Union Watch Highlights

Union Watch Highlights

Idaho lawmakers target union leverage with bills

By Jessie L. Bonner, February 7, 2011, Bloomberg

Legislation introduced by Republican Reps. Bob Nonini and Reed DeMordaunt last week would ban taxpayer money from going toward a labor organization for dues or to train workers, while also prohibiting school districts from including union activities in job descriptions or paying teachers for any time they spent on those activities. “We need to make sure our dollars are spent in the most effective way possible, particularly with the shortage of dollars we are facing today,” DeMordaunt said. “I really have no problem with the union . but at the same time the taxpayers of Idaho expect those dollars to be going into the classroom and not out recruiting.” (read article)

The United Auto Workers Test Drive a New Model

By Paul Ingrassia, February 7, 2011, The Wall Street Journal

Last month’s auto show in the Motor City saw the debut of some spiffy new models, including the Chrysler 300C sedan and the Toyota Prius station wagon. Also unveiled was a new model of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, at least according to its new president and chief salesman, Bob King. “Our mindset is not adversarial,” declared Mr. King in a speech at a conference sponsored by Automotive News, a leading trade journal. “Our agenda is a positive one of shared responsibility and shared prosperity.” That was a sharp departure, in words at least, from the union’s past. (read article)

Jerry Brown must curb unions

Editorial, February 6, 2011, Long Beach Press-Telegram

Scaling back overfat public pensions has finally begun. Gov. Jerry Brown says his budget plan would raise taxes but also cut spending, therefore it is reasonable. But there’s a better description for it. Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach says any ballot measure that would raise taxes without pension reform should be labeled the Extravagant Pension Subsidy Act, and he is exactly right. Still, there is no serious effort in Sacramento to do anything about it. Overinflated state employees’ pensions are taxpayers’ biggest long-term financial threat, and there is no realistic alternative to deflating them. (read article)

Bills to Change Public Union System Could Affect 43,000 Nebraska Workers

By Nancy Hicks, February 6, 2011, Lincoln Journal Star

Many public employees continue to get raises through union contracts while the recession has hit the tax receipts to the cities and states that pay their wages. At the same time, many employees of private companies have lost jobs or seen wages frozen because of the deep recession. So there is considerable pressure this year to reform the state’s public union system that affects the pay and benefits of about 43,500 Nebraskans, says Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, who is working on that reform. (read article)

Eight seek presidency of United Teachers Los Angeles

By Howard Blume, February 6, 2011, Los Angeles Times

The eight candidates vying to be president of the powerful Los Angeles teachers union share a general belief that public education is endangered by malevolent forces outside and corrupt incompetency inside. From their perspective, corporations seek to bleed dollars from schools and collude with powerful nonprofits, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; a top-heavy, punitive school district bureaucracy stifles innovation while squandering or squirreling away millions; charter schools abuse teachers, drain public resources and take only the best students; and traditional schools need a lot more money. The best weapon against these forces, the candidates assert, is the strongest possible, most combative union to serve as a last bastion against those who seek to do harm to students and teachers. (read article)

Union Rally Exposes California Republicans’ Weak Links

By Steven Greenhut, February 6, 2011, North County Times

After Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address Monday pushing for the Legislature to place a series of tax-extension measures on the ballot, Republicans countered by emphasizing their continuing opposition to higher taxes. For instance, Assemblyman Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, the Assembly minority leader’s top lieutenant, said, “I stand firm in my commitment not to raise taxes, which is a critical component of the governor’s plan to solve the $25.4 billion budget gap. We have to cut state spending to solve our fiscal crisis.” While I oppose the governor’s tax-increase plans, I worry about the credibility of Republicans in opposing them these days. Recently, three Assembly members, including Nestande, joined with Democrats at a union-sponsored rally to oppose government cuts to In-Home Supportive Services. The other two pro-union Republicans are Jim Silva of Huntington Beach and Paul Cook of Yucca Valley. (read article)

Unions Head for Showdown With Senate Over TSA Representation

February 05, 2011, Fox News

Unions that want to represent thousands of airport screeners are heading for a showdown with the Senate as early as Monday, with some lawmakers looking to revoke the collective-bargaining rights the Transportation Security Administration just granted them. TSA Administrator John Pistole announced for the first time Friday that he would allow security officers to bargain over certain workplace conditions like shifts and assignments. (read article)

The DNC’s 2012 Union Convention: The Devil’s In The Details

Editorial, February 4, 2011, Labor Union Report

The good citizens of Charlotte, NC are probably still feeling euphoric over besting Cleveland, Minneapolis and St Louis as the chosen city for the 2012 DNC Convention. However, as the giddiness subsides and people begin to take stock of what they just bit off, it may serve them well to check the fine print of the contract(s) they’ve obligated themselves to. If they do, they may find that being a host isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, especially if your guests turn around and leave your house a mess. (read article)

Unions Can Bargain on Behalf of TSA

By Eric Lipton, February 4, 2011, The New York Times

Seeking to end a debate that has brewed for nearly a decade, the director of the Transportation Security Administration announced on Friday that a union would be allowed to bargain over working conditions on behalf of the nation’s 45,000 airport security officers, although certain issues like pay will not be subject to negotiation. The question of whether unions can negotiate on behalf of airport security workers has been a repeated topic of partisan debate on Capitol Hill, at times threatening to hold up major pieces of legislation or even the Senate confirmation of the agency’s director. (read article)

California Prison Guards Union Called Main Obstacle to Keeping Cellphones Away From Inmates

By Jack Dolan, February 4, 2011, Los Angeles Times

Lawmakers struggling to keep cellphones away from California’s most dangerous inmates say a main obstacle is the politically powerful prison guards union, whose members would have to be paid millions of dollars extra to be searched on their way into work. (read article)

Crony Capitalism Or Raw Corruption?

Editorial, February 3, 2011, Investors Business Daily

The insidiousness of this is obvious. First, make businesses and their owners totally dependent on the whims of bureaucrats. Then, make them beholden to you — partners, if you will, in the corruption of government favoritism. This distorts markets and makes our economy less efficient. It also makes all of us a lot less free. (read article)

Unions expect Florida governor to get his way on pensions

By Rafael A. Olmeda and Sofia Santana, February 2, 2011, Sun Sentinel

Police officers, teachers and government workers across Florida had harsh words Wednesday for Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to have public employees contribute toward their pensions, but the unions representing them expressed little hope that they’ll be able to stop it. In Central Florida, law enforcement unions resurrected a video shot by Scott during his gubernatorial campaign last year in which he said he would “absolutely not” support a cut in pension benefits “for anyone — not state workers, not policemen, not firemen.” For some, the plan Florida’s Republican governor announced this week is tantamount to breaking that pledge. (read article)

More states consider right-to-work laws

Editorial, February 2, 2011, Wall Street Journal

One of the under-appreciated fault lines in the U.S. economy is between the 22 “right-to-work” states and the rest of the country. The former have tended to do much better economically. Now some non-right-to-work states such as Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan are thinking about joining this club that allows workers to opt-out of union membership. Contrary to much union rhetoric, right-to-work laws don’t ban or bust unions. They simply grant individual workers the right to join or not to join, even once a workplace is organized by a union. (read article)

Jack Dean is editor of PensionTsunami.com, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

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