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Thanks to Mark Warner, Another 250,000 Virginians Lose the Health Care They Liked

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Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, September 12th, 2014, 2:01 PM PERMALINK


If you thought you escaped Obamacare’s hammer on your health care plan, you might be wrong in Virginia. Another quarter of a million residents will have their private health insurance plans cancelled this fall, forcing them to find new plans, which may be more expensive. This is on top of the already 850,000 Virginians who received cancellation notices over the past year. 

Lawmakers asked the Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans if these new plans would have higher co-pays. His response? “Absolutely.”

The timing couldn’t be worse for Democrat Senator Mark Warner, who is running for re-election this year against Republican Ed Gillespie. Not only did Mark Warner vote for Obamacare, he echoed the 2013 “Lie of the Year.”

In 2009, Mark Warner had this to say about health care reform:

“Let me be clear. I’m not going to support a health care reform plan that’s gonna take away health care that you’ve got right now OR a health care plan that you like.”

Unfortunately, because of Mark Warner’s vote for Obamacare, if you like your health care plan, you may be one of the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who can’t keep it.

These plans have been cancelled because private health insurers are not allowed to offer plans that don’t meet the requirements of the federal health care law. Some of those requirements for every person’s health insurance plan now include:

  • Maternity and newborn care, regardless of age and gender
  • Diet and obesity screening and counseling 
  • Contraception and vasectomies

 

A spokesman for Ed Gillespie responded, “Because Mark Warner worked to pass Obamacare, 250,000 Virginians are losing the health insurance they liked, with thousands getting hit with huge out of pocket cost increases while unable to see the doctors they trust." He’s absolutely right.

Imagine if 15,000 of those people (or their family members) were planning on voting for Mark Warner this fall, just as they receive a cancellation notice in the mail notifying them that Mark Warner’s vote for Obamacare cost them the insurance they like. This could be a game-changer in the Virginia US Senate race.

 

Photo Credit: 
Office of Senator Mark Warner

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Jerry Brown: It's Your Baby, Take Care of It!

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Posted by Center for Worker Freedom on Friday, September 12th, 2014, 11:22 AM PERMALINK


Today the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) launched the second round in a series of billboards in Sacramento designed to bring attention to the plight of Fresno farm workers who are being forced into a union against their will.

Workers at Fresno-based Gerawan Farming voted last November in a decertification election to rid their workplace of the United Farm Workers (UFW).  Union bosses at the UFW are trying to take three percent of the workers’ hard-earned pay, despite the fact that the union has negotiated no wages or working conditions for the workers in over twenty years.

But the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is refusing to count the votes from last fall’s decertification election in an outrageous violation of the Gerawan workers’ constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly.

Writing for the LA Register, CWF Executive Director Matt Patterson notes:

"The union can’t win an election fair and square, so it’s using its lackeys in government to do its dirty work, forcing workers to join their gang and pay tribute money against their will.

The sad thing: Many of these workers came to this country to escape that kind of oppression."

The CWF digital boards are located on the West side of I-5, just South of Richards Blvd (facing South) and on US 50 half a mile West of Howe Ave (facing East) in Sacramento. They will rotate a variety of messages through September designed to alert Governor Jerry Brown to the plight of the Gerawan workers, while urging him to help them get their votes counted.

The first message shows a picture of an infant and reads "Dear Governor Brown, Take Responsibility for Your Baby.  Make the ALRB Count the Votes at Gerawan.”  California Governor Jerry Brown created the ALRB during his previous term as Governor back in the 1970's. 

The second shows a picture of an ankle chained to a  weight labeled "UFW' and reads "Freedom of Assembly Includes Fresno Farm Workers."

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Kernighan

Things change when the shoe is on the other foot. Or maybe it just highlights a fundamental intrinsic hypocrisy.


Grover Norquist Urges IRS to Stop Political Harassment of Breitbart News

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Posted on Friday, September 12th, 2014, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


Today, ATR president Grover Norquist sent the following letter to IRS commissioner John Koskinen regarding the revelation of the IRS’ decision to subject Breitbart News Network to a field audit. As news continues to come out about the IRS’ harassment of conservative and tea party groups, it defies logic that this IRS audit was begun with anything but the worst of intentions.

The content of this letter to Commissioner Koskinen can be found below:

Dear Commissioner Koskinen:

It has come to my attention this week that the Internal Revenue Service is subjecting Breitbart News Network, LLC to a tax audit.  This is deeply disturbing to me for several reasons.

First, I served as a member of the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service.  We saw at the time an agency that was out of control.  Our report helped lead to the first “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” in the late 1990s.  Unfortunately, history has shown that the problems we saw then have only gotten worse over time.  This political targeting of Breitbart is further evidence of this.

