Tag: AFL-CIO

Labor Day: Competitiveness IS Pro-Worker

August unemployment figures will be released Friday, with the expected 9.5 or 9.6 percent national jobless rate punctuating the importance of jobs and the economy just in time for the Labor Day holiday. Yet, in attempting to shape the Labor Day news coverage, the Obama Administration is promoting its successes (such as they are) in having government direct economic activity, while organized labor is just calling for more political activism.

They’re both missing the mark: What’s needed to encourage jobs growth are policies that make the United States more globally competitive while ending the uncertainty that keeps employers from hiring more workers. The NAM’s recent “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America” laid out those necessary policies, and our new “Labor Day 2010” report put them in context of employment and the economy. These are substantive documents, if we do say so ourselves.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis issued a statement via video that talks about jobs, but mostly offers examples of government intervention rather than a clear strategy for job creation. The statement will be even more underwhelming when the Bureau of Labor statistics announces the unemployment tomorrow.

Meanwhile, labor leaders are using the week to issue a political call to action, urging union members to mobilize in advance of the midterm elections. Union bosses are rightfully nervous that their allies in Washington  – those who have embraced labor’s anti-competitive program — are facing serious threats to their re-elections. Materials distributed by the AFL-CIO again make vague statements of support for anti-worker proposals like the Employee Free Choice Act.

We hope that all policymakers and candidates take the opportunity this Labor Day weekend to not only read the NAM’s Labor Day Report but also declare their opposition to card check legislation in any form. For jobs and the American worker, it’s time to focus on competitiveness, not proposals that would only worsen employer-employee relations.

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Patriotism, AFL-CIO’s Trumka and Samuel Johnson

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, “Making Patriotic Choices To Save The Economy“:

It’s time for all Americans to remember that patriotism is about more than fighting abroad. It’s also about fighting for ourselves, our neighbors and our communities here in the United States. It’s time for economic patriotism.

Trumka came out with his “economic patriotism” rhetoric in time for Labor Day and the fall elections. Judging by his column, it’s just another, more invidious slogan to accompany the rest of the usual slogans.

Samuel Johnson had smart observations on the topic in “The Patriot,” his 1774 essay directed to the electors of England.

A man sometimes starts up a patriot, only by disseminating discontent, and propagating reports of secret influence, of dangerous counsels, of violated rights, and encroaching usurpation.

This practice is no certain note of patriotism. To instigate the populace with rage beyond the provocation, is to suspend publick happiness, if not to destroy it. He is no lover of his country, that unnecessarily disturbs its peace. Few errours and few faults of government, can justify an appeal to the rabble; who ought not to judge of what they cannot understand, and whose opinions are not propagated by reason, but caught by contagion.

Just saying …

President Obama appears with Trumka next Monday at the annual Laborfest in Milwaukee. Will the President, too, embrace this rhetoric of “economic patriotism?”

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Union Popularity Still Slipping

A new Gallup survey reveals, “U.S. Approval of Labor Unions Remains Near Record Low,” with a topline finding that only 52 percent of Americans approve of unions, the second lowest percentage in the 70 years the organization has studied the issue.

Another striking result: Forty percent of Americans want labor unions to have less influence, 27 percent the same, and 29 percent more.

Gallup finds these implications:

Labor unions are less popular now in the United States than they have been for most of the last 70 years. One reason for this could be the economic downturn. With many Americans out of work and struggling to find work, organized labor groups’ missions may not seem appropriate or even fair as they might have when jobs are more plentiful. There is some precedence for an economic-related downturn in union approval, as Gallup found a mild drop in union approval during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the U.S. economy was in poor shape.

The more negative appraisal of unions the last two years could be due to the belief from union opponents that unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration, including recent legislation providing aid to states that will preserve thousands of education and public sector jobs.

You don’t really have to be a union opponent to believe that “unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration.” You can reasonably draw that conclusion from reading President Obama’s recent speech to the AFL-CIO executive council.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit)

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Labor Policy Round-Up

Yee-haw – we felt it was about time that we did another labor round up at the shopfloor.org corral.

