27 Sep 2007

Teamsters’ Policy Poses ‘Immediate Danger’ to First Amendment Rights

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Pennsylvania Turnpike employees should watch the Teamsters union-Turnpike Commission talks closely as another union-ordered statewide strike looms.

Why” Past experience shows that Teamster union bosses tried to block Turnpike employees from exercising their constitutional rights to refrain from formal union membership and cut off compulsory dues unrelated to monopoly bargaining.

In recent months, the National Right to Work Foundation helped 28 Pennsylvania Turnpike employees file separate federal civil rights lawsuits against Teamsters union locals 77 and 250, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and two Turnpike Commission officers for illegally seizing union dues from the employees’ paychecks.

The breakthrough came for the Turnpike employees when a federal judge ruled that Local 77’s union policy prohibiting employees from resigning from membership (so-called "maintenance of membership" clauses) likely violates First Amendment.

The federal judge enjoined the Teamsters union locals and the PTC from seizing the forced dues from the employees’ paychecks. But most importantly, the judge found that union officials’ actions demonstrated a “real or immediate danger to their First Amendment rights.”

Union officials commonly use the "maintenance of membership" clauses to trap workers in union ranks. And you can bet that as Teamsters union officials sit at the table with PTC officials, they’ll be pushing for this clause to stay so that union bosses can thwart any employee effort to reclaim forced dues.

26 Sep 2007

Post Mortem on the UAW Strike

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With the strike ordered by UAW officials against GM ending early this morning, it’s important to draw a few lessons.

As Patrick noted Monday, the UAW hierarchy was willing to sell out some rank-and-file workers on wages so long as GM promised union officials the ability to organize its nonunion suppliers to bolster compulsory dues revenues.

Second, despite the misconceptions held by some, the fact that union officials can shut down nationwide employers and industries demonstrates that they are clearly still relevant. The widespread impact and attention the strike attracted is proof positive.

Addtionally, because of their ability to compel dues from workers in the 28 states without Right to Work laws, union officials are major players politically. Why just last friday, the AFL-CIO announced plans to deploy 200,000 union operatives and $200 million to influence the 2008 elections.

26 Sep 2007

Did UAW Officials Order the Strike to Save Face?

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Some analysts are suggesting that the when UAW union bosses ordered the strike against GM on Monday it was so that the union officials could look tough for the rank-and-file workers, as opposed to being a negotiating tactic with GM.

Goldman Sachs Analyst Robert Barry, expressed this view in a research note on GM prepared in response to the strike:

In our view, the action is designed to allow UAW leaders to look vigilant in fighting to preserve benefits, members to feel concessions are not being given gratuitously, and GM management to appear to be maximizing shareholder value…

If experts like Barry are correct (and he did correctly predict a short strike) that means that once again, union officials were placing their own well-being and power above what is best for the employees they claim to “represent.”

25 Sep 2007

Michigan Economist Warns Strike Not Helping Economy

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In Michigan where the economy is already in ruins, the Grand Rapids Press highlights warnings from University of Michigan economist Don Grimes about the nationwide UAW strike:

“It’s not exactly what the state needs right now,” said University of Michigan economist Don Grimes. “You’ve got a train wreck in Detroit and a train wreck in Lansing. It’s like a perfect storm.”

“The workers will be getting $200 a week in strike pay,” he said. “Before, they were earning $1,500 a week in pay.”

A $1,300 per-week pay cut is an awful lot to ask of these workers who have families to support. Meanwhile, GM looks to lose nearly $100 million per day due to the loss of production.

Looks like UAW bosses are hitting everyone where it hurts the most: their wallets.

25 Sep 2007

Workers Feel the Pinch

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As the tensions between United Auto Workers (UAW) officials and General Motors (GM) continue, one day into the strike employees around the nation are already feeling the aftershocks of being ordered off the job.

MLive.com reports that GM employee Dan Donlin of Grand Haven, Wyoming went on strike for the first time, along with many of his coworkers at his UAW union local. However, his wife will no longer have a job at the end of the week, his family just built a new home, and his daughter attends school at the state university.

“We built a nice, big, new house five years ago, when interest rates were low,” Donlin said. “Now, I probably won’t be able to afford it.”

“It’s just bad timing for my family.”

While UAW officials negotiate for forced dues, this nationwide strike couldn’t have come at a more challenging time for employees like Dan Donlin.

Forced dues and a forced strike, seems like union officials are attacking employee free choice on all fronts.

24 Sep 2007

Chicago Grocery Workers Sack Union

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Late last week, the fight by Treasure Island Foods grocery workers to kick the unwanted UFCW union out of all six Chicago-area stores officially ended in the employees’ favor.

In July, Wilmette store manager Dan Schalin told a major Chicago newspaper:

"People felt that the union wasn’t looking out for them. They weren’t earning our union dues."

However, as explained last week, decertification elections like those won by the employees in Chicago are uphill battles and no substitute for passing a Right to Work law in combatting compulsory unionism abuse.

24 Sep 2007

50 Million More Forced Dues Payers?

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Today’s Chicago Sun-Times reports:

The seven-union affiliates of Change to Win labor federation have a long-term goal of organizing 50 million workers.

