June 29, 2014

Is the Supreme Court going to "deal a fatal blow" to unions tomorrow?

That's how TPM presents Harris v. Quinn:
If agency fees for non-members are ruled to be a violation of free speech, unions fear they would lose funding, become less effective at bargaining for benefits and, in turn, lose members.

A death spiral.
Doesn't this only have to do with public employee unions?
One labor official said such a result would bring about "the possible final destruction of the American labor movement." The official added, "It would cause the death not only of public sector unions and what's left of private sector unions, but also the Democratic Party," suggesting that the demise of unions would make Democrats more reliant on Wall Street money.
Why? What's the causal chain here? This TPM article is written by Sahil Kapur, whose law analysis I've found wanting before. He switches over to discussing only public employee unions. I wonder if it's just that Kapur doesn't care about the details or if he understood the unnamed labor official's reasoning and it's too shameful to spell out, some cycle of spending and favoritism that makes the Democratic Party look bad.

51 comments:

campy said...

"... some cycle of spending and favoritism that makes the Democratic Party look bad."

Thou Shalt Not Make The Democratic Party Look Bad is the First Commandment of American Journolism

YoungHegelian said...

He switches over to discussing only public employee unions. I wonder if it's just that Kapur doesn't care about the details or if he understood the unnamed labor official's reasoning and it's too shameful to spell out, some cycle of spending and favoritism that makes the Democratic Party look bad.

Well, Professor, I think you pretty much knocked that ball out of the park on the first swing.

Skipper said...

How in a rational world are self-employed personal care workers turned into state employees?

Real American said...

"It would cause the death not only of public sector unions and what's left of private sector unions, but also the Democratic Party..."

you say that like it's a bad thing!

Real American said...

unionization - another left wing idea that so good with benefit so obvious that people won't voluntarily do it.

Paco Wové said...

Interesting that they are willing to admit, albeit indirectly, that public employee unions and the Democratic Party are joined at the hip.

Gahrie said...

What kills me, is the casual asumption that having the Democratic party funded by labor unions is a good thing, but being funded by wall Street is a bad thing.

rehajm said...

"It would cause the death not only of public sector unions and what's left of private sector unions, but also the Democratic Party,"

Says that like it's a bad thing.

Craig Howard said...

Labor unions exist in the United States only because of the privileges they were granted largely under FDR. They are a Marxist invention and should have no place in a free enterprise system.

If only we had one.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that the equities are a lot different between public and private employee unions. In the latter case, if the companies agree to union representation that has this sort of skim off for representation for non-members, then fine. But, when it comes to government employees, the money is coming from the government, and the money to represent the non-unionized employees is essentially flowing straight into SEIU and DNC pockets. So, imagine someone like me, hardcore conservative/Republican getting a government job (which I have done in the past), and then finding that some of my paycheck is automatically being siphoned off to support Democrats.

Maybe part of the difference is that governments are monopolies. If you want to do certain types of work, you need to work for the government, but because of their monopoly, and the monopoly of the leftist union representing the class of employees that you belong to, you are given the choice of joining the union, or paying for at least part of the union operation, regardless of your wishes. You can't for example, go somewhere else to get a job as, say, a forest ranger, ag extension agent, etc. And, in this case, to get paid for taking care of people, often relatives, in their own homes through these government programs. These care givers are being forced to contribute to the SEIU, regardless of whether or not they agree with their politics, which many do not, in order to get paid. No money to the SEIU means no money for care giving.

Wilbur said...

Heaven forfend that a union would have to actually persuade someone that joining the union is in their interest.

They know they can't win that fair fight.

I say this as someone who has been in a closed shop public sector union, been in the union hall when a strike vote was taken, and had to walk a picket line during the strike. All in the great state of Illinois where this case arose.

Levi Starks said...

Any fatal blow to the unions will have come by their own hands.
The only thing that stands between unions, and success is results. If I'm going to pay a 3rd party as a go between with my employer then I need to see some bang for my buck.
Businesses know that most workers hate unions, and have raised wages/benefits to a level that's competitive, and in some cases greater than what unionized employees receive. This gives business greater flexibility, especially in areas like getting rid of unproductive employees, which is just fine with the other employees who are expected to carry the dead weight of lazy co-workers. (Not that it doesn't happen in non union environments)
Government employee unions are of course the worst, because there's no profit, or loss to be used as a measure of worker productivity. And those that do the negotiating for the government "company" have no real skin in the game. They do in fact hold the purse strings, but all of the money in that purse came from citizens in the form of taxes. For the governmental executive who's term expires in 4 years, it means nothing agree to future employee benefits which will be paid out long after they've left office. It's the taxpayer that's left holding the bag. Once current and future money is obligated, we're left with only one choice.... Raise taxes.... Again, again and again

Sam L. said...

