California: SEIU demands increase in minimum wage, jobs be damned

**Posted by Phineas

Depression-era unemployment

“But at least we raised the minimum wage! Obama!!”

Fresno is fifth-largest city in California, the largest that’s not on the coast, and the largest in the Central Valley, that agricultural cornucopia that’s being destroyed by drought and environmentalist idiocies.

But don’t get me started on that.

Anyway, just by its position and population Fresno is important to the state’s economy, particularly our agricultural sector. (Where do you think your raisins come from?) But, like much of the Central Valley, it’s suffered more than the rest of California from the 2008 recession and the pathetic recovery: unemployment in the Fresno area in 2014 was still over 11%, well above California’s statewide average of 7.1% at the end of that year.

So, when your city is suffering from a lack of jobs, what’s the first thing you think of to increase opportunities for work?

That’s right! You demand an increase to the cost of labor!

On Wednesday, according to the Fresno Bee, over 150 people joined other workers around the country marking Tax Day by marching in rallies organized by unions as they demanded the current federal minimum wage of $7.24 an hour be raised, as well as the California $9 minimum wage.

Standing in front of a McDonald’s, the protesters–comprised of home and child care workers, county and state workers, students and community leaders, but no fast-food workers–chanted, “Hold the burgers, hold the fries. Make our wages super-sized.”

Union members from the Services Employees International (SEIU) helped lead the way; one member, Beau Reynolds with SEIU Local 100, told the Bee, “We’re here to stand up. We’re here to join forces and we are here to demand better. To demand better wages, to demand better benefits and to demand the right and respect that all working families deserve.”

Notice that none of those protesting in front of McD’s actually work there: they’re just there in service of SEIU’s political goal, which is to get a general increase in the minimum wage, which would include the union’s members, leading in turn to higher dues-revenues for the union to spend on politics. (And union bosses’ salaries…)

But the fast-food workers on the inside? The ones inside who didn’t march, the supposed beneficiaries of SEIU’s fight for economic justice? Apparently they know what happens when you raise labor costs too high:

"Welcome to the future"

“Welcome to the future”

In other words, when government raises the cost of doing business –and labor is a cost!– business owners have just a few choices: pass the cost to the consumer and risk losing their custom; reduce profits to perhaps unacceptably low levels; reduce labor costs by cutting back hours, letting people go, and not hiring; or just getting out of the business. They’re already learning this in progressive Seattle, and it looks like the Fresno McDonald’s workers understand basic economics, too, unlike SEIU.

Or maybe SEIU just doesn’t care that fast food workers can be replaced with kiosks, as long as they themselves get their cut.

Either way, they’re not helping Fresno county’s unemployment problem.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Teachers unions turning their backs on the Obama administration

Teachers strike

Image via LaborUnionReport.com

The cracks in the Obama Coalition continue. Via The Hill (hat tip):

Teachers unions have turned on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama administration, creating a major divide in the Democratic Party coalition.

The largest teachers union in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), called for Duncan to resign at its convention on July 4, arguing his policies on testing have failed the nation’s schools.

Tensions between Duncan and the unions had been building for some time.

The administration’s Race to the Top program, which has provided $4.35 billion to states, incentivized changes that unions strongly oppose. One of the most controversial policies backed by Duncan is using students’ improvement on standardized tests to help evaluate teachers and make pay and tenure decisions.

“Our members are frustrated and angry,” said NEA president Dennis Van Roekel. “Number one is the toxic testing. There is too much.”

An added spark came on June 10, when a California judge ruled the state’s teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional because they keep ineffective teachers in the classroom and deprive poor and minority students of their right to an equal education.

Teachers unions, which are strong defenders of tenure, expressed outrage when Duncan said the plaintiffs in the case were just some of millions of students disadvantaged by tenure laws. He called the decision “a mandate to fix these problems.”

With the teachers unions at loggerheads with the administration, Democrats are suddenly at risk of losing one of their most reliable allies and fundraising sources.

It would appear that when it comes to crucial issues of “tenure” and “teacher performance”, Duncan is surprisingly more right than left. On the flip side, he supports the implementation of the controversial Common Core “teaching standards”, which the right strongly opposes and even a growing number of left wing educators have issues with.  If Duncan starts to become too much more of a liability for our celebrity President, look for him to “resign to spend more time with family” in the very near future …

Are teachers unions on the decline nationwide?

