Change in Wisconsin

Change in Wisconsin

 Newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is not backing down from a fight to protect taxpayers.  Walker has proposed reforming the state's collective bargaining laws to protect taxpayers.  The Wall Street Journal takes note:  Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker has laid out an ambitious agenda, such as turning the department of commerce into a public-private partnership and lifting the cap on school vouchers. But his boldest idea may be rescinding the right of government employees to collectively bargain. Mr. Walker floated the idea last week in response to union opposition to his modest proposal to require employees to contribute 5% of their pay to their pensions and to increase their health-care contributions to 12% from as low as 4% today. Even along the Left Coast most state workers contribute 10% of their salary to pensions. The Republican estimates that these changes would save the state $154 million in the first six months. Over two years they'd reduce the state's $3.3 billion budget gap by nearly 20%. The ability of public workers to form unions and bargain collectively is a phenomenon of the last century when state and local governments were relatively small. But it has proven to be a catastrophe for taxpayers, as public unions have used their political clout to negotiate rich deals on wages, pensions and health care. California governor-elect Jerry Brown greased the wheels for his state's long fiscal decline when he allowed collective bargaining during his first stint in the statehouse in the 1970s. Republican Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and then Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri rescinded collective bargaining by executive order in 2005, and the change made it easier to cut spending and restructure government services. In Wisconsin, the legislature would have to rewrite the Employment Labor Relations Act, but Republicans will control both the assembly and senate and have the political incentive to go along with Mr. Walker.Rescinding public collective bargaining rights restores a better negotiating balance between taxpayers and government employees who ostensibly work for them. Political officials are no longer on both sides of the bargaining table—representing taxpayers in negotiations with the unions while seeking union cash and endorsements when running for re-election.

Big Labor Contracting

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the Obama big labor contracting kickback scheme to hand government contracts to unionized companies: There's almost a direct correlation these days between the Obama Administration's complaints about "special interests" and its own fealty to such interests. Consider its latest decree that federal contractors must be union shops. The federal rule, which went live yesterday, implements an executive order President Obama signed within weeks of taking office. It encourages federal agencies to require "project labor agreements" for all construction projects larger than $25 million. This means that only contractors that agree to union representation are eligible for work financed by the U.S. taxpayer. Only 15% of the nation's construction workers are unionized, so from now on the other 85% will have to forgo federal work for having exercised their right to not join a union. This is a raw display of political favoritism, and at the expense of an industry experiencing 27% unemployment. "This is nothing but a sop to the White House's big donors," says Brett McMahon, vice president at Miller & Long Concrete Construction, a nonunion contractor. "We've seen this so many times now, and how many times does it have the union label? Every time."

Backdoor Card Check

The Craig Becker nomination to the National Labor Relations Board has a bigger impact on forced unionism than most people realize. The Wall Street Journal is an exception -- they know the impact he can have on millions of Americans who do not want to be forced to join a union: Arlen Specter's party switch has renewed the debate over the legislative prospects for "card check," which would effectively eliminate secret ballots in union organizing elections. But Big Labor might not even need card check if Craig Becker has his way. Mr. Becker is one of two recent National Labor Relations Board appointments by President Obama. The five-member NLRB supervises union elections, investigates labor practices and, most important, issues rulings that interpret the National Labor Relations Act. Mr. Becker, who is currently the associate general counsel at Andy Stern's Service Employees International Union, is all for giving unions more power over companies in elections. Only he's not sure he needs to wait for Congress. Current law on organizing provides advantages and restrictions for both sides. Employers are required to provide union reps with a list of employees and their addresses. Union organizers can visit employees at home, but companies cannot. Organizers can also make promises to employees (such as obtaining raises), which employers cannot. Companies can argue their position at a work site up to 24 hours before an election, but they are barred from coercing employees. Both sides get a seat at the table during NLRB hearings about the scope of an election or complaints about how it was conducted. Mr. Becker has other ideas. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, he explained that traditional notions of democracy should not apply in union elections.

IOU’s Called In  -- Payback Appointment

IOU’s Called In -- Payback Appointment

The Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal discuss the possibility of a recess appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.  A recess appointment would bypass the will of the Senate and install a self-proclaimed forced unionism radical to the Board.  The Washington Times correctly opines:   Mark Mix of the National Right to Work organization reports that in 2007 alone, Mr. Becker's lawyering forced 63,000 California workers to pay union dues even after rejecting union membership. He allowed repeated "home visits" for union backers, designed to pressure workers to sign public union-organizing petitions. Unions were "formed to escape the evils of individualism and individual competition. ... Their actions necessarily involve coercion," Mr. Becker once explained. This gets to the heart of the fears about this nomination. The administration so far has been unable to push through Congress the radical plan to force union organizing through "card check" mechanisms in which workers would be denied a secret ballot when voting on whether to unionize. The purpose, clearly, is to invite coercion and intimidation to increase the ranks of dues-paying members. Mr. Becker let slip his suggested solution to the congressional difficulty back in 1993, when he said the NLRB could impose card check, or something close to it, with "no alteration of the statutory framework." Indeed, he openly called for "abandoning the union election."