Empower Employees Act Introduced In Congress

Earlier this week, Senator Tim Scott introduced the Empower Employees Act.   Adopted from an amendment the Senator introduced last year, this bill that would prohibit the federal government from automatically deducting union dues from federal employee paychecks.  Senator Scott introduced this legislation as both a standalone bill and an amendment in previous Congresses.

Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House on May 30.

At issue is this fact: taxpayer dollars are used to collect public sector union dues from government employees.  This is a wholly inappropriate use of taxpayer money, as union dues are used prominently to fund political activity.

The Empower Employees Act would eliminate what is in effect a government union subsidy by making labor collect their own dues (i.e., unions would carry the administrative costs, not taxpayers).

Not only would this be better for taxpayers, but it would also give federal employees much more of a choice.

Unlike Big Labor, Senator Scott and Representative Meadows thankfully support employee choice.

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Fred Wszolek: Union Minimum Wage Push is Anti-Business, Not Pro-Worker

Union protestors are descending on Walmart stores across the country this week as the company’s shareholders meet at their Arkansas headquarters. The protestors have issued their typical calls for higher wages and other standard demands, but their main motive appears to be the disruption of Walmart’s business and the continuation of a smear campaign against America’s top private sector employer.

Unfortunately, this is typical union boss behavior. Similar antics were on display last month in the run-up to the McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois, when more than 130 demonstrators – very few of whom were actually employees – were arrested after refusing to vacate the driveway of the McDonald’s corporate offices. Protest activity forced McDonald’s to close their main headquarters building and some 2,000 of their employees were told to stay home from work.

It’s no coincidence that the actions against McDonald’s and Walmart seem similar. Both are textbook cases of top-down, nationally-coordinated disruption strategies orchestrated by labor front groups for some of the country’s biggest unions. In Illinois, demonstrations were led by a group called Fast Food Forward, while the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) provided bodies and financed the picket lines by the busload.

The anti-Walmart protests are being organized by a group calling itself the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), which claims on its website to be “an independent, not-for-profit organization” for Walmart employees. Documents filed with the Department of Labor, however, clearly identify OUR Walmart as a “subsidiary organization” of the massive United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. All the more interesting is the UFCW’s admission that OUR Walmart is “maintained in Washington, D.C.,” which removes any shred of belief that these protests are organic, grassroots efforts. In fact, once again, these protests have been demonstrated to be full of paid protestors acting as employees and do not demonstrate the will of Walmart employees.

OUR Walmart is a prime example of what’s known as a “worker center.” Worker centers are groups set up not as labor organizations – strictly speaking – but as nonprofits despite being basically owned and operated by Big Labor. As such, they don’t have to follow the same rules that govern traditional unions, but are well funded, receiving revenue through a variety of different sources, nearly $60 million between 2009 and 2012, and they carry out activities like these recent protests which advance Big Labor’s agenda.

Why would union bosses need a separate, shadowy organization to do its bidding? The answer is desperation, plain and simple. Labor membership is declining – the percentage of workers that belong to unions has dropped by nearly half over the last thirty years, and stands at only 11.3 percent. As labor membership declines, revenue from member dues declines. And with the money drying up, Big Labor’s political clout is on the wane as well.

Labor bosses are, quite obviously, not taking this well. The head of the UFCW, Joseph Hansen, certainly would not want to compromise his position or the $297,971 salary that comes with it. Worker center front groups are just another desperate attempt by union bosses to cling to their fading power.

How high are the stakes for Big Labor? Well, the Chicago Tribune reports that the SEIU spent at least $2 million last year funding Fast Food Forward. By the scale of activity, the UFCW likely spent that and more funding their front group.

Simply put, Big Labor’s bullying tactics aren’t working anymore. Their organizing model is badly outdated and they’re struggling for relevance. What’s more, they choose to focus their efforts targeting retailers like Walmart, which supplies necessary products and services to communities all across the country, and provides over one million American jobs. President Obama – himself hardly an enemy of Big Labor – even chose a Walmart location recently to deliver a major energy policy speech.

Union bosses have no reason to attack Walmart other than their own self-interest and greed, the very qualities they say corporations espouse. But when labor resorts to creating shadowy, D.C.-based front groups to stage faux protests and disrupt Americans simply trying to work and shop, it begs the question: who’s really playing dirty?

This article originally appeared in Town Hall, read it here.

