AFL-CIO Archives - Shopfloor

A Clear Agenda and a Reelection

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

This week, the AFL-CIO held its big annual convention in Los Angeles, CA where they reelected Richard Trumka as President, heard from Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, among other speakers and dealt with the business of their organization. In the course of the convention, the AFL-CIO membership also passed several resolutions providing the framework for the organization’s efforts in the coming years.

Resolution 1, which I have to assume is the most important given it was first, is a wish list submitted to the convention by the Committee on Growth, Innovation and Political Action and the Executive Council. I wonder whether the Committee on Growth, Innovation and Political Action has any concern about whether the policy it espouses will do anything to encourage growth or innovation in the economy or if it’s just focused on getting more AFL members and developing recruiting techniques? At any rate, the manifesto passed by the assembled members reads like a to-do list for the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board – much of which they have tried or are trying to accomplish already.

–          Employers should be required to post notices.

–          Increased access to the workplace for union representatives.

–          Card-check.

–          More personal information about employees.

–          Organizing rights for supervisors.

–          Ambush elections.

–          Abolition of “Right-to-Work.”

–          Expansion of organizing and bargaining in public sector.

The resolution concludes with the following paragraph: “The reforms should not simply reaffirm a right to representation and to work under a collectively bargained agreement that is never realized by the vast majority of U.S. workers, but should expressly encourage the exercise of that right and include sufficiently strong substantive changes to make the right meaningful and real for all workers.” (Emphasis added) That’s what it’s really about isn’t it – not that the law should create a fair and level playing field, it needs to stack the deck in favor of unions.

Finally, I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to Mr. Trumka on his reelection. We don’t and won’t agree on much, but you do have my respect.

No Signs of Abating: Furor Over NLRB’s Complaint Against Boeing

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Labor Unions | One Comment


  • Three House members from South Carolina took to the House floor Monday to express their opposition to the National Labor Relations Board’s unprecedented complaint against Boeing for locating new production facilities for the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina instead of unionized Washington State. The remarks by Reps. Trey Gowdy, Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney are available here.
  • Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO president, presented a well-structured, vigorous defense of the NLRB on the Boeing issue in his speech last week at the National Press Club. Trumka said: “While Boeing and the Chamber of Commerce may not like it, the law of the land protects working people who exercise that right against any retaliation by their employers.” And that was it. Reporters did not follow up in the Q&A, showing more interest in football.
  • The issue is playing nationally. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), a strong supporter of manufacturing, raised the NLRB issue in remarks last week at the Marietta Rotary Club. He said: “The National Labor Relations Board has moved in a destructive direction in regards to job creation, not just in favoring unions, but in telling airplane manufacturer Boeing that it was proposing not to all allow it to move a manufacturing facility from Washington, which is pro-union, to South Carolina, which is a right-to-work state, because it would, ‘harm union activities.’ Boeing has determined it works best for them to move part of its manufacturing capability to South Carolina. Think about what that means. Washington power brokers can pick winners and losers.”

Questions for AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka at the Press Club

By | Energy, Labor Unions | One Comment

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, an appearance billed thusly:

Trumka will speak out on recent efforts to curb collective bargaining rights in several states, including Wisconsin and Ohio. He also will discuss the political outlook for the 2012 elections, and the impact of austerity budgets on local, state and federal workers.

All good topics. Here are a few others that the reporters could raise during the Q&A period that traditionally follows Press Club remarks.

  • In a January 2010 National Press Club appearance you said: “I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010.” And …”The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party.” So were you shining us on, deceiving your membership for tactical reasons, or are you just a lousy prognosticator? Did the failure of card check reflect organized labor’s lack of political influence? Your own lack of influence?

  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses anti-coal crowd at April rally. (Photo: Energy Action Coalition)

  • You began your career as a coal miner and served as President of the United Mine Workers before being elected to head the AFL-CIO. Yet at an April “Power Shift” rally in front of the White House, you joined environmental activists in demanding “clean energy” policies in which coal has no role. Demonstrators held signs declaring “Coal is Over” and “No More Coal!” (More photos here and here.) How can you, as a union president, make common cause with activists who want to shut down the coal industry?

