An independent counsel appointed to investigate the union representing 15,000 New York City school bus drivers has concluded that there is substantial evidence that “organized crime has infiltrated and controlled” it.
The counsel’s report, written in January and made public yesterday by dissident union members, said that top officers of the union, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, were involved in what it called racketeering activity that included extortion, kickbacks and bribes.
Salvatore Battaglia, the local’s former president, is facing trial on federal charges accusing him of extortion, receiving bribes and hiding Mafia involvement in the union. He has pleaded not guilty. The local’s secretary-treasurer, Julius Bernstein, was forced to resign by federal prosecutors and has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice.
According to reports, employees in a group called “Members for Change” had been since calling for the ouster of the mobbed-up union bosses since 2005. Now with the former two top union officials on trial or having pleaded guilty, employees forced to pay dues as condition of their job are questioning the new union bosses installed by officials from the Transit Union’s International:
At a news conference yesterday, a dozen bus drivers complained that the two trustees whom the parent union had named to oversee the local had hired 11 of the local’s executive board members who had worked under Mr. Battaglia.
The drivers said those people had helped perpetuate an intimidating atmosphere that discourages criticism of union leaders. They also complained that not enough was being done to recoup the more than $2.7 million that federal officials say Mr. Battaglia obtained improperly.
“The international didn’t bring in any new faces,” said Simon Jean-Baptiste, who belongs to a dissident faction called Members for Change. “The same people are there who stopped people from talking. It’s a bad situation.”
Another bus driver, Clifford Magloire, said that in May, when he was distributing leaflets criticizing the local’s leaders, one union official pushed him against a fence and started screaming at him as others surrounded him.
Of course, if corrupt union bosses couldn’t depend on rank-and-file employees being forced to pay dues and associate with the union as a job condition, it would be far harder for them to get away with treating employees like patsies who can be taken for a ride.
Those are the words of former United Farm Workers union activist Don Villarejo in today’s LA Times about the efforts of UFW officials to impose coercive "card check" organizing on California’s farm workers. Though the UFW union once highly prized secret ballot elections over whether to unionize, it is now pressing to making this highly abusive process the law of the land.
This is bad news for California’s farm workers. Earlier this year, the California Ag. Board ordered the UFW union to end its misrepresentations, illegal threats of firings, and unlawful dues demands against California Mushroom employees. The order, won by Right to Work attorneys, contradicted an earlier claim by a UFW official in the media that, "We give workers a clear choice and show them how to exercise their options.”
Attorneys from Right to Work also won over $105,000 in back pay for a large group of strawberry pickers that UFW officials ordered unlawfully fired from their jobs. The employees had refused to join the union and sign dues check-off authorizations permitting the union to collect full dues directly from their wages.
If UFW officials show similar disregard for workers’ rights under "card check" drives, California’s farm workers have reason to worry.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Michigan’s auto-manufacturing jobs are on the decline, and young workers are quickly moving out of the state.
As one Michigan resident put it:
"Every week at my church I hear about two or three more young people moving South or Southwest," Mr. Warren says. "Too bad, because Michigan needs to keep its young people."
Mr. Warren echoes Mark Mix’s call in the Detroit Free Press on Labor Day, stating:
Michigan simply isn’t creating enough good jobs to keep its young employees from leaving for more prosperous states.
Michigan, one of 28 forced-unionism states, is home of the auto-industry’s “Big Three” where United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials have a stranglehold over employee free choice. The state has seen its fair share of economic decline and is facing troubles both now and in the long-term.
According to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, between 1994 and 2004, the number of 25 to 34 year-olds in Michigan fell from 1.46 million to 1.29 million, a stinging decline of 10.6 percent. The data also indicate this decline is largely attributable to the absence of a Right to Work law in Michigan.
To retain its young employees and the energy and creativity they contribute, Michigan needs to create more jobs. And a Right to Work law would guarantee the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union.
Angela Davis, a Michigan resident who intends to pursue a nursing career, started taking classes at a local university after being laid off from Chrysler earlier this year. She plans to return to Alabama, where her father lived before moving to Michigan.
Mrs. Davis hopes to graduate in 2010 and then retrace her father’s journey, relocating her family to the South, where unemployment rates are lower than Michigan’s 7.2%, the highest in the U.S. "Every time I visit down there it just feels like home," she says.
The whole Southern region of the U.S. is made up entirely of long-time Right to Work states.
Yesterday, longtime number-two union boss at the AFL-CIO, Linda Chavez-Thompson announced she would be retiring later this month. Amazingly, in a 1999 interview Chavez revealed that she had no idea what Right to Work means:
Of course, Right to Work protections have nothing to do with at-will employment. Rather, Right to Work laws – like the one in Texas – simply guarantee that employees cannot be required to pay dues to a union to get or keep a job.
Perhaps that ignorance of the concept of employee freedom of choice made it easier for Chavez to collect her salary of over $240,000 funded by individual workers who would fired if they refused to pay.
Set to replace Chavez is another longtime union official Alrene Holt-Baker who came over to the AFL-CIO with Chavez-Thompson from the AFSCME union in 1995. Holt-Baker, who already collects over $100,000 a year, can expect a sizable raise for her new position – funded, naturally, with forced union dues taken from workers under threat of termination.
