The Extremist Proposals of Governor Scott Walker

Peter Schaumber

September 23, 2015

National Review

The recent proposals by Governor Scott Walker (R., Wis.) to eliminate the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), end the collective-bargaining rights of federal workers, and adopt a national right-to-work law were immediately demagogued by the Democratic National Committee as “far-reaching, extremist and anti–middle class.” Although Walker is no longer a presidential candidate, he is onto some problems that can no longer be hidden, and the DNC knows it.

As the nation’s vehicle for the development of national labor policy under the National Labor Relations Act, the NLRB is broken. Not long ago, a candidate to fill a seat on the NLRB was interviewed by the staff of a leading Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. When the candidate made the mistake of beginning a sentence with, “If a union or an employer violates the law,” he was immediately told, “Unions don’t violate the law.” For all intents and purposes, the interview was over.

This display of raw partisanship by those vetting candidates for a position on the board provides a glimpse into the Democrats’ selection process. Together with President Obama’s recess appointment of labor radical Craig Becker, who was filibustered by the Senate for views considered outside the mainstream, it has resulted in an NLRB that is the most militantly partisan, pro-union board in U.S. history.

That is not what Congress intended when it passed the act in 1935. It contemplated a board of “impartial government employees,” and early tradition was faithful to that spirit: Members were drawn from government, academia, and other neutral backgrounds. This gradually gave way, however, to the appointment of management-side and union-side labor lawyers, which is the norm today.

The selection of labor lawyers to fill positions that require neutrality doesn’t work when one side is directed to pursue a partisan agenda (and when the nature of their work after they leave the board exposes them to retribution if they don’t).

Eliminating the NLRB as we know it is an imperative for the next Republican administration. Whether lifetime federal judges take the board’s place or the board’s composition is significantly changed, the nation can no longer tolerate a government agency that masquerades as impartial but is controlled by one of the parties whose members it is charged with regulating.

Governor Walker and President Franklin D. Roosevelt are on the same page when it comes to the unionization of federal employees. For Roosevelt, the consequences would have been “unthinkable,” and there are a variety of reasons.

First, taxpayers pay tens of millions of dollars every year for third-party unions to bargain over workplace details for handsomely paid and often coddled federal-government employees.

Unlike workers in the private sector, federal employees have civil-service protections. The important terms and conditions of employment, including salary and benefits, are set by law for all but one or two groups of federal workers. Bargaining is about workplace details, such as dress codes and grievance and performance-appraisal systems. These are matters that could be addressed by the federal government without a union. And the cost of all this, which includes countless hours spent on frivolous grievances and complaints, is unconscionably high.

Second, there is the cost of the hundreds of government employees who go to work every day but do no government work; they do “union work.” A former president of the NLRB’s union representing roughly 125 board-side staff attorneys did no government work. She used what is known as “official time” — the allowance given to unions to engage in union business. In 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, taxpayers paid $157 million for 3.4 million hours of official time.

Third, we pay an even higher price for the politicization of the federal workplace that results from third-party unionization. In 2014, nearly 1.1 million federal workers were represented by unions, and 8.6 of every 10 federal workers were union members. These are the foot soldiers for the Democratic party at election time. Is it possible to hear a constant diatribe of anti-Republican rhetoric on weekends from the union and then go to work on Monday and be impartial? The IRS’s infamous Lois Lerner — who targeted conservatives and took the Fifth Amendment to shield herself from possible criminal liability — was such a career government employee.

Walker also proposes a national right-to-work law that states could opt out of. These laws protect a worker’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association. Without a right-to-work law, workers must pay union dues or get fired, but why should a worker have to pay dues to an organization that engages in activities that he and a sizeable percentage of workers philosophically and morally disagree with — support for Democratic candidates, far-left groups like Occupy Wall Street, or abortion rights?

Unions complain that right-to-work laws allow non–union members to take advantage of collective-bargaining agreements that the union members’ dues pay for. But it is the unions that want to be the exclusive bargaining agents for all employees, whether union members or not. This gives the union the ability to agree to terms of employment that benefit some employees but not others — such as seniority rights — but are binding on all, or that bind all employees to less-favorable terms of employment as a quid pro quo for the employer’s doing the union a favor, such as agreeing to forgo secret-ballot elections at one of its other facilities.

