Category Archives: Unions

Government Union Reports Sharp Decline in Political Spending

One of the country’s top labor unions cut its political spending in union stronghold Oregon after seeing dues drop by $2 million, according to its annual report.

Oregon’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) chapter reported just $1.6 million in political activities and lobbying in its 2019 report, down over $500,000 from 2018. The decline in political spending reflects the union’s struggle to maintain its membership after the Supreme Court banned mandatory fees in the 2018 Janus decision. Dues fell by $2 million in the first year after the ruling.

SEIU’s waning political influence reflects century-low union membership, undermining big labor’s longstanding support for Democratic candidates and left-wing political advocacy groups. SEIU’s Oregon chapter has slashed its political spending by more than 60 percent since 2017, when it spent $4.1 million. The steep drop was not limited to Oregon. SEIU, one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors, spent less than $45 million nationally on political activities and lobbying in 2018, down from $60 million in 2016.

“The unions are trying to hide the fact that they are losing members, money, and political clout, but the numbers don’t lie,” said Ashley Varner, spokeswoman for Washington state think tank Freedom Foundation. “Fewer union members means smaller coffers to spend on buying politicians and influencing public policy.”

Neither SEIU nor its Oregon chapter returned requests for comment.

Organized labor’s political spending has not always reflected its members’ voting habits. Hillary Clinton won union voters in 2016 by the narrowest margin of any Democrat since 1984, with nearly half of union households voting Republican. Despite this partisan divide among members, 99 percent of all union political contributions since 2010 have gone to Democratic causes. The National Right to Work Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case, said the Supreme Court’s decision has forced unions to reconsider how they spend workers’ money.

“For years government union bosses across the country played politics with workers’ money, even though many of the radical policies and candidates they backed were opposed by many of the rank-and-file workers they claimed to represent,” spokesman Patrick Semmens said. “Now that their legal power to threaten public employees to pay up or be fired has been eliminated, union officials must refocus on representing the interests of actual workers or risk alienating more workers who are now free to cut off their political support.”

Top Democrats and labor leaders have rushed to bolster union membership and political influence in response.

In many Democrat-controlled states, including Oregon, new legislation aims to unionize workers without their knowledge and allow unions to collect workaround fees from nonmembers. At the federal level, House Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee have pushed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a union wishlist bill that outlaws secret ballot elections and gives unions the ability to force objecting employees to pay for representation.

Leading Democratic presidential candidates have also gone to great lengths to woo organized labor. Former vice president Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) all released big labor-backed plans to revive the country’s struggling unions, with Sanders aiming to double union membership.

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Trump Economy Blazes as Gen. Motors, Ford Surprise 1,500 Temps with Full-Time Promotions & More To Come

Though Democrats and the predominately liberal establishment media are loath to admit it, the U.S. economy under President Donald Trump has been on fire for three years and shows little signs of a significant slowdown any time soon. Those who tout Trump’s robust economy often point to the soaring stock market, the historically low unemployment…

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Labor Unions Come Out Strong to Support Trump Trade Deal: ‘Huge Win for Working People in America’

The nation’s most prominent labor unions are coming out strong to support President Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal that will replace the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Pro-Employee Groups Slam Democrats’ Amnesty Deal with Agriculture Industry

The United Food and Commercial Workers union and several other left-wing, anti-poverty groups are opposing the Democrats’ amnesty-for-cheap-labor deal, which faces a vote in the House today.

Privilege and Entitlement Unionize at Harvard University

Students of Harvard University are once again showcasing a culture of entitlement that only the most privileged of students could possibly display. In an unnecessary call to action, The Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers is going on strike to demand that its administration pay student workers more, provide them with better health benefits, and…

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2020 Dems to Attend Forum Hosted by Scandal-Plagued Union

Top Democratic presidential hopefuls will attend a Teamsters candidate forum hosted by union head James Hoffa Jr., despite longstanding allegations of corruption under his leadership.

Hoffa, son of infamous labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, has faced numerous accusations of corruption both internally and from federal investigators since he was first elected general president in 1998. A 2004 investigation of the Chicago Teamsters brought forth allegations of rampant corruption, including mob influence and kickback schemes. Recently, Hoffa confidante and union leader John Coli pleaded guilty to extorting a Chicago film studio, threatening worker strikes if the company refused to make quarterly payments of $25,000.

The union did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite the union’s history, top Democratic presidential candidates are wooing Hoffa for his endorsement. Former vice president Joe Biden, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) will attend a Saturday forum hosted by the labor leader and live-streamed by the U.K.-based Guardian. According to Hoffa, candidates are expected to “tell Teamsters directly why they are the leader who will effectively push” for pro-union policies.

“Candidates know the importance of the Teamsters vote in any election, and our members are fully engaged and ready to make a difference in the 2020 election,” Hoffa said in a release.

The candidates will be looking to appeal to one of the Democrats’ most crucial constituencies—union voters—as well as secure the extensive financial resources controlled by labor leaders. Biden’s presidential campaign has already received $1,700 from Teamsters, and Biden took $10,000 from the union in 1990 as a Delaware senator. Sanders has received more than $107,000 from the union throughout his political career, with Klobuchar raking in $30,000.

The Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Biden campaigns did not respond to requests for comment. A Sanders campaign spokesman declined to answer questions about corruption allegations and federal probes into Teamsters leadership.

Since taking control of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Hoffa has been reelected four times despite issues of corruption and mismanagement. In 2005, Hoffa made Coli, the Chicago union executive, a member of his presidential slate despite Coli’s alleged role in shutting down the union’s anti-corruption program, according to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a reform group. Coli’s local chapter was under federal investigation at the time, yet Hoffa groomed him as a top union leader.

Coli went on to plead guilty to receiving illegal payments and filing a false income tax return after extorting $325,000 from Cinespace, a Chicago-based film studio. Coli received quarterly payments of $25,000 by threatening Teamsters strikes at the studio, telling Cinespace president Alex Pissios “I will f—ing have a picket line up here and everything will stop” if Pissios stopped paying Coli.

Coli was known for his influence over Illinois’s top elected officials, including former Democratic governor Pat Quinn. One of Coli’s political allies, Illinois state senator Tom Cullerton, was indicted in August for allegedly accepting nearly $275,000 in salary and benefits for a do-nothing job offered by Coli.

Hoffa has also been at odds with his own workers at the negotiating table, ratifying two contracts between Teamsters and the United Parcel Service even though a majority of workers rejected the company’s offers. Union workers disapproved of concessions made by Hoffa, including a proposal to hire “hybrid-drivers” who would make less than other full-time drivers and be denied weekend overtime pay.

One candidate scheduled to attend the Teamsters forum allegedly holds a deeper connection to Teamsters corruption. Frank Sheeran, the late Teamsters official and confessed mafia hitman claimed that he helped elect Biden to the Senate in 1972, according to the book I Heard You Paint Houses—the inspiration for the Netflix movie The Irishman. When Biden’s Republican opponent paid to insert an ad in a Delaware newspaper just before the election, Sheeran organized a picket line to stop the newspaper from circulating.

“The day after the election the informational picket line came down, and the newspaper went back to normal and Delaware had a new United States Senator,” Sheeran said of Biden, adding “you could reach out for him, and he would listen.”

To receive an invitation to the forum, candidates had to sign the union’s three-point pledge, a commitment to “protect the rights and strengthen the ability of workers to join a union” and “advance legislation to protect pensions and solve the multiemployer pension funding crisis,” among other policy promises.

The forum allows Teamsters leaders to drum up taxpayer support for the union’s failing pension plan, according to Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior fellow F. Vincent Vernuccio.

“The debate will no doubt focus on ways taxpayers can bailout chronically underfunded union pensions such as the historically mismanaged Teamsters Central States pension plan,” Vernuccio said. “With income of over $200 million and assets of over $335 million last year, the Teamsters should dip into their own pockets to honor the promises they made to their members before asking taxpayers to pay the bill or asking retirees to take a cut in benefits.”

A spokesman for the Guardian declined comment about the forum, referring the Washington Free Beacon to a press release in which Guardian U.S. editor John Mulholland praised Hoffa and his organization.

“We are pleased to partner with the Teamsters union to host a special town hall event where workers’ voices will be heard,” he said.

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Government Worker Behind Landmark Anti-Union Case Wants His Money Back

The Illinois man who won a landmark Supreme Court case that struck a blow against government unions is back in court fighting to recover the money seized from his paychecks, one of many lawsuits that could cost labor groups more than $100 million.

Mark Janus is asking a federal appeals court to force his former union to return the money that it unconstitutionally deducted from his paychecks. The former child support specialist was the named plaintiff in 2018’s Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 Supreme Court decision, which declared that public-sector unions may not forcefully collect union contributions without employee consent. Associate Justice Samuel Alito affirmed in the Court’s majority opinion that forcing employees to pay partial dues known as “agency fees” to their unions violates the First Amendment.

Janus is still locked in a legal battle, seeking to recover the thousands of dollars that the union forcefully collected from his paychecks before the 2018 decision. A panel of judges on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that unions don’t have to refund dues collected in compliance with the pre-Janus legal statutes. Janus has appealed that judgment, asking for an en banc review to be carried out from every judge on the circuit.

“The Supreme Court agrees with me—the union was wrong to take money out of my paycheck without my permission,” Janus said in a statement. “The union knew what it was doing was wrong. The union shouldn’t get to profit from behavior that the Court recognized as unconstitutional.”

The union did not return request for comment about the case.

Janus’s current court battle could have significant ramifications on the bottom lines of unions. If AFSCME Council 31 is forced to retroactively return money it took from Janus’s paychecks, it would strengthen the cases of dozens of class-action lawsuits filed by workers across the country, according to Patrick Semmens, a spokesperson for the National Right to Work Foundation. The foundation is representing employees in more than a dozen lawsuits that could force labor groups to refund $120 million of past dues and fees to workers. Workers in several other states and cities across the country filed similar suits.

“There is probably another 20 or 30 cases that aren’t ours … likely [worth] hundreds of millions of dollars,” Semmens said.

