Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Issues and Observations Regarding Unions

Yesterday I posted a commentary about Public Sector Unions and Fiscal Responsibility.  At the State and Local levels (County, City, Town, School District), many are facing significant fiscal challenges related to their deficit spending.  A major contributor to these levels of deficit spending are the costs associated with public sector unions and their employees.  For example, in Wisconsin, the Teacher's union required via their collective bargaining agreement that the school districts had to purchase their health insurance coverage for their employees from the teacher's union - and that the teacher's union leveraged this monopoly by charging far higher premiums than available in the marketplace.

On this 'Day of Action' called by the OccupyWallStreet protesters, its time to take a look at an substantially under reported aspect of the OWS protests - Union involvement.

Think back to the example above of Wisconsin's Teacher's union creating a system to reward and enrich themselves at the expense of the School Districts, their students, and taxpayers of Wisconsin.  Dollars that went to pay inflated healthcare premiums could not be used to provide more services and attention to students.  The destructive protests and occupation of the Wisconsin State Capital were the first shots of the Occupy movement that we see today.  These were directly done by not only the Wisconsin teacher's union, but by members of all of America's major unions.

“You can draw a direct line from the Wisconsin protests in the winter to Occupy Wall Street to the overwhelming rejection of an anti-union ballot question in Ohio,” said Teamsters president James P. Hoffa. “Occupy Wall Street is bringing new energy to a fight that labor has been engaged in from the beginning: The fight for an economy that works for everybody, not just the 1 percent.”

The Teamsters union “wholly supports and endorses Occupy Wall Street and opposes any effort to unreasonably restrict, contain or stop this lawful protest,” the union’s general executive board said in an official resolution.

We can look at the irony of someone like Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa  saying that he represents the 99%, when in 2009, 110 Teamster officials had a salary of $150,000 or more, and Hoffa received a salary of $383,000.  Union officials are far closer to the 1% than many who work in the financial services industry that the union officials despise.

In Washington DC, the National Nurses United Union, allied with the AFL-CIO, paid for the expenses of more than 1000+ members to march with Occupy DC and demand that the President increases taxes on the 'wealthy' - which I assume included the union leadership of the AFL-CIO.  That's order to ensure turnout, the Union had to pay the expenses for their members to get to DC and provide numbers to support the demand for taxing some of the wealthy - but not, of course, the union wealthy.  For the rank and file, I wonder if they all supported that their union dues went to create a Potemkin village?

Another common message from the hard left / unions (which are basically one in the same), is that Washington is broken because of special interests.  This is quite ironic since Unions are the number 1 special interest group.  They are flooding Washington, nearly all to Democrats, will hundreds of millions of dollars to promote these bureaucrats and elected officials to create rules, regulations, and legislature that will favor and enrich unions. 

Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), boasted in May 2009 that his union, "We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama -- $60.7 million to be exact -- and we're proud of it." The SEIU, as noted in this piece by Michelle Malkin, also got a payoff from the Obama Administration for their investment....2 Cabinet appointments.   Other unions like the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) have, over the last twenty years, spent $46 million in direct, non PAC contributions (94% to Democrats), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, over $34 million, the American Federation of Teachers, nearly $32 million - again in direct, non PAC contributions and over 90% of these amounts went to Democrats. 

As the Center for Responsive Politics shows, 11 of the top 20 organizations making more than $25 million in direct contributions between 1989 and 2912, are unions...with 90% of those contributions being made to Democrats to influence their pro-union stances.

Today's Day of Action activities intended to disrupt the cities the movement is active in comes from the mind of union thug, Obama supporter, communist Richard Trumka, the leader of the AFL-CIO.  He made the call for the occupiers to fill up bridges in cities around the nation today at 4PM local time.  The cause?  Well, in addition to promoting the progressive / communist 'worker paradise', he wants the President's $537 billion Jobs Bill, which died in the Democrat majority Senate, to be passed because that bill will flood millions of taxpayer dollars back into the union coffers....where they will be recycled as campaign donations to President Obama in 2012.

The Marxist President of the United Steelworkers, Leo Gerard, is also on board with using violence to promote his agenda via the OWS movement.  Gerard was one of  organizers behind the riots which crippled Seattle during the 1999 WTO meetings - sending 1,400 goons from his union to contribute to the violence.  Now he wants beyond the OWS movement, a violent 'resistence' movement.  Matthew Vadum, contributing on Big Government, highlights the thuggery of Gerard.

The SEIU's radical organizer, Stephen Lerner, was the idea man behind using labor and OWS protesters to demonstrate and terrorize  banking executives at their homes.

This is the same SEIU, who after spending $60.7 million to elect Obama in 2008, has come out to endorse President Obama's.  Expect far more than $60 million to be contributed by the SEIU for this election campaign.

These Unions have power because of the wealth they gain from the dues of their members.  Almost all are hard left progressives / Marxists who are part of the 0.2% not the 99%.  They advocate violence to gain what they covet and to further their goals.  With the current President and with the Democrat dominance in Congress in 2009-2010, they perfected a system that cycles and recycles dollars.....dues to the unions -- campaign contributions to their favored politicians -- politicians use rules (NLRB), regulations, and laws that they pass to funnel taxpayer funds to union / union members and repeat.

Unions no longer provide the services and benefits they once did to prevent the abuse of workers by immoral business management.  Those conditions ended at least in the last half century.  The few areas, like industrial safety, where there were still minor needs for representation of the worker's interests, new government laws and agencies are empowered to do what the unions used to do.  The greed and desire for power by the unions today has become their main focus.  They are interested only in what provides them more wealth and power - and are shortsighted enough (UAW) to be willing to kill their employer in order to satisfy their lust for wealth and power.

Here's another example to support that observation...In the Alameda School District of the California Bay Area, they had a $1.1 million surplus from last year's District budget.  The members of the School Board, deliberated, before deciding via a 4-1 vote to use these surplus funds to purchase textbooks and fund programs to boost math, reading, and writing skills of students, pay for an after school program at 2 under performing schools, and a program to get parents more involved with their kids' education. 

Sounds reasonable.  Except to the Alameda Education Association.  They want the funds distributed to their teachers as bonuses.

As noted in this article about the greed of this Union, the priority of these unions aren't towards anyone except themselves...

Let us never forget the famous quote from Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, who candidly said, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

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