The DNC’s demagoguery in reaction to Governor Walker’s proposals was an attempt to undermine our chances of coming together to reach real solutions to real problems. The bad news is that the DNC is so beholden to labor-union cash that it does not know any other way. The good news is that there’s an election next year.

— Peter Schaumber is a former chairman of the NLRB under President George W. Bush.

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Scott Walker Takes On The Rogue NLRB

WFI

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  CONTACT: Ryan Williams
September 14, 2015                                                                             202-677-7060

 

Scott Walker Takes On The Rogue NLRB

Washington, D.C. (September 14, 2015) – There is one candidate mentioning the detrimental effects that arbitrary policies like the ambush election rule and micro unions will have on the American workforce—Governor Scott Walker.

“The NLRB has become a rogue agency that is abrogating important workers’ rights and issuing economically damaging decisions in its quest for more union members.  In the past year alone, new NLRB policies such as the ambush election rule and joint employer decision are dramatically and negatively changing the way American businesses operate.  Through the new ambush election rule, unions will find it much easier to organize workplaces through shortened election timelines but by gaining access to personal employee contact information and by preventing workers from getting the information they need to cast an informed vote.  In addition, the NLRB’s joint employer decision will singlehandedly change the American franchise infrastructure that creates thousands of small businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout various industries,” said Peter Schaumber, former NLRB chairman.

The time is now to bring these issues to the forefront of the 2016 presidential election and WFI applauds Governor Scott Walker for doing so.  The Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) urges other candidates to address this rogue NLRB.

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: http://www.workforcefairness.com.

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

 

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The Fall of A&P

Heather Greenaway

September 11, 2015

The Washington Times

Unions might not be completely to blame for the bankruptcy of the grocery store operator Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., known as A&P — there were other reasons — but they certainly made it more difficult for the company to survive. Last month, A&P filed for bankruptcy for the second time in five years, but this time, it looks like it may be done for.

It’s a shame. The 156-year-old company was the first national supermarket chain in the country, and has survived the Great Depression, two world wars, and the recent Recession, but it appears the company lacked the needed flexibility to adjust its labor costs due to its high percentage of unionized employees.

For example, 93 percent of the A&P workforce of 28,500 are represented by one of 12 different unions — many of which have “bumping rights,” according to USA Today. Bumping rights occur during a reduction in the workforce when a more senior employee’s job is eliminated — instead of them losing their job, they “bump” a lower-level employee, taking their job, but keeping their oftentimes higher salary. These actions led to a domino effect at A&P. They hindered the company’s ability to close stores that were hemorrhaging money while preserving the profitable cost structure of stores that remained open.

Presently these bumping rights are impacting A&P’s ability to sell off some of its stores. As a result, this month, A&P asked U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain for permission to suspend employee bumping rights since a purchasing agreement with three potential bidders barred the company from honoring these provisions, but union lawyers are currently blocking these efforts.

Prospective buyers of A&P in this low margin business also don’t want to take on some of A&P’s current obligations such as its collectively bargained pensions. Who can blame them? They want to make a go of it and be able to compete with other chains that do not have high legacy costs. Once they have established their profitability, the owners of these acquired stores will have the breathing room to revisit the level of wages and benefits they pay. Highly publicized bankruptcies, like A&P and the 2012 demise of Hostess Brands, impact the unions’ ability to sell their product. The question they raise is whether the “we versus they,” inflexible and oftentimes combative union model of the 1930s is outdated. After all, how can a company that must pay the costs involved to negotiate and apply 35 different collective bargaining agreements with 12 different unions remain competitive in a low margin industry? To what extent did these agreements and the work rules they spawned sap the company’s entrepreneurial spirit so necessary to compete and prosper?

Big Labor’s failure to answer these questions is one of the reasons why union membership is at an all-time low and steadily declining each year. Only 6.6 percent of private-sector workers are unionized today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and according to a 2009 Rasmussen poll, just one out of every 10 non-union workers would vote for a union.

Today’s workers are looking for a better option.

According to the Heritage Foundation, survey after survey shows that employees want to play a role in their company’s decision-making, and would like employee involvement programs where workers and their supervisors can meet to discuss workplace issues. Unfortunately, this type of collaboration is largely illegal as a result of the National Labor Relations Board’s broad interpretation of the prohibition against company unions in the National Labor Relations Act. The result: unions have essentially monopolized the availability of the on-the-job involvement employees seek.