  • AFL-CIO affiliated unions are members of the Blue-Green Alliance, which includes such organizations as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Many people regard these groups as hostile to the industrial base of this nation’s economy. How do you reconcile union support for this alliance? According to a Department of Commerce study, green products and services account for at most 2 percent of private sector activity. How you can justify spending member dues on groups who have such a narrow focus and whose policies would eliminate unionized jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors?

  • Do you believe nuclear power has a role in America’s future energy production? Because AFL-CIO member unions are sending member dues to a group that includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the major opponents of nuclear energy.

  • Should a company that currently has unionized operations in a state ever be allowed to locate new operations in a right-to-work state?

NLRB Decision: One for the (Dark) Ages

By | General, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

The Wall Street Journal editorializes on the complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing, in which the NLRB demands that the company open a second production line in the Puget Sound to compensate for its building of a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina. From “The Death of Right to Work — After 17 months and $2 billion, the NLRB sandbags Boeing” (subscription):

We knew that Big Labor had political pull at the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, but yesterday’s complaint against Boeing is one for the (dark) ages. By challenging Boeing’s right to build aircraft in South Carolina, labor’s bureaucratic allies in Washington are threatening the ability of states to compete for new jobs and investment—and risking the economic recovery to boot….

Beyond labor politics, the NLRB’s ruling would set a terrible precedent for the flow of jobs and investment within the U.S. It would essentially give labor a veto over management decisions about where to build future plants. And it would undercut the right-to-work statutes in 22 American states—which is no doubt the main union goal here.

With a Republican House, Mr. Obama’s union agenda is dead in Congress. But it looks like his appointees are determined to impose it by regulatory fiat—no matter the damage to investment and job creation.

Yes, union agendas and regulatory fiats that the White House has consistently endorsed, contrary to the NLRB’s proper statutory role as an independent agency that is supposed to perform a quasi-judicial function — not enable organized labor’s dreams.

But the White House had given the NLRB its marching orders.  President Obama told the AFL-CIO Executive Council in August 2010: “My administration has consistently implemented not just legislative strategies but also where we have the power through executive orders to make sure that those basic values are reflected.” And, “We’re going to make sure that the National Labor Relations Board is restored to have some balance, so that if workers want to form a union, they can at least get a fair vote in a reasonable amount of time.” Read More

AFL-CIO’s Trumka Tells Mine Workers to Go Pound Sand

By | Economy, Energy, Labor Unions | One Comment

A thousand or so protesters marched by our offices on Monday, shouting, banging drums, carrying signs that identified them as environmental activists. We learned that the group came from a rally at Lafayette Square, the wind-up of something called the Power Shift Conference, organized by the Energy Action Coalition, which claimed to have attracted “5000 young Obama voters” to palaver on green energy.

Critical thinking is over

There are so many factions, groups, alliances and cadres involved in these efforts it’s difficult to determine who is most accountable for the various policy idiocies (Energy Justice!, 100 Percent Clean Energy Now!), but one person clearly on record is Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president.

Trumka shouted his slogans at the rally:

Because of your action, we’re moving past manufactured deficit hysteria. We’re moving past the same-old tired debates and toward jobs and a clean, green future.

You’re shifting America’s focus. You’re building power and political will to force our elected leaders to consider the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the jobs we have, and the future we need for ourselves and our children.

Manufactured deficit hysteria? Tell that to Standard & Poor’s.

Trumka and the other speakers excoriated the usual targets, the Chamber, Big Polluters, BP, Koch Industries, Exxon, etc.

Coal, the source of about half the nation’s electricity, was another subject of hate. Many of the marchers carried the sign featured in the photo above, “Coal is over,” and the agitprop media advisory announced the marchers planned to protest at “the headquarters of the electric utility Gen-On, which continues to burn coal in Virginia.” (Sure hope so. Without coal, Virginia gets much darker, colder and poorer.)

These activists are clear about their goal: They want to kill coal. They want to shut down coal-fired power plants.

