Local gov't: Push coming to shove

Will militant gov't unions accept layoffs or confront, insult taxpayers?

It comes as no surprise that Clark County is in the middle of a potential budget meltdown, just like the state of Nevada. So to try and figure out the best course of action, the County Commission Office held an unprecedented meeting Thursday with three major employee groups.

News 3's Dan Ball details what was discussed and how their decisions will affect your community's police, fire, and human services. "Give what the county is confronting, I thought it was important we came together today," County Commission Chairman Rory Reid told those gathered.

Reid called for the special session meeting between union reps from the SEIU, Police Protective Association, and the International Association of Firefighters. He's concerned that Clark County may be headed for some serious financial woes.

"Just like families all over the state of Nevada, we are looking at our budget on a daily and weekly basis, trying to determine if we can keep doing what we're doing," Reid said.

The Commission knew things were getting bad earlier this year and in May began phase one of its cost containment plan. Said Reid, "We've tried to be very careful and prudent given the current circumstances."

Being careful included not filling over 350 positions, including many in fire, police, and human services. "We've actually decreased in the number. If you want that type of service to the public, which is a vital service providing medical and fire, we have to fill those positions," Reid warned.

Clark County also cut a lot of overtime and changed employee travel policy. In all, phase one saved between $15 and $20 million.

"On Tuesday we entered phase two of cost containment, which involved eliminating programs at UMC, reducing others, and, I'm afraid, phase two will continue," Reid said.

Union leaders and the Commission agree that phase three, which could involve layoffs, will only be used as a last resort. That's why they met on Thursday to discuss other options.

Regarding those options, Reid said, "We've asked them (union reps) to talk about (them). They've agreed. We asked them to put everything on the table. We've told them the concerns we have with our budget."

If the county and the unions can't come to an agreement about how to fix the budget, it could end up costing you valuable services. "We have to be willing to talk about ways to avoid layoffs and maintain services," Reid said. "That's a steep climb."

The Commission will meet with the three union leaders next month. That's when they will bring ideas to the table on ways to make cuts without laying people off.


Detroit blames worker-choice option

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

If only all states had forced-labor unionism laws

In Detroit yesterday, the leader of the union that helped drive the American automakers toward bankruptcy seemed to lay some of the blame for the Big Three's financial predicament on Alabama.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the well-paid Detroit executives who accepted gold-plated union contracts proved they're as ineffective at lobbying as they are at managing auto companies. The CEOs of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors tried to persuade Congress to bail their companies' out of their financial woes. But instead of a handout from taxpayers, the executives received angry lectures from congressional leaders.

One of the union honchos who helped negotiate Detroit's demise lashed out at right-to-work states where foreign automakers have located assembly plants. United Auto Workers union President Ron Gettelfinger cited Alabama as a state that has provided incentives to attract foreign automakers. Mr. Gettelfinger equated these incentives with the proposed bailout for the Big Three, and implied that Alabama and other Southern states are subsidizing Detroit's competition.

Gov. Bob Riley must have chuckled when he responded to this nonsense. "With all due respect to Mr. Gettelfinger, great workers making great products is a proven recipe for success in Alabama — and it doesn't require a bailout," the governor said.

Indeed, Hyundai, Mercedes, Toyota and Honda aren't asking for bailouts. They're manufacturing first-rate cars in Alabama and other states, and they're doing it with workers who receive about $25 per hour less in pay and benefits than UAW members.

Detroit is getting killed by that multi-billion-dollar union surcharge, not by the Southern states' success in attracting foreign automakers.

- The Editors


Obamunists call for urgent action

More collectivism stories: here

Collectivists to put nation through the 1930s again

Communist Party USA leaders meeting here Nov. 15-16 celebrated the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, and of stronger Democratic majorities in Congress, saying it opened the way to progressive advances for America’s working families.

They adopted a call to action to carry out the election mandate, including immediate government steps to help Americans hit by the economic crisis and bringing peace to Iraq and Afghanistan. And they said maintaining the unity of the movement that elected Obama will be vital to making gains. Anything that disrupts that unity is “the worst thing that could happen,” an Ohio steelworker retiree declared.

The election outcome represented “the biggest political realignment since the 1930s,” said CPUSA Political Action Chair Joelle Fishman. “We can think back with pride to decades of hard work toward the goal of a big enough, broad enough and united enough labor and all-people’s movement that could overcome the ultra-right blockage to all progress,” she said. “That all-people’s movement has come to life. It is dynamic and it has the potential to grow.”

“This election showed magnificently what our people are made of,” the party’s executive vice chair, Jarvis Tyner, said with tears in his eyes. “This is not just a campaign, it is a movement,” one that has updated and made a reality of the slogan, “black, brown, white, unite and fight,” he said.

CPUSA National Chair Sam Webb said, “The people have taken a necessary first step toward a new society.” Obama is bringing a “reform agenda in a reform era whose character will be decided in the years ahead,” he said. The “biggest challenge” now, he told the meeting, is to “resist efforts by reaction and some on the left” to advocate a break in the coalition that elected Obama and is now led by him. “We will have our differences but they have to be handled so as not to break the overall unity,” he said. The elections showed the possibilities for building a bigger and broader coalition to effect progressive change, based in the labor movement and among women, racial and ethnic minorities and young people, and including small businesses and people who did not vote for Obama, Webb said.

Speakers hailed the role of labor, the African American people, Latinos, women and youth in the stunning Nov. 4 victory.

Activists from battleground states emphasized the key role that trade union leaders and rank-and-file union members played there. CPUSA Labor Commission chair Scott Marshall noted the “near-total unity of labor” in backing Obama, saying it bodes well for further labor unity.

He and others praised the labor movement for taking the lead in confronting the influences of racism, so that, as Fishman put it, “145 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 55 years after Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus, workers Black, brown and white helped elect the first African American president of the United States.”

Many said the results demolished the mythology that white workers are mired in racism. One participant recounted his experiences door-knocking in rural Virginia, where white voters welcomed African American campaign volunteers into their homes, including serving them a bountiful Southern breakfast.

Fishman stressed that the election took place in the shadow of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression and the endless war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, “people are angry, hopeful and ready to go,” she said. “Our program should be strong and decisive. It should call for taking the profits out of basic needs like health care and energy and explore public ownership. At the same time, we should be part of the movement that puts the wind at Obama’s back.”

Webb said the seeds of today’s economic meltdown were planted in the 1970s with a combination of bad government policies, corporate greed and the destabilizing dynamics inherent in capitalism. The result was a ballooning unregulated financial sector and an economy fueled by government and consumer debt. Along with that came the collapse of manufacturing, mass unemployment, union-busting, wage and benefit cuts, and attempts to privatize public education, Social Security and Medicare. These policies, Webb charged, produced the biggest shift in wealth from working people to the rich in our history.

