Showing posts with label unions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unions. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Union Official Charged With Illegal Clinton Donations Indicted for Mail Fraud


Former Broward Teachers Union president allegedly steered illegal contributions to Clinton’s 2008 campaign
Federal authorities indicted the former president of a Florida teachers’ union on fraud charges on Thursday, even as he faces additional charges in his home state over allegedly illegal campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton.
The Justice Department charged former Broward Teachers Union (BTU) president Patrick Santeramo with two counts of mail fraud for his alleged role in embezzling more than $35,000 in payments from a local school district.
“It is alleged that after the BTU received the $80,000 payment from the School Board of Broward County, Santeramo authorized payments from the [union’s] Accountability Program account for himself and at least one other employee of the BTU to which they were not entitled,” DOJ said in apress release announcing the indictment.
Those funds were supposed to go toward training programs and leave time for teachers working on “accountability projects,” DOJ said. Instead, Santeramo pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in payments from Broward schools.
As he faces those charges, Santeramo is also awaiting trial in Broward County on 20 criminal counts, including racketeering, grand theft, fraud, money laundering, and charges involving illegal campaign contributions.
The latter involves alleged schemes to illegally direct tens of thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, among other political efforts.
According to Florida authorities, Santeramo approached BTU colleagues beginning in 2007 asking them and their family members to contribute to Clinton’s campaign and that of then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink.
“Fraudulent reimbursements were used to conceal and launder these contributions by disguising them in the BTU books and records using false account classification designations such as: ‘miscellaneous expense, building expense, organizing, staff training, new education program, office supplies, lobbying, communications, negotiation and bargaining, other committees, steward training and special events,’” according to the criminal complaint against Santeramo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NLRB boots idea of unionized college atheletes

When an NLRB director in Illinois made the decision last year to allow student athletes at Northwestern University to organize as a union it raised a lot of eyebrows. (How does one organize the labor of people who don’t get paid?) But that question has now been effectively scrapped as the full NLRB has said no to the proposal.
The National Labor Relations Board on Monday overturned a historic ruling that gave Northwestern University football players the go-head to form the nation’s first college athletes’ union, saying the prospect of union and non-union teams could throw off the competitive balance in college football.
The decision throws out a March 2014 ruling by a regional NLRB director in Chicago who said that college the football players are effectively school employees and entitled to organize. Monday’s decision did not directly address the question of whether football players are employees.
The labor dispute goes to the heart of American college sports, where universities and conferences reap billions of dollars, mostly through broadcast contracts, by relying on amateurs who are not paid. In other countries, college sports are small-time club affairs, while elite youth athletes often turn pro as teens.
From the beginning of this brouhaha I’ve felt that this was a solution in search of a problem. It seems to me that we either have to jointly decide that college athletes are amateurs or they are professionals. It’s a distinction which applies outside of colleges as well, and you can still compete in other sports at the highest levels while retaining amateur status. (The US Open in golf, for example. Also, almost all boxers start out as amateurs for a while before they can take their first professional fight.) If they are amateurs then they need to put in their time until they can turn pro. But if we are to treat college athletes as professionals who are owed some sort of compensation – particularly the football and basketball players – then the entire idea of this being a “side activity” in support of their education pretty much goes out the window.
But at the same time, it’s getting rather hard to ignore the hypocrisy inherent in the system. We’ve seen far too many stories about student athletes who graduate and receive a degree and some of them can barely read. This is something of an embarrassment for those who wind up in the NBA or the NFL, but it’s an absolute disaster for the kids who can’t make the cut and find themselves out on the streets with a sheepskin, but no skills and no ability to get a decent job outside of sports. Still, it seems like setting them up with some cash while supposedly being amateurs working on their studies compounds the problem rather than confronting it.
One last point to note is the reaction of the NLRB themselves. If they say no to unionizing somebody… it must be a really bad idea.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


From Free Fall to Free Markets: How Wisconsin Turned Itself Around | The American Spectator

Just four years ago, if you asked me what word best described the economic outlook in Wisconsin, “bleak” would have been the first to come to mind. The state faced a $3.6 billion deficit, high unemployment, and a future that was far brighter for big labor and special interests than it was for Wisconsin taxpayers.

