Trumka Joins Trump Train — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised President Trump in a March 8 tweet saying The real trade war is the war on workers – and we’ve been getting our butts kicked for decades. Just look at southwestern PA. Targeted tariffs are the best way to start fighting back and hold cheaters accountable.
Welcome to the Trump Train Trumka.
So where were you in November 2016?
Organized labor isn’t the enemy. There are employers who are complete SOBs and someone needs to look out for those who find themselves trapped in their employ.
What is the enemy, though, is corruption and the leaders of organized labor are corrupt. Even at the local level, they get six-figure guaranteed salaries when the dues are automatically deducted from the paychecks. The certain income also means the bosses can cozy up to the special interests for even greater wealth and power.
Why did Trumka’s AFL-CIO back Hillary in the first place, despite her association with NAFTA and TPP? Hmm?
The very good and necessary National Rifle Association, whose administrators do not not depend on guaranteed income, have been far more successful at getting what its members want over the last 40 years than the AFL-CIO.
Jerry Oleksiak Pick Shows Wolf Not Interested In Reform
By Leo Knepper
Back in July, Governor Wolf nominated a union president, Jerry Oleksiak, to be Labor Secretary. As we said at the time:
“Mr. Oleksiak is the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the largest teachers’ union in the Commonwealth. Making matters worse, Oleksiak also took part in one of the most tax-payer abusive practices available to union officials: he was a ghost teacher.
“As a ghost teacher, Oleksiak worked full time for the PSEA, but he collected a paycheck, accumulated seniority, and pension benefits from the Upper Merion School District. Although the district was reimbursed for his salary and health benefits, Oleksiak and the PSEA still rely on the generosity of taxpayers to cover his lifetime pension benefits…
“In our conversations with business owners and employers, no one has ever complained to us that Pennsylvania wasn’t pro-organized labor enough. According to most recent studies, Pennsylvania ranks at the bottom of places to do business; our labor regulations are a significant reason why. A Labor Secretary with no experience in the private sector and a decade’s worth of experience advocating for policies hostile to the best interest of taxpayers would make the Commonwealth even less appealing to job creators.”
The Pennsylvania Senate had an opportunity to stop this nominee. The leadership of the Senate abdicated their responsibility by allowing him to become Secretary without a vote. Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, nominees automatically assume the position if a vote isn’t held in twenty-five legislative days. Senate Republican leaders asked the Governor to withdraw the nomination because they rightly had concerns about Oleksiak’s qualifications. The Governor refused to withdraw the nomination. Rather than putting Senate members on record as either supporting or opposing an unqualified Labor Secretary, Senate leaders allowed him to walk into the position.
Senate Republican leadership, Senators Joe Scarnati and Jake Corman in particular, had an opportunity to stop an unqualified nominee from becoming Secretary of Labor or at worst putting members of the chamber on record. When they failed to take a vote, Scarnati and Corman deprived constituents information about their senators’ priorities. Denying voters this valuable information is a disservice to taxpayers and a shameful example of politics as usual in Pennsylvania.
Usual Republican Suspects Stop Anti-Corruption Bill — On Dec. 12, the usual Republican suspects in Chester and Delaware counties voted against a bill that would have banned political contributions from automatically being deducted from the paychecks of public employees.
There is no morally justifiable reason for a nay vote. You doubt this? Name one. Give us one reason why money promised to a person for his labor should be taken without his consent and given to back a cause with which he may not agree.
SB 166 was an extremely mild bill. It only applied to public employees and allowed for deductions for union matters including salaries.
And it still couldn’t pass.
The usual Republican suspects are, from Delco, Steve Barrar (R-160), Nick Miccarelli (R-162), Jamie Santora, (R-163), Alex Charlton (R-165), and Chris Quinn (R-168), and. from Chesco, Harry Lewis (R-74) Becky Corbin (R-155) and Duane Milne (R-167).
The Usual Republican Suspects sounds like a great movie. Maybe we can get Bryan Singer to direct it. Who would Kevin Spacey play? Maybe Val DiGiorgio. We can call him Keyser So So.
By the way, if you care about the labor movement and if you care about workers — which union bosses obviously do not — crusade to end automatic deductions for union fees for everyone.
