Tag: Labor

Walker Wins Again

Another setback for the unions:

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.

The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite massive protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.

There are a huge number of related lawsuits involved in this, including the state court ruling that the law couldn’t be applied to schools and local government employees. I suspect, at some point, this will come under one umbrella before SCOTUS.

The Right to Work

(I had planned this post for Friday but delayed it for obvious reasons. I don’t expect anyone wants to discuss Right to Work at the moment, but I’ll get it out my queue. A post on Sandy Hook is coming, hopefully tomorrow night.)

I had a few thoughts on the “Right to Work” debate that is raging (literally) in Michigan and other states. While I am generally supportive of what’s going on, I think it needs to be unpacked a bit because it’s not clear that “right to work” is, in and of itself, a good thing.

The argument against RTW is explained by Gary Chartier in a must-read. Essentially, right to work interferes with the right of contract. Right to work doesn’t just open up closed shops; it forbids them.

If employers choose to conclude union-shop contracts with unions, what gives the Indiana legislature the right to interfere?

Employers own the wages they will pay and the sites where work will be performed under such contracts. So it’s their right to dispense the wages and make the sites available specifically to union members, just as it’s their right, more generally, to trade with anyone they choose.

When a legislature interferes with voluntary employment contracts, it infringes people’s freedom to bargain with their own labor and possessions. Treating this kind of interference as acceptable means licensing arbitrary interventions into the market by politicians, who are ill-equipped to second-guess the decisions made by the real people making work agreements with one another.

Ezra Klein makes related points:

The term “right-to-work law” is a triumph of framing. Such laws do not, in fact, give you the “right to work.” They give you the right to refuse to pay union dues when you work for a union shop, even though you get the wages the union bargained for, and the benefits the union bargained for, and the grievance process the union bargained for.

And “union dues” isn’t even the right term here. In Michigan, for instance, you can work in a union shop without joining the union and paying full union dues. The costs of the union’s political activities, its membership events, and more are removed from your dues. You pay a lower fee, because you’re just paying, at least in theory, the cost of the union’s representation activities.

If an employer required an employee to be at work at 9 am, we would think that was reasonable. If an employer required an employee to dress appropriately, we would think that was reasonable. Let’s put aside the dubious proposition that am employer necessarily wants a closed shop. Can that not be part of the agreement they make with a union?

(For the moment, we’re discussing private unions. Public employee unions are an entirely different kettle of newspaper-wrapped fish.)

J. D. Tucille at Reason goes further, pointing out that this is, in essence, a libertarian argument:

The ideal role for the government in business-labor relations is to stay the hell out of it and let the parties work things out themselves. I may prefer one outcome or another, but I don’t have the right to enforce it by law, and that’s what right-to-work legislation does.

This argument sounds reasonable until you account for the context — and Tucille did the next day. I’ll quote Chartier again:

Defenders of right-to-work laws also sometimes point to the background labor-law framework in the United States as a justification for these laws. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and its successors established a system that requires an employer to bargain with a union enjoying majority support in a given workplace. Right-to-work proponents argue that the laws they favor only help to level the playing field created by government action—by reining in special privileges granted to unions under existing labor law.

Exactly. The NLRA has given states two choices: either they are a closed-shop union state or they are an open shop right-to-work state. There is no in-between. If you’re in a non-RTW state, you have to close your shop and deal with the union. If you’re in a RTW-state, you still have to deal with the union but you have to maintain an open shop.

Frankly, these “right to contract” arguments sounds a bid odd coming from the pro-union left who have supported card check and kept silent while unions have attempted to forcibly rope unrelated workers into the union. But I’ll bite. Here’s my suggestion. We overhaul the NLRA to give both employers and unions the right to contract as they see fit. If a union demands a closed shop and their employer is willing to give them one, that’s fine. But other choices have to be available.

Funny, how the right to contract suddenly disappears when that’s on the table.

If you needed more proof that unions today are evil

Check out the response of the angry union bosses that lost a vote on a bill that basically did nothing more than give union members the option to choose if they wanted to pay dues to organizations that then used practically all these funds to have the leadership live like aristocracy while lavishing democrats politician’s campaigns with cash, in return for tyrannical power: “We’ll Be At Your Daughter’s Soccer Game!:

LANSING — A speaker at a union protest against right-to-work legislation said if Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill he would get “no rest” and that protesters would be at his “daughter’s soccer game.” (Video below).

