11/13/08

Anti-Stern SEIU objectors shut down union

More SEIU stories: hereAndy Stern: hereAnna Burger: here

Members protest: Shame on Andy Stern, Anna Buger

Under fire from thousands of members, SEIU officials shut down California offices ahead of protests. Caregivers who work in California hospitals, nursing homes, and homecare protested today outside the Los Angeles and Oakland offices of their national union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The protesters are members of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), a local union that has been leading a movement for democratic reform within SEIU. To retaliate against reformers, SEIU's national officials have taken steps to take over the local union through a process called trusteeship. Trusteeship would allow them to oust the local union's leaders --- including more than 70 caregivers elected by their co-workers to UHW's executive board --- and appoint a Washington insider to take over the local union. A final hearing in the trusteeship process began today.

The national union has also threatened to break up UHW and create a new local for healthcare workers, run by appointees from the national office, as another means of silencing internal critics.

"Healthcare workers make the decisions in UHW because we know what the challenges are," said Anita Wiltz, a nursing assistant at Golden Cross Nursing Home in Fresno and member of UHW's executive board. "That's why we've been able to win safer staffing levels and improve patient care across the state. SEIU officials want to take over our union so they can make backroom deals with healthcare corporations that are bad for caregivers and our patients."

Tens of thousands of caregivers --- a majority of UHW's 150,000 members -- signed petitions calling for an end to SEIU's attacks on California healthcare workers. But SEIU officials wouldn't accept them, instead shutting down their California offices in anticipation of the rallies.

More than 50 educators, authors, and worker advocates in California also sent a letter to Andy Stern on Monday, saying that a trusteeship of UHW "would be a disaster for the California labor movement."

Union members' right to free speech is recognized in federal labor law, and retaliation for political opposition is illegal. National SEIU officials claim the trusteeship is based on a set of financial charges against UHW members, but a judge tossed the same charges out of court in July after SEIU filed a lawsuit.

"When these hearings are over, President Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger will have to acknowledge that their charges were completely without merit," said Joe Ruocco, a senior lab assistant at Western Medical Center-Anaheim. "Then they'll have to address the real issue: members need more of a voice in SEIU, not less. We can't build strong unions by shutting caregivers out of important decisions."

With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcare workers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, including hospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

(marketwatch.com)

Labor-state glimpse into union election fraud

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Nation beset by epidemic of corrupt union politics fueled by fat cats' forced-dues windfall

District Attorney David Soares and Integrity Party opponent Roger Cusick violated election rules by accepting over-the-limit campaign contributions from top labor unions, state filings show.

The pair were limited to $9,200.95 from any single contributor over a four-year election cycle — yet both exceeded that threshold, according to state Board of Elections records.

Soares, a first-term Democrat, received $15,000 from the New York State Laborers and another $9,747 from the state's largest health care union, while Cusick took $12,127.92 from Council 82, the parent union for rank-and-file Albany Police officers and 70 other unions, the records said.

And campaign filings show additional aid to Cusick that, while not in violation, appeared to skate by the spirit of election limits.

Council 82 contributed another $10,000 to the Albany County Republican Committee on Oct. 10. Four days later, Cusick transferred $10,000 into his campaign from the committee, records show.

Nothing legally prevents a political committee from spending contributions as it wishes. But candidates and contributors can face misdemeanor charges if they knowingly exceed limits, said state Board of Elections spokesman Robert Brehm. He said typically, a wrongly reported figure needed gets corrected or a refund is given.

"We're confident we followed the letter of the law," said Cusick campaign spokesman Dan Farrell. "If we do discover any errors or discrepancies, it will be rectified on our last filing."

Cusick, a Republican from Loudonville, entered the race under the Integrity Party banner in August.

When asked about contributions to the county GOP, Council 82 president Christian Mesley said it was "up to them" to spend money. He said he was unaware of donations exceeding the limit, but said, "We'll check into it." Campaign contributors had limits on what they could spend on the DA's race: No more than five cents per registered active voter in Albany County, according to the Albany County Board of Elections.

As of Nov. 1, that figure was $184,019, the highest it has been in the four-year election cycle for the race, records show. As a result, the contribution limit for the race was $9,200.35 from any one source, not including political parties.

Yet the New York State Laborers union gave $1,500 to Soares' campaign in September 2006, $5,000 more in June 2007, an additional $5,000 last March and another $3,500 in May.

James Long, an election lawyer for Soares, said the DA was arranging to either refund the money or donate it to charity.

