Saturday wrap

Pay-to-Play ban upheld in Constitution State ... A federal judge Friday upheld the constitutionality of Connecticut's ban on campaign contributions by lobbyists and state contractors, calling the ban a rational reaction to the state's political scandals. U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill dismissed a challenge brought by lobbyists, who claimed that the ban was overly broad and violated their free-speech rights. The ban was part of broad campaign finance reforms passed in 2005, a year after scandal forced the resignation of Gov. John G. Rowland. The state also was reeling from corruption convictions of a former state treasurer and two mayors. "In light of Connecticut's recent history of corruption scandals involving high-ranking state politicians, I conclude that the legislature had a constitutional, sufficiently important interest in combating actual and perceived corruption by eliminating contributions from individuals with the means and motive to exercise undue influence over elected officials," Underhill wrote. (courant.com)

Pay-to-Play troubles for SEIU, Bam ... These examples reflect a larger national phenomenon in which Big Labor expects reward for its support of Obama and successful Democratic candidates across the country. As reported by Fred Lucas of CNSNews.com, the SEIU's political action committee spent over $27 million on behalf of Obama's campaign, and the union's website states that members "knocked on 1.87 million doors, made 4.4 million phone calls, registered 85,914 voters and sent more than 2.5 million pieces of mail in support of Obama." And as it concerns Governor Blagojevich, the SEIU was his largest contributor, giving more than $1.8 million to his campaigns. Although the SEIU has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the Blagojevich scandal, troubling questions obviously remain. At the very least, the issue of union payback is something about which Americans must be wary as they wonder how the Pelosi/Reid Congress and President Obama could possibly push so hard for laws that so fundamentally contradict our democratic ideals. (rightsidenews.com)

AFSCME pays Dems to play

Bam should answer corruption questions ... I don't believe President-elect Obama was involved in the "pay to play" scheme hatched by the besieged governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. But I do believe he should answer all relevant questions sooner rather than later. Rod Blagojevich is a dirty politician. He tried to sell Barack Obama's senatorial seat to the highest bidder and has been under investigation by the Feds for most of his two terms. Gov. Blagojevich should resign. This governor is another example of voters continuing to put politicians in office that they know are under suspicion or that there are questions about. That was the case with lame duck Louisiana Congressman Bill Jefferson, who I am happy to say, lost his re-election bid. (shreveporttimes.com)

Bam pick inks Pay-to-Play order for Arizona SEIU ... Gov. Janet Napolitano has signed an executive order requiring agencies under her control to meet with unions representing state workers. Napolitano's order is a victory for the Service Employees International Union, which already has 80 people trying to organize state workers. In her five-page order, she said a "meet-and-confer" requirement in effect since February at the Department of Corrections has been successful in building relationships between the state and its workers. (azstarnet.com)

Pay-to-Play a local outrage ... Rigged bids. Inflated billing. Kickbacks. Nope, those aren't departments at Illionois-based Blagojevich Inc. Instead those are the alleged corrupt practices found deep in the bowels of the Bossier Parish school district. It's not as much fun when the taint of public fraud — another "pay to play" scam — hits so close to home. In fact, Bossier (LA) taxpayers are more likely to be outraged about the systematic corruption allegedly engineered by public employees. (shreveporttimes.com)

Dem Pay-to-Play in Florida ... The top Democrat in the Florida House considered the amount of money lawmakers gave to the state Democratic Party and their willingness to contribute in the future before he recommended who should sit on some of the state's most powerful legislative panels. "There may be three or four people that raised money that had (top) ranking positions, but that was not really a major consideration," Minority Leader Franklin Sands said Monday. Ben Wilcox, director of Florida Common Cause, said the possibility of a "quid pro quo" raises ethical and legal questions. "We all know that some committees are more powerful than other committees, and they seem to be saying you need to make a contribution if you want to be a part of that." One Democratic lawmaker, Yolly Roberson of Miami, said Sands put the price for his recommendation to the House's top health care committee at $50,000. (palmbeachpost.com)

