President Obama Eggs on Big Labor Lawbreakers

President Obama Eggs on Big Labor Lawbreakers

(Source: March 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) Labels Proposed Rollback of Union Monopoly Powers As an 'Assault' As the cover story of this Right to Work Newsletter edition reports, last month Wisconsin teacher union bosses encouraged educators in Madison, Milwaukee, and other school districts to strike illegally in order to participate in protests against GOP Gov. Scott Walker's monopoly-bargaining rollback proposal. Most teachers rejected union bosses' exhortations and reported for their jobs. However, the number of teachers who heeded the siren call of union militancy was sufficient to force multiple school districts, including Milwaukee's, to cancel classes. Madison's schools were closed for a total of four days. Many of the striking union militants, convinced that they should be paid for protesting rather than carrying out their assigned duties, collected phony "sick notes" from pro-forced unionism doctors. Wisconsin taxpayers may have to furnish these outlaw teachers with up to $6 million in "sick pay" for work they were perfectly capable of performing, but chose not to. Wisconsites quoted in media reports, including some who are normally sympathetic to Big Labor, are outraged by the actions of a relatively small share of Badger State teachers (in Milwaukee, for example, just a few more than 600 out of 5,400 teachers joined in the union-instigated "sickout"). Former Union Czar Andy Stern: President's Statement 'Helped Enormously' Even as they were losing the good will of the people of Wisconsin, however, teacher union zealots and thousands of other government union radicals who joined in their wildcat strikes got a "thumbs up" from the White House. On February 17, the second day of illegal teacher strikes, President Obama took the extraordinary step of inviting a reporter and camera crew from a Milwaukee TV station to sit down with him at the White House for an interview. Mr. Obama suggested he was okay with the portions of Gov. Walker's reform package that authorize public agencies to divert a significantly higher share of employees' wages and salaries into their health care and pension plans, and thus reduce taxpayers' total compensation liabilities. At the same time, the President blasted the provision that would, for the first time in decades, restore for most Wisconsin public employees the Right to Work without being fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union.

Could a Wisconsin-style union backlash happen in Maryland? It should

Could a Wisconsin-style union backlash happen in Maryland? It should

Government employee union woes are being felt from California to Maryland.  George W. Liebmann, executive director of the Calvert Institute for Policy Research Inc., lists several problems in Maryland in his Baltimore Sun op-ed: Marylanders need instruction in how entrenched the state's teachers' unions are: 1. Eleven counties, including all the more populous ones, allow unions to collect "agency fees" from nonmembers, generating huge war chests. While in theory such fees are not supposed to be used for political purposes, a famous [NRTW] lawsuit in Washington state revealed that nearly 80 percent of "agency fees" are in fact so used. 2. The State Board of Education has only qualified authority over teacher certification. A special board, eight of whose 24 members are named by unions and six of whom are from teachers' colleges, can only be over-ridden by a three-fourths vote of the State Board. 3. Under a law signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley last year, another special board, two of whose five members are named by unions, has the last word in resolving impasses in school labor negotiations. 4. Local union contracts impose maximums on the length of the school year, limitations originally derived from the needs of agricultural societies 5. Maryland's charter school law is one of the few that binds charter school teachers to union contracts, and it provides few checks against refusal of applications by self-protective county boards.  Experimentation with "virtual schools" and distance learning is limited by a law binding employees to union contracts. 8. Contracts severely limit teacher attendance at PTA meetings, in some counties to two hours per year; and at post-school meetings, frequently to one hour a month. Evaluations and observations are severely limited; only a handful of teachers are ever found to be incompetent. 9. In all but three counties, third-party arbitrators, rather than the local board of education, are given the last word in grievance proceedings. There is a three-to-five step grievance procedure, making discipline of tenured teachers all but impossible. Out of a tenured force of more than 5,600, no more than two Baltimore City teachers were fired for cause, per year, between 1984 and 1990.

Winners in Wisconsin: Taxpayers

Winners in Wisconsin: Taxpayers

Subscribe to The National Right to Work Committee® Website Updates by Email Wisconsin demonstrates the monopoly power of government unions can be broken and the Wall Street Journal takes notice: Congratulations to Wisconsin Republicans, who held together this week to pass their government union reforms despite unprecedented acting out by Democrats and their union allies. Three weeks ago we described this battle as a foretaste of Greece come to America, but maybe there's hope for taxpayers after all. The good news is that Governor Scott Walker's reforms have been worth the fight on the policy merits. The conventional media wisdom is that Mr. Walker "overreached" by proposing limits on the ability of government unions to bargain collectively for benefits. But before he offered those proposals, Democrats and unions had refused to support his plan that public workers pay more for their pensions and health care. Only later did they concede that these changes were reasonable and will spare thousands of public workers from layoffs. Unions can still bargain for wages, but annual increases can't exceed the rate of inflation. Unions will also have to be certified each year, which will give their dues-paying members a chance to revisit their decision to unionize. No longer will it be one worker, one vote, once. Perhaps most important, the state will no longer collect those dues automatically and give them to the union to spend almost entirely on politics. The unions will have to collect those dues themselves.The collective bargaining reforms also mean that this won't merely be a one-time budget victory. Government unions know that financial concessions (and layoffs) they agree to during recessions are typically won back when tax revenues increase and the public stops paying attention. They merely need to elect a friendly governor. Mr. Walker's reforms change the balance of negotiating power in ways that give taxpayers more protection. If Mr. Walker's effort can be faulted, we'd say it's for not stressing enough the value of these collective bargaining changes for taxpayers, and how public unions too often end up on both sides of the bargaining table.