Thursday wrap

The Big Three and the UAW: Who's looking out for the little guy? ... It’s a poorly-kept secret that Big Three management and UAW bigs are really one and the same. They played in the sandbox together, attended elementary school together, golf at the same country clubs, vacation at the same luxury retreats, park their private jets in the same hangars, rip off the shareholders together, and so on. Under the legal regime of the last 75 years, Big Business and Big Labor have become Big Bedfellows. They cannot function without one another. Thus, management must be replaced when the Big Three union contracts are voided by a Chapter 11 bankruptcy judge. The alternative is to continue to pour money down a rat hole. That’s probably what Congress will do for now - but eventually the death watch will end. Then states like Michigan and Ohio will have an obvious choice. Either pass laws that give workers a choice about union membership - or the factories will be shuttered forever and workers who want to re-join the industry will head South. (netrightnation.com)

How to end an Era of Prosperity ... Presidents have always sought experienced hands, even if those hands aren’t always clean. The most extreme example might be Franklin D. Roosevelt’s selection of stock speculator Joseph P. Kennedy as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Kennedy may have been the fox in the henhouse, but he knew where the holes in the henhouse were,” said John Steele Gordon, an economic historian. “You certainly need people with experience in a situation like this, people who know what the hell they are doing.” (bloomberg.com)

Andy Stern: SEIU protege-scapegoat acted alone ... SEIU President Andy Stern today permanently banned Local 6434 President Tyrone Freeman from holding membership, a staff position or office in the Union following evidence that the Los Angeles leader misused member funds. After reviewing outside hearing officer and former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin's report finding that Freeman had engaged in a pattern of financial malpractice and self-dealing in violation of the SEIU Constitution and local bylaws, Stern also ordered Freeman to make full restitution to the members of Local 6434--a sum of more than $1.1 million. (marketwatch.com)

Hospital workers protest against SEIU ... Thursday, City Councilman Richard Alarcon called a news conference in front of Holy Cross Hospital, but what he found when he arrived was a considerable protest of hospital workers that opposed him and the recent order that stopped construction on the hospital's expansion. Members of the carpenters union held signs that read, "Save our Jobs." Alarcon with a small group of hired consultants and representatives from CARE gathered across the street from the hospital at a safe distance from the large protest. Some of the hospital workers including a very vocal nurse shouted at the councilman and even used a bullhorn. "Why won't you let us do our jobs?" "You're trying to pay back the SEIU union aren't you,Mr. Alarcon." (sanfernandosun.com)

Globalarmists protesteth too much ... It's still uncertain whether Heidi Cullen, who once wrote that the American Meteorological Society should pull the certification of any weatherperson daring to question AGW, will be a casualty of last week's Weather Channel employee purge. But yesterday's rabid multi-front name-calling attack on an energy and environment reporter who dared question greenhouse gas canons quashed any doubt that the choir of green-snobbery has many voices ... You've got to wonder -- If these guys are so convinced of their position's immutability, then why does the slightest challenge to it unleash such frenzied behavior? (americanthinker.com)

Russians organize OPEC ... The Russian Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko, said yesterday that his country is looking at harmonizing investments and policies with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in order to control the oil market more efficiently. The minister was speaking at an India-CIS conference on hydrocarbons in New Delhi. When asked if Moscow was looking at following OPEC's lead and cutting production in a bid to boost oil prices, Shmatko conceded, "We cannot rule out cutting down production." (haber27.com)

Union dues for strippers ... Isn't it about time that women who work in strip clubs got treated to the same labor laws that their blue-collar customers are forced to adhere to? The LDA (Lap Dancing Association) in the UK hopes that soon they can get more women on the books for their wages, so they can promptly take them out again in the form of union dues. Of course, the leaders of this Association (which are all male, and usually the owners of the clubs that have the dancers…how does that work?) (jossip.com)

NLRB smacks down IUE-CWA at Dresser ... Importantly, Region 3 indicated that it will uphold both the Company's declaration of impasse and its unilateral implementation of its last offer. Absent a successful appeal, if any, by the Union, the Company will continue to operate under a more contemporary and competitive implemented contract offer unless a mutually satisfactory contract is negotiated. In addition, the Region will not challenge the Company's termination of three of four employees resulting from their picket-line misconduct. (prnewswire.com)

Inauguration Day

Union-backed voter-fraud group still Bush-bashing ... At the Federal Building in Springfield members of ACORN presented their "Turkey of the Year" award to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. They said Paulson's "inertia" and a flawed bail-out plan has helped prevent the changes needed to correct the problem and keep people in their homes. Glen Barr, an ACORN member, said, "We acted much too fast, much too hasty. President Bush once gain rushed us into this bailout and we haven't any guarantees that people are going to be helped. It seems corporate interests once again prevailed" (wwlp.com)

Labor Pained ... Union leaders say they're disappointed U.S. President-elect Barack Obama didn't include a new secretary of Labor as part of his core economic team this week. "I wish that (the secretary of Labor) would have been among (Obama's economic team introduced this week)," former Michigan congressman David Bonior, a labor ally and member of Obama's transition team, told the publication. "I hope they take that job seriously." Unions' effectiveness in moving workers' issues higher on the Obama agenda has been hobbled by a split within their ranks, analysts told Politico. One side is led by the AFL-CIO and its older, white members, while the Service Employees International Union, with its younger and minority workers, is on the other side. (upi.com)

