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Right-To-Work Laws: A GOP Assault on Unions – Salem-News.Com


Labor leaders say that allowing workers to opt out of paying any money to the union that represents them weakens unions’ finances, bargaining clout, and political power.

Graphic by McClatchy Newspapers

Graphic by McClatchy Newspapers

(SAN FRANCISCO) – In February this year, Indiana became the 23rd state to enact a right-to-work law (RTW), the only RTW law passed in the last decade. Republicans generally favor RTW laws while unions and Democrats do not. RTW laws are geographical too. RTW states are clustered in the Southeast, covering every state from Virginia to Florida and west to Texas, and then north through the Great Plains to the Dakotas and into the Rockies. The West Coast and Midwest-to-Northeast Rust Belt, both traditional union strongholds, have remained non-RTW states. RTW states generally vote Republican while non-RTW states generally vote Democrat.

RTW is also a potent political symbol, causing serious adverse financial consequences for unions. The Democratic Party receives significant support from organized labor, who supply a great deal of the money, grass roots political organization, and voting base in support of the party. Thus, RTW is not only an assault on unions, but also on the Democratic Party, who rely on labor for support.

Section 14(b) of theTaft-Hartley amendments to the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C §141, permits a state to pass laws that prohibit unions from requiring a worker to pay dues, even when the worker is covered by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. Thus, workers in RTW states have less incentive to join a union and to pay union dues and, as a result, unions have less clout vis-à-vis corporations. In other words, RTW laws prohibit union contracts at private sector workplaces from requiring employees to pay any dues or other fees to the union. In states without such laws, workers at unionized workplaces generally have to pay such dues or fees.

RTW laws tend to diminish union power and influence. Labor leaders say that allowing workers to opt out of paying any money to the union that represents them weakens unions’ finances, bargaining clout, and political power.

According to Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/business/gathering-storm-over-right-to-work-in-indiana.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=business), Henry Farber, a labor economist at Princeton, said RTW laws, by allowing “free riders,” shrink union treasuries. (RTW advocates say such employees have been forced into unions, but organized labor calls them "free riders.") One study found that the portion of free riders in RTW states ranged from 9 percent in Georgia to 39 percent in South Dakota.

Greenhouse cites another study by David T. Ellwood, the dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Glenn A. Fine, a former Justice Department official, who found that in the five years after states enacted RTW laws, the number of unionization drives dropped by 28 percent, and in the following five years by an added 12 percent. Organizing wins fell by 46 percent in the first five years and 30 percent the next five. Over all, they found, RTW laws, beyond other factors, caused union membership to drop 5 percent to 10 percent.

Proponents of RTW laws claim that states with such laws grow faster and their citizens are better off. But with their faster growing populations, RTW states had unemployment rates averaging 8 percent in April of 2011, just below the 8.2 percent average in non-RTW states.

In The Compensation Penalty of "Right-To-Work" Laws by the Economic Policy Institute (www.epi.org/page/-/old/briefingpapers/BriefingPaper299.pdf?nocdn=1), economists Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz examined the differences in compensation between RTW and non-RTW states. (The Economic Policy Institute is a labor-backed research center.) Controlling for the demographic and job characteristics of workers as well as state-level economic conditions and cost-of-living differences across states, they found that in 2009 wages were 3.2 percent lower in RTW states versus non-RTW – about $1,500 less annually for a full-time, year-round worker; the rate of employer-sponsored health insurance was 2.6 percentage points lower in RTW states compared with non-RTW states; the rate of employer-sponsored pensions was 4.8 percentage points lower in RTW states. And, in 2008, the rate of workplace deaths was 57 precent higher in RTW states than non-RTW states, while the 2009, poverty rate in RTW states averaged 15 percent, considerably above the 12.8 percent average for non-RTW states.

Gould and Shierholz concluded, "RTW legislation misleadingly sounds like a positive change in this weak economy, in reality the opportunity it gives workers is only that to work for lower wages and fewer benefits. For legislators dedicated to making policy on the basis of economic fact rather than ideological passion, our findings indicate that, contrary to the rhetoric of RTW proponents, the data show that workers in “right-to-work” states have lower compensation – both union and nonunion workers alike."

