Saturday wrap

Bam to throw workers under the bus ... If Congress passes the EFCA, or "Card Check," as it is sometimes called, it will be stripping away a federally protected right to a private ballot from the hands of American workers - a right workers have held for more than 70 years. The proposal would require employers to recognize a union if a majority of employees simply sign a card. An employee's decision of whether to sign a card would be made public to the employer, union organizers and co-workers. The proposal also specifies that if the employer and the union fail to reach an agreement in four months, binding arbitration would be required. Both of these provisions would lead to higher costs for manufacturers, higher unemployment and would reduce our ability to compete in the global market. (hattiesburgamerican.com)

SEIU-Blago go way back ... Allegations that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich approached the nation's largest union seeking help in a complex pay-for-play scheme involving an open Senate seat are the latest episode in a long, mutually beneficial relationship between the governor and the powerful Service Employees International Union. The two-million member union had long been a big political backer of Mr. Blagojevich, who helped it organize workers throughout the state, sometimes over the objections of competing unions. The relationship, while not illegal or even unusual for the SEIU, may help explain why the union finds itself involved with a federal criminal investigation against Mr. Blagojevich. (online.wsj.com)

Bam's shameful lack of transparency over SEIU ... The Republican Party is questioning Obama's incoming administration about what it knew about the Blagojevich scandal. The following questions and quotes were released today by the Republican National Committee: Obama Has Not Answered Many Questions Relating To His Or His Staff's Involvement In The Blagojevich Scandal: Did Anyone On Your Team Speak With An SEIU Official About Your Replacement? (speroforum.com)

Bam ducks and covers over Blago ... Barack Obama insists he didn't have any contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich or anyone else who might have been scheming to sell the president-elect's U.S. Senate seat. But he has not yet given his transition staff the same clean bill of health - perhaps with good reason. An examination of the FBI complaint against Blagojevich and the days immediately following Obama's historic election victory suggests the governor was highly interested in Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett as a potential Senate appointee, albeit with a steep price tag. (ledger-enquirer.com)

FBI spotlight on Andy Stern's 'Pay-to-Play' SEIU ... The Service Employees International Union was named in the litany of corruption charges outlined a criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The complaint said Blagojevich was seeking a position paying upward of $250,000 in exchange for considering naming Valerie Jarrett to fill President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat, The New York Times said. Jarrett was Obama's first choice as his successor. (timesoftheinternet.com)

Bush behind the wheel: 'Completely out of control' ... Republicans on Friday angrily demanded that President Bush respect the legislative process after the Senate blocked a bailout for the automakers and the White House said that Mr. Bush would consider reversing course and rescuing them using the Wall Street bailout funds. The automaker bill's failure sparked a full-blown intraparty war, with several Republicans saying the White House scuttled their efforts to win concessions from the United Auto Workers union and one Republican senator warning that if Mr. Bush goes ahead on his own, Washington "might be completely out of control." (washingtontimes.com)

Industry is welcome in worker-choice states ... The complaint UAW continues to roll out is about government packages that lure automakers into Alabama and Tennessee. Certainly, we are competitive. Certainly, we want to bring as many jobs as possible to our state. Certainly, we will do whatever it takes to see Alabama continue to more forward. And, states like Tennessee and others have given those same incentive packages to General Motors and other domestic companies that want to build in our region. In fact, we’re ready to give more. I believe it wouldn’t take Alabama and Fort Payne long to come up with heavy incentive packages to bring Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to our beautiful part of the country. If the “Big 3” wants more government help, ya’ll come on down. (times-journal.com)

UAW Bailout: Hardball socialism ... There's a lot of suspicion in Washington and throughout the nation that Senate Republicans who thwarted the auto bailout last night were operating from a range of motives, including a desire for payback against the United Auto Workers. The UAW has been the bane of Senate Republicans, throwing resources and people at defeating Senate Republicans, including no less than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in his recent reelection campaign. Senate Republicans and organized labor have also been in a pitched battle over legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize workplaces without holding elections featuring secret ballots. Republicans have said the "card check" legislation would allow union heavies to strongarm workers into joining unions against their will. (swamppolitics.com)

