Financial Expert Explains Why You Should Hire A Good CPA & Not Part-time Help; Offers Tips

It's that time of year for part-time help at the local tax-preparation location, when drivers can see seasonal staff standing at busy intersections wearing costumes of the Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam. But they're not the only ones who are hired part time, says professional advisor to Certified Public Accountants Gary Marriage, Jr.

"I sometimes ask people, 'Do you want a guy in a costume to handle your taxes?' Of course, the guy actually doing the paperwork probably won't be the guy standing near the traffic, but he's also not the person you want dealing with your bottom line," says Marriage, CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors (www.naturecoastfinancial.com).

"I know millionaires who go to these pop-up tax firms; they'd rather spend a few hundred dollars on their return than a grand or two with a skilled CPA. But this apparent savings comes at a cost, because a good accountant is likely to find many thousands of dollars in savings in a single tax return, and they are far less liable to make a mistake."

Marriage offers additional tips for consideration this tax season.

•  Have your records handy, and consider a long-term relationship. Not only is it advantageous to file taxes through a CPA, it's also smart to have all relevant records readily available at your disposal - no matter who is helping you with your return.

"Not only do I strongly advise you to use a reputable CPA that you can trust, I also think you should try to establish a long-term relationship with him or her," Marriage says. "Think of a financial professional as similar to a doctor or lawyer - the better they know you, the better off you'll be. High-net-worth individuals have the most incentive for professional financial services, even if they've made a hobby of saving money by doing things their own way."

•  High-income earners pay the vast majority of income taxes - don't volunteer more. Taxpayers with incomes exceeding $100,000 earn 60 percent of the country's income, yet contribute 95.2 percent of the income taxes, according to recent estimates from Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation. Additionally, those earning more than $100,000 - a bit more than 20 percent of taxpayers - pay for 75.7 percent of total federal taxes, excluding the burden on corporate and investment taxes.

"There are many high-income earners who are passionate about their careers and love what they do; they care more about their work than their income," he says. "These tend to be the folks who need reminders that there are legal avenues available for protecting their hard-earned money."

•  High-net-worth individuals should consider CRAT. Many people, financial professionals with years of experience, do not know about Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts, a form of financial protection that Marriage often teaches to CPAs. CRATs are a flexible and effective instrument used in financial and estate planning. A CRAT provides a significant tax shelter for any assets and property placed within it. That allows any assets in a charitable remainder annuity trust to increase in value without being taxed on the increase. A well-constructed CRAT can provide financial security for the annuitants.

"CRATs are surprisingly underutilized, but many CPAs I run into simply don't know about it," Marriage says. "It's worth asking your financial advisor about, and if your advisor is unfamiliar with the structure, encourage him or her to look into it."

About Gary Marriage

Gary Marriage Jr. is the founder and CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors (www.naturecoastfinancial.com), which educates retirees on how to protect their assets, increase their income and reduce their taxes. Marriage is a national speaker, delivering solutions for pre-retirees, business owners and seniors on the areas affecting their retirement and estates. He is an approved member of the National Ethics Bureau, and has been featured in "America's Top Hometown Financial Advisors 2011" and most recently selected to co-author a book with Steve Forbes titled, "SuccessOnomics: Power Principles." Marriage is also the founder of Operation Veteran Aid, an advocate for war-time veterans and their families.

(URBANDALE, Iowa) - "We've Got the Power", the Iowa Communications Alliance (the Alliance) 2nd Annual Meeting and Expo, is scheduled for March 3-5, 2015 at Veterans Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines.

The Annual Meeting and Expo will feature more than 110 strategic partners who provide products, services and expertise to Iowa's 130 rural communications companies.  Nearly 1,000 communications industry professionals from across the region will attend the event.  Participants will learn about current trends in the communications industry ranging from regulatory and legislative issues to emerging technologies, consumer preferences and effective marketing and training techniques.

