Union Watch Highlights

Union Watch Highlights

AFL-CIO chief amplifies warning to Democrats

By Kevin Bogardus, June 7, 2011, The Hill

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka amplified his call for a politically independent labor movement Tuesday and said unions too often are holding “a canceled check” after Election Day. Trumka rallied hundreds of nurses at a conference hosted by the National Nurses United. The nurses are in Washington this week to lobby lawmakers for a financial transactions tax that could help pay for social services. Trumka said unions want “an independent labor movement” that doesn’t support just one political party or candidate. Labor has often been unhappy with its traditional allies in the Democratic Party, and Trumka said friends of unions in Congress have often paid little heed to workers’ needs. “For too long, we have been left after Election Day holding a canceled check waving it about — ‘Remember us? Remember us? Remember us?’ — asking someone to pay a little attention to us. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a snootful of that s–t,” Trumka said to cheers. (read article)

The Pretense of Obama’s ‘Other’ Labor Board’s Investigation of Delta

Editorial, June 7th 2011, Labor Union Report

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Within the next several months (perhaps sooner), the odds are President Obama’s National Mediation Board will find that Delta Air committed unforgivable sins during multiple election campaigns last fall, causing the unions to lose the elections.  As a result, employees at Delta will be subjected to more union elections until they—in the minds of union bosses—vote the right way (to unionize). It doesn’t matter what the facts are—Delta’s conduct could have been as pure as virgin snow—the NMB will rule that (at least several) of the elections must be rerun. Why? Because that is the goal and has been the goal all along (at least since 2009). Following last November’s defeat of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) at Delta (the third union failure in ten years), the AFA-CWA filed “interference” charges against the airline, alleging the carrier improperly influenced flight attendants decision. The Machinists union (which is currently in a pitched battle against the AFA-CWA at United) also alleged interference in the elections it lost at Delta.  In all, unions lost at least nine known elections at Delta in 2009. (read article)

Even Massachusetts gets it about unions

Editorial, June 6, 2011, Orange County Register

In Massachusetts, liberal-leaning Democrats run the government. But to its credit, the Democratic-controlled Legislature has boldly acted to bring spending of taxpayer money under control by voting to curb collective bargaining rights on health care for municipal employees. These otherwise public union-friendly lawmakers are acknowledging taxpayers are not a bottomless pit of cash, and there are limits on how much government can dole out. The California Legislature, also controlled by liberal-leaning Democrats, would be wise to learn from their East Coast kindred spirits. Employee costs swallow the bulk of government budgets at all levels, here and in Massachusetts. One of the primary reasons is their collective bargaining power, giving them the ability to bend all manner of benefits policies and rules in their favor. (read article)

San Jose, California’s Public Employee Unions Protest Mayor’s Pension Reform Plan

By Tracy Seipel, June 6, 2011, Mercury News

San Jose’s director of employee relations on Monday apologized to union members who say they were caught off guard Friday when a meeting with his office touched on a different topic of pension reform than they were led to believe it would. “We’re sorry about that misunderstanding,” said Alex Gurza. “Whether we are talking about the ballot measure or broader retirement reforms, we would like to hear their ideas and we hope to get a meeting scheduled immediately to hear those ideas.” Members of three San Jose employee unions that were among the first to agree to cuts in salary and benefits with the city to help solve next year’s $115 million budget deficit said they felt duped by the move, and left Friday’s meeting. They wanted to discuss pension reform options that would be presented to the City Council before attempting to craft a ballot measure. (read article)

How Providence, Rhode Island’s Unions Helped Break the City Beginning in the 1980s

By Tom Mooney, June 5, 2011, Providence Journal

General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo often says that politics are the culprit for the pension crisis — 30 years of elected officials extending benefits without putting aside money to pay for them. But one of the state’s most infamous eras of pension offerings –– what some say prompted “raids” on a system –– began in Providence during the 1980s and did not involve any politicians answerable to taxpayers. At least not initially. (read article)

Thank You, Illinois Taxpayers, for My Cushy Life

By David Rubinstein, May 30, 2011, The Weekly Standard

After 34 years of teaching sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I “worked.” But that’s not all: There’s a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites. Having overinvested in my retirement annuity, I received a fat refund and—when it rains, it pours—another for unused sick leave. I was also offered the opportunity to teach as an emeritus for three years, receiving $8,000 per course, double the pay for adjuncts, which works out to over $200 an hour. Another going-away present was summer pay, one ninth of my salary, with no teaching obligation. (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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