Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. Union Bosses Flex Muscle in Philadelphia—Literally

    angrytrumkaWith the 2016 election heating up, union bosses are busy promoting their agenda. And the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was a perfect opportunity to flex some muscle.

    Take John Dougherty, the business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

    “For Dougherty, it was more like contact, as he hugged guests, leaned in for kisses, and glad-handed a galaxy of local political figures, including Council members Mark Squilla and Bobby Henon at a boisterous party that his politically connected union hosted at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon next to Citizens Bank Park.


    Over the week of the convention, Dougherty estimated, his union spent more than $80,000 on parties, including $20,000 to $25,000 to host the McFadden’s shindig.”

    For AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “flexing some muscle” turned literal. When Arun Gupta, a journalist, began questioning Trumka about free-trade agreements and other hot-button issues important to AFL-CIO membership, the union boss tensed up and eventually swatted Gupta in the face with a cardboard sign. Uninterested in talking policy, Trumka declared, “We’re done. We’re done.” (You can see the video here.)

    Getting physical is in his DNA. Back in the early 1990s—when Trumka was president of the United Mine Workers in West Virginia—the union boss ordered more than 17,000 workers to walk off their jobs. According to Breitbart and the National Right to Work Foundationit gets worse:

    He explicitly told strikers to ‘kick the shit out of’ employees and mine operators resisting union demands. UMW enforcers obliged him. They vandalized homes, fires shots at a mine office, and cut power to another mine, temporarily trapping 93 miners underground. Worse yet, a union goon on July 22, 1993 murdered heavy equipment operator Eddie York, a nonunion contractor, shooting him in the back of the head in his pickup truck as he drove past strikers at a Logan County, West Virginia work site; a bunch of goons then proceeded to pelt York’s would-be rescuers with rocks.


    Rather than apologize, Trumka offered the following rationalization: ‘I’m saying if you strike a match and put your finger in, common sense tells you you’re going to burn your finger.’

    Ladies and gentleman, say hello to America’s “champion for working families.”

    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-CIOViolence
  2. Union Bosses Talk Wage Inequality, Rake in Six-Figure Salaries

    mkhSix of America’s most powerful union bosses appeared at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, decrying income inequality and advocating for reckless minimum-wage hikes.

    AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged voters to “stand up to Wall Street” and “build a new era of shared prosperity.” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), praised the “[fight] for $15 and a union,” while Randi Weingarten—president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—railed against “millionaires [growing]…richer at the expense of the middle class.” Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education President (NEA); Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU), also gave remarks alluding to wage stagnation.

    Yet a closer look at these union bosses’ salaries reveals that they themselves are members of the “one percent” Big Labor so vehemently opposes. All of them can claim total compensation well into the six figures.

    As The Washington Free Beacon reported, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made more than $300,000 in 2015, while AFT President Randi Weingarten made off with almost $500,000 in disbursements. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry lives the most modestly in the group, “only” earning about $296,500 last year.

    Earlier this year, we chronicled the 10 best-paid union bosses in terms of salary and total compensation. Some earned more than $600,000 in total disbursements in 2015. According to the union’s filings with the Department of Labor, Air Line Pilots Association President Timothy Canoll took home $693,534 (Weingarten’s $500,000 payday wasn’t far behind.) By contrast, the average “chief executive” earned $185,850 in 2015, meaning that 153 union presidents enjoyed better compensation than America’s typical CEO.

    Categories: AFL-CIOAFSCMEAFTNEASEIUTeachers UnionsUnion Spending
  3. Labor Secretary Lies About Lineage?

    shutterstock_438467041It’s been a rough few weeks for U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Not only was Perez—the architect of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) job-killing overtime rule—passed over as a vice presidential candidate, but the secretary also sparked a firestorm of controversy.

    Why? Because of his ancestry—or, rather, what he said about it.

    In stump speeches and interviews, Perez routinely mentions that his grandfather was expelled from the Dominican Republic for opposing the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the 1930s. (Trujillo is known for ordering the racially motivated massacre of thousands of Haitians living in the country in 1937.) “I’m so proud of my grandfather for [opposing Trujillo], even though it was against so many forces in place,” claimed Perez in a recent speech.

