The MC: The Mackinac Center Blog

Hospital Union Continues to Bully Employees

Hurley administrators fail to step in

Michigan Capitol Confidential reports today that a list including the names of employees who have exercised their worker freedom rights at Hurley Medical Center in Flint and opted out of the union has been reposted by the union on a bulletin board in a public area near the hospital’s cafeteria. The list, seen by those whose names are on it as a union intimidation tactic, was first posted three weeks ago. Hospital administration appears to be ignoring the contract it signed with the union in question and refuses to intervene in the bullying.

SEIU Fined for Campaign Finance Violations

Union dues skim took $34 million from Medicaid

Michigan Capitol Confidential reports that the Service Employees International Union, which took $34 million in forced dues from home-based caregivers as part of its dues skim, has received the second biggest campaign finance violation fine in state history.

The $199,000 penalty stems from the union’s involvement in the failed Proposal 4 on the November 2012 ballot, which would have enshrined its stealth unionization scheme in the state constitution.

Teacher Speaks Out on Union Bullying

MEA will go after 8,000 teachers not paying dues

Miriam Chanski

A Coopersville kindergarten teacher who resigned from the Michigan Education Association under the state's worker freedom law says she is glad her ordeal is over, but is concerned for her colleagues, according to a story in The Grand Rapids Press.

"I am very thankful that the MEA has finally recognized my right to opt out, but my settlement doesn't bring justice to the thousands of other teachers in my position in West Michigan and across the state of Michigan," Miriam Chanski, who along with Petoskey teacher Ray Arthur is now free from the MEA, told The Press.

"This is not an isolated case," she said. "I've heard from many teachers in the state whose circumstances did not allow them to make a public stand."

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation last fall filed unfair labor practice complaints against the MEA on behalf of Chanski, Arthur and several other teachers at the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. The teachers believed they were being bullied by the union for attempting to exercise their rights under Michigan's right-to-work law, and were told that if they did not pay their dues they would be turned over to a collections agency.

"My credit is safe and my rights were honored. The threat definitely caused a lot of stress in my life," Chanski told The Press.

During a hearing at MERC regarding complaints filed by another teacher, the MEA admitted that about 8,000 teachers statewide have so far have refused to pay their forced union dues in cash or give the union credit card or bank account information as part of its "e-dues" system. The MEA also said it has created a policy to go after those teachers.

"The MEA does not bully or intimidate its members," MEA Communications Director Nancy Knight told The Press.

Lopez on Fox Business

Corporate welfare for movies unfair to taxpayers

Manny Lopez, managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, was a guest on “Money With Melissa Francis” on Fox Business this afternoon, explaining why corporate welfare for film makers is unfair to the taxpayers from whom the money is taken.

You can read more about Michigan’s film subsidies here.

What a Union Looks Like in a RTW State

Alabama UAW shuns rhetoric, gives honest answers

As auto manufacturing has shifted to the South, the UAW has made a push to begin unionizing workers in right-to-work states.

The words and actions of union officials are interesting compared to states where workers are still forced to pay money to the union.

On the website for a UAW chapter in Alabama, which is trying to organize workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant, the union writes the following in its FAQ section:

Q: Do I have to join the union?

A: First of all remember Alabama is a Right to Work state; therefore, it is totally voluntary whether or not you decide to join the union and pay union dues. If you think your local union is doing a good job representing you and in negotiations for improvements then we hope you will join. If you feel it isn’t then it is your right not to join.

Q: Alabama is a "Right to Work" state. What does "Right to Work" mean?

A: The law speaks to one narrow issue. The right to work law means that Mercedes employees have the right to join or not join the union. It is the employee's choice. It does NOT mean that workers in Alabama don't have the right to form unions. They do. In fact, there are many workers all over the country – including in Alabama – who have strong, effective unions in so-called "right to work" states.

Contrast that with Michigan, where it is said that right-to-work laws "destroy unions," "eliminates the middle class," and will lead to "blood." Where unions harass teachers, intimidate employees who disagree, and freeload off of members with the spending of dues or fees on issues with which they don't agree.

