Latest Intimidation Tactic Is a Public Relations Disaster for Unions
E-MAIL PRINT A | A August 1, 2011
By Jon Coupal
There’s an old joke about the intimidation tactics of the Teamsters' union. “How many Teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Answer: “Four -- you gotta a problem with that?”
As much as we would like to think that labor unions have abandoned their threatening and often illegal behavior to get what they want, in the public sector things are only getting worse. It is only a matter of time until a jilted (and honest) public sector employee says “I coulda been a contender.”
The latest bit of thuggery is an advertising campaign launched by the unions to dissuade voters from exercising their rights to sign initiative petitions. As reported in several media outlets, a union-backed effort has created a website and begun running radio commercial under the name "Californians Against Identity Theft.” These scary ads warn that anyone who signs an initiative petition -- frequently gathered in front of big box stores -- runs the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Usually, even the most deceptive political ads have at least a grain of truth. But not here. There is no factual basis for the suggestion that signing a ballot petition would put one at risk for identity theft. Indeed, the signature data gathered by those who collect those signatures is prohibited by law from being disclosed. Interestingly, voter registration information (which consists of more data) is a matter of public record.
This latest thinly veiled effort at stopping initiatives they don’t like is backfiring badly on the labor groups responsible. From newspaper stories, the blogosphere and from good government groups, the verdict is that this union hack job is not only misguided, but will further erode the credibility of public sector unions in California.
Derek Cressman, western regional director for Common Cause (hardly a right wing anti-union group) said "It sounds like they're trying to intimidate people from exercising what is a constitutional right" to sign a petition. In addition, the Sacramento Bee quotes Pedro Morillas, legislative director for the California Public Interest Research Group, as saying that "there is as much risk of identity theft involved in signing a petition as there is in being listed in the phone book."
Turns out, after a little bit of sleuthing, that the state building trades union is one of the major funders of Californians Against Identity Theft. What a surprise. The group itself, Californians Against Identity Theft, has no connection whatsoever to any legitimate group created to protect consumers from identity theft. Nor does it appear that the group has registered as a campaign committee. Media efforts to get more information ran into stony silence by unions.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what motivates the union bosses for this latest scheme. As noted by the Sacramento Bee, “the timing of the ad launch raised questions about whether the campaign is a veiled attempt to derail one of several controversial proposals currently circulating petitions to qualify for the 2012 ballot, such as an Amazon-backed effort to overturn a new law requiring some Internet retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Californians.” In addition, it is no secret that the unions are deathly afraid of the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act, also in circulation, that would reduce union political influence by prohibiting government entities from being the collection agents for unions for political funds from their members.
In any event, it is clear to us that the unions need to hire a new communications consultant. Instead of dissuading voters from exercising their constitutional rights to engage in the direct democracy rights of initiative, referendum and recall, the labor groups have brought even more unwanted attention to themselves for their overreaching, loutish behavior. (As if the pension scandals weren’t enough to drive public perception of public sector unions even lower).
Our advice to the union bosses -- which, of course, they will ignore -- is to argue the merits of these initiatives as warranted. If you think the Amazon referendum or any of the other measures in circulation reflect is bad public policy, say so. Don’t try to mislead people into thinking that their identities are at risk. The only thing at risk here is any notion that unions play by the rules.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -– California's largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers' rights.
Posted by public employee unions bad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm
Private sector unions, at least in the building trades, are suffering from 40% unemployment and probably 60% underemployment (working well less than 40 hours per week). That's a big problem for them. If there isn't work they don't earn credit toward: healthcare, vacation pay, holiday pay, and if they're let go after working reduced hours; unemployment compensation is reduced. Every financial perk is based on the hours worked. And the hours worked aren't guaranteed or plentiful.
Compare that to the overpaid public sector unions that receive more in wages, better pensions, increased vacation & holiday pay, tuition reimbursement, health care benefits, can show up and work eight hours even when there is only four hours of work, and won't get let go for just about any viable reason.
