Union Watch Highlights

Union Watch Highlights

Here are links to the top stories available online over the past week reporting on union activity including legislation, financial impact, reform activism, etc., from California and across the USA.

Both sides commend deal that ends BART strike

By Lee Romney, October 22, 2013, Los Angeles Times

It was a waiting game that drove the Bay Area to heights of frustration as strike deadlines came and went and then a four-day work stoppage on BART’s 104-mile commuter rail system sent commuters scrambling — for the second time in four months. Bay Area Rapid Transit management had faced off with its two biggest unions – Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 — since spring, and at times it seemed the discord would never end. But at 10 p.m. Monday it did. Officials announced trains would begin running early Tuesday, with a full schedule in place for the afternoon commute. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom offered his perspective: “This is about people and a lot of people’s lives have been impacted. If there’s any lesson learned, it’s that this can never happen again.” Newsom showed up at the Oakland offices of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for the final hours of negotiations, along with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, a number of state lawmakers and dozens of labor leaders and BART officials. Details of the tentative agreement that brought the strike to an end were sparse, as unions wished to first inform their members. But it seemed to be a true compromise. (read article)

Trains Start Rolling Again in Bay Area as Transit Strike Ends

By Erica Goode, October 22, 2013, The New York Times

Commuter trains here started running again Tuesday morning, after labor unions representing striking workers reached a deal with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system on Monday night. The agency told riders to expect limited service with delays of between 30 and 45 minutes throughout the system until normal operations could resume later in the day. The tentative strike agreement Monday night brought an end to a four-day walkout — the second in three months — that had spawned massive traffic jams and paralyzed travel for hundreds of thousands of increasingly angry daily commuters. “This offer is more than we wanted to pay but it is also a new path in terms of our partnership with our workers,” said Grace Crunican, general manager of the transit system, known as BART. “We compromised to get to this place, as did our union members.” Ms. Crunican, flanked by union leaders and politicians, including Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said no details of the agreement would be released until the unions had a chance to present it to their membership. (read article)

Ohio unions remain steady as opposition postures ‘support’ for Right to Work

By Glenn Selig, October 22, 2013, PR News Channel

As Right to Work supporters ramped up efforts to take the law into their own hands and force the controversial Right to Work agenda onto a statewide ballot in 2014, unions say they are not only ready to fight but believe they have common sense and the public on their side. The Right to Work supporters group, Ohioans for Workplace Freedom, say they have gathered 100,000 signatures in an effort to get the Right to Work legislation on Ohio’s statewide ballot in 2014. Claiming to have 200 people collecting signatures of Ohioans across the state, the group plans a big push en route to collecting the 385,247 valid signatures needed by next year. “We have grown accustomed to each different tactic that our opponents have used in an attempt to get this to become law in Ohio,” said Pat Sink, Ohio’s IUOE Local 18’s business manager. “But our resolve remains unchanged and we will continue to educate the voters so they know the truth. People need to ask themselves if big business is pushing this, how is it good for workers?” According to “The Columbus Dispatch,” the proposed amendment states, “No law, rule, agreement or arrangement shall require any person or employer to become or remain a member of a labor organization.” The amendment also states that no one could be forced to pay dues or an assessment as part of a labor agreement. (read article)

AFL-CIO Warns Democrats About Proposed Medicare Cuts

By Matthew Mientka, October 22, 2013, Medical Daily

As conservatives praise Congressional Republicans for this month’s government shutdown, liberal leaders on the left likewise sought to lockdown Democrats in the looming fight over entitlement spending in Washington. “No politician… and I don’t care the political party… will get away with cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. Don’t try it,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a speech to be given in Las Vegas, on Tuesday. “This warning goes double for Democrats,” he said. “We will never forget. We will never forgive. And we will never stop working to end your career.” Like leaders of the right-wing Tea Party, left-wing labor unions are threatening to punish any bi-partisan dealmakers with political termination. Whereas AFL-CIO leaders had in the past threatened to merely withhold support for such Democrats, Trumka said they would now actively oppose them during future primary races, using massive amounts of political money. Among entitlement spending issues, the so-called “chained CPI,” an inflation index that would slow cost-of-living increases for entitlement beneficiaries, has been declared a redline by labor leaders. (read article)

Oregon’s top health care union launches 5 ballot measures targeting hospital pricing, quality

