Letters to the Editor

Letter: Union attack

January 30, 2013


To the editor:

Sponsors of HB 2023 claim the bill protects union members. This bill doesn’t protect union members. It tries to destroy unions with a brazen assault on 1st Amendment rights.

Current law prohibits spending union dues to support political candidates. Unions already have PACs for politicking; and membership and political contributions are already completely voluntary.

Technically, HB 2023 allows PACs, but it renders PACs useless by explicitly prohibiting unions from endorsing political candidates. This has nothing to do with money or where it comes from. Unions could not endorse political candidates, period.

HB 2023 prohibits unions from using “any income … directly or indirectly” for political activities. The bill expands the definition of political activity beyond the support of candidates to include “activities or causes … of ideological nature.” This has nothing to do with money or where it comes from.  HB 2023 forbids unions from promoting ideas.

The salaries of union leaders and staff are paid with dues dollars. If dues money can’t be used to promote any ideology; this completely destroys unions’ freedoms of speech, press, and petitioning of the government. I suppose unions could still assemble, as long as they assemble in silence.

But a teachers’ union president could not speak about equitable school funding.  Police union staff could not meet with legislators or provide testimony regarding legislation. Unions certainly couldn’t join discussions about amending the state constitution. Unions couldn’t even publish a political editorial in their own member newsletter.

What part of “shall make no law abridging” don’t these yahoos understand?


sci4all 5 years, 2 months ago

So teachers, police, firefighters and street cleaners aren't allowed to have a voice, but WalMart, BCBS, Koch's companies, Dillons, HyVee and others get to be heard via the Kansas Chamber of Commerce? "Free speech for me but not for thee"

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

It's a good thing you posted anonymously. Next time you need a cop, they might just decide to be a leech. Or they might go "oops, his house burned down". But they probably wouldn't do that, because they do their job. Unlike some of the leeches I have hired and fired in the private sector.

parrothead8 5 years, 2 months ago

The vast majority are leeches? You wouldn't last one year as a teacher.

Charles Fogarty 5 years, 2 months ago

We do earn a living. My question for you is why don't you form a union and fight for your rights and stop being a lackey of the GOP Billionaire's Club?

Phoghorn 5 years, 2 months ago

What does this have to do with Sherman's march to the sea? I did not read the article, but based on the title "Union Attack", I am assuming that this is the topic.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

The House will likely vote on this bill today. House leadership has promised extra security and urged legislators to take off their name tags or use the back stairs!

Note to yahoos: If you need extra security, anonymity, and a back-stairs escape route, maybe you aren't really doing the will of the people.

KS 5 years, 2 months ago

They watched the idiots in Wisconsin. What a display of maturity and professionalism, climbing thru windows at the statehouse.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

Seems to me that the unions perform a sort of extortion from their members, then establish the ideology in a one size fits all manner. This vote is more about the rights of the members who have zero to very little say in how their forced payments are spent. This is a good thing for the workers.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

Unions' free speech is protected just like anyone else's. This bill revokes it, plain & simple. If you don't like the 1st Amendment, or think it only applies to people who agree with you, move to a different country.

ps- NOBODY is forced to pay one cent. If you can't support your position without LIES; you might want to re-think your position. Not that you put any thought into it in the first place.

texburgh 5 years, 2 months ago

And that's where you are wrong. Even if the unions closed their PACs and never again made any statement in any political campaign, they would be prohibited from using their dues money to lobby the legislature. This bill has nothing to do with PACs. It has to do with silence. It prohibits public employees from speaking or acting on any "political activity" so broadly defined as to include urging the school board to vote to limit kindergarten class size. And in case you didn't know this, Kansas is a right to work state. If you don't like what the union is doing, don't join. You'll still get all the benefits of the contract they negotiate. So it seems to me that you have no clue about unionism in a right to work state.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

Even if the unions closed their PACs and never again made any statement in any political campaign, they would be prohibited from using their dues money to lobby the legislature. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ And this is a bad thing? I have zero use for lobbists and hopefully legislation like this can start to pick them off one at a time. Do many have the choice to join the unions, I really don't think so. The unions again, are focused on the unions survival at the expense of its members. They sing God Bless America and wave the flag, while all the time porking their members. I have never needed a union to protect my job as I chose to show up to work everyday, sober and ready to work and I have been rewarded.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

I assume you also support not allowing corporations to donate and lobby too? Didn't think so.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

Actually I do, I have zero use for lobbiests no matter who they lobby for.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

It makes NO difference what YOU PERSONALLY have use for or not. The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution protects free speech, press, assembly, and petitioning of the government for EVERYONE. The Citizens United ruling clearing stated that these freedoms apply not just to individuals, but to collectives of individuals speaking together.