Teachers strike

Image via LaborUnionReport.com

The Politico has a well-written piece that discusses the apparent decline of teachers unions across the country:

As the two big national teachers unions prepare for their conventions this summer, they are struggling to navigate one of the most tumultuous moments in their history.

Long among the most powerful forces in American politics, the unions are contending with falling revenue and declining membership, damaging court cases, the defection of once-loyal Democratic allies — and a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign portraying them as greedy and selfish.

They took a big hit Tuesday when a California judge struck down five laws they had championed to protect teachers’ jobs. The Supreme Court could deliver more bad news as early as next week, in a case that could knock a huge hole in union budgets. On top of all that, several well-funded advocacy groups out to curb union influence are launching new efforts to mobilize parents to the cause.

Responding to all these challenges has proved difficult, analysts say, because both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are divided internally. There’s a faction urging conciliation and compromise. Another faction pushes confrontation. There’s even a militant splinter group, the Badass Teachers Association.

Leaders of both the NEA and AFT have sought to rally the public to their side by talking up their vision for improving public education: More arts classes and fewer standardized tests, more equitable funding and fewer school closures. Those are popular stances. But union leaders can’t spend all their time promoting them: They must also represent their members. And that’s meant publicly defending laws that strike even many liberals as wrong-headed, such as requiring districts to lay off their most junior teachers first, regardless of how effective they are in the classroom.

The result: an unprecedented erosion of both political and public support for unions. And no clear path for labor leaders to win it back.

My issue just from an “outsider” perspective is that these days teachers unions come off as little more than bullies who are more interested in pay hikes and bonuses and keeping their “status” within their respective organizations than they are educating children, you know – actually being, well, teachers in the truest sense of the word.   In fact, teachers unions have become very similar to their contemporaries in the various Big Labor movements in that the only way they think they can get their points across and ultimately get their way is by strong-arming opponents and not listening to counter-arguments.

I know there are a lot of good rank and file teachers out there – in fact, most are – but the faces of the teachers union movements do them a great disservice, and that’s actually an understatement.  It’s almost like everyone else is expected to sacrifice except for them at a time when people can’t afford having anymore of their paychecks going to the state and feds than they already do. That’s not to say that teachers don’t make great sacrifices themselves – many do by bringing in pencils, paper, etc to the classroom (among other extra things they do), but their union allies shouldn’t make the mistake of acting like they’re the only ones having to make tough choices when it comes to educating children and surviving in this stagnant economy: the parents of the children they’re charged with teaching probably are, too, in more ways than one.

Anyway, the article is an interesting read, so make sure you read the whole thing.  I’m especially interested in hearing the perspective on this of parents  who’ve had to deal head-on with teachers union issues in their city or state.

Seattle: $15 minimum wage already costing jobs

**Posted by Phineas

Depression-era unemployment

“But at least we raised the minimum wage!”

And it’s not even in effect, yet.

But, it’s not surprising. Business managers have to plan for the future, and a looming huge increase in their labor cost will force many to rethink how they do business in Seattle, if they continue to do business there at all. Writing for the free-market Washington Policy Center, Erin Shannon reports on how small businesses are planning to cut back on hiring, delaying expansion, or moving out of the city to deal with the new wage law. Most striking, though, is the account of one business owner who supported the law, but now thinks she may have made a mistake:

One of those business owners is a well-known and active supporter of “progressive” labor policies, including a higher minimum wage. Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale, initially supported a $15 minimum wage. But now Hall admits the proposed policy is, “keeping me up at night like nothing ever has.”

While Hall has serious concerns with Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage over seven years with a temporary tip credit, her biggest fear is if voters approve the radical charter amendment sponsored by the group 15Now. The charter amendment would force all large employers to begin paying $15 in 2015, and would give small business owners just three years to acclimate to the high wage. And the 15Now proposal would not allow for any tip credit.

If the charter amendment passes, Hall says she would be forced to close half of her seven locations and lay off 50 of her 100 workers.

But beyond the differences between Mayor Murray’s proposal or the more aggressive 15Now proposal, Hall says she now has “serious second thoughts” about a $15 minimum wage in general, especially since Seattle would be “going it alone” with a wage that is significantly higher than any other minimum wage in the nation.

