Empowerment for Workers Means an Empowered Economy

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Matthew Benzmiller on Thursday, October 8th, 2015, 3:59 PM PERMALINK

Reposted from Center for Worker Freedom.

At the Summit on Workers’ Empowerment on October 6th, people interested in worker freedoms gathered to join at the Heritage foundation to listen to ways that workers are fighting back against government, and quasi-government forces in the work place. People who have fought against unions and unfair licensing restrictions spoke on panels about their stories.

Heritage Foundation Research Fellow in Labor Economics, James Sherk, opened the summit showing the real situation of union statistics effects on wages, why union membership is falling, and where other studies have gone wrong in their methodologies.

People fighting unions were very clearly not anti-union as a few of them had actually started unions to give an alternative to big government, liberal unions. The common thing that they all had a problem with was that they all did not have any choice in the matter of being a part of a union. All members of the panel speaking on union affairs stressed this.

Matt Patterson of Center for Worker Freedom hosted the panel on unions, which consisted of (from left to right) Jesse Rojas, speaking for Silvia Lopez, Megan Kelly, a flight attendant for Allegiant Air Lines, James Perialas, a teacher from Michigan, Karen Cox, a lift-truck operator, and Mike Burton, formerly from Volkswagen in Chattanooga.

Some workers were more successful than others at fighting the unions. It is an uphill battle when unions or labor boards will count ballots if they predict victory for the incumbent union, and will keep ballots uncounted for years at a time when they expect a negative outcome for themselves. Jesse Rojas, a spokesperson for Silvia Lopez said that Silvia had collected thousands of signatures just in order to have an election on decertification from the United Farm Workers, twice.

Jesse explained that the California Agriculture Labor Board, that overseas agricultural unions in California coexists with the union that Silvia is opposing, the United Farm Workers. Because the UFW is really the only agricultural union in California, it would be detrimental to the California Agriculture Labor Board’s existence. The California Agriculture Labor Board in turn protects the UFW’s ability to impose itself on farm workers in involuntary union dues on workers that don’t want to associate with the UFW. This mercantilist structure is unfortunately all too common a story across the United States in many different industries that are hampered by protectionist government policies.

The licensing panel was hosted by Derek Khanna, acting policy lead for Lincoln Labs, who had Isis Brantley, an ancestral hair braider, Sabina Loving, who owns Loving Tax Services, Inc., and Bill Main, of Segway in the City.

Licensing can keep entrepreneurs from participating in the market altogether sometimes. Isis Brantley is an ancestral hair braider, who has braided hair for more than 30 years. In 1995 the state of Texas started threatening Isis with letters saying that what she was doing was illegal, braiding without a license. Then in 1997, seven Dallas police officers raided her business and arrested her for braiding hair without a cosmetology license, a license which does not teach people how to braid hair. In 2007, the state allowed her to braid hair legally, but restricted her from teaching hair-braiding. Brantley says that this kept her from doing business for 20 years.

Another entrepreneur, Bill Main, was told he could not speak on his tour guides because he didn’t have a license. Bill’s company, Segway in the City, typically relies on younger, lively college students for their Segway tours around historic cities and sites. The District of Columbia required all tour guides to pass a 100-question exam, which has a several hundred dollar fee to take, in order to legally speak while on a guided tour. The only type of person that this would sound reasonable to is the incumbent tour guides who want to keep competition at bay, by enforcing higher barriers to entry to the tour guide industry. Bill took his case, with the help of the Institute for Justice, to the courts and won, using the first amendment as a means to free speech, whether you’re on a segway or not.

The panelists who spoke at the event were just a handful of the thousands of workers from around the nation who are kept from doing their jobs, or are involuntarily associated with labor unions. Derek Khanna ended the summit by speaking about proposing a federal law that would get rid of laws restricting people on the basis of frivolous, protectionist licensing laws. This would allow, as Khanna said, “permission-less” innovation to entrepreneurs who have the right to run a business free of red-tape, which in turn would help grow the American economy.

The entire event can be watched in the Heritage Foundation’s archives here.

Photo Credit: 
Matthew Benzmiller

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

EPA's New Ozone Rule will Crush Jobs and Communities

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Edwin Portugal on Thursday, October 8th, 2015, 11:03 AM PERMALINK

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new regulations that could cripple the American manufacturing resurgence and negatively impact communities throughout the nation. The EPA tightened the national standard on ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb), a five-point drop from the Bush-era 2008 standard set at 75 ppb. According to industry experts, this new ozone standard is poised to be the "most expensive regulation in U.S. history."