By Nick Budnick, October 22, 2013, The Oregonian

A union representing health care workers on Monday filed five ballot measures with the Secretary of State’s office targeting hospital pricing, executive salary and transparency. Local 49 of the Service Employees International Union filed the measures for the November 2014 ballot after years of trying to make progress in the Legislature, and getting “roughly bupkis,” says Felisa Hagins, the local’s political director. The measures will be pursued in a campaign called “Act Now for a Healthy Oregon.” Hagins said the union hopes to gather 24,000 signatures for each measure starting this November, once the state issues ballot titles. She isn’t sure whether this campaign will help the union’s bargaining position with hospitals over their labor contracts, but “I think it definitely will show the public what health care workers are talking about. And it’s not just about them, it’s about the patients and the communities they serve.” (read article)

Environmentalists, Workers Seek Common Ground

By Kevin Begos, October 21, 2013, Sci-Tech Today

The nation’s largest labor unions are ready and willing to help fight global warming, but are cautioning environmentalists that workers need new clean-energy jobs before existing industries are shut down.

The four-day Power Shift conference in Pittsburgh is training young people to stop coal mining, fracking for oil and gas, and nuclear power Relevant Products/Services, but organizers also want workers to join the battle against climate change. Union leaders say their workers want to help build a new, green economy. “Global warming is here, and we can work and get it fixed together,” United Steel Workers president Leo Gerard said in a Friday night address at Power Shift. But other labor groups note that while they share the same long-term clean energy goals with environmentalists, there are challenges. (read article)

Labor Ordinances Proposed for Airport and Convention Center

By Samantha Mehlinger, October 22, 2013, Long Beach Business Journal

Two new ordinances pertaining to labor agreements at the Long Beach Airport and Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center are proposed at tonight’s (October 22) Long Beach City Council meeting. Both proposals come from the office of 9th District Councilmember Steven Neal. If approved, one proposal would direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance requiring future concessions contractors at the airport and convention center to “provide the city with contractual assurance of labor peace.” This means that contractors must enter into agreements with union concession workers specifying that those workers shall not engage in strikes or boycotts that may interfere with city revenues. The second proposal is for a “worker retention ordinance,” which would require that future concessions contractors “rehire for an initial trial period the workers employed by their predecessor contractor.” Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, 1st District, and 2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal back the proposed ordinances. The convention center is located within the 2nd District, while the airport is in the 5th District. Documentation from Neal’s office states that the city cannot outright ban strikes or boycotts but may refuse to enter into a contract with employers who do not have labor peace agreements with unions. Long Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Gordon commented on the proposed labor peace ordinance in an email to the Business Journal. “Historically, the chamber has not supported labor peace agreements that put private industry at a disadvantage financially and that would create a situation where there is less competition when entities are bidding on potential projects,” he wrote. (read article)

Last-minute deal averts grocery strike

By Amy Martinez, October 22, 2013, Seattle Times staff reporters

Scott Anderson broke from his usual routine behind the deli counter at a QFC store in Edmonds on Monday afternoon and began preparing the store’s inventory for a strike. He and thousands of other grocery-store workers in the Puget Sound region were expecting to walk off the job in protest of what they believed was an inadequate contract proposal. Anderson and his co-workers secured the deli’s unopened meats and sliced the rest for sale because “the replacement workers wouldn’t have known how to run things,” he said. “It was a weird day,” he added. “Waiting to strike made it hard to produce things in the deli, but we are all very relieved that we are not striking today.” In the end, all of his preparations proved unnecessary. Just two hours before a 7 p.m. strike deadline, union negotiators said they had reached a tentative contract deal with four of the region’s largest supermarket chains. Neither side released details of the proposed contract. (read article)

Teacher says union withheld opt-out info

By Dani Carlson, October 21, 2013, News 8 (Michigan)

