Yet Again, Big Government Interferes With Growth And Jobs

Yet Again, Big Government Interferes With Growth And Jobs

Heather Greenaway

Millions of salaried workers are now in danger of losing their professional status and potential for upward mobility, with last week’s Department of Labor release of the final federal overtime rule. The Obama Administration has been no friend to the business community, advocating for a myriad of job-killing regulations and changing decades of defined labor policies, but this might be the most egregious overreach yet. The rule, which raises the salary threshold for workers who qualify for overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476 – an increase of more than 100 percent – is yet another example of the administration’s out-of-touch view of the needs of America’s workforce.

Hurting the very people it is intended help – with entry-level professional employees and non-profit employees burdened the most – the new rule stunts workers’ professional growth, while also creating a massive regulatory burden on employers, who will be required to oversee careful timekeeping or open themselves up to lawsuits. A simple email response sent or phone call taken after normal business hours will now have to be tracked as time on the job.

The overtime rule sets an artificial ceiling on salaried workers, and will cause many small businesses to declassify their salaried employees and eliminate benefits with the loss of professional status. Expect to see a hollowing out of mid-level positions as employers transition roles to covered employees or part-time help.

Aspiring professionals will be disadvantaged by this rule the most. While current college graduates and other entry level employees are generally advised to prove their value by working hard to climb the professional ladder, this usually involves taking on extra projects and working longer hours to prove their worth. But this policy, by limiting the number of hours they can work weekly, interferes with an individual’s ability to determine their own career goals and choices. Entry- and mid-level salaried employees at issue were hired to fulfill a professionalized role, not an hourly job. You simply can’t view their role through the same lens as you would a factory worker or fast-food server who clocks in and out every day for an hourly wage – many professional jobs require more than the typical nine to five.

Expect flexibility in the workplace to acutely be impacted, as well. Salaried workers are often given more flexibility to complete their responsibilities, with specific hours mattering less, as long as the job gets done. But workers who have enjoyed flexibility in the past, like the 16 to 25 million Americans who telecommute at least once a month, will likely see those options eliminated thanks to the new rule. And the Department of Labor’s failure to take into account regional differences, even though a $47,000 salary has a much greater spending power in Pierre, South Dakota than it does in Washington, D.C., could deal a crippling blow to professionals in rural areas.

Economists and labor policy experts have studied the impacts of overtime requirements on businesses, and have found time and again that companies offset new overtime costs with the lowering of base wages. In fact, a recent report by Anthony Barkume, Senior Research Economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Office of Compensation and Working Conditions, calculated that workers pay for 80 percent of overtime costs through cuts in their base wages.

So if increasing wages wasn’t the Obama Administration’s goal, what was?

According to the text of the rule, the two policy objectives outlined are to “spread employment … by incentivizing employers to hire more employees rather than require existing employees to work longer hours,” and to “reduce overwork and its detrimental effect on the health and well-being of workers.” Workers want to work more, not less. They want to rise through the ranks in search of the American Dream, not have their potential hindered by big government controlling the lives of individuals.

A one size fits all approach to labor policies is incredibly misguided and will have ramifications across our entire economy. Republican leaders in Congress are already working to pass legislation nullifying the overtime rule, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act. Let’s hope they succeed, and soon, before the American workplace is permanently changed for the worse.

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WFI Reacts To Department Of Labor’s Excessive Overtime Rule


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  CONTACT: Ryan Williams
May 18, 2016                                                                                         202-677-7060

WFI Reacts To Department Of Labor’s Excessive Overtime Rule

Washington, D.C. – Today, Heather Greenaway with the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) issued the following statement expressing disappointment with the finalized overtime rule released by the Department of Labor:

“In yet another example of the Obama Administration’s egregious overreach into labor policies, this new overtime rule will end up hurting the very people it’s intended to help: entry-level workers, students and non-profits.  Mandating overtime pay for such a drastically increased salary threshold will thwart upward mobility and set an artificial ceiling on salaried workers.  This decision will cause many small businesses to declassify their salaried employees, leading to the elimination of benefits and the loss of professional status.  Further, the Department of Labor’s failure to take into account regional differences will unduly burden workers in rural areas.  A one-size-fits all approach to overtime policy is incredibly misguided and it’s unfortunate that the Obama Administration continues to make rash decisions to the detriment of American workers.  The Workforce Fairness Institute remains committed to fighting this rule, which will have lasting repercussions on our country’s workforce.”

