Tag Archives: Labor Unions

Education Secretary Betsy Devos scores a victory against public sector union

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos

Although you would never know it from the mainstream news media, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos is doing her best to advance a taxpayer-friendly agenda in education policy.

Here’s the latest from the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank:

In a noteworthy development, DeVos’s team this month radically revamped the collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) that governs the 3,900 employees at the U.S. Department of Education. The new CBA, between the Department and Council 252 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), includes big changes from the 2013 agreement negotiated under the Obama administration.

The new agreement doesn’t address compensation or benefits, of course, since those are governed by federal law, but it does include a raft of sensible, taxpayer-friendly changes.

The new CBA eliminates the set-aside of “official time” for union business. Under the old agreement, designated union representatives were free to work on union business during normal, government hours — all on the taxpayers’ dime. The old CBA stipulated that “no fewer than 75” (!) union stewards across the country could work up to 40 hours a year on “official time,” while another three union officers would devote 100 percent of their time to union business. Henceforth, union business will be done on union time, rather than on the taxpayers’.

Under the old agreement, department employees were given only a solitary 48-hour window each year in which they could opt out of union membership; miss that, and they were automatically enrolled. Henceforth, employees who wish to be in the union each year will be free to do so, and they will have an extended period in which to enroll — but they will have to actively choose to join.

The revamped accord also removes the requirements for “pre-decisional consultation.” Under the previous CBA, the department was required to consult the union before every agency-wide decision that could be construed as affecting the work of employees (such as transferring employees from one office to another, or even shifting employees from one project to another within the same office). Now, the department needs only notify the union of such decisions.

Under the new CBA, the union will be charged “fair-market rent” for the use of government office space and federally furnished equipment to conduct union business. Under the Obama-era accord, taxpayers were required to provide space and equipment to the union free of charge.

More generally, the new agreement removes a number of provisions that added burdensome procedural directives above and beyond statutory requirements when it came to things such as telework and grievance procedures.

If there is one thing I expected from Betsy Devos, it’s taxpayer-friendly education policy.

Unfortunately, the Republican party didn’t help her very much in that massive $1.3 Billion spending bill that they passed, with Democrat support. Betsy wants to cut federal spending on education, and return control of education policy to the states and municipalities. But the GOP just gave the Department of Education a bigger budget. We really need to switch out some of these big government Republicans for authentic conservatives.

Labor unions donated $765 million between 2012 and 2016, and 99% went to left-wing groups

Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union
Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union

Astonishing article from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

Unions across the country donated $765 million to various organizations over the last four years, and 99 percent of that cash went to liberal-leaning causes.

Labor unions gave $764,952,394 to left-wing special interests between 2012 and 2016, according to the Center for Union Facts. Of the nearly $765 million, 99 percent of union political contributions went to left-wing causes. The Center for Union Facts compiled a comprehensive database of information about labor unions in the United States: outlining union spending, salary information, dues revenue data, and more using data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Examples of who gets the money:

The department’s data show between 2012 and 2016, roughly $240 million went to left-wing political groups. Labor unions gave $77 million to special-interest groups and another $13 million to environmental groups. Over $25 million went to groups like the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

During this same time frame, almost $307 million went to the Democratic Party and aligned groups, including Media Matters, the Clinton Foundation, Mi Familia Vota, the National Democratic Club, the Advocacy Fund, Progressive Democrats of America, and Planned Parenthood.

[…]Here’s how much a few pro-abortion groups received from labor unions since 2007, according to Luka Ladan, communications director for the Center for Union Facts:

  • Planned Parenthood: $1.18 million
  • Emily’s List: $810,000
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America: $45,000

Examples of who gives the money:

Here are the dollar amounts since 2007 that a few labor unions have given for abortion lobby funding:

  • American Federation of Teachers: $1,150,000
  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees: $520,100
  • International Association of Firefighters: $10,000
  • Service Employees International Union: $180,000
  • United Association: $40,000
  • United Auto Workers: $100,000
  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Union: $35,000

Teachers, non-import auto workers, government employees. All pro-abortion. I never buy cars made by union employees, I’d just be funding abortionists.

