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Chris Prandoni

AWF Releases Quantitative State-by-State Report Card Examining Key Labor Issues


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 11:18 AM PERMALINK


[Click here for PDF version]

The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF) today released the Index of Worker Freedom: a National Report Card, a one-of-a-kind state-by-state comparative study that measures worker freedom through an analysis of policy implications as well as quantitative state data.

The Index found that workers and employers are fleeing states with low levels of worker freedom--generally heavily unionized states-- in favor of states with high levels of worker freedom. States ranked in the top quintile of worker freedom saw their population grow 50 percent faster than the national average and 150 percent faster than states in the bottom quintile between the 2008-2009 period.

“The positive correlation found between state population growth and worker freedom is proof that Americans are rejecting organized labor’s growth inhibiting policies; people are being drawn to states that foster choice and entrepreneurship,” said Christopher Prandoni, Executive Director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom.

Evaluated on a scale using fifteen key indicators, the Index’s average score was a C grade while the median score was a D. Thirteen states failed while Utah was the only state to earn an A, scoring a perfect fifteen. 

“The Index of Worker Freedom is great tool for citizens, policy makers, and scholars interested in examining and comparing state labor policy,”Prandoni added. “Compiling data and statistics from a variety of different sources, the Index provides a comprehensive but easily understandable ‘snapshot’ of worker freedom in any given state.”

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Premiums Higher in Federal Sector Compared to Private Sector


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 10:00 AM PERMALINK


This article appeared on Forbes.com on July 22, 2010

With government spending impelling huge deficits, budget hawks are looking for ways to reduce the government's burden on taxpayers. One avenue to reduce government expenditures is to bring federal employee compensation in line with those in the private sector. A recent study by the Heritage Foundation's James Sherk shows that workers in comparable fields and occupations are paid disproportionately more when employed by the federal government.

  •  Federal employees' hourly wages are 22% more than workers in the private sector.
  • Aligning federal workers' compensation with market rates would save taxpayers $47 billion a year.
  • When combining wages and total benefits, federal employees earn 30% to 40% more than private-sector workers.
  • Full-time federal employees can take 13 paid sick days a year along with all 10 days of national holidays.
  • The average federal civilian employee earns on average $32,115 a year in non-cash compensation compared to a private sector employee who earns three times less, $9,882 annually.
  •  Federal employees receive 22% more in employer payments toward their health care than their private sector counterparts.
     

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Choosing Worker Freedom Over Unions


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 4:47 PM PERMALINK


This story was published in the Washington Times on July 21st, 2010

States looking to increase their population, gross state product, revenue and prosperity should look to implement legislation that leaves their labor market free and flexible. The states that have been the most successful at luring new workers and businesses have been states with low levels of union density; union success is predicated on policy that hamstrings state economies and businesses.

In an effort to illuminate states' labor policies and the merits of federalism, the Alliance for Worker Freedom has released its second biennial report, the Index of Worker Freedom: A National Report Card. The index is a state-by-state comparative study that measures worker freedom through an analysis of policy implications as well as quantitative state data. The goal of the index is to provide readers with a 30,000-foot view of every state's labor climate.

One of the key findings from this year's index was the negative correlation between a state's union density and its level of worker freedom. States in the top quintile of worker freedom had levels of union density 41 percent lower than the national average and 55 percent lower than states in the bottom quintile.

Unsurprisingly, workers and employers are fleeing states with low levels of worker freedom - generally heavily unionized states - in favor of states with high levels of worker freedom. States ranked in the top quintile of worker freedom saw their populations grow 51 percent faster than the national average and 149 percent faster than states in the bottom quintile in the 2008-09 period. These two metrics - population growth and union density - are key indicators of a state's level of worker freedom.

The makeup of America's labor movement has changed, with more than 50 percent of all union members now working for the government at some level. With an increased incentive for bigger government, public unions' ability to influence sympathetic state legislatures has only been magnified by this demographic shift.
Paralleling the index's findings, Gallup found for the first time in more than 80 years that a majority of Americans now think "unions mostly hurt the economy." The inherent collectivist nature of unions, in which workers' preferences are secondary to union goals, and the means by which unions attain those ends, are increasingly frustrating Americans.

Unions' main weapon of coercion - the collective-bargaining agreement - enables a union to negotiate a worker's contract for him, negating his preferences regarding his wage, vacation time or retirement plan. In states that do not have right-to-work statutes, unions can mandate membership as a condition of employment. Once hired, workers are forced to contribute a percentage of their income to the union in the form of monthly dues. In a majority of states, unions are free to spend workers' dues on political candidates their members may oppose. Organized labor's defined-benefit pension plans punish workers who leave a union; they receive only a portion of what they contributed to the retirement account.