The Rev. Charles Williams II made the comments Tuesday to loud cheers before a group of thousands of union workers. After his promises to harass Gov. Snyder, he introduced Rep. Richard Hammel, D-Mt. Morris Township, and House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills. Williams is a Detroit-area pastor and left-wing activist.

Gov. Snyder later that day signed a bill into law
making Michigan a right-to-work state. One of his daughters is a 16-year-old high school student.

“Just know one thing, Rick Snyder: You sign that bill, you won’t get no rest,” Williams said. “We’ll meet you on Geddes Road. We’ll be at your daughter’s soccer game. We’ll visit you at your church. We’ll be at your office.

This shit is Machiavellian in the evil it represents. Please spare me the bullshit about how unions care about the workers. All the right –to-work legislation did was make union dues optional. Basically the union bosses and their shills on the left are right now blatantly telling the horrendously callous lie that the bill prevents people from unionizing to capitalize on fear and anger from misinformed fools.

The big thing that the unions and their democrat buddies are fighting isn’t the ability for people’s to unionize, that has not been affected in any way by this legislation, but the loss of their ability to collect union dues through the use of government sanctioned force. What they object to is that union members now have a choice to pay dues, and that they will have to earn the dues. Gone are the easy days of living like kings, with high five and often six figure salaries for the connected, funneling most of the dues they collected to democrat war coffers, with the understanding that that allegiance will buy them legal protection and power to keep doing whatever they wanted, and their strangling grip on everyone’s throat. And they are furious about it. So hence the mafia tactics.

Scumbags I tell you. I am sure they will smile, wink and tell you that what they mean is they will be there “protesting”, but only a fool will believe this was not an attempt at intimidation by making a veiled threat of physical violence. Don Corleone would be proud. These people make it easy for those of us that now believe that unions are causing more harm than they ever did good to make that case.

Pay Day

Bloomberg today has an astounding report on how workers have been able to abuse compensation systems in various states:

Nine years ago, California Democrat Gray Davis became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled by voters. The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.

Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.

Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.

It’s not just California. Pension managers are among the worst. In Texas, the head of the Teacher Retirement System was paid over a million dollars last year. Psychiatrists are making $300,000 per year. They even have a few police officers netting nearly $200,000 in compensation.

Look, I think state workers should be paid reasonably. And, on balance, they are. Cato’s research has shown that while federal employee compensation is massively in excess of industry standards, state employees are closer (although with generous benefits and greater job security). But the system of overtime, unused leave and pension spiking, combined with a basic lack of supervision, have created a situation where certain individuals can collect gigantic salaries. In California, one psychiatrist claimed he was working 17 hours a day and pulled in $822,302 in 2011.

You really need to read the whole thing. We are talking about billions and billions of dollars here. From states that are having to slash extant services to feed the pension and perks beast. It’s a disgrace. And everyone — from conservative who hate government spending to liberals who want government spending to help people — should be up in arms about it.

The Protests That Weren’t

So I’ve been hearing rumbles of a walkout at Walmart stores on Black Friday. How’d that work out?

“The protest organizers have declined to say how many Wal- Mart associates they expect to be involved in the latest round of actions” says Bloomberg, and while the OurWalmart homepage feed contains lots of pictures of protest groups, there don’t seem to be a lot of actual Walmart employees. In fact, several rather wisful items champion single employees who have walked out of scattered stores. The company estimates that fewer than 50 actual Walmart employees participated, and though of course they have an incentive to undercount, OurWalmart has not given any particular reason to disbelieve them.

I’ve been going through the newswire and keeping seeing this report confirmed over and over again. A few hundred protesters — maybe a handful of actual Walmart employees. Almost all of them are UFCW stooges sent out there to protest and try to unionize Walmart’s 1.4 million employees.