But now, Wisconsin is back on a path to prosperity. Businesses are growing, families are going back to work, and by almost every measure of success, Wisconsin’s economy is thriving.

What caused such a dramatic turnaround?

One thing: Governor Scott Walker and the state legislature embarked on an ambitious and bold agenda to bring free market reforms to every corner of the state. Together, legislators worked to reform the state’s broken tax code, free workers from union mandates, repeal the state’s outdated prevailing wage law, and make Wisconsin a better place to live, work and raise a family.

No longer will Badger State employees be compelled to join a labor union and pay dues as a condition of employment. No longer will school districts and local governments be forced to pay up to 45 percent more for labor on taxpayer-financed construction projects. And no longer will the state’s taxpayers be required to carry the burden of out-of-control government benefits.

Plain and simple, Wisconsin is finally on the right track.

New state borrowing has been reduced to the lowest levels in 20 years. Property taxes have been reduced to the lowest levels since 1946, and taxes have been cut by more than $2 billion.

Most importantly, these reforms aren’t just making a difference for lawmakers required to balance the budget. They’re also making a difference in the lives of everyday Wisconsinites and the hard-working families who, for years, had struggled to make ends meet.

Take for example our state’s unemployment rate which, at 4.6 percent, is at a six-year low and almost a full point lower than the national average. Employment is at an all-time highand Wisconsin has literally never had more jobs than it has today.

In 2014, Wisconsin businesses exported more goods than ever before — more than $23.4 billion worth, no doubt helped by the many new businesses flooding into the state.
Families are earning more too. Wisconsin’s median family income is up more than six percent since 2011 to $55,258 a year, rising almost twice as fast as the rest of the country.

The turnaround has been so great that Wisconsin is now ranked the fourth best state in the nation for finding a job — after North Dakota, Texas, and Nebraska. And, if Wisconsin, once weighed down by onerous regulations and costly mandates, can now count itself among the likes of these stunning examples of economic freedom, then clearly the state is doing something right.

Wisconsin is indeed open for business.

Unions Send Dues Money to Planned Parenthood

Nearly half a million to top abortionist, mostly for political purposes

The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston

Labor groups sent nearly half a million dollars to Planned Parenthood in 2014, according to federal disclosure forms.
Three of the nation’s largest unions—the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), contributed $435,000 to the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Almost all of that money was spent on political advocacy. AFSCME donated $400,000 to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which spent about $1 million helping Democratic campaigns in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. UFCW categorized its $10,000 donation as political activity in federal labor filings.
Not all of the donations were political in nature. Some were categorized as charitable contributions to the billion-dollar organization, which performs more than 300,000 abortions each year. The remaining $25,000 given by AFSCME and SEIU were described as “grants” to a “tax-exempt organization.”
None of the unions returned request for comment about the specific purpose of the donations or whether they intended to maintain relations with the organization in the wake of recent scandals.
The Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group, has released several hours of video of top Planned Parenthood officials discussing organ harvesting and the sale of remains in manner that may run afoul of federal law. The group released a fourth video Thursday showing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Vice President Dr. Savita Ginde sifting through the remains of “another boy” while drawing attention to various organs and praising a “per item” payment schedule for pieces of the fetuses.
“It’s a baby,” she said on tape as an assistant probed the body for intact body parts to sell to undercover videographers posing as prospective organ buyers.
While donating fetal body parts is legal, federal law prohibits the alteration of abortion techniques to harvest usable parts of the fetus, and also prohibits any sale of the body parts.
Planned Parenthood and Democrats have attempted to shield the group, which now faces three congressional investigations, by saying the “tissue donations” are used for medical research. Ginde, the Rocky Mountain executive, told the CMP actors that the group would use the blanket term “research” to justify its financial benefit from the sale of body parts.

