12 Union Myths Exposed

In our fourth installment of The Cato Journal’s January 2010 “Are unions good for America?” issue, we cover the fourth 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 Four: Prevailing wage laws are good for competition, improve safety and quality, and help train new workers.

Fact: Prevailing wage laws stifle competition, have no effect on job safety and quality, and do nothing to help train new workers. The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, signed into law by President Herbert Hoover, mandates that on federal construction projects, workers be paid the so-called “prevailing wage” for similar local workers. In practice, the wage is set far higher than the actual prevailing wage, closely mirroring union pay scales. This virtually locks out nonunion construction workers from federal contracts.

George C. Leef, director of the Pope Center for

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Overflow Crowd at Organizing Boot Camp

hoffa Overflow Crowd at Organizing Boot CampOver 600 Teamster members gathered in Covina, California for the largest yet in a series of organizing boot camps. Union General President Jim Hoffa was on hand to greet the crowd. “You’re here, you’re enthusiastic and you want to be a part of something,” Hoffa said. “This boot camp is standing room only on a Saturday morning. You have the commitment it takes to organize and a vision for growing the Teamsters Union.”

Director of Organizing Jeff Farmer commented, “while other unions are retrenching, we are aggressively organizing. In these tough economic times, Teamsters are fighting back – and winning! The best defense is a good offense.” For 2009, nearly 1200 Teamsters attended the 22 boot camps, which included organizers from 170 Teamster locals, surpassing Hoffa’s goal of 1000 new organizers last year.

Union Fat Cats

We recently mentioned the amazing growth of union staff salaries. Labor insiders are beginning to hop on the same bandwagon, highlighting the top echelon of the pay scale for scrutiny.

When Labor Notes took a look at data filed under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), they found that between the years of 2000 and 2008, the number of union staff earning more than $100,000 and those earning more than $150,000 a year both tripled!

howMuchIsTooMuch 300 Union Fat Cats

Labor Notes bemoaned the payment of excessive salaries at the expense of funding organizing efforts at a time when union densities have been plummeting. According to their calculations, placing a salary cap of $150,000 on total compensation (many officers double their salaries or better with reimbursable expenses, car allowances, etc.) would provide

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EFCA Update

health care EFCA UpdateA healthcare bill has passed. That is probably the most significant statement to make about the Employee Free Choice Act and labor law change this week. Although Big Labor had a dog in the healthcare fight, the energy consumed diminished progress on Labor’s more pressing objectives. “The attempt to get a health care bill sort of sucked all the oxygen out of the room,” asserts David Zonderman, a labor history professor at North Carolina State University. “I don’t think anyone would disagree — whether you’re in favor of or against [health care reform] — that it has taken up a phenomenal amount of legislative time.”

Now that the healthcare bridge has been crossed, Big Labor is hopeful and business interests are nervous about what may happen next on

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Senator Harkin: Becker Will Get Recess Appointment

FireDog Lake is reporting that, according to Senator Tom Harkin, Craig Becker will receive a recess appointment during the Easter Congressional recess. Not a complete shock, especially given the outcome of the healthcare debate. I imagine things will start hopping over at the NLRB once Chairman Liebman has Mr. Becker on her squad. Can you say “rulemaking?”

FAA Reauthorization Act Spares Fedex

With a 93-0 vote the Senate passed the FAA Reauthorization Act minus the controversial labor amendment that the Teamsters needed to organize FedEx.  Now the bill goes back to the House for reconciliation.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute published a brief that was written by LRI’s Russ Brown and served as a strong reference for lawmakers.

Union Card Tricks Exposed

Here’s another great example of why relying on a union authorization card or membership card as a showing of interest is a terrible idea. An employee of a unionized grocer did not want to join the union. The helpful officials of the UFCW told him to just sign the membership card and write “Beck Decision” at the top so that he wouldn’t have to pay dues. They then promptly asked his employers to withhold dues from his paycheck. When he asked to have his Beck rights observed they then asked his company to fire him. Every employee considering unionization should read this story.

GM Snubs UAW

General Motors opened a new lithium battery plant in Michigan in January. To the surprise of most, the company hired no laid-off UAW members for its work force, but instead hired non-union labor. Quipped blogger Ed Niedermeyer, “If GM can get away with using non-union workers at a crucial plant that’s supposed to represent the firm’s future, things aren’t looking so good for our friends in organized labor.”

Additionally, GM joined with Chrysler and Toyota to outsource Teamster car haulers’ work to non-union trucking firms, replacing the Teamster drivers at Ryder Truck with a non-union company. It will be interesting to see how the weakened UAW will respond.

Soak The Rich To Create More Union Jobs

Trumka and the AFL-CIO propose a novel way to create jobs: tax Wall Street financial transactions and use the revenue to fund “infrastructure” jobs, such as road-paving. These jobs tend to be unionized. In addition, the AFL-CIO plan suggests jobs meet “minimum labor standards,” another way to say “likely to be union” jobs.

Although some financial mavens have agreed that implementing certain transaction taxes may mitigate rampant speculation in the markets, neither the government nor the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agree that taxes are the answer to speculation issues or to job creation.

The AFL-CIO intends to unleash a grass-roots campaign for the jobs program, called “Jobs Now Make Wall Street Pay,” in mid-March. Trumka is hoping to capitalize on voter anger over the government bank bailout scheme.

Although Trumka says his plan would raise $100 billion dollars per year in revenue, Martin Regalia, chief economist for

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INK: March 12, 2010

inkquill22 INK: March 12, 2010 Labor Relations INK

In This Issue:

•   Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson •    EFCA Update •    Health Industry In For Rough Ride •    Soak The Rich To Create More Union Jobs •    SEIU Watch, and more…

Labor Relations Insight from Phil Wilson

Open Government?

dol INK: March 12, 2010Yesterday I got an interesting email from the Department of Labor. The DOL is soliciting ideas for “Open Government.”

“Open government” ranks right up there with “jumbo shrimp” or “civil war” in the oxymoron department. I’d love to see an estimate of the carbon footprint of the Freedom of Information

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