The Locker Room

December 16, 2010

Barnes explores the latest hit against private-sector unions

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:05 PM

Fred Barnes' latest article for The Weekly Standard explores the significance for the pro-union Obama administration of a recent vote against unionization of 56,000 Delta Airlines employees:

With the Obama administration on their side, the unions expected to win the elections and end Delta’s status as the only major airline with a largely nonunion workforce. (Delta pilots have been union members for years.) But the AFA and IAM lost in what was not only a shattering defeat for labor, but also a reflection of the sharply diminished appeal of unions for most workers today.

The final election, conducted last week, delivered the most stunning verdict. Delta workers at airports and reservation centers rejected the IAM, 70-30 percent. In November, flight attendants voted against unionization, 52-48 percent. Ramp (or “under the wing”) employees voted not to join the IAM, 53-47 percent. And maintenance workers turned down the IAM more decisively, 72-28 percent. Sensing defeat, labor unions had earlier decided not to attempt to unionize four other groups of employees: mechanics, technical writers, meteorologists, and “simulated technicians.”

It was a clean sweep for Delta and shocking to labor organizers. ...

To defeat the union campaign, Delta had to overcome a serious obstacle put in its path by the Obama administration. Airlines, like railroads, are subject to the Railway Labor Act, under which labor relations are governed by the National Mediation Board (NMB). The administration created a pro-union board, which then changed election rules to favor unions, especially the two seeking to organize Delta.

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Christmastime Is Here / Power Grabs Are Near

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:55 PM

Quote: "It is completely and totally inappropriate to wrap all of this up into a 2,000-page bill and try to pass it the week before Christmas."

Yes, but that is what the Democrats in the Obama era do:

By Christmas Eve, when the Senate passed that two-thousand-plus-page perversion that few of them had even read, the dwindling minority of supporters may well have been the president, his administration, 60 favor-grubbing senators, and 220 graft-grabbing members of the House. Not that it mattered. In a tyranny, the will of those with political power is the only criterion for action.

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GOP's U.S. senators attempt to block omnibus spending plan

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:46 PM

A "$1.1 trillion, earmark-filled, omnibus spending bill" is running into opposition from the minority Republicans in the outgoing U.S. Senate. Emily Miller posts details at Human Events:

In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has directed the Republican leadership to wage war against Reid’s omnibus and replace it with his short-term spending bill. 

“I am actively working to defeat it,” McConnell said on Tuesday after seeing the omnibus for the first time. “This bill should not go forward. We didn't pass a single appropriation bill... It is completely and totally inappropriate to wrap all of this up into a 2,000-page bill and try to pass it the week before Christmas.”

On Thursday morning, McConnell offered a one-page, short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), that would fund the government at current levels until February 18.

“Once the new Congress is sworn in, we’ll have a chance to pass a less expensive bill free of wasteful spending. Until then, we should take a step back and respect the clear will of the voters,” said McConnell in a statement on Thursday. 

At least someone seems to realize that overspending is the problem.

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More evidence that we have oversold higher education

Posted by George Leef at 3:13 PM

I have been arguing for years that the US has oversold higher education -- that many students who attend benefit little from it and will eventually find employment no better than they would have if they had entered the labor force right after high school.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity has just released a report that strongly supports my argument. Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the educational level of individuals working in a great array of jobs, the authors conclude that a large and increasing percentage of college graduates are working in jobs that call for no advanced academic study. They find that "60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992 and 2008 ended up in these lower skill jobs."

The idea pushed by Obama and many in the education establishment is that if we graduate more people from college, all that increased brainpower, skill, and knowledge will make for a more productive labor force. "Investing" more in higher education was supposed to be a way of pulling the economy up by its bootstraps.

It was never a good theory (mere classroom seat time does not necessarily mean useful gains in knowledge) and now we have strong evidence that it is mistaken. Pushing more people through college just means a lot of people with BAs competing with high school graduates for work that only requires on-the-job training.

I suspect that this report, if anything, understates the "underemployment" problem. That is because there are now quite a few jobs that generally exclude high school graduates not because they couldn't possibly do the work, but because there are so many college graduates in the labor force that employers can afford to screen out non-graduates. This is the "credential inflation" problem. Restaurant chains, for example, may require that managers have college degrees, but it's not a job that reasonably intelligent high school grads couldn't learn. If it were possible to do an analysis of the labor force that looked only at jobs that require post-secondary education in a knowledge sense (rather than a credential sense), the underemployment percentage would increase greatly.

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Star News editorial on charter schools

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:22 PM

The editors of the Star News wrote a piece on charter schools that, frankly, is a little hard to follow.

Here is a brief summary of the editorial with my comments in parentheses:

1. Republican leaders in the legislature want to raise the cap on charter schools. (Amen.)

2. Charter schools take money from school districts and do not improve student performance. (Whatever.)

3. International comparisons of student performance show that district schools in the US are struggling to match the performance of our economic competitors. (Locker Room readers know that. Go on...)

4. Charter schools are popular with parents and education reformers who acknowledge that "one size" does not fit all. Meeting the needs of individual students is a good idea. (Wait a minute, you just said...)

5. Districts schools should have the kind of flexibility offered to charter schools. (If the editors argue that charter schools do not cut it, why would district schools want to replicate their approach? Popularity seems like a rather shallow justification for doing so.)

6. Flexibility will make district schools competitive with charter schools. (If the editors believe that competition is desirable, then why stop at granting districts greater flexibility? Let's go all the way.)