Janus is seeking to recover about $3,000 he paid the union between March 2013 and June 2018, the month the Supreme Court declared forced dues illegal. Semmens said that the suit does not seek refunds for union dues before 2013, because it would be beyond the statute of limitation.

A lower court and the appellate panel have ruled that Janus’s union acted in good faith and followed legal precedent in collecting mandatory dues before June 2018, limiting the retrospective applicability of the Supreme Court decision.

Janus’s legal team believes the court erred in its judgment because legal precedents established the retroactive applicability of Supreme Court rulings. Semmens said that the Janus decision recognized that the Supreme Court put public sector unions “on notice” that the mandatory dues might be constitutionally suspect as early as 2012’s Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000.

“When the Supreme Court rules, they don’t change the law, they say this is what the law has always been,” Semmens said. “This is what the First Amendment has always protected.”

Four Trump-nominated federal judges sit on the Seventh Circuit. It has nine Republican-appointed and two Democrat-appointed members.

The suit is the latest in a string of legal disputes testing the limits of the Janus decision. Alaska Republican governor Mike Dunleavy recently cited the ruling when he signed a new policy requiring government employees to annually reaffirm their union membership before unions can deduct dues, triggering union lawsuits. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s unions agreed to end a practice that gave workers only a short time to opt out of membership following a lawsuit from dissident employees.

Semmens said his client is prepared to return to the Supreme Court to secure his refund if that’s what it takes.

“This exact case has been to the Supreme Court once,” he said. “Whichever way it comes out at the court of appeals here, I suspect the side that doesn’t win would ask the Supreme Court to take it.”

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Establishment-Backed DNC Candidate Discriminated Against Employees Based on Age, Race

An establishment-backed labor leader running for a Democratic National Committee seat called non-Hispanic employees “gringos” and terminated employees based on age, according to a lawsuit.

When Ada Briceño (née Torres) was president of UNITE HERE Local 681, a jury convicted the hospitality labor group of discrimination and illegal firing. According to the 2003 lawsuit, Briceño referred to non-Hispanic employees as “gringos,” disparaged employees’ work-related medical conditions, and terminated workers based on age, telling a union vice president “I’m going to fire these f—ing old ladies, and we can get someone else for less money.”

Briceño’s union went on to pay nearly $1 million in damages and legal fees stemming from the lawsuit, a ruling the organization unsuccessfully appealed. She did not return requests for comment.

Despite her history of discrimination as a labor leader, Briceño is now running for the DNC on a platform of inclusivity, receiving widespread support from the Democratic establishment. California Democratic representatives Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda, and Mike Levin have all endorsed Briceño, as have California’s secretary of state and treasurer. Though all of Briceño’s top endorsers have spoken against workplace discrimination, none have addressed the labor leader’s discriminatory practices. They did not return requests for comment.

Center for Union Facts spokeswoman Charlyce Bozzello said the lawsuit should raise red flags for Democratic leaders.

“For someone who touts her achievements on behalf of workers, Briceño certainly seems to be a common denominator among organizations accused of employee abuse,” said Bozzello. “Instead of sweeping her misdeeds under the rug, Briceño’s past offenses—and her connection to current allegations—should make the Democratic party question what kind of leadership she’ll bring to the national committee.”

According to the lawsuit, Briceño routinely subjected non-Hispanics to differential treatment. In addition to calling employees “gringos,” Briceño failed to discipline Hispanic staff members who were late to work despite requiring all employees to sign a document ensuring their punctuality. Briceño also held union meetings that were conducted only in Spanish with no translation for non-Spanish speakers, calling those who complained “contra.”

In addition, Briceño discriminated against staff members based on age and disparaged employees over their medical conditions. After one worker took time off for work-related medical conditions and injuries, Briceño “made her feel she was wrong and not entitled to do so,” causing the employee to cancel doctor’s appointments in an attempt to make up for missed time. Briceño went on to terminate multiple employees after stating she was going to “fire these f—ing old ladies” and “get someone else for less money.” She described the fired workers as “old and slow and time to go.”

While a California jury convicted Briceño’s union of illegal firing and discrimination against its employees, Briceño’s career continued to advance. The labor leader retained her job as president of Local 681 following the lawsuit. The union later merged with other UNITE HERE chapters to form Local 11. Briceño served as Local 11 co-president in 2017 and 2018, collecting more than $200,000 in compensation, according to federal labor filings. She also serves as vice president of UNITE HERE international, which represents more than 270,000 workers.

Since launching her DNC campaign, Briceño has avoided criticism over her history of discrimination. Her campaign site states that Briceño “believe[s] in uniting people across our differences” and that “Democrats win when everyone has a seat at the table.” A recent profile of Briceño did not mention the 2003 lawsuit.

The toxic work environment described by Briceño’s union underlings has allegedly extended past her union work. Activists at Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD), a coalition Briceño co-founded, have accused the group of mistreatment. OCCORD has experienced mass departures, with organizers accusing leadership of developing a “working environment characterized by burn out, long hours, lax professional development and stale wages.”

The DNC did not return request for comment.

