Tag: Labor

Americans Forced to Work Job Just to Put Food on Table

 

A husband and father to three children, Dan Allen has been receiving a vast array of city, state, and federal unemployment benefits since being furloughed from his job when the COVID-19 crisis struck last March. Nevertheless, Mr. Allen and millions of Americans just like him are learning the hard way that government largesse just isn’t enough. Shortly after the initial lockdown last spring, Allen decided to swallow his pride and return to work.

“I’m not proud of it. But my wife and I sat down and crunched the numbers and there was no way around it: I was going to have to begin earning again,” he said.

Policymakers in Washington are struggling to deal with a problem that has perplexed public officials since the New Deal: how to keep people from relying on work to support themselves?

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Wells King is the Research Director for American Compass, an organization that seeks to push labor-friendly policies in the conservative movement. With 40 percent of union voters going for Donald Trump in the 2020 election, it is clear that a fresh look at unions and workers’ power is in order. Sam Jacobs and Mr. King […]

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Carol Roth goes solo to cover her biggest post-election concerns, regardless on who wins, encompassing the size of government, spending, the Fed, the state of small business and more.

You can connect with Carol on Twitter @CarolJSRoth.

The Decline of Unions Is Good News

 

The United States Department of Labor released a report last week that chronicled the continued decline of the American labor movement in 2019. In our boom economy, more than 2.1 million new jobs were added to the market last year, but the number of unionized workers fell by 170,000. The percentage of union workers, both public and private, fell from 10.5 percent to 10.3 percent, or roughly 14.6 million workers out of 141.7 million. The percentage of unionized workers dipped even lower in the private sector, from about 20 percent in 1983 to 6.2 percent of workers in 2019, a far cry from the 35 percent union membership high mark last seen in 1954. Decline was lower in the public sector, where just over one-third of workers are union members, as a modest increase in state government employees partially offset somewhat larger declines in federal and local unionized workers.

This continued trend has elicited howls of protest from union supporters who, of course, want to see an increase in union membership. It has also led several Democratic presidential candidates to make calls to reconfigure labor law. Bernie Sanders wants to double union membership and give federal workers the right to strike, as well as ban at-will contracts of employment, so that any dismissal could be subject to litigation under a “for cause” standard. Not to be outdone, Elizabeth Warren wants to make it illegal for firms to hire permanent replacements for striking workers. They are joined by Pete Buttigieg in demanding a change in federal labor law so that states may no longer pass right-to-work laws that insulate workers from the requirement to pay union dues in unionized firms. All of these new devices are proven job killers.

The arguments in favor of unions are also coming from some unexpected sources in academia, where a conservative case has been put forward on the ground that an increase in union membership is needed to combat job insecurity and economic inequality.

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Here in Chicago amid the teachers’ strike, it’s easy to complain about the influence of public sector unions on the city and our daily lives. Hell, I just did so this week (and my thoughts have only calcified). But since I and, I assume, most on this site are true individualists at heart, it’s worth […]

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Two Pyrrhic Union Victories

 

The Chicago Teachers Union strike and the nationwide strike at General Motors are two troublesome signs of our nation’s increasing political instability. The losses suffered by all parties to these disputes will not be recouped going forward, no matter what the outcome. The difficulty here does not stem from the strategies adopted on either side of the bargaining table; it is that the current structure of management-labor relations requires the bargaining table at all. That “table” is symbolic of the monopoly power, protected by statute, that unions can exert on management in both the private and public sectors. Sadly, the resulting losses are borne not only by the immediate participants of these struggles, but also by students, parents, suppliers, coworkers, taxpayers, citizens, and so on. Their dislocations, though, are blithely dismissed by the unions as “incidental” damage.

The precise issues in most labor strikes vary in their particulars, but they all share several features in common. In the CPS strike, the teachers insist that they are out on strike not just for themselves, but for their students and coworkers. As Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has stated, “It’s about making the sacrifice to help create welcoming and safe environments for our kids and not taking ‘no’ for an answer.” But her protestations aside, the demands always look the same: salaries must be higher, class sizes must be reduced, and more nurses, social workers, and other staff must be hired. Questions of excessive job security and low public-school performance are never mentioned.