Recusal refusal: The Wall Street Journal echoed our concerns with the National Labor Relations Board when it published an editorial earlier that examines recess-appointed NLRB member Craig Becker’s conflict of interest with his consideration of NLRB cases that involve his former employers – the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes: Can’t help but to think of the lyrics of the old Bowie tune when we learned of Anna Burger’s impending departure from the labor groups Change to Win and the SEIU: “I still don’t know what I was waiting for And my time was running wild”. And run wild they did. During Ms. Burger’s time the labor group has tirelessly advocated expanding government, the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act and radical changes at the NLRB to seat one of their own (Craig Becker.) Perhaps she realized: “Every time I thought I’d got it made It seemed the taste was not so sweet.”

When the Data Doesn’t Help Your Case, Question the Data! The top brass over at OSHA have had a hard timing understanding why injury and illness rates have shown such marked improvement over the years. So instead of acknowledging that America’s workplaces were getting safer, they questioned the accuracy of the data. In October of last year the agency launched an initiative to ferret out an alleged widespread underreporting of workplace safety incidents by employers. However, the agency quietly “paused” the program recently as regional OSHA officials expressed doubts about the program’s effectiveness, saying they were not finding significant violations.

Labor in Focus in the Rocky Mountain State: EFCA will continue to be an issue during the midterm elections. After this week’s primary elections in Colorado the voters will face a decision between two candidates that have different approaches to the card check legislation. There is incumbent Senator Michael Bennet who has not taken a clear position on the jobs-killing bill and Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, strongly opposes the measure.

Problems with EFCA in the Mountain State: West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democratic frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race for the late Sen. Byrd’s seat, has said he has doubts about the card check legislation if it hasn’t made it through a Democratic-controlled administration and Congress. ‘I told labor, “Something is wrong with that piece of legislation if you haven’t been able to get it passed by now,”’ Manchin said.”  Something wrong? The fact that the legislation would cost 600,000 Americans their jobs shows just how wrong it is.

We hope all candidates will realize the devastating economic impact that card check and related proposals will have on our economy and join the NAM in rejecting the misguided legislation.

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Card Check: AFL-CIO’s Trumka Says Employee Free Choice Act Will Come Up

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was on the CSPAN “Newsmakers” show this morning. Asked whether the Employee Free Choice Act will be considered in Congress this year, Trumka said: “I think you’ll see the Employee Free Choice Act come up again. I think you’ll see it probably before the end of the year.”

Before the elections or in a lameduck session? Trumka: “Either one.”

The reason the Employee Free Choice Act has not passed Congress is because 40 Senate Republicans have blocked it, he said.

Oh, pshaw, Trumka. The reason EFCA has not passed is because the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to what the bill would do, opponents have made an effective case that “card check” and forced unionization are antithetical to democratic principles and economic growth. The legislation is extraordinarily unpopular, which is why key Senate Democrats joined Republicans in preventing the bill’s consideration on the floor this Congress.

If it were popular, the President would have already signed the Employee Free Choice Act into law instead of planning to put its provisions into effect through Executive Orders, presidential nominations, and regulatory enactments. (See Shopfloor post, “If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards.

Trumka also continued pounding the table for more federal stimulus spending, dismissing concerns about the federal deficit, saying we have a jobs crisis in this country, not a deficit crisis. (UPDATE, 10:58 a.m.: Here’s the exact quote: “We have a job crisis right now, we don’t have a debt crisis right now. The only thing that can possibly make this recession, and this recovery from not stalling and going back into recession is if government continues to do some stimulus spending. And unfortunately, the states aren’t in a position to do that, so it’s going to take aid from the federal government.”)

CSPAN Radio will re-run the interview, about 30 minutes worth, at 6 p.m. Eastern.

UPDATE (11:20 a.m.): An interviewer asks, well, if the Employee Free Choice is so popular, and Democrats control the House and Senate, why haven’t the Democrats brought it to the floor for a vote? Trumka:

The President supports it, the vice president supports it, a vast majority of the House support it, a vast majority of the Senate report [sic] it, and like a hundred and some other bills in this country, 40 Republicans said we’re saying no to everything, and so they’ve stopped it.