The manufacturing sector has experienced resurgence in recent years. Manufacturing is a major component of the nation's economy - employing more than 12 million Americans and contributing $2.09 trillion to the U.S. economy annually. The new EPA ozone rules threaten to erase this economic progress.

Manufacturers will be required to install costly new technology to comply with the regulation or pay hefty fines. Such technology costs millions of dollars, and will undoubtedly cause many firms, especially small businesses, to shut down. Stifling the manufacturing industry will have drastic effects on the national economy; the regulation will shrink the country's GDP by billions and destroy thousands of jobs. Once a new ozone standard takes effect, it is difficult - if not impossible - to revert back to an older standard. This renders the economic damage permanent.

These new standards will cost taxpayers billions of dollars. From the EPA's own estimates, lowering the standard will cost the federal government roughly $3.9 billion to implement. However, this cost is a mere fraction of the cost on local government. 

Such stringent regulations also present a huge cost for thousands of communities throughout the nation. Local governments will be required to install pollution-control equipment on manufacturing facilities, power plants, chemical plants, and even cars. Numerous counties throughout the nation already face difficulty complying with the 75 ppb standard. Failure to comply with the standards subjects these communities to increased federal oversight.

Government officials will be forced to submit State Implementation Plans to the EPA that detail how communities in nonattainment will reach the ozone goal. If they fail to reach these goals they can lose federal funding for local revitalization, notably highway funding. Lowering the standards means even more communities will fall prey to the control of the federal government. For this reason, numerous local and state officials from both parties oppose tightening ozone standards. 

The new rules could also force many businesses to shutter their doors, causing thousands of people to lose their jobs, including in Obama's hometown Chicago. To illustrate, Timothy Cullerton, a seasoned Chicago city councilman, said these standards are estimated to cost the state $9 billion and destroy 35,000 jobs. 

As evident, the new 70 ppb ozone limit will stifle American manufacturing, kill jobs, and have drastic economic impacts on communities throughout the nation. The standard will create disastrous effects on the national economy and erode the autonomy of local government.

The EPA's recent actions are another egregious example of federal regulatory overreach. These new regulations are not only unnecessary given recent emissions trends, but will negatively impact the livelihoods of thousands of workers, the vitality of American manufacturing, and the country's economic future.

Photo Credit: 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Congress Must Not Bow Down to Corporate Welfare with Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, October 8th, 2015, 10:14 AM PERMALINK

When the Export-Import Bank expired in June, opponents of corporate welfare and crony capitalism won a crucial victory toward promoting responsible government. The bank, which purportedly exists to finance US exports, has become nothing more than a taxpayer-funded slush fund for big business, both American and foreign.

Unfortunately, supporters of the bank are on the verge of forcing a reauthorization vote through rarely-used procedural tactics. ATR, together with 39 other organizations representing millions of taxpayers recently sent a letter urging Congress not to reauthorize Ex-Im.

After almost derailing unrelated, must-pass highway funding legislation by demanding reauthorization, Congressional advocates of this wasteful agency are now employing a procedural rule known as a discharge petition to force a vote through bypassing regular order and the committee process.

Even now, supporters of the Ex-Im Bank continue to tout its importance to protecting American exports and jobs. But in reality, these “facts” are based on misleading logic and outright lies.

First, the bank DOES NOT cost taxpayers nothing, as supporters claim. Supporters, including the President have rolled out this line, while others have argued it will make $14 billion over ten years. But this number is based on a tortured, manipulated analysis and when using “fair-value accounting” which takes into account market risk, the bank actually loses $2 billion in taxpayer funds over ten years.

Second, the bank DOES NOT support small businesses. Proponents of the bank love to claim it supports the little guy, but in reality the opposite is true -- over 3/4 of the bank's financial assistance benefits just ten corporations. In fact, according to White House data analyzed by Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center, it supports just 0.28% of small businesses.

Further, the Ex-Im definition of “small business” is generous at best, and misleading at worst. For years, the bank has been manipulating the numbers in this area – a small business is defined by Ex-Im as a business with 1,500 employees or less. However, most government agencies define a small business as one-third that size, just 500 employees and Obamacare sets a small business exemption threshold of 50 employees or less for its employer mandate.

