Monopolistic Unionism Insulates Abusive Government Employees
Roughly a decade ago, during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, Big Labor came within a hair of achieving one of its most cherished objectives: a federal law mandating union monopoly control over state and local first responders nationwide.
National Right to Work Committee members across the country led the seemingly quixotic, but ultimately successful, charge against this power grab, cynically mislabeled as the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act” (S.3991).
This bill was sponsored by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
It would have denied localities in all 50 states the option to refuse to grant a single public-safety union the power to speak for all front-line employees, including those who don’t want to join, in discussions with their employer regarding pay, benefits, and other working conditions.
Monopoly bargaining, euphemistically labeled as “exclusive representation,” would have been foisted on firefighters, police, and other public-safety employees nationwide.
And in most states that already authorize public-safety monopoly bargaining, S.3991 would have widened its scope.
Committee Members Flooded Capitol Hill With Letters, Petitions, Emails . . .
But despite enjoying the enthusiastic support of the Obama White House, the then-Democrat majority caucuses in both chambers of Congress, and half-a-dozen GOP senators who were sponsors of another virtually identical measure, S.3991 never became law.
The measure stalled in the face of persistent and passionate opposition from well-mobilized Right to Work members, who time and again flooded Capitol Hill with letters, postcards, petitions, emails, faxes, and phone calls calling on Congress not to federalize public-safety monopoly bargaining.
In December 2010, Mr. Reid’s last-ditch bid to ram S.3991 through his chamber failed as he came up five votes short of the 60 he needed to achieve cloture, with nine senators who had previously supported the scheme voting “No.”
Of course, Big Labor wasn’t deterred from trying again.
And this year U.S. presidential challenger Joe Biden, now favored to win in November according to most polls, is backing an even more expansive scheme to enhance the power of government union bosses in all 50 states.
Right to Work President Mark Mix explained:
“A majority of U.S. House members are already cosponsors of H.R.3463, extraordinarily radical legislation that would override state laws and foist union monopoly bargaining on first responders and millions of other front-line public-sector employees across the country.
“And 40 U.S. senators are cosponsors of S.1970, essentially identical companion legislation that would institute nationwide government-sector monopoly bargaining by federal mandate.
“In his eagerness to please Big Labor, Joe Biden has pledged to sign legislation like H.R.3463 and S.1970 as soon as he gets a chance.”
‘Debilitating’ For a Police Chief Not to Be Able to Terminate Derelict Officers
In recent months, a number of well-publicized instances of alleged police misconduct and brutality have focused public attention on the question of how such abuses can best be prevented.
And commentators across the political spectrum have recognized that roadblocks to warranted disciplinary measures and firings erected by government union bosses wielding monopoly-bargaining privileges are a principal reason why cops who have been credibly accused of wrongdoing often stay on the job.
“By and large, American police officers are outstanding citizens to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude,” said Mr. Mix.
“And there are clearly cases in which the tough decisions police officers have to make in the line of duty are unfairly criticized. That’s one reason why no one should question their right to band together to defend their legitimate interests.
“Unfortunately, laws authorizing and promoting union monopoly bargaining in government that are already on the books in most states can make it almost impossible for police departments and other public agencies to discipline employees for truly reprehensible actions.”
Chief Medaria Arradondo, who heads the Minneapolis Police Department, bluntly stated the problem June 10 as he announced he was withdrawing from negotiations with union officials:
“[T]here is nothing more debilitating” to a chief than having “grounds to terminate an officer for misconduct” while “dealing with a third-party mechanism that allows for that employee not only to be back in your department, but to be patrolling in your communities.”
Union Bosses Favor Covering Up Allegations of Sex Abuse in Public Schools
Of course, other government-sector union bosses are at least as apt to mount scorched-earth defenses of rogue employees as police union bosses.
For example, in 2016 the president of the Connecticut chapter of the mammoth American Federation of Teachers (AFT/AFL-CIO) union publicly testified in opposition to a proposed law prohibiting settlements between school districts and teachers accused of sexually abusing schoolchildren that keep the allegations secret from state-level education officials.
“Union chief Jan Hochadel had the nerve to suggest reporting requirements designed to protect schoolchildren from being molested are bad because they could lead to some teachers being terminated!” noted Mr. Mix.
Monopoly Privileges Shield Shady IAFF Union Chief, A Close Biden Ally
Mr. Mix added that enabling misconduct by a small minority of civil servants is just one of a number of ways in which government Big Labor bosses endowed with monopoly-bargaining power abuse taxpayers, lower the quality of public services, and betray the interests of honest, hardworking union members.
He cited a recent internal union audit charging Harold Schaitberger, the high-living president of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF/AFL-CIO) and a close Biden ally, with improperly awarding himself a pension to which he isn’t entitled.
“According to a memorandum submitted to the IAFF executive board by IAFF Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly on March 20 and reported on later that month by the Washington Free Beacon, Harold Schaitberger has inappropriately siphoned close to a million dollars from the union pension fund,” said Mr. Mix.
“For years, thievery by Mr. Schaitberger and former General Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Miller was concealed through ‘systematic misrepresentation in financial reporting,’ according to Mr. Kelly.
“All of this was reported months ago.
“And it is just one of a number of ways in which Mr. Schaitberger is allegedly ripping off the IAFF retirement program and the rank-and-file firefighters who pay for it with their hard-earned dues money.
“But the well over 30 state monopoly-bargaining laws now on the books have helped him consolidate his power to such an extent, it seems, that he is untouchable. Mr. Schaitberger remains firmly in control of the IAFF today.”
Right to Work Members Are Fighting Back Through Survey 2020 Program
Mr. Mix concluded:
“It is outrageous that Joe Biden, whom Mr. Schaitberger endorsed back in April 2019, before any other national union boss, is eager to reward his patron by signing a law that federalizes monopolistic government unionism and its attendant abuses.
“But the Committee is fighting back.
“Through our Survey 2020 program, the Committee is mobilizing freedom-loving citizens to contact their candidates, including Joe Biden, and encourage them to oppose union monopoly bargaining and forced union dues.
“The Survey 2020 will leave Big Labor candidates like Joe Biden with a choice: Repudiate their records of support for union special privileges, or face the potential political consequences.”