Chris Prandoni

Federal Comment Period on PLA's Re-Opened: Submit Your Comments

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009, 12:15 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

With the Obama administration flush with borrowed cash and eager to spend it, the fight for billions of dollars in federal construction contracts is heating up. Old battle lines have been redrawn pitting organized labor against private business. Organized labor, more often than not, is the beneficiary of generous federal contracts because of the billions of dollars they throw at Democrat’s campaigns and an arcane contract loophole, theDavis-Bacon Act. It gets worse for private business; President Obama signed Executive Order 13502 (E.O. 13502) which urges the Federal Acquisitions Regulation to mandate that all federal construction projects with price tags higher than $25 million (nearly all do) contain project labor agreements (PLA).

Additionally, Section 7 of the Executive Order calls for Secretary Solis and the Office of Management and Budget to make recommendations about an expansion of E.O. 13502, most likely to recipients of federal money (state and local construction projects). Obama is using federal loans as leverage to bully local governments into encouraging or requiring PLAs on their construction projects. Translation: Obama wants to deal exclusively with labor when contracting construction projects.

The proposed handout to labor would distort the construction market and raise the cost of governmental projects. By guaranteeing labor all federal contracts Obama isolates labor unions from outside competition. This would inflate the price of construction jobs and is the equivalent of signing a monopoly into law. Monopolies are bad. They are even worse when taxpayers get stuck funding unnecessarily expensive projects. This is not cynical; labor has been price gouging the federal government for years through manipulation of the Davis-Bacon Act.

Obama’s proposed PLA mandate has the additional effect of pressuring employers to unionize so they can receive governmental contracts. With unionization rates plummeting, currently at 7.6% in the private sector, labor has turned to Democrats to help bolster membership. Obama’s executive order and the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act are evidence of Democratic initiatives to increase union membership.

There is hope though, the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council, the board Obama submitted Executive Order 13502 to, is considering extending the comment period that expired August 13. Currently, the debate is being dominated by labor’s well organized effort to ratify Executive Order 13502.

 Alliance for Worker Freedom urges interested parties to submit comments here  and will continue to follow this story.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Sen. Specter Doublespeak on Employee Free Choice Act

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009, 1:24 PM PERMALINK

17 AUGUST 2009
Sen. Specter (D-Penn.) “Doublespeak” on Employee Free Choice Act
The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), an organization established in 2003 to combat anti-worker legislation and promote free and open labor markets is asking Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) to clarify his position on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), aka “card check”.

Sen. Specter in April 2009:
In I will not be an automatic 60th vote, and I would illustrate that by my position on Employee Free Choice, also known As Card Check. I think it’s a bad bill and I'm opposed to it and would not vote to invoke cloture.
…four months later on August 14th, he changes his mind:
Question: Is it fair to say that on the climate legislation, on employee free choice, on a public option healthcare plan, these are all areas where you would be voting with the majority for cloture to have these up or down votes?
         Specter: Yes, no doubt about those three issues at all

In March of this year, Sen. Specter was concerned about the economic impact:
         [The] problem of the recession make this a particular bad time to enact employees choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses
…only three months later in June, the Senator again switched his opinion at a rally:
I think you will be satisfied with my vote on this issue about union organizing and about first contract.
Which is it Sen. Specter?

More from Americans for Tax Reform

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Strong-Armed by Internal Union

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, August 14th, 2009, 4:20 PM PERMALINK

Sometimes, in labor negotiations, the union proposes something outlandish (6 months paid vacation), the employer refuses to comply and the union goes on strike. At this point, businesses have two options; ignore the union and continue to lose productivity while the market reacts negatively and their stocks plummet, or come to a “compromise” with the union. Where of course here, “compromise” means “give the unions a portion of what they want without going bankrupt.” Don’t believe me, ask Allan Mulally.

The power to strike lets unions dictate contractual negotiations. Labor rarely hesitates to wield its powerful weapon, the picket line, even against their own.

In a strange turn of events, a rogue union, the Washington-based Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), has rebelled against its national union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), threatening to, yes, strike if contract disputes are not settled. This puts the IBT in the awkward position of having to negotiate with the unreasonable OPEIU. The chickens have come home to roost.

An IBT spokesman lamented the situation OPEI has put them in, saying, “no amount of embarrassment will cause us to commit to a collective bargaining agreement that jeopardizes the financial health of your International Union." IBT’s critique of OPEI is the same claim businesses have levied against unions for decades; you can’t negotiate with these people.