What is needed to reverse this crisis, he said, “is massive fiscal expansion, large injections of federal money into the economy” to fund public works job programs, extend jobless benefits and food stamps and help Americans hold onto their homes. As immediate priorities, Webb said, “We need to single out jobs and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, joining with others in the struggle.” The EFCA, labor’s top priority, will make it easier for workers to join unions.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

The party leaders emphasized combining support for immediate and partial measures and for more advanced and longer-term reforms, along with projecting socialism as a fundamental solution, one that Americans are now open to hearing more about. The economic crisis shows that socialism is a necessity for our country, Webb said. “We need to put out our vision of socialism and how it will come about.”

Fishman cautioned against getting bogged down in disputes over Cabinet appointments. “Our energy and focus should be on building the labor and people’s broad movement at the grass roots,” she said. “That is how we can give a constructive push in a united way.”


No-bid collective bargaining

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

The 'anti-corruption' measure will be fought by special interests

Amendment 54, one of two statewide ballot measures to pass in November, was labeled during the election cycle as "anti-union." But its passage is forcing businesses such as Denver law firm Grimshaw & Harring PC to take steps to ensure they are in compliance with the measure.

"As a director of this law firm, I'm prohibited from giving campaign contributions to any campaign or candidate," said Matthew Dalton, a Grimshaw shareholder. Grimshaw is affected by the measure because the firm holds no-bid contracts with hundreds of special districts, including at least one that exceeds $100,000 annually.

Amendment 54 prohibits political campaign contributions from an organization that receives no-bid government contracts totaling more than $100,000 annually. Any person who holds at least a 10 percent stake in the organization is also barred from contributing to a campaign or funneling a donation through an immediate family member.

The measure is viewed as "union-busting" because it classifies collective-bargaining agreements as no-bid contracts.

Amendment 54 proponents have said it would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by encouraging competitive bidding for government contracts.

The scope of the measure will probably be the basis of a lawsuit from a coalition of interest groups that claims the measure is unconstitutional because it infringes on First Amendment free-speech rights.

"There are a great number of groups, including businesses, nonprofits, labor organizations and community groups, that are concerned," said attorney Mark Grueskin, who represented a coalition of unions during this year's election.

Dalton said he expects a legal challenge would be successful "because of the breadth of the effect."

Amendment 54 chairman Tom Lucero said companies and stakeholders can continue to participate in the political process by dropping their no-bid contracts.

"Nobody is forcing them to enter into a no-bid contract," Lucero said.

He said the measure prohibits contributions to all candidates because Colorado is a steppingstone state where elected officials often advance to higher office.

The secretary of state's office has until Nov. 28 to certify the results of the measure, which narrowly passed. It would take effect Dec. 31, barring a temporary injunction.


Catholics cite ACORN misuse of funds

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group takes a hit

Citing a recent scandal involving grants made to a group accused of engaging in partisan political activity and alleged voter registration fraud, as well as what they say is a history of funding organizations unfriendly to the faith, some Catholics are urging the faithful not to give money to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development during a special annual collection planned at parishes across the country this weekend.

A flyer entitled “Notice to ALL Catholics” planned for distribution at some California parishes on Saturday and Sunday cites CCHD contributions to the group ACORN, currently under investigation for voter registration fraud in 13 states. On Nov. 11, Bishop Roger Morin, an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New Orleans who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee overseeing the CCHD, announced that all funding to ACORN had been terminated, even though an ongoing investigation had yet to determine whether CCHD grants to ACORN had been used for fraudulent voter registration.

In July, Bishop Morin announced the CCHD was suspending funding to ACORN because of the embezzlement of $1 million by the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. An audit ordered by the bishop found that no money from the CCHD had been involved in the embezzlement, he told his fellow bishops during their meeting in Baltimore earlier this month.

Critics, however, say the CCHD gave more than $1 million to ACORN in 2007 and, over the past 10 years, has contributed more than $7 million to the group – while Bishop Morin admitted in the Nov. 11 press conference that it was virtually impossible for the CCHD to discover exactly how its funds were used by ACORN because CCHD money had been co-mingled with money from other funding sources.

Opponents of giving to the Nov. 22-23 special collection for the CCHD also charge that it gives money on a regular basis to left-wing community organizations that, while claiming to help the poor, also promote abortion and homosexual rights in contradiction of Church teachings.

"The CCHD, which is run by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has funded far-left organizations with missions diametrically opposed to that of the Catholic Church for years, including, in the '90s, the pro-abortion group National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union," says the Oregon-based group VOCAL (Voice of Catholics Advocating Life), which is also encouraging Catholics not to donate to CCHD.

According to Jim Fritz of the group Defenders of the Faith, “The poor are not helped by the liberal community organizers who are funded by the CCHD. Millions of your dollars have gone to fund ACORN and other mismanaged organizations.” Fritz was among many Catholics who signed an open letter from the Catholic Media Coalition to U.S. bishops earlier this month calling for major reforms in the way CCHD funds are dispersed.

“We respectfully call on the Conference of Bishops to reform the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) so that it truly aids the poor instead of channeling money into liberal groups that work with those advancing abortion, same-sex marriage, and other moral evils,” said the letter. “It is a serious wrong that Catholics in the pew who believe their donations help the poor are unknowingly funding a leftwing liberal agenda that opposes the dignity of the human person.”

Despite such misgivings, however, Bishop Morin issued a statement on Nov. 18 through the USCCB press office urging Catholics to continue their support for the CCHD. "The current economic situation is squeezing everyone in our country,” said the bishop. “For some of us, that means more careful planning when we take the car to do errands, cutting back on restaurant dinners, and postponing discretionary purchases. For millions of Americans who live on the edge of poverty in the best of times, it means making wrenching choices every month about feeding their families, paying their rent, and getting necessary medical care. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development helps the working poor and others who are trying to keep their heads above these turbulent waters. In the name of all of the Catholics in the United States, CCHD fights poverty and challenges injustice."

As far as the ACORN scandal is concerned, the press release said, “Recently, questions have arisen regarding CCHD's past funding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Due to misuse of funds by ACORN, CCHD did not give any funds to ACORN in 2008, and did not accept requests for 2009. In light of further allegations of political partisanship on the part of ACORN, the CCHD Subcommittee of bishops, in keeping with its guidelines, ended all funding to ACORN at its recent meeting.”

Bishop Morin added, "I want to reassure the Catholic community that our Bishops' Subcommittee is vigilant in assuring that the resources of CCHD are well used. More importantly, I want to thank our Catholic people for their steadfast support of CCHD, and urge them to continue to give generously when the CCHD collection is taken up in their parishes."


Money for nothing

Congress makes chump change

Let's get some facts straight: First, $25 billion for a dying domestic auto triumvirate is not chump change. Second, it's not change at all. In fact, it's the worst kind of statist politics-as-usual. Third, we're not bailing out workers or consumers – we are bailing out bad managers, uncompetitive products and union dinosaurs.

