Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Teachers Buck Union Leadership

    September 2016. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton: “What we’re seeing in terms of our members is that when you talk to them, they get it and they are overwhelmingly supporting her and it’s [really] a matter of getting them out to vote.” Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association (NEA), on Clinton: “She wants to build bridges to a better future for all. That’s why America’s educators are with her!”

    November 2016. The AFT’s internal poll reveals that roughly 20 percent of the union’s members voted for Donald Trump. The NEA’s data points to more than 33 percent support for the Republican candidate among teachers.

    This is the sad state of organized labor today. While union leadership shouts its support for the Democratic Party from the mountaintop, the ideological composition of union membership is far more diverse. In fact, it’s possible that support for Trump was even stronger than post-election internals suggest: The most recent NEA survey of public school teachers found that 55 percent of teachers characterize themselves as “conservative” or “tend to be conservative,” leaving a great many looking across the aisle for answers. More recent numbers indicate that roughly 60 percent of NEA members are “Republicans or independents,” yet Garcia and other union bosses boast about their pro-Democrat political preferences as if their members comprise a rigid voting bloc.

    Election Day was a reminder that union members are anything but yes-men and -women. It was so unsettling for Weingarten that she resorted to blanket accusations of sexism after the election. “Frankly I was always concerned about whether the country was ready to have a female president,” Weingarten claimed. “There was an intensity of hatred that male political figures never get. So I think we’re never really going to understand it.” (Yes, the AFT’s head essentially called her members sexist.)

    December 2016. Big Labor has no finger on the pulse of its members.

    Categories: AFTNEATeachers Unions
  2. Employee Freedom Wins in 2016

    shutterstock_130449386Election Day proved to be a big win for employees in several states, as ballot initiatives reined in the power of union bosses.

    In Alabama, the adoption of Amendment 8 enshrined the state’s right-to-work law in the Constitution, meaning that Alabama employees now have a constitutional right to choose the workplace that suits them—whether it’s union or not. Before right-to-work legislation was passed, union membership could be a condition for employment, but the state constitution now guarantees that no employee can be denied a job because they are or aren’t a member of a labor union while making right-to-work more difficult to overturn in the future. Likewise, the rejection of South Dakota’s Ballot Measure 23—which would have effectively overturned the state’s right-to-work law—protects employees from compulsory union dues. If it had passed, the measure would have given labor unions the right to force all employees at unionized workplaces to pay labor organizers a fee—even if they did not personally support the union. (Unsurprisingly, almost 80 percent of South Dakota’s voters said nay to forced union dues.)

    Even in Virginia, where union activists defeated a right-to-work amendment to the state constitution, employee freedom was upheld (albeit not permanently). The best that Big Labor could do was preserve the status quo.

    Now the onus is on Congress to pass the Employee Rights Act (ERA), which would update federal labor law to protect employees nationwide. A package of eight pro-employee reforms, the ERA would guarantee secret ballot union elections and require labor officials to obtain opt-in permission before spending dues dollars on politics. Among other provisions, the bill would also mandate periodic recertification votes when a workplace has experienced substantial turnover, allowing employees to put union bosses up for a re-vote.

    Less than 10 percent of American employees ever voted for the union currently “representing” them. The ERA democratizes the workplace and extends labor reform to all 50 states.

    Categories: Employee Rights ActRight-to-Work
  3. Mary Kay Henry Ignores Members, Plays Politics

    democrat napkinIt wasn’t long ago that Mary Kay Henry, president of the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), hinted at the growing disconnect between union leadership and union membership. As we pointed out, Henry commented on the presidential primary debates by claiming that the “64 percent of our public members identify as conservative and are much more interested in the Republican debate than the Democratic debate at this moment.”

    (The SEIU later claimed that the number is closer to 36 percent. According to 2014 exit polls, roughly 40 percent of union households vote Republican. More of the same is expected this election cycle.)

