Unions, Dems playing us for idiots

Related story: "Card-check myth debunked"
More card-check stories: hereMore EFCA stories: here

Fascists, in fact, want to end secret-ballot elections

The most-common misleading response from organized labor to the criticism that the Employee Free Choice Act will destroy the secret ballot in the workplace goes like ... well, here’s a recent example. It comes from Bill McCarthy, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.
In attacking the EFCA, opponents distort the facts and charge that the legislation would end secret ballot elections in union organizing drives. Not true.

The foundation of modern labor law, the Wagner Act of 1935, provided a path to union recognition when a majority of workers in a workplace signed union authorization cards — simple and fair.

When labor adversaries passed the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 over President Truman’s veto, however, employers gained the right to reject the workers’ union authorization cards and to petition the National Labor Relations Board to conduct an election to determine if a workplace should become union. [snip]

The EFCA would give workers, not employers, the right to decide how to express the choice about going union: through the card-check process OR through the NLRB election process.
McCarthy is playing the readers for idiots. Theoretically, oh sure, union organizers might, possibly, theoretically, choose an election, maybe. But under what possible circumstance would that be a realistic choice?

John Raudabaugh, Chicago attorney, labor expert and a former NLRB member, spoke at a Senate Republican Conference meeting on Monday devoted to the Employee Free Choice Act. He told Senators:
Labor wants card-check with 50+ percent yield to bypass but equate to the ballot box process. Why? To effectively silence the employer by conducting a quick, one-sided campaign without counter-information from the employer. Moreover, without the ballot-box, there is effectively no cure to overreaching and false Labor promises.

Labor and its funded academics ignore Taft-Hartley specifically protecting a worker’s right to refrain from third-party representation. Were the union to come up short of 50+ percent signed cards, would it really proceed to file a petition for an election? No, the secret ballot would not remain a real option under the EFCA proposal.
The real option, the REAL WORLD option, will be for labor to ratchet up the pressure and intimidation on employees until the organizers reach the 50-percent-plus-one required signatures.

Both Raudabaugh and the Heritage Foundation’s labor fellow, James Sherk, gave excellent statements at the Senate session explaining current law and dissecting labor’s falsehoods. (Raudabaugh; Sherk.)

The details are important, which explains why labor shies from away from them in making the case for card check. The advocates prefer soundbites and platitudes — “It evens the playing field,” or “It restores the balance” or, “It doesn’t eliminate the secret ballot.”

Which warrants a snort and retort, “Do you think we’re idiots?”


Dems try to halt 'no-vote unionism' ads

More Al Franken stories: here

Dems throw union democracy, free speech under the bus

The DFL Party filed a formal complaint this week against the sponsors of two ads that slam U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken for supporting federal legislation making union organizing easier.

The television and print ads, sponsored by the independent groups Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Minnesotans for Employee Freedom, allege that the Employee Free Choice Act, which Franken supports, would eliminate secret ballots in workplace elections over whether to approve union representation.

The DFL, in a complaint under Minnesota election laws to the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings, said that claim is false and that in fact the bill would guarantee the right to secret ballots.

"In Minnesota, we don't tolerate intentionally false statements in paid political advertising," said DFL chairman Brian Melendez in a statement.

The Employee Freedom Action Committee released a statement calling the DFL complaint "frivolous." J. Justin Wilson, the group's managing director, accused Melendez of "misleading the people of Minnesota in order to advance a union boss' power grab ... ."

The legislation would create a process by which a union can be certified without a secret ballot election. But the option would remain for organizers to choose the secret ballot route.


Card-check unionism awakens GOP

More card-check stories: here
More EFCA stories: here

Dem plan is a 'fundamental threat to society'

Nevada Sen. John Ensign may have found the perfect tool for his almost Herculean task of defending Senate Republicans in November: unions — or, more accurately, fear of them.

Ensign, Nevada’s junior senator and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been using Big Labor’s top legislative priority, a bill that would make it easier for workers to organize, as a rallying point in a fight whose objective, he concedes, is to minimize Republican losses.

The bill, dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act, would allow workers to unionize a workplace through majority sign-up or “card check” instead of putting the issue to a secret-ballot vote. It would also stiffen penalties for employers who commit unfair labor practices during an organizing drive and impose binding arbitration in bargaining cases in which the sides cannot agree.