The one thing that has united auto industry leaders and union officials is their ineptitude. They both have been willing to put the pedal to the medal in a race to crash the companies and have made an art of denying the changing global economy. They also agree they need help and that taxpayers need to pick up the tab.

Despite proponents' pleas, the bailout is simply a terrible idea. The claim that one in ten American jobs is tied to the auto industry is an unsubstantiated farce that lends credence to the notion that a lie can travel halfway round the world (or nation) while the truth is putting on its shoes. And what of the much-lauded "confidence" we hear about so frequent? I'm confident there are better ways to spend $25 billion.
There are other claims supporting a bailout, largely based on the disposition of credit, consumers, and other factors. But at the heart of the problem is another simple fact: an industry and its union, built fifty years ago and unable to change, has rusted to the point where it's not worth the investment.

The proposed deal, better described as a swindle, would make a con man blush. The bailout babies want a loan of $25 billion, while the equity value of the companies is worth an estimated $7 billion. What does this loan get the taxpayer? Virtually nothing of value, which is likely why a Gallup poll released this week showed 49 percent of Americans disapproving of the bailout.

But the bailout's virtually free money would allow the companies to avoid bankruptcy, which would maintain the (diminishing) equity of owners. Meanwhile, bankruptcy is what union bosses fear most. It could take a giant swipe at ridding the companies of generations of costly union contracts, a feat akin to Sampson discovering rogaine and re-growing his hair.

So, the public doesn't want the bailout and no rational investor would lend $25 billion to the companies hoping to see their money returned. Only a few failed executives in Detroit, including union officials, are for it.

Which begs the question: is President-elect Obama's support of an auto bailout really just thinly veiled payoff for union supporters? It's not an unreasonable question. After all, this is the same politician who promised during the campaign – without review – to remove a corruption monitor watching the Teamsters.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama's willingness to bail out one decrepit union dovetails with his desire to juice up the entire labor movement on steroids. He has already promised to sign the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for the UAW, and all unions, to rebound and begin flexing more influence on the economy.

Those hoping an economic recovery will follow a bailout for unions ought to consider the work of Doctors Richard Vedder and Lowell Galloway. They have estimated that in 2000, GDP was reduced by 40 percent thanks to the long-term negative impact of unions. In fact, the scholars estimated the cumulative cost of unions from 1947 to 2000 to the economy was a whopping $50 trillion.

You have to hand it to the power of "crisis." This entire fiasco is really quite impressive in its gall. A less shell-shocked public would find it absurd to use the government to redistribute an immense amount of wealth to a few mismanaged companies and their union. But that's the power of the Beltway in a time of "change."
P. J. O'Rourke has mused, "The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop." Perhaps now, before the check is cut, is a good time to say the same for Detroit.

[Financial disclosure: The author is a very small, very sad shareholder in Ford and would prefer to see the stock go to zero rather than see the free market further disturbed.]

- Bret Jacobson is founder and president of Maverick Strategies LLC, a research and communications firm serving business and free-market think tanks.


Good enough for lawmakers but not for workers

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

Dems, Obama want to force disinterested workers to pay union dues

House Democrats on Wednesday used a secret ballot to indicate their choice for the next chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee. If the secret ballot is good for lawmakers, why would those same Democrats deny it to employees taking part in union elections, House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) wondered.

“The secret ballot election is a cornerstone of our American democracy. If it is good enough for House Democrats to rely on during [Wednesday’s] high-stakes vote, shouldn’t it be good enough for millions of American workers across America who value their workplace privacy?” Boehner asked.

In Wednesday’s 25-22 secret ballot vote, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee recommended that Rep. Henry Waxman of California head the energy committee in the 111th Congress. Rep. John Dingell of Michigan is the current chairman and he is vying to keep the job.

A final decision will come Thursday, when the House Democratic Conference votes.

Regardless of who gets the job, there’s an irony here, Rep. Boehner said.

“Earlier in this Congress, 228 House Democrats voted to expose workers’ votes in union organizing elections to everyone – their employers, their co-workers, and union bosses. Today, those very same Members are enjoying secret ballot rights that Americans have come to take for granted in a hotly contested race for a powerful Committee chairmanship. What message does this send to workers across our country?” Boehner asked.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

For decades, union elections have been decided by a secret ballot vote. At the beginning of the 110th Congress, however, House Democrats passed the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800), which would establish a “card check” process in which workers would have to sign their names to union authorization cards for all to see.

Critics argue that card checks would make workers vulnerable to coercion, pressure, and intimidation and threats – from either management or labor unions, depending on how they voted.

President-elect Obama and House Democratic leaders support the bill that would make it much easier for unions to organize businesses.

“House Republicans will stand firmly against the decidedly undemocratic card check – and strongly for democracy in the workplace,” Boehner said.

An AFL-CIO official told the Washington Times he’s sure the Employee Free Choice Act will pass Congress and be signed into law by Barack Obama.

The card-check bill is "integral to fixing the economy," William Samuel told the newspaper in an interview published on Nov. 20. "If we are going to have a consumer-led recovery, workers are going to have to earn more."


The News Union: Alive and well

News writers survive red-ink, paper-stream waste, militant collectivism

When the Newspaper Guild can't keep its own newspaper going, there's a problem. Late last month, it announced The Recorder would be reduced from a monthly to bimonthly publication. In a sign of the times, the publication is saving some money by shifting more of its attention online.

"Right now the biggest thing you're fighting is the overall sense of impending doom," says Guild President Bernard Lunzer, a long-time Guild official who is in the first year of his presidency.

Some sales technique. With the industry sagging under the weight of a recoiling advertising market and the onslaught of Internet distribution, the Newspaper Guild is peddling survival. "I actually think the pendulum is swinging back in our direction in terms of people understanding they do need a voice," says Lunzer.

He hopes so. The 75-year-old union is already struggling for the resources it needs to operate. It may lose roughly $200,000 this year and that number may grow next year as layoffs continue--or as newspapers fold. Membership has already been impacted by the tough times. Lunzer says there were some 29,119 members from the U.S. and Canada in August, down from some 35,000 people in 1986. At least 2,000 people have disappeared from the Guild this year alone, he says.

But unionization may be a tough sell in an already deteriorating business environment. "I suspect this is not a good time to organize newspapers," says veteran newspaper analyst John Morton. He says newsroom anxiety is high, giving rise to fears that agitation could lead to a layoff.

That could be one reason local Newspaper Guild chapters get so many calls about organization after a round of job cuts are announced. For instance, the Newspaper Guild of New York president, William O'Meara, says roughly six recent calls have come in as a result of all the media layoffs announced in New York City.

Calling to talk about unionization--a lengthy process--after layoffs are announced is too late, he says. The Guild can give some advice about rights during a layoff, but he says it has a stronger position in renegotiating existing contracts to find cost savings. For instance, his chapter is now pitching its ability to reduce health care costs for some unionized employees by putting people on the plan of its larger sibling, the Communications Workers of America.


