9/27/08

Consumer critic raps ACORN, union wish list

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

FUBAR bailout rewards perps

So a huge chunk of this proposed bailout is going to end up in the coffers of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now? Before you do anything else, check out this report - "ACORN's Hypocritical House of Cards: How One "Community" Group Helped the Housing Crisis Harm Taxpayers" — by the Consumers Rights League. Just two days ago James Terry, CRL's chief counsel, was testifying before Congress about ACORN's long record of widespread voter-registration fraud — is there any mischief of shakedown ACORN isn't into? CRL is all over this hyper-left outfit so beloved by Obama: you'll find additional charges of ACORN corruption here and here.

I just don't get it on the bailout plan. Our issues, and things that matter to conservatives — such as a capital gains tax cut, limited governmett — are immediately scoffed at, and ruled non-starters, because of the enormity of the consequences the American economy faces. But this bailout seems to be developing into a lefty Christmas tree, and that's just something conservatives will just have to swallow. Unless ACORN gets sprinkled with this pixie dust, unless John Sweeney and his hugely overpaid labor buddies get their wish list adopted, we are going to have a depression? Stop the world, I want to get off.

- Linda Devore

(corner.nationalreview.com)

Who gets the billions? ACORN.

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Congress awards subprime market to the union-backed voter-fraud group that helped create the problem

The politicians just can’t resist the opportunity to trade on a crisis.

The Democrats who prevented tighter controls on Freddie and Fannie over the past few years now want ACORN (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to look after “Main Street” by bailing out folks who signed up for homes they couldn’t afford. I refrain from using the term “bought homes,” given that most had little money or income or hope of paying for what they wanted to own.

The Republicans are just as bad. They passed legislation that removed the firewall between commercial and investment banking in the late 90s (Clinton signed), and now they want to allow the Dems their indulgence in ACORN as long as they get a concession for their constituency. More capital gains tax breaks. Benefitting the same guys who made off with the billions in short-term profits from risky mortgage investments.

Are we furious yet–because we ought to be. Most of us won’t be “protected” by any of this.

A perfect storm of both parties looking after their political base (money), rather than the integrity of our nation’s banking system is what got us here. And now it threatens to cost us even more, as each side bargains for their own.

A billion here and a billion there, Everett Dirksen once said, and soon you are talking about real money.

If the Republicans (1999) hadn’t removed the firewall, the mortgage debacle would not be threatening our commercial banks. If the Democrats (Dodd and Franks) had not frustrated attempts by Republicans (including Dole and McCain) to reign in Fannie and Freddie, mortgages to unqualified loan applications would not have been possible.

Both sides of the aisle drank the kool-aid in order to get something for themselves–but gave up looking after Americans who elect them and depend on them to keep us safe.

My concern is that the longer we continue using borrowed (from China and other sovereign wealth funds) money that taxpayers are on the hook for, to prop up businesses that have failed . . . the harder our economy will fall when the bills come due.

We are in a recession. We need to own up to it, and deal with it. Now. This band-aid bailout Washington style is not likely to do that–and it will cost extra billions to buy the votes of those who want a little in the deal for their own.

The Democrats have the votes to pass whatever they want. But they want political cover for the $700B. They want a few dozen Republicans to share the blame with them. If a deal on lower capital gains rates comes out of this, you will know they found a deal they couldn’t resist. And ACORN will be put in charge of billions of your tax dollars.

No wonder polls show average Americans–the overwhelming majority of Americans, in full revolt.

(blogs.fayobserver.com)

Dems, ACORN tied wrist-to-ankle

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group takes center stage in FUBAR bailout

Can the truth be told? The media claim that the Republicans and the Bush administration are responsible for the housing issues. Here is reality.

Between 1993 and 1997, under pressure from ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and other community organizers, Bill Clinton reduced regulation on lending to subprime borrowers. In 2003, the Bush administration proposed legislation that would have ended this mess before it happened. It was blocked by Democrats, again pressured from ACORN.

The heads of Fannie and Freddie were past members of the Carter and Clinton administrations, and along with other Democrats they made tens of millions on these bad loans. Other Democrats who received money from Fan and Fred: Christopher Dodd, $330,000; John Kerry, $252,698; and Barack Obama, $222,000.

We face some very rough times ahead of us and we need the best possible people in Washington now — not some wanna-be activists who are only concerned with being elected and who couldn’t care less about leading this nation.

I am just an ordinary citizen with Internet access. If I can find this information, you can’t tell me that the people whose job it is to report the news cannot find it.

It leaves me wondering that if people are willing to hide this information from the voters to get their candidate elected, what will they do to the voters once their candidate is elected?

Are you scared yet? I sure am.

- Martin Fee, Vero Beach

(.tcpalm.com)

ACORN tops bailout agenda

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Dems forced to defend awarding the subprime market to union-backed voter fraud group

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress would pass a $700 billion debt bailout soon and that negotiations were back on track after Thursday's political theatrics. Leaders were hoping for a Sunday deadline to calm markets before they open on Monday, but they would not commit to that date.

