Voter fraud epidemic observed

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Barack's union-backed voter fraud group ACORN also uses charitable donations and public funds

Former Republican Sens. John Danforth of Missouri and Warren Rudman of New Hampshire are running the McCain-Palin 2008 Honest and Open Election Committee, and, according to them, they are running scared – scared of all the registration mischief out in the field that may just drop a bomb on Election 2008.

“Our mission is to make sure that everybody who is entitled to vote gets to vote without any intimidation, but also that there is no stuffing at the ballot boxes, no fraudulent voting, and also that the rules are the same for everybody,” announced Danforth at a teleconference with the media on Monday afternoon.

“I mean, one of our concerns is that on Election Day some polling places are kept open for extended periods of time and others are not, and that this is done to help one candidate versus the other,” Danforth added.

Both Rudman and Danforth voiced concern that there is or may be a pattern of registering people who are not entitled to vote, noting that of particular concern is an organization called The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

“We are concerned that ACORN has been connected with Senator [Barack] Obama and that he has ties to it,” said Danforth. “He directed something called Project Vote; he taught classes for future leaders that are identified by ACORN; and he has represented ACORN in court in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois. ACORN’s political action committee has endorsed Senator Obama.”

Danforth expressed alarm that ACORN has been bringing in large numbers of names, many who are not qualified to vote, and the practice may be “gumming” up the system. He added that after the enactment of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, there has been a requirement for statewide computerization of registered voters and that the local overseers may become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers being put forth by ACORN.

Between Danforth and Rudman, they ticked off an inventory of what they perceived as likely trouble spots:

• In Ohio in the last election, there were four counties where voter registration exceeded the number of voting-age people in the counties.

• In Colorado, ACORN registered some individuals 40 separate times. Danforth noted that the ACORN director in Ohio played this down, saying in effect just because you register somebody 35 times doesn’t mean that they get to vote 35 times. “So, a fairly cavalier attitude,” he concluded.

• In Nevada, nearly 1,000 felons were illegally registered to vote in 2004.

• In Washington state, felony charges were brought against ACORN workers and some went to jail.

• On Sept. 18th in The Washington Post, an article pointed out the danger that Election Day could become a real mess because of the applications turned in for registration of people who are not entitled to vote.

• In Michigan, ACORN enrolled 200,000 voters and a spokesman for the secretary of state of Michigan has said that there appears to be a sizable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.

• The Clark County, Nev., registrar claims that there has been rampant fraud, and counts roughly 40 percent of registration applications submitted by ACORN from January through July had been rejected or questioned.

• In Pennsylvania, official are investigating ACORN for filing fraudulent voter registrations. One ACORN worker is facing 19 counts of perjury for making false statements.

• In Wisconsin, more allegations of fraud. Milwaukee election officials recently turned in 32 more voter registration workers to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution, bringing the total to 39.

• The secretary of state of Ohio is, in effect, disenfranchising many who have relied on printed applications for absentee ballots -- claiming that because appropriate boxes not been checked on the card requesting the ballot that the person shouldn’t get the ballot. “So we are concerned that a lot of people who want to vote absentee in Ohio are not going to be able to do so,” concluded Danforth.

• Rudman zeroed in on the case of Michigan where “we believe that the Obama campaign has made really false claims about trying to suppress voters there.”

“Our concern is that if this is a close election ... and if one side believes it has been cheated ... it is going to be harder to heal the wounds that are created at election time,” said Danforth.

“[W]e have extended our hand to the Obama campaign and to the Democratic National Committee, hoping that ways can be found where we can work together toward what should be the common objective for both presidential candidates,” said Danforth.

When asked to comment on whether Florida was going to be a problem child this election cycle, the team would not directly respond.


#1 in the nation for teacher strikes

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More strike stories: here

Labor-state surpassed by none

Pennsylvania teachers were granted the right to strike in 1970. And strike they did to the tune of 775 work stoppages between 1970 to 1991, according to Pennsylvania School Board Association figures.

