Divorce Is the Answer. But What’s the Question?

An employer determined that several of its employees were doing work at a level beyond what was anticipated. As a result, the employer decided to reward those employees with raises. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, not to everyone:

The raises would lift the pay of several junior employees above that of more senior union members. Instead of celebrating its members’ recognition, Local 23 filed a grievance.

The arbitrator sided with the union and ordered the pay increases rescinded. Courts upheld the ruling on appeal.

Local 23 got what it wanted — a uniform contract treating everyone the same.

Treating everyone the same, and yet treating a goodly number of the employees inequitably. Why? Because if the employees figure out that the employer is the actual setter and payer of salaries, then the value of the union is largely dissipated. Only if the union can hold on to its position of patronage for the workers (and that’s exactly what it is) will it be able to continue to be funded by those same workers.

As long as there are humans on both sides of employee and employer relationships, there will be problems. After all, the one side (employer) wants to get as much as possible for as little as possible, while the other side (employee) desires to get as much as possible for as little as possible. And yes, I realize that I’m painting with a very broad brush here. However, adding in a union which desires to get as much as possible out of both the employer and the employee does little to help, and much to hurt.

It is time for the labor unions of the 19th and 20th centuries to give way to the realities of the 21st. I may be a conservative, but that doesn’t mean I keep every old thing around just because it’s been around for a really long time.

Why the Field is Slanted Left

If there are more conservatives (self-identified) than either moderates or liberals, why is it that it would seem liberals have a baked in advantage when it comes to electioneering?

John Hinderaker serves up a pretty good reason in his piece on labor unions:

“Defunding the left” was one of the objectives of the Republican uprising of 1994; unfortunately, that goal went unrealized. This is one of the basic differences between Left and Right: conservative candidates and organizations have to raise money from individuals who contribute voluntarily, out of conviction, while Democrats and liberal organizations are able to extract money by force from taxpayers and others. The Left has managed to institutionalize itself.

Labor unions are the most notorious example of this phenomenon, although by no means the only one. In many states, Democratic politicians have enacted laws that compel workers to contribute to labor unions; union bosses, in turn, take much of that money and contribute it to Democratic politicians. This is the real “dirty money” in politics.

He goes on to provide the data behind his premise, including an absolutely damning table which shows exactly how skewed labor union contributions are.

This is nothing new. It’s been the way that labor unions have done business since back in the day when some of them were actually on the side of the little man, and before they became powers unto themselves. Labor unions were socialist, if not communist, in their leanings. Therefore, it was in their interest to funnel their funds into the support of those who were the ideological bedfellows of the union leadership, if not the rank and file.

Unions no longer provide the best means of representing the interests of many of their members (as made obvious by the collapse of teacher’s union membership in Wisconsin). But they still have the momentum of many decades of government favoritism, and much like that stallion whose herd of mares has shrunk from forty or fifty down to one third that man they will not give up what remains without a fight.

Living and Dying on Wages

It has been more than 20 years since I had my first discussion with a friend who did not understand that one just does not set the minimum wage to some arbitrary number (he thought $10/hr would do it) and all would be well in the land of the underpaid.

Sarah Hoyt takes on this topic and lays the matter out in some of the clearest terms possible. Here’s a bit on the reality that economics is a science:

But economics is a science, which means it’s something that studies nature to discover its laws. This means our laws cannot change nature.   You can’t legislate economics, any more than you can legislate the weather.  For instance, I would love it for it to rain only at night because then when we go anywhere during the day it would always be sunny.  Also, could we get snow to melt after a few hours of looking scenic?  I hate walking in subzero weather.  And so many elderly die from extremes in weather.  We should make the temperature 62 degrees year around.  Think how much we’d save on fuel, too.  Why wouldn’t you do that?  What do you have against the elderly and the poor.

Because it doesn’t work.  Because the government in DC can pass all the laws it wants, but the weather still will do exactly what it will do.


Please, go read it all.


California’s Children Leading the Way . . . Down

California has the highest population of any US State (about 37 million, give or take). Of that number, more than 6 million are enrolled as students in the state’s public schools. That’s quite a few students. Unfortunately, they are not doing well:

Since then [1992], California per pupil education spending has continued to rise, and student test scores have not. In 2011, the most recent year available, California eighth-graders finished 48th in reading, ahead of just Louisiana and Mississippi, and 48th in math, ahead of just Alabama and Mississippi. Perhaps California should change its state motto to “Thank God for Mississippi.”

One big reason California’s highly paid teachers are failing to educate California’s public school students is that their pay has nothing to do with their ability to educate kids.

