The Out-of-Touch Union Agenda

Because President Trump’s economic policies are helping to bring down unemployment rates to levels not seen in decades and wages are finally starting to rise appreciably, one might expect that Big Labor might be inclined to try to get along with Trump; instead, unions spent heavily to elect Congressional Democrats. Furthermore, this heavy support for Democrats is in spite of the fact that about 40 percent of union household members vote Republican. With the new Democrat majority in the House, unions hope to thwart much of President Trump’s agenda while advancing a leftist agenda on economics and health care.

One of the first acts of the new Congress will be electing a new House Speaker. Although Nancy Pelosi is very unpopular and managed to lose her large majority after just four years as Speaker, union bosses have lined up to support her once again. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Farm Workers, the Communications Workers of America, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka have endorsed her; and  several union leaders, including leaders from the American Federation of Government Employees, the United Auto Workers, and the National Association of Letter Carriers, signed a letter to Pelosi which read, in part, “We can think of no one better suited to be speaker at this critical moment in history.”

Next year, Congress will be voting on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which Trump recently finished negotiating. Union leaders know that the USMCA is better for American auto workers and dairy workers than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been. Nonetheless, union officials have been hesitant to endorse the trade deal – likely because of partisanship.

One union priority for the new Congress will be hiking the minimum wage to $15, which is more than double the current federal minimum wage. Apparently, unions do not care that large minimum wage increases kill jobs. For example, minimum wage hikes were expected to kill over 260,000 jobs this year alone. While most large corporations would be able to adapt, perhaps by offshoring jobs or replacing workers with machines, many mom-and-pop operations would not be so lucky. In addition, a one-size-fits-all policy makes little sense when costs of living vary so greatly.

Another item on the union agenda is expanding government control of health care – despite the fact that the federal government has great difficulty providing adequate care to our nation’s veterans. Unfazed by the government’s poor record, Bonnie Castillo, the Executive Director of National Nurses United (NNU), said, “NNU will work the growing House Medicare for All caucus to press for action on Medicare for All.”

One potential piece of the Trump agenda that might be able to garner union support is infrastructure spending. Some unions, particularly those in the construction and manufacturing industries, might be willing to set aside their partisanship long enough to help ensure that their members have jobs, but even that is not a sure bet.

Unions like to pretend that they want to get tough on China and bring jobs home that have been sent abroad; but when we finally elect a President committed to doing those things, unions line up to oppose him. For the good of workers, and the good of the country, union leaders should set aside their partisanship and work with Trump. Of course, we have not seen much of that in the past two years, and it is unlikely to occur in the new year. That is why those workers who believe that their unions spend too much time and money on liberal politics need to band together and throw their union bosses out of office replacing them with more responsive, pragmatic leaders.

Because President Trump’s economic policies are helping to bring down unemployment rates to levels not seen in decades and wages are finally starting to rise appreciably, one might expect that Big Labor might be inclined to try to get along with Trump; instead, unions spent heavily to elect Congressional Democrats. Furthermore, this heavy support for […]

Unions Disrespected Members and Heavily Funded Democrats

Labor unions once again spent heavily during the 2018 election cycle, contributing nearly $135 million; unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of union political spending was to help Democrats, liberal causes, and liberal organizations. In other words, many unions again ignored the fact that about 40 percent of union household members, including many union members, vote Republican.

Overall, Democrat candidates and organizations collected more than five times as much money from unions as Republicans and Republican organizations did, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Of the top 20 recipients of labor money, 18 were Democrats. The top five recipients of political contributions from unions were the following:

  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) was unions’ favorite candidate of the cycle; she received over $370,000 from unions.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also received over $370,000 from unions.
  • Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) received over $310,000 from unions. The labor sector was his fifth largest source of campaign contributions.
  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) also received over $310,000 from unions.
  • Matt Cartwright (D-PA) received nearly $310,000 from unions. The labor sector was his third largest source of campaign contributions.

