Thursday, May 21, 2009

Union Campaign Contributions Come with a Price

On May 7, Lincoln Journal-Star reporter Deena Winter authored an investigative piece on local campaign funding by unions and the effects it can have on elections and hence public policy:

A couple of weeks ago we wrapped our city elections here in Lincoln. According to Winter, unions contributed $17,000 of the $63,000 that the Nebraska Democratic Party raised from late April to late March – roughly 27%. That is in addition to another cool $27,000 those same unions gave to just two Lincoln city council candidates. Couldn’t that $44,000 spent by unions, out of employee’s pockets, have been better spent feeding employee’s families during such harsh economic times.

The amount of cash that the union bosses spend in our recent elections could have been a lot higher. Lately, we have all been reminded in the press that private-sector union membership has been dwindling during the past 30 years. To fight declining membership, unions nationally spent several hundreds of millions of dollars funding pro-union candidates. In return, the nation’s most powerful labor unions are wasting no time claiming their spoils. Unions are demanding the most radical change in labor law in over 70 years – legislation that will add significant numbers to union rosters and allow them to spend exponentially more than $44,000 on elections here in Nebraska. That legislation is the euphemistically named “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA). In reality, EFCA provides workers anything but Free Choice.

Union bosses have been promoting EFCA through misleading propaganda that proclaims the legislation is intended to restore worker’s rights. We all know millions of employees nationwide already belong to unions and millions more are free to choose to form or join a union if they so desire. It isn’t a stretch to take this analysis a step further and realize that, EFCA is actually a “card check” law that would, in practice, force many employees to join a union through intimidation and coercion.

Losing the right to a private ballot election for unions has received most of the attention in the press related to EFCA. In response, many of our nation’s leaders have been discussing a compromise bill that would retain the right to a private ballot election for collective bargaining agents. However, contained within the legislation is something potentially even more dangerous and lesser known – compulsory binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is something on which unions will not budge or back down.

If a contract is not signed between the employer and the union organizers within an artificially short period of 120 days, a federal arbitration panel is sent in to mandate contract terms for two years – a contract which, under EFCA, the employees will no longer have the right to ratify. More than likely, the panel will have no prior knowledge of the individual industry, let alone the business. The two year contract will contain everything from worker’s wages, vacation time, sick leave, and insurance to mandatory union dues. These contracts will apply to every worker in the business, even those who opposed union membership. This legislation is being promoted by our nation’s largest unions not because it will help workers regain the rights they deserve. It is being promoted because it is a cash cow that will save their sinking ship. A two-year contract has the very real potential to shut the doors on many Nebraska businesses.

Simply put, if enacted EFCA will force even more lay-offs and higher unemployment. I assume Nebraska workers would prefer continued employment over harassment by union organizers, mandatory dues, and thousands of dollars in union money flowing to Democratic campaign coffers.

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