SPN State Labor Policy Exchange - Volume 1, Issue 32
Published on Thursday, August 17, 2006
In Focus: National coalition urges U.S. Supreme Court to accept Washington v. WEA case (Press release from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation)
Today the Evergreen Freedom Foundation filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the Court to accept review of Washington v. Washington Education Association. At issue is whether individuals can be required to subsidize political speech they oppose. The Washington state Supreme Court ruled in March that a state law requiring unions to obtain permission from teachers before using funds for political purposes was unconstitutional.
The suit was initiated by then-Attorney General Christine Gregoire after the Washington Education Association (WEA) admitted committing intentional violations of the law. The union was fined $590,000 for these violations.
The Foundation joined a broad coalition of policy organizations to argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn the Washington ruling. The coalition includes the American Legislative Exchange Council, the country’s largest, voluntary association of state legislators; Cascade Policy Institute (OR); Commonwealth Foundation (PA); Excellent Education for Everyone (NJ); Georgia Public Policy Foundation; Grassroot Institute (HI); Independence Institute (CO); John Locke Foundation (NC); Mackinac Center for Public Policy (MI); Nevada Public Research Institute; Pacific Research Institute (CA); and Pioneer Institute (MA).
Nationwide State Legislator Group Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Review Teachers Union Political Practices (Press release by the American Legislative Exchange Council) – Today the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) joined a broad coalition of policy organizations to file an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to accept review of the Washington v. Washington Education Association case.
"The Court's action -- or inaction -- will significantly influence how states debate unions' stranglehold over workers. It's important that teachers are free to work without worrying about losing their hard-earned money to political activities they do not support," said Matt Warner, ALEC's Education Task Force Director.
Special Note: www.TheyMustAsk.com, a project of the Independence Institute – The Independence Institute created a web site informing union members of a new rule recognizing their right to opt out of union political spending.
The rule, approved on August 2, defines “members” as a person who “at least annually gives the membership organization specific written permission to transfer dues to a political committee or small donor committee.” It applies to all membership organizations in Colorado, which include dues-collecting entities like labor unions and professional trade associations.
The new Web site created by the Independence Institute—www.TheyMustAsk.com—provides links to key Secretary of State documents and encourages members to hold their organizations accountable with the new rule.
Studies/Policy Updates and Articles
·He was lead attorney for the US Department of Justice in the Court of Appeals victory in U.S. v. Yonkers, the largest education and housing discrimination prosecution during the Reagan Administration.
·He led the lawsuit that resulted in the repeal of Texas' laws against interracial adoptions.
·He successfully challenged California's laws forbidding the independent practice of African hairstyling.
·He has successfully defended programs that have provided high-quality educational opportunities to thousands of disadvantaged children.
Defending African-American hair stylists. Allowing interracial adoptions. Why, he's a closeted right-wing bigot!
One last point. In the school desegregation battles of the 1950s, Orval Faubus and George Wallace became the face of the opposition as they stood at the doors of the school (in Wallace's case, the university) to keep kids out. How fascinating that groups like People for the American Way and the NEA and AFT now occupy that role--except now they're standing at the doors, trying to keep the kids in.
- Action Institute: Minimum Wage Denies Freedom and Duty – While I believe that this latter proposition is true [that if a man does not work, he shouldn’t eat], it does not necessarily follow that the government should be the agent responsible to bring it about. A good way to think about the wages of work is to consider them as the price placed on the labor by mutual agreement between the employer and employee. The price of work, then, is an important indicator of the value attributed to the work, and a freely joined contract ratifies this price.
- Capital Research Center: Labor Notes: August 2006
- Appeals Court Thwarts Bush Overhaul of Federal Personnel Rules
- Labor Unions Try to Take Advantage of Immigration Debate – Attempting to capitalize on the vocal protests of immigrant-rights groups, labor unions are stepping up their efforts to organize meatpacking plants with large numbers of immigrant workers.
- National Education Association Delegates Endorse Same-Sex Marriage – Delegates to the National Education Association convention voted strongly in favor of a resolution supporting homosexual marriage, civil unions and homosexual adoptions—again demonstrating the union’s penchant for inserting itself into issues that have little to do with the nation’s schools.
