Trump Moves to Protect Home Care Workers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be permissible. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or stay in a union could still do so. They would just need to make arrangements to pay their dues, which could easily be done by authorizing the union to draft money from their bank account.

For years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has skimmed money off of Medicaid checks sent to in-home personal care workers. Many of these people care for relatives or friends and did not want to join a union. In Minnesota, 27,000 caregivers were unionized after an election in which fewer than 6,000 voted and SEIU received less than 3,600 votes. Unsurprisingly, some had no idea when the unionization election was being held and were surprised when they noticed that money had been deducted from their Medicaid checks without their authorization. Of course, SEIU does little for these home health care providers: it does not negotiate their hours, breaks, or tasks, file grievances, etc.

To grow its membership, SEIU has been accused of very aggressive tactics from hassling caregivers and their patients to forging signatures on unionization cards. Home care workers who expressed no interest in supporting the union had organizers call repeatedly and show up at their homes to try to sell them on the union. Unfortunately, once SEIU succeeds in unionizing caregivers, it is very difficult to get rid of the union as some workers discovered. The difficulty of firing the union under the current system is one of the reasons why this proposed rule is so needed.

SEIU’s aggressive tactics and lobbying have paid off — for the union. According to one estimate, SEIU collects $200 million a year from 500,000 caregivers as a result of this scheme. To help put these figures in perspective, SEIU’s national headquarters reports that the union has over 1.9 million members and that the headquarters had revenues last year of nearly $315 million.

SEIU also has a history of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep collecting money from home care workers. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in the Harris v. Quinn case that home health care providers could not be forced to pay  agency fees to a union. SEIU has fought back aggressively by getting friendly state politicians to pass favorable laws. For example, some caregivers have been required to attend meetings with union representatives. In addition, when the Freedom Foundation launched a campaign to inform home care providers about their right to leave their union, SEIU lobbied for a change in the law to make it more difficult for the foundation to get the caregivers’ contact information. If SEIU were truly helping home care workers, then why has the union been so frantic to try to keep its members in the dark about their rights?

With so much money at stake, SEIU will no doubt do everything within its power to prevent this proposed rule from taking effect. If the rule does move forward, SEIU will work to generate thousands of comments opposing it. SEIU can also be expected to file a lawsuit to halt the rule and to work to elect more bought-and-paid-for politicians to rescind the rule should it take effect.

The Trump Administration’s proposed rule protecting Medicaid payments from unnecessary, and often unwanted, dues deductions is an important first step in the right direction. After all, taxpayers provide funds to pay caregivers to assist the elderly and disabled, not to fill the coffers of power-hungry unions. The sooner the rule is finalized and takes effect, the sooner these abuses of workers and taxpayers will end.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support […]






UFCW Donates Money to Harvard

According to the LM-2 form that the UFCW national headquarters filed with the US Department of Labor, the union gave $10,000 to Harvard University last year. Thanks to the dues money it collects from cashiers, baggers, clerks, bakers, and others from all across the country, the UFCW is rich.

Just how rich is the UFCW? It had revenues last year of over $288 million, had assets of over $292 million at the end of the year, and apparently could afford to pay its president a salary of more than $298,000. Furthermore, the UFCW has made political contributions of over $3.3 million this cycle and has spent over $600,000 on lobbying.

On the other hand, Harvard is filthy rich. Last year, the Ivy League school reported that it had an operating surplus of $114 million and assets of over $44 billion. Harvard also reported that it paid its president a salary of over $1.4 million in 2016.

So the question is, why would the UFCW think that Harvard needs thousands of dollars of its members’ money? Given the university’s immense wealth, surely a more worthwhile charity could be found — or the union could just stop wasting money and lower the cost of dues.

According to the LM-2 form that the UFCW national headquarters filed with the US Department of Labor, the union gave $10,000 to Harvard University last year. Thanks to the dues money it collects from cashiers, baggers, clerks, bakers, and others from all across the country, the UFCW is rich. Just how rich is the UFCW? It […]






On Janus, Some Cheer, Others Jeer at Supreme Court Decision

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court justices rules that public-sector workers could not be required to pay union “agency fees” as a condition of employment.

“The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment,” the Court’s majority ruled. “Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

Expectedly, labor unions and their allies on the Left are upset, calling the decision an “attack on working people.”

Mark Janus, the plaintiff in the case stated:

“I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court has restored not only my First Amendment rights, but the rights of millions of other government workers across the country. Across the country, so many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes.’ Finally our rights have been restored.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus is a victory for the free speech of public employees everywhere, who will no longer be compelled to pay union dues should they choose not to,” stated Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government. “Although this decision affected state and local public employees, the Trump administration should immediately remind federal employees of their liberty to opt out of union membership, providing them with the paperwork so that they can exercise their constitutional rights.”

For the full story, click here.

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court justices rules that public-sector workers could not be required to pay union “agency fees” as a condition of employment. “The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment,” the […]






How to Empower the Labor Department Office That Fights Union Corruption

For too long, many union members have been kept in the dark about their union’s finances. Some unions are run in a transparent, democratic manner, but many others are run autocratically with minimal transparency and accountability.