Dem Pay-to-Play in Oregon ... Democrat Governor Kulongoski, and his cadre of legislators were gifted millions of dollars in campaign funds by the public employee unions. That figure is somewhere around $9 million, according to The Oregonian. In return, they have expectations and those expectations aren't focused on programs for the elderly, highways, prisons, or transportation. Dave Hunt, who succeeded Jeff Merkley as speaker of Oregon's House of Representatives, says his party is ready to tackle the state's big issues. According to the unions, those big issues include collective bargaining rights, higher salaries for state workers, more individuals on the state payroll, and paid family leave. (wallowacountychieftain.info)

Chicago Bam: Neither Oblivious Nor Deceptive ... Now come questions about Mr. Obama’s association with scandal-ridden Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich; a man who profanely espoused his contempt for Mr. Obama suddenly “not playing the game” by sweetening Blagojevich’s Chicago Democrat Machine “401K.” Through it all, Mr. Obama’s one and only defense when asked about these associations was to deny them. He never heard Rev. Wright puke his racist remarks over the twenty years he sat in the pews of Trinity United Church of Christ. William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are just people who live down the street, whose children went to the same schools as Obama’s. Tony Rezko was just some over-zealous supporter who Obama never really had all that much contact with. And Rod Blagojevich...who is he?! In each instance when a radical relationship or detrimental association was questioned, Mr. Obama – the lawyer that he is – tried to execute the political tactic of plausible deniability. With his “betrayal” of Gov. Blagojevich, someone he had to know – both personally and professionally because of his political ties to the Chicago Democrat Machine – he effectively over-exposed his willingness to play the plausible deniability card. From this point forward, Mr. Obama will be required to explain himself. After all, he is now squarely in the public eye and is so as a public servant. (hawaiireporter.com)

Ambinder: Fixated on Job-Killer Act ... So - organized labor in the form of the Change to Win coalition and the AFL-CIO spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several cycles, devoted hundreds of thousands of person-hours, extended itself in myriad ways - to bring Democrats to power, to elect a Democratic president, to elect a labor friendly slate that would finally break down the governmental and economic barriers to allow the labor movement to breathe and expand. Central to all of this is one piece of legislation, ingeniously titled the " Employee Free Choice Act," EFCA, or, card check. This column is fixated with EFCA because labor remains the backbone of the Democratic Party, EFCA is their top priority, and because the passage of card check legislation has the potential to dramatically reinvigorate the labor movement everywhere. Failure would probably doom it. (marcambinder.theatlantic.com)

Progs, union bigs cheer Bam pick ... A progressive out of Los Angeles with pro-union credentials, Solis is one liberals can put squarely in their column — and her appointment set off a chorus of glowing praise from labor stalwarts. “I’m glad we got one — one out of 22,” said Tim Carpenter, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America. “She’s going to be a great voice.” (lasvegassun.com)

Corruption watchdog blasts Bam's pick ... Dr. Carl Horowitz, director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today reacted to Barack Obama's nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) for Labor Secretary. He said: "This is a terrible nomination. Solis is a total flack for the union bosses. I predict an explosion of union corruption, especially with infrastructure stimulus funds flowing to unions like the Laborers and Teamsters, which still have not freed themselves from the influence of organized crime. Solis is a co-sponsor of the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the unions' top legislative priority. EFCA would force private-sector employers to recognize a particular union as the sole bargaining agent if its organizers can get at least 50 percent of affected workers to sign a card indicating their desire to join, ending secret elections. This "card check" is inherently coercive." (news.prnewswire.com)

Bush ends capitalism as we know it ... The spending. The massive growth of government. The massive growth of new regulations. So what can one say about the White House stepping in with a $17+ billion bailout to failing auto giants? A Democratic congress couldn’t pass it, so why not the Republican president? Well, because the auto bailout is counterproductive and possibly illegal. To begin with, the biggest winner is the auto union (a warm-up to the authoritarian and unconstitutional assault on workers and taxpayers called the “Employee Free choice Act”). Crushing legacy costs and an extraordinarily overpaid under-skilled union work force have helped push the Big Three into this precarious position. There is nothing wicked about paying your workers high salaries, of course, but there is something wholly criminal about demanding that taxpayers foot the bill. (blogs.denverpost.com)

Unions: Stop the recount, now! ... Democrat Al Franken edged ahead of Republican Norm Coleman on Friday for the first time in Minnesota's long-running U.S. Senate recount. Franken opened up a lead on the fourth day of a state Canvassing Board meeting to decide the fate of hundreds of disputed ballots. The change was notable because Coleman, the incumbent, led Franken in election night returns and also held a 188-vote lead before the board took up challenged ballots. But its significance was limited, with the possibility the lead could change again before the long recount ends. (washingtontimes.com)

