There Is A Certain Amount Of Irony In This

The political left spends a lot of time complaining about income inequality. They place the blame for that on CEO’s of large companies that are compensated well. Yes, CEO’s are compensated well. They also work a lot of hours a week and have spent a lot of time getting the education that qualifies them for the job they hold. But somehow, they are the villains that are responsible for wage inequality. Well, we have another villain,

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday about the compensation paid to union officials.

The article reports:

Leading union officials earned an average salary of $252,370 in 2016, outpacing the average salary of private sector chief executives, according to a new report.

The Center for Union Facts compiled the salary information from federal labor filings of 192 of the largest national, state, and local unions. The report found that labor presidents enjoyed nearly a $60,000 advantage over the take-home pay of the nation’s business leaders, who earned an average of $194,350, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The average compensation of union officials, which includes salary and other perks, was $283,678, according to the report.

One of the complaints of the unions is the ratio of the average CEO’s salary versus the wages of the average worker.

The article further notes:

Airline Pilots Association President Timothy Canoll was the highest-paid union official, according to the federal data. He earned total compensation of $775,829 with a base salary of $526,292. The union, which is a member of the AFL-CIO, gave Canoll about $250,000 in perks in addition to the take-home pay, including $24,000 in allowances and $29,000 in official business expenses, such as meals and entertainment. He was given $196,534 in compensation classified as “Other.”

The claim of wage inequality is bogus to begin with. Like it or not, people are paid according to the scarcity of their skills and their value to a company. It is also noteworthy that somehow when the discussion of wages comes up, athletes, and movie starts are not generally mentioned. How much do they make in relation to the wages of the people who work for them?

Wage inequality is a fake issue, and the hypocrisy of those on the political left regarding union executive wages makes that very obvious.

Forgetting Why You Were Originally Formed

Unions in America were formed to give working people a voice in their negotiations with their sometimes unyielding employers. Most of the demands unions were created to pursue are now covered by government regulations, and the role of unions in the life of the everyday worker is not what it originally was. Union workers pay their dues, and union officials live very well. Somehow I don’t think that was what the original intention was.

The Washington Free Beacon posted a story today about how the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spends its money. For those of you who believe that big corporations provide the money in politics, some of this may come as a surprise.

The article reports:

Labor giant Service Employees International Union spent $60 million on politics and lobbying as well as $19 million on the Fight for 15 movement in 2016, and now finds itself laying off headquarters staff.

The union’s federal filing to the Department of Labor reveal that it experienced marginal growth in 2016, adding about 15,000 members from 2015. However, that increase did not correlate with financial growth as revenue fell by $17 million, fueling a $10 million budget deficit.

The union, which represents healthcare and public sector workers, spent $61.6 million on political activities and lobbying in 2016, roughly 20 percent of its $314.6 million budget, according to the filing.

However, those figures may underestimate its political spending. The union spent $19 million on activist groups and public relations consultants to assist with the Fight for 15 campaign, which has successfully pushed for dramatic minimum wage increases in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., according to an analysis from the Center for Union Facts.

Who represents those union members who don’t support the causes and candidates that the union leaders decide to support? Do union members ever get a chance to vote on the causes or candidates the union will support?

The article further reports:

“The SEIU has transformed from a labor union into a subsidiary of the Left, spending millions of dues dollars on left-wing causes unrelated to collective bargaining,” Berman (Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts) said. “Instead of fighting for workplace benefits, the union is going behind their members’ backs to bankroll Democrats and liberal advocacy groups.”

The International Franchising Association, a trade industry group whose members have been targeted by the Fight for 15 movement, said that political agitation and the expansion of membership ranks among fast food workers does little to benefit dues-paying members.

“Perhaps SEIU should spend more money helping workers it represents and less money attacking corporations and a business model like franchising that actually successfully lifts people out of poverty and gives them a ladder of opportunity to advance in their career,” spokesman Matthew Haller said.

I have no problem with unions spending money on political activities as long as the members of the union have a vote in which activities to support. Also, as long as unions are free to spend the kind of money they spend on political action, corporations should be equally free to do so, again at the discretion of their stockholders.


Why Should We All Have To Play By The Same Rules?

On Friday The Washington Free Beacon posted a story about a group in Colorado that was working toward a $12 an hour minimum wage.