This lack of transparency too often allows unscrupulous union officials to embezzle or misuse union funds; and each year, the federal government prosecutes scores of these officials for their crimes.

Afraid of what it might find if it looked too closely at union ledgers, the Obama administration willfully neglected the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, which fights union corruption and helps to ensure that union elections are free and fair. Congress should address the agency’s lack of resources as soon as possible, and the Trump administration should make a series of changes at the agency to promote union transparency.

With a budget of less than $38 million—and $10 million less than it was a decade ago—and a staff of less than 200 full-time employees or equivalents, the Office of Labor-Management Standards simply does not have sufficient resources to match its huge task of protecting the billions of dollars in assets collectively owned by millions of union members.

Once inflation is factored in, the situation is obviously worse. Just to bring the agency’s budget back to parity with the fiscal year 2007 budget level, funding would have to be increased to more than $59 million, which is significantly more than the $46.6 million the administration requested for fiscal year 2019.

It might sound odd for the Americans for Limited Government Foundation to advocate more funding for a government agency, but there are several good reasons to do so.

First, law enforcement is a core function of government. Second, the Obama administration’s neglect of the office had a dramatic effect—the number of union audits, investigations, indictments, and convictions all declined.

Third, the increased funding easily could be offset by reducing funding for the bloated Wage and Hour Division and trimming funding for Labor Department giveaway programs; and staffers who were transferred to the Wage and Hour Division could be returned to the agency, which would save on training costs.

Read more here.

For too long, many union members have been kept in the dark about their union’s finances. Some unions are run in a transparent, democratic manner, but many others are run autocratically with minimal transparency and accountability. This lack of transparency too often allows unscrupulous union officials to embezzle or misuse union funds; and each year, […]






Defending Bad Behavior

Project Veritas has caught a teachers union official claiming the union helped a teacher avoid punishment for having sex with a student. Furthermore, the official was more than willing to help a fictitious teacher who had supposedly hit a child.

Project Veritas has released undercover footage of Union City Education Association President, Kathleen Valencia, explaining that the union has helped a teacher who allegedly had sex with a teenage girl keep their job, and would do the same for a teacher who physically abused student…

When the Project Veritas undercover journalist asks if unions normally help teachers who abuse students, [Union City Education Association President Kathleen] Valencia says, “it happens, yes it does!”

Valencia then details the steps the union will take to make sure the [fictitious] teacher who abused a student in school keeps his job:

“I’m going to get your brother a lawyer. Your brother’s not going to admit anything happened. The only witness is the scumbag kid… he’s got a record.

When pressed about what the teacher should do to protect his job, Valencia says “keep [the teacher’s] mouth shut,” and adds plottingly, “nothing happened.”

If a teachers union is willing to defend scandalous behavior, what is the UFCW willing to defend?

Project Veritas has caught a teachers union official claiming the union helped a teacher avoid punishment for having sex with a student. Furthermore, the official was more than willing to help a fictitious teacher who had supposedly hit a child. Project Veritas has released undercover footage of Union City Education Association President, Kathleen Valencia, explaining […]






UFCW Bosses Should Resign

From newsrooms to boardrooms, from college campuses to church campuses, and from Hollywood studios to the halls of Congress, powerful men are being called to account for alleged sexual misconduct. But somehow, Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers International vice president, has managed to keep his job in spite of the scandal swirling around him. Both Kasparian (who is also the president of UFCW Local 135) and Marc Perrone, the UFCW International president, have handled the scandal very poorly; and both of them – leaders of a union in which women make up a majority – should resign.

Kasparian’s scandal began in December of 2016 when Sandy Naranjo, a former UFCW employee, accused him of gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. In her lawsuit, Naranjo alleged that “Kasparian created a work environment that was particularly hostile toward women”; she had previously viewed her job as a “dream job.”

Just days after the first lawsuit was filed, a second former UFCW employee, Isabel Vasquez, broke her silence and accused Kasparian of something much worse – demanding she have a sexual relationship with him. Fearing for her job, she had complied with his humiliating demands, eventually retiring early. Kasparian kept an inappropriate picture of Vasquez behind his desk, and only removed it around the time she filed her lawsuit.

In April of 2017, a third former UFCW employee, Anabel Arauz, filed a lawsuit against Kasparian alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In her lawsuit, Arauz referred to the union and Kasparian’s “demonstrated animus, bias, and discriminatory intent/conduct against women.” Last December, Melody Godinez, who is an SEIU member and a union executive board member, filed a lawsuit against Kasparian alleging that he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. At her deposition, Godinez expressed a fear of Kasparian, whom she once viewed “as a friend and mentor.”

It appears that the allegations against Kasparian have been costly. It was recently reported that the legal expenses for Kasparian’s union local were more than four times higher than usual this past year. In recent years, his union has spent an average of $203,000 on legal representation; last year, it spent over $829,000. At the same time, the amount of money the union spent representing its members was lower last year than it has been in more than a decade.

