Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

San Bernardino’s bankruptcy plan favors CalPERS
By Paloma Esquivel & Joe Mozingo, May 18, 2015, Los Angeles Times
San Bernardino’s plan to exit bankruptcy has at least one winner, plenty of losers and could have repercussions for other California cities. The city will pay every penny of the almost $50 million it owes to the California Public Employee Retirement System, known as CalPERS, if a federal judge approves the plan. But it will only pay one penny for every dollar it owes to some bondholders who helped the city pay its CalPERS bill over the years. (read article)

Take Our Jobs, Please
By Jon Coupal, May 19, 2015, California Political Review
There’s a joke about public sector union bosses making the rounds in Sacramento lately: What happens when the California Legislature hands over a blank check to the California Teachers Association? It’s returned the next day marked “insufficient.” (read article)

Unions Pour Millions into Clinton Foundation
By Bill McMorris, May 18, 2015, Washington Free Beacon
Big labor funneled millions of dollars in dues money to the Clinton Foundation, according to a new report. The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), a union watchdog group, traced at least $2 million in donations from multiple union organizations and affiliates. (read article)

Anti-union groups target California teachers
By Michelle Kern, May 18, 2015, People’s World
Pro-corporate education anti-union groups have taken aim at California teachers unions with two separate lawsuits – one of which would strip away the right for unions to collect “fair pay” or “agency fees” from non-members; and another which argues the right of workers to be represented by the union, and to vote in union elections, but to not have to join the union or pay agency fees. (read article)

Labor union admits union ‘Fight for $15′ campaign will kill jobs
By Jason Hart, May 18, 2015, Watchdog.org
A win for labor unions in their “Fight for $15″ campaign will mean some workers lose their jobs, a construction union said last week. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 570 in Phoenix admitted “some people” will “lose their jobs” if the mandatory minimum wage is hiked to $15 an hour as union bosses demand. (read article)

NLRB Flaunts Right to Work Laws
May 18, 2015, NILRR.org
The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Chairmand and General Counsel will both be called before the Senate to answer questions about recent decisions that clearly favor Big Labor. (read article)

Union Sees Allies in Franchisees
By Julie Jargon, May 18, 2015, Wall Street Journal
The union seeking to organize fast-food workers is adopting the unusual tactic of trying to form an alliance with disgruntled franchisees of big chains. The Service Employees International Union said Monday it has filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what the labor group claims are abusive practices on the part of major franchise companies including McDonald’s Corp. and 7-Eleven Inc. (read article)

School districts seek help with pension bailout costs
By Chris Reed, May 17, 2015, CalWatchdog.com
The bailout of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System enacted last year requires a 70 percent increase in pension contributions from school districts, a 20 percent increase from the state general fund and a 10 percent increase in teacher contributions. (read article)

Tax hike made sense during recession, but no longer
By George Skelton, May 17, 2015, Los Angeles Times
If Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget plan proved anything last week, it is that his 2012 tax increase should quietly fade into history as he promised. There’s no justification for continuing to sock the highest income earners — the people who can most easily move to a low-tax state — when Sacramento is wallowing in surplus money….Yet, the teachers union and some liberal Democrats — not Brown — are plotting to extend the tax hike that was advertised to voters as temporary. (read article)

Unions resorting to typical tactics
By Forrest Fife, May 17, 2015, Shreveport Times
Public sector unions are the only group authorized to have automatic payroll deduction that heavily engage in politics. The dues being collected may not directly fund political candidates or campaigns, but they support lobbying, grassroots advocacy, and many other inherently political activities. (read article)

Activists look to courts to weaken grip of California teachers union
By Christopher Cadelago, May 16, 2015, Sacramento Bee
One by one, bills to change education policy are foundering in California. Democratic legislators shelved a measure to extend from two to three years the time it takes for teachers to achieve tenure. They dispatched an effort to do away with the “last-in-first-out” policy that says the least experienced teachers should go first during budget-driven layoffs. They killed a teacher evaluation bill that sought to offer remedial training for struggling educators.Each was opposed by the California Teachers Association, the 325,000-member group that has long exerted its influence over legislation and elections. (read article)

A new round in battle over Proposition 13
May 16, 2015, Press Democrat
Article XIII A of the California constitution is better known as Proposition 13. Approved by voters 37 years ago, its best-known provision rolled back property taxes and capped future increases. For politicians, Prop. 13 is a no-go zone. It might be easier to change the law of gravity. Yet, as Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters reports, a coalition of labor unions and liberal interest groups is preparing an initiative targeting commercial property owners. (read article)

