Big Labor

Unions pour $45 million into pro-Dem super PACs

Organized labor has poured about $45 million into pro-Democratic super PACs in the current election cycle, according to data reported to the Federal Election Commission. But only a small portion of that money has been spent, meaning that Republican candidates likely will face a heavy barrage of attack ads in the fall. Federal filings show, for example, that unions have donated about $10.7 million to Priorities USA Action, the top Democrat-aligned super PAC, accounting for about one-sixth of the group’s funds. That exceeds the donations by deep-pocketed liberal donors such as George Soros ($7 million), Univision owner Haim Saban ($3.5 million), and Herbert and Marion Sandler ($2.5 million), according to the Center For Responsive Politics. In the last presidential election cycle, unions donated $13.4 million overall to Priorities USA Action. With six months remaining this year’s election, the unions could easily top that figure before the year’s end. Super PACs are campaign organizations that, unlike traditional political action committees, can raise unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and labor unions, and are not limited in the amounts they can spend to back or oppose a particular candidate. Legally, they are obligated to be separate from the candidate’s campaign, though most are run by people with close ties to the candidate or party the super PAC is aiding. Donations to super PACs are separate from direct donations to candidates’ campaigns, which are capped by law. Unions are major backers of virtually every large pro-Democratic super PAC. Working for Working Americans is entirely funded by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, who put $5 million into it. The AFL-CIO labor federation has put nearly $5 million into its own Workers’ Voices PAC. National Nurses United has put nearly $3.8 million into its super PAC. Labor groups also have spent at least $8.7 million to date on non-super PAC independent campaign-related expenditures, according to FEC records. The Service Employees International Union has spent about $3.8 million through its political action committee, SEIU COPE, which is funded by members’ donations. These funds can range from everything from TV and radio advertising to printing T-shirts for rallies. Overall, unions have donated $2.7 million to the Senate Majority PAC, which aims to help Democrats regain a majority there and $1 million to the David Brock-founded American Bridge 21st Century group. The National Education Association has put $2.2 million into its own super PAC. “The largest particular spenders in any election season tend to be individual unions, though total corporate contributions tend to exceed those of the unions. But unions can also spend in a lot of ways that are ‘off the books’ — through membership communications, manpower, etc.,” said former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith, now a professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. “What strikes me, as always, is that both sides have pretty good funding. Most campaign finance wars are about one side trying to shut down the other side’s funding. That’s why Democrats and their allies in the media constantly go on about corporations and conservative billionaires. If they can get them out of the game, they’ll have a big funding edge.” Conservative super PACs have raised more money than liberal ones, at first glance suggesting that the liberal ones will be outgunned this cycle. But those numbers are deceiving because most of the conservative super PACs already have spent a majority of the funds they raised during the crowded, drawn-out Republican Party primary. The largest super PAC this election cycle, Right to Rise, raised an estimated $120 million to boost Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s bid and spent a reported $81 million for a campaign that failed to win a single primary. The Conservative Solutions PAC spent $55 million of the $60 million it raised backing Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida before he dropped out. Super PACs backing other failed candidacies including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, retired surgeon Ben Carson, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, spent an estimated $72 million backing candidacies that ultimately failed. Liberal super PACs, by contrast, have held most of their money in reserve. Priorities USA has raised more than $67 million overall, the second largest amount raised by any Super PAC this cycle, but has spent only $6 million, according to spokesman Justin Barasky. That makes it not only the largest active super PAC but one with the largest reported cash reserve. “We have been saving most of our most of our money for the general election,” Barasky said, adding that they intended to start spending in earnest in June. “We know the Republicans will be going full force against Hillary by then and we want to be on the front lines, correcting the record.” The Senate Majority PAC has raised $12 million but spent $4 million. American Bridge 21st Century has raised $13.5 million and has reportedly made no expenditures. The main exception is National Nurses United, which has spent the bulk of its money to boost Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Democratic primary bid.

This is but a fraction of the war-chest the DNC has backing up whatever funds it raises to throw at Trump and GOP candidates for the House and Senate…as well as at the state and local levels. Big labor will pull out all the stops to ensure princess Hillary is anointed, and that the Senate goes back to Dem control. This is what the GOP is up against..and it’s only the beginning. Keep that in mind as we get ready to go into the election cycle.

