Op-Ed: Dishonest Representation

central-labor-council

Editor’s Note: The following Op-Ed was submitted to the Beaver Countian for publication by the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council.

Unions are the only organizations whose sole purpose is to advocate for and defend working people and their families. Whether you work in an industrial facility, on a construction site, a class room or an office, the institution of collective bargaining was conceived and implemented to raise your standard of living, not only directly for those represented by a union, but also indirectly for those not represented but whose income is benefited by the influence that unions exert on the labor market and the workers’ rights for which they fight. Over the decades since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act unions forged the American middle class, and that has been a good for working families.

Some people with a lot of money and power, though, see unions as an obstacle to them having even more money and power, and they actively seek to weaken and ultimately abolish unions. They use a number of stealth tactics to attain their goals. One of their favorite methods is to misrepresent the system and get some ethically challenged politician(s) to propose and support legislation that would weaken the voice of workers. Their strategy is to go to states that have a Governor and legislators who are willing to accept donations in return for doing their bidding. They dump in a ton of money, and they expect a return. It’s been seen across the country in states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, special interest groups funded by wealthy donors and corporations have waged an assault on workers’ rights to belong to and participate in a Union.

In the Pennsylvania House of Representative Jim Christiana is pushing House Bill 1507, a bill that would stop payroll deduction of union dues for public employees. He claims that he supports it for reasons of fairness and ethics. When one looks at Christiana’s history it becomes amusing that he would talk of ethical behavior. Christiana is among the politicians who are put into office by big donations from wealthy special interests. In April of last year the Beaver Countian ran an investigative article ( http://beavercountian.com/content/daily/representin-like-a-representative-campaign-cash-2012 ) that reported on some of these donations to Mr. Christiana and related the amazement of some local officials that someone so inexperienced as Christiana has attracted so much money from outside the state special interest groups.

Not only has he co-sponsored the bill for these out of state interest he seems to be leading the effort to mislead his own constituents on the issue. He would have us believe these deductions are costing the state scarce tax dollars and that the collected dues were given to politicians. Neither is true. Dues are deducted electronically. There is very little or no additional cost to the state to perform the function. A fact he conveniently leaves out of the conversation. As for the dues being used for political donations; it’s against the law. It has been law for many years that dues dollars cannot be contributed to political campaigns. Any money donated to candidates by Unions comes from the Union’s PAC funds. Those contributions are 100% voluntary.

Here are the facts about dues check-off: it is an agreement between unions and management that goes back several decades. It is a benefit workers bargain into their agreements to make dues payment more convenient. It’s no different than having health insurance premiums or a car payment automatically deducted. It is a stable, efficient and inexpensive system which allows the parties to focus their efforts on addressing both the competing and the mutual interests of employers and employees. It is actually a very conservative and effective approach that has produced some excellent results over the years. Asking a union to collect dues from each individual member would be no different from asking Christiana to collect his salary from each individual constituent.

Our representatives should publicize their positions on issues. They should do the best they can to inform voters on the issues. It is their responsibility to do so. Most importantly though they should inform their constituency of the facts and not some talking points that a political donor has handed them. In doing so they should at a minimum be honest.

They also should not waste the taxpayers’ money on efforts to attack law abiding organizations that will probably not stand legal challenges. In Alabama, Arizona, and Washington, these kinds bogus laws were ruled unconstitutional by state Supreme Courts. Despite the propaganda these extremist groups like to propagate, the courts have ruled such laws violate the first amendment rights of Union members.

Mr. Christiana needs to stand up for the working families in PA instead of out of state special interests.

- Rick Galiano, President Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council (BLCLC)
- Eric Hoover, Executive Vice President BLCLC
- Bernie Hall, Vice President BLCLC

 

51 comments

  1. To the author…You’re wrong. Auto deductions are THEFT and nothing more. They wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t scared that people know BIG unions are about making those who run them and their political friends rich while stealing from the hard workers!!!!

