Shoe On The Other Foot

Apparently, a blinding flash of the obvious can strike labor officials who suddenly find themselves having to balance state or municipal budgets. Stephen Sweeney, president of the New Jersey State Senate and a top official in New Jersey’s ironworkers union, argued that the state can no longer afford the benefits won over the years by public sector unions. “At some point, you reach the limit of your ability to pay,” he said.

Similarly, Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski is demanding wage concessions from the state employees, whose union he used to represent as its lawyer. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is demanding $100 million in union concessions (he’s a former teachers’ union organizer), and in New York, Governor David Paterson says that if public sector unions don’t agree to a pay freeze and to re-open contracts, large-scale layoffs are on the way (he is a union ally whose

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UFCW Loses Another One

Although Berkeley is known as a union-friendly town, 200 former union members have left the fold, as employees at Berkeley Bowl booted the United Food and Commercial Workers.

One of the employees of the gourmet grocery store said he voted to decertify the union because they didn’t get what they paid for with their $50 per month of dues. He cited one example under the union contract, with workers having to wait three years to get health and dental benefits. “Where my dad works, he got benefits after six months,” he said. “Why pay extra money for bad negotiations?”

Good point!

SEIU Update: Gunfight At The OK Corral

In what will be the largest union representation election since the 1940s, health care 45,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente may soon enter the ballot box. If the NLRB agrees with the petition, these SEIU members will be offered the opportunity to switch to the NUHW. The election (barring further blocking charges) could occur sometime after August.

The NUHW has done yeoman’s work to bring this election to reality, as it required a minimum of 13,500 signatures from 350 different work locations in one of the largest states in the country. By all accounts, their efforts far exceeded the minimum.

The SEIU ethics track record received another ding when it was discovered that Patrick Gaspard, the former SEIU Local 1199 political director turned Obama political director, failed to disclose a $40,000 payout by SEIU on government disclosure

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Health Care Industry Taking Center Stage

The 12,000 Minnesota nurses that staged a one-day strike several weeks ago threatened again to launch an open-ended strike, endangering patients across the state. The Minnesota Nurses Association (part of the new National Nurses United) settled the dispute, choosing to retain pension benefits in exchange for giving up their “rallying cry” issue of standardized staffing ratios. (Seems a bit self-serving, doesn’t it?)

This recent lead story is just the tip of a growing iceberg. In recent weeks,

Nurses rejected a contract at Washington Hospital Center in D.C., and are preparing a strike vote.

Negotiations (and rhetoric) escalated between SEIU Local 49 and McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Springfield, OR.

Seven unions and the Red Cross squared off with a round of strikes and lock-outs across

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12 Union Myths Exposed

In our eleventh installment of The Cato Journal’s January 2010 “Are unions good for America?” issue, we cover the eleventh myth.

Here is The Homeland Stupidity web site’s synopsis of this myth, and a link to each of the 12 Cato articles.

Myth Number Eleven: Paying workers higher wages will reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy.

Fact: The “high-wage doctrine” increases unemployment and drags down the economy. This doctrine originated with a 1921 report that Hoover commissioned while he was Secretary of Commerce dealing with what was, in retrospect, a minor recession. In addition to recommending higher wages, the report also said that government spending (now known as the stimulus package) can help the country recover from a recession. Neither is true, of course, and the report might have been completely forgotten had Hoover not become President. He

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See No Evil, Hear No Evil

The collaborative effort of the current administration and Big Labor to reduce scrutiny on labor mischief seems to be working! You may have noticed that our “Sticky Fingers” section at the end of each newsletter has been much shorter than in the past. According to the National Legal Policy Center (from whom we secure our information for that section), the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) hasn’t updated its website in over 3 months.

The Solis DOL has relaxed reporting requirements – making fraud more difficult to detect – and shifted budget allocations away from monitoring labor corruption.

EFCA Update

A couple of judges weighed in on behalf of Big Labor the last couple of weeks. First, a federal Judge granted summary judgment in the ATA/Chamber of Commerce suit against the National Mediation Board to stop the proposed voting rule change, effectively allowing the NMB to reverse the voting rules for RLA elections away from they’ve been conducted for 75years.

In Arizona, a state judge squashed that state’s attempt to mandate secret ballots in all union elections by blocking a proposition that would have allowed Arizona voters to add such an amendment to the Arizona constitution.

The House of Representatives attempted a huge end run of state sovereignty by attaching a union-friendly bill to a piece of appropriations

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SEIU Using Change To Win For Its Dirt!

Change to Win was created several years ago to compete with the AFL-CIO, in hopes of rejuvenating the organized labor movement. Today it seems like it is just a figure head that is shrinking year after year. In fact, the Carpenters Union has left Change to Win and returned to the AFL-CIO. Lately, the SEIU is using the labor group Change to Win as a buffer between them and ACORN when it comes to contributions. The SEIU does not want to put its “good name” through the mud by contributing directly to the controversial ACORN affiliates. Glenn Spencer, the executive director of the Workforce Freedom Initiative with the Chamber of Commerce said it best, “SEIU views Change to Win as a useful mouthpiece and it can use it as a pathway to funnel money to shady groups like ACORN without putting its own name on the check.” I bet

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Options to Union-Made Beer

Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder (by Mick Smith via Flickr)

Ahh, independence day is almost here. Fireworks. Grilling. And of course, beer.

As everyone prepares for 4th of July weekend, you may want to brush up on your list of union made beer. We aren’t suggesting a boycott or anything, but please consider your favorite local breweries or (if you are the kind of person who thinks ahead about this kind of stuff) your local home brew shop as you consider your beverage choices for the weekend. We’re already thirsty.

Do you have any favorite “union-free” beer (ah, heck, we don’t discriminate, if your favorite beer is union-made that’s cool too)? Let us know in the comments. Happy 4th of July.

“Claims About Patient Care Were Bullsh*t”

MedCity News caught up with Phil again to respond to the settlement the Minnesota nurses made with area hospitals.

“If you look at it at face value, it looks like the hospitals got what they wanted and the union didn’t really want to go on strike,” said Phil Wilson during the interview. It has been alleged that the new National Nurses United union pressured the Minnesota affiliate into the strike to “prove” it’s value to members, and this agreement may indicate there is some truth to the charge.

Phil was also quoted to close the article,

“The only conclusion you can draw is that the claims about patient care were bullsh*t,” said Wilson of the Labor Relations Institute. “It was a bargaining ploy using patients as the pawn.”

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