Tag Archives: Unions

In California, even non-members of labor unions pay to advance secular left causes

Most people know that public sector unions are among the largest donors of the secular left. But most people don’t know that Christians and conservatives are often forced to join unions in order to work in a particular job, and that some of their salary is automatically taken to push causes favored by the secular left.

Here is an article from the Daily Signal:

A large California teachers union and its national affiliate are forcing nonunion teachers to pay for political activism, according to a disclosure form acquired by The Daily Signal.

Under a category called “human rights,” both the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association require nonunion teachers to finance LGBT leadership training and other political goals that may run counter to the teachers’ convictions, The Daily Signal’s analysis of the disclosure form shows.

The form shows that unions charged $1.1 million in “human rights” costs to nonunion teachers as well as members in 2013-14, while identifying another $1.2 million in the same category as not chargeable to those who weren’t members.

A separate page lists $20,228 in chargeable costs for “Women and LGBT Issues” as a line item under the category  of human rights. The same page includes a line item on “unconscious bias training” for which nonmembers must cover $5,436.

The teachers unions also spend a pretty penny on annual conferences described as focused on education, some of which appear designed instead to further political causes.

For the 2013-14 school year, the teachers unions charged nonmembers as well as members a total of $49,739 for an “Equity Human Rights Conference,” nearly twice as much as the $25,622 deemed not chargeable to nonmembers, the disclosure form shows.

The unions charged nonmembers as well as members a total of $17,108 for an “LGBT Conference,” referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement, with a lower amount, $11,358, that wasn’t charged to nonmembers.

The only way out of paying for secular left causes seems to be passing right-to-work laws, but those are strongly opposed by the Democrat Party. Why would the Democrats be in favor of forcing people to pay unions money and not letting them opt out?

Most unions donate almost exclusively to Democrats

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.”

Although unions helped a great deal in the past to protect workers from unfair practices, their primary function now seems to be to confiscate money from their members to give to themselves and to Democrats. When we make the collection of union dues optional, then unions will have to be more responsive to their members, and less responsive to their Democrat allies.

New $15 minimum wage causing apparel companies to outsource manufacturing

Young people usually only get one side of every issue - because we don't tell them the other side
Young people usually only get one side of every issue – because we don’t tell them the other side

This story is from the radically leftist Los Angeles Times, of all places.

They write:

Los Angeles was once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing, attracting buyers from across the world to its clothing factories, sample rooms and design studios.

But over the years, cheap overseas labor lured many apparel makers to outsource to foreign competitors in far-flung places such as China and Vietnam.

Now, Los Angeles firms are facing another big hurdle — California’s minimum wage hitting $15 an hour by 2022 — which could spur more garment makers to exit the state.

Last week American Apparel, the biggest clothing maker in Los Angeles, said it might outsource the making of some garments to another manufacturer in the U.S., and wiped out about 500 local jobs. The company still employs about 4,000 workers in Southern California.

“The exodus has begun,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands and a former director at Forever 21. “The garment industry is gradually shrinking and that trend will likely continue.”

But some lucky people are going to get an exemption from the new minimum wage law – even though they lobbied hard in favor of it.

The radically leftist UK Guardian explains:

Los Angeles city council will hear a proposal on Tuesday to exempt union members from a $15 an hour minimum wage that the unions themselves have spent years fighting for.

The proposal for the exemption was first introduced last year, after the Los Angeles city council passed a bill that would see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020. After drawing criticism last year, the proposed amendment was put on hold but is now up for consideration once again.

[…]The amendment was originally proposed by Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO is the largest federation of labor unions in the US, with about 12.5 million members. Hicks is also the co-convener of the Campaign to Raise the Wage.

At the time of its passage, Hicks lauded the $15 minimum wage.

“We are one step closer to making history in Los Angeles by adopting a comprehensive minimum wage policy that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Angelenos,” said Hicks. “The city council’s action today creates a path for workers to succeed and gives our economy the boost it needs to grow.”

Hicks did not respond to a request for comment.

Union leaders have a reputation for being just terrible at economics. And when I say “terrible”, I mean they are more ignorant of economics than inanimate objects.

I actually remember far back to when Obamacare was being passed. The big labor unions lobbied for the passage of Obamacare. And when it was passed, they lobbied the Democrats for exemptions to it for the big labor unions. Exemptions from fees, as well as exemptions from taxes. Basically, the big labor unions wanted to screw all the non-union companies with higher health care costs. Unite Blue! Socialism for thee, but not for me. That’s hypocrisy.

How exposed is your state to the problem of underfunded pensions?