The Workforce Fairness Institute is an organization committed to educating voters, employers, employees and citizens about issues affecting the workplace.  To learn more, please visit:

To schedule an interview with a Workforce Fairness Institute representative, please contact Ryan Williams at (202) 677-7060.



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New Video Highlights Union Hypocrisy on Minimum Wage

A new video produced by the Workforce Fairness Institute highlights the hypocrisy by big labor bosses when it comes to raising the minimum wage.

It’s almost hard to believe that big labor would want to exempt themselves from the very laws that they fight so hard to impose on businesses throughout the country. But, then again, should we really be surprised?

Big labor has a history of hypocrisy.

Check out our latest video below.

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The NLRB: Government agency gone rogue

The Hill
By Peter Schaumber
The Obama National Labor Relations Board continues its unrelenting effort to expand union power over the workplace. Already, the board has stripped workers of their right to challenge by a secret ballot election their employer’s recognition of a union based on a questionable card check; mandated rushed elections—the so-called “Ambush Election” rule—that eliminates the time necessary for employees to hear the other side of the union story and authorized the creation of unprecedented small bargaining units—the groups of employees represented by a union—which will give unions quick easy access into an employer but threatens to balkanize the workplace.

Now, last August, it did what the former Clinton board refused to do: it roped in for union organizing millions of U.S. companies, large and small, in all segments of the economy that increasingly go outside the traditional employment model and contract with specialized service companies to perform a function such as providing temporary help, a building security or janitorial service, or making a part.

Contracting out has become an important tool for small and large businesses. It allows producers to focus on their core competencies, increase productivity and improve efficiency. It has spawned the creation of tens of thousands of service companies creating millions of jobs.

Frustrated by the loss of an economy dominated by manufacturing and large companies, unions view contracting out as inhibiting their ability to organize. For a union, a larger battle in one locale is easier and less expensive to fight than multiple smaller ones. Big Labor has been clamoring for a change.

In perhaps its most reckless and irresponsible decision to date, the Obama board delivered one.

It made the producer an employer of its service company’s employees—liable for the service company’s unfair labor practices and obligated to bargain with a union representing the service company’s employees over the terms of the service contract.

The majority eliminated long-standing common sense requirements that an employer had to exercise “meaningful,” “direct” control over an essential term and condition of employment. Now, indirect control, however tangential, over terms previously considered non-essential will be sufficient. These are contract provisions routinely used to protect the workplace, and make sure the producer gets what it is paying for, such as: a cost-plus contract price, a description of the general nature of the work to be performed, the number of workers to perform it, minimum job qualifications and the removal from the workplace of a worker for misconduct such as taking illicit drugs.

The decision will cause significant harm to U.S. business and cost countless jobs.

A key ingredient to economic growth, flexible labor, will be less available as unions add temporary workers to a producer’s regular workforce. The benefits of using specialized service companies as an aid in production will be greatly outweighed by a collective bargaining obligation that could result in the producer having to bargain away its ability to contract with a different service company or to cut down on workers it no longer needs. And the unions, of course, will use the bargaining table to gain access to the producer’s other employees and for leverage in the effort to organize the balance of the producer’s employees.

Unions and their allies defend this expanded standard because of the alleged economic disparity between temporary and regular workers: temporary workers are generally paid less and receive fewer benefits than regular workers. But lower pay and fewer benefits are typical of temporary work. Temporaries at the Obama Department of Labor receive fewer benefits than its regular workers. The differential in pay and benefits makes temporary work affordable for the employer and is made up for by opportunities regular work does not provide, such as, an immediate job without a job search, training, experience in different industries, and control over career.

This is not to gloss over the serious social problem that exists when a large percentage of temporary workers (70 percent find permanent work within a year) are locked into lower-paid temporary work or when an employer’s immoral desire for excessive gain causes it to take advantage of its temporary workforce. But the unavailability of permanent work for some and the shameful avarice of others is insufficient reason for a government agency to ignore the common sense limits built into the law it is charged with administering and issuing a decision that goes far beyond the problem showcased to justify it.