The legislation would likely usher in the largest unionization drive since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

“It’s our No. 1 issue to raise money on,” Ensign said last week. “It scares anybody who’s in business to death.”

Indeed, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson told The Wall Street Journal the union-backed bill was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” (The other, he said, was radical Islam.)

Ensign has plenty of help. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Freedom’s Watch, an independent group financed in large part by Adelson, among others, have launched multimillion-dollar offensives against the card check legislation, calling it “un-American,” something that, as one chamber official put it, would “Europeanize the American workforce.”

Opponents are casting the bill as an attempt by labor and its Democratic allies to strip workers of the right to a secret ballot. Card check, they say, would allow organizers to intimidate workers into signing union cards and “turn back the clock on our economy.”

“The fact that Democrats would be willing to take (secret ballots) away from workers and call it free choice, we just want Americans to see how far left the Democratic Party has come,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican. “This is a good, simple example for people to see. Some of the things like the Fannie Mae bailout are so complex. Secret ballot, people understand.”

Maybe not.

The Chamber of Commerce points to a national poll it conducted showing 85 percent of voters oppose “the elimination of secret ballots in union elections.” But such polls rarely provide the context of a labor-management campaign, where a worker’s livelihood can literally be on the line.

Unions complain the election process favors employers because they can campaign against the union and, assisted by high-priced “union avoidance” consultants, use mandatory informational meetings, among other tools, to threaten and intimidate workers.

Because labor law prescribes minimal penalties for employer violations, labor experts say, management is all but encouraged to identify union sympathizers, often firing them to snuff out the momentum of an organizing drive well before the matter is put to a vote. Even when workers vote and win, employers can challenge the result or bargain to an impasse with the union. Either way, appeals are often bogged down for years in a Byzantine legal process.

For those reasons, the 60,000-strong Culinary Union in Las Vegas has abandoned elections, opting instead to negotiate voluntary card check agreements with the major casino companies, including the one once run by Ensign’s father, Mandalay Resort Group. The proposed bill would require that employers recognize unions under that kind of organizing. (Workers would still have the option of a secret ballot.)

Labor has public support, but although the card check legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House last year, it went down in the Senate, 51-48, largely along party lines. Democrats need 60 votes to advance the measure in that body, which means its prospects hinge on the Nov. 4 election.

And that’s why John Ensign is beating the anti-union drum as loudly as he can.


Workers may decertify an unwanted union

More decertification stories: here

Court smacks down Carpenters, NLRB

A federal court judge ruled Thursday that Narricot Industries - despite committing unfair labor practices - does not have to resume bargaining with the carpenters union that employees kicked out last fall.

The National Labor Relations Board had requested an emergency injunction that would have forced the company, located in the Southampton County town of Boykins, to negotiate with the Local 2316 of the International Carpenters and Joiners Union. The company withdrew recognition in September after more than half of the factory's employees signed a petition asking the company to remove the union.

Union organizers filed an unfair-labor complaint, arguing that factory management coerced employees into signing the petition. In May, an administrative law judge for the labor board found Narricot guilty of unfair labor practices.

A final ruling will be handed down by the five-member board in Washington, but with three seats on the board currently vacant and no quick resolution in sight, the NLRB decided to seek the emergency injunction.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca B. Smith agreed with the NLRB judge that Narricot was guilty of unfair labor practices. But she ruled that there had been a strong push from workers to remove the union that was separate from the company's efforts.

"It is clear that the decertification effort originated with Narricot employees, separate and apart, and well before, any involvement or unlawful conduct by Narricot," Smith wrote in her ruling.

Smith went on to say that support for the union had been declining well before the company got involved.

A complaint against Narricot by two employees who say they were fired because of their support of the union still is being investigated by the NLRB.


Barack to play the union card

Organizer-in-chief trains paid volunteer activists

With powerful labor heavy states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana pivotal to victory in November's presidential election, Barack Obama is getting ready to play the union card.

Organized labor has traditionally provided the bedrock of the Democratic Party's electoral strength, since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. This power block has supplied not only massive voter turnout, but has provided major financial support to the Democratic presidential, as well as congressional, campaigns.

Even though Obama lost by a wide margin to Hillary Clinton in the big industrial states in the primaries, labor unions look to be in play as the unions see an opportunity to regain the power they have been losing since organized labor's shift to the right in the 1980 ouster of Jimmy Carter by then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan.

