Author: John B. Boyd

Right to Work is WRONG.

You don’t have to be a member of a labor union to be offended by the Dark Money cowards who seek to control the state to benefit those who would rest power in a few millionaires to the detriment of our citizens. The laundered money to politicians who do their bidding should be enough to cause republicans and democrats to come together and vote NO on Prop A in August, and to reject a constitutional amendment to impose economic ruin on working families.

http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article210846199.html

Vote NO on Proposition A. Make Your Voice Heard!
Take the next steps in the fight to repeal “right-to-work”! Learn more by visiting www.wearemo.org.

Follow these links to “WE ARE MISSOURI” on social media to stay updated on this issue:
facebook.com/StopRightToWorkforLessInMissouri/
twitter.com/WeAreMissouri

 

Doctors Weigh In on Gun Violence

The following is offered to stimulate frank discussion between well meaning citizens, without the inflammatory issue framing from the political left and right. In the November 14, 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Vol. 318, No. 18, p.1763-1764) the editors issued their editorial, called “Death by Gun Violence–A Public Health Crisis”. They brought to light facts which are seldom seen or discussed, which make the case that the Public Health is at risk and can be addressed by policy makers in ways to significantly reduce the risk.

  • From numbers reported through 2015, the authors provided the following:
  • Annually, more Americans die from firearms than from motor vehicle crashes.
  • Almost 100 Americans die daily from firearm violence.
  • Since 1968, more Americans have died from firearm violence than in battle during all wars our nation has fought since it was founded.
  • Over 60% of gun deaths in 2015 were suicides. Of attempted suicides, guns are 90% effective, whereas drugs or slitting of wrists are ineffective 90% of the time.

It is true that numerous polls have shown that a majority of citizens want action taken which will make a difference. The conflict arises over the money and political pressure from the NRA, and the talking point that the 2nd Amendment right is absolute. Others believe that such is capable of regulation, something which the United States Supreme Court has already determine is lawful.

Of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, there are few such rights that are absolute. Most are regulated. The example most often cited is the limit on free speech prohibit calling out “fire!” in a crowded theater. We have the right to free speech to a point and is reasonably regulated.

The JAMA editors make their case that guns do indeed kill people. They observe that while many of the suggestions in the news these days which are designed to help decrease firearm violence may help, the key is to understand and reduce exposure to the cause. They assert this is like any other health epidemic, but no health epidemic has ever had the intensity of political rhetoric in nearly every corner of our communities.

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

Money, Politics and the US Supreme Court

Before the United States Supreme Court is what scholars are calling the case of a Century as far as unions are concerned. “So what?” you say.

If you and I live in the same neighborhood with twenty other families, chances are we have a homeowners association. Paid dues support common services, like snow removal, common area mowing, trash pick up to name a few. We share the cost of the benefit which is common to each family. But what if I elect to not pay the dues, and tell everyone that I’m fine with them providing the services which I will enjoy–I just want my freedom to choose whether I should pay. My neighbors call me a freeloader. I call it my constitutional right not to pay.

That is the crux of Janus v. AFSCME. Twice in the past five years the highest court in our nation has reconsidered its holding in a 1977 decision (Aboud) that a government can constitutionally force its employees to pay fees to a union which has the obligation to exclusively represent those employees over employment issues with their employer. Because of the untimely death of one justice, the Court split evenly on whether to overrule Abood in a 2016 decision. Now, with Justice Gorsuch on the bench, the Janus case is the third attempt at licensing freeloading.

Under longstanding labor law, any worker who is represented by a union may choose not to join the union or pay membership fees. The union, however, must represent all employees in the bargaining unit equally. Therefore, in twenty-two states, unions and public employers may negotiate as part of a collective bargaining agreement a provision that permits the collection of fair-share fees. These fees are calculated to cover the costs germane to collective bargaining, while allowing workers who benefit from the union’s representation to opt out of paying any fees toward the union’s social or political activities. The Trump Administration and his corporate baron friends want more.

This is about rigging an economy and limiting individual freedoms. The freedom of working people to come together and fight for decent and equitable pay for work, affordable health care, quality schools, vibrant communities and a secure future is undermined by the corporate barons who for decades have amassed millions of dollars to eliminate individuals ability to join and collectively bargain.

If the Supreme Court sides with the corporate interests, it would make it easier to divide working people and limit their power in numbers because unions give workers – particularly women and people of color – a powerful voice in speaking up for themselves, their families and their communities.

For example, “The Bradley Foundation, a Wisconsin-based mega-donor to right-wing causes, has invested heavily in the anti-union campaign. Since the 1990s, the donor has given $30.5m to 24 conservative groups that have supported the legal assaults against public sector unions that have reached the supreme court. The two sponsors of the Janus case, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, have between them received $1.6m in Bradley donations since 2003.”
Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/24/rightwing-billionaires-union-rights?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Gmail

My friend, Anne Feeney, has a song about the War on the Workers.  She is right.  It is indeed.

 

This Week in Missouri Legislation (Or, Look At What They’re Trying to Do to You and Your Family)

This Week in Missouri Legislation (Or, Look At What They’re Trying to Do to You and Your Family)

Besides traditional attacks on collective bargaining, Missouri’s legislature has been busy in ways which can be very bad for you, your family and your friends and neighbors. This summary is of legislation pending which if passed, can cause considerable inequalities and inequities.

Arbitration – The new legislature requires an arbitrator to rule on enforceability of arbitration clauses in employment and health care matters rather than the Courts. Think your daughter can sue for sexual harassment or workplace discrimination when there’s an arbitration clause? Think again.

Fault – If you’re harmed by multiple people or companies, fault lets them off the hook to make you whole for your loss, by eliminating joint liability.

Fault – So, you are harmed, your claim is rejected and you obtain a judgment against those who caused your loss. They appeal. Currently, you receive interest on the judgment, but they want to take that away or greatly reduce the interest rate.

Fault – Fault also eliminates a business’ responsibility to you for your losses caused by criminal acts on their property, no matter how many times they’ve known of past occurrences and have failed to protect customers.

Insurance companies – This legislature gives them preferential treatment by an exemption from garnishment. So if you think you’ve won a dispute, it makes it harder to collect.

Insurance companies – When they wrongfully deny coverage or act in bad faith, they presently can be responsible for the damages a court or jury determines. This would be eliminated. So, if you’re insured and sued, you can be left holding the bag, just as if you were harmed by someone insured, you may not be made whole.

Time Limits – The legislation shortens several statutes of limitation, the time in which you can legally hold others accountable for their actions.

Unsafe Products – The legislation requires lawsuits to be filed within 10 years from the date of sale. So, if you are hurt ten years and one day after the sale by a defective and unsafe product, the manufacturer is off the hook.

Unsafe Products – The legislation eliminates lawsuits for personal injury and death from Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act.

The highlighted legislation is in Missouri, and has not yet been enacted. Constant vigilance is necessary. For questions regarding Missouri legislation changes, please contact any of our attorneys.

Please contact your State Representative and ask them to vote against legislation that hurts working families.

Click here to find contact information for your State Representatives.

Response to Politico’s “Behind the Minimum Wage Fight”

For several years, the Carpenters have been out front in drawing attention to wage theft via 1099 misclassification, i.e., independent contractor versus employee. A recent Politico piece illustrates that the pervasive problem exists of investigation and enforcement by the states of minimum wage violations—one more example of lost local and state taxes.


In a day and age when government is strapped for cash, going after those unscrupulous tax evaders for misclassification and minimum wage violations should be a non-partisan issue.



In Solidarity,
John