Category Archives: Labor

EXCLUSIVE: 70,000 Trucker Owner/Operators to Be Forced Out of Business in California: Supply Chain Breakdown

Source: EXCLUSIVE: 70,000 Trucker Owner/Operators to Be Forced Out of Business in California: Supply Chain Breakdown – American Faith

Truckers are suffering under a state rule that has carved out exceptions for multiple other industries.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Roughly 70,000 truck owner-operators in the state of California are facing job loss due to state-level labor laws that could put them out of business.
  • California Assembly Bill 5, introduced by former state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D), was signed into law in September 2019 by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
  • AB5 defined the truckers as independent contractors and banned them from working in the state, making their jobs as they have been performed for decades, illegal.
  • The implementation of the law has been under an injunction for over two years, but that is coming to an end this week.
  • Christian Zuniga, the owner of Pacific Expressway Inc., estimates that independent contractors make up around half the truckers that move product through the ports of California. Other reports estimate that independent truckers might make up as much as 90% of trucks that serve the port on a daily basis.
  • California’s ports serve as the point of entry for around 40% of the products that enter the United States, making California’s rule potentially crippling for the nation’s already strained supply chain.
  • Zuniga, whose company owns its own vehicles and works with contractors to coordinate product movement, said the state is creating a disruption in the supply chain by enforcing AB5 on truckers and not other industries such as hairdressers, and golf instructors, etc.
  • The business owner has organized protests to fight back against what he believes is an orchestrated attack on an industry known to be heavily Hispanic and unlikely to lobby lawmakers and other groups to create a carve-out for their workers.
  • If AB5 is left untouched, trucking companies will be forced to figure out how to absorb the truckers into their businesses, in a way that allows them to move to pay additional taxes and state-required insurance on the drivers who were previously self-employed.
  • Zuniga is asking the labor commissioner to give the trucking industry the same allowances other groups have enjoyed, saying in a statement to American Faith, “Just give us an opportunity as the other industries that have lobbied to carve out their own piece to be able to be legal … [as in] If you’re able to do 123, you can work.”
TRUCKING COMPANY OWNER’S FRUSTRATIONS WITH THE CHANGE:
  • In addition to the frustration with the supply chain issues, Zuniga said this feels like an attack on the Hispanic community: “The Hispanic community has been known to keep their head down and just work. We will take all the issues and subjugation and just work because we have to take care of our families.”
  • “Now, I feel we are targeted because we won’t complain the way the real estate community did by getting an exception. Because we really just want to work, to move the goods to keep America moving,” Zuniga said during an interview with American Faith.
  • The trucking company owner said he believes lawmakers have exploited his community’s ignorance about many of the legal issues at play, as well as independent truckers’ lack of unionization, to allow this law to take effect.
  • The issue of the eradication of owner/operator truckers is also a personal one to Zuniga, who said that his family is where they are because of his father’s ability to live out the American dream through independent contracting.
  • “The reason it bothers me so much, and I’m so in support of [independent contractors], even though the bulk of my fleet is employees, is that my father started as an owner operator. And if he didn’t have that opportunity I wouldn’t be where I am and wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Truckers have begun protesting at the ports, and one such event that took place Wednesday is said to have delayed the Los Angeles freeways.
  • The California Highway Patrol reported that the convoy has caused traffic problems on the highways and delayed work due to picketing the entrance to the port complex.
  • The Supreme Court previously declined to review the truckers’ appeal, allowing the industry to be subject to AB5 starting this week.
  • Another protest will be taking place at the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles on Friday.
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UAW vs Workers

I’m all for the working class, but this?
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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.

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Another Government Pension Scandal

Where is the outrage?

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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.”

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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.
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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

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