In th private sector building trades, they don't fire you they just tell you the job you're working on is slowing down, or completed.
In the public sector they just tell you to look busy when times are slow.
The public sector is decreasing funding for things like building construction, parks, bike trails, and roads (hit hard) and those funds are being used to pay the increased salary costs, increased pension costs, and increasing healthcare costs of the public sector union employees. Those dollars that once paid for private sector union projects are now in the bank accounts of public union employees.
Redevelopment Agencies aren't an issue in Pleasanton but they are in many cities across the state. Much of that money went to private sector unions in the form of capital improvement projects or the Project Labor Agreements that are now disappearing. Why is that happening? Because the money once used for those projects is being diverted to pay for all things that comprise public sector employment/salary/benefits.
Cholo, public sector unions and private sector unions have little left in common.
Posted by privare sector union, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm
From a friend of mine:
The trade unions have taken a huge hit. Many of our members have lost their medical benefits because they haven't been able to work enough hours to qualify/maintain the medical. The union provides additional compensation beyond our unemployment check but our unemployment check is based on wages that reflect reduced hours. Our local labor council is asking everyone to stay strong but we are aware that some on the executive board, including the director, have retired from public safety with a pension of 126K per year (half of which is tax free) and this 51 year old is telling us to stay strong.
Some members are still all about union strong, but both young & old are beginning to question the one-for-all and all-for-one mentality. We all see the difference in the treatment of the "golden boy" public sector unions and are own predicament. 40% unemployment is the norm while the public unions are complaining about a couple of unpaid furlow days that will be spent fishing or golfing.
Posted by Mel, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Aug 1, 2011 at 11:56 pm
I've got three good friends in the industry who have been profitting handsomely by employing non-union, undocumented laborers at 1/3 what the unions demand.
The income intake of the wealthy over the past couple of decades has increased by 270%. The income intake of the bottom 80% of workforce has flatlined. And here's some sick jokers above trying to blame the income disparity on union pensions? Even a ten year-old could see through that kicked up bit of dust.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2011 at 6:31 am
Really? Then why do all CA polls show the vast majority of people believe that public union pensions need to be fixed to make it more fair to the tax paying people who actually fund those pensions?
There is something morally wrong with increasing the taxes of one group so that another group can retire at very young ages while at the same time Social Security is being restructured so that benefits are being reduced and/or retirement ages being extended.
Posted by Leland, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2011 at 7:38 am
Speaking as a wealthy rich white guy who inherited his millions from his Daddy, if a significant segment of CA is concerned about public worker salaries/pensions, it may be because they are woefully confused such as Really? above. Still, I rather like how Really? seems unable/unwilling to address the problem of top 5% experiencing a 270% income rise at the expense of the working/middle classes. I rather relish how people like Really? can only point an accusatory finger at public sector workers. Me and my people make sure our corporate-owned media foster such confusion and zeal. A big thanks and shout-out and a little doggie treat to my friend, Really?, who gobbles up the misinformation and uses it as basis for attacking minority-based entitlement groups and the minority-based workers who make up a goodly percentage of public sector workers.
Posted by Independent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2011 at 7:45 am
Once again the race card - like to boy crying wolf ...
Leland, have you ever looked at Pleasanton's degrading finances and determined for yourself where the issue is? Hint - employee salaries/benefits exploded these past few years and now make up the majority of the general budget and are crowding out the other important elements of the budget.
Posted by Harry, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm
... or the one you came from? Good one, Steve! Let's all get Nope and the others who werent born here to leave.
The Tea Party has taught us that the 13 founding fathers were all white and only owned slaves as a fiscally responsible way to protect their darkies from succumbing to things like the potato famine in Ireland. And who are we, or anyone else, thinking we're justified in criticizing what was a very productive practice for those who were willing to work hard and save up for a home?