Fox News' coverage of the recent protests in Wisconsin was rife with falsehoods about unions and attacks on the pro-union protesters. This continues a long pattern of smears and fabrications that characterizes Fox News' campaign to scapegoat and vilify labor unions.
Beck Cites Wisconsin Protests To Claim That "Evil [Is] Spreading Around The Globe." Glenn Beck claimed that protests in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as in the Middle East and Mexico are part of "evil spreading around the globe." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/16/11]
Fox Nation Calls Protesters "Rabid Leftists." Fox Nation described pro-union protesters in Wisconsin as "Rabid Leftists." [Media Matters, 3/9/11]
Fox Nation: "Howling Liberals Interrupt John Kasich Speech." A Fox Nation headline referred to the protesters as "leftist bullies." [Fox Nation, 3/8/11]
Fox Nation Calls Protesters A "Shrieking Leftist Mob." A Fox Nation headline referred to pro-union protesters at a GOP-hosted town hall event as a "Shrieking Leftist Mob." [Media Matters, 3/8/11]
Malkin: Protesters Engaging In "Thuggery." Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin accused the protesters of an "immense amount of power and thuggery." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/17/11]
Fox Nation Calls Union Supporters "Despicable." Fox Nation called the protesters "Despicable Union Supporters." [Fox Nation, 3/4/11]
Fox Nation: "Judge Orders Union Agitators Out of Wisconsin Capitol." A Fox Nation post referred to protesters as "Union Agitators." [Fox Nation, 3/3/11]
Napolitano Calls Wisconsin Protests "Union Temper Tantrums." Fox News host Andrew Napolitano called the pro-union protests in Wisconsin "union temper tantrums." [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 2/17/11]
McGuirk: Protesters Are "Act[ing] Like A Bunch Of Selfish Spoiled Europeans." Bernard McGuirk, producer of Fox Business' Imus in the Morning, said that the protesters were acting " like a bunch of selfish spoiled Europeans," which he said was "almost embarrassing." [Fox News, Hannity, 2/17/11, via Nexis]
FBN's Byrnes: Protests Could "Borderline ... Get Violent." Fox Business' Tracy Byrnes claimed that protests in Wisconsin are "actually, borderline gonna get violent, it sounds like." [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/16/11]
Kilmeade: Protesters Got "Restless And, Dare I Say, Violent." Brian Kilmeade introduced a segment on a Republican Wisconsin lawmaker, Sen. Glenn Grothman, being heckled by a chanting crowd of protesters by baselessly claiming the protesters were "getting restless and, dare I say, violent." Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that, "If you put yourself in [Grothman's] shoes...it's absolutely scary." Doocy later claimed, "When you look at that and all the incivility there, you realize that to these people, elections have no consequence, mean nothing." During the segment, the on-screen graphics repeatedly referred to the "angry" protesters as "violent" or "attack[ing]" Grothman. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11]
FACT: There Is No Evidence To Support The Claim That The Protesters Were Violent.
