Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Fifth Circuit to hear lawsuit challenging forced union dues case

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(The Center Square) – The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in a class action lawsuit brought against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) by Austin-based United Airlines fleet service employee Arthur Baisley.

At issue is non-IAM members being required to pay union fees despite being based in Texas, a right-to-work state.

There are 29 right-to-work states whose laws allow employees to work without being compelled to join a union. The National Right to Work Committee advocates that “every individual must have the right, but must not be compelled, to join a labor union,” meaning union membership and financial support is strictly voluntary.

While the Railway Labor Act (RLA) pre-empts state right-to-work protections, under longstanding law, even without right-to-work protections, non-union members cannot be required to fund a union’s ideological activities, including lobbying and political activities, the nonprofit National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is representing Baisley, argues.

The IAM dues practice of requiring nonmember employees to affirmatively opt-out of paying for union political expenditures violates the RLA and the First Amendment standard established in two foundation-won Supreme Court decisions, Janus v. AFSCME (2018) and Knox v. SEIU (2012), the foundation argues.

Both Janus and Knox decisions held that no union dues or fees can be charged beyond the maximum that can legally be required without a worker’s affirmative consent.

The lawsuit challenges a policy that IAM officials created for employees who choose not to fund the union’s “nonchargable” activities, which Baisley argues violates workers’ rights by forcing them to pay for union political activity without their consent.

Opting out during a brief “window period” or being required to pay for union officials’ political and ideological activities violates his First Amendment right, Baisely argues.

The complaint argues the policy “require[s] employees to opt-out of paying union fees that they have no legal obligation to pay. IAM’s “opt-out requirement” also violates the RLA, the foundation argues, which governs labor in the air and rail industries and “protects the right of employees to ‘join, organize, or assist in organizing’ a union of their choice as well as the right to refrain from any of those activities.”

“For too long, union bosses have enforced deliberately complicated opt-out requirements with the aim of trapping workers into paying for union boss politics despite the fact that, as nonmembers, they have already chosen not to affiliate with the union,” National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said. “The Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME case that government unions must get consent before forcing public sector employees to fund a union because all speech directed at the government is inherently political.”

The class action lawsuit asks the court to strike down the op-out requirement for all employees, which would require unions to receive affirmative consent from non-union workers to pay for unions’ political or lobbying activities.

The case “seeks to apply the same legal standard to workers like Mr. Baisley who are subjected to mandatory union payments under the Railway Labor Act by requiring union officials to get workers to opt in to the portion of dues that the union already admits it spends on ideological and political activities,” Mix adds.

The initial 48-page complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in July.

IAM represents 600,000 active and retired members as “one of the largest and most diverse labor unions in North America,” representing employees who work at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Airlines, Harley-Davidson, among many others.

IAM is currently lobbying Congress to pass a bipartisan defense authorization bill that would fund numerous military programs built and maintained by IAM members, supporting more than 100,000 IAM aerospace defense and shipbuilding jobs.

It is also lobbying against a rule change made by the Export-Import Bank that, if implemented, IAM argues “would allow U.S. exporters to offshore more American jobs to other countries and receive Ex-Im financing to do so.”

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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Voters Lack Confidence Kamala Harris Can Become President

Vice President Kamala Harris has a fight on her hands if she wants to inherit the Democratic presidential mantle after President Joe Biden’s time is over, according to a new poll.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that voters have serious doubts about Harris’ electability.

The poll found only 14% of voters said it was “very likely” Harris would win a general election for president if she became the Democratic nominee. Another 20% said it was “somewhat likely.”

The poll is especially noteworthy given Biden's age. The incumbent president is 81 years old and appears increasingly in decline.

A moment of confusion for Biden at a June 6 D-Day ceremony went viral last week, the latest in a string of similar incidents. At the same time, Biden remains competitive with former President Donald Trump, though several polls suggest Trump has a lead over the president.

Biden's incidents have led some to speculate that Democrats could or should try to replace Biden at the Democratic convention in Chicago in August. That would be a highly unusual, though not impossible, move. Removing Biden would naturally raise the question about who could replace him, but for now voters seem to lack confidence that Harris could win.