The OurWalmart crowd is hoping this is the first stone in what will become an avalanche. I really don’t see it. Walmart pays decent wages ($8.50-$12 an hour) and hires people who typically have trouble finding good jobs. Every time they open a store, applicants line up to take jobs there. The union crowd and their supporters are simply butting their heads against a stark reality: that vast majority of people do not see Walmart as a bad place to work. I’m sure it seems bad if you’re a student who thinks he’s going to walk into a $100,000 a year deskjob or a you’re a union organizer making six figures. But there are tens of millions of Americans who would jello wrestle a bear for a job right now. And there are worse things in this world than working for Walmart.

I expect we have not heard the last of this. And I expect it will continue to meet with failure.

Hostess in Mediation as Website Gets Hacked

The drama continues.

A New York Judge has ordered Hostess and the kamikaze baker’s union to at least try working this out, but I think it’s too late.

Some of our own local businesses that use Wonder Bread (Arthur Bryant BBQ being one) are already being forced to switch to alternate vendors.  Grocery stores also aren’t going to let that prime shelf space sit empty while this drags on, are they?

For his part, Rayburn seems delighted to stick his tongue in the creme-filling and go “nuh nyuh nuh”:

While Hostess has seen interest in pieces of the business, its labor contracts and pension obligations have deterred offers for the whole company, Chief Executive Officer Gregory F. Rayburn said last week.

“We will try to get what we can from the assets,” Rayburn told Bloomberg Television. “It’s an over-capacity industry, though, so that’s going to be a difficult prospect.”

Translation:  “No responsible buyers want to put up with you idiots or try to sell the products that you make at needlessly high prices caused by your fat compensation and stupid rules.”

Speaking of insults, the Resources page on the Twinkies.org website (Note: not an official Hostess website) got hacked at some point today.  “Were you smart enough to get a screenshot, Thrill?”  Why, yes, I was!

 

Twinkies Get Creamed As America Follows Suit

I did some contract work with IBC when it was based in Kansas City a few years ago.  Around 2008-ish.  Back then, the Teamsters Union was doing its best to bring about the outcome that the Baker’s Union ultimately accomplished: Death of the business.  The End didn’t come since the Teamsters knew back then–as they did now–when to pull back from the brink.   “Save the Twinkies, Save the World” was the vision.

Every day, I’d read the company’s consumer/employee bulletin board and just marvel at how divisive and completely un-moderated it was a website with a forum that some guy had set up for IBC employees to bitch about everything and I’m amazed that Hostess allowed it to exist. The CEO was constantly cursed by the union employees while everyone else damned the unions for demanding them all right out of jobs.

Nothing has changed, except that the inevitable has finally occurred.  Hostess has been a doomed business for a long time.  I’m not entirely sure who should be blamed (even though the proximate cause was the stubborness of the bakers).   The vitriol, threats, and “I told you so’s” at the link don’t tell the story, but they clearly show that there’s no shortage of blame in any direction.  It’s hard to see how any company can function for long with that much greed, suspicion, and ineptitude flying around.

I’m a stridently anti-union guy so it’s pretty obvious to me that the unions are to blame for the Hostess fiasco.  They tried to turn a company that makes baked goods into more and more of a benefits and pension provider even as the company went bankrupt and had nothing left to give.  You can’t be surprised by that kind of behavior.  It’s just what they do.  I pity the newly-unemployed workers, but I applaud the permanent destruction of thousands of union jobs.  A more responsible business will take over the brand in time and all will be well, I’m sure.

Yet there’s a lesson here for us all.  Like Hostess, the United States has also awarded lavish entitlements to its people and run up unsustainable liabilities in the process.  The bakers-as-takers simply refused to accept the hard realities of the business and arithmetic, gambled their livelihoods on money that just wasn’t there, and lost everything for themselves and the 2/3 of employees who weren’t on board.

Our big national Twinkie is similarly going stale as people demand yet more cream filling from it.  In Hostess’s case, the people who were tired of fighting about it with those who always wanted to squeeze out more simply walked away and let it go.  What do we do as a nation when the capitalists just stop giving a fuck?