With the American people renouncing labor's oppressive practices, unions see the writing on the wall. Looking to trump state policy, the labor movement and its Democratic allies are attempting to enact federal legislation and leave every state looking like California or Rhode Island. Removing competition among states, as big labor intends to do, leaves workers little incentive to relocate, effectively reducing each states' worker freedom to the least common denominator.

These ominous words are no exaggeration. In the next few days, the Senate will vote on the House-passed version of the war supplemental appropriations bill, legislation that inexplicably includes language that forces states to bargain collectively with public-safety employees - police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel. In 2007, the House passed the union-coveted Employee Free Choice Act, which would coerce millions of workers into unions by effectively removing secret-ballot elections and would allow for a partial government arbitrator to decide union-employer disputes.

Earlier this year, President Obama issued Executive Order 13502, requiring all federal construction projects that cost more than $25 million to hire union shops. The executive order leaves the door open for state projects receiving federal funds to be subject to the same union-only mandates.

These policies handed down from Washington are the manifestation of big labor's plan to trample on states' rights and institute catchall legislation. The index looks to preserve the 10th Amendment by highlighting the benefits of a federalist system, a pro-worker system that necessitates competition and choice.

Christopher Prandoni is the executive director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom.

 

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Politicians Serious About Deficit Should Tie Government Worker's Compensation to Market Wages


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 11:59 AM PERMALINK


In order to pay for current incongruous spending levels, government spending is now 23% of GDP, Democrats have attempted to levy the American people with a slew of new taxes. More prominently, House Democrats, aided by a handful of Republicans, managed to pass HR 2454, commonly referred to as cap-and-tax, legislation that would have raised a family of four’s energy costs by $22,800 from 2012 to 2035 had the bill not stalled in the Senate.

Desperate for revenue, Democrats have implemented a number of obscure taxes. The healthcare “reform” bill which passed earlier this year and has been called by many on the Left the greatest legislative achievement in decades, taxes people who tan, veterans who purchase prostatic limbs, and families with special needs children, just to name a few.

Unimaginatively, Democrats have looked to tax their way out of the current $13 trillion spending-induced deficit. There is a better way, though--cut spending. ATR President Grover Norquist outlined a strategy to cut government spending when he testified before Congress last week.

A brief excerpt :

1. Resurrect the “Byrd Committee.”  One good idea for spending restraint is to restore a committee that once existed (known in the post-War years as the “Byrd Committee”).  First proposed in 1941, the committee was a bipartisan, joint committee with subpoena powers that focused only on making rescissions in federal spending. Its proposals enacted over $38 billion (in 2010 dollars) in savings. The fatal flaw in many other “fiscal commissions” is this lack of narrow focus – only when tax hikes are taken off the table are meaningful spending cuts made. Any recommendations from a committee modeled on the Byrd Committee should be privileged and require an up-or-down vote on the floor.

2. Give the public five days to read bills before a floor vote.  Congress should enact a five-day waiting period before passing any new or amended legislation.  This “cooling-off” time might have prevented $350 billion in President Bush’s TARP, $350 billion in President Obama’s TARP, over $500 billion in the so-called “stimulus” bill, $183 billion more in discretionary spending in FY 2010, and $794 billion in healthcare “reform.”

3. Put every federal transaction and contract online in real time.  Every federal transaction, contract, and grant should be available online in real time.   A spending transparency portal is an important tool that can be used to cut waste, locate inefficiencies and empower the people whose money is being spent, the taxpayers,  as fiscal watchdogs.  This was debuted successfully by Governor Rick Perry of Texas.  Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma also have good transparency initiatives.

While many of these proposals are politically difficult, our elected leaders should grab low hanging fruit, federal worker compensation. The Wall Street Journal ran an article today titled Government Pay Bonus: Private employees toil 13½ months to earn what federal workers do in 12.

Instead of further taxing Americans, federal workers should be compensated with market wages and retirement packages. WSJ writes:

Even using all the standard controls—including race and gender, full- or part-time work, firm size, marital status, region, residence in a city or suburb, and more—the federal wage premium does not disappear. It stubbornly hovers around 12%...total compensation for federal workers may easily exceed $14,000 per year more than an otherwise similar private employee.

Since Americans are the ones paying these inflated salaries, federal worker compensation should be directly tied to market standards, not the whims of politicians. Bringing federal workers compensation inline with the private sector is an easy and sensible way to cut government spending. Politicians serious about the deficit should seize this opportunity to reduce government spending. 

