Friday wrap

Dem Congress to pump raw sewage into nation's workplaces ... The AFL-CIO advanced an argument detailing why a "majority sign-up" is the best option for preserving "the freedom of working people." Below is a syllogism that encapsulates an argument found on the AFL-CIO website.
1. The workplace environment has been poisoned by browbeating employers.
2. This poisoning has led to an environment devoid of fair and free choice.
3. A secret ballot election does not undo the coercion of employers.
4. Therefore, Congress should pass a bill that mandates union formation by a simple majority of employee signatures.
A Critique of the Union Argument
Premise 1 is not a real concern. I see no reason to quibble over hyperbole.
Premise 2 is fallacious. A poisoned work environment would certainly make it tricky for a worker to vote their conscience, but it does not eliminate an employee's free choice. We already know that unions win 55% of their secret ballot elections, so premise 2 cannot be true.
Premise 3 appears to be good, but it presents somewhat of a straw man. I don't think anyone would expect that a secret ballot election could entirely "undo" employer coercion. This is too high of an expectation. However, this doesn't mean secret ballots should be dismissed either.
Also, there is nothing to suggest that a card check system would be equally sufficient or even superior at resolving a hostile work environment. It is my contention that whatever protective measures the Employee Free Choice Act intends to put into place in order to safeguard employees from harassment can also be done without discarding the secret ballot process. The cliché "throwing the baby out with the bath water" fits nicely here. Not only is the AFL-CIO attempting to throw out the baby with the bath water, they are trying to replace the water with sewage. (intellectualconservative.com)

Workers, dim your lights: Here come the union good squads ... A witness before the House Education and Labor Committee in the last Congress cited the tactics used by union organizers. Jen Jason, a former organizer for UNITE-HERE, a union that represents nearly a million workers and retirees in the textile, lodging, food service and manufacturing industries, described a "blitz," a regular practice in which union organizers show up unannounced at the homes of workers, whose personal information and home addresses are obtained from license plates and other sources. During such visits, organizers are instructed not to show workers an actual union contract and to avoid such issues as dues increases and strike histories. "I began my career with UNITE with a strong belief in workers’ rights and democracy in the workplace," Jason said. "During the course of my employment with the union, I began to understand the reality behind the rhetoric. I took in the ways that organizers were manipulating workers just to get a majority on ‘the cards’ and the various strategies that they employed. I began to appreciate that promises made by organizers at a worker’s house had little to do with how the union actually functions as a ‘service’ organization." (startribune.com)

Bam OK's harmful union Pay-to-Play power-grab ... The entire American system is based on respect for individual liberty. If Congress passes this proposal, it will strip away the protections that federally protected, democratic elections provide for American workers. In fact, unions elect their leaders via private ballot, as do the political parties in Congress – shouldn’t workers be afforded the same right? Employees should not have to reveal to anyone how they exercise their right to choose whether to organize with their co-workers in a union. Moving to a card-check process rather than a federally supervised election tramples on employee rights. Indeed, surveys show that the vast majority of union members oppose the card check bill and the loss of their right to a secret ballot. Whatever concerns some may have about the NLRB’s decisions concerning workers’ rights on the one hand, nothing justifies stripping them of their privacy and exposing them to intimidation. As someone who is invested in my community and state, creating jobs in the restaurant industry, I listen carefully to those who build with me toward success – our employees. I bow to no one in my support for workers. This legislative power grab is the work of special interests in Washington, D.C., and it is not in the interests of the dedicated, hard-working professionals I see every day. It will harm workers, it will harm small businesses, and it will harm our state. The decision whether to unionize a small business or not should never hinge on such a corruptible, tainted process. (uticaod.com)

The Era of Communist Struggle is Over ... Martin Luther King was closely aligned to the Communist philosophy if not the Communist Party. King’s very friendly biographer, David J. Garrow admitted, “King privately described himself as a Marxist.” In his book, he quotes King as saying to his SCLC staff: “We have moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution….The whole structure of American life must be changed….We are engaged in the class struggle.” Of course, those words are right out the Communist handbook. Need I remind you that it was illegal to be a Communist in those days? The Communist Party was dedicated to overthrow our Constitution and way of life. It was a life and death struggle. (expertclick.com)