State lawmakers passed Act 88 in 1992, which preserved the teachers' right to strike but set some limits that would ensure a 180-day school year would be completed by June 30.

Pennsylvania is one of a dozen states that allow teacher strikes, but the high number of impasses has not motivated Harrisburg to make changes in a union state where collective bargaining is considered by many to be an ingrained right.
"Historically, there's been no appetite on the part of the Legislature -- Republicans or Democrats -- or any governor to take away the right to strike," said former state Rep. Ron Cowell.
Locally, the Saucon Valley School District teachers are heading into a second week of picketing. The union will be forced to enter nonbinding arbitration by Oct. 17 if the labor dispute is not resolved.
"Saucon Valley teachers are making it increasingly difficult for legislators who have been supportive of their ability to strike to continue to be supportive," said state Rep. Karen Beyer, R-Lehigh/Northampton.
Beyer, a district resident and former school board president, calls herself a champion for teachers and education. But she says the strike leaves her scratching her head since the 4.7 percent salary raise offer is so generous.


ACORN gets $500 million/yr from taxpayers

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Voter fraud is publicly-funded by Congress

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich dropped a bomb on the bailout today:

“I think you have a Goldman Sachs chief of staff to the President and the Goldman Sachs secretary of the Treasury. And they convinced the President that the American people ought to send $700 billion to Wall Street, which I think is a very, very bad idea and I would argue is a very un-Republican idea. I don’t understand what they think they’re doing.”

He said all this on NPR.

Here's the transcript:

MELISSA BLOCK: The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is one prominent conservative urging Congress to step hard on the brakes. He writes in the National Review online, “Congress was designed by the founding fathers to move slowly, precisely to avoid the sudden panic of a one-week solution that becomes a 20-year mess.” Newt Gingrich, welcome to the program.

NEWT GINGRICH: It’s great to be with you.

MS. BLOCK: This $700 billion bailout plan, this potential 20-year mess that you’re talking about, comes from a Republican administration, comes from your own party. What’s happened to Republican faith in small government and free markets?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, I think you have a Goldman Sachs chief of staff to the president and the Goldman Sachs secretary of the Treasury. And they convinced the president that the American people ought to send $700 billion to Wall Street, which I think is a very, very bad idea and I would argue is a very un-Republican idea. I don’t understand what they think they’re doing.

MS. BLOCK: Do you feel betrayed by the Bush administration and by the president?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, betrayed is too strong a word. I think what they’re doing is just wrong. And I think that it’s likely to fail and it’s likely to make the situation worse over time. And I think that Secretary Paulson has shown almost no understanding of how a democracy operates. His initial draft would have given him $700 billion of your tax money with no oversight, no judicial review, no accountability. I mean, we’re not a dictatorship.

MS. BLOCK: But the idea, obviously, is that this goes to Congress and that provisions are written in and that’s just what they’re doing now. Are you not reassured by what’s the debate in Congress right now?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, the last time we were promised they were going to save us, it was $300 billion; it was a housing bill. And what liberal Democrats in Congress did, for example, was add $500 million a year for a left-wing activist group called Acorn. Now, I can’t imagine why we’d want the taxpayer to give $500 million a year to a left-wing activist group, but it’s in the bill which the Bush administration signed and that was only back in July and that was going to solve everything. That was $300 billion ago.

Now we have a brand-new, liberal Democrats, many of whom, for example, Chris Dodd, was the largest single recipient of money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and he is the chairman of the Banking Committee. So the guy who got the most money is now going to write a bill to give taxpayers money to the people who gave him money. Somehow, I am not reassured.

MS. BLOCK: But, Mr. Gingrich, a lot of the Republicans in Congress seem to be saying, this needs to go forward.

