Sunday, June 13, 2021

Robert, are you still interested in a Convention of States to propose amendments?

Dear Robert,

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING in our project, and a warm welcome from the Virginia Convention of States team!

Patriots in Georgia, Alaska, Florida, Alabama, TennesseeIndiana, OklahomaLouisiana, ArizonaNorth Dakota, TexasMissouriArkansasUtah, and Mississippi have passed the COS application calling for an Article V Convention of States to propose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limits on the size and scope of the federal government, and place term limits on federal officials. 

As a Convention of States volunteer and a concerned fellow patriot, I would like to express my personal gratitude to you Robert, for helping us drive this movement forward. By you also volunteering, you've proven you are a person of 'action', and that the future of this country matters to you. I encourage you to take the next step and sign our petition.

LEGISLATORS RESPOND when they hear from an engaged, informed, and motivated electorate. Be an advocate. Challenge opposition and advance the education of your legislators, friends, and family members—tell them you support the Convention of States.

Senator Mamie E. Locke, VA 2
Capitol: (804) 698-7502
District: (757) 825-5880
Delegate Martha M. Mugler, VA 91
Capitol: (804) 698-1091

JOIN Virginia's GRASSROOTS ARMY as we continue to recruit, train, and mobilize supporters of the Convention of States mission.

Spread the Word! Send a letter, call a legislator, and talk to family, friends, and co-workers. We will arm you with resources so you can quickly and easily communicate COS concepts.

Join a Team! Social Media Warriors and Follow-Up activists sign up here to defend the mission and welcome inspired citizens to the project.

Be a Leader! District Captains enlist, engage, and educate local volunteers. State Directors act as a liaison between state and national volunteers. Find one of the many leadership opportunities that appeals to you.

BE A DISTRICT CAPTAIN FOR VA 91! Virginia's goal is to place District Captains in each State House District this year, and Robert, your district needs you!

As the most critical member of our grassroots army, your overall objectives as DC are to educate your legislators, friends and neighbors about Article V and advocate for Convention of States.

I invite you to complete our District Captain Survey and, should you decide to accept the mission, our state team will provide you with all the tools and training you will need on the front line in the fight for liberty.

Robert, I am sincerely honored to work with earnest and committed American patriots like you, whose volunteer spirit is what drives our movement forward. If you have any questions about the COS movement, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

We at Convention of States Virginia warmly welcome you to our state and nationwide family of patriots.

Please take 5 minutes of your time each month to contact your state legislators. This is the single most important thing you can do to help our cause.
For Liberty!
Russell Beyer
(804) 218-1440

COS Action
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Your June 6th Sunday Summary