With a massive number of high paying industrial jobs now being outsourced to the world's low-cost manufacturing centers, organized labor sees an opening that may give them a rare opportunity as the political winds point to a congressional sweep.

If a labor-friendly president can make this a trifecta victory, labor — whose remaining strength is primarily centered on public unions — may be itching to seize the opportunity to slow outsourcing and regain some of the benefits that have been negotiated away, such as universal health care and decent pensions.

With membership tumbling in the private sector, labor wants an end to the rule that obliges workers to hold a secret ballot for ratification of unionization. This change would have to be approved by the National Labor Relations Board, which tends to reflect the leanings of the political party in power.

Already the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has joined forces with MoveOn.org, a far-left lobbying group, to air a vehemently anti-McCain TV ad; it focuses on the Republican nominee's commitment to stay the course in Iraq. At the same time, it questions McCain's credentials as a friend of the labor movement.

Since unions not only have money but manpower, the umbrella union organization, AFL-CIO, is prepared to back Obama with both feet on the ground and a fat bankroll of $53 million. However, their influence goes far beyond their membership, embracing families and acquaintances who are supportive of their friends in the labor movement.

The AFL-CIO expects to reach more than 13 million voters in union households, concentrating on a list of 24 battleground states and giving top priority to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. These five states, where unions are strong, are all must wins for either of the presidential candidates.
Unions coming hard

Overall, unions are catching up with and even sometimes surpassing businesses in the amount they spend on electioneering.

In 2000, business firms and their employees spent three times as much during election campaigns as unions did.

By 2006, it was only twice as much, but the unions' activities are already expanding as America's unions become aware of a comeback in the strength of the Democratic Party.

The AFL-CIO aims to deploy 250,000 campaign volunteers this year. And where other groups sometimes ring doorbells at random, unions know where their members live and have a good idea what each one cares about.

The AFL-CIO has just recently endorsed Barack Obama, but it had already prepared a helpful booklet, denouncing McCain's pro-business stance, but emphasizing McCain's policies that might be talking points for its members.

Many union members are culturally conservative traditionalists, who used to be known as Reagan Democrats. This may be especially true since this group's previous loyalty had been heavily embraced by Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

But when push comes to shove, these millions of blue-collar workers will vote with their pocket books. In 2006, three-quarters of those members actually backed the candidates their union endorsed.

Right now, the major issue seems to be the price of gasoline and the fear of further attrition of industrial jobs going overseas.

- Morris R. Beschloss writes frequently for The Desert Sun.


Hyper-partisan SEIU dominates ad-spending

Jumbo union puts all its eggs into anti-GOP basket

During the last two weeks, Missouri TV viewers have faced a barrage of campaign ads — at least 7,200 spots — from candidates who have spent more than $2.7 million to promote themselves and their views.

The avalanche of ads largely reflects the ramping up of the contests in the Aug. 5 primary, notably the Republican battle for governor between U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof and state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. But when it comes to TV ads, Hulshof and Steelman are being outspent by others — some of whom won't be on that ballot.

During the last two weeks, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has been the biggest ad-spending candidate in the state, even though he and Republican rival John McCain won't face Missouri voters until Nov. 4.

Since July 10, Obama has spent at least $516,410 to run TV ads in the state, compared with $408,567 for McCain. Obama outspent McCain in every major Missouri media market except Joplin, Mo., according to figures compiled by TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group. The nonpartisan ad-monitoring firm is tracking campaign spending for the Post-Dispatch.

McCain actually outspent Obama statewide during the last week. Presumably, the Democratic contender sharply curbed his Missouri ad buys because of the free TV coverage of Obama's overseas trip.

Evan Tracey, the ad-monitoring firm's chief operating officer, said the TV spending makes clear that McCain and Obama are targeting Missouri voters.

McCain is running ads in fewer swing states than Obama, Tracey said.

Dave Robertson, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said McCain's ad spending here reflects the fact that "he must win Missouri" in November.

For Obama, Missouri may be less crucial if he carries other swing states, Robertson said.

Among the candidates on the Aug. 5 primary ballot, the biggest ad spender is state Sen. Chris Koster, a Democratic candidate for attorney general.