A 24-year-old West Michigan woman told 24 Hour News 8 she tried to quit her teachers union, but wasn’t made aware the only time she could opt out was in the month of August. Second-year teacher Miriam Chanski, several other Michigan teachers and conservative think tank Mackinac Center have filed a compliant with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. “I feel they withheld the information of the August window on purpose,” Chanski said. The “August window” refers to the Michigan Education Association’s rule that members can only withdraw in August. It’s a rule that has been in the labor union’s bylaws for years. “That August window was never told to me,” Chanski, a kindergarten teacher in Coopersville, said. “When they gave me the e-dues form, they should have given me the info upfront, as well, if I did decide to opt out, the specific process that was needed.” Chanski said that in May, she was given a form used to sign up teachers for e-dues so the MEA could take dues automatically from a credit card or bank account. She said she didn’t want to sign up for that, and instead of putting down her financial information, she wrote a note on the top of the form saying she no longer wanted to be a part of the union. Chanski told 24 Hour News 8 the uniserv director, a local MEA representative, acknowledged receiving the note but told Chanski there was more to the process of leaving. Chanski said she didn’t receive any further instructions and just assumed “it was a done deal.” MEA bylaws state a member has to submit a letter postmarked between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31 saying he or she no longer wants to be in the union. (read article)

BART riders have spoken, and they’re not happy

By Tom Barnidge, October 21, 2013, Contra Costa Times

This is unlikely to change striking BART workers’ attitudes, because they have been tone-deaf to public sentiment, but the overwhelming majority of readers I’ve heard from are stationed just this side of outrage in their view of labor’s part in the contract impasse. The emails started flooding in after I offered a fairly harsh critique of union negotiators’ demands and the perverse logic they used in blaming management for their need to strike. My inbox piled nearly four dozen emails deep. I’m accustomed to hearing from people who question my intellect. And from people who doubt my parents were married. Much of my correspondence arrives singed around the edges. But these folks were writing to say they agreed: “I am so fed up with the BART employees’ unions’ greed and total control of our lives. They are unreasonable; they already have so much more than the majority of the public.” “I hope the good thing that comes of the BART employee greediness is that they will lose the right to strike. It is hard to believe that, while they already have more generous pay and perks than the majority of their riders, they are demanding even more.” “Riders and taxpayers need to unite and stand up to these greedy unions that are so out of touch with reality and could care less about their clients that support them.” The overriding theme seemed to be that transit strikes should be outlawed. A few folks thought everyone should be fired, citing Ronald Reagan’s handling of air traffic controllers. Some want the BART system privatized, and these were not button-down conservatives, as far as I could tell. (read article)

Mackinac Center files labor relations charges against MEA over alleged right-to-work violations

By Brian Smith, October 21, 2013, Michigan Live

The Michigan Education Association is the target of multiple unfair labor practices complaints filed Monday by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on behalf of eight teachers who allege they were not allowed to withdraw from the union. Five of the complaints were filed against the MEA and the Saginaw Education Association, while the remaining charges were targeted at the MEA and unions in Petoskey, Coopersville and Clarkston. The complaints filed with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission all allege the same basic facts: that the union refused to honor written requests to withdraw from the union during an opt-out period in August where under the state’s right-to-work law, MEA members could decide to discontinue their membership. The primary complaint, filed on behalf of Coopersville Area Public Schools teacher Miriam Chanski, alleges that her request to withdraw from the union was denied because it was not submitted in the proper form during the withdrawal period. According to the filing, Chanski wrote her withdrawal request on a dues-deduction form sent to her by the union in May, and received notification from the union that they were processing her request. (read article)

Troubled Public Schools: What Wisconsin’s Labor Reform Can Tell Us

By Michael P. Tremoglie, October 20, 2013, MainStreet.com

The Kenosha, Wis. School District teachers’ union was decertified September 12. Depending which people you believe, it was either decertified by a vote of the teachers or it was decertified because the union did not follow procedures and request a recertification vote as required by Wisconsin’s labor reform law, popularly known as Act 10. Regardless of how – the union is out. The question now is what are the ramifications for school teachers in the rest of the state and nationwide? What could this mean for education in America? It could be a bellwether. According to some published reports the schoolteachers in Kenosha, Wis. voted, Sept. 12, to decertify the Kenosha Education Association (KEA). They did so by a wide margin, according to these reports. By a near two to one margin they voted against it. Just 37% of the teachers opted to retain the union. (read article)