Court strikes down Wisconsin right-to-work law

Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he was mounting his run for president, was struck down Friday as violating the state constitution. Attorney General Brad Schimel, also a Republican, promised to appeal the decision and said he was confident it would not stand, noting that no similar law has been struck down in any other state. Schimel has not decided whether to seek an immediate suspension of the ruling while the appeal is pending, spokesman Johnny Koremenos said. “We are confident Wisconsin’s freedom-to-work law is constitutional and will ultimately be upheld,” Walker wrote on Twitter. Three unions filed the lawsuit last year shortly after Walker signed the bill into law. Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Twenty-five other states have such laws. The unions argued that Wisconsin’s law was an unconstitutional seizure of union property since unions now must extend benefits to workers who don’t pay dues. Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed. He said the law amounts to the government taking union funds without compensation since under the law unions must represent people who don’t pay dues. That presents an existential threat to unions, Foust wrote. “While (union) losses today could be characterized by some as minor, they are not isolated and the impact of (the law) over time is threatening to the unions’ very economic viability,” he wrote. Foust noted that no other state court had struck down a right-to-work law on those grounds, but said he wasn’t obligated to follow other states. Republicans who backed the law dismissed the ruling, saying it will be reversed. “Once again, a liberal Dane County judge is trying to legislate from the bench,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. “No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.”

Agreed.  But, it’s no matter.  This ridiculous ruling will be reversed.  Stay tuned…

Can Unions Buy a Win in Missouri? It’s down to the wire in Jefferson City

On Wednesday of this week, the Missouri legislature is meeting for an override session. Unique to state legislatures, this is when the legislature has a chance to override any veteos issued by the governor. The main fight on the docket is a right-to-work bill that embattled Governor Jay Nixon vetoed in June. The vote passed with a majority in both chambers, where Republicans hold a “super majority.” Now they have enough votes, divided by party, to override anything Nixon vetoes. Though they have the votes, in theory, whether they can corral all their members to vote for the measure is up in the air. And labor is fighting back. Hard. They’ve even tapped former Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley, a Republican, to do their lobbying. Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, KCUR reports, at a rally last week, said: “‘Some people say unions have too much power,’ Hoffa said as he raised his fists at the podium. ‘I say we need a hell of a lot more.'” Phil Gruber, General Vice President of the International Association of Machinists, said at a rally (where he was wearing camoflauge) that “he was going to war (to fight ‘right-to-work’).” Newly a part of the SEC, Missouri is unique: North meets South, East meets West. With St. Louis called the “Gateway to the West”, the state is not easy to pigeonhole. Until recently, the state was a relaible Presidential bellweather, but since 2000, it has voted Republican in every presidential election. The state has two major urban centers, St. Louis and Kansas City. The cities have seen their population decline over recent decades, with the outerlying suburbs growing. There are a smattering of small to mid-size cities in between, but they are the book-ends to a rural/small-town mix of cities. Unions still have a fair amount of power in the Show-Me State, and this is mostly an urban vs. rural fight. But with the changing of Missouri’s electorate, Republicans are hoping now is the time to give unions a crippling blow by joining the 25 other right-to-work states.

Let’s hope the Missouri legislature musters enouch courage, and votes, to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D-MO) veto!!

Anatomy of a failed liberal state – Illinois Schools, roads and safety get shortchanged to pay for public employee pensions

