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OpenMarket: Labor and Employment

  • Union Employees on Public Payroll Challenged in Pennsylvania Courts

    February 27, 2015 2:35 PM

    A recent lawsuit filed by The Fairness Center, a public interest law firm, is challenging the Philadelphia School District's practice of allowing school employees perform union work on school time, commonly referred to as "release time."

  • Wisconsin Opponents of Right-to-Work Offer Weak Defense of Compulsory Dues Payments

    February 25, 2015 1:22 PM

    Predictably, yesterday, labor unions and its supporters protested outside of the Wisconsin Capitol to voice their displeasure with the right-to-work (RTW) bill that is making its way through the state's legislature.

  • NLRB Ambush Election Rule Weakens Worker Privacy

    February 19, 2015 2:14 PM

    Government should not have the power to force private-sector employers to disclose workers’ private contact information to a third party special-interest group for any cause. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the National Labor Relations Board's new ambush election rule will do.

  • Missouri a Step Closer to Enacting Right to Work

    February 16, 2015 8:00 AM

    Last Thursday, right-to-work passed the Missouri House. The bill, approved 91-64, makes union dues payments in the private-sector voluntary and now awaits a contentious political battle in the Senate.

  • Congress Takes First Shot at NLRB Ambush Election Rule

    February 13, 2015 8:15 AM

    Congress established the National Labor Relations Board as a body made up of neutral arbiters to represent the public in labor disputes. Under the Obama administration, the Board has strayed from its required impartiality to issue rules and decisions that outright favor labor unions over workers and employers.

  • The $7 Billion Slowdown

    February 12, 2015 11:12 AM

    The ongoing logjam at ports on the West Coast could cost American retailers around $7 billion this year, according to the consultancy Kurt Salmon. That’s a lot of money, and huge disruption to the nation’s economy. Of course, it’s impossible to prevent disruptions, including large ones, from ever happening. The problem is that this one was not only easily foreseen, but preventable.

    The recent shutdown, and continuing backlog, has followed a similar pattern as past West Coast port shutdowns. That’s because labor at the ports functions as a cartel that can disrupt commercial shipping easily.

    Shippers must negotiate with the union as a group, through a trade group called the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The union, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), represents dockworkers at ports all down the West Coast. (Unionized port workers on the East and Gulf coasts are represented by the International Longshoremen’s Association.)

    Like railroads and airlines, maritime shipping is a network industry vital to commerce. However, while labor relations at railroads and airlines are covered under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which was designed to avoid major disruptions to commerce, ports are covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which enables disruptions that the RLA doesn’t allow.

    “Railroad crews cannot decide to stop working on the tracks, and airline crews cannot withhold fuel from planes,” explains Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute. “But [port] workers can simply not show up for shifts in Los Angeles and Oakland in order to hold out for higher wages.”

    A clear solution would be for Congress to shift jurisdiction of ports from the NLRA to the RLA, much as it extended the RLA’s jurisdiction to airlines in 1936, 10 years after the original Act’s 1926 passage.

    American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin explains:

    A cornerstone of the RLA is that its purpose, as stated in the statute, is to “avoid any interruption of commerce” while providing for “the prompt and orderly settlement of all disputes” that arise in labor matters. Labor contracts under the RLA do not expire. Instead, they become “amendable” and remain in force until a new agreement is reached.

    If negotiations are not productive, then federal mediation is required before either unions or employers can engage in “self help” like slowdowns, strikes or lockouts. The National Mediation Board, which oversees the process, says that 99% of all of its mediation cases since 1980 have been handled without interruption.

  • Congress Takes First Shot at NLRB Ambush Election Rule

    February 10, 2015 9:56 AM

    Congress established the National Labor Relations Board as a body made up of neutral arbiters to represent the public in labor disputes. Under the Obama administration, the Board has strayed from its required impartiality to issue rules and decisions that outright favor labor unions over workers and employers.

    An example of the Board unfairly administering national labor policy to advance the interests of labor unions is the implementation of its “ambush election” rule. 

    Specifically, the amendments to union election procedures significantly favor unions by limiting debate and time workers have to learn about the pros and cons of union representation. It does so by shortening the time frame between the filing of a petition and the date on which the election is conducted to as little as 11 days from a median of 38 days.

    Another component of the rule, which inappropriately benefits special interests and jeopardizes worker privacy, compels employers to hand over employees’ private information—cell phone, email address, and work schedule—to union organizers. 

    As I note in the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s agenda for Congress, “Government should not have the power to force employers to disclose workers’ contact information to a special-interest group for any cause. That [ambush election] rule would almost certainly expose workers—who would not have the choice of opting out of union organizers’ obtaining their information—to harassment, intimidation, and much higher risk of identity theft.”

  • Treasury Union President: IRS Needs More Money

    February 5, 2015 1:59 PM

    As budget talks heat-up, union officials are making their presence known and that their agencies need more money.

  • Poll: 75% of Ohioans Disapprove of Using Taxpayer Funds to Collect Union Dues

    February 3, 2015 2:45 PM

    Jason Hart, Watchdog.org labor reporter, recently published a story that highlights a new poll from the think tank Opportunity Ohio on Ohioans' opinions of labor unions.

  • GOP Introduces Labor Reform Bills

    February 2, 2015 12:28 PM

    As the 114th Congress kicks-off, labor reform seems to be on the minds of the GOP. On January 28, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced the National Labor Relations Board Reform Act while Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sponsored the National Right to Work Act.

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