Month: March 2018

Who loses with Right To Work?

So, you think Right to Work is just a union issue? You’ll be worse than sorry if you do.

Mis-named as “Right to Work”, these laws are indeed anti-union. But they do not create a positive right to anything. Instead, they allow those who choose to not pay for the services provided by the union while allowing those people to receive the benefits of a union representation–safety, health care, decent wages, job security, and a pension to name but a few.  If this is such a great idea, let’s expand it–I don’t want my tax dollars paying for golfing trips to Mar-a-Lago.  Or, I like what my local Chamber of Commerce does for businesses in Lee’s Summit.  But I don’t want to pay its dues–I just want to reap the rewards of that organization’s efforts.

Here’s what an in depth investigation by reporters with the New York Times has revealed.  Jobs are lost, incomes drop, and political representation is diminished for men, women, minorities–the entirety of the Middle Class, irrespective of membership in a union!

Between 1980 through 2016, the Times compared “pairs of counties, one in a state that passed a right-to-work law and the other just across the border in a state that didn’t. Even if right-to-work and non-right-to-work states are quite different, bordering counties in many states tend to have similar economic, demographic and political trends.”(1)

That last comment is noteworthy particularly for Missourians, as our state borders eight others. According to a ranking of the states’ economic stability and potential as reported by US News & World Report (2), Missouri is 33rd. Five of our neighboring states are worse, and three are better. Why do wealthy out-of-state interests want us to be worse?

“With a weaker labor movement, it’s not just Democratic electoral prospects that suffer. The working class loses, too. We find that the number of state legislators who had previously worked in blue-collar jobs drops sharply after right-to-work goes into effect. These politicians tend to strongly support economic policies preferred by working-class Americans, like a higher minimum wage and a stronger safety net. Right-to-work laws thus undercut political representation for working-class people, a group that is disproportionately nonwhite, and reduce the legislative voice for progressive economic policies.” (3)

So why then do large out-state donors heap millions of dollars into “Right to Work”? When enacted, those policies drive down, not upward, Missouri’s economic stability and potential. Families lose. Missourians lose. Who prospers? The New York Times reporters lay it out clearly, and it isn’t us.

Proposition A = Right To Work
Right To Work is bad for Missouri
Vote NO on Proposition A.

John B. Boyd

(1), (3)  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/opinion/conor-lamb-unions-pennsylvania.html

(2) https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/economy

 

If We Beat “Right-To-Work” in November, Are We Safe?

Not on your life. The attack on your ability to collectively bargain is just one of a series of substantial efforts to take away your ability to provide for your family.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE OTHER EFFORTS?

No one wants to go to court, but when they must, they expect a balanced table not tilted toward anyone. The imbalance is sought by changing the way our appellate judges are chosen, and the current rumor is that multi-millionaires Rex Sinquefield, the Humphrey’s and Herzog families have each pledged at least $2 million apiece to try to buy the Missouri judiciary and make them beholden to these super-donors. Do those names sound familiar?

These donors are the same people who brought you RTW, cutbacks to worker’s compensation coverage, and limitations to sue employers for harassment and discrimination. They sought and got legislation signed by Governor Greitens to make it easier for employers to take advantage of their employees and leave the employees with nothing.

HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

Two initiative petitions have been filed with the Missouri Secretary of State to change the way we select judges in this state. If enough signatures are gathered and certified, the issue appears on a future ballot where registered voters will be heard.

The Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan was adopted in 1940 by a vote of the people of this state who were fed up with the political machines controlling the selection of judges. Since that time it has been adopted by over 30 other states. The purpose is to keep any one group from having too much influence over the selection of our judges.

Under our current plan whenever there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals anyone qualified can apply to fill the position. A Commission interviews all of the candidates. That Commission then nominates three applicants that are believed to be the most qualified. The Governor then appoints one to fill the position. Thereafter the judge selected has his or her name on the ballot for the voters to determine if they should be retained in office.

These petitions would eliminate the current Nonpartisan Court Plan and replace it with direct elections of the members of the Missouri Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals. They would also impose term limits on our judges.

IS THIS COMMISSION A GOOD THING?