The reach of the board’s joint employer ruling makes its consequences even more alarming. The new “employer” standard is about to be applied to the relationship between franchisors and their franchisees, threatening to destabilize whole industries that rely on entrepreneurs to open independent businesses to sell their products.

The board acquiesces only to decisions of the Supreme Court. As a result, it will take years for this issue to be resolved using the judicial process. In the meantime, an untold number of businesses and their employees will be harmed. Congressional riders have been added to the 2016 omnibus spending bill that will block implementation of this recent decision as well as the Ambush Election rule. These are important riders that should not be eliminated.

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Ending Ambush Elections

Hector Barreto
December 8, 2015
Washington Times

Both the House and Senate are moving appropriations bills with attached riders that would end the rash, union-promoting ambush election ruling that has caused confusion for both employers and employees in their place of work. These are critical efforts that would reinstate balance and fairness in the workplace, and would prevent unions from ambushing employers with quickie union elections in sometimes as few as nine days.

The Obama administration is no stranger to overburdening, job-killing regulations but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) this year seems to be trying to cram every rule they can down the throats of American workers in order to help boost unionization. With its ambush rule, the joint employer rule and the micro-unions allowance, the National Labor Relations Board is out of control, and has proven to be one of the most ideological NLRBs in America’s history. The board was created to protect workers, not boost the membership rolls of unions on the taxpayer’s dime. But President Obama has made fighting for unions such a priority during his presidency that he vetoed a previous congressional attempt to overturn this egregious ruling and rein in the board. He seems content to appoint union bosses and allow them to set their own rules and run the show.

Union membership has for years been on the decline — so the NLRB has taken recruitment efforts upon themselves. Why are ambush elections so damaging? History shows that the shorter the amount of time in which an election takes place, the greater the likelihood that a company will unionize. Unions, many of which have been coordinating for weeks or months prior to officially launching their petition, take advantage of this shortened time frame and confusion to make false promises and coerce workers into the collective. Indeed, as soon as the ambush election rule went into effect, the number of workplace petitions to unionize skyrocketed.

The National Labor Relations Board’s ambush election rule was a solution is search of a problem; a rule to speed up the process was unnecessary. In 2014, more than 95 percent of elections took place within 56 days, and employers have historically had an average of 38 days before an election to prepare. This allowed both employers and employees ample time to educate themselves on the process and choice.

Furthermore, ambush elections erode the employer-employee relationship, limiting what employers can say to the people they work with every day. Before this rule took effect, employers had time to speak with their employees about what unionization would look like for their individual workplace. Ideas were able to be exchanged. Now, however, their free speech is chilled and due process thwarted. Employers only have eight calendar days — not business days — to hire outside counsel and prepare for a hearing, and must submit their Statement of Position within that time frame, due the day before the hearing. They are barred from speaking to employees about the election outside of their statement and can’t answer further questions. If the goal of unions is to sow discord in the workplace, then ambush elections allow them to do just that.

They also exploit worker privacy — providing union bosses with the information and tools to harass workers at their homes or places of work. Prior to this rule, employers were only required to provide names and home addresses of their workers. Now, however, they must turn over all forms of contact information they have, including personal email addresses and phone and cell numbers. By providing nearly unfettered access, it’s abundantly clear that these new rules are stacked in favor of the unions — and the National Labor Relations Board knows it.

Congress is once again flexing the power of the purse with another attempt to repeal this egregious regulation. We need to give workers the time and tools to make informed choices when deciding whether to join a union. This is a process that simply cannot be rushed. Ambush elections only benefit union leaders, not workers. Thus, we must bring an appropriations bill to President Obama’s desk that repeals this rule.

Hector Barreto is the former head of the Small Business Administration.


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‘Holiday Union Hypocrisy Top 5’


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             CONTACT: Ryan Williams November 24, 2015                                                                        202-677-7060

‘Holiday Union Hypocrisy Top 5’

Tis the season for holiday shopping and of course protestors advocating for an arbitrary $15 minimum wage.  The Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) wanted to take a moment ahead of this Black Friday to highlight the top five examples of hypocrisy from unions:

#5: AFL-CIO does not pay $15 an hour to own employees:

“The Washington Times recently reported on the AFL-CIO’s annual summer meeting where union bosses boasted of their success in championing the $15 minimum wage. Here’s the hypocrisy: An usher working at the event informed the reporter that she does not earn a $15 minimum wage.”

