Misc. Mondays: UnionBook the New Facebook?

Unions started “UnionBook” which is designed solely for trade unions around the world.  Why was UnionBook created?  Because Union members were being blocked from spamming others on more traditional social media platforms.  No joke!  Here’s an excerpt from the AFL-CIO’s blog:

“Union activists are, well, active.  Sometimes that’s a problem on social network sites like FaceBook, MySpace and others that tend to limit an individual’s activity if it exceeds their arbitrary limits. . . If you’re too active doing the kind of networking that we trade unionists do all the time – recruiting friends, sending out messages, and so on – FaceBook can blacklist you and close your account.  This has already happened to a number of union activists.”

Reading between the lines, it is clear that the likes of EFCANOW and the others that litter anything on the Internet that remotely pertains to labor with spam and propaganda have suffered the penalties described above from Facebook.  So now, the union activists all preach to the choir on UnionBook – doesn’t that defeat the purpose of trying to spread their message to the masses?

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Misc Mondays: Biden Addresses AFL-CIO Bigs

Earlier in the Month, VP Biden addressed the top brass of the AFL-CIO at their annual convention in Miami, Florida.  By the way, at a time when the unions are crying foul on of big business owners and CEOs, that meeting was held at the ultra-luxurious, five-star, Fontainebluea Resort.  But I digress.  According to FoxNews, the VP decided to ban cameras from filming his speech.  Uh, wait, the next day, the AFL-CIO recanted that statement and said it was actually the union that did not want the speech filmed.  Whatever.  What’s more important is that some print reporters were allowed to attend and a transcript was made of the speech.  Here is the whole transcript.  Below are some worthy snippets:

  • The best place for me to be my whole career is surrounded by organized labor.  And I know how to say “union.”
  • An old joke, Mr. President [of the union], you know, you go home with them that bring you to the dance.  Well, you all brought me to the dance a long time ago.  And it’s time we start dancing, man.  It’s time we start dancing.
  • It’s just not right, it’s just not right, and everybody knows it – it’s just not right when the average CEO makes $10,000 more every day – $10,000 more every day than what the average worker makes every year – $10,000 per day.  And by the way, before I said it, I did the math, I did the math, and it’s literally true.
  • The NLRB explicitly says – and that came later – the NLRB explicitly says, this nation’s policy is to encourage – encourage – collective bargaining, encourage unions.
  • What is news here is you now have an American President and Vice President, and the Speaker of the House and Majority Leader who agree with everything John Sweeney [union president] said.
  • Some of you guys were there when the Middle Class Task Force was announced.  I said “welcome back to the White House, let me tell you something: I think John [Sweeney], you’ve been back every week.
  • We will judge the success or failure of our administration at the end of our four years based on whether or not the standard of living of the middle class has increased, or not.  That’s the bottom line measure.  And guess what.  Neither one of us believe it can get better without you getting stronger.
  • Even when our economy felt like it was on solid footing over the last – you know, during the ’80s and ’90s and through the first part of 2000, even when we were on solid – when the economy was growing, the middle class was slipping – middle class was slipping.
  • We’ve only been in office about a  month.  The first bill to pass, Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  What happened then?  We named a Secretary of Labor – who I guess came down and spoke to you all.  We named a Secretary of Labor who is a daughter of union members, not the darling of union busters.  A little change over the first executive orders, first version in the past eight years, and making it clear we want to see a project labor agreement on federal construction projects.  Second order: making sure that taxpayer dollars go to something other than union-busting activities.
  • On the Employee Free Choice Act, folks, let’s get it straight – we’re not asking – we’re not asking for anything we don’t deserve.  And we’re not asking for anything that wasn’t intended when the NLRB said we should be encouraging – encouraging – unions.  We just want to level this playing field again.
  • If a union is what you want, a union you’re entitled to have.

Of course I have some problems with what he said.

First – the average CEO does not make $10,000 per day.  The averageCEO employs less than 100 people and makes a fraction of $10,000 per day.  The $10,000 per day figure is bantered around by unions all the time now.  The CEO of Bank of America made that much one year.  And now that number is the “average” of what CEOs make. 

Second – the Obama Administration has just went on record to say that it will judge the success or failure of its administration on whether the standard of living of the middle class increased.  Not whether the United States remains a superpower.  Not whether the Middle East is secure.  Not whether illegal immigration is controlled.  Not whether the stock market has rebounded.  Not whether gas prices have remained stagnant and alternative fuel vehicles are more prevalent.  Not whether education prepares students to compete on a truly global platform.  Not whether the unemployment rate has shrunk – because remember the saying during the Great Depression when unionization ran rampant, a unionized job is a good job, if you can get it.

