Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Workers of the World, Your Rights!

By Larry Sand (follow on Twitter)
UnionWatch

LOS ANGELES – Unknown to many employees throughout the country – especially in non-right-to-work states – they have a right to not belong to a union.

This year, June 23rd – 29th is being dedicated to informing America’s wage earners of their union membership options. This project, National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), is spearheaded by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and the Association of American Educators (AAE).

The idea for this undertaking came about in the summer of 2012 when NPRI, a non-partisan think tank based in Las Vegas, launched a small-scale campaign to let local teachers know that they could opt out of their union, the Clark County Education Association, by submitting written notice from July 1st to July 15th.

The reaction was stunning. Teachers thanked NPRI for sharing that information. Hundreds of teachers wanted to leave CCEA, each for their own unique reasons, but didn’t know it was possible or forgot because of the narrow and inconvenient drop window. Empowered by the information NPRI shared, over 400 teachers opted out by submitting written notice and over 400 more left CCEA and weren’t replaced by a union member.

The U.S. is comprised of 24 “right-to-work” states which grant workers a choice whether or not to belong to a union. In the other 26 and Washington, D.C., they don’t have to belong but must still pay the portion of union dues that goes toward collective bargaining and other non-political union-related activities. The dissenters who select this “agency fee” option typically do so because they don’t like that about one-third of their dues goes for political spending. Even though over 40 percent of union households vote Republican, over 90 percent of union largess goes to Democrats and liberal causes. (There is an exemption for religious objectors; if an employee is successful in attaining that status, they don’t have to pay any money to the union, but must donate a full dues share to an approved charity.)

As president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, I am well aware of teachers’ frustrations. We have been providing information to educators about their rights since 2006, and thousands have exercised their right to resign from their teachers union in the Golden State. It is important to note that different unions in different states have specific opt-out periods during which a worker can exercise their right to leave. In many states, one not only has to resign, but also must ask for a rebate of the political portion of their dues every year during a specified – and frequently very narrow – window of time.

To be clear, NEFW is not about denying anyone the right to belong to a union, but rather about letting employees know their options and providing them with facts that they can use to make an informed decision. Unions are threatened when workers choose to opt out, and typically accuse dissidents of being “free riders” or freeloaders. But, if employees don’t want the services that the union has to offer, they have no choice but to accept them because the union demands exclusivity. As I wrote recently, quoting Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk,

Unions object that right-to-work is actually “right-to-freeload.” The AFL-CIO argues “unions are forced by law to protect all workers, even those who don’t contribute financially toward the expenses incurred by providing those protections.” They contend they should not have to represent workers who do not pay their “fair share.”

It is a compelling argument, but untrue. The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate unions exclusively represent all employees, but permits them to electively do so. (Emphasis added.) Under the Act, unions can also negotiate “members-only” contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on this point. As Justice William Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Lion Dry Goods, the Act’s coverage “is not limited to labor organizations which are entitled to recognition as exclusive bargaining agents of employees … ‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”

As Sherk says, while unions don’t have to represent all employees, they do so voluntarily to eliminate any competition. So instead of “free rider,” a better term would be “forced rider.” Teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci explains,

The very first thing any new union wants is exclusivity. No other unions are allowed to negotiate on behalf of people in the bargaining unit. Unit members cannot hire their own agent, nor can they represent themselves. Making people pay for services they neither asked for nor want is a “privilege” we reserve for government, not for private organizations. Unions are freeloading on those additional dues.

One final thought: If unions are so beneficial for workers – as they keep telling us – why must they force people to pay for their service?

I never have received a response to that question. Maybe because there is no good answer. Something for all of us to ponder during National Employee Freedom Week.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network– a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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Filed under Association of American Educators, Teacher Unions

Common Core Battles Explained. It’s Really Not About the Standards. Really.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

If you are new to the Common Core Standards battle, below is an article that explains the outcome of the standards.  The basic truth of the standards is that they are unproven, untested, underfunded and proponents cannot point to “internationally benchmarked” standards to which they are purportedly aligned. They are a cash cow for those education reformers providing the infrastructure and implementation: new text, new computers, new training manuals, etc.  What a great cash infusion into the economy…you’ve got to love those private companies taking advantage of that public money/partnership opportunity.

