What do you do when you’re a labor boss at a time when union membership is at its lowest point in over 50 years?  Anything you can to save a sinking ship, apparently.  That includes forming new union front groups called “worker centers” to pull in additional funding for unionization efforts.

As reported in The Hill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just released a report detailing the role of worker centers in union fundraising.  Worker centers are playing an increasingly larger role in backing labor causes as traditional unionization efforts continue to underperform.

Worker centers often engage in highly disruptive campaigns against employers, usually taking aim at a specific industry, such as restaurants or retail.  They are behind the protests and demonstrations surrounding fast-food establishments and Walmart, sparking national attention.  In terms of goals and objectives, worker centers are aligned with Big Labor interests.  But how, exactly, do they work and who funds them?

According to Glenn Spencer, vice president of the Chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, “Contrary to their public façade, union front groups are well-financed, highly-sophisticated labor organizations …When you pull back the curtain, one finds a river of financial support flowing to these groups from activist foundations.” In fact, from 2009 – 2012, that river of financial support burst its banks to the tune of $57 million dollars.  They may technically be non-profits, but worker centers sure do rake in a lot of cash.

By forming under the guise of charitable organizations, worker centers are able to seek funding from a wider array of sources than traditional unions.  Collective bargaining units primarily rely on members’ dues to fund their organizing activity.  However, as more workers decide to opt out of unions and more business-friendly states embrace right-to-work status, labor’s power continues to dwindle.  Worker centers, therefore, give union bosses the opportunity to draw in additional funding from a variety of foundations, aswell as from state and federal government sources. These union front groups, importantly, are not bound by any of the laws that govern the behavior of unions.

While labor heads, including the AFL-CIO, hope worker centers will help revive membership recruitment and generate additional funding, the results of their efforts remain to be seen.  One thing is certain though, Big Labor is doing everything it can to hold onto their power, even as it slips through their fingers.

Tell Congress: Stop the PRO Act

WFI is working to prevent passage of the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act)—a wholesale labor reform package that takes the current careful balance of labor rules and tips it greatly in the favor of labor bosses and forced collective bargaining.

The PRO Act robs workers of the right to a secret ballot to form a union, forces union contracts on workers without a vote of approval, and expose workers’ personal contact information to union bosses seeking to organize a workplace. And that’s just the start.

Help us speak out against this woefully misguided and blatantly anti-worker legislation. Review and send the message below to your members of Congress today.

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WFI Key Vote Letter: Opposition to PRO Act

— 02.10.2020 —
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy: On behalf of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), I am writing to share our organization’s vehement opposition to H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act). WFI has serious concerns with the broad, overreaching nature of this legislation and the many ways in which it would undermine worker freedom and privacy, while simultaneously threatening businesses and entire industries that keep America’s economy thriving. Please note that WFI will include votes on the PRO Act and its amendments on our Congressional Labor Scorecard, which scores and ranks legislators based on their activity associated with workplace issues. WFI was established to fight for American employees and employers as well as our entire economy. We believe in worker empowerment, the right of workers to be fully informed of the options available for worker-involvement in the workplace, and the right to freely choose whether to organize or not. No individual or group – government, a union or an employer – should be able to intimidate or restrict workers’ in exercising these rights. In an attempt to boost flailing union membership at the expense of workers’ rights, the PRO Act would upend decades of established U.S. labor law and institute myriad anti-employee and anti-employer policies that have already been soundly rejected—by Congress, various federal agencies, or the courts. Among its most blatant affronts to workers’ rights, the PRO Act would eliminate the right to a secret ballot when determining whether to unionize and enforce a “card check” system, exposing workers to the potential for harassment, intimidation, and coercion. The PRO Act would also enforce binding arbitration in union negotiations by a government- appointed bureaucrat; repeal and eliminate right-to-work laws in 27 states, force workers to fund union activities regardless of whether they support them; and threaten the ability of individuals to operate as independent contractors, eliminating traditional economic and employment opportunities and threatening the independence and flexibility of the emerging gig economy. On top of all that, the PRO Act would force all workers’ personal and home contact information to be provided to a union during organizing campaigns – in an electronic, searchable format no less, with no limit on what a union can do with that information. WFI believes in advancing sensible policies that protect and preserve the rights of both employees and employers, and we welcome the opportunity to work with legislators who also support these efforts. However, the PRO Act does not achieve these goals and would instead threaten the rights of both while jeopardizing our entire economy. WFI urges members of the House to strongly oppose the PRO Act. Sincerely, Heather Greenaway Executive Director Workforce Fairness Institute See the letter here.
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