Secretive IAM dues hike eats pay raise ... Several workers at Vought’s North Charleston plant were so irritated that they did not know about a union meeting called to ratify a company contract, they have contacted attorneys to find out whether they have the ability to overturn it. At least one Machinists union member, who said he was left in the dark about the Nov. 7 vote, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. “I was one of the lucky people,” said Paul Gaudrault, a Charleston resident and quality inspector on the assembly line at the facility. Gaudrault found out about the meeting from a friend a few hours before it took place. He voted against the contract, calling it a weak deal for workers. The 1.5% annual pay raises for the next three years will be largely eaten up by union dues, he said. “My biggest problem with what happened is the 13 people basically laid the foundation and had the fate of 300 in their hands,” he said. At the meeting, Gaudrault said he looked around the room and saw 10 to 15 faces. He signed his name next to a two-page list of union members, estimating there were probably at least 100 names on the sheets. Citing union policy, Machinists union spokesman Bob Wood will not say how many people participated in the vote, only that the contract was ratified by 92%. With a little simple math, Gaudrault assumed that 13 people voted and that he was the only “no” vote — 12 out of 13 is 92%. (charlestonbusiness.com)

Unionists cut Barack slack ... Randy Cammack, secretary-treasurer of Rialto-based Teamsters Local 63, which represents Inland truck drivers, food-distribution workers and others, said Obama is well aware that the Employee Free Choice Act is important to unions. "But as a new president he has a laundry list of major priorities," Cammack said. "We want this to be at the top of the list, but we realize that if the companies we'd like to represent are failing, it does no one any good." Connie Leyva is president of the California Labor Federation and also president of Local 1428 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery employees in western San Bernardino County. She said a larger union force would be a long-term economic boost because it would raise wages and benefits for the middle class. But, Leyva said, Obama will probably focus on urgent changes. "I think the economy trumps everything," Leyva said. (pe.com)

Edu-bloat reduced at UMass ... The University of Massachusetts president's office laid off 18 employees in the Boston office late last week, driving up concerns on the Amherst campus that layoffs will be needed there as well. The president's office reduced the central services staff to 266 employees. (amherstbulletin.com)

Labor-state Dems deal AFSCME a dues hit ... About 80 state workers were set to punch the clock for what could be their final time Wednesday after losing their jobs to the state's ongoing political and economic upheaval. The layoffs, combined with Sunday's closure of all or parts of seven state parks and 12 historic sites, are the offspring of a slumping economy and the political infighting between the Chicago Democrats who oversee the executive and legislative branches of Illinois government. (pantagraph.com)

Striking labor-state Teamsters getting cold ... The 146 members of Teamsters Local 406 went on strike Oct. 29 after rejecting the company’s five-year contract offer by a 127-17 vote. They had previously rejected the contract by a 137-2 vote Oct. 8. Thomas Freyling, a Teamsters’ representative from Grand Rapids, was involved in the negotiations and served as a spokesman for the strikers during the past few weeks. On Tuesday, Lynn said the union workers have a new spokesman, Ellis Wood, from the union’s Traverse City office. (ludingtondailynews.com)

Teamsters buy a little time ... The Boston Globe said Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with the newspaper's drivers to cut wages by 5 percent and eliminate 10 holidays starting in 2009. The wage concessions -- unprecedented in the modern history of the Globe -- covers nearly 200 union drivers with Teamsters Local 259, who deliver the Globe and the New York Times. Globe management described the agreement as "a critical first step" in working with the company's unions to cut costs. (boston.com)

UFCW organizers rejected ... Workers at one of the nation’s largest kosher meat producers have voted against joining a union, though the union that led the drive is contesting the vote and accusing the company of foul play. In unofficial results, 200 workers voted against joining the union, 113 voted for it and 53 votes were challenged. (forward.com)

Gov't union bigs take dues hit in Toledo ... Toledo laid off a couple hundred city workers today to save money. Fewer union workers were off the job than expected. The city is trying to balance the 2009 budget. Three-days of layoffs were supposed to save $300,000, and the administration says that savings is still on target. When the mayor proposed three involuntary layoffs, one for today and two in December, he targeted nearly 1500 union workers. He hoped to save $300,000 in the general fund. But after a union lawsuit, the city and three labor unions agreed to far fewer layoffs. (abclocal.go.com)

Penn Diplomacy ... Cuban President Raul Castro is open to meeting U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on neutral ground to try to resolve the island's four-decade-old feud with Washington, according to an interview with a U.S. magazine. The interview for The Nation was conducted by U.S. actor Sean Penn, who traveled to Havana after meeting Cuban ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and before Obama won the U.S. presidential election on November 4. (reuters.com)

U.S. smacks down Evo Morales ... U.S. President George W. Bush suspended Bolivia's participation in the Andean Trade Preference Act, saying the country isn't cooperating with anti-drug-trafficking efforts. First passed in 1991 and extended four times since, the Andean Trade Preference Act grants duty-free access to the U.S. market for most imports from the Andean region. Bush also suspended Bolivia's participation in the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. Both suspensions take effect Dec. 15. (easybourse.com)

Chávez Exports Coke ... Workers of Venezuela's unit of Coca-Cola FEMSA, a Mexican-based subsidiary of the U.S. soda drink company, are staging protests in the states of Apure, Guárico, Sucre, Anzoátegui, Nueva Esparta and Monagas arguing delays in the negotiations of the collective bargaining agreement. FEMSA bottles, distributes and sells Coca-Cola products in nine Latin American countries. (eluniversal.com)

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