwaukee District Office.

    Touch base after the holiday for more union fails!

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  6. Janus Decision a Win for Workplace Freedom

    This week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiff Mark Janus, a longtime American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) agency fee-payer.

    Because he did not want to financially support AFSCME, Janus argued that his $45 monthly fee was unconstitutional, infringing on his First Amendment rights. Janus’ also claimed that, since public-sector unions like AFSCME negotiate with the government, agency fees inherently constitute a form of political advocacy that no American should be compelled to support.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court sided with the First Amendment, freeing Janus and millions of public-sector employees from compelled speech. In Justice Samuel Alito’s words: “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”

    The Janus decision essentially extends right-to-work to America’s public sector, allowing employees to choose whether or not they wish to financially support the union soliciting money from them. As InsideSources’ Connor Wolf put it, “mandatory union payments are [now] outlawed in the public sector,” stripping public-sector unions of resources and much of their political clout. Union officials estimate a 20  to 40 percent drop in membership, which translates to millions of dollars in lost revenue. A 20 percent reduction in membership of the California Teachers Association, for example, would lead to more than $40 million in lost money. New York City’s United Federation of Teachers local projects a 20 percent reduction in membership will translate to $16 million in lost dues.

    Extend the projections to all public-sector unions, and they lose hundreds of millions of dollars in political muscle—long used to curry favor from the Democratic Party and lobby for pro-union policies. As we’ve noted before, union officials have sent more than $1.3 billion in member dues to liberal advocacy groups in recent years—without prior approval.

    Of course, the Janus ruling isn’t inherently anti-union; it merely forces AFSCME and other public-sector unions to make a stronger case for union membership to employees. Public-sector workers can still financially support a labor union, if they so choose. Janus just gave all of them that choice.

    Categories: AFSCMERight-to-WorkTeachers Unions
  7. SEIU Scraps Health and Safety Program. Too Much Politics?

    According to Jordan Barab, a former Labor Department official under President Obama and longtime union staffer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is scrapping its health and safety program.

    The SEIU—America’s largest labor union and one of its most politically active—is laying off its last health and safety official, Mark Catlin, next month. As Barab notes, Catlin “has been [the] SEIU’s lone health and safety staffer for many months.” It’s a curious personnel decision, given the SEIU’s marketing shtick. Like many unions, the SEIU often touts the “pivotal role” it plays “securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job for all workers.” SEIU President Mark Kay Henry frequently positions herself as an expert on “health and safety.”

    While the SEIU’s many locals are still representing healthcare workers, the SEIU’s national department that was known for lobbying the Labor Department and other federal agencies to enact stricter workplace regulations is no more.

    The SEIU is not alone: Last year, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) also “dissolved its health and safety department when long-time director Darryl Alexander retired,” Barab notes. (The AFT routinely boasts about its health and safety work.) In fact, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is “now the only labor union representing large numbers of health care workers that has full-time paid health and safety staff in their national office.”

    In 2005, the AFL-CIO merged its health and safety program with its government affairs department, which tells you a lot about Big Labor’s priorities. Amid declining investments in health and safety, labor unions have ramped up political advocacy spending, shifting their focus from worker representation to political gamesmanship. After its $100 million Fight for $15 campaign saw drastic cutbacks last year, the SEIU quickly pivoted to a $100 million campaign aimed at electing pro-union Democrats in the Midwest.

    Since 2010, union officials have sent more than $1.3 billion in member dues (without prior approval) to liberal advocacy groups, including the Democratic Governors Association, Clinton Foundation, and Planned Parenthood.

    Categories: AFL-CIOAFSCMEAFTSEIUUnion Spending
  8. Labor Racket Weekly: Theft, Embezzlement, Oh My!

    Recent weeks have brought to light all sorts of union scandals, including theft, embezzlement, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and others. Thousands upon thousands of dollars in member dues were involved. The Labor Department has it all for you:

    • On June 5th, 2018, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, Sophia Love, former President of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2751 (located in Baltimore, Md.), pleaded guilty to one count of theft of more than $10,000 but less than $100,000, in violation of Maryland Criminal Law Section 7-104(g)(1)(ii), for stealing $15,548 from the union.
    • On June 1st, 2018, in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland, Keith Franzese, former President of Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) Local 275 (located in Greenbelt, Md.), entered an Alford plea to one count of theft of more than $10,000 but less than $100,000, in violation of Maryland Criminal Law Section 7-104(g)(1)(ii), for stealing $67,624 from the union. An Alford Plea is a guilty plea of a defendant who proclaims he is innocent of the crime, and admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • On May 31st, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Salvatore Armao and Karen Auer, respectively the managing partner and the principal of an accounting firm, were charged by complaint with Aiding and Abetting an Embezzlement of Union Funds (18 U.S.C. 2 and 29 U.S.C. 501c), False Statements in Employee Benefit Plan Records and Reports (18 U.S.C. 1027), and Conspiracy (18 U.S.C. 371). Auer was also charged with making a False Statement (18 U.S.C. 1001).
    • On May 29th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Charles Webster, former President of Steelworkers (formerly Glass, Molders, and Plastics) Local 284 (located in Longview, Tex.), was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of failing to maintain records, which were required to be kept in support of the union’s annual financial report, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c).
    • On May 29th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Christopher Mulhall, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, for taking part in an embezzlement of $57,310 from the union.

    If the past is prologue, Summer 2018 will be no different in union America. Union members, beware!

    Categories: AFSCMELabor Racket Weekly