Unions organize against capitalism

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

Obama's Secret Ballot Elimination Act

Living in Detroit during the 1940s, '50s and '60s, you were well aware of Walter Reuther; he was the president of the United Auto Workers union. We also knew about George Meany, first president of the AFL-CIO.

The Democratic party catered to UAW and AFL-CIO, demands so campaign donations and get-out-the-vote efforts would continue to assist Democrats.

Reuther's belief was that labor not only had the right to organize, but labor had the duty to organize against the forces of capitalism whether labor wanted organization or not. Meany had the same perspective. Big labor supported Democrats; big labor expected reciprocity for its support.

Today, I'm sure Reuther, Meany and Jimmy Hoffa Sr. of the Teamsters would give 100 percent support to the Democratic party-proposed Employee Free Choice Act or, as some call it, the Secret Ballot Elimination Act. It guarantees new sources of lucrative union dues for the union big shots.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Instead of having National Labor Relations Board-supervised democratic elections on a specific day, the labor unions could gain control of a company's production through a process known as "card check."

Employees could openly be pressured by organizers and union-oriented coworkers over time to join a union by signing undated union cards. Union control under the law would be imposed - not through secret ballot, but through social intimidation and/or threats of physical intimidation.

Reuther was a socialist. His political philosophy and work experiences impacted his view of capital and labor as an adversarial relationship.

After being laid off by Ford Motor Co., he and his brothers eventually ended up in the Soviet Union and worked at the Gorky (USSR) automobile plant between 1933-35. Upon his return to Detroit in 1935, he became an aggressive union organizer for UAW. Reuther and the UAW worked hard to expand the unionization of the auto industry in the late 1930s.

Eventually, no open (nonunion) shops were tolerated and support workers who unloaded trucks, stocked parts in warehouses, moved parts and material to the assembly line and maintained the line equipment were UAW.

The various unions refused to cross into another union's work responsibility or cross picket lines unless the union shop stewards agreed pursuant to their respective contracts, and those grievances were negotiated with management.

Efficient nonunion suppliers were eventually forced to unionize. Capitalists might own the facilities, the tooling, the hardware, but the union labor controlled production and production support.

Nothing much has changed since the 1930s, except those union contracts are now grinding American auto companies into the dirt. The UAW and the companies are asking for government assistance.

Sorry, bankruptcy does serve a purpose. File for bankruptcy and renegotiate those UAW contracts.

If the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law, we will see the rise of forced unionization that will further erode our nation's productivity. Even businesses in "right to work" states will experience the impact of this legislation. Union contract work rules and union jurisdictional issues will impede the free flow of communication and create artificial barriers between labor and management.

This will have an economic cost.

- Mark D. Walker of Aberdeen, is a former certified purchasing manager with the Institute of Supply Management and retired from Northrup Grumman Corporation B-2 Stealth Bomber Program.


Trouble in workers' paradise

Related: "What a pro-worker government looks like"
More collectivism stories: here

Obamunists take note

Hugo Chávez has reduced Venezuela's support to foreign allies and is poised to make deeper cuts at home and abroad as plunging oil revenues hit his self-styled socialist revolution.

The government has warned of austerity measures after years of breakneck spending on social programs, nationalizations, arms and diplomacy, an exhilarating splurge when there seemed no end to petro-dollars.

South America's energy giant relies on oil for half of its exports and 95% of government revenue, leaving Chavez's ideological and political ambitions vulnerable to a crunch.

"Oil revenues are the weapons he has been using to fight this war. He is going to have to make big changes," said Pietro Pitts, an oil analyst who publishes Latin Petroleum magazine. "He will have to cut spending or devalue the bolivar, or both. Both are very politically sensitive."

Chávez recently said Venezuela would ride out any financial storm and that oil prices at $80 to $90 a barrel would be sufficient - an estimate which now looks optimistic. Earlier this year he suggested prices could soar to $200.

With next year's budget plans already in tatters, and foreign investment slowed to a trickle, the government started making cuts even before the latest price tumble.

Last month it postponed construction of a $4bn refinery in Nicaragua, a key ally in its anti-US front, and announced tougher terms for subsidizing oil exports to some Caribbean countries.

The state oil company, PDVSA, slashed spending on social programs which have underpinned Chavez's popularity. Aid to Bolivia and Ecuador, and subsidized oil to Cuba, may be hit next.

The finance minister, Ali Rodriguez, signaled the 2009 budget "will have significant restrictions" compared to this year's $63.9bn and that high-rolling government officials would have to cut back on sports utility vehicles and whiskey. "Many expenses, such as expenses on certain types of vehicles, cellulars and parties, will be eliminated."

Some analysts think Venezuela can weather the crisis with the help of $40bn reserves reportedly squirelled away during the boom. "The government should have plenty of room to conduct the sort of fiscal stimulus policies being employed by nations such as the US, the UK and China," according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a think tank sympathetic to Chavez.

Others are less sanguine, especially since Venezuela is wracked by 36% inflation, one of the world's highest, and because of precedent: previous governments crashed when oil crashed.


Nurses petition to oust AFT union

Petitions would trigger secret ballot decertification election

A year and 10 days after voting to unionize, nurses at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence have submitted a petition to decertify from Nurses United Local 5126, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers’ health care division.

Carolyn Caldwell, who was named as Centerpoint CEO a month before the November 2007 union vote, said Thursday that the decertification petition was submitted to the National Labor Relations Board and to Centerpoint Chief Nursing Officer Lynn Barrett on Wednesday.

According to NLRB requirements, at least 30 percent of the roughly 350 Centerpoint nurses must sign a decertification petition before an election can be scheduled. Once the NLRB validates the petition, an election could be held within 30 days.

On Nov. 9, 2007, nurses at Centerpoint Medical Center voted 167-103, with 66 not casting ballots, to select Nursing United Local 5126 as their exclusive agent. Poor communications with management, on-call and vacation issues, nurse-patient ratios and pay were among reasons cited. But during the ensuing year, Nurses United was not able to negotiate a new contract with Centerpoint, one of 10 hospitals in the HCA Midwest Health System.

In October, the union presented a proposal containing 17 items that would have settled the contract negotiations, Caldwell said Thursday. The hospital agreed to all but one: union security.

Caldwell said union security would have required the hospital to terminate any nurse who refused by pay union dues or a management fee.

Two other HCA Midwest Hospitals are represented by Nurses United, and one of them, Lee’s Summit Medical Center, includes union security in its contract with nurses. The other, Menorah Medical Center, does not because it is in Kansas, a right-to-work state where such contract clauses are not allowed.

Phone calls to Nurses United were not immediately returned. However, the union stated in an advisory to Centerpoint nurses Wednesday that “(i)f a second vote is scheduled, it will be another opportunity for a clear majority of us to show HCA and Centerpoint how serious we are about choosing to keep our legal rights and protections through our union and to continue to advocate for our patients, our profession and our community.”