While these five labor union favorites received especially strong financial support, run-of-the-mill Democrats also received significantly more union support than their Republican counterparts. For example, the average House Democrat received contributions of more than $130,000 from unions, and the average Senate Democrat received contributions of more than $115,000 from unions. Meanwhile, the average House Republican received contributions of less than $35,000 from unions. Senate Republicans fared even worse: the average Senate Republican received contributions of a little more than $10,000 from unions.

The five unions that spent the most on political contributions during the 2018 cycle were the following:

  • The Carpenters and Joiners Union made political contributions of more than $17.7 million. Nearly 80 percent of the union’s contributions to candidates and parties went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The National Education Association (NEA) made contributions of nearly $17.4 million. Over 87 percent of the NEA’s contributions to candidates and parties went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) made contributions of more than $11.5 million. Nearly 99 percent of AFSCME’s contributions to candidates and parties went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) made contributions of more than $9.1 million. Nearly 99 percent of the AFT’s contributions to candidates and parties also went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The Laborers Union made contributions of more than $8.5 million. Over 79 percent of the union’s contributions to candidates and parties also went to Democrats, and over 99 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.

Of the 20 unions with the largest political expenditures, only two made any serious efforts to be bipartisan in their contributions: the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Air Line Pilots Association. Those two unions both gave more than 40 percent of their total political contributions to Republicans.

For years, unions have disrespected the views of many of their members to fund Democrats and liberal causes, and they continue to do so. In the future, perhaps the Janus decision will lead to changes in the causes and candidates that public sector unions support. Either way, there is a need for more union activists to take over their unions, in both the public and the private sector, and make them more responsive to their members; and there is a need for more Right to Work legislation to allow all workers to stop funding organizations and viewpoints they oppose.

Labor unions once again spent heavily during the 2018 election cycle, contributing nearly $135 million; unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of union political spending was to help Democrats, liberal causes, and liberal organizations. In other words, many unions again ignored the fact that about 40 percent of union household members, including many union members, vote Republican. […]

Home Care Workers Support Trump Regulation

For years, some blue states have been automatically deducting union dues from the checks of Medicaid home care providers. Many of these caregivers are relatives or friends of the person they care for and did not wish to join a union. The main beneficiary of this dues skim is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Under Obama, a rule was implemented to authorize this scheme. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would rescind the Obama-Era regulation.

If the proposed rule takes effect, only deductions specifically permitted by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be allowed. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or remain in a union will still be able to do so; they will just need to make arrangements to pay their dues.

Although it might seem to be an obscure or unimportant issue, there is a lot at stake here. For example, it has been estimated that SEIU collects $200 million a year by skimming dues from 500,000 caregivers. As part of the rule-making process, CMS requested comments on the proposed rule, and over 6,000 comments were submitted during the month-long comment period. Among those thousands of comments were these from Medicaid home care providers, which help to show the significance of the matter.

Linda from Oregon wrote, “I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client…..I support [the proposed rule]. The union is against everything I stand for in my life…I want out…”

A Californian wrote, “I am a care giver for a Medicaid client and in strong support of [the proposed rule]… The federal law is the only protection I have against the SEIU union and collaborative state political intervention. “

A commenter from Washington wrote the following:

I support [the proposed rule]. I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client, and my experience with SEIU 775 has been negative. The US Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn established in 2014 that caregivers serving Medicaid clients could not be required to financially support a labor union. Ever since, SEIU 775 and the state of Washington have worked to keep [caregivers] paying union dues whether they want to or not.

Another Washingtonian wrote the following:

I strongly support [the proposed rule]!

I am a caregiver for a Medicare client and have had horrible experiences with SEIU 775. I do not wish to be a union member yet this union forces itself onto people… I discovered the union was having union dues withheld from my paycheck when I was a non-member. I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get that resolved. Also, when training, the union representative shows up and spends 45 minutes to an hour pitching to everyone like they are required to sign into the union. Many of these trainees do not speak or understand English language very well and end-up signing into the union without really understanding. This practice needs to stop.

Finally, Kris from Minnesota submitted the following comment:

SEIU is taking advantage of modestly paid [caregivers] who do belong to the union, by skimming 3% of their pay up to $948.00 a year from Medicaid…

I am urging you to stop this corruption by ending the ability of the State of Minnesota to deduct union dues for the SEIU from my daughters benefit.