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Ohio Union Returns Improperly Seized Dues to Bus Driver

An Ohio public school employee won a settlement against her former union, securing a refund of dues union bosses seized improperly.

Donna Fizer, a school bus driver, withdrew her membership from the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) in 2018. The union pushed back, arguing that she could not withdraw outside of a 10-day “escape period.” OAPSE officials backed down after Fizer challenged the policy in federal court. The union agreed to return all dues taken from Fizer following her withdrawal in a settlement filed Monday.

The settlement comes as a blow to labor leaders’ state-level counterattack against the Supreme Court’s Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees decision, which declared forced dues schemes for government workers unconstitutional. In an attempt to reduce the outflow of financial supporters following the decision, unions such as the OAPSE imposed “resignation windows” that limit when workers can leave the union—in some cases giving workers only a few days to sever their financial support.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case, said Fizer’s win against one of Ohio’s most powerful unions shows that labor groups should think twice before challenging public workers’ rights.

“Ms. Fizer’s win should serve as another reminder that public sector union bosses cannot legally limit public employees’ First Amendment rights through ‘escape periods’ and other similar schemes,” Mix said in a statement. “The Foundation will continue to offer free legal aid so workers can bring more lawsuits to ensure that public employees’ Janus rights are fully enforced.”

Fizer’s case could deal a blow to union finances, leading more employees to leave the 34,000-member labor group. The union takes 2 percent of members’ salaries and collected nearly $15 million in dues and agency fees from September 2017 to August 2018, according to the OAPSE’s most recent federal labor filing.

Any loss in revenue could also hurt Democrats in the swing state in 2020. The OAPSE spent nearly $2.5 million in political activities and lobbying in 2018, according to its federal labor filings. The union’s PAC has already spent over $270,000 in 2019 after spending about $1.3 million during the 2016 election cycle, according to state records.

Though the OAPSE did not respond for comment, the union touted the support of a school employee weeks before settling Fizer’s case.

Fizer’s withdrawal request came a few months after the Janus decision in June 2018, according to her complaint. While Fizer’s school district complied, stopping the union dues deductions from her paycheck, the OAPSE hit back. Just weeks after Fizer’s withdrawal, the union filed a grievance with the school district, arguing that she did not “provide her notice of opposition to financially supporting OAPSE within the 10-day time frame” dictated by the union’s collective bargaining agreement.

When the district rejected the OAPSE’s grievance, noting that it would “honor the Supreme Court ‘Janus decision,'” the union forced arbitration proceedings, ordering the district to continue its seizure of dues from Fizer’s paycheck and even confiscate an additional sum to “make OAPSE whole” for lost dues following Fizer’s withdrawal.

Fizer responded by suing the OAPSE in federal court, arguing that the union’s 10-day withdrawal period “significantly impinges on employees’ exercise of their constitutional rights.” Rather than fight the lawsuit in court, OAPSE officials backed down, agreeing to not only return improperly seized dues, but cover Fizer’s legal fees.

The union’s concession is another example of education unions’ declining influence at the state level. Education unions in Oregon and Washington reported large drops in financial supporters since June 2018, with the Oregon School Employees Association accepting a $400,000 bailout from its parent organization to help make ends meet.

Union shortcomings in Oregon and Washington have come amidst an outreach campaign from the Freedom Foundation, a pro-free market group working to educate union members on their post-Janus rights. The group recently expanded its operations into Ohio. Fizer’s willingness to stand up to politically powerful labor groups could embolden other union members to follow suit, according to Lindsey Queen, the foundation’s state director in Ohio.

“Union bosses proved yet again that their first concern is for their bottom line—they don’t care about providing a service people are willing to pay for,” Queen said. “This case is just the beginning of a major worker freedom movement here in Ohio—there’s a wave coming for these unions now that people are finding out about their rights to opt out.”

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Education Unions Report Sharp Declines in Membership, Revenue

Teachers’ unions are experiencing sharp declines in membership and revenue in former union strongholds Oregon and Washington, according to new annual reports.

Two Oregon teachers’ unions—the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) chapter and the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA)—reported drops in paying members of 35 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Both unions lost nearly $1 million in revenue as a result, with the OSEA closing three field offices and accepting a $400,000 bailout from its parent organization to help make ends meet. In Washington, the Federation of State Employees disclosed a 27 percent decline in financial supporters since June 2018.

The membership declines reflect the waning power of unions in the United States. Just 10.5 percent of American workers were members of unions in 2018, the lowest percentage in the past century. Hillary Clinton won union voters in 2016 by the narrowest margin of any Democrat since 1984, despite the fact that nearly every major union endorsed her campaign against President Trump.

A major turning point came in 2018 when the Supreme Court declared forced dues schemes for government workers unconstitutional in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Unions nationwide hemorrhaged revenue, as agency fee payers resigned. The loss of those partial dues payers caused AFT’s national office to lose 4.3 percent of its total financial supporters even as it added thousands of new members.

