1/22/09

Thursday wrap

Andy Stern escalates ugly SEIU turf war ... A top official of the SEIU on Wednesday flew to California as part of the organization's effort to remove a dissident local leader. It is the latest move by the union giant to reorganize and gain control of local affiliates. Top union officials are seeking to remove Sal Rosselli, the head of the United Healthcare Workers-West in Oakland, Calif., for allegedly engaging in a pattern of financial malpractice, including improperly diverting $3 million to fund a campaign against the international union. Mr. Rosselli denied any wrongdoing and has said the fund was proper and intended to be used to promote changes to the health-care system. The SEIU also alleged that as many as 50 members of the Oakland UHW pushed their way into an SEIU office Tuesday in neighboring Alameda. An SEIU spokeswoman said the dissidents "harassed and assaulted the staff, stole materials and damaged office equipment," and that a second incident followed Wednesday at the SEIU's Los Angeles office. (online.wsj.com)

Related video: SEIU punk'd by UHW



Bam eyes P2P from union embezzlers ... Obama's freeze order requires agencies to re-examine pending rules changes not yet published in the Federal Register. For items recently published in the register, the effective date can be postponed for several weeks, the order said. Other proposals now under review would: Increase financial reporting requirements for labor unions. The Bush administration said the change would discourage embezzlement of union funds, but labor groups say it would impose unnecessary burdens. (google.com)


Labor-state shame: Union-backed Oregon A.G. to probe union-backed Portland Mayor ... After admitting he lied to cover up a sexual affair with a young man, the gay mayor of a major city with a reputation for liberal politics is about to find out how tolerant his constituents really are. Portland Mayor Sam Adams admitted this week he lied to cover up his relationship with Beau Breedlove because a potential mayoral candidate had spread rumors that Adams had sex with a minor. Adams says he lied because he was afraid voters wouldn’t believe that his young lover had turned 18 before they started having sex. Adams was 42 and Breedlove a 17-year-old legislative intern when they met in 2005. Both say their relationship did not become sexual until after Breedlove turned 18, the legal age of consent as an adult. Barraged with criticism, the potential candidate didn’t run, and Adams won election. He took office on New Year’s Day, making Portland the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor. On Wednesday, three Portland newspapers and the city police union called for his resignation, while Oregon Attorney General John Kroger agreed to an investigation. (tdn.com)


Bush's going-away gift to union bigs ... The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) today announced that on Jan. 21 a final regulation will be published in the Federal Register to update the Form LM-2. The changes will ensure that relevant information on union finances is provided to rank-and-file union members to better ensure transparency and accountability as required by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The final rule continues the administration's commitment to transparency and accountability for corporations, pension funds and labor unions. (workerscompensation.com)


New Dem Sens on Job-Killer Act



Congressional union thugs don't need Bam ... Now that President Obama is settling into office, there is an issue Democrats will be forced to face: Is card check certification Obama's Hillary Care? The answer to this question will have profound consequences for the Democratic Party, the labor movement that invested huge sums of money in the 2008 election, and U.S. workers more broadly. Much has been made about the fact the team that managed the transition for President Obama studied the successes and failures of the Clinton presidency. President Clinton was seen to overreach in his first two years by pursuing initiatives such as Hillary Care, which proposed to nationalize health care. The voters severely punished the Democrats in the 1994 midterm elections by handing control of the Senate and more notably the House of Representatives to the Republicans for the first time since 1954. (dailynews.com)


Bam FBI may drop long-running P2P probe ... It looks like the bad news is not over yet, as the FBI closes in on a three-year investigation of the municipal bond industry. This investigation prompted New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to withdraw from his nomination as Commerce Secretary while a probe into his major financial PAC contributor obtaining an inside track to a state project was announced. A collection of federal agencies, and a group of state attorneys general, have gathered evidence, according to the New York Times, of what appears to be collusion among banks and companies that helped state and local governments take about $400 billion in municipal notes and bonds to market each year. Charles Anderson, who retired as a manager of tax-exempt bond field operations for the Internal Revenue Service in 2007, told the New York Times, "It's rare to sell a senate seat, but it's not rare to sell a bond deal. Pay-to-play in the municipal bond market is epidemic." An antitrust lawyer involved in the investigation, Michael D. Hausfeld, told the press the bond market is "one of the longest-running, most economically pervasive antitrust conspiracies ever to be uncovered in the U.S." (times-standard.com)