In addition to a number of expert speakers on a variety of communications industry-related topics, 3-time NFL Pro-Bowler and former Denver Bronco Karl Mecklenburg will address the attendees about the "6 Keys to Success" through his humorous and motivational story-telling style of delivery.

"We are excited to convene this, the second annual gathering of so many communications industry representatives from around our state and across the country.  This event will allow attendees to share best practices, learn about new opportunities, and focus on the ever-changing consumer demands for communications services," said Dave Duncan, chief executive officer of the Alliance. "As Iowans, regardless of zip code, participate and contribute to the global economy our members recognize their responsibility to provide the highest level of connectivity possible to whichever marketplace their customers seek," continued Duncan.

About the Iowa Communications Alliance:

The Alliance was established in 2014 as the voice of Iowa's rural communications industry. Comprised of more than 130 community-based telecommunications providers who offer broadband, telephone and digital television service to rural Iowans; we are the premier leader in education, advocacy and training for our members and we promote economic growth and stability of members and the communities they serve. We believe that all Iowans should have access to affordable and robust broadband connections. 

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DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 17, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- UPS today announced 11 elite drivers from Iowa are among 1,445 newly inducted worldwide into the Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who have achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving.

Iowa boasts 71 active Circle of Honor drivers with a combined 2,041 years of accident-free driving. Cleo Underwood of Des Moines is the state's senior safe driver, with 39 years of accident-free driving under his belt. There are 1,029 total UPS drivers in Iowa.

Globally, 7,878 active UPS drivers are members of the Circle of Honor. Collectively they've racked up more than 221,000 years and more than 5.3 billion safe miles during their careers. That's enough miles to travel to Mars and back 36 times.

"My thanks go to all of them for their dedication and focus, and for the countless lives they've saved," said Jerry Mattes, president, UPS West Region.

Globally, the most seasoned UPS Circle of Honor driver is Thomas Camp of Livonia, Mich., with 52 years of driving without an accident. Ronald McKnight of Bronx, N.Y., is next in line with 46 years of safe driving. Sixty-two others have logged at least 40 years without an accident.

UPS's 102,000 drivers are among the safest on the roads, logging more than 3 billion miles a year and delivering more than 4 billion packages safely.

Founded in 1907, UPS has a rich history of safety and training. The company issued its first driver handbook in 1917 and began recognizing safe drivers in 1923. In 1928, UPS recognized its first five-year safe driver, Ray McCue, with UPS founder Jim Casey presenting him a gold and platinum watch. UPS formally established its safe driving honor program in 1928.

** NOTE: The following table lists local drivers by hometown and UPS center. If you're interested in interviewing a local driver, please contact Dan McMackin at dmcmackin@ups.com. Visit pressroom.ups.com for multimedia assets.

Following is a list of Iowa drivers inducted this year to the Circle of Honor.
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Driver           Hometown    UPS Work Location
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Baumler,  Karleen   West Union     Decorah
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Donovan, Scott      Pleasant Hill  Des Moines West
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Luzum, Richard      Calmar         Decorah
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Mccolloch, Michael  Redfield       Des Moines
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Mccoy, David        Fairfield      Ottumwa
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Neff, Dave          Runnells       Des Moines
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Price, Gerald       Solon          Coralville Center
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Rogers, Larry       Altoona        Des Moines East
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Welch, Kim          Waukon         Decorah
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Willert, Jon        Davenport      Davenport
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Wyszenski, William  Glenwood       Omaha Hub, NE
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Washington, D.C. - Congressman Dave Loebsack announced today that he will be touring manufacturing plants across Eastern Iowa as part of his Made in the USA Tour. Loebsack will be in Muscatine and Bettendorf on TUESDAY, February 17th. As part of the tour, Loebsack will meet with management and employees at both large and small manufacturing plants to discuss his recent appointment to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He will also discuss the importance of keeping and creating good paying jobs here at home. Media is invited to attend.

