Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Author Archives: Center for Union Facts

  • Unions Could Disrupt Super Bowl

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    The right-to-work battle is heating up in Indiana, and labor unions look desperate. So desperate in fact, that union leaders are contemplating disrupting the Super Bowl, which will be played in the Lucas Oil Stadium.

    The Associated Press reports that around 50 Indiana labor leaders met this week for the AFL-CIO’s “labor Table” to discuss a strategy. With all eyes on Indiana on February 5, Big Labor wants to cash in on the free publicity and use the opportunity to bash right to work efforts in the state. The Teamsters are considering blocking the streets around the NFL village with truckers willing to risk arrest for their cause, and other union members could flood the streets marching in protest.

    NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said they don’t expect the game to be disrupted, likely because the unions representing stagehands, carpenters, electricians and painters have a no-strike agreement with the board that runs the Indianapolis Convention Center. But other unions key to the overall success of the super bowl, such as hotel employees do not fall under the no-strike agreement.

    It is clear from the hostile attitude of one Teamster organizer saying, “You can tell them we’ll take the Super Bowl and shove it,” that the good of the community might not be Big Labor’s number one interest. With Republicans in the state House and Senate hoping to vote on right-to-work legislation in the upcoming weeks, the half-time show might not be the only controversy at this year’s Super Bowl.

  • Shocker: Big Labor is Hypocritical

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    Driven by opposition to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal passed last year that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for nearly all public sector workers, unions have been extremely active in the state’s campaign to force a recall election. In a recent statement, the AFL-CIO praised the Wisconsin union members for collecting over a million signatures throughout the last two months.

    However, not all of the action will be in Wisconsin. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a bold plan to overhaul pensions for future city- and state-government workers. The New York chapter of the AFL-CIO is mobilizing its 2.5 million union members to oppose the plan.

    “How they can be against adjusting future benefits just boggles my mind,” Cuomo told the New York Post. “It’s just unbelievable to me.”

    The AFL-CIO is making waves on a national level as well. On Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka slammed the White House jobs council’s latest report. As one of the two union leaders on the council, Trumka said the body is too narrow to provide recommendations to President Obama that are balanced between the interests of business and labor.

    For a group that just launched a new ad campaign touting how “work connects us all” the AFL-CIO sure doesn’t seem to work well with others.

  • Urge CNN to Ask Candidates to Take a Stand on the Employee Rights Act

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    The GOP presidential primary debates have had their highs and their lows this cycle. In one of the bizarre debate moments, candidates were asked whether or not states should be allowed to ban contraceptives. This discussion went on for nearly a half an hour.

    Last night, during the Fox News Presidential Primary Debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry channeled South Carolinians anger at the Obama administration and attacked the NLRB for their assault on Boeing for daring to open a new production line in a right to work state.

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also slammed Obama for the stance he took in the NLRB’s dispute with Boeing, releasing a new round of radio ads and commercials.

    Although most of the candidates on the Republican slate support right to work laws, none have come out in support of the Employee Rights Act yet. The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and U.S. Representative Tim Scott (R-SC), contains measures to protect employees and give them a democratic voice in unionization.

    Take action! Click here and ask CNN to discuss the Employee Rights Act during Thursday night’s GOP presidential primary debate.

  • Unions Killed my Ho Ho

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    Last Wednesday Hostess Brands Inc., maker of sweet snacks including Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to settle its unsecured debts, primarily weighed down by its heavily unionized workforce.

    Debts beholden for ingredients like flour, sweeteners and cocoa pale in comparison to the exorbitant amounts owed to union health and pension funds. The top unsecured creditor on the list is the Bakery & Confectionery Union & Industry International Pension Fund, owed $944.16 million. In fact, 16 of the top 40 unsecured claims belong to union benefit funds.

    Hostess operates in 48 states and has approximately 19,000 unionized employees, 7,500 of which are represented by the Teamsters Union. Furthering Hostesses problems surviving in the market, the Company has 372 separate labor agreements, while most of its competitors are not unionized.

    This is not Hostess’s first time dealing with bankruptcy. In 2004, the company formerly known as Interstate Bakeries went bankrupt and re-emerged as Hostess Brands in 2009.

  • Indiana House Democrats Stall Democratic Process to Protect Unions

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    Back in November of 2011, Labor Pains told readers not to hold their breath for a 23rd right to work state. This is why.

    Close to a year after Indiana House Senate Democrats fled the state to protest Republican plans to curtail union rights, the legislators have employed a similar tactic to stall new right to work legislation by once again refused to show up last week.

    While Indiana House Republicans have the votes to pass the measure, the House does not have the quorum it needs to conduct business without the Democrats in attendance.  If the House Democrats return, the legislature’s Republicans are expected to pass the measure without difficulty, holding a 60-40 majority in the House and a supermajority of 37-13 in the Senate.