Aaron Withe, national director of the pro-free market Freedom Foundation, said the effects of the ruling have been especially pronounced in traditional union strongholds Oregon and Washington because of outreach efforts. The foundation launched an information campaign targeted at agency fee payers and union members to advise them of their right to stop paying labor groups.

“The fallout that the unions are experiencing in Oregon and Washington are a direct result of our full-scale outreach campaign,” Withe said. “We’ve spoken to tens of thousands of public employees at their homes and offices, and what we’ve found is that when they learn their rights under Janus, they opt out in droves.”

Neither Oregon nor Washington labor officials responded to requests for comment.

In response, union leaders have launched a Janus counterattack, introducing hundreds of bills in state legislatures across the country to advance pro-union policies. Many of these bills unionize new workers without their knowledge or consent and provide nonmember fee workarounds in states such as Oregon.

The National Right to Work Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case before the Supreme Court, is now fighting several legal battles to close loopholes that labor unions use to prevent workers from ending their payments. Many local and state unions have attempted to install “withdrawal windows,” refusing to honor resignation requests that do not meet certain deadlines. Foundation spokesman Patrick Semmens said such policies directly reflect labor unions’ fears over their waning influence.

“When you see a significant drop in membership like this when union support is finally voluntary it demonstrates just how much union bosses rely on coercion to corral workers into their ranks,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public employees across the country remain trapped in dues payments because of union policies that block workers from exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Withe said the Freedom Foundation plans on expanding its operations to other states, including those in the Rust Belt, to bring its education campaigns in Oregon and Washington to larger audiences.

“We expect to see these results continue in the larger states that we operate in as we continue and expand this campaign,” Withe said.

The success of those information campaigns could have major effects in the political landscape. Labor unions contributed more than $1.6 billion to left-wing political advocacy groups between 2016 and 2018, and top Democratic presidential candidates have gone to great lengths to secure these substantial financial and political resources. Former vice president Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) have released plans to bolster union membership and the size of union war chests in the future.

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Union Decries ‘Rotten’ McDonald’s Culture, Ignores Own History of Misconduct

One of the country’s top liberal labor unions is decrying McDonald’s “rotten” culture but still grappling with its own history of misconduct complaints, including allegations of sexual assault and “abusive and aggressive behavior” throughout its ranks.

McDonald’s ex-CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired last week following a “consensual relationship with an employee that violated company policy.” The Fight for 15 movement quickly attacked the fast food giant, calling McDonald’s workplace culture “rotten from top to bottom.” While Fight for 15 and its chief backer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have used the #MeToo movement to argue for a $15 minimum wage in fast-food restaurants, labor leaders have faced their own sexual misconduct allegations in recent years.

Former head of Fight for 15 and SEIU vice president Scott Courtney resigned in 2017 over sexual misconduct allegations. Five other officials affiliated with the fast-food minimum wage campaign were forced out in the wake of Courtney’s departure. More recently, an ongoing lawsuit accuses SEIU vice president Dave Regan of sexual misconduct, as well as retaliating against whistleblowers. Regan remains employed by the union.

SEIU did not return request for comment.

Leading Democratic presidential candidates have accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the union throughout their careers and continue to support Fight for 15 despite the allegations.

Center for Union Facts spokeswoman Charlyce Bozzello said Fight for 15 is wrong to attack McDonald’s over workplace culture given its own troubled history.

“When it comes to sexual harassment, the SEIU Fight for 15 campaign might want to remember that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” Bozzello said. “Before decrying the actions of another organization, the SEIU needs to be held accountable for the sordid behavior of its own staff—of which there are, unfortunately, several examples.”

The ongoing lawsuit against Regan was brought forward by Njoki Woods, an SEIU employee who spoke on the union’s rampant sexual misconduct problems.

“The culture at the time was everybody having sex with everybody,” Woods told Payday Report. “That’s just the culture—sexual favors—that’s how people got ahead there.”

Woods also alleged that Regan drank on the job and warned staffers against blowing the whistle on sexual misconduct at an executive board meeting.

“Dave Regan was standing on the stage and they put all these numbers to these attorneys and he said ‘If you have an issue of sexual harassment then you can contact these attorneys, but you better damn well know that if you bring up allegations against us, you are coming up against a million dollar organization and we will come after you,'” Woods said.

Woods was fired shortly after going public with her complaint.

In 2018, Fight for 15 spearheaded a #MeToo walkout at dozens of cities across the country. Among their complaints were accusations of hostile work environments, harassment, and accusations that managers “retaliated against those who complained,” according to the New York Times.

Leading Democratic presidential candidates have continued to align themselves with the Fight for 15 movement despite the organization’s troubled history. Sen. Bernie Sanders routinely praises Fight for 15, calling it “a cornerstone of the Democratic Party.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren expressed support for Fight for 15 at an SEIU forum in April, and Joe Biden was “proud to stand with [the] SEIU” when McDonald’s workers went on strike in May.

The three frontrunners have accepted more than $115,000 in combined campaign contributions from the SEIU since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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Washington Post Reporters Uncover Racial, Gender Pay Gap at Own Paper

A study conducted by Washington Post reporters uncovered evidence of a gender and racial pay gap at their own newspaper.