It has come to the House and the Senate, remember? It passed by a large majority in the House. It’s been in the Senate where 40 Republicans have said no, just like they’ve said no to extensions of unemployment benefits, to help for state and local government, they’ve said no to everything. It doesn’t surprise us they’ve said no.

UPDATE (11:50 a.m.): Let’s be more accurate about the recent legislative history of the Employee Free Choice Act. In the 110th Congress, 2007-2008, H.R. 800 was introduced on Feb. 5, 2007. It passed the House on March 1, 2007. In the U.S. Senate, the bill failed to achieve cloture on June 26, 2007, with a vote of 51-48, short of the 60 votes needed. The only Republican to vote for cloture was Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylania, who subsequently became a Democrat (and who lost his party primary this spring). Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) was absent.

In the current 111th Congress, H.R. 1409 was introduced in the House on April 29, 2009, referred to committee, with no subsequent action. In the Senate, S. 560 was introduced on March 10, 2009 and referred to committee, with no subsequent action. From July (Sen. Franken’s swearing in) to December 2010 (Sen. Scott Brown’s arrival) the Democrats enjoyed a 60-vote majority in the Senate — enough to invoke cloture — but leadership chose not to pursue a vote because several members of the caucus would have voted no.

The portion of the interview concerning the Employee Free Choice Act is here as an .mp3 file. The host is Bill Scanlan and the interlocutors are David Catanese of Politico.com and Victoria McGrane of Dow-Jones.

Edited and updated for clarity, style.

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If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards

In remarks to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council today President Obama again reiterated the Administration’s commitment to seek passage of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act. The President told the assembled group of labor union officials:

Getting EFCA through the Senate is gonna be tough, but we’re going to keep on pushing.

President quickly followed that statement up affirming the Administration’s plans to use federal regulatory agencies to implement labor’s agenda. The President said officials have already made numerous policies changes through pro-union executive orders and appointments at both the National Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The President said:

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.

He said that the fight for EFCA in the Senate will be tough but “Our work doesn’t stop there. There is a reason why we nominated people the National Mediation Board.” He said “we’re going to make sure that the National Labor Relations Board is restored…”

The President is conceding what we (employers) have consistently warned against: In failing to push through Congress the policies demanded by labor like card check legislation, he is instead using the Executive Branch and regulatory agencies to achieve the same policy end. The outcome will be a system that increases labor-management conflict, undermines the dynamic labor marketplace, and adds huge new costs to U.S. businesses struggling to create jobs and stay competitive in the global economy.

But in doing so, the President circumvents Congress and, we contend, the majority of the American people who do not embrace an economy dominated by labor.

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Jobs or Members?

As the AFL-CIO prepares for a visit from President Barack Obama on Wednesday the labor group has announced plans for an aggressive push for political engagement from its member unions. The AP’s Sam Hananel reports that the group has “…lingering irritation that Democrats could not muster enough support to pass legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize workers.” The legislation in question is the Employee Free Choice Act, which would effectively do away with secret-ballot elections in favor of a card check system of union recognition.

Despite the unhappiness, AFL-CIO deputy political director Mike Podhorzer said that the AFL-CIO had “…high hopes that Congress would do more to create jobs.” Interesting comment from organized labor if, as leaders claim, their highest priority is the Employee Free Choice Act. As we have noted numerous times that the legislation has been estimated to destroy 600,000 jobs in the first year after enactment. In a way, Congress has protected the jobs of 600,000 Americans by not passing this legislation.

It leads me to wonder – are labor leaders truly committed to jobs creation or are they more interested in artificially growing their membership by forcing workers into unions? If they are focused on jobs creation, then they should cease their support for jobs-killing legislation.

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The Foreign Policy of the Communications Workers of America

You can learn a lot about the U.S. labor movement by reading the Communists. The reporters for People’s World, which used to be the People’s Weekly World, which used to be The Daily Worker, are competent and, in reporting on speeches by labor officials, are not restrained by the same internal censors that govern the union-employed writers. If a union leader says something extreme or activists embrace the outlandish, the union writers will overlook the damaging comments. In contrast, writers for People’s World are likely to regard the remarks as virtuous and worth highlighting.

Case in point, the PW’s report on last week’s 72nd Convention of the Communications Workers of America, “CWA takes sober look at labor’s challenges.”

