Out in the Cold

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big labor dragonBy Richard McCarty

Last year, Big Labor gambled on Democrats, and they lost big at both the state and federal level. Now they find themselves out in the cold in many places.

One of those places is Kentucky. Prior to the 2016 elections, Republicans held the Kentucky governorship and the state Senate, while Democrats held a 53-47 majority in the state House of Representatives. Big Labor fought hard to keep the Democrats in control of the state House, but their efforts were in vain – Republicans routed the Democrats picking up 17 seats.

As a consequence of last year’s elections, the new state legislature quickly passed a right to work bill that lets employees decide for themselves if they want to join a union, a paycheck protection bill (which prohibits the deduction of union dues from wages unless the employee opts in to paying them), and a bill repealing the prevailing wage law (a law that required contractors on certain government contracts to pay wages at or above local union wages).

Governor Matt Bevin signed all three bills into law.

In previous years, the Republican-led state Senate had passed right to work legislation only to watch it die in the Democrat-run state House.

Another place where unions find themselves out in the cold is Missouri. Republicans there have tried to enact right to work legislation for the past several years, but were stymied by the Democrat governor, Jay Nixon, who was unable to run for reelection last year due to term limits.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate, Eric Greitens, ran on enacting right to work; the Democrat gubernatorial candidate, Chris Koster, ran on opposing right to work and received generous union support. But in the end, union support wasn’t enough, and Greitens defeated Koster by nearly six points in November.

Republican legislators wasted little time in once again passing a right to work bill, and Greitens signed it into law. Now, the legislature is considering reforming its prevailing wage law and passing paycheck protection legislation.

And not only have unions lost a number of political battles — they’re also losing members. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 240,000 fewer US union members in 2016 than there were in 2015. In 1983, 20.1 percent of the US labor force belonged to a union; in 2016, only 10.7 percent of the labor force belonged to a union.

The overall rate would have been much lower if the public sector union membership rate were not so high, but both sectors have seen union membership declines last year. Between 2015 and 2016, the private sector union membership rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.4 percent while the public sector union membership rate fell from 35.2 percent to 34.4 percent.

And the bad news for unions didn’t stop there: union members tend to be a bit older, most states saw declining union membership last year, and voters’ views of union bosses aren’t very good. The age group most likely to belong to a union was 45-64 year olds — 13.3 percent of workers in that age group belonged to a union. During 2016, union membership rates fell in 31 states, remained flat in 3 states, and rose in 16 states.

According to a Rasmussen poll taken last year, only 20 percent of likely voters believed that most union bosses do a good job of representing their members. At the same time, 57 percent believed that union bosses are out of touch with most of their members.

Facing facts like these, it’s time for union bosses to get serious about providing real value for their members, stop wasting their members’ money on pet projects, and stop playing political games.

One way that private sector unions could do this would be to start working with, rather than against, President Trump and help him achieve his goals of bringing back jobs from overseas and keeping existing jobs, issues that Democrats have neglected for years and where there may now be common ground with President.

Richard McCarty is a Senior Research Analyst at Americans for Limited Government.

big labor dragon

By Richard McCarty Last year, Big Labor gambled on Democrats, and they lost big at both the state and federal level. Now they find themselves out in the cold in many places. One of those places is Kentucky. Prior to the 2016 elections, Republicans held the Kentucky governorship and the state Senate, while Democrats held […]

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UFCW Loses Again

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ufcwAlthough the UFCW bitterly opposed Right to Work legislation in Missouri, the state’s new governor just signed it into law. With Gov. Eric Greitens’ signature, Missouri became the 28th Right to Work state. Not long ago, the union claimed to have 20,000 members in Missouri; but, according to one labor expert, the UFCW will likely be one of the two unions to bear most of the brunt of the law in the near term.

Individual unions will struggle to convince union members to maintain their membership. Philip Dine, a journalist and author who spent more than two decades as a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, says the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are the two unions that are likely to feel the most immediate impact of the new law.

“UFCW and Teamsters are pretty strong in the St. Louis area. But the grocery store workers in the UFCW are going to come under a lot of pressure. A lot of those jobs don’t pay all that well to start with, so it’s not going to be easy to convince workers that union dues are worth the money,” says Dine…

 

ufcw

Although the UFCW bitterly opposed Right to Work legislation in Missouri, the state’s new governor just signed it into law. With Gov. Eric Greitens’ signature, Missouri became the 28th Right to Work state. Not long ago, the union claimed to have 20,000 members in Missouri; but, according to one labor expert, the UFCW will likely […]

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UFCW Boss Accused of Harassment, Discrimination

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ob ragThree women, who are current or former UFCW employees, are accusing Mickey Kasparian, a powerful UFCW boss, of discrimination and/or harassment. The most serious allegations are from a recent retiree; she alleges that Kasparian repeatedly demanded she engage in sexual acts with him. She has filed a lawsuit against not only Kasparian but also the UFCW because the union did nothing to stop his abuse.

