Slow going in Oakland Teamster-scab homicide probe

Police are testing guns recovered from raids in which authorities arrested seven members of an Oakland Black Muslim splinter group who investigators suspect were involved in the killing of a journalist and two others. Police Lt. Ersie Joyner said one of the guns found during the raids is thought to be the weapon that a masked attacker used Thursday morning to slay Chauncey Bailey, a journalist who was walking to work.

Bailey, 57, was the editor of the Oakland Post, and had been working on a story about Your Black Muslim Bakery before he was ambushed and slain, his colleagues said.

Standing in a black suit with a bow tie, a member of the bakery organization said Friday that the crimes that police described run against the principles of his group.

"This is not a reflection of Dr. Yusuf Bey," said Shamir Yusuf Bey in a sidewalk news conference in front of the bakery. The organization's members all take the founder’s surname. "We are all sons of Dr. Yusuf Bey. He has taught us morals, he has taught us how to be advocates in our community."

Joyner said he believes those responsible for Bailey's death were among the seven people arrested Friday. Police say they still do not have a motive for the killing, and that they did not know Bailey was working on a story about the bakery.

Before dawn Friday, officers raided the Muslim group's headquarters at the original bakery, as well as three houses in Oakland that are tied to the group. Among those arrested was the son of the group's founder, Yusuf Bey IV, who was booked on charges including homicide, robbery and assault.

"The search warrant yielded several weapons and other evidence of value including evidence linking the murder of Chauncey Bailey to members of the Your Black Muslim Bakery," said Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan. He said the raids were part of a yearlong investigation into a variety of violent crimes, including two homicides earlier this year and a kidnapping and torture case ...

Your Black Muslim Bakery was founded in 1968 by the late Yusuf Bey as a haven for struggling urban families. It sells natural baked goods alongside books by Malcolm X and other black leaders.

Bailey was a longtime reporter for the Oakland Tribune before becoming editor of the Post, a weekly newspaper geared toward the Bay Area black community, earlier this year.

He had written stories for the Tribune about the bakery and its founder when Bey was facing rape charges in Alameda County. Most of those charges were dropped, although one was pending when Bey died in 2003.

Yusuf Bey IV, who was in custody Friday, took over the original bakery and several franchises. In 2005, he was accused of being the ringleader in a group of black Muslims who smashed liquor bottles in corner stores and berated the Muslim owners for selling alcohol to the black community.

Your Black Muslim bakery has had financial problems for several years and filed for bankruptcy in October 2006.

What a shock.

And note how little we are told about "Your Black Muslim Bakery." And the thugs who run it.

They are all adherents of Minister Farrakhan's illustrious Nation Of Islam.

Maybe the AP reporter is afraid for her life.

"This is not a reflection of Dr. Yusuf Bey," said Shamir Yusuf Bey in a sidewalk news conference in front of the bakery. The organization's members all take the founder's surname. "We are all sons of Dr. Yusuf Bey. He has taught us morals, he has taught us how to be advocates in our community."



Las Vegas labor unions pump up Obama

Senator Barack Obama was busy leaving his mark in Las Vegas Friday. The presidential candidate had both prepared speeches as well as a more informal Town Hall type meeting.

Eyewitness News goes inside one aimed at firing up the Culinary Union. The music that the crowd heard set the stage for Obama. The message in that music was about power to the powerless, prisons and a life without freedom. If his music brought them down, Obama was there to lift them up. "Union union!" was the cheer heard throughout the crowd. Obama says his candidacy is not about him. It's about the people and the union's power.

"When you are joined in a union - nothing is more powerful, nothing is stronger, nothing can stop. Justice can be delayed, but it can't be denied when you are out there together, arm in arm." Obama says if necessary, he will be arm in arm with them on the picket line against MGM. "I have already brought the sunscreen and have my hat picked out and I am in training."

Obama also took shots at big oil. "We are tired of having $3 and change to buy a gallon of gas at the gas station and sending billions of dollars to Exxon and Mobile and some of the most hostile nations on earth and changing the climate of the planet in the process."

Culinary member Faye Cotton had her picture taken with him. "Because he is true, my heart tells me. My heart never fools me," she said. Cotton sees him as an ally, as if he was already walking the picket line with them.