Currently, unions aren’t recruiting enough new members in the private sector to replace those they lose when unionized workplaces go bankrupt. But instead of looking inward and asking what role they played in the demise of these companies, Big Labor is seeking ways to force workers into a union. We see this with the recent militantly pro-union rulings of the Obama Administration’s National Labor Relations Board, which enacted a rule drastically shortening the amount of time for a union election. Aptly referred to as “ambush elections,” the rule allows unions to catch employers by surprise so that the only story their employees will hear before they vote is the union story. This story can include promises of increased wages and benefits that the employer cannot reasonably afford. Already the unions have increased the number of election petitions they file, leaving the doors of American businesses wide open to unwanted union infiltration.

Organized labor continues to offer a product to workers they no longer want while preventing many workers from achieving the dignity and respect of workplace involvement they desire. Simultaneously, unions impose a business model on employers that makes it difficult for them to adjust to market realities and survive. Alternatives are surely needed to protect the workplace and preserve jobs that the union model of the 1930s does not provide. If the labor movement cannot adjust the union model to 21st century workplace realities, it will continue to shrink but not before untold damage is done to the American economy that working people rely upon.

Heather Greenaway is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute.

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Watchdog Highlights ‘Union Thuggery’ For Labor Day

Bill McMorris

September 2, 2015

Washington Free Beacon

From racketeering to bribery and money laundering, 2015 has been a banner year for union malfeasance, according to a top labor watchdog.

The Workforce Fairness Institute is celebrating Labor Day by counting down 2015’s best examples of “union thuggery.”

Topping the list is former Ironworkers Local 401 honcho Joseph Dougherty, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for racketeering, arson, and extortion in connection to burning down a Quaker church that employed non-union labor.

Dougherty and nine other union executives were indicted for the Christmas season arson. The FBI said that the leaders used the union as a vehicle to enrich themselves, rather than represent the interests of workers.

“Ironworkers Local 401 [was charged] with allegedly participating in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property, and assault in order to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers,” the FBI said in a press release. “Specifically, the indictment charges RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, three counts of arson, two counts of use of fire to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit arson. Eight of the 10 individuals named in the indictment are charged with conspiring to use Ironworkers Local 401 as an enterprise to commit criminal acts.”

Local 401 did not respond to request for comment.

The ironworkers weren’t the only Philadelphia labor group on the list. A suburban city council president was sent to prison for political money laundering through a local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

The union allegedly poured money into the campaigns of Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer (D.). Spencer then gave large donations to Philadelphia politicians in order to skirt campaign finance laws, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Francisco Acosta pled guilty to accepting a $1,800 bribe in exchange for backing the repeal of campaign contribution limits. Union president John Dougherty was not charged in connection to the case. IBEW Local 98 did not return requests for comment.

“Local headlines from coast to coast show that union bosses and organizers continue to foster violence in the workplace, bribes, embezzlement and money laundering. Yet, the union led NLRB continues to gift unions with more power over American businesses through ambush elections, micro unions, and most recently ruling against small business owners in the joint employer decision,” watchdog spokesman Heather Greenaway said.

Sometimes union officials are on the receiving end of bribery schemes. The Oakland United Food and Commercial Workers official in charge with organizing marijuana dispensary employees has been charged with accepting $600,000 in bribes to undermine those efforts. The union fired top official Daniel Rush when the charges were announced. The UFCW did not respond to request for comment.

Sometimes union members themselves were the victims of union actions. Cops in Riverside California saw hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues money embezzled by a union employee, who used the money to finance lavish Italian vacations, her husband’s child support payments to an ex-lover, and tattoos. Former Riverside Police Officers Association secretary Alis Archibeque pled guilty to stealing about $350,000 from the accounts and was sentenced to more than three years in prison. The association did not return request for comment.

A Broward Teachers Union president in Florida is now on trial for stealing $300,000 from union coffers, as well as illegally taking contractor kickbacks and using the union to launder money. Former president Pat Santeramo pled not guilty to the charges. The teachers union did not respond to request for comment.

WFI spokesman Greenaway said the cases show union officials take advantage of the trust of members when given the opportunity. This should disturb workers, given the National Labor Relations Board’s new election rules that force employers to hand over sensitive personnel information to unions seeking to organize a workplace. Employees do not have the option to opt out of the system.

