Free Markets, Free People

union

Reality smacks the left again – this time unions

Funny how this works, isn’t it?  Make up all sorts of grand claims about something and then when it is passed into law find out that making up stuff doesn’t change reality one iota:

Labor unions enthusiastically backed the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul when it was up for debate. Now that the law is rolling out, some are turning sour.

Union leaders say many of the law’s requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive. Among other things, the law eliminates the caps on medical benefits and prescription drugs used as cost-containment measures in many health-care plans. It also allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.

To offset that, the nation’s largest labor groups want their lower-paid members to be able to get federal insurance subsidies while remaining on their plans. In the law, these subsidies were designed only for low-income workers without employer coverage as a way to help them buy private insurance.

You have got to love the outrageousness of the union’s desire I’ve emphasized.  In essence it says, “we voted for something, got it wrong, and it it up to the taxpayer to bail us out”.

Oh, wait, that’s not outrageous at all is it?

That pretty much sums up the entitlement/welfare culture being so carefully nurtured by the left to a tee, doesn’t it?

~McQ

6,000 union members cost 12,000 other workers their jobs

In a case study of cutting your nose off despite your face, union members who walked out on strike at bankrupt Hostess Brands (makers of Twinkies and other well known products) and refused to return to work by yesterday have forced the company into liquidation.  Of the 18,000 workers who will lose their jobs, about one-third were union members.

The company had offered a compensation package that had cuts (to include an 8% pay cut).  These were necessary during bankruptcy reorganization to keep the company afloat.  The union refused the package and walked out.

Apparently, 100% of nothing is much better than 92% of something … especially in this job market.

Congratulations Bakery, Confectionery, and Tobacco workers and the Grain Millers International Union, among others.  You put the capital “S” in Stupid, Selfish and Shortsighted (a crown previously held by the former union members of Eastern Airlines).

But I’m sure this will somehow end up being blamed on “greedy Capitalists” and be declared a “market failure” by the usual suspects.

~McQ

Who is robbing whom here?

We’ve been treated to stories of “greed” and supposed corporate misbehavior by the OWS crowd, but here’s a story that ought to make you furious, especially if you’re an Illinois taxpayer:

Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.

Steven Preckwinkle, the political director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow union lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small window opened by lawmakers a few months earlier.

Obviously any number of people are culpable.  The lawmakers, of course.  But the two who took advantage of this legal loophole are simply morally reprehensible people who took advantage of the system for personal gain without earning what they will receive.

The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.

So seeing an opportunity to cash in without actually having to do any real teaching, they quickly got teaching certificates and substitute taught for one day.   One day.  They were paid $93 for the day.

The result from that day?  Probably over $100,000 a year in pension payments:

Preckwinkle’s one day of subbing qualified him to become a participant in the state teachers pension fund, allowing him to pick up 16 years of previous union work and nearly five more years since he joined. He’s 59, and at age 60 he’ll be eligible for a state pension based on the four-highest consecutive years of his last 10 years of work.

His paycheck fluctuates as a union lobbyist, but pension records show his earnings in the last school year were at least $245,000. Based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.

Meanwhile, as you might guess, the pension fund is horribly underfunded and teachers who’ve spent a career in the classroom stand to get less than half what these two will get.

The union finds no real problem with what its two paid lobbyists did:

A spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers emphasized that the lobbyists’ actions were legal and that they made "individual decisions."

Even so, union President Dan Montgomery said the deal Preckwinkle and Piccioli landed "should never be allowed again." But the union, which provides its employees with a private 401(k)-type plan, is standing by the lobbyists’ right to have access to the public pension.

"They entered TRS under the law and are participating members of TRS. As a TRS employer, the IFT is required to make the payments to TRS," the union said in a statement.

Of course we all know that legal and moral are only the same by coincidence.  These two scoundrels knew precisely what they were doing and did what they did with malice aforethought.  This was a bid to cash in while doing nothing.  And of course, cheats like them are more than happy – along with the union – to stand behind the façade of legality.

And oh, by the way, it should never happen again because the law was changed after these two grifters cashed in.

Always looking out for the little guy and making sure he gets a square deal, those union guys.