P2P ban urged for U.S. bailouts ... There is a very simple way to keep it clean. The Congress can legislate, or the President, though his the treasury department can, by executive or agency order, follow the example of a Clinton era policy started with SEC Rule G-37, and enacted in 8 states and many major cities. "Pay to Play" restrictions on political kickbacks would require those who make the choice to seek and accept government bailout funds to refrain from funneling that money back to their political cronies. "Pay to Play" bailout protections would make companies that get bailouts agree, as a condition to the bailout, not to make political donations until they have paid back every dime of the taxpayers' money. Such rules would also close loopholes that allow clever circumvention techniques to launder taxpayer's money though conduits into candidates and political parties; PACs, major stockholders, officers, directors, key employees, and their family members are often no more than strawman donors to political campaigns. The right to make campaign donations does not include doing so on the taxpayer’s dime. (netrightnation.com)


IAM strikers bitter in Tennessee ... "There's a scab," sneers Darrell Davis, his mouth forming the four-letter word with the same distaste he might display pronouncing "liberal." A long horn has just sounded within the Vought Aircraft factory. Shift change. A line of cars with out-of-state plates—Texas, California, Florida, all strikebreakers—disperses from a patch of asphalt ignominiously designated by a sign that reads "SCAB parking lot," placed by striking members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 735. Vought managers allegedly pleaded with workers to sign the contract, apparently realizing Carlyle wouldn't budge. The union instead voted to strike. They traded paychecks that averaged $700 to $800 a week for a meager $150 a week in strike pay, fearing they would lose much more if they agreed to Vought's demands. (nashvillescene.com)


Labor-state strikers: No cookies ... On strike for the last five months, the workers have not been intimidated by the recent frigid weather. Every day, they walk the picket line, and they vow to keep it up for as long as it takes to win a fair contract. Braving the bitter elements and chanting, "No contract, no cookies!" these 136 striking men and women are fighting to protect their jobs and their right to unionize. But how long they will have to be out in the cold is anybody's guess. The workers, many of them Latina women and immigrants from Asia and Africa, are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union Local 50. They have been without a contract since July 2008. The union called the strike on Aug. 13, after the owners, Brynwood Partners, a private equity firm based in Connecticut, walked out of contract negotiations. "They are trying to destroy the union," said Rafael Sención, a community activist and member of the Committee in Support of the Stella D'Oro Strikers. A company spokesman denied the allegation, arguing that Stella D'oro is not profitable. "To make it profitable requires restructuring the business, including reducing its labor costs," the spokesman said. (nydailynews.com)


SEIU pulls plug on union organizers ... Union officials have postponed an election set for today at Good Samaritan Hospital after what they call disruptive anti-union behavior by hospital officials. Workers in the hospital's professional unit, which includes such positions as lab technologists, lab therapists, pharmacists and social workers, were to vote on whether to be represented by health-care workers union SEIU 1199. No new date has been set for the election yet, but union officials say the postponement was necessary because of aggressive anti-union activities by hospital officials, including "bombarding" workers with misleading anti-union fliers and pressing clergy into service to persuade workers to vote against unionizing. (recordonline.com)


U.S. Supreme Court backs jumbo fat-cat SEIU over workers ... The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously upheld the right of a Maine public employees' union to force government workers who are not union members to pay a share of legal fees. The ruling involves a small fraction of the fee that local affiliates pay to national unions for litigation that may not directly benefit the locals. The fees were challenged by some non-union members who were represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Inc. The Maine State Employees Association, affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, represents workers in contract negotiations with the state. The court has previously held that people who choose not to join the union still must pay fees to the union because they too are covered by collective bargaining. But there are some activities, including politics and lobbying, for which unions may not charge nonmembers. The question for the court was whether national litigation costs are among the forbidden charges. (fosters.com)


Spouse of SEIU-backed Blago loses P2P job ... Just months after launching a new career as a fundraiser for a Chicago homeless agency, Illinois First Lady Patricia Blagojevich has been fired. On Tuesday, the board of the Chicago Christian Industrial League exercised the termination clause in Blagojevich's contract with the agency, interim Executive Director Mary Shaver confirmed Wednesday. Shaver said she could not discuss why the board fired Blagojevich because it is a personnel issue. (chicagotribune.com)


Whatever happened to union-backed voter fraud group? ... I’m amazed that the difference between Bush’s and this pre-inauguration time is so vast. Remember eight years ago the press and the media were putting out so many stories about the disenfranchised, hanging chads, potential voter fraud and stolen elections? Contrast that to today! None of the stories about ACORN have really hung around for long, even though there was shown to be monumental interference and the likelihood of fraud. Even the angle that ACORN has received taxpayer funds does not make it a bigger issue. (delawareonline.com)


