Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. Big Labor Heaves Partisan Attacks at Labor Secretary Pick

    shutterstock_225535513Union bosses are leading the charge against Labor Secretary-Designate Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants.

    Back in December, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) released the following statement:

    “With the intended nomination of Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor, [President] Trump has once again shown how out-of-touch he is with what working Americans need.”

    More recently, the SEIU filed 33 legal complaints against Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s franchisees in a desperate attempt to stall Puzder’s nomination—despite plans to slash its budget at the expense of the union members it represents. Not to be outdone, the AFL-CIO released a list entitled “9 Reasons Why Trump’s Secretary of Labor Pick Andy Puzder is No Friend of Working People.” The list is filled with character assassinations, even suggesting that Puzder is “misogynistic.”

    But Puzder certainly seems like a friend of his own workers. In a national survey of CKE employees, 93 percent of the company’s female employees say that they feel “safe and respected” in the workplace. Overall, 92 percent of employees agree that CKE is a “great place to work.”

    According to a separate Bloomberg BNA analysis, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s—the two largest CKE brands—have the third lowest wage-and-hour violation rate among 20 major fast food restaurants. And some of these violations involved minor protocol errors like failing to display a Labor Department poster.

    Stonewalling President Trump’s qualified nominees is an interesting way for Big Labor to represent union members, millions of whom voted for—you guessed it—Donald Trump.

    Categories: AFL-CIOSEIU
  2. New Jersey Taxpayers Fund Union One-Percenters

    shutterstock_342713693Big Labor’s hypocrisy is borderline unbearable these days.

    Look no further than the Garden State, where the New Jersey Education Association’s (NJEA) top brass habitually decries income inequality while collecting six-figure salaries. The American Enterprise Insititute’s (AEI) Mike Lilley has more:

    “At an August 8, 2016, protest in Trenton organized by New Jersey’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the public union Communications Workers of America, stood in solidarity with the NJEA and declared that ‘we don’t just stand for our members, but for the 99 percent who demand an economic system that doesn’t give all the benefit to the one percent.’ The assembled NJEA members cheered.”

    There’s only one problem: NJEA leadership falls squarely in the “one percent.” In Lilley’s words:

    “According to NJEA’s 2013 federal tax filings, the 11 highest compensated NJEA employees averaged total compensation of $582,000 for the year. All but one of the 11 are in the top one percent nationwide (the one outlier barely missed at $358,000), and five are in the top one percent in New Jersey. Each of those five had compensation of $658,000 or more and averaged $760,000, placing them even higher among New Jersey’s one-percenters.

     

    To put those earnings in perspective … the average New Jersey teacher earned about $69,000 in 2013, so the 11 NJEA bosses averaged almost 8.5 times what the average teacher made and the top five averaged over 11 times more.”

    NJEA salaries are, of course, funded by taxpayer dollars. That’s called the short end of the stick.

    Categories: NEATeachers UnionsUnion Spending
  3. Union Membership Keeps Tumbling

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    This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on union membership. It’s more bad news for Big Labor, which has seen a half-century decline in its membership rolls.

    In 2016, only 14.6 million employees were union members—a drop to about 10 percent of the workforce. There are 240,000 fewer union employees now than in 2015. While public-sector union membership remained steady at 34.4 percent, only 6.4 percent of private-sector employees are members of a labor union—down from one-third of workers in the 1950s. In states like South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, union membership dips below five percent of the workforce. (Only 1.6 percent of South Carolina employees are union members.)

    Despite spending millions of dollars on campaigns like the “Fight for $15 and a Union,” while receiving unprecedented help from a labor-friendly Obama administration, unions have seen little return on investment in their membership rolls. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), for example, has roughly 34,000 fewer employees now than it did in 2011—the year prior to the start of “$15 and a Union.” (The SEIU’s 2016 filing—expected to be released in March—will likely reinforce the downward trend.) The percentage of employees in food preparation and serving-related occupations who belong to unions dropped from 4.1 to 3.9 percent in a year.

    Employees nationwide are rejecting the union agenda and the left-wing politics that come with it. Since Wisconsin’s passage of Act 10—a state law allowing public employees to forgo union representation—about 60 percent of union members have left the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). WEAC membership dropped from nearly 100,000 employees to just over 36,000 members. A Rasmussen poll conducted before the election shows that only 20 percent of Americans see labor leaders as “do[ing] a good job representing union members.” Even among current or former union members, only 25 percent have a favorable view of union leadership.