HT: Duane Lester

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Chicago lawyer amazingly claims Boeing’s move to South will net workers with "poor skills"

Honest to goodness, if this doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.

Yet the Boeing case has a scarier aspect missed by conservatives: Why is Boeing, one of our few real global champions in beefing up exports, moving work on the Dreamliner from a high-skill work force ($28 an hour on average) to a much lower-wage work force ($14 an hour starting wage)? Nothing could be a bigger threat to the economic security of this country.

We should be aghast that Boeing is sending a big fat market signal that it wants a less-skilled, lower-quality work force. This country is in a debt crisis because we buy abroad much more than we sell. Alas, because of this trade deficit, foreign creditors have the country in their clutches. That’s not because of our labor costs—in that respect, we can undersell most of our high-wage, unionized rivals like Germany. It’s because we have too many poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete.

We depend on Boeing to out-compete Airbus, its European rival. But when major firms move South, it is usually a harbinger of quality decline.

Wow … really?  So all those F-35s being built in Ft. Worth, and all those C-130s and F-22 Raptors being built in Marietta, GA, not to mention the myriad of car manufacturing plants, specialty steel plants, hi-tech industries, etc. all have seen ‘quality declines’ because they’re located in the South?

Good grief, my guess is this guy hasn’t been out of Chicago since 1970?  You’ve got to love the correlation he tries to draw between “high-skill” and $28 bucks an hour with “low-skill” and $14 bucks an hour.  Yeah, that works, doesn’t it?   It’s a bit like saying a guy who opens and closes a blast furnace door at $28 bucks an hour is a “high-skilled” worker.   Doesn’t correlate at all does it?  But that was an actual wage for an actual job at a steel plant before it went out of business because it was uncompetitive, thanks to unions, years ago.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the guy writing this is a labor union lawyer and he thinks everyone who reads the Wall Street Journal is an idiot.

Here’s his one and only example of why he thinks he’s got this all figured out.  As he says, he “represented the workers” in the first plant.  He’s speaking of Outboard Marine Corp:

In the 1990s the company went from the high wage union North to the low wage South and was bankrupt by 2000. There are reasons workers in the North get $28 an hour while down in the South they get $14 or even $10. Adam Smith could explain it: "productivity," "skill level," "quality."

Of course the reason it went bankrupt might have absolutely nothing to do with any of that.  It might be because the corporation was uncompetitive well before the move and the move was a last ditch effort to save itself.  But we don’t know, and this yahoo decides it is “productivity”, “skill level” and “quality” which were the problem.  Of course BMW’s plant in SC doesn’t suffer from any of those problems does it?  In fact one of the reasons the Germans are making their cars there is because of the productivity they achieve there.  Same with all the car plants across the south to include those opened fairly recently by Honda, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, and Mercedes – in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for heaven sake.  The reason they’re in the South is they get more “productivity”, “skill” and “quality” for the wage than they do in the North.

But to admit that would be to admit that perhaps the problem is unions, not Southerners.

However, our clueless lawyer isn’t done:

Here is yet another American firm seeking to ruin its reputation for quality. Why? To save $14 an hour! Seriously: Is that going to help sell the Dreamliner? In terms of the finished product, the labor cost is minuscule: $14 in hourly wage, at most. It’s incredible that conservatives claim such small differences in labor cost would be life or death to Boeing. It’s not labor cost but labor skill that is life or death to the survival of Boeing, never mind pilots and passengers.

If the history of runaway shops proves anything, it’s that many go "South" in more than one sense of the word. If that sounds unfair to the South, it is union busting that has inflicted the real unfairness in the region: income inequality and inferior schools.

Yessiree – those airplanes they’ve been building in Marietta GA and Ft. Worth TX have just been falling out of the sky because of all that income inequality and those inferior schools.  What, no “redneck”, “hillbilly” or “barely in shoes” included?  No NASCAR jokes?  Remarks about family trees that don’t fork? Dueling banjoes?  He missed his chance, didn’t he? 

Of course the reason Boeing is opening a plant in SC has nothing to do with wages per se.  His point is correct as far as it goes.  The plant is opening so Boeing and its customers aren’t held hostage to the work stoppages that are normal fare in the union plant in Washington.  And it is hard to blame them for doing that, isn’t it?

