Cashin In

Is NLRB chair's pro-union plan an invasion of privacy?

Unions want access to workers' phone numbers, e-mail addresses

 

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NLRB WANTS EMPLOYEE PHONE NUMBERS/ E-MAILS. SHOULD THIS INFO BE SHARED?

WAYNE ROGERS: Anytime that you are asking or a federal agency, a federal agency of the United States government is reaching in and telling somebody that you have to give information to them about one of your employees, that's a total invasion of privacy and invasion of the free market system. The employee-employer relationship should be between those two people. It's like a marriage. Nobody has any business messing around in there. Now, the result of all of this is that the agency, by giving to the unions, in other words the agency's not saying to them you're filing a tax return with the federal government, we've got that information. We're making you give that information to the union so the union can organize you. I mean, sweat shops disappeared in the 18th century. This is just a grab for power. It's a way for the president to get votes because he's engaged with them (the unions); therefore, that's what he's trying to do. He's putting the pressure on them to do this, and it doesn't create jobs. It drives them overseas.

TRACY BYRNES: Brainwashing them? I mean what the heck? Listen to what you just said. That's crazy talk. Look, what's interesting though is all this and the fact that we are talking about it, gives the unions a bigger voice than they actually have. The membership is shrinking by the second, but by doing all this crazy stuff that, like Wayne said, harkens us back to the days of the sweat shops, it gives the unions a voice and actually gives them still a position out there. They are the largest campaign contributor still to the president's re-election and they probably will be again. So unfortunately, they're going to stick their faces where they don't belong. It is a complete invasion of privacy.

SUSAN OCHS: Look, this proposal is really about making sure that companies are not being obstructionist towards unionizing activities and there have been histories of that in the past. And you know there's a really easy way to solve the privacy issue, is that you let employees tell their employers that they want to opt out. Look, I don't want my name given to the union, but the idea that companies and the employees of those companies shouldn't be able to make sure that they all have a voice and are all able to participate in union activities, I mean, it's a little silly. What are the companies afraid of here?

JONATHAN HOENIG: Cost, and not just the union Cheryl to your point, the whole, really, branch of government that is dedicated to serving not the individual, but the union. I mean the very fact that we have an NLRB -- once again, an arm of government specifically for the unions -- is absurd and is certainly not in the Constitution. It was a product of, not surprisingly, FDR in that era. It's not a question of privacy though, Cheryl. It's a question of property rights. The unions don't own the company; the shareholders own the company. That information is their property and for government to come through force and say no, I'm sorry, you have to give it to someone else, is absurd and a terrible drain on the economy.

JOHN LAYFIELD: Not necessarily anti-business, it's just pro union. They've been fighting over power struggles since the NIRA created the NLRB, as Jonathan said, under FDR's administration. And remember, the NIRA was deemed unconstitutional because it was such a gross expansion of federal powers. In 1946, you had 5 million people go on strike, it was crippling the economy and that's when the Taft Hartley Act came in and limited what they said were radical people at the head of unions and limited their power. That created one of the biggest booms of the last century. This is simply a power grab by the unions. It's what they do, but it's also not -- if you're negotiating against them, don't get out-negotiated here because you're crippling business if you do.

MANDATORY OVERTIME FOR E-MAILS & PHONE CALLS OUTSIDE OF 'WORK HOURS'

SUSAN OCHS: I think this Brazilian law is much too heavy-handed and intrusive, but I think the spirit behind the law is actually important because burnout is real and there are a lot of studies that show that worker productivity actually decreases the more that you work. You have diminishing returns, and so getting a handle on some barriers, some boundaries between your work life and your home life, actually could be really important. Not just for people's mental health, but actually for the productivity of companies.

WAYNE ROGERS: Of course it should be up to the employee and the employer. This is once again the arrogance of power. The state can mandate who works when, how and why. It's ridiculous. It's still an employee. Suppose my phone doesn't work; I can't be reached; I can't call back; I have an emergency. That's crazy. If you're working, you're working. If you're playing, you're playing and it doesn't matter when it happens. If it's 20 hours a day or 20 minutes a day it's immaterial; it's an individual thing. It's a relationship between the employer and the employee and that's all that counts and if it's an unsatisfactory one, they will adjust it themselves. If it's satisfactory they'll adjust and do whatever's necessary to make it work. That's all and it's between them.

