AFSCME Archives - Shopfloor

Misdirection and Attacks Amid the Union Protests

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

From AP, Nevada, “NV Rally Supports Fight vs. Wis. Anti-Union Bill“:

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – More than 100 protesters turned out in Carson City to support thousands of public workers who’ve set up camp at the Wisconsin Capitol to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.The Nevada Appeal of Carson City reports protesters waved signs in front of the Legislative Building on Saturday and chanted “Money for Kids, not for Koch.”

We can imagine the exchange.

Hey, you here for the protest? Great! Now take this sign and chant along with us.

OK. Sure. Who are the Kochs?

Doesn’t matter. Just wave the sign.

Um, all right. Boo, boo!

If ever you want to see a cynical PR campaign in operation, take a look at the coordinated rallies in state capitals organized by the labor unions. All around the country, unions protested Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to control state spending by limits on collective bargaining for public employees.

There was a consistent talking shouting point: Unions built the middle class! In New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, even at the Oscars, the rhetoric was all the same.

It’s misdirection.  AFSCME and the SEIU did not build the middle class.  Even if one agrees that industrial unions contributed to rising private sector wages in the 1950s, the growth of American middle class had next to nothing to do with public sector employees and collective bargaining. Those unions took off with the explosion of state and local governments in the ’60s and later.

The rallies also featured a consistent target: Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Labor’s modus operandi requires picking a target to attack, personalizing their campaigns by demonizing an individual, or in this case individuals. You fire up the troops and discourage a more reasoned discussion of the issues. This time the target is the Kochs. Read More

One Nation March: Labor’s Ever-Widening ‘Progressive’ Agenda

By | Culture and Entertainment, Labor Unions | One Comment

Last year for the first time in history, organized labor in the United States represented more government workers than private-sector employees.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-sector unionization fell to 7.2 percent in 2009, down from 7.6 percent the previous year.

Labor’s declining relevance to workers in the private sector has many roots: Generally improved wages and job conditions, the imperative of workplace flexibility, global competition, and union corruption all play a part.

There’s another important but less recognized factor: Organized labor’s leadership has abandoned the very reason unions first came into existence, which is to represent the economic interests of its workers. In their drive to amass political power, union leaders have aligned themselves with left-wing and “progressive” groups who often agitate against the interests of union workers and show contempt for their deeply held beliefs.

Take the “One Nation” march scheduled for Saturday in Washington. The unions are major sponsors and organizers, busing in union members and doing PR for the effort. The SEIU touts its leadership, the AFL-CIO is making a huge online push for the march, and AFSCME is promoting the effort.

Then take a look at other groups on the list of endorsing organizations, the “partners.”

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The Campaign Continues

By | Briefly Legal, Health Care, Labor Unions | No Comments

Politico, “Next front: Selling what Congress did:

Starting Monday, a coalition of progressive groups — from labor unions to health care advocates — will sink millions of dollars into television advertising and sponsor grass-roots events in swing House districts thanking Democrats for passing the law and highlighting its importance for average Americans.

“We’re going to let our friends know we are going to be there for them,” said AFSCME President Gerald McEntee. “We expect in three months, the American people will understand the bill and they will be happy and satisfied with it.”

More on Rep. Henry Waxman demanding companies explain their accounting charges for health care, from Andy McCarthy, a former U.S. prosecutor, at National Review’s The Corner, “Thugocracy Whipsaws Capitalism“:

I worked for many years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in whose backyard was Wall Street.

If a company like AT&T failed to make a legally mandated restatement of its financial position while continuing to participate in the capital markets, it would be investigated and the responsible management officials would likely find themselves prosecuted while the SEC, concurrently, went after the company and its officials in civil enforcement suits. There are prosecutors and investigators who would salivate at the prospect of doing such a career-making case.

If we are now under a system where disclosure gets you a public whipping and other threats by the Powers That Be while nondisclosure promises the ruinous expenses of defending against criminal investigations and civil enforcement, this is no longer anything but a thugocracy.

If history is any guide, we’ll soon see inventive class action lawyers join in the harassment, suing companies that make the accounting charges.

Oregon at the Tax Crossroad

By | Labor Unions, Taxation | No Comments

A Wall Street Journal editorial, “Oregon at the Tax Crossroad“:

Oregon’s unemployment rate is 11.1%, among the nation’s highest. But Oregonians are now voting by mail whether to endorse a pair of tax increases passed by the legislature last year: one to raise the state’s top personal income tax, to 11% from 9%, and another to raise the business income tax, to 7.9% from 6.6%. Both tax hikes would be retroactive to January 1, 2009.

Votes will be counted on Measures 66 and 67 on Jan. 26. The Journal regards the elections as a useful referendum on whether states can tax their way into prosperity, and it’s also a measure of the public employee unions’ political clout.

In recent weeks, national powerhouses AFSCME and the SEIU have poured close to $1 million into the state campaign to secure passage. Oregon’s public employees have one of the sweetest deals in America. Their average pay is about one-third higher than that of private Oregon workers, and Oregon public employees don’t have to pay anything toward their health-care benefits.

In the last budget, the Democratic controlled state legislature doled out a $259 million pay raise to the government work force, even as the state was facing a near $1 billion deficit. In the last three years, the state has added 25,000 new public employees while losing 40,000 private sector jobs. The union TV ads say the tax hikes are needed to preserve schools, roads and public services.

See our earlier post, “Unemployment at 11.1 Percent, and Oregon Would Raise Taxes?

‘Black Shirts’ – Just Words or Scripted Talking Points for VP Biden?

By | General, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

We took note last week of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks to the political and legislative conference of the Communications Workers of America, checking to see what he had to say about the Employee Free Choice Act. (Transcript.)

Amid the expected exhortation, one phrase jumped out when the Vice President attacked union opponents generally and the Bush-era National Labor Relations Board specifically for being biased against union organizers.

You know, the National Labor Relations Act says we should “encourage” – paraphrase – “encourage” unions, not mandate them, encourage them. Why? It’s good for the economy. It’s gotten lopsided, folks.

The guys who were supposed to be wearing striped shirts have been wearing black shirts the last eight years. We don’t have referees out there doing it the right way. We’re switching out the shirts, because we’re switching out the people wearing the shirts.

Black shirts? Black shirts? That’s the term used to describe the Italian paramilitary squads and bully boys who helped Mussolini’s rise to power after WWI. (Oswald Mosely’s fascists in England were also known by the term.) If you call someone a “black shirt” you’re calling him a fascist.

We chalked the use of the term up to rhetorical haste, a confusion of black hats — bad guys — and striped shirts — referees. True, you would think someone with vast foreign policy experience would be sensitive to a term like black shirt. Still, a mistake.

But the Vice President has used the term in other speeches to union groups. It’s obviously part of his stump union speech. At some point he or his speech writer said, “Yeah, black shirts. That’s good. Put that in.”

From Vice President Biden’s remarks to the 2009 Legislative Conference Of The American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees, May 12, 2009:

There has been a steady drumbeat. The guys wearing striped shirts were wearing black shirts, not striped shirts as referees. They’ve done anything administratively, legislatively and creatively for someone who wants to join a union to join a union.

Black shirts AND drumbeats.

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VP Biden to Labor Bosses: “We Owe You”

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

Speaking at a conference held by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) today the Vice President made it quite clear where he stands on organized labor’s agenda and the EFCA.

The Vice President claimed: “We Bidens, we owe you.” When providing detail of what exactly labor unions are owed the Vice President called for the passage of the EFCA.

Where have we heard this before?

In a December 2008 interview with the Washington Times AFSCME’s own president – Gerald McEntee, claimed that the EFCA would be payback for big labor’s political support.

The payback would be Employee Free Choice Act – that would be a vehicle to strengthen and build the American labor movement and the middle class,

Card Check: Oh, Forget Compromise, Forget the Whole Thing

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

A descriptively titled news release, “AFSCME, Americans United for Change Launch New Television Ad Spotlighting the Republican ‘Party of NO’ and the Middle-Class Priorities They Turned Their Back On,” excerpted:

Gerald W. McEntee, President, AFSCME: “Through this campaign, we are mobilizing our members and the general public to support President Obama’s comprehensive effort to promote jobs and economic recovery, enact health care reform this year and pass the Employee Free choice Act. The Roadblock Republicans can’t hide from the damage their resistance is doing to the recovery our people need. We have important work to do to overcome the opposition of the corporate CEO’s who set the GOP agenda. We’re going to flood Capitol Hill with phone calls and letters to keep us on the road to recovery. And we’re going to make sure that the Roadblock Republicans know that working Americans expect them to put partisanship aside and do what is right for America.”

That sure sounds like a 2010 campaign commercial, an implicit admission that AFSCME and United for Change don’t think EFCA can pass this year. The two are declaring that it’s on EFCA they’ll stand or fall. They want to change the political equation rather than seek “compromise.”

In which case, these unions are striking a sharply different tone from the SEIU’s Andy Stern, who did not appear all that committed to the Employee Free Choice in a Washington Post interview this week, saying, “We are on the hunt for a solution.”

In short, organized labor is all over the map, torn by disagreement and conflicting agendas on the dishonestly titled Employee Free Choice Act. Such a shame.

Card Check Chutzpah

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

From Gerald McIntee, head of AFSCME, telling the Washington Times that the unions put a lot of time and effort and money, money, money into supporting the Obama campaign:

The payback would be Employee Free Choice Act – that would be a vehicle to strengthen and build the American labor movement and the middle class…It’s the condition of the country, it’s health care, it’s the Employee Free Choice Act, it’s some kind of effort made in protection of their pensions. These are big and major items.

Elsewhere, the People’s Weekly World reports labor’s plans for action on the Employee Free Choice Act:

[According] to David Eckstein, national AFL-CIO assistant director for organizing, labor is hopeful the bill will be an integral part of Obama’s recovery package and is working for it to be adopted in the House in March and in the Senate in May. Speaking at this month’s meeting of delegates to the North Shore labor federation, Eckstein called the Employee Free Choice Act “the biggest bill for working class people in 30 years” and said the labor movement intends to campaign for it in the same way it worked for the election of Obama.

Thanks for the political intelligence, comrades. In pursuit of the free exchange of ideas, here’s our strategy: We intend to oppose the abusive scheme for forced unionization in January. And then in February. March, too. April, yes, you bet. May? Ja! We’ll fight it on May Day, and May 2, and etc.