University strikers smacked down ... The damage caused by striking staff at Toronto's York University goes well beyond the added difficulty its 50,000 undergraduates will face in completing the academic year. The strike, now in its third month, is hurting the image and reputation of the school, perhaps permanently. In a year when applications at Ontario universities are rising, almost 11% fewer students have sought a place at York. The strike reflects badly on the union, in particular. The 3,340 striking CUPE members rejected a pay and benefits increase of 10.7%, a reasonable offer at a time when tens of thousands of Canadians face pay cuts or lost jobs. (nationalpost.com)


P2P Dem Gov turns to Green Pork for cover ... Gov. Bill Richardson is calling on the Legislature to look beyond the state's immediate budget crisis and to push forward with governmental programs, investments and tax cuts that can help create jobs for New Mexicans. "Our task this session is not just to cut spending, pass two budgets and go home," the Democratic governor said Tuesday in his State of State speech to a joint session of the Legislature. "Our task must be to keep building a vibrant, optimistic New Mexico that looks over the horizon with hope and anticipation." The Legislature convened for a 60-day session as the state confronts its worst financial outlook in decades: a $450 million budget deficit this year and the prospect of no new revenues to pay for the growth of general government and public education in the next fiscal year. House Republican Whip Keith Gardner of Roswell said the governor's spending initiatives amounted to a "credit card plan." (elpasotimes.com)


Bam's Big Gov't P2P billionaires seek room with a view ... "When the government gets as big and powerful as it is, people with influence will maneuver to become a part of the process," said David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, a Washington D.C.- based think tank. However Boaz believes that this will not pose an image problem for President-elect Obama. "Obama has been so successful in raising money from both small and large contributors, and once we get past the inauguration fundraising, (billionaires chipping in) won't be an issue," said Boaz. "What could become an issue down the road is if we find a lot of wealthy people renting a room at the White House" like so many famous moneymen did during the years of the Clinton administration. (channelnewsasia.com)


Naked P2P by Beantown's union-backed Mayor ... For some weeks now, while Bostonians have been dodging pink slips more than meter maids, Mayor Menino has been lambasted in media reports for what could be described as pay-to-play, Boston style. In good times the chronicles of mayoral self-indulgence would serve as merely annoying. But at a point in history when we all feel like we’re living a real life version of that iconic T.V. series, The Waltons, the news of one million dollars in Menino’s political cash being lavished on the payroll patriots, and of his highly paid detective son enjoying the benefits of what some are perceiving as a no-show job with a development company that regularly begs for mayoral favors is just too naked for any apologetic press release to cover up. (mysouthend.com)


Socialist marks labor-state gov't union blues ... Rhode Island teachers are also facing a union-busting attack that could set a nasty precedent. Rhode Island has one of the highest unionization rates in the country, and public school teachers are 100 percent organized, with strong contracts and job protections, relatively high salaries, and good health and retirement benefits. This makes us a prime target for the Carcieris of the state. Should we simply work under expired contracts, keeping our heads down and riding out the storm? Some argue that this approach, though it would mean no pay raise (for those not receiving step raises in the first 10 years of teaching), would at least avoid the possibility of concessions on our health care co-pays. But the problem is that by avoiding direct struggle, even in bad conditions, we leave the initiative in the hands of the public sector bosses. The East Providence example shows that we can't trust them to let us slide by. (socialistworker.org)


After all, Karl Marx coined the word 'capitalism' ... 2009-2010 will rank with 1913-14, 1933-36, 1964-65 and 1981-82 as years that will permanently change our government, politics and lives. Just as the stars were aligned for Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson and Reagan, they are aligned for Obama. Simply put, we enter his administration as free-enterprise, market-dominated, laissez-faire America. We will shortly become like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, or Sweden -- a socialist democracy in which the government dominates the economy, determines private-sector priorities and offers a vastly expanded range of services to many more people at much higher taxes. (realclearpolitics.com)


International Collectivism

Latin socialists thick as thieves ... Argentinean President Cristina Fernández extolled today the democratic nature of the Cuban Revolution, whose contribution to Latin American integration she called on to perpetuate. "The Revolution is a great democratic exercise", the head of state affirmed after talking here to several Argentinean students of the Latin American School of Medical Science (ELAM). Fernandez arrived at the school accompanied by her peer and host Raul Castro, with whom she talked extensively before going both to the theater where 400 students of Medicine and Physical Education awaited them. Fernandez thanked the people and government of Cuba for the formation of these future doctors who will contribute to Argentina's social development and the Latin American integration process. "In post-modern times, the vanity of the media and speeches that run out of proposals, you (the students) show that things change", assured Fernandez. (plenglish.com)