 

 

ob rag

Three women, who are current or former UFCW employees, are accusing Mickey Kasparian, a powerful UFCW boss, of discrimination and/or harassment. The most serious allegations are from a recent retiree; she alleges that Kasparian repeatedly demanded she engage in sexual acts with him. She has filed a lawsuit against not only Kasparian but also the UFCW […]

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Trying to Kill Jobs?

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UFCW is supporting a ballot measure in Oregon to hike business taxes by $3 billion, the largest tax hike in state history. According to a government report, the regressive tax would likely lower incomes, raise prices, and kill jobs.

Measure 97 would be the biggest tax increase in Oregon’s history, generating an estimated $3 billion a year for public education and other state services.

The initiative would levy a 2.5 percent tax on many companies’ Oregon sales over $25 million. But Measure 97 exempts some types of businesses and applies differently to others…

 

Economists say how much businesses pass along would depend on their market power. Cable television companies, for example, may pass along much of the cost. Private utilities such as Portland General Electric have regulated monopolies and a legal right to pass along higher costs – including taxes – to ratepayers.

Other states exempt wholesalers from consumption and sales taxes, or they tax wholesale trade at a lower rate. Because Measure 97 does not, some economists expect a “pyramiding” effect in which added costs are stacked atop one another for some products and services.

Conventional sales taxes in other states usually exempt food from taxation. Measure 97 does not. So if businesses do pass along higher costs, it could produce higher grocery bills.

The legislative study — which was based on an approximation of Measure 97 — concluded it would both dampen wage growth and raise prices.

oregonian

UFCW is supporting a ballot measure in Oregon to hike business taxes by $3 billion, the largest tax hike in state history. According to a government report, the regressive tax would likely lower incomes, raise prices, and kill jobs. Measure 97 would be the biggest tax increase in Oregon’s history, generating an estimated $3 billion a year for […]

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UFCW Weakened Itself

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The UFCW’s 2004 strike against California grocery store chains damaged the unionized stores and helped non-union grocery stores. And in the process of weakening the grocery chains, the union weakened itself.

They [Aldi and Whole Foods] took advantage of a grocery landscape that has been in upheaval since the 141-day work stoppage and lockout, which cost Ralphs and Albertsons $1.5 billion in sales and helped retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target expand their grocery aisles.

“That last time, it increased the opportunities for other chains geometrically,” said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. “The unionized operators, and the unions, were hit so hard financially.”

Since then, the big chains have hemorrhaged market share. In 2004, Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons/Pavilions (which was acquired by Albertsons in 2014 as part of its Safeway purchase) held nearly 60% of the Southland’s grocery trade, according to the Strategic Resource Group. That share has plunged to about 33% today.

These days, Unified Grocers Inc. in the City of Commerce, a wholesale cooperative which mainly serves independent stores, controls 16.6%, according to the Shelby Report, which tracks the industry. Wal-Mart is right behind with 11%, followed by Stater Brothers at 8.9% and Trader Joe’s with 6.2%.

A strike presents an opportunity to grocers to break the shopping habits of consumers. Once someone flees to another chain, they often don’t go back, analysts said.

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The UFCW’s 2004 strike against California grocery store chains damaged the unionized stores and helped non-union grocery stores. And in the process of weakening the grocery chains, the union weakened itself. They [Aldi and Whole Foods] took advantage of a grocery landscape that has been in upheaval since the 141-day work stoppage and lockout, which […]

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Harming their Company

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UFCW members asked their community to boycott their stores because the negotiation process was taking longer than they liked.

A strike by local grocery workers could be on the horizon, but for now, those workers don’t want you stepping foot in their San Diego-area stores.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 are boycotting area stores. Picketing began outside at least five stores this week…

A UFCW Local 135 spokeswoman said 14,000 union members could go on strike in roughly two weeks…

Regarding the UFCW Local 135’s contract demands, [Albertson’s Carlos] Illingworth said: “We’re dealing with complex issues, such as wages, pensions and healthcare. We’re bargaining in good faith and giving negotiations the time and thought that they deserve. We are working hard to find a settlement that is fair to our employees, good for our customers and allows our company to remain competitive.”

 

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UFCW members asked their community to boycott their stores because the negotiation process was taking longer than they liked. A strike by local grocery workers could be on the horizon, but for now, those workers don’t want you stepping foot in their San Diego-area stores. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 are boycotting […]

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UFCW Loses Again

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An appeals court in California recently affirmed a trial court’s permanent injunction prohibiting the UFCW from trespassing in Walmart stores. In 2012 and 2013, the union had been harassing Walmart by staging demonstrations both inside and outside the company’s stores in California. Interestingly, the union admitted that its actions violated federal law. The union will now have to pay the legal costs Walmart incurred on the appeal.

lexis

An appeals court in California recently affirmed a trial court’s permanent injunction prohibiting the UFCW from trespassing in Walmart stores. In 2012 and 2013, the union had been harassing Walmart by staging demonstrations both inside and outside the company’s stores in California. Interestingly, the union admitted that its actions violated federal law. The union will […]

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