Redefining and Rebuilding the Teachers’ Union

By Alan Singer, October 20, 2013, Huffington Post

In this post on reclaiming the conversation on education I offer strong views on the need to reorganize and redirect the American Federation of Teachers and the National Educational Association if these unions are to survive as a meaningful force for and ally of public education. I believe teachers and their unions have the potential to be agents for progressive educational and social change, but I am not sure that they will. It means taking risks that the organizations so far do not appear willing to make. While I am a strong supporter of the right of workers in both the public and private sectors to organize labor unions, I am not an uncritical supporter. I am pro-public education, pro-teacher, pro-student, and pro-union, but while their interests often overlap, they do not always, and when they do not I favor the students. Sometimes union leadership or its official position is wrong and needs to be challenged. In the 2013 New York City mayoral primary, the teachers’ union local, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), endorsed a candidate primarily because he appeared most likely to give teachers a retroactive pay raise. Other candidates were more hesitant because the teachers’ last contract expired in 2008 and the cost to the city of a retroactive pay raise for teachers and other municipal workers could be in the billions of dollars. While teachers and municipal workers deserve a raise, there certainly were more pressing educational issues in New York City and the nation facing students and parents — and I argue facing teachers as well. They include school closings, charter schools, teacher assessments, and poor performance on new standardized tests, especially by black and latino students. My own experience with the leadership of the UFT during the past four decades is that while they consistently promote better education for students, especially when they are negotiating new contracts for teachers and want parental support, they inevitably drop all other demands in exchange for a pay raise, or in this case, for retroactive pay. (read article)

Environmentalists, labor unions seek common ground to fight global warming and protect jobs

By Associated Press, October 20, 2013, Washington Post

The nation’s largest labor unions are ready and willing to help fight global warming, but are cautioning environmentalists that workers need new clean-energy jobs before existing industries are shut down. The four-day Power Shift conference in Pittsburgh is training young people to stop coal mining, fracking for oil and gas, and nuclear power, but organizers also want workers to join the battle against climate change. Union leaders say their workers want to help build a new, green economy. “Global warming is here, and we can work and get it fixed together,” United Steel Workers president Leo Gerard said in a Friday night address at Power Shift. But other labor groups note that while they share the same long-term clean energy goals with environmentalists, there are challenges. “It’s not just as simple as ‘No Fracking’” or other bans, said Tahir Duckett, an AFL/CIO representative who spoke at a Saturday Power Shift panel that sought to promote dialogue between environmentalists and workers. (read article)

Non-union contractors blast Juneau’s Project Labor Agreement policy

By Casey Kelly, October 20, 2013, KTOO Alaska

Non-union contractors are striking back at the City and Borough of Juneau’s policy supporting Project Labor Agreements. While the policy does not require the city to work exclusively with union shops, PLA opponents are concerned it limits their ability to bid on certain work. Trucano Construction has done a number of Juneau dock projects, including the drive down float at Auke Bay, reconstruction of Harris Harbor, and decking along the downtown waterfront. Owner Doug Trucano says his company has the only marine construction complex in town, located on North Douglas waterfront property he leases from city’s Docks and Harbors Department. “We can bring our barges in here, we can load our cranes, and do our work,” Trucano says. “Nobody else in Juneau has ever pursued that.” Trucano runs a non-union shop. He says it’s a personal choice and he has nothing against unions. Now he’s worried a city policy promoting the use of Project Labor Agreements will make it harder for his company to get work. The Juneau Assembly unanimously reaffirmed the policy at a meeting last week. Assembly members also requested the Docks and Harbors Department rethink a recent decision to issue a bid for two floating cruise ship berths without a PLA. (read article)

BART strike could have long-term impact on unions

Andrew S. Ross, October 19, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle

A few days before it all went down the tubes, Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, had this to say on the organization’s website: “Whether BART closes down this week will come down to one issue and one issue only: whether the BART Board of Directors shows leadership or continues to act to hold Bay Area transit riders hostage by using the same playbook a small minority of elected officials in Washington, DC have used to close down our federal government.” BART riders and other denizens of the Bay Area so far haven’t seen it that way. Quite the reverse: The unions are the hostage takers – a furious public has said so in overwhelming numbers. The unions are the ones who have closed down BART.And, like the Republican Party in Washington, the unions appear to have suffered some serious damage. “The danger to labor is if the strike goes on for a while, then the unthinkable begins to be discussed – like banning all mass transit strikes,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor economist at UC Berkeley. (read article)

Daniel Borenstein: BART, AC Transit unions show amazing disdain for riders and taxpayers