Third, the bank’s expiration IS NOT causing mass outsourcing and job loss. Since July, Ex-Im supporters have done all they can to prove jobs are being lost en masse. But this is simply not true. As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) points out, many well-publicized stories of job losses really have nothing to do with Ex-Im despite the desperate attempts by some to link the two. In reality, it has more to do with the high US business tax rate, which is amongst the highest in the developed world. And as the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney points out, the only thing that has changed for well-financed super corporations is that the availability of export credit is now determined by actual market risk, not handed out on a whim off the backs of American taxpayers.

Simply put, the Ex-Im Bank is doing more harm than good. While it may have once served American exporters, today it subsidizes a select few well-connected corporations through reckless taxpayer funded loans.

ATR, together with 39 other free-market and conservative groups, and millions of American taxpayers urge Congress not to revive the Ex-Im Bank, and reject procedural tactics seeking to do so.

To read the full letter click here.


Photo Credit: 
sodaro,k, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sodarok/

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

ATR Opposes Remote Transactions Parity Act

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Eric Seum on Wednesday, October 7th, 2015, 3:50 PM PERMALINK

In a letter to Representatives yesterday, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist shed light on the persisting threat to raise taxes on the Internet through the Remote Transactions Parity Act.

Introduced by Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah’s 3rd congressional district, the RTPA claims to improve upon the Marketplace Fairness Act, but in reality it does little to do so and creates a new version of taxation without representation.

The proposed bill uses destination based sourcing, which would force retailers to pay inconsistent sales taxes to any state from which an online order is made, even if the seller has no physical presence within that state. 

Norquist notes, “Our policy should be directed towards stopping politicians from circumventing the physical presence standard that protects the taxpayer.”

Americans for Tax Reform voiced its support for several other proposals that will combat attempts at cross-border taxation. These proposals include:

The Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 1643)

The Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (H.R. 2584)

The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act (H.R. 2315)

Norquist also said, “Legislation that shifts the tax burden to those outside of a state’s physical borders undermines tax competition among the states. It is healthy for states to compete for businesses and residents by implementing tax codes that provide the best government at the lowest cost.”

For Grover’s letter in full, click here

Photo Credit: 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Standing up to Bullies: Pennsylvania Lawmakers look to California for Help

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Hal Smith on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015, 4:53 PM PERMALINK

Berated with calls for billions of dollars in tax increases, cajoled by Governor Jerry Brown and pressured by Democratic colleagues, Republicans in the California legislature stood strong last month and prevented Democrats from passing any of the more than $20 billion in higher taxes that were proposed.

After approving a historically high budget just months ago, Gov. Brown and legislative Democrats argued that California needed higher car and gas taxes to address transportation needs, citing $59 billion in deferred roadway maintenance, and an estimate that 87 percent of county roads have an average pavement rating of “at risk” or “poor.” 

Governor Jerry Brown had proposed a $3 billion tax increase through an annual $65 fee to drive on highways, as well as a gas and diesel tax hike of 6 cents and 11 cents per gallon, respectively. Earlier in the special session, democratic lawmakers had demanded an even greater tax hike for road repairs. Legislative Democrats called for raising $4.3 billion annually through a 12 cent gas tax increase and an annual $100 fee on zero-emission vehicles.

The ability of California Republicans to remain unified is the only thing that saved California taxpayers from another massive tax hike. Faced with a similar situation in the Keystone State, Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature have much to learn from California Republicans about the importance of sticking together. 

Pennsylvania’s first term Governor Tom Wolf, perhaps the nation’s most liberal governor, refuses to sign a budget unless the tax hikes he has proposed are included. Gov. Wolf is insisting on a massive tax hike in a state where the tax burden is already far too high. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania’s state and local income tax collections per person are 14th highest nationally, and Pennsylvania’s tax burden is 10th highest in the nation.

As in California, the only thing standing in the way of a giant tax hike are Republican legislators. California Republicans, by remaining unified as a caucus, did what voters put them in office to do and stopped a liberal governor hell bent on raising taxes. For the sake of Pennsylvania taxpayers, Republicans in Harrisburg should do likewise. 

Photo Credit: 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

The Grover Norquist Show: John Boehner’s Legacy

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Edwin Portugal on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015, 4:28 PM PERMALINK

In episode 37 of the Grover Norquist Show, ATR president Grover Norquist discusses John Boehner’s record as Speaker of the House. Throughout his tenure, Boehner fought for limiting government spending.