Medicaid is being used to fund political agendas in Minnesota and hurt families like mine… That has to stop.

CMS will now consider the comments it received and decide whether to proceed to a final rule. Given SEIU’s shameful treatment of home care providers, CMS should implement the proposed rule and protect caregivers’ Medicaid checks as soon as possible.

For years, some blue states have been automatically deducting union dues from the checks of Medicaid home care providers. Many of these caregivers are relatives or friends of the person they care for and did not wish to join a union. The main beneficiary of this dues skim is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). […]

Union Oversight Improvements Needed

Oversight of our nation’s unions’ financial activities are conducted by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards. Americans for Limited Government Foundation recently released this report on improvements that should be made to ensure that appropriate oversight is restored after eight years of neglect.

Oversight of our nation’s unions’ financial activities are conducted by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards. Americans for Limited Government Foundation recently released this report on improvements that should be made to ensure that appropriate oversight is restored after eight years of neglect.

Storm Clouds Gather Over SEIU

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had a run of good luck during the Obama years, but the last couple of years have been rough for it. For those not familiar with the union, SEIU claims 2 million members and is composed of janitors, security guards, child care workers, health care workers, bus drivers, social workers, grad students, and adjunct professors, among others.

During the 2016 election, SEIU vainly spent millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton. Weeks after Clinton lost, SEIU Texas declared bankruptcy, and SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry announced the union must plan for a 30 percent cut in SEIU International’s budget by the start of this year.

SEIU Texas filed for bankruptcy because it had lost a lawsuit and been ordered to pay $7.8 million to Professional Janitorial Services. The union had been angry that the company’s president refused to waive a secret-ballot unionization election so it had unfairly and maliciously attacked the company causing it to lose clients. Last summer, SEIU International bailed out SEIU Texas and confidentially settled the case.

Elsewhere, due to allegations of sexual harassment, three SEIU employees have been fired, two resigned, and another was suspended over the past year. Of these six employees, two were SEIU executive vice presidents, another was the national organizing director for SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign, and two more were leaders of Fight for $15 campaigns in Chicago and Detroit.

In June, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Janus case. In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that it is a violation of government workers’ First Amendment rights to force them to pay fees to a union. The ruling also prohibits the deduction of union fees from the paychecks of government workers without their express consent. Unfortunately for SEIU, over half of its members work for the government so SEIU could lose a lot of members — and money — as a result of the decision.

In 2014, the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) filed a class-action lawsuit against SEIU over the union’s burdensome requirements to opt-out of paying union fees. The suit was filed on behalf of tens of thousands of current and former California state employees. SEIU won the first round in federal district court. Undeterred by the loss, NRTWF filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the wake of the Janus decision, NRTWF submitted a new filing in the case. If the plaintiffs win, SEIU could have to return over $100 million in fees collected over the past several years from workers who had not consented to paying the fees.

Last month, SEIU agreed to settle a case with an Oregon state worker who had been forced to pay union fees even though she opposes the union’s policy views. As part of the agreement, SEIU was to return nearly $3,000 to her. This could be the first of many such cases.

Finally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks sent to home healthcare providers. Many of these providers care for relatives or friends and did not wish to join SEIU. If the proposed regulation takes effect, it could prove costly to the union: SEIU has been skimming dues off of Medicaid checks for years and collects an estimated $200 million a year through this scheme.

Although it is unknown what the precise impact of these setbacks will be, it seems clear that SEIU will suffer some membership and financial losses. But don’t feel too bad for SEIU. Many of its problems are of its own making. Had it not forced workers to pay union fees and then used these workers’ money to pursue a, partisan, left-wing agenda, it might have avoided many of these problems.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had a run of good luck during the Obama years, but the last couple of years have been rough for it. For those not familiar with the union, SEIU claims 2 million members and is composed of janitors, security guards, child care workers, health care workers, bus drivers, social […]

SEIU Settles Lawsuit with State Employee

SEIU recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it by Debora Nearman, a non-member who was forced to pay union fees. As a pro-life Catholic, she opposed the union’s support for abortion. Ms. Nearman, an Oregon state employee, filed a lawsuit against the union after it spent over $50,000 attacking her husband Mike Nearman, a state representative.

