Silencing Critics

sf weeklyA union boss wants the State of California to prohibit criticism of unions by marijuana business owners.

[Jim] Araby [executive director of UFCW’s Western States Council] is involved in the push to pass a bill that would, for the first time, regulate California’s cannabis industry at the state level. He wants to make sure that any regulations passed are friendly to labor. “For us,” Araby says at his one-man office in an Art Deco building in downtown Oakland, “two things need to be in every bill.” Those things are ensuring that dispensary owners allow union organizers into their shops and don’t speak ill of labor, and instituting a workplace training program similar to the ones in New York and Minnesota…

Just who would administer a cannabis apprenticeship program, however, isn’t clear. This will be a point of contention for the rest of the summer. The union, predictably, wants it to be the union. The industry, just as predictably, believes it has a good handle on things…

Meanwhile, UFCW is unapologetic about using the Legislature to achieve its ends.

A union boss wants the State of California to prohibit criticism of unions by marijuana business owners. [Jim] Araby [executive director of UFCW’s Western States Council] is involved in the push to pass a bill that would, for the first time, regulate California’s cannabis industry at the state level. He wants to make sure that […]






Self-Serving

sf weeklyThe UFCW lobbies local government to make it easier to unionize marijuana shops — and reward compliant crony capitalists.

[The UFCW organizer] sold dispensary operators on UFCW’s political clout, leverage that could be used to win them local approval to open. The union also worked city halls. When Oakland chose to expand the number of permitted dispensaries allowed in town from four to eight, UFCW ensured that when the “merit-based” permit applications were considered, union membership counted. (Of the four that were granted permits, only Magnolia Wellness was — and still is — organized.) A similar reward for union membership is in place in Berkeley, which will select one of eight applicants for an additional dispensary permit later this year.

The UFCW lobbies local government to make it easier to unionize marijuana shops — and reward compliant crony capitalists. [The UFCW organizer] sold dispensary operators on UFCW’s political clout, leverage that could be used to win them local approval to open. The union also worked city halls. When Oakland chose to expand the number of […]






Greed

the inlanderAs the Washington state legislature considered cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries, many of which were breaking the law and selling recreational pot, UFCW lobbied to keep as many of the dispensaries open as possible. What was the union’s motivation? Public  health? Patients’ convenience? Tax revenues? Nope. Greed. Plain and simple: “The UFCW wants dispensaries to stay open because that would mean more workers it can unionize, says [UFCW organizer Isaac] Curtis.”

As the Washington state legislature considered cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries, many of which were breaking the law and selling recreational pot, UFCW lobbied to keep as many of the dispensaries open as possible. What was the union’s motivation? Public  health? Patients’ convenience? Tax revenues? Nope. Greed. Plain and simple: “The UFCW wants dispensaries […]






UFCW Local 1776 Double Standard on Lobbying Disclosure

UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV spent 8% of his time on lobbying and political activities, but is not listed as a lobbyist.ufcw-local-1776-lobby-money

It seems the president of UFCW Local 1776, Wendell Young IV, has been lobbying but failing to register his lobbying activities:

According to U.S. Department of Labor records examined by Media Trackers, Young reported 8 percent of his time as being spent on “political activities and lobbying”…
When confronted by a Pennsylvania Independent reporter, Young replied, “Clearly I do lobby, but it’s not my primary function as president of the union.”
Young was paid $23,421 (8 percent of his $292,765 salary) for political activity and lobbying in 2013. Registration is required by the commonwealth if payment for lobbying exceeds $2,500 per quarter.

This comes despite Young’s dubious claims that “We shouldn’t be held to a different standard than everyone else.” Unfortunately, it took until now for someone to investigate this fact. Despite the fact that lobbying may not be Young’s “primary function,” he makes no bones about the fact that he does, in fact, lobby.

This is not the first time the UFCW Local 1776 has pushed the boundaries of the law to promote policy positions:

Recently, some absurd ads vilifying the prospect of selling wine in grocery stores have blanketed the state. (They claim, “It only takes a little bit of greed to kill a child.”) Those ads were paid for by the UFCW, which funded a similarly over-the-top $1 million ad campaign last year.

The UFCW crossed that legal line by calling its ads—and even payments to lobbying firms—representational activities. Liquor store clerks who’ve jumped through every hoop to prevent their money from being spent on politics are still being forced to fund union political activity.