And according to Gordon Lafer (www.epi.org/publication/working-hard-indiana-bad-tortured-uphill), an economist at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, there is no evidence that RTW laws have any positive impact on employment or bringing back manufacturing jobs. Commenting on Oklahoma’s passage of a RTW law in 2001, Lafer, noted that rather than increasing job opportunities, the state saw companies relocate out of Oklahoma. In high-tech industries and those service industries "dependent on consumer spending in the local economy" the laws appear to have actually damaged growth. At the end of the decade, 50,000 fewer Oklahoma residents had jobs in manufacturing. Perhaps most damning, Lafer could find no evidence that the legislation had a positive impact on employment rates.

In May 8, 2011, Senator Jim DeMint (R. SC) introduced the National Right-to-Work Act S-504), a bill to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities. S-504 has no chance of passage in the Senate and even if it did, President Obama would likely veto it. However, if the Republicans retake the White House and Senate, and retain the House, you can bet a National RTW Act will be high on the Republican to do list.

Why do we need unions anyway? Because they are essential for America. Unions are the only large-scale movement left in America that persistently acts as a countervailing balance against corporate power. They act in the economic interests of the middle class. But the decline of unions over the past few decades has left corporations and the rich with essentially no powerful opposition. You may take issue with a particular union’s position on an issue, but remember they are the only real organized check on the power of the business community in this country. RTW laws are anti-union, pro-business

___________________________________

Salem-News.com writer Ralph E. Stone was born in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of both Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School. We are very fortunate to have this writer’s talents in this troubling world; Ralph has an eye for detail that others miss. As is the case with many Salem-News.com writers, Ralph is an American Veteran who served in war. Ralph served his nation after college as a U.S. Army officer during the Vietnam war. After Vietnam, he went on to have a career with the Federal Trade Commission as an Attorney specializing in Consumer and Antitrust Law. Over the years, Ralph has traveled extensively with his wife Judi, taking in data from all over the world, which today adds to his collective knowledge about extremely important subjects like the economy and taxation. You can send Ralph an email at this address stonere@earthlink.net

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Right-To-Work Laws: A GOP Assault on Unions – Salem-News.Com

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AIG ex-CEO Greenberg eyes reversing NY fraud case | Reuters


 

Times editorial on how his country’s political system wasted years of prosperity and put the euro at risk.   Read more at Counterparties

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Former American International Group (AIG) CEO Maurice Greenberg testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on “The Collapse and Federal Rescue of A.I.G. and What It Means for the U.S. Economy” on Capitol Hill in Washington April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Former American International Group (AIG) CEO Maurice Greenberg testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on “The Collapse and Federal Rescue of A.I.G. and What It Means for the U.S. Economy” on Capitol Hill in Washington April 2, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

By Jonathan Stempel

Mon May 14, 2012 6:03pm EDT

(Reuters) – Former American International Group Inc Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg said New York’s attorney general should be barred from invoking a 91-year-old state law in a fraud case over two suspect reinsurance transactions.

Greenberg and co-defendant Howard Smith, AIG’s former chief financial officer, sought permission on Monday to appeal to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, a May 8 appellate ruling letting Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pursue civil fraud claims against them under the state’s Martin Act.

That ruling by the Manhattan appeals court cleared the way for the 7-year-old case to go to trial.

Investigators claim a transaction with General Re Corp, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, helped AIG inflate loss reserves by $500 million without transferring risk, while a transaction with Capco Reinsurance Co helped AIG hide more $200 million of losses. Both transactions took place more than a decade ago.

Unlike under federal law, the Martin Act does not require investigators to prove intent in order to prevail on a securities fraud claim.

According to David Boies, a lawyer for Greenberg, a key issue is whether Schneiderman may use the Martin Act "to pursue a de facto securities class action" on behalf of shareholders, despite conflicting federal laws designed to promote "uniformity and certainty" in regulating securities.

In a court filing, Greenberg and Smith said that power would make "every executive of a New York company or a company with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange potentially liable – personally – for substantial damages for misstatements" by their companies, even absent proof of intent or reliance.

Granting such power would have "far-reaching implications for New York’s continuing role as an economic and financial capital," they added.

James Freedland, a spokesman for Schneiderman, said: "We are confident that their latest attempt to reverse decades of settled law to escape responsibility for their misconduct will be rejected."

Greenberg and Smith were first sued in 2005 by Eliot Spitzer, then New York’s attorney general. Spitzer’s successors Andrew Cuomo and Schneiderman have continued to pursue the case.

Greenberg, 87, left New York-based AIG in March 2005 after nearly four decades at the insurer’s helm.

