Chris Prandoni

NLRB Suppresses Dissent to Ram Through Controversial Rule

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 11:51 AM PERMALINK

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Obama administration, NLRB, AFL-CIO, SEIU all have the same goal in mind: increasing union membership by any means necessary

NLRB officials have been relentless in forging new rules aimed at limiting the amount of time between when a union announces an election and when the NLRB monitored election occurs. Employers are currently afforded, on average, 31 days to educate their employees about the pros and cons of unionization. Effectively silencing an employer, the NLRB rule would allow the NLRB to hold an election only ten days after the union informs the employer of intent to unionize.

More importantly, this will give workers an insufficient amount of time to consider joining a union. When workers cast their ballot, they will do so having heard one side of the story—the unions.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior is par for the course. What is surprising is how the pro-union Obama appointees disregarded the Board’s own operating rules to silence Republican Member Hayes and silence public opinion.

In a letter to Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Klein, Hayes wrote:

I criticized the majority’s use of a rulemaking process as opaque, exclusionary, and adversarial…That criticism apparently made no impression on my colleagues, who have continued this process in the same manner, and without my participation; and, who have now made in unequivocally clear that they intend to publish a final rule before the expiration of Member’s appointment without regard to Board tradition or rule.

This shocking abuse of the rules to advance a partisan agenda is further reason to support the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, which overturns the NLRB expedited ambush election rule.

Click here to urge your Representative to support the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act!

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Stop Regulatory "Card Check"

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

With union membership falling, the National Labor Relations Board has bent over backwards to corral workers into unions. Obama’s appointees are rewriting election rules and upending long held understandings about what constitutes a union.

Pushing back against this rogue agency, House Republicans have introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act.

Tell your Representative to support the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act.

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Obama Caves to Insatiable Wing of Party, Delays Keystone Pipeline

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 3:23 PM PERMALINK

Over the past six months, the Keystone XL Pipeline’s prospects have oscillated between probable and unlikely. The current rumors surrounding this project suggest that Obama is going to bow to the insatiable wing of his Party, the Greens, and delay the Keystone pipeline until after the 2012 election.

This is a huge mistake.

TransCanada has said they will scrap the desperately needed construction project if it is delayed another year—the pipeline has already been pending for three years. With unemployment lingering around nine percent, the country can ill afford to scuttle this economic stimulus.

Drawing an arbitrary line in the sand, environmentalists threatened to Al Gore (support a third party candidate or sit out the election) Obama if he doesn’t kill this project. Bucking the facts and the American public, preliminary reports suggest that Obama has caved to pressure from the far Left.    

The three false claims environmentalists are making about the Keystone Pipeline are easily refuted.

Claim 1: Building the pipeline will increase global emissions and harm the environment. The State Department has said that constructing the Keystone pipeline will result in “no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project corridor.” Furthermore, it is now possible that TransCanada will simply build a different pipeline to the Canadian coast and ship the crude Alberta oil to be refined in China. Whether or not Obama allows this pipeline to be built, the Canadian oil will be extracted, transported, and used.

Claim 2: The pipeline endangers the public. America is literally covered in pipelines. The easiest way to transport the enormous amount of oil needed to power our economy is through an infrastructure of pipelines. Trucks and boats, while utilized, cannot carry nearly as much oil or gasoline and are also susceptible to accidents. Until America has moved to a fully electric fleet (don’t hold your breath), pipelines are here to stay.

Claim 3: Keystone codifies the U.S. “addiction to oil.” Killing the Keystone Pipeline will do nothing to supplant the amount of oil Americans consume. EIA has predicted that U.S. daily consumption will increase to 21.9 million barrels of liquid fuels (nearly all of which are oil based) by 2035, a rise from about 19 million barrels per day in 2009. With the Keystone Pipeline now gone, the U.S. will have to import more foreign oil.  

Here are all the economic gains Obama is needlessly jeopardizing.

Once again, this President has put his re-election ahead of the country.

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When Oil Companies Make Billions, Who Profits?

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, 2:29 PM PERMALINK

Not cheering yet? You should be. In all likelihood, you are Big Oil.