Third – on the Employee Free Choice act, Biden says we aren’t asking for anything we don’t deserve, and if a union is what you want, a union you’re entitled to have.  Since when do employees deserve unions?  Employees deserve to be treated and paid fairly and have their employers follow the myriad of labor and employment laws already in place to ensure that they are treated and paid fairly.  Likewise, they are entitled to be treated and paid fairly and have their employers follow the myriad of labor and employment laws already in place to ensure that they are treated and paid fairly.  Biden lets the cat out of the bag – union members believe they deserve and are entitled to outrageous demands simply for being an employee.

EFCA Update February 21-27

The Charlotte Business Journal exposed EFCA with a focus on the construction industrywhere, “the overwhelming majority of companies are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.  The prospect of having the government dictate labor agreements would certainly discourage many would-be employers from ever starting up their own operations.  Such a chilling effect on start-ups could lead to the consolidation of the construction industry into a handful of large companies with the resources necessary to cope with government-directed labor agreements.”  Specifically, 20,000 construction (8%) workers lost their jobs in North Carolina – a right to work state with one of the lowest levels of unionized workforce in the country – since May 2008.

Andy Stern, President of SEIU, challenged the Chamber of Commerce to debate him on the Employee Free Choice Act.  The Center for Union Facts already challenged Americans Right to Work (a union-front organization) to a debate on EFCA awhile ago.  In fact, LaborPains.org even sent Stern a formal invitation to debate, but Stern, as expected, has not responded.

From the HR Daily Adviser:  “As an employer who has written about and practiced HR for the last 30 years, and as someone whose company started out with me as its sole employee, and now employs 150 people (plus at least that number of freelances, contract employees, and suppliers), I know that BLR as we know it wouldn’t have happened if we’d been unionized.  Fast, innovative growth in a complicated changing environment requires a lot of flexibility, and while unions have a lot to be said for them, flexibility isn’t one of their virtues.”  The article continues, “HR’s job must be to communicate with employees. . .  We have to do it NOW and not wait until a union is poking about the workplace, when changes can be seen as unfair labor practices.  A start in this process should be conducting an employee attitude survey.”  This advice is the same that I gave months ago.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union president J.J. Barry warned about “changing the system solely because of an effort stemming from the isolated complaints of a few [union employees'” when speaking to IBEW employees who wanted to unionize.  Mr. Barry continued, “The selection of a bargaining representative is likely to change the nature of the employer/employee relationship, by making it more formal and structured, and diminishing the present system of direct resolution of issues between Representatives and their Vice Presidents, Department Directors, etc.”  Click here to read the entire memo from Mr. Barry.

The AFL-CIO and Change to Win filed a complaint against the Center for Union Factsand the Marcus Foundation alleging that Richard Berman and Bernie Marcus (co-founder of Home Depot) took part in a call organized by Bank of Americato get corporate donors to fight against EFCA and this type of solicitation violates the tax status of the Center and the Foundation which requires that the Center and the Foundation not take part in political campaigns.  This lawsuit has really flown under the radar, but I’ll keep you updated should anything develop.

EFCA will cost blacks their jobs says the Black Chamber of Commerce.

“Union ranks are shrinking not because people are leaving them but because jobs are disappearing.  Most outdated union models cannot compete in the global environment in which we live.  They work where the market is captive and consumers have not been able to freely explore the best value” are words from a western Pennsylvania editorial.  Furthering this thought, unions are now openly targeting banks, restaurants, grocery stores, and health care institutions like never before since those jobs cannot be relocated.

For all of the unions who are now saying that EFCA will not eliminate secret ballot elections, the actual words of EFCA prohibits the NLRB from directing an election if the union turns in cards signed by the majority of employees.  Therefore, under EFCA, the only way to obtain a secret ballot election is if a union turns in cards from more than 30% of the employees but less than 50%.  All unions internally require at least 60% of the employees to sign cards before letting the NLRB know that there is an organizing drive going on – and some unions require at last 80% – because the unions know that once they request an election, the employers get to counter the propaganda the unions conveyed to the employees to sign the cards in the first place.  Once that propaganda is countered, inevitably, union support dwindles.

