William Harned: Protect workers’ rights

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— 2011 marks a tumultuous year for workers’ rights. With millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet, leaders should be protecting workplace rights that make our communities and our economy strong, not tearing them down.

So it’s a relief to see a positive development for workers in time for Labor Day. The National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency charged with safeguarding workers’ rights, has taken a step in the right direction with a proposed rule that would ensure employees have a fair vote on whether to form a union.

But instead of focusing on the economy, corporate-backed politicians are attacking the NLRB — playing the same old political games Americans are tired of.

By coming together as a union, workers can negotiate for fair pay and family-supporting benefits. And that’s exactly what we need to get the middle class — and our economy — back on track.

William Harned

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Jeff Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

93% of private sector jobs are non-union. What about those workers' rights? The Democrat majority in the NLRB is sure giving Boeing a tough time while it's trying to create jobs in a right to work state.

According to you and Trumpka and your ilk, the only workers are union members.

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seeuski 2 years, 7 months ago

Forcing workers to take a public vote as opposed to a private vote on whether to unionize is terrorism. If you vote against the union you get whats coming to you. Thugs, Politics, Power and the Dems what a combo!

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

The NLRB and its White House handlers are being lambasted for a variety of ludicrous oversteps, the most prominent of which is their pursuit of Boeing, and the attempt to shut down Boeing's new $1 billion Dreamliner plant in South Carolina. The NLRB would like nothing better than to put the 1,000 Americans presently employed there out of work, and eliminate the several thousand additional jobs to be added there once the facility ramps up to full capacity. So much for "workplace rights."

Just as egregious is the "proposed rule" to which Mr. Harned refers. The proposal would impose "quickie elections" that would enable unions to organize almost as easily as they could have by eradicating the secret ballot, had they successfully implemented their preposterous card check initiative. The current proposal is nothing more than an end run around that failure.

Workers are already guaranteed a "fair vote", and the proposed rule change does nothing to affirm or protect that vote. Quite the contrary, it is a flagrant attempt to remove employers from the conversation, and deny them a reasonable opportunity to make their case to the workforce.

Finally, characterizing the NLRB as an "independent agency" is breathtakingly naïve. It is a political appendage whose directors (a General Council and 5-member board) are all Presidential appointees. Care to guess who installed the current leadership?

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 7 months ago

Unions are in business to short circuit the marketplace where conditions are right for exploitation.

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rhys jones 2 years, 7 months ago

The Labor tables are the hook in the construction estimating software I have written and am now marketing, based on my Dad's successful manual system. We add 5% to the labor, across the board, if there are Unions involved. It is widely known Unions milk it, and the wise estimator will account for that.

I'm not in a Union, and I will work most of this weekend, trying to make my software better. Gotta make the donuts. No Union for a net. Every state should be a "right-to-work" state. Along with the Federal Reserve, the Unions are killing this country.

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seeuski 2 years, 7 months ago

Everybody in agreement here, 1st time for everything. Great posts. Kick Trumpka and his "Workers of the world unite" crap out of the free market.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

Rhys:

He's in Detroit: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/09/05/jimmy_hoffa_at_obama_event_on_gop_lets_take_these_son_of_bitches_out.html

"...And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party... President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong," Hoffa added.

Classy.

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mtroach 2 years, 7 months ago

Unions work to keep a balance between the powerful corporate overlords and workers rights. You all may not like unions now but wait ten years after the tea party elimanates their rights and corporate america ruins our enviroment, health, and lowers pay rates to poverty levels in the sake of profit and we will all realize the importance of having something to check the power of those in control. I hate to say it but as the teaparty empowers the government to reward the rich at the expense of the middle class, more and more hard working americans will be forced into poverty. Once too many smart hardworking americans are put down a new revoluition will happen. Like Russia,China and the rest of the red world the poor will rise up and take what they belive is owed to them.

So great. Kill the unions. Kill the middle class. Bring on a new America, Comrade.

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rhys jones 2 years, 7 months ago

Unions work to justify their members' dues, driving up everybody's costs, and driving jobs out of this country to where labor costs are reasonable. They milk it all they can, while they can, thus providing even more incentive to move the work where people can produce. Go unions; drive the rest of the work out of here. except in the big cities and back east, where the unions have municipalities over a barrel, and semi-literate, grossly overweight bus drivers make $60 an hour.

You don't have to love the Tea Party to hate unions -- both suck, in my book -- all you have to do is see them in action. Go ahead, suck this country dry.

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sledneck 2 years, 7 months ago

How does a person who thinks so highly of unions, workers rights, maintaining good pay rates, etc, reconcile that position with a party or with big government in general which UTTERLY REFUSES to stop the flood of illegal, cheap, unsafe and unskilled workers comming over our border????? I wonder. Seems like being in favor of both Hell and ice-cubes to me.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

Unions are such a small percentage of the private sector labor force to suggest that unions are driving jobs overseas is simply wrong. All sorts of nonunion factories have been closed.