  2. I’m not sure if its funny or sad that a union affiliate would start off by accusing anyone of greasing political pockets. Compulsory union membership is legalized extortion. If unions are so necessary, why are the so afraid of me having a choice in belonging to one? This legislation doesn’t go nearly far enough to curb union strong-arming. Sell your BS elsewhere.

  3. This is the epitomy of hypocrisy. The large unions are ALSO large out of state organizations with deep pockets that buy elections when possible. Big unions are just as corrupt as big business. Maybe more so, because they lie to the working guy, take their dues (automatically, of course), and line their own pockets while giving a pittance to the members.
    At least Christiana signed his name to legislation. You thieves cannot even put a name to this “letter”.
    You want to be fair? Keep automatic deductions of dues for public workers, but make union membership voluntary. See how many stand with a union if they are not forced to do so.
    I bet not many.

  4. These are some things labor unions have made possible for workers

  5. Weekends without work
    All breaks at work, including your lunch breaks
    Paid vacation
    Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    Sick leave
    Social Security
    Minimum wage
    Civil Rights Act/Title VII – prohibits employer discrimination
    8-hour work day
    Overtime pay
    Child labor laws
    Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
    40-hour work week
    Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp)
    Unemployment insurance
    Pensions
    Workplace safety standards and regulations
    Employer health care insurance
    Collective bargaining rights for employees
    Wrongful termination laws
    Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
    Whistleblower protection laws
    Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) – prohibits employers from using a lie detector test on an employee
    Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
    Compensation increases and evaluations (i.e. raises)
    Sexual harassment laws
    Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
    Holiday pay
    Employer dental, life, and vision insurance
    Privacy rights
    Pregnancy and parental leave
    Military leave
    The right to strike
    Public education for children
    Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 – requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work
    Laws ending sweatshops in the United States

    • I think you may want ot investigate some of your claims here. No one else but the unions made this possible? 40 hour work week is becoming a thing of the past because of the president you supported with MY union dues. Makes me sick!

    • I am thankful for what the labor movement has done to make our lives better.

  6. Thank a union member,they help us all benefit!!!

  7. Or, here’s an idea, if you don’t like paying your union dues then quit. If your company is represented by a union then you knew about it when you accepted the position. If they organized after the fact then you had your chance to vote and it didn’t go your way, tough luck. The other option is to of course decertify your union and if you can’t get enough people to vote to do so then I guess you’re wrong about how many won’t stand with their union.

  8. No union how about a honest days work for honesty days pay how about get paid for what you do stop paying people for doing nothing. No free launch for any one… how about having some responsibility for yourself. seems like these Union people have a lacking for it.

  9. The union was once a great asset to the american people. Unfortunately it is now a work hard for 90 days to get in and be a broke-di@* till you retire! The unions are now hurting us!

  10. Union people collect the most unemployment money that’s paid in by non union workers to sit at home and do nothing taking money out of non union workers pockets. for self ganes

    • Really James?? In my field, we pay into our OWN unemployment fund. Not a single penny of your McDonalds wages is included into it.
      By the way, it’s Gains.

  11. Unions have become corrupt like the government they were good at the beginning there leaders have become socialist I belonged to a union for 17 years and it got me nowhere but out the door. I believe I have a right to choose. If they want to collect dues let them collect there own dues, but they don’t want to do that because they know how much money they will lose.just think all the money they gave to politics they could have been helping there own members,and don’t tell me giving money to politicians is helping the members,just look at the mess this country is in.

    • Why don’t u tell all these people about how you have a pension the union got you, or health benefits you didn’t pay for the union got you, or FMLA days the union got you, or the amount of money you made a year the union got you…let’s try being truthful for once ….TRADER!!

