Amazon Worker Strike in California Inspires Another Minnesota Worker Strike

Hey, I am just reporting the news. Don’t assume I am in any way feeling bad for Amazon!   See my previous posts on Somali workers protesting in Minnesota.

The Awood Center helped organize the walkout.

From The Verge:

Amazon workers in Minnesota walk out in protest over part-time work

A day after The Verge reported on Sacramento Amazon workers protesting Amazon’s strict time-off rules, more than 60 Amazon workers in similar roles in an Eagan, Minnesota, warehouse walked off the job. During the two-and-a-half-hour protest, workers demanded the lifting of the 30-hour-per-week cap, a more respectful work environment, and a less strenuous workload.

The Sacramento and Eagan employees work in Amazon delivery stations, which are smaller warehouses that sort packages for delivery routes. Delivery stations are staffed almost entirely by part-time employees who receive no medical insurance and can be fired for taking more than 20 hours off without pay per quarter.

“We are not allowed to work more than 30 hours per week, even though there’s more work,” said a worker in a video of the walkout posted by Workday Minnesota. Amazon would be required to offer employees who work more than 30 hours a week medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The worker went on to say that they must lift heavy boxes and take time off without pay if they get injured. “We have no value here, they treat us like we are not human.”  [Golly! Was Obamacare just a way to let the big guys like Amazon avoid paying medical insurance?—ed]

Nimo Omar, an organizer with the Awood Center, a nonprofit focused on East African workers that has been active in organizing Minnesota Amazon employees, attended last night’s walkout. Omar said the workers demanded a more respectful work environment and complained of heavy workloads and close monitoring, including managers knocking on the door if they spent more than several minutes in the bathroom. Like the Sacramento workers, they also felt Amazon’s unpaid time-off policy was inflexible and demanded the option to work more than 30 hours a week.

The Eagan delivery center and nearby fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, have emerged as hotbeds of worker activism within Amazon’s distribution system. Many of the workers are Muslim immigrants from Somalia and elsewhere in East Africa, and in the summer of 2018, they began protesting that the pace of work and time-off system made it difficult to observe Ramadan. Amazon met with the organizers, but workers say the company didn’t address their concerns. They staged a strike during Prime Day this year over the increasing pace of work and other issues.

[….]

Before the Eagan workers walked out, the Awood Center posted a message to Facebook saying workers in Minnesota were dealing with the same issues as those in Sacramento.

Shortly after 9PM, more than 60 workers walked off the job. According to the Awood Center, the employees agreed to return to work two and a half hours later when the manager on site agreed to talk to his boss about their demands.

The Awood Center said in a Facebook post that all truck deliveries for the night were canceled due to the backlog created by the walkout.

Will Amazon eventually cave to demands? We will be watching!

Just so you know, most Somalis in the US today are here through the US Refugee Admissions Program and federally-funded refugee resettlement contractors like the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service placed them in Minnesota

.I’m so glad to have RRW back!  Here is a post I wrote in 2011 explaining how Minneapolis became Little Mogadishu.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

7 Quotes That Reveal the Racist Origins of Minimum Wage Laws

Progressive economists and intellectuals saw these job losses as a eugenic service to the larger population.


Minimum wage laws are suddenly vogue. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states began 2019 with a new minimum wage. Three states have since passed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a wage floor the House of Representatives is seeking to make the law of the land.

The age-old lesson of Econ 101, that, to quote Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman in 1998, “the higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment,” is no longer considered rock solid.

In a 2017 article in The Atlantic titled “The Curse of Econ 101,” James Kwak cited basic economic theory as an example of “economism”—what he called the “misleading application of basic lessons from Economics 101.”

Kwak, a professor of law at the University of Connecticut, said the historical record suggests there is “no obvious relationship between the minimum wage and unemployment.”

Even if most economists disagree with Kwak, it’s worth noting that the word “most” wouldn’t have been necessary in this sentence a few decades ago. Today it is.

Many progressive economists, like Kwak, are skeptical of the link between a high minimum wage and unemployment. In this, they differ from their progressive forefathers. As Princeton scholar Thomas C. Leonard noted in a 2005 paper “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era,” early progressives understood quite well that minimum wage laws cause job losses. They simply saw it as a social benefit, not a social ill.

Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers, notes that progressive economists and intellectuals saw these job losses as a eugenic service to the larger population. Low-wage workers, particularly those of color, are described in subhuman terms, a reflection of the social Darwinism of the day. Those denied work by minimum wage laws could at least more easily be segregated, sterilized, and put in asylums—since administrators lacked the resources to “chloroform them once and for all.”

Here are seven quotes that reveal how early social reformers viewed the minimum wage and the “unemployable.”

1. “It is much better to enact a minimum-wage law even if it deprives these unfortunates of work. Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth more of their kind.” – Royal Meeker, Princeton scholar and labor commissioner to Woodrow Wilson, as quoted in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 25

2. “How to deal with the unemployable?” asked economist Frank Taussig. They “should simply be stamped out.” “We have not reached the stage where we can proceed to chloroform them once and for all; but at least they can be segregated, shut up in refuges and asylums, and prevented from propagating their kind…” – F. W. Taussig, Principles of Economics, Vol. 1

3. “If the inefficient entrepreneurs would be eliminated [by minimum wages,] so would the ineffective workers. I am not disposed to waste much sympathy upon either class. The elimination of the inefficient is in line with our traditional emphasis on free competition, and also with the spirit and trend of modern social economics. There is no panacea that can ‘save’ the incompetents except at the expense of the normal people. They are a burden on society and on the producers wherever they are.” – A.B. Wolfe, American Economic Review, 1917

4. “Imbecility breeds imbecility as certainly as white hens breed white chickens; and under laissez-faire imbecility is given full chance to breed, and does so in fact at a rate far superior to that of able stocks.” –New Republic editorial, 1916 (most likely written by Herbert Croly)

5. Henry Rogers Seager, a leading progressive economist from Columbia University, argued that worthy workers deserve protection from the “competition of the casual worker and the drifter.” “The operation of the minimum wage requirement would merely extend the definition of defectives to embrace all individuals, who even after having received special training, remain incapable of adequate self-support…..If we are to maintain a race that is to be made up of capable, efficient and independent individuals and family groups we must courageously cut off lines of heredity that have been proved to be undesirable by isolation or sterilization . . . .” – Henry Rogers Seager, Columbia University scholar and future American Economic Association president, in 1913 (quoted from “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era”)

6. “[Wage] competition has no respect for the superior races,” said University of Wisconsin economist John R. Commons in his 1907 book Races and Immigrants ( p. 151). “The race with lowest necessities displaces others.”

7. “[The minimum wage will] protect the white Australian’s standard of living from the invidious competition of the colored races, particularly of the Chinese.” – Arthur Holcombe of Harvard University, a member of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission, speaking approvingly of Australia’s minimum wage legislation in 1912 (quoted from “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era”)

COLUMN BY

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times. 

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

How the 2020 Democratic Primary has turned into a Socialist Circus

Americans have now had four nights of debates from those 20+ candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president. The Democrats during the July 31st debate began eating one another based upon their records. They began calling each other racists.

Watch this Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Tulsi Gabbard exchange:

What have the people learned from these debates?

Perhaps it is useful to look back at what David Axelrod said on CNN after the first round of debates:

It does seem as if you’re running for president that you ought to take into consideration what the country wants. And the fact is large numbers of people oppose the Medicare for All proposal if it replaces private insurance. We’ve seen it in poll after poll, a large number of people in this country do not believe the border should be decriminalized. A large number of people in did country don’t believe that undocumented immigrants should qualify for public [aid]…

What Doesn’t America Want?

What America doesn’t want is what has now become a Socialist Circus of policies which include:

  1. Giving free stuff to illegals,
  2. Calling everyone a racist who disagrees with you,
  3. Open borders,
  4. Higher taxes,
  5. Fewer jobs,
  6. More and more government control,
  7. No more fossil fuels?!
  8. Socialist Kool-Aid

What Do Americans Want?

Conservative Review reported the following:

On Monday, Heritage Action for America released the results of three different polls conducted by two different research firms in March and June. What do the numbers say? Nothing any Democrat charged with actually winning a general election after this far-left purity contest of a primary will want to hear.

The first poll, conducted among 1,200 likely voters in June with a margin of error of 2.83 percent, found:

  • 70 percent of voters, including 65 percent of swing-state voters, oppose the creation of a government run health care system like Medicare for All.
  • Independent voters think skills are are more important factor for legal immigration than family ties.
  • A plurality of Democrats, Republicans, and independents think the overuse of social services is the biggest challenge associated with illegal immigration (which is really bad news for the people who raised their hands to pay for illegal aliens’ health care).
  • 79 percent of respondents (including a majority of Democrats) said they believe that political correctness is a problem.
  • A 45 percent plurality of Democrats, Republicans, and independents think that abortion should be “illegal in most cases” with “some exceptions.”
  • 76 percent of voters said that doctors should be required to provide health care to abortion survivors.
  • 62 percent of respondents don’t think biological males should be allowed to identify as female to play on sports teams at school.
  • 30 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents surveyed think that the Democratic party has become too extreme, with 57 percent of respondents overall agreeing.