A contractual agreement between the Washington Post Newspaper Guild and the Post allowed the union to compile a report detailing how female reporters and editors as a group were paid less than their male counterparts. The analysis, released Wednesday, also found that people of color were paid less than white men even when controlling for age and job description.

“The pay disparity between men and women is most pronounced among journalists under the age of 40,” the union said in a press release. “When adjusting for similar age groups, which in most cases is a good stand-in for years in journalism, it becomes clear that the pay disparity between men and women exists almost exclusively among employees under the age of 40.”

The report also found racial disparities in the paper’s performance evaluation results, which are a key metric for determining compensation.

“The Post tends to give merit raises based on performance evaluation scores, but those who score the highest are overwhelmingly white,” it continues. “But in 85 percent of instances in which a 4 or higher [out of 5] was awarded to a salaried newsroom employee, that employee was white…. On the flip side, 37 percent of scores below 3 were given to employees of color in the newsroom (the newsroom is about 24 percent nonwhite).”

The full report, compiled by a team of dozens of Post reporters and led by Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Rich, also contained testimonials of pay discrimination in the workplace. One female reporter described how she learned that “the man who previously held her job, a reporter of the same age with more managerial experience but a fraction of her experience at the Post, was making $50,000 more than her.”

Another woman described learning that every single male journalist on her reporting team was paid more than her, “even though she’s been at the Post longer than all of them and has been working in journalism longer than most of them. One of the men on her team is paid more than $30,000 more than her.”

In one bright spot for the paper, the report found that men and women on the commercial side of the business are paid about the same, though the median pay for employees of color was about 5 percent lower than their white employees. That disparity increases when adjusted for age, “suggesting that employees of color in commercial are paid less than their white peers despite having more experience.”

The Post has run frequent editorials lamenting the existence of a wage gap in America.

In a statement to the Free Beacon, the Post said it is “committed to paying employees fairly for the work they perform, and we believe that we do so, taking into account relevant factors like position, years of experience, and performance. It is regrettable that the Guild published a report on pay that does not appear to accurately account for these and other relevant factors, which have nothing to do with race or gender.”

“We believe the report is seriously flawed,” they added. “It is disappointing that the Guild chose to issue it—the Post told the Guild before its release that we had many questions about their methodology.”

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DNC Bows to AFSCME Union, Won’t Hold 6th Debate at UCLA

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) bowed to the wishes of the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union Wednesday, canceling the sixth Democratic Party presidential primary debate at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in December. An alternative venue for the debate has not yet been announced.

Warren Took Thousands From Teachers’ Unions Before Charter School Flip-Flop

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren raked in tens of thousands of dollars from teachers’ unions before reversing her past support for student vouchers and education reform.

In 2004, Warren argued that vouchers “relieve parents” from relying on failing public schools. Her campaign’s newly-released education plan attacks charter schools and school choice. Warren’s reversal comes after the Massachusetts senator took more than $2.5 million in campaign cash from the education industry throughout her political career, including nearly $70,000 from the country’s most powerful teachers’ unions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) quickly praised Warren’s plan, calling it “rooted in respect,” “bold,” and a “game-changer.” The proposal, described as a “teachers union dream,” marks yet another example of the influence public sector organized labor has on the 2020 Democratic presidential field. On Tuesday, Warren flew to Chicago to participate in a teachers strike that has affected hundreds of thousands of students.

The Warren campaign did not return a request for comment.

Labor watchdogs criticized Warren’s plan for placing a priority on powerful labor lobbies, rather than children. Charlyce Bozzello, spokeswoman for the Center for Union Facts, said Warren’s proposal represents a “race to the bottom” to maintain the status quo for influential teachers’ unions.

“Like most labor groups that are courting 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, the teachers’ unions are eyeing candidates who will do the most to promote their agenda,” she said. “It’s a race to the bottom on which candidate can best maintain the status quo for the NEA and AFT, regardless of the potential detriment to students.”

Warren’s proposal calls for the “aggressive oversight” of charter schools and the elimination of federal funding for them, and it opposes the “diversion of public dollars” to vouchers.

In 2004, Warren fully endorsed education vouchers, writing that they “relieve parents” from the same school systems she now supports.

“A taxpayer-funded voucher that paid the entire cost of educating a child (not just a partial subsidy) would open a range of opportunities to all children,” Warren wrote in her book, The Two-Income Trap. “With fully funded vouchers, parents of all income levels could send their children – and the accompanying financial support – to the schools of their choice.”

“Fully funded vouchers would relieve parents from the terrible choice of leaving their kids in lousy schools or bankrupting themselves to escape those schools,” the book says.

Warren acknowledged that her proposal might meet some political opposition because “the term ‘voucher’ has become a dirty word in many educational circles.” Teachers’ unions have long opposed vouchers and clash with charter schools that do not employ union members. Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation, said charter schools—and any student success in them—threatens the monopoly many unions have on the education industry.

“Teacher union bosses hate charter schools because they are a challenge to their monopoly over education and because union organizers have largely been unsuccessful in convincing charter schoolteachers to join unions,” Semmens said. “It’s no surprise that politicians looking for Big Labor’s political backing feel the need to denounce charter schools, even when their past statements suggest they know better.”