Council smacks down Teamsters ... A collective bargaining agreement between the city of Lancaster and a police supervisors labor union was rejected by the Lancaster City Council on Thursday. Councilman Tom Stoughton, R-4th Ward, said the city did not want to approve contract with the Lancaster Police Supervisors Association, in part because it included a higher insurance percentage than the other union contracts with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 3427 and the fire union. The council did approve two other union contracts on Thursday. A resolution for AFSCME passed 9-0. The fire union contract, which was approved 9-0, will now be voted on by union members. (lancastereaglegazette.com)

Governator's order disrespects SEIU bigs ... “We don’t think it’s right, and we’re prepared to file an unfair practices charge against the governor,” Yvonne Walker, SEIU Local 1000 president said today at a news conference in Sacramento. “We think it’s regressive bargaining. For him to do this outside of existing negotiations is improper.” (bloomberg.com)

Left-wing News Union asked for sacrifice in Seattle ... With a financial crunch rapidly approaching, the struggling Seattle Times Co. told some 500 management and non-union employees at its flagship Seattle Times newspaper today that they would each have to take a one-week unpaid furlough by the end of February to help the company raise as much as $1 million. (crosscut.com)

Socialists smack down UAW ... The policy of the UAW and the rest of the trade union bureaucracy has proven a complete failure, an absolute disaster for the workers the unions claim to represent. For decades, the UAW has promoted the myth of worker-management partnership. Workers were told that their interests were fundamentally identical with those of corporate management, and that the only way to save their jobs was to ensure the profitability of the companies for which they worked. On this basis, the unions pushed through concession after concession, each one supposedly the last. It also pushed "buy American" nationalist campaigns, insisting that workers in the US could defend their interests by opposing auto workers in other companies Now, the outcome of this experiment is that workers face the complete elimination—with the full collaboration of the union itself—of all the gains won by their parents and grandparents. (wsws.org)

Teamster strike, day 52 ... Metalworks' striking union workers met Friday afternoon to discuss the company's latest contract offer. Ellis Wood, representative for the union members of Teamsters Local 406, said they did not vote on the proposal. "We just discussed the company's offer," Ellis said after Friday's meeting. Friday marked the 52nd day of the strike. It started Oct. 29, after Metalworks' 146 members of Teamsters Local 406 rejected the company's five-year contract offer (ludingtondailynews.com)

Greedy fat-cat union bigs ... The United Steelworkers of America struck the American steel producers in 1959. One of the main sticking points was the USWA demand that management could not reduce the number of workers even if more efficient processes or equipment reduced the need for workers. The strike lasted seven months and required American industry to use imported steel, which was of equal quality and cost less. The result of the strike was the death of the American steel industry. So we have at least one example of union leaders' greed for dues taking precedence over the good of the country and the good of their own members. Now we have another instance of their willingness to destroy a large part of an industry and permanently eliminate their members' jobs rather than face economic reality. While I feel sorry for the soon-to-be unemployed union workers in Detroit and concern for the economic health of the country, I'm just an old country boy who doesn't like to have his arm twisted to give somebody something that they don't deserve. And that makes me just about as stubborn as a UAW union boss. (newsobserver.com)

NLRB sides with Kentucky union organizers ... An administrative law judge has ruled that Norton Audubon Hospital managers violated labor law during a campaign to persuade nurses to vote against a union. Advertisement Ira Sandron, administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board, ordered the hospital to change some practices and post a notice assuring nurses of their right to form a union. (courier-journal.com)

Chávez-for-Life? ... The majority of people in Venezuela disagree with a proposal to scrap presidential term limits, according to a poll by Hinterlaces. 61 per cent of respondents would vote against a constitutional amendment that would allow the head of state to remain in power indefinitely in a proposed referendum. (angus-reid.com)

Stone biopic to glorify socialist Chávez ... Oliver Stone will follow up his controversial George W. Bush biopic W. with another politically-themed project. Stone is planning to direct a documentary about controversial Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Stone has been hard at work on the Chavez documentary for nearly six months now and is hoping to have it ready for release sometime in 2009. (artistdirect.com)

Against Forced-Labor Unionism
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