The UFCW’s actions here are far from transparent and accountable. This willingness to avoid transparency in the matter of money into politics is also entirely hypocritical, as the UFCW Local 1776 actually took part in a “Rally against big money in politics” (emphasis added):

UFCW Local 1776 Representative Eric Thomas took part in a rally of representatives from a variety of groups and PA State Representative Mark Cohen.  The groups gathered to push back on the power of big money in elections.
Thomas said, “The time has come to change the culture here in Pennsylvania and Washington DC.  Citizens United is an assault to our country’s democracy.  Distorting the idea of freedom, Citizens United only works to serve big business and promote corporatist agenda, not your average citizen.”

With apologies to Eric Thomas, the time has come to change the culture in UFCW Local 1776. Disregarding the law is an assault to our country’s democracy. Distorting the idea of freedom, UFCW Local 1776 ignores both the law and the wishes of their membership to push their own agenda, not the best interests of the state.

UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV spent 8% of his time on lobbying and political activities, but is not listed as a lobbyist. It seems the president of UFCW Local 1776, Wendell Young IV, has been lobbying but failing to register his lobbying activities: According to U.S. Department of Labor records examined by Media […]






White House Attempts to Buy Off UFCW

After United Food and Commercial Workers Union sent a letter criticizing Obamacare, Obama wants to ‘fix’ the bill for the UFCW- for half a trillion dollars.

obamacare-train-wreck-ufcw

We’ve previously gone over the “trouble in paradise” for the Affordable Care Act, where previous Obamacare supporters like the UFCW are now pulling their support now that they can see what was in the bill. A piece by Avik Roy in Forbes explains why the sudden criticism of the bill might be self-serving:

Obamacare affects multi-employer health plans, also known as Taft-Hartley plans. These plans consist of employer-sponsored health insurance that is arranged between a labor union in a particular industry, such as restaurants, and small employers in that sector. Approximately 20 million workers in the United States are covered under such arrangements, including 800,000 of the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union….

Unsurprisingly, the focus of the UFCW’s criticism is really just on the places where it affects their own bottom line. Since employed union members would not qualify for the subsidies, This would pose quite a strange situation for the UFCW, who may find themselves with strange bedfellows in criticizing the policy.

In fact, the union’s position on Obamacare has already created issues for the UFCW’s new partners- the AFL-CIO. The UFCW recently left their old partners, Change to Win, and rejoined the AFL-CIO after eight years of being apart. Now, the AFL-CIO is losing members due to their position on Obamacare. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU, just pulled out 40,000 members, citing Obamacare as their chief complaint:

McEllrath expressed disappointment in Trumka for “going along to get along” and in the failure for the AFL-CIO to secure a government run single-payer healthcare system for its members.That’s right, Obamacare just isn’t liberal enough. McEllrath also ripped Trumka for his support of Obama’s 40 percent Cadillac healthcare plan tax.

That’s why it’s not surprising that the Obama administration is working to stop the bleeding. From the previously cited article:

Now, according to Rachana Dixit of InsideHealthPolicy, the administration is “working on regulations to address the issue” that people covered under Taft-Hartley plans aren’t eligible for subsidies. But it’s not an “issue” in the sense of being a glitch or a mistake; union leaders are seeking special treatment, and additional taxpayer subsidies, that other participants in employer-sponsored coverage don’t get.

Since the UFCW were such large supporters of Obama, it’s not surprising that the administration wants to do everything they can to get the union back on board. The piece goes on to explain that it’s not just the Administration, Members of congress are also on board. Nancy Pelosi is quoted as telling unions she wants to “resolve their concerns” – about as close as she may get to a mea culpa.

But there’s a very concerning element in all of this- what will this actually cost? Ultimately, to “fix” the law to support the unions, that will require subsidies. And these subsidies are going to end up costing the taxpayers even more:

If, suddenly, the 20 million people on Taft-Hartley plans were eligible for subsidies, Obamacare’s costs would skyrocket. If half of those Taft-Hartley enrollees gained $5,000 per year in tax credits along with their tax-free health benefits, we’re talking $50 billion a year in additional insurance subsidies for those individuals. That’s more than half a trillion dollars over ten years, accounting for health inflation.

