Posts tagged as:

labor unions

  • Nomination of David Weil as Labor Department wage/hour chief could be flashpoint in overtime furor [Terence Smith, Hill] Another reaction to President’s scheme [Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek, earlier here and here]
  • Oregon: longshoreman’s union says NLRB charges of blinding, threatened rape meant “to distract” [Oregonian]
  • Who thinks hiking the minimum wage would kill jobs? Company chief financial officers, to name one group [Steve Hanke, Cato]
  • Tourists’ casual naivete about union politics at NYC hotel made for tension, hilarity [How May We Hate You via @tedfrank]
  • Just for fun: Wichita business’s creative responses to union’s “Shame On…” signs reach Round 2 [Volokh on first round, Subaru of Wichita on second round]
  • Workers’ comp claims at government agencies in Maryland can be odd [Baltimore Sun via Jeff Quinton]
  • Are unions losing their grip on the California Democratic Party? [Dan Walters]

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Labor notes from Tennessee

by Walter Olson on February 17, 2014

VWChattanoogaHilarious: Steven Pearlstein column gloats re: unstoppable UAW-at-Volkswagen tide of history, reaches print after vote [WaPo; "claque," "rabid," "Babbitts," etc.] “We also looked at the track record of the UAW. Why buy a ticket on the Titanic?” [Reuters] “No wonder they wanted card check.” [Mickey Kaus; more, Kevin Williamson]

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  • Minimum wage laws are sentimental legislation with all-too-real effects [Jeffrey Dorfman] “Our Business’s Response to California $2 Minimum Wage Increase” [Coyote, with more on a union angle on minimum wage laws] Some experience from Europe [Steve Hanke, more, Cato overview of minimum wage debate]
  • Connecticut fires state labor department employee who gamed system to get benefits for friend, then reinstates after grievance [Raising Hale] Oldie but goodie: union contract in Bay City, Mich. gave teachers five strikes to show up work drunk before being fired [Mackinac Center two years back]
  • Background of Harris v. Quinn, now before SCOTUS: Blagojevich and Quinn favors for SEIU [George Leef, Forbes, earlier here, etc.]
  • If you decline to hire applicants who’ve sued previous employers, you may face liability over that [Jon Hyman]
  • More on class action seeking pay for volunteer Yelp reviewers [LNL, earlier]
  • “Intriguingly, returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.” [Eric Hanushek et al, NBER via Cowen]
  • “L.A. Sheriff’s Department Admits Hiring 80 Problem Officers; May Not Be Able to Fire Them” [Paul Detrick, Reason]

Only 1,999 unclarities left to go. I explain yesterday’s decision in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp., the “don/doff” case, at Cato at Liberty (& welcome SCOTUSBlog readers).

The Costa Mesa Syndrome

by Walter Olson on January 24, 2014

Reuters on the phenomenon of police harassment of local political opponents (earlier here, here, etc.) By no means are the reports limited to California:

There also have been allegations of intimidation by police in Cranston, Rhode Island.

On Jan. 9, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced that state police will take over an investigation into a flurry of parking tickets issued in the wards of two council members. The pair claim the tickets were issued as retribution after they voted against a new contract for police that would have given them a pay raise….

Major Robert Ryan, a spokesman for the Cranston Police Department, said: “The matter is under investigation, and pursuant to law enforcement’s bill of rights, no-one is going to comment on this.”

As readers may recall, those high-sounding “law enforcement bill of rights” gimmicks serve mostly to entrench law enforcement personnel against consequences or accountability for misbehavior, and thus have less than nothing to do with the Constitution’s actual Bill of Rights. More: Radley Balko.