The article reports:

Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, which obtained the signatures needed to place a measure requiring a $12 minimum wage on the November ballot, paid many of its petition handlers less than $12 an hour, according to paperwork filed with the state and obtained by in the Washington Times.

“According to a circulator and wage report filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office by proponents of increasing the minimum wage, 24 of the workers collecting signatures to get on the ballot were paid less than $12 an hour,” the Times reported. “The report was obtained Keep Colorado Working, the opposition campaign, in an open records request.”

Colorado Families for a Fair Wage is a coalition of liberal groups, including prominent labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO and American Federation of Teachers. The group denied the allegations that it failed to pay its employees adequate wages following the Washington Times report, blaming “clerical errors” in campaign filings for the gap in pay.

“Every person working on the minimum wage ‘$12 by 2020’ ballot initiative has earned a minimum of $12 an hour and more because it’s crucial that the paychecks of Colorado working families can cover housing, food and other basics, campaign manager Patty Kupfer said in a release. “We included pay policy language in our office policy document to specifically ensure that every worker would earn at least $12 an hour.”

The group said it will file amended paperwork with the secretary of state’s office to reflect that it paid all of its workers at least $12 an hour.

How embarrassing. Either they paid their workers less than the minimum wage they were working toward or the people they paid the proposed minimum wage were not competent enough to do their job right. Either way it’s embarrassing.

There is something being overlooked here, and I don’t know why. The minimum wage was never intended to support a family or an individual living on their own–it was intended to provide a gateway into the workforce to enable people to learn the real basic job skills–showing up on time, respecting authority, being curteous, and other basic fundementals. So what happened? Unions discovered that if the minimum wage increased, the unions could bargain for higher wages for their members. Note that the Colorado Families for a Fair Wage includes prominent labor unions. Because much of the American public does not understand the purpose of the minimum wage, the fact that raising the minimum wage significantly will put small businesses out of business and cause employees to lose hours or jobs is not considered by most people.

There is also the aspect of illegal immigration. As long as America has thousands of illegal immigrants who are willing to work under the table for below minimum wage, raising the minimum wage is going to do more harm than good. One of the problems in the battle to close our borders to illegal immigration is that the U. S. Chamber of Commerce is a major campaign contributor to politicians (particularly Republicans). The Chamber of Commerce is an organization of businessmen. These businessmen like the fact that illegal immigration is a source of cheap labor. As long as the Chamber of Commerce continues to pour money into political campaigns, our illegal immigration problem will continue. That is the way Washington currently works. Until people are elected to office at all levels who are not part of the current system and not interested in becoming part of the current system, illegal immigration will continue and because unions contribute heavily to Democratic campaigns, the minimum wage will probably be raised past the point where it makes economic sense. That is where we are.

Do As I Say–Not As I Do

Yesterday Last Resistance posted an article about a California group that is working to establish a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

The article reports:

An advocacy group out of Modesto, Calif. pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage posted a job ad Thursday offering to pay $12 an hour. Below what it is demanding others pay their workers.

The Craigslist post was for a job opening at the local Fight for $15 campaign. On the national level, the organization has spearheaded the push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The post was signed by Steven Applebaum who lists his affiliation with the Modesto Fight for $15 campaign.

“Do you make minimum wage?” the posting asked. “Can you afford your bills and expenses? Do you hope and pray that you won’t ever face a medical or car bill because you don’t have the savings to cover it?”

Evidently this is not an isolated incident. The article further reports:

Fight for $15 is not the first group caught offering less than what it claim people need. Cody McLaughlin replied in June to a job posting on Facebook for Working America. The group is an affiliated with the AFL-CIO. It was hiring field recruiters as part of its campaign to get a $15 minimum wage. When he asked if it paid $15 the group said the group could offer him  $12.25 per hour.

Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders has been one of the more vocal lawmakers in support of the living wage. He has even introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This despite the fact he only pays his own interns $12 per hour.

How about practicing what you preach?

About That Unequal Distribution of Wealth Thing

When Occupy Wall Street was protesting, one of its claims was that the ‘fat cats’ on Wall Street were getting richer while everyone else was getting poorer. They claimed to be fighting for a more equitable distribution of wealth. Of course, corporations have always been charged with overpaying their executives while underpaying those in the lower levels of the work force. However, in these protests, one area of ‘unequal distribution of wealth’ has been overlooked.

Today’s Washington Examiner posted an article about the increases in the pay for union leaders that is occurring as union membership decreases.