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Another Day, Another Head Scratcher Of An Obama Labor Board Decision

According to The Washington Free Beacon, a “California National Labor Relations Board judge [has] ruled that a Hooters franchise cannot force its employees to act in a respectful manner toward customers, nor could managers punish employees for insubordination.”

What’s that now?  Did a government official basically just tell U.S. businesses that they cannot require employees to be respectful to customers – the very basis of civilized commerce!?  This is even more bizarre than the usual NRLB shenanigans; they are effectively rejecting the right for businesses to enforce a polite society within the confines of their establishments.

Truly, epically unbelievable.

Going further, “The local NLRB judge ordered the Hooters franchise to post a sign on its premises reading ‘WE WILL NOT maintain or enforce a provision in our Employee Handbook that prohibits employees from being disrespectful to the Company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors, posting no offensive language or pictures and no negative comments about the Company or coworkers of the Company’ after declaring such policies illegal, according to an NLRB ruling issued on May 18.”

Our urge to mock this situation is strong, but we will try and stick to the facts of the situation in the weeks and months ahead.

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Less People, More Robots: Is This The Future Under A Minimum Wage Hike?

We already knew that a minimum wage increase would be bad news for job creation, but now we have even more reason to question supporters of this misguided “plan.”

Take Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich, for instance. A vocal supporter of raising the minimum wage, he has donated tens of thousands of dollars to candidates who support the policy and happen to be extremely chummy with Big Labor. Why is it a big deal that he backs a minimum wage hike? Because by 2016, Panera “
will have replaced all of their cashiers with kiosks.”

Well, that’s certainly convenient. Of course Shaich supports increasing the minimum wage if he’s planning to eliminate all of his cashiers in the next year and half.

While Shaich claims the move to replace workers with automated kiosks is part of his mission to lessen customer waiting times, “there is growing evidence that as pressure to raise wages builds, employers will turn to wage-free robots to avoid dramatic payroll hikes.” Is this really the future America’s workers deserve?

If you don’t think that fast food establishments won’t jump on the robot bandwagon in response to a forced increase of the minimum wage, all you have to do is look at Europe. Already, all McDonald’s locations in France “have installed kiosks to substitute and supplement human employees…to avoid some of the high payroll costs of dealing with France’s minimum wage.” It’s not just cashiers’ jobs in danger, either: “Equipment exists to replace almost all of the fast food workforce.”

This puts the recent efforts by labor-backed groups – including staged protests at fast food restaurants – in perspective. If Big Labor and other supporters of a federal minimum wage hike get their way, you can bet some of the very people they’re claiming to be fighting for will get the short end of the stick – and may even be out of a job.

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Whining Isn’t Going To Help…

If you haven’t yet checked them out, take a look at the recent news reports (The Wall Street Journal and KNTV-TV in San Jose) detailing Big Labor’s whining about President Obama’s visit to a Walmart store.

I don’t think we could do a better job of demonstrating just how out of touch Big Labor is with the American people than for them to decry the President doing what literally millions of Americans do every day – visit a major retail outlet.

The entitlement mindset of Big Labor is staggering.  Not only do they think that they deserve a place at every table and a finger in every pie, they also think they should have veto power over elected officials conducting events with the world’s largest private employer.

In fact, the question shouldn’t be “why is the President going to Walmart?”  The question should be, “why wouldn’t he go to Walmart ?”

This latest example of union bosses complaining and crying foul just serves to reinforce that they are growing increasingly desperate with their membership falling and dues numbers plummeting.

Instead of protesting, Big Labor bosses might want to think how to better serve their members and help get our nation’s economy growing at a greater rate.

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UAW Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Get this – a new report says that the U.S. State Department (you know, the diplomats and folks who are in charge of foreign policy), may get involved in a labor dispute in that distant, little known foreign country of… Mississippi?

According to this report, the United Auto Workers (UAW) have asked the State Department to help promote unionization at a plant in Mississippi because the union thinks Nissan is violating Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) standards.

There are so many words to describe this situation: outrageous, ridiculous, foolhardy, embarrassing.

But here’s the most apt: desperate.

