Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

‘Black Lives Matter’ but the union always wins

By Chris Ladd, January 6, 2015, Houston Chronicle

When Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the funeral of slain New York City police officers, thousands of officers in attendance turned their back on him. Since then they have engaged in a series of work stoppages. Their grievance? The mayor, in the wake of the Garner case, expressed sympathy toward protestors concerned about police violence. New York police, and more specifically the police officers’ union, is threatening to compromise public safety over the mere suggestion that they be subject to additional oversight by the people they serve. Police brutality is not the central issue at stake in the wave of demonstrations in New York and elsewhere. Dig deeper and you find a core disagreement about the accountability of our public servants and the unassailable power of public employee unions. Substitute teachers for police officers and this problem has exactly the same contours, featuring the same political alignments and the same exploited victims. Republicans are being handed the kind of wedge issue that comes along once in a generation and they are utterly oblivious to the gift. The last great Democratic Party constituency, African-Americans, is pitted against the party’s last great organizational bulwark, public employee unions. (read article)

Postmaster general takes parting shot at unions, mailers

By Lisa Rein, January 6, 2015, Washington Post

The outgoing head of the U.S. Postal Service took a parting shot at labor unions and the commercial mailing industry Tuesday for what he called the “shortsightedness and myopia” that have impeded efforts in Congress to modernize the money-losing agency he’s led since 2011. “What’s holding us up?” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told reporters at a speech at the National Press Club as he prepares to retire in February after a nearly 40-year postal career. “Myopia. Shortsightedness,” he said, describing the obstacles he hit in a four-year effort on Capitol Hill to secure postal legislation. “That may sound a little harsh, but it would be too easy to say that it’s just Congressional gridlock.” “As much as we try to have an elevated conversation about the future of the organization,” he said, “we never get beyond the narrow set of interests that are determined to preserve the status quo.” In a wide-ranging talk on the Postal Service’s financial struggles and potential for a profitable business model in the future, Donahoe, 59, said Congress needs to look at the agency as a business “that is going to be a lot different in the coming years” and take a far broader and longer-term view than it has. (read article)

Arrest Stats Point to New York Police Department Slowdown

Associated Press, January 6, 2015, New York Times

New York Police Department statistics show a steep decline in the number of arrests across all five boroughs in the two weeks since two officers were shot dead in their patrol car. The totals suggest that a rumored work slowdown has taken hold. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch insisted Tuesday that the union was not sanctioning a labor action. He says officers are putting themselves in danger, as usual, to keep the city safe. But statistics show that last week the number of summonses for minor criminal offenses, traffic and parking violations decreased by more than 90 percent compared with the same week a year earlier. (read article)

Scott Walker, Starting Second Term as Wisconsin Governor, Resists New Union Battle

By Monica Davey, January 5, 2015, New York Times

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who rose to national prominence in the Republican Party by cutting the collective bargaining rights of most public sector unions, strongly indicated in the final days of his re-election campaign that he had no plans to expand the battle with labor unions that defined his first term. On Monday, as he was inaugurated for a second term, Mr. Walker spoke of improving education, shrinking the size and scope of government, and weeding out fraud and waste, but made no mention of “right-to-work” legislation, which would outlaw labor contracts that require workers to pay union fees. Yet as Wisconsin’s Legislature comes into session, with an expanded Republican majority, prominent members of Mr. Walker’s party seem determined to take up the issue and resume the battle with labor, this time taking on private-sector unions. A group calling itself Wisconsin Right to Work has begun running radio ads here, and the state’s largest business association, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, favors such a drive. (read article)

Business Groups File Lawsuit to Block NLRB’s Union-Organizing Rule

By Melanie Trottman, January 5, 2015, Wall Street Journal

Several business trade groups filed a lawsuit Monday to block the National Labor Relations Board’s new rule that would speed union-organizing elections, alleging the board overstepped its authority. The plaintiffs alleged the rule adopted last month—one of the biggest procedural changes to the federal organizing process in decades—violates federal law, in part by curtailing an employer’s right to communicate with employees. The groups, which filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, say they collectively represent millions of employers and human-resource professionals at companies that would be subject to the rule when it goes into effect on April 14. The five plaintiffs include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, and the Society for Human Resource Management. A divided NLRB adopted the rule on Dec. 12 in a 3-2 vote; the board’s Democrats supported the measure, saying it is intended to streamline union-organizing elections, while its two Republicans dissented. The rule drew backlash from businesses and congressional Republicans, who said it could deprive employers of time they need to tell workers why they think a company should remain union-free and limit their ability to launch timely legal challenges. (read article)

