In a clear defeat for union bosses, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Sep. 1 that Ohio may constitutionally ban public employers from administering automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Union bosses challenged the 1995 campaign finance statute which included a ban on payroll “checkoffs.” The decision reversed a lower court ruling that the ban violated the unions’ free speech and free association rights under the First Amendment. Writing for the court, Judge Danny J. Boggs said that even the unions conceded that they had no affirmative right to wage checkoffs to support political causes. “The wage checkoff ban simply does not impinge in a constitutionally significant manner on any First Amendment rights,” Boggs wrote. The “privilege” of checkoffs was not being denied to harm or condition constitutional rights, he explained. Moreover, Ohio had an interest in “removing partisan politics from places of public employment.” [BNA 9/2/98]
Watch Out at LAX
The price of airline tickets in and out of L.A.’s airport will be going up if the AFL-CIO has its way. An AFL-CIO backed campaign to increase labor costs at the airport is just underway. The AFL-CIO has inserted 4 professional organizers to jump start a failing local effort. Ground leaders will report directly to AFL-CIO organizing director Kirk Adams in Washington. The campaign includes Service Employees Int’l Union Local 1877 and the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Local 814. Their goal is to unionize 3,500 employees. They will also be lobbying to expand the meaning of the city’s new minimum wage law ($8.50). Airlines, which lease the terminals and contract out service work to other firms, have maintained that the law does not cover terminal workers, essentially because they are engaged in the air transportation business, and are not doing work that would otherwise be done by city employees. [BNA 9/2/98]
Propaganda Alert in Mid-Atlantic
Attention radio listeners in Del., N.J. and Penn., beware of union boss propaganda! United Food & Commercial Workers Local 56 and its Health & Welfare Fund are bankrolling a new talk-radio show called “Working Family Matters.” According to the Pennsauken, N.J.-based union, the show will put a union spin on such topics as “health care insurance, HMO problems, family and medical leave, workplace safety and job discrimination.” The host is former Penn. state representative, Karen Ritter. The show will not permit callers on the air live. Instead the callers will be carefully selected from a pool of voice mail messages and emails, thus raising concerns about the show’s potential for one-sided propaganda.