Why the Supreme Court’s labor union decision is a win for freedom and education


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UNION MANDATE STRUCK DOWN BY SUPREME COURT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, one of the final decisions of the latest term of the Supreme Court came out about a week ago. It ruled that government workers cannot be compelled to contribute to labor unions. The 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME scrapped a 41-year-old ruling that allowed states to require public employees to pay fees to unions, the so-called “fair share fees.”

World Magazine came out with an op-ed piece talking about the fact that this is a great boost for school choice advocates. Why? Well, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, founder and president of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, puts it this way: the court’s decision provides parents, educators and reformers the opportunity to overcome two of the biggest obstacles to transforming education in America — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Experts say this will have positive implications for those who are advocating school choice.

DR. REEDER: Tom, one of the most powerful instruments in politics are the contributions that come from unions in general. What this ruling dealt with are the unions that exist in the public sphere — that is, the sector of government and government employees. 

And the ruling then extends itself that they cannot coerce their members into joining and paying the fees. Well, if they have the fees, then they have the unbelievable cache of money that they can use to advance their agenda, which they sell as being an asset to the teachers and to those who are in the public-school system.

NEW RULES MAY MEAN NEW FREEDOM FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS

And so now they’re told you can’t make teachers join and that means you can’t take their fees. Historically, every teacher had to pay whether you joined or not and, of course, the coffers then allowed them to have an outsized influence on the political process — particularly, by the way, the Democratic Party has captured the money from these unions. I am aware of literally dozens that do not want to be a part of such a union and for them to be in a position where they’re not punished and they do not have to participate, this ruling now opens the door for them to “declare their independence” from these controlling unions.

Tom, let me put it in a very positive way: I actually live in an area where there are a number of excellent public schools. And one of the reasons that there are a number of excellent public schools is that parents have gotten involved and the reason they’ve gotten involved is the public schools are serving — unlike yesterday’s program where we saw the public schools disenfranchising parents and their families and furthering the LGBTQ agenda in Virginia and in Pennsylvania — I’ve seen here a number of our districts actually attempt to work with the parents and respond to the parents.

We’ve had administrators and we’ve had teachers that are not only gifted but highly committed to their calling and properly supported by parents and, therefore, there are certain school systems that people really want to be a part of as well as charter schools that are advancing the cause of education in at least somewhat of a beneficial curriculum and outcome.

WHAT WILL THE RESULTS BE IN THE POLITICAL ARENA?

I think this ruling is going to have potentially significant outcome, not only because the cache of money that’s been available to buy influence and then the political parties that have made use of that to accomplish their ends and declare that, “Oh, well, all the people in the public-school system support us and the unions support us.” No, there is a small group of people who control the unions that support you. Actually, many of the teachers are not voting for those candidates.

And so that money is now going to be removed because these teachers are not going to have to join and they’re not going to have to give their dues. I think you’re going to see some significant movement in terms of teachers, administrators, the increase of school choice in some form or fashion, whether it’s vouchers or charter schools.

I think you’re going to see all of that, which only portends for a brighter future for the possibility of electing the kind of leadership you need for the public-school systems in the school commissions and the school councils. And then, also, that teachers are going to be able to vote with their feet, and vote with their heart and vote with their lives in terms of what they think needs to be done for the lives of the children. Now the sociologists that are in control of these unions with their cultural agenda are going to be disenfranchised. This is really interesting how this headline ties into what we looked at yesterday.

TRUMP ENDS OBAMA-ERA AFFIRMATIVE ACTION GUIDANCES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me also bring up another story out of World Magazine. “The Trump administration will encourage schools not to consider race in admissions, a move that reverses Obama-era guidelines on affirmative action. The Justice Department just recently rescinded seven policy guidances from the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division and restored Bush-era policies of race-neutral admissions. This out of The New York Times.”

DR. REEDER: What’s really interesting, personally, I just want you to know, Tom, I have vacillated on this issue because there is little doubt in my mind that, in the Jim Crow era of the “separate but equal,” the notion that equal resources were available to everyone is just demonstrably and objectively proven wrong. Does there need to be some kind of catch-up on that? Yes.

DOES THIS LEAVE ROOM FOR BETTER CHANGE IN EQUALITY?

However, I have been persuaded — and, by the way, by some African-American brothers — that many of them sense that this actually contributes to a paternalistic racism that, unless we change these metrics, you can’t succeed. I know that that’s not true because we’re all made in the image of God and so I fully reject that.

I actually think that what you may see in this decision is perhaps an exceptional explosion of advancement of education across the board into every segment of our society because we all are being challenged that we all can respond to the curriculum and you can succeed. And, when you put the effort in and succeed, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you are going to be affirmed and rewarded according to your commitment to compete, according to your commitment to improve and according to your commitment to mature. And the places where it has already been applied, we’ve already seen that in those educational institutions.

And then, when people are looking at each other in the community, they aren’t looking at segments that have come through a different portal, but they are looking at one another who, as a group, have made this progress together under the same challenges. I think that will actually produce more unity in our country, which of course is something I love for and desire. And not just, of course, is something I long for and desire — it’s something I would call all of our listeners to promote as well — is that what we would develop in this country is an ideal of what it means to function with virtue and value, embrace what is good and beautiful and true and encourage one another through that process together as Americans who aren’t defined by any ethnicity or any race, but are defined by a certain set of virtues and values.

BRINGING GOD INTO THE CAUSE HELPS US BENEFIT SOCIETY AS A WHOLE

And I believe those are best supported and only rightly supported by God’s common grace and the influence of Christianity which promotes public policies and virtues and values whereby humanity flourishes, establishing the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sexuality, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of work and the sanctity of equality — not that we’re all interchangeable, but that we all stand on the same ground before God, and we all stand having been made in the image of God and we all stand with certain inalienable rights from God which are liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s not the guarantee of a government check for the government’s definition of happiness in the arenas of life, but the government protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and then, everyone on the same level playing field, moves toward that pursuit of happiness with the values and virtues that permeate the culture and God-ordained institutions that are foundational for life.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

13 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

14 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

14 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

15 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL