Survey Suggests Pennsylvanians Back Free-Market Reforms, Believe State Economy Needs Improvement

A new survey released Thursday by the Commonwealth Foundation (CF), a Harrisburg-based think tank, suggests Pennsylvanians broadly support free-market reforms the institute urges policymakers to embrace. 

CF publicized its Better Pennsylvania 2023 Plan, a list of 23 such recommendations, in conjunction with the poll. Executive vice president Jennifer Stefano said the foundation plans to distribute the agenda to state lawmakers and candidates for public office. She believes the ideas’ implementation will “restore hope to our citizens across the commonwealth and set us on a better path that allows all Pennsylvanians to flourish.”

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Connecticut House Passes Legislation Barring Work Meetings Discussing Unions

On Friday, Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting companies’ management from requiring workers to listen to discussions regarding labor organization, politics or religion.

The AFL-CIO, to which more than 200,000 Connecticut workers belong, lauded the move in favor of the policy — known as a “captive audience” restriction — which no other state except Oregon has enacted. Union leaders have denounced the kind of meetings banned by the legislation, complaining that such events are unfairly used to inveigh against union-organization efforts.

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Bernie Sanders Rallies with Starbucks Workers After Richmond Stores Unionize

As Starbucks stores around the country continue to unionize, a prominent U.S. Senator received a rockstar’s welcome in Richmond, where he went to galvanize employees of the coffee retail giant. 

“It is an honor for me to be here,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told the crowd, “because you are extraordinary American heroes and heroines.

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‘Solidarity Fund’ Created for Ohio Starbucks Employees as They Attempt to Unionize in Columbus

A “solidarity fund” has been created for Starbucks employees at a Columbus store as they attempt to join coworkers nationwide in unionizing, a process they say is being opposed by the coffee giant. 

“In Columbus, OH, a courageous and amazing group of Starbucks workers have come together at the 88 E. Broad St. store to form their Union with Starbucks Workers United! They are fighting for better wages, safe working conditions, and a voice at their worksite,” says a GoFundMe page organized by former Columbus mayoral candidate Liliana Baiman. 

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Industry and Unions Warn Pennsylvania Senate RGGI Will Kill Jobs, Hurt Consumers

Blue Collar Worker

In a rare moment of concord between industry and unions, representatives of both interests exhorted Pennsylvania state Senators on Tuesday to resist Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Eleven states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions have joined the pact to impose prices on carbon emissions for power plants. Unlike most member states, however, Pennsylvania entered into the agreement without legislative approval though an executive order by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2019. The emissions pricing has not yet gone into effect; the governor wants to implement it in the next fiscal year.

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Connecticut Public-Sector Unions to Get Costly Raises and Bonuses If Contracts Approved

Worker in restaurant kitchen

According to a brochure distributed by Connecticut’s public-sector-labor coalition, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and the state’s unionized employees have negotiated contracts that will cost taxpayers plenty if ratified. 

Wins for each unionized worker would include $3,500 in bonuses and and three yearly wage hikes of 2.5 percent, which would be made retroactive to summer of 2021. About two-thirds of union-affiliated employees would also get “step” raises; i.e., elevation to the next pay rate. These bonuses and salary gains would also factor into future pension payments.

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Connecticut Bill Would Have Employers Pay Unemployment to Strikers

Ned Lamont

If Connecticut’s Democrat-run General Assembly and Governor Ned Lamont (D) approve a bill now before the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees, striking workers will gain the right to collect unemployment.

Current state law does not permit union strikers to collect jobless benefits, as eligibility requires having come into “unemployment through no fault of your own.” The legislation under consideration, sponsored by State Representatives Michael Winkler (D-Vernon), David Michel (D-Stamford) and Robyn Porter (D-Hamden) would, starting this October, allow strikers to get unemployment checks two weeks into a labor walkout.

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Freedom Foundation Facilitating Exit of Ohio Union Members

A nonprofit is making progress in Ohio in facilitating the exit of public sector union employees from those unions. 

“For some reason, the First Amendment right for people to leave public sector is the best kept secret,” Freedom Foundation Ohio State Director Lauren Bowen told The Ohio Star. “Their hard earned money does not have to be directed to union coffers via union dues.”

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Proposal Would Let Connecticut Agencies Sue Employers and Bestow Proceeds on Unions

Michael Winkler

A bill in the Connecticut House of Representatives would allow the state to effectively nullify worker-employer agreements designed to prevent lawsuits and let state officials bestow some monetary awards on unions.

The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Michael Winkler (D-Vernon), would evade what it refers to as “forced arbitration agreements” and “allow employees to sue employers on behalf of the state after having waived their personal rights to sue.” 