UAW no-change demands are a bailout-breaker ... UAW leaders would rather sink their companies than save jobs. Republicans in the Senate didn't sidetrack this week's deal for a rescue of the Big Three automakers. The United Auto Workers did. Congressional lawmakers were close to approving $14 billion in taxpayer-funded relief Thursday night when the union snatched defeat from the mouth of a political victory. Republicans - mostly from the South - insisted that wages paid to Ford, General Motors and Chrysler workers reach parity in 2009 with those paid by Toyota and Nissan in the U.S. But the UAW President Ron Gettelfinger wouldn't budge. He held out for 2011 - an automatic deal-breaker. (savannahnow.com)

Union thugs in next Congress to smash GOP ... Handing a defeat to labor and its Democratic allies in Congress was also seen as a pre-emptive strike in what is expected to be a major legislative battle when the new Congress convenes in January: The unions' bid for a so-called "card check" law that would make it easier for them to organize workers, potentially reversing decades of declining power. The measure is strongly opposed by business groups. But some lawmakers argued that stopping the bailout would strike a blow at unions in general. "Year after year, union bosses have put their interests ahead of the workers they claim to represent," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., one of the leading opponents of the auto bailout. "Congress never should have given these unions this much power, and now is the time to fix it." (heraldnet.com)

Skids greased for Job-Killer Act ... What can employers expect from the new president and Congress? Changes to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will be among the first things sought. The EFCA is the top priority for organized labor. It enjoys wide and vocal support from both President-elect Barack Obama and the Democrats in the Senate and the House. A coalition of Republicans, business groups and individual employee-rights groups stopped it from passage in 2007. But it’s likely to pass in 2009. (bizjournals.com)

Hope for Change Fades ... Mr. Obama worked on Gov. Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial campaign and supported him again in 2006. Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect's chief of staff and another major player in the Chicago political scene, has closer ties to the governor. Mr. Obama's association with Tony Rezko, who recently was convicted in Mr. Fitzgerald's corruption probe, is more problematic. Mr. Rezko also was a prominent supporter of Gov. Blagojevich. These old-school political connections should cause some discomfort for the man who made so much of the need for "change" and a "new kind of politics." During the campaign, Mr. Obama easily sloughed off questions about his relationships with Mr. Rezko, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and 1960s radical Bill Ayers. But as he prepares to enter the Oval Office, he faces a much higher standard of political accountability. The next few days may tell whether he fulfills his promises to bring more openness and transparency to Washington. (al.com)

U.S. needs to replay the 1930s ... Now, as our leaders look to FDR and the Great Depression for guidance out of the disastrous, top-down economy visited on us by Reagan and Bush, they're considering how they can level the playing field a bit, so unions can again help restore the national standard of living. One way would be to make it easier for workers to join unions. Currently, many factors work to keep them out. First, there's a lot of anti-union bias in the media. This is not surprising, as the corporate media outlets face unionizing problems of their own. For instance, we read recently CNN was ordered to rehire about 150 workers it had fired illegally for trying to organize a union. Not surprisingly, we did not see that story on cable news. (chillicothegazette.com)

No 'Free Choice' for SEIU members ... Final results in a statewide vote of healthcare workers conducted by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) prove the point that healthcare workers overwhelmingly oppose their national union's sham election. Ballots were sent to 309,000 SEIU members. Of the 27,258 total ballots cast, 2,297 were void and 615 are unresolved challenges. More than 91% of eligible voters chose not to participate in the election. Caregivers from all three affected local unions signed more than 125,000 petitions and cards opposing the election and pledging to boycott the vote. The election process was riddled with misconduct, misinformation, and structural flaws. The ballot offered only two options, with no way to reject both. (ibtimes.com)

SEIU has a plan for Golden State economy ... If there's one thing legislators don't have to worry about in their never-ending struggle with the state budget – and there may be only one thing – it's suffering from a lack of advice ... The Service Employees International Union, which represents 700,000 California workers, began airing TV commercials that at least implicitly call for tax increases to fill a looming budget gap of about $40 billion over the next 19 months. The union wants tax increases on the wealthy and a federal bailout to solve the deficit. (sacbee.com)

SEIU: A new scandal erupts in California ... A nonprofit organization founded by California's largest union local reported spending nothing on its charitable purpose -- to develop housing for low-income workers -- during at least two of the four years it has been operating, federal records show. The charity, launched by a scandal-ridden Los Angeles chapter of the Service Employees International Union, had total expenses of about $165,000 for 2005 and 2006, and all of the money went to consulting fees, insurance costs and other overhead, according to its Internal Revenue Service filings. Charity watchdogs say that nonprofits should never have zero program expenses in two successive years and that well-performing charities direct at least 70% of their annual spending to their charitable purpose. (latimes.com)