Bill de Blasio, ‘Five Families’ unions often flex political muscle to enforce mayor’s agenda: sources

By Ginger Adams Otis, January 4, 2015, New York Daily News

City Hall insiders call them the “Five Families” — the politically plugged-in unions whose leaders often act as capos to enforce Mayor de Blasio’s progressive agenda. Several sources rattled off the names of the unions that flex their muscles whenever a wayward politician needs to be brought in line. They include giant healthcare workers union SEIU/1199; the union representing doormen and other buildings staff; the hotel workers union; the teachers union; and the Communication Workers of America District 1, which covers a mix of public- and private-sector jobs. CWA Regional Vice President Chris Shelton and his political director, Bob Master, have a direct line to de Blasio’s ear, sources said. “It’s SEIU 1199, 32BJ, the Hotel Trades Council, the UFT and CWA,” said one veteran operative. “They’re the Five Families.” The nickname is a humorous allusion to the Mafia families who dominated organized crime in New York City. But the purpose of these Five Families is not to order hits but to twist pols’ arms on endorsements and crucial votes. (read article)

Even in Liberal Minnesota, Labor Unions Are Losing Members

By Tom Steward, January 04, 2015, The Daily Signal

Prominent media coverage of recent protests by workers targeting Twin Cities fast food outlets, Walmart and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport gave the impression of unions on the rise in Minnesota. Despite a “Week of Action” pickets last month, federal government labor statistics reveal a decade of decline for union membership in Minnesota and nationwide. “The representation from the union isn’t good,” said Sharon Kohser, a nurse at Fairview Clinics in Burnsville, Minn., who helped lead a recent effort to sever ties with Service Employee International Union Local 113. “I’ve been part of that union for 20 years,” Kohser said. “I’ve been a steward. It’s not worth spending the money on it when they don’t help you get what you need and when they don’t listen to you and don’t support you.” Minnesota went from 414,000 union members in 2003 to 362,000 in 2013, a decline from 17 percent to 14.3 percent of the state’s workforce. Nationally, 11.2 percent of workers belonged to a union in 2013, according to the most recent figures. Some 185,000 Minnesotans or 8.4 percent of the private-sector workforce, belong to unions. Nearly as many, 177,000 Minnesotans or 53.1 percent, of public-sector employees affiliate with unions. (read article)

New signs of labor strife at Southern California ports

By Andrew Edwards, January 4, 2015, Press-Telegram

Goodbye Christmas cheer. Hello labor strife. The prolonged labor negotiations between port operators and dockworkers became significantly more acrimonious Friday when both sides made accusations of bad-faith labor tactics, which no doubt will compound congestion already crippling the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Although neither side came out and said they were on the verge of declaring a strike or a lockout, the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach reacted quickly to the news by sending out a joint statement asking the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association, the latter of which represents port managers in labor talks, to avoid escalating the conflict. “Negotiations resume Monday and it’s in no one’s interest for either side to take further actions before then,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in the statement. “The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach play a critical role in our regional and national economy, and so those at the table bear a responsibility that extends far beyond the waterfront. The prudent course of action is to keep people working and keep goods moving as negotiations continue,” the statement continued. (read article)