- No Violence Is Shown On The Video. The video, which was shot by Wisconsin area photographer Phil Ejercito, show that Grothman was heckled by protesters, but no violence occurred. In fact, at one point during the video, a protester can be heard to shout "don't touch him" and at another, the protesters chanted "peace" and "peaceful." [YouTube, 3/1/11]
- Grothman Himself Claimed "He Didn't Think He Was Ever In Any Real Danger." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Grothman "told the [Cap Times] he didn't think he was ever in any real danger." [The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/2/11]
- Photographer Phil Ejercito: I Condemn "The Use Of My Work To Distort The Truth About The Spirited But Non-Violent Protests Here In Madison." In a statement to Media Matters, Phil Ejercito, the local photographer who shot the footage of Sen. Grothman being heckled by the crowd, said he "condemn[ed] the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison," calling it a "a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create." [Media Matters, 3/3/11]
Huckabee: "Public Union Workers [Make] 30 Percent Better Wages [And] 70 Percent Better Benefits Than Their Private Sector Counterparts." Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee claimed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to end collective bargaining power for public sector unions is important because "he's having to balance the budget." As evidence, Huckabee falsely claimed public union workers make "30 percent better wages" and "70 percent better benefits than their private sector counterparts." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/25/11]
Carlson: Public Sector Workers "Make More Than You Do" And "Won't Even Consider Taking Any Kind Of Cut." Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson said:
Here's, in my view, the politically effective and the true argument. They make more than you do, right, these public sector employees, they can never be fired, their benefits are things you can't even imagine, and by the way, they won't even consider taking any kind of cut in the face of the worst recession in our lifetimes and they expect you to pay for it. You can win that case. [Fox News, Special Report, 3/9/11]
FACT: EPI Found That "Wisconsin Public Employees Earn 4.8% Less In Total Compensation Per Hour Than Comparable Full-Time Employees In Wisconsin's Private Sector." A study published February 10, 2011, by the think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that when "[c]omparisons controlling for education, experience," and other factors are taken into account, "Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin's private sector." [EPI, "Are Wisconsin Public Employees Over-compensated?" 2/10/11]
The EPI report also included a graphic showing the average compensation for public and private sector employees in Wisconsin by education:
The February 18, 2011, EPI post accompanying this graphic stated:
The campaign against state and local workers is often justified with claims that they are privileged relative to their private-sector peers or have somehow been cushioned from the effects of the recent recession and slow recovery. These claims are clearly false.
In Wisconsin, which has become a focal point in this debate, public servants already take a pretty hefty pay cut just for the opportunity to serve their communities (Keefe 2010). The figure below shows that when comparing the total compensation (which includes non-wage benefits such as health care and pensions) of workers with similar education, public-sector workers consistently make less than their private-sector peers. Workers with a bachelor's degree or more--which constitute nearly 60% of the state and local workforce in Wisconsin--are compensated between $20,000 less (if they just have a bachelor's degree) to over $82,000 a year less (if they have a professional degree, such as in law or medicine). [EPI, 2/18/11]
Hannity Airs Cropped Video, Suggests Chanin Does Not "Care About The Children." From the February 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: Let me show both of you. This is the former National Education Association general counsel on why the NEA is so effective. I'm playing this because it is my belief that rank and file are often abused. Rank and file money goes to the unions. Unions support Democratic candidates. Democratic candidates funnel exorbitant benefits to them that they kick the can down the road and can't afford. But do they care about the children? You decide. We will roll this tape.
BOB CHANIN (former National Education Association general counsel, video clip): It is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them.
HANNITY: Not because we care about children. Not because we have creative ideas. Not because of the merits of our position. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/24/11]
Napolitano Airs Cropped Video And Claims Chanin "Admitted" That "It's Not About What We Do For The Kids." From Fox News' Glenn Beck:
NAPOLITANO: If the Wisconsin 14 keep playing hide-and-seek instead of getting back to work, it's going to cost them. Today, Republicans in the State Senate voted to approve a resolution that fines the missing Democrats $100 for each session day that they miss. The lawmakers are avoiding voting on a bill that would take power away from public worker unions. And you know what power means to unions.
They say they are for the workers, but it really all boils down to power, doesn't it? And I'm not just saying that. Even union leaders have admitted to it. Listen to what former general counsel of the NEA -- the National Education Association, which is the largest union in the United States -- once said about putting power before children.
CHANIN (video clip): Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year.
NAPOLITANO: Unbelievable. That is the lawyer for the largest union in the United States. You can't make this stuff up. If you put that in a script, in a movie, no one would find it believable. Joining us now with more facts about unions you might not know about is Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity. Tim, it's a pleasure. Welcome back to The Glenn Beck Program. I mean, this guy that we just listened to is really unbelievable.
