Saturday wrap

The New Rules: SEIU wealth, power, celebrity, prestige ... Public employees don’t get Christmas bonuses (at least, they’re not supposed to) but the pensions are pretty good and the legislature keeps sweetening them on request. Isn’t it the least that senators and assembly members can do after accepting contributions from state and municipal labor unions year after year? ... We are well into a Regency period in local politics: rule by wealth, power, celebrity and prestige. Whether this is better or worse than the old style of rule by crooks and political bosses is something we will discover as time passes. (yonkerstribune.typepad.com)

Related video from Yonkers, NY:

Can states protect workers from Congressional union thugs? ... An effort has been launched to counter an impending move by the Democratic-controlled Congress to eliminate the secret ballot rights of union employees. A group called Save Our Secret Ballot has initiated a campaign to amend state constitutions in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, and Utah to require secret ballots for employees choosing representation.Ernest Istook, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, is the SOS National Advisory Board chairman. He says the issue of secret ballots is not just a freedom issue, but a civil rights issue as well. "It's sad that in a time when Americans have fought for the right for people to elect their own leadership by a secret ballot in places such as Iraq, we have the U.S. Congress trying to undercut that right -- at least when it comes to members of unions," says the former lawmaker. (onenewsnow.com)

Shame on deceptive AFL-CIO poser ... Seth Michaels over at AFL-CIO Now is bragging that the unions have finally found a “businessman” in favor of the deceptively-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). What a joke. Michaels’ “businessman” is Joe Diecedue, who is the Arkansas state agent for the American Income Life Insurance Co. (AILI). What Michaels conveniently doesn’t mention is that AILI insures more than 9 million union members ($45 billion in assets) and is the labor movement’s insurer-of-choice. Passage of EFCA would likely add millions of newly-minted union members to AILI’s rolls. Whether it’s Decedue, or his boss, Roger Smith, calling for passage of EFCA, their pedigree as “businessmen” is questionable at best. (laborpains.org)

Dem Job-Killer Act: Of, by, and for union bigs ... So comes the question: Is what is best for unions also best for the working man and woman? We have a hard time seeing this to be true in this case. ... Removing the provision allowing for an employer to ask for a secret ballot is so wrongheaded that even union-leaning men and women should see it as a sham and a power grab by union leadership, not something designed with their interests in mind. We favor secret-ballot elections after all the facts are known. Not only do we oppose the measure before Congress, but we favor recent efforts to put a right to a secret ballot into the Missouri Constitution. The union leaders claim intimidation by employers; the employers claim intimidation by the unions. A secret ballot is the best answer to both concerns. (stjoenews.net)

Andy Stern to dismantle California SEIU unit ... Opponents, and in particular Sal Rosselli, the president of United Healthcare Workers-West, lambaste the international union president, Andy Stern, for what Rosselli says is a top-down management style that does not engage workers. He said Stern's practice is to negotiate contracts with weakened worker provisions in exchange for employers' willingness not to stand in the way of union organizing efforts. "We have found international officers' unchecked power was causing deals with employers without involving workers or local union leaders that adversely affected our workers," said Rosselli. "SEIU has evolved into a dictatorship in which Andy Stern and others have consolidated power and decision-making authority and resources among a few. It's top-down versus our bottom-up. So we are coming from opposite points of view." ... For its part, the SEIU has accused Rosselli and other leaders of United Healthcare Workers-West of "financial malpractice," allegedly diverting $3 million in dues for the personal and political benefit of the leadership. A seven-day administrative hearing looking into the matter was held this summer, conducted by former Labor Secretary Ray Marshall. His decision whether the Oakland local should be taken over in a trusteeship is pending. Rosselli says the charge is bogus. (sfgate.com)

Workers in solidarity against UAW abuse ... Regarding the story "Workers seek break with UAW" (Press, Dec. 24): Factory worker Dawn Lambert said she wasn't surprised to hear plenty of gripes about their United Auto workers pact. Their dissatisfaction caused them to petition to decertify from the union. She said their union steward also signed. It seems their only act of solidarity at this local is to decertify. (mlive.com)

Dues hit for Ohio Teamsters ... Roadway Express, which operates two truck terminals in Toledo, has filed notice with the state that it intends to layoff 160 employees at its facility at 6180 Hagman Rd. The company, in a required filing under the Ohio Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, said this week that the layoffs will start on March 1 and that some of the affected employees are represented by Teamsters Local 20. Others are non-union clerical staff and management personnel. The layoffs are due to a merger, announced in September, between Roadway and its sister company, Yellow Transportation, which are both owned by YRC Worldwide. A company official said the local terminal will become a regional operation under the new division, which will be called Yellow Roadway. YRC has indicated it might need to close 200 overlapping trucking terminals in the U.S. as it combines Yellow and Roadway. (toledoblade.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez embraces Mugabe ... Venezuela is sending food, water and medicine to Zimbabwe to tackle a cholera epidemic that has killed over 1500 people. Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami says Venezuela will send rescue workers with 74 tons of humanitarian aid. President Hugo Chávez, last month, expressed full support for embattled President Robert Mugabe. (news.scotsman.com)

Chávez salutes Cuba, Bolívar ... Although January 1st is not a national holiday in Venezuela, the doors of the National Pantheon, the site where the remains of illustrious Venezuelans, including Simón Bolívar, are housed, were open to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. At 12:38 p.m. the cameras of state-run TV network Venezolana de Televisión focused on President Hugo Chávez, some members of his cabinet, some governors and a special guest: Ramiro Valdés, a Commander of the Cuban revolution. "Tell Fidel (Castro) that from today the Cuban flag will be hoisted alongside these other flags because Cuba is a part of this homeland, of this nation. We have cried for Cuba, we fight for Cuba and we are ready to die if we have to die for a revolutionary Cuba," Chávez said before insisting, "Commander Ramiro, tell Fidel (Castro) that from today the Cuban flag will be hoisted inside this building next to the flags of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Panama." (english.eluniversal.com)
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