The National Taxpayers Union’s blog (they’re a voluntary “union”) picks up on a Senate vote today to repeal Davis-Bacon wage mandates for bridges classified as “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”
Like “Project Labor Agreements,” Davis-Bacon effectively discriminates against nonunion workers and contractors, effectively blackballing them from working on government projects.
Not surprisingly, Big Labor’s allies in the Senate blocked the amendment that would have eliminated the onerous David-Bacon requirements… meaning that taxpayer dollars will continue to be diverted into bridge construction projects under union boss monopoly control.
The resulting featherbedding, extortionate work stoppages, and wasteful work rules will run up the costs. Meanwhile, union officials will rake in millions in forced union dues.
But that isn’t where the story ends. This map shows the Percentage of Bridges in each State that is classified as “Functionally Obsolete” or “Structurally Unsound” (the same classifications used in the blocked Senate Amendment):
It turns out that bridges in Right to Work States are far safer than those in states that allow union officials to force workers to pay union dues or be fired.
In fact bridges are 31% more likely to be functionally obsolete or structurally unsound in forced-unionism states (29.68% in Forced-Unionism States vs. 22.71% in Right to Work States).
Right to Work attorneys this week won a ruling at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stating that union officials cannot force nonunion workers to object twice simply to receive basic information about how union affiliates spend their forced union dues.
However, as noted on Labor Day, the window of opportunity for the Bush NLRB to undo the damgage to employee freedom done by the agency during the Clinton years is closing quickly.
When it comes time for union officials to corral employees into forced dues-paying ranks, they are increasingly using coercive "card check" organizing schemes.
Lisa Eklund, an administrative specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, experienced this first hand. Service Employees International Union-United Health Care West (SEIU-UHW) union officials attempted to force Kaiser employees into signing union "authorization" cards that would later be counted as "votes" favoring unionization.
Just like that, the SEIU-UHW union gained monopoly bargaining privileges. But union officials and Kaiser could not prove that the union had actual support of a majority of employees. In fact, in a memo that Kaiser Permanente sent to its employees, they even admit that the company did not know how many employees were in the bargaining unit, yet claimed there was majority support for unionization anyway, and was prepared to enter into negotiations with union officials.
Previously, Lisa and three of her coworkers filed federal charges against the union and their employer for manipulating the size of the bargaining unit in order to obtain a majority. Despite requests, union officials were unable to disclose the names of the employees who were eligible to participate in the drive and couldn’t indicate which employees were inside or outside the alleged bargaining unit.
The National Labor Relations Board agreed to investigate and issue a complaint, but within two weeks of that announcement, SEIU-UHW and Kaiser suspiciously abandoned the card count. Having filed follow-up charges, Lisa and her coworkers are currently awaiting an outcome to the board’s investigation.
In South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel today, Gene Mechanic of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) writes that Florida should scrap the state’s highly-popular Right to Work law.
His outrageous claims including "Right to Work laws harms workers" and "the economically damaging effect of ‘right to work’ laws is well documented" are completely bogus.
In fact, Mechanic’s perversion of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data is misleading. According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), since 2001, Right to Work states lead in job growth 5-to-1. Between 2001 and 2005, real personal income growth increased 37% in Right to Work states. Comparatively, forced-unionism states had a real personal income percentage growth of only 26%, below the national average of 31% growth.
There’s no doubt that Right to Work laws are an economic boon. In fact, a recent special on CNBC television shows that Florida was ranked the 8th best state in which to do business overall. And, the top six states to do business were all long time Right to Work states.
But aside from providing economic prosperity, Right to Work laws give employees the freedom to choose. Florida’s Right to Work law, on the books since 1944, ensures Floridians’ long and proud tradition of supporting freedom of choice when it comes to union membership.
Governor Charlie Crist couldn’t have put it better when he said Florida’s Right to Work law provides "greater freedom" for his fellow citizens.
Fall is the time of year when car companies release their new model automobiles. It also is the time of year when United Auto Worker union bosses release their list of so-called “union made” cars – with the hope that the label will attract consumers.
Of course, the UAW International union officials aren’t actually making anything. Rather by “union-made” they mean that the rank-and-file workers who make the cars are forced to affiliate with the union and those in non-Right to Work states are forced to pay dues.
For many, such a list has the opposite effect, as nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose the injustice of forced union dues and compulsory unionism.
So for those who want to support American workers who are not forced to affiliate with or pay dues to a union, here is a list of cars assembled at compulsory unionism-free auto plants here in America:*
- Acura: TL
- BMW: X5, Z4 Roadster
- Honda: Accord, Civic, Element, Odyssey, Pilot
- Hyundai: Sante Fe, Sonata
- Infiniti: QX56
- Mercedes: GL-Class, M-Class, R-Class
- Nissan: Altima, Armada, Frontier, Maxima, Pathfinder, Quest, Titan, Xterra
- Subaru: B9 Tribeca, Baja, Legacy, Outback
- Toyota: Avalon,Camry, Sequoia, Sienna, Solara, Tundra
*Note: Determining the suppliers of parts of every car is very difficult. The above list is of cars assembled at facilities where our research indicates that a union does not have a monopoly bargaining power over individual employees. If you want to ensure that the parts of your car are not produced by employees forced to affiliate with a union, we encourage you to do your own research and let us know your results.