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Back From the Swamp, Congressman Tim Burchett Talks Kevin McCarthy, Reckless Spending, and a Call to Action

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Congressman Tim Burchett to the newsmakers line to talk reckless spending, Kevin McCarthy, and the Durham report.

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Crom’s Crommentary: The Grift of Biden’s Executive Order on Infrastructure Money

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in studio for another edition of Crom’s Crommentary.

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Ohio Senate Hopeful Supports First Ohio Starbucks Unionization Effort

A Democrat U.S. Senate hopeful from Ohio declared his support for a Cleveland Starbucks store, which aims to become the retail giant’s first unionized coffee shop in the state. 

“Something big is brewing in Cleveland. Congratulations and solidarity to the workers taking this critical step to get the fair treatment and respect you deserve,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-17).

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Commentary: Unions Aligning with America First

After intense negotiations, the United Auto Workers secured a new agreement with Ford, General Motors, and their suppliers that effectively prohibits a vaccine mandate for employees by requiring only “voluntary” disclosure of vaccination status for union members. This hard-won validation for workers points to a larger opportunity for the America First movement and organized labor to acknowledge that they are natural allies.

On critical issues ranging from medical privacy to border security and foreign trade, the emerging populist and nationalist consensus of the New Right creates an obvious home for unionized Americans. The America First cause can, in turn, help revitalize private-sector unions and guarantee a more prosperous society for our country, with a stronger middle class through a better diffusion of economic and political power.

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Pennsylvania Republican Lawmaker: Election Integrity Belongs in the Workplace Too

Pennsylvania state Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Abbottstown) believes the guarantee of free and fair elections with secret balloting belongs not only in contests for public office but in votes over labor representation. 

This week, he announced plans to introduce an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution intended to cement that guarantee in the Keystone State in anticipation of federal legislation aiming to strengthen labor unions.

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Starbucks Announces Wage Hikes Amidst Labor Struggles

Outside view of Starbucks Coffee

Seattle-based Starbucks announced it will increase hourly wages next year as the coffee giant faces the dual pressures of unionization attempts and staffing shortages.

According to a press release from the company, starting in January of 2022, hourly employees with two or more years of service could see a 5% raise and those with five or more years of service could see a 10% raise.

By the summer of next year, the company says its average hourly pay will be $17, up from the current average of $14. Employees will make between $15 and $23 an hour across the country, depending on location and tenure.

The press release did not address what impact the moves will have on coffee prices.

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Ohio Probation Officer Claims Union Collected Dues Without Consent

A Cuyahoga County probation officer wants union dues taken out of her paycheck returned because she was never part of the Fraternal Order of Police Ohio Labor Council union.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of Kimberlee Warren against the Fraternal Order of Police Ohio Labor Council, claiming union officials violated her First Amendment rights as a public employee by continuing to collect union dues without her consent.

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Commentary: Biden’s Electric Car Plan Means Rigging Manufacturing to Favor Unions

At NREL future research should focus on understanding consumer driving and charging behavior and the nuances determining the choice of residential charging infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). Shown is in the Power Systems Lab in the Energy systems Integration Facility (ESIF)

In a highly orchestrated and publicized White House gathering this month, President Biden presented a detailed plan for the development of a U.S. fleet of clean, high-mileage electric automobiles that would reduce reliance on gasoline and generate thousands of good union jobs. It’s a new, government-encouraged, taxpayer-subsidized auto world. The plan calls for U.S. auto production to become 50% electric by 2030. Today, the electric share stands at a paltry 2%.

Top leaders from Ford, GM, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat-Chrysler), along with environmentalists and governors, were prominently invited to share in the announcement. Yet the absence of any non-union, America-located auto producers was glaring. There were no representatives from Hyundai, Nissan, or Toyota – companies that have long produced popular vehicles within our borders and recently expressed some support for Biden’s goal. Also striking was the absence of Tesla’s Elon Musk, the world’s acknowledged leader in the electric car and battery revolution. Tesla is an American firm, but it is not unionized.

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Commentary: How Unions Could Save America

The general perception within Conservatism, Inc. and libertarian circles is that collective bargaining is a violation of the right of the individual to seek work without being compelled to join a union. That sounds good in principle, but there’s much more to the story.

A few years ago, the workers at a local grocery store chain in California went on strike. The reason they voted to strike was that management had implemented a new policy whereby most of the employees, including full-time career workers, had their hours reduced to fewer than 25 hours per week. At the same time, these employees had their health coverage taken away.

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Faculty Union Demands Mask Mandate in Florida Colleges and Universities

The United Faculty of Florida is imploring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to impose a mask mandate on all of Florida’s colleges and universities.