The article reports:

The only thing keeping Big Labor from becoming an incidental factor in the American workplace is that government employees are five times more likely to be unionized than those in the private sector.

The article further states:

A total of 428 private sector union leaders were paid at least $250,000 annually, and the top 100 of those made more than $350,000, according to a study of Department of Labor data by Media Trackers, a conservative, nonprofit investigative watchdog group. The highest-paid union leaders work for organized professional athletes, with G. William Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, who received $3.2 million. The only government employee union leader in the top 10 is Gerald McEntee, international president of the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees, whose $1.2 million compensation put him fourth on the list.

I have no problem with people being compensated for what they do, but if you are going to complain about what corporate executives earn, you need to also look at what union leaders are paid.

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New Adventures In The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Yesterday reported that 40,000 Longshoremen, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), have formally ended their association with the AFL-CIO. In a letter to Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath cited quite a list of grievances as reasons for the dissolution of their affiliation, but prominent among them was the AFL-CIO’s support of Obamare. The AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is a strong supporter of President Obama and worked hard for the passage of ObamaCare. Like the rest of us, Mr. Trumka is now realizing what ObamaCare will do to America‘s healthcare system and to union healthcare programs, and is no longer supporting ObamaCare.

The article reports two areas of disagreement:

The Longshoreman leader said, “President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits.” But, regardless of that promise, the President has pushed for just such a tax and Trumka and the AFL-CIO bowed to political pressure lining up behind Obama’s tax on those plans.

McEllrath also went on to say that they support stronger immigration reform than the AFL-CIO is supporting.

The article reminds us that only 11.3 percent of the Americans belong to unions. In 2012, 35.9 percent of public-sector workers belonged to unions, and 6.6 percent of private sector workers belonged to unions. Unions need to expand their membership in order to fund their pension funds.

As previously reported at

In a column in the Washington Examiner in April, Mark Hemingway pointed out that the average union pension plan had only enough money to cover 62 percent of its financial obligations.  Pension plans that are below 80 percent funding are considered “endangered” by the government; below 65 percent is considered “critical.”  Union membership is declining, which means that less people are paying into these funds.

The fact that the ILWU is walking away from the AFL-CIO is significant. This is a serious blow to the unionization of America.

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An Incredible Coincidence

Today’s Daily Caller posted a story about former Internal Revenue Service commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, a frequent White House guest during the period when the IRS was targeting conservative nonprofits. Mr. Shulman is married to Susan L. Anderson, senior program advisor for Public Campaign, an “organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.” I don’t have a problem with the idea of reducing special interest money in American politics as long as the reductions include both unions and corporations. So far, those suggesting these changes are only citing corporations and conservatives.

The article reports:

Public Campaign receives “major funding” from the pro-Obamacare alliance Health Care for America NOW!, which is comprised of the labor unions AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, and the progressive activist organization Move On, among others.

Public Campaign also receives funding from the liberal Ford Foundation, the Common Cause Education Fund, and Barbra Streisand’s The Streisand Foundation, among other foundations and private donors.

I think that list of organizations provides a pretty good idea of where the group sits politically.

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The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

The problem with class envy is that it gets old and boring after a while. All of us would like to make more money, but that doesn’t mean we have to resent the people that do. If someone makes their money honestly, we should celebrate their success–not try to take it away from them.

Well, not everyone sees it that way. The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Mr. Trumka has been criticizing CEO pay, stating, “Runaway CEO pay isn’t just bad for our economy, it’s bad for the morale of working families, too. All workers, from the executive suite down to the shop floor, contribute to making a company successful. But these corporations are buying into the myth that the success of a corporation is the result of its CEO alone.”  He is absolutely entitled to his opinion, but do his words sound a little different when you realize that he earns more than eight times what the average American worker earns.

The article reports:

According to the Center for Union Facts, Trumka brought home a gross salary of $264,827 in 2010, plus another $18,513 in additional compensation, to represent his union. The union leader has earned well over $200,000 every year since he was promoted to Secretary Treasurer in 2003.

In 2011, Trumka earned $293,750.

Unions have been major contributors to democrat political campaigns. In the 2010 mid-term elections, the AFL-CIO gave almost a million dollars, 93 percent of those donations going to Democratic candidates.

Mr. Trumka’s statement might carry more weight if he practiced what he preaches.

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