When I grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago in the 1960s and the 1970s, the state of Illinois was still a financial and industrial powerhouse. The Land of Lincoln had a low rate flat income tax, the property taxes were reasonable, the state ran budget surpluses, and Illinois was the home of such iconic mega-employers as Caterpillar, Sears Roebuck, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The public schools were pretty good back then and a dedicated corps of teachers put kids first — they didn’t walk out on strike and they didn’t have the fat pensions they can get now when retiring at age 55. Mayor Richard Daley (“the boss”) ruled Chicago for decades and it was “the city that works.” Yes, you had to pay off the unions to get things done, but this was a cost of doing business. Things did get done. Fast forward to today and what a sad state of affairs. Last week the state had to embarrassingly announce that it doesn’t even have the money in the bank to pay lottery winners. Now the jackpot winners are suing the state to get their rightful money. Perhaps the state will need a second lottery to raise money to pay off the winners from the first lottery. Chicago is so broke that its bonds are junk status and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel had to go hat in hand last week to Springfield for bailout money to pay the bills. According to Forrest Claypool, who is the new chief executive for the Chicago school system: “We are really now at a point where further cuts would reach deep into the classroom.” Teachers have been laid off and extracurricular activities have been cut. Yes, the financial crisis is wreaking havoc, but to ask the state to kick in money is a laughable proposition — like Puerto Rico asking Greece for a loan. Springfield is plum out of money too. To protest additional service cuts, The Wall Street Journal reports that parents are going on hunger strikes. But it will take more than divine intervention for the cash inflow to meet expenditures. Why should residents of other states care about this financial meltdown in Chicago and Springfield Illinois. The answer is that Chicago is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to the government pension crisis. Pensions to retired teachers and state employees are bleeding the state dry. Since 2006, annual pension payments have grown tenfold, from $60 million to over $650 million. A state budget office spokesman tells me that “nearly one of three state tax dollars now goes to paying pensions for retired municipal and state employees.” Meanwhile tax increases on the rich under the previous governor failed to raise much money, but did accelerate an exodus of money and talent out of the state. A new Illinois Policy Institute study based on latest IRS data finds a record number of people have been fleeing Cook County. “The income of the people who left Cook County in 2012 was $2 billion more than the income of the people who moved into Cook County … The 2011 and 2012 out-migration will cost the county nearly $30 billion in taxable income over the next decade.” It couldn’t get much worse, right? Wrong. The state has been operating without a budget new for more than two months. Vendors are routinely going two or three months without getting paid because the vault is empty. The Democrats who rule the state legislature and serve their masters, the Illinois teachers unions, passed a budget this summer that is $5 billion in the red out of a $34 billion budget flouting the state’s balanced budget requirement. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who inherited this calamity, is the state’s last best hope. He has vetoed the state budget and rejected the unions’ demands for more taxes. Property and sales taxes (which can reach 10 percent at the cash register in Chicago’s Cook County) are already nearly the highest in the nation. The rich that the unions want to tax have been leaving for Florida and Arizona and Texas. Mr. Rauner argues that Illinois already has one of the five worst business environments in the nation. Worst of all, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that pensions can’t be touched because they are contractual obligations. So funding for schools, roads, and public safety get shortchanged so that public employees can keep cashing in on benefits far more generous than what private sector workers/taxpayers receive. This is justice? No wonder residents are going on hunger strikes. It’s a battle Royale that pits the unions bosses against the taxpayers. And it’s a fight that Mr. Rauner can’t lose. If he does, the exodus from the state will look like the floods of Hungarian refugees trying to get to western Europe.

A compelling op/ed by economist Stephen Moore!

A chance to make union dues a choice – The Supreme Court could end a corrupt practice of public-sector labor

