Posts Tagged ‘public employment’

Friedrichs: SCOTUS declines to recognize public employee right to avoid union fees

Abood abides: a 4-4 Supreme Court split leaves in place earlier precedent providing that public employees can be required to pay union “agency fees” spent on activities of which they may not approve. Cato reactions: Trevor Burrus (“The lack of a blockbuster decision in Friedrichs is one of the most significant immediate consequences of Scalia’s death”), Jason Bedrick (“Not only do agency fees violate the First Amendment rights of workers by forcing them to financially support inherently political activities with which they may disagree (as my colleague Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber explained), but the unions often negotiate contracts that work against the best interests of the workers whose money they’re taking.”). Bonus: Charles C.W. Cooke (NEA president’s “Orwellian” words on case). Earlier here.

Illinois: unconstitutional to curb public employee pensions

“In yesterday’s decision, the [Illinois Supreme Court] — as it did in a 2015 case dealing with state workers—relied on a clause in the Illinois Constitution that treats government pensions as ‘an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.'” It wasn’t relevant that Chicago’s pension scheme was $8 billion in the hole, or that most of the city’s public unions had agreed to a deal with Mayor Rahm Emanuel under which the city would step up its funding in exchange for lower COLAs and higher employee contributions. “The bottom line …is that, having just been whacked with a record $543 million property tax hike to pay for old city pension debt, taxpayers are going to have to dig deep again — at least $168 million more over five years, by 2020, and rising from there.” [Chicago Business] Chicago now confronts population loss, aging of resident base [Chicago Magazine, Illinois Policy, Aaron Renn, City Journal] More: “While the US Constitution is famously “not a suicide pact,” the Illinois constitution apparently is.” [Jack Henneman on Twitter]

“How collective bargaining undermines cybersecurity”

After the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) noticed a rash of malware infections, it told employees to stop accessing personal webmail accounts from their government computers. Oh, no, said the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which grieved the change as having been made without prior bargaining with the union. An arbitrator agreed, ruling that “federal law did not give federal agencies ‘sole and exclusive discretion’ to manage its information technology systems.” ICE appealed, but the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) “also sided with the union.” [Washington Times]

P.S. Reports of problems at the U.S. Embassy in London suggests that controls on employee use of at-work computers to send and receive private email might need some tightening up at the State Department too.

Public employment roundup

  • NYPD retiree “shared his happiness at scoring the disability pension, as well as his achievements running marathons” [New York Daily News]
  • Scott Greenfield on public sector unionism and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Simple Justice, earlier] Pending Illinois case raises issues parallel to Friedrichs [Cato podcast with lead plaintiff Mark Janus and attorney Jacob Huebert]
  • San Diego voters tried to address public employee pension crisis, now state panel says doing things by ballot initiative violates obligation to bargain with unions [Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • “Staten Island Ferry deckhand who has already pocketed $600K in job related injuries sues city for $45M” [New York Daily News]
  • Detroit “firefighters were paid for 32-hour days….Numerous top-level fire officials signed off on the overtime.” [Motor City Muckraker]
  • “Without public worker unions, who would lobby against making it a crime to strike a pedestrian with right of way?” [Josh Barro on NYC controversy]
  • “Not Even a Criminal Referral to the Dept. of Justice Can Get You Fired From the VA” [Amanda Winkler, Reason]

Great moments in public employment: relocation fees

Two regional directors at the Veterans Administration are being demoted, but have thus far not been dismissed, after being “accused of receiving tens of thousands of dollars in questionable relocation bonuses.” And with the reassigned executives still on its payroll, the VA may have to — you guessed it — pay relocation fees for the two. [Military Times]

Police union roundup

Labor roundup

  • “NLRB: Unions have a right to know employees home phone numbers. If firms don’t have them, they must obtain them.” [@JamesBSherk summarizing Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner on Danbury Hospital case]
  • Subpoenas get NLRB into redaction fight with McDonald’s [Sean Higgins/Examiner; more on joint-employer battle from International Franchise Association via Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
  • George Leef reviews Daniel DiSalvo’s book on public sector unionism, Government Against Itself [Forbes]
  • “Seattle May Soon Force Uber And Lyft Drivers To Unionize” [Connor Wolf/Caller]
  • Your periodic reminder that the “add union organizing to protected classes under civil rights law” formula is one of the worst ideas ever [Jon Hyman, Wolf/Caller on Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.)]
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch: my proposed Employee Rights Act would “allow workers a greater role in how their union represents them” [Washington Times, background at Washington Examiner]
  • Philadelphia union extortion and violence episode is a reminder it’s past time to revisit 1973 SCOTUS case of U.S. v. Enmons which tended to give a green light to such things [Mark Mix, Washington Times]

“Think it’s hard to fire a bad teacher? Try a bad corrections officer”

“Since 2010, the state [of New York] has sought to fire 30 prison guards accused of abusing inmates through a convoluted arbitration process that is required under the union contract. Officials have prevailed only eight times, according to records of disciplinary cases released under state Freedom of Information Law requests.” [Tom Robbins, The Marshall Project; earlier on difficulty of investigating Attica abuse allegations, and related on correctional officers’ bill of rights laws]

Great moments in public employment: correctional officers’ rights

“Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan blamed the state’s largest employee’s union for not being able to remove corrections employees who face charges that range from driving under the influence to assault….Since 2013, more than 200 Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services employees have been charged with crimes that include DUI, assault and having sexual relations with an inmate, yet they remain on the job.” Union officials, however, say the governor is in error, and that it’s state law, rather than AFSCME contract terms, that restrict dismissals. So no problem! [WBAL, auto-plays; earlier on Maryland’s Correctional Officers Bill of Rights law, a younger sibling to its Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) law for police]

More background on police bill of rights laws, and their origin in the wake of the Kerner commission report on 1960s civil unrest [Scott Greenfield] Veteran police lawyer Herbert Weiner, general counsel to Maryland State FOP Lodge, defends the state’s LEOBR [Al-Jazeera] And commenter Daniel Martin at Popehat on some curious implications of Maryland’s LEOBR, which prohibits investigating cops for some types of misconduct “until the victim, their immediate family, or a direct witness swears out a complaint.”

Yet more: In Pennsylvania, “members of the Fraternal Order of Police are rallying behind legislation to shield the identities of officers who use force.” It’s backed in Harrisburg by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) and Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia. [Watchdog] And with respect to our post of the other day, a commenter writes that the city of Tucson’s two-tiered informational release — withholding the names of police in a prostitution investigation while releasing those of civilians — was not done at city authorities’ discretion but in compliance with a newspaper’s public records request, in conjunction with a state law shielding police privacy.