"The fact that they should go on strike, walk the picket line -- also shows that they are one of us," she said.

Visit the Nevada Vote section to learn more about the presidential candidates.

But by speaking out against big business, she says he's making enemies. "The business, I think the business is the challenge, and I think that's what's facing him head on."

Senator Barack Obama held a house party Thursday night and addressed the National Association of Black Journalists earlier Friday.


Oregon acts against 7 Salem-area teachers union members

State regulators have reprimanded former McNary High School choir director Paul Mayhew for failing to maintain an appropriate student-teacher relationship. Mayhew was first licensed in Oregon in January 2003, when he was hired as the choir director at McNary. He was removed from the classroom in November 2006, after a parent found numerous personal text messages from Mayhew on her 17-year-old son's cell phone. Police investigated and determined that no crime had occurred. Mayhew resigned in lieu of termination Dec. 20.

The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission also has disciplined six other Salem-area teachers:

Lisa Stitt, a former McNary High School social studies teacher, lost her teaching license for failing to maintain a professional student-teacher relationship with two male McNary students. Stitt started work with the district in June 1998. In January 2006, Keizer Police investigated a report of sexual contact between Stitt and two former students but found no crime had been committed. Former Salem-Keizer Schools Superintendent Kay Baker reported Stitt to the commission on April 14, 2006, and Stitt resigned four days later.

Pamela Underwood, a former elementary school teacher in the Salem-Keizer district, lost her teaching license after a number of criminal convictions.

Underwood was first licensed in Oregon in 1990. She began working for the district as a substitute in 1992.

In November 2006, Underwood was convicted in Marion County Circuit Court of three counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

Matthew Gould, a former teacher at Pratum Elementary School in Silver Falls, lost his teaching license after being convicted of 14 counts of first-degree sex abuse last April.

Gould was first licensed in Oregon in 1984. He had worked in Silver Falls since 1996.

Gould admitted to having abused more than 19 boys during many years. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Jeremy Borg, a North Santiam School District teacher, was reprimanded and put on two years probation for using his classroom computer to access sexually explicit material.

Borg has been licensed in Oregon since September 2004. District officials were unable to immediately determine whether Borg was still working there.

Richard Elliot, a Newberg School District teacher, was reprimanded and put on two years probation for failing to maintain an appropriate student-teacher relationship.

The commission received a complaint from a parent that, during the 2005-06 school year, Elliot held a student on his lap in the music room while he tickled her sides, and swatted a female student on the bottom as she turned to leave his classroom.

Elliot has been licensed in Oregon since 1987. He has since retired.

Shane Moffit, a former Jefferson School District teacher, has been reprimanded and put on probation for using a classroom computer to access sexually explicit Web sites last fall.

Moffit has been licensed in Oregon since October 2004. He resigned from the Jefferson School District last fall.


Rats, addicts gain in Vancouver gov't union strike

Rats poked their heads out of elephant-sized piles of garbage left in the alleys of the city's poorest area, three weeks into the municipal workers' strike. Residents of the Downtown Eastside said today they're leery of nodding off in the alleys, which is normally common.

"People get high, they tweak around in this stuff," said Trish, a 33-year-old crack and heroin addict. She pointed out a six-inch rat scurrying through a filthy alley near Hastings and Columbia. "The rats won't be afraid to take a piece of you if you sleep there," she said.

The one advantage of the strike, she said with a hint of a smile, is that an addict has more garbage to pick through when she's high. Residents think theirs is the area hardest hit by the city's prolonged, 4-week-old labor dispute. "We always get treated differently here," said Trish. "And that will keep happening."

With only 11 city managers filling in for some 200 garbage workers, alleys that are usually cleaned three times a week have been cleaned just twice in the past 23 days. The piles of garbage are full of styrofoam cups and plastic and appear to consist largely of restaurant waste tossed next to locked private dumpsters by the businesses in the area, said Peter Judd, the city's deputy chief engineer.

The city usually removes the piles to keep the streets clean and the rats down, Judd said, which gives the restaurants no incentive to arrange for private garbage pickup, as most other restaurants in the city do. Now there is almost no city cleanup, and the dumping continues.

"It's absolutely gross," Judd said. "We usually clean that up, we shovel that stuff, we flush the lanes."