A separate “swing state survey,” which was conducted among 1,800 likely voters across the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maine, and Pennsylvania later in June with a margin of error of 2.31 percent, found:

  • 63 percent of respondents said the border crisis is a national emergency.
  • 65 percent of respondents oppose getting rid of private health insurance to create a government-run system, including 40 percent of Democrats.
  • 65 percent of respondents in those states agree that “Socialism is a bad economic system that leads to bigger government, less freedom, worse economic conditions, and more welfare dependency.”
  • A majority of independents agreed that they “can no longer support the national Democratic Party because they have become too liberal in recent years by supporting radical ideas.”

The candidates for the Democratic nomination will have to change their tune or lose big in 2020.

As former President Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy stupid.” As David Axelrod said, “It does seem as if you’re running for president that you ought to take into consideration what the country wants.”

President Trump simply needs to sit back and watch. He will continue to tweet, he will continue to listen to what the people want, he will continue to grow the American economy, he will continue to put American interests first and he will continue to lead the nation into prosperity for all.

Can’t wait to see the first debate between President Trump and the Democratic Party nominee.

© All rights reserved.

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The Progressive Caucus’ push for a $15 Minimum Wage using Lies and Half Truths

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (which includes the four members of The Squad) sent out an email titled “JUST IN: Florida Minimum Wage update →.” The email targets U.S. Senators demanding that they bring up the Raise the Wage Act for a vote. The Raise the Wage Act has already passed by the House of Representatives.

There appear to be some white lies and half truths in the Progressive Caucus email. The email quotes a Common Dreams article stating:

A $15 minimum wage would reduce household and child poverty while increasing worker productivity and retention rates.

Sounds good until you look at the Congressional Budget Office report “The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage.” The CBO report states:

Effects of the $15 Option on Employment and Income. According to CBO’s median estimate, under the $15 option, 1.3 million workers who would otherwise be employed would be jobless in an average week in 2025. (That would equal a 0.8 percent reduction in the number of employed workers.) CBO estimates that there is about a two-thirds chance that the change in employment would lie between about zero and a reduction of 3.7 million workers. [Emphasis added]

The Bernie Sanders Effect

Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Progressive Caucus, has been pushing Senator McConnell to bring the Raise the Wage Act to the Senate floor for a vote. At the same time we have learned that Senator Sanders doesn’t pay his campaign staff a $15 minimum wage. According to their contract with the Sander’s campaign his field workers get an annual salary of $36,000, which is $15 an hour for a normal work week. But Sander’s staff complained that they are putting in 60 hour work weeks, which means they are making $13 an hour.

According to Vox Sanders got away with this bate and switch by making his field staff salaried and therefore not eligible for overtime pay. In a Vox column titled “The controversy over Bernie Sanders’s low-paid field staffers, explained. A moralist gets a taste of his own medicine” Matthew Yglesias notes:

But capitalism abhors a vacuum, so over time, more and more low-paid workers found themselves in the category of being salaried and ineligible for overtime. The Obama administration tried to tackle this with a Labor Department regulation mandating overtime for anyone earning less than $47,000, but it was challenged in court and the Trump administration elected not to defend the rule, instead writing a new rule that set the threshold at $35,000. At an annual salary just below that threshold, Sanders’s field staff would be collecting lots of overtime and thus earning more than $36,000, but instead, their salary was pegged (perhaps not coincidentally) to be just above the exempt threshold.

This is what I call the Bernie Sander effect – do as I say, not as I do.

Conclusion

Senator Bernie Sanders has proved what economists have been saying and now even Vox confirms,

“Beyond the question of campaign optics, however, this is exactly the point that opponents of minimum wage increases are always making — if you force employers to pay more, they’re going to respond by cutting back elsewhere.”

Bernie cut his own campaign staff’s hours understanding that a guaranteed minimum wage, while raising income for some, will cause others to lose income and their jobs. Senator Sanders is playing both sides against the middle. In this case passage of the Raise the Wage Act can, according to the CBO, cause as as many as 3.7 million workers to lose their jobs.

Are you feeling the Bern?

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A HISTORY LESSON: The Democratic Party’s ‘Squad’ and the American ‘Union of Russian Workers’

I received a petition from the Congressional Progressive Caucus titled “‘Right to Work’ laws are WRONG (read why).” The ninety-seven members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus include: Representatives Ilhan Omar (Whip), Rashida Tlaib (Special Order Hour Convener), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley (a.k.a. The Squad) and Senator Bernie Sanders.

The Progressive Caucus email states:

Republican “Right to Work” laws weaken the voices of working people and ensure that their wages are kept low. All they do is INCREASE the power of corporations, while LIMITING the power of workers to join unions.

[ … ]

So we’re asking 500 Progressives from each state to sign on and tell Congress to ban Right to Work laws.

You’ve been chosen to sign for Florida. Sign on immediately:

TELL CONGRESS: BAN RIGHT TO WORK LAWS →

Listen, unions bring justice and dignity to the workplace.

They allow individual employees to organize and protect their rights on the job.

They grant workers the power to advocate for themselves.

And they even the playing field between corporations and their employees.

But Republicans don’t care about all of the benefits of unions. Their main concern is giving even more power to giant companies and diminishing the voices of working Americans in our democracy.

As Progressives, we believe this is WRONG.

Currently 27 states and Guam have given workers a choice when it comes to union membership. Why is the Congressional Progressive Caucus pushing against right to work laws in states like Florida?

History may give us the answer.

The Role of the Labor Unions in the Russian Revolution.

In 1920 the Marxists Internet Archive published a paper written by A. Lozovsky titled “The Role of the Labor Unions in the Russian Revolution.” The Forward notes:

Comrade Lozovsky says that “it is impossible to accomplish a social revolution outside of the unions or against their will.” Lenin has also said that the Bolshevist Revolution could not have lasted two weeks without the aid of the unions.

[ … ]

It can safely be stated that had the Spartacists in Germany had a predominant influence in the labor movement, Germany would be a Soviet Republic by now. This points out the way for action in the American labor movement. Stress should be laid on revolutionary work in the unions that group the mass of the industrial proletariat.

We must have the unions not only during the period of actual combat with the capitalists and their governments but even after the Dictatorship shall have been established. The function of the unions as organs of disciplined and efficient production and distribution must be broadened and much of the task of Communist reconstruction and responsibility for the running of the industrial apparatus given into the unions.

The lesson from the Russian Revolution, which is so aptly put by Comrade Lozovsky is that the unions, being the natural grouping of the workers as producers, which develop the class consciousness and militancy of the workers, develop at the same time their sense of responsibility and discipline, preparing them for the difficult task of organizing production and exchange in the Communist society. [Emphasis added]

Read the full Marxists Internet Archive document here.

In a document titled “The Russian Workingmen’s Association, sometimes called the Union of Russian Workers (What It Is and How It Operates). [A Bureau of Investigation Internal Report]” dated April 8, 1919 by Edgar B. Speer we may find the answer.

Just as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) were socialists and the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ party (Rossiiskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia rabochaia partiia, or RSDRP) was Marxist so too were the roots of the Union of Russian Workers.

According to the Speer report:

From the 6th to the 9th of January, 1919, the 2nd Convention of the Russian Colonies was held in New York City. One hundred twenty-three delegates participated in the convention and they represented 33,975 Russians, according to the Soviet of Workingmen’s Deputies of the US and Canada Weekly. The independent element was represented by 60 delegates; Union of Russian Workers, 49; Socialists, 9; Industrial Workers of the World, 2; and Anarchists, 3. During the convention, Peter Bianki, who represented the Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada and the Anarchists, declared from the convention floor: “The Union of Russian Workers deny any form of power and Government because where Government begins, Revolution ends and where there is Revolution there is no place for Government.” Bianki further declared that the Union of Russian Workers has found it possible to support the Bolsheviki in its struggle against the counterrevolution because the Bolsheviki undoubtedly are the most Revolutionary part of the Russian Social Democratic Party. The foregoing briefly sets forth the principles as they exist today of the Russian Workingmen’s Association, sometimes called the Union of Russian Workers.

Here is the preamble of the Union of Russian Workers:

Present society is divided into two opposing classes: the downtrodden Workers and Peasants, on the one side, producing by their work all the riches of the world; the rich people, on the other side, who have grabbed all the riches into their hands.

Many a time the Class of the Oppressed stood up against the rich parasites and their faithful servant and protector — the Government — to conquer its full Liberation from the yoke of Capitalism and Political Power; but every time it suffered defeat, not being fully conscious of its own final goal and means, by which victory can be accomplished, thus remaining only a weapon in the hands of its enemies.

The struggle between these two classes is being fought also at the present time and will end only when the Toiling Masses, organized as a class, will understand their true interests and will make themselves masters of all the riches of the world by means of a violent Social Revolution.

Having accomplished such a change and having annihilated at the same time all the institutions of the Government and State, the class of the disowned must establish the Society of Free Producers, aiming at satisfying the needs of every individual person who, on its side, is giving to the Society their labor and their knowledge.

For the attainment of these aims, we consider as of primary importance the necessity of building up a wide Revolutionary Organization of Toilers which, by conducting a direct struggle with all the Institutions of Capitalism and Government, must train the Working Class to initiative and independent action in all its acts, thus educating it in the consciousness of the absolute necessity of a General Strike — of the Social Revolution. [Emphasis added]

Is the Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus calling for a revolution against state governments with right to work laws?

The email from the Progressive Caucus stating,

Republican “Right to Work” laws weaken the voices of working people and ensure that their wages are kept low. All they do is INCREASE the power of corporations, while LIMITING the power of workers to join unions.