Hall’s second thoughts about a $15 minimum wage have led to second thoughts about expanding her business. She was set to open a new business in Seattle this year, but has tabled the plan until after voters have their say on the charter amendment in the November election. Hall says if she considers any new locations before then, they will be outside the city limits.

In other words, when progressivism meets economic reality, guess which wins? You would think a successful businesswoman like Hall would have seen this coming. Maybe she thought she’d get a waiver from Obama.

And pay special attention to her comment about “going it alone.” As minimum wage increases are applied and then have the same effect in various places, there will be more and more calls from the fairness crowd to apply these laws statewide and even nationwide, to make sure business owners can’t just move to a friendlier jurisdiction, which would be “unfair.” The minimum wage thus becomes a wedge issue in an attack on local control, federalism, and jurisdictional competition, things progressive just hate, because their favored policies usually fail.

Meanwhile, I want to thank Seattle for volunteering to be a case study on the foolishness of government control of wages.

via Adrian Moore

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Cry me a river: union head finds he doesn’t like #Obamacare after all

**Posted by Phineas

"Another Obamacare supporter learns the truth."

“Another Obamacare supporter learns the truth.”

Sorry, Don Taylor, head of Unite Here, but Obamacare is working as intended, and your members are getting getting it, good and hard:

A national union that represents 300,000 low-wage hospitality workers charges in a new report that Obamacare will slam wages, cut hours, limit access to health insurance and worsen the very “income equality” President Obama says he is campaigning to fix.

Unite Here warned that due to Obamacare’s much higher costs for health insurance than what union workers currently pay, the result will be a pay cut of up to $5 an hour. “If employers follow the incentives in the law, they will push families onto the exchanges to buy coverage. This will force low-wage service industry employees to spend $2.00, $3.00 or even $5.00 an hour of their pay to buy similar coverage,” said the union in a new report.

“Only in Washington could asking the bottom of the middle class to finance health care for the poorest families be seen as reducing inequality,” said the report from Unite Here. “Without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage,” said the report, titled, “The Irony of Obamacare: Making Inequality Worse.”

Unite Here was the first union to endorse then-Senator Obama in his quest for the White House and the union was a staunch supporter of the ACA’s passage. Nice reward for all that loyalty, eh?

Once again, it seems the well of my sympathy has run dry. Darn.

Of course, everything Taylor complains about is a feature of Obamacare, not a bug. The Left intended this anti-constitutional monstrosity to be a massive wealth redistribution vehicle, and the middle class, including Unite Here’s members, is the fatted calf at the feast.

Dear Don: You’re welcome.

Don’t forget that unions were among the first to receive the now-infamous Obamacare waivers, in this case for the tax on their “Cadillac” health plans that provide extensive and expensive benefits at little cost to the member. Now it’s finally dawning on these schmucks what has been clear to Obamacare critics for years: that the law creates perverse incentives for employers to cut hours or even dump employees onto the exchanges in order to reduce Obamacare-caused costs.

We tried to tell them, but all we received in return were insults and threats.

Hence my lack of sympathy for Taylor and other union Pied Pipers who lead their members down the garden path and off the cliff.

But I do have a fair bit of sympathy for rank and file members (1), and for them I have a suggestion: You were either lied to deliberately by leaders seeking to increase their own power, or lead by fools who couldn’t see what was plain to the rest of us — that Obamacare was an oncoming disaster of epic proportions. Now it’s here, and you can see you were foolish to trust these people.

It’s too late to avoid the harm that’s already been done, but there is something you can do. Next November 4th, when you go to vote, take a look at the letter after the candidate’s name. If you see a D… vote for the Republican, instead. Fixing Obamacare won’t be easy, but at least we know the right way to fix it:

Repeal it, burn it with fire, and scatter the ashes.

Oh, and stop listening to your union leaders, too. They really don’t have your best interests at heart.

via Rick Moran

Footnote:
(1) I am, after all, one of them. A Teamster, to be specific.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Minimum Wage: West Virginia Democrats exempt themselves

**Posted by Phineas

500px-Flag_of_West_Virginia.svg

Weird, isn’t it? If having the state mandate higher and higher wages for everyone is such a good idea, why on Earth would WV House Democrats vote to exempt themselves from a law being imposed on everyone else?