Caldwell said she had respected her nurses’ decision to be represented by the union last year. But she said she was pleased that some of the improvements made on the heels of the 2007 vote appear to be winning a vote of confidence in the hospital from nurses.

Those improvements have included the hiring of more than 60 new registered nurses and 23 patient-care techs since April.

The hospital also tried to give nurses pay raises in April and August, Caldwell said. But because the hospital was in contract negotiations with Nurses United, the union had to approve the raises.

Instead, the union rejected the raises until approving the hospital’s wage package in October. It went into effect on Sunday.

According to Caldwell, her administration has been negotiating on a new contract with Nurses United since February and since then has participated in nearly 40 negotiation sessions.


Union pickets v. exploited non-union workers

Corrupt union calls 'shame'

About 50 carpenters picketed outside a Tempe campus construction site Wednesday morning, protesting the use of nonunion workers in building a new home for Barrett, the Honors College. Members of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, the primary labor union for carpenters in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and California, carried picket signs as they demonstrated near Lemon Street and Rural Road.

Members said they were protesting low wages and lack of benefits provided by the Pete King Nevada Corp., a subcontractor hired by the project’s general contractor, hardison/downey/kitchell, to install drywall in the 490,000 square foot, $110 million complex. Hal Jensen, vice president of the carpenters union, said Pete King exploits workers, hires illegal immigrants and does not meeting community standards for compensation.

“The community standard for workers who install drywall is $21 to $22 per hour and full benefits,” Jensen said. “Pete King is paying the guys in there $14 to $16 an hour, and they have no benefits.”

Jensen said he wanted to use the protest as a way to let the nonunion workers know their employer is exploiting them. The dispute, he said, is not with ASU but with Pete King.

“We have disputes with King in three of the five states we represent,” he said. “The ASU community has been incredibly supportive. Students drive by and honk, and we have had people driving Escalades, who look like they could be professors, driving by and showing support.”

Phillip Aguayo, membership development representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said he had similar complaints with nonunion electrical workers hired to work on the project.

“[The electrical subcontractor who] is doing the wiring for this building, and they are just like Pete King. They are nonunion, and they don’t meet the community standard when it comes to paying their employees,” Aguayo said.

Aguayo was not involved in the protest but said he was driving by and stopped to lend his support.

Bruce Jensen, executive director of Capital Programs Management at ASU, said the University has no preference as to who a general contractor hires to complete a project.

“Arizona is a right-to-work state, which means there are no requirements in terms of union versus nonunion workers,” Jensen said.

Jensen said ASU provides oversight on projects in terms of the qualifications and competence of contractors and the subcontractors that they hire but has no preference about whether workers are unionized.

Gerry Lusson, business representative for the carpenters union, echoed the complaints of Hal Jensen.

“Pete King uses his employees; he doesn’t give them benefits and doesn’t meet the community standard,” Lusson said. “We don’t want to be here but [King has] got rats working in that building.”

Lusson said they began the protest at about 10 a.m. Wednesday and stayed until around noon.

“We’ll be here every day until Pete King starts compensating his employees,” he said.

Representatives from the Pete King Nevada Corp. did not return multiple phone calls.


Union operatives invade Georgia

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

Fat-cat unions flex political muscle

The national AFL-CIO is sending up to 2,500 volunteers to Georgia to help Democrat Jim Martin in the U.S. Senate runoff against Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

The union organization said it will have 10,000 volunteers working the state over the next two weekends. About three-quarters will be from Georgia, spokeswoman Andrea Gage said Thursday.

Richard Ray, president of the Georgia AFL-CIO, put the number of incoming volunteers in the “thousands.” He said in a telephone interview: “Our goal is to touch every union member in the state at least six to eight to 10 times. Either by phone call, letter from their local union, letter from us, or a knock on the door. We’re pulling out all stops. This is the biggest thing that I’ve ever been involved in in Georgia. This is the biggie.

“This election is not so much now [about] who is Jim Martin and who is Saxby Chambliss. It’s about who can turn out the votes.”

Ray puts the union vote in Georgia at 325,000. Not an overwhelming number, but a low turnout on Dec. 2 could give it greater impact.

The storm of union activity is to include 550,000 work site flyers, 600,000 phone calls, 610,000 mailings, and knocks on 225,000 doors.

Retired workers from two closed auto assembly sites — the Ford plant in Hapeville and the General Motors plant in Doraville — have already given much time to Martin. They see their pensions jeopardized by Republican calls for the Detroit Three to embrace bankruptcy, Ray said.

“We have a large group of those retirees,” Ray said. “They’ve been working from the very first for Jim. I had a crew that went all around 285 and they put up signs at every exit. And they are mad at what they see not happening for them.”

Republicans are waving the union banner, too. Just not in the same way.

Chambliss posted an article today on redstate.com, arguing that his re-election was necessary to block an effort to make it easier to form unions — by filling out a card rather than by secret ballot.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Wrote Chambliss:

When Georgia voters go to cast their ballot in the December 2 runoff, no one will know who they voted for unless they feel compelled to tell someone. The same should be the case in labor union votes.

True elections are conducted with anonymity for voters. Secret ballots allow people to freely vote their conscious when selecting those who will create and enforce our laws.


SEIU bids goodbye to the two-party system

Did the GOP have it coming?

Since the recent election, a lot of ink has been spilled over whether the Republicans got what they deserved. After all, they had majorities in Congress since winning national elections in 1994, a year into the Clinton administration, and they had the presidency since 2000 when Bush v. Gore was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. But in 2006, the Republican Congressional majority finally collapsed and now, in 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain went down in flames before Democratic political shooting star Barack Obama. With the consequent enlargement of the Democratic legislative majority, the tide seems finally to have turned against the GOP. The post mortems in the media from pundits and politicians on both sides have been fast and furious.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, resident liberal columnist and author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? (analyzing why Americans seem receptive to a conservative message), author Thomas Frank couldn’t help crowing over what he deems the conservative collapse in the aftermath of the Obama win. More recently he has argued that liberals have to be ever vigilant against insidious conservatives trying for a comeback in spite of past humiliations at the polls. In his November 19 Journal column, “It’s Time to Give Voters What They Want,” he argues that the last election should be seen by the incoming Obama administration as evidence that American voters are finally ready for the return of real liberalism in all its historic, big-government glory.

Quoting the claim by Andy Stern, the president of the Service Employees International Union, that “we’ve redefined the center,” Frank argues, among other things, for an early Obama push on the labor movement’s demand for “card check” legislation which would do away with secret ballots over whether to unionize workplaces in favor of public signatures by workers under the watchful eyes of union organizers—this despite the impending collapse of the big three American automakers due, in no small part, to decades of union dominance.