" I wonder if it's just that Kapur doesn't care about the details or if he understood the unnamed labor official's reasoning and it's too shameful to spell out, some cycle of spending and favoritism that makes the Democratic Party look bad. "

WELL!!!!!!1 We can't have THAT!!!!!

Steven said...

It's simpler than that. Private-sector unions are moribund. They're down to 6.7% of the private sector workforce, and still declining.

The result is that the term "union" now effectively means "public employee union". In practice, as opposed to intellectual theory, opposition to public employee unions is opposition to unions.

Anonymous said...

There are several ways that Harris could go. One way would be to rule that the order forcing those "home healthcare workers" to be treated like gov't employees (but only so far as union representation is concerned), was not lawful. If the people paid by Medicaid to take care of family members aren't state employees, the rest of the case disappears. This would be good for them, but bad for the rest of us.

The better way to rule would be to finally enforce Bell and Knox: for example, create the right for people paying "agency fees" to be able to sue if they're charged even one penny for anything political, with union officials personally and corporately liable.

The best way would be to admit that there's no way you can give money to a union and not have it be spent for political purposes, so 1st Amendment says no mandatory dues of any sort, period.

Here's hoping it's Alito's decision, and he got 5 votes for the final option.

SteveR said...

If listening to garage squeal like a stuck pig for the last few years teaches you anything, its that unions fear their power is in jeopardy. We know he's not smart enough to have figured it out by himself, its the way of politics and possibly the courts and the free and easy money to the established powers and the Democrat party is on the line.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight: Stronger public sector unions, ballooning bureaucracies, more spending, burdensome regulations, and Detroit-style management are just what America needs more of right now?

In addition, just ignore all that rent-seeking, corruption and general rot in our institutions, and pay attention to the fight between fat cat establishment GOP types and extremist teahadis who want to grow the private sector and starve the beast?

Thanks media geniuses.

***If I were a liberal, I'd be sure to dump Obama for Hillary, and Hillary for Elizabeth Warren's progressive populism or some other candidate at just the right time should that be the 'natural' course of events.

Michael K said...

"The particulars of the case concern Medicaid-based home health care workers in Illinois."

This is the most egregious example of union manipulation of the legislature. The union does no good at all for these people. It is a parasite with no redeeming value. I could see a narrow ruling.

Illinois is at least as corrupt as Iraq.

Curious George said...

The death blow to unions will be the unfunded pension and benefits. Years and years of mismanagement, added with their beloved Obama
s economy, and now this...see ya losers!

Why do you think the unions are behind amnesty for illegals? Illegals are killing them by taking jobs, and they know the Dems can't walk on their votes, so their only hope is make them legal, get them and unions, and have them bail out their pensions.

Like the Dems, the fact that it will destroythe country is just too damn bad.

samanthasmom said...

If people cannot be required to pay a union "administrative costs" if they choose not to become a member of the union, which I think is the basis for this case, would a decision in favor of the plaintiff make all mandatory union membership unconstitutional? Or just collecting dues in right-to-work states?

StoughtonSconnie said...

If private sector union leadership were clear-headed, they'd see these setbacks (the likely Harris outcome, Act 10, etc) as an opportunity to reinvigorate the union label. Shed the stupid Wagner Act-inspired adversarial relationship with management, work for and focus on the best interests of the rank-and-file, rather than lining the pockets of two-faced democrat politicians. This would provide a positive contrast to entitlement-minded public sector unions, and might make a difference in membership. What they're doing now isn't working, it's worth a shot.

Then I woke up from my stupor and realized that the Media-Democrat Complex could never allow such heresy.

D. said...

> Is the Supreme Court going to "deal a fatal blow" to unions tomorrow?<

what a wonderful way to start the week!!11!!

Luke Lea said...

Might mark the beginning of a new Labor Party.

garage mahal said...

If listening to garage squeal like a stuck pig for the last few years teaches you anything, its that unions fear their power is in jeopardy. We know he's not smart enough to have figured it out by himself, its the way of politics and possibly the courts and the free and easy money to the established powers and the Democrat party is on the line.

In the dictionary, under Useful Idiots, should be a picture of a Republican voter who thinks giving up all his or her rights to billionaires makes them freer. I envision plutocrats laughing hysterically over it. "We don't even have to pay these dumb motherfuckers to do our bidding? LOL!"

Terry said...

Organized labor had to get an exemption from the Clayton Act of 1914 to avoid unions being considered a market-fixing conspiracy. That don't make sense to me. Organized labor acts in the same fashion as an illegal monopoly -- "You want to do business in this town, you gotta deal with me."
It's no stretch at all to see that a $25/hr union carpenter makes his premium wage by denying the $15/hr non-union carpenter work.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


I swear on the lives of my wife and children, the following is true.