The method of making money (not really providing education reform for the sake of education) is in full swing.  But look down the road.  WHY are we experiencing this monstrous wave of centralized control?  It’s for the data.  The linked article explains about the surveillance of Americans via the National Security Agency (NSA) capturing email information (without Americans realizing it) and the massive storage and infrastructure needed for this activity.  WHY is the government keeping your information?  Michael S. Rozeff writing in LewRockwell.com:

If we examine the legality of this NSA warrantless surveillance, we will quickly become mired down in abstruse issues of statutory and constitutional law.   Let us not go there. That won’t give us the central answer to the question of what’s wrong with a wide network of government surveillance of Americans, with or without warrants.

It’s the same for Common Core Standards.  The grab of educational direction by the Department of Education is unconstitutional, but trying to get them out of your state legislatively promises to take several years.  Look bigger picture. WHY is the government so interested in establishing common core standards?  Like the NSA and the tracking of financial transactions, the tracking of student data will be able to determine your student’s place in a managed workforce.  Your students will be placed in a position based on his/her data set.

So what’s the problem?  If Americans want a nanny state, CCSS is the answer to figuring out what type of job your student will secure in the future.  No hard decisions for your little one to worry about:

The mandated Longitudinal Data System (a nationwide computer system connected to states using Common Core standards) will be connected not only to other states for educational information, but also to various federal agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services for information to supply the workforce:

The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.

The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)

Your student’s data (educational and personal) is to be fed into the LDS to determine his/her strengths and weaknesses. This is surveillance most taxpayers/parents probably don‘t even know is occurring.  Do you remember signing a permission form giving the government the right to share your child’s information with a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion?  Is this what you envision for your child as he/she sets off for school each day?

The education reformers and some nanny state parents ask: Isn’t this a positive service our government is doing to/for our children?  Helping our children decide what to do for a job and where to work?  Whatever is the problem?  The answer:  What occurs if your student decides he/she doesn’t want to do the job designated for him by his/her data?

What’s wrong with the surveillance state? The balance of power between citizens and government in America is already lopsided and becoming increasingly so. The surveillance state opens up new opportunities and new vistas for government control of its citizens.

The biggest danger is that Americans be trained to accept the State’s controls over their lives, or that they have a limited notion of what freedom means. In roughly 15 years of training, a new generation can be taught that the State’s controls are PROPER and that what the State is doing is RIGHT and for the GOOD of the people. When this happens, further restrictions and controls become easier and a high degree of oppression reigns, and it even meets with a high degree of acceptance.

As you read What’s Wrong with the Survelliance State, think how this applies to the intrusion and data mining in education and the real purpose of Common Core standards.  If there is no common data mined and shared via state computers to other agencies, this silent surveillance on your student cannot occur…at least in school.

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Do you know what the NSA is? It’s the National Security Agency. The NSA has collected an estimated 15 to 20 trillion communications involving Americans.

Government spying on Americans and surveillance of Americans are rapidly increasing. The government has forced telecommunications companies to participate. This is being litigated in lawsuits.

Financial institutions must report certain cash transactions to the Department of the Treasury. This is accepted practice. This reporting includes the following and I quote the U.S. Treasury:

“Individuals transporting over $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into/out of the US.
“Shippers/Receivers of over $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into/out of the US
“For each person engaged in a trade or business who receives over $10,000 in cash in one transaction or two or more related transactions.
“For each U.S. person who has a financial interest in, or signature authority, or other authority, over any financial accounts, including bank, securities, or other types of financial accounts in a foreign country, if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.”

Former NSA official, William Binney, says that the government is collecting and storing everyone’s e-mails.

“…the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.”

Asked if this collection were only of those who could be a threat to national security, he said

“It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they’re building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.”

If we examine the legality of this NSA warrantless surveillance, we will quickly become mired down in abstruse issues of statutory and constitutional law.

Let us not go there. That won’t give us the central answer to the question of what’s wrong with a wide network of government surveillance of Americans, with or without warrants.

Binney gives us the beginning of the answer:

“Unfortunately, the state of our surveillance state is: all set, to be turned on for the imperial presidency to do whatever it wants to do.”

What’s wrong with the surveillance state is (1) that the State has far more power than each individual American has, and (2) the State can and will turn that power against Americans if it can get away with it.

The State is not some beneficent body of men and women devoted to public service who are unselfishly acting on behalf of the welfare of Americans. Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, John Boehner, Harry Reid, John Roberts, David Petraeus, Keith B. Alexander, Robert Mueller, and Michael Hayden are not saints. They are not even close.

We have had recent examples of the abuses of power as exercised by George Bush and his administration. Barack Obama continues those abuses and adds more of his own. The Congress continues its many abuses. The Supreme Court continues its abuses. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that men and women in the U.S. government have immense power to do many evil and foul deeds, and they have done them, and they will continue to do them.