Their basis for the request is rooted in the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July which said everyone should wear masks indoors. They called on the governor through a letter which said Florida’s colleges and universities should “follow CDC recommendations, including universal masking indoors and other common-sense measures, to limit severe illness and keep our colleges and universities open for learning.”

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Commentary: Unions Enforce Masks for the Public But Don’t Require Member Vaccinations

Flight attendants’ and teachers’ unions whose members are on the front lines of disputed Covid safety protocols are ardent enforcers of mask mandates for the public but do not require their members to get vaccinated. Such inoculation is widely acknowledged as the most effective step in stopping the spread of the new Delta variant, while masking is viewed as of secondary importance, and many are highly skeptical of its effectiveness and critical of its inconvenience.

As the Association of Flight Attendants continues to urge federal authorities to allow flight attendants to police passengers for masking – a policy that has led to fisticuffs on some flights – the union has struck an agreement with at least one airline, United, to allow unvaccinated members to fly. American Airlines and Southwest Air say they also do not require their flight attendants or other employees to vaccinate. Flight attendants for both airlines are unionized.

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Tennessee AFL-CIO Rallies at Sens. Blackburn and Hagerty’s Nashville Offices for Bill Outlawing Right-to-Work

Tennessee AFL-CIO

Tennessee’s AFL-CIO chapter rallied Tuesday afternoon outside the Nashville offices of Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty in favor of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

The legislation would forbid states from maintaining right-to-work policies which allow workers who chose not to join a union to decline to pay union dues. The bill would also redefine many independent contractors as employees for purposes of collective bargaining—thus placing what many consider a heavy burden on freelancers—and would impose numerous other pro-union provisions. 

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Commentary: Unions’ Focus on Woke over Work Rankles Rank and File

Los Angeles school teacher Glenn Laird has been a union stalwart for almost four decades. He served as a co-chair of his school’s delegation to United Teachers Los Angeles and proudly wore union purple on the picket line.

But Laird is now suing to leave UTLA and demanding a refund of the dues the union has collected since his resignation request. His turning point came in July 2020 when the union, the second largest teachers union in the country, joined liberal activists to demand that Los Angeles defund the police in response to Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

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Teacher Shares Behind-Scenes Look at How Unions Further Woke Agenda

Brenda Lebsack

California teacher Brenda Lebsack says she began seeing “red flags” in her school district when she decided to become more involved with her union, the California Teachers Association.

After she began attending the union’s conferences in 2015, Lebsack says, she was alarmed to see that many of the topics weren’t academic but instead focused on social justice, human rights, and LGBTQ issues.

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IWF’s Senior Policy Analyst Patrice Onwuka Outlines Biden’s Efforts to Unionize Independent Contractors and Gig Workers

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Senior Policy Analyst of the Independent Women’s Form, Patrice Onwuka to the newsmakers line to explain the details of the Biden administrations’ PRO Act and its effect on independent contractors and gig workers.

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Small Businesses Say Big Labor’s PRO Act Would Put Them Under

Rally goer holds up a "Small Business fighting for survival" sign

The Biden Administration sent some stock prices tumbling and left small businesses worried after taking sides on a hotly contested labor issue that critics say could threaten the jobs of millions of independent workers and thousands of small businesses.

In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use of freelance workers in most instances.

A report from the freelance site UpWork found that about 59 million gig workers make up $1.2 trillion of the U.S. economy.

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Commentary: Amazon’s Rejection of Unions in Alabama Is a Big Loss for Big Labor

Amazon workers

Big labor suffered a significant loss in its attempt to unionize employees at Amazon’s warehouse facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Of the workers eligible to vote, an embarrassingly small 16% voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. It was the most recent in a series of high-profile losses for labor including failed attempts to unionize factories for Volkswagen, Nissan Motors, and Boeing. In each case, union leaders bet that they could convince workers it was in their best interests to be enrolled in a union that would stand up to management over wages and working conditions. In each case, they lost.

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Rand Paul Introduces One-Page Bill Prohibiting Forced Unionization

Republicans Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Joe Wilson reintroduced the National Right to Work Act on Wednesday, which would prohibit unions from coercing private sector employees from paying dues.

The National Right to Work Act is a one-page bill that doesn’t add to existing labor law, but removes language from past legislation, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson said Wednesday. The bill was originally introduced in 2019 with widespread Republican support on Capitol Hill, but never received a vote.

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Commentary: Unions Fight Return to Schooling

Sacramento

The little-known Oakley Union Elementary School District, in the sprawling suburbs 50 miles east of San Francisco, isn’t accustomed to national attention. The school board’s hot mic moment, however, during a video call earlier this month created widespread and justifiable anger because it captured the arrogance, stupidity, and condescension that’s typical on some school boards — especially as officials drag their feet on reopenings.

