Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Exposed: Audit of DWP Non-Profit Trusts Produces Surprise Roadblocks to Transparency

By Paul Hatfield, May 5, 2015, CityWatchLA.com

By now, most of you are familiar with the audit report of the controversial non-profit trusts issued by City Controller Ron Galperin. If not, take the time to read it – at least the Executive Summary. The report clearly describes an organization with no effective internal or external oversight; glaring deficiencies in controls; indifferent management; incapable staff. (read article)

Teachers vs. Union Dues

May 4, 2015, Wall Street Journal

Teachers unions are the biggest political spenders in California, in part because teachers know they must ante up to receive substantial employment benefits. Some of the state’s teachers have filed a lawsuit to end the political extortion. Four teachers sued their unions in federal court last month for violating their First Amendment rights by requiring them to fund political advocacy they don’t support. The teachers argue that the union has unconstitutionally burdened their speech by conditioning significant benefits on their political contributions. In California all teachers must pay “agency fees” for collective bargaining regardless of whether they belong to the union. These fees typically constitute about 60% of the $1,000 in annual membership dues, which finance union political spending. (read article)

LAUSD chief wants more money, fewer restrictions in letter to governor

By Thomas Himes, May 4, 2015, Contra Costa Times

The chief of California’s largest school district urged Gov. Jerry Brown to spend more money on schools, as the state prepares to finalize budget figures. Los Angeles Unified could reap up to $253 million extra if the state’s revenue projections live up to expectations of being $2.3 billion more than previously estimated…..LAUSD’s contribution for teachers’ pensions will shoot up by 28 percent in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The contribution rate increased, because of state plans to make the system more financially sound. (read article)

California’s government pensions are a crippling burden

By Stephen Frank, May 4, 2015, Watchdog.org

California is a cautionary tale for taxpayers in the rest of the country. The people of California are being burdened by an unsustainable, unfunded liability–a trillion dollar government pension system. At the end of the day under California law, the taxpayers will subsidize the shortfall in the budget. Besides this debt, California has a debt of $340 billion–and that debt stands to be increased by some of the proposals within the state’s 2016 ballot measures. California is in economic collapse: while tax revenue increases, the policies to kill off the state are in place and beginning to take effect. (read article)

Rev. Jackson, labor union broaden Silicon Valley campaign at Broadcom

By Mike Snider, May 4, 2015, USA Today

Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaign against the technology industry’s wage gap is getting personal. Jackson and the United Service Workers West union plan a rally Tuesday near the Santa Clara, Calif., offices of communications tech company Broadcom, which contracts with security company Universal Protection Service, protesting UPS’ treatment of employees who are seeking union representation. (read article)

Scott Walker Says He Would Crush What’s Left Of Unions If Elected President

By Alice Ollstein, May 4, 2015, ThinkProgress.org

Though he has yet to officially declare his bid for president, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is frequenting early primary states and hinting at what he would do if elected to the White House. In a recent interview with Radio Iowa, Walker said he would champion a federal version of the controversial ‘right-to-work’ law he signed earlier this year “As much as I think the federal government should get out of most of what it’s in right now, I think establishing fundamental freedoms for the American people is a legitimate thing and that would be something that would provide that opportunity in the other half of America to people who don’t have those opportunities today,” he said. (read article)

May Day march in San Jose comes as labor unions gain ground

By Vicki Thompson, May 4, 2015, Silicon Valley Business Journal

Activists rallied in East San Jose on Friday for a May Day march and protest, at a time when labor unions are energized in Silicon Valley and making inroads with workers who serve the tech sector. Participants called attention to the plight of the poor and the need for workers’ rights to be respected. The march occurred as some Silicon Valley cities have taken steps toward raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, part of a national movement to boost wages. (read article)

Dale Francisco: With Santa Barbara District Elections Ahead, Beware the Pros — and Cons

By Dale Fransico, May 3, 2015, NoozHawk

Santa Barbara was recently sued by plaintiffs who accused the city of violating the California Voting Rights Act The law is a great example of how powerful interest groups have seized control of politics in California. While supposedly protecting the rights of minority voters, it in fact further empowers the Democratic Party and two of that party’s main allies: labor unions and attorneys. (read article)

Labor assists marijuana legalization effort in California

May 3, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle

Organized labor is assisting efforts to frame a California ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, sensing an opportunity to expand its presence in the workplace. The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Western States Council commissioned a series of focus groups, where likely voters across the state filed into rooms with one-way mirrors to share opinions, The Sacramento Bee reported. The research is aimed at shaping a legalization initiative for the 2016 ballot. (read article)

A window into the mindset of a public safety union

May 2, 2015, Press-Enterprise

It goes without saying that public employee unions dominate state and local political affairs in California. Pandering to public employee unions is a virtual requirement for electoral competitiveness and catering to their demands is essential to remain in office. There is no question that the voluntary association of employees can be critical for the fair treatment of employees. Public employee unions, however, are obviously unlike private-sector unions in that they represent employees paid by taxpayers to perform tasks on which governments generally have a monopoly. (read article)

G.O.P. Expands Labor Battle to Laws Setting State Construction Wages

By Monica Davey, May 2, 2015, New York Times

A bill that would end prescribed wages on public construction projects in Indiana awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Pence. And Henry Burks, a union electrician who lives near Indianapolis, is bracing. Mr. Burks, 57, is putting off plans to build a patio at his house. He is delaying painting and landscaping, too. And he said he is worried about how to continue helping his grown children with college costs if his income drops, as he firmly expects. (read article)

Transparent California reveals pensions of San Joaquin County’s former school superintendents