The San Francisco Democrat made clear, as she has all along, that her party could not and would not pass the unpopular measure on its own. Democrats refuse to shoulder full responsibility for a bailout engineered by the Bush administration and insist that at least half of the GOP members of Congress join in. Many Democrats are expected to vote against the plan.

Democrats and Republicans alike are livid that they are being asked by what they view as a discredited administration to spend such an astonishing sum, which will top $1.3 trillion when previous loans and bailouts related to the mortgage meltdown are included.

Pelosi, who has begun referring to the "Bush financial crisis," said she and others were "quite stunned to see a $700 billion price tag" on the plan Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson dropped in the lap of Congress last weekend.

But she said that with the major changes that are being incorporated, both parties will swallow hard and pass it, convinced of its necessity by the dire warnings of economic collapse by Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The failure Thursday of Washington Mutual Inc., which was bought by banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co., added to the sense of urgency.

'The Paulson Plan'

"We will not leave until legislation is passed that is signed by the president," she said. House Republicans backed off their demand to substitute an entirely different approach. Democrats said they would incorporate some GOP suggestions in what is now being called "the Paulson Plan."

Republicans are especially insistent that none of the bailout money be passed through the liberal low-income housing group known as ACORN, which had activists on Capitol Hill this week. They also are pinning the roots of the subprime crisis on an expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act by the Clinton administration that required banks to lend money to people with shaky credit, designed to prevent banks from "redlining" poor neighborhoods by refusing loans.

Even with all the changes that both parties want and the administration has agreed to - such as requiring that taxpayers get an equity stake in bailed out companies, limiting executive pay and doling out the money in installments - it will take an all-out effort by both parties' leaders to pass the bailout.
'Overrated' warnings

Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of Fremont, a former banker, said he probably will not support it, calling dire warnings of a credit meltdown "grossly overrated."

"I think we are being railroaded in the same manner we were to vote for Iraq," Stark said. "The banks of the Bay Area are in good shape, and they're bailing out Wall Street for $700 billion. It's irresponsible and reckless."

Stark said he has been working to get a third of that sum for universal health care, and that with $15 billion, all Californians could have health insurance.

He attributed at least part of the credit tightening that businesses and consumers are feeling now to the recession that economists believe has begun and the unwinding of easy credit that fed the housing bubble.

"I think people will have more trouble getting a mortgage," Stark said. "Auto dealers are going to have more trouble shedding their inventory, which isn't worth much anyway if it's all SUVs. If we found the whole Bay Area seeing the kinds of foreclosures, say that they have in Stockton, we'd probably react to that. But it's not been that way in Fremont and it's not been that way in Burlingame, or San Francisco. I think that $700 billion would hurt the value of the dollar, which would raise oil prices even further, and probably increase inflation. I think we're rushing this through too quickly."

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said conservatives have been burned by President Bush before on things such as the costly Medicare drug benefit and are in no mood to swallow such a large government intervention in the economy.

"This thing, 'We've got to get this done tomorrow, we can't deviate, it has to be exactly like this,' there were a lot of eyes rolling around the room, saying, 'We've heard this before,' " Flake said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, went to the Senate floor to urge that the modified bailout be passed, despite receiving "more than 50,000 calls and letters, the great bulk of them in opposition to any form of meeting this crisis with financial help from the federal government."
'No good options'

"None of us wants to be in this position, and there are no good options here," Feinstein said. "Nobody likes the idea of spending massive sums of government money to rescue major corporations from their bad financial decisions. But no one also should be fooled into thinking this problem only belongs to the banks and that it's a good idea to let them fail."

She said California's unemployment rate is already at 7.7 percent, the third highest in the nation, with 1.3 million people out of work, and that 800,000 more foreclosures are expected in the state this year.

"The situation, I believe, is grave, and quick, prudent action is needed," Feinstein said.

(sfgate.com)

Blame ACORN for FUBAR bailout

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

ACORN's role in federal crisis explained

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Congress now wants to award subprime mess to the union-backed voter fraud group that helped cause it

The recent upheaval in the financial sector has some people in a panic, most people bewildered, and others busy aiming their pointer fingers at whomever they think is guilty of doing something that contributed to this problem. The presidential candidates are in the latter category. They aren’t quite sure what to do or what to say, but that doesn’t stop them from saying something, anyway.

John McCain made a decisive statement, attempting to show leadership, but his statement was not a very smart one. Barack Obama, by contrast, simply blamed Republicans.

Few things are as simple as politicians make them seem in an election year. Political candidates succeed by issuing pointed statements that are easy to understand and that connect with voters; truth and accuracy are not the primary concerns.