Nearly half the population holds stock in oil and natural gas companies through pension funds—there are 145 million retirement accounts invested in oil and natural gas companies. The average value of these pension accounts is less than $55,000. 48.6 million American families hold IRAs that are invested in oil and natural gas companies—80 percent of these IRA holders earn $70,000 or less. All in all, corporate management owns 2.8 percent of oil companies; middle class Americans largely own the rest.

But Americans looking to retire comfortably aren’t the only ones pulling for oil and natural gas companies—so are the millions employed by the industry. Each well an oil and natural gas producer drills costs millions, sometimes billions of dollars. This money is spent purchasing drill bits from Wisconsin, steel from Pennsylvania, computers from California, and assets from every other state. Paying their workers a premium of $96,844, more than twice the national average, oil and natural gas companies ensure their employees are well compensated.

The pending Keystone Pipeline XL—an oil pipeline that would deliver crude oil from Canada to refiners in Oklahoma and Texas—is a great case study. Providing an immediate boon to the struggling Midwest, the project is slated to cost about $12 billion dollars and would create 13,000 construction jobs. Just as important is the ripple effect the Keystone pipeline would have on the larger American economy. The Keystone pipeline would create over 340,000 additional U.S. jobs between 2011 and 2015 in related manufacturing and service industries.

Click here to read more

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A Look Behind The Oil And Natural Gas Industry's Numbers

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 3:57 PM PERMALINK

Four times a year, Democrats and the Left cherry-pick oil and natural gas companies’ quarterly earnings and supplementary data in an attempt to justify tax increases on some of America’s largest employers. Yes, Exxon and other American oil and natural gas companies make a lot of money, but they also pay a lot of taxes and employ a lot of people—two facets of these companies that are rarely, if ever, discussed.    

You are “Big Oil”
Today Exxon announced 3rd quarter profits of $10 billion. So when oil natural gas companies make billions, who profits? If you have a retirement fund or are invested in the stock market, chances are you own a share of an American oil company—18 percent of oil and natural gas companies are owned by IRAs, 31 percent by pension funds, 20 percent by asset management companies (mutual fund, etc), 21 percent by individual investors, 6.6 percent by other institutional investors. Corporate management owns less than 3 percent of all oil natural gas companies. 

Oil and natural gas companies pay a lot of taxes
Exxon’s global effective income tax rate is a whopping 44 percent. This is due to the fact that many foreign governments charge a high royalty tax on oil production. Over the past five years, Exxon has paid $171 billion in global income taxes.

Domestically, Exxon’s effective income tax rate over the past five years is 32 percent. Over the same period, Exxon paid $21 billion in income taxes. But that’s not all, Exxon still pays the government royalty or lease payments, property taxes, excise and sales taxes on gasoline. When summed, the total tax expenses for Exxon and other oil and natural gas companies reaches the point of absurdity.

Paying nearly $100 million a day in income taxes, the oil and natural gas industry’s tax expenses average 48 percent, compared to 28 percent for other S&P Industrial companies. Using any tax metric, oil and natural gas companies are forking over lots of cash to the government.

And create a lot of jobs
Supporting more than 9 million well-paying jobs, America’s oil and natural gas industry is one of the few growing areas of our economy and responsible for 7.5 percent of GDP. But oil and natural gas companies want to create even more jobs. If the Obama Administration would begin to issue permits, sell leases, and lift bans on government land, the oil industry would invest hundreds of billions in domestic production. This flood of capital would create a million jobs over the coming years and net the federal government nearly $200 billion in taxes.

Unfortunately, Democrats and the Obama Administration have consistently attempted to raise taxes on this heavily taxed industry. Raising taxes on oil and natural gas producers would force companies to delay or scrap future projects as it becomes significantly harder for them to recover their investment costs.

You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone
The Obama Administration’s policies have caused expensive rigs to leave the Gulf of Mexico—taking tens of thousands of jobs with them. Future policies which hamstring natural gas production and close the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System would have the same effect. With a 9 percent unemployment rate, the Obama Administration should be facilitating growth and investment—not taxing it.   