Second, the IRS continues to be enmeshed in the conservative non-profit group harassment scandal personified by your former employee, Lois Lerner.  With every Friday news dump, more evidence comes to light that the IRS has not only acted in a highly political manner, but has sought to cover up its behavior. An agency which has been so badly damaged by self-inflicted political wounds is now auditing a news organization dedicated to covering that same political scandal.  One might be led to believe this audit is not justified except for political ends, and that can only cause the public to lose trust and esteem for the service.

Third, I would echo the questions raised to you by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) earlier this week.  For your benefit, I repeat those questions below:

1) How many other news organizations have been audited since President Obama has been in office?

2) How many of them could be identified as conservative- or liberal-leaning?

3) Have any other news organizations been subjected to this sort of far-reaching and oppressive inquiry, including requesting the personal tax records of editors and reporters?

4) At what point does the IRS decide to take action to audit a news outlet?

5) Does the IRS worry that its extremely burdensome auditing process could effectively silence the press?

6) Previously, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wrote the IRS asking that it examine the tax-exempt status of Crossroads GPS, a Republican organization that spends money electing Republicans.  Did the IRS ever receive any communications from any elected official asking it to examine Breitbart News Network, LLC?

7) Who, precisely, is responsible for making the decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC?

To these I would merely add that an audit here looks awfully convenient given the facts and circumstances.  According to your own IRS records, less than 1 percent of all tax returns (including business returns) faced examination last year.  Even here, two-thirds of these audits were of the relatively benign correspondence variety, unlike the field audit which Breitbart is subjected to.

It defies reason to think that an agency as politicized as the IRS began this inquiry with anything other than the worst of intentions.  I urge you to stop the political harassment of President Obama’s enemies using the IRS as soon as possible.

Click here for a pdf version of the letter.

Photo Credit: 
Gage Skidmore

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binky354

Hope Norquist is effective.

KarmaKiller

Awesome


Keeping the Internet Free

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Posted by Matthew Bruno on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014, 4:49 PM PERMALINK


Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) has crafted the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act (MITFA) in hopes of forcing the controversial Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) through Congress by holding hostage the widely agreed upon Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). Supporters of Internet freedom, including Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty, have sent a letter to Congress reiterating the problems with MFA and urging them to keep ITFA and MFA separate during consideration of these two consequential issues.

Internet usage taxes, prohibited by ITFA, and an Internet sales tax, promoted by MFA, are different issues that must be addressed one a time. Permanent extension of ITFA has the support of the American people and should be passed before November elections. Action regarding an Internet sales tax, an issue drawing more debate, should not hold ITFA hostage. Refraining from combining these topics will ensure the continued convenience, effectiveness, and ingenuity that have made the Internet a central driver of both our lives and our economy.

Congressmen on both sides of the aisle agree that an Internet tax is a restrictive measure that will inhibit a free market and the innovation that the Internet provides. Originally passed in 1998 and thrice extended since, ITFA has allowed the Internet to grow and prosper. Further proliferation of the Internet can be encouraged by extending ITFA permanently. The Internet was created as a means of free communication and exchange of ideas, goods, and services. Regulating Internet use through a tax will impede the continued development of such expression and improvement. If previous regulation of industry (water, electricity) tells us anything, we know that government intervention does more harm than good. Clearly ITFA should be extended permanently.

While the continuance of ITFA is a clear-cut essential, the issue of sales tax concerning out-of-state sales over the Internet is a different and far more hotly debated issue. MFA (S. 743) passed the Senate in May 2013 but has been held up in the House due to concerns over tax hikes and the sovereignty of states. MFA seeks to give states cross-border tax authority for businesses located outside their jurisdiction, effectively letting each individual state impose their tax ideology on any of the other 49. Previously, states have been protected from the whims of out-of-state tax collectors through the “physical presence standard.” This standard controls the regulatory power of each state by not allowing it to spread beyond its borders. The MFA would ultimately increase interstate tax complexity by forcing companies to reconsider the tax regulation that would stem from doing business in 50 different states.

These are undoubtedly two separate subjects. The permanent extension of ITFA has a large following, while MFA has two divided sides. In order to tip the scales on the MFA question, Senator Enzi and his co-sponsors have added ITFA to the equation in order to produce MITFA, a convoluted amalgamation of two separate issues. MITFA would only extend ITFA ten years, at which point its lengthening would once again be used as a political bargaining chip. Senator Enzi and his supporters seek to raise taxes through MFA by combining it with ITFA, an issue of monumental importance. Defenders of Internet freedom need to hold strong and demand that these issues be faced apart from each other.

Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty urge Senators and Representatives to pass a clean permanent extension of the Internet tax moratorium before November 1st.

Photo Credit: 
Blaise Alleyne

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Growing Support in Congress to Protect Online Privacy

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Posted by Matthew Bruno on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014, 9:00 AM PERMALINK


On Wednesday, September 10th, prominent U.S. businesses and defenders of American privacy sent letters to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) urging reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, an issue that is gaining support on both sides of the aisle. Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty support quick passage of the ECPA.

Congressmen Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO) have introduced the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 1852) in order to reform the current ECPA. They are joined by over 260 Representatives, a majority of the majority, and a majority of the House Judiciary Committee in co-sponsoring this bill. Identical legislation (S. 607) in the Senate introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) shows that there is widespread bipartisan support for ECPA reform across the political spectrum.

Written in 1986, the outdated and out of touch ECPA does not make clear whether the warrant standard of the U.S. Constitution applies to private digital information the same way it applies to physical documents. This is a cause of concern for millions of Americans who value keeping their online information private.

Discrepancies in the current law treat data stored locally in one’s home or office differently than that stored in the Internet “cloud.” The ECPA in its current form states that data stored in the cloud should be afforded less protection than data stored locally. This is a worrisome inconsistency that has become a cause for alarm as more and more companies and individuals store their work and information in the cloud. Furthermore, it discourages companies that use and develop cloud technology, such as Apple and Facebook, from innovating and expanding their businesses.

H.R. 1825 and S. 607 seek to bolster online security by affording cloud data the same protection as data stored locally. This protects the privacy of law-abiding Americans, while still allowing the Department of Justice to execute legal warrants. Furthermore, ECPA reform would prevent the SEC from circumventing the legal process and gaining direct access to private content held by communications service providers, a civil infringement that would further intrude upon American privacy.

Support for this legislation abounds across the ideological spectrum as well as throughout tech and advocacy groups. The Yoder-Polis bill is co-sponsored by over 260 Representatives, a majority of the majority, and a majority of the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Goodlatte of the House Committee on the Judiciary has claimed that ECPA reform was one of his priorities. Yoder-Polis, as well as the bipartisan Leahy-Lee bill in the Senate, serves as a strong first step in securing and broadening American privacy and freedom.

Photo Credit: 
Jeffrey Zeldman

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Obama Administration Still Not Getting It on Corporate Inversions

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, September 8th, 2014, 5:48 PM PERMALINK


The big news in the tax world today is Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's speech on corporate inversions.  

Unfortunately, it's clear that the Obama Administration still doesn't understand this easy issue.

Inversions are inevitable if you have a flawed tax system.  Multi-national companies have offices around the world.  They can set up headquarters in America, or in any number of different countries.  No matter where they hang a shingle, they will have to pay the full U.S. corporate income tax rate on all U.S. profits.  So what's the big deal here?  The big deal is that our tax system is the worst in the world for these type of employers, and inversion is the entirely predictable result.

Worldwide vs. Territorial taxation. The U.S. is virtually the only country in the world that requires its companies to not only pay taxes on profits it earns here, but also exposes profits earned overseas to U.S. taxation when repatriated.  This is known as a "worldwide tax regime." Other countries have what we should have, a "territorial tax regime," where taxes are owed only where they are earned.

The highest tax rate in the world.  Combine this double taxation with the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world (over 39 percent, compared to a developed nation average under 25 percent), and you have a recipe for corporate inversions to happen. Companies are simply not going to expose their profits earned overseas (and which already have faced taxation abroad) to even more taxation in the United States, which taxes more heavily than anyone else.

A simple solution: lower the tax rate, stop double taxing.  Responsible policymakers know that there is a very simple, two-pronged approach to stopping inversions--dramatically lower the tax rate on businesses, down to the developed nation average of 25 percent (or even less).

That by itself will do most of the work.

Combine that with adopting a territorial tax regime, and the problem is solved.  Companies not only won't want to move abroad to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers from unfair tax rules--we will actually see other countries' companies wanting to set up shop here.

The Obama Administration just doesn't get it.  It's clear, unfortunately, from Lew's speech that the Obama Administration just doesn't get it.  Let's break it down:

Lew calls for a phony corporate tax reform with a top rate of 28 percent and higher taxes than before.  A top rate that high simply isn't enough to make America competitive around the world. We would still have a tax rate significantly higher than the developed nation average. Combine this with tax increases to pay for it even bigger than the rate reduction, and companies are worse off than before.

