Tag: unions

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Second City Cop posted a link to this video today (I am very grateful for the tip on that blog!). It’s a long one but it’s worth it. I’d wondered if we would get to hear anything beyond the woke sniping at law enforcement because there is a story to be told about the chaos […]

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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.

I’m an Educator Who Disagrees with Teacher Walkouts

 

This is a post from my blog that I wrote back in 2018 when the “Red for Ed” frenzy, to increase Arizona’s education funding, was happening.

I’m an educator with a different perspective from what you probably see in the media regarding Red for Ed protests. I worked in public schools for 12 years, as an afterschool provider, teacher, administrator and more. I’ve taught in three states and don’t claim to be an expert in everything education, but I have my experiences, and don’t agree with what’s happening. Let me explain.

1. We chose to be teachers and knew it didn’t pay much. Most of us don’t pick this field for the money, but we are accountable for our choices. You can easily research pay scales, benefits, etc. for districts and states. We do our searching, make our choice and sign the contract. I had a professor spend an entire class explaining how he supported his family on a meager teacher’s salary, with sacrifices, but he made it work, and encouraged us to really ponder this before moving on in the program.

Labor unions have dramatically declined as a percentage of the American workforce over the last 30 years. A new proposal from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders seeks to double union ranks, City Journal senior editor Steven Malanga reports, which would mean adding nearly 15 million new members.

Malanga joins associate editor Seth Barron to discuss Senator Sanders’s proposal, which would put new restraints on employers, limit workers’ rights to opt-out of union membership, and make other changes to U.S. labor law. The Sanders plan would also give federal workers the right to strike and force states to allow government workers to unionize.

Oren Cass joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss his new book, The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America.

The American worker is in crisis. Wages have stagnated for more than a generation, and reliance on welfare programs has surged. Life expectancy is falling as substance abuse and obesity rates climb. Work and its future has become a central topic for City Journal: in 2017, the magazine published its special issue, The Shape of Work to Come.

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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In my USA Today column for Labor Day weekend, I recommend that public-sector unions drop the political activism and focus on providing their members with great service at a great price. You know, like every other organization in a competitive marketplace has to do.  Public-sector union bosses haven’t seemed to notice that by ending agency […]

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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 reacts to the recent Supreme Court decision in Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis, defending the right of employers to use arbitration and avoid class action lawsuits.

The Teachers Are Revolting

 

Last week, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin gave each Oklahoma public school teacher a massive 15 to 18 percent pay raise funded by the largest tax increase in state history. To show their appreciation, teachers went on strike demanding even more money. Today, 200 Oklahoma school districts are shut down, with students going uneducated and parents scrambling for daycare.

Similar protests have been taking place in Kentucky, Arizona, and West Virginia. What do all these states have in common? Republicans hold the governorship and both legislative chambers. But it’s totally non-partisan and for the children … or something.

West Virginia teachers kicked off the protests with a two-week strike last month. The state government gave them a 5 percent raise to get them back to work.

Richard Epstein explains how public pensions came to be a ticking time bomb for states and cities throughout the U.S., what the financial ramifications are, and why the road to reform is so perilous.

Pension Abuse in California

 

Mark Janus, the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME.

One of the main themes in the blockbuster case of Janus v. AFSCME—currently before the United States Supreme Court—is the risk of having unions sit on both sides of the table in public-sector contract negotiations. Nowhere is that risk more pronounced than in California, where the perverse and pervasive effects of union political influence are on display in Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System, now before the California Supreme Court. Between 2009 and 2013, California law allowed state and local employees with over five years of service to purchase with their own funds up to five years of “fictional years of retirement service credits”—commonly called “airtime”—that they could then add to their years of actual service in order to increase the value of their pensions at retirement.

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With the recent derailment in the news, and with it looking increasingly like operator error, this is as good as time as any to discuss the peculiarities of the rail labor unions.  Regardless of whether self-driving cars are ever safe enough, self-driving trains operate under more predictable constraints and limitations, which should make the implementation […]

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Recorded on July 24, 2017
With schools in session across the country, Hoover senior fellow Paul Peterson details this year’s survey of American education by Education Next. Among the more notable results: teachers are wary of their colleagues’ performance; parents are increasingly dissatisfied with charter schools.

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Andy Puzder on Withdrawing as Labor Secretary

 

Andy PuzAndy Puzder joined us at Freedom Fest to discuss the minimum wage, small business regulations, his withdrawal from his Labor Secretary nomination, the poignant discussion he had with Mike Pence, and his last marketing effort at Carl’s Jr., creating possibly one of the greatest commercials in modern times (video below).

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?

Should a Policy’s Racist History Matter?

 

shutterstock_54864934It’s funny. Left-wing opponents of school choice frequently carp about the fact that some segregationists thought school vouchers would be a swell way to avoid sending their kids to school with blacks, as though that’s a reason to oppose them today, even though research shows that school vouchers foster racial integration and their primary beneficiaries tend to be black and brown kids.

If so, why isn’t the extremely racist history of the minimum wage also relevant?

Progressives originally designed the minimum wage to keep racial minorities out of work. As Princeton Professor Thomas C. Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era, detailed in the LA Times, progressives in the early 20th century proposed the minimum wage as a solution to the supposed problem of “race suicide,” the idea that immigrants and racial minorities were working for cheap wages, thereby undercutting the wages of American-born whites, who in turn had fewer children rather than lower their standard of living. (You hear echoes of this in the modern alt-right’s complaints about “white genocide.”) In the long run, these eugenics-enamored progressives feared that “inferior races” would “outbreed and displace their white Anglo-Saxon betters.”