Category Archives: Labor

UAW vs Workers

I’m all for the working class, but this?
WSJ 11/3/2018

A Justice Department probe of backscratching by United Auto Workers’ leaders and Detroit auto executives is turning up embarrassing truths and has resulted in seven convictions for corruption and conspiracy. The revelations underscore the importance of GOP labor reforms in Michigan that Democrats and unions want to reverse.

The FBI’s three-year investigation has revealed that Fiat Chrysler executives funneled cash to UAW worker training centers in return for backing collective-bargaining agreements. Union leaders used the cash to fund their lavish retreats to Palm Springs, condo expenses and other things of value. One former UAW vice president received a $2,180 shotgun.

Government investigators are also probing the union’s use of worker dues. As the Detroit News reported this week, UAW leaders tapped the union strike fund to build a 1,885-square-foot cottage on Black Lake in Onaway, Michigan, for retired President Dennis Williams. The woodsy cabin’s luxury amenities include a wine cooler and even a room hidden behind a bookshelf. Sweet.

The kicker is that the UAW employed nonunion contractors to save money. A UAW spokesperson says that the union “always hires union members and contracts with union contractors when available,” but the two union contractors that bid on the cabin submitted estimates that the UAW believed were too high. In other words, the union didn’t want to pay more for union labor if it meant sacrificing the wine cooler. Thanks to Michigan’s right-to work law that Republicans enacted in 2012, autoworkers can choose whether to belong to the union and fund its high-rolling executives—though perhaps not for long. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer has been endorsed by the UAW and is campaigning to repeal the law, which she calls an “assault on working people.”

Ms. Whitmer also wants to restore the state’s prevailing-wage law that required contractors to pay union scale wages on public works. Republicans repealed the law in June to reduce state construction costs, and apparently not even the UAW believes in paying “prevailing wages.”

Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican legislature have done yeoman’s work turning around the state after Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s eight-year mess. Workers have benefited from tax and labor reforms that have boosted business investment. If Ms. Whitmer wins and Democrats flip the statehouse, expect an assault on dues-paying working people.


Another Government Pension Scandal

Where is the outrage?

WSJ 12/23/2016

No, we’re not writing about the scandal (all too legal) that state and local pension funds have run up more than $1 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Today’s news concerns a single government pension official and the way he allegedly abused taxpayers and the workers who depended on him to guard their retirement savings.

On Wednesday U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the indictment of New York State Common Retirement Fund portfolio manager Navnoor Kang for fraud and obstruction of justice. The government says Mr. Kang participated in a “pay-for-play” scheme in which he steered billions of dollars in pension-fund bond trades to two brokerage firms. In exchange, the government says the erstwhile public servant took bribes that included cocaine, prostitutes, event tickets, travel and luxury items, as well as cash to pay for strippers and other personal expenses.

Mr. Kang’s lawyer declined comment to the Journal, and he deserves the presumption of innocence, though one of the brokers involved has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. “This was an age-old and classic tale of quid-pro-quo corruption,” said Mr. Bharara. He might have called it a classic tale of public pension management that keeps repeating. In October 2010, former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty to a felony corruption charge in another pay-to-play scandal—one of several criminal convictions in the case. In November 2010 financier Steven Rattner agreed to pay more than $6 million to settle a case with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In December 2010 he agreed to pay $10 million to make New York State’s civil case go away. Among other allegations, the SEC had accused Mr. Rattner of helping arrange for the distribution of a film called “Chooch,” produced by the brother of the pension fund’s chief investment officer. Mr. Rattner denied any wrong-doing.

Two years ago the former chief executive of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Fred Buenrostro, admitted to accepting more than $250,000 in cash and other bribes from a former board member seeking Calpers investments with outside money managers. Buenrostro had accepted money to pay for his wedding—and later took money to pay for his divorce.

The problem here is the opportunity for corruption that comes from giving politicians and bureaucrats power over retirement money. That money belongs to workers and ought to be in individual accounts that the workers can control. It’s a great way to “drain the swamp.”


Hillary ‘mail gate’?

There would be nothing but this on the first three pages of 90% of America’s newspapers if ‘she’ was Republican. Don’t doubt that for 3 seconds.

WSJ 1/14/2016

Hillary Clinton has taken to attacking Bernie Sanders in the wake of polls showing the Vermont socialist is beating her in Iowa and New Hampshire. The fascinating question is how much Bernie’s comeback is related to his message, and how much to the continuing doubts about Mrs. Clinton’s honesty and thus her ability to win in November.