Other parts of town seem to be taking care of themselves, he said. The Downtown Eastside is the only area where the alleys are normally cleaned by the city.

On Robson Street, city managers are cleaning out the litter bins every other day, just as they do in Gastown and the Downtown Eastside, he said, but businesses there don't dump their garbage in the lanes.

"I don't smell rotting rubbish at all," said 41-year-old Thea Anning as she stood outside a Gastown shop with her companion Rob Szczerba. The pair, from Sheffield, England, were finishing a two-week holiday through Canada, and neither noticed any garbage odour.

But Lori David, 42, who lives in Gastown but walks to work through the Downtown Eastside, said she can smell the difference at Carrall Street, where the lamps of Gastown end.

"The smell hits me right here, it's very foul, very dead-like," she said.

Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1004, representing outside workers - including garbage workers - began job action on July 20, followed by CUPE, Local 15 inside workers on July 23. Three days later, library workers represented by CUPE, Local 391 hit the picket lines.

The latest round of contract talks broke off late Thursday when CUPE representatives broke a media blackout, and the city responded by ending negotiations. The city had offered 16.5 per cent in wage hikes over five years, which was rejected by the union.

Other cities in the Lower Mainland have settled for five-year contracts with 17.5 per cent in wage increases.

Vision Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal asked for a special council meeting to establish new negotiating parameters to end the deadlock. But majority Non-Partisan Association Coun. Suzanne Anton said that would amount to interfering politically in the negotiations.

"We have professional teams of negotiators and someone will have to budge here," she said.

Mayor Sam Sullivan was not available to be interviewed today, but said in a statement that more collective bargaining is needed. Vision councillors have labelled the dispute "Sam's Strike" since he accused the union early on of wanting to disrupt the 2010 Winter Games.

A union bargainer said Vancouver's CUPE locals were still focused on contract settlements in Richmond, North Vancouver and Surrey, all at 17.5 per cent over five years.

"If council orders senior staff to get a deal, there would be a much better opportunity to get a deal," said Peter Starry, chair of CUPE, Local 15's bargaining committee.

In the lane in the Downtown Eastside, Trish said she has lost track of the what is happening with negotiations. All she sees is garbage everywhere, and no one picking it up.


West coast forestry strike heads for 2008

The two sides in the B.C. coastal forest strike are digging in for the long haul as the dispute wraps up its third week. The word from the union camp is the strike could last well into 2008, while the industry says it stands by its last offer and the ball is in the workers' court.

"The guys are dug in," said Bill Routley, president of Steelworkers Union Local 1-80, based in the Vancouver Island city of Duncan. He has predicted the end may not come until some time next year because the two sides are so far apart on scheduling. "We are on the opposite ends of the pole in terms of philosophy, and when you have an issue people are dug in on, there's just no way."

At least the union and industry appear to agree on that much.

Ron Shewchuk, spokesman for Forest Industrial Relations, which represents 31 coastal forest companies, said the two sides are at a standstill.

"Our position has not changed; we would like to see the union take our offer to its members for a vote," he said. "We are firm in our resolve that the offer we have made is as far as we are willing to go and we think it is fair and reasonable, especially considering the economic condition the industry finds itself in."

Both sides in the current dispute admit the job action, which began July 21, has nothing to do with wages or benefits. The biggest issue separating the two appears to be shift scheduling that is done without consulting workers and that can change on a whim.

The union claims the companies' right to impose schedules without consultation has robbed families of normality and created unsafe conditions and long hours in physically demanding jobs for workers.

The firms counter they need the flexibility to reduce costs as they face the challenge of a strong dollar, a 15-per-cent surcharge on exports to the U.S. market and an American housing industry in a severe slump.


SEIU harasses, intimidates non-union nurses

Tensions are rising between pro- and anti-union employees at Citrus Valley Health Partners' three area hospitals, with accusations of harassment and intimidation being leveled on both sides. The Service Employees International Union's United Healthcare Workers West, which represents 140,000 healthcare employees in California, is trying to bring about 2,200 Citrus Valley workers under its wing. The union represents a broad cross-section of hospital employees, from security guards and cafeteria workers to pharmacists, physical therapists and nurses.

