Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Labor unions take forced fees from 550,000 nonmembers
By Jason Hart, April 27, 2015, Watchdog.org
You make it, we’ll take it. To keep their jobs, 554,799 American workers were forced last year to pay union agency fees. In the 25 states without right-to-work laws, unions can take mandatory “fair share” or “agency” fees from workers who decline union membership. Those fees often amount to hundreds of dollars per year. (read article)

Labor Troubles Return To Los Angeles, Long Beach Ports As Truck Drivers Strike
By Cole Stangler, Ap;ril 27, 2015, International Business Times
Weeks after West Coast shippers and dockworkers resolved a tense and costly contract dispute, labor strife is returning to California ports. Backed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, hundreds of truck drivers went on strike indefinitely Monday at companies that service the the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest cargo hub. Together, the four targeted companies — Pacific 9 Transportation, Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacer Cartage and Pacer subsidiary Harbor Rail Transit — employ about 500 drivers, according to Teamsters official Barb Maynard. (read article)

Pew: Labor unions ‘shriveled’ to just 14 million
By Paul Bedard, April 27, 2015, Washington Examiner
Union membership has been cut nearly in half since 1983, with virtually all industries bleeding membership, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. In a report out Monday, Pew found that 11 percent of the workforce belongs to a union, down from 20 percent in 1983. In numbers, there are 14.6 million union members compared to 17.6 million in 1983. (read article)

Walker Supports National Right to Work Bill
By O. Kay Henderson, April 27. 2015, NILRR.com
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, having just signed a state Right to Work law for the Badger State, recently commented he would support a national Right To Work law also. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he has the “courage…and capacity” to take on powerful interests, including unions, at the federal level. (read article)

Teachers’ Union Propaganda Is Creeping Into CA’s Public School Curriculum
By Larry Sand, April 26, 2015, California Political Review
To say California’s teachers’ unions wield outsize influence over state education policy is hardly novel. From setting tenure rules to rewriting dismissal statutes and blocking pension reforms, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers roam the halls of the legislature like varsity all-stars. But less well known are the unions’ efforts to remake curriculum — and thereby influence the next generation of citizens and voters. (read article)

Public, private sector wage gap heavily favors many L.A. city workers
By Peter Jamison & Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
For almost a year, the labor groups representing roughly 20,000 Los Angeles city workers have battled at the bargaining table for people like Marshall Turner. Turner supports his union. Yet when it comes to his job, he’s not complaining. A 59-year-old garbage-truck driver, he made $95,696 last year including overtime. (read article)

Head In Sand Approach Leaves  Municipal Backside Exposed— Again
By Robert Schussel, Ph.D, April 25, 2015,Vallejo Independent Bulletin
How greed and the youthful longevity of Vallejo’s municipal retirees is charting a path towards a second Vallejo bankruptcy. (read article)

Local government services still crowded out by pensions
By Stephen Eide, April 24, 2015, Orange County Register
Californians have been hearing a lot of good news recently about their state’s finances. The credit rating has been trending up, revenue is in surplus and the days of issuing IOUs to manage multibillion-dollar deficits seem like a distant memory. But this comeback narrative is nowhere more misleading than with respect to local government services, which have yet to fully recover from the most-recent recession. The cause is soaring retirement benefit costs, whose growth has outpaced that of revenue, thus crowding out space in local budgets for services. (read article)

Union Takes on L.A.’s Largest Charter Chain
By Samatha Winslow, April 24, 2015, The Indypendent
Teachers and counselors at Los Angeles’ largest charter school chain are thinking big. Instead of unionizing school by school, they’re pushing Alliance College-Ready Charter Schools to agree to ground rules for organizing, without boss interference, at all 26 schools in the chain. (read article)
https://www.indypendent.org/2015/04/24/union-takes-las-largest-charter-chain

Rebirth of Progressivism May Breathe New Life in Labor Unions
By Bob Bussel, April 24, 2015, GoodMen Project.com
A decade and a half into the 21st century, the American labor movement resembles a chronically ill patient suffering from multiple maladies. Unions have been pummeled by the converging forces of globalization, the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, an unfavorable political climate and fierce employer resistance to organizing. The result: in 2014 the share of the US labor force that belongs to unions fell to a 102-year low of 11.1%. Legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin – previously strongholds of labor strength – have recently passed right-to-work legislation aimed at encouraging workers to opt out of union membership and deny unions the resources they need to be effective. (read article)

Tollway ends deal that guaranteed union labor on projects
By Richard Wronski, April 24, 2014, Chicago Tribune
The Illinois Tollway board has voted to scrap a 20-year-old agreement that requires contractors to use union workers on construction projects in exchange for assurances against strikes, slowdowns or walkouts. By a 6-3 vote Thursday — a rare show of disagreement — Illinois State Toll Highway Authority directors ended the so-called Multi-Project Labor Agreement. The agreement required contractors to have collective bargaining pacts with workers as a prerequisite for winning Tollway contracts. (read article)

Best 13 States For ‘Economic Outlook’ All Have Right to Work Laws
By Stan Greer, April 23, 2015, NILRR.com
The recently released 8th edition of Rich States, Poor States, a survey of the economic policies, past performance and prospects of the 50 states published by the Arlington, Va.-based American Legislative Exchange Council, is like its predecessors brimming with optimism about the ability of state voters and elected officials to control their own financial destinies. Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams, the three co-authors of Rich States, Poor States, clearly believe that, notwithstanding a state’s climate, natural resources and location and regardless of the overall training, abilities and age-composition of its working-age residents, it can significantly accelerate its growth path by adopting better policies. (read article)

Ohio House of Representatives Approves Budget Limiting PLA Mandates
April 23, 2015, The TruthAboutPLAs.com
The Ohio House of Representatives yesterday approved a budget that includes language banning wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreement (PLA) mandates on state-funded construction projects. If enacted, this language will prohibit political subdivisions, including cities, counties and school districts, from imposing PLA mandates on construction projects that receive financial support from the state. (read article)

Unions and Unfunded Pension Liabilities
April 22, 2015,By Phil Hoxie, The Middlebury Campus
As an economics major, I think I have the concept of monetary incentives down pretty well. So why am I even still here writing this column? Why am I asking my parents to pay tuition when I am most likely going to come out of college making about $30,000 as a congressional staffer? It really doesn’t make sense to me from a monetary perspective when I look and see that a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station agent makes around $135,000 a year (Contra Costa Times). (It’s worth keeping in mind that a good public school teacher is lucky to make $70,000 in California). A few reasonable questions to ask would be: how is this possible, and where do I sign up? (read article)

UNIONS SEEK PRESENCE IN CALIFORNIA MARIJUANA BUSINESS
April 22, 2015, NFIB.com
Labor unions are eyeing the rise of the legal marijuana businesses as a possible source of fresh revenue and membership as their historical base shrinks. California’s generally pro-union regulatory environment means expanded legalization of the controlled substance in the state could be a windfall for unions. (read article)

Teachers’ Unions Fight Standardized Testing, and Find Diverse Allies
By Kate Taylor & Motoko Rich, April 20, 2015, New York Times
In Florida, the teachers’ union has lobbied to limit the use of standardized tests, and the governor last week signed a bill that limits the number of hours students can spend taking them. The union in New Jersey financed an advertising campaign in which a grim-faced father talks about his son crying because of tests. And in New York, where local unions have worked closely with parent groups that oppose testing, the president of the state union went so far as to urge parents to opt out of the annual tests, which began last week. (read article)

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