- Washington State Foster Parents Hope to Organize Labor Union – Arguing that foster parenthood is as demanding as any other job, foster parents in Washington State are seeking collective bargaining rights with the state
- San Jose Mayor Indicted for Alleged Deal With Teamsters – San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzalez, has been indicted on charges of bribery, conspiracy and misuse of public funds for convincing a Norcal subcontractor to hire recycling workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 350 and not a Longshoremen’s local, despite the latter union’s lower costs. The city allegedly agreed to cover Norcal’s additional costs for the Teamsters employees, amounting to $11.25 million. In return, Norcal and the Teamsters allegedly contributed $10,000 to Gonzalez’ 2000 campaign.
- Lynn Lanphear, former President of Graphic Communications Local 503M, pled guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $8,441.29. He was sentenced to five years supervised probation, 100 hours of community service, to make restitution in the amount of $8,441.29 and pay a $1,000 fine.
- A criminal complaint was filed against Derek Baldwin, former President of the Workers Independent Union, charging him with theft by deception, tampering with records, forgery, and receipt of stolen property for his theft of $12,700 from the union.
- Lawrence McGown, former Financial Secretary for PACE Local 02-74, pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $5,472.73.
- Peggy Sue Carnes, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer for PACE Local 5-621, was sentenced to two years probation, three months home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution to the local in the amount of $8,019.73 for making false entries in union records.
- Nanette Peterson, former Treasurer of AFSCME Local 11, Chapter #2597, pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $6,309.
- Lisa Webb, former Financial Secretary for Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Local 48, pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $24,911.
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation: Big Labor Doesn't Know Meaning of 'No' – “I love seduction, but I hate rape.” I heard those words for the first time during my freshman year at college. George Mason University professor Walter Williams was giving a lecture on the role of government and the proper use of its monopoly on force in a free society. ...Government isn’t alone in its ability to abuse its power. Labor unions have also failed to learn the lesson that “no” means “no.” ...One of the most egregious examples of this is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. For the last five years, Washington state, its National Education Association-affiliated teachers’ union, and local teachers have been embroiled in a conflict over whether the union has a right to use non-member teachers’ dues in whatever way it chooses.
- Heritage Foundation: Pension Protection Act's Special Treatment for Airlines and Other Industries Merits a Veto – Some policies are so bad that they overshadow the good features of legislation. If Congress insists on including special treatment for airlines and or other industries in the Pension Protection Act (H.R. 4), President George W. Bush should veto it. A veto would reduce the chance that companies could transfer the costs of their pension obligations to the taxpayer.
- James Madison Institute: Summer Journal
- Letters to the Editor – George Blumel writes that the so-called “65-Cent Solution” [Fall 2005 Journal] is a political gimmick, not a true reform. He argues in favor of using market forces to improve education.
- The Activist Journey of the Florida Supreme Court – The author, who has researched decisions of state supreme courts nationwide, argues that Florida’s high court is an example of judicial activism gone awry.
- When Unaccountable Courts Meet Dysfunctional Schools – Beware when activist judges try to micromanage school districts, imposing costs and making decisions properly reserved for officials such as legislators and school board members.
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy: Michigan Education Digest – Competitive contracting creates jobs, NCLB and minorities, contract incentives.
- Manhattan Institute for Public Policy: Schools For Cities – New York City could be the best place in the world to educate children. Instead,]… public schools ended up being controlled by a union that fought incentives and change and often put the needs of their workers ahead of the needs of children. Mayors, like Edward Koch, who took on the teachers union paid for their actions at the ballot box.
- National Center for Policy Analysis: Mythology of the minimum wage – The recently defeated minimum wage hike proposal in Congress has resulted in a regurgitation of economic misinformation, says Whitney Blake of the Weekly Standard.
- The Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies: Freedom for Workers: The Pursuit of Happiness – In my January/February column this year I explained why I believe that, given the existence of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which regulates American labor-management relations, a classical liberal should support a national right-to-work-act.
The three most egregious impositions of the NLRA are exclusive representation, union security, and mandatory good-faith bargaining.
- AFL-CIO NOW
- AFLCIO Working Life Blog:
- Miners Walk Out – Interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal today: “Mine Unions Call Strikes to Obtain A Share of Profits.” “High prices for copper, nickel and other commodities are emboldening miners unions world-wide to stage strikes in hopes of getting better pay and benefits for workers.”
- Where's The Fair Share? – [Editor’s note: A description of the blogger’s definition of fair share. Can you decipher what he’s saying?]
