Sunday, February 20, 2011

Union Busting Reaches Fever Pitch In Indiana

Union busting is all the rage these days, and the backlash is just about to be ramped up in earnest.

At the Indianapolis International Airport, CEO John Clark has announced his intention of revoking collective bargaining rights for airport employees. Make serious note here, that nothing happens at the airport without the full consent of Mayor Ballard, who appoints 6 of the 8 board members. IndyStar reporter Bruce Smith, reported on Thursday (Feb 17, 2011):

Jeff Withered, business agent for Operating Engineers Local 399, was blunt in saying negotiations ended abruptly after Clark became involved. He said that smacks of a betrayal of promises by Clark and the Indianapolis Airport Authority board to allow collective bargaining.

"John Clark stopped it and told us to go away for two years," Withered said.

Clark will ask the airport board Friday to begin steps to repeal the ordinance passed in December 2008 that granted collective bargaining rights for airport employees.

The board is expected to hold a hearing March 11 on an ordinance to repeal those collective bargaining rights.

At least three employee groups have shown interest in forming unions.

Airport Board meeting agendas can be obtained by visiting the Board's webpage and clicking on the calendar for board meetings in the upper right hand corner of the page. As of right now, no Board meeting has been added to the calendar for March 11, so keep checking.

Meanwhile the Republican-controlled State Legislature is pushing forward on a large number of bills, all of which hack at one key component after another, of workers rights to collective bargaining or union operations. They want to make collective bargaining illegal for all state workers. They want to prohibit union/government negotiated project labor agreements. They want to increase the size of a project wherein a common wage would have to be determined. They want to limit what can be part of the negotiated package for union contracts in educational institutions.

The idea that a group of American individuals should be legally prohibited from associating with one another and joining together to improve their work environment and pay, is in direct contradiction with the inalienable rights enunciated in our Declaration of Independence.

The real aim of all of these legislative efforts is not to make Indiana more competitive in attracting business. It is to bust the unions, and allow employers to do whatever they want in work conditions and wages. It is also, to reduce the ability of unions to lobby for better laws and to contribute money and manpower to Democratic candidates.

For much of this week, the Central Indiana Labor Council plans rallies at the Statehouse. The schedule is:
Monday, February 21 -- 9 am
Tuesday, February 22 -- 10 am
Wednesday, February 23 -- 10 am
Thursday, February 24 -- 10 am

The Central Indiana Jobs With Justice is focusing on the hearings on HR1468, the so-called 'right to work' bill. That hearing begins at 9 am, Monday, February 21, in room 156A in the basement of the Statehouse. If you cannot be there, even though Monday is a holiday (thanks to unions, by the way), you can watch live video feed from the Statehouse through the Legislature website, by clicking on the 'Watch Indiana General Assembly Live' button in the right hand corner of the home page.

Unions may represent a small fraction of workers in our State. But there can be no mistaking the positive influence of those contracts on the rest of us.


Nicolas Martin said...

Unions are a menace. Their sole purpose is to gain a monopoly over labor, thereby driving up costs. That is, they are cartels, and particularly destructive in that they frequently resort to intimidation and violence to achieve their aims.

Unions have a right to exist in a free society. What they want, though, is to mandate that they be recognized and accepted by employers, and to continue to be exempt from punishment for acts of violence. Those are not rights that they should have. They also want to continue to compel unwilling workers to become members, or at least to pay dues. These are also not rights that unions justly have.

In the past 50 years, private sector union membership has declined from about a third of the workforce to less than 7 percent, even though the laws are twisted to benefit union organizing. When workers have the choice they rarely choose to be represented by unions. In contrast, union membership by government workers has risen greatly; It is easy for politicians to spend money that isn't theirs. The transfer of money from taxpayers to government employees impoverishes all but the latter, and the politicians whose reelections are supported by union largess.

What unions want is not to retain the right to organize, which is unchallenged by anyone. They want to eliminate the secret ballot, so that pressure can be put on skeptical employees, and they want to retain the power to force unwilling employees to pay dues. Neither party seems willing to challenge union violence.

It is no accident that the history of unions in America is conjoined with the history of organized crime. "Union boss" and "mobster" are almost synonyms. Pro-union logic, which is "You should be forced to pay dues because you benefit from unions even if you are not a member," is virtually identical to the Mafia protection racket imposed on hapless business owners.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Unions do have a right to exist in a free society. At least we can agree there.