Soares accepted $9,747 from the New York State Political Action Fund of SEIU 1199 in July 2007. Long called it a "guestimate" based on apparent limits. The prior April, the state Board of Elections Web site was lumping "inactive" and "active" voters together -- even though only active ones count toward contributions. Based on the Web site total, the limit would have been exactly $9,747.

"I think it's fair to say we felt it was within the limits of what the law allowed," said Local 1199 spokesman Dick Farfaglia.

Neither the Laborers nor Albany County Republican chairman John Graziano could be reached Wednesday.

Council 82 gave Cusick $9,378 on Sept. 23, by itself over the limit. Cusick's filings show the union provided him with "in kind" donations of $744.77 on Sept. 16 and $802.06 on Sept. 29. It paid for "office space" on Colvin Avenue, where Cusick's campaign and the union were both based, the filings showed.

Council 82 expensed an additional $1,203.09 for the candidate's rent on Oct. 20. That figure, as well as the Sept. 29 payment, were listed on the union's expenditure list as a contribution to Council 82's "operating fund," under the explanation: "Rent - Cusick for DA."

It is not the first time the Albany County DA's race and contributions have fallen under scrutiny. When Soares first ran, a judge ruled in October 2004 that the Working Families Party violated election law in spending more than $121,000 to promote his Democratic Party campaign against then-DA Paul Clyne. Justice Bernard J. Malone Jr.'s 15-page decision also dismissed allegations of wrongdoing against Soares as unfounded.

(timesunion.com)

Contemptuous disregard for campaign laws

Do whatever you need to win now, risk a wrist-slap later

The Virginia Democratic Party failed to properly disclose a $200,000 donation it received in early September from a labor union, party officials admitted today.

In Virginia, there are no limits on how much an individual or organization can give to a political candidate or party, but all donations of $10,000 or more have to be reported to the State Board of Elections within three business days. The information is then uploaded on the State Board of Elections' website so the public can keep track of who is funding political committees and candidates.

On Sept. 4, the Laborers' Political League Education Fund gave the state party $200,000, which at the time was the largest contribution the state party had received in at least a decade, excluding transfers from candidates or other Democratic committees. But the state party never reported it until Oct. 15, when it filed its quarterly campaign finance report.

After being questioned by the Washington Post, party officials said they mistakenly failed to abide by the law.

"The Democratic Party of Virginia's compliance operation missed advance reporting on a September contribution," said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party. "The Party acknowledges the error. Today, the Party reached out to the State Board of Elections to report the oversight and remedy the situation."

The disclosure comes as the state party has been collecting record amounts of money from organized labor during the final weeks leading up to Election Day, even though federal law prohibits most of those donations from being used to influence this year's races.

Since Sept. 1, the party has collected $570,000 from four labor unions, including $205,000 on Oct. 21 from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, campaign finance records show.

(voices.washingtonpost.com)

Catholic bishops cut off ACORN funding

More ACORN stories: herefraud: hereWade Rathke: here

Forensic accountants explore path to Rathke's vast network

A community grantmaking arm of the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops has cut off all funding for a group embroiled in controversy over claims of voter registration fraud and embezzlement, church leaders said Tuesday.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which supports anti-poverty and social justice programs nationwide, will no longer make grants to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morin of New Orleans.

The decision was made following claims that nearly $1 million had been embezzled from ACORN by the brother of its founder.

Morin, who helps oversee the Catholic program, said forensic accountants hired by the church found that "our funds were not involved with those that had been embezzled."

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which has an annual budget of about $10 million, had planned to grant about $1 million to local groups across the country through ACORN this fiscal year, Morin said. None of that money will be distributed.

"There will be no funding relationships with ACORN groups in the future," Morin said, during the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Steve Kekst, ACORN executive director, said Tuesday night that he had just learned of the decision and declined to comment until he could speak with church leaders.

ACORN founder Wade Rathke has defended allowing his brother to make restitution privately, saying that getting law enforcement involved could have risked ACORN's financial ruin.

New Orleans-based ACORN, which has chapters in 110 cities and 40 states, completed a massive registration drive in poor and working-class neighborhoods — which tend to vote Democratic — across 21 states, signing up more than 1 million new voters.

ACORN, which advocates for the underprivileged, has said the registration problems were isolated and that its own workers noticed the problems and alerted local election officials in every state that is now investigating.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development gets most of its funds from parish collections the weekend before Thanksgiving, according to its annual report.