Unions have been so successful politically that issues that were once key parts of a negotiated contract such as overtime and workplace safety have instead been passed as state and federal laws. So private sector workers no longer need unions to have decent jobs.

That is why unions have since been largely moved to public sector jobs where they can use their political influence to affect negotiations. An upcoming big issue will be the USPS with their $9B annual deficit (aka losses) and even USPS management sees the need for massive cuts despite a no layoff union contract, massive reduction in number of sorting centers and the need to shut lots of post offices. And it is setting up to be a real question whether even Tea Party Republicans will support closing of rural offices and whether Democrats will allow cutting of union jobs.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

Scott Wedel:

I'd suggest that you stole my thunder, but the reality is you've simply expressed what the vast majority of Americans have understood for decades. And as a tea party Repub, I enthusiastically support slashing the USPS. And not just the rural branches.

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seeuski 2 years, 7 months ago

The headline of this Progressives letter is an oxymoron. Workers rights are protected by Federal laws, this is about Collectivism/Communism and the power over the individual that it brings. We are the individuals that the Unions are threatening with violence as they stand with their dear leader Obama who declared 'we need a civilian army as well funded and armed as the military", FOR WHAT? Read the Tea leaves, violence is coming from the left soon, they are beating the drums of war against Americans. Thank God for the second amendment, it was designed to protect the Constitution from this exact type of threat from within.

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ybul 2 years, 7 months ago

--You all may not like unions now but wait ten years after the tea party elimanates their rights and corporate america ruins our enviroment, health, and lowers pay rates to poverty levels in the sake of profit and we will all realize the importance of having something to check the power of those in control. --

You must know nothing about the tea party to make this statement. The tea party stands for private property rights. The protection of those rights requires that while we need a coal power plant today and impact fee for their impact on the environment needs charged.

On health care - a great example is diesel emissions which are causing asthma for inner city youths. So some form of usage fee should be charged based on the impact on the environment. Which would be greater in a city than say a farm where the impact would not be that great.

On Corporate America - if we stopped rewarding people for investing in the stock market via tax breaks for retirement accounts that need to be invested in the stock market then maybe those corporations would not have such cheap capital and not have the ability to put family business' out of business because of their next to free money.

Maybe you should actually think before spouting the mantra given to you by the media, which divides this country.

Maybe as opposed to the pension system for government workers they should simply get a paycheck, pay off debt and save.

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mtroach 2 years, 7 months ago

yvb- those might be over used scare tactics but, How else do you see things going when the top 5% own more than the bottom 95% and control access to the means to wealth like higher education or even a fair days wage? Take away support like Welfare and Unemployment, Social Security and the entitlements that some want ended or by bankrupting the federal government and all those that use those programs will be out on the streets and looking for a way to stay alive. Back an animal into a corner and let's see what happens. Great future.

Unions may not be perfect but they do provide a check to the power of management.

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ybul 2 years, 7 months ago

Do you know how unemployment is funded, through a tax on employees. If you want less of something you tax it, yep that is bright tax employers for their US based workers. If you really want an unemployment program, then give an incentive to people who create jobs - small business' make 90% of new jobs and/or find a way to levy the tax on all things that put people out of work - technology or the outsourcing of jobs. Other countries pay our companies to bring over our engineering jobs - and yet we levy a tax on those employers. Yep - brilliant thinking by our government.

hmm, same old party line of class warfare. Maybe if you understood what is really causing the problem you would understand that the solution is not via handouts it is through hand ups.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

Lets follow the Robin Hood model and steal from the rich and give to the poor. Oh yea, that was not what really happened - what really happened was that Robin Hood stole from a corrupt government and returned excessive taxes to the taxpayers. Unfortunately, the lessons learned - which form the founding principles of the country have been forgotten.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

ybul, Just because something is taxed does not mean you get less of it. There have been quite a few studies showing that taxes are calculated as just another cost and as long as the activity is profitable then people and businesses will do it.

It is when taxes get so high that activities become unprofitable that it causes that activity to go away. Considering tax rates as percentage of personal and business income is as low as it has been in over 50 years then it is hardly reasonable to suggest the current economic great recession is because of tax rates.

It has also been pretty conclusively shown that issues like lack of unemployment insurance or bankruptcy laws that do not dismiss debt causes people to take fewer risks. People without unemployment insurance are less likely to work for new companies and instead stick with same old jobs at big stagnant companies. Likewise, investors worried about investment having additional liabilities get cautious and invest less.

Taxing businesses based upon number of employees for the employee benefit of unemployment insurance is hardly a crazy idea. It makes it easier for employees to stick with a struggling business because they will not immediately be cut off to having no income if the business fails or reduces employees.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

Sledneck, Considering low wage illegals have minimal job skills then, by definition, they are only a threat for jobs where neither English or job skills are important. How is it hard to reconcile good jobs for Americans while not being particularly concerned with whom does low wage low skill jobs?