SEIU's shameful non-charity scam exposed ...
For several years, the Service Employees International Union's largest California local has staged a lavish golf tournament that it bills as a fundraiser for two nonprofit groups affiliated with the labor organization. But neither charity's financial reports have specified any income from the annual event since 2004, Internal Revenue Service records through last year show. And the SEIU chapter itself specified no expenses or revenues from the 2006 tournament, even though costs and receipts for the summertime gala at the Four Seasons Resort in Carlsbad totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars in other years, according to financial statements the union filed with the U.S. Labor Department. Promotional material listed Western Dental as official sponsor of the 2006 tournament. Representatives of Western Dental did not return phone calls. The former president of the local, Tyrone Freeman, said in a Times interview last summer that the company provided dental care for union members. He said the union's business dealings with Western Dental had nothing to do with the sponsorship. The SEIU local, which represents 160,000 low-income workers, is the target of a federal corruption investigation, the result of Times reports on its spending practices. A spokeswoman for the union's national office, Michelle Ringuette, said the tournament has become part of the federal probe. She declined to comment further. (latimes.com)

Pols blind to 'State of the Unions' ... Union membership is an attack on productivity. How many of us know someone who, when first getting a union job was told to "slow down," as they were showing up the rest of the crew? And why should anyone make an extraordinary effort when the best worker will get the same pay as the worst? Collective bargaining represents a diminution of individual responsibility and accomplishment. We can see how teachers, for example, who are protected from being judged on their merits, have crippled our education system. It's funny that in the classroom where 'self-esteem' is so esteemed, the NEA should so disdain the concept in its own members. Unions infringe on the freedom of workers, who, even under the protection of so-called paycheck protection laws, are basically unable to choose the way their own dues-- only 30% of which actually goes to work-related issues--are used for political purposes. (postchronicle.com)

Union operative takes over Oregon A.G. office ... Oregon's attorney general-elect is poised to join the list of the nation's activist attorneys general, political observers told Legal Newsline. Attorney General-elect John Kroger ... has made three key appointments to help him lead the Oregon Department of Justice. Among Kroger's first appointments was ... lawyer Margaret Olney, to oversee elections-law reforms enacted in 2007. Olney has litigated election issues on behalf of groups such as the Service Employees International Union and the Oregon Education Association, both of which were big campaign contributors to Kroger. (legalnewsline.com)

Pro-labor Denver Post smacks down News Union, boosts monopoly ... The Denver Post Publisher William Dean Singleton on Friday asked unions at The Post and Denver Newspaper Agency to reopen their labor contracts immediately, saying he needs to slash expenses by $20 million ... According to one person who asked to remain anonymous, Singleton made it clear that he believes Cincinnati-based Scripps will close the Rocky, leaving him in total control of the Denver newspaper market. "Scripps is going home," the person recalled Singleton saying. The Denver Newspaper Agency handles the business operations of The Post and the Rocky Mountain News as part of a joint operating agreement between MediaNews and Scripps. People at the meeting said they were struck by the fact that agency CEO Harry Whipple didn't say a word, that there was no request in writing to reopen negotiations and no one from Scripps was represented. "It was highly irregular," said a different person at the meeting. (rockymountainnews.com)

Latin socialist nation in default ... Latin America got a bad dose of economic news Friday when Ecuador announced that it would default on an upcoming foreign debt payment. Analysts were quick to emphasize, however, that Ecuador's move doesn't herald a coming wave of defaults in Latin America even as they noted that economic prospects for the region in 2009 are growing increasingly bleak. President Rafael Correa announced that Ecuador wouldn't make a $30.6 million payment due on Monday that is the interest on a $510 million bond the nation is supposed to fully repay in 2012. Correa said that that debt had been contracted years ago in an "illegal" and "illegitimate" way. (miamiherald.com)

Collectivism makes global comeback ... At the beginning of the century, the chances of socialism making a return looked close to zero. Yet now, all around Europe, the red flag is flying again. "If socialism signifies a political and economic system in which the government controls a large part of the economy and redistributes wealth to produce social equality, then I think it is safe to say the likelihood of its making a comeback any time in the next generation is close to zero," wrote Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History, in Time magazine in 2000. He should take a trip around Europe today. (zmag.org)

Sham SEIU election denounced

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