As the UAW branch in Alabama notes, right-to-work laws change nothing about collective bargaining other than making it illegal to fire a worker for not paying money to a union. This choice means the union is more responsive to its membership. If it isn't, well, "it is your right not to join."

Economics 101: Minimum Wage Kills Jobs

When prices go up, quantity demanded goes down

The minimum wage has been in the news a lot lately due to proposals at the state and federal levels to increase it and because of a February Congressional Budget Office report on the subject.

Among all the policy subjects up for debate, there is perhaps no easier conclusion to draw than that minimum wage mandates are jobs killers.

Both economic theory and empirical evidence — despite some recent claims to the contrary — make it clear that mandating an artificially high minimum wage leads to job losses.

First, consider the theory behind the economics. Basic price theory informs us that there is an inverse relationship between the price of just about anything and the quantity demanded of it.

The graphic below demonstrates a simple demand curve. On the vertical axis is the price of labor, marked by PL1. On the horizontal access is QL1, which is the quantity of labor demanded at that price on the vertical axis.

Price and Quantity 1

If the government commands that a higher wage be paid to labor (below) — artificially moving PL1 upward to PL2 — the quantity demanded for labor must by definition fall to QL2.

Price and Quantity 2

Second, we have scholarly empirical analyses published in peer-reviewed journals by academics. A 2007 review of this literature by David Neumark and William Wascher supports the contention that minimum wage mandates have a negative effect on jobs. Their review of studies from 1990 forward indicates that some 85 percent "of the most credible evidence" suggests that these higher mandated minimums hurt employment.

Last month the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the economic effects of increasing the federally mandated minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. They concluded that from the perspective of the federal budget all the pluses and minuses would net out evenly. That is, no real gains or losses over time.

They observed that about 500,000 people would lose their jobs while another 900,000 would be pulled just a little above the federal poverty line. In other words, for every two people lucky enough to keep their jobs, one would lose their job entirely. Of those 900,000 who do better, it is only marginally with the average income of families being lifted "by about 3 percent …"

Writing for the Cato Institute in this month's, “Tax & Budget Bulletin," economist Joseph Sabia notes that the CBO's estimate of job losses may be low because it took "a lower bound estimate" of potential changes in employment of lower skilled persons.

The economic evidence in support of a higher minimum wage amounts to pretty thin gruel.

Rather than being a help to poor people, on net balance it hurts people and is apparently no great friend to government treasuries, either. The CBO estimates a wash, but its estimate of employment losses may be on the low side. 

A better solution to helping low-wage earners would include removing obstacles to creating and obtaining jobs, not building more of them.

LaFaive Proven Right on Cigarette Tax Hike

Mass. losing millions due to smuggling

A Boston Herald editorial on a $1 per pack tax hike on cigarettes in Massachusetts cites Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, who warned that an increase would lead to more tobacco smuggling and less state revenue.

The editorial references an interview LaFaive did with WBUR last year, indicating that the tax hike would cause the cigarette smuggling rate in Massachusetts to more than double from 18 percent to 43 percent. The state is now reporting that it is losing up to $246 million a year in cigarette taxes and $49 million a year in sales tax due to cigarette smuggling.

Vernuccio on Worker Freedom

Panel discussion in Washington, D.C.

“We’re looking at Ohio. We’re looking at Missouri. We’re looking at Kentucky. The fire of worker freedom is shining brightly, and it is spreading.”

Those were among the comments of Labor Policy Director F. Vincent Vernuccio at a panel discussion on right-to-work Saturday held at CPAC near Washington, D.C., according to Huffington Post.

Vernuccio also said that Ohio Gov. John Kasich is “the biggest impediment” to worker freedom in the Buckeye State, according to Talking Points Memo.

Vernuccio noted that while it took 20 years to achieve right-to-work in Michigan, “It’s not going to be another 10 years” until the next state passes a worker freedom bill, according to Salon.

The full panel discussion can be seen here.

Teachers Victorious Over MEA

State, national media report on RTW win

State and national media are reporting on the victory of two Mackinac Center Legal Foundation clients over the Michigan Education Association in their fight against the union to exercise their worker freedom rights.

