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Friday, December 08, 2017


First they came for the air traffic controllers ...

by Tom Sullivan

When it comes to taxation and public services, conservatives contend there should be no free riders. People ought to have "skin in the game." Unless it means having skin in the wrong game.

Unions qualify as the wrong game. They have been in the conservative crosshairs for decades, and why not? The Owner Class will not countenance uppity people challenging it for a more equitable share of the pie and for better working conditions. With full Republican control of Washington, now Owners are The People.

Slate's Mark Joseph Stern reports on the Department of Justice's reversal on the constitutionality of mandatory fees for public employees represented by unions:

The opportunity for the DOJ and the Supreme Court to target unions comes in the form of Janus v. AFSCME, which the justices agreed to hear in September. Bankrolled by the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, Janus is a direct effort to overturn a 40-year-old landmark decision called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In Abood, the Supreme Court held that public sector unions, which represent government employees like teachers and firefighters, can collect agency fees from non-union workers. The court reasoned that these fees are often necessary to prevent “free riding”—non-union employees benefiting from bargaining funded by dues-paying union members. However, it held that unions could only use fair share fees to fund collective bargaining and could not, under the First Amendment, spend them on “political and ideological purposes.”
The Department of Justice now argues (as cigarette companies did regarding warning labels) that "fair share" fees used to fund collective bargaining amount to “compelled subsidization of speech,” and Abood should be overturned. Since Neil Gorsuch takes an expansive view of “compelled speech,” Stern writes, Abood opponents may get their wish in Janus.
And what of the free-rider problem—the phenomenon of non-union employees enjoying the benefits secured through bargaining funded by their union colleagues? In Abood, the court recognized that government, acting as an employer, has an important interest in preventing free riders through fair share fees. But according to the DOJ, these “dissenting employees” are not actually free riders at all. They are “compelled riders” forced to subsidize speech about “issues on which they may strongly disagree” ...
That is, speech supporting better pay and benefits for themselves and their families.

The Department of Labor, meanwhile, is targeting restaurant workers, reports the Economic Policy Institute:
The Department of Labor released a proposed rule rescinding portions of its tip regulations, including current restrictions on “tip pooling”—which would mean that, for example, restaurants would be able to pool the tips servers receive and share them with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. But, crucially, the rule doesn’t actually require that employers distribute pooled tips to workers. Under the administration’s proposed rule, as long as the tipped workers earn minimum wage, the employer can legally pocket those tips.

And what we know for sure is that, often, they will do just that. Recent research suggests that the total wages stolen from workers due to minimum wage violations exceeds $15 billion each year, and workers in restaurants and bars are much more likely to suffer minimum wage violations than workers in other industries. With that much illegal wage theft currently taking place, it seems obvious that when employers can legally pocket the tips earned by their employees, many will do so.
In an era in which Congress no longer officially declares war when fighting one, is it any surprise Owners have not officially declared war on anyone not in their club?

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