On the Republican front, the self-examination and breast-beating have been equally evident. Aware that they have lost something that took years to achieve and that the political philosophy they oppose now commands the field, they’re in a dither over what to do next. In 2004, when then Democratic presidential contender John Kerry was caught by a live mike whispering about Republican “crooks,” many of us took umbrage, considering the statement intemperate and, certainly, unfair. But a series of subsequent public scandals rocked the Republican Cong­res­sional leadership, from the conviction of high profile Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff to convictions of Republican Congressmen in California and Ohio, followed by the resignation for lewd e-mails by another Republican Congressman from Florida. Kerry’s words no longer looked so outrageous.

Combined with the ongoing campaign by Congres­sional Democrats to demonize everything the Bush administration did, from defending its Iraq war decision, to listening in on overseas foreign terrorists, to tracking money flows to groups like al Qaeda, to sequestering captured terrorist suspects at Guantanamo, to preemptively grabbing suspect terrorists off the streets in foreign lands, to remanding many back to their home countries (which lacked the protections of American jurisprudence), to aggressive interrogations of hard cases like Khaled Sheikh Moham­mad (the mastermind of 9/11), to dismissing presidential appointees in the Justice Department…all these issues left Republicans reeling in the forum of public opinion.

After eight politically bloody years of this kind of relentless attack, Repub­licans saw their grand coalition of conservative Ameri­can factions crack wide open. They didn’t help themselves in the leadership they chose, either. It’s at least arguable that the coalition built by Ronald Reagan on the scattered bones of the defeated, though principled, libertarian conservatism of Barry Gold­water, can’t be put back together. There are those who argue for a revived focus on so-called family values while others point out that it was the departure from old Republican principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility that tarnished the GOP brand. Still others, like Thomas Frank, see in Republican failure the loss of credibility of their ideas. Whatever the cause, a little history may be instructive here.

America has had a two-party system pretty much since its inception. The earliest parties developed around the question of Constitutional government. When the old post-Revolution government under the initial Articles of Confederation failed in the late 18th century, American leaders of the newly independent colonies came together in a convention to institute a new, more centralized government. The resulting U.S. Constitution was eventually ratified by the new states and became the law of the land. The first American political party, the Federalists, coalesced around the drive to adopt the new Constitution. But with that adoption their raison d’être disappeared. Their old opponents, known as the anti-Federalists, rallied around Thomas Jefferson’s agenda for smaller government and made him the nation’s third president.

Calling themselves Republicans, these Jeffersonian anti-Federalists were derisively termed “democrats” by the old Federalist faction in an unflattering allusion to the democratic excesses of the French Revolution. By Andrew Jackson’s time (he initially won the presidency in 1828) the old Jeffersonian Republicans proudly became the Jacksonian or Democratic Republicans, eventually dropping “Republican” from their name entirely. Those who opposed Jackson, including many old Federalists, coalesced into a new party: the National Republicans. This group favored using the power of the federal government assertively to expand and protect American commerce. (Intriguingly, it was the southern Democrat, Jackson, who ended the first effort at southern secession when he threatened military action to halt South Carolina’s attempt to leave the Union over a dispute involving federally imposed tariffs.)

The National Republicans were never very successful and eventually gave way to a new party, called the Whigs, who similarly opposed Jackson and took their name from the American opponents of the British Crown during the Revolutionary era. The Whigs managed to win a couple of presidential elections and were a force in American politics for roughly 22 years (1834–1856) but finally gave way to the new Republican Party, formed in 1854 in opposition to the expansion of slavery into Kansas. Anti-slavery politicians and voters left the Whig and Democratic parties in droves to find a new home among the newly formed Republicans because the older parties were unwilling to take a clear stand against slavery (though the Democrats throughout the south were largely pro-slavery). Democrats and Republicans have been the dominant parties in our two-party system ever since.

But why two parties? The American Constitution enshrines a winner-take-all electoral system. Unlike parliamentary systems where the majority in the legislature gets to form the government, the right to govern in our country goes to whoever wins the presidency. Thus, while parliamentary systems have room for post-election coalitions to create governing majorities, the American system requires coalitions to be formed before presidential elections, encouraging the combination of multiple factions in advance of elections. Our two-party system is thus a reflection of the competition between ins and outs, those who run the government and those who want to.

And there’s the rub for today’s Republicans. Despite the fact that both major parties’ positions have changed over the years (Democrats have gone from being small government/states rights advocates supporting slavery to supporters of big government and spending, while Republicans have shifted from favoring big government to belief in small government, reduced regulation and taxation), neither party can succeed without its coalition. The Democrats, in their years in the wilderness, have rebuilt and refined their positions around a strong belief in the role of government while Republicans, in power, fell in love with the big government their rank-and-file tend to recoil from. The scandals—real and faux—that have rocked the GOP over the past decade have further eroded their credibility.

In this time of reassessment, as Democrats take hold of the levers of national power once more, Republicans have got to figure out if the old coalition they built still makes sense. It’s true that ours is a system with two strong national parties but, as John McCain liked to say in his recent campaign, nothing is written—not even that Republicans must be one of them.

- Stuart Mirsky of Belle Harbor, a former New York City official, is the author of a historical novel about Vikings in North America (The King Of Vinland’s Saga) and a co-author of A Raft on the River, the story of Holocaust survivor Miriam Sorger’s efforts to dodge the Nazis in eastern Poland during World War II.


Bold Roadmap for America's Future?

GOP struggles to maintain relevance in a post-conservative society

Republicans in the new Congress will be pushing “bold” ideas tied to traditional GOP principles, Sen. Jim DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, tells Newsmax.

The South Carolina senator was just re-elected to a second two-year term as head of the steering committee, a forum where the vast majority of Republican senators work to discuss and promote conservative legislation and policies.

“It’s important that we go out and redefine ourselves as Republicans around our core principles,” DeMint says. “I don’t want to be out looking for who is going to be our next leader and presidential candidate. What we need to do is stand behind the principles that were the secret to America’s success as well as to the core values of the Republican Party.”

DeMint plans to introduce a Senate bill similar to one introduced in the House by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) enhancing health and retirement security and aiming to reduce debt and promote jobs and business competitiveness. The proposals are outlined in what Ryan calls “A Roadmap for America’s Future.”

Included in the proposals is a plan to ensure universal access to health insurance and make Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security permanently solvent. The proposals also include a new tax code that would give taxpayers a choice: to pay taxes according to the present system or to pay according to a highly simplified code that fits on a postcard with just two rates. The option comes with virtually no special tax deductions, credits, or exclusions.

“A new tax code has never been more important, particularly on the corporate side, so that when products are exported, those taxes are eliminated, and when products are imported, they carry the same tax load that domestic producers carry,” DeMint says. “Besides fixing the tax code, the bill fixes social security and creates an opportunity for every American to own a health insurance policy.”

As DeMint sees it, people have “soured” on the Republican product because Republicans have been “big spenders, big promoters of earmarks, and have been divided on immigration issues.”