Automatic paycheck deductions hurts labor . Why do the massive amount of money obtained from these involuntary deductions go to causes and candidates such as lobbying for unfair trade pacts and stopping pipelines, which are obviously against the interests of labor?
Without this guaranteed income the union leaders would actually have to heed the will of those they claim to represent.
The most successful lobbying group in America is the NRA. Suppose if its officials got paid no matter what it did? You think they’d work as hard?
They’d work about as hard as the union bosses do for their constituents, and private access to firearms would have long ended.
Usual Republican Suspects Stop Anti-Corruption Bill
Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher — Last week, Governor Wolf once again put his ideology ahead of what is best for Pennsylvania when He nominated Jerry Oleksiak to be the new Labor Secretary. Mr. Oleksiak is the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the largest teachers’ union in the Commonwealth. Making matters worse, Oleksiak also took part in one of the most tax-payer abusive practices available to union officials: he was a ghost teacher.
As a ghost teacher, Oleksiak worked full time for the PSEA, but he collected a paycheck, accumulated seniority, and pension benefits from the Upper Merion School District. Although the district was reimbursed for his salary and health benefits, Oleksiak and the PSEA still rely on the generosity of taxpayers to cover his lifetime pension benefits.
Mr. Oleksiak penned an editorial questioning the fitness of President Trump’s selection for Education Secretary because of her lack of experience in the classroom. Using experience as a measuring stick, how does Oleksiak stack up?
Has he ever dealt with the unemployment system as an employer? Has he ever had to appeal a workers’ compensation assessment? We can continue this line of inquiry for some time, and the answer would continue to show a dearth of experience on the part of Mr. Oleksiak.
In our conversations with business owners and employers, no one has ever complained to us that Pennsylvania wasn’t pro-organized labor enough. According to most recent studies, Pennsylvania ranks at the bottom of places to do business; our labor regulations are a significant reason why. A Labor Secretary with no experience in the private sector and a decade’s worth of experience advocating for policies hostile to the best interest of taxpayers would make the Commonwealth even less appealing to job creators.
Oleksiak’s nomination will go to the Senate where there is an opportunity to stop it. Republicans have a supermajority in the Senate, but so far they have not been willing to use it to benefit taxpayers. Here is a chance for Senators to remedy that mistake.
By Rep. Bryan Cutler
During my time serving the 100th District, a handful of well-meaning residents have walked into my taxpayer-funded Lancaster County district office and requested campaign lawn signs. They have always walked out empty handed. In fact, if I tried to conduct campaign activities from my legislative office, I’d end up in jail—as other politicians have. And that’s how it should be.
Likewise, just think if I requested that the House payroll system be used to deduct voluntary campaign contributions for my re-election campaign from my staff’s paychecks. You can imagine the response: Absolutely not.
The objection would not be over the staff’s desire to contribute, or the cost of deducting the money. Instead, the request would be denied as a matter of ethics: Public resources cannot be used for politics.
That’s because taxpayer-funded government resources should not be used for politics. Unfortunately, there’s a big loophole in state law.
State and local governments across Pennsylvania regularly use public resources to collect campaign funds for a special group of political players: Government union leaders. These funds are used for lobbying and political fundraising and even given directly to candidates. And government unions are the only organizations in Pennsylvania that can use public resources to raise their political dollars.
This is an insult to Pennsylvanians who deserve better from their government.
That’s why for the past few sessions I have introduced and championed legislation called paycheck protection, which would restore the integrity of public resources by ending the use of government systems for political fundraising.
As commonsense as this reform is, some still oppose it, relying on myths and scare tactics to misrepresent what this legislation does—and does not—do.
I believe Pennsylvanians deserve the truth.
The truth is Pennsylvania government union leaders use taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money from public employees for three purposes:
Union dues and fees used for representational activities
Union dues used for political activity such as lobbying and radio/TV ads
Political action committee contributions given directly to candidates
The latter two are explicitly political.
The truth is, since 2007, Pennsylvania’s government unions have spent nearly $100 million on politics—most of which they collected via automatic deduction from workers’ paychecks using public resources.
The truth is this immoral practice, which would land any elected official in jail, has gone unchecked for years.
If we care about ethics and integrity in government, we cannot let this continue.