Spread-the-wealth politics corrupts money ... Despite funding the majority of his presidential run with paltry $5 donations from everyday Americans, President-elect Barack Obama has had a slew of billionaire backers with him on his journey to the White House--plutocrats who provide economic and political advice and help to raise money. Lots of money. Since campaign contributions are capped at $2,300 per individual and donations to the Inaugural Committee have a $50,000 limit per person, most billionaires help out by serving as "bundlers"--well-connected folks who help gather donations from family, co-workers and associates. (forbes.com)

Lack of honesty defines socialistic policy ... Let’s be honest: Anybody who has seen a work crew on an interstate knows full well that the federal highway program is a poster child for pork-barrel spending. Owing to lax oversight, public works projects have always been plagued by delays, corruption, shoddy workmanship and cost overruns. Remember Boston’s “Big Dig’’? Because Congress likely will require contractors to pay union scale — the euphemism is “prevailing wages’’ — the costs of the projects will be bloated, even if the stimulus package doesn’t lead to sensational scandals. While unionized workers may benefit, union wages will price less-skilled workers out of construction jobs, meaning that many of the “new’’ hires will replace other workers, producing something significantly less than an employment boom. In addition, Obama’s proposed massive transfer of resources to the construction industry will shift funding away from other potentially more-valuable uses. America’s future is still the knowledge industries, not road building. The truth is government cannot “create’’ jobs or wealth in one sector of the economy without destroying them in others. Look no further than the old New Deal for proof. Despite all the credit given to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s bold experimentation in confronting the economic freefall of the Great Depression, prosperity didn’t return to the United States until after World War II. (pantagraph.com)

Feds to pay $400K/job

Capitalists stubbornly unresponsive to socialist economics ... The result of all this newly-created money is that the Fed’s own balance sheet -- which took 90 years to reach the first $800 billion -- is now well on the way to $3 trillion, and that’s all money created out of thin air. Consequently over the next 6 months, look for the Fed to bail out ever more failing financial institutions -- starting with another multi-billion-dollar kick to the near-bankrupt Bank of America. This second round of funny money will be followed by a third and perhaps more, until we’ll all be swimming in a sea of dollar bills. As the recession bites deeper, the velocity of money -- how fast we spend it -- slows precipitously, and huge doses of more raw money are perceived by the money controllers as the only way to pull us out of this government-created mess. What else can they do? The Austrian economist Murray Rothbard revealed the simple answer in his "History of Money and Banking". Politicians everywhere need to read it immediately. Professor Bernanke is a genuinely likeable person with a good sense of humor and a deep knowledge of how the financial world really works. He was warmly received by the LSE students and faculty in London. Unfortunately, he is also the head of the biggest fiat-banking scheme ever devised by mankind. And he knows it. (Thank you John Pierpont Morgan for your Jekyll Island creation.) (humanevents.com)

Bam Cabinet appointee's Pay-to-Play deal with SEIU curbed by GOP ... The process to unionize state employees under a recent executive order by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano has ground to a virtual halt amid legal questions and confusion. Until recent days, local unions were sprinting to organize more than 25,000 state employees under the meet-and-confer order signed by Napolitano late last year. The Service Employees International Union and other groups hoped to conduct representative elections in nearly every eligible agency prior to the end of this month, with Napolitano's resignation and the ascension of a new governor, a Republican, in the offing. During those elections, state employees are to select their chosen union representative who would meet regularly with agency management regarding workplace issues. But House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, and Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, are challenging the legality of the process established by Napolitano's order. In a Jan. 5 letter to Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Adams and Burns assert that no procedures have been established for the elections. Additionally, the letter suggests that the order and any election procedures must be pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department, just as any changes to Arizona election law must be pre-cleared. (azcentral.com)

Union-only Pay-to-Play upheld in Garden State ... The state Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of New Jersey's pay-to-play law preventing companies that make political contributions from receiving special treatment in winning state contracts. In the first major test of the law in state court, the seven justices unanimously affirmed a June ruling of a state appeals court and declined to write a full opinion of their own. (nj.com)