Since July 10, Koster has doled out at least $429,595 to air 1,061 ad spots. Most of those ads have aired on TV stations in St. Louis and Kansas City, where the bulk of Missouri's Democratic voters live.

Koster's spending, so far, has overwhelmed that of his Democratic opponents. State Rep. Margaret Donnelly has paid $264,684 for 477 spots, all running on St. Louis or Kansas City stations.

No figures were available for state Rep. Jeff Harris, whose campaign said he was slated to begin airing ads Sunday night. Harris led in the recent Post-Dispatch/KMOV poll of likely Democratic primary voters.

In the Republican contest for governor, Steelman and Hulshof have been neck and neck in TV ad buys. During the last two weeks, she has slightly outspent Hulshof statewide. But he has run more ad spots because he's airing some in cheaper, rural TV markets.

Since July 10, Steelman spent $330,968 for 905 spots, compared with $303,587 (1,093 spots) for Hulshof.

Hulshof is running more ads on St. Louis and Springfield TV stations, and is overwhelming Steelman in Joplin, a GOP stronghold. However, she has had the airwaves to herself on Kansas City stations, which reach Republican-leaning suburban voters.

Meanwhile, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Jay Nixon, has spent almost $209,000 to run ads on stations in Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia. His campaign ads didn't run in St. Louis during the last two weeks. However, an independent group — the Service Employees International Union — spent $195,000 to run ads in St. Louis and other media markets around the state.


Surrounded by Right To Work states

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Forced-labor unionism fuels Montana Dems

Democrats will win legislative and statewide political races this year because of their strong record on the economy, energy, education and sportsmen's access, compared with what Republicans have done, Gov. Brian Schweitzer told fellow Democrats on Friday night.

“For all the rhetoric of Republicans, it turns out they're not very good with money,” Schweitzer told a crowd at a barbecue. “They gave tax breaks to out-of-state corporations and made homeowners pay more and more.”

Schweitzer, seeking a second term as governor this year, touted his proposal, backed mostly by Democratic legislators, that gave Montana homeowners a $400-per-household property tax rebate last year.
“We gave the stimulus to Montana before the rest of the country (got theirs),” he said. “We've got the strongest economy in the country.”

Over the past 3 1/2 years of his administration, Schweitzer said Montana has seen the greatest number of new jobs created at the highest wage level in state history.

“That's what happens when Democrats are in charge,” he said.

Democrats have raised the state investment in public school funding by about 33 percent since he took office, Schweitzer said, and they froze university system tuition for two years. However, a coalition of K-12 education groups has contended it still isn't enough and returned to court to seek more.

He touted increases in oil production, electric utility generation, wind power and a projected major new coal plant in Roundup that will increase coal production by 35 percent.

“Elections are about differences,” Schweitzer said. “The biggest difference is we like to hunt, camp and fish. Republicans do not support your right to hunt, camp and fish, and Democrats did.”

Schweitzer said Montana leads the country with its “restoration” economy, with good-paying jobs to clean up the messes left by past mines.

Montana's two Democratic U.S. senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, had other people read statements from them. They were unable to attend because the Senate is meeting Saturday.

Earlier, state Democratic Party Chairman Dennis McDonald of Melville welcomed Democrats to Miles City.

“It's really a great time to be a Democrat in Montana,” McDonald said.

He noted that 190,000 Montanans voted the Democratic Party ballot in the June primary election, twice as many as those who cast votes for “the other party.” Montana's hotly contested Democratic presidential race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in one of the nation's last two Democratic primaries helped drive the turnout.

“Some people have given me a hard time about moving this convention to Miles City,” McDonald said.

Officials said about 95 people were registered for the event. In contrast, Republicans drew more than 400 for their convention in Missoula in June.

However, Democratic officials said their party already had a meeting in Helena in June to select delegates to the national convention, and thousands of Democrats traveled around the state this spring to hear Obama and Clinton when they campaigned in Montana.

Schweitzer also gave Miles City a plug, saying: “Miles City is the center of Democrats in Montana.”

During the afternoon, delegates met in committees to either amend or ratify existing planks of the party's platform and to recommend resolutions on various topics. The full convention will vote on them Saturday.

One resolution offered by McDonald, called for the party to reaffirm its strong support for a worker's right to collectively bargain and voiced its opposition to “so-called, but falsely labeled” right-to-work laws. The Labor Committee approved it unanimously.