MR. GINGRICH: Well, I think they’re just wrong. I think we need to slow down, take a deep breath, hold public hearings, have experts testify, understand exactly what the agreement would be, where the money would go, how we would account for it. I don’t think the taxpayers should be socked for $700 billion for welfare for Wall Street. I think it’s fundamentally wrong and I think that it is very likely to create a bureaucratic control of our financial system in a way that will cripple us for 20 years.

MS. BLOCK: You know, when congressional leaders met on Thursday night with Secretary Paulson and with the Fed chair, Ben Bernanke, the message was dire. You heard Senator Chris Dodd saying, they were told we are maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system. Don’t you think that there’s an imminent crisis here, if they were to wait, that there could be really drastic results?

MR. GINGRICH: To be honest, I don’t know. Secretary Paulson has been consistently wrong for a year-and-a-half. He told us for a year-and-a-half this wasn’t a dire crisis; this wasn’t going to happen. So the very people who told us for a long time not to worry about it are – I know they’re panicked. Whether that means that we should be panicked, I’m not sure. And I think the purpose of the Congress, the purpose of the House and Senate, is to be a check and balance on the executive branch, not to automatically write blank checks.

MS. BLOCK: What if you’re wrong?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, if I’m wrong, then we’re going to have a significant problem. And if I’m right, we’re going to have a bigger problem. So I think part of the question is, why can’t this be done out in an open debate, have an openly marked-up bill, have the American people know what’s being asked of them? I was just reading an analysis by a very sophisticated person who said that there’s been at least one leak from a congressional staff briefing by Secretary Paulson in which he clearly indicated he intended to buy assets at above their market value.

And that – why should the taxpayer do that? I mean, why are we not saying, we’ll provide enough capital to avoid collapse, but we’re not going to provide enough capital to guarantee the profits of Wall Street people who, after all, last year, at Goldman Sachs alone had three people each earning $73 million a year. Now, why should we bail them out?

MS. BLOCK: What are you saying the incentive would be for, say, Secretary Paulson or Ben Bernanke to be rushing something through if it weren’t urgently needed? What would their motivation be for that?

MR. GINGRICH: A couple of things – first of all, they’re probably genuinely panicked. And I think that’s real. I think they’re tired; I think they’ve been consistently wrong and now they’re looking at a precipice that’s very frightening. I think, second, that they have a very Wall Street-centric view of the world. And I think that rather than saying, what are the big, profound changes we need to fix America, they are saying, what are the immediate quick fixes for Wall Street, which I think, in the long run, just makes us weaker and sicker. I think, third, they know that if they don’t rush it through, it has no hope because as the American people learn the details, they’re just going to scream at their House and Senate members.

MS. BLOCK: Well, Newt Gingrich, thanks for talking with us.

MR. GINGRICH: Thank you.

MS. BLOCK: That’s Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House.


An ACORN of Truth? (2 of 5)

Related video: "An ACORN of Truth? (1 of 5)"

Related stories - ACORN: hereWade Rathke: hereDrummond Pike: here

Reforming ACORN from within?

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter-fraud group is a notoriously anti-worker employer

A longtime labor and community activist today officially announced the launch of a national campaign to achieve the very social justice for ACORN organizers, which they fight for on behalf of others every day.

Gregory Hall said his Truth To Power (TTP) organization is dedicated to reforming the progressive movement to ensure that it lives by its own principles. TTP's first campaign will focus on reforming the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the nation's largest community organization employing hundreds of hard-working, dedicated community organizers. Unfortunately, according to Hall, top ACORN management has adopted a sweatshop model extracting 54-80 hours per week for salaries starting around $25,000.

"A lot of people know ACORN fights for living wages and fairness at home and on the job," Hall said. "But most people out there don't know that a few really powerful top ACORN managers force ACORN organizers to work extremely long hours for too little pay. These guys attack companies like Wal-Mart, but management acts exactly like Wal-Mart."

Hall, who has been an organizer and reformer within SEIU and worked briefly at ACORN before walking out in disgust over the alleged organizational corruption, continued: "The first step in reforming America is reforming our own progressive movement. Once we can achieve social justice for social justice organizers, we can start making the world a more progressive place."