Why the Democrats Need Labor Again

By Timothy Noah, January 3, 2015, Politico

Thomas Geoghegan is a labor lawyer and sometime journalist and author best known for his 1991 book, Which Side Are You On? Trying To Be For Labor When It’s Flat On Its Back. Geoghegan’s new book, Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs A New Kind of Labor Movement, is a sort of sequel. Like the earlier book, it’s part Spalding Gray monologue — equal parts comic and despairing — and part policy tome, full of provocative prescriptions for a patient that’s only gotten sicker during the past 23 years. POLITICO Pro Labor & Employment editor Timothy Noah interviewed Geoghegan by e-mail recently. Timothy Noah: Your book appears at a notably bleak moment for the labor movement. Union density has fallen below 7 percent in the private sector. In the midterms, the AFL-CIO targeted six Republican governors and managed to defeat only one. Nearly half of all states are now “right-to-work,” meaning workers don’t have to pay union dues or their equivalent to a union that bargains collectively on their behalf. Would it be fair to describe this book as a last-ditch effort? Thomas Geoghegan: For labor, it’s past the last-ditch stage. I think of it as a last-ditch effort for the Democrats. I’d say the book is addressed not just to labor but to the Democratic party — and to the left in general. Without a real labor movement in place, the Democrats will not be the party of the working people. And until it is such a party, it will not be a governing party. (read article)

California colleges see surge in efforts to unionize adjunct faculty

By Larry Gordon, January 3, 2015, Los Angeles Times

A wave of union organizing at college campuses across California and the nation in recent months is being fueled by part-time faculty who are increasingly discontented over working conditions and a lack of job security. At nearly a dozen private colleges in California, adjunct professors are holding first-time contract negotiations or are campaigning to win the right to do so. Those instructors complain of working semester to semester without knowing whether they will be kept on, lacking health benefits and in some cases having to commute among several campuses to make a living. While union activists say they look forward to better working terms and a greater voice in how campuses are governed, many college administrators say they are worried that such union contracts could mean less flexibility in academic hiring and higher tuition costs. Service Employees International Union chapters in the Los Angeles area and in Northern California this week won faculty elections to represent part-time professors at Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester and Dominican University of California in San Rafael, and part-timers and non-permanent full-timers at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga. In recent months, the union succeeded in hard-fought votes among part-time faculty at Whittier College, Mills College and California College of the Arts in Oakland, San Francisco Art Institute and Laguna College of Art and Design. (read article)

Wisconsin’s Walker facing opposition in own party

By Scott Bauer, January 3, 2015, Associated Press

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has rolled over his Democratic opponents in Wisconsin, shutting down their allies in labor unions, turning back attempts to recall him and handily winning re-election in November. But as he prepares for the possibility of taking his winning record into a campaign for president, Walker is running into trouble from an unexpected source: his own overwhelmingly Republican Legislature. Walker, who’s trying to polish an image of a governor who gets things done efficiently, is confronting lawmakers who want to flex their increased political power by wading into difficult issues, such as right-to-work legislation, to score major conservative victories. The governor wants no part of it. He wants a buttoned-down agenda centered on the budget and tax cuts, done on a brisk campaign-friendly schedule, and is skirting big showdowns that could take months and bring hordes of protesters back into the streets in Madison, much like the turmoil of his first months in office. Walker enraged labor unions after taking office in 2011 by passing legislation that effectively ended public employee unions’ bargaining rights, sparking weeks of demonstrations and a recall election that Walker survived. (read article)

NYC Labor May Break With Police Union

By Jacob Fischler, January 1, 2015, BuzzFeed News

New York City’s top progressives have backed away from any direct confrontation with the city’s largest police union, even as union leaders continue to criticize the mayor following the shooting of two officers. But the silence of non-police unions may not last long into the new year. That will depend on the actions of Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and whether he continues his public campaign against Mayor Bill de Blasio, sources with knowledge of union thinking say. Unions were instrumental in getting de Blasio elected and are considered among his closest allies. “Those that are closer to traditional institutional players will probably, hopefully, be more willing to shun those who are using an inappropriate tone,” one senior union official told BuzzFeed News. While labor’s silence regarding Lynch has been, in part, out of respect to the families of the two murdered NYPD officers — de Blasio also called for a moratorium on political rhetoric and demonstrations in the weeks surrounding the funerals — sources said it was also an act of “solidarity” to avoid union-on-union warfare. (read article)