Under Boehner’s leadership, the House passed the Budget Control Act, which successfully restrained spending by $2.5 trillion and instituted numerous budget caps. He also led a push for major entitlement reform, further reducing government spending. Finally, he led the effort to make 85% of the Bush tax cuts permanent.

As a result of these actions, government spending dropped from 23.4% of GDP in 2010 to 20.6% of GDP in 2015, a 2.8% decrease. This is all the more impressive given the Democratic control of the White House.The next Speaker of the House must continue Boehner’s legacy by protecting spending caps, passing long-term entitlement reform, and keeping overall government spending down.

To listen to the podcast, click here or watch below.

Photo Credit: 
Speaker John Boehner https://www.flickr.com/photos/speakerboehner/

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


As Speaker, Boehner led the surrender of the Congressional GOP, which resulted in 62% of Republicans saying they felt betrayed. Oh yea, great job.


You forgot to write "jk" at the end of your comment. Because you MUST be joking.


And the spending cuts and tax breaks let to one of the longest recession recoveries in history Grover.

Hillary’s Real Gun Control Plan: A New 25% Sales Tax on Guns

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by John Kartch on Monday, October 5th, 2015, 10:14 AM PERMALINK

As Hillary Clinton rolls out her gun control plan today, taxpayers and gun owners should be reminded of her support for a new 25 percent national sales tax on guns.

While testifying before the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 30, 1993, Hillary Clinton was asked by Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) if she supported the imposition of a new, 25 percent national sales tax on guns. Clinton emphatically endorsed the tax, stating: "I am all for that."

As reported by the Associated Press on Oct. 1, 1993:

Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., picked up Mrs. Clinton's support for his idea of slapping stiff taxes on ''purveyors of violence:'' a 25 percent sales tax on guns and $2,500 license fees for gun dealers.

''Speaking personally ... I'm all for that,'' said the first lady. But she stressed she was just speaking for herself.

''Well, let me say that there is no more important personal endorsement in the country today, and I thank you very much,'' said a pleased-as-punch Bradley.

After she publically endorsed the 25 percent gun tax in congressional testimony, she made sure that everyone understood how important this was to her, saying: "I am speaking personally, but I feel very strongly about that." 

Remarkably, although the hearing was broadcast on C-SPAN and Clinton's 25 percent gun tax endorsement was noted at the time by the AP, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others, a search of leading news databases reveals not a single media mention since 1993. Americans for Tax Reform is now highlighting the gun tax endorsement as the latest addition to its dossier of Clinton's tax positions, available at HighTaxHillary.com. 

 "Hillary’s 25 percent gun tax would discourage gun ownership and be a backdoor route to gun registration," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "Hillary has a long history of attacking gun owners."

VIDEO: Watch Hillary endorse a new 25% national gun tax

On the day of the Finance Committee hearing, NBC Nightly News reported the 25 percent gun tax incident as follows:

NBC: "Others urge a hefty sales tax on guns, and much higher fees for gun dealers. Today, they got a powerful ally."

Clinton: "I'm all for that. I just don't know what else we're going to do to try to figure out how to get some handle on this violence."

NBC: "Hillary Clinton added that's only her personal opinion."

The Bill Clinton White House made it clear that Hillary's 25 percent gun tax endorsement was all hers, as shown by the Oct. 1, 1993 White House press briefing transcript:

Q: "Do you know if the President supports the First Lady's endorsement of an idea yesterday by Senator Bradley that there be a 25 percent tax on the sale of guns in America?"

WH Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers: "Well, as you know, she was expressing her opinion."

Sen. Bradley was seeking early support for gun tax legislation which called for a new federal sales tax on handguns and semi-automatic rifles as well as steep increases in existing federal firearms and ammunition excise taxes and gun dealer licensing fees.

Hillary Clinton’s anti-gun crusade continues to this day. During a CNN town hall meeting in 2014, she called for a ban on “assault weapons” and declared, “we cannot let a minority of people – and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people – hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”

Clinton’s positions are consistent with longstanding progressive goals on gun taxation, gun registration, and other forms of gun control. On August 10, 2015 the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to impose a $25 per gun sales tax on all firearms. As a result, the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a lawsuit challenging these taxes.

On Aug. 26, Clinton said she would push to “balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures and control measures.” The next day a Washington Post headline declared her “the new standard-bearer for gun control.”