In giving these activists his full-throated support, Richard Trumka is telling his union brothers and sisters in the coal-mining industry that their jobs don’t matter, he would as soon as put them out of work. The United Mine Workers of America have about 30,000 members, but to Trumka, these men and women are just tools of an exploitive coal industry.

What’s so astonishing is that Trumka comes from a coal mining family and was a miner himself before working his way up to President of the United Mine Workers of America and then moving to the AFL-CIO. He used to go down in the mine with men he now wants to put out of work.

When the AFL-CIO’s Trumka denounces “the same-0ld tired debates,” he’s really denouncing the jobs that make this nation run, including tens of thousands of union jobs in the mining industry. So much for solidarity.

(Post slightly modified 1:20 p.m.)

Knock It Off With the ‘Black Shirt’ Stuff, Mr. Vice President

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

We took Vice President Joe Biden to task in 2009 when he use the term “black shirts” to refer to Bush Administration officials that oversaw labor issues. They weren’t impartial referees wearing striped shirts, Biden told labor audiences, they were wearing “black shirts.” (Shopfloor, “‘Black Shirts’ – Just Words or Scripted Talking Points for VP Biden?
 and “Card Check: Vice President Biden Calls Somebody ‘Black Shirts’.”)

The term black shirt has an ugly history and its use, however innocently, in a political context suggests you view your critics as fascists.

Since the summer of 2009, we hadn’t heard the Vice President utter the “black shirt” slur again — until last evening on the AFL-CIO sponsored telephone call with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Richard Trumka, the union president. There it was again, thrown out amid a wide range of over-the-top comments and pro-labor exhortations. (Audio)

Thankfully, we were not the only one to notice the return of the black shirts. Michael Gonzalez writes today at National Review Online’s The Corner blog, “No ‘Biden Will Be Biden’ Free Pass for the Veep“:

[Biden] says that the people who worked at the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board during the Bush administration were “wearing black shirts.”

Whatever was the vice president referring to? We’ve asked his office for a clarification, but have received no response in the past four hours. His office owes those people either an explanation or an apology, lest they believe that a sitting vice president of the United States meant to compare the people who worked in the last administration to Benito Mussolini’s paramilitary brutes….

There is a regretful tendency in Washington to dismiss what the vice president says with a shrug and say, “Biden will be Biden.” But Mr. Biden is not some loveable if overeager golden retriever who will overturn the china from time to time or do something worse to the carpet. He’s our vice president, and some decorum should be expected.

Absolutely right. After all the lectures on rhetorical tone and “civility,” it’s galling to hear the Vice President of the United States of America use such inflammatory terms for people who just disagree with him. Please referee your rhetoric and hang up the black shirts, Mr. Vice President.

NLRB Chairman Joins St. John’s Conference on the Evils of Business

By | Briefly Legal, Education and Training, General, Labor Unions | One Comment

Wilma Liebman, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, makes little pretense these days of being an impartial arbiter of business-labor disputes. Her pro-unionism now extends to be a major participant in a conference at St. John’s University School of Law that embraces the theme: Not only is business greedy, it’s unchristian too.

The conference, which begins today at noon, is entitled, “The Theology of Work and the Dignity of Workers Conference.” The materials embrace the usual “social justice” themes of the Catholic left, i.e., workers are oppressed and government should redistribute wealth. The conference chairman, David L. Gregory, executive director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law, writes in his opening message:

The Dignity of Workers seems self-evident; that is, does anyone seriously argue against the Dignity of Workers? Yet, President Obama says that unions are “under assault.” Wage and hour claims proliferate. Millions of workers are not paid their just wages. Structural underfunded public sector pensions threaten to bankrupt state governments, and to leave public sector workers and retirees bereft. The minimum wage is insufficient, and the living wage initiative has had a fitful contemporary history.

The organizers identify conference themes through a series of quotations from prominent theological thinkers, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Benedict XVI, Mick Jagger and Billy Bragg.

One typical session is “Employers, Employees, Unions – Restoring the Common Good.” Panelists include four labor union officials and five professors of theology or law. Not one employer! (Conference agenda)

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, is the keynote speaker Friday.