The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, National Review Online, WZZM-TV13 in Grand Rapids, MLive, The National Law Review, the Washington Examiner and the Petoskey News-Review all reported on the union giving up in its battle to force teachers Miriam Chanski of Coopersville and Ray Arthur of Petoskey to pay union dues. Patrick Wright, director of the MCLF, also discussed the matter on “Capital City Recap” with host Michael Cohen on WILS AM1320 in Lansing and on "The Frank Beckmann Show" on WJR AM760, and Labor Policy Director F. Vincent Vernuccio was interviewed about the matter by National Review in Washington, D.C.

Michigan Capitol Confidential reports that about 8,000 teachers have not paid dues to the MEA this year.

Senate Bill 783, Let landlords ban medical marijuana use: Passed 31 to 7 in the Senate

To prohibit the use of medical marijuana on any portion of private property that is open to the public, or where it is banned by the property owner. The bill would also permit a landlord to refuse to rent a residence to someone who uses medical marijuana on the property. Because the bill amends an initiated law adopted by the people, it requires a three-fourths supermajority vote in the Senate and House.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

 

Senate Bill 821, Revise 2012 “personal property tax” reform law: Passed 36 to 2 in the Senate

To revise details of a 2012 law that distributes some state use tax revenue to local governments, as a replacement for revenue they lose due to reductions in the "personal property tax" imposed on business tools and equipment. The bill is part of proposal to essentially replace all of the foregone local government revenue from a 2012 personal property tax reform law, instead of replacing most of it. For any of this to happen voters must approve related changes to the state use tax in an August, 2014 ballot initiative; the current proposal is intended to forestall local government opposition to that measure.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

 

Senate Bill 821, Whitmer amendment to impose "Amazon" internet sales tax: Failed 12 to 26 in the Senate

To "tie-bar" the personal property tax reform bill described above to Senate Bill 658, which would impose state sales tax on catalog or internet purchases made from sellers outside the state that have an affiliation with a different business located in Michigan, in the manner pioneered by internet retailer Amazon.com. The amendment would require the internet sales tax legislation to become law for the personal property tax bill to do so.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

 

Senate Bill 667, Prohibit minors from using “e-cigarettes”: Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate

To prohibit minors form using electronic vapor cigarettes, making it a misdemeanor crime punishable by a $50 fine, community service in a hospice or long term care facility, and being ordered into a health promotion and risk reduction program. Senate Bill 668 bans selling or giving minors e-cigarettes.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

 

Senate Bill 711, Extend Cobo sales tax break: Passed 100 to 10 in the House

To extend for another two years a sales tax exemption for the purchase of tools and equipment by a contractor if these are used to fix or renovate Cobo Hall in Detroit.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

 

Senate Bill 608, Revise Medicaid expansion funding; authorize extra spending: Passed 65 to 44 in the House

To adjust spending in the current year budget to reflect fund source changes triggered by adoption of the federal health care law Medicaid expansion starting in April. The bill also appropriates $215 million in additional spending on roads (including $100 million for extra winter maintenance costs), money for Amtrak-related rail improvements, government pre-school programs, low income heating bill subsidies, veterans programs, marina projects, and much more. The House removed a Senate-passed $5.5 million appropriation involving purchase of the Steelcase "Pyramid" building for a loosely defined, education-related "public/private partnership," along with other spending including more money for "land banks." The bill would also authorize $60.3 million in new debt for state college and university construction projects.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

 

House Bill 4295, Add additional spending to current school budget: Passed 107 to 3 in the House

To appropriate extra money for various school-related purposes, including a $51.7 federal "early learning challenge grant" the state applied for and received. Among other things this will pay for government programs that promote “physical, social, and emotional health...for high-needs children from birth to kindergarten entry,” in ways that are "culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate." The money can also be used to train the employees who perform these activities, and figure out how and what to measure in assessing them. The bill also authorizes (but does not yet fund) contracting for a student nutrition and behavior tracking software program for schools. It would also appropriate $5 million more for transition costs related to dissolving the fiscally-failed Buena Vista and Inkster school districts; $2 million for a year-round school pilot program; $3.9 million for contracts to provide students "information technology education opportunities; and more. Finally, it makes adjustments to the current school aid budget to reflect lower than expected student counts.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit http://www.MichiganVotes.org.