Truth To Power's campaign will be modeled on social justice efforts carried out by ACORN and labor organizations. TTP will work with a broad range of progressive groups and internal reformers. The campaign will focus on using ACORN's stated principles and asking that organizers receive exactly the same working conditions they fight for in campaigns across America.

"We've already started hearing from reform groups and a good amount of ACORN organizers who want to work with us to reform the organization," Hall said. "To them, we say 'please join our cause.'"

About Truth to Power:
Truth To Power is a national campaign to reform and strengthen our movement of social-justice organizers from the bottom up. With our allies, supporters, and members we are going to earn respect on the job and reform and strengthen our organizations at the same time.

Contact: Gregory Hall
Phone: 919-721-7363
Email: gregory.hall@speakingtruth2power.org
Web site: http://speakingtruth2power.org/acorn/


Voter fraud is typical union tactic

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group protected by left-wing media

Two advisers to John McCain's presidential campaign today said a flood of questionable voter registration applications in swing states threatens to undermine the accuracy of the November election and could prevent legitimate voters from registering for a ballot.

The warning came less than a week after the Democratic party filed a lawsuit in Michigan seeking to end what its lawyers said were Republican efforts to suppress votes of poor people and African Americans, two historically Democratic constituencies. The move indicates the Democratic and Republican parties are set to battle over voter registration in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, former Republican senators John Danforth and Warren Rudman said a coalition of community organisations called Acorn had in several states submitted voter registration applications for people who were already registered.

The senators did not accuse the group of fraud, but suggested the group's registration drive was "diluting" legitimate votes and causing havoc in the nation's voter registration process.

"Our mission is to ensure that everybody who is entitled to vote gets to vote without any intimidation but also that there's no stuffing of the ballot boxes, no fraudulent voting and also that the rules are the same for everybody," said Danforth, a former Missouri senator.

"We are concerned that there is or may be a pattern of registering people who are not entitled to vote or otherwise gumming up the system for registering voters."

He cited news reports in Michigan, Colorado and elsewhere describing problematic registration applications surfacing after large Acorn registration drives. Earlier this month in Detroit, for example, the secretary of state's office cited a "sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications" arising from an Acorn drive.

Last week, Republican officials called Acorn's North Carolina chapter "a quasi-criminal, Democratic affiliated organisation" after an election official asked the state to check 80 applications submitted by the group.

Today, Danforth sought to link Acorn to the Obama camp, noting that a political action committee affiliated with Acorn endorsed Obama.

He also said the McCain campaign was concerned that some ballot stations in heavily Democratic areas would be allowed to remain open on election night after their scheduled closing.

State laws typically allow that anyone on line to vote when the polls are scheduled to close may cast a ballot, but Danforth said he was concerned polling sites would be kept open to accommodate Democrats' late voter turnout efforts.

Rudman defended the party against Democratic allegations in Michigan that Republicans are working to deny the vote to people who lost their homes in the mortgage crisis.

The Democratic party said its lawsuit filed last week in Michigan was aimed at ceasing the practice. The suit came after a Macomb county Republican official told a local newspaper the party was culling voter names from foreclosure lists to challenge their residency.

Rudman said the suit was a "red herring", and that, "all the local officials deny it". He called on the Democratic party to come to an accord with the Republicans on election-day procedures such as extended polling hours.

The back-and-forth between the Democratic and Republican parties reflects the historic divergence between the two camps on voter registration and ballot access. The Republican party has typically pushed for strong verification requirements, such as identification checks at the ballot, measures they say are intended to counter voter fraud.

The Democrats, meanwhile, say such strictures will discourage the elderly and poor from voting. Non-partisan election experts say there is minimal fraud in US voting.


GOP finally complains about ACORN

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group receives $500 million/yr in taxpayer funds

The McCain campaign claims that voter fraud could wreak havoc during the upcoming November elections. Specifically, Republicans are accusing the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also known as 'ACORN', of intentionally clogging the system with fraudulent registrations.