The Chicago Public Schools, for its part, is actually sympathetic to the teachers when it writes, “To honor the hard work and dedication of our teachers, CPS offers to raise their salaries by 16% or nearly $19,000. In five years, the average teacher will make nearly $100,000.” This covers a 42-week contract that the City, with its broken budgets and declining population, is ill-equipped to pay.

The Perils of Compulsory Labor Arbitration

 

The Supreme Court currently has before it a petition for certiorari in Gerawan Farming Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), which arises from a six-year labor dispute between Gerawan and the United Farm Workers (UFW). The petition asks the Court to invalidate the California ALRB’s Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation process (MMC), which forced a three-year contract on Gerawan Farming against its will, and over the objections of hundreds of Gerawan employees.

The case has added urgency because compulsory arbitration is likely to return to the national stage in lead up to the 2020 election. Progressive Democrats are sure to push yet again to amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by reintroducing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)—an oxymoron. That bill seeks to realign the balance of power among unions, workers, and employers by imposing compulsory government arbitration for first-time union contracts upon initial organization. Such mandatory arbitration strips employers of the key rights they now enjoy under the NLRA, which requires them to bargain in good faith with unions that win a representation election, but states explicitly that this obligation “does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.” Under current law, the union keeps the right to strike, and the employer keeps the right to lock out union members if they cannot resolve their differences. However, the NLRA does not apply to agricultural workers, which left a space for California to pass in 1975 its own Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), closely patterned on the NLRA. Powerful progressive political forces in California worked to pass the state’s MMC process in 2002.

Gerawan’s petition challenges MMC on the grounds that its coercive action denies Gerawan equal protection of the laws and works a taking of its property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The claims here bear a close resemblance to the abuses of union power that the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down on First Amendment grounds in Janus v. AFSCME. An examination of the record shows why that same healthy skepticism towards the state’s actions in that case should apply here.

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“Let us each Labor day, hold a congress and formulate propositions for the amelioration of the people. Send them to your Representatives with your earnest, intelligent indorsement [sic], and the laws will be changed.” Rep. Lawrence McGann, D-IL, Labor Day 1894 Most of the world celebrates labor on May 1st, designated International Worker’s Day to […]

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New Hampshire state employees who don’t wish to join a union will save more than $1 million a year in compulsory union fees following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling in Janus vs. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, according to data obtained by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy through a […]

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Richard Epstein looks at Janus v. AFSCME, a Supreme Court case out of Illinois with the potential to dramatically reduce the power of public sector unions.

Labor Lessons from Canton

 

In the end, it was a landslide. The United Auto Workers (UAW) pulled out all the stops to unionize a Nissan Motors automobile assembly plant in Canton, MS. Yet after a bitter campaign, it lost convincingly, by a 62-to-38 percent margin, with 2,244 employees voting against and 1,307 for unionization. Prior to the vote, the UAW had rolled out the heavy artillery, enlisting the support of Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, as well as a raft of left-leaning Hollywood stars and a large cadre of skilled union organizers. Their expensive and well-orchestrated campaign hammered home this familiar union theme: workers will only receive fair treatment on the job if they join forces to resist management, which seeks to wring every last cent out of its captive workers.

The UAW hoped that success in Canton would give it an entry point in the union-resistant American South, where it might augment its membership rolls, which have plunged from about 1,528,000 workers in 1980 to about 409,000 workers in 2015. And if the UAW could make a comeback, perhaps other unions could rebound as well and reverse the long-term trend: Union membership in all market sectors, public and private, has dropped from about 35 percent of the work force in 1954 to about 11 percent today—all with no major change in the statutory framework governing labor relations.

Ultimately, the UAW in Canton was outgunned by two forces. The first was the Nissan management team, which pressed the workers hard on a simple theme: why rock the boat when the wages and working conditions at the Canton Nissan plant are far better than anything else available to the employees?