“Employee personal contact information will now be handed over to these union organizers, and who will oversee the use of this information and look out for employees? Certainly not the union-enabling NLRB,” Greenaway said.

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NLRB Not Looking Out For Workers’ Rights

Hector Barreto

August 20, 2015

Washington Examiner

When it comes to workers’ rights, it’s critical for employees to have the facts and information required to make an educated and informed decision to form, join, or decline membership in a labor organization.  In light of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) newly-enacted “ambush election rule,” which sped up the process in which union elections can be held, it’s important for workers to use National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW) to arm themselves with the facts and review their rights.

The ambush election ruling was enacted by the NLRB as a tool to increase workplace unionization.  Despite the fact that the previous system and timeline was working just fine – 90 percent of organized elections already occurred within a reasonable timeframe of 56 days – the new rule speeds up the election time from a previous average of 38 days, to now as little as ten.

This rule doesn’t benefit American workers; it does nothing but help Big Labor increase their declining membership rolls.  Since the rule took effect, as expected, the number of election petitions have dramatically increased – with a 15 percent surge in the first three months alone.

The employer-employee relationship is an important one, but the new NLRB rules limit employers’ right to free speech with their workers.  Employers must rush to submit their “statement of position,” and then are prohibited from speaking to their workers about anything outside of their statement.  However, organized union campaigns have as much time as they want, with no limits on what they can say and promise, since many campaigns begin well before a petition is filed.

Because of these limits on speech, employees are unable to learn what unionization would logistically look like day-to-day in their place of work.  How are they supposed to take a vote or make an informed decision in such a limited window of time?  How can they even begin to understand the impacts of collective bargaining if they are unable to speak freely with their employer, the one who works with them day in and day out?

The new rules violate workers’ privacy, as well.  Employers must turn over their employees’ private information, including home and cell phone numbers, personal email addresses, job classifications, shift times and home mailing addresses, in just two days after the petition has been filed.  Your personal information is released without any safeguards in place to ensure it remains confidential, or is safely disposed of after the election.  Union bosses can now camp outside your homes in order to coerce you into organizing – nowhere is off limits.

Under this confusing new system, it’s important that workers know their rights.  Recent polls show that many union members don’t realize that they have the right to opt out of union membership entirely.  Every employee should be able, and have the time, to make the decision that’s best for them.

Employees who live in one of the 25 Right-to-Work states can choose to opt out of their union membership.  For those that live in the other half of the country, they can decide to become an “agency fee payer” and only pay for the non-political components of union membership.  They can also become a “conscientious objector” and would not have to contribute to the union at all.

There are alternatives to joining unions, like joining other professional organizations at a fraction of the cost.  For example, teachers have multiple other organizations to choose from, like the Association of American Educators, or the Christian Educators Association International, which both offer insurance benefits for less.  Union membership is costly, and workers have no say where that money goes.

With 91 percent of unions’ political spending money filling the coffers to help elect Democrats, it’s not surprising that the Obama administration’s NLRB is filled with union bosses enforcing pro-union policies.  But employees shouldn’t be forced into affiliations without the adequate time and information to make an informed decision.  Fortunately, members of Congress are taking steps to protect American workers and defund these NLRB efforts.  In the meantime, during National Employee Freedom Week, take a moment to learn the facts, assess your rights and educate your colleagues on the options available.

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

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Know Your Rights This National Employee Freedom Week

Heather Greenaway
August 18, 2015
The Washington Times

Sunday, August 16 marks the beginning of National Employee Freedom Week, an event celebrated by a coalition of 97 groups in 42 states across the country.  Its purpose, as you may very well guess, is to educate union workers on their freedoms and rights to opt out of their collective bargaining units.

According to a recent, nationwide poll released by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, nearly 40 percent of union households polled didn’t know that they had the option to opt-out of union membership and the automatic deductions of dues from their paycheck.  This is a troubling statistic, and American workers should be cognizant of their rights and freedoms.  That’s why National Employee Freedom Week is making a nationwide effort to educate union employees on their options, so that they can make the best individual decision for themselves — without union coercion.

Unions are an outdated relic of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, when labor laws were enacted in order to protect against workplace abuse.  Today, we have strong laws to protect workers and alternative professional organizations workers can join, at a fraction of the cost.

