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Latest News - September 2013

September 30, 2013
A union, called by another name
Source: Detroit News

As Michigan continues to do anything and everything it can to grow business and create jobs for state residents, is it not senseless for anyone to advocate for policies that would have an adverse effect?

Enter the SEIU and associated labor-backed groups, like Fast Food Forward, who are staging protests and employee “walk outs” in cities across the country, including Detroit and Flint, to advocate for doubling the existing federal minimum wage while also demanding mandatory paid leave. Proponents of such measures fail to see that policies like these would be absolute job killers for low-skill and entry-level employees in an already desperate Michigan workforce.

To its credit, however, organized labor has advanced its cause through the pervasive establishment of entities known as “worker training centers.”

What is a worker training center? It is code for a union that has no legal accountability to those it claims to represent. For example, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a self-proclaimed “leader” in the worker center movement, is putting down roots in Michigan, threatening local jobs and business growth. The ROC is even soliciting massive donations from some of Michigan's most respected charitable foundations, such as the W.K. Kellogg and Ford Foundations, by carefully maintaining a “do-gooder” facade.

ROC operates as a charity organization and was established in New York City to assist displaced workers in the wake of 9/11.

Since then, its mission has evolved drastically; the group now seeks to unionize the 99 percent of restaurants nationwide that are currently not unionized.

This is a smart tactic, because by working through ROC, the unions dodge any true legal responsibility to workers. As reported by Politico earlier this year, “Entities like the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United allow employees to organize in many of the same ways unions do, but without going through all of the processes to become officially unionized. It also means that the labor laws do not apply and that these groups do not have collective bargaining.”

And the deception does not end there; ROC has repeatedly failed to report its lobbying activities to the IRS. Despite this blatant defiance of taxpayer rules, ROC has no problem taking taxpayer dollars. The organization has abused its tax status to receive taxpayer funds to the tune of $1 million since 2005 by way of the Department of Labor’s “Harwood Grants” program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health” program.

Thankfully, members of Congress are starting to take notice. This past July, U.S. Rep. John Kline, chairman of the Committee on Education and Workforce, and U.S. Rep. David Roe, chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, wrote to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlighting the continued blurring of lines between labor organizations and worker centers. More specifically, the letter asks the agency to consider whether worker centers should adhere to requirements of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

As Michigan battles daily to rebuild business and restore itself as a thriving economic engine, allowing a union-like group such as ROC — void of authenticity and riddled with ulterior motives — to establish credibility,will only deter us from our mutual goal, to make Michigan the most business-friendly state in the nation.




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