My bill would transition the collection of political money back where it belongs—outside the scope of public resources and into the hands of government union leaders.
These unions would still be free to use public resources to collect non-political union dues and fees used for collective bargaining and representational work. However, government unions would no longer enjoy the special privilege of using public resources to collect money used for political activity. Just like every other private organization in Pennsylvania, they would begin collecting political money directly from those who donate it, without using taxpayers as their middleman.
Opponents of this reform claim they are fighting to protect workers’ voices, but the truth is this reform will give public workers greater voice in how their money is spent on politics. Because government unions will collect their political dollars directly from members, they will be more accountable to members regarding how those dollars are spent.
Opponents also argue they are working to preserve government unions’ ability to collectively bargain, but this reform does not affect collective bargaining rights or prevent unions from engaging in political activity. It simply separates taxpayer resources and electoral politics.
The state Senate passed similar legislation in February.
It’s time my colleagues in the House also make this good government reform a priority.
The law should apply equally to everyone. Paycheck protection would be a major step toward making this principle a reality.
Suppose that a business owner gave a politician nearly $1 million in campaign contributions and then received a $134.9 million contract. What kind of reaction would expect from the media? Most people would expect wall to wall news coverage and calls for an investigation. If the dollar amounts stayed the same, but instead of a business, the contract went to a public sector/government union why should the public be any less outraged?
Late last week, Service Employees International Union Local 668 (SEIU) signed off on a lucrative three-year contract that they negotiated with Governor Tom Wolf last year. Over three years, the contract will cost taxpayers $134.9 million. When you consider additional pension payments and resulting liabilities from the deal, the price goes up even further over the long term.
The SEIU’s PAC was the largest union contributor to the Governor’s 2014 election campaign. Direct spending and contributions by the PAC totaled nearly $1 million. If you add in the “volunteer” work and get out the vote efforts by the union, the value of the SEIU’s contributions are even greater. SEIU members will see a $5,000 salary increase per year under the new contract. Because the union dues are a based on a percentage of the member’s salary, the SEIU will financially benefit from the new deal as well. If this contract comes as news to you, you’re probably not alone. Despite the union’s generosity in terms of time and financial contributions to Governor Wolf, the labor agreement generated very little press.
In fact, the SEIU contract is only the latest in a long line of campaign contributors who have negotiated with the Governor. Every major government union in Pennsylvania supported the Governor, and will likely support his reelection. Under the current system, unions are on both sides of the negotiating table. Franklin D. Roosevelt opposed government employee unions for this very reason.
The media rightly scrutinizes government contracts with most private vendors who are political donors. Why don’t they pay the same attention to government unions who happened to be the biggest political spenders in the state?
When I joined the PA State Senate in 2014, I went to Harrisburg with specific and focused goals.
Among them, to end the reckless spending and the culture of self-serving politicians in Harrisburg.
Last week, Governor Wolf provided a perfect demonstration of both.
This past Friday, Penn Live reported the details of a new three-year labor contract between the State of Pennsylvania and SEIU Local 668.
Under this contract, public sector workers who are currently making $40,502 per year, will enjoy an increase of $5,000 per year over the three-year term of the contract – for a total additional cost to the taxpayers of $45 million per year.
Maybe the increased wage levels are reasonable and maybe they are not, but what’s definitely not reasonable is that Governor Wolf negotiated this contract alone.
Governor Wolf excluded members of the House and Senate from those negotiations, and the reason could not be more obvious: Governor Wolf’s taxpayer-provided “gift” to public sector union workers will serve him well as he seeks reelection – whether the PA taxpayer can afford it or not.
But that’s not the worst part.
Based on my calculations, the contract negotiated results in approximately $1.8 billion of additional retirement pension pay outs over 20 years.
It’s a gigantic, extremely irresponsible promise for the Governor to make with your money.
It must have slipped his mind that Harrisburg has already promised more in the way of pension payouts than we can afford to make good on.
It’s called “the pension crisis” – and Governor Wolf is deliberately ignoring it.
When I was growing up, I often heard people say that money doesn’t grow on trees.
I have to wonder what kind of trees Governor Wolf thinks grow in the back yards of Pennsylvania taxpayers.