Two Rulings Reject Union Boss Attempts to Attack Michigan Employees’ Right to Work without Paying Union Dues

State Supreme Court and Federal District Court both rule against union challenges to Right to Work protections for public- and private-sector employees

Detroit, MI (July 31, 2015) – Today, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has issued an order dismissing an AFL-CIO legal challenge to Michigan's recently-enacted private-sector Right to Work law. Meanwhile, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Civil Service Commission has no authority to require state employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, responded to these developments with the following statement:
“Despite union lawyers’ best efforts, two spurious attempts to undermine Michigan’s popular Right to Work laws have failed. In both cases, Foundation staff attorneys filed briefs for Michigan employees who opposed any attempt to restore union officials’ forced-dues privileges.”
“Thanks to these decisions, Michigan civil servants and private-sector employees will continue to enjoy Right to Work protections, which ensure that they cannot be fired for refusing to join or pay dues to a union. Any Michigan workers who need help exercising their right to cut off union dues or fees should immediately contact the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid.”
In the public sector case, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief for Thomas Haxby, an employee of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. After Michigan's Right to Work law went into effect, Haxby resigned his membership in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 517M, one of the unions that filed the suit, and opted out of paying union dues.

Responding to the AFL-CIO’s legal challenge to Michigan’s private-sector Right to Work law, Foundation staff attorneys also filed a brief for four Michigan employees, all of whom were employed in workplaces covered by a forced-dues contract between their employers and unions before the Right to Work law was enacted.
Prior to enactment of the Right to Work laws, the four workers could be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs, despite the fact they were not union members and opposed a union presence.
Private-sector Michigan employees seeking to learn about their rights under Right to Work should read the Foundation’s special legal notice:
Public-sector Michigan employees seeking to learn about their rights under Right to Work should read the Foundation’s special legal notice:
Any employee who needs help exercising his or her rights can contact the Foundation for free legal aid by calling 1-800-336-3600 or through the Foundation’s website:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Left’s Fight-for-$15 Scam

The current feel-good push for a $15 an hour minimum wage has nothing to do with helping workers and everything to do with advancing the goals of the left wing, especially the labor movement.

This is true despite the occasionally soaring rhetoric of President Obama amid the Left’s incessant whining about “income inequality,” itself a particularly un-American concept, an imaginary evil that dwells only in the nightmares of left-wingers. The fact gets lost that the minimum wage itself and continuing increases in the minimum wage hurt working people. Period. And as economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, minimum wage laws themselves have an inglorious history, having been used to price minorities out of labor markets. If a racist business owner has a choice between a person whose race he likes and someone whose race he doesn’t like and their services cost the same, take a guess whom he’ll pick.

Raising the hourly minimum wage, whether to a job-killing $15 or a higher dollar figure, isn’t intended to aid those who are financially struggling. It’s not compassionate; in fact it’s the opposite. It doesn’t help the poor. It’s a left-wing vote-buying scam that moves money around on an Alinskyite chess board. Democrats desperately want to recapture the House and Senate so they can impose even more destructive progressive policies on the populace. They use the minimum wage, which has become a “motherhood” issue for the Left in recent years. It gets bleeding-heart voters to the polls the way that opposition to same-sex marriage used to get conservative voters to the polls.

Hiking required hourly pay is about redistributing wealth to fat-cat labor unions and recruiting Democratic voters. It allows the gluttonous Left to gorge itself on other people’s money.

No serious economist doubts that raising the minimum wage eliminates jobs from the workforce. How it does this is not rocket science.

Workers whose skills aren’t worth $15 an hour to employers, teenagers for example, won’t get hired. Summer jobs and part-time jobs for students evaporate which makes young scholars more dependent on student loan programs. Businesses like fast food purveyors don’t want to be forced out of business. Justifiably insistent on preserving their profitability, they fire employees and install specialized robots and touch-screen ordering systems. Major restaurant chains and gas station-convenience stores are already doing this.