[ … ]

Republican “Right to Work” laws weaken the voices of working people and ensure that their wages are kept low. All they do is INCREASE the power of corporations, while LIMITING the power of workers to join unions.

Sounds very much like the Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada and the Anarchists, who declared from their convention floor: “The Union of Russian Workers deny any form of power and Government because where Government begins, Revolution ends and where there is Revolution there is no place for Government.”

As Speer concluded in his report,

The Russian Workingmen’s Association as it exists today is divided between the advocates of Anarchist-Syndicalism and Anarchist-Communism.

It seems that history is repeating itself. The Democratic Party Progressive Caucus uses the same rhetoric as did the Union of Russian Workers.

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Unions Keep Deducting Dues Without Consent, Teachers Say

Just a few weeks before school let out last May, unexpected visitors showed up in Bethany Mendez’s classroom.

They didn’t come to discuss the nuts and bolts of education or the work the teacher was doing to assist young students with learning disabilities.

Instead, the visitors wanted to know why she was leaving the teachers union, and if she fully understood the ramifications of resigning her membership.

“This made me very angry and upset to actually have them come to my classroom during instructional time during the day,” Mendez told The Daily Signal in an interview. “I thought the meeting was regarding a student who might have to go into one of my classes. But these were union representatives who showed up in my classroom to question me as to why I was leaving the union.”

Mendez teaches elementary school students with learning disabilities in California’s Fremont Unified School District.

Since she had her own bouts with dyslexia when she was roughly the same age as her students, Mendez explains, she became motivated to become a teacher and devote herself to assisting children who require specialized instruction.

For union officials to interrupt her instructional time, Mendez thought, was inappropriate and overly intrusive.

“I struggled with dyslexia when I was little, and that was due to a vision problem,” Mendez, 35, said. “But I was able to have surgery to fix it. For a lot of these kids, it’s a brain-wiring issue and it involves how their brain interprets visual information. My goal is to help children learn and to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to read in the third and fourth grades. I’m passionate about helping kids to bridge that gap.”

“It would be fine to have a friendly conversation outside of class, but to actually have two people come to my class while I was teaching and ask these questions I thought was a little offensive,” she said. “They asked if I knew what I was doing and if I knew what I would be giving up. My answer is I think everyone should have a choice to either opt in or opt out of joining the union.”

Suit Claims Unions Circumvent High Court

Last June, in a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory union dues and fees for public sector workers.

In their decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the justices said “agency shop” laws requiring nonunion government workers to pay union fees violate the First Amendment rights of workers who object to the political agenda of public employee unions.

In March, Mendez, joined with four other teachers to file a class-action lawsuit in federal court against the California Teachers Association and several local affiliates, alleging that the teachers unions continued to deduct dues from their paychecks in violation of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.

The lawsuit also names the National Education Association, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, local school districts, and local unions as defendants.

Contrary to what union officials have argued, the teachers who signed union membership cards last year did not provide the California Teachers Association or local affiliates with “affirmative consent” to deduct dues, Mariah Gondeiro, a lawyer with the Freedom Foundation who represents the suing teachers, told The Daily Signal.

“These membership forms don’t include sufficient waiver language as required under Janus,” Gondeiro said, adding:

The unions are arguing they can lock people into these contracts because they signed these forms. But they don’t tell employees that they have an option to not fund the union. They don’t tell people that they are leaving out important facts. The teachers can’t consent to something they didn’t know about, and they did not know their rights.

The Daily Signal sought comment on the lawsuit from the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

Frank Wells, a communications official with the California Teachers Association, responded in an email.

“This is just another lawsuit from the Freedom Foundation to continue their attack on public education and public employees,” Wells said. “Their backers have a lot of money to spend so it’s likely these and other attacks will continue. I’d follow the money. That is the real story here.”

The National Education Association did not respond to requests for comment.

The Daily Signal also sought comment on the lawsuit and specific allegations from two local unions, the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association and the Hayward Education Association, by phone and email.

Hayward union officials referred a reporter to the state union, while the Fremont local acknowledged the request for comment and said it would be forwarded to the local’s president.

The Daily Signal also asked the California Teachers Association’s Wells whether he would like to respond on behalf of the local unions. He had not commented further at publication time.

Supreme Court and ‘Affirmative Consent’

Under the high court’s Janus ruling, teachers and other public employees must offer “affirmative consent” before a union may withhold fees from their paychecks, Gondeiro said.

In his opinion for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said automatic deduction of union fees from a nonmember’s wages without consent violates free speech rights.

Freedom Foundation, a free market think tank based in Washington state, filed an amicus brief in the Janus case asking the Supreme Court to outlaw “opt out” arrangements that put the burden on nonmembers to halt collection of union fees from their paychecks.

Public employees must make a deliberate choice to “opt in” to paying union fees, Alito said on behalf of the court majority, writing:

Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed.

The Janus ruling affects about 5 million government employees in 22 states who no longer are required either to join a union or pay related fees as a condition of employment.

Mark Janus, a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and gave the case its name.

“The opt-in requirement is something the Freedom Foundation really advocated for before Janus was decided,” Gondeiro said, adding:

The reason why is because unions are in a powerful position, and history shows they take advantage of vulnerable workers. So we wanted to make sure that the court put the burden on these powerful entities to obtain workers’ affirmative consent. Because if we didn’t, then they would just have taken advantage of workers, which they have done in the past. What’s remarkable is that even with the burden being put on the unions, they are still trying to circumvent the law.

‘All About Janus’

“I didn’t know anything about the Janus case and didn’t know that it was a possibility,” Mendez said. “I also didn’t understand why we needed to reconfirm membership. The forms didn’t make sense to me, because the dues already came out of our paychecks. But now I see that this was all about Janus.”

Union officials eventually persuaded Mendez to sign the “membership recommitment form,” which she did on June 4, 2018, just a few days before the end of the school year and a few weeks before the high court’s Janus ruling.

She had received a text message from local union officials urging her to sign up until the last few days of school.

“I was told we needed to stand 100% together to defeat a law that would destroy unions,” Mendez said:

That’s the information I got. I’m not anti-union. I think they do some good, especially my local union. I’m pro-individual rights and pro-teacher. But what I was told was not the truth. Janus does not destroy all unions. They [union leaders] did not provide us with an opportunity for informed consent, and that’s what this case is about.

Mendez says she attempted to opt out last fall from the California Teachers Association and her local union.

But there was a catch. Because Mendez signed the membership recommitment form, union representatives informed the teacher that she was locked in until this coming June. The form contained “fine print” and “a clause” that said teachers could withdraw from membership only during a 30-day window beginning when they signed the form.

$10 Refund for Political Activity

Audrey Stewart, a fellow plaintiff who teaches in Hayward Unified School District, says she is familiar with the tactics unions use to keep dues and fees flowing in from teachers who prefer not to be members.

Stewart said she also has a hard time believing that her union spends only about $10 a year on politics.

Stewart, a teacher for 30 years, told The Daily Signal that she often has found herself in a hostile work environment because she differs with the political stance of teachers unions on a range of issues.

“I don’t want to pay for the unions’ politics,” she said. “I always said they could represent me as far as employment is concerned, but they shouldn’t have a place in my political life.”

Although unions were required to refund nonchargeable political expenditures that weren’t part of the collective bargaining process even before the Janus ruling, Stewart isn’t convinced the amount of her refunds measure up with what the unions actually spend on politics.

“They have been issuing this $5 bill to me twice a year, and I have to go down to the office of my local union and pick it up because that’s what they are claiming is the [refundable] amount spent for political purposes,” Stewart said. “So, they are saying it’s basically $10 a year they spend on politics. This is really a joke. This has been going on for 30 years, and I find it odd that it’s never increased either. It’s always a cash payment in an envelope.”

Stewart says she signed her membership recommitment form on May 9, 2018, at the behest of union officials. The form said it was necessary for her and other teachers to sign to support colleagues.

“There was no rhyme or reason to these recommitment cards,” she said. “I signed it because I was told it was to support my fellow teachers. But I later told my union representative that I found this recommitment form awfully suspicious because they front-loaded this knowing this [Janus] case was coming and it might not go in their favor, and they have locked these teachers in. I don’t even know if this recommitment form was a legal membership document.”

Gondeiro, the lawyer with Freedom Foundation, told The Daily Signal that the forms signed by teachers last year should not pass legal muster.

“What we are doing with the class-action suit is we are trying to illustrate what affirmative consent looks like,” she said, adding:

We are trying to take Janus to an extra step because apparently the unions can’t abide by the law. So, we want to put in plain text what type of notice they have to give workers, because they need all the direction they can get. We want in the contract that they have a right to not financially support the union, and [that] by signing the agreement they are waiving their First Amendment rights. If they don’t include that type of language in the contract, there is no affirmative consent.

Gondeiro also said the unions are making it difficult for teachers who have become aware of their rights to opt out, using restrictive window periods and other cumbersome requirements that involve writing letters to union representatives and payroll personnel saying they want to leave the union and stop automatic deduction of dues.

“I sent letters to the California Teachers Association and to my local telling them I was going to opt out,” Stewart said. “They wrote back to me to thank me for my inquiry. But I wasn’t inquiring, I was telling them I was leaving.”

Stewart, who teaches at both the elementary and high school levels, told The Daily Signal that “strange incidents” took place after she made it clear she wanted to leave the union.

Her elementary school classroom was “ransacked” several times after hours in February, Stewart said, and around this time she was “verbally attacked” by a union leader while walking up a path to the high school.