CWA took time out from politics and organizing to pass a resolution demanding withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors from both Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure, pushed by U.S. Labor Against War, won by a majority show of hands. But delegates spent the rest of their time on U.S. politics and CWA internal business…[snip]

The Iraq-Afghanistan withdrawal resolution linked the wars together and demanded redirection of money spent on them to domestic needs, including care for returning injured and wounded troops.

One delegate, an Air Force veteran who recently returned from Afghanistan, opposed it, and two other delegates spoke for it.

That’s sounds like a really interesting story, especially if you interviewed the war veteran and reported on the activities of U.S. Labor Against War. Alas, this is the only report we’ve found on CWA’s foreign policy as discussed at the convention in Washington. It’s not mentioned anywhere at the CWA website.

P.S. For that matter, we didn’t know that organized labor has gone on the offensive against the American Red Cross. The PW reported that the CWA:

Blasted the Red Cross’ anti-union stand. The non-profit demands pay and benefit cuts from its CWA, UFCW, OPEIU, AFSCME and SEIU member-workers. CWA asked its locals to contact United Way area affiliates, since the Red Cross is a big beneficiary of United Way funds, “and request they contact ARC to demand” it “respect the collective bargaining process, consistent with United Way policy.”

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DISCLOSE Act: Hide or Hides?

Funny how both the verb and noun were used by Senate leadership Tuesday to summarize their arguments over S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Republican leader, closed his floor comments commenting: “We’re here to protect the Constitution, not our own hides.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) closed his remarks by saying: “The only ones fearful of transparency are those with something to hide. That is what this legislation is all about.”

The AFL-CIO opposed the legislation.

The ACLU issued a statement declaring its opposition, “Bill Raises Serious First Amendment Concerns.”

What do they have to hide?

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Pelosi, Trumka at Netroots Nation: Their Manufacturing Agenda

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi used her address to the “progressive” activists and bloggers at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas on Friday to promote House Democrats’ manufacturing agenda, “Make it in America.” Judging from the absence of coverage, neither the audience nor reporters seemed all that interested in that segment of her remarks.

The Washington Post story, “Pelosi calls for liberal activists to help keep Democrats in majority,” managed a paragraph:

Pelosi spoke about “Making It in America,” the Democrats’ manufacturing agenda that she said would roll out in coming weeks to help restore and create industrial jobs. “Jobs, jobs, jobs is very important, but we have to get it done,” Pelosi said. “People have to see the difference between what the Republicans want to do about this — nothing — and what we are advocating.”

The McClatchy story did not mention the manufacturing angle.

This isn’t a complaint about sparse coverage. Netroots Nation is populated by political activists and left-wing bloggers. To the convention attendees, as a whole, the more interesting topics are elections, campaigns and the perfidy of Fox News. The convention in Las Vegas was more about seeing the candidates and grousing about the Obama Administration’s passivity than economic policy.

Likewise, even though organized labor was a major funder of the event, there just didn’t seem to be all that much interest paid to the union agenda. The only extensive coverage of the remarks of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka came from the AFL-CIO blog, a post, “Trumka at Netroots Nation: New Industrial Policy for a Globalized World“:

Speaking as part of a panel on Building a Progressive Economic Vision, Trumka outlined the need for the the nation to invest in infrastructure, implement fair trade policies, change our tax policies, enact comprehensive immigration reform and reform our broken labor laws. The full panel included consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, progressive Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, Center for Community Change Executive Director Deepak Bhargava, Green for All’s Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and National People’s Action Executive Director George Goehl. (Watch it here.)

By “change our tax policies,” he means:

For those who say we can’t afford to make these investments, Trumka explained how we can do it with a financial speculation tax that encourages capital to invest in concrete things and discourages unproductive speculation or paper pushing for a quick buck, all the while raising more than $100 billion. Trumka made it clear that lawmakers must not reduce the federal deficit at the expense of creating jobs.

From what we know of the other speakers, Trumka probably represented the most economically conservative point of view on that panel, amazingly enough. Only $100 billion in new taxes to support manufacturing? Open borders for more immigration? Protectionism to wall off America from global competition? Think bigger, Trumka! Be more progressive!

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