I think there was a time in America’s history where unions were actually doing some good, but that time has long gone. We can’t allow labor unions to take the country in the direction of Greece and Venezuela, otherwise none of us will have jobs, and we’ll be selling our bodies for food, like they do in other communist countries. I would like to see some legislation banning public sector unions outright, and then a national right to work law should finish off the private sector unions, since rank-and-file private sector union workers are typical not radical leftists. We definitely need a national voucher law to get the money out of the public schools and back into the hands of parents.

Whenever well-meaning people vote for more taxpayer more for union-dominated fields like education, keep in mind that a  significant portion of this money gets funneled back into anti-American causes. Be careful about wanting to spending more taxpayer money “for the children”, because it often turns out to just be more taxpayer money for the Planned Parenthood, or for the Clinton Foundation, etc.

Good news: Venezuela and Argentina eject socialist governments

Political Map of South America
Political Map of South America

Investors Business Daily has some good news for us. The Democrat Party of Venezuela has been CRUSHED in a recent election.

Excerpt:

Venezuela’s voters delivered a sledgehammer blow to the country’s ruling Chavista socialists Sunday, winning a likely supermajority in the National Assembly. It’s a great awakening from a 17-year nightmare.

Given the past two decades of near-victories, electoral fraud, chicanery and fractious political opposition mistakes, many Venezuelans are still in disbelief at the scale of the victory in the nation’s legislative elections, which have decisively handed one of Venezuela’s leading governing bodies over to the democratic, pro-free-market opposition.

As this was written, the opposition, known by its Spanish initials MUD, had declared a 112-seat, or two-thirds, supermajority in the National Assembly as a result of Sunday’s vote. The Chavistas won just 46 seats.

It’s total victory in legislative terms and will enable the legislature to throw out politicized Supreme Court justices and appoint honest ones.

The new Congress can also boot corrupt election officials and appoint fair ones. And they will even be able to declare President Nicolas Maduro — the late dictator Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor — mentally unstable and unfit for office, or remove him for incompetence. They can also stop his executive orders dead.

The Congress also will have the power to free the 71 or so political prisoners now rotting in Chavista dungeons without trial, including top opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. And Venezuela’s central bank will stop destroying the country’s money, now nearly worthless.

[…]Most important, the leftist government’s mismanagement of the economy — through currency controls that prevented imports of spare parts, created shortages of basics such as toilet paper and devastated the health care system — and the central bank’s infamous money-printing spree, which has pushed Venezuelan inflation to near 700%, made ordinary life for Venezuelans hellish. There also was corruption, with as much as 1 trillion dollars in oil earnings stolen or misappropriated over the years by high-living Chavista elites, whose lavish lifestyles mocked ordinary, poor Venezuelans.

Top it with the monstrous infiltration of the country by the drug lords, and the likelihood of an electoral housecleaning was perfectly clear.

Still, an element of disbelief remains, given how dirty the Chavista rulers have played their democracy game.

They have broken election rules, violated ballot secrecy, shut voters out and banned popular candidates from running. Many of those dirty tricks were evident in this election, too — the Chavistas illegally extended voting hours and campaigned at polling stations, to cite just a couple of examples.

But the opposition won anyway — with turnout so high, at 74.5%, and margins of victory so wide that the election was impossible to steal.

It helped that the the opposition had the wind at its back with the disastrous result of socialism. But it also helped that MUD had improved its electoral game over the years, learning from each near-miss election.

It also helped that MUD had strong leaders such as Maria Corina Machado and put out strong candidates with a clear, unified message — often summed up as “Down with the left.” And with all the pain of 17 years, it helped most of all that they never lost heart.

There is literally no different between the socialists of Venezuela and the Democrat Party in the United States. They are in lock step on every issue. Should the Democrat Party continue to hold power in America, we can look forward to a reckoning like this one in the future.

Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez
Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez

The Wall Street Journal says that the whole country is basically in the grip of ignorant socialists at every level, so there is lots to do.

Excerpt:

Pulling out of that death spiral, economists say, will require a series of painful and unpopular adjustments, rolling back more than a decade of populist and statist policies. Among the measures needed is raising the price of the world’s cheapest gasoline—which goes for less than one U.S. penny a gallon—overhauling a cumbersome and inefficient foreign-exchange system, and cutting generous social programs on which Venezuela’s poor depend.

[…]The government still controls more than 20 governorships, hundreds of mayors, the judiciary, much of the press and all auditing agencies. It will be up to Mr. Maduro whether to take steps to stabilize the economy, like loosening currency or price controls.