State of Disunion

By Steven Malanga, Winter 2015, City Journal

Over the past few years, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has enraged public-sector unions by closing failing public schools and calling for pension reform. The head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, went so far as to offer a local labor official $1 million in union campaign support to take on Emanuel, up for reelection in February. But private unions have a different view of the mayor. Building-trades groups like the Construction and General Laborers’ District Council have benefited from his infrastructure spending and have donated heavily to his reelection, while the hotel workers’ union, Unite Here, has openly endorsed him for boosting Chicago tourism. “There’s a lot of support I have from working men and women,” Emanuel retorted last year when asked about the public-sector-union opposition to his mayoralty. Chicago’s labor rift isn’t unique. The goals of public and private unions are diverging. Government employees, determined to hold on to their pay and benefits, are fighting to defeat political leaders and candidates advocating fiscal reforms, such as limits on tax increases. Private unions, by contrast, see the nation’s sluggish economic growth as a threat to their members and are increasingly encouraging politicians to focus on private-sector job creation. (read article)

Teacher tenure, taxes on union executive’s 2015 agenda

By Jon Ortiz, December 31, 2014, Sacramento Bee

The walls of Joe Nuñez’s second-floor office, a stone’s throw from the state Capitol, bear reprints of fruit- and vegetable-crate labels from California farms, colorful reminders of his humble roots as the son of south-state farmworkers. Now, as the first Latino executive director of the powerful California Teachers Association, the 61-year-old product of public education and long-time teacher-activist confronts a new year brimming with tensions born of politics and plenty. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is appealing a recent court ruling that teacher job-protection laws violate the state constitution. CTA is joining the governor, but until the case is resolved, school-change advocates – including some well-known Latino Democrats – will try to use Vergara v. California to vilify the union. Meanwhile, the state’s robust tax revenue will push more money to California districts next year, and new Common Core standards are kicking in. The state no longer categorically mandates how districts spend funds and districts are experimenting with how to best meet education standards. The decentralization will test CTA’s organizational strength, dispersed across California’s roughly 1,000 school districts. And the union will press for extending Proposition 30, the temporary tax increase voters approved in 2012, or something similar. Anti-tax groups have drawn a bead on CTA. (read article)

Michigan Teachers Union Leaders Get Big Pay Raises

By Chris Neal, December 30, 2014, Heartland.org

Union leaders at the Michigan Education Association received substantial pay increases this year, according to recently filed U.S. Labor Department documents. The Detroit Free Press and Michigan Capitol Confidential (a project of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy) both recently reported top union leaders—namely the president, vice president, and secretary-treasurer of the MEA—were receiving raises of $20,000 to $48,000. These raises gave MEA President Steven Cook an 11 percent bump to a gross salary of $203,144, and Secretary-Treasurer Rick Trainor got a staggering 44 percent bump up to $158,296. All this is occurring while some union members are actually taking pay freezes, the Mackinac Center reported. Initially, MEA director of communications and public policy Nancy Knight declined to comment on the report, telling the Free Press, “The MEA does not publicly comment on the salaries and benefits of its officers and staff.” Nevertheless, the union’s president soon commented on just that. (read article)

US farmers brace for labor shortage under new policy

By Scott Smith, December 28, 2014, Yahoo News

Farmers already scrambling to find workers in California — the leading U.S. grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts — fear an even greater labor shortage under President Barack Obama’s executive action to block some 5 million people from deportation. Thousands of the state’s farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms. “This action isn’t going to bring new workers to agriculture,” said Jason Resnick, vice president and general counsel of the powerful trade association Western Growers. “It’s possible that because of this action, agriculture will lose workers without any mechanism to bring in new workers.” Although details of the president’s immigration policy have yet to be worked out, Resnick said the agricultural workforce has been declining for a decade. Today, the association estimates there is a 15 to 20 percent shortage of farmworkers, which is driving the industry to call for substantial immigration reform from Congress, such as a sound guest worker program. (read article)