This legislation is focused on taking from that right through outright illegalization and through prohibition of key elements of organizing and collective bargaining.

There is a particular focus on the public sector membership in unions, to be sure. But, these employees are not the reason for our economic downturn, nor any general impoverishment.

Why is there a continual call for higher salaries for the top spots in our government - supposedly to attract 'qualified' employees - yet that argument is never made for the folks who day after day actually do the work in our government?

Anonymous said...

"It is also, to reduce the ability of unions to lobby for better laws and to contribute money and manpower to Democratic candidates."

Heaven forbid the legisture and the people of Indiana do anything to threaten that continuing criminal enterprise called the Democratic Party. They all need to go down under prosecution of the RICO statute. The unions and the Democrats should have to live in the same world as the rest of us and by the same rules.

Bradley said...

"Why is there a continual call for higher salaries for the topspots in our government - supposedly to attract 'qualified'employees - yet that argument is never made for the folkswho day after day actually do the work in our government?"

Amen, Pat. I know this exists at numerous levels and types of government agencies, but since Governor Daniels came into office, the gulf between higher-level managers and the underlings has become pronounced. He has made a great name for himself (as George Will blushes on and on about) when cutting state government down to 1978 levels -- especially by eliminating "middle managers". At the Department of Workforce Development, he did that (getting rid of people with 30+ years of experience, etc.) and bringing-in "bright" business people (who had little-to-no experience with unemployment, re-employment, etc.) Also, the highest positions at DWD were increased from 3 to 9 (commissioners/deputy commissioners).

These people (there are currently 8 with a space for 9th) earn between $85,000 and $105,000 per year. DWD now has between 22-24 "Director"-level positions -- above a supervisor, but below a deputy commissioner -- who typically earn between $47,000-$81,000 per year. These positions, too, have increased under the governor. Altogether, these "executives" earn close to $2,000,000 in annual salaries (with, of course, public pensions and health benefits so deridingly stated by "fiscal-minded" people when average state employees get those benefits).

The person working on your typical unemployment claim in Indiana starts (if they are full-time, which many are not) at about between $21,000 and $23,700 per year. This is a job that entails reading, understanding, and applying unemployment laws from both the state and federal levels.

So while Daniels has actually increased the highest levels at DWD for the personal benefit of many cronies (sounds like what Democrats are usually accused of) and with little-to-no oversight of what they do, the average joe who does the brunt of work at DWD makes paltry wages while simultaneously having no way of collective bargaining. The heads of DWD don't have to worry about collective bargaining because they got a sweet bargain working in a government job because of who they know (and the other part of that rhyme), who they voted for or gave money to, and where the pay is good, they can do what they want with no reprecussions, and they get benefits their comrades deride.

By the way, Indiana now has one of the worst unemployment programs in the state -- giving away over a billion dollars the last five years to claimants who should not have been paid, taking long times to pay deserving claimants, adjudicating with the worst quality in the country, and having a new computer system (contracted to a friend of the Republican family) that is over 3 years and tens of millions of dollars over the original budget. This has all happened since 2005.

Why don't the Republicans in the General Assembly -- if they are actually concerned about fiscal conservatism, look into all this? Because it would hit too close to home.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Martin, who is obivously as objective as Mitch Daniels is, does not seem to understand history very well, as most the violence associated with unions were union-busting goons that actually have killed people over trying to organize, and this has happened the world over.

Those "costs" you talk about are someone elses wages; wages that arent flushed down the toilet but are spent demanding consumer goods and other services-Money and power are only bad when they might be available to the average citizen (the extraordinary power of corporations in lobbying congress and the federal government is nothing to be worried about.

As far as the right to work laws are concerned, they strike at the heart of being free to form unions.
Mr. Martin says we have the right in a free society to form unions, but he doesnt agree that we actually ahve the ability to form them! Brilliant obfuscation of the right continues unabated.

As for corruption, Wall Street has stolen more money than any group of organized crime, ask the people whose 401ks were tanked by the securitization of mortgage debt. If corruption precludes formation, than corporations dont have a right to exist!

Most choose not to form unions? Americas largest employer is Wal-mart; if you think they are satisfied with their wages, you must own a lot of stock in the company. State workers do not make more than the private sector (including benefits); not true in Indiana, and from the statistics Ive seen, not true anywhere. But then, I doubt you want me to confuse you with facts, as you dont have the courage to stand up to the real power in the world, and that is corporations.

