Federal Election "Commission"

The Wall Street Journal's John Fund nails it in his article "Crime Without Punishment." The Federal Election Commission's $775,000 fine against the union-dues-funded America Coming Together (ACT) 527 group is a pathetic joke.

This fine is less than one percent of the $100 million illegally funnelled into electing liberal Democrats and "Giving George W. Bush a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas." Perhaps the puny fine levied against the group founded by George Soros and SEIU union president Andy Stern should instead be referred to as a federal election "commission."

Stripping union officials of their power to force American workers to pay dues would do far more to clean up the political process than relying on some feckless federal agency like the FEC.

Michigan Union Bosses Rally Against Employee Choice

In a sometimes vulgar and entirely anti-employee display, Michigan union officials and Big Labor politicians held a “rally” in Lansing last week against efforts by Michigan citizens to promote a much-needed Right to Work law in Michigan.

The union bosses based in the state's capital city apparently held their “Rapid Response” rally because the National Right to Work Foundation’s Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse was speaking to a group of Cooley Law School students in Lansing at the same time.

Sucking up to his union paymasters, one politician blustered: “Right to work: Get your a** back to where you came from! We do not need you in Michigan!”

Despite the cheers and jeers of the paid union officials who make a living by leeching off the hard earned wages of employees, Michigan citizens are increasingly recognizing that their state -- perhaps more than any other state in the country -- needs a Right to Work law. Aside from protecting the freedom of choice of employees it would help reverse Michigan’s current “one state recession.”

Republican NLRB Appointee Allows Union Featherbedding

In a disturbing move that further underscores the Bush administration's mismanagement of the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB General Counsel Ronald Meisburg has inexplicably added activist Democrat Dennis Walsh to his staff in recent days. Walsh is a militant union-boss partisan who had just vacated an expired recess appointment to the five member NLRB -- a recess appointment that he should never have received from President Bush in the first place. Rather than receiving a make-work job within the bureaucracy while he pines away for yet another Board seat, Walsh should instead return to private employment. As a voting member, Walsh had worked to undermine employee free choice and to empower union bosses to coerce workers into union ranks. It's outrageous that he would be rewarded with a new post at Bush's NLRB.

Is Bush's Top Lawyer Taking Orders from Big Labor?

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, the Bush administration's top lawyer, has just inflicted more damage on America's working men and women laboring under compulsory unionism. Does President Bush even know what his administration's lawyer is doing?

This week, the too-clever-by-half lawyer filed a brief in the National Right to Work Foundation's latest pending U.S. Supreme Court case, Locke v. Karass, and has taken a position that surely must please the union bosses. The High Court in Locke will examine the criteria for determining how much non-union members must pay to a union where they do not enjoy the fundamental protection of a Right to Work law.

Foundation attorneys argue that the U.S. Constitution does not permit the forced extraction of dues or fees for any expenses not directly tied to representational activity in the employees' actual bargaining unit.

But Mr. Clement apparently has no issue with forcing Maine state workers to pay for union activism anywhere in the world, so long as the union satisfies a vague and weak two-part test. In practical terms, Clement's standard would further empower union bosses to charge workers for almost anything under the sun, unless a worker gets a lawyer and forces them to prove that the forced fees are being used for narrowly prescribed purposes.

This is not the first time that U.S. Solicitor General Clement has taken positions supportive of compulsory unionism. He adopted the AFL-CIO's position and seriously undermined employee freedom during oral argument in the Foundation's Davenport v. WEA case at the U.S. Supreme Court.

With "friends" like Bush's Solicitor General, who needs enemies?

Bush Administration -- Again -- Takes a Swipe at Employee Freedom

The Bush Administration is arguing Big Labor's legal positions in court again.

Right to Work supporters recall the Bush Administration's lousy record when it comes to employee free choice and worker freedom. Solicitor General Paul Clement seemed to take pleasure in parroting union lawyer talking points in important legal proceedings like Davenport v. Washington Education Association. Before resigning in May, Clement took another swipe at employee freedom in Locke v. Karass, another Foundation case going to the Supreme Court.

Clement's successor, Acting Solicitor General Gregory Garre, appears to be picking up where Clement left off. On Friday, Garre filed a motion with the Supreme Court to participate in oral arguments in Locke. Worse, Garre wants to cut into time already allocated to Foundation attorneys.