Some of the newly unemployed people end up on welfare which helps to expand the size and scope of government. People who are dependent on the government tend to support Democrats. It’s a big win-win for the Left no matter how you look at it.

New York’s loud left-wing demagogue of a governor, the relentlessly strident Andrew Cuomo (D), wants to impose the $15 an hour wage mandate on a specific industry without bothering to consult the state legislature in Albany because he knows such a move is a crowd pleaser. A panel of lapdogs appointed by Cuomo gave him political cover by recommending last week that the minimum wage be raised to $15 for all fast-food restaurant chains of a certain size in New York State.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Bill Would Guarantee Secret Ballot For Workers

Republicans are pushing for legislation that could fundamentally shift American labor law away from hereditary and coercive unionism.
On Monday, GOP lawmakers in the house and Senate introduced the Employee Rights Act, a bill that would guarantee secret ballot union elections. It also allows workers to hold regular re-certification to see whether unions still enjoy support from members, a stark change from the status quo in which unions inherit members unless employees successfully follow onerous decertification procedures.
Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.) introduced the legislation in Congress with the hope that it will return the focus of labor law to individual workers, rather than businesses and unions.
“Whether it be the right to secret ballots on union elections, an opt-in requirement for union dues be used for political donations, or protection of union coercion or threats – this bill puts the power back to the individual to allow them to use their own conscience in workplace decisions,” Price said at a Monday press conference.
Workers are not always given the opportunity to take an up-or-down vote on unionization. Karen Cox, an employee at Americold Logistics in Rochelle, Ill., has been fighting to decertify the Retailers Union since it used card check procedure to unionize her and about 100 co-workers. She has since petitioned the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union elections, with about 40 other colleagues for a secret ballot election. The agency denied two of those efforts before granting an election. A union appeal led local NLRB officials to throw out the ballots before releasing the result, according to Cox.
“We all thought we were going to have an election, make an informed decision for or against, but they snuck their way in and bypassed a secret ballot election,” she said.  “I totally believe they [the NLRB] were working in the union’s interest over workers.”
Cox said politicians should understand that the status quo of labor relations has drifted away from the worker.
“I think it’s important for [lawmakers] to know that I’m just exercising my rights, and I still face an uphill battle with the NLRB,” she said.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Did ICE Violate Its Own Deportation Guidelines in Arresting Chicago-Area Unionized Meatpackers?

On Friday, June 26, workers from the Ruprecht Company’s meatpacking factory in Mundelein, Illinois, walked off the job in a spontaneous strike against a pending immigration audit. Several weeks later, eight Ruprecht workers, three of whom are members of UNITE HERE Local 1, have been apprehended by immigration authorities.
In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the eight workers were picked up after the department discovered the workers had records that fall within its priorities for arrest during a routine immigration audit. ICE claims the workers’ past charges include drunk driving, theft and felony fraud. But organizers argue that the audit and subsequent arrests, which took place while a group of Ruprecht workers were in union negotiations and followed the filing of two unfair labor practices (ULPs) could violate ICE’s own rules against interfering in workplaces that are in the midst of labor disputes.  
(Garrett Wilber/ Flickr)  According to a December 2011 memorandum between ICE and the Department of Labor, “ICE agrees to refrain from engaging in civil work site enforcement activities at a worksite that is the subject of an existing DOL investigation of a labor dispute.” The memorandum opens the door to several exceptions to this pledge, including national security issues, but primarily creates a space for ICE and the DOL to consider individual cases. 
Dan Abraham, organizing director for UNITE HERE Local 1, says the department should heed its own edict. “ICE should stay out of the workforce when there is collective bargaining, and immigration audits should not be conducted in workplaces where there are unfair labor practice charges pending,” he says.
ICE contends that it “plays no role in any ongoing labor disputes when conducting investigations involving an employee’s eligibility to work lawfully in the United States.” But an immigration audit can have consequences that weaken a unionized workplace. Tim Bell, an organizer with the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative who is not involved with the Ruprecht case but is a longtime organizer with immigrant workers, says he has seen several cases where an audit has caused unionized employees to either quit their jobs for fear of deportation or be apprehended as a result of the audit.
The result, says Bell, is “the union loses its members and the company figures out ways to replace those workers,” often with temp workers.
Whether the eight workers are eligible for relief under some of the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion or deferred action programs is unclear. In November 2014, immigration authorities divided ICE priorities for deportation into three categories, with individuals who had felonies at level one, the “highest priority” for apprehension and removal for the department. Some immigrants who are in deportation proceedings may qualify for asylum under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) plan, but the order has been stalled amidst a legal battle around its constitutionality.
By the estimation of the detained immigrants, however, the enforcement priorities don’t appear to make a significant difference, says Hena Mansori, supervising attorney of the National Immigrant Justice Center’s Adult Detention Project.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How workers are winning in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin

How workers are winning in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin
Hillary Rodham Clinton shed her usual sunny demeanor on Monday and snarled at Republicans in general and one presidential candidate in particular.
“Republican governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights, and practically all Republican candidates would do the same as president,” Clinton growled at Manhattan’s New School. “I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks. Evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men. So, if we want to get serious about raising income, we have to get serious about supporting union workers.”
Later that day, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka snapped, “Scott Walker is a national disgrace.”
Liberals like Clinton and Trumka have it all wrong. Workers have been waxing, not waning, under Walker. And they can thank his free-market reforms for improving their lives.
If there’s one thing workers value, it’s work. And on this score, Wisconsin’s Republican governor has delivered.
The Badger State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.4 percent in January 2011 (the month of Walker’s inauguration) to 4.6 percent in May 2015 (the latest available figure).
US joblessness dropped from 9.0 percent to 5.5 percent over that period. Wisconsin’s unemployment, thus, stands well below America’s.
May’s labor-force participation rate also was higher in Wisconsin (67.9 percent) than across America (62.9 percent). These figures are down in both places, compared to when Walker arrived.
In January 2011, 69.1 percent of working-age Wisconsinites held jobs, versus 64.2 percent of Americans. This key metric has slipped 1.7 percent in Wisconsin, but has slid 2.0 percent nationwide.
Concerning ready cash, workers are faring significantly better under Walker than Obama.
According to the latest Census statistics, Wisconsin’s inflation-adjusted, median household income grew 2.7 percent, from $53,795 in 2010 to $55,258 in 2013. During those years, America’s equivalent household income shrank 1.3 percent, from $52,646 to $51,939. Indeed, under Walker, workers’ paychecks swelled by double what they shriveled under Obama.
In terms of “workers’ rights,” Wisconsinites now enjoy the right to work. In March, Walker signed a bill passed by the Republican-led legislature.
This new law recognizes a woman’s right to choose whether or not to join a union. (This statute applies to men, too.) Wisconsinites no longer may be compelled to join unions as a condition of employment. Clinton and Trumka are anti-choice on union membership.
Wisconsin’s government also stopped forcibly withholding union dues from the wages of its public employees. Labor bosses now must ask these workers for those sums, rather than snatch them even before public servants see them in their paychecks.
Ironically, Wisconsin’s new status as a right-to-work state may benefit unions as well as workers.
“Not only are right-to-work laws associated with higher economic growth, but union membership actually has increased faster over the past decade in right-to-work states than in forced-unionization states,” explains Jared Meyer, a labor economist, a fellow with the Manhattan Institute, and a source for many of the data presented here.
“The reason for this counterintuitive result is that, for too long, union bosses increasingly have focused on playing politics rather than meeting their members’ needs. In right-to-work states, unions actually have to provide value to their members, since workers are free to leave unions, if they feel that the dues taken out of their hard-earned paychecks are being wasted.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Democrats Want To Outlaw ‘Unfair’ Work Schedules

In the name of fairness, congressional Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday that would put significant restrictions on how employers schedule their employees.