The important thing right now is to figure out what actually happened in the financial sector, and fix things so it can’t happen again. We must ignore the tremendous amount of speculation about what “might” happen, and the doom and gloom soothsayers who tell us that the sky is falling or that the end of the world draweth nye.

Because of its complexity the current financial situation invites simple political messages that connect with voters; it does not lend itself to full explanations that illuminate.

So, when Sen. Obama says that “it’s the Republicans’ fault,” he is expressing a simple idea that a lot of people buy into, but doesn’t explain anything. It is a silly oversimplification unworthy of a man who would be President. It appeals to emotional prejudices and ignores inconvenient realities, and most important of all, it is just plain wrong.

When Sen. McCain suggested that Securities and Exchange Commission head Christopher Cox didn’t do his job, and if he were president he would fire Mr. Cox, the Senator didn’t offer specifics. We’ll know more about Mr. Cox’s role as time passes and we learn more of the details, and can then judge if Mr. McCain’s simple message to voters about firing Chris Cox was a proper evaluation of the situation.

Sen. Obama described the current agony as "the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression,” ignoring all the recessions since then, even the ones in the 80s and the one following the 9-11 attacks, both arguably more serious crises. Of course, it remains to be seen just how serious this problem will ultimately be, but given Mr. Obama’s abysmal understanding of things economic, we would do well to take his prognostications with a grain of salt.

The root of this problem is the housing market’s subprime loan crisis. A subprime loan is a loan made to someone who under normal circumstances would not qualify for a loan, based upon their income and their ability to make payments. That begs the question: Why would a bank make a loan to someone it believes is unable to make the payments?

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was given life during the Carter administration, and empowers four federal financial supervisory agencies to oversee the performance of financial institutions in meeting the credit needs of their entire community, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Whenever an institution wants to make virtually any change in its business operation, such as merging, opening up a new branch, or getting into a new line of business, it must first prove to regulators that it has made ample loans to the government's preferred borrowers, those in low- and middle-income neighborhoods who normally would not qualify for a loan. Lenders with low ratings can be fined by the government.

The Carter administration used tax dollars to fund numerous "community groups" that helped the government enforce the CRA by filing petitions against banks whose “cooperativeness” didn’t measure up, and sometimes stopping their efforts to expand their operations. Banks responded by giving money to the community groups and by making more loans. One of those organizations was the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). An active associate of ACORN in the 90s was a young public-interest attorney named Barack Obama.

So, starting in 1977 the federal government began “encouraging”—perhaps “strong-arming” is a more accurate term—banks to make loans to people to whom they normally would not make a loan, and in 1995 the Clinton administration pushed through revisions to the CRA that substantially increased the number and amount of these loans.

All of the bad loans weren’t caused by the CRA, of course, but billions of dollars in CRA loans did go bad, as should have been expected. When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac came along and made it possible for banks to escape the risk associated with these ill-advised loans, conditions were just right for a large portion of the banking industry, even institutions that did not fall under the CRA, to become involved in making loans to unqualified borrowers, and banks participated in big numbers.

The federal government’s fingerprints are all over this crisis, and the Democrats who are today so righteously indignant and blaming the administration are at least as guilty as the Republicans.

- James H. Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Bluefield Daily Telegraph columnist.

(speroforum.com)

Congress turns to ACORN

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Dems seek to bail out union-backed voter fraud group from Fan-Fred failure

Taxpayers are naturally suspicious that political insiders and contributors on Wall Street are going to make out like bandits once Washington starts spending the $700 billion in the financial market rescue. But Democrats have already decided to spin off potentially billions of taxpayer dollars from the bailout fund to their own political buddies -- not on Wall Street but on nearby K Street.

The House and Senate Democratic drafts contain an indefensible and well-hidden provision. It would mandate that at least 20% of any profit realized from the sale of each troubled asset purchased under the Paulson plan be deposited in either the Housing Trust Fund or the Capital Magnet Fund. Only after these funds get their cut of the profits are "all amounts remaining . . . paid into the Treasury for reduction of the public debt."

Here's the exact, amazing language from the Democratic proposal, breaking out how the money would be divided and dispensed:

"Deposits. Not less than 20% of any profit realized on the sale of each troubled asset purchased under this Act shall be deposited as provided in paragraph (2).

"Use of Deposits. 65% shall be deposited into the Housing Trust Fund established under section 1338 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Regulatory Reform Act . . . ; and 35% shall be deposited into the Capital Magnet Fund . . .

"Remainder Deposited in the Treasury. All amounts remaining after payments under paragraph (1) shall be paid into the General Fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt."

What we have here essentially are a pair of government slush funds created in July as part of the Economic Recovery Act that pump tax dollars into the coffers of low-income housing advocacy groups, such as Acorn.

Acorn, one of America's most militant left-wing "community activist groups," is spending $16 million this year to register Democrats to vote in November. In the past several years, Acorn's voter registration programs have come under investigation in Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, while several of their employees have been convicted of voter fraud.