Again, if you don't like it then you should move to a country where only those who tow the tyrant's line get to speak. You can't have it both ways.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree generally.

But groups of individuals speaking together have always had that right - NRA, Planned Parenthood, etc. What CU did was to declare that corporations which aren't formed for that purpose, like Wal-Mart have an analogous right.

I think it's a bad decision, and wrong, personally, for what that's worth.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

They do not have to belong to a union. How can it be extortion if you don't have to join. Come out of your bunker and start looking at the world. You obviously don't know a lot about life.

cmorriskc 5 years, 2 months ago

The members of my bargaining unit VOTE to endorse candidates or support certain legislation. This bill violates our individual rights to freedom of speech and association. We have the absolute RIGHT to endorse a candidate of our choice. If you take away our freedom of choice, you have created a fascist state.

Janis Pool 5 years, 2 months ago

If a member of any one of these unions had gone to the State House and made a plea that their dues were not being used in a manner that was representative of them, or were gouging their paychecks, maybe a bill such as this should be entertained. But, big money has requested this bill to "crush unions" in our RTW state where they have little power anyway. So it is simply a request made by selfish people who are afraid that they just might have to play fair.

It makes you wonder if any of these legislatures ever had a favorite teacher?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

The brazen overreach of the far right will create a backlash, you can count on that.

But how much damage to the social, economic and educational fabric of Kansas will be done before that backlash reverses this push to a Dickensian plutocracy? How many talented young Kansans will flee at the first opportunity? How many people living outside of Kansas looking to move here will say, "no thank you, even Mississippi looks better than Kansas!!?"

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

Play fair? Who is representing the children and parents against the teachers union? Do the children and their parents have any say in what is going on inside the NEA? I guess you like the police and fire holding their employers hostage when negotiation time comes around...who has the taxpayers backs? Is there anyway to get rid of worthless employees inside a union? Is there a performance based system or is it business a usual? Anyone that supports these bullying tactics invented by thugs, might re-think their position.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petitioning the government are not contingent on you, or children, or parents, or employers, or "taxpayers" (which includes public employees), or bullies, or thugs, or anyone else agreeing with what a person or group of persons has to say.

Your argument is an attempt to turn public support away from those groups of people you don't like; and completely ignores the issue of this bill: revoking 1st amendment rights for public employee unions.

If you really hate teachers so much, then feel free NOT to partake in any aspect of our society that relies on OTHER people being literate. If you hate police so much, feel free NOT to call them when you're a victim of crime. And if you hate ALL public employees so much, feel free to dig a hole for yourself to poop in your yard, because public employees provide the indoor plumbing the rest of us enjoy.

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

Parents and children are free to form their own union, if they feel that their jobs as parents or children are being threatened. Public employees cannot strike in this state. They're just telling you by way of contract what they will or won't put up with and saving the state the time to figure out whether or not they've got a mass exodus on their hands. Yes, worthless employees can be fired. Union members don't want worthless employees any more than anyone else. They just want to make sure everyone gets due process. Something you'd know if you bothered to research or read any comments.

Ironic to speak of "bullying tactics invented by thugs," since that's pretty much how a lot of people would describe ALEC.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

Actually the PTA is the parent branch of the NEA. NEA work with parents all the time. They even have parental tips on their website that help you to help your student. Of course, you probably haven't stepped inside a school for a long time and aren't even a little involved in your kid's education.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

What the media fails to spell out is this bill and ALEC are all about reducing wages on workers across the USA.

Why do anti American Republicans want USA white and blue collar workers to work for less money? So USA corporations can show larger profits = another republican big government facist activity.

Republicans are not only selfish,insensitive,Anti American they are flushing the American Dream down the toilet.

What about American Legislative Exchange Council/ALEC?

ALEC currently claims more than 250 corporations and special interest groups as private sector members. While the organization refuses to make a complete list of these private members available to the public, some known members include:

Wal-Mart/. Exxon Mobil/. the Corrections Corporation of America/. AT&T/. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals/. Time Warner Cable/. Comcast/. Verizon/. Phillip Morris International/. Koch Industries/. along with a host of right-wing think tanks and foundations.

