Thursday wrap

Andy Stern's socialistic SEIU likened to organized crime ... This mafia-like pattern of behavior by the SEIU should come as no surprise. Both the mob and organized labor have the same business model. US Court of Appeals judge for the 7th Circuit Richard Posner explains: "The goal of unions is to redistribute wealth from the owners and managers of firms, and from workers willing to work for very low wages, to the unionized workers and the union's officers. Unions do this by organizing (or threatening) strikes that impose costs on employers. ... Unions, in other words, are worker cartels. ... There is also a long history of union corruption. And some union activity is extortionate: the union and the employer tacitly agree that as long as the employer gives the workers a wage increase slightly above the union dues, the union will leave the employer alone." At a time when all of our businesses need to be as competitive as possible, parasitic and corrupt union influence is not what our economy needs. But that is exactly what Obama has planned for us. Referencing the SEIU's support of his campaign for Illinois state senate, Obama wrote in his autobiography: "I owe those unions." And so Obama is still pledging to support the SEIU's top priority in 2009, the end of secret ballot elections in union organizing campaigns. A policy proposal that even 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern believes is a threat to our nation. (hawaiireporter.com)

Union thugs at their worst ... If the U.S. Congress succeeds in its push next year to end secret ballots in union elections - paying back Big Labor for its truckloads of financial contributions and personnel during the last presidential campaign - countless workers' lives will become nightmares, pitting friends against friends. I know the hard way. Some years ago, I crossed a faculty picket line at a large university - the only faculty member out of several hundred professors to cross. Every fiber in my body opposed the strike and I was pathologically unable to not cross. The nightmare that followed was the most stressful experience in my life, save for the cancer and death of my wife. (star-telegram.com)

Workers seek state constitutional protection from Congressional thuggery ... The right to a secret ballot in union elections will likely be up for a vote in five states in 2010, as lawmakers and activists are preparing to fend off a bill in Congress backed by organized labor that would make it easier to establish unions by replacing secret-ballot elections with a “card check” system. Efforts to gather signatures began Tuesday in Arizona, Arkansas and Missouri for state initiatives to enact a constitutional amendment. The amendment simply says: “The right of individuals to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. Where state or federal law requires elections for public office or public votes on initiatives or referenda, or designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed.” The Utah and Nevada state legislatures, meanwhile, will be considering the constitutional amendment. (cnsnews.com)

Show Me union operatives: Let's see your ballot ... Missouri was one of five states to launch the S.O.S. campaign yesterday. The group will need to collect more than 151,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Judging from the early response he has heard, Loudon doesn’t think he will have a hard time finding Missourians willing to sign on. "The response has been enthusiastic support once people get over the initial shock of realizing they don’t already have a constitutional protection to privacy in this area," he said. "This country was founded on liberties, and our protections are a model for the world. Anything that would go against those and the revelation that we aren’t as well protected as we thought is pretty shocking to people. Once we tell people rights are possibly going to be taken from you, they respond very enthusiastically wanting to fight back and defend those rights." (columbiatribune.com)

Fat-Cat UAW Takes Heat on Black Lake

Ugly Reid-Pelosi double standard surfaces ... Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said Wednesday that Congress should be as generous to judges as it already has been to itself, by approving an inflation-related increase in their pay. "I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied," Chief Justice Roberts said in his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary. Alone among federal employees, judges will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2009. Members of Congress are getting a 2.8 percent boost, worth $4,700. But they refused before Christmas to give an identical increase to judges. (washingtontimes.com)

FUBAR Federal Bailout math

Blago-SEIU Pay-to-Play claims another victim ... The Blagojevich administration’s top lawyer, William J. Quinlan, resigned today — the same day that the governor announced he’s decided to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. “Today, I have decided to resign my position as General Counsel and return to private practice,” Quinlan wrote in a memo to his staff. The memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, made only a passing reference to Blagojevich’s Dec. 9 arrest on corruption charges. “We should not let recent events diminish the pride in our accomplishments or the commitment to public service with which we approach our job each day,” he wrote. “The state of Illinois is a great place to live and work. The opportunity to serve its citizens is truly an honor.” (suntimes.com)

California's hungry gov't-union cannibals ... State workers donned their rhetorical boxing gloves in 2008 and slugged it out – with each other. This column and its companion blog chronicled some of those battles: state workers in Sacramento vs. those everywhere else, staff vs. management, sworn law enforcement officers vs. non-sworn public safety workers, dues-paying union members vs. workers who pay reduced "fair share" fees and just about everyone, it seemed, vs. the correctional officers union. Online, state workers defended themselves from attacks by private-sector workers and jabbed the governor (not so affectionately referred to as GAS) for wanting to furlough or lay off workers. And they attacked each other. (sacbee.com)