***THE TOUR OF BANDAG HAS BEEN CANCELLED***

Tour Bandag

6501 49th Street South

Muscatine

1:00pm

 

Tour Sivyer Steel

225 33rd St.

Bettendorf

3:30pm

 

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Comptroller, attorney general say Rauner order striking fair-share fees isn't legal
Leslie Munger, the Republican state comptroller, and Lisa Madigan, the Democratic attorney general, agree that Governor Bruce Rauner's executive order intended to invalidate fair-share provisions in state law and union contracts is illegal. That's according to the influential Capitol Fax newsletter, which broke the news, and following media reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and statewide radio.
Munger's office indicates that the law requires her to send fair-share payments to the relevant unions that represent state employees, according to the news reports. "We agree with the Comptroller," Attorney General Lisa Madigan's spokeswoman said. "Fair share fees are constitutional under the current law and she must follow the law."
Fair share agreements ensure that all workers who benefit from union representation pay their fair share of the costs of that representation?negotiating and enforcing the union contract?even if they choose not to join the union. Fair share payments do not support any political activity.
"AFSCME encourages every union-represented employee to become a full dues-paying member," AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch said, "but contrary to Governor Rauner's claims, no employee is 'forced' to join the union. Employees have the option not to join and to pay only the fair share fee."
"It is gratifying to know that two of our state's constitutional officers are clearly committed to upholding the Constitution," Lynch added. "That they include both a Democrat and a Republican shows that preserving the integrity of our democracy isn't a partisan or political issue. No elected official has the right to place themselves above the law.
"We have said that Gov. Rauner's executive order was clearly illegal, and meant solely to strip workers of their ability to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. State employees throughout Illinois will welcome Comptroller Munger and Attorney General Madigan's determination that the order should not stand."
Since the governor issued his executive order on Feb. 9, AFSCME local unions have reported an increasing rate of inquiries from state employees who currently pay fair share fees and now want to join the union. They recognize the governor's Executive Order for what is plainly is?an attempt to weaken the union and drive down workers' wages and benefits.
Council 31 director Lynch said that the governor's actions are particularly disturbing given the state's current fiscal woes.  "He should be working to bring Illinois citizens together rather than trying to foster divisions and animosity," she said. "We renew our pledge to work constructively with anyone of good faith to move beyond the governor's polarizing attacks and begin to address our state's real challenges."
From AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch...
"It is gratifying to know that two of our state's constitutional officers are clearly committed to upholding the Constitution. That they include both a Democrat and a Republican shows that preserving the integrity of our democracy isn't a partisan or political issue. No elected official has the right to place themselves above the law. We have said that Gov. Rauner's executive order was clearly illegal, and meant solely to strip workers of their ability to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. State employees throughout Illinois will welcome Comptroller Munger and Attorney General Madigan's determination that the order should not stand. We renew our pledge to work constructively with anyone of good faith to move beyond the governor's polarizing attacks and begin to address our state's real challenges."
Skills To Start A Business Aren't The Same As To Grow It, Says Former Naval Officer & Business Leader

The dream of launching a business runs deep in the American psyche, but more often than not those dreams go bust.

Half of new U.S. companies fail in their first five years, according to Gallup. Expand the timeframe out to 10 years and the failure rate reaches 70 percent.

That's not surprising, says Randy H. Nelson, an entrepreneur who has built multi-million dollar companies. The skills it takes to start a business aren't necessarily the same as those it takes to keep that business afloat. What is surprising, though? In the U.S., more businesses are now being shut down (470,000) than are being started (400,000).

"Many entrepreneurs have the gumption to take that dramatic first step of sparking something into creation, but too many lack the perspective to reflect on what's needed for the next step," says Nelson, author of "The Second Decision - The Qualified Entrepreneur" (http://randyhnelson.com/book/).

Also, anyone can declare themselves an entrepreneur. No qualifications are required. Nelson says that's different from the Navy, where he served as a nuclear submarine officer and had to prove his qualifications before advancing.

