Unions vs. America: The Final Battle?

The events taking place in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining agreements, there’s no better time to address the relationship between unions and businesses. When labor unions began in the late 19th Century, they were desperately needed to represent the interest of workers in America against the exploitative nature of industry. Over the years, these organizations helped institute minimum wage laws, child labor laws, 8-hour work days, vacation time, sick time, and more. These were well-intentioned measures, and most Americans are happy they exist today. But making sure workers have basic rights is not what labor unions are about today. They are about profit, greed, and political influence.

Today, most labor unions are very similar to the “evil corporations” they so frequently rail against. They claim big business doesn’t care about its workers, only profit. But are unions any different? They need members to pay dues, or they cease to exist. Clearly they are also profit-driven. They believe industry has too much influence compared with the working class. But unions have far more influence than their numbers would suggest, given that only 8% of Americans are in unions. And what do many of these labor organizations do with the hard-earned dollars they take from their members in the form of dues? They give them to politicians running for office – almost exclusively in the Democratic Party – whether their members support them or not.

The issue with unions today is a simple math problem. For years, unions have negotiated pretty good contracts for their workers. These contracts typically result in higher pay, better benefits, and more perks than non-union employees receive. As years go by, these contracts are renegotiated over and over again, raising wages and increasing benefits and perks each time. Then, when we have an economic crisis like the Great Recession (2008 – present), companies can no longer afford the expensive contracts they negotiated when profits were good. As the costs of these labor contracts rise, profits must rise along with them – or something needs to give. Either the union agrees to make concessions, or the business goes bankrupt.

This face-off is happening all over the country, including in Wisconsin. During the economic crisis, some unions have agreed to work with businesses to arrive at a mutually-agreeable solution to the problem of expensive contracts and low profits. But that is not always the case. Unions were willing to do very little in the case of Ford, GM and Chrysler, so the companies had no choice but to declare bankruptcy in order to restructure their organization and renegotiate labor contracts. Who are the labor unions helping if their own greed causes businesses to fail? It’s clearly not the workers, who end up out on their collective-bargaining asses when their company closes its doors.

We see this problem everywhere in America, and frankly it is out of control.

In government, collective bargaining agreements are paid by tax dollars. When federal, state and local government experiences drops in revenue due to high unemployment and a slow economy, unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are unwilling to give up a dime. Governments are then forced to fix their budget issues while suffering under the strains of paying these high-priced contracts – which would never have been agreed to under the present conditions.

In business, the unions’ unwillingness to cooperate often results in businesses going bankrupt or closing altogether. This may be good for the individual unions who get to show off their “power,” but it’s bad for their members who have no jobs, and bad for America. If businesses go away, so do our hopes of putting Americans back to work. Industry should not be allowed to exploit workers, but unions should not be allowed to exploit industry either.

In education, unions may be the largest contributor to our failures. Without declaring financial exigency (think bankruptcy), universities cannot renegotiate their contracts with tenured professors. In K-12 education, unions demand more and more money be spent on education, yet they ensure that very little ever makes it into the classroom. Nevada is the perfect example of the problem with education, since it has the lowest graduation rates in the nation. The Clark County School District (CCSD), which covers Las Vegas and surrounding areas, is the 5th largest school district in the country. Only 11% of its operating budget makes it into the classroom, yet unions and education officials are screaming bloody murder over impending budget cuts. The University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), where I am currently a student, has $647 million in total operating funds for this year. Under budget cuts proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, UNLV will see a cut of $47.5 million (or 7%). Unions and education officials, as well as Democrats in the state legislature, are twisting the numbers and telling Nevadans that the cut is 29%.

Americans won’t put up with this nonsense much longer.

They see what is happening in Wisconsin, and realizing that this is a battle between greedy unions and over-taxed taxpayers. They see teachers shutting down schools so they can protest, instead of educating their children by DOING THEIR JOB! Fire these teachers for abandoning their positions, and replace them with unemployed Wisconsinites who put education above greed.

Americans are starting to see the damage unions can do when they put greed ahead of their original purpose – protecting the basic rights of employees.

This is not an issue unions can win, unless they are willing to work with businesses and governments to achieve mutually-agreeable solutions. Bankrupting businesses and governments through unreasonable demands during this economic crisis won’t earn them any support from hard-working American taxpayers.

We will learn as these battles unfold exactly how much power unions will be allowed to have in America, and how the outcomes will affect their power in the future. We will also see how this will affect the Democratic Party, with which labor organizations are closely aligned.