    But, according to The Wall Street Journal, archival records paint a much different picture. Perez’s grandfather, Rafael Brache, was actually “one of the dictator’s champions during at least the first five years” of his rule. Brache “held a string of high-level offices in the regime, including ambassador to the U.S.” It gets worse:

    “Mr. Brache defended Trujillo’s regime and tried, unsuccessfully, to arrange a meeting between Trujillo and President Franklin Roosevelt. As late as 1935, by which time political assassinations and press suppression had become widely publicized, Mr. Brache expressed ‘great optimism’ about Trujillo, according to a State Department memo.”

    Yet—facts be darned—Perez continually expresses great pride in Brache.

    Talk about bad optics. Allegations of “widespread corruption” in the DOL don’t look much better. Nor do claims that “Perez retaliated against…investigators who reported abuse, fraud and discrimination in the department.”

    The so-called “champion for working families” has a lot of explaining to do.

    Categories: DOL
  4. SEIU Faces Largest Decertification Vote in History

    Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 6.25A group of Minnesota home health care workers have embarked on a campaign to decertify the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota that currently represents them. Launching their decertification effort on Monday, they seek to extricate roughly 27,000 home health care professionals across the state from the SEIU. If successful, it would be the largest decertification vote in history.

    Kris Greene, the leader of the decertification campaign and a veteran of the home care business, voiced what we’ve long known about the politically-powerful union:

    “The SEIU and the changes they have made have not benefited me or my family. I really feel it’s about politics and not for me or my daughter. It’s the political game and I don’t want to be a part of it to be honest. I just want to take care of my daughter in the best way that she needs and all this other stuff is just interference.”

    Greene is right: The SEIU is all about politics. In the last presidential election cycle, the SEIU spent more than $25 million to boost an almost-exclusively Democrat set of candidates and campaign committees. This, despite the fact that almost 40 percent of SEIU members are inclined to vote Republican, according to an estimate from SEIU boss Mary Kay Henry herself.

    Unfortunately for employees like Kris, the union doesn’t make the decertification process an easy one. Data from the NLRB indicates that just one in four decertification attempts are successful. Only half are even put up for a vote. That’s why Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) have reintroduced the Employee Rights Act (ERA), a bill which would prohibit union bosses—well-known for bullying and other pressure tactics—from inhibiting the decertification process. Among other provisions, the ERA would penalize unions who interfere with or discipline employees seeking a decertification vote.

    Categories: Employee Rights ActNLRBSEIUUnion Spending
  5. In-N-Out Learns a Lesson on Taking the “High Road”

    shutterstock_299196185If you’ve ever been to an In-N-Out, you’ll know that the company’s distinct style consists of two colors: Red and white. From the employee uniforms to the paper to-go bags all the way down to the bathroom tiles, everything is similar.

    No longer.

    This month, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled that In-N-Out must cease enforcing its rules relating to wage and labor-associated paraphernalia. Specifically, the California fast-food chain now must allow employees to wear campaign buttons and pins that bear slogans in support of the SEIU’s $70-million “Fight for $15” campaign.

    It’s a startling turn of events for the California burger chain. A few years ago, In-N-Out was trumpeted by politicians and labor advocates as a model employer for its ability to pay a $10.50 starting wage with benefits. At the time, In-N-Out was only too happy to bask in the praise. Flash forward to 2015, when any starting wage less than $15 an hour has been deemed too cheap by the SEIU. With the goalposts moved, In-N-Out was no longer a model employer—it became a target. The SEIU’s Mid-South Organizing Committee made this clear when it lodged an unfair labor practice charge against the company after a manager asked union-aligned employees at an Austin location to remove their “Fight for $15” pins.

    The SEIU’s fast-food campaign is ultimately about boosting its membership rolls, not raising the minimum wage. In-N-Out, which is famously not a franchised company, may be a uniquely attractive target for the union in this regard. In any case, the company’s reversal of fortune with labor advocates is a cautionary tale for other companies who consider throwing their lot in with supporters of a higher minimum wage.

