Sunday, February 20, 2011

Arkansas Unions Perk Up~



Lest you think the battle brewing in Wisconsin is isolated to that state, think again. This is a  battle that working Arkansans cannot afford to lose. Although Arkansas has less than 6% union organization there is legislation continually littering the desk of our legislators to promote and strengthen the union presence and pressures in our state.

According to the Arkansas AFL-CIO facebook page they are having a Solidarity Rally for Workers' Rights this Tuesday (Feb 22nd) at the State Capitol. If you visit their web site you will find legislation they are pushing

Rep. Jim Nickels (D-Sherwood) who has strong ties to the unions here in Arkansas and has received over $20,000 in campaign contributions from them over two campaigns has filed many bills this session dealing with labor issues. An individual named Jim E. Nickels is listed as the Executive Director of the Arkansas AFSCME.

Last year I met Mr. Nickels for the first time here in Fayetteville as he disembarked from an AFSCME bus that was touring the state to promote EFCA (Employee Fee Choice Act, which is anything but free choice.)

Public sector unions cost Arkansans millions of dollars annually by driving state budgets well beyond responsible spending. That is the story in the majority of states in the US. 

According to"Arkansas residents could pay 7.13% less in state income taxes if they weren't paying for inflated government employee union wages." Think that would stimulate business in our state? 

The site also said:
Union officials have abused the trust of their members. They've misspent member dues and harmed the very same people they promise to protect.
In 2005 alone, federal racketeering investigations resulted in 196 convictions against union officials and employees and $187 million in fines. Union tactics -- including deception and intimidation during organizing campaigns, strikes that hurt members more than they help, spending mandatory union dues on radical political agendas, and the use of anti-democratic voting practices -- are long overdue for exposure. 

I am wondering what the unions are all in a tizzy about. According to the Southwest Labor's District Councilan affiliate body of the Laborers’ International Union covering Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas             
government statistics show that the average pay for union construction workers is more than 50% above that of non-union construction workers.
82% of union construction workers have health insurance, compared to only 46% of non-union construction workers. 
77% of union construction workers have a pension plan, compared to only 35% of non-union construction workers.

You can expect more unions across the nation to get fired up as elected officials across the nation attempting to bring fiscal responsibly and transparency to government begin to see where millions of tax payer dollars are being funneled. 

It will be imperative to make sure we are getting the facts, contacting our legislators and becoming fully engaged.  

As stated on Big's editorial on this issue, "we win this fight or we lose. It's that simple"


William said...

Great issue for Arkansas. .9%, that's 9/10s of 1%, of construction workers in Arkansas belong to a union. That's less than 400 people.

William said...

4% of Arkansas workers are unionized, that's about 44,000 people. The only state with a lower level of union membership is North Carolina. My guess is half those people work for the post office.

Laurie Masterson said...

William great points, the challenge is that unions are on the move around the country and there is tons of stuff happening behind the scenes right here in our non-union state.
If, unlike the other issues facing our state, we are preemptive instead of reactionary we WIN!

C.S. Moore said...

Laurie, do you know any more about the James E. Nickels that's Executive Director for the AFSCME? Is the representative Jim Nickels and James E. the same person?

Laurie Masterson said...

I have called the state AFSCME office with no answer the last two days I will try again today and will call Rep. Nickels or I will see him tomorrow for sure.