Along with other potential recipients of these funds, including the National Council of La Raza and the Urban League, Acorn has promoted laws like the Community Reinvestment Act, which laid the foundation for the house of cards built out of subprime loans. Thus, we'd be funneling more cash to the groups that helped create the lending mess in the first place.

This isn't the first time this year that Democrats have tried to route money for fixing the housing crisis into the bank accounts of these community activist groups. The housing bill passed by Congress in July also included a tax on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to raise an estimated $600 million annually in grants for these lobbying groups. When Fannie and Freddie went under, the Democrats had to find a new way to fill the pipeline flowing tax dollars into the groups' coffers.

This is a crude power grab in a time of economic crisis. Congress should insist that every penny recaptured from the sale of distressed assets be dedicated to retiring the hundreds of billions of dollars in public debt that will be incurred, or passed back to taxpayers who will ultimately underwrite the cost of the bailout.

The idea that special-interest groups on the left or right should get a royalty payment for monies that are repaid to the Treasury is a violation of the public trust. We're told the White House and House Republicans are insisting that the Acorn fund be purged from the bailout bill. The Paulson plan is supposed to get us out of this problem, not start it over again.

(online.wsj.com)

Congress taps ACORN, unions' voter-fraud unit

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Democrats want to use profits from the bailout as a slush fund for liberal activist groups, even those involved in vote fraud to help elect Barack Obama.

Prior financial bailouts, or "rescues," such as those involving savings and loan failures, and Chrysler, have over time actually made money for the government. It may be the case here as well, as assets bought by the government at bargain prices return to marketable values and are auctioned off.

One of the sticking points in resolving the crisis was a poison pill in the Dodd/Paulson compromise that would move 20% of profits from the bailout into the Housing Trust Fund, a slush fund for political action groups such as ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and the National Council of La Raza.

Sen. Lindsey Graham told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News that Democrats had other priorities than just solving this crisis: "And this deal that's on the table now is not a very good deal. Twenty percent of the money that should go to retire debt that will be created to solve this problem winds up in a housing organization called ACORN that is an absolute ill-run enterprise, and I can't believe we would take money away from debt retirement to put it in a housing program that doesn't work."

Groups such as ACORN and La Raza lobby to secure government-funded services for their members and seek to move them to the voting booth. The housing bill President Bush signed in July contained a similar funding mechanism for the HTF — a tax on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The tax was designed to channel upwards of $600 million annually in grants for developing and restoring housing, mostly as low-income rentals, available to ACORN and other groups. ACORN gets 40% of its revenues from the American taxpayers and not all of it finds its way into housing.

A new whistle-blower report from the Consumer Rights League claims that ACORN routinely commingles funds from its housing arm into political projects such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. Money is fungible. Any taxpayer money that ACORN gets for housing makes it easier for the group to put its other funds into voter drives.

"These are taxpayer funds, in an indirect method, being used to subsidize political activism," says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican and chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. "I'm sure they're not going out and registering any Republicans."

Obama cut his community organizer teeth with ACORN. As a young lawyer he represented the group in a suit against the state of Illinois, which was concerned that postcard registration and a new motor voter law might invite fraud. ACORN later invited Obama to train its staff in leadership seminars.

ACORN has a political arm that endorsed Barack Obama for president in February and has stepped up its registration efforts to help elect a future benefactor. The Obama campaign admits to failing to report $800,000 in campaign payments to ACORN. They were disguised as payments to a front group called "Citizen Services Inc." for "advance work."

Consumer Rights League official Jim Terry says: "ACORN has a long and sordid history of employing convoluted Enron-style accounting to illegally use taxpayer funds for their own political gain. Now it looks like ACORN is using the same type of convoluted accounting scheme for Obama's political gain."

A major part of ACORN's sordid history is vote fraud. ACORN has been implicated in voter fraud and bogus registration schemes in Missouri, Ohio and at least 12 other states. Last July, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in Washington state history, involving nearly 2,000 bogus voter forms. In Ohio in 2004, ACORN submitted forms for the likes of Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and someone named Jive Turkey.

ACORN uses taxpayer money to elect people like Barack Obama who will work to get them more taxpayer money. Democrats are willing to rip off taxpayers in a national crisis to make it happen.

(ibdeditorials.com)

ACORN accused of voter-fraud in Florida

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed group plows through all obstacles for Barack

A national advocacy group is facing accusations of election fraud, and as Florida is one of several states that could go either way on Nov. 4, elections officials are concerned.

Over the past four years, ACORN has registered more than 380,000 new voters in Florida, but critics are accusing the organization of election fraud, saying they believe many of those new voters have no idea they've been registered.

Officials in Orange and Seminole counties have questions about voter registration cards submitted by ACORN. The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections agrees that at least a couple of the applications may have been forged.

ACORN representative Leroy Bell said he's confident that that's not the case.

"That's false, fabricated info. Just for voter suppression. That's all," he said.