Obama and his advisers insist that they place national economic recovery over every other policy objective.  However, according to Mallory Factor on National Review Online, when it comes to labor policy, [Obama] supports measures that economic history indicates would significantly hinder such recovery.  “Experience shows the link between increased unionization and reduced job and income growth.  The ten states with the highest rates of private-sector union membership in 1997 had two-thirds less aggregate private-sector job growth by 2007 than did the ten states with the lowest rates.  The ten most unionized states had only half as much real personal income growth as the ten least.”

Adrienne Eaton, a professor at Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations has studied the effect of card check laws in Canada and elsewhere.  She’s not sure if millions and millions of workers are going to unionize in the next few years, but did say that even though Obama has already issued several executive orders overturning Bush-era policies, and health care reform is a top priority, EFCA is far and away the most important union issue because of its potential impact on the way unions do business.

EFCA Update March 1-6

An editorial from Missouri commented that with hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost in January alone, there is no such thing a job security, and since many of those jobs were union jobs, a union does not create job security and therefore EFCA does not create job security.  Good logic.  Likewise, the Missouri Legislature just introduced House Joint Resolution 31 that call for protecting the secret ballot in Missouri’s Constitution.  The article opines, “If the unions really want to protect employees’ right to choose secret-ballot elections, then why spend millions of dollars on political contributions and slick TV commercials to get Congress to change the rules and allow card check?

In another post I comment about Biden and Obama’s messages to the AFL-CIOat that union’s annual meeting.  But here, according to the DC Examiner, Obama’s video message reassuring the union that “we will pass the Employee Free Choice Act” was videotaped nearly two weeks ago and a lot has happened since then.  Specifically, a growing number of Democrats in Congress are having second thoughts about card check – I cover this, too, in another post.

In polling conducted for the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace in January by McLaughlin & Associates, nearly three-quarters (74%) of union households were opposed to the card check provisions in the Employee Free Choice Act.  An overwhelming 88% of union households believed that a worker’s vote should be kept private during a union organizing election, and 85% of union households believed that a secret ballot election is the best way to protect the individual rights of workers when they are deciding whether to join a union.

Here is a list of over 100 editorials from across the country blasting EFCA.  This list is constantly updated and is a great place to check back to often.

Follow Up Fridays: Solis’ Nomination as DOL Secretary

I had no idea that when I first posted about Obama’s pick for Secretary of Labor that I would still be writing about her nomination process.  But last week two things happened which lead me to believe that either she will not be confirmed as the Secretary or we’ll be hearing a lot more about her in the near future.

First, Solis’ husband paid $6400 worth of outstanding tax liens placed on the company he owns.  LawMemo Blog’s expert, Ross Runkel, a 30-year employment law professor thought that this, alone was enough for Solis to withdraw her nomination, or conversely, Obama’s people “will drop Solis and move on to someone else.  The short-term and long-term costs of hanging onto Solis are simply too high.” 

But just hours before the Senate confirmation vote, the other shoe fell on Solis with The Weekly Standard‘s article “The Nominee who Lobbied Herself.”  Solis, who co-sponsored EFCA in 2007 was the treasurer of the union fronted American Rights at Work who had been lobbying Congress to pass EFCA.  In other words, “she is the official legally charged with the fiduciary duty of approving and signing off on all spending by the organization.  And to make matters worse, she did not reveal to her colleagues in the House of Representatives that membership on her financial disclosure forms, which may constitute a separate ethical violation.”  Members of the House of Representatives are not allowed to lobby or advise on lobbying on behalf of a private organization – even if the work is done for free.

“Now [Obama] has a nominee for Labor Secretary who apparently broke House ethics rules by lobbying for legislation that she sponsored, but who did not admit that she failed to reveal that fact on her financial disclosure forms until after her nomination became an issue.”  The Weekly Standard.

Like some of Obama’s other appointees, i.e. Tom Daschle’s $140,000 in back taxes and interest, Tom Geithner’s $42,000 in taxes and interest, and the lien placed on Nancy Killefer’s home for not paying unemployment taxes for her domestic help, Solis forgot to mention her affiliation with American Rights at Work in disclosure forms filed with the House of Representatives from 2004-2007.  In typical fashion, a White House spokesman chalked up the omission as an “unintentional oversight.”

But guess who’s still supporting Solis!  John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President urged the committee to move ahead with a vote as soon as possible to confirm Solis’ nomination and Andy Stern, President of SEIU said, “We urge [the] U.S. Senate to move swiftly in a bipartisan manner so Representative Solis can bring her work to improve lives for millions of workers in America.” 