Because of that lack of proper qualifications, Nelson says entrepreneurs often make five mistakes that threaten to put their businesses at risk.

·  Insistence on autonomy. An Inc. magazine study once said that a trait most entrepreneurs share is their desire for autonomy, which is great starting out, Nelson says. "In the startup phase, the company is all about you," he says. "Your fingerprints are on everything, and there is very little you don't know and aren't directing."

But after the startup phase, the company steams into the growth phase, becoming more complex and more vulnerable to industry and economic trends. At that point, an entrepreneur's insistence on autonomy can hinder the company's ability to respond quickly and intelligently to challenges it faces. "In the growth phase, you simply can't do it all, and it's foolish to keep believing you can," Nelson says.

·  Unwillingness to build structure, cultivate expertise or delegate. Many entrepreneurs will need to surround themselves with a strong executive team - or at least a steady right-hand individual - to ensure the company's success, Nelson says. But too many business owners fail to create the kind of structure that produces good leadership decisions within a managerial team.

"As you grow your company and enlarge it to meet new opportunities, you must also build in accountability," Nelson says. "Systems need to be put into place, and people, too." The entrepreneur needs to know the employees and where their strengths lie to put them to good use, he says.

·  Lack of financial leadership. Entrepreneurs by definition take risk when they make the decision to start their own business. In the area of financial leadership, which includes tracking cash levels and trends, financial covenants, metrics and expenses, entrepreneurs who are not financially literate and active will need the direct support of a financial expert to ensure they receive the advice and input needed in their organization.

The Small Business Administration has estimated that up to 60 percent of businesses owe their demise to a lack of cash. Other sources have this number as high as 90 percent. Nelson says: "When it comes to financial leadership, it is what entrepreneurs don't know that they don't know that will multiply the risk in their business exponentially."

·  Reacting unwisely to boredom. Starting a business proved exhilarating. The day-to-day operation of it may pale in comparison. A bored entrepreneur can create significant troubles for the business, Nelson says. "Things are going to get up-ended in a hurry, because many bored entrepreneurs either start new companies or abruptly make changes in their current companies to keep their own level of excitement high," he says.

"Of course, entrepreneurs are to be celebrated for their guts and desire to innovate. But when a serial entrepreneur habitually and almost obsessively looks for new sandboxes to play in, what happens to the existing company or companies often isn't very good."

·  Failure to engage in self-examination. Entrepreneurs need to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, the same things they gauge in their employees.

"You need to set aside your probably abundant self-confidence and take stock of what you know, what you're good at, and what skills you still need to master in your leadership role," Nelson says.

About Randy H. Nelson

Randy H. Nelson is a speaker, a coach, a Qualified Entrepreneur, a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy and author of "The Second Decision - The Qualified Entrepreneur" (http://randyhnelson.com/book/). He co-founded and later sold two market-leading, multi-million dollar companies ? Orion International and NSTAR Global Services. His proudest professional achievement was at the Fast 50 awards ceremony in the Raleigh, N.C., area when NSTAR, a 10-year-old company, and Orion, a 22-year-old company, were awarded the rankings No. 8 and No. 9, respectively. Nelson now runs Gold Dolphins, LLC, a coaching and consulting firm to help entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs become Qualified Entrepreneurs and achieve their maximum potential. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Miami University, Ohio, and was awarded the Admiral Sidney W. Souers Distinguished Alumni Award there in 2011.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Workers statewide could see increased wages soon under legislation sponsored by state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, which proposes raising Illinois' minimum wage.
"All hardworking Illinoisans deserve a fair and reasonable wage, and too many workers are left behind under current law," Smiddy said. "It's time Illinois compensates its workers at a rate that allows residents to provide for their families and support local business."
Smiddy is a chief co-sponsor to Senate Bill 11. The bill raises the minimum wage from its current level of $8.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour beginning on July 1, 2015. This level will rise $.50 a years until it reaches $11.00 an hour in 2019. The higher revenues each worker will take in can be reinvested in local business and help grow the state's economy.
"This bill provides the aid Illinois workers need immediately, while continuing to increase the minimum wage slowing to allow employers adequate time adjust to rising wages," Smiddy said. "I'll continue to support measures to empower working families and plan changes to economic policies in careful, measured steps."
Senate Bill 11 passed the Senate on February 5, and awaits assignment to a House committee for consideration.
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Veteran Entrepreneur Says The Best Teacher Is Experience