The Gilded Age. The Spoils System. Tammany Hall. In American politics, corrupt bargains between politicians and their supporters are supposed to be a thing of the past. But in the public sector, a troubling relationship persists between elected officials and one powerful constituency. Thanks largely to favors granted by pliant politicians, government union officials enjoy extraordinary special privileges and wield immense political clout. This influence often comes at the expense of taxpayers and independent-minded civil servants, but an impending Supreme Court decision could change all that. In the 25 states that lack right-to-work laws, nonunion public employees can be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs. Although union officials are technically prohibited from forcing nonunion workers to pay for political activism, this rule is difficult to enforce and often ignored. Many nonunion employees are unaware of their right to opt out. Others are simply told that all union dues are mandatory. Even employees who are aware of their rights may be reluctant to “rock the boat” in a unionized workplace. For employees who choose to assert their workplace rights, the opt-out process can be tortuous. Many unions rely on bureaucratic ruses to discourage independent-minded workers from stepping out of line. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, one of the largest public-sector unions in California, is actually facing a lawsuit for trying to keep collecting full dues from unwilling employees. According to that lawsuit, several of the plaintiffs never received notice from SEIU Local 1000 about their workplace rights. Others were only notified after a union-designated window period for objecting to the payment of full dues had already expired. Nonunion employees who did receive the union’s notice in a timely fashion found that it downplayed their right to opt out. Information about refraining from paying dues for union politics was printed in small, beige text on a pink background and inserted below the union’s more prominent pitch for full membership. This and similar arrangements give public-sector union officials an immense amount of cash to spend on their political agenda. According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, government unions spent at least $564 million on politics in 2013 and 2014. That money buys access and special favors while insulating union officials from public accountability. This may be bad for taxpayers and civil servants, but it’s perfectly suited for ambitious politicians. Public-sector union officials enjoy extraordinary, government-granted privileges that would be considered absurd in any other context. To protect their exalted status, they lavish spending on favored political candidates. Once in office, those same politicians are tasked with overseeing and “negotiating” with the very unions that bankroll their electoral ambitions. Is it any wonder that so many states are facing huge budget crises? Even if union officials scrupulously respected civil servants’ workplace rights, it’s unclear where to draw the line between union politics and workplace bargaining. Contract negotiations in the public sector inevitably touch on highly charged ideological issues, such as the size and scope of government. Yet nonunion employees who oppose a union’s bargaining tact have no choice but to pay for an activity that contradicts their political convictions. The incestuous relationship between public-sector unions and politicians busts budgets and erodes democratic accountability. But without ready access to forced-dues cash, government unions’ political influence would decline dramatically. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a case that strikes at the heart of public-sector unions’ forced-dues privileges. In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a group of nonunion public school teachers is challenging a union policy that requires them to pay any union dues at all to keep their jobs. Friedrichs gives the court an opportunity to outlaw all mandatory union dues in the public sector. To be clear, such a ruling wouldn’t end government unions. Employees who genuinely support a labor organization would still be free to join up and pay dues. What it would do, however, is limit government unions’ outsized political influence. Without a guaranteed stream of income from nonunion employees, union officials wouldn’t have nearly as much money to spend on friendly politicians. Moreover, unions that actually have to persuade employees to join and voluntarily contribute tend to be more focused on their members and less fixated on partisan politics. Outlawing mandatory union dues or fees in the public sector would also limit the ability of union officials to handpick their negotiating partners in state and local government. Politicians who aren’t beholden to union special interests are more likely to strike better bargains for their constituents. Ideally, no employee — public or private — would ever be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. In Friedrichs, the Supreme Court has a chance to restore the workplace rights of America’s civil servants and end the corrupting influence of public-sector forced dues on our political system.

Mark Mix, the author of that outstanding op/ed, definitely makes a compelling case! Big labor is one of the most destructive industries in our country. Let’s hope the Supremes rule in favor of these courageous public school teachers in California who are daring to take on the powerful CA Teachers Assoc union!!

Opinion: A liberal dose of propaganda – Activists secrete their message into school curricula

Like a swarm of bees, back-to-school advertisements sting vacationing kids with the reminder that the first day of school is around the corner. And now given swarms of politically connected activists, parents also have something to fear with the starting of school: “progressive” agendas overrunning academic curriculums. Schools are expected to be institutions for teaching math, science, reading and writing. But activists see them as another venue to peddle their platforms on labor unions, animal liberation, vegan diets and leftist environmental policy. Last month, Big Labor had a huge win. After several failed attempts, Connecticut unions pushed a bill through the state’s legislature that directs public schools to provide curriculum on labor history and law, organized labor and collective bargaining — to be taught by unionized teachers, of course. The bill likely passed due to its phony provision to include “the history of economics of free market capitalism and entrepreneurialism.” Despite this feigned attempt at balance, the law will no doubt produce corrupted curriculum. Evidence comes from Delaware, where a task force made entirely of labor bosses ensures the “fair and balanced instruction” of mandated union propaganda. But the king of labor education is still California. In 2012, the Golden State, which has mandated labor education in public schools for more than a decade, expanded their existing week of labor education — the entire month of May is now “Labor History Month.” There is no limit to the type of fringe propaganda that can creep into kids’ heads and hands. For those familiar with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) stripper stunts, it should come as no surprise that the material provided for kids often contains graphically violent, sexual and just plain grotesque. One comic book is titled, “Your Mommy Kills Animals.” In protest of a dairy cow visiting an elementary school last year, PETA handed out an innocently titled comic, “A Cow’s Life.” Inside, horrified children and parents discovered more than just a cartoon cow. The propaganda pamphlet contained graphic photographs of infected udders and bulls being de-horned. The Los Angeles Daily News reported one livid mother’s thoughts on the matter, “Children are off-limits . This sort of thing is really to terrify you, not to teach.” Another extremist group, the misnamed Humane Society of the United States — not to be confused with your local animal shelter — has a more subtle approach to advance its vegan agenda. For years, the organization has pushed the “Meatless Monday” campaign to remove meat from school lunches once a week. Dozens of cities and school districts have fallen prey to the movement. Vegan activists flak the meatless movement as “healthy,” but there is nothing healthy about foregoing the hard-to-replace protein, zinc and iron found in meat. (When school districts banned candy and cupcakes, students started a black market. Chicken nuggets may be next). On the environmental front, many schools are being infiltrated with solar and wind education programs that stress the necessity of these energy sources. One program in Illinois even installs insignificant, yet visible, wind turbines and solar panels at schools around the state. What’s not taught to kids in these programs? How these “sustainable” energy sources will reduce their parents’ ability to pay for gas and groceries owing to sky-high electric bills. A recent study found that wind energy is three times more expensive than coal and four times more expensive than nuclear power. We all want clean air and water for our children and grandchildren, but environmentalists’ energy agendas compromise the future of affordable, reliable energy — and these activists are willing to induce hysteria to achieve their visions. Whatever the hype is about, it is clear liberal activists are not worried about the truth. They know thinking adults are an obstacle to many of their policies. Kids who don’t know any better? A much easier audience to play to.