So far, ACORN directors have disciplined some staff members following accusations in Orange County. In Seminole County, one registration card collector was fired.

However, top U.S. House Republicans are attacking ACORN, calling the organization a "leftist political advocacy group" that could be trying to rig the election. They say that, in the past ACORN workers have already been convicted of fraud, and now they are calling for a federal investigation.

The state would also be involved with any investigation into widespread election fraud on the part of ACORN. The problem is, most registration cards have no markings to show who submitted them. The most that can be done to track the registrations is calling a phone number to confirm that a person did in fact register.

Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokeswoman for Florida's Division of Elections, said that the state wanted to require third-party groups like ACORN to mark their cards, but the law is currently being held up in the courts.

"Sometimes we can ascertain if the form has some kind of marking or has the organization's name, but that is completely not required, and there isn't a way within our larger database system to tag these," she said.

State officials say that if there are questionable cards with third-party markings, they turn them over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for investigation.

(baynews9.com)

An ACORN of Truth? (3 of 5)

Related video: "An ACORN of Truth? (1 of 5)"
Related video: "An ACORN of Truth? (2 of 5)"

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

Jumbo union uses extortion against worker-choice

Related: "Union bigs terrified by worker-choice scheme"
"The 28 labor-states"
More worker-choice stories: here

Destructive militant unionists demonstrate the case against forced-labor unionism

Colorado’s biggest union vs. business battle in recent memory is being fought in front of voters instead of at the bargaining table or on a picket line.

But beyond the negative radio and TV commercials for and against Amendment 47, serious questions are being raised about the so-called “right-to-work” ballot issue.

Supporters say Amendment 47 would make Colorado more appealing for businesses looking to expand their operations by making the state less friendly for labor unions.

Business leaders who oppose Amendment 47 say the measure would upset the delicate balance that makes Colorado attractive to non-union and unionized employers alike.

They also fear that four union-sponsored ballot initiatives intended to counter Amendment 47 would devastate the state’s economy if they prevail in the November election.

Regardless of the outcome of elections, relations between Colorado’s business community and labor unions won’t be the same for a long time, said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

Clark laments the apparent loss of business-labor cooperation in Colorado that made possible such efforts as Denver International Airport and the FasTracks transportation program.

“To watch this relationship dissolve has been genuinely sad and depressing,” Clark said. “It’s going to take at least another generation of business and labor leaders before the wounds are healed.”

Gov. Bill Ritter’s efforts to negotiate an agreement between businesses and unions to campaign against Amendment 47 in exchange for withdrawing the union-sponsored ballot issues continues. A Ritter spokesman said the governor remains optimistic that a compromise can be reached before Oct. 2, the deadline for withdrawing a measure from the ballot.

Amendment 47 backers have stated repeatedly they won’t drop the proposal.
Where it went wrong

The battle over Amendment 47 highlights a nearly two-year war that began in early 2007. That’s when Colorado legislators approved a proposal that would have eliminated the two-step election process that current law requires before employers and unions can adopt all-union labor agreements.

Amid strong opposition from business organizations, newly elected Gov. Ritter vetoed the bill — against the wishes of union representatives and fellow Democrats. The legislation, House Bill 1072, would have revised Colorado’s Labor Peace Act of 1943 in the unions’ favor.

Later that year, Ritter appeased organized labor (while angering Republican lawmakers and many business leaders) by issuing an executive order allowing unions to represent state workers in contract negotiations for the first time in history.

Critics said the order effectively signed over control of the state budget to labor unions, and gave organized labor leverage to collect more dues, recruit more members fromthe private sector and amass more political clout in the state.

Ritter’s controversial move fueled momentum for Amendment 47, which would bar unions from requiring employees to pay dues in union shops that engage in collective bargaining.

Republican lawmakers have sponsored right-to-work legislation in the last seven sessions — including one bill that was defeated by a single vote in 2002.

As right-to-work supporters gathered financial support from wealthy backers such as CoorsTek’s Jonathan Coors and American Furniture’s Jake Jabs, and thousands of signatures for their proposed ballot issue, labor unions started to mobilize support for several initiatives designed to counter Amendment 47.

Concerned that the union ballot issues would hurt the business climate, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce opposed the right-to-work initiative.

Returning the favor, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) removed a ballot proposal to increase commercial property tax by 5 percent and another that would have required employers to provide annual cost-of-living increases to all workers.

But the unions still have four other initiatives — all certified to appear on the ballot — including a proposal requiring businesses with more than 20 workers to provide health insurance and another that would prohibit businesses from firing employees without just cause. But the unions say they would consider removing them if the right-to-work proposal is withdrawn.

(denver.bizjournals.com)

Jumbo gov't unions invest in Dems

Related: "AFSCME uses charitable front groups for Barack"
More SEIU stories: hereMore AFSCME stories: here

SEIU, AFSCME members are well-represented in N.H.

