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.

 

The Dangers Of Bureaucratic Overreach

Yesterday Mary Katharine Ham posted an article at Hot Air about Michael Arrington, a prominent tech blogger, who sold his site Tech Crunch to AOL in 2010. Mr. Arrington lives in Seattle, Washington, and recently bought a boat. The boat was made in Canada, so Mr. Arrington had to fill out paperwork with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to bring the boat into America.

When Mr. Arrington went to pick up his boat and fill out the forms, there was a problem with the forms. The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars. Mr. Arrington suggested that the DHS change the form so that the amount would be correct. Mr. Arrington points out that the form has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block. Since he was being asked to swear that the information on the form was correct, he thought that the information on the form should be correct.

The article then explains that the DHS agent called another agent over and stated that Mr. Arrington would not sign the form. Mr. Arrington asked to speak to that agent to give them a more complete picture of the situation. She wouldn’t allow that. The agent then seized the boat and took possession of it.

The article states:

A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn’t do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.

…Arrington got back his boat, largely he says because the company that built it went to great lengths to extract it from DHS. The company has no doubt dealt with the customs office before, knows who to call, and has more sway than a single citizen. But you shouldn’t need to know the right people to simply sail the boat you own. Arrington says it succinctly: “My point in writing this isn’t to whine. Like I said, this will get worked out one way or another. No, it’s to highlight how screwed up our government bureaucracy has become.”

And, if it’s this hard for a well-educated and well-heeled citizen who can get a lawyer to navigate the system, there are many more with fewer advantages dealing with this kind of abuse at every level about whom we never hear.

Please follow the link above and read the entire article for a very insightful perspective on American bureaucracy.

I have no idea how to deal with the runaway bureaucracy we have created in this country, but I do know that we need to deal with it before it gets worse. A law-abiding citizen had his boat temporarily seized because he tried to correct a government mistake in the paperwork. That is not the America I grew up in.Enhanced by Zemanta

Both Sets Of Jobs Numbers For January 2013

Yesterday CNS News reported that the number of Americans not in the labor force grew by 169,000 in January. Meanwhile, aol.com reports that 157,000 new jobs were added in January 2013.

The article at aol.com reported:

Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday that economic activity had “paused,” but they signaled optimism the recovery would regain speed with continued monetary policy support. The Fed left in place a monthly $85 billion bond-buying stimulus plan. Economists polled by Reuters had expected employers to add 160,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.8 percent last month.

…Job growth in 2012 averaged 181,000 a month, but not enough to significantly reduce unemployment. Economists say employment gains in excess of 250,000 a month over a sustained period are needed.

We are losing jobs as fast as we are gaining them. This really does not look like a strong economic recovery.