Pa. bills target secret public-sector union contracts
By Andrew Staub, May 16, 2015, The Mercury
Two pieces of legislation that recently cleared the state Senate would give taxpayers a better look at public-sector union contract negotiations, but Democrats and union leaders have decried the effort as an attempt to undermine organized labor. One bill would require that the Independent Fiscal Office analyze the cost impact of proposed public-sector union contracts. A second would mandate those proposed collective bargaining agreements be posted online for two weeks before a deal is finalized. (read article)

Court sides with fruit farm in fight with workers union
By Sudhin Thanawala & Scott Smith, May 15, 2015, Associated Press
A California appeals court sided with one of the largest fruit farms in the nation, ruling that a law allowing the state to order unions and farming companies to reach binding contracts was unconstitutional. Labor activists say the mandatory mediation and conciliation law is a key to helping farm workers improve working conditions. However, the 5th District Court of Appeal said Thursday it does not clearly state the standards that the contracts are supposed to achieve. (read article)

Want to Kill a City? Ask Unions.
May 15, 2015, LaborPains.org
Recently, Baltimore, Maryland was racked by days of protests that surged into one night of violent rioting after a man died under suspicious circumstances—ruled by prosecutors to be an alleged criminal homicide—while in police custody. (read article)

The canary in Costa Mesa’s coalmine
May 14, 2015, Orange County Register
A largely academic study presented by Costa Mesa’s Pension Oversight Committee has reaffirmed what those paying attention to the mounting pension crisis already knew: Pension payments will soon outpace general fund revenue growth and risk crowding out necessary services. (read article)

Do unions spell charter school doom?
By Ingrid Jaques, May 14, 2015, Detroit News
Several charter schools in Detroit are battling to keep teachers unions out. Last week, teachers at University YES Academy voted to organize. And today teachers at U Prep Schools will hold their vote. It’s expected to be close. What do charter schools stand to lose when their teachers organize? (read article)

Republican Senate Leader Attacks NLRB For Going After Right-To-Work States
By Conrad D. Wolf, May 14, 2015, Daily Caller
Senate Leader Lamar Alexander, a Republican, went after federal labor board Chairman Mark Pearce Thursday over a recent decision that he says undermines state right-to-work laws. In April, Pearce, the chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), made a request for legal briefs to examine whether employees in right-to-work states should be forced to pay union regardless of if they are a member of their workplace’s union. Right-to-work, which has passed in 25 states, outlaws mandatory union dues or any form of fees as a condition of employment. (read article)

The Assault on Unions Is Hurting All Workers
By Karla Walter & Jackie Odum, May 14, 2015, Newsweek
Anti-union state and local policymakers in communities across the country are attacking an already weakened labor movement by enacting so-called right-to-work laws that inhibit workers from bargaining for better wages and benefits. “Right-to-work laws” make it illegal for workers and employers to negotiate a contract that requires everyone who benefits from a union contract to pay their fair share of the costs of administering it. (read article)

Unions target Prop. 13 again
May 13, 2015, Orange County Register
Public employee unions are leading a charge to take on what has long been considered a “third rail” of California politics: Proposition 13. The Make It Fair coalition, led by public unions such as the Service Employees International Union, California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers, proposes increasing property taxes for commercial properties. (read article)

Calpers Wins Pension Lawsuit, Not Good News for Chicago (or Bondholders in General)
By Mike Shedlock, May 13, 2015, GlobalEconomicAnalysis.blogspot.com
In bankruptcy, the federal courts have ruled that cities can reduce pension obligations. They can, but they don’t have to. In Detroit, bondholders were sacrificed to maintain police and fire pensions with minimal haircuts. On Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury ruled against bondholders in favor of Calpers in the San Bernardino bankruptcy. (read article)

Missouri Passes Anti-Union Bill, but It Isn’t Veto-Proof
By Eli Yokely, May 13, 2015, New York Times
The Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly on Wednesday approved legislation that would enact a so-called right-to-work policy in the state, but it fell far short of the required number of votes to overcome a likely veto from Gov. Jay Nixon. The bill would bar employers from making representation fees or union dues a condition of employment. (read article)

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