Earlier this month, Perrone, the UFCW International president, responded to a UFCW member who wrote an open letter to him begging him to take action against Kasparian. In his reply, Perrone made it clear that he has no intention of lifting a finger to oust Kasparian. Instead, Perrone made excuses, writing, “You have made suggestions that the International can freely remove a local union president based on accusations made by others… Please understand, the UFCW International Union does not have this authority.”

Perrone is trying to mislead with his statement. He would like for us to believe that there is nothing that the International Union can do, but that is not the case at all. In fact, according to the UFCW International Constitution, the UFCW Executive Committee has the authority to both suspend and remove any officer “whenever the activities of any… officer of a chartered body involve, in the judgment of the International Executive Committee, an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body…”

After more than a year’s worth of embarrassing headlines and protests, it seems that Kasparian’s scandals are sufficiently serious to enable the Executive Committee to punish him. Just who is on this Executive Committee which has the authority to decide whether or not to suspend or remove union officers? Perrone and four other UFCW International officers. So if Perrone wanted to fire Kasparian, he would only need two of the other four members of the Executive Committee to vote with him.

For the good of UFCW members, both Kasparian and Perrone should resign. Kasparian, already a divisive labor figure, has been accused of discrimination and/or sexual harassment by multiple Hispanic women from the labor movement; his union has paid enough to settle lawsuits against him already. For over a year, Perrone has refused to take action against Kasparian, and now Perrone has tried to mislead claiming that his hands are tied. His inaction and dishonesty make him unfit to lead.

From newsrooms to boardrooms, from college campuses to church campuses, and from Hollywood studios to the halls of Congress, powerful men are being called to account for alleged sexual misconduct. But somehow, Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers International vice president, has managed to keep his job in spite of the scandal swirling […]






Is UFCW Leadership Just a Bad Boys Club?

And now Chris Lopez has his answer. Lopez, a UFCW member wrote an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone pleading with him to fire or suspend Mickey Kasparian, a UFCW local president who has been accused of mistreating four Hispanic women. Kasparian is also a vice president in the UFCW International Union. In Perrone’s response to Lopez’s letter,  Perrone explains that he’s going to keep doing what he’s been doing about Kasparian’s scandal: nothing.

What are Perrone’s excuses? Perrone claims that the UFCW International Union doesn’t have the authority to “remove a local union president based on accusations made by others.” Perrone also tries to claim that the union’s hands are tied by federal law, which prohibits the use of union funds to help a particular candidate for union office. If that’s really the reason Perrone’s doing nothing, then what was his excuse last year when there was no election?

Perrone must think his members are stupid; his excuses just aren’t credible. If he truly wanted Kasparian gone, there are steps that he could take to get rid of him. After spending over three years as the UFCW International president, Perrone has to know that the UFCW International Union constitution lays out the process for suspending and removing a problematic officer (at Article 9, section G).

Whenever the activities of any member or officer of a chartered body involve, in the judgment of the International Executive Committee, an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body, the International Executive Committee is authorized to assume original jurisdiction in such matter… Under such circumstances, the International Executive Committee may suspend the person from membership or office, but it shall be required to accord such member or officer a hearing… Following such hearing, the International Executive Committee is authorized to take such disciplinary action as the circumstances warrant, including removal from office…

After over a year of embarrassing headlines, it seems that Kasparian’s scandals could reasonably be considered “an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body.” It should also be noted that the UFCW International Executive Committee only consists of five people, and Perrone is one of them. (The others are Esther Lopez, Paul Meinema, Stuart Appelbaum, and Shaun Barclay.) So if Perrone wanted to suspend or fire Kasparian, he’d only need two of the other four members of the executive committee to vote with him.

But even if the other members of the Executive Committee loved Kasparian and refused to lift a finger to remove him, there are still things that Perrone could do to try to get rid of him. For example, Perrone could publicly pressure his fellow Executive Committee members to take action. He could appoint a committee to investigate the women’s claims against Kasparian and release the committee’s report. He could publicly demand that Kasparian resign. He could search for a strong candidate to oppose Kasparian in the election, and he could campaign against Kasparian.

Perrone’s refusal to take any action raises questions. How is it that SEIU, once its sexual harassment scandal broke, was able to quickly get rid of several people accused of inappropriate behavior and the UFCW can’t do anything? (After all, the accusations against those SEIU officials were less serious than those against Kasparian.) What does Kasparian know that Perrone doesn’t want revealed? What has Kasparian done, what is he doing, or what has he promised to do to make Perrone so resistant to calling for Kasparian to resign? Could it be that the UFCW leadership is just a bad boys club?After well over a year of waiting, UFCW members deserve answers.

 

 

And now Chris Lopez has his answer. Lopez, a UFCW member wrote an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone pleading with him to fire or suspend Mickey Kasparian, a UFCW local president who has been accused of mistreating four Hispanic women. Kasparian is also a vice president in the UFCW International Union. In Perrone’s response to […]