What now after Janus? More union decertifications.

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The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday that public sector unions cannot require that workers who choose not to join help pay for collective bargaining. The decision will likely cause thousands of workers to opt out of paying ”agency” or “fair share” fees to public unions.

The National Education Association (NEA), for example, is expecting a nearly 14 percent membership loss and a $50 million budget reduction over the next two years.

Oregon, which has about 145,000 government employees covered by union contracts, is one of 22 states that require workers to pay such fees. That haul is now at risk, too.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote that requiring all workers to finance union activity violated the First Amendment. “We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

Now there’s one more action that’s likely — efforts to enhance worker awareness of the union decertification process and the initiation of more decertification elections.

Decertification is the process where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employees to call for a special election to eliminate their union as their “exclusive representative.”  It takes away the union’s authority to act as the workers’ bargaining representative.Employees can file for a decertification election if they believe support for their union has diminished and they have gathered signatures from at least 30 percent of workers.

Decertification actions often occur when members conclude their union is undemocratic, corrupt, inept or has simply overstayed its welcome. Decertification efforts also become more attractive when union membership was decided years before by a substantially different workforce or in situations where there is high workforce turnover. In both cases, questions arise as to whether union representation decided by others should continue in perpetuity.

“Democratic elections are a hallmark of a free society, and for good reason,” says the Freedom Foundation, a non-profit working to minimize the power of unions. “Holding regular elections for our leaders helps keep them accountable and responsive to the people. It encourages healthy debate about the direction of our society and prevents power from becoming entrenched and abusive. The same principles should apply to labor unions for the same reasons.”

In 2012, employees of St. Charles Hospital in Bend voted 334-212 to end their representation by the Service Employees International Union.

A prime candidate for a decertification vote down the road In Oregon is likely to be Burgerville because of its high employee turnover.

“High-employee turnover rates are the root of many decertification votes,” according to Eric Fink, an associate law professor at N.C.’s Elon University. “Typically, newer workers who did not fight for union representation in the first place are less loyal to the union than older workers.” Fink’s made his comment in connection with a July 2017 vote by FedEx Freight drivers in Charlotte, N.C. to decertify the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 71.

In April 2018, workers at a Burgerville at Southeast 92nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard in Southeast Portland voted 18-4 in favor of forming a union, requiring that Burgerville negotiate with the workers. Workers at a Burgerville on Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard followed with a 17-5 vote in favor of forming a union. The Burgerville chain owned by Holland Inc.

But the success of workers at these two Burgerville sites and any others down the line may be short-lived. That’s because Burgerville and the entire fast food industry have exceedingly high turnover rates, often in the 150 percent range. That means a restaurant with 20 workers has to hire 30 new people every year, many of whom might not support the union. Turnover is particularly high when a significant number of jobs are entry level and filled by young people in school or focused on enhancing their low income through job switching.

Fast Companyrecently reported that the fast-food industry is currently grappling with record employee turnover, much of that because of new technologies. It’s not burger-flipping robots affecting things so much as things like mobile apps, delivery, and self-order kiosks that are easy for customers to use, but have a learning curve for employees.

With the Janus ruling, aggressive pushes for decertification may be the next priority for individuals and organizations seeking to lessen the influence of unions.

 

 

 

 

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Sports Betting: The Mississippi Choctaws may be first; will Oregon tribes be next?

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is expecting to be the first Native American tribe in the U.S. to offer sports betting in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 14, 2017 decision striking down a federal law that prohibited sports gambling.

The Choctaw Tribal Council has started the ball rolling by approving professional and collegiate sports bettingat the Choctaw’s Silver Star Casino and the Golden Moon Casino at the Pearl River Resort near Philadelphia, MS and the Bok Homa Casino in Choctaw, MS.

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The Golden Moon Hotel and Casino, one of the planned sports betting sites in Mississippi.

Nine Native American tribes own and operate Indian casinos in Oregon, a small fraction of the 238 tribes in 28 states that offer some form of gaming, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.You can bet all the tribes are going to go after a piece of the sports betting action.

The only casinos currently allowed in Oregon have to be owned and operated by Native American tribes. It’s not clear how the legalization of sports betting will play out in that circumstance.

One thing that’s for sure is that the tribes aren’t going to be alone in wanting to capture sports betting revenue.

Professional sports leagues have already said they want a cut. Leagues would receive 1 percent of the total wagered on their sporting events under a proposal presented in May by NBA Senior Vice President Dan Spillane. “Without our games and fans, there could be no sports betting,” Spillane testified at a legislative panel studying the prospect of legalized sports gambling in New York.

The NBA and MLB have already drafted model legislation that would enshrine a 1 percent “integrity fee” in law and they have sent forth a phalanx of expensive lobbyists to statehouses to advance their agenda.

The LEAD1 Association, which represents athletic directors at 130 colleges, including directors at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, has said colleges deserve integrity fees as well.

Let the games begin.

Send Oregon’s sports betting revenue to PERS.

You know Oregon’s going to do it?

Jump into legalized sports betting, that is.