TRACY BYRNES: Look, you know what? If you don't want to answer an e-mail at night, you should hand in all your electronic devices because I freelanced when my kids were little. Thank God I had it. I was able to work anywhere. This is the way the world is right now and if you're going to pay someone for a late night e-mail, in theory, you should dock my pay when I get on the phone and make a doctor's appointment during the work day for my kid. It just, it's not going to work. Not to mention, can you imagine what it will do to payroll costs if people start saying, look, I was on the phone; I was emailing; I was doing all this. How do you document that? Do I come to your bedroom and see what you're doing at 10 o'clock at night? I don't think so.

JONATHAN HOENIG: Can you imagine the paperwork involved in this? Like the boxes and boxes of ridiculous supporting documents? I think Wayne really hit it on point here. What is a job? We're all talking about creating jobs, but what is a job? It's a voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange between an employer and an employee. The government is force, so for them to get in and start mandating this and that, I think to the panels point, it should be a negotiation between those two parties. Government has no responsibility and of course getting involved only mucks up the economic forces even more.

JOHN LAYFIELD: Yes it's unenforceable. If it's enforceable, Brazil now has overtime pay and a country full of hot chicks, so I may leave Bermuda and go down there. This is ridiculous. What is it with work-life balance? We've got a globe right now full of pansies. Quit whining and just work. If you're thinking about work are you going to charge them for that? If you're at work and you call home, do you get docked for that? This is unenforceable. Good grief. Be glad that you have a job.

NEW SCHOOL LUNCH STANDARDS: COSTLY TO TAXPAYERS

JONATHAN HOENIG: Well, for one thing Cheryl, look at what a terrible job that the public schools have done in educating their kids. Now you want to put more money and power in their hands to feed them as well? I mean my God; we have really made schools and government the parents here. Should they be brushing our kids' teeth as well? What worries me is that we don't know if it's healthy. I mean, this is the same public school system, Cheryl, that for decades put forth this whole food pyramid idea right? The now discredited notion that you're supposed to eat like 20 servings of carbs everyday. That was discredited, so you've got take anything the government says about what's healthy for your kids with a big grain of salt.

JOHN LAYFIELD: It's just inefficiencies of government. Look, one thing has shown, refined sugar introduction around 1950 has caused this epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Mayor Bloomberg tried to stamp out using food stamps to buy sugary drinks and the soda industry just crushed him, but to me that's something that we should do because this is preventative. Remember polio was supposed to be a trillion dollar disease. It's now been almost eradicated worldwide. We can do the same thing for diabetes. To me this is worth it to feed our kids something worth eating.

WAYNE ROGERS: I don't think it's a question of what they eat and how they eat it, it's the fact that it's being mandated again. At some point in time, once you say oh now you have to eat this and now you have to eat that; the next thing is that they're going to hold you down on the floor and stuff food down your throat and say this is what you eat and this is why you have to eat it. It's insane. It's not their business. It's the parents' business to raise their children and how they should eat. They should be encouraged to eat properly, yes, and given some sort of a line to do it, but not forced to do it.

TRACY BYRNES: They should be encouraged to at home, but unfortunately so many kids live in poverty and the only meal they get during the day is at school and let me tell you something, some of those school meals are nasty and it is cheaper to buy potatoes and make French fries than it is to put apples on everybody's plates. I do think there's an education problem here, but look, when push comes to shove, a kid is going to choose fries over an apple any day of the week and we need to do something about that.

SUSAN OCHS: The cost of obesity, the medical cost is about $3 billion a year just for childhood obesity, so $3.2 billion over five years is a bargain.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

WAYNE ROGERS: Invest for the long haul and drive up profits with Ford (F).

TRACY BYRNES: Refinancing plan for responsible borrowers won't help the housing market.

JOHN LAYFIELD: Low interest rates are great for farmers. Buy John Deere (DE).

JONATHAN HOENIG: Feel safe by investing with Safe Bulkers (SB).