Imagining A Different Future For Labor Unions

By Adam Ozimek, December 26, 2014, Forbes

The Fight for $15 protest movement has provoked a lot of discussion of the future of labor unions in the U.S. It’s not entirely clear to me how this protest-based model is really a sustainable future for unions. If the goal is simply pushing states and cities for higher minimum wages, then okay. But if the goal is to pressure firms to accept traditional labor unions, then I don’t think this is going to go very far. Higher minimum wages may make union workers relatively cheaper, but I don’t think this is going to lead to much of an increase in unionization. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to engage in a rather loose, un-detailed, imaginative exercise of actual alternative models for labor unions in the U.S. In labor economics, unions have been described as having two faces: worker voice, and monopoly. I believe the path forward is focusing on the worker voice face. Unlike many union critics, I don’t think such an exercise can be done well by simply asking “How can you weaken unions?” Instead, I think the key question is “How can you increase the value that unions create in society?” And unlike many critics, I think they potentially have a role to play. Such a focus on value creation would take you away from protesting for higher pay as a means to an end. Instead the focus would be on generating useful services rather than simply increasing bargaining power. I believe this is necessary given globalization and the growing mechanization of work. Many would be loathe to abandon the feel-good pose of demanding profits be grabbed and put into wages, but ultimately I don’t think that’s a winning game. (read article)

Bill de Blasio and the making of a police-union nemesis

By Sally Goldenberg, December 26, 2014, Capital New York

The recent feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has interfered with City Hall’s attempt to calm tensions in the wake of the double murder of two police officers last Saturday. But the rivalry did not begin when P.B.A. president Pat Lynch blamed the mayor’s lenience toward recent protests for the slaying, claiming hours after they were pronounced dead that de Blasio has “blood on hands.” From de Blasio’s 2013 campaign for mayor, which centered around criticism of the New York Police Department’s practices, to his recent responses to ongoing demonstrations against the police department in the wake of Eric Garner’s fatal arrest, Lynch has been critical of de Blasio, and has done his best to make those criticisms unignorable. The mayor’s battle with the P.B.A. began in earnest when de Blasio, as a candidate and the city’s public advocate, supported two City Council bills to rein in the use of stop-and-frisk last year. The union, made up of 24,000 rank-and-file officers, was actually unhappy about the aggressive implementation of the policing practice. Nevertheless, Lynch didn’t take kindly to a liberal politician criticizing how officers do their jobs. (read article)

Republicans prepare for battle with unions in 2015, after midterm gains

By Joseph Weber, December 26, 2014, Fox News

Republicans in statehouses across the country are plotting a tough new campaign to check the power of labor unions and chip away at their political influence. The GOP lawmakers, buoyed by sweeping midterm victories at the state level, are weighing so-called “right-to-work” bills in several capitals once new legislative sessions start in January. The measures, already in place in two-dozen states, generally prohibit unions from forcing workers in the private sector to join and pay dues. “The accumulated gains by Republicans in state legislatures will certainly increase pressure on, and within, the GOP caucuses to expand right-to-work laws,” Louis Jacobson, state politics columnist for Governing magazine, told FoxNews.com. Wisconsin and Ohio are considered among the mostly likely to back the legislation, as Republicans control both chambers of those legislatures and the governorships — though those governors seem lukewarm to the idea. Colorado, Missouri, New Hampshire and New Mexico also could see battles over union power next year. Once again, Wisconsin is expected to be at the forefront of the union drama. Republican state Rep. Chris Kapenga plans to propose a right-to-work bill for private-sector workers. And state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader, claims his chamber will act quickly to pass such legislation. Gov. Scott Walker, though, repeatedly has suggested he doesn’t want the legislature to tackle the issue right now. (read article)

The Bad Kind of Unionism

By Shawn Gude, December 23, 2014, Huffington Post

When police unions have widened their gaze beyond issues like compensation and working conditions, it’s been almost exclusively to conservative ends. Their profession is heavily unionized. Culturally, they have more in common with bus drivers than business executives. Many come from working-class backgrounds. Yet on the beat, police come in contact with?— to question, to arrest, to brutalize?— the most disadvantaged. This presents a problem for radicals. If the Left stands for anything, it’s worker emancipation and labor militancy. But police and others in the state’s coercive apparatus, workers themselves in many respects, are the keepers of class society. Their jobs exist to maintain social control and protect the status quo. The introduction of unions to this portion of the state raises additional concerns. Can “coercive unions” ever advocate for the broader working class, rather than members’ narrow self-interests? Or are police unions irredeemably reactionary? It’s easy to focus on the individual over the institution. Not a few police officers are drawn to the profession out of a desire to “serve the public.” Many genuinely want to serve, and take great pride in their chosen occupation. Police don’t have to enjoy breaking up protests; they don’t have to be racists or hate homeless people. But once they decide to do their jobs, institutional exigencies overwhelm personal volition. When there’s mass resistance to poverty and inequality, it’s the cops who are summoned to calm the panic-stricken hearts of the elite. They bash some heads, or infiltrate and disrupt some activist groups, and all is right in the world again. Such is the inherent defect of law-enforcement unionism: It’s peopled by those with a material interest in maintaining and enlarging the state’s most indefensible practices. (read article)

