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OpenMarket: Government Unions

  • Wisconsin Judge Rules that Workers' Wages are Unions’ Property

    April 10, 2016

    On Friday, April 8, a Wisconsin judge handed unions a surprising victory—surprising because of the argument behind his decision.

    Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed with the argument made by three unions challenging Wisconsin’s right-to-work law that the law is an unconstitutional taking of union property because unions are required to represent people who opt out of joining the union and paying union dues.

    Right to work is not an unconstitutional taking because unions choose to become exclusive representatives. The duty of fair representation is one that unions impose on themselves. Private-sector unions may act as members-only unions and choose not to represent non-members.

    In addition, unions receive something of value as exclusive...

  • Air Traffic Control Reforms Will Give Us Modern Technology, Not Union Giveaways

    April 6, 2016

    Guest Post by David Grizzle
    ​Former Chief Operating Officer and Chief Counsel, FAA

    As the former chief operating officer and chief counsel at the FAA, I saw how the lack of modern technology hampers us from more effectively routing the 2 million people who fly every day. We are one of the few remaining developed countries in the world that relies on paper strips and outdated technology like ground-based radar to direct the most technologically advanced planes the world has seen.

    We have a historic opportunity now to reform air traffic control to enhance safety, provide a steady and reliable funding stream for high-tech projects, and improve the flight experience for consumers. Imagine knowing with certainty when you arrive at the airport for your weekly flight home that you won’t be delayed because of bad weather in another part of the country...

  • Illinois Pension Reform that Can Pass State Supreme Court Muster

    April 6, 2016

    When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

    That seems like such a simple concept that it shouldn’t need stating, but in the area of public pension reform, it’s often proven difficult to implement.

    For states facing huge pension shortfalls, it means to stop adding to the total of pension liabilities. When it has been implemented, as in Utah, it has worked.

    Better yet, it can be implemented in states whose constitutions prevent lawmakers from making any changes to pension obligations—as in Illinois, where a judge struck down a Chicago reform law on precisely those grounds.

  • State Legislatures Can Dampen Friedrichs Ruling's Blow to Worker Freedom

    March 29, 2016

    Today, the Supreme Court announced a 4 to 4 spilt decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a decision that keeps alive the Abood precedent that forces non-union members to pay union dues as a condition of employment with state and local governments.

    Government unions had a lot at stake. With the spilt decision, government unions will continue to collect millions of dollars in compulsory dues payments from librarians, bus drivers, teachers, and all sorts of other public employees across the country.

    The plaintiffs, public school teachers from the state of California, argued that forced union dues payments amounted to forced political speech and a violation of their First Amendment rights. In essence, the teachers argued that government unions are inherently...

  • Illinois' Narrow Road to Pension Reform

    March 28, 2016

    On March 24, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a Chicago pension reform bill that sought to address the city’s considerable pension shortfall. In addition to posing a setback for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to fix the city’s finances, the ruling highlights a problem some states face in attempting to bring their pension liabilities under control.

    As the late, great Yogi Berra would put it, last week’s ruling was déjà vu all over again. Last week’s ruling echoes a May 2015 case, in which the court ruled unanimously that SB1, a modest state pension reform law enacted during the administration of Governor Pat Quinn ran afoul of...

  • The Public Pays for Union Political Activity

    March 21, 2016

    Taxpayer dollars in state and municipal governments across the country are, normally without public knowledge, used to subsidize government union political undertakings. Clearly, this is a misuse of the public’s limited resources.

    The latest example, The Baltimore Sun reports, a Howard County, Maryland audit finds:

    According to the Feb. 24 investigation, four employees of the sheriff’s office improperly used union leave, thus granting Howard County Sheriff James Fitzgerald “county-subsidized campaign labor” not available to his opponents.

    Union leave, which allows government employees to perform union business on the taxpayers’ dime, was used to influence the 2014 primary and general...

  • House Oversight Committee Demands Agencies Reveal Union Subsidy Data

    February 19, 2016

    On February 12, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent out letters to federal agency heads to provide more information on union “official time.”

    They sent the letters in order to inform the public of a practice they likely are unaware of. That is every work day, federal employees are freed from performing their governmental duties and instead perform private union business—void of any public purpose. Taxpayers pay for these employees’ wages, pensions, health care benefits, office space, supplies...

  • Labor Policy Developments to Watch in the New Year

    January 22, 2016

    Labor policy reform was a fast-moving issue during in the past year. At the federal level, labor policy became more tilted in favor of union organizing, while state reform was a mixed bag.

    The National Labor Relations Board changed how union elections are conducted, made determining who your employer is a tough question, and made company email systems a union organizing tool.

    Outside the Beltway, Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state, giving workers the right to forgo paying union dues to a union...

  • Union Subsidy Eliminates So-Called "Free Rider" Problem

    January 6, 2016

    On January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that could provide right to work protections to state and municipal employees across the nation—meaning public employees cannot be required to pay dues to a union or risk being fired.

    At issue is whether government employee unions should be to compel non-members to pay “agency fees,” which cover the costs of collective bargaining, as a condition of employment, in lieu of dues. The current forced dues precedent was established under the 1977 Supreme Court case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.    

    This case is all about worker freedom. No worker should...

  • Will SCOTUS Friedrichs Case Lead to Member-Only Unions?

    January 5, 2016

    Government employee unions have a lot at stake in Supreme Court case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association—especially access to millions of dollars in compulsory “agency fees” from non-members. Worried about the Court ruling for the plaintiff, some union leaders and left-leaning pundits are considering their options.

    One possibility is member-only unions, explored in a November 2015 Century Foundation paper, which notes the advantages for individual union members when unions try to attract them, rather than corral them through compulsory agency dues.

    “One benefit to the members-only...

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