A group of employees at Citrus Valley - which includes West Covina's Queen of the Valley, Covina's Inter-Community and Glendora's Foothill Presbyterian campuses - have banded together to oppose unionization, arguing that they already enjoy close relationships with management and that union dues would create too much of a burden on the workers. The group, which calls itself Citrus Valley Family, has collected signatures from more than 500 employees expressing opposition to the union.

"I would like to choose where my money goes," said Yvette Montague, an administrative assistant for nursing administration at Inter-Community campus who has been with the hospital for 28 years. "I have been here a long time and feel I can approach my management any time. For them to charge me dues for something I already can do on my own is outrageous."

Meanwhile, pro-union employees have complained about having their hours cut and being forced by management into anti-union meetings, and they say they simply want a fair and fast election to let workers decide whether they want to unionize.

"I was approached by my director (during a pro-union meeting) in the cafeteria, who took me outside and told me there was a policy against loitering more than 15 minutes before the start of one's shift," said Cesar Buenaflor, who sterilizes surgical equipment at Queen of the Valley. He said anti-union employees are allowed to congregate for hours on the hospital campus.

Hospital officials countered that they are in favor of allowing workers to decide whether to join the union, as long as they have all the facts.

"We believe in assisting employees to make an informed decision," said Lisa Foust, vice president of human resources for the hospital group.

Registered nurses at Queen of the Valley and Inter-Community already belong to the California Nurses Association union, paying roughly twice their base hourly pay per month in dues.

But SEIU-UHW officials say their dues are set at 2 percent of salary excluding overtime, and are capped at $90 per month.

SEIU-UHW is also trying to bring non-union nurses at Foothill Presbyterian under its umbrella.

Citrus Valley management claims it is in favor of allowing employees to vote on whether to allow the union in.

"The National Labor Relations Act already provides for election guidelines and how they should be carried out," said Foust. "It is already a matter of federal law."

But that act is outdated, and Congress is in the middle of passing legislation to reform it, said John Borsos, vice president of SEIU-UHW. The union is trying to get Citrus Valley management to sign onto more specific guidelines like those adhered to by other hospital groups like Kaiser Permanente and Catholic Healthcare West.

"NLRA guidelines as they currently stand allow employers to interrogate employees, pull them out of work and show them videos from management consultants, and allows employers to undertake a terror campaign against employees wanting to organize," said Borsos. "That is not a very conducive environment for a fair election."

Borsos accused the hospital of already hiring the Burke Group, which describes itself on its Web site as specializing in union avoidance and boasts of helping clients avoid more than 70 union elections.

Asked whether the hospital had hired the Burke Group, Foust said only that Citrus Valley was conducting a communications campaign and the hospital was compliant with NLRA guidelines.

"We believe our employees have the right to hear both sides of the argument and we are proceeding with our information campaign," she said.

Debbie Carrico, a secretary and monitor technician at Inter-Community, said she has seen the hospital's consultants targeting the hospital's primarily Spanish-speaking housekeeping and dietary staffs.

"They seem to bully them, intimidate them and tell them that if they join the union they will lose benefits and will have to reapply for their jobs," said Carrico, who has been at the hospital for 12 years.

Valentina Legaspy, a nursing administrative assistant at Queen of the Valley, said she has seen no such hardball tactics.

"I have seen no intimidation from management whatsoever," said Legaspy, who is against unionization. "Citrus Valley has excellent benefits, focuses on the community, patients and employees. We have a lot of long-term workers here. I have been here 11 years and I'm considered a newbie."

And while the union accused the hospital of hiring big union-busting firms, anti-union employees accused SEIU-UHW of bringing out the big guns as well, using pro-union politicians like state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, to encourage workers to vote union.


County rejects Teamsters health insurance takeover

Montgomery County (Ohio) Commissioners said they will not approve a pact worked out by county Engineer Joe Litvin and the Teamsters Local Union 957, which represents about half of his employees. At issue is the union's request that 52 equipment operators, drivers and other operations employees be insured under the union's health insurance, rather than the self-insured plan administered by Anthem for the county's 5,000 employees.

"We believe that having one plan allows us to control costs, not only now but in the future," said Commissioner Dan Foley, adding that it would be unfair to allow Teamsters to be separately insured when other unions have been told they cannot do that. County employees pay $10 to $120 in monthly premiums for county insurance, and costs are kept down in part by maintaining a large pool of insured employees, said Amy Wiedeman, director of administrative services.