Thanks to union contracts, teacher pay is based on seniority, not performance.

In California, the teachers have incentives, but those incentives are not tied to ensuring that their charges are adequately prepared to enter the world as adults. Rather they are encouraged to do those things which maintain the level of funding (and power) which the teachers’ union has acquired at the expense of these children’s futures.

According to a 2010 report from the Public Policy Institute of California, for the first time ever, young adults in California are less likely to graduate from college than their parents.

By 2025, a projected 41 percent of all jobs in California will require a college degree, but only 35 percent of California adults will have one — an expected gap of 1 million graduates. What this projection really suggests is that the jobs won’t be created at all — they will instead go to other states that are producing college graduates at a fraction of California’s cost.

Is the California teachers’ union the source of all educational problems in that state? No. However, the negative influence of decades of educational policies which are focused on everything from social justice to cultural inclusiveness — instead of reading, writing and arithmetic — is impossible to ignore.

There is yet time for much of the rest of the US to learn from California’s mistakes. Only time will tell of California still hope of learning from its own recent history.

How Much for the Bus?

I do not know the busing cost, as broken down per student per year here in South Dakota. I do, however, understand that spending $7000 each year for each student to bus them to school is crazy. If we assume a 180-day school year, that is almost $40 per day for a ticket–in a city which already spends millions on public transportation for non-students.

Math is a cruel master.

Boiler Pressure at Dangerous Levels

Reason number 2,215 supporting the understanding that labor unions have become the very thing they were founded to combat:

A prime suite at Kansas Speedway. First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.

Life is good at the top of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.

  • While few other unions still own planes, the Boilermakers partially own two, paying a half million dollars last year for maintenance and fees. When they travel on commercial flights, officers can go first-class.
  •  Once they arrive, officers may enjoy memorable experiences — exclusive pheasant hunting expeditions, fly-fishing adventures in Alaska, stays in Paris and on Marco Island, Fla.
  • Some officers can supplement their union salaries with pay from the union’s own bank. At least two have made as much as an additional quarter million dollars a year.
  • And once their careers are over, retiring officers drive away in gift cars.
You are welcome.

Speeding to Oblivion

From Colorado:

A Denver police officer fired for driving 88 mph above the speed limit while intoxicated has appealed his dismissal, arguing that the penalty is unfair and overly harsh.


Saunders was traveling 143 mph in a 55-mph zone on June 17, 2010, according to the order terminating him, issued by Manager of Safety Alex Martinez on Dec. 7.

Pretty clear. Right? He wasn’t doing 59 or 61 or even 71 mph. He was doing 143 miles per hour. So he got fired. Sounds equitable. Oh, and the article states that he did this while over the legal limit for alcohol and with a passenger–so not only did he have the potential for endangering others outside his vehicle, he had the immediate potential for endangering his passenger.

Now, he wants his job back. And who is backing him in this display of Rocky Mountain chutzpah? Why the union, of course:

The penalty is “disproportionate to the offenses alleged and/or is excessive so as to be punitive rather than corrective in nature,” according to the appeal, filed by the Denver Police Protective Association’s lawyers.

Is it any wonder that actions like this help to move the modern labor union ever closer to its demise? Unbelievable.

Union Dues Blues

If you had any doubts that labor unions have gone far beyond their original brief, try this:

If you’re a parent who accepts Medicaid payments from the State of Michigan to help support your mentally-disabled adult children,  you qualify as a state employee for the purposes of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). They can now claim and receive a portion of your Medicaid in the form of union dues.

Robert and Patricia Haynes live in Michigan with their two adult children, who have cerebral palsy. The state government provides the family with insurance through Medicaid, but also treats them as caregivers. For the SEIU, this makes them public employees and thus members of the union, which receives $30 out of the family’s monthly Medicaid subsidy. The Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) deducts union dues on behalf of SEIU.

The article goes on to say that this works out to $6 million per year. When we are talking of billions and trillions, this does not seem like much. But when you understand that this is, for all practical purposes, a tax which is applied to individuals who receive precisely no benefit from the taxation, then things don’t seem so benign.

A measure to undo this mess is currently stuck in Michigan’s state senate. Here’s hoping that it becomes unstuck very soon.


Union vs Union

From Washington State:

Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

The article goes on to say that no one was arrested or charged with anything. Gotta love the rule of law.

Then this:

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that’s staffing a workforce of other union laborers.

It is not enough that union members get the work. It must be certain ones.

And if we don’t get what we want, we will destroy property and otherwise act like spoiled children until the ice cream is forthcoming.

Keep it up, unions, and pretty soon the average citizen will be glad to see the taillights of the bus that was organized labor.