Exorbitant student loans constitute just one reason why young people eager to experience the world may want to reconsider college, says Ed Basler, a veteran entrepreneur.

There is now $1.2 trillion worth of college debt in the United States and the average borrower will graduate $26,600 in the red, according to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) Project on Student Debt.

"None of this guarantees a job or even that a college grad will be job-ready," says Basler, CEO of E.J. Basler Co., (www.ejbasler.com).

"After four weeks of business school I, the son of a businessman, had realized that the professor had no real-life experience running a business and that I wouldn't learn the practical principles necessary to succeed. But I stuck with business school for two years until I dropped out, and I haven't had any regrets 40 years later. Hands-on experience trumps a degree all the time."

Factor in the fact that necessary business skills evolve faster than the time it takes to earn a degree and the overall lack of preparation for the real world provided by college and the choice to save time and money is a no-brainer, says Basler.

Business owners and hiring managers should see past the college degrees of potential employees, or lack thereof, and focus on the content of an applicant's skills and character, says Basler, who offers, in his own words, the following tips for hiring.

•  Do not accept any bad attitudes. A bad attitude spreads like the flu, and if you don't stop it, it'll make your whole team sick. Good attitudes will spread too, so look to hire people with a positive nature. Is the prospective hire full of complaints about previous employers? Don't be surprised if you become the next target of such whining. No one is indispensable. I have interviewed people who were clearly bright and skilled. Yet, afterward, I felt like telling them not to let the door hit them on the way out. I've never regretted my decision to insist on good attitudes.

•  Hire friends very cautiously. They can become your best employees. Often, however, they are your worst, and they're hard to fire. Hire family members even more cautiously. Let them know the ground rules and expectations up front. And treat them like the rest of your employees. I hear horror stories all the time from business people who are suffering because of family involvement. But it can also work very well - it has worked out well for me.

•  Hire not only for skills but also for potential. Leaders can be made if trained and motivated properly. I've seen many a young person with no previous experience or knowledge of my business learn a trade or skill and prosper and excel. Many times, it's even an advantage to start from the beginning with someone who does not have the baggage of bad habits or practices from a previous employer.

•  Put people in the right positions. Test them for their personality and skill sets. There are many tests - one good one is the Meyers Briggs and the DISC profile. It's hard, sometimes, to understand where people fit, which is why we try to use testing to learn about their particular skills.

"A college degree is a generic qualification and is by no means the ultimate criteria by which you should hire talent," Basler says.

About Ed Basler

Ed Basler is a longtime entrepreneur and CEO of E.J. Basler Co., (www.ejbasler.com), which provides precision-machined parts and solutions to companies worldwide. He is a sought-after motivational speaker and president of Fresh Eyes Coaching, a firm that helps small businesses identify profit opportunities and obstacles. Ed and his wife, Cathi, also founded and ran a nationally recognized not-for-profit youth organization for 15 years. He is the author of "The Meat & Potatoes Guide to Business Survival: A Handbook for Non-MBA's & College Dropouts."

Iowa's Q4 AIM Work Force Index Nation's Eighth Best:

Q4 Summary

  • Iowa's WFI ranked 8th best in the nation for the fourth quarter, 2014.
  • Iowa's job market, based on online openings, is healthy.
  • In absolute numbers, the greatest numbers of online job openings were in Management, followed by Sales and next Customer Services positions.
  • As a percent of employment, the largest numbers of online openings were in Finance, Engineering, and then Information Technology positions.