The makeup of the seven member Commission is designed to keep any one person or group from having too much power or control over the process. The members include the Chief Justice; three citizens, one from each court of appeals district that are appointed by the Governor, and three lawyers, one from each court of appeals district that are elected by the lawyers that practice in that area. The Chief Justice changes every two years. The other members are selected to staggered six year terms. This means that it is not until a Governor’s second term in office that he or she will have appointed all three of the citizen members. This system was created to focus on competence and qualifications of applicants and to dampen the effect of partisan politics.

We citizens vote on whether to retain the judge. He or she runs on their record, and various organizations such as the Missouri Bar Association publishes surveys from attorneys about the ability of these judges. Thus, voters can remove them, and so can the judges be disciplined and removed by a non-partisan commission.

SO WHY NOT HAVE CONTESTED ELECTIONS?

It’s all about money. You and the organizations which look out for your interests are under attack by the wealthiest of the wealthy. You and those pro-working family supporters have limited resources. Those multi-millionaires and billionaires have a seemingly endless supply of dollars to attack basic freedoms and protections. You cannot compete and expect to have an equal chance at justice for you or your family.

In states which have appellate contested elections, the sums spent are incredible. Some
examples:

  • Ohio, the spending in the last election in campaigns for the Supreme Court was
    nearly $9 million.
  • Michigan it was almost $10 million.
  • Illinois, the candidates spent almost $10 million, but special interest groups and political parties added another $5.5 million mostly in attack ads. In that one race for the Illinois Supreme Court the winning candidate said afterward, “How can people have faith in the system?”.
  • Twelve years ago, in Wisconsin the candidates spent about $6 million. One business group individually spent over $2 million for one candidate and one labor group spent over $350,000 for the opponent.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $8 million in state Supreme Court judicial races in 2000, in 2002 they increased that spending to $40 million and in 2004 it was over $50 million in judicial races in the states.
  • West Virginia; a coal mining company lost a jury verdict for $50 million in a lawsuit regarding a business dispute by a competitor. The CEO of the company gave over $3 million to one candidate for the Supreme Court. That judge cast the deciding vote overturning the jury verdict.

These are the amounts of money that are publicly disclosed. Over the past few election cycles we have seen huge amount of “dark money” funneled through nonprofit corporations to hide the true source of the donations. Of the over $70 million spent on state Supreme Court races in 2015-2016, over $27 million was untraceable dark money.

Surveys in state’s with elected judges show:

  1. 78% of the public believes that judges are improperly influenced by having to raise money for election.
  2. In Texas, where they have contested elections for judges, 79% of the lawyers who appear in front of the judges think that campaign contributions have a significant impact on judicial decisions and 48% of the judges who are receiving the contributions think they have a significant effect on their decisions.
  3. “Americans from all walks of life want a fair and impartial judicial system free from the corrupting influences of special interests” said war hero and Arizona Senator John McCain.

LET’S KEEP POLITICS OUT OF FINDING AND RETAINING GOOD JUDGES.

That means for starters, keep the millionaires and billionaires out of hand-picking judges based upon the size of their purse. The Missouri Plan serves to insulate our judges from the corrupting influences of all special interests. Judges are not supposed to represent interest groups they are supposed to answer to the rule of law. It is through that way you and your family can have faith in the judicial system that it will be fair and impartial.

The three families who are believed to be bankrolling the campaign to repeal the nonpartisan plan have donated over $50 million to candidates in the 2016 election cycle. This is just the amount that is publicly reported and does not include any dark money given through non-profit Super-Pacs. They don’t want to change to way we select judges because they are concerned about the fairness of the court system. They want judges that are beholden to them to keep their jobs.

Our system allows our judges to be thinking about who should win under the facts and the law, and not about the impact a decision will have on their next election?

John B. Boyd
BOYD, KENTER, THOMAS & PARRISH, LLC
221 West Lexington, Suite 200
Independence, MO 64050
jbboyd@bktplaw.com

Why is Right To Work So Important?

In short, multi-millionaires, including out of state billionaires, want to take away your ability to benefit from job safety, job security and a fair wage. Unions have historically been responsible for improvements in those areas, but all taxpayers benefit from the raising of the standard of living and safety whether union members or not. So, Proposition A is not a union issue, it is a family issue. You know how badly Kansas has it because of the interference from those billionaires influencing former Governor Brownback and his supporters. Education has suffered financially, and people are moving away in droves. We don’t want to go backwards, and a NO vote on Proposition A stops that downward spiral.