- AFL-CIO Embraces Day Laborers – Good for the AFL-CIO. It has decided to link up with the significant movement trying to organize day laborers, who are predominately immigrant workers. It's a great move not simply because day laborers are exploited--it puts the AFL-CIO directly on the side of workers who are being targeted by the hysteria over "illegal immigration."
- Washington State Labor Council:
- AFSCME: Health care needed for all – California needs to wake up and realize universal health care is not a liberal pipe dream; it is the only way to fix our broken system of skyrocketing health care costs, inadequate care and millions of uninsured individuals.
Labor Related Blogs
- The Chalkboard
- Card Check Blues – The Broward (Fla.) Teachers Union recently got a simple majority of teachers at charter schools in Pembroke Pines to sign cards ("card check") seeking union representation, but after complaints from teachers that they were mislead by union organizers and confusingly-worded cards, city officials are insisting upon an election on the issue so that teacher voices can be heard -- hopefully without union or management manipulation.
- Take That, V-Lo! (Swat!) – The new Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, who supported charter schools is running in a sure-win re-election race, but finds himself to be one of the few Democratic incombents [sic] statewide who isn't getting endorsed by the AFL-CIO.
The Politicker says NYSUT, the state teachers union that spent more than $1 million fighting the tax credit, is behind the snub for obvious reasons. Not that it matters.
- Don't Wait for AFT Response – Lots of people seem to be waiting for some sort of response from the AFT to Mike Antonucci's report last week on the secret tapes of union staffers about internal problems and the union's seeming disconnect with its members.
oThe Story Thus Far
oEIA Exclusive: AFT State-by-State Membership Figures
oDisbursements from AFT Solidarity Fund
- Education Intelligence Agency Intercepts Blog:
- Damn! We Have to Have an Election – Charter school teachers in Pembroke Pines, Florida, will vote on whether they will be represented by the Broward Teachers Union. Good news for the union, right?
''It's a slight setback,'' said BTU President Pat Santeramo, [after city officials learned from teachers that the union’s card check drive was ambiguous and misleading.]
- LAUSD takeover picking up steam – In the last few days, Villaraigosa has picked up endorsements on his takeover plan from the city council and the L.A. Chamber of Commerce. (This says the ACLU of Southern California supports the takeover as well, but I can't find any press releases to that effect. Can somebody verify?)
- Political payoff in LAUSD? – Last month one LAUSD teacher theorized that California assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg endorsed the LAUSD takeover hoping to replace Roy Romer as superintendent. Well, she certainly seems to be angling for the job:
- Is Ignorance Bliss? – Joe Williams over at The Chalkboard thinks we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for AFT's response to last week's story on the union's communications audit. His reasoning is sound:
1) The union is a private organization, not accountable to the public; and
2) The union is accountable to the members, who don't know or care.
- August 14 Communique' Is Up! Click here to read:
- The Question of Context – Day Seven: I wait patiently with a pot of percolating coffee for any sign of Mulder and Scully starting their investigation of The Audio X-Files. Nothing. In the meantime, press inquiries are coming in, and bloggers continue to comment on EIA's exclusive on the AFT communications audit.
- School choice in the Crescent City – As mentioned earlier, New Orleans schools now find themselves competing for students: I'm also going on record with a prediction, and one I don't consider terribly overreaching. That prediction is this: some of these charter schools are going to shut down, possibly before the end of the school year. Look, when this many new charters are opening simultaneously, it's not much of a stretch to assume some will fail.
- Time's up – Early last month, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings gave California an ultimatum: put together an NCLB-compliant transfer plan for students in failing schools, or risk losing part of Title I funds. The deadline--August 15--has come and gone without so much as a whimper. No word yet from USDOE (whose website seems to be down at the moment) or the California DOE. No media chatter about it yet, either.
- Trading a rifle for a ruler: alternative teacher certification in action – An excellent Miami Herald article co-written by Matt Pinzur illustrates one unconventional source of teacher recruits: “As school began Monday across South Florida, thousands of students were being taught by military veterans. Veterans who reach the classroom through Troops to Teachers are more likely than other educators to emphasize the importance of effort, respond assertively to misbehavior and manage their classrooms with firm rules….”