The lead plaintiff in the teachers’ lawsuit says she wants to make a clean break.

Mendez, who is entering her 13th year as a teacher, says she had wanted to withdraw from the California Teachers Association, but until recently was content with her local union.

“The CTA has always misrepresented me, but I was willing to stay in the local union,” she said. “But after they [the local union] withheld information, misled us, and accepted poor salary and benefits in my district, I wanted out of both the state and local union.”

The local unions and school districts named in the lawsuit include Fremont Unified District Teachers Association, Valley Center-Pauma Teachers Association, Hayward Education Association, Tustin Education Association, and the Fremont, Valley Center-Pauma, Hayward, and Tustin unified school districts.

COLUMN BY

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.

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Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

This Supreme Court Case Threatens the Left’s View of Group Identity, Victimhood

Oral arguments heard at the Supreme Court Tuesday were ostensibly about whether the 2020 census could include a question about citizenship.

But don’t be fooled. The reason this case rocketed to the Supreme Court and has been so hotly contested is that the debate hinges, at bottom, on two starkly different visions of America.

In one vision, what matters is loyalty to and affiliation with a nation-state that is self-contained, independent, civic, and colorbind. In the other vision, priority is given to one’s membership in a subnational group that is based on subjective self-identity (like race or sexual orientation), and association with that group yields benefits and preferences in everything, from hiring to contracting, employment, housing, and even electoral redistricting.

The divide essentially comes down to a commitment to America as a nation vs. a commitment to one’s subgroup and the hierarchy of victimhood.

This is one of the great debates of our time—not just here, but around the world.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides—and an opinion is needed by summer if the Census Bureau is to meet its deadline of printing millions of forms—rest assured that this debate will not go away any time soon.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the nation-state seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Despite pressure from above—from sovereignty-draining, transnational institutions like the United Nations and the European Union—and from below, i.e., from identity groups based on race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, and anything else that can confer conceptual victimhood (and thus special rights) on an individual, the nation-state has shown remarkable resilience.

Defenders of the nation-state remind us that democracy, the rule of law, self-determination, liberty, and everything else Americans and like-minded people hold dear depend on territorially and culturally defined nation-states. Its opponents like to portray the nation-state as archaic, unnecessary, and a gateway to authoritarianism, if not worse.

The Trump administration has championed the sovereignist view, and in 2017 recognized the importance of citizenship by requesting that a question on citizenship be added to the 2020 census.

Progressive groups have left no stone unturned in their bid to frustrate the administration on this front. Notably, these same groups defend a panoply of other census questions that divide Americans by sex, ethnicity, and race.

These groups argue that the citizenship question would depress responses among certain marginalized groups, especially Hispanics. Yet the Census Bureau says it has no credible evidence that the question would affect the quality of the data.

Dozens of progressive organizations brought suit in New York, joined by 18 states and the District of Columbia. They won in district court in New York, thus the case Tuesday was Department of Commerce v. New York.

The hearing Tuesday did not in the least devote itself to these large questions of nationhood, sovereignty, and the like. Instead, there was a lot of technical and statistical back-and-forth between liberal justices and United States Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represented the administration, and between the conservative justices and New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood; Dale Ho, the lawyer for the New York plaintiffs; and Douglas Letter, the lawyer who represented the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. All of these latter individuals argued against including the citizenship question.

It is difficult, as usual, to predict which way a court will go. Ho did his side no favors by admitting at one point that, yes, the Trump administration is right that citizenship data is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

At issue is the fact that the Voting Rights Act does indeed call, in some places, for drawing districts where at least 50 percent of the voting population are members of a racial or ethnic minority.

Ho, perhaps unwittingly, made the case that “if the minority group has relatively low citizenship rates, for example, as is the case with Hispanic populations in some circumstances, then you need citizenship data to make sure that you’re drawing a district in which minority voters are, in fact, a majority of the population.”

That data is now provided by the American Community Survey, a smaller census product that goes out to fewer households. But some states, ironically including some of those suing the Trump administration, have complained that that data is not reliable.

Justice Neil Gorsuch thus jumped on Ho’s argument and pointed out that “some of the states who are now respondents before us have in litigation, including in this court, argued that [American Community Survey] data should not be relied upon for purposes of citizenship or other purposes, that the census data is more accurate. What do we do about that? It seems to me like you kind of put the government in a bit of a catch 22.”

It is the unified left that is in a catch 22, however—and the Voting Rights Act, as it is currently interpreted, put it there. The left does not mind (it in fact loves) the racial gerrymandering that is aided by census questions on ethnicity, race, and so forth. But because what is actually needed is voters, the administration can now say it needs citizenship data, since only citizens are allowed to vote.

The left is terrified by this prospect. It now realizes that available citizenship data will allow jurisdictions to apportion and redistrict seats according to voter, or citizen population, not total population, as they are constitutionally entitled to do. That would, for example, prevent liberal districts from swelling their numbers by adding populations of non-voting noncitizens or even illegal immigrants.

This essentially means citizenship data on the American nation itself—not arbitrary subgroups—would determine the shape of the House of Representatives, and the number and composition of electoral votes at election time. Our elections would more accurately represent the America that really exists, not the faux America envisioned by intersectional activists.

To win this issue, not just in the Supreme Court, but in the all-important court of public opinion, those who believe in the nation-state must constantly make the case that its view of the nation is nonracial, but instead is truly inclusive and colorblind. We must show that the other vision leads to balkanization, conflict, and ultimately, national splintering.

COMMENTARY BY

Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is a widely experienced international correspondent, commentator, and editor who has reported from Asia, Europe, and Latin America. He served in the George W. Bush administration, first at the Securities and Exchange Commission and then at the State Department, and is the author of “A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans.”Read his research. Twitter: .


Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

ICE Field Operation Liberated Hundreds of Jobs — Interior enforcement of immigration laws helps American workers.

On April 3, 2019, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) posted a news release: ICE executes federal criminal search warrant in North Texas which announced the administrative arrest of more than 280 aliens who were found to be working illegally at CVE Technology Group Inc. and four of CVE’s staffing companies.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the division of ICE that conducted this highly effective field investigation which constitutes an element of the interior enforcement mission of our immigration laws.

The news release included this excerpt:

HSI is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for upholding the laws established by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire.

These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. residents, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that unlawfully hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.

Unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life.

HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices. Work site enforcement investigations often involve additional criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, document fraud, worker exploitation and/or substandard wage and working conditions.

Immigration anarchists frequently justify their opposition to the enforcement of our immigration laws by making emotional appeals about how illegal immigration is all about desperate people who simply want to be able to live better lives. They often even raise the oxymoronic notion of enabling illegal aliens to achieve “the American dream.”

Indeed, the DREAM Act was actually an acronym for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.”

Compassion, however, is never a consideration for hapless American and lawful immigrant workers who lose their jobs to illegal aliens or suffer wage suppression because of the massive influx of illegal alien workers.

The rhetoric about how immigrants (actually illegal aliens) do the work Americans won’t do leaves out the second half of that sentence, that Americans won’t do those jobs for substandard wages under dangerous substandard conditions.

It is infuriating that the “American Dream” has become ever more elusive for Americans and lawful immigrants, particularly among America’s minority communities, while political con artists have the chutzpah to invoke the imagery of the “American Dream” to create the DREAM Act.

When the DREAM Act scam was properly voted down by Congress, President Obama created the sequel to the DREAM Act, DACA: Deferred Action Childhood Arrival, by Obama’s capricious executive caveat.

Employers who intentionally hire illegal aliens do so not out of compassion but a desire to exploit vulnerable workers, paying them substandard wages under conditions that are often so substandard as to be illegally dangerous.

There is nothing compassionate about exploitation!

Furthermore, as the ICE news release reported, many aliens who work illegally not only violate our immigration laws and take the jobs Americans need, but frequently engage in identity theft and commit other crimes.

Anyone who has ever fallen victim to identity theft can attest to how profoundly this crime has deleteriously impacted their lives.

Illegal immigration is anything but a “victimless crime.”

Economists are always concerned about unemployment rates and with the number of jobs that are created or lost by the American economy but omit the critical issues of whether American workers are gaining or losing jobs and how their wages are increasing or stagnating.

Political candidates on all levels of government frequently claim that if elected they would help new companies to create more jobs. Creating new jobs can be a risky and time-consuming proposition.

However, just as it is said that “A penny saved is a penny earned,” I would argue that a job that is liberated is no different from a job that is created. Effective enforcement of our immigration laws can result in jobs being liberated — that is to say, freed up by removing aliens who are working illegally thereby immediately providing Americans and lawful immigrants with those jobs.

Investigations into the willful employment of illegal aliens is known as “Worksite Investigations” and can help to put Americans to work and enable them to support themselves and their families.

To put this specific case into proper perspective, the HSI agents who participated in this field investigation liberated at least 280 jobs, making them immediately available for American and lawful immigrant workers.

Radical Democrats who have created “Sanctuary Cities” and demonize immigration law enforcement officers are now calling for the removal of any criminal penalties provided in the Immigration and Nationality Act for aliens who enter the United States without inspection, even though Senator Schumer has proposed legislation that would have made trespassing on critical infrastructure and national landmarks a federal crime with a five-year prison sentence to deter trespassing.

Cheap labor is anything but cheap, as I noted in my recent article, “Open Borders Facilitate America’s Race To The Bottom.”