For now, though, the vote is on hold until her ethical violations are fully explored and a decision whether to continue her nomination process is made – assuming she won’t withdraw her name in the interim.

Unions Jump on Green Jobs Bandwagon

We all know that green jobs are the wave of the future, and every municipality, village, town, city, state, and federal government are looking at ways to create green jobs – jobs that will help (or at least don’t hurt too badly) the environment.  Every politician ran on a platform that green jobs are necessary.  Most politicians ran on the theory that green jobs cannot be outsourced.  With all of this common knowledge that green jobs are coming to your neighborhood, it’s only logical that unions try to corner the market in green job initiatives. 

Last week the Green Jobs, Good Jobs “national conference” was held in Washington D.C., and it wasn’t well advertised who the sponsors and speakers were.  Every union under the sun sponsored the conference along with heavily unionized companies like Alcoa Steel and the now bankrupt Smurfit Stone.  The speakers included among a few others: the secretary/treasurer of the AFL-CIO, president of the United Steelworkers, president of Communications Workers of America, president of the Teamsters, president of the Laborers union.

The AFL-CIO also announced its Center for Green Jobs which is to, “help out labor unions implement real green jobs initiatives – initiatives that retain and create good union jobs, provide pathways to those jobs and assist with the design and implementation of training programs to prepare incumbent workers as well as job seekers for these family-sustaining careers.”  The SEIU likewise tried to capitalize on its presence at the conference and said it can create 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment to 4.4 percent in the next 2 years because of green jobs.  Overall, the conference organizers say the goal is to develop a “New Green Deal.”  This, of course, on top of the other neo-New Deal programs and initiatives that Obama has already started.

If the theory behind creating green jobs is to better the environment and the health of people everywhere, the public will buy into those initiatives.  If the theory behind creating green jobs is only to create “green union jobs” and implement a union-friendly “New Green Deal,” then the public will not support those initiatives.  It’s no wonder why this “national conference” really wasn’t advertised well and had mostly only union leaders speaking at it.  It wasn’t to better the economy or the earth; it was to get a jump start in figuring out how to organize the impending green jobs and divide up the turf of which union can go after organizing which jobs so as to diminish public relation nightmares in the future.

Tuesdays are EFCA Update Days

We’ll start off today’s EFCAUpdate with a video where Stern, President of the SEIU, says that his union has saved millions of dollars to unelectDemocrats who did not live up with their promise to vote in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act.

 

When will EFCA be introduced is anyone’s guess, although most agree it will be sometime in 2009.  Obama and Biden think it will be on hold until the fall, and it looks like Obama’s pro-labor executive orderswere an overt act to pacify the unions for several months.  In fact, Biden believes it will be done “This year.  This year we hope.  Our expectation is this year, this calendar year.”  Thank you for your clarity, VP Biden.  House Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) says House action won’t start until Spring or Summer.  Senate Majority Reid (D-NV) said that that Senate won’t see it until the Summer.  Here’s a video of Biden discussing EFCA.

 

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplaceconducted a straight forward, two-question survey to determine support levels for EFCA.  The Ohio Employers Law Blog did a great recap of the results indicating that most people do not want EFCA.  Click here to see those results.

Obamatapped New Hampshire Republican Senator Gregg to head the Department of Commerce, which meant his Senate seat needed filled.  We’ve all learned about filling a Senate seat: Blago, anyone?  So, it became a foregone conclusion that Gregg’s seat would be filled by a Democrat, since New Hampshire’s Governor is a Democrat.  Filling Gregg’s seat with a Democrat would put the Dems at the supermajority number of 60 Senators where filibustering legislation (the Republican Senators’ defense to EFCA last time) would be impossible.  Not so fast!  Gregg made sure that his seat would be filled with a Republican before accepting the position with the Dept. of Commerce.  So now, Bonnie Newman – someone who has never held elected office and does not have any official positions on any major issues, i.e. Employee Free Choice Act – will fill Gregg’s seat and presumably vote against EFCA.  Remember, though, even with 59 Republican Senators, EFCA will likely pass since Arlen Spector (R-PA) voted in favor of it last time.