Latin's leading Leftist turns against students ... An opposition student movement is back at the center of Venezuela's political stage with small but high-profile protests against a proposal that would let leftist President Hugo Chávez run for re-election. Student activism was credited with helping to defeat a previous attempt in 2007 to lift a two-term limit on presidents that would have allowed Chávez to stay in power as long as he kept winning elections. Chávez, a strident critic of the United States who has pursued a socialist agenda of nationalizing various industries in the oil-producing country, was elected in 1998 and again in 2006. The next presidential election will be held in 2012. In the run-up to a Feb. 15 national referendum on whether to lift the term limits, small groups of university students have grabbed headlines by clashing with police in recent days. "We are here because, by presenting a new reform, the government is once again disrespecting the Venezuelan constitution," youth leader Manuela Bolivar said in front of riot police at a protest. (uk.reuters.com)


Bam to rectify view of Chávez ... Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolás Maduro asked U.S. President Barack Obama to "correct" his criticisms against President Hugo Chávez. The diplomat claimed that the new US president is not aware of the new realities of Latin America, AP reported. Maduro told state TV channel VTV that he "hoped Obama to rectify," following his declarations last week to a US network claiming that Chávez "has disrupted progress in Latin America." "President Chávez has won 12 of the last 14 votes in Venezuela over the last 10 years. He is a legitimate president and his leadership has gone beyond the regional sphere," said the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, as quoted by official news agency ABN. He added that Obama's comments mirror his "absolute ignorance" of the new Latin American reality. (english.eluniversal.com)


Russian communists honor Lenin, see resurgence ... About 400 supporters of Russia's dwindling Communist Party laid flowers Wednesday at the tomb of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin on the 85th anniversary of the death of the man they laud as a humane visionary. The small and quiet gathering, which got some desultory glances from skaters on Red Square's ice rink, was a sharp contrast to the massive demonstrations of fealty to Lenin that marked life in the Soviet era. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party was a significant force in Russian politics. Its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, came within a hairs-breadth of being elected president in 1996. In 1999, the party held a quarter of the seats in the Russian parliament; now it has just 12 percent. Despite the decline, the tribute participants said they believe Communism's time will come again. Lenin "goes into history as the creator of a new society that all mankind came to," said Valentin Vazhanian, a retired rear admiral in the Soviet Navy. Zyuganov told reporters on the frigid square that "the current (economic) crisis underlines the necessity of studying Lenin's ideas anew." (iht.com)


Argentina's Kirchner: Bam OK'd by Cuban communist ... Fidel Castro watched the U.S. inauguration on television and said Wednesday that Barack Obama seems "like a man who is absolutely sincere," Argentina's president said after meeting with the ailing Cuban icon. "Fidel believes in Obama," Cristina Fernandez said. The meeting with Fernandez, just before she ended a four-day visit to Cuba, dispelled persistent rumors that the 82-year-old Castro had suffered a stroke or lapsed into a coma in recent days. "I was with Fidel about an hour or more," she told reporters at the airport as she left. "We were chatting, conversing. He looked good." Fernandez said Castro wore the track suit that has become his trademark since he fell ill in July 2006 and vanished from public view. A spokesman said the two met alone. "He told me he had followed the inauguration of Barack Obama very closely, that he had watched the inauguration on television all day," Fernandez said. "He had a very good perception of President Obama." (google.com)


Milk workers sentenced in China ... A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced two men to death for their role in a tainted milk scandal that killed at least six children, while the woman most widely blamed for the tragedy got life in jail. Nearly 300,000 children fell ill last year after drinking milk intentionally laced with melamine, a toxic industrial compound that can give a fake positive on some nutrition tests. The closely watched trial of middlemen and executives from the Sanlu Group, a now bankrupt firm that had failed to report cases of infants getting sick from drinking its products, wrapped up just before the most important holiday in China. The Lunar New Year is traditionally a time for families to reunite and Beijing may have hoped the sentences would deflect public outrage about the deadly impact of the tainted milk during the festive period. Affected parents had focused their anger on Sanlu's former general manager, Tian Wenhua, and were angry she was given a life sentence and would not face execution. Claims of official concealment and indifference have turned the milk powder case into a volatile political issue for the ruling Communist Party, which is wary of protest. (swissinfo.ch)
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