SEIU accused Rep. Nearman of not supporting fair wages for disabled people even though both his wife and daughter are disabled. Nonetheless, Rep. Nearman was still reelected with a margin of more than 15 points.

Rather than take its chances in court, SEIU agreed to pay Ms. Nearman nearly $3,000. Furthermore, SEIU agreed that it will not seek or accept any dues or fee money deducted from Ms. Nearman’s paychecks without her consent.

“I am very pleased with the result of my case,” [Ms.] Nearman said. “This will help others gain the confidence to withdraw from unions they disagree with.”

Nearman’s attorney Jill Gibson said she hopes the settlement will set a standard for employees looking to recoup back wages.

“I am very pleased this is the first post-Janus return of compulsory dues,” she said. “I hope this sends the message that unions are supposed to benefit employees, not the other way around.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation also helped with the case. The foundation’s president stated the following after the settlement was reached.

“This is a great example for the countless public-sector workers across the country who seek to have their First Amendment rights respected in light of the Foundation’s Janus Supreme Court victory,” foundation president Mark Mix said in a statement.

This is apparently the first case of its kind to be settled after the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, which recognized the right of all public employees to choose not to pay union fees. After years of forcing people to pay union dues or fees, SEIU may soon have to pay a lot more money back.

 

 

SEIU recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it by Debora Nearman, a non-member who was forced to pay union fees. As a pro-life Catholic, she opposed the union’s support for abortion. Ms. Nearman, an Oregon state employee, filed a lawsuit against the union after it spent over $50,000 attacking her husband Mike Nearman, a state representative. SEIU […]

SEIU Officer Slams Union for Neglecting Members

In an opinion piece, SEIU officer Avery T. Horton, Jr. slams unions in general, and SEIU in particular. He believes that unions are overly generous with their compensation packages for union bosses and staff and that they focus too much on politics and social justice while neglecting union members. He argues that the Janus decision will be good for union members because it will force unions to spend more carefully and pay attention to the concerns of members.

Unions across the country see the Janus decision as a threat to their existence…

In reality, Janus prevailing is a blessing in disguise — a correction that was long overdue. Unions were born to work towards better and safer working conditions, and better wages and compensation for their members, not for union bosses and staff. In the 21st Century, unions have turned away from their core reasons for existence and instead have involved themselves — and members’ dues — in just about every political social justice cause under the sun. They also used member dues to pad their pockets with yearly salary and benefit increases but gave nothing back to dues-paying members.

In Oregon, SEIU Local 503 spends millions of dollars of members’ dues on political activities while members are left waiting as many as seven days to get their calls returned. That’s just one example of the inefficiencies and misplaced priorities.

 

In an opinion piece, SEIU officer Avery T. Horton, Jr. slams unions in general, and SEIU in particular. He believes that unions are overly generous with their compensation packages for union bosses and staff and that they focus too much on politics and social justice while neglecting union members. He argues that the Janus decision will […]

Think SEIU Cares about the Disabled? Think Again.

Physically and mentally disabled workers have been cleaning the California Health Care Facility, a state hospital for prisoners, since 2016. They work for an award-winning nonprofit called PRIDE Industries, which employs thousands of disabled people across the country. PRIDE received a state contract after an audit of the hospital found problems with sanitation and cleanliness.

PRIDE’s janitorial workers have been doing a good job at the hospital — and they saved taxpayers’ money. In addition, they filled jobs that the state has typically struggled to fill and keep filled. Who could possibly have a problem with disabled workers doing a good job at a lower cost? SEIU, that’s who. And why? Because SEIU represents state janitors and wants more dues money. So what did SEIU do? They filed a grievance and threatened to sue the state over the contract.