    Categories: Anti-Corporate CampaignsSEIUUnion Spending
  6. Boisterous Teachers Union Silences Conservative Members

    Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 3.16The National Education Association (NEA) is not one to keep its anti-reform agenda quiet. That was made clear at the union’s annual labor conference this week, where Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—who received an early endorsement from the NEA—was recruited to speak. When Clinton praised charter schools—saying that “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”—numerous delegates from the NEA’s representative assembly booed the speaker.

    Apparently, only traditional public schools can “get it right.” It’s the latest example of Big Labor’s staunch opposition to education reform, including what should be uncontroversial policies like merit-based pay and expanded school choice. NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has even equated education reform to “the shameful scapegoating of America’s educators.”

    This resistance to change spills over into politics, as teachers unions are known for donating heavily to Democratic candidates and causes as a way of blocking innovative education policies. The NEA ranked as the top organization funding super PACs during the 2014 election cycle–well ahead of conservative power players including the Republican Governors Association (No. 18), Freedom Partners (No. 55) and American Crossroads (No. 66). (The American Federation of Teachers, the other major teachers union, finished No. 13.) And the overwhelming majority of teacher union money–99 percent–is sent to the Democratic Party and liberal special interest groups opposing education reform.

    But does the overwhelming majority of teachers support such one-sided activism? Even the NEA suggests not. The union’s most recent survey of its members revealed that 55 percent of teachers identify as either “conservative” or “tend to be conservative.”

    Some of them are conscientiously objecting to the NEA’s political proclivity: According to the union’s LM-2 filings with the Department of Labor, 94,080 NEA-affiliated teachers are considered “Agency Fee Payers,” meaning that these teachers are opting out of funding the NEA’s direct political spending budget. Yet countless more (the NEA has roughly three million members) don’t support the union’s liberal politicking but are still pushed to fund it. Worse yet, even conscientious objectors can’t opt out of union spending that is classified as non-political but still ends up in the hands of liberal special interest groups.

    For all of the NEA’s loudmouths, many members remain in quiet opposition to the union’s noisy message.

    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: Center for Union FactsNEAPolitical MoneyTeachers UnionsUnion Spending
  7. Richard Berman Discusses “The Union Way” on Stossel

    Richard Berman, the executive director of the Center for Union Facts, recently appeared on Fox Business’ Stossel to discuss the state of unions today. Among other things, he talked about arcane union rules in the workplace and the importance of the Employee Rights Act (ERA)—America’s most comprehensive labor reform bill. The ERA is now co-sponsored by more than 160 members of Congress.

    You can see the full segment here:

    Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights Act
  8. EXPOSED: Local Teachers Union Protects Abusive Teacher

    shutterstock_157245110What does it take to fire a really bad teacher? Apparently, a lot.

    Project Veritas video revealed two union officials with the Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT)—a New York affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers—brainstorming ways to protect an abusive teacher played by an undercover journalist. The planted (white) teacher, who hypothetically struck a minority student and then took a two-week vacation in Mexico without telling the school, admitted his “wrongdoing” to YFT President Patricia Puleo and YFT Executive Vice President Paul Diamond.

    The response was shocking. “You don’t have to be honest,” explained Diamond, proposing to the plant to instead to “talk in theory.” Puleo suggested calling the two-week Mexico trip “family medical leave time” as “one way of covering it up.”

    It doesn’t end there. When James O’Keefe, the journalist-turned-teacher, inquired about claiming medical leave to cover up the incident, Diamond suggested manufacturing a phony doctor’s note. In his own words, “Do you have a doctor who is a friend of the family?” Puleo was even clearer: “Don’t f***cking tell anybody.”

    You can see the full extent of it here:

    In light of the video, four members of the Yonkers City Council called for the resignations of Puleo and Diamond. And how did the union respond? By standing behind Diamond and telling him to “continue his union work.” (Puleo too will likely be spared of any punishment.) That “union work” doesn’t come cheap: Diamond’s base salary exceeded $132,000 in 2015.

    It’s the same old script. Teachers unions defend even the worst teachers at all costs—often at the expense of students.

    Categories: AFTTeachers UnionsUnion Spending