Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘labor union’

Aw, poor baby needs a union

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2015

My day started with preparing for a 7:30 AM videoconference with someone in Bangalore. It ended after a 6 PM videoconference with folks in Beijing and San Jose. As I was eating my late supper, I read the new issue of Reason magazine that arrived recently. It had a quote that just cracked me up.

It’s old, dating back to January, but it was new to me. A reporter for Politico named Mike Elk, apparently explaining one of the reasons he’s trying to unionize his employer, said “I can’t work the kind of hours I did when I was 24.”

Elk is 28.

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Compare and contrast: Libya and Wisconsin

Posted by Richard on March 18, 2011

Like me, Daffyd was struck by the irony of public employee union protesters and their bused-in supporters in Madison, Wisconsin, using the slogan "This is what democracy looks like!" Unlike me, he thought to draw a parallel with events in Libya (and Egypt, and Iran), and to formulate a test for determining whether a protest movement is furthering democracy (emphasis in original):

I see a very simple test, derived from the rule enunciated by Ann Coulter anent the potential need for a union. Last month, the hot-right chick wrote:

The need for a union comes down to this question: Do you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money? In the private sector, the answer is yes. In the public sector, the answer is a big, fat NO.

I understand the distinction the blonde bombard is making, though I still disagree with her formulation; if you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money, your best bet is still Capitalism: Get some "hand" in the game by making yourself a more valuable employee, then negotiate a raise or promotion.

Still, the Coulterism is succinct and full of pith, easily adaptable to the distinction between Libya and Madison. Let's phrase it thus:

  • If you're protesting because neither election nor even dissent is allowed, then what you have is an uprising of freedom.
  • If you're protesting because you lost the election — then what you have is an anti-democratic, totalitarian front.

See? Politics needn't be abstruse or recondite. Betimes the most basic rules are best.

Just a reminder: Gov. Walker campaigned on the bill that the union protesters protested against, and he won. The Republicans elected to the legislature (in a massive state-wide wipe-out of Democrats) promised to support Walker's bill, and they won. So "what democracy looks like" is exactly what the union thugs objected to.

As Daffyd noted, the union protesters' effort was anti-democratic. In fact, given the numerous death threats against Republican state legislators — totally ignored by the MSM, of course — I'd call it fascism.

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Refusing foreign help with oil spill cleanup

Posted by Richard on June 16, 2010

The President's first Oval Office address, on Day 57 of the Gulf oil spill, was mercifully brief. But it was also pretty light on content. Stephen Green summarized one of its main points nicely: "Hurricanes are easy. Leaks are hard."

The President insisted that his administration is in complete control and right on top of this thing, and that they've got the best scientists and experts advising them. But he failed to explain why the administration ignored the experts' advice — and in fact misrepresented it — regarding the offshore drilling moratorium announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

There was the predictable pitch for a "new energy economy" — the absurd argument that the government can create jobs for everyone and make us all better off by forcing families and businesses to switch to energy sources costing up to ten times as much as coal and oil.

The President also didn't explain why his administration has turned down a baker's dozen offers of help from foreign governments that have the equipment and expertise to greatly speed the oil cleanup. But the Heritage Foundation has an explanation: 

… Just three days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Dutch government offered to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms and proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands. LA Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) supported the idea, but the Obama administration refused the help. Thirteen countries have offered to help us clean up the Gulf, and the Obama administration has turned them all down.

According to one Dutch newspaper, European firms could complete the oil spill cleanup by themselves in just four months, and three months if they work with the United States, which is much faster than the estimated nine months it would take the Obama administration to go at it alone. The major stumbling block is a protectionist piece of legislation called the Jones Act which requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. But, in an emergency, this law can be temporarily waived, as DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff did after Katrina. Each day our European allies are prevented from helping us speed up the cleanup is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die.