The Republican label says you are for “limited government and cutting wasteful spending, you’re for personal responsibility and a strong defense,” DeMint says. “But when people have been opening that label, they don’t necessarily get that product. So we’ve got to make being a Republican mean something.”

By promoting the solutions in the roadmap for the future, DeMint hopes to brand Republicans as being positive rather than against everything.

“There’s some things we’re obviously going to need to try to stop,” DeMint says. “Eliminating the secret ballot for workers in a union organizing process would be terrible,” he says, referring to the Democrats’ so-called card-check proposal. “The whole card-check idea basically violates a sacred idea of secret ballots in our country.”

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Asked about the loss of Hispanic voters in the last election, DeMint says, “We obviously need to attract the Hispanic vote, but we need to do it with our core principles. It’s a mistake for us to sit down now and say how do we get the Hispanic vote, how do we get the women vote, how do we get these votes, what do we have to say to get them?”

As outlined in a recent Newsmax story, Republicans are losing Hispanic voters big time. By a margin of 67 percent to 31 percent, Hispanic voters helped carry Barack Obama to victory. This is a major shift from 2004, when President Bush won an estimated 44 percent of the Hispanic vote.

While the amnesty debate did not help Republicans with Hispanics, “I don’t think asking to enforce the border is what alienated legal immigrants,” DeMint says. “American citizens who are Hispanic who vote have a very mixed opinion of Republicans just not being for anything. The big problem is that we had President Bush pushing a plan that did not include good border enforcement and a workable ID system, and it didn’t have enough in there to allow people to immigrate, particularly on a temporary basis, allowing them to come and go in a flexible environment.”

DeMint hopes to promote the roadmap proposals by going directly to the American people, using blogs, radio talk shows, and friendly newspapers.

“We’re trying to use all the media sources we can to get the right information to people, because usually the way things are presented here, when a bill comes out, the news reports are not necessarily accurate,” DeMint says. “When folks start calling, emailing, or writing their congressmen and senators, it may give us the impetus we need here to get more and more allies to work together.”

DeMint considers it a hopeful sign that Democrats, mindful that we are in a recession, are not talking about raising taxes. He is also keeping an open mind on Obama.

“He has said that he wants to eliminate earmarks,” DeMint says. “He’s said he wants to cut wasteful spending and make us energy independent. He may not do that in a way that I think he should, and if he comes into office and reinstates the moratorium on drilling in America, then obviously he’s going a route that is not going to create energy independence in our lifetime. But he’s going to be our president, and we need to give him the benefit of the doubt and find some things we can work with him on and hope we can move some things together that can benefit the country.”

- Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com.


Bush Administration helps unions out

Public pays for patrolling union crime

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) today announced its criminal enforcement data for October 2008. During the month, OLMS obtained 10 convictions and nine indictments, and restitution totaling more than $625,000 was paid or ordered by the courts. The office's October results are also the totals for fiscal year 2009, which began on October 1, 2008. The bulk of the cases involved the embezzlement of union funds.

"OLMS had another strong month of criminal enforcement in October, and union members are the beneficiaries. Our pursuit of individuals who abuse their positions of trust has resulted in successful prosecutions that we hope will deter others in the future," said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Standards Don Todd. "Through our enforcement efforts last month, OLMS was able to secure convictions against 10 people, and obtain payment or court orders for restitution of more than $625,000 for hard-working union members."

OLMS is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for administering most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The agency's criminal enforcement program includes investigations of embezzlement from labor organizations, extortionate picketing, deprivation of union members' rights by force or violence, and fraud in union officer elections. The agency's civil program receives and publicly discloses unions' annual financial reports, conducts compliance audits of labor unions and seeks civil remedies for violations of officer election procedures. In certain cases, OLMS also conducts joint investigations with other Labor Department agencies, including the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Office of Inspector General, as well as other law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

OLMS's public disclosure Web site at www.unionreports.gov contains union annual financial reports and additional reports required to be filed under the LMRDA as well as copies of collective bargaining agreements. Other information, including synopses of OLMS enforcement actions, is available at www.olms.dol.gov.

Editor's Notes: A listing of selected OLMS enforcement actions during October 2008 is below. An indictment is the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity. As in all criminal cases, each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal charges and indictments noted in these materials are accusations only.

Selected Enforcement Actions in October 2008
Office of Labor-Management Standards
U.S. Department of Labor


Former Steelworkers Local 1077 Officer Sentenced for Embezzling Union Funds
On Oct. 2, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Betty Wing, former secretary-treasurer of Steelworkers (formerly PACE) Local 1077 (located in Lambertville, Mich.), was sentenced to one day of probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,584.65 and a special assessment of $100. On June 27, Wing pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the same amount. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office.

Former AFGE Local 3197 Treasurer Ordered to Federal Prison for Embezzling More Than $85,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 6, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Karimah Bailey, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3197 (located in Seattle, Wash.), was sentenced to 12 months and one day in jail and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $98,802.17. On April 4, Bailey pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $85,412, and making a false statement and representation of a material fact, knowing it to be false, on the local's annual financial report. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Seattle District Office.

Former Steelworkers Local 430 Officer Sentenced for Embezzling Union Funds
On Oct. 7, in the Trial Court of Berrien County, Mich., Michael LaPorte, former secretary-treasurer of Steelworkers Local 430 (located in Niles, Mich.), was sentenced to 90 days of electronic monitoring and ordered to pay a $550 fine. LaPorte previously had made restitution in the amount of $1,080.On Oct. 3, LaPorte pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office.

Former Ironworkers Local 709 Ordered to Federal Prison for Embezzling More Than $51,000
On Oct. 8, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Louella M. Zieman, former office secretary of Ironworkers Local 709 (located in Port Wentworth, Ga.), was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison and three years of supervised released, and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $51,684.50 as well as to pay a special assessment of $100. On June 4, Zieman pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds in the same amount and one count of making false entries in the union's financial records. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Atlanta District Office.

Former BLET Division 282 Officer Sentenced for Embezzling Union Funds
On Oct. 14, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Chad Mowery, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 282 (located in Springdale, Ohio), was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution. On May 5, Mowery pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office.

Former AFGE Local 2440 President Sentenced for Embezzling Union Funds
On Oct. 16, in the County Court of Westchester County, N.Y., Glenroy Richards, former president of AFGE Local 2440 (located in Montrose, N.Y.), was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,243. During the period of July to November 2006, Richards utilized his union-issued debit card to withdraw funds in the same amount from the union's checking account. On July 7, Richards pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS New York District Office.