Shippers seek US mediator in port labor talks

Associated Press, December 22, 2014, San Jose Mercury
 The association that represents shipping lines and cargo terminal operators at West Coast seaports says it’s asking for federal mediation in its ongoing contract talks with dockworkers. The Pacific Maritime Association said in a statement Monday that after seven months of negotiations, dockworkers and their employers remain “far apart” on many issues and the parties need outside intervention. Longshoremen have continued to work without a contract at 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle that are a vital trade link with Asia. Their employers say workers have deliberately slowed the pace of their work over the past few months. A spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union says negotiators for the union have not requested federal mediation. He had no immediate comment about the association’s announcement. (read article)

Police unions, organized labor have rarely seen eye to eye

By Ned Resnikoff, December 22, 2014, Al Jazeera America

Police unions and the broader labor movement are marching in opposite directions. While many of America’s biggest labor organizations support the recent protests against policing practices, unions representing law enforcement officers have largely closed ranks, lashing out against voices calling for reform. That the major law enforcement unions have openly bucked the prevailing rhetoric of the rest of the labor movement regarding the deaths two unarmed black men killed by police: Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York reflects the historic tension between those who called strikes and those who enforced laws breaking them. After Richard Trumka, president of the labor coalition AFL-CIO, co-signed an open letter to President Barack Obama regarding the “long list of black men and boys who have died under eerily similar circumstances” in August, he caught flak from police officers within the very coalition he oversees. “In the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the death of Eric Garner in New York, the International Union of Police Associations withheld comment until facts were known,” wrote its president, Sam Cabral, in early December. “We wish the administration as well as the president of the AFL-CIO had been as thoughtful. I believe that anyone making pronouncements before knowing the facts has an agenda, not a position.” (read article)

Right-to-work laws: Myth vs. fact

By James Sherk, December 22, 2015, The Heritage Foundation

Many states and local governments are considering right-to-work laws. These laws make union dues voluntary. Without them, union contracts make paying dues a condition of employment. While most Americans support the concept of right-to-work, unions argue strenuously against them. However, most of the arguments against right-to-work have little basis in fact. Myth: Right-to-work laws prohibit unions. Fact: Right-to-work laws make union dues voluntary. Without right-to-work laws, unions negotiate contracts that force workers to pay dues or get fired. Right-to-work laws protect workers’ freedom. The National Labor Relations Act also protects the right of workers in right-to-work states to unionize. Unions currently represent 4.4 million workers in 24 right-to-work states, including highly unionized Nevada, Iowa and Michigan. Myth: Right-to-work laws undermine unions.

Fact: Right-to-work laws make unions work to earn workers’ support. In the long run, this can strengthen union locals. Without right-to-work laws, unions can take their members’ dues for granted and provide lower quality representation. (read article)