Now, why do you suppose such an internationalist would blow off all those offers of help from our European allies and insist on us going it alone? Why would he refuse to temporarily suspend a stupid 90-year-old protectionist law at the cost of greatly increasing the damage to the Gulf Coast environment and the livelihoods of its residents? Two words: labor unions. 

Or maybe Rush Limbaugh is right, and the Obama administration doesn't want a quick resolution to the problem. Maybe this is another one of those fortuitous (for them) crises that Rahm Emanuel doesn't want going to waste. It's an opportunity to further extend the reach of the federal government, to tightly regulate and control another significant sector of the economy, to ram through "cap-and-tax" or something similar.

Or maybe it's just incompetence and ineptness.

Stupid? Evil? Or simply in the pocket of the labor unions? I don't know. But I can't think of a fourth alternative. 

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Compulsory union membership — for the self-employed

Posted by Richard on February 13, 2010

Just when you think you've heard it all, along comes a story like this one from Michigan, via John Stossel:

Michelle Berry runs a day-care business out of her home in Flint, MI. She thought that she owned her own business, but Berry's been told she is now a government employee and union member. It's not voluntary. Suddenly, Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have learned that union dues are being taken out of the child-care subsidies the state sends them. The "union" is a creation of AFSCME, the government workers union, and the United Auto Workers.

So, instead of paying the child care subsidy to the people being subsidized — the qualifying child care consumers — the state pays it directly to their providers. And one day, it just told those providers, "We're taking some of the money you're owed and sending it to the union that we've made you a part of." 

This illustrates one important reason why these liberal statists are so opposed to vouchers or credits, whether for education, child care, or whatever, even though it's simple, direct, and eliminates a lot of overhead and bureaucratic nonsense. It's not just about helping "those in need," as they claim — it's about control. If they send a voucher or subsidy payment directly to "those in need," they can directly control only the consumers they're subsidizing. By inserting the state into the transaction as a middleman, they can control both parties to the transaction. 

Patrick Wright, a lawyer for the Mackinac Center, says the union was forced on the women after a certification election conducted by mail in which only 6,000 day-care providers out of 40,000 voted. Wright told me his clients, like Berry, say they were "shocked" to learn they were suddenly in a union.

They want nothing to do with the union. One of my clients has said, “Look, this is my home, I’m both labor and management here.” They’ve wanted nothing to do with this union and don’t think that it has any purpose besides than to siphon money away from them.

Michigan isn't the only state funding unions this way.

Fourteen states have now enabled home-based day-care providers to be organized into public-employee unions, affecting about 233,000 people.

Mackinac sued Michigan on behalf of the day-care owners, but the case was dismissed. They have appealed. Neither Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Department of Human Services, nor the union would talk to me about this. Last month, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash proposed a law that would end "stealth" unionization of private entrepreneurs.

I'm not surprised that this is happening in Michigan. If it's anti-liberty, anti-business, and anti-growth, the government of Michigan is probably doing it. I'm surprised, though, that 14 other states are pulling this outrageous scam. But I guess if it benefits a public employee's union, plenty of state legislators everywhere will fall all over themselves to support it. They've been bought and paid for by those unions.

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More union thuggery

Posted by Richard on August 11, 2009

If it's the opponents of socialized medicine who are an angry mob, how come they're the ones who keep getting beaten? Via Gateway Pundit comes news of another assault by a union thug, this time in New Hampshire:

This is how Chicago-style politics are played out:

Obama: "They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun"
Obama to His Followers: "Get in Their Faces!"
Obama on ACORN Mobs: "I don't want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I'm angry!"
Obama To His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”

A tea party protester was accosted by one of Obama's union thugs today.
He was just following orders.
GraniteGrok reported, Via Free Republic:

One of the Free Staters was accosted by either an SEIU or AFSCME union thug. The story, corroborated by several sources, is that the Free Stater said something that the Union thug did not like and hauled off and spit into his video camera and then kicked him in the groin.