Last week, the Democrat controlled House in West Virginia passed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour, $1.50 higher than the federal minimum wage. The action is part of a nation-wide effort by Democrats to make a minimum wage increase central to their platform for the midterm elections. The increase didn’t effect all workers, though. Democrats exempted many of their own staff from the wage hike. Businesses may have to pay the higher wages, but the legislature will avoid many of the consequences. 

Why, it’s almost as if West Virginia Democrats didn’t believe in private what they were preaching in public.

But we all know that can’t be.

via reader Lance

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Tennessee VW workers rejected the UAW because of… racism!

**Posted by Phineas

Chattanooga VW workers, per MSNBC

Chattanooga VW workers, per MSNBC

But, of course.

According to MSNBC pundit Timothy Noah, workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant rejected membership in the United Auto Workers union because they were a bunch of mouthing-breathing, knuckle-dragging, Southern racists:

“The South has always been hostile territory for union organizing. Y’know, as Harold said, the culture war in the South trumps the class war. You already have in a number of Southern states right to work laws, which means that even if they had unionized the plants, those who benefited from the presence of that union wouldn’t have had to pay union dues if they didn’t feel like it. So you’re in an overwhelmingly hostile climate.

And the opposition I gather, through, portrayed this as a kind of northern invasion, a re-fighting of the Civil War. Apparently there are not a lot of, uh, black employees in this particular plant. And so, that kind of, uh, uh, uh, waving of the Confederate flag was an effective strategy.”

Yep, those Johnny Rebs in Tennessee just took a pull on the whiskey jug, channeled the spirit Jeff Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest, and voted down the union, because they wanted to re-fight the Chattanooga campaign. It couldn’t have been because they made a rational economic decision as free people that the union didn’t provide enough benefits to warrant the dues they’d have to pay. Nah. It just had to be because there were so few Blacks there in the workforce that they weren’t afraid to show their real, neo-Confederate faces.

Who’s the bigot again, Timmy?

RELATED: Naturally, the UAW wants the NLRB to overturn the election results and call a new vote. Typical: If you can’t win, vote and vote again until the rubes vote the way they’re told. What do they think this is, the EU?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

VW labor rep: We may punish the South in the future over Chattanooga UAW rejection

Anti-union

Union thuggery in action once again.

Via Reuters:

Volkswagen’s top labor representative threatened on Wednesday to try to block further investments by the German carmaker in the southern United States if its workers there are not unionized.

Workers at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last Friday voted against representation by the United Auto Workers union (UAW), rejecting efforts by VW representatives to set up a German-style works council at the plant.

German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined “co-determination” principle which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who see organized labor as a threat to profits and job growth.

Chattanooga is VW’s only factory in the U.S. and one of the company’s few in the world without a works council.

“I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again,” said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council.

“If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW’s supervisory board, said.

And in just the threat alone, this repulsive union rep provides a prime example of one of the many reasons the UAW representation was soundly rejected by Chattanooga VW plant workers: thuggery, threats, and bullying.  Don’t let the door hit ya, a**wipe.

BTW, here’s how Ed Kilgore at the popular left wing site Washington Monthly spun the news (bolded emphasis added by me):

This news  falls with the predictable weight of another shoe dropping, but it’s interesting that it’s happening so fast, even as conservatives everywhere are still celebrating the successful intimidation of VW workers in Tennessee by local Republican politicians:

Got that? Both sides of the debate presented arguments for or against the UAW proposal, and ultimately the anti-UAW group decisively won.  As a result of the vote not going their way, a VW labor rep essentially tells the TN workers who rejected the UAW that it will be their fault if VW decides not to invest anymore in the South beyond Chattanooga.

Assuming for purposes of debate let’s say that VW did decide to build another plant in the South in the future (which would  make sense, considering Southern GOP Governors and their state legislatures have pushed hard over the last few years to make their states more friendly to businesses), not hinging any deal on potential unionization.  Yet when they do try later to unionize the plant – and you know inevitably they would, workers there are going to feel obligated to vote in favor of it because they’ll remember this threat and want to keep their jobs.

But it’s Republicans who are “intimidating” VW employees (and potential future employees).  Oookay. Right is wrong, wrong is right, and the facts just don’t matter to the left, especially when it comes to healthcare and, of course, jobs – as we’ve seen quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.  It’s maddeningly pathetic, but predictable all the same.