--- http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/secretive_corporate_legislative_group_alec_holds

--- http://www.truth-out.org/publicopoly-exposed/1310660473

--- http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/12/outrage_over_stand_your_ground_laws

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

There are at least 12 other states with radical right wing governors such as Brownback trying to pull off the very same agenda. It's a Koch/ALEC orchestrated movement.

Explain how lower wages make an economy strong and resilient?

Are YOU willing to work for way less?

Why isn't corp USA cutting CEO and BOD wage packages by 75% instead of hitting on worker wages? CEO's could easily survive on a 75% pay cut.

Why isn't corp USA cutting golden parachutes 100%?

Why isn't corp USA cutting special interest campaign donations?

Why isn't corp USA cutting corp jets from their budgets?

Why isn't corp USA eliminating retirement pay from the wealthy CEO's and BOD's retirement packages?

IF all USA workers refused to go to work for 60 days the nation and tons of those in the 1% would likely be filing bankruptcy. Workers are the most important piece of the economic pie.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

Or, at least, to obsessively convince yourself that it has happened to you.

Linda Endicott 5 years, 2 months ago

Then I would assume you dislike the people in the legislature...isn't that exactly what all of them do? Should we ban the legislature then?

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

Those two statements are not unrelated, gotland.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

Gotland, you probably aren't a wealthy person, because you are only getting paid what you are really worth, a union wouldn't want you as a member. All the unions I have belonged to would negotiate for good wages and benefits, and the dead beats who were too cheap to join the union got the benefits for which we bargained. Most of them were worthless, but they would buddy up to management, so they kept their jobs, even though we had to carry their load. Pathetic losers everyone of them.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

The repub party,Koch Brothers, ALEC are waging war on salaries for white and blue collar workers. IF they are successful in doing away with unions, workers in the USA will see a dramatic reduction in wages across the board for blue and white collar workers.

Union or not reduction in wages across the board is the primary objective.

Do you want to work for less? Unions are responsible for good wages in the USA and:

  1. over time pay
  2. 40 hour work weeks as opposed to 80
  3. Vacation with pay
  4. Sick leave with pay
  5. Medical insurance coverage
  6. Pay Increases
  7. Job protection based on legitimate concerns
  8. Protection against race and gender discrimination
  9. Disability Pay

Who wants to work for less?

How can lower wages pay back college loans?

msezdsit 5 years, 2 months ago

Union bosses living like kings on the backs of the workers.

To bad they don't live like the real kings, the ceo's of corporate america.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

We now have a chance to get rid of one of them with this vote. Would be much better for the worker. You should be down for that one. :)

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

We can get rid of the "real kings, " the CEOs of corporate America with this vote? Wow!

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

Blatantly hypocritical. How can passage of such a bill be justified after SCOTUS ruled that "corporate personhood" is legitimate when it comes to PAC's? Another good justification for instituting a Minister of Common Sense.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

I think that's called the "race to the bottom".

bad_dog 5 years, 2 months ago

In "death spiral" fashion, no less...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

Declining Union Membership and Attacks on Workers: Pages from the Neoliberal Playbook January 30, 2013 by Robert Pollin


Interesting excerpts--

"Last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the percentage of U.S. workers who were union members in 2012 had fallen to a 97-year low of 11.3 percent of the workforce. "

"the U.S. Labor Department estimates that, among full time workers, the average annual earnings of union members was $49,000, while that for comparable non-union workers was $38,600. That is, if you are a union member, you will be earning about 27 percent more than a non-union member doing a comparable job."

"(Since 1972) while wages fell, average labor productivity in the United States rose by 111 percent. That is, the total basket of goods and services that average U.S. workers produced in 2011 is more than double what they could manage in 1972. Their reward has been 7 percent pay cut."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

"the U.S. Labor Department estimates that, among full time workers, the average annual earnings of union members was $49,000, while that for comparable non-union workers was $38,600 ... " It would be interesting it you excluded public sector unions from that equation and compared only private sector union workers and private sector non-union members. The reason I say this is simple, really. In the private sector, companies run the risk of going out of business if the business is run poorly. One definition of being run poorly is paying wages at a rate higher than the business can bear. Including a significant number of public sector union workers in this calculation means you're including a number of workers who are working for a company with zero risk of going out of business. While you want to compare worker to worker, it's equally important to compare business to business.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

Yes, that is the rationale for the race to the bottom (and globalization) that has taken hold over the last 30 years. Certainly, wages and benefits are an important component in a company's bottom line, but it's only been the last few decades that employees have come to be seen merely as expenses that need to be reduced or eliminated.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

And yet, in this country over the last 30 years or so, at least, that hasn't been the case.