The camera was running so hopefully it will surface soon. I have asked that if anyone knows the Free Stater to see if he would come over and talk with us.

At Confederate Yankee, a report about a union-sponsored health care town hall in North Carolina suggests that maybe the rank and file members aren't as sold on government-run health care as their leaders would like.

But inside the President's town hall meeting, everything was friendly and wonderful. Especially that adorable little girl asking Obama why the people outside had such mean things on their signs — the little girl that was a plant!

UPDATE: Speaking of plants, it looks like the guy with the "Obama as Hitler" poster was a plant, too. Before Rep. John Dingell's town hall meeting, he paraded the poster around for the media, providing "evidence" to back up Pelosi's absurd assertion. After the meeting, he was handing out Dingell flyers.

What are the odds that the swastika at the Georgia congressman's office was planted, too, a la the noose at Columbia University and numerous similarly faked incidents? I'd say they're pretty good.

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Hundreds rallied for Gladney at St. Louis SEIU office

Posted by Richard on August 10, 2009

The St. Louis Tea Party held a rally at the local Service Employees International Union office Saturday protesting the beating and hospitalization of Kenneth Gladney by SEIU goons on Thursday. The Tea Party's Bill Hennessey reported (emphasis added):

Over 300 people gathered in front of SEIU Headquarters on Pershing Saturday to thank Ken Gladney for taking punishment for our freedom.  On Thursday, thugs in SEIU uniforms beat and kicked Gladney.  The thugs hate black men who wander off the liberal plantation to speak their minds.  That hatred put Gladney into a wheelchair.  Unable to speak due to pain, medication, and heat, Gladney’s attorney, David Brown, read from a hand-written statement Gladney had prepared the night before. 

According to witnesses, an African-American man wearing an SEIU uniform approached Gladney Thursday about 8:30 p.m. as Gladney showed his buttons and flags to the wife of a minister.  The SEIU thug said, “Why is a n***** handing out ‘Don’t tread on me’ flags,” before punching Gladney to the ground.  According to video taken at the scene by numerous witnesses, other SEIU thugs joined in to kick and beat Gladney.  “Don’t tread on me,” has become a rallying cry for the Tea Party Movement.

Gladney was at the rally in a wheelchair.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an excellent 3-minute video (top left of page) that includes an interview with Gladney, followed by another black Tea Party member giving a great verbal smackdown to a leftist. 

Rush Limbaugh asked the question today, "Why isn't Kenny Gladney … the new Rodney King?" The answer, of course, is that the mainstream media and the civil rights leadership don't give a rat's ass what happens to a conservative or libertarian black man. 

The contempt and loathing of the left for this man is very much on display at the YouTube video of Saturday's rally, with comments like this: 

TOO FUNNY… This idiot started a fight, got banged up, and guess what… HE HAS NO HEALTH INSURANCE!!!

Right folks- the moron is working to destroy a program that would have given him medical treatment — now he has to take up a collection to pay his medical bills. He's as dumb as the rest of his ignorant friends.

The SEIU guys should've put him out of his misery. 

And this: 

wait until the teamsters get ahold of his ass lmao 

Of course, there are bad people on both sides. According to Jeralyn Merritt (TalkLeft), a "progressive" leader's car was vandalized at the Rep. Perlmutter event Saturday. But while union thugs beating and kicking a man is apparently a source of humor for many on the left, some lout breaking car mirrors evokes outrage.

Merritt wanted to know "What rock did these people crawl out from under?" — implying that such behavior is characteristic of "these people" rather than a rare exception. And at least one of her commenters, cpinva, went stark raving bonkers (and drew no criticism or censure; this comment is rated "topical") (emphasis in original): 

what we have here is a junior version(s) of the infamous bier hall putsch, to be followed by a new kristalnacht against the "others". i suppose at some point, we can expect a right-wing night of the long knives as well.