McDonald's resolution was a direct response to a change in the state Republican platform adopted in June. The GOP platform says: “We believe that work rules and membership in labor bargaining units must remain free and flexible.”

The Democratic resolution said the Republican language is “hostile to a Montana worker's right to collectively bargain” with employers.

All of Montana's neighboring states have right-to-work laws, which ban the closed or union shop, which makes payment of union dues a condition of employment.


Barack's 'premature victory lap'

Related video: "MSNBC: Arrogant Barack"

Union-backed liberal Dem displays an arrogant streak

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wrapped up his weeklong foreign tour Saturday, meeting at length with past, present and possibly future British prime ministers and rebutting charges from Republican John McCain's campaign that the trip amounted to a "premature victory lap" by an overly confident candidate.

Obama argued that McCain had long ago urged him to take a foreign trip and now was complaining because he had done so. "John McCain has visited every one of these countries post primary that I have," Obama told a scrum of reporters on the driveway outside No. 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives and works.

"He has given speeches in Canada, in Colombia, Mexico, he made visits," he added. "And so it doesn't strike me that we have done anything different than the McCain campaign has done, which is to recognize that part of the job of the next president, commander in chief is to forge effective relationships with our allies."

The final day of the trip began with a breakfast meeting with former prime minister Tony Blair at the hotel on Portman Square where Obama and his advisers were staying. From there he went to see Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Downing Street and later visited with David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party.

Brown, who suffered a major political setback earlier in the week when his party lost a special election in a Labor stronghold in Scotland, took the unusual step of going out in public with his guest, a step seen as a way to be photographed with the American politician who has struck a chord with people in Europe.

While he stopped short of doing a joint news conference with Obama, having not done one when McCain visited him in the spring, he did go for a walk out the back of No. 10 and onto Horse Guards Parade adjacent to St. James's Park.

Meeting with Cameron, Obama talked about the demands of both running for office and, should he win, trying to keep focused on the most important issues. He told Cameron that a former Clinton administration official had warned him that if he were elected, he should schedule time during the day only for thinking.

"The truth is that we've got a bunch of smart people, think, who know 10 times more than we do about the specifics of the topic and so, if what you're trying to do is micromanage and solve everything, then you end up being a dilettante. But you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the choices that are presented to you."

Obama spent more than two hours with Brown, including an hour alone on the patio overlooking the prime minister's garden. He said the two talked about the importance of the transatlantic relationship, which was the theme of Obama's speech in Berlin on Thursday night, the Middle East peace process, climate change and other topics.

Obama later told reporters that he anticipates no immediate bounce politically from the trip and might suffer some decline in the polls because he has been out of the country for more than a week.

"The reason that I thought this trip was important was I am convinced that many of the issues that we face at home are not going to be solved as effectively unless we have strong partners abroad," he said. "And unless we get a handle on Iraq and Afghanistan not only are we going to be less safe, but it is also going to be a huge drain of resources."

Obama for the first time addressed the controversy over his decision to cancel a planned visit to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to visit wounded U.S. servicemen and women. The Pentagon had raised some concerns that aspects of the visit were be campaign related and on that basis Obama decided not to go.

"I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors, a former military officer," he said. "And we got notice that he would be treated as a campaign person and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn't on the Senate staff. That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political and the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns."

The crowds in London were no match for those that greeted Obama in Berlin and Paris, but outside the wrought iron security gates of Downing Street were a cluster of people hoping to catch a look at the Illinois senator.

Patricia Griffin, a 47-year-old teacher from Glasgow, spotted the commotion on Downing Street while riding the London Eye ferris wheel across the Thames River. "Who else would it be?" she said, referring to Obama. Griffin said she came to stand outside Downing Street in hopes that one day she could say she saw the first black president of the United States.

Elaine Ferguson, a 45-year-old teaching assistant from England's Lake District, said Obama was on her "tick list" of celebrities she was hoping to see while on vacation. "We are hoping to see Brad Pitt, Angelina and maybe Obama," she joked. "We are hoping to check one off today. We came so we could say we have seen him."

Bernard Agyekum, a 40-year-old IT manager who moved to London from Ghana 14 years ago, brought his 3-year-old daughter and was among those chanting "O-bam-a." "I love him, I cherish him, I came to see him and hoped to hear him speak. It was disappointing I couldn't see much."

