Recent Right to Work Victories Under Fire

Recent Right to Work Victories Under Fire

Big Labor Blitzes For Compulsory Unionism in Wisconsin and Ohio (Source: May 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) Since the 1960's, Big Labor lobbyists in 21 states have successfully pressured elected officials to pass statutes explicitly authorizing union bosses to get independent-minded public servants fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to a union the employees would never voluntarily join. Until this year, despite the growing success of the Right to Work movement with regard to the private sector, not a single state legislature had ever revoked government union bosses' forced-dues privileges after previously granting them by statute. But this March two states, Wisconsin and Ohio, made history by restoring the Right to Work of public servants. Over ferocious and sometimes menacing Big Labor opposition, Badger State legislators approved, and GOP Gov. Scott Walker signed into law, S.B.11. Key provisions in this law abolish all forced union dues and fees for teachers and many other public employees. Unfortunately, it leaves public-safety officers unprotected. The Buckeye State reform, which union militants opposed with nearly equal bitterness but considerably less media attention, includes provisions protecting the Right to Work of all categories of state and local government employees, including public-safety officers. This law, signed by GOP Gov. John Kasich, is still commonly referred to by its legislative bill number, S.B.5. National Right to Work Helped Mobilize Public Support For Reforms

None Dare Call it Partisanship

When Republicans in Wisconsin reformed the state's collective bargaining laws, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick rushed to schedule a speech in Wisconsin so he could denounce lawmakers. But when the State House in his own state voted to change the way government employees could bargain for taxpayer benefits he praised the House for its "very important vote." The Wall Street Journal notices the hypocrisy: Scott Walker impressions are popular these days, and the latest and greatest aping of the Wisconsin Governor is coming from the liberal heartland. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts state House voted 111-42 to limit public employees' ability to collectively bargain for health care. Mrs. Trumka, please hide all sharp objects from Richard, the AFL-CIO chief. The bill sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo would change the way teachers, police and other municipal employees bargain for health care, giving mayors and local officials the ability to set co-pays and deductibles after a 30-day negotiation period with the unions. If the unions agree to the mayor's terms, 10% of the savings goes back to the unions. If they object, 20% of the savings goes into a special fund for workers' health-care costs. The reforms, which are expected to save $100 million in the next year, also require retirees to enroll in Medicare. Coming in the bluest of blue states, the news landed like ice water on unions, which are shouting betrayal. "These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected, the same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns," Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes said. "It's a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber."

If You Can't Beat Them; Buy Them

Big Labor lost at the ballot box and had their forced unionism power rolled back by the legislature and is now trying to buy Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices to undo the reforms pushed enacted by Gov. Scott Walker. The Wall Street Journal reports: Wisconsin Democrats and unions are still seething over their failure to thwart Governor Scott Walker's government union reforms. Now they're trying to spin their rage into gold by aiming it at the state Supreme Court election on April 5. If they defeat David Prosser's re-election bid, labor leaders and their Democratic allies hope a newly activist court will be their proxy in the fight against Mr. Walker's policies. Until the recent political inferno in Madison took over national headlines, the Supreme Court race was a snoozefest. Justice Prosser, who has served on the court for more than a decade, was the heavy favorite to hold onto his seat. In February's jungle primary that includes all candidates (all of whom are officially nonpartisan), he won 58% of the vote, followed by 25% for second place Joanne Kloppenburg, the assistant attorney general and an environmental attorney who is now the union darling. The top two primary finishers compete in the run-off, and that race is narrowing. A liberal outfit called the Greater Wisconsin Committee has thrown some $3 million into the race and launched a website, ProsserEqualsWalker.com, to whip heat against the Governor into the race. Democrats hope a victory would discourage other Republicans who might dare to face down Big Labor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is divided 4-3 on many cases and tilts slightly right. A defeat for Justice Prosser would shift that balance, and a notoriously liberal contingent led by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson would dominate when the court hears the Democratic challenges to Mr. Walker's reforms, which limited collective bargaining and required government unions to be recertified every year by their members. That battle was recently joined when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi put a hold on the law, and a state appeals court ruled yesterday that the Supreme Court should decide the case. If they flip the court, Democrats are also sure to target major tort reforms that Governor Walker signed earlier this year. Watch for trial lawyers dancing in the streets. From 2004 to 2008, the court's liberal majority, including Obama nominee to the federal bench Louis Butler, overturned medical malpractice caps and established a collective guilt standard whereby any company that had ever sold lead paint in Wisconsin could be subject to tort claims.

