Friday, December 16, 2016

Wet backs and narrow backs (Irish immingrants' native born kiddies)

We already covered that farm workers are exempted from federal protection of labor organizing -- therefore may be legally covered by state labor laws -- IOW state not subject to assertion of federal preemption.

Fears of a Trump loaded NLRB revoking recently recognized employee status of college student research and teaching assistants may be tempered by the opportunity that would create to cover same with state labor law instead (including conducting certification elections).

Wet backs and narrow backs -- complementary legislative and public support capturing: heavy (nay, desperate) determination on the part of wet; heavy education and full middle class expectations on the part of narrow who may demand nothing less than full state/federal parallel labor law, like California's (35 pp pdf).  Wet appeals to blue collar supporters; narrow appeals to academic liberals (who mostly empathize less with low skilled labor).

Upshot: even in a state as progressive as Oregon farm, farm workers missed out of state organizing protection by one vote in the legislature in 1989 and as far as I know it never came up again.  Put wet and narrow together: no repeat defeat.

Mmm.  Next category: any category at all left out of fed organizing coverage -- e.g., Uber and Lyft drivers, etc.  Teamsters -- who are great -- working for them through some regular channels on West Coast now.

Brainstorm!  "FedEx Express – unlike those other companies – is not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) ...  the RLA – like the NLRA – protects the right of employees to form, join, and be represented by a union, it is far more difficult for employees to organize under the RLA than it is under the NLRA. As a result, only a small segment of the FedEx Express workforce – some 5,000 pilots – is unionized; almost 100,000 truck drivers, package handlers, dispatchers, and other FedEx Express ground transportation employees are not (94% union free)." 

Dream of Fedex employees in protected states carrying on modern day "correspondence societies" via social media, working up to organizing national certification, someday -- national election required by RLA: a never ending media story.  Freedom of speech as well as of association at stake in protecting "correspondence societies."  (650 planes, 45,000 trucks; 550 planes, 60,000 trucks -- Fedex, UPS respectively.)

Hey, Fedex folks could be the clearest example for the general public of how completely non-workable fed labor law can be.  94% non-unionized in private economy means the rest of us cannot be much better off.  

Of course, wet/narrow accomplished state organizing protection would not be as lacking in enforcement power (toothless!) as fed so-called protection.  Otherwise, why bother?  Just two quick aspects.  Mandating certification elections upon a finding of union busting, seems to me the most common sense, almost seamless way to safeguard organizing -- once we get control of Congress back.  The fed cannot preempt a workable state certification setup with a nonenforceable certification setup -- not with a First Amendment right to commercial association at stake -- making a possible opening for states to pass mirror state union certification processes for all workers (like California's farm workers law)? 

Suppose states do a mirror of the fed setup -- then, suppose Congress gets around to actually establishing actual enforcement.  Pretty ticklish having state setups whose moment-to-moment (preemption) legitimacy depends on the latest judicial reading of latest federal effectiveness/in-effectiveness).  No deep reason not to have parallel state laws (er, uh, presumably of the enforceable species). 

Agenda for less progressive states: Imagine if a state government prohibited certain businesses from bargaining with labor unions.  Couldn't constitutionally of course: First Amendment.  Freedom of association does not just protect the right to freely associate commercially, but to to bargain.

20 states prohibit their governments from collectively bargaining with some of most employees.  Constitutionally plausible -- and courts approved -- excuses: govs not disciplined by free markets, gov unions include payers of taxes, etc.  Okay; but there is a bargaining process specifically tailored to fairly re-balance gov-union firepower: compulsory arbitration.  And a First Amendment right is at stake.  Time for union supporters to start banging on courtroom doors over this.

For more progressive states: Suppose the 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) intending to leave any criminal sanctions for obstructing union organizing to the states.  Might have been because NLRB(b) conducted union elections take place local by local (not nationwide) and Congress could have opined states would deal more efficiently with home conditions -- or whatever.  What extra words might Congress have needed to add to today's actual bill?  Actually, today's identical NLRA wording would have sufficed perfectly.

Suppose, again, that under the RLA (Railroad Labor Act -- covers railroads and airlines, FedEx) -- wherein elections are conducted nationally -- that Congress desired to forbid states criminalizing the firing of organizers -- how could Congress have worded such a preemption (assuming it was constitutionally valid)?  Shouldn't matter to us.  Congress did not!  :-)

 Note well: it is not mostly the organizer's job loss to be punished; it is much more the interference with all employees' bargaining power -- working them for less.


You can't get something from nothing but, believe it or not, the money is there, somewhere to make $10 jobs into $20. Bottom 45% of earners take 10% of overall income; down from 20% since 1980 (roughly -- worst be from 1973 but nobody seems to use that); top 1% take 20%; double the 10% from 1980.

Top 1% share doubled -- of 50% larger pie!

One of many remedies: majority run politics wont hesitate to transfer a lot of that lately added 10% from the 1% back to the 54% who now take 70% -- who can transfer it on down to the 45% by paying higher retail prices -- with Eisenhower level income tax. In any case per capita income grows more than 10% over one decade to cover 55%-to-45% income shifting.

Not to mention other ways -- multiple efficiencies -- to get multiple-10%'s back:
squeezing out financialization;
sniffing out things like for-profit edus (unions providing the personnel quantity necessary to keep up with society's many schemers;
snuffing out $100,000 Hep C treatments that cost $150 to make (unions supplying the necessary volume of lobbying and political financing;
less (mostly gone) poverty = mostly gone crime and its criminal justice expenses.

IOW, labor unions = a normal country.

1 comment:

Denis Drew said...

“A public employer, unlike his private counterpart, is not guided by the profit motive and constrained by the normal operation of the market. Municipal services are typically not priced, and where they are[,] they tend to be regarded as in some sense “essential” and therefore are often price-inelastic. Although a public employer, like a private one, will wish to keep costs down, he lacks an important discipline against agreeing to increases in labor costs that in a market system would require price increases. A public-sector union is correspondingly less concerned that high prices due to costly wage demands will decrease output and hence employment.”

+ two more para

Answer: BINDING ARBITRATION (as a First Amendment right)?
“For nearly 40 years, unions representing police and firefighters in New York State have been entitled to seek compulsory binding “interest arbitration” of contract impasses, a form of dispute resolution not available to most public employees outside the public safety field. County and municipal government leaders have sought to end or reform this system on the grounds that arbitration unduly favors unions, resulting in unaffordable salary increases while perpetuating costly work rules and benefits.”

News to me. In 1974, NYPD yearly was about $65,000 in 2008 dollars. By 2008, it hadn’t risen — 60% per capita income increase later. All of a sudden, in the midst of the Great Recession, NY raised it about $20,000. Meaning the money had indeed been there all along. Also meaning the the police union leadership in typical slipshod American fashion hadn’t even been aware of what was being done to them. Ditto for fire and sanitation.

Surely be a valid constitution issue to go to court over in 30 anti-bargaining states — banging the union density pots and pans as loudly as we can as we go — hoping to switch places with the Republicans once and forever, if nothing else.