The collection this year is set for Nov. 22-23.

(chron.com)

Union secret-ballot news - Nov. 13

Bookmark Secret-Ballot News posts: herecard-check: hereEFCA: here

Stories-of-the-day concerning Organized Labor's #1 priority.






Post election thoughts ... If Obama starts out by rewarding his union thugs by pushing for a card-check organizing policy and legislation to prevent companies to hire replacement workers when strikes occur, this would be disastrous. If you think the economy is bad now, this would be devastating. It would give every company motivation to move operations to any country more cooperative to business. There is a long list of industries such as railroads, steel, shipbuilding, airlines and autos that have been decimated by outlandish union demands. (thesuntimes.com)

Group warns of job migration ... Millions of U.S. jobs may head overseas if a labor bill backed by President-elect Barack Obama passes, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association said. The Employee Free Choice Act, also known as the card-check law, lets employees form unions when a majority of workers sign cards, rather than only after employees vote in secret. Obama co-sponsored the legislation as a U.S. senator from Illinois. “A lot of our manufacturers have told us they’ll ship jobs overseas,” said Gary Shapiro, chief executive officer of the CEA. “In the tech industry, to be innovative and to be able to compete,” employers have to be able to freely hire and fire. (chron.com)

Editorial: Support the secret-ballot ... People deserve to be able to express their preference for or against unions in private. If secret ballot elections are eliminated, union leaders could apply maximum pressure on workers to unionize and workers would lose their right to express their will in private. Instead of a federally-supervised secret ballot election, the "card check" legislation would allow a union to be formed, without an election, if more than 50 percent of workers in a workplace or bargaining unit sign authorization cards. Unfortunately, the cards can be signed in the presence of others. (romesentinel.com)

Congressional Obamunists to end secret-ballot ... Labor bosses have long relied on residual good will from an earlier era. If millions of Americans learn the truth about forced dues and unions' history of broken promises, they will not stand idly by as their rights are stripped by a piece of one-sided and undemocratic legislation. (dcexaminer.com)

Labor Bigs meet to divide the spoils ... One sensitive topic likely to be discussed at the meeting: How the big unions can press their agenda aggressively right now, without being seen as publicly pushing the administration too hard at a point when it's just trying to find its footing. (tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com)

Unions slave Dems to Job Killer Act ... "Employers, as you would expect, are opposed to it for their own selfish needs," Sweeney said this week in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Unions "need to counterbalance the corporate power that corporations have in this country." (metrobostonnews.com)

Bush NLRB allowed decert via card-check ... In one case last year involving a nursing home, for example, the board allowed an existing union to be decertified not through secret ballot, but through a petition signed by a majority of nursing home employees. (ajc.com)

Prog thugs intimidate GOP over card-check ... It's no surprise that the GOP has put up such a unified fight. Many conservatives hold a visceral disgust for unions, in part because they counterbalance the party's big business constituents. But from a strategical standpoint, fierce opposition to card check could be a disaster for the GOP's long-term electoral prospects. (progressillinois.com)

The Perfect Storm is Coming ... Thirty years of downturn in the number of unionized employees in the American workforce is about to end as two powerful forces converge to form the perfect climate for unionization: a global financial crisis affecting workers nationwide and pending Federal legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act ("EFCA"). (hospitalitynet.org)

The Era of Obama ... The Nov. 4, 2008, election is not only a bellwether for the country's "red to blue" political shift, but it also signals a significant swing in the federal government's role in the relationship between U.S. business and its employees. For over 20 years, (including to some extent even during the Clinton administration), the emphasis of the federal government has been to extricate itself out of the relationship between U.S. business and its employees and let the states take over a more active role. Some significant "conservative" Supreme Court decisions also impacted federal and state labor laws, further diminishing the impact of these laws on the business front. That is certain to change in 2009 when Barack Obama takes office. The legislative and executive branches will both be under Democratic control, and it is only a matter of time before the Supreme Court will lean more toward the left of center as new appointments of justices are made by the new administration and ratified by the Congress. The impact will be felt in the following areas: There will be an expansion of the federal workforce in employment law enforcement agencies, such as the OFCCP, EEOC and the NLRB. This expansion will be "paid for" by punitive fines collected by these agencies for violations of federal employment laws by businesses, rather than taxes. Congress will pass new laws and regulations and mandates in the areas of health care benefits, pension plans. Fines on employers will become more prevalent as enforcement increases of those regulations. Significant concessions to organized labor, including the card signing bill which forces collective bargaining without secret elections on businesses in this country will revive the union movement and increase labor organizing ... (thejackonline.org)

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Striking Steelworkers fail to hold picket line

More strike stories: here USW: here

Workers prefer paychecks to picket signs

Replacement employees went to work Wednesday morning at American Standard as 270 workers remain on strike.