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Commentary: Teachable Union Moments

Lesson plans are a teacher’s daily guide for what students need to learn and how it will be taught. Because educators are always looking for new and interesting ways to engage kids, I have a few ideas that can be used to further student knowledge.

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Commentary: America’s Union Agenda at a Crossroads

The war for the soul of America is mirrored in the war for the soul of its major political parties. The establishment Democrats contend with a progressive insurgency and the establishment Republicans contend with a populist America First insurgency. But above all, the corporate bipartisan glue that connects the establishment Democrats to the establishment Republicans means they have more in common with each other than with their respective insurgencies.

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UVA Workers Union Launches Fund to Provide Employees with PPE and Help Potential Furloughs

A campus workers union at the University of Virginia (UVA) has launched a mutual fund in order to provide university staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) and raise money in the form of an emergency fund for potential furloughs as in-person instruction began Tuesday.

The union, United Campus Workers of Virginia at UVA (UCWVA-UVA), announced the formation of the fund via press release.

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Three Major Unions Sue Michigan Over New Labor Laws

Three of the country’s largest unions sued the State of Michigan on Thursday over new union regulations, which they called “anti-worker.”

The United Auto Workers (UAW), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sued the state over new laws, according to a joint statement. In July, the four-person Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) approved the law changes in a 3-1 vote mandating that union workers manually reauthorize their union membership every year.

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UVA Employees Form Union Calling for Online Fall Semester

University of Virginia employees have formed a new union and launched a campaign Monday centered around moving the school’s current hybrid instruction model to a fully virtual fall semester.  

The union, United Campus Workers of Virginia (UCW-VA), is composed of undergraduate and graduate student works as well as university of Virginia (UVA) faculty and staff. 

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Commentary: Unions Delivered Democrat Votes for Householder to be Speaker – SB 4 Is Part of the Payback

Without Ohio House Democrats, pressured by labor unions and encouraged by “dark money,” Larry Householder would not be Speaker. The media reported this from the beginning.

“Labor unions urge Ohio House Democrats to back Republican Larry Householder for speaker,” headlined the Cleveland Plain Dealer on December 12, 2018.

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Right-to-Work Constitutional Amendment Heads to Tennessee House Floor

A resolution to enshrine right-to-work protections in the Tennessee Constitution has advanced through the House committee process and is scheduled to be heard Monday on the House floor.

Tennessee already has right-to-work protections in law, which prevent a worker from being hired or fired based on choosing to join or not to join a union. Senate Joint Resolution 0648 would enshrine the protection in the constitution to make it more difficult to repeal in the future.

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Commentary: Trump’s Big Win Over Public-Sector Unions

by John W. York   Public-sector unions and their progressive allies just lost a major battle in their ceaseless legal campaign against this president. Last summer, one district court judge struck down nearly every provision in a package of executive orders meant to curtail the overweening power of federal employee…

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Ohio Custodians Sue Kent State and Union for Illegally Deducting Fees

  A group of custodians at Kent State University are suing their employer and its union representatives, who have continued to illegally deduct dues from their paychecks after they resigned their membership. The custodians, Annamarie Hannay, Adda Gape, and John Kohl, are being assisted in their legal challenge by The…

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Union Power, Email Privacy in the Balance at New Supreme Court Sitting

by Kevin Daley   The Supreme Court will convene Tuesday for its February sitting, in which the justices will consider major cases involving the First Amendment, union power, and email privacy. The cases raise the prospect of serious political and diplomatic repercussions, placing the justices at the center of a…

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School Discipline Policy Belongs at the Local Level, Not Washington

classroom

by Jonathan Butcher   Teacher unions and progressive special-interest groups cried foul earlier this year when the White House suggested that federal directives on school safety could be rescinded. But if a recent hearing held by the Federal Commission on School Safety is any indication, state and local policymakers don’t need Washington to micromanage…

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MERIT Act Passes Out of Committee, Proceeds to House Floor

Barry Loudermilk

By Natalia Castro   The MERIT Act is finally moving forward. After a passing vote in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the MERIT Act will be moving onto the House floor in the coming weeks for a vote. Congress can take a major step in answering the people’s calls to “drain the…

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Professional Educators of Tennessee: SCOTUS Janus Decision a Victory for Workers’ First Amendment Rights

Mark Janus

The U.S. Supreme Court announced a 5-4 decision on Wednesday in Janus v. American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, that reaffirms the First Amendment, especially people’s freedom of association. The ruling today eliminates compulsory unionism, which requires individuals to join a union as a condition of…

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