Saturday, February 26, 2011

Obama's Right To Work Zone

The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel highlights the sheer hypocrisy in President Barack Obama turning his union thug friends loose to harass and protest against Republican governors and legislators in the Midwest for having the audacity to attempt to constrain the reach of employees' collective bargaining rights when he presides over one of the largest right to work zones in the country--namely, most federal employees. Strassel reminds us it was President Jimmy Carter and a Democratic-controlled Congress that severely constrained federal employees' workplace rights.

The union horde is spreading, from Madison to Indianapolis to a state capital near you. And yet the Democratic and union bigwigs engineering the outrage haven't directed their angry multitudes at what is arguably the most "hostile workplace" in the nation: Washington, D.C.


It will no doubt surprise you to learn that President Obama, the great patron of the working man, also happens to be the great CEO of one of the least union-friendly shop floors in the nation.

This is, after all, the president who has berated Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees, calling the very idea an "assault on unions." This is also the president who has sicced his political arm, Organizing for America, on Madison, allowing the group to fill buses and plan rallies. Ah, but it's easy to throw rocks when you live in a stone (White) house.

Fact: President Obama is the boss of a civil work force that numbers up to two million (excluding postal workers and uniformed military). Fact: Those federal workers cannot bargain for wages or benefits. Fact: Washington, D.C. is, in the purest sense, a "right to work zone." Federal employees are not compelled to join a union, nor to pay union dues. Fact: Neither Mr. Obama, nor the prior Democratic majority, ever acted to give their union chums a better federal deal.

Scott Walker, eat your heart out.

For this enormous flexibility in managing his work force, Mr. Obama can thank his own party. In 1978, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, backed by a Democratic Congress, passed the Civil Service Reform Act. Washington had already established its General Schedule (GS) classification and pay system for workers. The 1978 bill went further, focused as it was on worker accountability and performance. It severely proscribed the issues over which employees could bargain, as well as prohibited compulsory union support.

Democrats weren't then (and aren't now) about to let their federal employees dictate pay. The GS system, as well as the president and Congress, sees to that. Nor were they about to let workers touch health-care or retirement plans. Unions are instead limited to bargaining over personnel employment practices such as whether employees are allowed to wear beards, or whether the government must pay to clean uniforms. These demands matter, though they are hardly the sort to break the federal bank.

Which is precisely the point. Washington politicians may not know much, but they know power—in particular, the art of keeping it. Even Carter Democrats understood the difference between being in electoral debt to the unions, and being outright owned by them. And as Gov. Walker will attest, allowing unions to collectively bargain over pay and benefits is allowing them the keys to the statehouse . . .
Strassel notes that Wisconsin school teachers through their collective bargaining agreement dictates that schools purchase their health insurance plans through union-controlled plans that cost considerably more than could be procured from private health insurers. Indiana's teachers union has similarly steered business to union-affiliated companies by exercising broad collective bargaining rights. As we've seen this past year, the affiliate organization wasn't always exercising their fiduciary obligation to their members in a manner that served their interests well. In Washington, the Democrats in Congress have primarily used federal authority to enhance the rights of union members over private employers through such legislative machinations as the Davis-Bacon Act, which forces employers who work on government-funded public works projects to pay their employees the prevailing union wage. Unlike President Obama, states cannot simply print more money and run deficits year after year. Most states constitutionally mandate a balanced budget.

"If the president is so worried about Wisconsin's 'assault,' why has he never taken up federal bargaining rights?," Strassel asks. "If the Badger State's current system is the gold standard, why has he not replicated it?" She continues. "If it is so important that all parties "sit at the table"—as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney recently lectured Wisconsin—how dare Mr. Obama unilaterally declare a federal pay freeze? (Honestly, the union-busting gall!)" I wouldn't encourage Obama to act if I were Strassel. If his leadership to date is any indication, he just hasn't gotten around to those agenda items.

4 comments:

Michael said...

Of course Dems and liberals are hypocrites. Why waste time and ink talking about it? We need to get busy about busting government unions. I am afraid Walker and Co. have given up the initiative and will lose this thing. They should have passed everything on their agenda that does not require a quorum (voter id, etc). They have not. They should have stripped the collective bargaining provisions from the budget bill and passed a free standing bill that does the same thing. They should have already laid off teachers. A hundred a day. Every day.

Busting unions is not for pussies.

Bobbi's BS said...

"The union horde" is all that has protected us against and gotten laws that protects us from the excesses of Corporate Thugs, and abhorent work conditions for the last 125 years. The fact is that without a significant amount of us voting stupidly, Republican Conservatives would have no power. By us, I mean average working class Americans, the majority of all voters in this country. By Corporate Thugs, I mean Republicans in Congress and big business that starts wars for profit and fights against every socio-economic initiative aimed at bettering our lives or just keeping them as good as they are. They are against and make seemingly well reasoned arguments, (to the unsophisticated listener) against every improvment ever won by unions for working people. In addition to the safety regulations and OSHA itself, historians say the union activism up through the 1930s is what established the great American Middle Class and all the laws and regulations protecting the rights and wellbeing of workers in the working class such as the 40-hour work week, time-and-a-half overtime, the minimum wage and on and on, arose out of union activism. Yet The Corporate Thugs seek to dismantle all this for the very people who put them in office The Great American Working Class. And it is a sad fact that many of us are stupid and ignorant enough to be suckered into voting for these assholes and their bullshit who seek to anhilliate us and take everything.

Downtown Indy said...

"Bobbi's BS" is, indeed.

guy77money said...

Lets take down the unions except of course the Police or the Fire Fighters unions. If you mess with them who is going to protect the politicans and their houses and businesses. Heck I'm sure all the Police and Fire Fighters spent 2 to 4 years getting a degree to do their jobs. ;) Not a bad salary and benefits for attending the Police and Fire academy.
This is truly one crazy witch hunt! After we bust the teachers and the state government workers lets set our sites on the health care workers. After all shouldn't doctors and specialist only make 100 to 120 a year. I'm sure nurses shouldn't make over 40 grand a year. Most of the money comes from the Federal and State govenments so lets carpet bomb them. After that we can take our anger out on the big banks, law firms and the pharmaceutical industry. Opps can't do that because that is how the politicans get the lions share of their campaign donations.

Wasn't it the bankers that got us in this mess? Still waiting to see some of these guys behind bars? Wow in China they would have executed a few of them to demostrate to the rest of the dummies don't pull this shit again. Face it guys and girls this is an assault on the middle class to knock them down to lower class.

Don't worry as long as the connected paper pushers and friends of politcians still make their millions, we might as well be like Alfred E Newman and recite his most famous quote,"What, me worry?" as we are herded patiently to the slaughter house.