USA Today reports that the unions supporting Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign are funneling millions of dollars to liberal front groups that are currently running negative, misleading commercials about Senator John Sununu’s record.

Since July, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has funneled almost $5.5 million to liberal “non-profits” including Patriot Majority. The SEIU’s “Change To Win Labor Federation” has also contributed $500,000 to the group. Patriot Majority is currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in New Hampshire to spread mistruths and lies about John Sununu. The AFSCME is concealing their support for Patriot Majority by refusing to identify their involvement in paying for the group’s deceptive ads.

“Jeanne Shaheen’s union buddies have made it clear that they will spare no expense in their dishonest campaign to smear John Sununu. Now they are attempting to conceal the full extent of their deceitful campaign tactics by funneling millions of dollars to groups that are flooding New Hampshire’s airwaves with despicable and fraudulent attack ads,” said Fergus Cullen, Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

“This is just another example of how Jeanne Shaheen is more interested in representing the liberal special interests in Washington than the people of New Hampshire. She has already received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from union bosses after she pledged to support their insidious ‘card check’ legislation that will allow them to intimidate employees in the workplace. Shaheen is more in touch with the agenda of the unions who are bankrolling her campaign than the concerns of average Granite Staters.”

The non-partisan watchdog group Campaign Legal Center is blasting Jeanne Shaheen’s union backers for clandestinely funding these shadowy special interest organizations. Allowing non-profits to raise and spend unlimited union or funds violates the spirit of laws aimed at curbing special interests in elections, said the group’s president Meredith McGehee.

According to the non partisan Center for Responsive Politics, Jeanne Shaheen has accepted over $200,000 in donations from Union PACs. Shaheen is also championing the disastrous, anti-New Hampshire, union backed “card check” legislation that would deny workers the right to a secret ballot vote on union representation. The bill also exposes workers to intimidation, coercion and retaliation from union organizers.

BACKGROUND:

Big Unions Are Bankrolling Liberal Special Interest Groups Including Patriot Majority:

USA TODAY: “Since July, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has donated almost $5.5 million to three groups: Campaign Money Watch, Patriot Majority and Patriot Majority Midwest. Those groups have spent more than $2 million on TV ads attacking GOP Sens. Ted Stevens of Alaska and John Sununu of New Hampshire and five GOP lawmakers and House candidates in Florida, Michigan and Ohio. The ads don't mention AFSCME by name.” (USA Today, 9/19/08)

“‘These groups can play the role of a hit man in a campaign and do it in a way that's not very transparent,’ said McGehee.” (USA Today, 9/19/08)

NPR: “In July and August, [Patriot Majority] received $1.2 million from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; $500,000 from the Change to Win labor federation (which is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union); and $125,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers union, according to the filings. (NPR.com 9/9/08)

Patriot Majority Is Running Dishonest Ads In New Hampshire With Big Union Money:

The Hill: “The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against a 527 it says violated contributions laws by acting as a political action committee. In a letter to the FEC on Monday, the NRCC alleges that Patriot Majority and affiliates Patriot Majority West, Patriot Majority Midwest and Patriot Majority Arizona violated election law by running advocacy ads that specifically criticize Republican candidates. (The Hill, 9/15/08)

· The Hill: The group has run ads against the following Republican members: Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Joe Knollenberg (Mich.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Tim Walberg (Mich.) and Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Sen. John Sununu (N.H.).

(politickernh.com)

Right To Work law: True choice for workers

More worker-choice stories: here

Why should workers be forced to pay unions as a condition of employment?

There is no getting around the fact that the proposed “right to work” amendment — Amendment 47 — on the Nov. 4 ballot will weaken unions. But that is not our problem.

No person should ever be forced to join a group or organization under any circumstances. No person should ever be forced to pay a group or organization under any circumstances.

That unions have this authority is not right, and as such, this is a case where we do not care if unions are weakened by this amendment. It is just what is right.

The measure will not des­troy unions. It merely will make them more responsible to their members, harkening back to why they were created in the first place.

Instead of having the security of forced membership or forced wage dues, unions will have to earn worker participation.

We do not see anything wrong with that.

We are, however, concerned about voting for yet another amendment to the Colorado Constitution.

It seems every time Coloradans do this, it screws something up and we have to spend another year or two living within a broken system before going back to the voting booth for a fix.

Unfortunately, a constitutional amendment is the only way. We do not want legislators voting on this, because it is too big for them to decide. We want the people to decide for themselves.

We do not hate unions, nor do we want them dismantled. We simply believe membership should be a free choice.

If it were not for unions, there would not be a blue-collar middle class, and upward mobility would be limited in our society. Businesses can be trusted to do what is best for them, not their workers.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for modern union leaders.

We think both should be checked by the same principle: We may decide to work for your business or join your organization, or we may decide your business or organization are a waste of time and move on.