I mentioned Godwin's Law the other day regarding Pelosi's "They're carrying swastikas" remark. If Godwin's Law were actually enforceable, that comment would have ended all further discussion of the subject at TalkLeft for a very long time.

UPDATE: According to Bill Hennessey, one of the people who was arrested for beating Gladney is an SEIU director, Baptist minister, and (gasp!) community organizer: 

Tea Party researchers have discovered some interesting news on one of the people arrested for beating Ken Gladney.

Elston K. McCowan is a former organizer – now the Public Service Director of SEIU Local 2000 – and board member of the Walbridge Community Education Center, and is a Baptist minister, has been a community organizer for more than 23 years, and now, he is running for Mayor of the City of St. Louis under the Green Party.

McCowan accused the Mayor of setting fire to his van . . . because that’s what big city mayors do in their spare time, I guess.  He also called Slay a racist.  And, on election night, McCowan thanked the family who voted for him.  It was quite touching, actually.

McCowan is not a rank-and-file, card-carrying union guy.  He is a director with SEIU. He IS the union.  He ISSUES the cards.  Andy Stern himself might as well have kicked Gladney.

I guess that means McCowan has Obama's favorite book, Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, in his library. 

HT: Sweetness & Light

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Hypocrisy of the month, with a union label

Posted by Richard on March 22, 2009

The SEIU is one of the most vocal and powerful labor organizations promoting "progressive pro-labor" causes and policies. They spent tens of millions to elect Obama and lots of pro-union congressional Democrats.

Now they're spending staggering sums promoting the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (or "card check"), supposedly to strengthen workers' voices against management (a more accurate name would be Employee Coerced Choice Act, since it denies workers a secret ballot and enables union goons to intimidate them into supporting the union).

So how does the SEIU treat its own employees? Apparently, not in a "progressive pro-labor" manner (emphasis added): 

The Service Employees International Union, considered the most influential union in the nation, has notified the union that represents about 220 of the SEIU's national field staff members and organizers that it is laying off 75 of the employees.

In return, the workers union, which goes by the somewhat postmodern name of the Union of Union Representatives, has filed charges of unfair labor practices against the SEIU with the National Labor Relations Board. The workers union's leaders say that the SEIU is engaging in the same kind of practices that some businesses use: laying off workers without proper notice, contracting out work to temporary-staffing firms, banning union activities and reclassifying workers to reduce union numbers.

"It's completely hypocritical," said Malcolm Harris, president of the workers union. …

Fewer than half of the workers at SEIU chapters are unionized, and Harris's union's contract with SEIU forbids it from trying to help organize SEIU employees in local chapters.

The SEIU's national office has been contracting out more and more work to a staffing agency, Harris said, including advocacy for card check. He said it looks as though SEIU is trying to phase his union out of existence.

SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said the contracting is limited and denied that SEIU is trying to undermine the workers union. "That would be the cynical way of looking at it," she said.

You can't make this stuff up.

(HT: Don Luskin )

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Reporting on the transit strike

Posted by Richard on April 4, 2006

Union workers for the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) went out on strike yesterday, after a Sunday vote in which 55% rejected the agency’s second "last, best, and final offer," which union leaders had tepidly endorsed. A week ago, an overwhelming 95% had voted to reject the first "last, best, and final offer," so RTD sweetened it with a $250 "signing bonus" and an agreement to absorb half of all health insurance increases (the agency currently pays one-third of health insurance premiums).

Denver’s two papers, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, both had stories describing the economics of the dispute, with the latter providing a lesson on how to slant the news. Here’s how the Rocky Mountain News story began:

It is about the money.

For RTD bus drivers, mechanics and support workers, a $1.80-an- hour raise phased in over three years – coming after a three-year pay freeze – isn’t enough, especially given that top managers reaped pay hikes last year that were paid up-front.

For RTD management, a $1.80- an-hour increase is completely fair, the largest wage rate hike in the agency’s history and one endorsed by the union’s negotiating team.