Of course pig-headed ignorance about an area like this simply has to be seen to be believed and he proves himself as the poster boy for that.  If abject and unqualified ignorance is bliss, this is one happy, happy labor lawyer.

Wow … 2011 and you find something like this in the Wall Street Journal.  Who said their editors don’t have a wicked sense of humor?

Give ‘em enough rope …

[HT: J.E. Dyer]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Obama administration complicit in cutting non-union GM employee pensions

Despite denials, it appears the Obama administration had a hand in cutting the pensions of non-union GM workers.  Another “unexpected” event from the transparent administration:

New emails obtained by The Daily Caller contradict claims by the Obama administration that the Treasury Department would avoid “intervening in the day-to-day management” of General Motors post-auto bailout.

These messages reveal that Treasury officials were involved in decision-making that led to more than 20,000 non-union workers losing their pensions.

Remember, this is the same administration that perverted the bankruptcy system to favor unions and essentially screw investors.  This is more evidence of the administrations concerted effort to save their prime constituency by treating non-union workers differently and using their benefits as a means of cutting costs while mostly preserving union benefits.

This came to light in Congressional hearings yesterday:

At a Wednesday hearing, the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending started pushing the Treasury Department for answers on the effects of the bailout and on how much of a role the department played in picking winners and losers.

The key point of the Wednesday hearing was to show that the Obama administration advised GM on how to eliminate the Delphi workers’ pensions. The evidence suggests Geithner’s team played a significant role in that process, despite claims to the contrary.

This despite administration testimony previously claimed no involvement:

In 2009 congressional testimony, senior Obama administration official Ron Bloom said the president told the Treasury Department to stay out of the management of these companies and downplayed any administration intervention.

“From the beginning of this process, the President gave the Auto Task Force two clear directions regarding its approach to the auto restructurings,” Bloom said then. “The first was to behave in a commercial manner by ensuring that all stakeholders were treated fairly and received neither more nor less than they would have simply because the government was involved. The second was to refrain from intervening in the day-to-day management of these companies.”

But the emails TheDC obtained show high-ranking Treasury Department officials, including Matthew Feldman of Treasury’s Auto Task Force, corresponding with senior GM officials on how to make certain decisions regarding who was going to win and who was going to lose.

You can’t put it any clearer than the Daily Caller does – this is government picking winners and losers.   Not only that, it is clear that the administration has favorites and no qualms whatsoever about throwing unfavored constituencies under the bus to ensure their constituency benefits.

Is that the purpose of government?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Send In The Thugs (update)

Irony, as we’ve all learned, is not something with which the left is well attuned.

For instance, until the Obama administration unleashed the unions, the townhall meetings were a little raucous, but not violent.

But now that the White House has all but explicitly condoned the demonization and thus the marginalization of those who disagree with his attempt to “reform” health care, and further called on the unions to send in paid operatives to “punch back”, we have violence.

The irony? This, from Dennis Rivera, health care chairman of the SEIU after six of his goons had assaulted a protester in St. Louis:

“These are the times to clearly speak out in a civilized way, and tell them we won’t be prevented by these terrorist tactics from participating in these town hall meetings,”

Always nice to know how the opposition defines “civilized way” isn’t it?

Yup, raising your voice in a townhall meeting and not just shutting up and listening to the nonsense the man or woman (does anyone understand what the word “representative” means?) who works for you is spouting is now a “terroist tactic” according to the SEIU.

Solution – assault people in a ‘civilized way’, bar those who disagree with the administration from a place in the meeting while packing it with handpicked union members and call it a “townhall”.

Pure, unadulterated cowardice on parade is what it is. Apparently the Dems are not only unaware of the irony of the situation, but also unfamiliar with the first law of holes. And trust me, they are digging a deep one with their present behavior.

UPDATE: What are union members from Chicago doing at a St. Louis townhall meeting?

~McQ

Racist Attack At Townhall Meeting (Update)

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t an “extreme right-wing mobster” doing the attacking. The scene was a townhall meeting in St. Louis, MO. The report is from the St. Louis Dispatch:

Kenneth Gladney, 38, a conservative activist from St. Louis, said he was attacked by some of those arrested as he handed out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them. He spoke to the Post-Dispatch from the emergency room at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, where he said he was awaiting treatment for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face. Gladney, who is black, said one of his attackers, also a black man, used a racial slur against him before the attack.