With police standing by, about fifty workers crossed picket lines at the Salem plant. The company says the number of replacement workers could grow to 120 by Monday. Despite the replacements the union says it will continue their strike. About 19 members of United Steelworkers Local 15-38 have gone back to work.

The workers walked off the job in mid October.

(wfmj.com)

Editorial: Support the secret-ballot

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: herecard-check: here

Fascistic unionists stand four-square against American traditions

Will Congressman Michael Arcuri support the secret ballot? We will soon find out. The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," H.R. 800, will remove the free choice that a secret ballot gives when deciding whether or not to support a union.

People deserve to be able to express their preference for or against unions in private. If secret ballot elections are eliminated, union leaders could apply maximum pressure on workers to unionize and workers would lose their right to express their will in private.

Instead of a federally-supervised secret ballot election, the "card check" legislation would allow a union to be formed, without an election, if more than 50 percent of workers in a workplace or bargaining unit sign authorization cards. Unfortunately, the cards can be signed in the presence of others.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


Will there be intimidation? Who knows? Can there be intimidation. You bet!

The bill would also require binding arbitration after a short period of time — 120 days. That decreases incentives to bargain in good faith. With the arbitrator setting the contracts, union workers would lose the right to vote on proposals.

The Card Check Bill would increase penalties for employers, but not for unions or others, who violate union organizing laws.

Rep. Arcuri just won a very close re-election to a second term.

Now he has to decide to follow principle or partisanship.

He can toe the party line and support the legislation that stands four-square against American traditions, or he can show independence and his support of the freedom for which America stands.

(romesentinel.com)

Unions slave Dems to Job Killer Act

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: herecard-check: here

Dems give union bigs carte-blanche to ruin U.S. job market

Millions of U.S. jobs may head overseas if a labor bill backed by President-elect Barack Obama passes, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association said.

The Employee Free Choice Act, also know as the card-check law, lets employees form unions when a majority of workers sign cards, rather than only after employees vote in secret. Obama, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, co-sponsored the legislation as a U.S. senator from Illinois.

Employers may send jobs offshore to avoid dealing with interference from unions, Gary Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Arlington, Virginia-based association, said yesterday in an interview. The measure is the biggest concern for the group, which represents more than 2,000 electronics companies, he said.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


"A lot of our manufacturers have told us they'll ship jobs overseas," Shapiro said. "In the tech industry, to be innovative and to be able to compete," employers have to be able to freely hire and fire workers.

Electronics companies have announced job cuts this year as a faltering economy curbs consumer spending. Sprint Nextel Corp., a member of the group, eliminated almost 5,000 jobs in 2007 and has cut more this year. Motorola Inc., also part of the association, said last month it would fire 3,000 workers.

Senate Battle

Democrats are short of the 60 Senate votes they will need to overcome attempts to stall the measure, which was defeated last year after opponents kept it from reaching the floor for a vote. Democrats gained six Senate seats in the Nov. 4 election, giving the party 55 spots. Three other seats in the 100-member Senate are still undecided. Republican Senator Arlen Specter and two independent senators support the bill.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said current labor relations, by requiring secret ballot, aren't giving workers enough of an opportunity to organize. The AFL-CIO is the biggest U.S. labor federation, with 10.5 million members.

"Employers, as you would expect, are opposed to it for their own selfish needs," Sweeney said this week in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Unions "need to counterbalance the corporate power that corporations have in this country."

(metrobostonnews.com)

Replacing ACORN with universal fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed fraud group sets nation on a course for permanent vote-rigging

The nation's much-maligned election system passed a major test last week when more than 132 million Americans, a record total, cast ballots with few reports of problems.

But now, election reformers are calling for a move toward a "universal voter-registration" system, in which the government takes the lead in ensuring that all eligible citizens are registered to vote.

"This means the registration process would no longer serve as a barrier to the right to vote," said Wendy Weiser, lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. "It would also eliminate the ACORN issue and all the gaming of the system."

In the United States, unlike other major democracies, citizens, not the government, are responsible for seeing to it that they are registered. And when they move, even if just across town, they must update their registration.