    In its last session, the Indiana legislature passed an anti-bolting statute, allowing daily fines of $1,000 to be assessed on members who are absent for three or more consecutive days without an excuse. Although these have yet to be imposed, the fines can be levied at the discretion of Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma.

    One indication of the anti-bolting statute’s effectiveness is the recently scheduled vote on amendments to the bill, in which House Democrats are expected to attend this week.

    Under the right to work legislation that Republicans are working to pass, employees at unionized private companies would not be required to pay dues to the union. If the bill passes, Indiana would become the first right to work state in what’s considered to be the nation’s traditional manufacturing belt.

    Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with other supporters, argues that the bill would attract more jobs to Indiana–a state hit with 9 percent unemployment.

    Given the likelihood that the bill will clear the House and Senate, Indiana workers may be able to breathe a little easier.

  • Maddow Blog: Voting on Unions Is Like Voting to Secede from the United States

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    Our recent full-page ad in The New York Times is shaking up the defenders of the status quo. If MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s staff is any indication, they’re rattled enough to fall back on odd arguments that do more to underscore the truth of the Times ad. Maddow’s Laura Conaway:

    “Fewer than 10% of employees in unions voted to join their union,” the ad says. “In most cases, the employees who voted for the union are dead or gone.” This is a little like saying that fewer than 10 percent of Americans voted to have their states join the United States of America because they’re all dead or gone, but hey.

    Revealingly, Conaway assumes that unions are a lot like governments and countries—permanent organizations that rule over people with no right to break off relations with them. Of course, unions are nothing of the kind. But that’s the sort of thinking that powers the labor status quo. Challenging it head-on digs up big hypocrisies: if today’s unaccountable, power-hungry unions are so unlike North Korea’s rulers, why are they so similar to sovereign, perpetual political institutions? It doesn’t make sense.

    Of course, at least some Americans who actually did help establish the United States thought even its founding documents could prevent people alive today from realizing the change they desired. Thomas Jefferson said “no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation.” For Jefferson, every law “naturally expires at the end of 19 years.” Surely Jefferson would reject Conaway’s analogy.

    But you don’t have to be as radical about politics as Thomas Jefferson to reject it. After all, membership in a union is nothing like citizenship in a country, and labor regulations are nothing like the Constitution. In fact, our tradition of asserting and protecting rights in America speaks strongly in favor of ensuring that union members have access to basic democratic rights like a secret ballot and regular elections — exactly the kinds of guarantees the Employee Rights Act provides.

  • The Employee Rights Act

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    The campaign to educate Americans about the need for labor law reform continues today as the Center for Union Facts placed a new ad in the New York Times.

    Once a workplace is unionized it is nearly impossible for employees to decertify a union. As a result, millions of unionized employees work in union shops where they have never had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to remain represented by that union.

    The Employee Rights Act requires that every unionized workplace have a supervised secret ballot election every three years to determine whether employees want to continue to be represented by any incumbent union.

    You can read more about the Employee Rights Act at www.Employee Rights or you can join our new Facebook page.

  • Fox Watching the Hen House

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    Part of the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) Director’s job is to oversee the investigations and audits of union financial records and union officials’ conflicts-of-interest reporting. Obama appointee John Lund should have never been given this position, as performing those duties would be a conflict of interest for Director Lund. Don Loos first broke the story in April.

    The Obama Ethics Executive Order requires appointees to pledge that they will refrain from involvement in matters involving their former employer or clients.  The AFL-CIO and other unions are former clients of John Lund , and these unions remain clients of his former and current employer, the University of Wisconsin School for Workers (Lund is currently on unpaid leave while at DOL).  The Wisconsin School for Workers’ primary mission is to train union officials; the very officials that Lund now purportedly investigates for corruption.

    Now, even more disturbing details have surfaced. Lund is purportedly telling union officials they can bypass Department of Labor investigators and instead work with him personally. And a new U.S. Department of Labor internal document seems to back up the claim of Lund’s flagrant abuse of power. Don Loos explains the dirty details:

    [B]y going to Lund, union bosses can work out deals to avoid jail time or criminal charges.  He can personally advise them how to “clean up” their reports to avoid consequences.  On the other hand, if pesky Department of Labor investigators get involved, then government investigative records will be made, facts will be verified, and falsehoods will be documented.

    Loos also points out that had the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman similarly invited corporate presidents to deal with her directly and ignore SEC investigators, it would be breaking news with investigations to follow. Instead, Big Labor will continue to reap the rewards of Lund’s appointment at the expense of their dues paying members (who the OLMS department is supposed to protect). A thorough investigation should be made into the abuse of power at the Department of Labor, and specifically into Lund’s actions while at the DOL. When the fox watches the hen house, the village always goes hungry.