    Union bosses need a long, hard look in the mirror.

    Categories: SEIUUnion MathUnion Spending
  4. San Diego Union Boss Faces Damning Allegations

    Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 3.16Meet Mickey Kasparian. In December, Mr. Kasparian—the president of the San Diego-based United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135—was sued by two former female employees. One of them alleged that the union boss pressured her into an ongoing sexual relationship. The other claimed that Kasparian fired her after she was incorrectly suspected of being “on the wrong side of a political issue.” Here’s how The San Diego Union-Tribune put it:

    “In their two separate complaints against United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 and union president Mickey Kasparian, two women described a workplace where the labor leader intimidated employees to the point where they were too scared to complain. Four additional women who did not sue but also worked for the union gave similar descriptions of their time working under Kasparian. The former employees who have sued, Isabel Vasquez and Sandy Naranjo, are being represented by attorney Dan Gilleon…”

    It gets worse:

    “Through the course of [Vasquez’s] employment, Kasparian, who was elected the union’s president in 2003, would occasionally demand oral sex in his office as well as sex in hotel rooms paid for by the union and in his car outside of union events, according to her lawsuit.”

    Not surprisingly, Kasparian vehemently denied the accusations.

    Now there’s more. In a story published over the weekend, the Union-Tribune explains that “four other ex-employees came forward to accuse their former boss of various workplace misdeeds.” The highlights:

    “They claim he regularly yelled at employees and told them who they could not be friends with, and that they were fearful of speaking up lest they be summarily fired. They described Kasparian as ‘paranoid,’ as ‘obsessive,’ and as a ‘dictator.'”

    Dictator Kasparian has some explaining to do.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUFCWViolence
  5. SEIU’s 2017 Resolution: Waste Less Money

    MoneyWith a new administration coming in January, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) thinks the sky is falling.

    The memo comes from the union’s top leadership. In SEIU President Mary Kay Henry’s words: “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.” She also cites a need to “dramatically re-think” the union’s strategy, announcing a 30-percent reduction in the budget by next year and a 10-percent cut effective in the coming weeks.

    (The SEIU’s annual budget exceeds $300 million annually. In recent years, the union has spent over $70 million on the “Fight for $15” campaign to raise the minimum wage.)

    When asked what the memo means moving forward, the SEIU didn’t offer specifics. “As we prepare to fight-back against the forthcoming attacks on working people and our communities under an extremist-run government, we know we must realign our resources and streamline our investments to buttress and broaden our movement to restore economic and democratic opportunity for all families,” spokeswoman Sahar Wali explains.

    That bit of rhetoric about streamlining investments may be an acknowledgement that the Fight for $15 is more costly and less beneficial to the SEIU bottom line than their press flacks would have you believe. (The United Food and Commercial Workers similarly “streamlined” its “OUR Walmart” organization after it failed to gain traction with Walmart employees.)

    In other words, the SEIU is left desperately licking its wounds in 2017.

    Categories: Anti-Corporate CampaignsSEIU
  6. Unions Defend Abusive Teachers

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    Lost in the holiday news cycle was a bombshell USA Today report on sexual abuse in American classrooms. Investigative reporter Steve Reilly helped uncover “more than 100 teachers who lost their licenses but are still working with children or young adults today,” while “government officials at every level stand by and do nothing.” Among them is a New Jersey teacher who molested five elementary school students and an Illinois teacher who forced students to eat food off his crotch.

    Reilly also found that “unions have resisted reforms” to address the problem. One such reform is requiring school districts to report the resignation of an educator who is accused or suspected of misconduct to state education officials. (Nine states have no such laws on the books.)

    While student welfare advocates are fighting to end secretive practices surrounding educator misconduct, others are stymieing transparent reporting of sexual harassment and other wrongdoings. Take Jan Hochadel, president of the American Federation of Teachers’ Connecticut chapter: “This will limit the ability of employees and employers from negotiating separation agreements and could potentially result in a flood of teacher termination hearings.” Wait, what? Protecting students from sexual abuse is wrong because it could lead to a firing of teachers?

    AFT President Randi Weingarten has similarly attacked education reform—including charter schools and tenure adjustments—as the “scapegoat[ing]” of teachers. In Big Labor’s world, fixing America’s schools and helping students is somehow anti-teacher. Here’s to a smarter 2017.

    Categories: AFTTeachers Unions