    Yet despite the SEIU’s ideologically diverse membership—and Henry’s own pledge to “act on behalf of all workers”—the union president’s liberal leanings are clearer than ever. As we’ve noted before, recent WikiLeaks revelations have painted an image of a politically obsessed union boss with a soft spot for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—despite the latter’s skepticism of the SEIU’s beloved Fight for $15.

    An even closer look at the WikiLeaks emails suggests a fawning adoration uncommon even for the most politically inclined union bosses. There’s this from a November exchange between Henry and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman:

    “It was exhilarating to see Hillary passion shine through AND a huge internal affirmation of her willingness to champion the fight for 15/union.”

    And then there’s the following January email:

    “Strong-clear-unstoppable! Hillary is our champion.”

    Not to mention this one:

    “HRC on fire!”

    Meanwhile, as Henry’s adoration burns within, the substantial minority—or majority, depending on who you ask—of SEIU employees voting Republican get the short end of the stick. They’re forced to sit idly by and see their dues dollars spent on Democrats and left-wing causes incompatible with their own political beliefs. Current labor law permits union bosses like Henry to throw their weight behind political candidates regardless of where union membership actually stands.

    So much for “act[ing] on behalf of all workers.”

    The Center for Union Facts is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

    Categories: Political MoneySEIUUnion Spending
  4. Union Political Spending Hits Record Highs

    shutterstock_150389051 (1)Big Labor is always more active in an election year, supporting the Democrats and liberal causes in line with a pro-union agenda. But 2016 is something else entirely. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

    According to the most recent campaign-finance filings, unions spent about $108 million on the elections from January 2015 through the end of August, a 38% jump from $78 million during the same period leading up to the 2012 election, and nearly double their 2008 total in the same period. Nearly 85% of their spending this year has supported Democrats.

     

    Almost every large union is spending more than has been seen in modern elections, financing rallies, canvassing efforts and ad campaigns to bolster Democrats. The AFL-CIO has spent $11.4 million funding outside political groups such as super PACs thus far, up from $5 million at this point in the 2012 election, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The National Education Association has spent $14 million, up from $7.7 million.

    This doesn’t even take into account money spent on left-wing initiatives like a $15 minimum wage—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has spent upwards of $70 million on the Fight for $15—or whatever “environmental justice” means.

    Yet, while 85 percent of union dollars have gone to the Left in 2016, a substantial minority of union members consistently vote Republican. 2012 exit polls show that 43 percent of union households voted for Republican House candidates, even though 91 percent of union political support went to Democrats. Something doesn’t add up.

    The Center for Union Facts is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

    Categories: AFL-CIONEAPolitical MoneySEIUTeachers UnionsUnion Spending
  5. NAACP Joins Teachers Unions in Blocking Education Reform

    Writing Exams by ccarlsteadThe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently went out of its way to disenfranchise minority youth, ratifying a resolution calling for a halt in the growth of charter schools. The decision came as a surprise to many education experts, with Jacqueline Cooper, president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, stating, “It is inexplicable…”

    The NAACP’s aversion is a way of sucking up to teachers unions, which fight tooth-and-nail against school choice—a threat to their monopoly on education dollars.

    America’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), is perhaps the most ardent opponent. Despite charter schools’ record of success (a recent Stanford University study found that charter school students received the equivalent of 40 days of additional learning a year in math and 28 additional days of learning a year in reading), NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia equated such education reform efforts to “the shameful scapegoating of America’s educators.” Some NEA members even booed presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech when she said, “When schools get it right, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working…and share it with schools across America.”

    The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is no more receptive than its sister union. AFT President Randi Weingarten has consistently opposed increased funding for charter schools, even calling for a cap on the number of such schools in Washington, D.C.

    So egregious is the union-led opposition to school choice that The New York Times’ editorial board called the NAACP’s resolution “misguided” and “nonsensical,” joining The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post in deriding charter school opponents.

    Categories: AFTNEATeachers Unions
  6. The SEIU’s Broken Promise?