Sensata Nonsense

How do you know the liberals are worried about the polls? Because they are dragging out things like Sensata. Apparently, Bain Capital owns a little over half of Sensata. Sensata recently bought a plant in Illinois and decided to outsource all the jobs to China. So, since Mitt Romney is part of Bain …

I understand the bitterness of the workers in Freeport, who have lost their jobs. I have no idea whether Sensata’s decision is good idea or a bad one. I do know that this has nothing to do with Mitt Romney, who does not run Bain and whose assets are in a blind trust. Even if he wanted to stop this move, he couldn’t. This is just a liberal ecosphere desperately trying to pin a scandal on Mitt. They even posted a picture of a Sensata plant in China, claiming it was the Freeport one.

The Wisconsin Judiciary Strike Again

Hmmmm:

Gov. Scott Walker’s law repealing most collective bargaining for local and school employees was struck down by a Dane County judge Friday, yet another dramatic twist in a year and a half saga that likely sets up another showdown in the Supreme Court.

The law remains largely in force for state workers, but for city, county, and school workers the decision by Dane County Judge Juan Colas returns the law to its status before Walker signed the legislation in March 2011.

Colas ruled that the law violated workers’ constitutional rights to free speech, free association and equal representation under the law by capping union workers’ raises but not those of their nonunion counterparts. The judge also ruled that the law violated the “home rule” clause of the state constitution by setting the contribution for City of Milwaukee employees to the city pension system rather than leaving it to the city and workers.

The decision could still be overturned on appeal – the Supreme Court has already restored the law once in June 2011 after it was blocked by a different Dane County judge in a different case earlier that year.

I think this is likely to be overturned on appeal again. Colas’ arguments seem a bit weak. The Wisconsin court has specifically recognized that unionized and non-unionized employees are different and can be treated differently; otherwise what is the point of a union? The judge’s logic seems to be that unions can be treated differently when it’s to their advantage, but not when it’s to their disadvantage. I find that prospect dubious.

This is the second legal case to go to the Supreme Court after the “fleebagging” and multiple recall elections. It is amazing the lengths the Democrats will go to to bankrupt their own state and assure the firings of thousands of state employees.

Update The more I think about this, the more it annoys me. Both the courts and the Democrats have signed off on numerous laws that restrict free association: card check, forced unionization, collection of dues from non-union members. Both are fine with punishing people for not being unionized. Now they suddenly get constitutional religion?

California Squeezing

Turns out the unions suffered another defeat Tuesday night:

The most significant election on Tuesday wasn’t in Wisconsin.

It was in San Jose and San Diego, where nearly 70% of citizens voted for public-sector union pension reforms, introduced by Democrats, that could save their cash-strapped cities billions of dollars.

California voters rallying behind pension reforms introduced by mayors shows the sea change in the politics of public-sector unions. Connect the dots between Scott Walker’s decisive defeat of the recall effort spurred by his rollback of collective bargaining and the push by Democrats and Republicans to restore a semblance of fiscal responsibility and you’ll see this once controversial idea is beginning to garner bipartisan support.

The union is suing, incidentally.

This is part of a nationwide shift toward reigning in public pensions. Let’s be clear: the public doesn’t want public employees to go without pensions or to be deprived. What they realize is that We. Are. Out. Of. Money. And we simply can not afford the hundreds of billions in future liabilities these pension plans are racking up. We can not afford to have people retire after 30 or even as little as 20 years and then be paid their maximum salary plus wage growth forever.

Note also: it was Democrats who introduced these changes, just as Democrats have introduced such changes in Massachusetts and Democrat Tom Barrett, in the Wisconsin recall, dropped the union benefits issue from his platform. The Democrats know that this must be done. And they’re fine with it being done … as long as they do it. But when Republicans do the same thing, it’s too big of an opportunity to scream blue murder for them to admit that it’s the right thing.

(As a contrast, the new French government wants to lower the retirement age. French socialists: making Democrats look smart.)

We are finally seeing the defusing of the fiscal time bomb that has been hanging over us for a decade.. If we ever get some movement on Social Security and Medicare, there may actually be hope for this country.

Update: Miguelito points out that the San Diego provision was strongly opposed by Democrats. And it bears remembering that Jerry Brown opposes reform and Michigan is currently in a big union fight. Most of the Democrats are still in the union pocket. But there are cracks in the facade. That Tom Barrett dropped the union benefits issue was it was a ten-pound maggot tells you they can read the writing on the wall.