 #4: UFCW will not allow their organizers to unionize:

“The UFCW “is all for workers’ rights yet it denied its own staff union contracts and didn’t pay us overtime and eventually fired us for reaching out to a union.”

#3: Unions want exemption from the LA $15 minimum wage:

“The union-funded Raise the Wage campaigned so vociferously in favor of a $15.25 minimum wage, unions are seeking exemptions from the higher wages for their members. The exemption, or escape clause, would allow them greater strength in organizing workplaces.  Unions can tell fast food chains, hotels, and hospitals that if they agree to union representation, their wage bill will be substantially lower.  That will persuade employers to allow the unions to move in.”

#2: WA unions are exempt from $15 minimum wage at SeaTac:

“After well-funded campaigns by labor unions, SeaTac and other jurisdictions have an exemption for unionized employers that allow them to pay a lower wage and not pay for sick leave. Thanks to the union escape clause supported by labor, unionized employers can legally pay their workers less than what their nonunion counterparts earn.”

#1: UFCW’s OURWalmart spokeswoman worked against unionization at previous job:

“The liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America is actively fighting against a bid to unionize its workers…The communications director for Media Matters, Jess Levin, said Saturday that the nonprofit was not “actively opposing” unionization, but she declined to elaborate on how it was responding to Local 500’s bid.  Media Matters had previously rejected Local 500’s bid for a Card Check election, which prompted the union to petition the National Labor Relations Board.”

The Workforce Fairness Institute is an organization committed to educating voters, employers, employees and citizens about issues affecting the workplace.  To learn more, please visit:

To schedule an interview with a Workforce Fairness Institute representative, please contact Ryan Williams at (202) 677-7060. 


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Different year, same story as Big Labor promotes Black Friday protests

Fox News Latino
By Hector Barreto

With protests planned at the reopening of the Pico Rivera Walmart in California and at stores around the country on Black Friday, it’s important to once again examine the origins of these supposedly grassroots demonstrations.

On November 19, the front group OUR Walmart led a “Fairness for Pico Workers” rally at the site of the new Pico Rivera Walmart. Separately, an OUR Walmart splinter group led by a former United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) top official has launched a national 15-day protest through Black Friday in order to promote raising the minimum wage to $15.

These tactics, while desperate and futile, are nothing new.

The UFCW and the orchestrators behind the “Fight for $15” campaign – the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – have tried unsuccessfully for years to unionize Walmart workers. The two unions are no strangers to working together on coordinated campaigns. In fact, both OUR Walmart and the entire premise of the “Fight for $15” campaign are financially sustained by Big Labor — and recent reports show that the SEIU funded the “Fight for $15” campaign to the tune of $80 million over the past three years.

These demonstrations aren’t about benefiting Walmart workers, but are instead about padding rapidly declining union membership rolls. In fact, they rarely even involve Walmart workers themselves.

OUR Walmart has been known to pay protestors to picket and organizers have admitted that most of the demonstrators are not actually employed by Walmart. Along with harassing workers and impeding operations, the group fabricates success, claiming that, thanks to their work, “X” number of Walmart workers walked off the job in protest. Not once has this been true. These things do not happen. Other than protesting for publicity, OUR Walmart has made zero inroads in winning over Walmart workers because OUR Walmart simply doesn’t represent their views. Not to be deterred, unfortunately that won’t stop them from their Black Friday shenanigans again this year.

Top labor officials have admitted that the end goal of OUR Walmart is to pave the way for unionization of Walmart workers, while the group continues to skirt the rules as to whether OUR Walmart’s activities qualify as official organizing drives. Indeed, labor scholars have praised these covert attempts orchestrated by front groups as a new model for national organizing, calling it “minority unionism.”