By Elizabeth Roberts, May 2, 2015, Lodi News-Sentinel

Former Superintendent Jack McLaughlin, whose chaotic two-year tenure at Stockton Unified School District remains one of the most contentious in recent history, topped the list of the biggest pension payouts in the Valley and Sacramento region, taking home $266,899 from CalSTRS in 2014, Transparent California reported Thursday. (read article)

Can LA Afford Its High Priced, Inefficient Workforce? Paid Much More Than Private Sector

By Stephen Frank, May 1, 2015, California Political Review

“Working” for the city of Los Angeles maybe one of the cushiest jobs in California. It is also one of the easiest and best paid—not only by government standards but by private industry levels. Even the Los Angeles Times is taking on this boondoggle. While Mayor Garcetti is crying and begging for more money, the unions running the city are making out like bandits. This is a city that proves hard work is stupid, honesty is foolishness and that theft by union is a way of life. (read article)


By Maureen Magee, May 1, 2015, U-T Dan Diego

The San Diego Unified School District and its teachers union reached a tentative labor pact after a year of negotiations that calls for a 5 percent raise over two years and lower class sizes in some grades, officials announced Thursday. The three-year agreement followed two days of deliberations with a state-appointed mediator, putting an end to an official labor impasse declared last month. (read article)

California port truckers end strike after four days

By Steve Gorman, May 1, 2015, Reuters

Southern California port truckers seeking recognition as employees rather than contractors ended a strike of freight-hauling companies on Friday after four days of picketing that drew attention to their cause but did little to disrupt cargo shipments. Several hundred drivers, backed by the Teamsters union, struck four trucking firms they accuse of defying federal and state labor enforcement decisions and a court ruling that the truckers were victims of wage theft through misclassification. (read article)

Obama’s crusade for Big Labor continues

By Heather Greenaway, April 30, 2015, Washington Examiner

Over the past several decades, organized labor has been experiencing a crisis as membership rolls continue to decline to record lows. In 2014, the Labor Department reported that union membership fell again to 11.1 percent of workers, down from 11.3 percent the previous year. Today, it stands barely over six percent in the private sector, while government workers largely contributing to the ranks of union members. (read article)

Freedom’s just another word for mandatory dues, union says

By Jason Hart, April 30, 2015, WatchDog.org

Freedom means paying a union to keep your job? What sounds like a riff on a George Orwell story is actually the heart of an argument by one of America’s most powerful labor unions. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees recently equated forced dues with freedom in defense of an AFSCME video portraying nonmembers as deadbeats. (read article)

New Bill Would Ban Mandatory Project Labor Agreements

By Carl Horowitz, April 30, 2015, NLPC.org

In the construction industry, nothing exemplifies union monopoly, and its costs, quite like a Project Labor Agreement. A new proposal before Congress, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, would protect contractors from intrusion by organized labor upon contractual liberty. Sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., (H.R. 1671, S. 71) the measure would bar the use of these agreements on federally-sponsored or subsidized public works. (read article)

Poll: Union Approval Remains Low

April 30, 2015, LaborPains.org

Unions trade on claims of their wide public support, but even those boasts are getting narrower and narrower. A few labor flacks touted the findings of a recently released Pew Research Center poll about Americans’ views on unions, but in truth it mostly bears bad news for the union movement. (read article)

Obama-Appointed NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce: A William Winpisinger For the 21st Century?

By Stan Greer, April 30, 2015, NILRR.org

As one of the leading spokesmen for Big Labor during the late 1970’s and the 1980’s, then-International Association of Machinists (IAM) union President William Winpisinger was extraordinary not so much because he was an unabashed socialist (after all, current AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was once honored by the Democratic Socialists of America with its annual Eugene Debs award), but because of his unapologetic championing of criminal violence and other lawbreaking as tactics. (read article)

That Civic San Diego Fight Is About Unions

By Andrew Keatts, April 29, 2015, VoiceOfSan Diego.org

he fight over the future of Civic San Diego is also about labor unions. The city-owned nonprofit that used to run California’s tax-subsidized redevelopment program and regulates development downtown has been putting out fires left and right. Civic San Diego has been fighting against community groups who say the agency ignores them. One of the agency’s own board members filed a lawsuit to see if its role is even legal. And Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wants to strip away Civic San Diego’s decision-making authority and hand it to the City Council. (read article)

Pension changers’ new term: “crowd-out”

By Jon Ortiz, April 29, 2015, Sacramento Bee

The next buzzword in California’s episodic public pension debate: “crowd-out.” As in, “California Crowd-Out: How Rising Retirement Benefit Costs Threaten Municipal Services.” It’s the title of a new report issued by the conservative Manhattan Institute. Leaders of the state pension-change movement, including former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform, earlier this month met at Sacramento’s Sterling Hotel for a presentation by the report’s author, Stephen Eide. DeMaio, a Republican, is teaming up with Chuck Reed, the Democratic former mayor of San Jose, on a yet-to-be-detailed pension overhaul for next year’s ballot. (read article)

AFL-CIO Delays CA Hospital Vote: What Happened to Employee Free Choice?

By Steve Early, April 28, 2015, Portside.org

When workers feel collectively trapped in poorly performing unions that do not properly represent them, the most union-minded among them often believe that changing unions is their only hope. If switching to another union is not a viable option because of AFL rules or incumbent union manipulation of Labor Board procedures, the result will be more workplace anger, frustration, and resentment. (read article)

Union clash prompts California bill

By Mike Hornick, April 28, 2015, The Packer

Inspired by the ongoing clash between Fresno, Calif.-based Gerawan Farming Inc. and United Farm Workers, a bill before the California legislature would stop the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board from enforcing a mediated contract without approval by a majority of employees. Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, introduced Assembly Bill 1389, the Fair Contracts for California Farmworkers Act. (read article)

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