Battle with unions gets hotter

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The fight over the nation’s workforce and businesses is moving towards a boiling point this summer as labor leaders and their members, state governments, private companies, and the federal government do battle over new union legislation,National Labor Relations Board lawsuits, and a presidential executive order.

State legislatures across the country are passing bills that would weaken public employee union’s collective bargaining power. Below are news clips from the past reporting on state chambers that have taken action to at least limit collective bargaining power of the public employee unions. 

Wisconsin:

“Republicans in charge of the Wisconsin Senate have apparently discovered a way to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, bypassing Democrats.”

New Jersey:

“Christie is scheduled to speak with faculty and students at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass., on Friday.

The governor’s proposals to end lifetime teacher tenure, tie educators’ raises to student performance and speed the process for getting rid of bad teachers have drawn national interest.”

Ohio:

“Ohio’s new law affects more than 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public workers. They can negotiate wages and certain work conditions but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. Opponents hope to ask voters this fall to overturn the measure.” 

Oklahoma:

“The Senate on Tuesday sent Gov. Mary Fallin a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from city employees in Oklahoma’s largest cities.

House Bill 1593 passed Tuesday on a 29-19 vote supported entirely by Senate Republicans.

The bill would repeal a state law granting collective bargaining rights to nonuniformed city employees in cities with populations of more than 35,000.”

Massachusetts:

“The Democratic controlled veto-proof majority Massachusetts State House passed a bill on Tuesday curbing municipal employees of of their collective bargaining power.”

The Obama administration is not taking any of this news sitting down. A local NBC affiliate in Ohio interviewed Mr. Obama on Tuesday. He went after states that passed anti-collective-bargaining legislation:

Obama says he strongly disapproves of new laws restricting public employee unions in Ohio and Wisconsin and that states should not use the financial crisis as an excuse to erode bargaining rights.

The report goes on:

Obama tells Robinson: “Whether it’s Wisconsin or what we’re seeing in Ohio, I strongly disapprove.”

Boeing is feeling the heat from the NLRB, as the labor agency filed a complaint against the airplane maker for expanding their production to a non-union state like South Carolina. Former NLRB Chairman Peter Schaumber told Fox News the NLRB’s action was “unprecedented.”

President Obama’s  NLRB is hitting back at right to work (non-union) states like Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah for passing measures that would maintain the secret ballot for workers who can vote on whether they should unionize or not.

Gary Shapiro at Forbes writes: 

“Never before has the federal government told a company it may not relocate within the United States. Never before has the statute used been interpreted to affect a decision on where a product is made. Never before has the Constitutional goal of easing interstate commerce been so trampled by a formal act of the federal government.

This outrageous overreach is unacceptable and will certainly be overturned in time by the federal courts. But the process may take years, and meanwhile a great American company – and one of our nation’s largest exporters – will be hurt irreparably. Imagine the Boeing customers abroad who placed firm orders awaiting their new planes; Airbus must be getting lots of calls and new orders thanks to this decision.”

In fact, a pending executive order from President Obama (h/t CNS News) “would require companies doing business with the federal government to disclose political contributions to independent groups, but would not place the same requirement on public employee unions or federal grant recipients that typically donate to Democrats.”

John Yoo and David Marston at the Wall Street Journal wrote the “President’s executive order threatens to replicate the Prop 8 experience on a nationwide scale.” The piece goes further, saying:

“In fact, it requires the release of contractors’ political contributions in a publicly available electronic database to be posted online as soon as possible. It shouldn’t matter here that disclosure would be the price for doing business with the government. In B oy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), the Supreme Court made it clear that a group did not have to give up its right to associate in exchange for some government benefit.”

The campaign 2012 season will only stoke the fires of these fights. Lawmakers are fundraising for the next election cycle and Democrats need financial as well as political support from the unions, while Republicans want to show their base the GOP is serious about cutting government spending. Expect to see more fireworks.

 

 

 

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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