They want to use the net tax increase money for another round of stimulus spending on roads.  If there's something we do know, it's that companies are doing inversions because they are overtaxed.  Increasing their taxes, and then using the money to finance union-contract road deals, is only going to make the problem worse.

Where's the end to double taxation?  You won't find it here.  Not only does the administration not ending the worldwide double tax regime--they are actually proposing making it worse.

Retroactive tax increases on companies who should have hired psychics. Arguably, the most offensive part of the plan is that it would apply to companies who have already made the inversion decision, months or even years before the law is passed.  Apparently, the companies who were making sound business decisions at the time neglected to hire psychics to divine what Congress might do (and apply backwards) months or years in the future.  There's a reason the Constitution forbids "ex post facto" laws, and this is it.

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JD

I guess the only people stupid enough to believe any company on the planet pays 39% work at ATR.

I do believe that if they "Did" pay what they owe we could lower the rate, But then again people like Grover will continue to cry....He believes (or is paid to believe) that business and/or rich people who own 90% of everything should not pay at all...And really, How fair is that to everyone else?


ATR Supports H.R. 3522, "Employee Health Care Protection Act"

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, September 8th, 2014, 5:18 PM PERMALINK


The U.S. House of Representatives this week will vote on H.R. 3522, the "Employee Healthcare Protection Act," sponsored by Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

ATR urges all Members of Congress who want to prevent Obamacare from doing even more damage to their constituents to vote for this legislation.

H.R. 3522 actually implements for workers what President Obama famously promised about his signature healthcare law: "if you like your plan, you can keep it."  Millions of Americans on the individual health insurance market now know this was not true, and those who get health insurance at work will find themselves in the same boat this year.

The bill allows any group health plan offered at work in 2013 to continue to be offered in 2014. It's as simple as that.

Starting this fall, up to 50 million American families could see plan cancelation or disruption due to Obamacare forcing their employers to adopt different health insurance plans.  They won't have the chance to keep their old plan, because it won't be available to them anymore.  H.R. 3522 would prevent that from happening.

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Ireland's Proposed Tax Changes Could Destroy Its International Competitiveness, Push Business Away


Posted by Lorenzo Montanari on Monday, September 8th, 2014, 4:43 PM PERMALINK


Since the 1950s, Ireland has used its corporate tax rate to attract business, which at 12.5% is much lower than the OECD average of 25% and the US rate of 35%. Now, international pressure has forced the Irish government to review modifications to its corporate tax system ahead of a planned international overhaul of global tax rules.

The review was prompted after the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) began a review of global tax rules because of concerns amongst world leaders that corporations were deploying aggressive strategies to minimize their taxes. The OECD review will conclude in November 2015, at which point a binding multilateral proposal to overhaul global business taxation will be considered.

Central in Dublin’s review is a proposal to phase out the “double Irish” tax mechanism, beginning in the upcoming October budget. The mechanism attracted controversy in the U.S. after a Senate hearing on Apple’s use of the system to minimize its corporate income tax rates. Although the Irish government has defended its corporate tax system in the past, increasing political pressure from Washington and elsewhere has begun to take its toll. Several groups including the Irish Tax Institute, the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies and Washington-based Tax Executives institute have contacted the Department of Finance to express their concern over the proposed changes. A change in tax policy would see a reduction in foreign investment, as corporations that have structured their business models based on assumptions around the current policy are forced to make changes and downsize their presence. Ireland, which has long benefited from its pro-business tax policy, would seriously damage the vitality of its economic recovery and threaten the jobs of the 130,000 Irish that are employed by foreign corporations.


According to American Chamber of Commerce, Ireland Chief Executive Mark Redmond, ‘Ireland has for a very long time identified a corporate tax regime as being really important to attracting direct foreign investment.’ The policy has caused significant economic benefits, by promoting an entrepreneurial culture in the country, and being a source of significant tax revenue to the government– US based companies alone contribute between €3 and €5 billion a year to the Irish Exchequer.

Despite these concerns, critics of the current tax system are increasingly anxious about Ireland’s international reputation and want to begin a gradual phasing out immediately. Just last week, EU officials hinted that their commitment to providing a package for Ireland’s debt repayment is linked to a removal of pro-business tax mechanisms and an Irish trade mission to Australia faced criticism over perceptions that Ireland encourages tax avoidance.

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Merica

I like it when america has all the say they know whats best

Bob

Sorry bud but my wallet is not your fair share.

JD

I have a idea...If a US company doesn't want to pay it's share of US taxes then they shouldn't be allowed to do business here....Grover's a corporate lackey who will do or say anything for a buck...