In 2004, more than

1 in 4 American adults was not on the voter rolls. Since then, private organizations such as the League of Women Voters and activist groups such as ACORN, which advocates for people in low-income communities, launched major voter-registration drives. These groups do not put voters on the rolls. They simply turn in applications from people who sign forms saying they want to register.

But ACORN, among others, was criticized for submitting a huge number of registration cards with questionable information and cards from people who were already registered.

''All across America, our people wasted untold hours dealing with duplicate registrations,'' said Doug Lewis, executive director of the National Association of Election Officials.

Many more Americans encounter a more mundane problem -- failing to update their registration after they move.

''The current system is simply not designed for a mobile society,'' the Brennan Center said in its report on universal voter registration. Under its proposal, states could update their computerized voter rolls when residents move from one city to another. And they could add new voters who move to the state and apply for new driver's licenses.

Under some proposals, teens would be automatically added to the voter rolls when they turn 18, and Congress could create a national voter-registration roll that's modeled after the Social Security database.

''Registration reform will be the big issue going forward,'' said Doug Chapin of Electionline.org. ''All this last-minute litigation has heightened the concern that we need to consider a universal or automatic voter-registration system.''

Some election officials question whether a national system would gain support.

''We will need to think hard about this. It's true that in most developed democracies, the government takes on this role, and it's a top-down system. But ours has been a bottom-up system, because our founders were suspicious of a centralized election authority,'' said Lewis, whose group represents state and county election officials.

''Because a lot of work was done on the front end, we were able to avoid major meltdowns,'' said Tova Wang, a voting-rights expert at Common Cause.

Some experts also predicted a new push to enact a federal law that would make it a crime to send false and deceptive information about voting, either through the mail or via the Internet.

''It's amazing how many e-mails with deliberate misleading information were sent out this year,'' Wang said. Legislation to ban this practice was introduced in the last Congress, but it did not become law. It stands a good chance to win approval next year, she said.

One reason for her optimism: A key sponsor of last year's bill to outlaw deceptive election fliers was Sen. Barack Obama.

(mcall.com)

Bush NLRB allowed decert via card-check

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: herecard-check: here

New adminstration will put an end to worker empowerment v. coercive union officials

The push by organized labor to sidestep the secret ballot and instead establish unions by collecting worker signatures already promises to be one of the hottest political issues of 2009. President-elect Barack Obama, who was elected with strong labor support, has promised to fight for the “card check” signature system, and conservatives have made it clear that they are drawing a line in the sand against that change.

On this issue, the Democrats and labor are wrong. There’s no secret why they seek the change —- it would make union organizing easier. But allowing formation of unions through the gathering of signatures rather than the secret ballot also would expose workers to unfair and unnecessary intimidation, in some cases all but forcing them to take stances against their better judgment. That’s hard to justify.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


That said, there’s a lot more to the story.

For the past eight years, the Bush administration has worked diligently to defang agencies created to protect workers, consumers, patients, investors, the environment, etc. The consequence of that deregulatory approach has been felt most directly and obviously in the financial system, where the Bush administration’s reluctance to regulate Wall Street contributed significantly to the collapse now sending the economy into a deep recession. But that’s just one example of a pattern across the federal bureaucracy.

At the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the number of inspectors was cut from 605 in 2002 to 496 in 2006 even as mining increased; enforcement and fines were cut back significantly. At the Environmental Protection Agency, enforcement actions and fines against polluters also have been drastically reduced as staff is discouraged from confronting business. Enforcement also has been cut at the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in favor of “voluntary compliance,” the same approach that regulators took to Wall Street.

And as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission now acknowledges, the financial upheaval has “made it absolutely clear that voluntary regulation does not work” and that the concept “was fundamentally flawed from the beginning.”

Something similar took place at the National Labor Relations Board, the agency created to ensure a fair playing field between labor and management. Under the Bush administration and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the NLRB consistently and single-mindedly has taken the side of management against labor, in many cases overturning precedents that are decades old. Labor has understandably concluded that the system is stacked against it. In one case last year involving a nursing home, for example, the board allowed an existing union to be decertified not through secret ballot, but through a petition signed by a majority of nursing home employees.

While that was a significant change in the NLRB’s previous practice, it also casts the card-check issue in a whole new light. Conservatives argue- somewhat correctly - that it is a violation of the democratic process and all that is true and good about America if you abandon the secret ballot and try to create a union through collecting signatures. Yet somehow, they deem it legal, acceptable and proper to decertify a union by that same illegitimate means.

