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OpenMarket: Government Unions

  • 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...

  • In Friedrichs v. CTA, Supreme Court Can Strike a Blow for Free Speech

    January 4, 2016

    Oral arguments in one of the most important Supreme Court labor cases in years are set for January 11, with potential major implications in the one area where unions remain strong—government work.

    The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was brought by a California school teacher who objects to paying for representation she doesn’t want to an organization that pushes a political agenda she doesn’t support. The plaintiff, Rebecca Friedrichs, seeks a remedy to unions’ ability to compel non-members at a unionized workplace to pay for union representation.

    Unions collect those non-member payments, known as “agency fees,” in lieu of full-fledged union dues, supposedly to address what they call the “free rider” problem of the union having to...

  • Workers Deserve Labor Law Reform

    September 4, 2015

    Unions use Labor Day as an occasion to remind workers of their past good deeds and deploy their usual rhetoric claiming to have workers’ best interests at heart.  

    In theory, labor unions represent workers in order to secure better working conditions and compensation, but unions don’t always work that way. Unfortunately, unions always negotiate one-size-fits-all contracts that make them the sole representative of those workers. Besides bargaining for contracts that are not responsive to all workers’ needs, labor unions commonly advocate for more coercive power that harms worker rights.

    Unions use their vast political funds to advance legislation and regulation that keep in place an outdated system of exclusive representation where workers lose autonomy in contract negotiations at organized workplaces—ensuring that individual workers have no right to negotiate with...

  • Democrats vs. Government Unions

    December 29, 2014

    If late House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s famous saying that all politics is local has a corollary, it may be that politics is at its most substantive at the local level. While the people’s elected representatives in Congress—many from safe districts—trade ideological barbs, state and local elected officials often have to deal in the language of dollars and cents, as they weigh policy decisions that directly affect their constituents.

    That in turn creates different conflicts than those found on Capitol Hill. And nowhere is that more visible than in the growing conflict between state and local Democratic elected officials trying to put their governments’ finances in order. As the Manhattan Institute’s Daniel DiSalvo explains:

    Public...

  • CalPERS: It Came from Sacramento

    October 7, 2014

    “Heads I win; tails you lose.” That essentially sums up the relationship the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) has long enjoyed vis-à-vis the Golden State’s elected officials. Now it is finally facing a serious challenge.

    Last week, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that cities must treat bondholders and pensions in like fashion. Judge Christopher Klein of the Eastern District of California said he would decide by the end of October how to apply the ruling to the bankruptcy of the City of Stockton, but it seems unlikely that pensions will escape cuts altogether, while bondholders are forced to take haircuts. 

    As The New York Times reported on the case:

    ...
  • Moody’s $2 Trillion Public Pension Shortfall Estimate Highlights Need for Better Pension Accounting Practices

    October 1, 2014

    In a new report, Moody’s estimates the nation’s largest pension funds face a $2 trillion taken together. That’s a lot of money. But as significant as the size of the deficit is Moody’s criticism of how many pension funds have been managed, and pension fund’s reporting of their own liabilities. Bloomberg reports:

    “Despite the robust investment returns since 2004, annual growth in unfunded pension liabilities has outstripped these returns,” Moody’s said. “This growth is due to inadequate pension contributions, stemming from a variety of actuarial and funding practices, as well as the sheer growth of pension liabilities as benefit accruals accelerate with the passage of time, salary increases and additional years of service.”

    ...
  • Study Proves Economic Harm of Collective Bargaining

    July 30, 2014

    A new CEI study by economist Lowell Galloway and public policy expert Jonathan Robe demonstrates the harmful economic effects of unionization on a state-by-state basis.

    Among the states most adversely affected by unionization, Michigan has suffered the most with a 23.1 percent loss in real per capita income because of unionization since 1964. Michigan is the latest state to abandon forced unionism by passing a right to work law, and Michigan workers are probably kicking themselves for not passing one sooner.

  • Obama Claim Spurious; Labor Unions Furious; New Ranking Curious

    July 28, 2014

    Coauthored with Alex Bolt.

    President Barack Obama spuriously claimed, "These so-called right-to-work [RTW] laws, they don't have anything to do with economics," when he futilely attempted to thwart Michigan’s enactment of a right-to-work law.

    A new study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute demolishes Obama’s spurious claim by showing how RTW laws, which free workers from a mandate to join a union in order to be employed, benefit states.  RTW laws produce better income, population, and job growth than in forced-unionism states.

  • Did Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Violate the Hatch Act?

    July 21, 2014

    Sadly, but unsurprisingly, it appears that former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis may have violated the Hatch Act—which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty—by soliciting funds for President Obama’s reelection campaign during work hours.  

    The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darell Issa (R-Calif.), broke the story when it released a voicemail of Solis calling a Department of Labor subordinate “off the record” to get help for Obama’s 2012 campaign. The release of the voicemail came as a result of a larger investigation into the Obama administration’s political activity during the 2012 election cycle....

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