If You Can't Beat Them; Buy Them

Big Labor lost at the ballot box and had their forced unionism power rolled back by the legislature and is now trying to buy Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices to undo the reforms pushed enacted by Gov. Scott Walker. The Wall Street Journal reports: Wisconsin Democrats and unions are still seething over their failure to thwart Governor Scott Walker's government union reforms. Now they're trying to spin their rage into gold by aiming it at the state Supreme Court election on April 5. If they defeat David Prosser's re-election bid, labor leaders and their Democratic allies hope a newly activist court will be their proxy in the fight against Mr. Walker's policies. Until the recent political inferno in Madison took over national headlines, the Supreme Court race was a snoozefest. Justice Prosser, who has served on the court for more than a decade, was the heavy favorite to hold onto his seat. In February's jungle primary that includes all candidates (all of whom are officially nonpartisan), he won 58% of the vote, followed by 25% for second place Joanne Kloppenburg, the assistant attorney general and an environmental attorney who is now the union darling. The top two primary finishers compete in the run-off, and that race is narrowing. A liberal outfit called the Greater Wisconsin Committee has thrown some $3 million into the race and launched a website, ProsserEqualsWalker.com, to whip heat against the Governor into the race. Democrats hope a victory would discourage other Republicans who might dare to face down Big Labor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is divided 4-3 on many cases and tilts slightly right. A defeat for Justice Prosser would shift that balance, and a notoriously liberal contingent led by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson would dominate when the court hears the Democratic challenges to Mr. Walker's reforms, which limited collective bargaining and required government unions to be recertified every year by their members. That battle was recently joined when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi put a hold on the law, and a state appeals court ruled yesterday that the Supreme Court should decide the case. If they flip the court, Democrats are also sure to target major tort reforms that Governor Walker signed earlier this year. Watch for trial lawyers dancing in the streets. From 2004 to 2008, the court's liberal majority, including Obama nominee to the federal bench Louis Butler, overturned medical malpractice caps and established a collective guilt standard whereby any company that had ever sold lead paint in Wisconsin could be subject to tort claims.

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.

Ready for Unionized Airport Security?

Kimberly Strassel makes the point -- as payback for big labor union support, the Obama administration greases the wheels for the largest federal organizing effort in history: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made some progress this week in rescuing his state from the public-sector unions holding it hostage. Ever wonder how Wisconsin got into trouble in the first place? Washington is providing an illuminating case study. Even as state battles rage, the Obama administration has been facilitating the largest federal union organizing effort in history. Tens of thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are now casting votes to choose a union to collectively bargain for cushier personnel practices on their behalf. Liberals are calling it a "historic" vote. It is. Henceforth, airport security will play second fiddle to screener "rights." Here's the fundamental problem with public-employee unions: They exist to compete with, and undermine, public priorities. The priority of Wisconsin citizens is a state that can provide basic services, encourage private-sector jobs, and pay its bills. Wisconsin public-employee unions, by contrast, were formed to, and exist to, erect a system that showers members with plump pay and benefits, crowding out state services and private jobs. The same disconnect is on display with the TSA. On Sept. 11, 2001, more than 3,000 Americans died after terrorists turned airplanes into missiles. It was a colossal security failure. Congress responded by creating the TSA. The merits of federalizing airport screening were always questionable, though at least the public priority was clear. Back then, a bipartisan majority of Congress agreed that a crack airport security service was incompatible with rigid unionization rules. Yet by 2008, Democratic presidential candidates were betting that security worries had receded enough that they could again pander for union votes. Candidate Barack Obama sent a letter to American Federation of Government Employees boss John Gage, vowing that his "priority" was giving Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) "collective bargaining rights and workplace protections."