  12. Six of the top ten donor organizations last this year are unions with almost 100% of their money going to democrats . The democrat party is bought and paid for by the unions http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?cycle=2014&disp=D&type=O&superonly=N

  13. Silence_Dogood

    Throughout my lifetime, I have seen unions do nothing more than grease the pockets of politicians, unfairly deduct union dues from people who don’t want represented, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, PROTECT THE LAZIEST OF WORKERS! I worked with a person who had a history of unsafe work practices and LITERALLY almost cut a guy in half because she wasn’t doing her job correctly, yet because of the union she wasn’t able to be fired, but instead only slapped on the wrist. We also see situations in the news where teachers are caught looking at porn in school are allowed to keep their jobs because of unions. Unions had their place fighting for workers rights, but that time has long since passed. I will FOREVER be anti-union and just so it’s clear, I and my family have always been middle-class, so there’s no need to foray into the argument that “you’re just an upper-class management type the hates represented workers.”

  14. Councils don’t write. People do. Who wrote this? 

    • This is a fair point.  I contacted the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council and have updated the op-ed with the names of the authors as provided.

  15. It is illegal for unions to directly donate to political campaigns,members can choose whether or not they want to contribute a portion of their weekly pay to a political action committee,which in turn donates to the campaign indirectly to support candidates who support the american worker instead of corporate greed.It isnt always a democratic party who benefits,unions have also donated to republican campaigns.

    • ^ this right here is horse fucking shit and you know it. Preach it somewhere else to the low info people at the B.C. Times

      • Hey Mark. Got some PROOF!! Such a clueless post absolutely proves that you know nothing about how Unions are funded. What a dipshit.

  16. I realize this op-ed was written by some union rep, but the point is well taken.  Rep Christiana’s palms have been greased by a lot of special interest and corporate money.  It doesn’t take much reading between Jimmy’s lines to see where he is coming from and whom he is actually representing.                                                                                                                                                                              
    Another recent news article stated that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Rep Keith Rothfus with its’ Spirit of Enterprise Award because of “his support of job policies”.  I guess “business legislation” means denial of unemployment extensions, cuts in food assistance, plus attempts to dismantle voting and women’s rights, including equal pay.    
                                                                                                                                   
    I’m not getting into an argument, but put your anti-union bias aside for one moment and look at the list of items provided by Ben Gini.  If it weren’t for YESTERDAY’S unions NONE of them would exist today, and TODAY’S unions are fighting to protect them from being taken back.  If you believe any of them were a “gift” given to you “just because” from the heart of a “concerned employer”, or that they wouldn’t be rescinded in a minute, then you must be gullible.

    I have worked in union and non-union environments.  I’m 69 years old and retired, so I don’t really give a rat’s ass anymore.  But, whose interests are Christiana and Rothfus REALLY voting for?  It’s YOUR world now – live with what YOU make of it and who YOU vote for. 

  17. History repeats itself when we fail to learn from its lessons. Our founding fathers said that if the wealth of a country goes to the hands of a few and not the masses, then that would be the end of a democracy . Misrepresentative Jim Christiana  is a puppet for the conservative group A.L.E C. Indirectly being politically supported by his party leaders in Harrisburg and out of state interest.  Their leadership comes from Butler County. He has an obligation to uphold his oath to the commonwealth and not to honor the oath to ALEC. He will be a traitor to one when it comes time to vote. Those who have criticized the labor movement on this forum are ignorant of the facts. They lack facts and real history of the development of the middle class which they enjoy without any cost nor appreciation. Being able to combat exploitation in the workplace takes courage and money. It helps to provide a level playing field. Something the ALEC sycophants don’t understand.

    • Ugh, pretty sure our founding fathers said no such thing, though I’d be pleased if you’d correct me and offer a specific verifiable cite.  That sounds more like Carl Marx than Thomas Jefferson.  

      • Purely out of curiosity, I googled that phrase, and the closest match that I could find was attributed to President Rutherford B. Hayes, sometime around 1886-1887.