It's about the millions of dollars in dues and it's about our power. It's not about what we do for the kids. Question: Is that typical of labor union leadership of public sector unions in the United States of America today, Tim? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 3/9/11]
FACT: Chanin Said That Ensuring That The NEA Remained Powerful Would Make It An "Effective Advocate" To "Achieve Our Vision Of A Great Public School For Every Child." In his closing remarks in a farewell address, Chanin said NEA's creative ideas, vision, and care for children are not enough to ensure that NEA is an "effective advocate." Rather, he said that ensuring the power of the NEA will "enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child." Chanin further stated that "closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality" are "the goals that guide the work we do." [NEA, 7/6/09]
WI Senate GOP Uses Parliamentary Procedure To Pass Collective Bargaining Bill Without Democrats. On March 9, Wisconsin Senate Republicans passed a bill that eliminates most collective bargaining rights for public union employees. The bill was then sent to a Senate-Assembly conference committee. [The Wisconsin State Journal, 3/10/11]
Minority Leader Barca Says Proceedings Were "A Violation Of Law." During the vote on the bill, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said that the proceedings were in violation of Wisconsin's open meeting law, which requires 24 hours' notice before a public meeting. [The Wisconsin State Journal, 3/10/11]
Fox News Celebrates "Fantastic" Vote With Fist-Pumping. The day following the vote, the hosts of Fox & Friends cheered passage of the bill, with co-host Steve Doocy responding to the concerns of Wisconsin Democrats by saying "too bad," and Fox News contributor Eric Bolling calling the controversial vote "fantastic," saying, "I was in the car, fist pumping." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/10/11, via Media Matters]
Kilmeade Suggests That "Union Bargaining Should Be Abolished All Together" Because It's "Breaking The Public Piggy Bank." Fox News' Brian Kilmeade asked, "If union bargaining is breaking the public piggy bank, should it be abolished all together?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/28/11]
Liz Cheney: Collective Bargaining "Reduces [Local Officials'] Ability To Actually Manage Their Own Budget." On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney stated that "when you've got collective bargaining in place and when you've got the benefits that are basically sealed in, and no ability by those local officials to touch those or affect them, it reduces their ability to actually manage their own budget." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/20/11, via Nexis]
Wallace Lets Walker Suggest That Collective Bargaining Is Preventing States From Balancing Budgets. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace hosted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to claim that state governments are facing budget crises because of collective bargaining. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/20/11]
FACT: There Is "No Correlation" Between Budget Shortfalls And Collective Bargaining Rights.
- McCartin: Contention That "We Can No Longer Afford Collective Bargaining" Is "Bogus." In a February 19 New Republic article, Joseph McCartin, an associate professor of history and director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, wrote that the contention that "[w]e can no longer afford collective bargaining" is "bogus." McCartin wrote, "Contrary to Walker's assertion, there is no direct correlation between public-sector collective bargaining and yawning state budget deficits." [The New Republic, 2/19/11, italics in original]
- Toledo Law Professor: "There's No Correlation Between Collective Bargaining And The State Budget Crises." A February 28 Fortune article quoted University of Toledo College Of Law professor Joseph Slater as saying: "It's easy to paint a portrait of public workers as overpaid, not working very hard and being fat cats on the tax dollar. But there's no correlation between collective bargaining and the state budget crises." [Fortune, 2/28/11]
- Tapper: "There Is No Correlation" Between Collective Bargaining Rights And State Deficits. On the February 27 edition of ABC's This Week, guest host Jake Tapper stated: "There is no correlation, according to statistics, between a state's ability to collectively bargain with its public employees and whether or not they have a budget deficit." Tapper also cited McCartin's New Republic article. [ABC, This Week, 2/27/11]
Kilmeade States That WI Faces Budget Shortfall Of "Over $100 Million" And That Walker Wants To "Close That Gap" By "Revisit[ing] The Public Employee Deals." Brian Kilmeade stated:
Wisconsin is a state like many states in this country that has a bit of a budget deficit, the tune of over $100 million. So one way in which new Gov. Scott Walker wants to close that gap is to go revisit the public employee deals, government worker deals that have been cut between union workers and the state government. So, why not put that forward? Why not have them pay into their pensions? Why not have them pay into their retirement health care, because we, together, have to balance the budget, and the people have spoken out in November. They want Republicans to do the cutting. And that was the easy part. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/18/11]
Killmeade: Walker "Can't Balance The Budget Unless He Gets These Contracts In Line." Later on Fox & Friends, Kilmeade asserted that Walker "can't balance the budget unless he gets these contracts in line." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/18/11]
O'Reilly: "Wisconsin Has A $3.6 Billion Shortfall Through 2013 And Simply Cannot Afford To Pay Its Bills ... And Public Workers Are The First Ones To Take The Hit." Bill O'Reilly stated:
O'REILLY: Well, the state of Wisconsin has a $3.6 billion- short fall through 2013 and simply cannot afford to pay its bills. This is happening in many states and public workers are the first ones to take the hit. Obviously that's not going over well in Wisconsin.