AFL-CIO, AFSCME thugs target worker-choice advocate ... Has the other shoe finally dropped for up-and-coming Republican Ryan Frazier? The Aurora city councilman made headlines - as well as enemies - for sponsoring the controversial "right to work" ballot measure Amendment 47 this past November, and even though it lost at the polls, unions, many of which are vehemently against right to work, surely haven't forgotten. Last week, the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, part of the powerful AFL-CIO union, asked the city of Aurora, as well Arvada and Commerce City, to provide them with the names and contact information for all their municipal employees. The move is unmistakable: Union officials are hoping to organize metro-area city employees - and it looks like they're starting with Frazier's home base. (blogs.westword.com)

Union-backed fraud group fights for 'affordable housing' in Texas ... Eight people chanted, sang protest songs and marched back and forth with placards Wednesday outside the Fort Worth office of Saxon Home Mortgage in support of a man facing foreclosure despite claims his payments were not behind and that Saxon had mislaid his property tax payments. After an hour, Andre Duncan of the Collin County suburb of Anna, north of McKinney, emerged from an office block off Meacham Boulevard, greeted the demonstrators from the community group ACORN and said a Saxon vice president had postponed the foreclosure for 60 days and a requirement that he pay $8,500 by Jan. 10. “If they hadn’t, I told them there would more ACORN demonstrations and I would put something up on YouTube,” said Duncan, who works for a digital advertising agency. (star-telegram.com)

Labor-state judge favors AFSCME ... The Finkbeiner administration sent out more than 1,000 layoff notices yesterday to Toledo (OH) city employees for a citywide shutdown that could last for up to a week of all nonsafety service employees. "The number of days has yet to be determined, but the first workday [of the layoff] would be Tuesday, Feb. 17, since that Monday is a holiday," said Robert Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's chief of staff. "It will certainly be through that week. Whether it extends into the next week is yet to be determined." The move is expected to save the city $2 million, Mr. Reinbolt said. Mayor Finkbeiner on Dec. 23 announced the weeklong layoff of nonessential city workers. The mayor said he disagreed with a decision that week by arbitrator Robert Stein, who ruled three one-day furloughs - Nov. 26, Dec. 26, and Dec. 31 - violated city contracts with American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Locals 7 and 2058 and International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 20. The February shutdown will exclude police officers, firefighters, and essential employees at the water treatment plant and the water reclamation plant, and possibly refuse collectors. Eighty-two nonunion city of Toledo workers spent Friday on an unpaid day off work. That furlough applied only to nonunion workers per the arbitrator's decision. The arbitrator also ordered the city to compensate the 105 union members furloughed Nov. 26. The 82 nonunion workers given furloughs will not be compensated. (toledoblade.com)

International Collectivism

Pursuit of happiness curbed in workers' paradise ... The Venezuelan government cut in half the legal limit on dollars that Venezuelans can buy at the official exchange rate for travel abroad, a new sign that the governments expects to receive less U.S. currency next year because of the drop in oil prices. In 2009, Venezuelans will be allowed to spend $2,500 abroad, down from the 2008 limit of $5,000, the government said in an official press release. Slashing the dollar quota for travelers is the first measure introduced by the government of President Hugo Chávez to confront a difficult economic picture in 2009 as the price of oil, the source of more than 50% of the government's revenues and 90% of its exports, has plunged in recent months. (fxstreet.com)

Socialist Cuba at 50: Chávez in, Morales out ... Cuba plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its socialist revolution later Thursday in a somewhat subdued mood, in the face of the worldwide financial crisis and ongoing recovery from three consecutive hurricanes. Raul Castro, 77, who has run the country since Castro's illness and became president in February 2008, will deliver the main speech in the historically significant city of Santiago de Cuba, in the southwest of the Caribbean island. t's unclear which foreign leaders will attend the celebrations. Bolivia's left-wing President Evo Morales, who originally was to come with his entire cabinet, cancelled. The populist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, another close friend of Cuba's who seeks to take over Fidel's ideological leadership of the Latin American left, has not confirmed his intention to attend. (topnews.in)

Chávez marginalizes minnows ... The smaller parties in the Patriotic Alliance behind President Hugo Chávez are at a crossroads as Venezuela goes into a new year which could yet see him winning the right to successive or "indefinite" re-election. The social democrats at Podemos are already deemed to be beyond the pale as far as Chávez is concerned. The jury's still out, to one degree or another, for the other minnows such as Patria Para Todos (PPT), the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), Gente Emergente and a flock of tiny regional parties. Podemos was the first chavista party to disown the idea of disappearing into Chávez' plan to merge all his supporters into one single monolithic United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). "We aren't a revolutionary opposition or a messianic revolution," declared Rafael Uzcátegui, a top official at PPT. "We're revolutionaries and socialists," he added. Uzcátegui went on to make several points of minutiae about PPT's commitment to the collective principle rather than individual leadership. That in itself was revealing about the degree of confusion the minnows have largely brought upon themselves. For if ever there was a single individual top dog in present day Venezuelan politics it's got to be Chávez. (laht.com)
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