The poll also looked ahead to 2028: “If President Joe Biden were not in the running for president in 2028, which of the following Democrats, if any, would you want to be the Democratic candidate for president?”

While Harris was top of the list among Democrats, she only received 21% support. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg both received 10% support each, while 41% said they were unsure or didn't know.

Only 42% of those polled described Harris as trustworthy, and 44% described her as honest, according to the poll.

Notably, only 36% of those surveyed said Biden should replace Harris as his VP on the ticket.

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GOP Lawmakers Want Legislative Auditors to Review MPS Finances

(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol don’t want Gov. Tony Evers to waste the chance to get a good look at Milwaukee Public Schools’ shortcomings.

Evers recently called for an operational and an instructional audit of MPS.

“I’m proposing today to go two steps further with two important goals: the first, to audit MPS’ programs and operations in their entirety, and the second, to audit the effectiveness of teaching and instruction of our kids in classrooms across the district,” Evers said.

The governor, however, wants to keep the audit within his administration and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said that’d be a mistake.

“I’m glad that Gov. Evers has called for an audit of the Milwaukee Public School System. Gov. Evers and DPI should work with Joint Legislative Audit Committee Co-Chairs [Eric] Wimberger and [Robert] Wittke to discuss authorizing the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau to audit MPS, DPI and any other involved stakeholders,” LeMahieu said. “The LAB is more than capable of handling this important undertaking independently and transparently without the use of outside contractors.”

The worry is an audit controlled by the governor’s office will not fully look into MPS’s shortcomings.

The calls for audits in Milwaukee Public Schools come after the state withheld nearly $17 million last week because of incomplete and late financial reports. One of those reports was due to the Department of Public Instruction in September 2023.

Evers has asked MPS leaders to be a part of any audit process but warned that not everyone will be invited.

“I also have to say – I’m exceedingly disappointed by the politicking and jockeying I’ve seen since this situation came to light by opportunists who’re seizing this moment to serve their own selfish goals instead of worrying about what matters most: our kids,” Evers added.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos took to social media to accuse the governor of being the one who is playing politics.

“And who do you think [Evers] will suggest conducts the audits?” Vos asked. “The same failed DPI bureaucrats who allowed this to happen or his administration who wanted to dismantle the school choice system so all kids were forced into this MPS mess? We need real reforms to the current mentality where MPS has been protecting the bureaucracy and Gov. Evers has been advocating for shoveling hundreds of millions of dollars into this broken system.”

Report Clearing Biden Biden Approval Rating Americore Biden Acknowledge Hamas Biden Tells Israel Not to Occupy Gaza Biden impeachment Supreme Court Strikes Down Biden’s Student Loan Cancellation

Biden’s New Staffing Requirements Put Most Illinois Nursing Homes in Peril

An industry group says the Biden administration’s new staffing regulations for long-term care facilities are unrealistic.

The mandate requires that all nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding provide a total of at least 3.48 hours of nursing care per resident per day. Plus, nursing homes must have a registered nurse onsite at all times.

Research by SeniorLiving.org shows 82%, or nearly 12,000 facilities in the U.S., will need to hire staff or face being shut down.

Spokesperson Corie Wagner said Illinois is home to the fifth highest number of understaffed nursing homes in the country.

“If we were to apply the new policies and new standards to nursing homes in Illinois today, 84% of facilities would need more staff, and that is really significant,” said Wagner.

The mandate will be phased in over three years, with rural communities having up to five years.

Nursing home operators strongly objected to the minimum staffing proposal in September, saying they already struggle to fill open positions.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in September announced a $75 million campaign to increase the number of nurses in nursing homes.

Nearly 1.2 million residents live in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified, long-term care facilities, but Wagner said that number is expected to increase.

“It’s called the Silver Tsunami, so more Americans are aged 65 or older than ever,” said Wagner. “It's one of the largest segments of our population but the infrastructure we have is not keeping up with our population shift.”

A resolution aimed at overturning Biden’s nursing home staffing mandate has a legitimate chance to pass the U.S. Senate.

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