Not only is there no compassion in exploitation of foreign workers, there is certainly no compassion in acting against the interests of American workers and their families.

Today more foreign workers enter the United States each year than the number of new jobs that are created. America’s generous immigration policies permit more than one million lawful immigrants to enter the United States each year. Additionally a human tsunami of illegal aliens enter the United States, as exemplified by the crisis on our southern border. Finally, hundreds of thousands of aliens who are lawfully admitted into the United States as non-immigrants violate the terms of the admission, not only by remaining in the United States after their authorized period of admission has expired, but by otherwise violating their terms of admission, frequently involving their illegal employment in the United States.

The Immigration and Nationality Act, as it now exists, would provide strong tools to combat illegal employment of aliens in the United States. However, what is lacking is an adequate number of ICE agents to actually enforce these important laws, resulting in Immigration Failures By Design.

Sanctuary Cities further encourage illegal immigration and hobble efforts to enforce our nation’s immigration laws.

Today there are roughly 6,000 ICE agents for the entire United States of America and more than half of their time is not dedicated to the enforcement of our immigration laws but customs laws and other non-immigration laws.

So, while mandatory E-Verify would be helpful to end the employment of illegal aliens, without an adequate number of ICE agents to conduct field investigations, unscrupulous employers will easily game the system by hiring illegal aliens “off the books” or otherwise defraud the immigration system.

Advocates for “Immigration Reform” are determined to undermine any efforts or resources to enforce our immigration laws and/or secure our borders.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine and is republished with permission.

PODCAST: Why We Work

PODCAST: Why we work.

In this age of entitlement, some young people are wondering if they should be enjoying life as opposed to working as diligently as we do. This explains why Millennials do not seriously think about long-term employment. Studies indicate they would rather see the world now, not later, sample new delicacies, relax and play games as opposed to being attached to a career. From their perspective, they have two lives, personal and working, but they do not see them intertwined. This is the antithesis of preceding generations who worked hard, not just to survive, but to prosper.

As someone from the old school, I tend to believe we were put on this planet to work, e.g., to explore, to discover, to invent, to compose, to engineer, to basically leave the world better than how we found it. Of course, this represents evolution, to aspire for perfection, knowing we may never achieve it, but to improve it nonetheless.

Some do not see work in this light as their job may seem too mundane, such as pushing a broom or digging a ditch. However, I believe there is dignity in all forms of work and I, for one, certainly do not look down my nose at anyone regarding their form of employment, as long as they do it professionally. The work of common laborers may seem trivial, but as Michelangelo observed, “Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.”

To illustrate, a janitor is typically responsible for cleaning, sweeping and tidying up. The cleanliness of the work place has a huge impact on the other workers as studies have shown people work more productively in a clean environment as opposed to a cluttered one. If the janitor doesn’t perform the job properly, it could very easily have an adverse effect on the output of the other employees.

I remember a time when I was working with a customer late at night in a large office. I happened to observe the janitor cleaning up as most of the staff had gone home. He noticed a framed picture was skewed ever so slightly. Where some people would skip over it, he stopped and straightened it. I asked him why, to which he replied, “It just wasn’t right.” In other words, he took his responsibilities seriously and developed a professional attitude which ultimately influenced the lives of others in the office.

To those who take on a professional attitude, there is no separation between personal and working lives, as they are merged into one. Our working life is an extension of our personal life. After all, there is only one you. Even when we are charged to perform a task at work we do not like, this is essentially no different than doing a difficult task in our personal life. The marriage of the two affects both sides; our skills and ethics on our personal side influences our decisions at work, and our working side teaches the personal side new lessons.

When a person decides to retire, it severs an important part of their life. Some people begin to deteriorate shortly thereafter as they have lost their sense of purpose and have difficulty finding a new endeavor to pursue. To illustrate, when American presidents leave office, it is not uncommon to see their health and mental acuity diminish. Lyndon Johnson is a good example. Here is a man who spent his life in government as a member of the House, the Senate, as Vice President, and finally as President. He was a man who stood at the helm during our Viet Nam War and oversaw the civil rights movement. Regardless of how you felt about LBJ, when his term of office was over, and he retired to his Texas ranch, his health declined rapidly and he died just five years later. This is why it is important to remain busy in some pursuit following retirement.

There are fundamentally three reasons why we work:

  1. Survival – to put food on the table and secure the well-being of ourselves and loved ones.
  2. Improve the human condition – to go above survival and endeavor to achieve greater things.
  3. Spirituality – for our mental well-being and development as a person.

As to this last point, learning to work and mastering a craft gives the person a sense of purpose, structure, and sense of accomplishment (reward gratification). It also teaches us to learn the differences between right and wrong thereby affecting our sense of ethics. Bottom-line, work leads to the development of our character, our sense of worth and dignity.

This is why it is important to assume a professional attitude regardless of your job. If you are not happy with your current job or want to do something else, quit and move along, but while you are charged with a task, do it to the best of your ability if, for no other reason, your mental well-being.

Consider the adverse effects on a person who is unemployed. They become unstable and a burden on society. The old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” comes to mind.

On the other hand, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work again,” as you have found stimulation and fulfillment as a person.

While others want a free ride, there is something to be said about the satisfaction of earning something on your own, which can be very motivational to people and instills pride in our work. I am, therefore, a proponent of the benefits of gainful employment.

Finally, always try to remain positive and never embrace a defeatist attitude. As former President Theodore Roosevelt observed in a talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898:

“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”

Keep the Faith!

EDITORS NOTE: This Bryce is Right podcast is republished with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

The “Angel of Death” for Unions is Socialism

“I favor the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries.” – Bernie Sanders, Burlington Free Press, October 1976.


On August 19, 2013 I wrote a column titled “The decline and fall of America’s unions” stating,

The “angel of death” for unions is progressivism, its primary weapon is big government bureaucrats, the anti-union soldiers.

I felt the need to update this column to help working class trade union members understand that the end is nearer than even I expected.

The “angel of death” is at your front door and her name is “socialism.”

The big government bureaucrats have unionized and have become the anti-union soldiers bent on destroying all other trade unions.

As political power becomes more centralized there is an irreversible decline in the power of unions. It is a cause and effect that cannot be denied or stopped.

Green New Deal

The Green New Deal takes away two key powers that make trade unions important to middle class workers, their power to negotiate wages and benefits.

In a column titled “The True Meaning of That Green New Deal” Lee Edwards writes:

Sponsors of the Green New Deal—including Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.—list these goals: Phase out conventional fuels (that is, oil, natural gas, and coal) by 2030, only a decade from now; implement a federal jobs guarantee; retrofit all U.S. buildings; overhaul transportation with high-speed rail; and provide universal health care. [Emphasis added]

If you have a federal jobs guarantee and universal healthcare then why have any trade union? If everyone works for the government then the only union that matters is the union representing the bureaucrats, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its 2019 Union Members Summary report notes:

The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.4 percent).

If the Green New Deal becomes law then blacks will be harmed most as they are “more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers” according to BLS.

As some point even public-sector workers like teachers and SEIU members will also lose their ability to negotiate salary and benefits. These public sector unions will slowly fade away.

Angels of Death

Oleg Atbashian, a citizen of the former Soviet Union, in his book Shakedown Socialism writes, “Union perks mean nothing when there is nothing left to redistribute. The Soviets learned it the hard way. The American unions don’t seem to be able to learn from the mistakes of others.”

The example of Poland’s Solidarnosc, an independent union that spearheaded the overthrow of the oppressive Communist regime in 1989.  Why? Because, “…Current [union] perks can only exist in a free and competitive economy that ensures growth and generates wealth – known as ‘capitalist exploitation’ in the lingo of the champions of ‘redistributive justice’.”

Unions are only relevant if they retain their control to collectively bargain for wages and benefits in a free and competitive economy. If the government takes over this role, as it did workplace safety with OSHA, then unions are doomed.

The angels of death for trade unions are: Medicare for All, The Minimum Wage and Green New Deal. Socialist programs pushed by the Socialist Democrats.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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House Democrats Unveil Plan to Bring Total Government Control Over American Health Care

Liberal House Democrats just unveiled the Medicare for All Act of 2019, a comprehensive bill to abolish virtually all private health plans—including employer-sponsored coverage—and impose total federal government control over Americans’ health care.

Despite its sweeping and detailed government control, as well as the imposition of huge but unknown costs, the 120-page bill has nonetheless initially attracted 106 Democrat co-sponsors, almost half of all Democrats in the House.

The legislation is profoundly authoritarian.

For example, Section 107 ensures that no American, regardless of their personal wants or medical needs, would be able to enroll in any alternative health plan that “duplicates” the government’s coverage. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the bill’s primary sponsor, is at least open about the bill’s intent: “The Medicare for All bill really makes it clear what we mean by ‘Medicare for All.’  We mean a system where there are no private insurance companies that provide these core comprehensive benefits.”

Under Section 201, Congress would decide the content of the health benefits package, what is and is not to be available in the new government health plan. The bill forbids cost sharing, a statutory prohibition guaranteed to induce demand and hike Americans’ overall health costs. 

Americans would not be able simply to spend their own money for medical care from a doctor of their choice. Personal contracts between doctors and patients outside of the government plan would be tightly restricted. Under Section 301, “ … no charge will be made to any individual for any covered items or services than for payment authorized by this Act.”  

Under Section 303, a provider “ … may not bill or enter into any private contract with any individual eligible for benefits under the Act for any item or service that is a benefit under this Act.”  