Lately, workers have been leaving unions by the droves.  Big Labor is struggling to recruit members, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership has hit its lowest rate in 100 years.   Membership has been in steady decline over the past thirty years.  That’s why union bosses who sit on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are getting desperate and doing everything they can to pass anti-competitive rules to pressure employees to unionize.  We see this with the NLRB’s rash ambush election rule, which took effect in April, and has already proven to have its intended effect of helping pad union rolls.  Since its enactment, the number of election petitions has surged 15 percent.

The NLRB’s new recruitment tactics coerce workers into affiliations without adequate time or information to make an informed decision.  The new policy speeds up election times from a previous average of 38 days to now, as few as ten.  Ten days is not adequate time for a workplace to prepare for an election or for employees to gather information on the potential impacts of unionization on their workplace or from their paychecks.  The rule chills employee free speech, limiting what employers can talk to their workers about, while giving union organizers carte blanche to make empty promises and coerce workers into unionizing.

Unions not only use coercion and intimidation to encourage workers to join, but they also continue to intimidate workers who wish to leave and are not forthcoming with the options workers have to opt-out.  And of course they aren’t – all they care about is getting their cut from your paycheck, helping fill their coffers and further boosting their influence.

The ambush election rule has opened the door even wider, granting union bosses access to troves of employees’ personal information, including their home and cell phone numbers, personal email addresses, job classifications, shift info, and home addresses.  Unions have limitless ways to now coerce employees into the collective.

Unions are selling a product few need or want anymore.  Workers would rather keep that additional $1,000 plus a year and use it to help pay off their mortgage or take their family on a vacation – not hand it over to big labor bosses who have a history of misusing funds or spending them on political causes not everyone agrees with.

In fact, a staggering 91 percent of political spending by unions goes to support Democratic candidates, while 43 percent of union households vote Republican.  Why should workers be forced to make political donations to candidates they don’t even believe in?  Many workers are wising up, and realizing that there are much better uses for their money.

That’s why this National Employee Freedom Week, it’s critical that workers educate themselves on their rights.  If you are currently in a union and want out, you have options.  Workers should be free to make the decision that’s right for them, not big labor cronies.  Get the facts; understand the alternatives.

Heather Greenaway is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).

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National Employee Freedom Week

WFI FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  CONTACT: Ryan Williams August 17, 2015                                                                                     202-677-7060

National Employee Freedom Week Educating Union Employees About Their Rights

Washington, D.C. (August 17, 2015) – The Workforce Fairness Institute issued the following statement in response to National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), an annual national campaign that informs union members about their workplace rights, specifically their right to leave their union. NEFW runs Sunday, August 16th through Saturday, August 22nd and consists of a record 97 organizations in 42 states.

“According to a recent, nationwide poll released by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, nearly 40 percent of union households polled didn’t know that they had the option to opt-out of union membership and the automatic deductions of dues from their paycheck.  This is a troubling statistic, and American workers should be cognizant of their rights and freedoms,” said Heather Greenaway, spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute.  “That’s why National Employee Freedom Week is making a nationwide effort to educate union employees on their options, so that they can make the best individual decision for themselves — without union coercion.”

View a list of the grassroots coalition that makes up NEFW here.

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: http://www.workforcefairness.com.

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

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Union Official Charged With Accepting Bribes From Marijuana Dispensaries

WFI

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  CONTACT: Ryan Williams
August 14, 2015                                                                                     202-677-7060

 

Union Official Charged With Accepting Bribes From Marijuana Dispensaries

WFI States Need For Employee and Employer Protection from Coercion and Intimidation

Washington, D.C. (August 14, 2015) – Recent articles have exposed court documents unsealed on Wednesday, showing that union official Daniel Rush was charged for allegedly accepting bribes from marijuana dispensaries.

Rush was a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union official and was found to be accepting money in exchange for his role as a UFCW official.  Court documents show that Rush was using his influence and power as a union official in exchange for cash and other benefits for close to four years.

“UFCW is a union that has access to personal employee contact information, thanks to the new NLRB Ambush election rules—which is worrisome since coercion and intimidation are alive and well with unions.  We need laws that will protect employees, employers, and their personal information—not make it easy for them to be harassed,” said Heather Greenaway, spokesperson for Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).

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: http://www.workforcefairness.com.

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

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