Indiana’s Right to Work: Hoosiers debate voluntary union membership
Editorial, January 10, 2012, Wall Street Journal
The labor reform story of the year is unfolding in Indiana, which Republicans who dominate the legislature are trying to make the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state. Democrats are resorting to the old run-and-hide ploy, but this could be a huge economic boon to the Hoosier State. Big Labor portrays right to work as a radical change, but it merely lets individual workers decide if they want to join a union. In non-right-to-work states, workers typically must pay union dues once their worksite is organized—whether they want to pay or not. This enhances union clout and… (read article – subscription required)

Rhode Island’s treasurer overhauls state pensions; public employee unions are ‘furious’
By Michael McDonald, January 9, 2012, Bloomberg
Gina Raimondo was running a Rhode Island venture-capital firm in Providence when the mother of two read with alarm that a growing fiscal crisis might force cutbacks in library hours and bus service in 2009. The threat drove her to seek public office for the first time. “I literally put the paper down and said, ‘I have to do this, I have to run,’” the Democrat said in an interview. Raimondo, 40, won the state treasurer’s office in 2010 with 62 percent of the vote, partly on a pledge to revamp pensions, an issue so politically toxic her backers urged her to avoid it. Raimondo has since gained fame beyond the smallest U.S. state for her overhaul of a pension system whose promises to workers were eating up local aid and helped push one city into bankruptcy. The changes she persuaded the Democrat-controlled Legislature to pass over union opposition will save about $3 billion by delaying retirement, suspending cost-of-living increases and offering workers 401(k)-type savings plans. The overhaul may provide a template for other states and cities such as Pennsylvania and Chicago that are grappling with underfunded pension obligations they may not be able to fulfill. (read article)

Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s comments upon accepting the 2011 Urban Innovator Award
Manhattan Institute:
(watch video)

San Diego Cops to Get Dressed on Own Time After US Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal
By Greg Moran, January 9, 2012, San Diego Union-Tribune
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal by a group of San Diego police officers whose lawsuit seeking overtime and back pay for tasks such as getting dressed for work was thrown out two years ago by a federal court judge. The move by the high court, made at its weekly conference Friday and announced Monday, ends an expensive battle by the city. Defending the lawsuit cost the city more than $6 million, the bulk of which it will try to recoup from its insurance carrier, according to a news release from the City Attorney’s Office. The suit, filed by the police officers union in 2005, contended the city should pay millions of dollars to officers for time spent putting on uniforms, gear, answering emails and doing other tasks before their shifts began. The suit covered some 1,500 current and retired officers. (read article)

States vs. unions: Key battlegrounds
January 8, 2012, LaCrosse Tribune
ndiana: On his first day in office in 2005, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels issues an executive order ending collective bargaining for state employees; within a year, more than 90 percent of government employees stop paying union dues. Daniels, buoyed by lowered unemployment and a balanced budget, is re-elected in 2008 with nearly 58 percent of the vote. New Jersey: On becoming governor in January 2010, Republican Chris Christie emerges as a tough talker, calling the state teachers union “a group of political thugs.” In June, the state passes a bill making public employees pay more toward their pension and health-care costs… (read article)

UAW Fund, Underfunded By $20 Billion, To Cut Retiree Benefits
January 8, 2012, Labor Union Report
You may remember how, during the Obama-structured bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, shareholders were shoved to the side by the UAW’s retiree benefit trust (called a VEBA), which assumed partial ownership of GM and majority ownership of Chrysler. That was in addition to the American taxpayers pumping in billions to the American auto companies. Well, as it turns out, the UAW’s retiree benefit trust is, according to Crain’s, still running in the red… (read article)

Wisconsin Court Rules Elections Agency Must Attempt to Find Duplicate, Fake Recall Signatures
By Brett Healy, January 6, 2011, Big Government
Hitler and Mickey Mouse have been put on notice. Yesterday afternoon, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won a favorable ruling in Waukesha County Circuit Court. Court rules that the GAB is obligated to honor the rules under statutes and presents further ruling as to the Defendants’ obligations. Court orders the Defendants’ (GAB) is obligated to take such reasonable steps to strike duplicate signatures, ineligible signers/addresses and fictitious names. (read article)

Labor unions primary recipients of Obamacare waivers
By Paul Conner, January 6, 2012, The Daily Caller
Labor unions continued to receive the overwhelming majority of waivers from the president’s health care reform law since the Obama administration tightened application rules last summer. Documents released in a classic Friday afternoon news dump show that labor unions representing 543,812 workers received waivers from President Barack Obama‘s signature legislation since June 17, 2011. By contrast, private employers with a total of 69,813 employees, many of whom work for small businesses, were granted waivers. (read article)

Stockton, California and its police union both claim court victory
By Scott Smith, January 6, 2012, Stockton Record
A judge on Thursday issued a string of rulings in Stockton’s fight with its police union over the city breaking their contract amid financial crisis. Attorneys on both sides interpreted the preliminary rulings as outright victories in the ongoing case. San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Lesley Holland found grounds for the city to proceed with its claim that the police union bought the house next door to City Manager Bob Deis solely to harass and intimidate him. San Francisco attorney Jon Holtzman, who represents the city, said that shows the Stockton Police Officers’ Association violated fair labor practices, a central issue in the case. (read article)

Indiana Dems risk fines if they persist in boycott over labor union bill
By Mary Beth Schneider and Chris Sikich, January 5, 2012, Indianapolis Star
The first day of the 2012 legislative session was a virtual repeat of 2011, as partisan disputes over legislation targeting labor unions again resulted in gridlock. The Indiana House, shut down for five weeks last year, never was able to start business Wednesday. House Democrats, who last year fled to Illinois, stayed behind closed doors in a private meeting while Republicans sat idly in the House chamber. Democrats, outnumbered 60-40 in the House, are trying to stop passage of right-to-work legislation. That proposal would ban unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires nonmembers to pay fees. Passing the proposal is the top priority of Gov. Mitch Daniels and Republican legislative leaders, who argue it will spur jobs in Indiana and protect workers who don’t want to join unions. Defeating it is the top priority of Democrats and labor unions, which say it will lead to lower wages while allowing some to get union representation without paying for it. (read article)

Wisconsin Gov. Walker: Unions ‘want me dead’
By Ben Wolfgang, January 5, 2012, The Washington Times
The first day of the 2012 legislative session was a virtual repeat of 2011, as partisan disputes over legislation targeting labor unions again resulted in gridlock. The Indiana House, shut down for five weeks last year, never was able to start business Wednesday. House Democrats, who last year fled to Illinois, stayed behind closed doors in a private meeting while Republicans sat idly in the House chamber. Democrats, outnumbered 60-40 in the House, are trying to stop passage of right-to-work legislation. That proposal would ban unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires nonmembers to pay fees. Passing the proposal is the top priority of Gov. Mitch Daniels and Republican legislative leaders, who argue it will spur jobs in Indiana and protect workers who don’t want to join unions. Defeating it is the top priority of Democrats and labor unions, which say it will lead to lower wages while allowing some to get union representation without paying for it. (read article)

About the author: Jack Dean is editor of PensionTsunami.org, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

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