Yesterday, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis wrote an indignant blog post titled, “Long Overdue: Winning Back Pay and Benefits for Workers,” in which she blasted employers for not making payroll.
She exclaims, “Workers deserve to keep the wages and benefits they earn. That may sound like an obvious statement, but to some employers, it’s not clear at all.” Secretary Solis cites $8 million in back pay and benefits that federal investigators recovered for workers. She maligns employers for not fully contributing to pension funds, as well as violating Service Contract Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (both laws increase government intervention and eliminate voluntary contracts).
General consensus holds that employers or any individual should fulfill voluntary contracts. Putting aside the fact these contracts are not voluntary, overall, employers do understand the simple concept of fulfilling contracts. Unfortunately, as in every other circumstance, bad actors will arise.
However, Secretary Solis’s only points out certain bad actors, specifically job creators, which makes her post come off as disingenuous and exposes her explicit pro-union bias.
Secretary Solis never scorns Big Labor fraud and worker abuse. In fact, she encourages it. Recent Department of Labor rulemakings have decreased union financial disclosure reporting. Secretary Solis did not give a blistering response to the $1 billion Long Island Railroad pension fund scam. The obvious reason for her silence being that union officials were involved in the scam. A pension scam amounting to $1 billion deserves greater reaction when compared to a measly $8 million in back pay spread over 2,000 employees.
Solis continues her tirade on employers for underfunding worker pensions demanding, “Pay your employees and submit their contributions to retirement plans in a timely fashion. These workers did what they were expected to do; yet their employer did not live up to its side of the bargain… The compact of trust between employers and workers should never be broken, and when it is, the Labor Department will take all necessary action to correct wrongdoing.”
Her quote highlights the partisan nature of the Obama administration's labor policy positions. On the Department of Labor website, they list union pension plans that are endangered. Not surprisingly, there are over a hundred unions plans listed. Seemingly, this should warrant a scathing post by Solis to union leadership, demanding that union member retirement funds are fully funded. With her supposed concern for the health of unions and their members, one would expect that pension funding would be on the top of her to-do list. Sadly, the fact is that unions suffer from institutional pension underfunding and Solis couldn’t care less. But if employers do not properly fund their pensions, Solis will become a stickler for the rules.
The Obama administration continues to implement labor policies that treat union members as second-class citizens and undermine the economy. The partisanship of the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board has tilted the balance of power in the workplace overwhelmingly to Big Labor. The agencies only look to enforce regulations on employers and reduce regulations on union bosses. The Obama administration has granted Big Labor, essentially a third party in the workplace, superior rights to employers and employees. If this is Obama’s jobs plan in action, the U.S. economic recovery is in trouble.