O'REILLY: But if state workers will not give back some of their benefits, there is no solution to the fiscal crisis anywhere. You can't raise taxes anymore. The folks are tapped out, right?
Where I live on Long Island some elderly people are actually selling their homes because they can't sell the high property tax rate. The solution in bankrupt states is where these two agree to some kind of give back perhaps over a few years, that way they can look for other jobs in the private sector if they don't believe they are being compensated fairly in the public arena. I think that would be fair.
"Talking Points" believes that class warfare is about to break out in America. Union benefits are strangling not only state budgets but also the private economy.
Yes, workers do need protection. They need some kind of security in the marketplace. But, the cold truth is, that federal and state workers have reached the top of their earning pyramid. Bankruptcy looms in California and other states and give-backs are coming. The blow back to that will be nasty. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/17/11, via Nexis]
Hannity: "Wisconsin Taxpayers" Are "Picking Up The Slack" For State Workers. Sean Hannity stated that "Walker is asking that members of the unions do the following, put 5.8 percent of their wages towards their pensions. Most contribute almost nothing as things stand right now." He then stated, "Its Wisconsin taxpayers, they're the ones picking up the slack." [Fox News, Hannity, 2/17/11, via Nexis]
FACT: The Shortfall Is Largely Due To Obligations Unrelated To Unions.
- AP: Wisconsin Faces Shortfall "Due Largely To Anticipated Medicaid Expenses And A Court-Ordered Repayment To A Fund That Was Raided Four Years Ago," And Walker's Tax Policies "Actually Make The State's Ongoing Budget Problem Worse." In a February 1 article, The Associated Press reported that "[a] new analysis released Monday showed that Wisconsin's budget could be between $79 million and $340 million short by June 30 due largely to anticipated Medicaid expenses and a court-ordered repayment to a fund that was raided four years ago." The AP further reported that tax cuts pushed through by Walker will "make the state's ongoing budget problem worse." [The Associated Press, 2/1/11]
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Outlines Major Causes Of Wisconsin's Budget Shortfall, Which Include "Two Big Obligations" Unrelated To Unions That Total Almost $260M. In a January 31 article, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted causes of the state's budget shortfall and reported that Walker's tax policies accounted for "more than half" of an anticipated $203 million decline in tax revenues. Additionally, the article noted that "two big obligations [are] looming" for the state which will cost the state an estimated $258.7 million; neither are related to unions. [The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/31/11]
Beck: If TSA Becomes Unionized, "It's Almost Like They Become A Defense Force ... And Not For You." Glenn Beck claimed that you "wouldn't want to unionize the nation's security team, because, man, it's almost like they become a defense force, isn't it? And not for you." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11]
Fox's Carlson Asks If TSA Collective Bargaining Will "Put Our Security At Risk." Gretchen Carlson stated that the "nation's 50,000 airport screeners will also have collective bargaining rights." She then asked, "But will this put our security at risk?" Carlson then hosted Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) to discuss his proposal to block collective bargaining for TSA workers and asked him, "Why do you believe that allowing collective bargaining for TSA employees threatens our national security?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/7/11]
Napolitano Guest Kurokawa: TSA Collective Bargaining Is "Really Scary." Andrew Napolitano hosted Nicole Kurokawa of the Independent Women's Forum, who said collective bargaining at TSA is "really scary." [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 2/7/11]
FACT: Collective Bargaining Rights Extend To Other Federal Security Personnel And Would Not Affect Security.