Dear Friend of TJI,
Senator Joe Manchin has taken heat from the Left for making clear he will not support ending the filibuster. But he’s not alone. Others have also written that they oppose “any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of Senator to engage in full, robust, and extended debate …” Among them were more than half of current Senate Democrats in the Senate – including Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner -- and Vice President Kamala Harris. Of course, the letter was written three years ago, when Democrats were in the minority and cared something for preserving the rights of the minority. The Left is principled, and their first principle is flexibility.
Meanwhile …
1.) Two generations of elected officials have come into office since Virginia last had public employee collective bargaining … so officials are unfamiliar with union strategies on collective bargaining or the provisions to be avoided. To the rescue comes the Thomas Jefferson Institute in a new collective bargaining toolkit authored by Visiting Fellow F. Vincent Vernuccio here. If you don’t want to read through the 42-page document, Vinny has a new column out summarizing the provisions here. This is the stuff of which $392,000 lifeguards are made (here).
2.) Writing over at Bacon’s Rebellion, Jefferson Institute Senior Fellow Steve Haner points out that “So many Virginia employers faltered or failed during 2020, the remaining companies may be charged a special tax of $95 on each of their own employees in 2022.” He also reports that the Virginia Unemployment Commission still has a 70,000 case backlog, which they promise will cleaned up by … September.  Finally, he calls attention to how flat employment growth has been in Virginia – even before the pandemic. An informative piece worth reading here.
3.) The ever-watchful Haner also reports on state revenue here. Revenue in the Ralph Northam years is up by a full third from the same point four years ago.
4.) The funds don’t go to the state, but among the tax increases authorized by the General Assembly was permission for localities to impose a plastic bag tax (here). Like Roanoke, which has imposed the tax, Fredericksburg is looking to do the same (here). Prince William (here) and Fairfax (here) aren’t far behind. Coming to a County near you …
5.) The once-sleepy Loudoun County has now become the epicenter of parental pushback against school administrators who confuse their role with that of the Thought Police (here). The Board faces backlash from its defeated efforts to suspend a teacher for expressing an opinion in an open forum (here) (they plan to appeal), and is taken to court again for “race and viewpoint discrimination” in its Student Ambassadors program (here). One parent who survived Maoist China drew parallels (here) about when her freedom was lost. In the ancient days, when we served on the Fairfax School Board, our motion to guarantee employees their First Amendment right to speak was defeated by a liberal majority. Perhaps they have all moved to Loudoun.
6.) But conservatives should never forget that free speech rights work both ways (here).
7.) Former Governor Doug Wilder and his former Education Secretary Jim Dyke (disclosure: Mr. Dyke is on the Jefferson Institute Board) have called for infusing part of federal covid funds into Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) (here). More than 20 years ago, the Thomas Jefferson Institute looked at campus salaries and noted that HBCUs Norfolk State and Virginia State were the lowest in the region (here). Not much has been done to catch up. Time to do so.
8.) In the wake of a pandemic and the Left’s efforts to rein in law enforcement, the Virginia State Police have released the annual Crime in Virginia report (here). The progressive Virginia Mercury reports that the murder rate has climbed to its highest since 1998 (here). Conservative blogger Jim Bacon parses the data and notes that the largest murder uptick was in black communities (here). Conservatives should pound home the message that black Americans, who are left to live with the results of crime, support police more than whites (here), fear crime more than law enforcement (here) and are ill-served by the Left's political class. The focus for solutions should be on gaining accountability over “bad cops” (one thought: Don’t allow police union collective bargaining contracts), because these are the deadly results of Defunding the Police (here and here).
9.) Nor should conservatives concede support among Latinos, as more and more align with conservatives on issue and bid "adios" to the Party of the Left (here).
10.)               This is not a drill: Inflation is here (here). Inflation has increased to the highest point in 13 years and former Council of Economic Advisors chair Kevin Hassett says that the ingredients are in the pot and the fire is on (here). Kevin Williamson notes you should be worried about it (here). Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve won’t admit it has an inflation problem (here). Over at Bloomberg News, the argument is that a Joe Biden “trickle up economics” will simply fail (here).
11.)               The Biden Administration slogan is "Building Back Better." George Will asks if its even possible in an America (quoting Federalist editor Ben Domenech) where "schools can't fail kids for giving the wrong answers, where teachers refuse to teach even with precautions and vaccinations, and where local authorities won't put down riots." (here)
Finally … Thirty-four years ago yesterday marked the beginning of the end.
Happy Sunday, Everyone.

We miss him still.
Chris Braunlich
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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Jefferson Journal: Collective Bargaining? How to Protect Taxpayers and Workplace Freedom

The Jefferson Journal
Considering Public Sector Collective Bargaining?
Here’s How to Protect Taxpayers and Workplace Freedom
By F. Vincent Vernuccio
6/9/2021 -- Twenty-eight years after Governor Doug Wilder signed it into law, the Virginia General Assembly lifted the ban on public sector collective bargaining. As of May 1st, localities in Virginian could give government unions a monopoly to represent all employees at a particular worksite.
However, the law passed in Richmond is unique from other states as it sets virtually no guidelines on what government unions can bargain over and how they can be formed. Thankfully, it also does not mandate public sector collective bargaining, allowing localities to keep the status quo that the Commonwealth has had for decades.
First and foremost, it should be pointed out that localities can reject public sector collective bargaining. There is good reason to do so, as simply administering the process is expensive. In fact, localities that are considering allowing bargaining are estimating hundreds of thousands or even seven figures for ongoing costs for negotiations and compliance. This spending will not go for better wages or benefits for current public employees or better services for citizens —it is simply to hire more employees to administer the infrastructure of bargaining.
The costs alone could be a large reason that, while the state law allows public employees to petition their local elected officials to vote on allowing bargaining, those representatives will vote no and keep the process that has worked in the Commonwealth for generations.
However, there may be some instances where a locality will allow public sector collective bargaining. For this reason the Thomas Jefferson Institute recently published “Recommendations and models for local collective bargaining in Virginia.”