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Economy Sheds 125,000 Jobs in June, Fears of A Double Dip Recession Rising


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, July 2nd, 2010, 1:07 PM PERMALINK


In response to June's abysmal job numbers, the Alliance for Worker Freedom sent out the following press release:

[PDF Document]

A year after Congress passed President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package the U.S. unemployment rate remains a staggering 9.5 percent while the economy continues to shed jobs. Although the unemployment rate dropped from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent last month, this was largely due to more people dropping out of the labor force. 650,000 people left the labor force – when they re-enter, unemployment will rise.

“These numbers do not bode well for our economy. We all knew census workers inflated job numbers in recent months but this report is worse than I expected. Equally discouraging is the fact that people have given up searching for jobs, the economy is sputtering,” said Brian Johnson, Executive Director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom. “However, not surprising, is the federal government added 240,000 new jobs – at least we know where the President’s priorities are.”

Coinciding with an increase in the unemployment rate has been a decline in the president’s approval rating—President Obama’s approval rating has fallen to 47 percent after coming into office with a high 68 percent approval rating, according to Gallup. These numbers, coupled with the 8 million Americans who lost their jobs during this recession, could spell trouble for Democrats in the November mid-term elections.

“Americans are beginning to view this administration as inept. They skeptically swallowed the stimulus package in hopes that it would save the economy, we were told it would. Every piece of legislation that Democrats can’t pay for is now deemed ‘emergency spending,’ people are resentful and disenchanted,” added Johnson

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Financial Reform Update


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 1st, 2010, 3:58 PM PERMALINK


The House has just passed the House Conference Report of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the legislation while 19 Democrats voted against the House Conference bill.

To view a letter ATR sent to the Senate urging them to oppose this legislation, click here.

The onus is now on Senate Republicans to stop this bill as Democrats will need Republican votes to ratify financial reform. The National Journal reports that Sen Susan Collins (R-Maine) is now inclined to support the bill after an $18 billion tax on financial firms was removed during conference. Senators Collins, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, were the only Republicans to support the earlier Senate version making them likely targets for Democrats this go-around.

Harry Reid and the Senate will take-up Financial Reform after the July 4 Recess.

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Kerry-Lieberman Energy Bill Will Kill 522,000 Jobs and Reduce GDP by $39 Billion


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 1st, 2010, 10:52 AM PERMALINK


[PDF Document]

After overhauling America’s healthcare industry, Democrats have returned to their favorite, possibly even more divisive, prerogative -- energy policy. Unfortunately for Democrats who saw the House-passed Cap-and-Trade stall in the Senate last year, Kerry-Lieberman includes many of the same problematic ramifications: job loss, GDP reduction, and less disposable income.

Americans for Tax Reform sent out the following release outlining these negative economic effects:

The Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act is an attempt by the Obama Administration to put a stranglehold on the economy by unnecessarily inflating the price of energy and taxing American families. This butchering of the free market will cause severe negative effects for the economy. A study performed by Chamberlain Economics, L.L.C on behalf of the Institute for Energy Research provides figures which illustrate this point:

  • 522,000         Increase in unemployment in 2015
  • 5,000,000     Jobs lost by 2050
  • $1,042           Cost to households annually
  • $125 billion   Over economic loss each year
  • 75 percent     Seniors that would forfeit 2.3 percent of their income
  • 5.8 percent    Income forfeited for those making less than $10,000/yr
  • 0.9 percent    Amount of cash income those making $150,000/yr would be taxed
  • $1,174/yr        Increase in household bills for Northeast residents
  • $987/yr           Annual increase households in the South would face
  • 14 percent    Increase in petroleum prices to consumers
  • 12 percent    Electricity and utility increase families will bare
  • $39 billion    Reduction in GDP by 2015
  • $384 billion   2050 total loss in GDP
  • 119,000        Job losses to the petroleum industry
  • 81,400           Natural gas and electric utility job losses
  • 49,7000        Chemical product industry job losses

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform had one thing to say, “Are the Democrats and Obama serious about this being their national energy strategy?”

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Congress is Ready to Help the Gulf Recovery, Why Isn't President Obama?


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010, 5:31 PM PERMALINK


[PDF Document]

Although President Obama still refuses to acknowledge the Jones Act, Republican Senators have offered legislation, the WAIVER Act, which would remedy its ill effects. Supportive of this legislation, ATR sent out the following press release:

As President Obama continues to delay the Gulf cleanup by refusing to waive the Jones Act – effectively preventing aid from foreign vessels – and stands by the moratorium on drilling, members of Congress have decided to take action.  