That a law school is holding a conference dominated by the social and economic theories of the left is standard fare. (See Walter Olson, “Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America.”) This drum-beating is unlikely to help the law students any, but that’s a decision left to administrators and the contributors who pay for the law school’s political agenda.

Our problem is that Chairman Liebman has thrown in with this event, spending her time at an ideologically directed conference instead of maintaining the impartiality and distance required of a quasi-judicial agency like the NLRB. Her major session Saturday is this: Read More

VP Biden, Labor Secretary Solis to Meet with AFL-CIO’s Trumka

By | Economy, Labor Unions | No Comments

From The Los Angeles Times“:

Public schedule of Vice President Joe Biden for Thursday, Feb. 24:

At 10:45 AM, the Vice President and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will meet with President of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka and with presidents of AFL-CIO labor organizations.

Here’s a good conversation starter, discussing this statement: “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

That’s George Meany, former head of the AFL-CIO.

Meany’s comments were backed up by the advice in 1959 from AFL-CIO’s Executive Council: “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress—a right available to every citizen.”

Odd timing for a meeting. It almost looks like counter-programming from the White House, as the President later today convenes the first meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Oh, wait, Trumka’s on the council.

Here are a few questions reporters might pose to him in conjunction with this afternoon’s public meeting: “The AFL-CIO’s affiliate in Madison, Wisc., has endorsed calling a general strike if the Gov. Scott Walker’s budget and collective bargaining bill passes. Do you support a general strike? Did you think a general strike would improve America’s global competitiveness and standing in the eyes of employers as a good place to do business?”

More from James Sherk at the Heritage Foundation, who supplied the Meany quotes.

AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka Pretends He’s Mel Gibson in Braveheart

By | Labor Unions | 7 Comments

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, has been shouting at a rally in Madison, Wisc., in “solidarity” with public employee workers who have been disrupting the state this week. The situation’s not funny, but Trumka’s hyperbole is hilarious. From the AFL-CIO’s Tweet coverage:

Gov. Walker, that’s too much to ask. You can’t have our freedom!” -Trumka #NotMyWI #WIunion #StateSOS #1u

According to Gov. Scott Walker’s office, the governor is asking the following of public employees:

Governor Walker’s budget repair bill strikes a fair balance—asking public employees to make a modest 5.8% pension contribution, which is about the national average, and 12.6% health insurance contribution, which is about half the national average.

Legislation proposed by Gov. Walker would limit public employee collective bargaining to salary issues alone, but it does not prevent anyone from joining a union. In any case, these are terms that are subject to review and change, and given the state’s $3.6 billion budget hole, voters last November elected candidates who promised this kind of change.

We pay attention to Trumka as a leader of unions representing private-sector employees, and judging from his involvement in the Wisconsin activities, employers should anticipate protests, disruption and worse if they ever get crosswise with Big Labor. Here’s some of what he’s endorsing: Read More

Circumnetting the President’s Executive Order on Regulations

By | Labor Unions, Regulations | One Comment

Federal News Radio’s report, “Obama’s regulatory reforms draw mixed reviews,” provides a thorough round-up of the reaction to President Obama’s new positioning on federal regulations, including the Executive Order, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” It’s informative to read the comments Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“The Executive Order makes clear that the look back process will occur with full understanding of the agency’s priority settings and resource constraints in a tough budgetary environment. So we expect the agencies will take this process very seriously but do so in way that recognizes resources are not unlimited.”

Sunstein said agencies will have to find a way to do the look back based on the resources they have already.

“I don’t anticipate any additional budgetary assistance for the look back,” he said. “We do anticipate a rule of reason where agencies will be expected to make their own choices about how to balance the cost because in many of the agencies there either is some process of look back and because of all agencies there is considerable expertise about the existing set of programs, we don’t think this will require huge resources to be invested.”

Phew, exhaled the EPA officials. We have so many pending regulations that we really don’t have the budget and personnel to go back a look at the old ones. Carry on!

And at least one activist sees the new review process as an opportunity for MORE regulations. Gary Bass, head of OMBWatch, commented: “Bass said by looking back at existing regulations agencies may find not only outdated policies, but also gaps where new ones are needed.” Read More