Former AFGE Local 1793 Officers Sentenced to Incarceration for Theft of More Than $184,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 23 and 24, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Lawrence Marable and Deborah Powell, former president and treasurer of AFGE Local 1793, which represents employees at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pa., were sentenced on a seven-count indictment that included one count of conspiracy, five counts of theft of property in a special territorial jurisdiction of the United States and one count of making false statements. Marable was sentenced to 18 months of incarceration followed by three years of supervised probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $184,129.85, a special assessment of $700 and a fine of $3,000. Powell was sentenced to 12 months and one day of incarceration followed by two years of supervised probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $184,129.85 and a special assessment of $700. Marable and Powell conspired to convert dues checkoff checks and issue Local 1793 checks for their personal use totaling $184,129.85. Marable and Powell were held separately liable in the payment of restitution. The sentencings follow a joint investigation by the OLMS Philadelphia District Office and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General.

Former AFGE Local 900 Officer Ordered to Pay More Than $77,000 in Restitution Associated with Making False Statements
On Oct. 30, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Edna Latimore, former secretary-treasurer of AFGE Local 900 (located in St. Louis, Mo.), was sentenced to six months of home detention and three years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $77,857.26. On Aug. 7, Latimore was charged with making false statements on the local's Form LM-3. Latimore omitted unauthorized payments to herself from the report. The sentencing follows an investigation by the St. Louis District Office.

Guilty Pleas

Former Union President Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $16,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 1, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Luther L. Corey, former president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1197 (located in Jacksonville, Fla.), pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $16,288.37. On March 26, Corey was charged with embezzling union funds in the same amount. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Atlanta District Office.

Former Laborers Local 500 Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Union Funds
On Oct. 2, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Thomas Leonard, former recording secretary of Laborers Local 500 (located in Toledo, Ohio), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $4,386. The plea follows a joint investigation conducted by the OLMS Cleveland District Office, the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Former Steelworker Local 14310 Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $76,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 6, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Donna Roles, former financial secretary of Steelworkers Local 14310 (located in Mount Hope, W.Va.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $76,420. On May 20, Roles was charged with one count of embezzling union funds in the same amount and one count of falsifying union records. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office.

Former UAW Local 2926 President Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $15,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 7, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, an information was filed charging Christopher Ethington, former president of International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 2926 (located in Shelbyville, Ky.), with one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $15,100. Subsequently, Ethington pleaded guilty to the charge. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office.

Former Steelworkers Local 2948 Pleads Guilty to Filing False Report
On Oct. 16, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Clarence Morgan, former president of Steelworkers Local 2948, (located in Columbus, Ga.), pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false Labor Organization Annual Report for the 2003 reporting year. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Atlanta District Office.

Former Steelworkers Local 9349 Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement of More Than $19,000
On Oct. 22, in the St. Louis County District Court of Minnesota, Kathleen Kordish, former financial secretary of Steelworkers Local 9349 (located in Hibbing, Minn.), pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft by false representation in excess of $2,500. Kordish was alleged to have embezzled union funds in the amount of $19,148.54. On April 29, Kordish was charged with one count of theft of funds by false representation in excess of $2,500. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office.

Former Machinist Eastern Regional Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Union Funds
On Oct. 22, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Rebecca Montgomery, former bookkeeper/office secretary of Machinists Eastern Regional Office (located in Cincinnati, Ohio), pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $509. Montgomery previously made full restitution in the amount of $14,340. On Aug. 20, Montgomery was charged with embezzling union funds in the amount of $509. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office.

Steelworkers Local 20 Area Vice President Pleads Guilty to Falsification of Records
On Oct. 22, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Eugene Huss, area vice president of Steelworkers Local 20 (located in Kaukauna, Wis.), pleaded guilty to two counts of falsification of union records and agreed to make restitution in the amount of $2,000. On May 20, Huss was indicted on 13 counts of embezzling union funds in the amount of $1,617.75. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Milwaukee District Office.

Former Machinist Lodge 2444 Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $47,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 24, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Krista Yeatts, former office manager of Machinist Lodge 2444 (located in Winston-Salem, N.C.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $47,746.01. On July 28, Yeatts was charged with one count of embezzling union funds in the same amount. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Nashville District Office.

Former AFT Local 4973 Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $15,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 24, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Grace Gaines, former treasurer of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 4973 (located in Philadelphia, Pa.), pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzling union funds in the amount of $15,597.00. The plea follows a joint investigation by the OLMS Philadelphia District Office and the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General.

Former AFGE Local 2152 Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft of Union Funds
On Oct. 27, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Janet Louise Johnson, former treasurer of AFGE Local 2152 (located in Reno, Nev.), pleaded guilty to one count of theft of union funds at a place within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. On June 4, Johnson was indicted on one count of wire fraud in the amount of $11,251.44 and seven counts of theft of union funds at a place within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Johnson is alleged to have used union funds to pay for unauthorized personal charges made on the union's credit card. The plea follows a joint investigation by the OLMS Las Vegas Resident Investigator Office and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General.

Criminal Charges and Indictments*

Former AFSCME Region 4 Officer Indicted for Embezzling More Than $16,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 9, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Carol Bruno, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Civil Service Employees Association Region 4 (located in Albany, N.Y.) was indicted on one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $16,118.57 between March 2004 and March 2006. The indictment follows an investigation by the OLMS Buffalo District Office.

Former BLET Division 3 Officer Charged with Embezzling More Than $47,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 22, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, an information was filed charging Todd F. Novak, former secretary-treasurer of BLET Division 3 (located in Cleveland, Ohio), with one count of embezzlement in the amount of $47,780.89. The information follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.

Former Glass Molders Local Officer Indicted for Embezzling $24,000 in Union Funds
On Oct. 23, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Michael St. John, former secretary-treasurer of Glass Molders Local 30 (located in Festus, Mo.) was indicted on one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of approximately $24,000. The charge follows an investigation by the OLMS St. Louis District Office.

Enforcement Actions and Civil Complaints

UAW Local 400 Enters into Voluntary Compliance Agreement with OLMS
On Oct. 8, OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with UAW Local 400 (located in Utica, Mich.) concerning a challenged election of local officers conducted on April 16, 2008. The union agreed to conduct a new election, under OLMS supervision, for the positions of president and vice president. The OLMS investigation of the challenged election disclosed that candidates were denied the opportunity to mail their campaign literature to a portion of the membership. The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office.

Department of Labor Files Suit to Set Aside SEIU Local 6434 Officer Election
On Oct. 17, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the department filed suit against Service Employees International Union Local 6434 (located in Los Angeles, Calif.). The lawsuit seeks to void the March 12, 2008 election of officers. The complaint alleges that the union failed to provide a reasonable opportunity for the nomination of candidates by imposing an unreasonable petition requirement on potential nominees. Also, the union inaccurately notified the membership that this requirement applied to all offices despite the fact that some offices required a lower number of signatures. The union's nomination notice provided that in order to run for office nominees were required to collect 4,858 signatures. All 82 offices were uncontested. The suit follows an investigation by the OLMS Los Angeles Office.

* An indictment is the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity. As in all criminal cases, each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal charges and indictments noted in these materials are accusations only.

Related Posts with Thumbnails