Sympathy for IBT is in short supply, for them to condemn OPEI is utterly hypocritical. It should come as no surprise to IBT that the OPEIU has threatened to strike; its labors go to play.


More from Americans for Tax Reform

From Today Forward, the Money You Earn Working is Actually Yours!

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, August 13th, 2009, 3:23 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

Happy Cost of Government Day...well, yesterday. From today forward, all the money you make is actually yours!
Yesterday, the average American worker earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state and local levels. There are numerous ways that government can reduce waste, obviously, but one of the most needless money pits is made possible by the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors on all federal construction projects to pay their workers the prevailing wage in the same locality. To its proponents, Davis-Bacon is necessary to prevent the distortion of labor markets from the government’s deep pockets and political power, fair enough. This argument is predicated on the Department of Labor ability to accurately calculate “prevailing wages.”

Current survey techniques are egregiously error-filled. A recent audit found that 100% of Davis-Bacon wage estimates contained errors and that some “prevailing wages” have not been recalculated in 25 years. Two examples of incorrect Davis-Bacon wage calculations to illustrate how the bill, in fact, facilitates market distortion. In Sumter, South Carolina, the government paid plumbers $5.15 an hour compared to the market rate of $16.96 per hour. In San Diego, California, the government paid plumbers as much as $38.36 an hour compared to the market value of $21.61.

Much to the dismay of Davis-Bacon supporters, the bill consistently misprices wages and by doing so distorts the market. Most commonly overpaying for labor, the government will waste an estimated $9 billion paying above market prices for work this year.

Someone has to receive inflated government contracts, and in most cases it is unions. Due to flaws in the survey system, union wages more often than not end up determining the “prevailing wage.” Union wages are so high that they effectively price out all competitors as no other company can afford to pay its workers as much. As mandated by Davis-Bacon, the government is forced to pay the “prevailing wage” which usually means hiring unions.    

There is no point in continuing Davis-Bacon, a bill which in practice has the exact opposite effect of its intended purpose. So why is Davis-Bacon still a law? Because labor cannot fairly compete with other companies for government contracts so they continue to line the pockets of Democratic Representatives. Until it is repealed, or survey techniques overhauled, Davis-Bacon remains one of the most needless wastes of taxpayer money.

Trial Lawyers Thwart Meaningful Healthcare Reform

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, August 6th, 2009, 3:22 PM PERMALINK

There is consensus among Americans that something must be done to address healthcare costs, currently consuming 16 percent of GDP. The Obama administration has wedded itself to healthcare and is searching for reform. Unfortunately, Democratic plans are incredibly expensive and do not lower costs, just minor details. With a price tag around $1 trillion over 10 years, it is hard to see how spending extravagant amounts of taxpayer money saves Americans money. And Democrats wonder why a plurality of Americans oppose Obama’s healthcare plan.

Regrettably, for Americans who see their medical expenses rising, Democrats have taken one obvious cost-cutting measure off the table: medical tort reform. The current malpractice system is one that is terribly inefficient and expensive. There is no limit to how much money patients can sue for and no standard system for dealing with these claims.
Doctors combat impending lawsuits in two ways, both of which unnecessarily inflate the cost of healthcare. Most doctors purchase malpractice or asset protection insurance as safeguards against lawsuits. These insurance plans are expensive and raise overhead costs for hospitals. Secondly, doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine. Defensive medicine takes place when doctors order needless tests or procedures to protect themselves against future lawsuits. A 2008 survey found that 83% of Massachusetts doctors practice defensive medicine and that 25% of all imaging tests were ordered for defensive purposes.
Medical tort reform drives down insurance premiums by reducing the amount of tests insurance companies cover each year. This would reduce healthcare costs by as much as $200 billion a year. So why are no Democrats talking about eliminating defensive medicine as an easy way to save billions of taxpayer dollars? Trial lawyers, the only opponents to medical tort reform, happen to be in bed with Democrats, consistently raising millions for the Democratic Party. Democrats have sold out the American public for trial lawyers’ “donations.”
While Congress recesses, Democrats will try and cook the books on healthcare, looking to make their plans appear deficit neutral. An honest discussion about healthcare reform is not possible until special interests- trial lawyers- are expelled from the conversation. Until then, the status quo and handouts that burden our healthcare system will continue.   


The Truth About EFCA & Pensions

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 5:13 PM PERMALINK


The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), an organization established in 2003 to combat anti-worker legislation and promote free and open labor markets, strongly opposes the Employee Free-Choice Act’s (EFCA) binding arbitration clause.

