NILRR Right to Work News July 13, 2018

Right-to-work nonprofit threatens lawsuits against officials still collecting “fair-share fees” for unions

watchdog.org, July 12, 2018

Last month’s Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case made it illegal for public unions to take what’s been called “fair-share fees” from non-union members as a condition of their employment. This Friday is the first payday that state and local workers who opted out of the union should see their bigger paychecks without those fees deducted.

If they’re not, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation vice president Patrick Semmens said public officials are opening themselves up to costly lawsuits.

“They have an obligation to follow the Constitution,” he said. “When they fail to do so, they could find themselves getting served with a lawsuit.”

In anticipation of a ruling in favor of Janus, some unions put in place parameters that members would have to follow to successfully leave the union. For instance, one Washington-based union only allows their members to opt-out within 15 days of their anniversary of joining. The Supreme Court ruling made clear, Semmens said, about the opt-in nature of its ruling.

“The First Amendment cannot be limited to one week a year,” he said.

State mum on number of union opt-outs

sj-r.com, July 12, 2018

Two weeks ago, the Rauner administration, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus case, set up a web site to inform unionized workers about how much they are paying in union dues and how they could drop out of union representation.

To date, the administration has not said how many workers who previously were full union members have decided to opt out of union representation as a result of the Janus ruling.

At the same time, the union that represents the bulk of state employees said that “hundreds” of people have joined the union as dues-paying members since the Janus decision. It said only a “handful” have quit. The union said it could not provide specific numbers.

NEA Budget Cuts Don’t Include Executives’ Salaries

the74million.org, Mike Antonucci, July 11, 2018

NEA’s national headquarters took in $385 million last year, and its proposed two-year budget will affect virtually every aspect of operations. Vacant staff positions will go unfilled, leading to a reduction of 16 percent of spending on compensation. No layoffs are planned.

But one line item in the budget will actually increase: salaries for the union’s executive officers.

The base salary for NEA president Lily Eskelsen García will increase to $293,434. NEA’s vice president and secretary-treasurer will each receive $257,954. Additionally, all three executive officers receive cash allowances equal to 40 percent of their base salary — at least $103,182 each — to cover benefits and living expenses.

 Vindicating Justice Alito

Wall Street Journal Online, July 11, 2018

Before Janus, here’s what the teachers union did with your fees.

The American Federation of Teachers holds its annual convention this weekend, and its agenda is one long brief for the Supreme Court’s recent Janus ruling that non-members no longer have to subsidize the union’s naked political advocacy.

A resolution denounces Mondelez for moving Nabisco cookie production to Mexico and urges local affiliates to pressure “employers to sell or carry only Nabisco products made in free union workplaces in their schools and on their campuses.” Who knew cookies were a subject of collective bargaining?

Still Pulling the Strings

Even post-Janus, public-employee unions maintain a privileged status.

California Policty Center.org, Larry Sand, July 12, 2018

Taxpayers foot the bill for the collection of union dues, which local school districts deduct from a teacher’s monthly paycheck, just like federal and state withholding taxes. The school districts turn the money over to local teachers’ unions, which don’t pay a penny for the transactions. Simply put, the taxpayer is the bagman for the union. Some states are pushing back, however. A proposed bill in Louisiana would allow school boards to charge unions an administrative fee of up to 3 percent of the union dues.

All unions enjoy tax-exempt status with the IRS.

To add insult to injury, a new bill in California would make union dues tax-deductible. “The bill would cost taxpayers $250 million the first year, $170 million in 2019-20, and $180 million in 2020-21.”

Before, during, and after the Janus proceedings, public unions pumped out a steady stream of clichés, claiming that the court case represented an attempt to “rig the system,” “rig the economy,” and “rig the rules.” But what the Janus decision really did was to bring a semblance of fairness to a system that the unions have been gaming for years.

Letter: Public service and collective bargaining

independentri.com, July 12, 2018

However, in repayment of union support in his narrow victory over Richard Nixon, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988 that afforded public employees the same rights as private sector employees.

Here in Rhode Island, a law was enacted in 1958 that allows government employees to unionize and bargain collectively. It specifically forbids a strike by public employees, especially police, firefighters and teachers. That has not stopped teachers from striking, most notably in Warwick, where a judge finally had union leaders arrested and jailed. He had a change of heart and ordered them released if they promised to go back to the bargaining table. When an agreement was finally reached, the same judge ordered the pay increases be made retroactively, which many teachers regarded as a windfall.

Given the nonconventional nature of the present administration, I wonder if President Trump has considered revoking JFK’s executive order, especially in light of the Janus decision.

Suit Could Cost Cali Union $100 Million

freebeacon.com, July 11, 2018

One of California’s largest labor unions is at the center of a lawsuit that could cost it $100 million in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling overturning forced unionism in the public sector.

Government agency workers are looking to recover the money they paid to the California state chapter of Service Employees International Union as a condition of employment. The class action suit, Hamidi v. SEIU Local 1000, could force the union to refund money taken from 40,000 workers dating back to 2012.

The case was filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation prior to the Janus decision. They are now asking the justices to move beyond ending future coerced unionism and make labor organizations pay back the money taken from unwilling members.

“The union fees seized from the wages of these public employees include a substantial political, ideological, and other nonbargaining component, e.g., expenses for candidate endorsements,” the suit says. It further demands the union provide “Plaintiffs compensatory damages for the injuries sustained as a result of Defendants’ unlawful interference with and deprivation of their constitutional and civil rights including, but not limited to, the amount of agency fees improperly deducted from their wages, nominal damages, and such other amounts as principles of justice and compensation warrant,” as well as attorney fees.

Ruling in union case could pinch campaign spending  

andovertownsman.com, July 12, 2018

The Pioneer Institute estimates that 18 of 20 political action committees in Massachusetts that contribute the most to candidates are labor-related.

“For nearly 40 years, a series of bureaucratic decisions and court rulings have allowed union bosses to dominate the political discourse of our country and our state,” said Paul Craney, executive director of the the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a nonprofit group that frequently criticizes Democratic lawmakers.

“Frankly I’m not sure what the Legislature can do,” said Erin O’Brien, chairwoman of the political science department at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. “The implications of the ruling will make it very difficult for lawmakers to do anything that mandates non-members to pay into the system.”

Trump Changed Controversial Obama-Era Rule That Let Unions Use Medicaid to Collect Dues — They’re Furious

ijr.com, July 12, 2018

Just weeks after public sector unions were dealt a blow with the Supreme Court’s decision on the Janus v. AFSCME case, the Trump administration sent them, as well as his predecessor in office, another message.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reversed an Obama-era rule that allowed Medicaid funds to be diverted to third parties instead of being paid directly to health care providers.

The practice of “provider payment reassignment” was meant to allow states to make payments “for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees.” Since a large number of these providers were in public sector unions, those unions quickly discovered that they could manipulate the system to their own benefit.

Teamsters, Miners, Bakery Unions Join Together To Demand Pension Reform

prnewswire.com, July 12, 2018

More than 10,000 union workers and retirees assembled on the grounds of the Ohio state Capitol today to let members of a joint congressional committee set to meet here tomorrow know they need to act quickly to protect the jeopardized pensions of some 1.5 million people.

Members of the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans are scheduled to hold a field hearing Friday at the state Capitol. The committee, which is comprised of eight senators and eight members of the House evenly divided by party, is tasked with reporting a bill by the end of 2018 that would solve the pension crisis.