(craigdailypress.com)

Big Bedfellows bog down

Related: "Big Bedfellows oppose worker-choice"
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More worker-choice stories: here

Big Labor, Big Business: Workers don't deserve a choice

The campaign to defeat four labor-backed ballot issues said Friday it will proceed with TV advertising since negotiations between business and union leaders haven’t been fruitful so far. Two weeks ago, the campaign suspended TV advertising while Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, unions and members of the business community worked to broker a deal.

Ritter is reportedly working on an agreement in which the unions would drop Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 if business leaders agreed to raise money to defeat Amendment 47, the right-to-work initiative that would prohibit organized labor from collecting mandatory dues from workers in union shops.

Business leaders are concerned that the union-backed measures would hurt the economy and drive many companies away from the state. One ballot issue, Amendment 56, would force employers with more than 20 workers to provide major medical coverage and pay at least 80 percent of the premium costs.

But supporters of the union-backed amendments indicated they’ll consider withdrawing the measures if the business community strikes a deal to campaign against Amendment 47 or force the right-to-work measure off the ballot.

So far, negotiations have hit a snag. Business leaders say the unions are asking for too much money. One news account reported the unions want $5 million from businesses to fight Amendment 47.

Meanwhile, Amendment 47 supporters say they have no intention of dropping their proposal.

Todd Vitale, manager for the campaign that opposes Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57, said fundraising efforts slowed down during the negotiations.

Vitale’s campaign, called Coloradans for Responsible Reform, has raised $1.6 million vs. more than $6 million raised by organized labor to fight Amendment 47 and support Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57.

The amendments are said to be polling favorably with voters. But Vitale maintains they could be defeated.

“Our research indicates that once voters learn about the real impact of these measures, they will vote them down,” Vitale said.

(denver.bizjournals.com)

Worker: EFCA is change for the worse

More EFCA stories: hereMore card-check stories: here

Card-check fascism becomes fashionable for Dems

Mr. Michael Day does not have his facts straight regarding the Employee Free Choice Act or the unionization process.

Currently, when employees want to unionize, there is a process. First, 30 percent of employees sign authorization cards to initiate the government-supervised secret ballot election. If a majority of employees (which is more than 50 percent) vote yes to the union, employers must recognize the employees are represented by a union.

This process is necessary for employees, employers and union organizers. It provides time, knowledge and a fair process for all participants. If the Employee Free Choice Act is passed, all of this will change for the worse.

First, employees will be subjected to intimidation by union workers. Mr. Day should recall the reason for the Labor Relations Act of 1935: union worker intimidation.

Second, employees will no longer have the time or full knowledge to make an informed and conscious decision.

Third, employees will no longer have the ability to have a private ballot, making his/her opinion public for not only the union organizers but also the employers.

Finally, a majority vote would not be needed for employees to become unionized. Union workers would only need 50 percent of employees to sign the authorization cards. Once 50 percent of authorization cards were signed, employees would be represented by a union, even if the other 50 percent of employees opposed being unionized.

Mr. Day talks about how Wal-Mart despises unions. I won’t disagree, but allowing passage of this new legislation will only make the unionization process more difficult for the employees of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart would have access to how employees voted during the unionization process, and the mindset of Wal-Mart’s CEO won’t change regarding unions so the same problems will still exist.

Mr. Day said, “As long as there are corporations like Wal-Mart, there is a need for unions.”

I agree.

The current process of unionization allows for this. Also, Mr. Day cannot cite a different example of another corporation that isn’t willing to work to better employees’ conditions.

The passage of this legislation will make the unionization process less democratic and less safe for the employee.

Mr. Day knows the only ones benefiting from this legislation are the union organizers; no one else.

Jessica Stromp, department store employee, Baton Rouge

(2theadvocate.com)

Teamsters take unexpected dues hit

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Labor-state blues for militant unionists

Layoffs announced in August at BorgWarner (Ithaca, NY) are greater than expected. In addition to 240 employees that were laid off in late August, 90 employees were laid off last week, a BorgWarner spokesman said.

Scott Pronti, the lead human resources manager for BorgWarner, said the added layoffs are part of the company's nationwide restructuring plan. The cause for the additional layoffs is part of the larger economic picture. He said that BorgWarner is “seeing an impact to our business right now.”

Pronti said he could not comment on the details of worker compensation packages for the laid off employees. Pronti said he supported what Mark May, vice president for the Teamsters Local 317, said Thursday.

“They would love to have everybody back to work,” May said. “I know they're not happy about this. They want to have a maximized workforce.”

(theithacajournal.com)

UAW labor-state strike enters month 11

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

Workers cross picket lines to replace idle unionists

The Central New York Labor Religion Coalition Friday held a rally attended by religious, labor and political leaders in front of Jaquith Industries Inc., in hopes of jump-starting stalled contract negotiations.

About two dozen members of United Auto Workers Local 624 Unit 5 went on strike when their old contract expired Dec. 1, and ever since have walked a picket line outside the plant, at Glen and Brighton avenues. Jaquith makes airport runway lighting equipment and concrete forms.