      • I agree Thomas Jefferson was a devout capitalist who himself owned over 200 slaves

      • Sounds about right Nikki, especially if considered in light of the times.  Absent researching it myself, Hayes comments  were probably addressing markets and monopolies that were forming, and what, if any, role the federal government had in controlling, limiting, or regulating them.  While that’s a debate that certainly is germaine to unions and other collectivist doctrine, it’s well over a hundred years removed from the founding of the nation.  Chronology is vital to understanding history and it’s for me a pet peeve when people get it wrong, sorta like pulling a single verse of scripture out of the Bible absent the context.

    • It is a bogus “quote” that springs from the litany of the labor movement, which pervades this article and comments. Even at face value, it is simplistic silliness, and any founding father would have been embarrassed to have it attributed to him. Check out the key terms and catch phrases in the article, and you will see that they are used in other publications ad nauseam. 

  18. The days of unions are numbered. They lost the vote in the autp plant down south and now they are whining about. Yes its true that the unions did a lot for the workers in the past, but what have they done for us lately???? NOTHING. I find it sickening the way the union halls operate. They take union dues from the workers, shuffle different people through the job site so they get just enough work to keep their unemployment going and they can sit at home collecting free money and brag about how they are in the union. Unions do nothing but destroy business and hurt the economy. Time for all you union idiots to wake up.

  19. And another thing,EVERYONE WHO WORKS pays into unemployment,both union and non-union.The employer pays into it on your behalf so that if you are laid off,you can still have an income while seeking employment.It wasn’t designed to be a career path.

    • Wait...What???

      That would also be inaccurate Ben.  Both state and federal unemployment tax is paid by employers only.  We as individuals do not pay anything for these. 

  20. Unions are a joke. It’s that simple

  21. I’m proud of the BCCLC for standing up to Christiana and his misguided pursuits against the middle class. The ONLY commendable thing that man’s ever done in office is try to resolve the dispute between Highmark and UPMC.

  22. So if I choose electronic deduction of my union dues by my employer, & that becomes illegal, then what of other deductions I may elect to be electronically deducted such as disability insurance, health insurance, retirement, savings, Christmas club accounts, what this proposed legislation doesn’t explain to me, is how that is any different, because union dues are not allowed by law to be for political contributions, it is just an easy methods to pay for benefits offered through work. Therefore, why is this legislation necessary?

  23. Jim, pass a right to work law Now, not next week or next year. There is nothing you can do to make the left hate you any less.

    • And pass laws to send more money to the charter and Catholic schools. These anti unionists want everyone else to pay for their kids.

    • For the right amount of money I’m sure Jim will vote for just about anything 

  24. CenterResident

    Christiana is an arrogant hypocrite. He has accepted Public Union PAC donations in the past. It’s in his finance reports. Now he receives massive donations from anti Union groups and all of a sudden it’s “unethical” for unions to collect those funds? Wasn’t it unethical then? Was he unethical for accepting them?

  25. Eleven of the 15 states with the highest poverty rates are RTW states, while nine of the 11 states with the lowest are worker-friendly. You do the math,Right to work is wrong and wrong for Pennsylvania!!!!!

  26. Thank you Brothers for clearly describing the intent of this bill.  Please don’t let the ignorance of a few people detract from your fight that benefits nearly everyone. 