The former Secretary of State wants voters to believe that her private email server scandal is old news, but every month brings new evidence that she put state secrets at risk in order to hide her emails from the public. The slow public release of new emails commanded by a judge, combined with an expanding FBI probe, may be making Democratic voters wonder if they should nominate such an ethically challenged nominee.

The latest cache hit Friday when the State Department released 1,262 more of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. That dump contained another 66 emails deemed classified, which means State has now discovered some 1,340 instances of the nation’s top diplomat handling sensitive material on an unsecure server—including spy satellite information and the name of at least one confidential CIA source. Given that we know Mrs. Clinton’s server was the target of attempted hacks, this is grossly negligent behavior.

Mrs. Clinton’s assurance that none of these emails were classified “at the time,” and that she always handled such material properly, also looks to be undercut by one recently released message. In a June 17, 2011 email thread, aide Jake Sullivan tells Mrs. Clinton that he can’t get her certain documents she wants because “They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax.” Mrs. Clinton appears to direct Mr. Sullivan to ignore protocol and send the information by insecure methods. “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper [with] no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” she wrote.

The State Department says it can find no proof the information was sent. On CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Mrs. Clinton said she was only requesting the transmittal of information that was “unclassified.” You can believe this if you choose, but there is no documentary evidence that she made this classified versus unclassified distinction to Mr. Sullivan. There is evidence of the former Secretary of State instructing an aide to ignore security procedures that State presumably had in place for a reason. The State Department’s inability to find a record of transmittal counts for little, given that State has proven incapable of tracking the private email accounts of employees, or even locating and producing documents requested in Freedom of Information Act requests. Last week the State Department Inspector General skewered the department for giving “inaccurate and incomplete” answers to groups seeking Mrs. Clinton’s records.

IG Steve Linick included the example of State in 2013 telling an outside group that it had no information about Mrs. Clinton’s use of private email for public business, though “dozens of senior officials throughout the Department” knew about it. State has its own interest in hoping the email issue goes away.

Meanwhile, Fox News reported Monday that three intelligence sources say the FBI has expanded its email probe and is now looking at the “intersection” between Mrs. Clinton’s State Department business and her Clinton Foundation work. Mrs. Clinton told the Des Moines Register that “there is nothing like that that is happening” at the FBI, but the question is how Mrs. Clinton would know. The FBI rarely alerts subjects on the details of its probes.

Voters may get more insight into this “intersection” this spring now that State has belatedly and begrudgingly agreed to process and release the personal emails of Mrs. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, who appears to have been the nexus between Mrs. Clinton’s official and nonofficial duties.

The Clintons are banking that most of the media will continue to ignore the email scandal. Democratic elites and their media allies have invested their hopes for 2016 on Mrs. Clinton’s electoral inevitability. Mr. Sanders’s latest polling boomlet is a message that many rank-andfile Democrats are having second thoughts


Obama’s Lawless Labor Board

I’m sure there is a good reason here, folks.
WSJ Aug. 11, 2015 7:47 p.m. ET

One of President Obama’s legacies will be his abuse of executive authority, and his hits keep coming. On Friday a federal appeals court struck down a ruling of the National Labor Relations Board because, incredibly, its acting general counsel was in the job illegally.

The scofflaw was Lafe Solomon, whom readers may recall for his legal complaints against the likes of Boeing for wanting to build planes in right-to-work South Carolina instead of union-dominated Washington. It turns out Mr. Solomon was the one violating the law.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 2014 NLRB ruling against an Arizona ambulance company, SW General. The panel found that Messrs. Solomon and Obama had violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which generally holds that a person cannot serve as an “acting” officer of an agency while also nominated for the post.

Mr. Obama directed Mr. Solomon to serve as NLRB acting general counsel in June 2010. Six months later he nominated Mr. Solomon for the post. The Senate refused to confirm him and he left the NLRB in November 2013. Yet before he departed Mr. Solomon issued the complaint against SW General and many other companies.

Congress passed the vacancies reform law to prevent precisely this kind of presidential gambit. In 1997 Republicans blocked the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. President Bill Clinton then named Mr. Lee in an “acting” capacity—a move designed to let him serve the remainder of the Administration without Senate approval. Congress then tightened the rules, which Messrs. Obama and Solomon violated so flagrantly that the Administration barely offered a defense in court.

Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote the opinion and was joined by two Obama appointees. The ruling only applies to the SW General case, but it is an open invitation to Mr. Solomon’s other corporate targets to seek relief as well.

This is the third legal strike against Mr. Obama’s NLRB. The D.C. Circuit ruled against his recess appointees in 2013 and the Supreme Court did the same in 2014. The evidence builds that this is the most lawless Administration since Richard Nixon’s.