In Locke, Foundation attorneys are representing 20 Maine state employees who contend that the union which "represents" them -- the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) -- is violating their First Amendment rights by sending part of their forced dues to a giant union slush fund which the affiliated Service Employees International Union (SEIU) can use to finance costly litigation, even though such litigation does not directly impact the state employees' own bargaining unit. SEIU is one of the most radical and politically militant national unions.

On Monday, the Foundation filed its opposition to the federal government's motion, making several important points to challenge both the SG's motion to participate and the motion for divided argument.

The Acting Solicitor General has failed to adequately demonstrate the government's concrete interest in the case. Importantly, no federal statute is at stake. Garre's motion claims the government's interest by vaguely pointing to the Secretary of Labor's responsibility to advise the President on labor policy and carry out Congressional policy and to the National Labor Relations Act, though Garre even contradictorily argues in the motion "that questions arising under the NLRA are distinguishable from this case."

The High Court has the option to simply extend time for oral arguments, but Garre wants to cut into the time of both the Foundation attorneys and MSEA lawyers -- even though the Court's rules permit divided arguments "only in the most extraordinary circumstances." But of the 22 pages of argument in the Solicitor's amicus brief, 17 are devoted to opposing the pro-worker legal position taken by Foundation attorneys.

Moreover, the MSEA cites the Solicitor's arguments 14 times in its own brief. If the Court grants the government's motion, it would "deny the Employees their full opportunity to present their views."

The Bush administration's stance in Locke is inexplicable. With only a few more months before he leaves office, Bush has no electoral reason to try to appease Big Labor (not that Republican appeasement of union bosses works out very well). But as the Acting Solicitor General's motion demonstrates, the Bush administration doesn't have enough significant legal interest either.

Yet, the Solicitor General's office persists in going out of its way to undercut the rights of nonunion employees forced to pay dues as a condition of employment, despite the administration's supposed support of the Right to Work. So once again we have to observe the old saying: With "friends" like these... who needs enemies?

And the Solicitor General's office can't say it doesn't know the harm it is doing. Its demand for oral argument time comes after the Foundation asked it to withdraw its legal brief because, if the Justices took it seriously, it would do serious harm to employees' rights.

Instead, Foundation attorneys may now find themselves arguing not only against Big Labor's lawyers, but also against the Bush Administration.

Left-wing ABA Holds Another Biased Conference to Attack Employee Freedom

Further undermining what little credibility it may still have, the American Bar Association held its annual labor law conference and loaded up the agenda with another one-sided panel discussion to attack the concept of employee free choice.

For the 4th year in a row, ABA political hacks have pointedly refused to allow the perspective of employees who may, God forbid, not want a union to dominate their workplace. Once again, a hot topic at the conference was the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation's cases defending employees whose rights are abused during card check organizing drives.

And yet again, the ABA meeting planners refused to allow the perspective of workers or their Right to Work attorneys to be heard -- instead selecting speakers representing Big Labor and a small faction of squishy, union-boss-friendly management lawyers. (Of course, the views of the speakers were rejected by the NLRB in its recent Dana/Metaldyne ruling, and the views of Foundation attorneys were embraced. Just a technicality, I guess.)

The ABA's intellectual dishonesty continues to be an embarrassment to America's legal profession.

Despite AWOL Bush Adminstration, Court Clears Path for Breakthrough Against Union Kickback Schemes in Federal Contracting

In a breakthrough appellate court ruling, Iron Worker Union officials can now be sued under anti-trust laws for running a union kickback scheme known as "job targeting" which has diverted $500 million in workers wages over the past 5 years.

Job targeting schemes are primary tools used to secure a Big Labor cartel over billions of taxpayer dollars used in federal contracting (as well as many private construction projects). They are used to freeze non-union contractors out of getting work, while lining the union bosses' pockets with the wages of construction workers.

Attorney Mike Avakian, General Counsel of the Center for National Labor Policy, brought the cutting-edge suit for several New England companies, and National Right to Work Foundation attorneys submitted an amicus curiae (.pdf) brief because job targeting schemes severely undermine non-union employees' interests. Here's a quick preview from the Daily Labor Report, a subscribers-only service:

Five nonunion steel erector companies in New England may proceed with their claims that a job targeting fund run by the Iron Workers and other activity in conjunction with union contractors violated federal antitrust and labor laws, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled Aug. 1 (Am. Steel Erectors Inc. v. Local 7, Int'l Ass'n of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers, 1st Cir., No. 07-1832, 8/1/08).