With unemployment at 10% nationwide, there are plenty of Americans ready and willing to take the jobs of ANYONE who strikes. Perhaps it is time to call their bluff.

Arizona’s ACORN

Occasionally, I slit my proverbial wrists and read the Phoenix New Times. Upon hearing a rumor yesterday that a campaign had begun to recall Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, I went looking for the article and was shocked to find that the Somos Republicans were leading the way, along with Democrats and Libertarians (add a few Green Party candidates and they’d spontaneously combust). Aside from the fact that I believe the Somos Republicans to be flirting with RINO status, I was surprised to read a blip at the very end of that article that announced a rumor of a SECOND recall effort.

Today I looked on the New Times’ website and, sure enough, a second recall effort has been started. A group calling itself Citizens for a Better Arizona now has a FaceBook group page on which it has posted its leaders, its intent – and some potentially damning information on the level with another ACORN-like move.

The “info” tab contains the announcement of the new group and the campaign…it starts out a little something like this:

Over the past couple of months people have been meeting in Mesa and other parts of Arizona to develop a strategy to recall Senator Russell Pearce. Out of those discussions came the idea of creating Citizens for a Better Arizona to bring together people from all walks of life with the same committed goal of removing State Senate President Russell Pearce from office. Our numbers are growing rapidly as word spreads about this important movement.

Now, there was another group with the same name that went belly-up in 2006 after losing too much money. This is an entirely different group which, as the announcement points out, “officially” began this morning. That is despite this announcement on Google and this, from their newest announcement:

Strategies have been planned and implemented with our “Hold Russell Pearce Accountable” campaign , including our January 10th event at the capitol, our January 15th District 18 Door-to-door canvass and our January 22nd town hall meeting in District 18. These efforts also include fundraising, community outreach to other supporters throughout Maricopa, and as of this morning the official formation our newly formed political committee – Citizens for a Better Arizona.

If the group just formed this morning, then why were they raising political funds all month? In Arizona, any political committee that intends to accept contributions is required to register before ever taking one red cent or distributing a single flyer – if they will only take in less than $500 annually, they are required to file an exemption. Here’s the part of their announcement where they boast about the funds they’ve already raised:

We are a well-established group that has what it takes to raise the necessary funds both across the state and across the nation and we’re rapidly closing on $10,000 already raised to help us achieve our goals!

They even took a thinly-veiled stab at the Somos Republicans here:

It takes courage to undertake this important effort. And while anyone can draft a petition to start a recall, it is good organizational skills and dogged determination that will actually get the job done. While other groups are welcome to undergo their own efforts, the results cannot be combined (signatures from one group can’t be added to those of another). We urge everyone who has a true commitment to removing Russell Pearce from office to be part of our diverse and non-partisan coalition. Together we can succeed!

Here’s the kicker: they’re offering part-time jobs for people to go canvassing for their efforts:

Finally, as planned, we are moving forward on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 12:00 noon to file our recall petition at the Arizona State Capitol, and because of our successful efforts at fundraising, we are launching our paid canvassing operation to collect signatures in District 18 on Monday afternoon. Now is not the time to hold potlucks to plan strategy. Now is the time to implement the plan. We hope you will join us to show your support!

Sincerely,

Citizens for a Better Arizona

PS. If you are interested in working part-time (16 hours a week) on this campaign please contact us. Canvassers will earn $10/hour. Volunteers will also go door-to-door on weekends to collect signatures.

Where’s the money coming from? We don’t know, because the group isn’t registered as a political committee in Arizona. How are they going to pay the part-time canvassers who will go door-to-door to collect signatures on a petition to recall District 18 Senator Russell Pearce? Well…there’s something to be said about Michelle Malkin’s hard work in calling out union thugs.

The group was founded by Randy Parraz, who finished dead last in the Democratic primary last year to attempt to unseat John McCain. Parraz originally came to Arizona in 2002 as the state leader of the AFL-CIO. His Linkedin profile says that he is currently a political organizer for the Laborer’s International Union. Last year, when the Teamster’s Local 104 held a strike against Tucson public bus company Sun Tran, Parraz joined the picket line to shake hands and kiss babies and show just how much of a “working man” he is (never mind the fact that he went to UC-Berkeley for a law degree and Harvard for a master’s in public administration – yep, he’s a working schlub just like you and me!).