Former Missouri Senator Jack Danforth is working with the McCain campaign to identify potential problem areas. "We are concerned that ACORN has been connected with Senator Obama, that he has ties to it," claims Danforth. "He directed something called 'Project Vote', he taught classes for future leaders that are identified by ACORN."

ACORN was investigated in 2006 for submitting roughly 1500 false voter registrations in St. Louis.

Justin Hamilton of the Obama campaign in Missouri counters that Republicans are simply responding to a groundswell of Democratic support across the country.

"What you're finding is, the McCain Campaign is seeing the number of people we've been able to register in this state, they haven't even come close to our numbers, largely because they're trying to run their campaign in Missouri out of Iowa."

Absentee voting for the 2008 elections begins on Tuesday.

According to the Missouri Secretary of State, instances of in-person voter fraud occurring at polling places have been extremely rare.


ACORN links expose Barack

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Loose standards invite voter registration fraud

Democrats tout Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer at the same time they’re complaining about the state of the economy. Well it’s important to connect the dots between these two topics.

As a community organizer, Obama worked directly for and with ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). In 1992, he was hired to run a voter registration effort. He later became a trainer for the group, as well as its lawyer in election law cases.

ACORN has not only been involved in numerous instances of fraudulent voter registration, vote-rigging, voter intimidation and vote-for-pay scams, the organization also took a lead role in pushing for and getting the underwriting standards for mortgages loosened with the support of liberal politicians in Congress. This was in spite of warnings that looser standards could lead to wide-scale defaults.

Once the standards were loosened, liberal politicians like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd pushed financial institutions to make more and more loans to homeowners who had little ability to repay them.

The result: the current economic crises.

So this raises a couple of important questions.

• What has Obama done to clean up the corruption in ACORN or has he just been complicit?

• Why is he so vocal about the weakness in our economy when the organization he worked for and his colleagues have been primary contributors to the current downturn that coincided with the Democrats gaining control of Congress?


Young voters susceptible to ACORN fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Unrepentant union-backed voter fraud group soldiers on for Barack

Annie Wildfong was on a mission one football Saturday earlier this month. She grabbed her clipboard and headed into the driving rain.

The Michigan State University sophomore wants Democrat Barack Obama to become the next president. So she spends hours each day trolling the streets and dorms of East Lansing to find the next potential voter, still unregistered, who might push Obama over the top. The Obama campaign intern is among many supporters trying to help register 150,000 new voters by the state's Oct. 6 deadline.

By contrast, the Republican Party and the campaign for its nominee, John McCain, are putting more effort into identifying registered voters and making sure they get their message and vote, said Bill Nowling, a GOP spokesman.

Overwhelmingly, the Obama campaign is targeting young people, who historically don't vote in large percentages.

"I've been called a communist and told to go hug a tree," said Wildfong, 19, of Ferndale. "But it's worth it."

That Saturday, no one stopped. The rain was too punishing, the ink too prone to smudging.

More young adults voting

In the latest Gallup poll, taken last week, Obama holds a 15-percentage-point advantage among people ages 18-29. The campaign said they may hold the key to victory in Michigan. In 2004, 47% of registered 18- to 24-year-olds nationwide voted in the presidential election, compared with 64% for all voters. In Democratic primaries this year, the number of 18- to 29-year-olds sharply increased over primaries in 2004.

"Looking at the voting patterns in the primaries, we can see how many young people turned out to vote," said Elizabeth Wilkins, Obama's field director in Michigan. "And we've got a candidate who appeals to young people."

Michigan makes it relatively easy to register to vote, which is why state election officials said that more than 95% of the state's population 18 and older -- the 2007 census shows more than 7.6 million Michigan people in that age category -- already are registered.

By contrast, about 71% of eligible adults are registered nationwide, according to Fair Vote, a Maryland-based group that tracks voter registration.

