Tag: NLRB

Labor Nominee Exemplifies All That Is Bad with Government

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights who personifies both the Peter Principle and this administration’s flouting of the rule of law, is due this week for a vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on his nomination to be Labor Secretary. If senators who understand how destructive he is don’t do more than simply vote against him, they will have missed a key opportunity not just to stop a bad nominee, but to score easy political points too.

Quin Hilyer provides a useful recap of Perez’s nefarious dealings:

  • Interference with the Supreme Court case of Magner v. Gallagher, getting the City of St. Paul to dismiss its appeal to prevent what would’ve been a sharp (and probably unanimous) rebuke to the federal government regarding its use of “disparate impact” racial theories in housing policy, to the detriment of minorities and poor people everywhere;
  • Refusal to comply with subpoenas from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights;
  • Dismissal of the Justice Department’s already-won prosecution of the Black Panthers for voter intimidation during the 2008 election;
  • Repeatedly stating and running a department dedicated to the proposition that voting rights and other civil rights law don’t protect white people;
  • Willfully misleading and lying to Congress under oath several times;
  • Racial abuse of the New York fire department, to the detriment of public safety and qualified minority applicants;
  • Hiring for “career” (non-political appointee) slots only attorneys who have demonstrable left-wing credentials—making Alberto Gonzales’s politicized-hiring foibles look like the model of civil service administration;
  • Trampling on religious liberties to the point that the Supreme Court unanimously rejected his arguments in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC regarding the “ministerial exception” to employment laws;
  • Conducting government business from a personal email account as much as 1,200 times (!) and now refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas to release those emails; and
  • Unrelated to him personally, being nominated to lead a cabinet department whose jurisdiction overlaps with an independent agency, the National Labor Relations Board, that was improperly constituted via illegal recess appointments and has continued to issue rulings even after the government lost its case unanimously at the D.C. Circuit.

About the only thing that The Talented Mr. Perez has going for him is that his performance at his confirmation hearing wasn’t the complete disaster that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s was at his (a low bar). In short, if there is ever a reason not to simply defer to the president in his choice of cabinet members or to make political hay rather than simply have a quiet vote, this is it. 

Unions Can’t Force Non-Members to Pay for Political Advocacy

As recent events in Wisconsin have demonstrated, public-sector unions are powerful political constituencies that can shape government to their ends. The Service Employees International Union, for example, the defendant in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000, has been ranked by OpenSecrets.org as the fifth biggest “heavy hitter” in federal politics in terms of campaign spending.

In 2005, the SEIU initiated a mid-year campaign against two California ballot measures, one that would cap state spending and another that would restrict the use of union dues for political purposes. In states such as California that do not have “right to work” laws, unions are allowed to take dues from non-union workers to finance collective-bargaining activities that, arguably, benefit all employees.  Since 1977, however, unions have not been allowed to take dues from non-union members to pay for pure political advocacy without adequate protections for possible dissenters.

To distinguish political money from collective-bargaining money, the Supreme Court requires that a “Hudson notice” be given to all non-union workers. This notice gives non-members the opportunity to challenge political expenditures. But when the SEIU began garnishing 25-33% more wages to fight the California ballot initiatives, it issued no new Hudson notice, effectively forcing 28,000 non-member employees to finance its political speech.

As Judge J. Clifford Wallace wrote in dissent from the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of the SEIU, “it is undeniably unusual for a government agency to give a private entity the power, in essence, to tax government employees.”  Now before the Supreme Court, Cato joined the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, and the Mountain States Legal Foundation, on a brief supporting the non-union workers and arguing that the Court should focus not on the extent of the burden Hudson places on unions (as the Ninth Circuit did) but on the paramount reasons why the notice requirements exist in the first place: to ensure that an individual’s right to speak or remain quiet receives the protection it deserves.

As Judge Wallace put it, “the union has no legitimate interest … in collecting agency fees from nonmembers to fill its political war-chest.”

We also highlight the numerous unscrupulous tactics that unions have used over the years that violate the rights of dissenting workers – the same kind of rights that the Ninth Circuit treated with indifference. Finally, in light of the extreme political power that unions enjoy, the Court should find that the only way to adequately protect the rights of dissenting workers is to require that all non-union members must “opt-in” to any garnishment of wages for political purposes.

The Supreme Court will hear the Knox case in early 2012.  Here again is Cato’s brief.