Yes, union membership has declined to 7 percent as the jobs have fled to China; so what is your point, that people are better off? Why dont you admit that you dont give a damn about anyone but yourself?
Why these ridiculous concerns about the taxpayer, when Mighty Mitch has wasted more on the IBM welfare contract than on anything the teachers are asking for?

Half the people in the United States dont pay any substantive federal taxes because all the moeny is with the upper 10 percent-which suits you just fine

Stop the populist rhetoric with the aristocratic bent-its fundamentally dishonest; you wont be happy until capital owns everything and the working man is a pauper!

Anonymous said...

Mr Martin, you have no idea what your talking about. You are another uneducated individual bad mouthing something you know nothing about. I guess you need to put yourself in others shoes before you make those statements. Talk to the people who have worked nonunion ( in construction) & see for yourself the conditions they have ( no benefits for their family, minimum wages, no vacations, & no paid overtime. I see & talk to them daily, as many have left their slave driving conditions for conditions that allow a person a decient living. Your electricity come to you by our hard work. We earn every cent & work to give you the conveniences you expect around the clock, rain or ice, yet you people continue to discount our skill, knowledge, work, dedication, & our lives. You continue to spit in our face, even though your 8 hour work week, paid vacations, insurance, etc. are brought to you by our forefathers blood & hard work. Do you really trust police, fire, electric, etc to be done by illegals, because that's what's coming. I know my life is worth as much as yours, & and in our field of work, it's extremely dangerous( more of what you probably know nothing about) , & we put our life on the line for everyone, no matter race or political party. There is no bullying, no making anyone join. We join by choice, & are not all democrats or republicans. we are a brotherhood, a family, that helps each other out in times of need, & are first to step up to help even people like you, who talk, but have no idea what you are really talking about. Look at the facts, union construction has less accidents, higher skilled professionals, who care about what they do, & give you what you expect, a quality product for the money you pay. I'm sure I probably wasted my time writing this, but i can't stand people bring up BS excuses why unions are bad ( mafia, really, clearly we are not!

Nicolas Martin said...

Perhaps it would be helpful if those posters herein who are members of public sector unions, thereby having a personal stake in the issue, would identify themselves. My stake is that I'm a taxpayer, and a person who disapproves on principle of transferring confiscated wealth from the class of taxpayers to the class of tax recipients. The most important right that is abridged in the case of government workers' unions is that of working Americans to keep their own money, and then to invest and spend as they see fit.

Nothing before the legislature could prevent unions from organizing, but they should be prevented from doing so by trespassing, or by threatening employers and prospective members. All contracts with public employees should be open to public scrutiny: nothing should be secret from the people who are forced to pay the bills. Violence and threats by unions should be treated just as violence by any other persons, with the special immunities now afforded by law.

The idea that higher salaries attract more "qualified people" to government is a hoax. And I won't disagree that the Democrats, as well as the Republicans are criminal gangs. One thousand wrongs do not make a right.

I don't pretend to be "objective" about unions, any more than I would have been about slavery or war. To be "objective" is not the same as to be correct, nor is to lack objectivity the same as being wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Martin, for speaking your mind. I have worked in union shops all my life and never saw where they were getting me anything that those who work in non-union shops were getting. I object to being forced to donate money out of every pay to finance the union bosses big salaries, and to push forward the socialist, America hating Demoocrat party. I want to see those organized union thugs run into the state prison right along with Republicans who cut sweet deals for their business friends.

Central Indiana Jobs with Justice said...

The fight at the State House is about so much more than union busting. The people passing right to work are the same people destroying public education, capping minimum wage and blaming fiscal mismanagement on the public employees.

For anyone wanting to fight for the middle class and restoring fairness in the workplace, since CEO salaries are more than 400 times those of workers, we need you at the state house this week.

Thursday starting at 9:00 a.m., then faith service at 10:30 followed by a rally at 12:30. See you there! (317) 450-4019

Anonymous said...

Give the commie class warfare rhetoric a rest. Those responsible for fiscal mismanagement must be rooted out and removed, and punished when possible. Nobody gets a pass. Right now we're trying to deal with the destructive effect of union thieves and thugs on Indiana jobs. Good luck peddling your Che Guevara t-shirts and SEIU coffee cups.

Nicolas Martin said...

Who funds Central Indiana Jobs with Justice?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Nicolas - like the Chamber of Commerce, JwJ is an organization of organizations. Not sure about the Chamber, but JwJ also allows individuals to be members. I assume the membership carries the cost of operations for each organization.