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  • Labor Department wants to shut down consignors-as-volunteers consignment-sale business plan [Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Sean Higgins/Examiner]
  • Operating Engineers Local 17: “Legality of union violence at heart of court case” [Buffalo News]
  • Alternative to “Ban the Box”: revisit extent to which old convictions stay on the books [Eli Lehrer; Baltimore Sun on municipal proposal]
  • Human capital investment by women has narrowed gender pay gap, desire for time flexibility crucial in explaining what remains [Tyler Cowen on Claudia Goldin paper]
  • Carl Horowitz on UAW push to organize VW in Chattanooga [Capital Research Center]
  • Seyfarth Shaw’s 10th annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report [Seyfarth, Daniel Fisher]
  • Sixth Circuit: transfer can count as adverse action even when employee had previously requested it [Jon Hyman]

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Columnist George Will cites the Cato Institute amicus brief in Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court case over whether states may properly herd home caregivers reimbursed by government checks into collective representation [syndicated]. Earlier here. More: Ilya Shapiro, Michael Greve.

More: Reports on the oral argument from Ilya Shapiro, Cato, and from Reuters.

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Last year we linked a report about a series of unfortunate events that kept happening to elected officials in Costa Mesa, Calif. after they resisted negotiating demands from the city’s police union. One saw his supporters’ businesses harassed by cops, while another was picked up on a bogus DUI charge phoned in by a private eye with ties to an Upland, Calif. law firm, Lackie, Dammeier, McGill, and Ethir, known for extremely aggressive representation of police unions around California.

Now the Lackie, Dammeier firm is in turmoil following a raid on its offices by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. Former Costa Mesa councilman Jim Righeimer, target of the bogus DUI report, and council colleague Steve Mensinger have also alleged in a lawsuit that the law firm’s private investigator attached a GPS device to Mensinger’s car. Lawyers for the two believe the device allowed the investigator to trace the pair’s whereabouts to the bar, allowing for the called-in DUI report which failed when Righeimer produced evidence he had consumed only a couple of Diet Cokes. Mensinger “said the device was affixed to his car during the entire 2012 election season and came to his attention only when he was alerted by the Orange County district attorney’s office.” [L.A. Times, more] The Orange County Register reported: “Mensinger and Righeimer are strong supporters of reforming public pensions and privatizing some city services. … Besides Mensinger, [investigator Chris] Lanzillo is also suspected of following former El Monte City Manager Rene Bobadilla to his home in June 2011, according to a police report obtained by the Orange County Register.” And more recently: “Though they made no admissions, lawyers for the law firm and Lanzillo argued in court papers that placing a tracking device on Mensinger’s truck wouldn’t be an invasion of privacy.” The Costa Mesa police union, also named as a defendant, says in a separate filing that it wasn’t involved with any GPS-tracking plan. [Daily Pilot]

That’s not the only trouble facing the firm: “A statewide police defense fund is no longer sending [it cases] after a forensic audit uncovered triple-billing, bogus travel expenses and ‘serious acts of misconduct.’” [Orange County Register] According to press reports, the firm is in the course of dissolving.

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The phrase “evoked the ‘military-industrial complex’ about which President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned the nation in a speech days before he left office in 1961.” [Times-Union]

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Public employment roundup

by Walter Olson on December 13, 2013

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Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on November 25, 2013

  • Ostrowsky v. Con-Way: “Alcoholic Truck Driver’s Relapse Is Grounds for Firing, Third Circuit Rules” [Legal Intelligencer]
  • “Most minimum-wage workers are members of families with an average income of $42,500″ [Richard Rahn] “Increases in the minimum wage actually redistribute income among poor families by giving some higher wages and putting others out of work” [David Henderson] “Most Americans Favor Raising the Minimum Wage, Unless it Costs Something” [Emily Ekins]
  • Time Warner case: “Is the denial of paid paternity leave discriminatory?” [Jon Hyman]
  • We’d never saddle consumers with the sorts of harassment/discrimination liability we saddle businesses with; let’s consider why [Bryan Caplan]
  • “Special Exemptions: How Unions Operate Above the Law” [Kevin Mooney, CPPC UnionWatch]
  • Should free-marketeers appreciate “alt-labor” (worker centers, etc.) as less coercive than the New Deal union model? [Robert VerBruggen, Ben Sachs, more]
  • Worker hands office colleague an article titled “De-clawing cattiness at work” and nothing good ensues [Employers Lawyer]