"Hillary has made it perfectly clear to the millions of gun owners in the United States: she doesn't like us, she doesn't trust us and she wants us to go away," said Norquist.

VIDEO: Watch Hillary endorse a new 25% national gun tax


Photo Credit: 
Penn State, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Barriers to Prosperity

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Matthew Benzmiller on Monday, October 5th, 2015, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

The Center for Worker Freedom, a special project of Americans for Tax Reform, is proud to co-host an event called A Summit on Workers’ Empowerment with The Heritage Foundation, the Center for Union Facts, and the Center for Independent Employees

The event will take place Tuesday, October 6th from 8:30am-12:30pm in the Allison Auditorium at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, and will bring together workers from around the country representing multiple industries who all have one thing in common: They have struggled against state-enforced regulations and/or aggressive union organizing. 

CWF Executive Director Matt Patterson will be moderating one of the panels.

Come and support these workers and hear them tell their stories in a day celebrating worker empowerment. Panelists and speakers include:

Mike Burton – An autoworker from Chattanooga, Tennessee explaining why he and his co-workers did not find United Auto Workers representation attractive.

Isis Brantley – A hair braider from Dallas arrested because she braided hair without a cosmetology license.

Jesse Rojas – A spokesman for Silvia Lopez, a farm worker from California who has led the charge to decertify the United Farm Workers from her workplace.

Bill Main – A D.C. tour guide who fought the City for the right to give tours of America’s Capitol without a license.

Karen Cox – A lift-truck operator from Illinois whose workplace was unionized without a secret ballot election.

Megan Kelly – An Orlando-based flight attendant trying to decertify her union.

Event Schedule:

8:30 a.m.   Registration and Continental Breakfast

 9:00 a.m.   Introductory Speech: Economic Challenges Facing Today’s Workers

 9:30 a.m.   Panel I – Union Representation and the Modern Workforce

11:00 a.m. Panel II – Government Barriers to Work

12:00 p.m. Keynote Address

 12:30 p.m. Adjournment and Lunch


214 Massachusetts Avenue NE

Washington, DC 20002

For more details and the event page, click here, or contact Matt Patterson at mpatterson@atr.org.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Study: 60% of NHL Players With No-Trade Clause Choose Teams with Lower Taxes

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, October 5th, 2015, 8:30 AM PERMALINK

54 percent of the 116 Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) and 60 percent of players with no-trade clauses who changed teams picked teams with lower taxes according to a new report released jointly by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and compiled by CTF Research Director Jeff Bowes.

The study, entitled Major Penalty for High Taxes examines the interaction between low tax rates and player movement in the NHL by analyzing federal, provincial, state, and local income and payroll taxes of NHL players. The report also ranks teams on their “true cap” by comparing how tax rates of different teams interacts with the NHL salary cap.

“Successful hockey players can choose their team in free agency and thus, their hometown for tax purposes. So can millions of Americans and Canadians who move from high tax areas to low tax areas. Better than any poll, this tells us what taxpayers want: Lower taxes and less government,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Key findings include:

  • The American teams with no state income tax have the lowest tax rates in the NHL. In 2015 Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning are tied for first at 40.6%.


  • The Montreal Canadiens have the highest tax rate at 54.2%, beating out the California teams. The Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are tied for second-last at 53.1%.


  • Having a no-trade contract clause gives players the power to avoid being sent to high tax jurisdictions. Tyler Myers saved the most, at $474,146, by moving from Buffalo to Winnipeg.


  • Players without no-trade clauses could suffer a big take-home pay cut when traded to a high-tax jurisdiction. Sergei Gonchar’s move from Dallas to Montreal would have cost him an annualized $664,241 in taxes, although he won’t be playing there next year. Keith Yandle’s trade from Arizona to the Rangers will cost him an extra $364,964.


  • 60% of players with some kind of no-trade clause who changed teams picked teams with lower taxes.


  • Out of the 116 UFAs signing with a new team since July 1, 54% went to cities where they will pay less tax.  Players moving to lower-tax jurisdictions will save more than $4 million.


  • From 2012 to 2013, 16,207 people making more than $200,000 lowered their taxes by moving to Florida, and another 7,315 to Texas. High-tax jurisdictions are losing those high-income individuals, with New York losing 14,756 in one year.


  • In the last 10 years 266,520 people moved from the high-tax provinces east of Manitoba to live somewhere else in Canada, and a lot of them moved to low-tax Alberta, which had net interprovincial migration of 248,197.