How do union officials plan to do it” By focusing 75% of their resources on coercive "card check" organizing, a system plagued by workers’ rights abuse. And of course, workers not in Right to Work states could be forced to pay dues or be fired once organized.

According to the report, Laborers union officials alone have already promised gobs of cash:

The Laborers’, meanwhile, have committed to increasing per capita payments by 25 cents per hour by 2009 to fund organizing. That will create more than $100 million a year for organizing to help it achieve its goal of boosting its membership by 20 percent over the next five years, said General President Terence O’Sullivan.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg:

The federation’s affiliates are committing several hundred million dollars annually to organizing, in addition to teaming up on campaigns, said Tom Woodruff, head of the ("Change to Win") organizing center.

If union officials showed a similar enthusiasm for improving their product maybe workers would be soliciting them rather than the opposite.

24 Sep 2007

UAW Officials Negotiating for Forced Dues

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UAW union bosses are currently threatening to order autoworkers at General Motors plants across the country off the job at 11 am. As per usual when union officials order strikes, expect threats and/or violence against employees who wish to continue working to support their families.

But for all the media attention this strike will receive, one under-reported fact is that high on the list of UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger and the other top union officials’ list of demands is the ability to force nonunion employees into their forced unionism ranks.

The Youngstown, Ohio Vindicator reported in late August that the ability to forcibly organize nonunion employees is a sticking point in negotiations all around the country:

In the current talks, Automotive News reported that UAW officials in Detroit are allowing GM assembly plants in Spring Hill, Tenn., and Lansing, Mich., to negotiate two-tier wage systems. Nonproduction workers would be paid roughly half as much as production workers.

In return, the UAW would organize nonunion suppliers that handle parts sequencing, building maintenance and nonproduction tasks, the trade publication said.

Union sources reported that UAW officials around the country are considering such arrangements.

[emphasis added]

That negotiating demand was echoed again in a September 14th Detroit News editorial that noted “the UAW is still holding to the position that it must have veto power over plant closings and contracts issued to nonunion suppliers in exchange for the other concessions.”

So what do rank-and-file workers think of the fact that union officials are willing to make “concessions” just for the ability to swell their forced dues-paying ranks’ Sadly, many are probably unaware of the union officials’ self-serving demands.

But if they did know, their reaction might be like the one Mike Ivey had when he found out that UAW union officials were holding up a promised pay raise in an effort to force him and his coworkers into the UAW union.

20 Sep 2007

Wolverine State Continues Downward Spiral

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Today’s Detroit News touches on a theme we recently discussed:

Michigan’s unemployment rate in August hit a level not seen in nearly 14 years, as the stagnating job market spurred tens of thousands of working-age men and women to quit the state.

Take a look:

Michigan Job Losses

  When is Michigan finally going to wake up and smell the coffee

20 Sep 2007

“Intimidation” Real and Imagined

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Severed bloody cowshead left by UAW militants

Today’s Birmingham News has an excellent article exposing union officials’ hypocrisy when it comes to “threats” against employees.

In Birmingham, United Auto Workers (UAW) union organizer and Honda employee Sheila Boyd recently complained to local media outlets that a letter sent by Honda executives "is trying to threaten us" and claimed that the letter is "just an intimidation tactic.”

So what does the “intimidating” letter say?

The letter, which the Birmingham paper quotes from extensively, merely points out that Honda has never had to layoff a worker in 30 years, something its competitors in compulsory unionism states can’t say.

Simply pointing out how laughable it is to call that letter “intimidation,” would be enough if union propagandists weren’t using such baseless claims as “evidence” that Congress should pass a law mandating coercive “card check” organizing drives. These types of unsubstantiated claims by union organizers were the exact basis for a 2005 study created for the union-funded and –financed lobbying group, “American Rights at Work."

But more to the point is the hypocrisy of union officials to complain about threats and intimidation, when every day they threaten millions of workers with termination, if they refuse to pay forced union dues (like 16 year old Danielle Cookson).

And the UAW has a particularly dubious history when it comes to actual threats and intimidation against employees:

  • Responding to actual threats, the National Right to Work Foundation hired round-the-clock private security guards for Thomas Built Bus employee Jeff Ward who was targeted for opposing the UAW’s unionization tactics at his facility.
  • At a Freightliner facility in Gaffney South Carolina UAW militants threatened employee Mike Ivey that “things are gonna get ugly” if he didn’t stop opposing UAW organizers.
  • In another case the UAW was forced to settle a lawsuit filed against it for its role in a violence campaign against workers at a Virginia plant who refused to walk off the job during a union-ordered strike. A lawsuit in that case charged several union militants with civil conspiracy and other counts for making death threats, shooting out windows, sending obscene mail, acts of stalking, theft of property, and harassing workers on the job to coerce them into quitting their jobs. And in a particularly vivid image of UAW intimidation, 55-year old Sucheng Huang was greeted early one morning with a bloody severed cows head on the hood of her car.

So it turns out that UAW officials have no problem using intimidation and threats against employees. They just don’t like those employees being given any information that “threatens” the union’s ability to force workers into union ranks.