- Quote for the day – Former congressman J.C. Watts: Congress voted to give opportunity scholarships to low-income students in Washington, D.C., public schools. They had 2,400 scholarships but 6,000 applications. They've gotten great results, yet People for the American Way, the National Education Association and other liberal education groups oppose them. Meanwhile, the person closest to the city's educational performance - Democrat Mayor Anthony Williams -- supports them.
State News Updates
- Colorado business leaders warn of TABOR – A group of Colorado business leaders this week entered the fray of the simmering debate in Maine over a proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights, warning their colleagues here of the potentially detrimental effects of the spending limits plan set to go before voters in November.
- CBS4 nixes union-bashing commercial – CBS4 is refusing to air a controversial 30-second commercial that bashes unions for alleged corruption, discrimination, politics and forced union dues. ...... CBS4 spokeswoman Ro Dooley Webster, citing the station’s published policies about accepting or rejecting political ads, said CBS4 reviewed the commercial for content, fairness and accuracy. “We decided this wasn’t appropriate for our marketplace,” she said. But Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts and a lobbyist who has represented the tobacco, alcohol and food industries in the past, cried “censorship” and said CBS4’s decision was “outrageous.” ...... Berman, whose Washington, D.C., group has received millions of dollars from unnamed corporations, launched his nationwide anti-union media blitz earlier this year, taking out radio and newspaper ads.
- State may have welfare contract by end of year – Gov. Mitch Daniels and top aides are allowing more time to contract out the application process for food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits, saying now that contractors could begin work by the end of the year, six months later than originally planned.... Council 62 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has battled Roob over some of the changes he has initiated at FSSA. “We agree with administration that they rushed into privatization and were right to pull back before they made a mistake,” Council 62 Executive Director David Warrick said.
- One strike averted, another looms
- O'Fallon teachers vote on contract
- Big government? N.J. has scads of little ones / State looks at consolidation to cut taxes – ...New Jersey, the nation's most densely populated state, is at its heart a place of small towns and small school districts. And that's the problem — financially, at least, say Gov. Jon Corzine and legislative leaders. The state has the nation's highest property taxes. The Legislature begins a special session today aimed at slashing those taxes. Atop the agenda: consolidating local governments to cut costs.
- S.J. pair renew drive to reduce benefits for state workers – Two lawmakers renewed their push Thursday to cut the cost of health benefits and pensions for state workers. Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-West Deptford, and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Washington Township, said they will introduce 15 bills aimed at cutting benefits for new public workers and for some already on the payroll.
- Hospital says strike deadline delayed
- Christians call for equality in workplace, labor fairness – Organizers of a local conference championing racial and social justice called upon religious leaders Thursday to push for equality, beginning in the workplace. Faith and labor, they explained, are intricately connected. ..... Thursday's event included a panel discussion with several prominent figures from the city's 1968 sanitation workers strike,….
- Schools consider joining lawsuit – Olympia School Board President Russ Lehman has proposed earmarking $5,000 in district dollars each of the next two years to join the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools—a coalition considering a lawsuit against the state over education funding—which includes a number of school districts, the Washington State Parent Teacher Association, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, the League of Women Voters of Washington, the Washington Education Association and the Washington State Special Education Coalition. They plan to sue the state if lawmakers don't set aside as much money as they think is needed for schools.
- School start for Everett still in doubt – No one is talking about a strike in Everett. But teachers' union president Kim Mead said her 1,100 members aren't accepting what administrators are putting on the table.
- Vancouver School Board cuts jobs, passes budget
- Management tries to break solidarity in IUOE strike
- Concrete strike talks break down – "We want to settle this. This is not good for anybody," says IUOE 302 Business Manager Allan Darr. "They need to come to the table with an offer with both the language and the economics that can settle this."
- No deal in concrete strike – Talks break down between operating engineers and four companies over the workers' demands to not cross other unions' picket lines.
- Union hits high gear for negotiations – The WFSE demands exorbitant raises over the inflation index.
- Gregoire rebuffs union appeals
- Unions, state near final stage of negotiations – The unions 3.2 percent and 1.6 percent pay raise in the last two-year contract was not enough. Now it is demanding 5 percent over the next two years on top of cost of living and step increases.
- Is it just you or is the dues ceiling higher these days? – WFSE raises dues along with the latest pay raise.