Think we’ll get any answers? I’d give that a resounding NO. The unions don’t answer for anything these days. Organizations that used to be about protecting the rights of workers are now about getting the biggest and the best, regardless of the cost. Union refusal to budge on pay rates and annual pay raises for police officers and firefighters in Camden, NJ cost the city 168 police officers and 67 firefighters.

Randy Parraz is playing a dirty political game that already downed one major organization. His law degree and years with the unions tell me that he knows he’s playing with fire and doesn’t care. With the unions getting a free pass that exempts them from Obamacare and any and all ethics laws (campaign finance among them), why should he be afraid?

I should mention that ARS 16-919 specifically prohibits labor unions from making large contributions to any political campaigns or committees. Corporations and LLC’s are barred, too. The only exceptions (listed in ARS 16-914) are “cumulative” expenditures (meaning multiple transactions, not block contributions) of $5000 for statewide elections, $2500 for legislative elections, and they must be reported in detail to the secretary of state’s office PRIOR to the transaction. ARS 16-902.1 states that ANY “political committee that intends to accept contributions or make expenditures of more than five hundred dollars shall file a statement of organization with the filing officer before accepting contributions, making expenditures, distributing any campaign literature or circulating petitions.”

Citizens for a Better Arizona has reportedly been operating for at least two months according to their own announcement posted today…and I can’t find a single listing for them with the AZ secretary of state. OOPS.

UPDATE: The FaceBook page maintained by Citizens for a Better Arizona has been changed. The announcement posted yesterday about the “official founding” of the group was, as expected, removed. Gone are the sections bragging about already having ten grand in funds and being in the works for two months despite not being registered with the secretary of state. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what screenshots are for (and believe me, I have plenty of them…click for larger images):

UPDATE: Randy Parraz has been removed as an admin on the Facebook page – and two known Democratic Party employees are now pictured as “volunteers” at Desert Free Press, a website that is stumping hard for this committee.

Want To Know What Business Thinks?

Businesses are suffering under the policies of Obama/Pelosi/Reid.  So is it any surprise that the US Chamber of Commerce has come to the aid of the GOP?  The USCOC is going to spend heavily on behalf of Republicans in 2010.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will use much of its remaining political war chest to get Republican voters to the polls, a source tells Power Play.

President Obama and his team went on the attack against the Chamber Thursday just as a barrage of new Chamber ads were hitting the airwaves.

The president, his fellow Democrats and allied liberal groups turned up the heat on the U.S. Chamber, claiming that because the business group accepts dues from foreign companies, they were allowing foreigners to influence U.S. elections.

The push to label the Chamber as unpatriotic came as Democratic media buyers across the country were sending some very bad news back to Washington – that the Chamber was dropping $10 million over the course of one week in competitive Senate and House races across the land.

I love how Democrats try to paint business interests in such a bad light.  The hypocrisy is incredible for a couple of reasons.

1)  The Democrats are taking millions from labor unions.  The political voices in the unions are opposed to the interests of business groups.  The thing that they fail to realize is that these business leaders are the ones providing jobs for their members.  It’s the same concept involved with the Democrats’ efforts to tax higher income individuals out of existence.  These are the very same people who pump money into the economy, own businesses and provide jobs.  But, in the Dem world, you punish success and bring everyone down to the same level.  No thoughts to how this strategy can backfire.

2)  Corporate interests have dumped tons of money into Dem campaigns.  While Obama and his congressional buddies rage against the “big business machine,” they also rake in tons of dough from the same big corporations (and their CEOs) that they decry.  The Dems talk the talk in order to satisfy the rank-and-file of the labor unions.  The leadership of these unions knows that the Dems are in bed with big business, but they continue to support the Democrats in return for their help on union issues. Big business (and their CEOs) just hand their money to the party in power hoping to stay in favor.

Groups like the US Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Businesses speak for small/medium businesses.  So those who decry Big Business as a GOP bedfellow are totally insane. 

I’m an avowed capitalist, so Big Business doesn’t bother me.  Most smaller businesses aspire to grow into larger businesses.  But Big Business is apolitical.  The smaller businesses are the ones who are being smacked in the face by the Obama Administration and the Democrat Congress.  And the groups who represent them have every right to spend millions to support the party who will advance an agenda that will allow them to, not only thrive, but to survive.