Iowa WFI. AIM's quarter IV Work Force Index (WFI) was a very strong 79.2 which was down slightly from 82.9 for quarter III. The WFI is a statistically based measurement tool produced by AIM, a not-for-profit organization in Des Moines, Iowa. The Index is a ratio of unique online job postings and the number of unemployed in Iowa (not seasonally adjusted). The Index ranges between 0 and 100. A WFI below 50.0 indicates short-term job contraction while an Index above 50.0 indicates job expansion. At 79.2, Iowa's WFI is in a range indicating healthy on-line job openings.

On-Line Openings. For quarter IV, online job postings listed the largest number of open positions in absolute numbers in 1) Management, followed by 2) Sales, and 3) Customer Services positions. As a share of employment, the largest numbers of job openings in descending order were in: 1) Finance, 2) Engineering, and 3) Information Technology.

State Rankings. In terms of Work Force Indices among the states, North Dakota ranked number one with the highest WFI. North Dakota was followed by Minnesota at number two, Nebraska at three, Kansas at four, and Delaware at five. The state with the lowest index was Maine, followed by California at 49, and Alaska at 48. Rounding out the bottom five states were New York at 47 and Mississippi at 46. Iowa ranked as the 8 best in the nation for fourth quarter of 2014 which was a slight deterioration from its third quarter ranking of 5th.

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Bruce Rauner today signed Executive Order 15-13 eliminating unfair share dues for state employees who do not wish to fund government union activities and positions with which they may disagree.

The governor's actions come after an extensive legal review of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Harris v. Quinn. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act violated the First Amendment by forcing certain state employees to involuntarily pay fees to a labor union.

In light of that decision, the Rauner administration has concluded that the so-called "fair share" provisions of the current collective bargaining agreements, that are similar to those invalidated by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn, are also unconstitutional.

"Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked," Governor Rauner said. "An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights - and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct."

The executive order allows state employees who wish not to support government unions' activities to stop paying the forced fees. It has no impact on those employees who wish to remain paying members of the union and fund union activities out of their paychecks.

Additional Background:

·         The federal government prohibited the forced collection of union dues in 1978 as part of the Civil Service Reform Act signed by President Jimmy Carter. That law passed the U.S. Senate 87-1 and the U.S. House of Representatives 365-8. Illinois Senator Charles Percy was one of the co-sponsors.

·         29 other states have laws that prohibit government entities from forcing public workers join or financially support labor organizations that they do not support.

·         While Harris v. Quinn only decided the constitutional issue as it relates to a subset of Illinois state employees (home care workers), the Supreme Court's majority opinion found that much of the landmark case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education was "questionable on several grounds."

·         Notably, the Supreme Court said in Harris v. Quinn:

 

o   "Abood failed to appreciate the conceptual difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends. In the private sector, the line is easier to see. Collective bargaining concerns the union's dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government. But in the public sector, both collective-bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government."

o   "Abood failed to appreciate the difference between the core union speech involuntarily subsidized by dissenting public-sector employees and the core union speech involuntarily funded by their counterparts in the private sector. In the public sector, core issues such as wages, pensions, and benefits are important political issues, but that is generally not so in the private sector. In the years since Abood, as state and local expenditures on employee wages and benefits have mushroomed, the importance of the difference between bargaining in the public and private sectors has been driven home."

§  "Recent experience has borne out this concern. See DiSalvo, The Trouble with Public Sector Unions, National Affairs No. 5, p. 15 (2010) ( 'In Illinois, for example, public-sector unions have helped create a situation in which the state's pension funds report a liability of more than $100 billion, at least 50% of it unfunded')."

o   "A union's status as exclusive bargaining agent and the right to collect an agency fee from non-members are not inextricably linked. For example, employees in some federal agencies may choose a union to serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for the unit, but no employee is required to join the union or to pay any union fee. Under federal law, in agencies in which unionization is permitted, 'each employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right.'"

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