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Pennsylvania Unions End Membership Mandates

Some of Pennsylvania’s most powerful labor unions have removed a key hurdle for workers who wish to resign their membership following a series of class action lawsuits.

Pennsylvania unions have long used maintenance of membership provisions (MMP) embedded in collective bargaining agreements to collect dues from government workers. Workers were only given a two week period to resign from the union ranks if they wished to cut ties. In response, several public-sector workers sued, arguing that the provisions are unconstitutional infringements on their freedom of speech. The unions agreed to suspend MMP, rather than run the risk of a lawsuit—even if they could lose tens of thousands of dollars in dues and fees.

David Osborne, president and general counsel of the Fairness Center, which represented the workers, said the contract provisions infringed on the First Amendment rights of workers. He said the government agencies that negotiated the contracts placed the interests of organized labor ahead of their own employees.

“People should have the First Amendment right not to associate with their unions and they shouldn’t have a waiting period before they do that,” Osborne said. “First Amendment rights should not be limited to 15 days every three or four years.”

Pennsylvania, a traditional union stronghold, is the latest state to see the influence of organized labor recede in the wake of the landmark 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, which ruled that mandatory public-sector union membership violates the First Amendment. The decision motivated public-sector workers around the country to resign from their unions and stop paying dues.

Despite the ruling, however, three of Pennsylvania’s public-sector unions—local branches of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, and Pennsylvania State Correctional Officers Association (PSCOA)—cited MMP to prevent employees from withdrawing their memberships, prompting workers to file suit.

“The narrative … following the Janus ruling was that union memberships would be largely unaffected,” said Jessica Barnett, manager of policy research at the Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank. “But union membership [rules show] that even if members want to leave, they are not allowed to.” She added that the practice violates the First Amendment right to free association.

None of the unions returned requests for comment.

All three unions agreed to allow workers to leave the unions and stop paying membership fees, according to court documents filed during the summer. In total, 22,500 workers were freed from the MMP restrictions.

“Any employee of the Commonwealth who is or in the future becomes a member of Local 668 ‘may, at any time, resign from the Union, regardless of any window period which may be specified in the collective bargaining agreement or the Public Employee Relations Act,'” read an SEIU court filing. 

Osborne told the Washington Free Beacon that he suspects the unions gave in to the workers’ demands to convince the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. However, Osborne said his clients remained committed to the cases because “the promises aren’t legally enforceable” unless a court victory definitively declares such provisions unconstitutional.

They are not looking to settle with our clients,” Osborne said. “They are looking to tell the court that ‘we’ve fixed the problem and there’s no need to address it.’ I think they are terrified that the maintenance of membership is unconstitutional.”

Pennsylvania’s branch of AFSCME has also dropped MMP from its 2019 collective bargaining agreement. By pre-emptively suspending MMP, the unions could avoid some of the harsher penalties and settlements that labor organizations have suffered in other states. A Washington state SEIU chapter had to pay back more than $3 million in union dues that it collected from non-consenting home care workers, after losing a post-Janus class-action lawsuit.

“This week’s settlement is a long-overdue vindication of caregivers’ rights and is one of many steps necessary to hold SEIU 775 accountable for its illegal and unacceptable practices,” the Freedom Foundation, a pro-free market organization that launched the lawsuit, said in a press statement.

Osborne is convinced that his clients will convince the court to pursue the case and set a new precedent barring the practice.

“To be clear, these cases are not over,” Osborne said. “Pennsylvania really needs a ruling from the courts on the ruling that finally strikes down the maintenance of membership provision as unconstitutional. Everyone knows it already, we need a ruling from the court.”

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Sanders Campaign Offers Special Protections for Transgender and Illegal Alien Employees

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign is offering broad protections to transgender and illegal immigrant employees as part of its collective bargaining agreement, according to the Washington Examiner, which obtained a copy of the contract.

Warren Gives Unions Lobbying Loophole

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s anti-lobbying tax appears to leave union lobbyists and other Democratic interests untouched.

Sen. Warren (D., Mass.) proposed to tax corporations and trade groups that hire lobbyists amid other reforms to crack down on what she calls “legalized bribery.” The plan, which she debuted on Medium and her campaign website, made no mention of whether it would apply to lobbyists representing labor unions or other interest groups.

Paul Miller, president of the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics, criticized Warren’s selective lobbying tax as a “political gimmick” that punishes all lobbying activities except those that benefit the senator. He said her “very specific talk about corporate lobbyists” indicates that the same measures would not apply to ideological or labor lobbyists.

“It spells out things that corporate lobbyists would not be able to do, but it does not make the same points for labor lobbyists,” Miller, a registered lobbyist, told the Washington Free Beacon. “A lobbyist is a lobbyist. I don’t care if you represent corporate interests or labor issues. The law should apply to everybody.”

Warren’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment about the details of the plan.