AIG’s transaction with General Re led to five convictions and two guilty pleas of former officials of those companies. A federal appeals court threw out the convictions in August and a new trial has been scheduled for January 2013. Buffett was not accused of wrongdoing.

The U.S. government still owns 61 percent of AIG, following $182.3 billion of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Greenberg’s company, Starr International Co, once AIG’s largest shareholder, has sued the government for $25 billion over the bailouts, which it has called unconstitutional.

The case is New York v. Greenberg et al, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 1st Department, No. 5297.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andre Grenon)

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AIG ex-CEO Greenberg eyes reversing NY fraud case | Reuters

Sheldon Adelson and Newt Gingrich: One gained clout from friendship, the other funding – The Washington Post


The way casino magnate Sheldon Adelson remembers it, he and his wife, Miriam, met then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 in the majestic Capitol Rotunda as they made their way through the building while lobbying for a bill to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nearly two decades later, Gingrich, on the campaign trail, has promised that his first executive order as president would be the embassy move, long a priority of ardent Israel supporters such as the Adelsons.

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The former House speaker is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

It would also be a sweet jackpot for the Adelsons, who are the biggest patrons of Gingrich’s political career.

Perhaps no other major presidential candidate in recent times has had his fortunes based so squarely on the contributions of a single donor, as Gingrich has on Adelson, who has spent millions in support of Gingrich and his causes over the past five years. In a primary season dominated by the mega-spending of super PACs, Adelson’s efforts on Gingrich’s behalf provide a window into the expanding influence of the super-rich on American politics.

After putting up the seed money and ultimately $7.7 million between 2006 and 2010 for a nonprofit group that served as a precursor to Gingrich’s presidential campaign, Adelson, 78, an irascible Las Vegas billionaire, doubled down this month, giving $5 million to a political action committee run by former close aides to Gingrich.

“My motivation for helping Newt is simple and should not be mistaken for anything other than the fact that my wife Miriam and I hold our friendship with him very dear and are doing what we can as private citizens to support his candidacy,” Adelson, who is listed by Forbes as the eighth-wealthiest American, with a net worth of $21.5 billion, said in a prepared statement e-mailed to The Washington Post. He declined interview requests.

The most recent donation to Winning Our Future, a Gingrich-linked super PAC, fueled Gingrich’s resurgence before Saturday’s primary in South Carolina and bankrolled ads and a half-hour film painting rival Mitt Romney as a job-killing corporate raider. Adelson told associates that he will consider more donations if Gingrich fares well Saturday.

For Gingrich, the check links him even more closely to Adelson (pronounced ADD-el-son), an outspoken businessman known for aggressive tactics. His net worth has increased at least ninefold in the last decade. (The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating his company, Las Vegas Sands, in connection with allegations that Adelson ordered an executive to bribe Chinese officials by putting them on the payroll. Adelson and company officials deny the allegations, which they say were first made by a disgruntled former employee.)

Adelson said the check to Gingrich was about fidelity. “Our means of support might be more than others are able to offer,” he said, “but like most Americans, words such as friendship and loyalty still mean something to us.”

Friends said Adelson and Gingrich share views on Israel, labor and free enterprise. In December, when Gingrich was riding atop the national GOP polls, Adelson was delighted.

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ramseytuell

1/27/2012 2:11 PM MST

At present we are sending 33% of our work to other countries. If we were to keep 18% of that here it would put most of that 14 million back to work. It is very important that we do it now. Workers feed our money Supply, pay taxes, and pay the wages of all those that have jobs in our government.
The President, in his state of The Union speech, addressed the fact that we are losing our skilled workers such as engineers, die makers, machinists, etc and along with them goes our ability to manufacture and build wealth in our country.
If I see any of the contenders for the Presidency, or the President and any of his staff, smiling and talking about rearranging the government offices to safe money, or shuffling papers and laws to improve the economy, I’m going to puke.

banicki

1/20/2012 1:33 PM MST

One dollar one vote.
Here is biggest problem of this years election. and no one is discussing it including the Times.
American politics is one of the few jobs where you are allowed to hunt for another job during 98% of normal working hours and continue to be paid for your present position. WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN THIS TIME!
“Republicans hope Mr. Obama’s pronouncement that a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut was the last “must-do” piece of legislation for the White House will work in their favor, making them look as though they are trying to create jobs while Mr. Obama is busy campaigning.” Boehner Faces a Restive G.O.P. and New White House Attacks, Jennifer Steinhaurer, New York Times, January 14, 2011
In 2012 we have the following items that demand national attention: the presidential and congressional elections, the Afghan war, Iran building a nuclear weapon, high unemployment, a teetering economy and a national debt with no plan in place to solve it. These are just the items on the top shelf. Morehttp://goo.gl/mIWYc

Provincial

1/20/2012 9:13 AM MST

What is not mentioned in this article is the fact that Newt Gingrich did a 180 on his Israel v. Palestinians positions immediately after receiving the $1 million.
Newt sold himself to Adelson, he has been bought and paid for.