- TSA "Will Not Negotiate On Security." In a February 4 press release outlining TSA Administrator John Pistole's decision to grant workers collective bargaining rights, TSA officials stated that "we will not negotiate on security" and that "[b]argaining on any issues related to security would be strictly prohibited." [TSA press release, 2/4/11]
- FLEOA: "TSA Would Be Fully Capable To Deploy Its Assets Without Any Negative Impact Or Restriction By The Collective-Bargaining Process." According to a January 5, 2010, Washington Post column, Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) -- which represents more than 25,000 federal law enforcement officers -- stated that "[u]nder exigent circumstances, TSA would be fully capable to deploy its assets without any negative impact or restriction by the collective-bargaining process." Adler further stated that "[t]he collective-bargaining process should not be touted as a Darth Vader obstacle to TSA deploying TSOs [Transportation Security Officers] in a national emergency." [The Washington Post, 1/5/10; FLEOA website, accessed 2/9/11]
- Other Federal Security Personnel Have Collective Bargaining Rights. As The Washington Post reported on February 9, "[O]ther security personnel, including those in the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Capitol Police - but not the FBI - have collective bargaining." [The Washington Post, 2/9/11]
FoxNews.com: "Union Workers Reportedly Staged Slowdown As New York City Battled Blizzard." An article on FoxNews.com, titled, "Union Workers Reportedly Staged Slowdown as New York City Battled Blizzard," began, "As New York City finishes cleaning up the mess of the recent debilitating blizzard, it also faces allegations that union workers entrusted with cleaning up the mess of snow decided to stage a slowdown as the blizzard hit." [FoxNews.com, 12/30/10]
Fox News Hosted Halloran To Bash Workers. Fox News hosts provided an open platform for City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens) to blame unions for the city's blizzard response. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 12/30/10, Fox & Friends, 1/3/11]
FACT: Independent Analyses Indicated That A Failure To Declare Snow Emergency And Poor Planning Was Responsible. News Reports Analyzing The City's Reaction To The Blizzard Blamed City Officials -- Not Unions -- For The City's Response.
- NY Times: City Officials Failed To Declare Snow Emergency, Which Would Have "Aided Initial Snow Plowing Efforts." The New York Times reviewed the timeline of the storm and the city's responses and reported that after the National Weather Service issued a formal blizzard warning "city officials opted not to declare a snow emergency -- a significant mobilization that would have among other things, aided initial snow plowing efforts." [The New York Times, 12/29/10]
- NY Times: MTA Delay[ed] "Invoking A Full-Scale Emergency Plan." The Times article also noted that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which includes New York City Transit buses and subways, "entered the holiday weekend with modest concerns about the weather" and did not go about "invoking a full-scale emergency plan" until late Sunday morning. [The New York Times, 12/29/10]
- NY Times: City Delayed Call For Outside Help Until "Nearly 30 Hours After The Weather Service Had Raised Its Warning To A Winter Storm Watch." The Times article also stated that "[f]or years, an integral role in the city's best blizzard response plans" has included help from private contractors, but that "as the blizzard approached, the first calls from city officials for help went out around 9 a.m. Sunday -- nearly 30 hours after the Weather Service had raised its warning to a winter storm watch." [The New York Times, 12/29/10]
- NY Daily News: "Sanitation Department Short-Staffed Due To Christmas." The New York Daily News that reviewed the timeline of the storm and the city's response identified several major problems in the city's response not related to Halloran's accusations. The article noted that sanitation officials "were short-staffed due to Christmas" and later quoted a Sanitation Department supervisor who said that the city was "unprepared for this storm." [The New York Daily News, 12/30/10]
- NY Daily News: Workers Included "100 Rookie Drivers Working Their First Storm." The New York Daily News article also noted the city utilized "100 rookie drivers working their first storm" and that the drivers "had only two weeks of instruction, and just a few days of driving." The Daily News added, "Their on-the-job training was a rousing failure." [The New York Daily News, 12/30/10]