By Daniel Borenstein, October 18, San Jose Mercury News

A good friend, a solid Democrat, sent me a text Monday night. “Have they settled?” he asked. When I told him no, he shot back another message: “Fire them all.” This was a hard week for those of us who have defended public employee collective bargaining rights. When it comes to transit workers, the chorus call for taking away their strike option seemed to grow exponentially. This wasn’t the predictable conservative cry. It came from the unions’ political base, Democrats. It was understandable. After all, BART and AC Transit labor leaders have demonstrated amazing disdain for the people who pay their salaries. That would be riders and taxpayers. “A strike is bad for labor, it’s bad for commuters, it’s bad for the economy,” state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said days before BART workers walked off the job. “I don’t think the public supports it. You’re striking against working people.” He’s right. And polling data backs it up. (read article)

Grocery union begins countdown to strike

By Amy Martinez, October 18, 2013, Seattle Times

Thousands of Puget Sound-area grocery workers gave notice late Friday that they will strike if a new labor deal is not reached by a 7 p.m. Monday deadline. About 21,000 workers for Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway and QFC stores in King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and Mason counties would take part. If the strike goes into effect, workers in those counties will picket outside stores and ask community members to honor their work and shop at alternative stores, United Food and Commercial Workers union spokesman Tom Geiger said. Union workers called their employers’ current proposal “the worst proposal they had ever seen” and said they hope the strike notice will speed up what they said had been “slow” negotiations with the corporations for a new deal. They stood in Westlake Park at a Friday night news conference in front of a big, white, makeshift clock that is to tick off the hours until the deadline. The local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union must give employers 72 hours’ notice of a strike. That still leaves an opening for both sides to return to the bargaining table and reach a resolution. Last month, an overwhelming majority of union members in the region voted to authorize a strike. Their contracts expired in May. Since then, the union and grocery chains have been battling over a new three-year contract. (read article)

Workers say they’re coerced into joining union

By Jack Katzanek, October, 18, 2013, Riverside Press-Enterprise

Union organizing is often not what an employer wants to see, and legal complaints, usually including words such as “coercion” and “intimidation,” often ensue, maybe 100 times a year. But the shoe is really on the other foot this time in a situation involving an automotive factory in Tennessee. Volkswagen has a factory in Chattanooga and is considering it as a site to build midsize crossover vehicles. According to a published report, a senior management person with VW said that the Tennessee might be the best choice — as long as it was a union shop. Otherwise the models could be built in Mexico. Four workers have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing VW of trying to coerce them into joining the United Auto Workers. The irony, of course, is that usually workers go to the labor board because they claim the employer is trying to coerce them into not to joining a union. (read article)

Labor Union ‘Studies’ Lead To Minimum Wage Legislative Malpractice

By Richard Berman, October 18, 2013, Forbes

Being a union-backed wage hike activist must be the easiest job in the world. You start by picking out a random number—$9, $10.10, $15, or maybe even $22, if you’re Senator Elizabeth Warren—then claim that your proposal will eliminate poverty and give millions of people a desperately-needed raise. When pressed for evidence, you cite a union-funded study with a predictable conclusion. The best part? No one blames you when the wage hike you championed inevitably takes its toll on the people it was supposed to help. And if there is any blame, it’s directed at the companies that were forced to make the hard choices that you forced upon them, e.g., reduced hours of work. A problem you offer, that can be solved through yet another wage hike. This process plays out the same way every time. It does so for a very simple reason: Pro-hike politicians are elitists driven by ideology and self-interest rather than sound economics. They’re also insulated from the effects of the policies they pursue, as are the labor unions whose contracts are tied to minimum wage rates. Self-interest and ideology are flip-sides of the same coin. Pushing for a wage hike automatically taps into the Occupy Wall Street narrative of the predatory one percent. It gives politicians a veneer of popular backing, while casting opponents as heartless corporate hacks. But what this misses is the math that makes the minimum wage work. Year after year, professional economists release studies re-affirming what business owners already know: Minimum wage hikes eliminate jobs at the bottom end of the wage scale. (read article)