Help comes from all sides

Despite Michigan's high registration, more than 100,000 new voters registered in the state between January and July, according to the Michigan Secretary of State's Web site.

"It takes some creative field efforts for us to find those people," Wilkins said. "We get into every nook and cranny."

The Obama campaign has brought in recording artists and actors to help on campuses and in neighborhoods where fewer adults are registered. Comedian and actor George Lopez, who is Hispanic, came to southwest Detroit, which has a high Latino population, on Saturday.

Other groups signing up new voters include the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, which is working with the NAACP and unions in metro Detroit to get their members to register, said council spokesman Bertram Marks.

"The smartest way for us to do this is not to create a big hoopla," he said, "but on an ongoing basis, church by church."

At Welcome Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac on Sunday, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., exhorted the faithful to take action: "Those young people laying up in your house, you've get to get them registered to vote. And don't forget the shut-ins. Get them their absentee ballots."

ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- is a community outreach group that helps low-income residents in urban areas. With mixed results, the group is going into high schools and nightclubs.

At King High School in Detroit last week, Garrick Charles, national Project Youth Vote director for ACORN, encountered a distracted crowd that seemed more interested in free T-shirts than a voting lesson.

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, a Republican, is continuing efforts to register young voters by dispatching a mobile branch office to 16 college campuses. One day last week, a steady line formed outside the mobile branch at Grand Valley State University in Allendale. By day's end, 188 students had registered.
What students need to know

Sara Stein, 20, who grew up in New Boston, had some insight into the best way to register, based on an experience she had trying to vote for governor in 2006 when she registered with an advocacy group.

"Nobody told me I had to use the same address as my driver's license," said Stein, a junior. She had tried to vote in Allendale. Michigan law requires voters to register with the same address on a driver's license.

So this year, she waited until the Secretary of State's mobile branch arrived on campus. That way, she could change the address on her driver's license to that of her new home in Grand Rapids.

The other advantage of making the change at a branch or a local clerk's office is that first-time voters can vote in person or by absentee ballot. Many students who register through a group will have to vote in person at the polls the first time.

Student leaders and Grand Valley State professors had been touting the mobile branch as the most effective way students have to vote.

Still, Obama campaign workers tried hard to register students outside the Secretary of State trailer, saying they'd have a better chance of making sure they vote Nov. 4.

Jason Puscas, a 21-year-old GVSU senior from Rochester Hills, doubts the efforts to register young people will make a difference.

"The stats show that young people don't turn out to vote," said Puscas, a McCain supporter. "I think we're kidding ourselves if we expect that to turn into a huge voter turnout."


Machinists strike in NC enters month 3

Related story: "Strikers betray unions' ugly legacy: Racism" • More strike stories: here

Employer gets by with replacement workers

A rare Triangle-area strike is about to enter its third month, but neither the workers on the picket line nor the company, Moncure Plywood, sound close to giving in.

It's not easy for either. While the company struggles to make do with unskilled replacement workers, the strikers are living off $150 a week each from their union and from contributions from other unions and charities. Some, like James Waddell, 43, of Lee County, have had to take part-time jobs.

"I got bills, man," said Waddell, who found work driving a van three days a week. "But I'm not going back in there without a union contract. I'd rather lose everything I got before I'd work like a slave."

Strikes are relatively rare anywhere, involving only about 1 percent of union contracts, said James Andrews, president of the N.C. State AFL-CIO. That and the fact that this state is one of the least unionized in the nation make them even more unusual in North Carolina.

Andrews could recall only three in the past seven or eight years, the most recent being a national strike that affected a Goodyear tire plant in Fayetteville in 2006. That strike lasted about three months.

The Moncure strikers are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The union's three-year contract with the company expired April 30, and negotiations over a new one broke down in July.

About 105 people are on strike, union workers said. The company, meanwhile, has hired 110 workers that it regards as permanent employees, said Jeff Matuszak, the sales and marketing manager. The plant's normal work force is about 210; it has 94 workers who either left the union or were nonunion to begin with.