“This bill is about basic fairness,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement. “A single mom should know if her hours are being canceled before she arranges for daycare and drives halfway across town to show up at work.”

Nearly 80 lawmakers out of the House and Senate introduced the measure. The Schedules That Work Act will add restrictions on how employers can schedule their employees. If passed, it would ban employers from putting their employees on call, splitting their shifts, sending workers home with no pay, or punishing them for requesting schedule changes.

“Someone who wants to go to school to get an education should not be able to get fired just for asking for a more predictable schedule,” Warren continued. “A worker who is told to wait around on-call for hours with no guarantee of work hours should get something for his time. It’s time to end unfair scheduling practices that hurt workers and families.”

“This bill is extraordinarily intrusive in how it would direct employers to run their operations,” Marc Freedman, an executive director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw’s Employment Law Lookout.

“It will not create new jobs, open up opportunities, nor spur economic growth,” he continued. “In fact, one potential consequence is that employers will cut back on the number of part time and other non-full time employees they carry.”

 The measure is backed by a variety of labor unions, like the Communications Workers of America and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

“Too many hardworking Americans face difficult situations due to erratic employer scheduling,” AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler said in a statement. “Especially women and low-wage workers.”

Democrats have tried to pass similar measures in the past. Just last year, former Democratic Rep. George Miller tried to pass his version of the bill but it failed to make it out of the Republican-controlled House. At the time, business leaders argued the policy would be unfair to employers and could have adverse consequences for employees.

Via: Daily Caller

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

‘No freaking way!’ Teachers revolt over union’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For a union built on democracy, activist teachers are wondering how the American Federation of Teachers could have possibly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president without them knowing about it.
Candi Peterson, Washington (D.C.) Teachers’ Union, pennedan article at Common Dreams in which several die-hard union activists appeared to be utterly befuddled by the national union’s sudden announcement.
Chicago activist Katie Osgood says, “I know many AFT members too and have not heard one person polled either.” The union claimed it polled members on their opinions.
According to the calculation of “Mr. Stevens,” only .04 percent of members were surveyed.
New York City teacher Arthur Goldstein tells the news site, “…AFT Link says they used telephone town halls and a web-based survey, I didn’t even know existed.”
Mary Ahern calls the endorsement “B.S.”
Phil Soreneson tweeted to AFT president Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten, “glad I’m NEA, u don’t speak for me, u just made teachers’ look politically inept. Thanks for nothing,” according to Common Dreams.

Others were equally incensed.
The union’s move comes as Sanders is surging in the polls in key states and drawing huge crowds.
The AFT’s national endorsement is also likely a plan to negate any local teachers union endorsements.
The union of Sanders’ home state — an affiliate of the larger National Education Association — has already endorsed the Vermont senator.
“We are not used to getting involved in presidential primaries particularly early,” Vermont-NEA spokesman Darren Allen tells the Burlington Free Press.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that this union is heartily behind Bernie’s message.”
“We’ve never had Bernie running for president,” adds Martha Allen, state union president.
Via: EAG
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Massachusetts: Democrats now cast wary eye on Baker

The governor’s announcement in February of a panel to overhaul the MBTA has led to disagreements with unions.