The rest of the Rocky’s story continued in this fashion, contrasting the workers’ perspective and management’s point of view to provide a good picture of where both sides are coming from. It explained that workers are angry about management raises last year, some of which were substantial (up to 52%), but reported RTD’s explanation that those were based on a national survey showing that its management was getting "substantially below market" salaries.

The Rocky’s story is a classic example of how lazy — or time-constrained — journalists practice fairness and impartiality: they tell us what the two sides claim, without adding any obvious bias or manipulation. It’s not particularly admirable. It’s the "who am I to judge?" school of journalism, and it can be a terrible disservice to the readers when what one side is saying is demonstrably false and that isn’t pointed out. But at least it’s impartial.

The Denver Post story, on the other hand, is a classic example of how lazy journalists promote their point of view without having to do the hard work of proving it. The story started right out with a large chart showing "RTD’s top salaries." Then it described workers’ rejection of the offer this way:

Workers for the Regional Transportation District soundly defeated the transit agency’s "final" contract offer Sunday, and many demanded richer, "up front" wage increases as they picketed RTD facilities on the first day of the strike.

The contract offer rejected by workers called for raises of 15 cents an hour four times a year over the next three years.

Notice first that according to the Post, the 55-45% strike vote, down from the earlier 95-5% strike vote, "soundly defeated" the offer. Most other news organizations used the adverb "narrowly."

Notice also how the wage increase was described in cents per hour per three months. Nowhere in the article was the per-hour total increase mentioned, much less a driver’s average annual earnings, or the proposed annual increase. So, nowhere in the story was the word "thousand" or a number in the thousands associated with the workers. Instead, the workers were associated with the word "cents."

The management raises, on the other hand, were described in both the body of the story and the chart at the beginning in annual terms, and thus thousands.

The Post story closed with another graph, this one much smaller and difficult to read, entitled "Transit wages and benefits at a glance" (click on it to open a bigger version, but it’s less than a third bigger and still difficult to read). Judging from it, Denver’s existing wages are similar to those in comparable cities, and its benefits are generally better. Of course, the story showed no such comparison for management salaries, nor did it even mention RTD’s survey of management salaries.

Mind you, I’m not saying that the workers’ complaints aren’t legitimate and management is in the right. In fact, I suspect that if you dug into it, you might conclude that the "competitive survey" of management salaries was biased toward maximizing managers’ pay raises. But that’s not what the Post’s reporters did. Instead, they just created the impression that the workers are victims and the managers are greedy and overpaid without actually having to prove it.

Thanks for the fine example of biased reporting, Denver Post. I’m guessing that staff writers George Merritt and Geoffrey Leib were singing "Solidarity Forever" as they wrote this story.

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Thinking about wages

Posted by Richard on March 27, 2006

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) is facing a strike later this week. Drivers, mechanics, and light rail operators voted overwhelmingly (95%) to reject RTD’s "last, best, and final offer." By law, the union has to give three days’ notice, which I assume they’re doing today.

I haven’t paid enough attention to know who has the stronger, more sympathetic case in the dispute. I heard a union spokesman say the drivers’ wages have been frozen since 2003 and some of the increase RTD offered would be eaten up by health insurance cost increases. I heard an RTD spokesman say the offer included benefit improvements and the largest wage increase in RTD’s history — $1.80 – 2.10 per hour.

But the news clip that got my goat was of a driver declaring in angry, hurt tones, "That ain’t even a loaf of bread!"

Per hour, dammit! A loaf of bread per hour! 40 loaves of bread per week. Is she really unclear on that concept, or was that just a cynical attempt at manipulating viewers’ sympathies?

I suppose it just wouldn’t have the desired effect if she expressed her anger this way: "$72 – 88 per week (plus overtime)? That’s barely enough for a fancy dinner out for two with a decent bottle of wine!"

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