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sledneck 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, We pro-union people don't care about the low-wage grunts. It's not like our kids, grandkids or someone elses are unemployed, er a...

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

mtroach: you know nothing about the tea party beyond what the left has chosen to demagogue. The Plagiarist in Chief calls me a “terrorist” and a “barbarian.” Maxine Waters wants me to “go straight to hell.” The Congressional Black Caucus Whip preaches to anyone who will listen that I lust to lynch Black Americans. According to Jimmy Hoffa, I'm a “son of a bitch” who needs to be “taken out” - as he introduces the next speaker, the President of the United States, who in turn praises the observations of Mr. Hoffa. None of this slander has been cherry-picked by googling years of archives; it has all been spewed over the last few days and dutifully spotlighted by the mainstream media.

Instead of regurgitating leftist spin and defamation, you might actually attempt to engage someone who is engaged in that which you oppose. As an active tea partier, here's what encapsulates what we're all about: The federal government collects $180 billion a month. It spends $300 billion a month, which adds $120 billion to the debt every 30 days. To characterize that as unsustainable is not an ideological canard. It's 5th grade level arithmetic.

Owing to America's determination to prevail during the Cold War, our NATO allies never had to choose between guns & butter. We saw to their defense, and enabled them to fund the Democratic Socialism which President Obama and his ilk would like to establish here. England, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy are all crumbling under the crushing weight of that spending orgy, as the supply of other people's money runs dry.

That is the path we in the tea party see America traveling upon, and what we wish to forestall. Lynching and terrorism have nothing to do with it, and Vice President Biden, Congressman Carson, James Hoffa Jr., et al - along with their White House front man - can kiss my slant-eyed Polack derriere.

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ybul 2 years, 7 months ago

Scott,

The fact that employers pay for work comp based upon wages as opposed to what is produced is crazy. I can use my backhoe to dig a ditch or hire 10 people. The backhoe is less expensive and less of a headache yet has more taxation associated with it.

The backhoe makes people obsolete and pays nothing into the fund to help people on the unemployment lines.

Then those companies who move jobs overseas because a foreign government pays to bring jobs to their country and yet does not pay into any fund that covers the fact that they might have outsourced someone in the states.

Yes taxes do discourage something else as there is a limited pool of money and some then is diverted away from whatever was being taxed. Wether it takes a day or years (because of the initial investment in capital that a factory has) . In the long run a tax will discourage production/consumption don't know what economic theory you prescribe to but all I have read would agree with that statement.

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pitpoodle 2 years, 7 months ago

Taxes are a detriment to hiring. When the cost in taxes to hire an employee exceeds what a company can afford, you do not hire. When there is fear that the cost of Obamacare will exceed what a company can afford, you don't hire. When the social security tax is minimally shared by workers (once a direct match by employers now called a tax break for employees) you don't hire. Taxes and the threat of more taxation on small and big business has had a huge impact on the economy because companies will not hire. Why is this simple concept so hard for Dems to understand?

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ybul 2 years, 7 months ago

--Considering tax rates as percentage of personal and business income is as low as it has been in over 50 years then it is hardly reasonable to suggest the current economic great recession is because of tax rates.--

I hope you did not think I was implying that taxes are the cause of the current malaise. The current malaise, imo, is caused by too much debt and the mal investment that has been allowed by tax breaks and artificially low interest rates.

Too much debt and the purging of the debt cycle are what is occurring, unfortunately much of the debt owed by the government is off the books, i.e. unfunded liabilities, which are the real problem today.

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pitpoodle 2 years, 7 months ago

Companies are not hiring. They are not creating jobs because of the uncertainty of their tax obligations. Whether you think their taxes are too low is pure BS and doesn't change that fact. Too much government debt is another problem that has added and will continue to add to our down fall.

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kathy foos 2 years, 7 months ago

After the unions are totally gone, who will people blame for everything?The only time in my life I had health insurance was in a union.Without a union I would not have had a chance of being hired as a woman in the 1980's an1990's in construction.The military bases were completed under high Union Security(none of your favorite nonunion foreigners working on the projects..These workers are skilled(per union training,safety instructed),by the 2000's your nonunion attitude has destroyed them. Now there are none.So you continue to crap all over the strong union memory.What good came of your union busting attitude?Things are worse than ever now and that goes along with your anti-union garble.You won ,the union have no power.HOW DO YOU LIKE IT NOW?Anti-union predujuce is stupid and out dated.Kick a dead horse anyone?Your children cannot even get a job,your attitude has empowered this illegal migration.Thanks alot dorks.

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mmjPatient22 2 years, 7 months ago

...cocaine, NBA stars, and husband's business partner, oh my!

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