Even private contracts for “non-covered” medical services require the doctor to report them to the health and human services secretary. Section 303 also stipulates that a private contract between a doctor and a patient for “covered” services would be permissible if and only if the doctor signs and files the affidavit with the secretary of HHS and refrains from submitting any claim for any person “enrolled under this Act” for two full years.

Altogether, these restrictions, layered atop the prohibition on private insurance coverage, would virtually eliminate private agreements between doctors and patients.

In practice, Americans could spend their own money on their own terms with just the very few doctors who could afford to see cash-paying patients entirely outside the system.  

In most respects, the new House bill is broadly similar to Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I-Vt., bill. Beyond creating a government monopoly of health insurance, it centralizes key health care decisions in the office of the secretary of HHS; establishes a national health budget; and it creates a temporary Medicare-style “public option” (along with subsidies for enrollees) in the moribund Obamacare exchanges. 

Like Sanders’ bill, the House bill would also eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Obamacare exchange plans, and Tricare, the health program for military dependents. All of these beneficiaries would be absorbed into the new government plan; it would not be a matter of personal choice.  

In striking contrast to the earlier version of the House “Medicare for All” bill, the new House bill contains no tax or funding provisions. This is a conspicuous omission. This is especially so because the House sponsors (under Section 204) also incorporate long-term care coverage, including nursing home and community-based care, into the basic benefit package. This coverage would likely be hugely expensive.

Recall that independent analysts from the Mercatus Center and the Urban Institute roughly agree that the true 10-year cost of Sanders’ similar plan would be approximately $32 trillion.

Ken Thorpe of Emory University, formerly an adviser to President Bill Clinton, estimates that the federal taxation needed to finance the Sanders’ plan would amount to an additional 20 percent tax on workers’ income, and more than 7 out of 10 working families would end up paying more for health care than they do today.

The federal spending and taxation needed to fund the new House bill would certainly be larger. Beyond the potential impact of the bill on the nation’s deficits and debt, independent analysts and economists will also focus laser-like on the size and impact of the new federal taxes on individuals and families at various income levels.

Simply taxing “the rich” will not cut it.    

The House co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act intend a rapid transformation of American health care.

Under Section 106 of the bill, they authorize the completion of this massive disruption of today’s public and private health insurance arrangements within just two years.

In the meantime, analysts at the Congressional Budget Office have a very big job to do.

They need to get on it. Now.

Let the debate begin.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Robert Moffit

Robert Moffit

Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., a seasoned veteran of more than three decades in Washington policymaking, is a senior fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pence: Democrats Embrace ‘Infanticide and a Culture of Death’

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Wikimedia Commons.

Only Economic Growth Will Save the United States of America

Gordon Gekko missed the mark with his famous Wall Street monologue about American capitalism. It is not greed but economic growth that is, for lack of a better word, good. Growth is right. Growth works. Growth clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Growth has marked the upward surge of mankind. And growth—you mark my words—will save that malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

This is probably pretty obvious to most Americans. Strong economic growth means more jobs and higher wages. Just take a look at the current expansion. It has only been moderate as goes the pace of growth, but it has been sustained. And month after month of a growing economy has brought down the unemployment rate to its lowest level since 1969, even as real wages continue to grow for all income levels. That’s especially true for working-class Americans. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate for Americans with only a high school diploma is the lowest since 2000. Indeed, despite all the debate about income inequality, earnings have been growing faster for those at the bottom than at the top.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump tours a Carrier factory with Vice President-elect Mike Pence in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., December 1, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar

Or look at it this way: In their research paper “Productivity and Pay: Is the link broken?” Harvard’s Anna Stansbury and Lawrence Summers find that higher productivity growth is associated with higher average and median compensation growth. The economists show that if productivity growth had been as fast from 1973 to 2016 as it was from 1949 to 1973—about twice as high—median and mean compensation would have been around 41 percent higher.

Yet a growing number of policymakers and pundits on the left and right are questioning the primacy of growth as the key objective of national economic policy. Democrats and progressives are focused on new policies to redistribute wealth, such as Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, or a universal basic income. Meanwhile, Republicans and conservatives, grappling with a president who questions the value of free trade and immigration, have grown publicly skeptical of market capitalism. “The free market has been sorting it out for a while, and America has been losing,” said Vice President Mike Pence. And they have become skeptical of the core goal of increasing economic growth.

Leading the charge among the wonks is Oren Cass, a Manhattan Institute scholar and former policy director for the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign. In his new book, The Once and Future Worker, Cass writes that although “economic growth and rising material living standards are laudable goals … they by no means guarantee the health of a labor market that will meet society’s long-term needs.”

The criticisms of growth skeptics range from the ahistorical to the utopian. Of course, a fast-rising tide of economic growth does not guarantee all boats will rise at the same pace or at a pace that society deems sufficient. “Guarantee,” after all, is a strong word. Depending on the strength one attributes to it, it’s possible nothing can “guarantee” the outcome that some growth critics want: all winners, no losers, no trade-offs, no disruption. But if by guarantee we don’t mean “ensure with ironclad certainty” but only “approximate more closely than any available alternative,” economic growth remains society’s best bet. Indeed, this very urge to undervalue growth’s benefits is the surest sign that growth in America has become a victim of its own success.

G.K. Chesterton famously noted how modern types of reformers see institutions or practices and think, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the wise reply, “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away.” Institutions and policies that endure decade after decade often serve a useful purpose even if that purpose isn’t immediately apparent, and we should be cautious before shrugging them off as unimportant. Our growth-oriented economic policy is a perfect example. It brings tremendous benefits, yet we now risk taking it for granted.

And what an odd time to question the benefits. The Obama administration was much derided for its apparently self-serving claim, made in the 2013 Economic Report of the President, “that in the 21st Century, real GDP growth in the United States is likely to be permanently slower than it was in earlier eras.” But it was a perfectly reasonable baseline forecast that continues to reflect the economic consensus from Wall Street to Washington. For instance: The Federal Reserve’s long-term, real GDP forecast stands at 1.8 percent, about half the average pace from 1947 to the start of the Great Recession. And even that reduced pace of growth seems a tad too optimistic for JP Morgan, which pegs the economy’s long-term growth potential at 1.5 percent.

There are good reasons why the experts seem so gloomy. The most important—and, perhaps, most inescapable—is demographics. The aging of the labor force, lower birth rates, and a slowing rate of immigration suggest a slowdown in the growth of the American labor force to around 0.5 percent annually going forward—as compared with roughly 2 percent in the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1 percent annual pace during the ’60s—a decade that today’s nationalist populists look back on with great nostalgia. But growth would have been less than 3 percent if the labor force had been growing as slowly back then as it is currently.

The other big obstacle to faster growth is weak productivity, which downshifted just before the Great Recession and has yet to rebound. For the American economy to grow as fast in the future as it has overall since World War II, output per worker will need to rise sharply. Indeed, that is a big goal of the 2017 Republican-pushed corporate tax cuts. They are supposed to increase business investment and eventually productivity growth. But there are no signs either is happening yet, much to the dismay of many conservative economists. The only other hope lies beyond Washington’s tinkering: The private sector continues to innovate. Maybe Silicon Valley will eventually come to the rescue, as innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics eventually spreads throughout the non-tech economy. The history of radical technological advances, such as electrification, suggest that it can take some time before businesses figure out how to effectively employ them.

It can be easy to dismiss all this talk of growth rates as the abstract muttering of economists far removed from the everyday concerns of the average American. As a corrective, George Mason economist Tyler Cowen poses a useful thought experiment in his latest book, Stubborn Attachments. Imagine we redo U.S. history, he says, “but assume the country’s economy had grown one percentage point less each year between 1870 and 1990. In that scenario, the United States of 1990 would be no richer than the Mexico of 1990.”

Michael Strain, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, makes a similar point when he writes:

Imagine the world in the year 1900. There was no air travel, no antibiotics, no iPhone, no Amazon Prime, no modern high school and no air conditioning. … Anyone who played down growth a century ago wouldn’t have known they were arguing against any of these things, because none of these growth-enabled features of modern life had been invented yet. But they would have been putting the existence of all these at risk by stifling, even marginally, the economic engine that allowed for their creation.

Sustained and solid growth is what makes these advances possible and is what separates the median American today from the median residents of the world’s developing economies. Sacrificing a tenth of a percentage point here and two-tenths there to, say, protect favored industries from foreign competition or levy punitive taxes on obscenely rich entrepreneurs may seem like a worthwhile tradeoff in the moment. But because of how growth compounds over time, in the long-term such trade-offs aren’t just unappealing but inexplicable. As the Nobel Laureate in economics Robert Lucas wrote, “Once one starts to think about [exponential growth], it is hard to think about anything else.” Marginally slowing down economic growth to achieve other policy goals might cause little harm to us, but it seems both less fair and less wise when the welfare of ensuing generations are accounted for. In Strain’s words, “What in the world of tomorrow doesn’t yet exist? We need growth in order to find the answer, both for ourselves, and for posterity.”

It is strange that intellectuals are dismissing the importance of economic growth at just the point when it is becoming harder to generate—and doubly weird after a long stretch of sluggish growth that has almost certainly played a role in the surge of populist politicians such as President Trump. And these populist leaders are pushing the sorts of policies that make a future of slow growth even more likely.