Wages have stagnated and benefits have been eliminated, but the costs of living have gone up.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, I own a business. I would pay my employees a million bucks an hour if I had some guarantee my business would never fail and that the government will make up any shortfall. Until then, I'll pay what the business can bear. If that's how you define a race to the bottom, so be it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

If you can't pay them a living wage, then you need to just suck it up and do the work yourself. If your business can't exist without employees, and you can't pay a living wage, it doesn't deserve to survive.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

That's a bit harsh.

Unless everybody does it, businesses can't pay their employees a lot more than their competitors and stay in business.

Because they have to charge more for their products and services if they pay their employees more, and employees of other businesses that don't make as much can't afford to pay more.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't think it's harsh at all. If a business can't survive without exploiting their employees, then either the owner is pocketing too much of the profit, or the clientele doesn't really need the services or products badly enough to be willing to pay what they really cost to produce.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Not so fast.

First, you use the term "exploit" without defining it at all.

Then, you fail to understand the realities of the situation as it it, which is that most employers don't pay living wages. So, your suggestion is that jhf increase his employees' wages, while Wal-Mart etc. won't do that. Where will his customers come from then? And, if he just goes out of business, any jobs he's created will be gone, and how is that good for people?

I agree if everybody did it, it might work out, but not without that.

The important thing is for wages and costs of living to balance out, which they should, in theory, but in reality don't seem to sometimes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

What you describe is exactly why we need a reasonable and realistic minimum wage, and a truly progressive system of income taxes.

But if an employer is making a pretty good living while only paying his employees only minimum wage, rather than paying himself not a whole lot more than that, then saying you have to exploit your employees in order to be competitive is just rationalizing exploitation.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, I don't agree with your definition of exploitation.

Different people are in different situations - a college student working part-time doesn't need the same sort of income as a married person with a family.

I agree that the minimum wage should perhaps be increased - that would mean that every employer had to pay employees more, and so customers would have enough money to buy their products.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

How much exactly is a living wage?

And is it based on the number of children you decide to have? I mean a single person can live off less than one with 4 kids.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

So does that mean you think a person's wage ought to depend on how many kids they have?

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

No, he's asking how your definition of a living wage works? Since it costs less for a single person than for one with 4 kids, does it change for each of those people, or would you pay a single person enough to support a family?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

Most living wages are calculated by what it takes to support a small family on a single wage at slightly above the poverty level. (And I think a subsistence wage is a better term for the preceding definition.)

But I still want an answer to my question-- should someone's wage be (partially) determined by how many kids they have? If so, would't that encourage anyone looking to limit their employee expenses to only hire people without kids?

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

You're the one talking about paying people enough to support a small family on one income.

So, if minimum wage isn't a "living wage", and your idea isn't either, what's a living wage then?

If everybody got paid enough to support a small family well on one income, everybody would have to get paid a whole lot more, and a lot of them don't need that, since they're not single people supporting a small family.

I think the objection to your idea is that a part-time college student would have to be paid a small fortune, which they don't need, given their situation.

And that, unless costs of living don't increase commensurately, we'd all be in the same situation, but we'd have higher wages and costs of living, possibly resulting in inflation.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

A person's wage should not be based on their personal choices including having children. The only relevant factor is how much the business owner is willing to pay factoring in when applicable minimum wage laws.

No one is forced to accept a job and its corresponding wage. Now there may be moral and ethical issues a business owner SHOULD consider but that again is the business owners choice.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

I pay an agreed upon wage for an agreed upon amount of work. Every one of my employees is free to work or not. What you are really trying to do is substitute your judgement for theirs. Are you really wiser than every one of them?

BTW - The wages I pay range from minimum wage to four times that amount, depending on their skill set and value to the business.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the last forty years, it's be about $10.50 an hour. If you pay any less than that, it's exploitation, and nothing less.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

That's a good argument for increasing minimum wage to that amount, perhaps.