It’s not just Venezuela that has hit bottom under socialism. Recently, the people of Argentina also threw out their socialists after years and years of disastrous leftist policies.

The Chicago Tribune reports on last month’s election in Argentina.

Excerpt:

Under the current president, Cristina Fernandez, Argentina has become an international financial pariah. The country defaulted on debt last year in a long-running feud with hedge funds — remarkably, that was the eighth default in Argentina’s history.

Fernandez refused to settle. That’s left the country to squeak by in isolation, using protectionism and capital controls in a quixotic battle with globalism. The economy is stagnant, foreign currency reserves are dwindling and the inflation rate is around 30 percent. Last week, American Airlines said it stopped accepting pesos for ticket sales because it was tired of collecting revenue it couldn’t convert to dollars.

At times Argentina has embraced trade and economic openness, only to slip back into bad habits thanks to populist Peronistas like Fernandez. Macri, a conservative, wants to re-establish free market principles, but there are a lot of details he didn’t fully explain before his November victory because they will require some short-term pain, and he wanted to win the election.

Everything Macri is talking about makes sense. He says he will lift the capital controls that have wrecked the peso’s credibility. Like other backwaters it shouldn’t resemble, Argentina has a thriving black market because the government insists the peso is worth a lot more than its actual value. Freeing the currency would devalue it, a first step toward making Argentina more competitive.

The next big step would be to negotiate a settlement with the hedge funds that bought up Argentina’s debt after its previous default in 2002 and demand repayment. Fernandez got political mileage from attacking the “vultures,” but Macri seems to understand Argentina can’t get unstuck when it’s essentially shut out of international capital markets. He sounds like he wants to do a deal.

Macri’s got a tremendous balancing act to pull off: He’ll need to cut spending and reduce taxes without destroying the country’s big social safety net, while walking the country through a devaluation.

This is how countries that are ruled for a prolonged period by the political left eventually end up. I know so many of you lose heart and think that there is no hope, but there is hope. Even in countries where the left is running everything from the universities, to the judiciaries, to the mainstream media, there is hope.

Over the last 7 years, Obama added $10 trillion to the national debt. And although few of his Democrat low-information voters know about that, they will be able to tell the difference between prosperity and poverty when the United States reaches the Venezuela / Argentina tipping point. There comes a time when there are no more bailouts for the economics deniers. Reality wins in the end.

Public schools received more money, but produced lower student test scores

Now, we’ve already seen the dangers of Democrats like Hillary Clinton refusing to do her job at the State Deparment. During her term, she focused on promoting abortion abroad and on promoting LGBT rights, and neglected religious liberty and national security, i.e. – Benghazi and her insecure e-mail server. But what happens when Democrats in the education system focus on pushing a Democrat agenda, and neglect the task of teaching children the basic skills they will need to get jobs?

This article is from Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

For the first time in many years, national math and reading test scores have dropped for elementary-school kids. Who’s to blame? The better question is, who isn’t?

The biennial tests conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress measure reading and math comprehension among a sample of thousands of fourth- and eighth-graders.

Math scores dropped two points among fourth-graders and three points among those in the eighth grade. Fourth-grade reading scores were up a point, but reading scores in eighth grade dropped three.

Even the growth over the past two decades is unimpressive. The NAEP tests show that two-thirds of eighth-graders are less than proficient in math, and almost as many are below in reading. And proficiency levels in both subjects drop between fourth and eighth grades.

Educrats have offered lots of excuses for this year’s decline, but little explanation. It was the recession. It involved budget cuts. It’s a mystery.

But what the results show pretty clearly is that constant federal meddling and vast amounts of money have, if anything, impeded education progress, not spurred it on.

Per-pupil spending on elementary and secondary education has more than doubled since 1992, while math and reading scores eked out gains of less than 5%, on average.

Moreover, an endless series of Washington-based education changes have done little except cause disruption. In fact, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is now saying President Obama’s Race to the Top and Common Core measures are to blame for the sag in scores because the “improvements” are so sweeping. “Big change,” he said, “never happens overnight.”

Actually, when it comes to our centralized, bloated, bureaucratic, union-dominated public schools, big change never happens, period.