    015Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), often boasts about her commitment to a $15 minimum wage and unionized fast-food industry—two alleged remedies for “the crisis of low wages.” Yet when it came to endorsing Hillary Clinton, Henry and other SEIU officials were more than willing to ignore Clinton’s skepticism of a $15 hourly wage.

    For context: The Democratic nominee supports a $12 hourly federal minimum wage, although she has backed state efforts to go higher. “Let’s not just do it for the sake of having a higher number out there,” Clinton argued in 2015. “But let’s get behind a proposal that actually has a chance of succeeding.”

    As WikiLeaks recently revealed, this noncommittal position worried some union bosses. According to an email from Nikki Budzinski, Clinton’s labor outreach director, executive board members of SEIU Local 1199—one of the fiercest Fighters for $15—“voiced concern around where the Secretary is on the minimum wage increase to $15 rather than $12.” But the SEIU’s national headquarters put that concern to rest. Peter Colavito, the union’s chief of staff, “reiterated that [Hillary Clinton’s] position on the minimum wage was not a part of their test for endorsement”—easing the way for a Clinton endorsement. (The SEIU officially backed her four days later.)

    The SEIU has spent over $70 million on the Fight for $15 thus far, and it is arguably the defining issue for the union. So it’s unusual, to say the least, for the union to give Clinton a pass on endorsing their signature effort. It begs the question: Is the SEIU more concerned about policy or politics?

    The Center for Union Facts is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

    Categories: SEIUUnion Spending
  7. Big Labor Stoops Low in Wisconsin

    shutterstock_157245110Wisconsin was Big Labor’s Waterloo in 2012, when a heated recall election upheld Scott Walker’s governorship. His 2014 reelection victory only compounded the suffering of union bosses long opposed to Gov. Walker’s pro-employee reforms.

    Now they’re seeking payback—and the state Senate. Watchdog has more:

    Three-dozen unions have already dumped nearly $220,000 into campaign coffers benefiting seven Democrats running for state Senate, according to campaign finance records through earlier this month.

     

    The cash is on top of the nearly $1 million that big-government groups have spent attacking Republican incumbents and challengers.

     

    Groups ranging from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to the United Transportation Union contributed at least $217,967 combined to the cause, through Sept. 7. More than half of that, $118,017, went to the State Senate Democratic Committee. The remaining contributions were marked for individual candidates.

    Especially active is the Construction Trades Coalition (CTC), which has rolled out a statewide radio campaign attacking incumbent Republican state senators. CTC has even targeted Democrats who have failed to oppose right-to-work legislation and other items on Big Labor’s wish list. For example, the outfit attacked Jimmy Anderson—a wheelchair-bound Democrat who lost his parents and brother at the hands of a drunk driver—for failing to “stand up” against Gov. Walker. (Terry McGowan, the union boss behind the advertisements, later defended the campaign.)

    For Big Labor, no stoop is too low.

    Categories: Political MoneyRight-to-WorkUnion Spending
  8. United Steelworkers Boss Busted for Embezzlement

    30 pieces of silverUnion bosses know a thing or two about the wrong side of the law. David R. Sager, the former president of the United Steelworkers Local 5000, is now under federal indictment for embezzling more than $185,000 from the union’s strike fund. Law360 has more:

    “A 29-count federal indictment has been unsealed charging David R. Sager of Gibsonburg, Ohio with embezzlement or theft from a labor union, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and making false statements of law enforcement.”

    When Local 5000 went on strike in 2009 over a contract renewal, the union established a strike fund to provide financial relief to striking members. While overseeing the distribution of relief funds, Sager allegedly submitted over $185,000 in benefits requests, while he and his wife raked in nearly $160,000 in income. With union members mired in a prolonged strike, Sager allegedly spent dues dollars on fine restaurant dining and Carrie Underwood concert tickets. Prosecutors claim that Sager also used more than $32,000 in union money to pay for his mortgage and phone bills.

    According to U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon, “This defendant betrayed the union membership he promised to represent.”

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionGolf and Other NecessitiesLegalUnion Spending