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Sheldon Adelson and Newt Gingrich: One gained clout from friendship, the other funding – The Washington Post

House Democrats Propose Increasing Minimum Wage To $10 | ThinkProgress


A group of House Democrats have proposed increasing the minimum wage to $10, which, as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) pointed out would allow the wage to “catch up” with where it would be had it been allowed to grow with inflation:

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and 17 House Democrats, including several Congressional Black Caucus members, proposed legislation Wednesday that would increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

Jackson said his bill, the Catching Up to 1968 Act, is needed to give low-income workers a way to “catch up” to inflation, which continues to eat away at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. He also said it would give these workers more income and boost overall demand for the struggling economy.

The minimum wage hit its peak buying power in 1968; to have the same buying power today, the minimum wage would have to be $9.92. If the minimum wage had been indexed to the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.

The current minimum wage is also covering a much smaller percentage of health care and tuition costs than it did just a few decades ago. Already this year, San Francisco has increased its minimum wage to $10, while 1.4 million workers are benefiting from scheduled increases in the minimum wage in eight states. According to the Economic Policy Institute, boosting the minimum wage particularly helps women and minorities, who make up a disproportionate share of minimum wage-earners.

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House Democrats Propose Increasing Minimum Wage To $10 | ThinkProgress

Shocker: Paul Ryan’s budget means more big tax cuts for the rich. – CSMonitor.com


The tax cuts in Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget plan would result in huge benefits for high-income people and very modest—or no— benefits for low income working households. No surprise here.

By Guest blogger / March 24, 2012

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., center, and others, leave a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, where he discussed his budget blueprint.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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No surprise here, but the tax cuts in Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget plan would result in huge benefits for high-income people and very modest—or no— benefits for low income working households, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

Howard Gleckman is a resident fellow at The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the author of Caring for Our Parents, and former senior correspondent in the Washington bureau of Business Week. (http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org)

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TPC looked only at the tax reductions in Ryan’s plan, which also included offsetting–but unidentified–cuts in tax credits, exclusions, and deductions. TPC found that in 2015, relative to today’s tax system, those making $1 million or more would enjoy an average tax cut of $265,000 and see their after-tax income increase by 12.5 percent. By contrast, half of those making between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut at all. On average, people in that income group would get a tax reduction of $129. Ryan would raise their after-tax income by 0.5 percent.

Nearly all middle-income households (those making between $50,000 and $75,000) would see their taxes fall, by an average of roughly $1,000. Ryan would increase their after-tax income by about 2 percent.

Ryan would extend all of the 2001/2003 tax cuts, and then consolidate individual rates to just two—10 and 25 percent. In addition, he’d repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, reduce the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and kill the tax provisions of the 2010 health reform law.

Earlier this week, TPC projected the tax cuts in Ryan’s budget would add $4.6 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, even after extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts, which would add another $5.4 trillion to the deficit.

Ryan argues that eliminating or scaling back deductions, credits, and exclusions ought to be part of the GOP fiscal plan. But he won’t say how.

Cuts in those tax preferences could make a big difference in determining who wins and who loses from the tax portion of his budget. But until House Republicans describe which they’d cut, there is no way to estimate what those base-broadeners would mean.

In truth, unless Republicans raise taxes on capital gains and dividends, it is hard to imagine the highest income households getting anything other than a windfall from this budget. Other tax preferences, such as the mortgage interest deduction, are just not that valuable to them.

And since no high-profile Republicans want to raise taxes on gains and dividends (and many would cut investment taxes even further) this budget would likely result in a huge tax cut for those who need it least.  That’s not a great way to start an exercise whose stated goal is to eliminate the budget deficit.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers’ own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger’s own site by clicking on taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org.

 

 

Shocker: Paul Ryan’s budget means more big tax cuts for the rich. – CSMonitor.com.