My former brother-in-law, a security guard and union steward at the time, demanded and fought for "advance notice of surprise inspections".

Anonymous said...

Unions made this bed that they now find themselves laying in. 15 years ago I was a very active part of my union. When I discovered it was all about gaining power for one party, Democrats, I quit being their tool.

Had they been wise, they'd have learned to work with both parties for the better of the nation as a whole.

Paul said...

When Unions were first formed during the industrial revolution, they were needed to correct huge injustices.

But like most bureaucracies, they became corrupt and useful more to helping politicians (and themselves) than the workers they represented.

Hope they force all Unions across America to become open shops and all states become right-to-work states.

If you want to join a union, fine, but no one should be forced to in order to work (nor pay union dues!)

Paddy O said...

"who thinks giving up all his or her rights to billionaires makes them freer."

You do realize that Democrats actively promote the same thing? Democrats fall all over themselves to give tax dollars to billionaires and somehow, at the same time, feel self-righteous about it.

Republicans and Democrats just disagree about which billionaires to favor.

Now the Tea Party sought to undermine that aspect, while Occupy and the rest talked about it, but wouldn't actually make Democrat politicians feel the pressure. So, you have the Clintons, Obamas, etc. doing all they can to suck up some of that money for themselves. Who do you think can afford to pay $200,000 to $1 million speaking fees?

Who do you think funds Democrat think tanks? Grants and fellowships for academics? Sheesh, there was a huge grant I saw the other day for proposal related to religion and climate change. Why? Because it's the billionaires who profit from the fear and panic. It's the billionaires who profit from muddled global politics. It's the billionaires who profit from muddled health care. Go down the list, everything Obama has done has benefited his list of contributing billionaires.

Mark said...

Garage still lives in a world where every worker on the line does essentially the same job as every other worker on the line.

In those assembly line situations where every body is essentially interchangeable, 19th century-style unions might still make sense; certainly collective bargaining does in those cases.

When you get into the skilled trades and white collar positions it breaks down. Then unions become either replacements for 18th century and earlier guilds -- effectively rent-seeking professionals -- or purely parasitic political organs -- which is what most Public Sector unions have become.

I'm not worried about further empowering billionaires, garage. I'm worried about a public sector that has as its first priority growing the public sector. If I have to choose sides, I'll take the billionaires over, say, the IRS any day of the week.

Gahrie said...

Had they been wise, they'd have learned to work with both parties for the better of the nation as a whole.

This. Frankly it applies to many on the Left.

MadisonMan said...

If private sector union leadership were clear-headed, they'd see these setbacks (the likely Harris outcome, Act 10, etc) as an opportunity to reinvigorate the union label. Shed the stupid Wagner Act-inspired adversarial relationship with management, work for and focus on the best interests of the rank-and-file

Complete agreement. Unions seem, however, to operate as if it's still 1950.

Revenant said...

It would cause the death not only of public sector unions and what's left of private sector unions, but also the Democratic Party

That's a pretty shameful admission, when you consider that the question at stake is "should unions be allowed to force non-members to give them money".

Steven said...

And our local expert on useful idiots, Garage Mahal, drags out the usual bullshit about billionaires that gets made at these times, never mind that there are no stockholders on the other side of the table from public employee unions.

Unlike private-sector unions, the exactions of public employee unions do not come out of the profits paid to capitalists, but from the public treasury, reducing the ability of the government to take action.

Anonymous said...

Again, this case is about public-employee unions. The "plutocrats" here are.... voters.

Ipso Fatso said...

I wonder if the "workers" at TPM are unionized? Something tells me no.

Naut Right said...

Unions that target and tailor their efforts to specific work related matters might see a resurgence. As long as they insist upon becoming politicized for every issue they will have about half their membership and most of any future members ready and willing to opt out.

AReasonableMan said...

MadisonMan said...
Complete agreement. Unions seem, however, to operate as if it's still 1950.


If I recall correctly, things worked pretty well in the 1950's.

gerry said...

In the dictionary, under Useful Idiots, should be a picture of a Republican voter who thinks giving up all his or her rights to billionaires makes them freer. I envision plutocrats laughing hysterically over it. "We don't even have to pay these dumb motherfuckers to do our bidding? LOL!"

Have you any idea how ironic you are, how defective your self-awareness must be, to write that and STILL support the Goldman-Sachs President, Barack Obama?

Peter said...

The argument for mandatory agency fees would fail if the union did not have to represent all employees in the bargaining unit, as is presently required by federal law.