Bloomberg And Sanitation Commissioner Doherty "Dismissed ... Speculation Of A Slowdown." A December 30 article in the New York Times reported that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the sanitation commissioner John J. Doherty "dismissed widespread speculation of a slowdown by plowing crews upset about cutbacks in their department." [The New York Times, 12/30/10]
Carlson: California Is "Going Totally Broke" Due To "Huge Union Contracts. Gretchen Carlson claimed, "California, Illinois, New York -- those are just some of the states that could be facing bankruptcy, going totally broke, because of these huge union contracts that they have to pay out." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/13/10]
Morris: "Abrogat[ing] Your Union Contracts" Is How "You Can Solve Your Own Problem." Fox News contributor Dick Morris stated, "What I hope that the Republicans do -- and I'm pushing this concept -- is that they should go to these states and say, look, the reason you're in trouble is because of your union contracts -- the pensions, the wages, the fringe benefits. We'll let you go bankrupt just like Delta did or Chrysler did - GM -- if you abrogate your union contracts just like the corporations do. And that way you can solve your own problem you, and don't need a bailout." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/10/10]
Coulter: "California Is Completely Bankrupt. Mostly Thanks To" State Employees Unionizing. Fox News contributor Ann Coulter claimed: "[F]or Americans who don't know, California is completely bankrupt. Mostly thanks to the policies of Jerry Brown when he was governor 30 years ago when he passed the Dill Act which allowed state employees to unionize." Later, Coulter said that Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is "sticking it to the public sector unions -- which Jerry Brown did not and thus California is bankrupt." [Fox News, Hannity, 10/8/10, via Nexis]
FACT: Experts Trace CA Fiscal Crisis To State's Tax Structure, Economic Downturn.
- Schwarzenegger: The "Economic Meltdown And The State's Unbalanced Tax System Are Largely Responsible" For Current Fiscal Crisis. The Sacramento Bee reported that California's then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger "said the world's economic meltdown and the state's unbalanced tax system are largely responsible" for the state's budget deficit." [The Sacramento Bee, 6/6/09 via Nexis]
- NY Times Explains "Origins Of The Crisis" Stem From State's "Disastrously Imbalanced" Tax Structure, Which In Part Comes From Proposition 13, A 1978 "Voter-Led Initiative That Artificially Depressed Property Taxes And Shifted School Financing Burdens To The State." The New York Times reported on the "[o]rigins" of California's fiscal crisis, stating that "[w]hile the state's property taxes are below average, its personal income tax rate and levies on capital gains are among the highest; so unlike states that pass the tax burden around, California can become disastrously imbalanced." The Times further reported that "the protracted national recession delivered a big hit on the state's greatest source of revenue, income taxes on rich people." [The New York Times, 7/21/09]
- Cohen And Dreier: CA Has "Three Overlapping Budget Problems" -- "Declining Revenues," "Irresponsible Fiscal Policies," And "Most Important[ly] ... The Fiscal Straitjacket Created By Proposition 13." In an American Prospect article, Donald Cohen, president of the Center on Policy Initiatives, and Peter Dreier, professor of politics and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy program at Occidental College, wrote that "[p]olitics, not plummeting prosperity, are at the root of California's dysfunction." They further wrote that California has "three overlapping budget problems," including "declining revenues resulting from a long, deep recession"; "irresponsible fiscal policies"; and "the fiscal straitjacket created by Proposition 13." [The American Prospect, 2/1/10]
- Prop. 13 "Capped Property Taxes" And "Created A Constitutional Requirement That All Tax Increases Pass The [State] Legislature By A Two-Thirds Majority," Which "Made California Virtually Ungovernable." Cohen and Dreier further explained that the "most important budget problem is the fiscal straitjacket created by Proposition 13, the original tax-revolt ballot proposition that voters approved in 1978, which capped property taxes and made it extremely difficult to raise revenues." They explained that the law "did more than simply limit property taxes. It created a constitutional requirement that all tax increases pass the Legislature by a two-thirds majority," which Cohen and Dreier argue "has made California virtually ungovernable." [The American Prospect, 2/1/10]