While voting “no” or not voting at all if not required is the best option for Virginia localities, this “toolkit” outlines options for forming unions, protections for public employees, complying with state laws, and what topics a locality should bargain over (or not bargain over) if it must vote yes.
These include complying with Virginia’s secret ballot protection law, ensuring public employee votes to form a union are done securely and employee privacy is protected. Because unions will have a monopoly to represent all employees (even those who do not wish to join the union or be represented by it), the union should need a majority of all workers (not just those voting) to vote yes before they are given the privilege of collective bargaining.
 Future employees should also not be locked into today’s decisions in perpetuity. Unlike some other states where unions were voted in generations ago and simply remained, public employee should have the right to periodically vote on whether to keep the union at their workplace, vote it out, or select a different union. 
Ordinances should also be specific about complying with the spirit and letter of Virginia’s transparency laws, ensuring that collective bargaining negotiations are conducted in the open, similar to other public meetings affecting Virginian taxpayers and citizens.
The Supreme Court has said that everything government unions do is political and public employees have a First Amendment right to choose to pay union fees or not. Public employees should be informed of these rights before any money is taken from them. Further to prevent misunderstanding or fraud, any ordinance should include language similar to a recent Indiana bill requiring public employers to confirm with the employees that they wish to pay dues before money is deducted from their paychecks. Alternatively, the locality could follow the lead of states such as Michigan which prohibit union dues being deducted from some public employees’ paychecks.
While public employees who work for the union may need to do some union business during the workday, they should not receive their taxpayer funded salaries during this time. Public employees should be allowed to use vacation time or take unpaid time off while doing union business but paying these employees to do union work on the taxpayer’s dime should be forbidden. Similarly, unions should pay fair market value for office space in public buildings or the use of government equipment.
The people’s local elected officials must have the final say over both budgetary (required by state law) and policy issues. The employer’s negotiating team and the union may agree to a tentative contract but it should not go into effect until the local elected body approves it. Similarly, arbitration, where an unelected arbitrator or arbitration panel writes the final contract, should be avoided. 
Local ordinances allowing for public sector collective bargaining can also specify what unions can and cannot bargain over. The best model is Wisconsin which allows government union to bargain over wages only but limits that to inflation without a voter referendum.
If the locality must for whatever reason allow a broader scope of bargaining there are several things that should be expressly prohibited.

These include:
Seniority pay systems: the ordinance should ensure that good employees can receive raises for how hard they work. Local governments should not be constrained from compensating employees based on skill, effort and competence rather than merely “time served”;
General staffing and personnel decision: determination about who can be hired and staffing levels should be left to the employer;
Layoffs and last in first out: ordinances should prevent a collective bargaining agreement from dictating newer employees be laid off before more senior employees regardless of performance;
Ancillary services: localities should be free to do competitive bidding and should not be locked into buying services such as insurance from a specific provider because of a collective bargaining agreement;
Other issues that should be off the bargaining table include the school calendar and scheduling; discipline and grievances; pensions; performance evaluations; and school curriculum.
Many of the above issues are already prescribed by state law, especially for education employees and may not be bargained over anyway. As with any large-scale contract, local counsel should be consulted before allowing any specific subject in a collective bargaining agreement.
Allowing public sector collective bargaining will be a very difficult, time consuming, and expensive process. The easiest and most cost-effective route that protects public employees and stops a third party from coming between them and their employer is for localities to keep the status quo and vote no. If this is not possible local elected officials should first attempt to follow Wisconsin’s lead. If they must allow larger bargaining the several subjects outlined in the toolkit should be considered to be specifically taken off the table.
F. Vincent Vernuccio is Visiting Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. He may be reached at

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