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ATR Urges Representatives To Support H.R. 3094, The Workforce Democracy Act

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 10:48 AM PERMALINK

Unable to facilitate unfair unionization through Congressional action, the Obama Administration has utilized the NLRB to achieve similar ends. With union membership falling year after year, the NLRB issued a torrent of proposals to inflate unions’ numbers. Two of the most egregious proposals to come from the Board are the ambush elections rulemaking and the gerrymandering of a collective bargaining unit decision.

The proposed ambush election rulemaking would shorten the amount of time between when a union calls an election, and when that election is actually held. Employers are currently afforded, on average, 31 days to educate their employees about the pros and cons of unionization. Effectively silencing an employer, the NLRB rulemaking would allow the NLRB to hold an election only ten days after the union informs the employer of intent to unionize. More importantly, this will give workers an insufficient amount of time to consider joining a union. Furthermore, when a worker casts his ballot for or against unionization, they will not be entirely informed.

The second component of the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act is to restore the traditional interpretation of a bargaining unit. In the Specialty Healthcare decision, the Board established a new standard for what constitutes a collective bargaining unit. This ruling will allow unions to organize small, discrete groups of workers. Under this new decision, workers who are grouped with pro-union workers during an election would essentially be disenfranchised.  Click here to view the full letter.

Together these rules undermine worker choice and silence job creators. Reaffirming worker protections from overeager unions, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act overturns these ill-advised NLRB proposals.     

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Newsflash: America Is Literally Covered In Pipelines

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, October 21st, 2011, 1:36 PM PERMALINK

The pending Keystone XL Pipeline—the pipeline that will carry Canadian crude oil to refiners in Texas and Oklahoma—is emblematic of the misinformation campaigns waged by those who inexplicably want to scuttle this project, and the tens of thousands of jobs tied to its construction. Attempting to brand the pipeline as “dangerous,” groups and politicians on the Left have done Americans a disservice by misrepresenting the project’s basic facts.

The Pipeline is NOT a disaster waiting to happen

Since the first well was drilled in Pennsylvania over a hundred years ago, oil pipelines have been one of the safest, most efficient ways to transport oil. The United States produces 5.5 million barrels* and consumes about 19 million barrels every day. Much to the dismay of those on the Left, America and the world literally run on oil. With consumption showing no signs of abating, American businesses need to deliver oil and gasoline to eager consumers throughout the country. 

*If the Obama Administration would allow energy producers to develop America’s natural resources, the US could produce about 10 million barrels of oil daily.

The easiest way to transport the enormous amount of oil needed to power our economy is through an infrastructure of pipelines.

America is literally covered in oil pipelines, and for good reason.

If oil is not transported via pipeline, what are the alternatives? Trucks and boats, while utilized, cannot carry nearly as much oil or gasoline and are also susceptible to accidents. Until America has moved to a fully electric, plug in fleet (don’t hold your breath) pipelines will be here to stay. So unless you want to increase to cost of transporting gasoline, which will likely cause the price of gasoline to rise, let’s put our hands together for pipelines.  




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Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act: No Taxpayer Bailout

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, October 20th, 2011, 1:44 PM PERMALINK

With the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) $8 billion deficit this year forcing Congressional action, Representatives Issa (R-Calif.) and Ross (R-Fla.) have proposed the Postal Reform Act, H.R. 2309, which balances the books and ensures taxpayers do not foot the bill for USPS mismanagement.  Click here to view the PDF.  

Rightsizing the workforce
Compared to the private sector, over 80 percent of the Post Office’s costs are labor related, while FedEx and UPS spend 20-40 percent less. The Postal Reform Act looks to bring down labor costs by rightsizing the entity’s workforce and bringing postal employee compensation in line with other federal workers. Over the coming years, the Postal Reform Act will reduce USPS’s workforce by nudging government workers eligible to retire with full benefits to do so. Additionally, the Postal Reform Act would eliminate the no-layoff clause currently included in the postal employees’ collective bargaining contract. Postal Employees would be subject to the same Reduction-in-Force authority as the rest of the federal workforce.

The Postal Reform Act requires postal employees to contribute the same percentage of their income as other federal employees to their retirement. Currently, postal workers only pay 21 percent of health care costs and none of their life insurance premiums, federal workers pay 28 percent of healthcare costs and are responsible for 100 percent of their life insurance costs.