I am thinking about moving to a new state in the future, and one of the factors I am considering is underfunded pension liabilities. This basically refers to the ability of a state to pay out pensions to retiring public sector employees going forward. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to solve this problem in this post.

First, Investors Business Daily explains the problem:

A new report by Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Joshua Rauh shows that, unless action is taken soon, many local governments could face bankruptcy because they can’t meet their pension obligations.

[…]The problem is surprisingly simple: States and cities overestimate returns on their pension fund investments, while systematically underfunding them. The result is a growing deficit that will require massive tax hikes or dramatic and painful cuts in government services and promised pensions to public workers.

Rauh’s study looked at 564 state and local pension systems, representing $4.8 trillion in pension liabilities and $3.6 trillion in assets — for an apparent current deficit of just $1.19 trillion.

So far, so good. But Rauh notes the average expected return on pension assets is about 7.6% — which means a doubling every 9.5 years. He calls that assumption “wildly optimistic,” and says a more realistic assumption would be the Treasury bond rate of 3% or lower — less than half the expected return.

Unless pension managers, politicians and voters do something now, the unfunded liabilities of the national system will continue to grow out of control, reaching $3.4 trillion in just 10 years. States and cities across the country would have to raise taxes massively to keep from becoming insolvent.

Right now, state and local governments set aside about 7.3% of revenues for public pensions. To keep the funding gap from exploding and taking down governments across the nation, pension spending would have to rise to  17.5% of revenues on average — roughly equal to a 240% tax increase.

How did things get so bad? Generations of feckless politicians have refused to face down public employee unions, which have negotiated massively expensive pensions for their members while concealing their true cost. Politicians have gone along with it because, heck, it’s not their money and anyway, the problems will take place long after they’re out of office. That’s where we are now.

States and cities will come under intense pressure to raise taxes on local citizens to pay for this travesty. Instead, they should get rid of the public employee unions that have plundered the public for too long and have made local government inefficient, expensive and dysfunctional. If not, they can expect to face the same economy-crippling effects as Detroit, San Bernardino and a number of other cities have — financial insolvency.

Now, obviously states with kick-ass governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin are not going to have the same exposure to such problems as incompetent governors like Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Scott Walker know how to rein in public sector unions.

Let’s get the numbers to confirm this hypothesis.

Bloomberg has the numbers:

Bloomberg ranked 49 U.S. states based on their pension funding ratios in 2014 under GASB 25. (Delaware is not included because of insufficient data for GASB 25.)

Here are the best states… Wisconsin is 100% funded:

States with the best-funded pension liiabilities
States with the best-funded pension liiabilities

And actually there is a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal solvency of all the states right here from George Mason University.

Here’s the map:

Overall fiscal solvency by state
Overall fiscal solvency by state

I notice that the deep blue states like California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. are just horrible states. No wonder everyone is fleeing them in droves. Socialism doesn’t work. Eventually, the money runs out.

So, if you’re thinking of moving to a new state, look at that. And if you don’t want to move, then vote for governors like Scott Walker who will take on public sector unions – otherwise, you’re headed for a big tax hike in the future, to pay for the big spending liberals of the past.

Ohio union employees paid twice the average salary of Ohio teachers

Ohio union officials make much more than Ohio teachers
Ohio union officials make much more than Ohio teachers

Striking story from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

Ohio’s largest labor union is in the business of selling worker “solidarity,” and for union bosses, business is good.

Ohio Education Association president Becky Higgins was paid $209,039 to preside over a union that took member dues and mandatory fees from 121,625 teachers during the fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

Regular OEA dues for full-time teachers are $504—$42 a month—in addition to local OEA chapter dues and $183 in National Education Association dues sent to NEA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Union staff and officers working for OEA’s Columbus headquarters were paid an average of $109,789 with money taken from teachers’ paychecks; Ohio teachers were paid an average of $55,916 during the 2013-14 school year, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

For some reason, Ohio, under liberal governor John Kasich, has not yet followed other midwestern states and enacted a right to work law. Right to work laws allow teachers to work without being forced to pay dues to labor unions.  Although Ohio doesn’t have a right to work law yet, one is being drafted now. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states all have right to work laws already. Kentucky and West Virginia have laws in the works.

Right to work laws 2015
Right to work laws 2015

Why should Christians and conservatives care about all the money that is taken from the paychecks of teachers for their unions?

Most unions donate almost exclusively to Democrats

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.”

Although unions helped a great deal in the past to protect workers from unfair practices, their primary function now seems to be to confiscate money from their members to give to themselves and to Democrats. When we make the collection of union dues optional, then unions will have to be more responsive to their members, and less responsive to their Democrat allies.

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.