Police Unions Behaving Badly

By Lucy Morrow Caldwell, December 22, 2014, National Review

Itching to get rid of your crummy boss? Consider employing a private eye to tail him, tag his car with a GPS tracking device, and then attempt to nail him for drunken driving. If the mood strikes you, follow him to Las Vegas, or sic a voluptuous woman on him in a bar and secretly tape it. Too bare-knuckled for your taste? It wasn’t for one police union in Costa Mesa, Calif., when a contingent of council members there pushed to reform the city’s pension system and outsource some city services to the private sector. New documents released by county prosecutors reveal that in the lead-up to the city’s 2012 mayoral election, the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association pulled out all the stops, deploying investigators at the law firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir to conduct “candidate research” against their political foes. Needless to say, candidate research appears to have more to do with guerilla tactics intended to eliminate a target than poring over microfiche. Two private investigators employed at the law firm were arrested and charged earlier this month for their role in the 2012 events. Costa Mesa’s mayor (a council member at the time), his wife, and a second council member have filed a civil suit. The police union has fired the law firm and claims the union had no role in directing the misdoings, but according to an affidavit filed by the Orange County district attorney, the two investigators, former police officers themselves, were carrying out services for the union at the time the alleged crimes occurred. E-mail records unearthed in the civil and criminal investigations trace months of back-and-forth between union members on creative ways to solve their council problem, eventually leading to the decision to increase union dues in order to triple the retainer the union was paying Lackie for the aforementioned research. (read article)

California voters, top-two primary create a de facto third party

By Thomas Elias, December 22, 2014, Los Angeles Daily News

The two major parties will be arrayed as usual when Gov. Jerry Brown looks out from the podium of the state Assembly chamber as he delivers his combination inaugural and state of the state speech, Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. But that will be slightly misleading. For voters have succeeded in one of the aims that was often stated when they created the top-two primary election system via the 2010 Proposition 14: The California Legislature now includes Republicans, standard Democrats and a de facto third party that might best be called “business Democrats.” All that’s needed to be sure this is true is to watch the votes of members of this new quasi-party and check out where they got their campaign money. Yes, the business Democrats are still consistently colored blue on issues like immigration, same-sex marriage, gun-control and abortion. But when it comes to things that matter greatly to business, like industrial regulations, land development and minimum wage increases, these folks will often vote with Republicans. This came about because in 2012, business interests like the state Chamber of Commerce began to understand that primary elections in many districts across California will for many years most likely produce same-party contests in November runoff elections for legislative and congressional offices. (read article)

Labor Ruling Could Allow More Faculty to Unionize

By Tamar Lewindec, December 22, 2014, New York Times

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a broad ruling that could open the way for more faculty members to join unions at private colleges and universities, a decision that could potentially bolster organized labor on campuses at a time when unions are pushing to represent the growing number of adjunct professors. The ruling, in a case involving a union drive by contingent faculty at Pacific Lutheran University, sets out frameworks for deciding which faculty members are managerial and not eligible for a union, and which religious institutions and faculty are exempt from the labor board oversight. In both areas, the labor board substantially expanded the group covered by labor laws and eligible to join unions. The ruling rejected an argument by Pacific Lutheran that full-time untenured faculty members are managers. The framework for the university position was a 1980 Supreme Court ruling in which justices voted, 5 to 4, that Yeshiva University’s full-time faculty members were managerial employees and excluded from coverage under the Labor Relations Act. (read article)

Police Unions Hated Giuliani & Bloomberg Too

By Christopher Robbins, December 22, 2015, Gothamist

Hours after two NYPD officers were shot dead in their patrol car on Saturday, a memo attributed to the city’s largest police union urged its 23,000 active members to not write any summonses or make any arrests unless “absolutely necessary.” “We have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department,” the memo stated. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association disavowed the memo, but their members turned their backs to the mayor at the hospital. Their stridency fits a pattern: for decades, police unions have done seemingly outrageous things to gain leverage for their members. After an officer was indicted for shooting and killing 66-year-old Eleanor Bumpers in 1984, the Times reported that the PBA “suggested that officers in all the city’s boroughs refrain from any action until directed to do so by a higher-ranking supervisor and that in the Bronx and Brooklyn, officers should also await instructions from a prosecutor.” Hundreds of officers sought transfers as a show of solidarity, and to snarl the NYPD’s administration. (A bomb later went off in the PBA’s offices. No one was injured. The indictment against the officer was later dismissed.) In 1986, when 11 NYPD officers were arrested for running a drug ring out of Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct, the PBA instigated another slowdown in protest. In 1992, 10,000 police officers descended on City Hall to protest Mayor David Dinkins’s creation of the CCRB. Mayoral candidate Rudy Giuliani egged them on, and thousands stormed the Brooklyn Bridge, blocking traffic for 20 minutes. (read article)


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