7. We should allow charter-type schools to operate in districts. (The state does this already.)

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Chana Kraus-Friedberg of Durham needs to subscribe to my education newsletter

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 12:33 AM

Note: I addressed Dr. Kraus-Friedberg's concerns about charter schools in my weekly newsletter. Click here to receive some weekly awesomeness.

In her letter to the News & Observer, she writes,

Those of us who have children with special needs, or children who struggle with standardized tests, are denied access to charter schools. Not to mention those of us who cannot drive our kids to and from school every day (since charters in North Carolina don't provide transportation).
Charter schools are not permitted to deny a seat to any student based on educational needs. As of the 2008-2009 school year, North Carolina charter schools served 3,828 students or 9.4 percent of total enrollment in exceptional children programs. Approximately 7.8 percent of district school students participated in exceptional children programs last year. As for transportation, some charter schools provide transportation. For those that do not, parents create carpools. Go figure - parents have the ability to come together and solve problems!
To top it off, charters are not subject to oversight by the school boards that voters elect. This means that even parents whose children can attend charter schools have no legal right to input into their children's education.
Parents have a legal right to input into their children's education - THEY CAN LEAVE a school that does not meet the needs of their children. In this way, charter administrators and teachers have a huge incentive to listen to parents, unlike the monopoly school that most children attend.
Why should we be paying for schools most of us can't use, and which deny us a voice in our kids' education? Public schools are imperfect, but we still have the right as taxpayers to work on making them better. Why are Republican legislators auctioning that right away?
Thousands of children remain on charter school wait lists because state law caps the enrollment growth of individual charter schools. In this sense, most of us "can't use" charter schools. By the way, charter schools are public schools.

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So, you want us to hire workers?

Posted by A A at 10:57 AM

Yesterday President Obama invited 20 executives to the White House and exhorted them to start hiring to help get the economy moving.

 In today's Financial Times, Mort Zuckerman, publisher of U.S. News & World Reports, says lunch is a nice gesture, but ""an overwhelming majority of those in business believe the administration is hostile, with little or no understanding of how this saps the “animal spirits” required for taking risks on expansions and start-up."

 The Obama administration does not seem to understand that "It is bad politics and economics to beat up the people who can create the new jobs that the economy leaders will not be won over by a round of private lunches and photo ops."

 Zuckerman goes on to echo Dan Henniger's sentiments in today's Wall Street Journal: Tax policy should support economic growth, not government. As Zuckerman concludes, "There is no substiute for good policy."

The Perdue administration should take note.



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Having a child just got more expensive

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:47 AM

Your child's crib is illegal. You can keep it, but don't even think of trying to sell it. New crib rules printed yesterday, and taking 168 pages(PDF link), a are so stringent that almost every crib currently on the market or in use does not comply. Drop-side cribs have received most of the attention, but the rules also affect almost every aspect of the crib - mattress fit, strength of slats, mattress support, and on and on.

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Three senators to lead GOP Senate budget-writing efforts

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:18 AM

From Sen. Phil Berger's office:

Brunstetter, Hunt, and Stevens Will Serve as Appropriations Chairs

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger announced today that upon convening the 2011-2012 session of the General Assembly he will name Sen. Pete Brunstetter, Sen. Neal Hunt, and Sen. Richard Stevens as Co-Chairmen of the Committee on Appropriations.

The Committee on Appropriations is in control of overseeing the state budget. Sens. Brunstetter, Hunt, and Stevens will lead the Senate’s efforts to close an impending $3.7 billion budget gap in the next session of state legislature.

Sen. Berger said, “Years of mismanagement and recession have left our state budget $3.7 billion in the red. North Carolina must begin to live within its means and adopt a budget that creates a business climate where the private sector can grow and create jobs. Fixing North Carolina’s budget crisis will require new leaders with conservative principles. Senators Brunstetter, Hunt and Stevens have the conservative principles and budgeting experience necessary to lead us out of this crisis.”

Sen. Hunt will begin his fourth term in the Senate in January. Sen. Stevens is entering his fifth session in the General Assembly. Sen. Brunstetter, beginning his third full term, said, “Throughout the 2010 campaign, Republicans stressed the need to reduce and balance the state budget without raising taxes. Closing this formidable budget gap will require the best efforts of every member of the Senate and House if we are going to do our part to jump start private sector job creation.”

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Perdue Throws Her Party Under the Bus

Posted by Paul Chesser at 07:53 AM

As Becki and Mitch mentioned yesterday, Democrat Gov. Beverly Perdue has recommended to the new Republican legislative leadership that they break from the way things have been done in the past and create an independent redistricting commission to draw new maps for 2011-2020. Here's how The News & Observer's Rob Christensen reported it:

In perhaps her most provocative move, Perdue urged the new Republican majority to adopt an independent redistricting commission. Perdue had not called for an independent commission while the Democrats were drawing the legislative and congressional district lines - one of the coveted tools in politics. It was a popular idea among many Republican lawmakers while they were out of power.

Now the roles are reversed.

Appearing before the caucus - and batteries of TV cameras - Perdue said an independent redistricting commission would "protect the rights of all our people" and end the "unfair partisan politics that has plagued North Carolina redistricting in the past."

An amazing admission by the Governor, assuming that when she was a Democrat House member in 1990 and a Democrat Senator in 2000, that she voted in favor of the redistricting created by her party leaders. Now she's accusing them of "unfair partisan politics" while showing she has repented from those sins in her past.


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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM

Karen McMahan's new Carolina Journal Online exclusive documents the alarming long-term debt obligations tied to public-sector pension plans.

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on the likelihood that ObamaCare will increase health care costs.

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