The UAW is so desperate for traction in a nation where workers are sprinting away from unions that they would recruit a federal agency that has nothing – zero – to do with domestic labor issues to their cause.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran had a few choice words to say about this news:

“With all that’s going on in the world, the United States Department of State should concentrate on enhancing U.S. security interests and promoting peace around the world rather than interfering in domestic labor activities.  Mississippians can decide for themselves how they want to handle these issues.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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The UAW’s Shifting Priorities

As we mentioned last week, the United Auto Workers union announced it was dropping its petition to contest the results of the election defeat they suffered at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Is this a harbinger of things to come for the once-powerful auto union or is it a calculated move intended to realign their union-organizing strategy?

Looks like it could be both.

Why The UAW Backed Down

According to John Raudagaugh, law professor at Ave Maria Law School, the UAW “wanted an easier path to its ultimate objective.”  He continued, “Had the UAW continued litigation [toward a new election] it would have been several years before the challenges to the subpoenas were resolved to then deal with the election objections.”

Essentially, the UAW conceded defeat because they had no other choice.  It was that or waste time and money that they likely don’t have only to risk the possibility of losing another organizing election which would have sealed their fate as a defunct, ineffective institution.

Despite losing and withdrawing their petition with the NLRB, “union officials are now looking at securing another certified majority orholding a private election to organize workers” rather than going through the NLRB process again.

Meanwhile, VW is considering whether to “expand the Chattanooga plant to build a new crossover vehicle or to award the project to a VW plant in Mexico.”  Had the UAW kept up its fight against Tennessee workers, and VW chosen Mexico, the blame would have likely fallen squarely on the shoulders of union bosses.

All Eyes On Detroit

In addition to finally accepting defeat at the VW plant, it seems as though “new economic realities and greater priorities are dictating the UAW’s path” forward.  Next year, the Big Three – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – are set to enter contract negotiations with the UAW.  The union will likely seek to eliminate the two-tiered wage system that has kept the companies afloat over the past decade of economic instability.

However, “facing Michigan’s right-to-work law and other hurdles, the UAW will have to work much harder” to meet its pro-union objectives next year, which could be another reason they finally decided to accept their defeat in Chattanooga.

Volkswagen’s Next Move

Volkswagen welcomed the decision by the UAW to drop their bid with the NLRB to overturn the contested election results.  However, the foreign automaker “will be looking for an avenue to create a workers’ council, as it has in almost all its factories around the world.”

However, federal law greatly restricts the ability of companies to create their own unions, so it remains unclear how effective that effort will be or how that could impact VW’s decision on where to locate their new crossover plant.

Our Prediction

The NLRB unleashed a new form of unionization on America in its Specialty Healthcare ruling: the micro-union.  Rather than seeking to represent the majorityof workers in a place of business, a micro-union carves out one small niche at a business.  For instance, one micro-union blessed by the NLRB included only the salespeople in the women’s shoe department at the Bergdorf Goodman department store; it doesn’t get more micro than that!  Well the UAW has agreed not to seek to organize the plant for one year from the date of the last election.  We predict that by Day 366 the UAW will be back, but rather than trying to organize the entire plant, they’ll try to get their foot in the door in just one department in the plant, one where they are extremely confident that they have strong support from the workers in that department.  Maybe it will be in the paint shop, or the part of the plant that installs the interiors.  But it’s safe to predict that in a little less than a year the auto industry will have it’s first micro-union.  You heard it here first.

This issue is still a long way from resolved – as always, we’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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UAW Calls It Quits In TN Volkswagen Plant Fight…

The Wall Street Journal reports that the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has “said it is dropping the objections it filed with a federal labor agency over its failed bid to organize a  Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga.”

Previously, the union “had asked the National Labor Relations Board to consider holding another vote at the plant, contending interference by Republican lawmakers and others had prompted workers to reject union representation in February.”  But it said “that withdrawing its objections is in the best interests of Volkswagen workers and the auto maker.”  You can say that again!

This move “effectively ends the labor board’s review process.”

This is a story we’ve reported on several times (see here, here and here) – and it’s the oldest story in the union book: despite unsavory tactics and (in this case) having the company on its side, workers still chose not to side with labor bosses.

After seeing the shell of Detroit after decades of union boss rule, can we really blame them?

Friends of autoworkers and a strong U.S. auto industry should cheer this news.  It would be nice to think that the UAW was seeing the error of its ways, but we all know that isn’t the case.

The larger fight isn’t over, but this battle is – and worker freedom has won the day.  A big thanks to everyone who supports our efforts on these crucial issues!

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