Better that the union contract should cover only those who voluntarily pay for representation. If others have to negotiate their own compensation them the entire "free rider" argument disappears, and the argument for mandatory agency fees with it.

Peter said...

'amanthasmom said...'

" If people cannot be required to pay a union "administrative costs" if they choose not to become a member of the union, which I think is the basis for this case, would a decision in favor of the plaintiff make all mandatory union membership unconstitutional? "

My understanding is that mandatory union membership is already unconstitutional. However, employees who choose not to join the union can still be required to pay agency fees for representation, and cannot negotiate their compensation independently from the union.

Since agency fees are usually almost as much as full union dues, most employees decide that so long as they must pay for the union they may as well join it, as joining at least gives them the right to vote in union elections.

Michael said...

ARM

Ah, the 1950s!! I somehow don't think you would be willing to repeat the reason for the great leap forward in the 1950s. Or maybe you would.

Let us bomb all the factories of the industrial world so that only the US will have the ability to produce the goods the world will need to rebuild. Japan. Germany. and now China.

Great idea. Problem solved. We can roll up our Union Sleeves just like before.

Michael said...

Garage:

You dolt! It is millionairesandbillionaires, not "billionaires."

Hilarious. Do you picture the evil millionairesandbillionaires at gamer type controls? The kind you use when you get stoned and spend a day at the wheel? LOL

Drago said...

ARM: "If I recall correctly, things worked pretty well in the 1950's."

Yes ARM.

Now all you have to do to achieve the same level of "things worked pretty well in the 1950's" is to destroy just about the entire industrial base of all the "industrial" powers and send asia back to a 1920's economic condition.

Then, and only then, can you in the US have the same level of "success" and pay union workers high wages and great benefits for screwing bolts into fenders.

Plus, it made a ton of union pension funds available to organized crime to build casinos.

Fantastic!

Clyde said...

I'm fairly conservative politically, at least on fiscal matters; I haven't voted for a single Democrat since 9/11/01. I've worked for the US Postal Service for 23 years, and I've been a member of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) since I started. Florida is a Right To Work state, which means that union membership is voluntary.

So how do I square that circle of being a conservative Republican voter and a voluntary dues-paying union member? Simple: The union represents my interests, both in contract negotiations and in dealing with Management if they try to screw me over (which has happened numerous times over the years). I've learned that Manager is NOT my friend, and that it's good to have the union on my side on those occasions. I feel that it would be wrong and dishonorable to be a "free rider" (to use the politer term) and accept the union's help when needed but not pay for it.

I do not, however, make any contributions to the APWU PAC, COPA, which pretty much only contributes to Democrats. It's not that I really like the Republican politicians, understand, so much as that I loathe most of the Democrats. I don't want to do anything to help them in any way.

This is not to say that my union dues may not be siphoned off in some way to help Democrats, only that it's not supposed to happen. Of course, the IRS isn't supposed to attack the regime's political enemies and the Justice Department is supposed to be "just," but that hasn't been happening much lately, either.

Zedediah Grimm said...

ARM: "If I recall correctly, things worked pretty well in the 1950's."

Hey ARM. Why do you hate black people? Are you racist? Also a misogynist? You think a woman's place is in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant? That's what "worked pretty well in the 50's"

Hey Crack. ARM wants to bring Bull Conner down to your street corner and put you under the fire hose ... maybe sic a few german shepherds on you. And just for being black!

God ARM. How do you live with yourself?

Back on topic with regards to your headline, professor, Here's hoping!

damikesc said...

In the dictionary, under Useful Idiots, should be a picture of a Republican voter who thinks giving up all his or her rights to billionaires makes them freer. I envision plutocrats laughing hysterically over it. "We don't even have to pay these dumb motherfuckers to do our bidding? LOL!"

You're not wholly inaccurate. With the economy in the shitter, employees don't have a ton of leverage.

I'll add anybody doing the same thing with the government that you do with billionaires is even more idiotic.

But you wouldn't fall for THAT, would you?

damikesc said...

If I recall correctly, things worked pretty well in the 1950's.

Sure.

It will only require a reinstitution of segregation, tossing women out of the workplace, and wiping out most of Europe and Asia for that system to work again.

Terry said...

Ah! The 50's!
Fewer people went to college. People lived in smaller homes, and had fewer cars. Most electricity was produced by burning coal. Food costs took a bigger slice out of every paycheck. Your entertainment options were, shall we say, more "limited" than they are today.
Milton Berle wasn't funny.

JamesB.BKK said...

Democrats: "Our ideas are so good, they're mandatory."

Sara SimpleNewz said...

Interesting post. But fascinating comments! Enjoyed reading them all.



Sara @ simpleNewz