Post Office Consolidations
The Postal Reform Act consolidates unnecessary facilities by allowing a BRAC style commission to close post offices and mail facilities that habitually run a deficit. 

Increases Flexibility
One of the greatest inhibitors to USPS reform is the rigid laws and regulations governing the entity. The Postal Reform Act allows USPS to eliminate Saturday delivery, if it chooses. Opening up a new source of revenue, HR 2309 would allow USPS to sell advertising space on vehicles and facilities. Given the USPS’s fleet, post offices, and sorting facilities, this provision has the potential to bring in substantial revenue.

Essential services
Just as important as what the bill accomplishes, HR 2309 is noteworthy for what it does not try to do—expand USPS’s services. In the past when the USPS has faced shortfalls, the entity has attempted to offer consumers more products—international shipping, ties, and other eventual boondoggles. These forays into other services have consistently ended poorly. Firstly, the USPS is not equipped to deliver these products at market price, so they inevitably lose USPS money. Secondly, any revenue the USPS gains comes at the detriment of a private company offering the same service. Leveraging the government’s support of USPS to encroach on private businesses is bad policy and should be explicitly prohibited.  

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Governor Perry's Energy Paper Hits All The Right Notes

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, October 17th, 2011, 2:43 PM PERMALINK

Last week, presidential candidate Rick Perry released his aptly named Energizing American Jobs and Security plan, a blueprint outlining his energy and environmental policies. Leaving no rock unturned, Perry lays out a strong plan aimed at spurring domestic investment and job creation, reining in the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and reducing our nation’s deficit.

Keeping in line with much of the legislation coming out of the Republican controlled House of Representatives, Perry first looks to undo the damage caused by the Obama Administration over the past three years. Refusing to issue drilling permits at a reasonable rate, the Department of the Interior has put forth an impossible number of hoops for oil and natural gas producers to jump through. Across town, Lisa Jackson’s EPA has scared America’s job creators into inaction. With a slew of punitive, unnecessary regulations coming down the pipe, America’s manufacturers and energy producers are hording capital until they fully comprehend EPA’s compliance costs. Perry’s blueprint would reprimand these agencies, expediting permit processing and giving American businesses the certainty investment requires.

Consistent with Perry’s record as governor, he believes that state-run EPAs are best equipped to determine and enforce environmental regulations. Bogged down in the fight against the federal EPA, devolution of environmental regulation to state agencies is something conservatives should talk about more.

Also encouraging is Perry’s plan to simplify our distortive tax code through repealing tax credits and subsidies. Cleaning up the code of course, would be done in a revenue neutral way as he promised Americans he would not raise their taxes when he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. ATR has long championed this strategy for tax reform, which was modeled after Reagan’s successful 1986 plan. Repealing credits and plowing the savings into lower rates would not only simplify the tax code, but make it more fair—a step towards a truly innovative free energy market.

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AWF Urges An "Official Time" Policy Rider In Workers Appropriations Process

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, October 14th, 2011, 2:44 PM PERMALINK

Today, the Alliance for Worker Freedom, an affiliate of Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to the hill explaining how implementing an "official time" policy would save the taxpayer money.  You may view the full letter here.

A study conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for FY 2008 found that, among 61 federal departments and agencies, close to 3 million hours of official time was used in arbitration and collective bargaining. The report found that federal expenditures for these activities totaled $120,730,471, an increase of over $7 million from the previous year.  Click here to see the full letter. 

Let’s remember that our country now has one of the largest federal civilian workforces in its history, with over 80,000 employees making over $150,000 a year. On average, federal workers are making 30-40% more than their counterparts in the private sector.

As if big benefits, high pay, and "golden" pension plans weren’t enough, public sector union members’ goal is to increase the size and scope of government. This self-serving goal should be done on their own dime—not ours.

That government employees are permitted to waste so many work-hours at taxpayer expense is unseemly and unnecessary, especially given the economic burdens many Americans face today. Republicans cannot promise a smaller, more fiscally responsible government if we cannot commit to reforming the government we already have. 

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