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According to the American Gaming Association, Americans already illegally bet $150 billion on sports every year. With the May 14, 2018 Supreme Court decision overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and allowing states to legalize sports betting, Oregon’s going to want to cash in.

A political consultant working with California card clubs, online and out-of-state gambling firms and sports leagues has already proposed for the November 2020 ballot an initiative to legalize sports betting in the state. The consultant submitted a formal request on June 11 to the state attorney general’s office to prepare a title and summary for a possible initiative.

Professional sports leagues are getting ready, too. They’ve have already made it clear they want a cut of the action.

Leagues would receive 1 percent of the total wagered on their sporting events under a proposal presented in May by NBA Senior Vice President Dan Spillane. “Without our games and fans, there could be no sports betting,” Spillane testified at a legislative panel studying the prospect of legalized sports gambling in New York.

The NBA and MLB have already drafted model legislation that would enshrine the 1 percent “integrity fee” in law and they have sent forth a phalanx of expensive lobbyists to statehouses to advance their agenda.  The Professional Golfers’ Associationhas endorsed the integrity fee concept and the LEAD1 Association, which represents athletic directors at 130 colleges, including directors at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, has said colleges deserve integrity fees as well.

“Our athletic directors are concerned not only about the vulnerability of young student-athletes to inducements of point shaving, but by the increased compliance costs to keep their programs clean,” LEAD1 said in a May 15, 2018 press release. “We have seen these cost increases in athletic programs in Nevada (for example, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)) where sports betting is legalized, and these compliance costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is crucially important that states help athletic departments secure the extra resources to ensure that student-athletes stay out of trouble. A point shaving scandal would be catastrophic to an athletic department and university.”

Then, of course, there are the athletes. On April 12, 2018, before the Supreme Court decision, four players’ unions, the MLBPA, NBPA, NFLPA and NHLPA, issued a media release  saying their members should get a cut of sports betting revenue, too. “Betting on sports may become widely legal, but we cannot allow those who have lobbied the hardest for sports gambling to be the only ones controlling how it would be ushered into our businesses,” the release said. “The athletes must also have a seat at the table to ensure that players’ rights and the integrity of our games are protected.”

Just as Oregon’s legislators have welcomed the influx of marijuana tax money, the prospect of sports gambling tax revenue probably has some of them salivating. Current recipients of state lottery revenues, including the seven public universities in the state whose athletic departments receive a cut, are anxiously awaiting sports betting money, too.

But dividing up sports betting revenue the way the state spreads around lottery and marijuana tax revenue would be a mistake. Instead, the one program that needs the money the most, PERS, should get ALL of it.o

Reducing PERS’ estimated $25 billion unfunded liability (UAL) with sports betting revenue has the advantage of not requiring any changes to future benefits of public employees, something their unions have vigorously resisted.

In Nov. 2017, a PERS UAL Task Force appointed by Governor Brown to review and propose options for making payments toward the PERS UAL listed increased lottery revenue from the expansion of different game platforms or new types of games or retailers as a possible source of funds to help rescue PERS.

The Task Force did not specifically address the use of potential revenue from sports betting. It did, however, say that using lottery revenue to reduce the UAL for schools would likely be permissible under the state constitution as “financing public education.”

So just do it.

 

 

 

 

 

Commissioner Fritz spills the beans: Portland’s CEO pay ratio tax isn’t about addressing inequality

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Every once in a while politicians let the truth slip out.

The Portland City Council said it wanted to send a message about income inequality when it voted in Dec. 2016 to impose a surtax on CEO compensation. The misguided surtax, based on an arbitrary statistic, was to be added to the city’s business tax on publicly traded companies whose chief executives earn more than 100 times the median pay of their employees. No limits would apply to privately-held companies.

The city figured the surtax would generate about $2.5 million per year. Then-Commissioner Steve Novick, the sponsor of the measure, said he hoped it “would prod corporate America back to equitable pay scales.”

The surtax and the pending hike of the city’s business license tax are a part of an effort to create a “more equitable” tax structure, Commissioner Amanda Fritz said. “Taxing the rich is something people in Portland have been asking us to do.”

But Fritz’ explanation was a ruse. She didn’t vote for the tax because it would address income inequality. She just wanted the city to collect more money. That’s it. Plain and simple.

I know this because I posted a story last week about the whole CEO pay ratio issue and Portland’s adoption of the pay ratio tax. I argued that the whole pay ratio concept was flawed, misleading and meaningless.

The real motive of the pay ratio advocates, I said, was to give the left a tool to propel its inequality agenda, to promote envy and class warfare, and to argue that the once-great America as a land of opportunity is vanishing and that more aggressive government intervention guided by left wing principles is necessary.

Fritz responded to me directly, writing that the real reason for the pay ratio tax was just one word, “revenue.”  “… to expand on that, taxes pay for services,” Fritz said. “The $3 million annually collected via the CEO tax will help pay for many vital public services.”

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More money. That’s what I want. Commissioner Amanda Fritz

In other words, forget about all this fighting inequality blather. The city wanted more revenue and the CEO pay ratio tax was one way to get it.

It’s just another example of the City of Portland nickel and diming taxpayers.