Under EFCA, government arbitrators are given complete control over labor-business contract disputes. The employer and employees hands will be tied in negotiations leaving the workers powerless over their own employment fate. 
•    Government arbitrators could force workers into underfunded pensions, putting their retirement at risk
•    The average union pension has resources to cover only 62% of what is owed to participants
•    Less than one in every 160 workers is covered by a union pension with required assets
•    Under EFCA, government arbitrators can force businesses to fund failing pensions
•    The PBGC already supports upwards of 30,000 pension plans
•    Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), the governmental pension insurer, will assume $86.7 billion in liabilities by 2015
•    The PBGC limits the benefits in multi-employer plans to $13,000 a year per retiree, compared with roughly $52,000 for single-employer plans.
•    In 2007, the PBGC reported a deficit of $955 million, a $216 million increase from the previous year
•    On July 23, PBGC agreed to take on $6.2 billion in pension liabilities from bankrupt auto supplier Delphi Corp

When pensions fail, the government has to pick up the tab. EFCA silences workers’ voices and pushes them into failing pensions.


AWF Urges Co-Sponsorship of Pete Olson's (R-TX) H.R. 3309 Small Business Job Security Act

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 2:53 PM PERMALINK

22 July 2009

Re: Cosponsor Pete Olson’s (R-TX) H.R. 3309 and save American jobs

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), an organization established in 2003 to combat anti-worker legislation and promote free and open labor markets, I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 3309, introduced by Rep. Olson (R-TX) which will delay the third and final stage of the federal minimum wage increase until next year.

Minimum wage laws interfere with free market principles and reduce economic growth. Businesses, which are already struggling to stay afloat, will be forced to pay higher wages raising day-to-day costs. Employers will be forced to cut corners and reduce expenses, commonly done by reducing the payroll, or firing workers.

There is a direct correlation between minimum wage and unemployment increases. On May 25, 2007 congress passed legislation raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over the next three years. Accompanying the minimum wage increase, unemployment rates rose 106.5%, from 4.5% to 9.5%. On July 26, 2009 the minimum wage rate climbed to $7.25 from $6.55. H.R. 3309 would return the minimum wage back to the previous rate of $6.55 until July 24, 2010.

The new federal rate affected 31 states, impacting thousands of businesses and millions of workers. Tragically, the minimum wage increase disproportionately hurts the people it is trying to help. In 2009, as unemployment rates rose nationally, 15.5% of people without high school diplomas were unemployed and 37.8% of African-American teens, both astonishingly high numbers.

Raising the minimum wage does nothing to address unemployment rates, the underlying problem facing the American economy. America will once again rely on private business to innovate and create wealth. Government should be nurturing the private sector, not strangling it. Promote growth, stop minimum wage increases.  

I hope you will join Congressman Pete Olson and cosponsor this bill. Your support will save jobs and help America bounce back from its current economic crisis. If you would like to be added as a cosponsor to this bill, please have your staff contact Jesse Lashbrook at

Brian M. Johnson, MPA
Executive Director

cc: All House Members

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) Sponsors EFCA

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 9th, 2009, 5:15 PM PERMALINK

No surprise here. In his first act of official legislative business, the freshman Senator from Minnesota co-sponsors the S. 560, the Employee Free Choice Act. AWF issued the following release:

No Surprise Here: Al Franken Co-Sponsors Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)
First piece of legislation sets standard for liberal streak

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The newly confirmed freshman Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken (D) announced that he has co-sponsored S. 560, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) also known as “card check” in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters.

This anti-worker piece of legislation will have the following effects:
o    Cost an estimated 600,000 American jobs in the first year alone
o    Eliminates the federally supervised secret ballot election process
o    Open workers up to threats, harassment and intimation by union members
o    Replaces the will of workers with the whims of government arbitrators
o    Empowers government arbitrators to unilaterally “render a decision” after just 120 days of bargaining, thereby dictating contract terms upon workers and employers alike
o    Workers and employers will have less motivation to negotiate reasonably
o    Workers will be forced to participate in dangerously underfunded multi-employer pension plans
o    Fails to identify how arbitrators will be appointed, which opens the door to further uncertainty and governmental mischief
“It is no surprise that Al Franken is falling lock-step behind the Reid-Pelosi-Obama union funded agenda,” says AWF Executive Director Brian Johnson. “At a time when American workers need to keep their money, Senator Franken wants to force them to pay union dues and force them into underfunded pension plans and force them to surrender their bargaining rights to a union boss.”
National Press & Talk Radio Alert:
To schedule an interview with Brian Johnson, call 202-785-0266 or email

More from Americans for Tax Reform