Tag: Labor

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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Indigo Labor Day

 

shutterstock_87947731The front-page headline caught my attention: “Tide may be turning for working-class Americans.” Really? We just learned on Friday that a record 94 million Americans are not participating in the labor force. How can this be good news seven years after the Great Recession? Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt explains why we are in fact on the verge of Morning in America, Obama-style:

On the surface, this Labor Day holiday caps another dark year for U.S. unions and many working-class Americans.

Union membership in the private sector is 6.6 percent; it was 16.8 percent 30 years ago. Union members account for 35.7 percent of public sector workers, down slightly from a decade earlier.

The Left vs. the Sharing Economy: Where Are the Atari Democrats of Today?

 

Atari-2600-Wikimedia-commons-500x293Vox’s Timothy Lee looks at how Republicans and Democrats view the emerging sharing economy. Republicans — at least nationally — seem almost uniformly positive. They see Uber, for instance, as a feisty, innovative startup vs. regulators and the cronyist taxicab cartel. But Democrats are sort of split. Lee:

Some liberals dislike Uber on ideological grounds, but others — especially in the media, politics, and technology centers of New York, Washington, and San Francisco — are regular Uber customers. On one side of this debate are old-school liberals with strong ties to the labor movement and urban political machines. For them, Uber is a conventional story about worker and consumer rights. Labor unions believe Uber is flouting the law by classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees. And they would love to unionize Uber’s fast-growing workforce.

More broadly, conventional liberals are suspicious of claims that deregulation and innovation will benefit workers and consumers in the long run. They view Uber’s “gig economy” as part of a broader trend toward declining worker power. They blame decades of deregulation — under both Republicans and centrist Democrats like Bill Clinton — for this trend, and believe stricter regulation of Uber could be part of a larger trend toward stricter regulation of labor markets more generally. In his campaign against Uber this week, Bill de Blasio primarily focused on congestion concerns, but he also mentioned workers’ rights as a major concern.

The Game Theory Argument for Fast-Track Trade Authority

 

While public debate rages over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the real issue before Congress right now is merely whether or not President Obama should be granted fast-track authority, which allows him to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the United States and then present it to the Congress for a straight up-or-down vote with no amendments allowed. As I note in my new piece for Defining Ideas at the Hoover Institution, there’s a very strong game theory rationale for giving the president this ability:

… [F]ast-track is a good solution to a complex two-stage bargaining game. At stage one, the President and his trading partners are well aware of the prospect that the Congress could turn down a trade treaty if it is perceived, no questions asked, to put the United States in a worse position. So Congress will agree to a treaty that is better than the status quo ante for the U.S., but not so one-sided that it will drive our potential trading partners away. Hence, a stage one agreement will leave everyone better off.

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Generations ago, many women sought professional freedom equal to that of men. They didn’t seek to mandate that all women must work outside the home. They just wanted the option.  But then a strange thing happened. The market adjusted to this influx of female professionals by raising the average family’s cost of living. Preview Open

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Bruce Rauner and the Winds of Change

 

This past November, Bruce Rauner was the only Republican candidate who was able to defeat a sitting Democratic governor, Pat Quinn. He did so in Illinois, a state that has long been subject to an excess of one-party rule, and one where the  electorate was obviously weary of the dismal economic performance of the state, constantly illustrated in painful detail by the state’s free-market gadfly, Illinois Policy.

One quick read of Rauner’s inaugural State of the State speech makes it clear that elections have consequences; in this instance, beneficial ones. Rauner’s election breaks the Democratic monopoly over Illinois government. In the face of a Rauner veto, the Illinois Legislature cannot continue to pile on additional laws that hamper growth and development in the state, nor can it advance new taxes and restrictive labor legislation. But stopping new legislation does not roll back the many current laws on the book that continue to drive productive businesses and workers to other states (especially Illinois’ neighbors, where job opportunities are greater and tax levels are lower). Modern federalism ensures that the exercise of these exit rights help discipline wayward state governments. Illinois is learning that lesson the hard way.

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I was talking today with someone who works for a major oil corporation here in Houston. She was telling me that her company recently invited many of its employees to a presentation in which differences between generations were discussed. The generations identified in the study were Matures (65+), Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials (sometimes […]

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How should a failing company manage employee compensation? There is a common expectation that employees should share a company’s success by way of periodic increases to compensation. But, if so, shouldn’t employees also share by degrees in their company’s struggles? Do our laws allow such fluidity of compensation? It has recently been reported that the […]

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Do you take pride in your work? I mean not only your occupation but all of your labors, around the home and beyond it.  From what does that pride stem? Is it the effort or a successful result? Do you give yourself “an A for effort” even if the endeavor fails? Perhaps your answer depends […]

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Pro-Labor Media Group Resists Own Staff’s Unionization — Jon Gabriel

 

Media Matters for America is quick to mock and even invent hypocrisy by conservatives. For some reason, they are less vocal about the myriad controversies engulfing their side. Especially when their own group is directly involved.

The Democrat-loving purple shirts of the Service Employees International Union wants to unionize the far-left staff of MMFA. Should be a slam dunk, right? But it seems that David Brock, Eric Boehlert, et al., are not so keen on living out their pro-labor ideology:

The Dire Consequences of the Northwestern Football Decision

 

It is commonly supposed that the recent decision by National Labor Relations Board Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr — allowing college football players at Northwestern University to unionize — may not matter all that much, for the Northwestern players can always decline Ohr’s invitation, even if the National Labor Relations Board decides to uphold his rather novel decision.

That benign assumption is mistaken. The key point  is that Ohr’s decision basically held that the common law definition of employment —whereby one person receives a wage in exchange for taking the direction of another — is sufficiently broad that the Northwestern dispute becomes a footnote in a larger institutional struggle. I have already explained why I think that Ohr’s decision represents a frightful error here and here. But there is much more to worry about.