- California Fiscal Crisis "30 Years In The Making" Because Prop. 13 Made It "Far More Difficult To Raise Taxes Or Pass A Budget In California Than In Other States," And State "Didn't Resolve How To Pay For The Services That People Want." A Time article titled, "How California's Fiscal Woes Began: A Crisis 30 Years in the Making," reported that "the Golden State's budget problems are hardly new. The seeds of them were planted more than 30 years ago. They begin with the 1978 property tax revolt and the victory of Proposition 13." The article quoted former California Assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg saying of Proposition 13: "One side was to protect the people from the government suddenly and wildly raising property taxes. ... That was done. But we didn't resolve how to pay for the services that people want. So we have created this crazy government structure in Sacramento held together by duct tape and bailing wire. It's not coherent and needs to be changed." [Time, 7/1/09]
- Former CA Assembly Budget Consultant: "The State Got Off Track In General After Prop. 13 In Terms Of Balancing Spending With Revenues." In a Sacramento Bee article, Dave Doerr, senior tax consultant for the California Taxpayers Association and a former California Assembly budget consultant, said that "[t]he state got off track in general after Prop. 13 in terms of balancing spending with revenues ... and once they did, it wasn't long before they were way off track." [The Sacramento Bee, 9/21/09]
Republican Strategist On Fox: Becker Wants To Forbid Employers To "Communicate Or Participate" In Union-Organizing Elections. Discussing Craig Becker's nomination to the National Labor Relations Board, Fox News' Megyn Kelly asked Republican strategist Justin Sayfie: "Tell us why Becker is so controversial." Sayfie replied:
SAYFIE: Well, he's controversial because he -- the National Labor Relations Board is supposed to decide disputes between employers and employees, and he has been a scholar who's written quite extensively on labor issues. And one of the things that he believes -- he's stated before in his writings -- is that employers should have no role in union-organizing elections at all. We all know about the card check bill that was proposed earlier this year and that was discussed where there would be no more secret ballots in the union-organizing elections. His previous views would state that the employers wouldn't be allowed to even communicate or participate and to have any role in those elections at all. [Fox News, America Live, 3/26/10]
But Becker Said He Would "Be Bound By The Law," Including Employers' "Indisputable" Right To Express Views On Unionization.
- Becker's 1993 Law Review Article: Employers "Should Be Stripped Of Any Legally Cognizable Interest In Their Employees' Election Of Representatives." In an article for the February 1993 issue of the Minnesota Law Review, Becker, then an assistant law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, wrote that "employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees' election of representatives." [Minnesota Law Review, 2/1993, via Nexis]
- Becker: "I Understand That There's A Different Role That I Will Have Than The One I Played As A Scholar." During a February 2 congressional hearing on his nomination (around 51:20), Becker referred to the Minnesota Law Review article and stated, "I understand that there's a different role that I will have than the one I played as a scholar, and I respect that part of that role is to respect the will of Congress." [Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, 2/2/10]
- Becker: "If I Am Confirmed ... I Will Be Bound By The Law As Enacted By Congress." In response to written questions by members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Becker further stated, "If I am confirmed as a Member of the NLRB, I will be bound by the law as enacted by Congress. I will also fully respect and apply any applicable precedents of the Supreme Court. I will also respect the prior precedents of the Board itself, consistent with the principle of stare decisis. I would review scholarly and academic work cited by parties to Board proceedings or otherwise brought to my attention. They would, of course, be given no controlling weight of any sort." [Craig Becker, Answers to Questions for the Record, 2/3/10]