So for Obamacare to be acceptable to the UFCW, it’ll take over half a trillion dollars- and that’s before more elements of the program kick in. The UFCW had previously been ecstatic about Obamacare:

The UFCW used its vast resources to push health care reform through Congress. Yet a majority of the Americans disapproved of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The UFCW lauded the achievement “among the ranking highest in our national experience.” They may have been right with regard to the impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have on the American experience. For example, it would add trillions of dollars in new government spending.

It seems the UFCW were even more right than we gave them credit for being at the time. Except the experience seems to have impacted the UFCW more negatively than they’d predicted. And now, to “fix” the problem, they’re going to add up to half a trillion more dollars to the Obamacare. Ultimately, it’ll be the taxpayers- union and non-union alike- that will be stuck with the bill.

After United Food and Commercial Workers Union sent a letter criticizing Obamacare, Obama wants to ‘fix’ the bill for the UFCW- for half a trillion dollars. We’ve previously gone over the “trouble in paradise” for the Affordable Care Act, where previous Obamacare supporters like the UFCW are now pulling their support now that they can […]






Working Against America

The UFCW used its vast resources to push health care reform through Congress.1 Yet a majority of the Americans disapproved of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 2

The UFCW lauded the achievement “among the ranking highest in our national experience.”3 They may have been right with regard to the impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have on the American experience. For example, it would add trillions of dollars in new government spending.4

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will also increase Medicare’s long term liabilities by nearly $50 trillion.5 The bill created more than $560 billion in new taxes and cut Medicare by more than $520 billion. 6

The UFCW claims to protect America’s middle-class by fighting for healthcare reform. 7 However, the same healthcare reform bill the union backed created a “destructive” tax on savings and investment income that would hurt middle-class American including rank and file UFCW members. The Tax is predicted to skew incentives to work, save and create jobs. 8


1 UFCW Press Release: http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=490
2CNN/Opinion Research Poll
3UFCW Press Release: http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=490
4James C. Capretta, “The Real Budgetary Impact Of The House And Senate Bills,” Heritage Foundation Web Memo #2756, 1/14/10; “Enacting A Lie,” Investor’s Business Daily, 3/23/10
5“Enacting A Lie,” Investor’s Business Daily, 3/23/10
6U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Op-Ed, “Fix Health Reform, Then Repeal It,” New York Times, 3/26/10
7UFCW Press Release: http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=490
8“ObamaCare’s Worst Tax Hike,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/17/10

The UFCW used its vast resources to push health care reform through Congress.1 Yet a majority of the Americans disapproved of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 2 The UFCW lauded the achievement “among the ranking highest in our national experience.”3 They may have been right with regard to the impact the Patient Protection […]






Money Spent on Politics

 In June 2005, Joe Hanson of the UFCW was one of the dissident labor leaders considering leaving the AFL-CIO. One of their chief complaints was that the AFL-CIO was spending too much money on politics.1

At the time, Hansen wanted to place more focus on organizing workers2. But only weeks later, a new Joe Hansen emerged. After the UFCW joined the SEIU and Teamsters in a new alliance, called the Change to Win federation, Hansen changed his tune and said politics were extremely important.3

Since 2005, UFCW has spent more than $21 million on lobbying and politics. This is equivalent to annual membership dues UFCW headquarters receives from 140,000 workers.4

Although Hansen was critical of others spending too much money on politics before the AFL-CIO split, he continued to spend tens of millions on his political agenda. The real question for Hansen is, when it comes to money in politics, how much is too much?


1 Briand Tumulty, “5 Major Unions Form Dissident Coalition,” Gannett News Service, 6/16/09
2 Briand Tumulty, “5 Major Unions Form Dissident Coalition,” Gannett News Service, 6/16/09
3 “UFCW Bolts AFL-CIO,” Grand Rapids Press, 7/30/05
4 UFCW LM-2 Filings, Office of Labor-Management Standards, 2005-2008

 In June 2005, Joe Hanson of the UFCW was one of the dissident labor leaders considering leaving the AFL-CIO. One of their chief complaints was that the AFL-CIO was spending too much money on politics.1 At the time, Hansen wanted to place more focus on organizing workers2. But only weeks later, a new Joe Hansen […]