It is built into human nature and into the nature of the institutions of government that such evils can and will occur, and they must be curtailed or else they annihilate civil society.

The State consists of a relatively small group of men and women with great power, and they will abuse this power if they can, that is to say, if the governed do not control their governors.

The State has organized and official power that we as individuals do not have. The State has the power to make laws and say what is legal or not legal, constitutional or not constitutional. It has the power to carry out and enforce its laws. The State’s power also finds acceptance among many Americans.

When there is a contest between some Americans and the State, or when some Americans oppose the government’s powers, their means of recourse are not as strong as the State’s, not as well organized, not as well known, not as well focused, and not as well accepted. It is more difficult for Americans to find ways to control the State than it is for the State to devise ways to control Americans. The citizens who wish to keep the State under control do not as a routine and accepted matter have institutions that they have built up and used over time to check the State’s power.

As government has grown and State power accumulated, the powers of civil society to control the State have atrophied. It is in the interest of the State to diminish those powers, and over time it is doing this. It is in the State’s interest to diminish an armed citizen militia and to replace it with a nationalized, centralized and professionalized armed force. It is in the State’s interest to replace common law and dispersed courts with a nationalized and centralized system of law-making, law-interpretation and law-enforcement.

It is by no means impossible to control the State, but it’s a non-routine and trying task. When the State flexes its muscles and oversteps, legal and electoral mechanisms may be slow and unwieldy and they may fail. The State has staying power.

And so William Binney accurately pinpoints the risk. With a surveillance state in place and with access to information on everyone, the few at the top who run the State and particularly the imperial President, who already is attempting to rule by Executive Order, can do whatever he or she wants to do.

What I envision is creeping totalitarianism, also one can call it democratic totalitarianism. It is a totalitarianism in which a facade of democratic or republican government, call it what you will, is maintained, but the actuality is increasingly detailed and oppressive control over ordinary life. The State will know where you are and what you are doing, and it will have the means of punishing you if you do not obey its rules.

Surveillance is a key component of such totalitarianism. Imagine that the State controls currency and eliminates hand-to-hand cash altogether, replacing it by electronic transactions. These can be monitored and collected. The State can know every item that you buy or sell. The State then can pass a law, according to its whim, that outlaws a certain food or item or service, or it can do the opposite. It can pass a law requiring a certain food or medical procedure. Surveillance gives it the means of enforcing its laws by knowing who is obeying and who is not. The State can turn anyone into a criminal ex post facto by passing a law and then searching past records, communications and transactions to find evidence of their previous wrongdoing. The U.S. Constitution forbids ex post facto laws, but it also forbids fiat money and requires declarations of wars by Congress. Many other constitutional provisions are ignored.

What’s wrong with the surveillance state? The balance of power between citizens and government in America is already lopsided and becoming increasingly so. The surveillance state opens up new opportunities and new vistas for government control of its citizens.
The biggest danger is that Americans be trained to accept the State’s controls over their lives, or that they have a limited notion of what freedom means. In roughly 15 years of training, a new generation can be taught that the State’s controls are PROPER and that what the State is doing is RIGHT and for the GOOD of the people. When this happens, further restrictions and controls become easier and a high degree of oppression reigns, and it even meets with a high degree of acceptance.

Totally free communication is absolutely essential to prevent this from occurring. There must be the capacity to speak freely and to educate all people, young and old, about freedom and the challenges to freedom emanating from the State. If surveillance is used to instill fear of speaking freely or used to control speech or used to prevent people from earning a livelihood or used to tie people up in legal proceedings or used to blackmail people into silence, the threat to freedom at that point is open and severe.

The surveillance State constantly drags its heels and seeks to keep its surveillance secret. There is no possibility of citizens controlling a government when they don’t know what the government is doing. If whistle blowers, soldiers and ex-soldiers, government officials and ex-government officials, and media figures are repressed and prevented from making information public, in other words, as the surveillance state seeks to keep its activities secret, the threat to freedom amplifies.

The battle lines between citizens and the State are always drawn. They never go away. The State is always a threat to freedom. The State is always pushing for greater control unless the citizens push back, develop and use means to control the State. Growing surveillance by the State is an offensive operation of the State in this never-ending war. It is up to the citizens to resist the State’s surveillance, form ongoing institutions to control the State, form a culture of citizen control, and dismantle the State’s capacity for such surveillance. It is that or else surrender more of their disappearing freedom.

December 31, 2012
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.
Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)