BART unions’ strike threats expose flawed tactics

By Eric Young, October 17, 2013, San Francisco Business Journal

When it comes to BART labor talks, the silence coming from management and the unions is golden. With each passing hour that neither side produces a snippy press release or TV interview, riders can become more confident that a new deal is finally within reach. Late last night a mediator said — on behalf of both sides — that “progress is being made.” And as of this afternoon, the contract discussions had been going on for more than 24 hours straight. It is not clear what elements a new labor agreement will have. But no matter what emerges, the stock of BART’s two biggest unions, SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, has fallen. Even before the unions threatened to walk out and then didn’t — three times — BART management had pretty much gotten the public on its side. That says something given that we’re in the labor-friendly Bay Area. And it also says something that most local politicians, always eager to collect labor union money and votes, were largely quiet throughout these BART talks. (read article)

Union finds ‘actors’ on Craigslist for Galleria protests

By Jessica DiNapoli, October 21, 2013, Times Herald-Record

You can find a lot of things on Craigslist: a couch, a pet dog, even a stand-in picket. Two men have been standing near the entrance to the Galleria at Crystal Run on Route 211 since last week, behind a giant sign that states: “Shame on Pyramid Companies” and “Labor Dispute.” The scene looks like a small union protest, a common sight near construction projects in the region that don’t use organized labor. Pyramid Cos. owns the Galleria. But the men, who declined to give their names, know nothing about the labor dispute. They found the job on Craigslist. It pays $10 per hour. One of the men said representatives from the organization behind the picket, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, drop in on the site occasionally. They happened to be there one morning last week, and distributed a flier saying, “Shame on the Pyramid Companies for the Desecration of the American Way of Life.” The “desecration” includes “companies that pay substandard wages.” A typical salary for a union carpenter is about $34 an hour, said Alan Seidman, executive director of the Construction Contractors Association of the Hudson Valley, which represents contractors that use union labor. Unions from time to time will hire workers off Craigslist because they’re cheaper than putting a carpenter on the picket line, Seidman said. (read article)

Democrat Steve Glazer risks union backlash

By Carla Marinucci, October 15, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle

Steve Glazer has spent decades in California politics, most of it in jobs that didn’t generate headlines – as a political strategist, longtime adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown and, most recently, city councilman in the prosperous East Bay suburb of Orinda. Now that he’s running for an East Bay Assembly seat, however, Glazer is inviting the spotlight by pushing a cause no other serious Democratic politician has touched – a ban on transit worker strikes. The wrenching negotiations over a BART contract have prompted calls from some Republicans in Sacramento to legally bar transit workers from walking off the job. Such proposals probably will go nowhere in a Legislature controlled by Democrats who rely on labor money and manpower to win elections. Changes in how Californians elect their legislators, however – and, Glazer insists, changes in voters’ attitudes toward both parties – have the 56-year-old councilman confident he’s on to something. On Monday, Glazer hit all 44 BART stations in less than six hours to collect signatures for a petition on his effort’s website, www.banBARTstrikes.com. He says thousands of people have signed, though he didn’t have a count Tuesday. “They’re dismayed, then they’re anxious – then they’re mad,” he said. Labor leaders are unimpressed, saying Glazer is seizing on popular anger over the BART mess to lay the blame on one side. Glazer defines himself as “a progressive Democrat who is fiscally conservative” – supportive of public-pension reform and more business-friendly regulations, and willing to take on labor, “the biggest (special) interest in the state.” (read article)

Labor’s minimum wage demands only hurt workers

By Ryan Williams Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In an ironic twist, labor activists pushing for a drastic minimum-wage increase last week in Chicago tried to shout down a former minimum-wage worker who had risen to become president of one of the world’s largest companies. McDonald’s USA President Jeff Stratton had just began his lunchtime speech when a handful of protesters from “Fight for 15,” the union-backed worker center interrupted him. The protesters shouted that they couldn’t support their families currently and wanted a $15 minimum wage, nearly double the current Illinois minimum. Ignoring the fact that the minimum wage is a starting wage, typically used for first-time employees or unskilled workers beginning on the ground floor of a company, the Fight for 15 protesters kept voicing their message points before being removed from the luncheon. What union front groups fail to recognize, or choose not to acknowledge, are the opportunities that continue to exist in restaurants, retail stores and other service industries. They also ignore the low-margin business model that these job creators operate under, and that a doubling of labor costs would ultimately reduce hours and kill jobs. (read article)


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