The governor’s announcement in February of a panel to overhaul the MBTA has led to disagreements with unions.
Union workers are frustrated by Charlie Baker’s bid to privatize services at the MBTA.
Environmentalists worry that he plans to gut the state’s clean air and water regulations.
Advocates for criminal sentencing reform say he appears to have cooled to their agenda, despite campaign promises.
Baker, a Republican who was elected governor by appealing to Democrats as well as his more natural constituencies, has, in the course of governing, demonstrated how difficult it is to please everyone on every issue.
Consider his fumble last week over the question of removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House, after the massacre at an African-American church in Charleston. His initial answer: Leave it to the state to decide. But an immediate backlash forced him to back down and call for the flag’s removal. Friends, Baker said, had asked him, “What were you thinking?”
“Charlie Baker is a conservative, it will continue to emerge, and there will be some people who will be surprised by it,’’ said Peter Ubertaccio, an associate political science professor at Stonehill College.
In his first few months in office, Baker was mostly managing broken agencies, trying to make the MBTA’s trains run on time, getting the highways plowed, and closing a budget deficit, applying the managerial skills that were his strong suit in his race for governor.
But analysts say Baker is now crafting policies and spending decisions that sometimes go against the liberal grain of Massachusetts politics.
To be sure, the governor enjoys sky-high popularity ratings from the public. And he has made several decisions — raising pay for home health care workers, funding urban programs, increasing budgets for environmental programs — that are likely to be popular among liberals and moderates.
For its part, the Baker administration points with pride to his progress on attacking the state budget deficit, while spending on public education and other critical areas without raising taxes.
“Additionally, the administration, one of the most bipartisan in recent history, has won praise from leading Democrats for the governor’s crossing the aisle on issues such as battling the opioid epidemic, aiding low-income families, and offering state government opportunities to minorities,” said Tim Buckley, a Baker spokesman.
At this point, none of the criticisms of Baker has jelled into full-throated opposition from Democratic leaders. In fact, the first-year governor appears to have good relations with the Democrats who run the House and Senate.
Still, Baker’s unusually warm honeymoon is showing its first signs of fraying. It’s not a political crisis, but small cracks in the eclectic coalition that put him in the governor’s office are appearing.
It is particularly evident among some of the Democrats — liberals and moderates — who comfortably crossed party lines and chose Baker over Democrat Martha Coakley in last November’s election. Despite his conservative leanings, they found him to be sensible, approachable, and compassionate.
“Constituencies and interest groups can read into a candidate anything they want,’’ Ubertaccio said “With Baker, you could watch the campaign last fall and say, ‘He’s not a threat to my interests.’ But in the end he is a conservative.’’
The most high-profile example of such tension involves Baker’s push to privatize some services at the beleaguered MBTA, against the wishes not only of the T’s unionized workers (whose radio advertisements warn of “shark privatizers”), but also Democrats in the state Senate.
But there are less heralded skirmishes as well.

Friday, July 3, 2015

CALIFORNIA: Will Union Members Stay if Friedrichs Wins Case against CTA?

The United States Supreme Court announcement that it will consider the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case next fall produced handwringing and dire predictions that this could result in the end of public unions. Those who make those statements must think that the public unions are not offering representation that their members want. If the court sides with teacher Rebecca Friedrichs who opposes mandatory union dues, mandatory dues would end but voluntary union dues can continue. If the union does what the members want they will continue to get support.
David Savage’s article in the Los Angeles Times, which covers the circumstances around the case well, quotes Friedrichs, “I don’t have a voice or vote in the union, and I’m opposed to forced fees and forced unionism.”
Friedrichs and other teachers involved in the lawsuit do not approve of positions the union takes and object to their dues paid into the CTA treasury for positions with which they disagree. While teachers can opt out of dues directed to the union for political purposes, many have argued that the line is blurred between the union’s political activities and work-related representation.
Not wanting to pay money for issues with which one disagrees is a reasonable position. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions, which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”
While this bit of wisdom appeared in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom the sentiment can clearly apply to the protesting teachers situation.
If the case is successful – something that is far from certain – there is no telling how many union members will call it quits. CTA is certainly concerned with the outcome. Last year, CTA prepared a working paper titled, “Not if, but when: Living in a World without Fair Share.” The document predicted loss of revenue and membership if the system titled “Fair Share” requiring mandatory dues was overturned by a court.
In such a circumstance, members would have a choice on whether to support the union. Then the union will have to prove its worth to members.

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