Gay Hypocrisy and Union Thugs: My Weekend in San Diego

(Cross-posted at www.rightpride.org)

This past weekend I took a drive from my home in Las Vegas to San Diego for GOProud’s “Don’t Tread On Us” Reception, featuring conservative lesbian radio icon Tammy Bruce. The event was held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, a beautiful property with gorgeous ocean views, just a few blocks from the Gaslamp District. The event was a great success, complete with outdoor patio setting, tasty hors d’oeuvres and an exceptional featured speaker.

About 30 minutes before the event was set to begin, several protestors showed up on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. There were no more than a dozen at their zenith, and they were shouting “Boycott the Hyatt!” There had been a lot of buzz on the interwebs about “THE BOYCOTT” by the gay community, resulting from owner Doug Manchester’s $125,000 donation in favor of Prop 8. In addition, the first friend I contacted regarding my weekend in San Diego said, “Don’t you know about ‘THE BOYCOTT’?” Nobody consulted me before starting “THE BOYCOTT,” so I was clearly not bound to honor it.

At first I thought these 12 people, who devoted at least an hour of their time on a gorgeous Southern California day to screaming while nobody listened, were protesting the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) – which was having their convention at the Manchester Grand this same weekend. Didn’t they know about “THE BOYCOTT?”

They weren’t protesting the 1,600 black journalists who held their convention at the hotel, after 70% of the black community in California voted to support Prop. 8. They weren’t protesting the numerous Hispanic hotel guests and employees, after 53% of Hispanics voted against gay marriage in California. They weren’t protesting the 1,000 Red Hat Ladies who descended on the hotel this past weekend. They were protesting the 40 gay conservatives who chose to meet on a patio for a few hours of camaraderie and appetizers, while listening to Tammy Bruce explain why she no longer identifies with liberals.

Now there’s no doubt that Hyatt owner Doug Manchester gave $125,000 in support of Prop 8. However since then, and possibly because of “THE BOYCOTT,” he apologized and offered to donate the same amount to various gay organizations as a way of righting his wrong. GOProud was the first recipient of those funds, which helped defray the cost of this weekend’s reception. Apparently that didn’t sit well with the 12 members of the Gay Left Gestapo, who were outside waving signs like “Gay Republicans are like Vegetarian Butchers,” and “GOProud = GOShame” – very creative.

The hypocrisy is staggering.

The Gay Left demands rights and freedoms, yet punishes Doug Manchester for exerting his. “THE BOYCOTT” is designed to hurt the Hyatt financially. However, it also negatively impacts the hotel’s 1,000 employees – a significant portion of which are gay and had nothing to do with Manchester’s decision to donate to Prop 8. The Gay Left has chosen to continue their assault on Doug Manchester, even after he has seen the error of his ways and made genuine attempts to make amends. Activists should be rewarding people who change their views based on new information, even if that information has to do with declining profits. Doesn’t that mean “THE BOYCOTT” worked? Instead, these protestors make it clear that there is no upside for people to publicly admit they made a mistake, and try to make things right. That’s a self-defeating exercise.

As an aside, the fact that the San Diego chapter of Log Cabin Republicans are honoring “THE BOYCOTT” just goes to prove earlier statements made by this author that LCR has completely abandoned those it claims to represent.

The bottom line is that the Gay Left is nothing more than an activist arm of the Democratic Party. They have aligned with union thugs to boycott the Manchester Grand Hyatt – not because of marriage, but because of its non-union policy. The organizers of the boycott and subsequent protests make it clear when they say, “The solidarity between the labor movement and the LGBT movement is a powerful coalition.” They continue, “Together, we have signed up over 3,000 people at Pride events onto pledges to ‘Sleep With The Right People’–that is, patronize union hotels whenever possible and steer clear of hotels with active boycotts.” Human Rights Campaign also supports “THE BOYCOTT,” proving that they believe in equal rights for everyone – except the rights to oppose gay marriage, not join a union, or earn a living at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

I never got the memo that stated being gay requires being pro-union. Maybe we need to add another letter to our alphabet soup acronym. LGBTTQQIA… U?

So why is the Gay Left in cahoots with unions in California? Could it be that the largest donor against Prop. 8 was a union? Mr. Manchester may have topped the financial contribution list in favor of Prop 8 with $125,000, but the California Teachers Association contributed ten times that amount against the measure, with a staggering $1.25 million. The CTA’s parent organization is the NEA.

Remember… “The solidarity between the labor movement and the LGBT movement is a powerful coalition.”

Any questions?