Union-backed green pork offends L.A. ... If you've been paying attention, you know by now that Measure B on the March 3 city ballot has nothing to do with solar energy. It's a blank check for City Hall corruption that will send rates soaring, create more jobs in China than L.A. and lead to less solar energy than promised. It's nothing but a back room deal, a smokescreen trick to use something everyone wants to cover up a power grab by the mayor and City Council through a City Charter reform that allows them for the first time ever to overrule a vote of the people by a simple majority vote of the council. Instead what we have before is a plan concocted by the DWP's all-powerful IBEW union boss Brian D'Arcy -- the man who single-handedly has thwarted solar energy developments in L.A. and now wants a total monopoly. Remember, the city set a goal a decade ago of 100 megawatts of solar power in L.A. in 2010. Well, it's 2009 and we have 12 megawatts -- only a third of that coming under the leadership of wannabe California governor Antonio Villaraigosa. D'Arcy is a bully boy who bludgeoned our weak-kneed city officials into railroading his phony plan through in just three weeks without study or meaningful public discussion. Watch Councilman Bill Rosendahl admitting publicly last weekend he voted to put Measure B on the ballot without knowing the first thing about it, having no clue about whether he's for or against. His colleagues didn't know either -- in no small part because Council President kept a devastatingly critical report secret from them for seven weeks. (citywatchla.com)

Andy Stern buries union democracy ... The conflicts in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are reaching breaking point, pitting the rank and file SEIU members of the United Healthcare Workers (UHW) local in California against their leaders in Washington D.C. The SEIU international executive board voted on January 9th to take away 65,000 of the 150,000 members of the giant West Coast local. Those being ordered to join a new local are workers involved in long term care of the elderly and the disabled. In response to the Washington D.C. leadership action, workers from dozens of California hospitals, nursing homes and home care units have petitioned for a disaffiliation vote – to leave SEIU. This is a powerful statement in the face of dictatorial methods used by SEIU President Andy Stern against their local union. For months Stern threatened the California local with trusteeship– principally the removal of popular local officers, especially UHW president Sal Roselli. There are two principles at stake for union workers. The first one is democracy. (fightbacknews.org)

SEIU agent outed, removed from management board ... A month after participating in a one-day protest in support of teachers, a parent was ousted from an Options Preschool Parent Board in West Covina (CA) ... Deputy Executive Director Dolores Meade would not say if Madrid's participation in a boycott with 200 other parents on Dec. 15 played a role in her dismissal. The parents kept their kids home for a day in protest of teachers' rights. "I am assuming the person who brought the motion forward felt Vanessa was not following the rules she is expected to follow," Meade said. "What role her participation in the boycott had? I can not speak to that." Meade would not disclose who made the motion or disclose the names of any of the parent council members. Madrid's dismissal comes in the midst of the teachers' union - Service Employees International Union Local 99 - negotiating a new contract with Options officials. "We want the parent to be reinstated," said Terry Carter, spokeswoman for SEIU Local 99. "The ultimate goal is a fair contract with very basic protections." But Options officials said the union is using Madrid as a leverage in negotiation talks. (sgvtribune.com)

School choice overcomes charter barrier ... Teachers at two New York charter schools plan to join the United Federation of Teachers, saying the decision was based on the demands of their jobs and their desire to have more input within their schools. "We have often said that the charter school movement and unionization are things that can easily be harmonized," said Randi Weingarten, the president of the union. "They saw that the way they get their voice and have input is through collective bargaining." (smartbrief.com)

Why Leftist racketeers detest tradition ... A conference will be held this weekend at UCSB discussing the history of the intense, systematic hostility American conservatives have displayed against unions. The keynote speaker, Fred Feinstein, will talk about his experiences dealing with this issue firsthand for 17 years on Capitol Hill, after which he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. The conference was organized by the UCSB Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Feinstein described the conservative hostility as, “A consistent, steadfast, unified opposition … to union rights and growth initiatives.” Among the claims made by conservatives and employers against unions is that they are inherently corrupt, unnecessary, bad for the economy, and inefficient. Nelson Lichtenstein is the director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy, and co-organized the conference with Elizabeth Shermer. On the other hand, conservatives claim that unions are inherently corrupt and use “thuggish union organizers” to intimidate workers to sign union cards, according to Lichtenstein. “One thing the conference will explore is the definition of racketeering,” he said. He added that racketeering was invented in the Progressive era as a way of attacking the unions that sought to make wages and prices level across the market. He said that the criminal definition has expanded dramatically through the courts since then. (independent.com)

NYT News Union alive and well ... The embattled New York Times just raised Web staff salaries by an average 12 percent. According to a Bloomberg report, the adjustments are meant to put Times Web staff on a more equal footing, pay-wise, with print staff. Why would a company with junk-rated debt, fresh off its first-ever major layoffs, pour more money into salaries? It's not like the job market is all that great. And the raises are retroactive to March. Wow. The answer lies with the Newspaper Guild, which negotiated a three-year contract covering about 100 online staff. (gawker.com)