An outstanding op/ed by Rick Berman. It is because of this garbage that more and more parents are taking their kids out of public schools and going with private, charter and even home schooling to ensure that their kids aren’t subjected to this politically correct brainwashing that has become the norm in most educational institutions..

Critics blast loophole that forces taxpayers to fund public sector union work

Bob Nicks has firefighting in his blood, but for the last four years, the Texas battalion chief has earned his six-figure salary sitting at a desk doing union work instead of running into burning buildings and saving lives. As president of Austin Firefighters Association/IAFF Local 975, Nicks is office-bound by order of the chief, even though he believes he could handle union business with one weekly shift and spend the rest of his time on the job doing what he loves. He is paid for what is known as “release time,” hours public sector union officials spend doing union business that are paid by their employers – taxpayers. “Union release time is a plague on local, state and the federal governments’ finances,” said Trey Kovacs, who authored a recent study of the issue for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “The practice of allowing public employees to perform union business only benefits the labor union and serves no public purpose.” Nicks, who calls himself a “different kind of union president,” hates getting paid to ride a desk. His rank earns him more than $100,000, he acknowledged, but he spends none of his 40-hour work week in a firehouse. “I’ve been fighting to be put back to work at our fire department,” he told FoxNews.com. “The chief wouldn’t allow it. How much they have fought against me was crazy.” Austin Fire Department Assistant Chief Doug Fowler said the system Nicks objects to has been in place for years. “It was designed that way so that the union president wouldn’t have a chain of command, per se, and could focus and function unbiased in dealing with members’ issues with the department,” Fowler said. “Additionally, Chief Nicks is eligible to work overtime on the weekends but has not done so according to our timekeeping system.” Release time costs local, state and federal governments hundreds of millions of dollars. Figures for states, counties and municipalities are not known, but at the federal level, release time costs taxpayers an estimated $122 million annually, according to the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy. While no one disputes there is union business to be conducted, and release time is part of collective bargaining agreements, critics say the practice allows for waste and should be funded by union dues, not taxpayers. “It’s an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee. “There’s no reason for it and that is the problem with unionizing the public sector. They [unions] have become the most powerful lobby group in politics.” The CEI study found that Texas cities pay thousands of hours in release time to teachers, cops and firefighters, and raised the possibility that such payments violate the Lone Star State’s constitution, which “prohibits the transfer of public funds to private entities that do not serve a public purpose,” Kovacs said. After complaints that Phoenix, Ariz., spent nearly $4 million annually on release time, state lawmakers in 2013 introduced a bill that would make ban the practice of allowing taxpayers to pay union officials for work associated with their labor organizations. The bill never made it out of the state Legislature, but a legal battle over the same issue is working its way through state courts, after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled last year that release time was a violation of the state’s gift laws. Unions are appealing.

Of course they are..   Union release time is a destructive virus that needs to be stopped.  Anyway, to read the rest of this infuriating article, click on the text above.