I laughed when I read that the AFL-CIO’s new video (narrated by the executive VP of the union) was intended to “cut through the deceptive campaign and give the facts about the Employee Free Choice Act.”  The video has a cameo spot, too, from the executive director of the union-fronted organization American Rights at Work to “cut through the spin” of corporate America.  This video is supposedly being featured at union meetings and around the country – why are they showing union members how “the system for forming unions is broken.”  Seems like members of unions, who already went through the system be become unionized, wouldn’t necessarily think that the system was broken.  Here’s the video:

 

On the anniversary of the last EFCAattempt, unions symbolically held a rally in Washington D.C. and supposedly brought with them 1.5 million signatures of people who supported the Employee Free Choice Act.  Also present was Rep. George Miller (D-CA) who co-sponsored the last bill and said: “decisions aboutthe workplace belong to the worker.”  Excuse me?  What aboutthe owner?  What aboutthe person who lives, breathes, and sleeps the business; the person who mortgaged his house to start the company; the person who risks to lose everything when the market dried up, a catastrophic injury occurs, malicious Internet press abouthis company surfaces?  Since when should the workers be the ones to make the decisions about someone else’s company, Representative Miller?

Interestingly, 1 million signatures would represent 1/16 of the current total unionized workforce in America.  Conversely, EFCA threatens the right to a secret ballot for 105 million Americans – well beyond the 69 million who voted in the last presidential election.  If the unions could only drum up enough interest from 1 out of every 16 of their own members to sign a petition, I hardly think that EFCA is something that the public at large is interested in seeing passed in Congress.  And I wonder how many of those signatures are from people who do not belong to unions.  No one has (or likely will ever) challenge the purported number of signatures to make sure they are legitimate.  In all, this is just a bunch of propaganda, an advertisement that will not be scrutinized, by 6% of the unionized workforce wanting us to believe that they represent the 105 million people currently working in America.

The AFL-CIO uses some “real life examples” of why employees need unions.  One of them is Theresa Gares who says, “Once [her company] found out we were trying to organize a union, they started having meetings.  They’re trying to talk people out of it, discourage them.  This is what we’re fighting for: We’re fighting for fairness in the workplace, a voice in the workplace, things that we deserve.”  Are you kidding me?  Ms. Gares is the union’s marquee spokesperson and all she has to say is the company “started having meetings.”  And this is the intimidation that unions claim is happening and why employees need EFCA?

LaborPains.org is always good for an entry here each week, and this week doesn’t let us down, either when highlighting who is against EFCA.  Some of the more notable names include: 

  • George McGovern, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate
  • Rev. Al Sharton, American Baptist minister, political and civil rights/social justice activist, and radio talk show host
  • Richard Epstein, professor of Law at the University of Chicago who says, “There is simply no legitimate government interest in promoting unionization that justifies a clandestine organizing campaign which denies all speech rights to the union’ adversaries.”
  • Ariella Bernstein, former deputy director of public affairs at FMCS and a field examiner and supervisor at the NLRB who says, “I am a Democrat who has worked at both the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, two agencies that figure prominently in this legislation [Employee Free Choice Act].”

Fox Rothschild’s Employment blog out of Philadelphia set the record straight about the elimination of secret ballots when it said: “The reality is that once Unions are given the option of having the NLRB certify a union immediately upon presentation of at least a majority of union authorization cards signed by a specific unit of employees versus waiting some 40 days, whereby employees become educated during this period, and then having a secret ballot election, Unions ar going to avoid, at all cost, the election route.  I mean, why do you think the Unions’ have placed so much money, time, and effort in seeing that the EFCA passes?  is it because the EFCAcalls for mandatory injunctions?  I think not.  How about the mandatory contract arbitration?  Yeah, could be, but without a certification, there can be no representative or contract for that matter.  So, there is no “misinformation” being spread – just realty, which is that once a “card-check” certification is in place, the secret ballot election may die.”

This former “rank and file” employee enlightens people as to what it’s like to work a union job when he says: “As a young man I was forced to join a union when I was working in a job I dearly loved.  Even with the secret ballot in place, the intimidation by the union and the sycophantsworking with them was tremendous.  Almost immediately upon the union being voted in, the productivity of our work dropped precipitously.  People I had known for years cut the pace of their work activities by 25 to 33%.  I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to slow down – that I worked too hard and too fast.  After a year of this, I resigned my position without a job.  I was ashamed of what was happening to a company I loved.  The owners of this very large business in my home town gave up as well just a few years later and sold the business.”  He went on to discuss the difference of productivity in right to work states, “I once met a gentleman here in Jacksonville that owned a unionized plan in the north and a non-unionized plant in the south and in his words the difference in productivity was start.  He eventually moved all the work to the south and closed the other plant.”