Posts tagged Labor
How Utah Is Protecting Workers Without the Baggage of Unions | Opinion
March 28, 2023 // Utah's Portable Benefit Plan is a national breakthrough for independent contractors, establishing a legal pathway for entities to offer fully voluntary benefits plans that self-employed workers can open on their own. Unlike employer-sponsored health plans for traditional employees that are tied to jobs, Utah's self-employed workers instead will soon have access to a variety of new benefits plans that are entirely their own and entirely portable for their evolving careers. The possibilities of products that may be established are broad, including the potential for health insurance, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance related products. There is even a pre-existing financial tool known as a "Utah medical care savings account" that self-employed Utahns may conveniently use to pay for their portable health insurance benefits and medical expenses. Many opponents of independent contracting argue that such workers are exploited and deserve the health care and other benefits that many traditional employees receive.
Opinion: Say No to prevailing wage
March 13, 2023 // Prevailing wage mandates artificially lift the cost of government construction projects by forcing bidders to pay the local or, “prevailing,” wage in a particular area. Typically, that means union scale wages. Michigan repealed its prevailing wage law in 2018. The Michigan House of Representatives voted this week to reinstate it. The Senate should vote it down. Research shows prevailing wage laws artificially raise the cost of government construction projects. In a forthcoming study, economist Michael Hicks, co-author of this post, estimates that the cost of road construction is raised by between 8.5% and 14.3% in quality-adjusted road miles. In Michigan in 2018 that would translate to between $5,900 and $9,200 in additional costs per mile. Who foots these extra costs? Taxpayers.
PRO Act puts union leadership ahead of workers
March 6, 2023 // Despite its name, the PRO Act fails to “protect the right to organize” — a right that exists under current law and is respected by people on both sides of the aisle. Rather, the legislation would undo existing reforms adopted under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which helped to curb union violence, coercion, and other criminal activity that plagued labor unions at that time. Unfortunately, the PRO Act would empower union leadership to engage in the same reckless, short-sighted, and dangerous tactics that have disrupted our economy, making it more difficult and costly to invest in our workforce. Research from the American Action Forum has even found that if the PRO Act becomes law, employers could face more than $47 billion in new annual costs, further jeopardizing the economic recovery following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in our supply chain, and the PRO Act would only further weaken resiliency and could result in more shortages and bare shelves. The special interest bill would also undermine the fundamental rights of workers. Rather than empowering workers, the bill would force them into one-size-fits-all union contracts and subject both workers and job creators to union harassment, infringing on workers’ individual rights. First, the bill allows union leadership to access private information from employees without their consent, giving them free rein to contact, harass, and coerce their workers. It also limits the rights to a secret ballot — a core tenet of American democracy — which will further endanger workers who may have reservations about joining a union. Privacy, secret ballots, and flexibility should all be expected and guaranteed in the 21st-century workplace. Additionally, the bill would abolish right-to-work laws in 27 states,
Biden set for first veto on Senate bill opposing climate-friendly investing
March 2, 2023 // President Biden is expected to issue the first veto of his presidency after the Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would revoke a Labor Department rule allowing the managers of the agency’s vast retirement funds to use climate-oriented and social criteria when making investments. The Senate passed the measure after Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) crossed party lines and joined the Republicans, providing the key pieces of the 50-46 majority needed. Both senators are up for reelection next year in heavily Republican states. Four senators abstained. The House passed the bill on Tuesday. The measure takes aim at big asset managers who often use criteria that they believe are crucial for building a portfolio that can withstand changes, especially climate changes, over the coming years. These criteria are known as ESG — environmental, social and governance — and have become sensitive political and cultural touchstones, with critics calling them evidence of “woke” financial institutions.
Opinion: Imagine there’s no public employee unions
February 21, 2023 // But try as President Joe Biden has, it just hasn’t been enough. Automation (including not only factory machinery but also the gig economy), trade, high-profile union corruption cases, failing pension funds, and a string of adverse court rulings are among the many factors rendering private sector unions irrelevant to workers in most modern fields. This has led the unions to desperate measures, such as organizing esoteric, low-income professions, including graduate student teachers and video game testers. Yet the story is quite different for unions in the public sector. The unionization rate of public employees remains robust, at more than 33% of all government workers nationwide. Local government workers are the most likely to be unionized, at a rate of nearly 39%, and public sector union members are concentrated in states that mandate collective bargaining. The states with higher rates of unionization seem to correlate with the nation's least functional state governments: California (54.5%), Illinois (48.7%), New York (66.7%), and New Jersey (59.3%) among them. As their private sector cousins starve, public employee unions are fat and happy — a strange development, given that there was no public sector collective bargaining at all 70 years ago, when unions were at their apex.
Supply Chain News: US Unionization Rates Fall again, BLS Says
February 9, 2023 // Despite A very pro-Labor Biden administration, unionization rates fell again in the US in 2022, according the fresh data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. The BLS found that at the end of last year, the overall US union membership rate was 10.1%, down from 10.3% in 2021. In fact, the 2022 unionization rate is now the lowest on record. In 1983, the first year for which comparable data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1%. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.3 million in 2022, increased by 273,000, or 1.9%, from 2021. However, the total number of wage and salary workers grew by 5.3 million (mostly among non-union workers), or 3.9%.
Labor Law Reform Is Needed for Unions to Succeed
February 9, 2023 // U.S. Department of Labor reported last week that union membership levels have actually declined over the last year and are now at their lowest level ever — 6% in the private sector.
New York City teachers union holds ‘teach-in’ protest over wages
February 7, 2023 // United Federation of Teachers (UFT), held a “teach-in” protest last week, where teachers reported to work, but did not teach classes. Instead, teachers gathered in a room to discuss issues of their choosing, such as political subjects like environmental justice or labor. On UFT’s website, the union wrote that the teach-in protest is to “encourage engagement and activism,” but the purpose of this week’s protest is to call for a new contract. UFT said that the protest will “engage in a discussion about the power of our contract in shaping our experience as educators and then brainstorm actions your school can organize as part of our fight for the contract we deserve.”
SEIU Local 1 Lays off 10 Staffers Amid Allegations That Dues Remain Uncollected
February 6, 2023 // On January 31, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 — the founding local of the 2-million-member international union — laid off 10 of its 89 unionized staffers after little over two weeks’ notice due to a budget shortfall. Nine of those impacted by layoffs are organizers or grievance representatives, which is nearly a third of the member-facing staff at the union, according to the Chicago News Guild, the union that represents Local 1 staffers.