As the Bush administration exits, a lot of scandals are going to bubble up out of the bureaucracy about favors done, rules ignored, employees intimidated, etc., on behalf of industry and other special interests. And people and groups that have been on the losing end for eight years are eager for retribution.

Natural as that sentiment might be, it’s a bad way to run government. The goal of the Obama administration should be to correct inequities, not create new ones. A new labor secretary, a revamped labor-relations board - the five-member panel has three vacancies - and a new commitment to applying the law fairly and reforming it where needed can go a long way toward correcting inequities that the card-check system is supposed to fix.

- Jay Bookman

(ajc.com)

Congressional Obamunists to end secret-ballot

Daily Secret-Ballot News: here
Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act" • More EFCA: here

Big Labor Bailout would cause family-wage U.S. jobs to evaporate

After one of the most dramatic, hardest fought campaigns in American history, Election Day has come and gone. Barack Obama is the next President of the United States, and so we no longer have to ask, "Who will it be?" As President-elect Obama celebrates his victory and his party's expanded majority in Congress, the new question is, "What will he do?"

There's certainly no shortage of problems to address. We are stuck in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, our military is bogged down in two wars, and our position in the global economy is increasingly precarious.

But despite their lofty promises of bipartisanship and cooperation, Obama and his allies in Washington can't focus exclusively on the real issues we face. Instead, they continue to push for a divisive and partisan handout for the union bosses who bankrolled their campaigns, and thanks to their big wins on Election Day the disastrous Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is frighteningly close to becoming a reality.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


The Employee Free Choice Act, despite its name, would actually take choice away from employees and give corrupt and power-hungry union bosses control over thousands of American businesses. EFCA would change the process by which unions are formed, eliminating private ballot elections in favor of a deeply flawed system called "card check."

Under current law, workers are given the opportunity to vote with a secret ballot, and the election's fairness is ensured by an independent federal board. Under card check, if more than 50% of the employees in a work unit sign a card in favor of unionizing, the union is automatically recognized.

There's no election, and virtually no government oversight. Union organizers have a long and well-documented history of harassing, deceiving, and intimidating workers into signing these cards. Even the AFL-CIO has admitted in an organizer handbook that workers often sign cards to "get the union off my back."

Supporting the elimination of private ballots is a cynical move for any elected official. Despite the fact that 87% of Americans agree that every worker deserves a private ballot in a workplace election, union-backed politicians are willing to defy their constituents and take away that right. Money, like the $350 million that union bosses spent to elect hand-picked candidates this year, has a way of changing a politician's priorities.

Union leaders want to dispense with democracy because, for them, it just hasn't been working. For the past few decades, American workers have been using their votes to say "no" to labor organizers, driving union rolls to historic lows.

After the collapse of union-dominated industries in the '70s and '80s, it became clear to workers and employers that the increasingly corrupt and hidebound union establishment could no longer deliver on its promises.

Instead of working to enhance the rights of workers, modern unions have become self-serving entities focused only on increasing their membership, revenue, and political influence.

In 2007, EFCA's supporters fell short of the 60 votes they needed to bypass a filibuster and send the bill to the White House. As of this writing, Democrats have picked up six additional Senate seats, and three more contests have yet to be decided.

Even if Democrats don't get a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority, they're still close enough to be dangerous. If just one or two Republicans in heavily unionized states are persuaded to "reach across the aisle," then it's game-over for workplace democracy.

The good news is that without an outright 60-seat majority, there is still room to fight. There is still time to educate the public and warn workers what forced unionization will mean for them.

Labor bosses have long relied on residual good will from an earlier era. If millions of Americans learn the truth about forced dues and unions' history of broken promises, they will not stand idly by as their rights are stripped by a piece of one-sided and undemocratic legislation.

Obama and the Democrats were elected by a nation hungry for change, and they should be careful not to squander their popularity on handouts and favors for union special interests.

- Rick Berman is the executive director of the Center for Union Facts.

(dcexaminer.com)

The Perfect Storm is Coming

Daily Secret-Ballot News: here
Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act" • More EFCA : here

Fascistic labor law promised by Congress, Prez Bam

Thirty years of downturn in the number of unionized employees in the American workforce is about to end as two powerful forces converge to form the perfect climate for unionization: a global financial crisis affecting workers nationwide and pending Federal legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act ("EFCA").