  27. WHO IS BEING DISHONEST?   You state:   “Over the decades since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act unions forged the American middle class…” — Not true. The G.I. Bill was the beginning, and economic opportunities and social changes in many areas gave rise to the American middle class, if there really is such a thing.  Labor unions were an outgrowth of the post-WW II many-faceted prosperity, and were to some extent an exploitation, not good or bad, of the renewed economics. “Some people with a lot of money and power…”  Just exactly who?  Obviously, you know. At least it’s not ALL people with a lot of money and power.  Name them. “…a number of stealth tactics…”  This tired phrase, excerpted from FORBES, is being used for everything from Transformers to Obama’s sneaking out of the White House for a burger. But here, name them all, if you are privy to them.  At last count, there were five in popular economics literature.  Use them. Or, you can go to the Michigan labor union problems regarding the mythical “Right to Work” and use the ones they prefer — a source that I guess is providing much of the content for this article. “…ethically challenged…”  Cute term. Was it “morally retarded” in the olden days?  Or maybe just “devious”? Norn Hughes made news and “helped out” the Tea Party by referring to minority students with a similar term:  “Kids aren’t going to charter schools if they’re “A” students. They go to charter schools because they’re failing students and, by and large, the charter schools have a higher percentage of poor families, ethnically challenged families…”    WHOOPS!  And since then, we have been off to the races with the “challenged” qualifier. “…an assault on workers’ rights to belong to and participate in a Union.”   This is your conclusion, false and an intentional misleading hyperbole to sensationalize, and not the intended purpose of amending legislation to existing laws. “In the Pennsylvania House of Representative Jim Christiana is pushing House Bill 1507, a bill that would stop payroll deduction of union dues for public employees.”  This is a statement that is — intentionally — a misleading half truth. This is a deception, based upon the exclusion of the basic intent of the amendment bill to have public employers removed from collecting political contributions with union dues and requiring the unions to absorb the cost of union dues collection. What’s so radical about that? And, check out the illegality of public employers’ involvement in political fund raising.  Christiana did not invent that. Oh yes, this is not only Christiana’s baby — a bill to silence and wipe out the Middle Class, as your door-to-door canvassers on YouTube claim. What happened to mentioning the OTHER 50 representatives also sponsoring the bill?  Does Christiana have them in his pocket too?  Come on, now…Have any of your people and commenters actually READ the AMENDMENT bill?  If not, here’s the part under question: Amending the act of July 23, 1970 (P.L.563, No.195),Section 3. The act is amended by adding a section to read:Section 705.1. (a) Membership dues deductions and political contributions collected by the employer shall not be subject to bargaining for public employes covered under this act. Any collective bargaining agreement entered into after the effective date of this section with public employes shall not contain such provisions.OK, THAT’S ENOUGH. THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG WITH THIS ARTICLE THAT IT IS FUTILE TO ADDRESS IT ALL. IT IS CONTRIVED SMOKE AND MIRRORS, AND FOR PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THE MAGIC IN THE FRACTURED, BORROWED STATEMENTS. 

    • Raven – if your going to critique the article make a coherent argument. Fact is Christiana is a puppet. I’m glad to see the Unions fighting again. 

  28. Yes, Slayer, it’s a mess. The formatting was dropped when I posted it.  And it was too ambitious for here. I should have made separate entries.  No real loss, because the article content is a mess, too. 

    • I’ve confirmed a problem with the commenting system removing formatting in some instances.  I’ve added it to my bug list and will see about squashing it over the weekend.  Thanks.

      • Raven Slayer is right. I knew of the possible formatting change, John Paul. I should have broken it up. I guess just a paragraphing function would help. Thanks. 

  29. THE GOP BELIEVES IF YOU TAKE ALL THE MONEY FROM THE WORKERS AND GIVE IT TO THE VERY RICH, THEN THE WORKERS WILL BECOME RICH. Overdosing on stupidity is an addiction. Get help now !

  30. Hay Jim and Bart, its time to sell the Governors Mansion again.

  31. There is a reason union membership has steadily declined over the last 50 years: because unions are useless thieving organizations that do not benefit the membership. The days of people being afraid of finding the black hand on their door in Midland are over, you fools. Jobs require intelligence now days, not union buffoons.

    • Your a funny guy, ” Jobs require intelligence now days”.
      The top three employers.
      1. Walmart

      > Total employees: 2.2 million
      > Industry: Retail

      2. Yum! Brands

      > Total employees: 523,000
      > Industry: Fast food

      3. McDonald’s

      > Total employees: 440,000
      > Industry: Fast food

      Intelligence, LOL. The vast majority of these Corporations employees can’t due basic mathematics without their computerized cash registers.
      Congratulations my friend. One of the most moronic posts I have read in a long time.
      Only a genius like yourself would consider a nice non-Union job at Walmart, Taco Bell or McDonalds with Intelligence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>