Teen Files Federal Charges Against UFCW

Christopher Ratana-Kelley, a 16-year-old grocery store courtesy clerk from California, has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the UFCW. When he started his part-time job at the store, the union demanded that he pay union fees. He requested a breakdown of these fees, but the union allegedly refused to provide one as it is required to do.

[Due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Beck case,] employees can only be forced to pay union dues for certain union activity. Employees also have the right to have an independent third party audit the union expenditures and certify that the percentage of dues that nonmembers are forced to pay does not include political spending and other non-collective bargaining expenses.

Why wouldn’t the UFCW respect this teenager’s rights and offer a justification for the fees it charges workers? Does it have something to hide? Perhaps the huge union figured that Christopher is just a kid, who doesn’t know his rights or wouldn’t know how to pursue a case against the union. Unfortunately for the UFCW, Christopher sought the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, and now the union gets to explain to the NLRB its apparent disregard for the rule of law.

 

Christopher Ratana-Kelley, a 16-year-old grocery store courtesy clerk from California, has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the UFCW. When he started his part-time job at the store, the union demanded that he pay union fees. He requested a breakdown of these fees, but the union allegedly refused to provide […]






Embattled UFCW Boss Faces Setbacks

Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local president in Southern California, has been embroiled in scandal for the past year and a half as a result of four Latina women accusing him of mistreating them. For those not familiar with the story, Sandy Naranjo alleged in late 2016 that Kasparian had engaged in gender discrimination and retaliation against her and had wrongfully terminated her. Shortly thereafter, Isabel Vasquez accused him of demanding she have a sexual relationship with him. A few months later, Anabel Arauz sued Kasparian for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Finally, Melody Godinez filed a lawsuit last December claiming he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Who are these women? Three of the four worked for Kasparian’s union; the fourth is a local union activist.

When we last checked in on Kasparian, he had just settled the lawsuits that these women had filed against him. The bad news is that the UFCW International Union still hasn’t made any effort to get rid of Kasparian. In fact, he was reelected at the UFCW International convention to another term as vice president. But there is a considerable amount of good news to report as well.

First of all, Kasparian’s political power appears to be waning. Several of the candidates his labor council endorsed lost their primary elections, and a ballot measure Kasparian supported failed. Amidst opposition to his role on the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee, Kasparian resigned in late 2017. His resignation from the party committee was followed by several local politicians calling for him to step down from his position as union president. This spring, SEIU left Kasparian’s breakaway labor council, the San Diego Working Families Council. (Kasparian formed that council just last year after the AFL-CIO took over the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and removed him from its leadership.)

Second, Kasparian’s opposition shows no sign of going away. Kasparian’s opponents are still protesting him, and they are constantly attacking him on social media. They are also collecting signatures for a petition calling for an election. Among other problems cited in the petition is the use of union funds to pay for Kasparian’s legal fees and settlement costs.

Thirdly, Kasparian’s union is due for elections by the end of this year. So he will either have to stand for reelection, step down, or figure out a clever way of avoiding an election. Until very recently, Kasparian had been working on merging his local with another UFCW local, which would have allowed him to remain in office for another three years without an election. Unfortunately for him, the attempt failed. The president of the other local resigned suddenly, and the vote on the proposed merger was called off.

Fourthly, Kasparian’s union is in turmoil. The vice president of the union opposed the merger; Kasparian responded by firing him. The same day the vice president was fired, the comptroller, who had worked for the union for more than 15 years, resigned. Furthermore, a union member, who also opposed the merger, just filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against a union representative. The union representative is accused of threatening the member and trying to get the member in trouble with their company — all for opposing the merger.

As Kasparian’s fortunes fade, his scheming and spitefulness continue. For example, Kasparian planned to rig the vote on the merger by holding it on one night — during rush hour traffic — at the union office, which has very limited parking for a union with over 12,000 members. In addition, after the vice president of the union’s retiree club questioned the way the merger was being handled, Kasparian reportedly canceled the monthly luncheon for retirees.

The clock is ticking down on Kasparian’s term. With any luck, he will be gone by the end of the year bringing a close to a very disgraceful chapter in UFCW history.

 

Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local president in Southern California, has been embroiled in scandal for the past year and a half as a result of four Latina women accusing him of mistreating them. For those not familiar with the story, Sandy Naranjo alleged in late 2016 that Kasparian had engaged […]






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 […]