The Teamsters' proposal includes no monthly premium, said Bill Mills, business manager for the union.

Litvin and Mills said the proposed contract would save the county money because the insurance is less expensive and because employees would take a lower pay hike than the 3 percent annual increases included in other union contracts. The proposed three-year contract would give raises of 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent, retroactive to Jan. 1. The union's contract expired on Dec. 31, 2006.

"I thought it was a good deal for my office and I thought it was a good deal for my people," Litvin said.

But county officials disagree on the savings. Wiedeman said the union plan is actually more costly and would create difficulties administering two separate plans.

The tentative agreement between the union and Litvin was reached in May but commissioners have final say and they have not yet considered the contract because of the dispute.

Mills said union members picketed the county building in July and plan to picket again on Friday if an agreement isn't reached.

"We're going to come to a resolution," he said.


Former police union makes mayoral endorsement

The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed former U.S. Rep. Bob Clement for mayor of Nashville, its leader said today. Danny Hale, president of the FOP's Nashville branch, said the membership's support for Clement over former Metro Law Director Karl Dean was "overwhelming."

"Basically, I think they just identify with Clement a little better," Hale said in a phone interview. "He talked about how he would deal with the morale issues in the police department, and a lot of folks have that on their mind."

The FOP counts more than 1,240 active and retired Metro police officers as members, the Clement campaign said in a news release. The organization lost its spot as the union that negotiates for Metro police officers to the Teamsters last year, but it remains a fraternal group.

Clement said in the release that he was "honored to have the support of our police officers. Our officers have been stretched to the limit in recent years."

Hale declined to discuss the vote totals for Clement and Dean, who are in a Sept. 11 runoff election.


UFCW charged in Montana dues rip-off

Two employees at Safeway in Polson have filed complaints against the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 4 based in Butte. Gerald Rasmussen and Carla Crandall claim the UFCW took union dues from their paychecks, threatened termination for non-compliance and rejected requests to resign from union membership.

UFCW Local 4 union President Nicolai Cocergine issued a statement Monday saying the local is "involved with the National Labor Relations Board and the (National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation) regarding some technical issues about providing notices to union members." The defense foundation helped the workers file the compliant.

Rasmussen, a meat cutter, and Crandall, a clerk, worked with the defense foundation in April to file the claim, which says the workers were required to comply with the union as part of their employment, failed to accept union resignation letters and continued to seek union dues and fees as a condition of the workers' employment. The report also says the workers were threatened to be fired for not complying with the union security provision.

The union must file an answer to the complaint by Aug. 13, and a hearing is set for Sept. 18 in Polson with an administrative law judge of the labor relations board.


NJ casino union rewards Senator's loyalty to pickets

The leader of the union representing the largest number of Atlantic City casino workers said Republican state Sen. Nicholas Asselta will have the group's endorsement in the 1st District Senate race. Bob McDevitt, of Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, said Asselta earned the group's support during a 2004 strike. Asselta is running against Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic.

"When this union was in a fight for its life in 2004, Nick Asselta walked on the Boardwalk and supported us 100 percent," McDevitt said. "The other guy was nowhere to be found. How do you convince the members of Local 54 that the guy who stood with us on the picket lines isn’t the guy for the job and the guy who wasn’t there for us is? You don't."

McDevitt said Local 54 would continue to back Van Drew running mate, Assemblyman Nelson Albano, a union shop steward. The union endorsed Van Drew when he ran for state Assembly.

Van Drew said McDevitt's comments were "more about personal relationships than labor policy." He said he pulled legislation beneficial to the casino industry in 2004 - that paved the way for the opening of the House of Blues - until the strike was resolved.

"I held up a major piece of legislation at the request of one union and one individual, and that was Bob McDevitt," Van Drew said. "I've been very supportive of Local 54."

Asselta said the endorsement is significant and that Local 54 members have been hurt by Democrats in the Legislature.

"It's the one union that has been adversely affected the most, with the casino tax and last year's state shutdown," Asselta said. "This group has always been the backbone of the entire casino industry."

Asselta said he has forged personal relationships with union leaders because of his political support.

"“That's what our business is about," he said. "You get people to believe in you when you're there for them at a time when they need you the most."

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