(Hat tip: Memeorandum)

My heart breaks: labor unions feel stabbed in the back by #Obamacare

**Posted by Phineas

"2014 voters"

Revenge of the angry union members

And by The One, himself. Like Moe Lane, I find it a bit difficult to choose between laughing and pointing at the naive union leaders who didn’t think Barack Obama would throw them under the bus, or just quietly smiling while they reap the whirlwind of their foolishness and greed:

Labor leaders who have spent months lobbying unsuccessfully for special protections under the Affordable Care Act warned this week that the White House’s continued refusal to help is dampening union support for Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections.

Leaders of two major unions, including the first to endorse Obama in 2008, said they have been betrayed by an administration that wooed their support for the 2009 legislation with promises to later address the peculiar needs of union-negotiated insurance plans that cover millions of workers.

Their complaints reflect a broad sense of disappointment among many labor leaders, who say the Affordable Care Act has subjected union health plans to new taxes and mandates while not allowing them to share in the subsidies that have gone to private insurance companies competing on the newly created exchanges.

After dozens of frustrating meetings with White House officials over the past year, including one with Obama, a number of angry labor officials say their members are far less likely to campaign and turn out for Democratic candidates in the midterm elections.

“We want to hold the president to his word: If you like your health-care coverage, you can keep it, and that just hasn’t been the case,” said Donald “D.” Taylor, president of Unite Here, the union that represents about 400,000 hotel and restaurant workers and provided a crucial boost to Obama by endorsing him just after his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton had won the New Hampshire primary.

Taylor and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, laid out their grievances this week in a terse letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), saying they are “bitterly disappointed” in the administration.

Be sure to read the whole thing there; it’s not just Obamacare the union leaders are angry about — their whole agenda seems to have found its way under the bus. Card check, too, thankfully, has been left to die. And what really bugs them, I think, is that Obama won’t abuse his power to help them. Everyone else, it seems, sure. But unions that literally in some cases emptied the treasury to help get him elected twice? Nada. As a consequence, the article points out, this could lead to less than enthusiastic turnout and campaign support in November.

Darn.

Moe’s right. Time to sit back, enjoy, and not get in the way of our opponents turning on each other. (1)

Footnote:
(1) Other than to point out, gently, in a friendly, sympathetic manner to an upset private union member that there is a better way, and that it starts by not listening to their union bosses and voting against the Democrats, both of whom got him or her into this mess in the first place.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

President Clueless: House GOP are like striking workers, & should not be tolerated

Clueless

Clueless in DC.

The Washington Free Beacon reports on the latest instance of the President equating the House GOP to striking workers, evidently not quite grasping that the most common work strikes are instigated and organized by …. labor unions (via Memeorandum):

President Obama again analogized workers walking off the job and “shutting down the plant” to House Republicans refusing to raise the debt ceiling Tuesday on the White House press conference:

Q: (Off mic) — if you enter into a series of short-term funding bills or a debt ceiling bill, you would be back in the same place, presumably, with these — the same members of Congress.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Again, I think –

Q: So what has changed in the political dynamic if you do the short-term — (inaudible) –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think — I think what has changed is they’re aware of the fact that I’m not budging when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States, that that has to be dealt with, that you don’t d– you don’t pay a ransom, you don’t provide concessions for Congress doing its job and America paying its bills.

And — and I think most people understand that. I mean, you know, I — I was at a small business the other day and talking to a bunch of workers, and I said, you know, when you’re at the plant and you’re in the middle of your job, do you ever say to your boss, you know what, unless I get a raise right now and more vacation pay, I’m going to just shut down the plant; I’m not going to just walk off the job, I’m going to break the equipment — I said, how do you think that would go?

They all thought they’d be fired. And I think most of us think that. You know, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise or asking for more time off. But you can’t burn down the plant or your office if you don’t get your way. Well, the same thing is true here. And I think most Americans understand that. All right?

Dear Mr. President: Since you’re so insulated from criticism and contrary opinions within your inner circle and since most in the mainstream media don’t have the guts to call you out on anything, let alone your obvious hypocrisy, here’s a little link that details the history of union strikes in America. You know, the unions whose support your party relies on to intimidate the opposition and win elections? You’re welcome.

Duh.