Trump looks back to the immediate decades after World War Two as the golden age of the American economy. His presidential campaign, for instance, made a point of promising the return of mass employment in the industrial-age industries of steel and coal. Cass, too, has pointed to those decades as an alternate model of economic growth. As he said during a recent think-tank event:

The period of time when productivity growth was really booming most in the American economy was a time when tax rates were much higher, immigration rates were much lower, there was virtually no international trade by the standards of the 1920s or today, and there was a much smaller or non-existent safety net. The idea that what we currently call the pro-growth agenda is actually what has aligned with high growth isn’t true.

That is a wrong-headed interpretation of economic history. While it is true that the so-called golden age era is known for fast economic and productivity growth, economists generally do not credit the lack of trade or immigration. Rather, notes the Congressional Budget Office in a review of research literature on the subject, “the golden age may be more accurately interpreted as the full final exploitation of an earlier burst of innovations through electrification, suburbanization, completion and increasing exploitation of the highway system, and production of consumer appliances.” In other words, huge technological advances in the 1920s and 1930s reaped benefits for decades.

Unfortunately, those productivity gains, along with American industrial superiority over its war-ravaged competitors, have created a myth about the postwar American economy—a myth that populists continue to spread. Yet Fortress America entered the 1970s ill-prepared for the inevitable global competition as the rest of the world’s advanced economies finally recovered.

Both Trump and Cass, therefore, have it backward. It wasn’t too much globalization and economic openness that undermined large swaths of the manufacturing economy, but too little. As Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan write in Capitalism in America:

The 1970s was the decade when Americans finally had to grapple with the fact that it was losing its leadership in an ever widening range of industries. Though the best American companies such as General Electric and Pfizer powered ahead, a striking number treaded water. They had succeeded during the long postwar boom not because they had any particular merit, but because Europe and Japan were still recovering from World War Two and they collapsed at the first sniff of competition.

The last thing the American economy needs today is a reduction in competitive intensity, whether achieved by shielding industries with tariffs or keeping out the immigrants that help grow the workforce and provide expertise to key industries, especially technology. Nearly half of our “unicorn companies,” another name for U.S. startups worth over $1 billion dollars, were founded by immigrants. Immigrant scientists and entrepreneurs play a disproportionate role in driving the tech progress necessary for sustained productivity growth. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies have a first- or second-generation immigrant founder. Immigrants may compete with other Americans, but they also employ them.

The critics of a growth-above-all approach might grant that no other national policy is better at generating material prosperity. But, they say, life requires more than mere materialism. We crave community, beauty, and a certain degree of stability. It is this objection that Harvard’s Benjamin Friedman sought to address in his 2006 book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. True, capitalism and the creative destruction that drive it can disrupt traditional cultures or degrade the environment. And from the Old Testament to the present, men have fretted over usury’s effects on one’s soul (today we might say finance’s effects on one’s morals). But growth doesn’t only erode individual and societal morality. Besides improving material conditions, growth improves moral ones, as well.

Friedman notes how sustained growth “shapes the social, political and, ultimately, the moral character of a people” and “more often than not fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy.” Slow growth, on the other hand, leads to ugly consequences, especially if voters begin to feel it is inevitable. In times of stagnation, economic policy tilts toward dividing up a fixed pie rather than enlarging everyone’s share. It could mean a society that is less willing to entertain the benefits of international trade, more hostile toward immigration and immigrants, and more comfortable with regulating business.

In fact, “could” is putting it mildly. The tariffs, legislative efforts to reduce immigration, and frequent threats to regulate America’s most successful companies, such as Google and Amazon, already show some of the consequences of the sluggish recovery from the Great Recession—and this from what is supposed to be America’s pro-growth party.

Growth is, and remains, good. Growth is right, staving off a zero-sum politics defined more by group conflict than productive cooperation. Growth works, improving everyone’s standard of living, if not always equally, at least steadily. Growth clarifies, exposing business to competition, and prevents industrial calcification. Growth signifies the evolutionary and upward surge of mankind, evident in everything from modern medicine to interstellar space travel. And a policy geared toward increasing economic growth—pursued attentively and unapologetically—will save the United States of America. All other national economic strategies are but pale imitations.

This article was reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

COLUMN BY

James Pethokoukis

James Pethokoukis

James Pethokoukis is a columnist and blogger at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was the Washington columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, the opinion and commentary wing of Thomson Reuters.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission. Image credit: Image by geralt on Pixabay.

George Bernard Shaw Was so Enamored with Socialism He Advocated Genocide to Advance It

For decades, Shaw was a staunch proponent of genocide, refusing to soften his views even after the full horror of the Nazi death camps was brought to light.

In an excerpt from her recently published book Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, Kristen Ghodsee freely quotes from the works of the playwright and Fabian Socialist George Bernard Shaw to bolster her argument that capitalism is inherently sexist. The free market forces women to be reliant upon men, wrote Shaw, turning sex into a virtual bribe for financial security. Based on Shaw’s analysis, Ghodsee concludes that capitalism makes slaves out of women who, under socialism, would supposedly be happy and free.

To say the least, citing Shaw is an odd choice if one is advocating for greater freedom and independence. An apologist for the world’s most brutal and oppressive dictators, Shaw had a passionate hatred for liberty, writing,

Mussolini, Kemal, Pilsudski, Hitler and the rest can all depend on me to judge them by their ability to deliver the goods and not by … comfortable notions of freedom.

For Shaw, “the goods” could only be delivered if the people were bound in universal slavery to the state. This enslavement was necessary for the people’s welfare; most of the population were brutes who, when left to their own devices, could not fend for themselves and thus required the state to “reorganize” their lives for them.

In Shaw’s eyes, the pinnacle of civilization had been reached by the Soviet Union. During his 1931 “pilgrimage” to Stalin’s wonderland, Shaw was given a glimpse of what he referred to as a “land of hope.” He denied that the regime had imprisoned significant numbers of political dissidents, describing the gulags as popular vacation destinations. “From what I gather, they can stay there as long they like,” he said.

That’s not to say he was willfully ignorant of Stalin’s atrocities. Rather, he defended them. Blindly accepting Communist propaganda, Shaw argued that the dictator was forced to organize mass executions to keep the country safe from “exploiters and speculators.” Mass murders were also necessary to maintain a competent workforce. As Shaw wrote in 1933, the “unfortunate Commissar” must shoot his own workers “so that he might the more impressively ask the rest of the staff whether they yet grasped the fact that orders are meant to be executed.”

But killing the disobedient and inefficient was only the first step in building a better society. Shaw also advocated for a far-reaching eugenics program. “[I]f we desire a certain type of civilization and culture,” he wrote, “we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it.” This included a whole range of “defectives.”

In a 1931 newsreel, he excitedly echoed Nazi sentiment, stating,

If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight … then clearly, we cannot use the organizations of society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to you.

But his murderous impulses didn’t stop there. A considerable number of people, Shaw argued in 1948, will never toe the line and are therefore no use to the rest of society. “[T]he ungovernables, the ferocious, the conscienceless, the idiots, the self-centered myops and morons, what of them?” he asked rhetorically. “Do not punish them. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill them.”

Though many early 20th century intellectuals were enamored with eugenics, arguably none were as committed to the wholesale slaughter of millions as George Bernard Shaw. For decades, Shaw was a staunch proponent of genocide, refusing to soften his views even after the full horror of the Nazi death camps was brought to light. And yet, there are many leftists today who continue to look to Shaw for political wisdom.

Writing for The Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole declares “The world has never needed George Bernard Shaw more.” Employing a fittingly violent metaphor, O’Toole lauds the way in which Shaw trained his machine gun-like personality on the “pieties of Victorian imperial patriarchy.”

Like Kristen Ghodsee, O’Toole praises Shaw for his polemics against gender inequality and the “tyranny” of family life. No mention is made of his fondness for eugenics. Other writers have taken to Shaw’s defense, admitting he sometimes said distasteful things but ultimately brushing off his more extreme statements as mere “satire.” However, given that Shaw’s penchant for promoting totalitarianism carried on for decades, it’s difficult to believe there was anything “satirical” about it. His bloodthirsty political philosophy seems to be have been all too genuine.

Nonetheless, Shaw was also a steadfast critic of capitalism and “Victorian” social values. His fiery denunciations of wealth inequality and traditional sexual morality resonate well with modern progressives. For them, an individual’s adherence to socialist orthodoxy is enough to absolve him of almost any crime.

From the relatively quiet and “respectable” anti-semitism of Ilhan Omar to the brutal and homicidal radicalism of Che Guevara, socialists have not only been willing to ignore the bigots and authoritarians in their midst but have gone so far as to embrace them. And few have been more adored than that eccentric playwright and unapologetic Stalinist George Bernard Shaw.

COLUMN BY

Tyler  Curtis

Tyler Curtis

Tyler Curtis works as a lender at a community bank in Missouri. He also holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.

Is Your Community One of 13 Recognized for its Welcome to New Americans?

When I wrote my post welcoming readers to my new blog, I told you I was writing to attempt to balance the news because you will be bombarded by stories over the next two years about how immigrants (New Americans is the preferred word) financially and culturally benefit your community.

Sure they may bring some benefits but also some problems and it is the problems that Open Borders pushers like the New American Economy (NAE) and Welcoming AmericaNEVER mention.

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The chief propagandists behind the New American Economy.  Does anyone think they have the best interests of average Americans at heart? Or is it all about cheap labor?