Believing in Free Markets and Exploitation of Labor: A Conundrum

 

I am an adjunct history professor. I love my job. I love teaching. I love students. I love engaging with the material I try to help students understand. I have never minded the paltry sums I am paid because I also believe strongly in free markets and understand the invisible hand passes out checks to labor.

However, I’m starting to reconsider this position.

Richard Epstein examines efforts by the new Republican Congress to restrict the power of federal regulators, and explains the history of how unelected administrators came to hold so much political power.

Victor Davis Hanson examines the constituent parts of Donald Trump’s political beliefs and attempts to deduce the animating principles of Trumpism.

Obama’s Labor Market Mischief

 
Labor Thomas Perez
President Obama with Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and its subsequent amendments (FLSA), Congress has delegated to the President the power to set overtime regulations for all public and private employees throughout the United States. On March 13, 2016, President Obama directed Thomas E. Perez, head of the Department of Labor (DOL), to “modernize and streamline the existing overtime regulations for executive, administrative, and professional employees,” which, in his view, “have not kept up with our modern economy.” The Department of Labor conducted exhaustive hearings on the matter, during which it received comments from close to 300,000 individuals and organizations.

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The source of much of the angst of this election season is the perceived waning work prospects of the average American. This may have reached a critical mass now, but it is the culmination of trends long in the making. The purpose of this post is to review them, and how they have created a […]

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The Proper Relationship Between Government and Business

 

imageBack when I was moonlighting as a Pinkerton security guard in 1976 or 1977, there was some labor trouble at the manufacturing plant where I worked. I don’t recall the exact order in which things happened, but the workers replaced the UAW with the Teamsters in an acrimonious process, and a Teamsters guy came to help them conduct negotiations for a new contract.

One night, when things had been getting heated, my supervisor stopped by at the beginning of my shift and told me what had happened during the day. Congressman Rick Nolan, a leftwing Democrat, had made an appearance at the plant to insert himself into the process. The plant manager accosted him, asking “What the hell are you doing here?” and ordered him off the property.

I had considerable sympathy with the plant workers then and now — and this plant manager didn’t particularly like me — but I think that this encounter demonstrated the proper relationship between government and business. I thought about it when President Obama met with social media companies, strong-arming them to help in the fight against terrorism, which I presume is what has led to things like Twitter’s increased belligerence in shadow-banning of conservatives. A more proper relationship between business and government would have had these companies ordering the president off their property, so to speak.

Rejoice! The Storm Troopers of Leftism Are Being Crushed!

 

TAA_Rally_in_the_Capitol,_2012_(6879367837)This is the second in a series on the importance and durability of conservative successes since Reagan took office and since Obama lost his supermajority; we do win battles and they can stay won.

Though FDR created the modern Democratic Party as a diverse array of government entities and sales pitches to attract various identity groups, its heart was legally-empowered unions. In what might be considered the first individual mandate, Americans under a pro-union government would be forced to pay dues to a third party who would spend it, in part, on getting Democrats elected. There’s a raft of ways in which that system was enhanced; since 1931, for instance, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws have meant that government had to overpay for contracts, with much of the surplus going to unions, who were also helped by the additional red tape. Because people rarely give much of their own free will, declared union spending on the 2012 cycle topped $1.7 billion, while the Obama campaign ($0.5 billion), DNC ($0.3 billion), and declared outside spending on the Presidential race ($0.1 billion) didn’t compare.

But it’s more than money. Unions are the Democrats’ answer for why America is great. All the wonderful changes of the twentieth century, the incredible wealth enjoyed by our middle class, the massively superior quality of life we have over our parents … all these are explained, in their telling, by unions. The roll free markets serve in conservative mythology (and in reality) are credited to unions in the Left’s narrative. They can also point to unions as a source for social capital and the guarantors of individual rights, making them not merely the purported engine of economic growth, but also the Left’s church.

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I saw this article on Facebook today. I am an adjunct professor. I find it pretty easy to find adjunct teaching jobs. Getting a full-time teaching job, however, seems like a distant dream. Anyone familiar with colleges and universities is familiar with “adjunctification,” the shift away from full-time professors to part-time adjuncts. The standard line on […]

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