This year, OUR Walmart is desperate to make a big splash. After months of speculation about the splinter in and dissolution of the group, it’s currently unclear who is actually in charge. Originally a subsidiary of the UFCW, earlier this year new UFCW leadership fired OUR Walmart’s longtime leaders, Dan Schlademan and Andrea Dehlendorf, and cut the group’s funding in half. That’s when the UFCW’s parent organization, the AFL-CIO stepped in. But that didn’t stop the two former leaders, Schlademan and Dehlendorf, from running their own independent campaign, now called “Help Change Walmart,” in what Politico likens to the Great Western Schism. As with the current state of “disorganized” labor, it’s incredibly confusing just who runs the show – but it’s certainly not the good employees of Walmart.

As unions continue to struggle to turn protestors into card-carrying union members, but sink millions into these guerrilla campaigns, where does that leave their actual membership? Unionized employees fork over thousands in dues to bankroll “Fight for $15” or “Our Walmart” campaigns but aren’t reaping the benefits. Indeed, if anything, members are beginning to realize that organized labor’s outdated business model no longer works, leading to the lowest private sector union participation rate in decades. We can only assume that as membership continues to decline, Big Labor’s tactics will continue to get more extreme and desperate. What lows will they sink to next?

Hector Barreto is the former head of the Small Business Administration.

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Big Labor’s Assault on Employee Freedom

Hector Barreto

October 5, 2015

Washington Times

In yet another example of the Obama administration promoting Big Labor, the White House and Department of Labor will hold a “Summit on Worker Voice” on Wednesday to encourage unionization and promote organized labor. According to, the event will bring together “workers, employers, unions, organizers and other advocates and experts — to explore ways to ensure that middle class Americans are sharing in the benefits of the broad-based economic growth that they are hoping to create.” While rather innocuous sounding, the event is nothing more than a government-sanctioned union organizing drive.

With union membership at its lowest rate in 100 years, the White House mistakenly sees the national decline as a problem for employees, when in fact, workers are opting out because in today’s day and age, they see very little benefit to organized labor. Today’s workers would rather keep more of their hard-earned paychecks — not pay thousands in dues to an organization that doesn’t fight for them or represent their political interests. On Tuesday, the day before the White House summit, the Heritage Foundation plans to hold their own counterevent, “A Summit on Workers’ Empowerment,” to draw attention to excessive government regulations that hold employees back and the issues Big Labor has caused.

Let’s take a look at some of those issues. Under the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a supposedly “independent” agency that serves as the official arbiter of labor disputes, has run rampant, hurriedly enacting rule after rule — arguably unconstitutional ones at that — to boost union membership recruitment and retention. From the rash “ambush election” ruling to the crippling “joint employer” rule, this administration’s NLRB rulings have changed the face of labor and will have lasting, anti-competitive impacts on America’s workforce and business community for years to come.

The ambush election rule, enacted in April, shortened election times from an average of 38 days after a petition to unionize is filed to as few as nine — leaving employers, including many small business, with only a little over a work week to hire outside counsel, educate their employees on the implications of unionization for their individual workplace and prepare for the election. As predicted, since the ambush election rule took effect, the number of election petitions filed has dramatically risen in the first few months. Since it’s now so easy and less resource-intensive for unions to file petitions, they are much more likely to do so, even when chances of success are slim.

In this summer’s Browning-Ferris case, the NLRB upended decades of settled labor law and ruled that companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by franchisees, redefining the definition of “employer.” The joint employer decision “will single-handedly change the American franchise infrastructure that creates thousands of small businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout various industries,” according to former NLRB chairman Peter Schaumber. Business groups from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Franchisee Association warn that this destructive decision affects the more than 800,000 franchises in the United States that generate more than $2 trillion in economic activity and employ 18 million American workers.

Despite these coercive tactics, employment is on the rise and union membership remains in decline, thanks in part to states around the country that work to protect employee freedom and pass right-to-work laws. The effects of these laws show that workers, when given the choice, would rather not be compelled to organize — even in previously heavily organized industries, like the automotive industry. Take Michigan, for example. In 2014, when the main provisions of the state’s 2012 right-to-work law started kicking in, employment increased but the state’s union membership fell sharply in just one year. And as previous contracts begin to expire and workers break free, even more of a drop-off is expected. Workers need choices, not coercion.

The Obama administration’s assault on business and employee freedom must not continue — or our workers and economy will be the ones to suffer. The next administration should work diligently to decrease organized labor’s grip on American workers.

Hector Barreto is the former head of the Small Business Administration.

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