Would that fit your "living wage" idea?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

No, it's a minimum wage, which is fine for entry-level positions. Defining who gets a minimum wage and who gets a living wage would be complicated, but it could be done.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago


And why? Should whether or not people have children and spouses factor in, etc.?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

It's an agreed upon wage for an agreed upon amount of work. There is no shortage of minimum wage jobs available if they wish to seek employment elsewhere. Or they could get the skill set necessary to earn the higher wage. I'm not sure why we should substitute your judgement as to what is a fair wage for what we have freely agreed to.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

Exploitation is widespread-- that's why you get away with it, and still feel good about yourself.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, how many people do you employee and what do you pay them?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, do you know there are times when my highest paid employee makes more than I make. There are times when my lowest paid employee makes more than I make. And there are times when I make more than either of them. That's the risk of being a business owner. I am no more exploiting my employees than they are exploiting me during times when business is bad. In return for guaranteed wages, employees take no risk that they will make money one week and make no money the next. But in return for having taken the risk, the business owner might lose money one week and make a significant amount of money the next. It has nothing to do with exploitation. It has to do with risk and reward. Minimize your risk and you minimize your reward.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

It's not truly free, in my view.

There are a number of pressures on employees, that may easily result in them taking jobs that pay less than they'd like - one obvious one being the lack of better paying jobs, or any other jobs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

If they can't endorse candidates, how will you know who to vote against?

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

"So public employees are able to endorse candidates who will line there pockets spending taxpayer money."

First of all, it's "their" not "there". Second of all, the 1st Amendment has no disclaimer as to the reasons for speech or benefits of doing so. Thirdly, private corporations spend millions for tax breaks; and then other taxpayers have to pick up the slack. Remember that sales tax hike that was supposed to be temporary? Guess what. I'm going to have to pay that higher sales tax indefinately now in order that business owners don't have to pay income tax. Your demonization of the public sector is ridiculous. Don't like 'em? Fine. Go poop in your yard and leave the indoor plumbing to those who appreciate the people who provide it for us. It's called civilization.

voevoda 5 years, 2 months ago

No, Liberal; unions of public employees are negotiating to the benefit of the public. The public benefits when public employees earn an appropriate wage, labor under appropriate conditions, and are able to advocate for appropriate polices--based on their intimate knowledge of what the work entails. If those employees choose to use their own money--money they earn through hard work every day!--to advocate for themselves, they have a Constitutional right to do so. You wouldn't like it, Liberal, if your boss told you that you were not entitled to spend your salary to advocate for your chosen political positions. You wouldn't like it, Liberal, if your boss told you that any request you made for a higher wage or better working conditions was an illegitimate attempt to strive against his company and told you that you and your fellow employees were forbidden even to bring up the issues and he'd have you jailed if you did.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

They had no choice-- they are under orders from ALEC/Koch Bros to pass this thing.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 2 months ago

Well at least 66 of them were. This measure was 4 votes out of 125 away from defeat. This is not over. Not quite the outcome most expected from A Super Majority Of Republicans.Let the Constitutionality Test proceed.

Corey Williams 5 years, 2 months ago

"Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."" http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445

Yeah, you did cherrypick your reference. Maybe if you had looked up what was actually written, you would see that FDR was talking about strikes by public sector unions.

Of course he also wrote, "Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs."

Corey Williams 5 years, 2 months ago

Did you write the rest of that post yourself?

I'll save you the trouble.


Maybe Daniel Disalvo would appreciate at least a reference when you copy his work.

voevoda 5 years, 2 months ago

When higher salaries are paid to teachers, police, firefighters, and other public employees, nearly all of that money goes directly into the local economy. What about the exta money the wealthiest Kansans--the ones who are so vociferously opposed to union-negotiated wages--want to get for themselves at the expense of those public employees? A lot less would go into the local economy, and a lot more would go to second (and third, and fourth houses) in fancy locations, on foreign travel, on foreign luxury goods--that is, not in the local economy. So if the goal is to improve the Kansas economy, more money in the pockets of public employees is exactly the best way to go.

JohnBrown 5 years, 2 months ago

The big story here is that Tea party conservatives really don't believe in freedom.

Every public union member ought to buy a "Don't tread on me" flag or bumper sticker.


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