Obama's last two stops were interviews with Fox News and with NBC's "Meet The Press." He was scheduled to return to Chicago late Saturday night.


Governator's plan to sustain union cash-flow

SEIU looks a gift horse in the mouth

Democratic leaders and labor activists this week declared it would be illegal for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to slash state workers' salaries to the minimum wage until a budget deal is reached.

But a California Supreme Court decision five years ago indicates otherwise. Instead, it is Democratic Controller John Chiang, with the job of issuing paychecks, who would be snubbing the law if he continues to pay state employees as he has promised.

Whether the governor or anyone else can stop Chiang is another matter, but the law seems to leave little room for interpretation.

Three experts in labor law who reviewed the unanimous ruling at the request of the Mercury News agreed that the controller is barred under the state constitution to pay state employees until a budget is enacted. One exception is hourly employees, who are entitled to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour.

"It's a relatively clear cut case," Bill Gould, a professor at Stanford Law School and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, said Friday. "This we know from the opinion: He (the controller) cannot make any further payments" of workers' salaries, beyond the minimum wage.

Chiang's answer, in effect: Try to stop me. "Until I have a court order," the controller said in an interview, he will continue to pay employees their full salaries. Schwarzenegger is expected to issue his executive order Monday, and the next round of checks are set to go out at the beginning of August.

The Supreme Court decision in White vs. Davis, issued in 2003, stemmed from a lawsuit filed in the late 1990s in the midst of a budget delay at the time. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and others challenged whether the state was allowed to make certain payments, including worker salaries, before a spending blueprint was in place.

The lawsuit, like Schwarzenegger's planned executive order, was designed to put pressure on lawmakers to pass a budget. The state constitution dictates that the Legislature approve a budget by June 15, in time for the start of the July 1 fiscal year. But lawmakers - hung up by ideological differences and a requirement that budgets pass with a two-thirds majority - routinely blow that deadline, with few repercussions.

"The goal was to make them do their job," said Richard Fine, the lead attorney in the case.

Though the 69-page Supreme Court decision addressed many legal arguments, its conclusion was unequivocal. "State law does not authorize the controller to disburse state funds to employees until an applicable appropriation" - a state budget - "has been enacted," the court stated. Once a budget is in place, the employees must receive back pay. And to comply with federal law, the court added, during a budget impasse the state must pay hourly workers the federal minimum wage and those who work overtime time-and-a-half pay.

Chiang and his chief legal counsel, Rick Chivaro, acknowledged the court's findings. But they cite a claim raised with the court in the lawsuit but not decided: that the state payroll system is unequipped to tease out which employees are entitled to be paid during an impasse and which are not.

"There are system limitations," Chivaro said. "It is not logistically feasible to do this."

The controller's stand is likely to be the final say absent another lawsuit. Chiang is elected independently and does not report to the governor, so Schwarzenegger would have to force the issue in court to impose his planned executive order. He has not said whether he would do so.

Were Schwarzenegger or an outside group to sue Chiang, they would almost certainly prevail, the legal experts contacted by the Mercury News said.

"I don't see any difference if the case was brought again today," said Miriam Cherry, a labor and employment expert who teaches at McGeorge School of Law. The ruling, she predicted, "would be exactly the same."

The controller "seems to be inviting a Schwarzenegger vs. Chiang lawsuit," added David Rosenfeld, a labor attorney who teaches at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.

It is unlikely the controversy will last long enough for a court to rule. Schwarzenegger - who has not proposed such a pay cut in previous years - is hoping that the mere threat will prod legislative leaders toward an agreement.

Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over whether to close a $15.2 billion deficit primarily with spending cuts or tax increases. The state Senate is slated to vote on a budget plan on Tuesday, but it's unclear whether it will draw any Republican support.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. If a budget isn't enacted by early to mid-August, the state may be forced to take out a high-risk loan to pay its bills - with a premium of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Incoming Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who practiced labor law for years, said it's been a few years since he read the Supreme Court decision at issue. But in his mind, the governor's pay-cut directive comes down to right vs. wrong.

"The court of law is often about equity," Steinberg said, "and it's simply not fair that people who work an honest day don't receive the pay they've been promised."


SEIU says NO to boys, girls club

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