Senators Cornyn (R-Texas), LeMieux (R-Fla.), and Hutchinson (R-Texas) have introduced legislation, S. 3512, the WAIVER (Water Assistance from International Vessels for Emergency Response), which would temporarily suspend the Jones Act and allow foreign vessels to enter the Gulf of Mexico to aid in the cleanup of the oil spill. The Jones act mandates that “all goods shipped between U.S. ports must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S. owned and U.S. manned ships.” Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana, on September 1, 2005, President Bush waived the Jones Act, expediting foreign support.  

“The only reason the president has preserved the Jones Act during this national emergency is to protect maritime unions. Democrats have politicized this disaster and are using it to appease frustrated unions. Republican senators have proposed good legislation, S. 3512, that would waive the Jones Act and get a cleanup underway,” Norquist added.

Addressing the drilling moratorium that could cost 150,000 permanent jobs, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Olson (R-Texas) have introduced a bill that will terminate the moratorium on deepwater drilling issued by the Secretary of the Interior. At the moment, offshore drilling provides 150,000 Americans with jobs and pays more than $6 billion to the federal government in taxes each year.  Everyday the moratorium is in place our economy loses millions of dollars

 “While it is unrealistic to think the federal government has the specialization necessary to stop an oil leak one mile below sea level, it is fair to ask why they aren’t doing everything within their power to protect the Gulf,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “How Obama can turn down assistance from countries that are more experienced at cleaning up oil is confounding.”

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More of the Same: Proposed Energy Legislation Continues to Punish Consumers


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010, 3:39 PM PERMALINK


[PDF Document]

In the same vein as previously proposed energy legislation, Senator Lugar’s S. 3464, the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010, implements many of the same problematic policies: a so-called feebate and federal CAFE standards.

In response to this legislation, ATR sent the following letter to Senators urging them to oppose this regulatory bill:

On behalf of American for Tax Reform and millions of tax payers I urge you to oppose the recent energy proposal by Sen. Lugar (R-Ind.), S. 3464, the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010. This bill attempts to control the automobile industry and place unfair burdens on consumers nationwide.

The Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act forces auto companies to increase their fuel economy standards by a set limit. Instead of allowing for analysis and inter-agency discretion, this bill puts policymakers in the front seat, not automakers. This bill also introduces a fuel efficiency performance program, known as a “feebate.”

These feebates are taxes to punish Americans who own vehicles the government is not partial to. What the government does not realize is that some families, business owners and farmers own certain vehicles to sustain their way of life. By implementing these heavy fees the government would be destroying the livelihood of many Americans.

A key mistake of the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act is that it does not take into account the amount of flexible fuel available to consumers. The act mandates that 90 percent of all new cars have the ability to run on E85, a new flexible fuel. However, only two percent of gas stations in the U.S. have access to alternative fuel.  This limited availability will lead to increased costs for purchasing new cars and gas to fill the tanks.

Opposing the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act will benefit all Americans by allowing our quest for alternative energy vehicle to be lead by those who are in the forefront of technology – the automakers. Currently, automakers are leading the way in developing new technology to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act would cut short these advances and would do the American consumer more harm than good.

I am urging all Senators to vote against S. 3464, the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010. For information please contact ATR Federal Affairs Manager Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org or 202.785.0266

Onward,
Grover G. Norquist

Cc:    All US Senators

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Financial Bill Conferees Should Remove Title 12, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 12:28 PM PERMALINK


[PDF Document]

The Senate-passed “Wall Street Bailout” bill, S. 3217 the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, seeks to establish a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). This Bureau violates consumer privacy, monitors personal bank transactions, and uses personal financial data to regulate consumer choice.

Now, conferees are being asked to make this provision stronger. Focus should remain on the systematic harm to system – not the regulation of main street banks.

Established in Title 10, this new autonomous agency will be sheltered within the Federal Reserve, but will function independent of the current established traditional regulatory framework. Congress or any other agency will have no veto power over the BCFP.

Section 1022 on page 1028 gives the BCFP authority to monitor consumer financial patterns and, “implement and, where applicable, enforce Federal consumer financial law.” Specifically, Subsection C gives this agency authority to “gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets.”

Further, Section 1071 allows the BCFP to “use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts…for any purpose.” Never before has the federal government actively sought to aggregate data on every single personal and business financial transaction in the U.S. until now.

The BCFP will use data collected by their agency as outlined above, and the Office of Financial Research established in Title 1, to monitor and track all consumer purchases and share this data with whomever they wish. This bill provides Big Business and Wall Street with the tools to regulate all consumers’ purchasing behavior.

For these reasons and more, ATR urges all conferees to vote “No” on provisions that will increase the regulatory power of the CFPB and support a full strike of Title 12.

For more information, contact Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org. 

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