"We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached [with the union], but we're here to run this mill, which is why we have hired permanent replacements," Matuszak said.

He declined to speak about details of any negotiations with the union, which are kept confidential.

"We have always committed to bargain in good faith, but I can't talk about it," Matuszak said.

More than 60 of the new hires came from the group of 836 workers who lost their jobs in May when the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant closed in Siler City, Matuszak said. Most of the rest also are local residents.

The strikers man the picket line 24 hours a day, and have been there so long now that the "on strike" signs they hang on strings around their necks and hand off at shift changes are spotted with mold.

They pass their six-hour shifts sitting on lawn furniture, playing checkers or standing by the road and waving at passing cars.

For shelter, they have a couple of patio table umbrellas. They have to drive somewhere when they need to use the bathroom because, they say, Chatham County deputies made them remove portable toilets they had placed beside the road.

Strikers' complaints

The main issues, they said, include the company's proposals to boost their workweek, which often could have meant six days or even seven days in a row, week after week; to increase the cost of health insurance for families by $80 to $90 a month; and to remove the union's ability to use seniority for things such as determining who fills new job openings. Wages, which they said average about $14 an hour, weren't a serious sticking point.

Some strikers haven't been able to hold out. Eight union members have given up and come back to work, Matuszak said. Others are welcome to come back and apply for any openings, he said.

Most, though, remain defiant.

"I really don't think the company thought we'd be out here this long," said Eric Hancock, 35, of Sanford. "They can't hold out, though, because there's just too much experience out here with us."

The strikers said that the new hires are actually temporary workers hired through an agency, and that they lack the skills to keep the plant running properly.

The company makes a special type of plywood from hardwood that's used in making furniture. Based on the number of trucks leaving each day, the workers say that production is off and, what's more, a large amount of the plywood is a lower grade that fetches less money. It takes more skill to make better grades, and the new workers don't have it, they said.

Matuszak agreed that the work takes skill and is highly labor intensive but said the new employees are improving.

"Yes, there's a learning curve," he said. "But we're on the upward trend of a learning curve."

Holding out

Local president Lewis Cameron, 57, of Harnett County said the strikers think the company brought in the current plant manager to break the union. Matuszak said that isn't true.

"That's absolutely false," he said. "From the beginning, we always bargained in good faith and tried to achieve a good contract."

The strikers said they dealt with the worst days of summer and hope they don't have to deal with frigid weather, too, but that they will, rather than give in.

"It was just hot, and we dealt with the heat," Hancock said. "It may be easier to deal with the cold, but we hope by that time something happens -- either we're back in there working, or they have shut down."


Striking Teamsters face replacements in PNW

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Labor-states are home turf for militant unionists

Oak Harbor Freight Lines, a trucking company based in Auburn, is hiring replacements for its striking Teamsters, a company spokesman said.

The Teamsters at the company's Auburn and Portland facilities walked out Monday night, said Oak Harbor spokesman Mike Hobby. Their labor contract expired last Oct. 31, and negotiations have failed to resolve disagreements about the company's proposed health-care plan nearly a year later, Hobby said.

Hobby said he could not comment on the company's latest proposal, offered Monday, until union officials have time to review it.

In the meantime, the company is hiring replacement workers, he said.

"We've committed to our customers that we'll continue to move our freight, and we're doing so," he said.

The union has called the company's health-care proposals "substandard," spokesman Bill McCarthy said on the Teamsters' Web site. Teamsters also had objections to previous proposals to reduce retirement benefits, eliminate paid sick leave, deny pay raises to certain employees and replace office workers with subcontractors, McCarthy said on the site.

The union has filed charges of unfair-labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Oak Harbor of "bad faith bargaining," McCarthy said.


Al Franken: Death to Democracy

Related story: "Al Franken, Minnesota DINO"
More Al Franken stories: hereMore EFCA stories: here

Related Posts with Thumbnails