Talks broke off in February, and the company has refused to come back to the bargaining table. It has hired workers to replace the strikers.

"I think there's some basic human rights involved here that deserve our attention," said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Costello, a member of the coalition. The coalition sent company president D. Scott Jaquith a letter urging him to return to the bargaining table, Costello said. "Through his attorney, he chose not to sit with us. So we're using this method to try to get his attention," he said.

During the rally, attended by about 50 people, Costello spoke about Jaquith Industries' long history in the community, and he compared it to a family.

When the current president's father, Donald S. Jaquith, ran the company, "it's my understanding that the employees and the work force were regarded as a true collaborator, and history proved that it worked, because not only did the employees progress but so did the company," Costello told the crowd. "I'm here this morning to ask Scott Jaquith to see if he can't recapture some of that charisma of his father and make the family whole again."

"We're all in this together. That's the only way we'll succeed," said Dr. Dennis Nave, a family doctor, member of the Central New York Physician Teamster Alliance and president of the Greater Syracuse Labor Council.

"I hope one day our entire community understands that when one of us loses in the community - I don't care if you're UAW or who you work for - if one of us loses, the entire community loses a rung on the ladder," said Scott Stanton, president of UAW Local 624.

Following the rally, state Assemblywoman Joan Christensen and a reporter were rebuffed, at the company's door, in their attempts to meet with Scott Jaquith. A man who answered the door said Jaquith had no comment.

The company is seeking pay and benefit cuts, though workers gave back 7 percent on their last contract, union officials have said. The union is seeking a three-year contract with raises of 3 percent a year, said Bill Hyde, co-chairman of the bargaining unit.

The workers also want better health and safety conditions, investment in the facility and job security, union officials have said. The striking workers receive unemployment, which is set to expire soon, Hyde said. "We're living on unemployment. It's kind of hard to raise a family and try to keep yourself afloat," he said.

If the workers are unable to get an extension of unemployment benefits, they will move to the $200 a week union strike benefits, he said.

(syracuse.com)

Andy Stern blasted by SEIU members

More SEIU stories: hereUHW stories: hereAndy Stern stories: here

Rank-and-file protest against union Big's notorious fascistic leadership

Thousands of health care workers from around the state gathered Friday in San Mateo to protest what they said was a hostile takeover by their parent union.

Members of United Healthcare Workers-West, or UHW, milled outside the San Mateo Event Center in red T-shirts bearing the slogan "Hands off Our Union" as former U.S. Labor Secretary Ray Marshall conducted hearings inside on the dispute between UHW and its parent, Service Employees International Union.

SEIU has charged UHW leaders with improperly using millions of dollars of member dues and other misconduct and recommends putting the local union under a trusteeship, which would remove its internal leaders from power.

"The international wants to appoint people to come in and run the bargaining teams when they know nothing about our facility and what our needs are," said Linda Cornell, a secretary in the medical and surgery unit at Stanford Hospital.

Michael Torres, a respiratory therapist at the USC University Hospital in Los Angeles and an elected UHW representative, said SEIU president Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger engaged in a smear campaign against UHW and tried to undermine its contract negotiations with employers.

They "have acted like the worst union boss — even worse than my current employer, who intimidated us, harassed us, threatened us and told us to never vote union," said Torres, who is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit UHW filed earlier this month against SEIU in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The suit alleges that SEIU officials quashed internal dissent by attempting to discredit UHW with negative publicity and orchestrating the trusteeship, "wherein Stern assumes autocratic control over a dissident subordinate entity, its members, property and assets, and terminates its democratically elected leaders."

UHW officials say their union became the target of SEIU's wrath after criticizing the parent union's practices. They have also accused SEIU of mailing Stanford Hospital workers, who were voting on whether to join UHW earlier this month, letters that negatively portrayed the local union.

"We have received a lot of information from the international, all negative toward UHW," Cornell said. "Our employer used that information to try to dissuade people from voting the union in again."

SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette called those charges unfounded and said internal union rules require that members receive written notices about trusteeship hearings and corruption charges against leaders.

The only way Stanford workers would have received those mailings prior to joining the union is if UHW mistakenly provided information in the members' database, Ringuette said.

"The allegations against SEIU leadership are serious," Ringuette said. "We have no more important responsibility than to protect our members' interests and to make sure that we are fully accountable to them for how their dues money is spent."

She noted that SEIU establishes trusteeships in about four unions per year.

"Trusteeship is not political," Ringuette said. "We set a very high bar for ourselves."

After the hearings end, Marshall will allow members and officials from both unions to make written submissions for 30 days. He will then submit a report to Stern, who will ask SEIU's executive board to make a final call on the proposed trusteeship.

That decision could come as soon as November, according to union officials.

(insidebayarea.com)

SEIU's shady dealing

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