So Democrat state legislators, who often act like SEIU sock puppets, decided to take away half of the contract positions and make them civil service jobs. Democrats rejected a Republican measure to allow PRIDE to retain all of the jobs. Although displaced employees can apply for the civil service jobs, they may not pass the civil service test or may not be hired. And it seems unlikely that the State of California will be as supportive of disabled workers as PRIDE has been.

Even without SEIU’s troublemaking, disabled people often have difficulty finding work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than one out of five disabled people were employed last year. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for the disabled was more than twice as high last year as it was for the non-disabled.

Making matters worse, this hospital is located in Stockton, California, which has struggled in recent years. The city declared bankruptcy just six years ago, and the local unemployment rate stood at 7% as recently as February of this year — much higher than the national average. According to the mayor, half of the jobs in Stockton pay minimum wage, and one-fourth of the population lives in poverty.

It would be one thing if SEIU were complaining about California outsourcing jobs to foreign countries or corrupt or inept companies, but that’s not the case. As it is, it’s absolutely disgraceful that SEIU puts its own financial interests over the interests of the disabled. What’s next for SEIU? Are they going to start harassing kids running lemonade stands for taking work away from restaurant workers? Just how low is too low for this union?

 

Physically and mentally disabled workers have been cleaning the California Health Care Facility, a state hospital for prisoners, since 2016. They work for an award-winning nonprofit called PRIDE Industries, which employs thousands of disabled people across the country. PRIDE received a state contract after an audit of the hospital found problems with sanitation and cleanliness. PRIDE’s […]

Trump Moves to Protect Home Care Workers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be permissible. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or stay in a union could still do so. They would just need to make arrangements to pay their dues, which could easily be done by authorizing the union to draft money from their bank account.

For years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has skimmed money off of Medicaid checks sent to in-home personal care workers. Many of these people care for relatives or friends and did not want to join a union. In Minnesota, 27,000 caregivers were unionized after an election in which fewer than 6,000 voted and SEIU received less than 3,600 votes. Unsurprisingly, some had no idea when the unionization election was being held and were surprised when they noticed that money had been deducted from their Medicaid checks without their authorization. Of course, SEIU does little for these home health care providers: it does not negotiate their hours, breaks, or tasks, file grievances, etc.

To grow its membership, SEIU has been accused of very aggressive tactics from hassling caregivers and their patients to forging signatures on unionization cards. Home care workers who expressed no interest in supporting the union had organizers call repeatedly and show up at their homes to try to sell them on the union. Unfortunately, once SEIU succeeds in unionizing caregivers, it is very difficult to get rid of the union as some workers discovered. The difficulty of firing the union under the current system is one of the reasons why this proposed rule is so needed.

SEIU’s aggressive tactics and lobbying have paid off — for the union. According to one estimate, SEIU collects $200 million a year from 500,000 caregivers as a result of this scheme. To help put these figures in perspective, SEIU’s national headquarters reports that the union has over 1.9 million members and that the headquarters had revenues last year of nearly $315 million.

SEIU also has a history of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep collecting money from home care workers. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in the Harris v. Quinn case that home health care providers could not be forced to pay  agency fees to a union. SEIU has fought back aggressively by getting friendly state politicians to pass favorable laws. For example, some caregivers have been required to attend meetings with union representatives. In addition, when the Freedom Foundation launched a campaign to inform home care providers about their right to leave their union, SEIU lobbied for a change in the law to make it more difficult for the foundation to get the caregivers’ contact information. If SEIU were truly helping home care workers, then why has the union been so frantic to try to keep its members in the dark about their rights?

With so much money at stake, SEIU will no doubt do everything within its power to prevent this proposed rule from taking effect. If the rule does move forward, SEIU will work to generate thousands of comments opposing it. SEIU can also be expected to file a lawsuit to halt the rule and to work to elect more bought-and-paid-for politicians to rescind the rule should it take effect.

The Trump Administration’s proposed rule protecting Medicaid payments from unnecessary, and often unwanted, dues deductions is an important first step in the right direction. After all, taxpayers provide funds to pay caregivers to assist the elderly and disabled, not to fill the coffers of power-hungry unions. The sooner the rule is finalized and takes effect, the sooner these abuses of workers and taxpayers will end.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support […]