Job Creation Means Unions Jobs

I recently gave a speech to two-hundred Republican women on the current state of politics in California and how businesses are being destroyed by the majority party’s regulations, taxes and now, global warming laws. During the speech I asked the audience how many of them owned businesses – nearly three-quarters of the women raised their hands demonstrating a great deal of free-market spirit. After the speech, I was swarmed by women wanting to talk more, but most wanted to tell me  personal business stories.

One woman told me her disturbing story.

Mary said that her husband is a flooring contractor. He began his business in 2007 and it started off successfully.  He had two apprentices working for him, but as the economy dropped off, he had to let both of the apprentices go.

Mary asked me if I had any knowledge or advice in dealing with labor unions and corruption.

Corruption? What could this lovely woman be talking about?

Mary continued telling me that her husband worked in the trades for labor unions for many years, but left after years of frustration of being forced to train and work with “lazy, sloppy workers.”  He decided to start his own non-union business instead.

Currently, because of his good pricing and high quality of work, Mary says her husband is awarded good contracting jobs. However, these jobs are apparently taking away union jobs from union contractors who, according to Mary and her husband, “produce a sloppy, more expensive work product.”

One day last week when he was working at a job site, Mary’s husband walked to his truck for more supplies and was confronted by twelve union workers in a “very threatening manner.”  He has since found out that they were paid by their union to picket his jobsite.

Why? It was all about prevailing wage jobs.  When there is any sort of government funding for construction jobs, such as school districts, low income housing, government buildings, and the like, if the union contractors don’t get hired for the jobs, they still have the right to send union apprentices. This forces the contractors to pay apprentices $40 per hour, which according to Mary’s husband, is much too high to pay for apprentices.

However, if the contractor doesn’t carry Workers Compensation insurance, the union cannot send a union apprentice.

Since the economy has gone down hill and Mary’s husband terminated their two apprentices, there was no reason or legal requirement to keep the Workers Comp policy for just her husband (the law does not require owners to be covered under a Workers Compensation policy).  Consequently, her husband does not use the union apprentices. Mary said that because of this, the unions are bullying him and trying to scare him in order to win the jobs back, while also intimidating the government agencies he is hired to work for.

Mary explained that if they were to keep paying for Workers Comp insurance and were forced to hire union apprentices, they’d loose any profit they might realize in a job.  The flip side is that if they don’t keep Workers Comp insurance, then they end up loosing work, because she said, “The unions and government are in cahoots.” They already are not awarded jobs because her husband’s business is non-union.

Mary summed up their problem: “It’s so frustrating to see the power these unions have, and how many government tax dollars are wasted on the expensive and inadequate work done by these unions.”

This is happening in many areas of work that typically have by union representation. Non-union businesses are squeezed out of bidding processes, and can’t be competitive because the rules are different. Labor laws don’t evenly apply to union businesses because their collective bargaining agreements exempt them. During the bidding with government agencies, union companies are often given a “last look” at the bid, or are simply awarded the contract outright because they are union affiliated. Many cities in California hire only union companies as contractors. And in some cases, businesses are sometimes threatened with a union takeover attempt.

While Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, has been touting his “job-creating tax credits,” on Tuesday the Legislature approved “job creation measures” claiming that they will put Californians back to work. “One bill will help put construction workers back to work by providing tax incentives to first-time homebuyers, spurring the construction of new homes and the sale of existing housing stocks,” said Perez.

Speaker Perez claims that these measures will help get Californians working again. What he’s not saying is that these measures will only put union contractors to work again at very high costs, and put non-union contractors out of work.

Ask Mary’s husband how secure he feels right now.

Katy Grimes

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