It is no coincidence that Senator Obama's "Yes We Can" election night acceptance speech used the same phrase chanted by the largest hospitality industry union, UNITE-HERE, when its members are on a picket line. The new President Elect has vowed to pass the law he originally co-sponsored, saying, " We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It's not a matter of if -- it's a matter of when." In light of this promise, employers across the United States -- particularly the hospitality industry -- must brace itself for a new era of unionization.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


Unions Thrive when Workers Fear Economic Hardship

Historically, workers turn to unions for security in an economic crisis. Unions thrive on employee fears in a difficult economy. With job losses, wage and benefit reductions, and declining retirement plans, it is easy for unions to successfully pitch their services to a workforce ready to believe anyone who will promise better times. The economy alone is enough to give unions a significant edge in union organizing efforts. But coupled with the pending passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, the labor movement is likely to see unprecedented success in the increase of its membership.

Unionization by "Card Check"

The Employee Free Choice Act eviscerates the current law which provides for secret ballot elections in which employees democratically choose union representation through an election which is supervised and conducted by the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"). Once the new legislation passes, unions will be able to penetrate the workforce by merely obtaining a simple majority of employee signatures on authorization cards -- known as a "card-check" process -- which substitutes a signature for a secret ballot vote.

Once a majority of signed "authorization" cards are obtained and presented to the employer, the union will be entitled to legal recognition as the employees' exclusive bargaining representative. While organized labor, which has spent millions lobbying for the passage of the law, touts the law as a fairer system designed to avoid delays created by legal barriers during a union campaign, the new law in fact removes the employee's "free choice" by permitting a system inherently ripe for coerced signatures.

An Environment Ripe for Coercion

Without secrecy or NLRB supervision, unions are able to pressure employees on the basis that they "will know" who supported them or not, once they are the representative. Co-workers will know who has signed and who has not, thereby allowing for significant peer-pressure. Since unions can press employees for their signatures before and after work, during their breaks and even at their homes, signatures will be given just to "get the union off my back".

Those of us who have represented employers that have agreed to the card -check used in the neutrality agreement context can tell you that unionization is a foregone conclusion whenever signed cards are used instead of the secret ballot process.

Under EFCA, an Arbitration Panel Can Set the Terms of Employment

But there is an even more onerous component to EFCA. In its current form, the proposed legislation contains a section entitled "Facilitating Initial Collective Bargaining Agreement." Under this section, a collective bargaining agreement must be reached within 90 days after a demand is made by the union to commence negotiations following a successful card-count. If an agreement is not reached, the parties must submit the negotiation process to mediation and thereafter, if there is still no agreement, to a federal arbitration panel. That arbitration panel settles the negotiations by determining the terms of a binding two year agreement, setting wages, benefits, hours, work-rules and all the other terms of employment.

Unlike current law, which permits the parties to reach an impasse in bargaining, which triggers various options for both parties (upon declaration of an impasse, the employer may implement its last, best and final offer and the union in turn may live with those terms or call a strike depending on its bargaining power), the new law would wipe out those options by requiring this third party to decide wages, benefits and working conditions and effectively decide the fate of your business.

Employers Should Get Prepared Now

How aggressively an employer will be permitted to respond to union organizing efforts is still unclear. The new legislation would significantly reduce the legal challenges available to the employer, and increases monetary penalties for engaging in unfair labor practices. How far the arbitration panel will exercise its right to write the collective bargaining agreement for the parties is also unclear. What is clear is that employers must prepare NOW for the storm that approaches.

Hospitality industry employers who have been fortunate enough to have no unionization experience, need to educate their executives and top management on the relevant legal do's and don'ts, the warning signs, and what preventative measures they can take. Employers with a mix of union and non-union properties need to evaluate which properties may be at risk and understand how the unionized properties will target the non-union properties.

There are many legal measures that can be taken now, such as identifying and addressing key union issues for vulnerabilities in the areas of wages, benefits and work rules. Employers may want to educate the union-targeted workforce on what the card check process means, putting systems and policies in place to limit unionization efforts on the property and introducing employee friendly programs and employer public relations forums.

Union prevention audits can identify areas of vulnerabilities and the steps that can be taken now to reduce the unionizing risks. Having a plan in place rather than reacting to an organizing campaign once it has started can save valuable time in the race to win the hearts and minds of employees while a union is rapidly sprinting for signatures.

