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OpenMarket: Labor and Employment

  • SOTU Watch: New Labor Secretary

    February 24, 2009 7:49 PM

    The Senate confirmed Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as Secretary of Labor this afternoon. It will be worth watching whether President Obama acknowledges her confirmation in his State of the Union speech tonight -- and if so how prominently. Even as the momentum for card check slows down, Solis's confirmation is a big win for organized labor, whose agenda she has consistently promoted.

    For more on labor issues in the State of the Union , see here.

    For more on Solis, see here.

    For more on card check, see here.

  • SOTU Watch: Energy Claims

    February 24, 2009 4:27 PM

    The President might make various remarks relating to energy tonight. These are likely to center around grandiloquent claims as to the effectiveness of "green jobs" and alternative energy in saving the economy, not to mention the planet. Here are a few notes on the reality of these claims.

  • SOTU Watch: Card Check

    February 24, 2009 4:12 PM

    In President Obama's State of the Union speech tonight, one thing to watch for is mention of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- or lack of the same.

    As news reports have noted, the Obama administration has put EFCA, also known as the card check bill, on the back burner in the face of the current economic crisis.  At the same time, some Congressional Democrats from swing districts and states now find themselves stuck in a hard place between EFCA's growing unpopularity and organized labor's aggressive stance in favor of it. Considering how much Democratic candidates rely on union support in elections, to incur union bosses' wrath by not supporting EFCA would be uncomfortable for them indeed.

    So the question in labor policy now is: Which will prevail tonight and in the coming months, strident union demands or sober economic reality?

    President Obama observed recently that, “If we are losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize.” His observation is correct, though it is worth adding that foisting unionization on more companies at this time is no way to promote job creation. EFCA would do just that, by empowering union organizers to circumvent secret ballot elections. The President has said that he would sign this bill, if passed by Congress. Given the current state of the economy, the possibility of his not pursuing this would be welcome.

    For more on card check, see here and here.

  • Carney Takes on Stimulus on Liddy, Osorio Takes on Card Check

    February 23, 2009 6:51 PM

    Today, I was on the G. Gordon Liddy Show, to discuss the current prospects of the misleadingly named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which, as the Washington Examiner reported today, has put some centrist and swing-state Democrats in a difficult position. To date, the more that people learn about the details of EFCA, the less they like it, as a recent poll shows.

    Also on the show today was former CEI Brookes Fellow Tim Carney, discussing earmarks in the gargantuan stimulus bill.

    Audio here.

    Tim is on at 4:16. I'm on at 30:47.

  • Top Ten Federal Rules to Jettison -- According to Small Businesses

    February 22, 2009 8:26 PM

    The Small Business Administration's Regulatory Review and Reform initiative (r3) has a new compilation of rules that need reform, according to small businesses across America who were asked to submit comments. The unpopular regulations come from all across the federal government's swarm of agencies: IRS, Transportation, Labor, EPA. These are the kind of reforms that count as genuine stimulus,, and should be duplicated on a grand scale with a bipartisan "Regulatory Reduction Commission." In any event, the small-business "Top Ten" will be selected in the Spring. During this economic crisis, Congress and the President should relentlessly be asked: "What are you doing to reduce the cost of employing workers and of investing?"

  • To Know Card Check is to Hate it

    February 19, 2009 3:16 PM

    A recent survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted in January by the consultancy McLaughlin & Associates, finds an overwhelling majority opposed to the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), when they find out what the legislation actually entails.

    Three out of four voters (74%) oppose the "The Employee Free Choice Act”. It is interesting to note, union households also strongly oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, 74% oppose to only 20% support....

    When given a more detailed description of the Employee Free Choice Act, nearly 9 out of 10 voters, 86%, feel the process should remain private and only 8% feel it should be public information. Again, even union workers feel strongly that the process should be kept private, as 88% said private and only 8% said public....

    Four out of five voters, or 82%, favor having a federally supervised election as a means to “protect the individual rights of workers”.

    For more on EFCA, see here and here. (Thanks to Christine Hall for the tip.)

  • Obama's Futile Attempts at Foreclosure Avoidance

    February 18, 2009 12:01 PM

    If the government wants to spend $75 billion to help troubled homeowners, it would be better off giving a tax holiday to families subject to foreclosure, rather than attempts to stop the foreclosure from occurring that often have unintended consequences.

  • NADA report proves California waiver would create regulatory patchwork

    February 13, 2009 5:24 PM

    A front-burner issue facing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson is whether to grant a waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to implement first-ever greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for new motor vehicles. Thirteen other states are poised to adopt the CARB program if Jackson grants the waiver. In all, about 40% of the U.S. auto market would come under the CARB rules.

    Jackson's predecessor, Stephen Johnson, rejected CARB's application  in December 2007.  His reasons, published in the Federal Register in March 2008, may be summarized as follows. EPA's historic practice has been to grant CARB waiver requests to address air pollution threats arising from circumstances specific to California--its topography, regional meteorology, and number of vehicles. In contrast, global climate change is, well, global. Conditions associated with global climate change in California are not sufficiently different from those in other states to justify a separate emissions program.

    This argument, which is tantamount to saying that EPA won't allow CARB to combat global warming because global warming is bad for people everywhere, predictably elicited scorn from California politicians and environmental groups.

    "Patchwork Proven," a new report by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), presents two compelling arguments against granting the waiver that Johnson should have made.

  • The Birthday of an Entrepreneur

    February 13, 2009 11:24 AM

    February is an important month in the history of American commerce. In a few days will be the birthday of one of the country’s earliest business innovators and large-scale entrepreneurs.

  • UNITE-HERE to Disunite?

    February 9, 2009 7:11 PM

    UNITE-HERE, the 450,000-member textile and hospitality union, is embroiled in a "civil war," according to its president, who is now openly considering breaking up the union. UNITE-HERE was created as a result of a 2004 merger between the United Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees (UNITE) and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE). The New York Times explains the logic behind the merger:

    On paper, the marriage made sense, besides making for the catchy Unite Here name. Unite — the descendant of two illustrious New York unions, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union — had lots of money to organize workers, but few workers left to unionize because so many apparel jobs had moved overseas. At the same time, Here was starved for cash, but saw an ocean of hotel and restaurant workers to unionize.

    The idea was that once the unions merged, Unite’s ample treasury — it owns Amalgamated Bank, the only union-owned bank in the nation — would underwrite a surge in organizing.

    But now the marriage is on the rocks. The merged union, comprising two disparate industries, maintained a dual leadership structure -- Bruce Raynor, who headed UNITE before the merger, became General President, while former HERE chief John Wilhelm became president of UNITE-HERE's hospitality division.

    Now Raynor is accusing Wilhelm of wasting what were UNITE's resources and trying to take over the union. He and some of his allies filed a federal suit accusing Wilhelm of violating the union's constitution and going beyond their authority. Wilhelm says that he has respected constitutional procedure, and in turn accuses Raynor of a power grab. The rhetoric is getting heated.


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