- 2004 disputed union vote case dismissed – In two of the cases addressed by the Public Employment Relations Commission, Koch says it failed to stand up to the largest state worker union. "I believe PERC had the information they needed to make a decision, but it would be politically unpopular so they looked for a reason to dismiss to save face for as many people as possible," he said.
Koch also took issue with Nagel's position that he was not affected by poor turnout for the contract vote. "I am aggrieved because an unfair election produces an unfair result," Koch said. "If you cut out almost half of the people and don't let them know there's a vote, then they don't vote and that influences the election. It was wrong. I have a sense of right and wrong, and this was wrong."
- Union starts health, voter campaign
- Hearst (P-I) seeks firms' records of dealings with Times Co.
- Prison staff pay doesn't match duties, cost – The state has spent $100 million for a State Penitentiary expansion (but) the Legislature needs to address salaries.
- Cash-balance pensions could (will) hurt workers – More traditional pension plans could switch to “cash balance” pension plans, thanks to last week's federal appeals court ruling that IBM's cash-balance pension didn’t violate age-discrimination laws. The GAO reports that most workers, regardless of age, get lower benefits under these plans.
- Pension changes: What you need to know – A bill about to be signed into law includes the most sweeping changes to U.S. pension laws in more than 30 years.
- Report confirms ag labor shortage – A shortage of workers affected this year’s cherry harvest and concerns growers as they prepare for pear and apple harvests.
- Environmentalists, labor find common ground in Blue-Green Coalition
- Wal-Mart takes the fight to its critics
- Striking Escondida union modifies demands
- AFL-CIO Raising Funds in Political Push (CBS News article)
- AFL-CIO Raising Funds in Political Push (ABC News article)
- The Flip Side of Wal-Mart's Pay Hikes
- Labor Agreement Is a First for Immigration Judges
- Nurses Fight to Retain Right to Unionize / An NLRB ruling will undercut workers’ rights – When an organizer first talked to Kathy Haff three summers ago about joining a union, the veteran cardiac nurse at Chicago’s Our Lady of Resurrection Hospital wanted to sign up immediately. ...... But this summer, if the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules as many labor lawyers expect, Haff may be denied her rights under federal labor law to join a union.
- Republicans Near a Vote to Increase U.S. Wage – Under intense pressure from their moderate wing, House Republican leaders moved on Thursday toward allowing a vote Friday on an increase in the minimum wage before sending anxious lawmakers home for a month of campaigning in the battle for control of Congress.
- Tax Foes Push State Spending Caps (no link) Wall Street Journal – While economic conservatives have failed to curb government expansion in Washington, they're ramping up a campaign to impose spending limits on state legislatures around the country. Voters in at least half a dozen states likely will vote in November on ballot initiatives that would set strict formulas limiting the growth of public programs. Two legislatures this year have already passed such measures, often labeled a "taxpayer bill of rights."
- Insurance Regulation - Insuring Turmoil (no link, National Journal) – ...... In a series of ironies, the 150-year-old system that has allowed states to regulate the insurance business and kept the federal government at bay is under assault. The insurance industry, which long preferred to be regulated -- as the unflattering trade jargon put it -- by 50 state monkeys rather than by one federal gorilla, has revised its calculations and is now pushing for the feds to step in.
- Another warning of a retiring federal work force – In 2015, 54% of contracting officers will be eligible to retire, a sharp jump from 2005, when 13% were eligible.
- Labor tries to heal their differences -- A year after their breakup, the AFL-CIO and the breakaway Change to Win alliance are negotiating an agreement that would allow them to coordinate their massive effort to educate and mobilize workers for the mid-term elections.
Census shows growth of immigrants – The number of immigrants living in American households rose 16% over the last five years, fueled by recent arrivals from Mexico.
- Study finds immigrants don't hurt U.S. jobs -- High levels of immigration in the past 15 years do not appear to have hurt employment opportunities for American workers.
- Hope for immigration reform? (editorial) -- Republicans have introduced an intriguing, if imperfect, proposal that may offer the last, best hope for achieving reform this year. It begins with beefed-up enforcement, but as part of a comprehensive package that also puts the millions now living in the U.S. illegally on a path to legal status and eventual citizenship.
Links of Interest
State Policy Network
U.S. Dept. of Labor Enforcement Actions
Townhall.com Trade & Commerce Page
SPN Labor Exchange Newsletter Archives
National Alliance for Worker and Employer Rights
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