Your pay will drop if these super-rich have their way.  Recent data concludes there is a $8740.00 per year average loss when a state is RTW.[1]

RTW does not stimulate jobs, it simply allows for the gap in pay between you and Corporate Big Wigs to widen. Vote NO on Proposition A.

Want to know more about this?  Follow these links to “WE ARE MISSOURI” on Social Media

1]Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. Table H-8. Median Household Income by State: 1984 to 2016, www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/tables/time-series/historical-income-households/h08.xls

West Virginia and the Lesson from the teachers

Much has been aired in the national media about the West Virginia Teachers’ strike.  Predictable reactions include union bashing.  But that didn’t work.  Instead, what started as a protest in the coal counties only soon spread across the state.  West Virginia was nearly last amongst the states in terms of what they paid teachers and state employees.  The result of collective action was a pay increase for all state employees and teachers, without raising taxes.

A lesson learned is coming to us courtesy of teachers.  “For a successful mass movement, people don’t have to agree on partisan politics, on religion, or anything else for that matter. But they do have come together and fight in solidarity around a shared issue. We’ve learned that people will push the other differences aside in the name of solidarity.

If you have enough working people who are pushed to the breaking point, and who are angry about a specific grievance, then it’s the duty of activists to let them know that they deserve better — and that their lives can get better if they take action on that issue. If you lead the way, people will respond.”[1]

With numbers comes a strength which surpasses the sum of individual effort.  The West Virginia governor said this wasn’t a ‘win’ for any particular group – but for what is right.  “At the end of the day, I think right won out … Not that the unions won or the Legislature won or I won. It’s the idea and the premise that we ought to invest in education and let education be an economic driver for us.”[2]

The billionaire republican governor, ironically named Justice, is right.

John B. Boyd

[1] https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginia-teachers-strike-agreement-budget

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/06/us/west-virginia-teachers-strike/index.html

 

 

President Trump is ridiculed by the Associated General Contractors of America, a group which in 2016 contributed over $761,000 to federal political candidates, 93% of which went to republicans.  At a July 2017 convention of its membership, a presentation by its chief lobbyist, in an internal presentation[1], mocked the president while it praised him for cutting back on rules meant to protect workers.  Here are two slides which summarizes how Trump and his administration are perceived.

agc slide one
AGC Slide 2

In a summary of how well his administration has handled attempts to change the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the collective efforts are described as a dumpster fire.

What it praised are rollbacks on worker protection as this slide demonstrates:

AGC Slide 3

As reported by ProPublica on March 1, 2018:[2]

“The “blacklisting” rule refers to President Obama’s “Fair Pay, Safe Workplaces” executive order that required companies bidding on federal contracts to disclose labor law violations. That rule has been repealed by the Trump administration.

The so-called Volks rule increased the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce requirements that employers keep records of injuries and illnesses. That rule has also been eliminated.

The silica regulation lowers the permissible exposure limit of silica dust that construction workers can be exposed to on the job. According to OSHA, inhaling silica can cause cancer and other fatal diseases. That regulation’s implementation was delayed but has since gone into effect.

The “GHG” rule is a Department of Transportation greenhouse gas regulation aimed at getting data on emissions from vehicles traveling on federally funded highways. The Trump administration initially delayed the rule’s implementation and has since started the process of repealing it entirely.”

AGC got it correct in the first slide when it described the Trump Administration.  But watch as it sits back and prospers on the backs of everyday citizens who are without safety and environmental protections which have been repealed.  Just another example of the hypocrisy that exists in electing a candidate who is interested in increasing profits along with his supporters.

John B. Boyd

[1] From its website: “The Associated General Contractors (AGC) represents close to 30,000 construction firms, including many of the country’s leading general contractors. As one of the most extensive trade associations in the construction industry, the AGC frequently lobbies the federal government. Its areas of interest include federal construction contracts, safety standards, resource practice, and information technology.”

[2] https://www.propublica.org/article/associated-general-contractors-of-america-trump-dumpster-fire