Labor union lobbying is a $50 million industry that employed about 400 lobbyists in 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Warren’s punitive tax plan calls for progressively higher tax rates—as high as 75 percent—for any business that spends more than $500,000 on lobbying. If such a standard were applied to labor unions in 2018, 13 would have to pay a 60 percent tax on their lobbying spending, while 14 would pay a 35 percent tax.

Almost 90 percent of the donations from labor unions and union members went to Democrats, underwriting the campaign of many members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Warren has also benefited from union largesse, raking in $213,000 from labor donations in the 2020 cycle.

Jerry Hunter, former general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and attorney at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, noted that while corporations split their donations between the two parties, union lobbyists focus almost solely on Democrats.

“Unions are major contributors to members of Congress, particularly on the Democratic side,” Hunter said. “That’s clearly why Senator Warren and her proposed deal didn’t say a word about unions being subject to it. She only wanted to go after the business side lobbyist.”

Warren’s policy plan would not just exempt labor unions from taxations, but actively strengthen their influence. She would use proceeds raised from the anti-lobbying tax to fund the “Office of the Public Advocate,” an office that explicitly aims to amplify the voice of “workers and retirees” in government to counter corporate interests.

“This office will help the American people engage with federal agencies and fight for the public interest in the rule-making process,” Warren said in her plan.

The office and other measures, she argued, are necessary to prevent corporate lobbyists from “killing widely popular proposals behind closed doors.” Labor lobbyists use the same tactics on Capitol Hill, according to Hunter.

“The union lobby really puts a lot of time and effort into getting members of Congress and congressional committee—particularly in the House—to try to pressure the NLRB to not take certain positions on issues, and they do the same thing at the Labor Department,” Hunter said. “When those committees write those [policy] letters, they have generally been contacted by the AFL-CIO or some union.”

Several constitutional scholars have raised questions about whether Warren’s proposal infringes on the First Amendment guarantee “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The limits of the tax could raise additional constitutional issues, according to Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“She’s being selective in who she’s deciding to punish for their First Amendment activities and that makes what she’s trying to do very unconstitutional,” he said.

Unions are not the only entities exempted from Warren’s anti-lobbying tax. Ideological and single-issue organizations were also not mentioned. While the senator has previously criticized President Donald Trump for staffing his transition team with former lobbyists, Warren hired a Planned Parenthood lobbyist one day after she debuted her first anti-lobbyist plan.

Miller, the lobbying association president, said that Warren never responded to his requests to discuss the proposal.

“She doesn’t like what we do, but that doesn’t mean we should just trample all over the Constitution and tell people they don’t have the right to petition the government just because she doesn’t like the people we represent,” he said.

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Warren Campaign Facing Unfair-Labor Complaint for Confidentiality Agreement

A supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) filed a complaint against Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) presidential campaign, claiming their confidentiality agreement with employees is unlawful because it prevents them from publicly speaking about issues in the workplace.

Jason Legg, a tenants’ rights attorney and a supporter of Sanders’s presidential campaign, challenged the Warren campaign’s non-disparagement clause Tuesday. While Legg is not an employee of Warren, the National Labor Relations Board allows there to be charges even if the filer doesn’t work for the organization facing allegations, according to Bloomberg Law.

Warren’s presidential campaign is the second campaign to face a charge from the NLRB. The Sanders campaign was the first to face a charge after a former Sanders staffer claimed campaign officials were committing unlawful retaliation. Warren’s campaign is one of at least three campaigns who have unionized this year, Bloomberg reports:

The filing against the Warren campaign by a non-employee who supports one of the candidate’s challengers suggests that both unionized and non-union campaign operations could continue to deal with complaints over issues that are fairly novel in the political campaign space, where unpaid volunteers, confidentiality, and long hours are the norm. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign faced claims of labor violations that were dismissed by the NLRB in early 2018.

Legg told Bloomberg Law that he hopes his charge spurs changes in the Warren campaign’s employment practices. He is targeting the campaign’s reported use of unpaid fellowships, as well as non-disparagement agreements that Legg says could stifle staffers’ labor rights.

Legg did not hide the fact that he’s backing Sanders and believes labor issues “show the contrast” between Sanders and Warren.

“I can’t say I’m not at all politically motivated, I’m a Sanders supporter and Warren’s my second choice, so I guess this is one way to show the contrast,” Legg said. The reported fellowship program “is not consistent with everything else Warren says she believes and fights for” so “I hope people think about the substance of the charge rather than my interest” in supporting a different candidate, he said.

In the charge against the Warren campaign, Legg said they require employees not to “make any statement that may impair or adversely affect the goodwill or reputation of the Organization.”

“Such a broad-sweeping restriction on criticism of an employer has been described as flying ‘in the teeth’”of the National Labor Relations Act, Legg added.

Legg said he is challenging the Warren campaign because he has a relative who financially suffered from debt while volunteering for a political campaign. He also talks about how the Sanders campaign was going to make changes based off concerns from their employee union.

“Maybe I’m looking at this through rose-colored glassed [sic], but if this gets good change—like what happened when Sanders cut down on hours to make sure wages aren’t being diluted—then that’d be a good thing,” Legg told Bloomberg.

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