I’ll keep saying it – Harrisburg does not have a revenue problem, Harrisburg has a spending problem.
Trust me when I tell you, when I’m Governor, we’ll end this recklessness, and replace it with justified, responsible management of tax money.
November of 2018 cannot come soon enough.
You might be surprised to know that workers covered under this taxpayer-funded contract only work 37.5 hours per week, but are expected to receive an increase of $5,000 annually.
SB 167 Paycheck Protection — Leo Knepper of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania has let us know that bills providing for paycheck protection moved out of the Senate State Government Committee, Jan. 31, on a party line vote.
Senate Bill 166 prohibits the use of dues collected from members of public unions to be used for political causes. It specifically exempts “negotiation, resolution, arbitration, administration or enforcement” of collective bargaining agreements.
Senate Bill 167 prohibits the use of dues to be used for politics and voids all provisions in collective bargaining agreements allowing it.
“Currently, government unions can deduct contributions for their political action committees (PACs) and dues money that will be used for political purposes directly from government employees’ paychecks,” says Knepper. “In other words, the unions are using taxpayer funded systems to collect money for politics.
“Why should it be legal for unions to use the public payroll system for political purposes, but illegal for former-Speaker John Perzel to use the constituent data system to help sway elections?” he said.
Our question: Why should the state even collect union dues? If the money has to be deducted automatically, it’s a pretty good indication that the union member is not thrilled with the leadership?
Top 10 Union PAC Recipients — Elizabeth Stelle of Commonwealth Foundation has distributed a list of the top 10 recipients of government union political action committees.
U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty, Gov. Tom Wolf’s former chief of staff, is the top recipient, getting, $4.4 million. State attorney general candidate Josh Shapiro ranks second at $216,523.
This political money is collected and sent to the government unions using publicly funded payroll systems. No other organization gets this special perk.
Here is the top 10 recipients.
Katie McGinty $4,443,586*
Josh Shapiro $216,523
Rob Teplitz $187,500
Mike Hanna $164,350
Frank Dermody $163,500
Joe Markosek $119,000
Vincent Hughes $118,500
Eugene DePasquale $113,300
Linda Weaver $108,500
Leanne Krueger-Braneky $102,915
* Includes expenditures in support of McGinty or in opposition to Toomey
Remember when you vote today that this money is not free. The recipients have to pay it back somehow.
Nearly 70 percent of state voters support requiring government unions to collect their own political money. It’s time for the state Legislature to prioritize paycheck protection legislation and stop government from collecting political contributions.
You are probably not alone if you’ve never heard of IBEW Local 98, or John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, Jr. However, they are names that are familiar to people who follow state politics closely, or the politics of Philadelphia. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2014, IBEW Local 98 is Pennsylvania’s largest independent source of campaign cash.
According to the 2014 article, the Local 98 spent over $25 million on political races from 2000 through May, 2014. Since then, they have spent at least another $2 million. Recipients of Johnny Doc’s largess include Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, John’s brother. The IBEW’s contributions to Justice Dougherty were over $1.5 million. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Gov. Tom Wolf, Gov. Tom Corbett, Republican Attorney General Candidate John Rafferty, and a host of other candidates have also received contributions from the union.
“Federal authorities executed search warrants at more than half a dozen locations, including Dougherty’s house in South Philadelphia, his sister’s home next door, the Local 98 hall at 17th and Spring Garden Streets, and the Mount Laurel home of union president Brian Burrows.
“At midday at union headquarters, agents removed at least a hundred boxes of paperwork, along with several computer hard drives, loading them into a yellow Penske truck. The scene was repeated shortly after 3 p.m., as boxes, computer hard drives, and a laptop were carried from the union business office nearby.
“Seized were bank records, invoices, credit card records, and tax forms, a person familiar with the investigation said… a person familiar with the investigation said it focused on the union’s finances and its involvement in the political campaigns of Mayor Kenney and state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, who is Dougherty’s brother. Federal authorities are also scrutinizing Dougherty’s finances and taxes, the source said.”
A citizen reporter was quick enough to capture one of the raids on video.
It isn’t without irony that the IBEW office is emblazoned with banners extolling Hillary Clinton for President. In April, Hillary Clinton had a sit-down meeting with John Dougherty.