Do Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe Want More ‘Disorder and Chaos’ in Our Jails and Prisons?

On September 6, at a Labor Day rally with radical union bosses and their militant followers in New Castle, Del., President Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for federal legislation — introduced in the 2019-20 Congress as H.R.3463 and S.1970 and expected to be reintroduced soon — that would by federal fiat foist union monopoly bargaining on public-sector employees in all 50 states.

Public-sector monopoly-bargaining laws empowering government union bosses to speak for all front-line civil servants on matters concerning their pay, benefits, and work rules are already on the books, unfortunately, in more than 30 states. But that’s not enough to satisfy Biden and his cohorts on Capitol Hill.

They want to overturn the policies of strong Right to Work states like Utah and North Carolina, which have refused to pass laws mandating that state and local public officials accord monopoly powers to government union bosses.

This is a terrible idea, and a fiasco still unfolding at the Rikers Island Jail Complex in New York City is just the latest of many illustrations why.

As a result of the extraordinary special privileges they wield under New York State’s monopoly-bargaining law, Corrections Officers Benevolent Association (COBA) union bosses have wrested from the Big Apple a contract granting guards unlimited paid sick leave for an entire year before they have to take any unpaid leave. This contract provision is a key reason why Rikers currently has to employ 8,500 officers to watch over fewer than 6,000 inmates.

And this year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic generally receded in New York City, absenteeism abuses facilitated by the unlimited paid sick leave for which COBA union bosses successfully pressed have skyrocketed at Rikers.

As New York Post columnist Nicole Gelinas reported August 30, as of late this summer, “a third of the 8,500 guards and other officers [were] either out sick or on restricted sick duty at any given time.”

As a direct consequence of the daily absence from the workplace or exemption from working directly with inmates of 30%-35% of front-line employees, many of the guards who did show up were working triple shifts this summer. But in many cases even health- and safety-threatening overtime shifts haven’t been sufficient to keep Rikers functioning.

This May, a report by a federal monitor bemoaned the “pervasive level of disorder and chaos” in the Rikers facilities. In some cases, inmates have reportedly had to go without water, food or medical care for days. And according to sources cited by the New York Daily News, for more than 24 hours on August 31 and September 1, there were no corrections officers at all in two jail units. “We are really running this dorm by ourselves. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said one inmate, who is in jail for illegal gun possession.

In mid-September, outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio finally sought to curtail out-of-control absenteeism by announcing that officers who violate sick leave policies (by, for example, attending parties on days that they have called in sick) would receive 30-day suspensions without pay. But this has led only to marginal improvements. As long as COBA union bosses retain the power under state law to coauthor employee discipline rules and obstruct their implementation, Rikers will undoubtedly continue to be dysfunctional.

Yet President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) all insist the labor-management system that made Rikers what it is today should be the “role model” for every state and locality in the country. They also insist that, if state and local elected officials resist following the Rikers “model,” it should be foisted on them.

And it isn’t just among D.C. Beltway politicians that such madness can be found. This fall in Virginia, Democrat gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is actually campaigning on a platform of mandating union monopoly bargaining in correctional facilities and other government institutions across the Old Dominion!
Virginia citizens who are disturbed by McAuliffe’s plan to impose the Rikers system on Virginia may email to reach his campaign.

If you have questions about whether union officials are violating your rights, contact the Foundation for free help. To take action by supporting The National Right to Work Committee and fueling the fight against Forced Unionism, click here to donate now.

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