UNITE HERE v. Mulhall

by Walter Olson on November 11, 2013

Sean Lengell of the Washington Examiner quotes me in a preview of the upcoming Supreme Court case about whether the provision of federal labor law barring employers from giving a labor union a “thing of value” prohibits “neutrality agreements” in which an employer provides its employee lists or free office space to union organizers. A broad ruling to that effect would wrest a major weapon away from unions, which is one reason I’m doubtful it will happen:

“Those that would like to rein in this type of union agreement, whether it be business or conservatives, shouldn’t get too overconfident,” said Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “Getting the justices to see the logic of Mulhall’s argument is one thing; getting them to act and sign a decision [in his favor] is something else.”

Olson added the justices may be looking for a way out of having to make a definitive ruling.

“I think the court’s instincts are not to pull too hard at the columns of the temple on labor law, because they’re not sure where it’s going to fall,” he said.

Update: reactions to Mulhall oral argument from Jack Goldsmith (and more), Ben Sachs, Cato’s Trevor Burrus, and William Gould/SCOTUSBlog.

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on November 8, 2013

  • Reminder: Second Amendment rights run against the government, not against your employer or other private parties [Eugene Volokh]
  • Invasion of privacy? Employees continue to win awards and settlements by way of surreptitious recording devices in workplace [Jon Hyman]
  • Gov. Brown signs bill creating overtime entitlement for California nannies, private health aides [Reuters, L.A. Times]
  • Does rolling back a benefit under a public employee pension plan violate the Contracts Clause? [Alexander Volokh, Reason Foundation]
  • Even as anti-bullying programs backfire, some propose extending them to workplace [Hans Bader, CEI, earlier]
  • Background on Harris v. Quinn, SCOTUS case on herding family home carers into union fee arrangements [Illinois Review, earlier]
  • “California unions target business-friendly Dems” [Steve Malanga]

Yes, the New York City arts scene has a lot of money sloshing around in it, that of Minneapolis-St. Paul much less, but in neither instance are performing-arts labor unions doing well at reaching a livable accommodation with the needs of high culture. [Hoover "Defining Ideas"]

Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on October 4, 2013

  • You might as well live: estate and inheritance tax make it highly inadvisable to die as a Maryland resident [TaxProf]
  • “Foreclosures: The Chickens Come Home to Roost” [Calvert Institute, earlier]
  • Courts task force created earlier this year will study costly and open-ended Civil Gideon proposals [courts]
  • For your own good: state’s commissioner of financial regulation goes after banks that service payday lenders [Funnell]
  • Governor candidates angle for union support, bids include “greater use of collective bargaining agreements on state construction projects” [WaPo]
  • Really, it won’t kill you to respect people’s consciences on Frederick County boards and commissions [Bethany Rodgers, Frederick News Post on Pledge of Allegiance controversy, update, Ken at Popehat ("Freedom of conscience is like the good couch in the living room; it's there to be had, not to be used."), Gene Healy background] About time: city may ease restrictions on bed and breakfasts [Jen Bondeson, Frederick News Post]
  • Only a handful of states join Maryland in policy of unionizing home child carers [Go Local Providence, more]

The Supreme Court yesterday granted certiorari in Harris v. Quinn, a case raising potentially major issues of federal labor law and forced political association. Via SCOTUSBlog:

Issue: (1) Whether a state may, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the state for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs; and (2) whether the lower court erred in holding that the claims of providers in the Home Based Support Services Program are not ripe for judicial review.

My colleagues at the Cato Institute filed an amicus brief seeking cert in the case. More: Will Baude.