EPA Seeks Backdoor Regulation of Fracking

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Monday, September 8th, 2014, 4:32 PM PERMALINK


The EPA has released new ham-fisted and highly inaccurate set of White Papers regarding methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. As is to be expected, the EPA seeks to lower methane emissions from the industry by mercilessly regulating them, primarily going after methane emissions from the process of hydraulic fracturing. Undoubtedly the agency is grasping at straws after failing repeatedly to prohibitively regulate fracking. In a recent open letter to EPA officials, Senator James Inhofe has this to say:

“I have serious concerns with these White Papers. First, the White Papers demonstrate that EPA lacks a fundamental understanding of the industry’s practices and inner workings. They also reveal that EPA believes it has the capacity to actually help oil and natural gas companies operate more efficiently and profitably by mandating more guidelines and regulations; no regulatory body should have this perspective.  Further, the White Papers are handicapped by inaccurate and outdated data estimates of industry-wide emissions. I have personally addressed this practice with Administrator McCarthy, yet the EPA’s use of faulty data persists and will yield nothing but inappropriate policy discussion and decisions by the agency. I urge the EPA to gather more information, revise the White Papers, and allow and official, robust comment period prior to engaging in any policymaking discussion that could impact the oil and natural gas industry.”

As Inhofe points out, the EPA even goes so far as to mis-define and misuse industry terms in order to help make the rate of emissions seem worse, such as by putting leaks, venting, and normal emissions all under the category of “leaks”.

“The same White Paper also inappropriately, and quite causally, labels unconventional resource development as hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a specific component of the completion process of many unconventional oil and natural gas wells; however, it cannot be used to refer to the entire process. It is also unclear whether EPA wants to use the data on methane emissions from the completion process to address new sources, existing sources, or recompletions. EPA’s definition of what actually constitutes a “leak” also needs revision; it is unclear whether the EPA is referring to leaking, venting, or normal emissions because all are referred to by EPA as leaks.

A lack of clarity over definitions raises questions about whether data sets within the White Papers overlap one another. If they do, it raises questions about EPA’s policymaking intent and whether it is interested in sound policy development or if it has predetermined to regulate methane and is simply building a case to do so, however crude it may be. EPA must revise its White Papers to reconcile any data overlaps and work with industry to clarify misunderstandings about standard industry practices.”

Inhofe hits the nail on the head: It really is hard to believe that the EPA is trying to create good policy when their own White Papers are full of inaccuracies that they’ve been informed of time and time again.

You can read Inhofe’s full comments to the EPA here. 

Photo Credit: 
Daniel Foster

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Silicon Valley Sees Red (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, September 8th, 2014, 3:20 PM PERMALINK


Evan Halper of the Los Angeles Times wrote an article highlighting the conservative support for Silicon Valley tech companies.

Creativity and hard work also describe conservatives’ efforts to make inroads with the Bay Area’s innovation economy. Republicans, after musing about the possibility for more than a decade, have finally found a footing in Silicon Valley, ingratiating themselves with tech entrepreneurs who had long eschewed politics in general, conservative politics in particular.

Americans for Tax Reform director of budget and regulatory policy, Mattie Duppler, wrote an op-ed for Inside Sources detailing the intrinsic issues with new regulations proposed by the Department of Education.

The Department of Education’s rule would judge whether an institution can qualify for federal aid by mandating an average rate of repayment of student loans as measured against graduates’ income. Rather than applying to all higher learning, however, the regulation would apply primarily to private sector institutions. Non-degree, vocational programs at community colleges and other public institutions would be excluded, but not career-oriented degree programs at for-profit colleges.

The short-sightedness of such a metric is obvious; this arbitrary ratio may reflect bureaucrats’ prejudices, but not the quality and value of the education offered at schools. This will force private, career-focused institutions to evaluate potential students on their ability to pay back their loans, not on their needs or ability to succeed in their coursework. Thus, the rule unfairly targets populations who require assistance the most, further pushing higher education out of reach for undeserved communities.

The Los Angeles Register ran an op-ed by Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, in which he detailed the continued fight of California farm workers against the state’s oppressive Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

The workers, led by Silvia Lopez, a 15-year Gerawan employee (where she has worked alongside her daughters and parents) said No. They said you don’t deserve our money. They said we don’t need anyone to speak for us. They said to the union, We don’t need you.

The only legal way to get rid of a union under state agriculture labor law is decertification. So Silvia gathered signatures from her co-workers.

The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the state agency that oversees these matters, told her she didn’t have enough names. So she went back and collected more. At last the board relented and agreed to a decertification election; voting took place last November.

But those ballots have not been counted. They sit in a safe in some bureaucrat’s office.

Photo Credit: 
Christian Rondeau

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