Someone has to do it—tell the rest of the story—and I’m hoping Frauds and Crooks will be a one-stop shop for cataloging stories about frauds and crimes that cost you and me both financially and from a security standpoint so that you can best decide where you stand on the issue of our time—migration.

We are in a tough battle because the Open Borders Left has joined with global giants to push more and more immigration down our throats.

david lubell with logo
Welcoming America Founder Lubell has a new position. He is working in Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the UK to help make them be more welcoming.

I saw a story this morning from Bowling Green, KY, a huge refugee resettlement site that I wrote about often at Refugee Resettlement Watch.

It’s about how the Chamber of Commerce and local government are working with NAE and their Gateways for Growth initiative to improve employment prospects for the “New Americans” living there.

You can read the story yourself, here.

Bowling Green is one of thirteen localities which have been awarded grants for 2019 to boost the immigrant population—to get them working and voting.

From NAE’s website:

Thirteen Communities Across the United States Make a Commitment to Welcome New Americans

Launched in December 2015, the Gateways for Growth Challenge is a competitive opportunity for local communities to receive direct technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants.

Here are the locations awarded grants for 2019:

Bowling Green, Kentucky
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Charlotte, North Carolina
Flint, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Lexington, Kentucky
Lowell, Massachusetts
Memphis, Tennessee
Northern Kentucky
Roanoke, Virginia
San Antonio, Texas
Toledo-Lucas County, Ohio
Wayne County, Michigan

Learn more here.

You know the grants themselves are really not that great, but they buy media because every location on this list will likely generate warm and fuzzy local media coverage just like the story at the Bowling Green Daily News.

Has Bowling Green already forgotten that it is the location where two Iraqi refugee terrorists were arrested only a few years ago?  Has that news been swept under the rug? Sure looks like it.

question mark

Are you seeing news in a local paper or on local TV about one of the other twelve locations, if so, send me a link!

Update:  Thanks to Robin here is the puff-piece from Lexington, KY local news

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals with images is republished with permission.

7 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Teachers Unions

I stand with teachers—not unions.

Every year, my school district hosts a beginning of the year meeting with every employee in the district. Amidst all the pomp are 15 minutes during which my school district provides a platform for the head of the local teachers union. He doesn’t say much, keeping it vague and general. He says the union works with the school board and other leaders to fight for both teachers and students.

He also spends time in the teachers’ lounge occasionally, handing out pamphlets. A note in defense of unions was left at a table in the lounge recently. It details accomplishments of unions past and the evils of corporations. This note and this speech are a nice review of a high school civics course, but they have one glaring flaw: they focus entirely on the past.

Contexts change. For instance, the necessity of stationed US troops in Germany has shifted since the Cold War. The same goes for unions at large as the US reaches historical levels of prosperity. We can appreciate the accomplishments of the past while still reconsidering the utility of unions in the present. There are of course defenses of unions within a modern context. That said, they are ultimately lacking. Here are seven reasons why we should support the dissolution of teachers unions in 2019.

Two years ago, while I was a first-year teacher, I mistakenly stumbled into a members-only meeting in my school’s library. Before being shooed away and denied a scone with coffee, I saw pamphlets in stacks next to the treats. One column was topped by a glowering Donald Trump over a dark red background like a Sith lord; the other had a smiling Hillary Clinton.

While teachers are stereotypically liberal, a survey done by Education Week found that 43 percent of educators define themselves as moderate, with a near equal number identifying as conservative or liberal. In 2016, 50 percent of teachers voted for Hillary Clinton and 29 percent for Donald Trump. Teachers are a moderate and politically diverse crowd.

That being said, in the past 28 years, teachers unions have given 96 percent of their funding to Democratic candidates. In the agenda from the National Education Association (NEA)’s most recent annual meeting, the business items include a commitment to:

  • Responding to the “heartless, racist, and discriminatory zero-tolerance [immigration] policies of the Trump administration”
  • Supporting Black Lives Matter
  • Opposing arming teachers in schools
  • The removal of Confederate leaders from school monuments
  • Posting a public list of individuals who have refused service to LGBTQ people
  • The postponement of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh
  • The prohibition of private jails
  • Opposing charter schools and voucher programs
  • Describing and deconstructing “the systemic proliferation of a White supremacy culture and its constituent elements of White privilege and institutional racism”

Regardless of your views on all of these, there is a clear disparity between the agenda of the largest teachers union in the nation and the views of its teachers. Perhaps even more glaring, many of these issues have only a tangential relation to education, if that. While they speak of defending teachers, much of their energy is spent advocating for various, non-educational political initiatives.

Both Republicans and Democrats complain about money in politics. Both sides have their boogeyman: George Soros and the Koch Brothers. And yet, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NEA was the second largest contributor to political campaigns of any individual, corporation, or union in 2014. In 2016, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and NEA collectively gave $64 million in political contributions compared to only $11 million and $28 million by the Koch brothers and George Soros, respectively.

Unions fight for increased funding with the intent of raising teacher pay and purchasing better academic materials. Some research shows that it is beneficial. Other papers don’t. An analysis by Johns Hopkins finds a synthesis between the two, arguing that how school achievement is defined and how money is spent determine whether funding correlates with improvement. Until structural reforms are put in place to apply market pressure to the schools, any funding increase will be little more than waste.

At the first school I worked at, the book room had thousands of books, worth thousands of dollars, and I was one of the only teachers in our building who used them. My department had a supply closet filled with toys and gadgets no one used. There are curriculum teams and staff members collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a curriculum that is either followed without fidelity or ignored entirely.

Per pupil spending, school achievement, and teacher pay give data to substantiate this claim. In current dollars, school spending has increased by roughly $3,000 per pupil since the early 1990s; yet teacher pay has declined or remained flat in most states, while student achievement on test scores has remained stagnant or even decreased in some states. Money is increasing, but it isn’t creating results.

More generally, teachers unions promote a strict pay scale that rewards any teacher for years taught—be they exceptional or mediocre or lousy—incentivizing longevity, not performance. They also make it nearly impossible to fire teachers, taking up to two years and $200,000 according to Stanford Professor Terry Moe. Social stances, funding, and strict pay scales just won’t do in the face of crumbling urban education.

Unions block the reforms that will structurally change a broken system and in return, promise increased funding, which will, in turn, be drained away by the broken system. Namely, they oppose school choice, merit-based pay, standardized tests, and the Praxis, an entrance exam for teachers.

School choice, while not a panacea, is one reform that has tremendous potential for improving schools. Research shows that the pressure this funding structure places on schools increases student performancesaves money, and improves students’ mental health.

Educational reform has been stymied. Across the board, Republicans have advanced comprehensive reforms from charter schools to more stringent teacher evaluations and merit-based pay. After a blue wave, many fear that the growth it has enacted may be at an end.

I allow my students to set some classroom rules to provide a sense of ownership. One student expressed that he didn’t want a star or candy simply for following directions. It’s condescending, he said, to praise a student for the minimum. That assumes you only expect the minimum.

In my role, I watch many teachers teach, and not everyone necessarily deserves a star. I have heard teachers tell their kids to ask fewer questions. I have seen teachers celebrate over pregnant students. I have heard teachers speak of students using language one would expect from the villain in a Scorsese movie. All the while, teachers denigrate any test that shows stagnant scores or an administrator who questions their efficacy.

The unions tell us that we, the teachers, deserve our jobs and better pay regardless of the success of our students, but in reality, we deserve more money and respect only if we do our job well. To suggest anything else is a disservice to the profession.

I was new to teaching and sat across from the school’s manager of our 403(b) plans. I asked if the school district would match my contribution. They don’t, because the district pays toward our pension. I rolled my eyes, and so did she.

Chad Aldeman, a former analyst at the Department of Education, explains the problem well. He says that “states are paying an average of 12 percent of each teacher’s salary just for debt costs. If states didn’t face these large debts, they could afford to give that money back to teachers in the form of higher salaries—an average of $6,801 for every public school teacher in America.”In education, teachers receive retirement benefits based on a formula, unable to invest any more than the predetermined amount.

Under a 401(k) plan, any employee could choose to be frugal and invest more, as well as receive more from their employer and thereby more from their retirement plan. In education, teachers receive retirement benefits based on a formula, unable to invest any more than the predetermined amount.

That $6,800 dollars could go to much better use. For those of us who choose to save, we would end up with a retirement portfolio that would outdo most teacher pensions. Others may counter that some do not have the disposable income to save for themselves, but even in this case, those teachers should be allowed to keep their money and spend it on whatever medical bill or child care they need.

Factory workers during the Industrial Revolution were expendable. They had no specialized skills or education with which they could bargain in a labor-flooded market. Conversely, teachers are a highly-skilled and educated workforce in a market where they are in short supply.

A friend of mine, one of the best teachers at our school, was falsely accused of hitting a student. Under convoluted district rules, the principal wanted to fire him. This teacher walked into the office with test scores, student testimonials, projects demonstrating mastery by some of our school’s most difficult students, and hallway video records that proved him innocent. We can bargain for ourselves.

As a rule, I try not to stand in opposition to things. It breeds resentment instead of changing minds and casts no vision for a way forward. I’m not against unions. I’m for teachers. For us to flourish financially and professionally, we need the freedom to bargain for ourselves, the respect that comes with accountability, and meaningful reform. Therefore, I stand with teachers—not unions.

COLUMN BY

Daniel Buck

Daniel Buck is an educator in an urban school in Wisconsin with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and an editor for the website Lone Conservative.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission. Image credit: Max Pixel.