News Union triggers tree-killer bankruptcy ... Less than two years after it was bought by a private equity group, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota's largest newspaper, has filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy laws. "We determined that the filing was necessary to reduce our operating costs, restructure our debt and create a financially viable business for the future," Publisher Chris Harte said in a note to readers posted on the newspaper's website late Thursday. The filing came a week after the Star Tribune and the Newspaper Guild ended talks, saying they were unable to agree on management's request for concessions. (latimes.com)

AFSCME, Dems try to outfox GOP lawmakers ... The 13 member unions of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition say the GOP legislators' proposal is "a clear attack on their ability to negotiate with their employer." But Connecticut House GOP leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk said lawmakers need time to consider how the arbitrated agreement will affect the overall effort to bridge this year's $343 million deficit and a $6 billion estimated shortfall over the next two years. The legislature has only 30 days to act on such arbitrated settlements, which make up a large portion of the overall state budget. "If we don't pass this legislation, we will be locked into billions of dollars in personnel expenses and increases before the budgetcutting process even begins," Cafero said. (internetcommunications.tmcnet.com)

Hopenchange Forever ... Maybe I’m just being too cynical, but somehow I doubt that Rep. José Serrano introduced HJ Res 5 in order to allow George W Bush to run for a third term in office. One week ago, the New York Democrat introduced a measure to repeal the 22nd Amendment, which provides the only term limit on federal office — the Presidency. The amendment, added in 1951, restricts anyone from seeking a third term in office, and Serrano wants that repealed. Why now? Apparently, the notion of Hope and Change has overwhelmed Serrano to the point that he just can’t stand to see Barack Obama limited to two terms in office. Never mind the fact that Obama has yet to start his first term, and no one knows yet whether he’d get re-elected in 2012. Maybe it’s that New Deal vibe; Serrano may want to prepare the way for a more tangible comparison between Obama and FDR in 2016 and 2020. (hotair.com)

International Collectivism

U.S. bows to Chávez ... The charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas met here Thursday with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro to discuss bilateral relations, the American mission said. John Caulfield appreciated "the opportunity to hold this frank and cordial discussion," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement, while the Venezuelan Foreign Minister has yet to comment. The talks came a day after the charge d'affaires denied accusations that he recently traveled to Puerto Rico to plot with opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In Thursday's meeting, the U.S. diplomat reiterated his desire that there will be "more dialogue and greater cooperation between the two countries with the inauguration of a new president of the United States," the statement said. (laht.com)

Iranians need Hope, Change

Latin socialist Presidents confer ... Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is to open Thursday along with Bolivian peer Evo Morales two stretches of the inter-oceanic highway route. Lula and Morales will attend in the Bolivian city of Puerto Juarez the ceremony of delivery of the Arroyo Concepcion-El Carmen and El Carmen-Robore stretches. Those sections are part of the inter-oceanic passway conceived and started as a common integrationist effort by presidents of Brazil, Bolivia and Chile in 2007. After a lunch with President Morales, Lula will travel to Maracaibo, where he will hold talks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. This concern a visit programmed in agenda of the three-month presidential meetings started in 2007, to boost bilateral cooperation, the ministry stated. The aim is to talk on housing, bank, agricultural, industrial, energy areas, bordering integration, as well as regional and international issues. (plenglish.com)

Chávez lures capitalist lambs to slaughter ... “I have said it already; I am convinced that the way to build a new and better world is not capitalism.” President Hugo Chávez said in 2005. “Capitalism leads us straight to hell.” With a planet in economic peril and oil prices falling exponentially, President Hugo Chávez is now calling on capitalism to help stabilize an ailing oil market and a decline in domestic oil production in Venezuela, according to Simon Romero for the New York Times. Energy executives and industry consultants have told reporters that Venezuela has begun propositioning bids from large Western oil companies, such as Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France. After Chávez nationalized most public sectors in Venezuela – like steel manufacturing and agriculture – oil became the number one export, at 93 percent, leaving many of his domestic plans solely in the hands of oil production. As reported by Romero for the New York Times, since Chavez took office, oil production has gone down about 100,000 barrels a day. (tothecenter.com)

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