Finally, employers must remember that once a union organizing campaign is underway, labor laws significantly limit the types of actions they may take with their workforce. Thus, the cost of doing nothing is too great. Act now!

- Marta Fernandez is a labor and employment partner at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP.

(hospitalitynet.org)

Prog thugs intimidate GOP over card-check

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: herecard-check: hereSaul Alinsky: here

Demonizing the enemy: Alinskyite Prez Bam asks his backers to 'get in their face'

If the Democratic leadership pushes the Employee Free Choice Act next year, it could be the nastiest political fight of Barack Obama's first term.

The bill would make it easier for employees to form unions by allowing them to sign cards authorizing union representation. It died in the Senate last year after only one Republican -- Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania -- voted for cloture.

It's no surprise that the GOP has put up such a unified fight. Many conservatives hold a visceral disgust for unions, in part because they counterbalance the party's big business constituents. But from a strategical standpoint, fierce opposition to card check could be a disaster for the GOP's long-term electoral prospects.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


Why? White union voters heavily favor Democrats. In These Times' David Moberg has the numbers from this cycle:
If more voters belonged to a union, Obama would have won more decisively, even among white voters.

Election-night polling by Peter Hart for the AFL-CIO showed that 67 percent of union members voted for Obama while only 30 percent chose McCain. (Compare that to the 51 to 47 percent advantage Obama had over McCain in exit polls of non-union voters.) The union advantage was slightly higher in battleground states.

Most dramatically, union membership made a big difference in how well Obama performed. Union members over 65 voted by a 46-point margin for Obama, while all voters over 65 voted for McCain by an 8-point margin. Obama won by 23 points among white non-college graduates who belong to a union, even as he lost by 18 points among all white non-college voters.

Obama lost heavily among gun owners and white weekly churchgoers—except if they were union members. Then they voted for Obama, though by slim margins.
Demographic shifts are already shrinking the GOP's core constituency. If more white voters are exposed to union culture, the GOP's share of the electorate will contract even further.

That's what makes the unresolved U.S. Senate races in Minnesota, Georgia, and Alaska so crucial. If Democrats can somehow emerge victorious in two of the three outstanding contests, they will hold 57 seats with two independents in their caucus (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders). That leaves Specter in the unenviable position of voting for his party or his ideals. We can only imagine the battle that would ensue.

(progressillinois.com)

Labor Bigs meet to divide the spoils

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: herecard-check: here

Dems set to take wrecking ball to vulnerable national economy

At a private meeting tomorrow in Washington, D.C., the most powerful and prominent leaders of the labor movement are planning to finalize the details of a major public campaign to push for what labor is hoping to get from the incoming Obama administration and the new Congress.

The meeting tomorrow morning at AFL-CIO headquarters will provide a glimpse into labor's hopes for the new order in D.C., at a time when a labor resurgence is looking like a real possibility. The big unions played a major role in delivering white union and non-union workers to Barack Obama in the battleground states, and will be expecting a seat at the table next year.

According to a senior AFL-CIO official, the labor leaders -- who could include AFL-CIO head John Sweeney, AFSCME chief Gerald McEntee, and others -- will be putting the finishing touches on plans for a national campaign, including possible TV ads, to press members of Congress for quick passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, one of labor's major agenda items.

The measure, which would give workers the right to join a union as soon as a majority of employees at a workplace say they want to, went down to defeat in 2007 and is likely to provoke huge opposition from business groups again this time around.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


The labor heads will also discuss the Obama team's ongoing transition efforts and evaluate whether they think labor has had an adequate role in behind-the-scenes discussions, the AFL official said.

One key topic: How labor can push harder right now for quick passage of an economic stimulus package, which labor leaders want done even before Obama takes office.

It's unclear whether the labor chiefs will try to coalesce around a choice for labor secretary at tomorrow's meeting. Among the names that have been floated for the gig: Rep. George Miller of California, SEIU president Andy Stern, former Rep. Dick Gephardt, former AFL official Linda Chavez-Thompson and former Rep. David Bonior, though Bonior has said he's not interested.

One sensitive topic likely to be discussed at the meeting: How the big unions can press their agenda aggressively right now, without being seen as publicly pushing the administration too hard at a point when it's just trying to find its footing. Labor's agenda dovetails in many ways with Obama's, but labor, just like every other series of powerful interest groups, is trying to strike the right balance in pressing the administration to prioritize their agenda.

We'll bring you more on the meeting after it happens.

(pmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com)
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