“It just seems there’s no freedom of speech without being attacked,” he said.

So now we have violence introduced into these meetings where none existed previously.

And what’s been the only change?

The mobilization of unions to counter the protesters from the right.

Yeah, nothing can go wrong with that plan, can it?

UPDATE: Video of the attack.

Listen at about the 1:00 mark when one of the thugs that attacked him claims that Gladney “attacked America”. Also note that the black guy who runs away in the beginning is wearing a union tee-shirt as is the guy who is eventually arrested.

Freakin’ amazing.

~McQ

THIS Is What “Astroturf” Looks Like

We now have real paid organizers promising to produce bodies to confront the citizenry showing up at townhall meetings to loudly voice their disapproval.

The nation’s largest federation of labor organizations has promised to directly engage with boisterous conservative protesters at Democratic town halls during the August recess.

In a memo sent out on Thursday, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney outlined the blueprint for how the union conglomerate would step up recess activities on health care reform and other topics pertinent to the labor community. The document makes clear that Obama allies view the town hall forums as ground zero of the health care debate. It also uses the specter of the infamous 2000 recount “Brooks Brothers” protest to rally its members to the administration’s side.

What could go wrong with this scenario? First, who says they’re all “boisterous conservative protesters?” This is about union members going to an event expressly to confront those who are voicing a dissenting opinion and quelling that. Talk about setting themselves up for a huge “fail”. Talk about setting themselves up for a huge backlash.

AFL_CIO

AFL_CIO

“The principal battleground in the campaign will be town hall meetings and other gatherings with members of Congress in their home districts,” reads the memo. “We want your help to organize major union participation to counter the right-wing “Tea-Party Patriots” who will try to disrupt those meetings, as they’ve been trying to do to meetings for the last month. …

Yeah, nothing could go wrong here.

But, of course, since this is true astroturfing, there’s a political payback being demanded:

But while the union conglomerate seems poised to flex its political muscle on Obama’s behalf, it may find some friction on the policy front. Detailed in Sweeney’s memo are certain legislative priorities that are clearly at odds with what seems likely to be produced in the Senate Finance Committee’s compromise bill.

Sweeney describes it as a “requirement that ALL employers ‘pay or play,’” that the final bill have “a robust public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers and drive down health costs,” and that the legislation contain “relief for company/union funds providing pre-Medicare retiree coverage, and no taxation of health benefits!”

Yes friends, these protesters will truly be paid protesters. If they help intimidate the citizenry at the townhall meetings, then they expect to see their legislative desires fulfilled.

As the AFL-CIO spools itself up to confront the “mobs”, its secretary issues the battle cry of the astroturfer:

Every American has the inalienable right to participate in our democratic process. Our politics is passionate, heartfelt and often loud — as was the founding of our nation. But that is not what the corporate-funded mobs are engaging in when they show up to disrupt town halls held by members of Congress.

Major health care reform is closer than ever to passage and it is no secret that special interests want to weaken or block it. These mobs are not there to participate. As their own strategy memo states, they have been sent by their corporate and lobbyist bankrollers to disrupt, heckle and block meaningful debate. This is a desperation move, meant to slow the momentum for change.

Mob rule is not democracy. People have a democratic right to express themselves and our elected leaders have a right to hear from their constituents — not organized thugs whose sole purpose is to shut down the conversation and attempt to scare our leaders into inaction

We call on the insurance companies, the lobbyists and the Republican leaders who are cheering them on to halt these ‘Brooks Brothers Riot’ tactics. Health care is a crucial issue and everyone – on all sides of the issue – deserves to be heard.

Does anyone out there have to wonder what tactics they’ll use to ensure others are “heard”? Republican can only pray they do.

~McQ

If Nothing Else, You Have To Love The Irony

The New York Times engaged in union busting:

The New York Times Company has threatened to close The Boston Globe unless labor unions agree to concessions like pay cuts and the cessation of pension contributions, according to a person briefed on the talks.

What a strange and different world we find ourselves in today. Of course I guess that’s really no different than Rosie O’Donnell railing against guns while her armed body guards stood next to her.