. . .

The Iron Workers created a job targeting program called the Market Recovery Program (MRP) to help mitigate the disadvantage for union contractors. The union targets certain construction projects and offers a subsidy to signatory contractors bidding on the project. When a signatory contractor wins a contract on a targeted project, the union and the contractor execute an agreement specifying the terms and the amount of the subsidy. The MRP is funded by money withheld by union contractors from union members' paychecks.

In other words, job targeting schemes enable union officials to seize and funnel part of workers' paychecks back to the union contractors, enabling such firms to undercut competitors' bids by artificially lowering operating costs (through kickbacks of artificially high forced union dues). Meanwhile, the workers receive lower wages in effect.

The case also alleges that these funds were used to bully businesses to renege on agreements with nonunion companies by targeting them for picketing, harassment, and intimidation.

All in all, a pretty sordid tale. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit determined that the union was not exempt from federal anti-trust law, allowing the plaintiffs to proceed with their suit in U.S. District Court. Key quote from the decision (.pdf - emphasis mine):

Nonetheless, unions, particularly when acting in concert with non-labor groups, are not given carte blanche to engage in anticompetitive activities. As the Supreme Court has explained, "[i]t would be a surprising thing if Congress, in order to prevent a misapplication of [antitrust] legislation to labor unions, had bestowed upon such unions complete and unreviewable authority to aid business groups to frustrate its primary objective."

Shamefully, the U.S. Department of Labor has been totally AWOL on the job targeting issue even though DOL's official position is that it violates the Davis Bacon Act. This deliberate enforcement failure has given union bosses a green light to exploit this lucrative and corrupt practice at workers' and taxpayers' expense.

In fact, high-level DOL officials -- including Secretary Elaine Chao herself -- rebuffed direct requests to get involved in this very case which has the potential to mop up billions of dollars in corruption occurring right under DOL's nose. Even as the seminal case is now breaking the plaintiffs' way, Bush's DOL is still sitting on its hands. (Why do these people even bother showing up for work?)

The plaintiffs' lawsuit is resulting in a major step forward for taxpayers and for high-quality, lower-cost non-union firms and their workers who are effectively blackballed from performing federal contracts, project labor agreements, and other constructions jobs.

Todd Palin is Inadvertantly Bankrolling Union Smears and Efforts to Defeat His Wife

Many of you probably watched Sarah Palin accept the Republican Party's Vice Presidential nomination last night. Ironically, her husband - a member of the United Steelworkers (USW) union - is actually funding efforts to smear and defeat her.

Today, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix released an open letter (.pdf) to Todd Palin, informing him that he has the right to cut off the forced union dues being used to defeat a McCain-Palin ticket. Here's the key quote:

We understand you are a member of the United Steelworkers of America union. While I'm sure you're excited by your wife's candidacy for high office, you may be discouraged to learn that the union dues you pay are already being used to defeat her.

When USW union bosses endorsed Barack Obama in June, they pledged to support his campaign using funds collected from union members. Steelworker dues will pay for a variety of political activities throughout the electoral season, and a significant portion of those activities will be aimed at defeating the McCain-Palin ticket.

In fact, at the USW's 2008 convention, union officials adopted a resolution "vowing to play a key role in electing Obama," thus pledging workers' dues to the effort to defeat your wife's candidacy. Moreover, a top USW official whose paycheck you help fund is viciously ridiculing your wife's candidacy on the Steelworkers' website, calling Governor Palin's selection "cynical" and claiming that by choosing your wife "McCain has clearly shown he lacks the judgment to be president."

Here is USW Legislative Director Holly Hart's (the top USW official cited in the letter) response to Todd Palin's wife's candidacy:

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain, on his 72nd birthday, announced a selection that revealed the depths of his cynicism and the shallowness of his judgment - and his disregard for women's intelligence.

After looking into a pool of vice presidential candidates deep with qualification, he plucked out the least experienced person.

While Alaska does not have a Right to Work law which would make payment of union dues strictly voluntary, under the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communications Workers v. Beck, employees can stop paying forced union dues unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union electioneering.

Unfortunately, millions of other workers are unaware of these rights. Workers wanting to know how to exercise their rights may obtain information and free legal aid here.

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