Spending on education has gone up a lot in the past decades, but test scores haven’t budged:

Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores
Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores

Although test scores are not going up, the teacher unions are donating millions of dollars to the Democrats so that there is no accountability:

Don't expect Democrats to put children's education needs over teacher unions
Don’t expect Democrats to put children’s education needs over teacher unions

(Source: OpenSecrets.org)

But there is some hope… when politicians embrace school choice, parents get to pull their kids out of failing schools and put them into customer-focused schools. Check out Bobby Jindal’s answer to a question about rising tuition costs in last night’s first CNBC debate:

Republicans should care about the education issue… because Democrats surely do not.

Scott Walker’s plan to reform public sector unions

Political contributions to public sector unions
Political contributions to public sector unions (click for larger image)

(Source: OpenSecrets.org)

I am not sure if I really explained the importance of Scott Walker’s plan to rein in public sector unions in my last post.

Basically, public sector unions generate a lot of money from forced collection of union dues, and they turn around and use that money to donate to politicians who are in favor of growing government. Unions want bigger government, because they make more money if government grows.

This Wall Street Journal article explains that unions donate mostly to Democrats.

Excerpt:

Corporations and their employees… tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.

So how much money are we talking about?

Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle
Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle (click for larger image)

To see how much unions control government, take a look at this story from National Review, written by economist Veronique to Rugy.

It says:

  • The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.
  • Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.
  • Three public-sector unions were among the 14 labor groups: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the National Education Association; and the American Federation of Teachers. Their combined contributions amount to $150 million, or 15 percent of the top 25’s approximately $1 billion in donations since 1989.
  • Public- and private-sector unions contributed 55.6 percent — $552 million — of the top 25’s contributions.

Where does the money go? The Daily Caller notes:

“Nearly all of labor’s 2012 donations to candidates and parties – 90 percent – went to Democrats,” the report from CRP concluded. “Public sector unions, which include employees at all levels of government, donated $14.7 million to Democrats in 2014.”

But someone has a plan to do something about this: Scott Walker.

This Investors Business Daily article by economist Veronique de Rugy explains what he would do to the unions if elected President in 2016.

She writes:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just proposed a plan to overhaul the country’s labor laws, called “My Plan to Give Power to the People, Not the Union Bosses.”

It would do that by expanding employee choice and holding unions accountable to their members.

One of the main underlying themes of the Republican presidential hopeful’s private-sector reforms is transferring power and decision-making from unions to their members.

For instance, the plan would guarantee employees’ rights by strengthening secret-ballot elections. Under current law, unions have ways to work around the protections, making such elections less than secret. The change would protect workers from retaliation by not disclosing their choices to unions during workplace elections.

Though federal laws outlaw extortion, the Supreme Court has ruled that they usually do not apply to unions. Walker’s plan would change that to protect workers from threats, violence and extortion from unions.

Similarly, his reforms would protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing on the part of a union from being fired or discriminated against.

[…][Public sector unions]… also make the government less effective and more expensive.

That’s why a President Walker would work with Congress to prohibit public employee unions altogether. Meanwhile, he would implement taxpayer and paycheck protections.

As Heritage Foundation labor economist James Sherk explained for National Review, “Walker proposes cracking down on the use of ‘union time’ — that is, allowing federal employees to work for their unions at taxpayer expense.

“He also wants to stop unions from using federal resources to collect the portion of dues that they spend on political causes and lobbying.”

Walker’s plan also would establish a nationwide right-to-work law, making voluntary union dues the default option for all private- and public-sector workers. It would give workers the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a union or not.

States that want to take this freedom away from their workers would have to affirmatively vote to opt out of right-to-work status.

[…]The Walker plan includes many more reforms, such as a repeal of the Davis-Bacon wage controls, which alone could save taxpayers nearly $13 billion over the next 10 years. If implemented, it would be a giant step toward freeing businesses, employers, workers and taxpayers from the incredible burden imposed on them by federal labor laws and union bosses.

Why should we believe that he’ll really do it? Well, unlike some of the talker candidates, Walker has already done it in his state. And it worked – a $3.6 billion dollar deficit was erased.

If you are concerned about the growth of government, and all that that entails, e.g. – higher taxes, massive spending, bloated welfare state, huge levels of corruption, government waste, abortion, gay marriage, etc – then you should know that all of that is driven by the political donations of unions.

And I don’t want anyone to think that union workers are the same as union bosses. In Wisconsin, as soon as the union workers got the right to work without having the pay union dues, the vast majority of them chose not to pay union dues.