"The numbers don’t lie; NHL players take a financial hit to play in certain jurisdictions,” said paper author and CTF Research Director Jeff Bowes. “Obviously, there are other factors at play besides taxes, but the fact remains that significant disparities in tax rates can penalize players when they move between teams.”

The full report can be accessed here. 


Photo Credit: 
clyde, https://www.flickr.com/photos/clydeorama/

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Top Thug: Teamsters Audition for Villain Role – Get Callback from Attorney General

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Hal Smith on Friday, October 2nd, 2015, 3:25 PM PERMALINK

Five Boston Teamsters from a local union, notorious for criminal activity, have now been indicted for extortion after terrorizing the cast and crew of the popular Bravo show, Top Chef, at a restaurant in Milton, Massachusetts last year. Arrested and charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office for violent and threatening behavior, they had attempted to shut down the set until the show used union drivers.  

Teamsters Local 25 is a Charleston-based union of 11,000 members that has been active for over a hundred years – and despite stating on its website that it consists of “all colors and creeds” which are “not looking for trouble”– members of the Teamsters had reportedly shouted racist, sexist, and homophobic threats at host, Padma Lakshmi, and her crew eventually becoming so disruptive that the crew not only had to call the police for protection, but the arriving officer was forced to call for additional backup.

 John King, Milton’s Deputy Police Chief said the Teamsters were “threatening, heckling and harassing,” while officers “repeatedly tried to de-escalate the situation.” A group of Teamsters even slashed the tires of 14 different cars owned by crew members while the police were preoccupied with others who had started harassing the crew in the show’s hospitality tent

In response to the violent threats, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division was quoted in Deadline as saying:

“The strong-arm tactics the FBI has seen in this case are egregious and our investigation is far from over. Today’s arrests should send a message to those who think they can get away with manipulating the system that they better think twice.”

The published indictment even reveals that the Top Chef show had initially moved their set out of Boston and into nearby Milton in response to an unnamed official from Mayor Walsh’s administration calling the two Boston venues and stating that if they hosted the show, the union would picket the sight. And even though the show was forced to relocate at the request of their hotel, which did not want to be associated with a picket, fifty members of Local 25 were additionally sent to Milton to continue this harassment. 

The indictment also concludes by stating that it was directly “part of the conspiracy” to use this show of force and violence in order to “obtain wages for such imposed, unwanted, and unnecessary and superfluous services for themselves and other third parties.” 

This is not the first time that Hollywood has been threatened by the Charlestown-based Teamsters Local 25 either. Following the 1978 filming in Boston of “The Brink’s Job,” two members of the Teamsters were charged on racketeering charges for forcing the movie company to put fictitious workers on their payrolls and mail the checks to a Teamsters Local 25 trustee and general organizer’s home

However, what Attorney General Carmen Ortiz had called “old school thug tactics,” has applied to other activities by Local 25, not just bullying film crews.

Last year two members of Boston-based Teamsters Local 82, which has since merged into Local 25, were also convicted of racketeering for rigging elections and intimidating business owners.

In 2013 Teamsters 25 donated $14,999 to Walsh’s mayoral campaign, $1,500 to former state representative Eugene O’Flaherty, a top advisor to Walsh at City Hall, and $1,500 to Felix G. Arroyo, Walsh’s chief of health and human services. Additionally, in the last year the union has given each of Boston’s 13 City Council members a $500 donation

Ten years earlier, the heralded and outspoken leader for reform in Local 25, George Cashman, was sentenced for 34 months in prison for extorting a $20,000 kickback from a health care company and falsifying work orders so that 19 ineligible truck drivers — including a Charlestown gangster — could collect union medical benefits.

Even the current president of Local 25, Sean M. O’Brien, acknowledge in a 2011 Globe interview that the union had a “sordid past.”

With such a checkered past in criminal behavior, it is surprising that members of Local 25 have decided to continue their trend of extortion. However, when given an opportunity to shake down Hollywood – it is apparent that these Boston-based thugs couldn’t resist the urge. 

Photo Credit: 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


They local police never nab these guys because they are their union brothers. I've seen them in action. At a Scott Walker rally on Beacon Hill these thugs harassed and threatened a Tea Party group of retirees. All right in front of the police, who didn't raise a finger to help the old people. The Machine on Beacon Hill is unstoppable. The machine are the corrupt unions with their corrupt Democrat politicians.