- Becker: Employers Have A "Legitimate Interest" And "Indisputable" "Right" To Express Views On Unionization. During his February 2 congressional hearing, Becker stated, "The current law clearly provides a right to employers to express their view, not only the National Labor Relations Act, but the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It's clear that employers have a legitimate interest and have a right, which is indisputable, to express their views on the question of whether their employees should unionize." [Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, 2/2/10]
Gingrich: Unions Were "Taking Away Your Right To A Secret-Ballot Vote." Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act would lead to "labor unions taking away your right to a secret-ballot vote before being forced to join a union. [Fox News, Happening Now, 1/19/09]
Rove: Bill Would Lead To Unions "Taking Away The Working Man's Right To A Secret Ballot." Fox News contributor Karl Rove said that the legislation would lead to "taking away the working man's right to a secret ballot. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/11/08]
Baier: "The Bill Would Make It Easier For Employees To Form Unions And Would Do Away With The Secret Ballot In Votes To Unionize." Fox News anchor Bret Baier stated:
Pennsylvania Republican senator Arlen Specter says he will oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. The bill would make it easier for employees to form unions and would do away with the secret ballot in votes to unionize. Specter was the only Republican who supported the measure two years ago, and without his vote this time around, card check would likely fail or never be brought to the floor. [Fox News, Special Report, 3/24/09]
FACT: The Legislation Would Not Have Eliminated Employees' Right To A Secret Ballot.
- Christian Science Monitor: Legislation "Gives Workers A Choice Of Forming A Union Through Majority Sign-Up ('Card Check') Or An Election By Secret Ballot." Christian Science Monitor reported, "The proposed law gives workers a choice of forming a union through majority sign-up ("card check") or an election by secret ballot. The current election process, governed by the National Labor Relations Board, strongly favors employers, unions say. [The Christian Science Monitor, 3/11/09]
- NY Times: "Business Groups Have Attacked The Legislation Because It Would Take Away Employers' Right To Insist On Holding A Secret-Ballot Election." The New York Times reported that opponents attacked the bill because it would deny employers the ability to require a secret-ballot election, not that it would deny employees' the right to hold secret elections. [The New York Times, 11/8/08]
O'Reilly: "The Average Autoworker Now Makes 70 Bucks An Hour." Bill O'Reilly claimed that "with health and retirement, the average autoworker now makes 70 buck an hour -- far more than their counterparts at the Japanese companies." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/24/09]
Trace Gallagher: "The Hourly Compensation And Wage Of The Big Three" Is "Around $73" Compared To "Hourly Compensation And Wage For The Average American At $28?" From the December 2, 2008 edition of The Live Desk:
TRACE GALLAGHER: [I]s it tough to justify to your constituents when you have the hourly compensation and wage of the Big Three at around $73 and you have the hourly compensation and wage for the average American at $28? I mean, it's a big disparity to ask those making 28 bucks in wages and benefits to pay for those who are making 73 bucks in wages and benefits. [Fox News, The Live Desk, 12/2/08]
FACT: That Figure Is A Gross Distortion Of Labor Costs.
- Baker: Figure Is "Not True." Economist Dean Baker called the figure "not true," writing that "the trick is to add in GM's legacy costs, the pension and health care costs for retired workers. These legacy costs are a serious expense for GM, but this is not money being paid to current workers. The person on the line in 2008 is not benefiting from these legacy costs." [The American Prospect, 11/18/08]
- UAW President: The $73 An Hour Figure Is Outdated And Inaccurate. Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president, said in a prepared statement before the Senate Banking Committee, "Contrary to an often-repeated myth, UAW members at GM, Ford and Chrysler are not paid $73 an hour. The truth is, wages for UAW members range from about $14 per hour for newly hired workers to $28 per hour for assemblers. The $73 an hour figure is outdated and inaccurate. It includes not only the costs of health care, pensions and other compensation for current workers, but also includes the costs of pensions and health care for all of the retired workers, spread out over the active workforce. Obviously, active workers do not receive any of this compensation, so it is simply not accurate to describe it as part of their "earnings." [Senate Banking Committee, Testimony of Ron Gettelfinger, 12/4/08]