Friday wrap

Key Dem puts Bailout P2P ahead of Card-Check ... Memo to the U.S. labor movement from a key ally on making unionization easier -- take a number and be patient. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will receive prompt attention in this Congress, said Rep. George Miller, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives labor committee. But more urgent matters -- most importantly the deepening economic crisis -- must take precedence for now, he told Reuters in an interview as the 111th Congress got under way. "There are things that may be more urgent because of circumstances beyond our control. That doesn't diminish the urgency I feel or the supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act feel ... I am quite comfortable that this is going to receive timely treatment," said the California Democrat. (guardian.co.uk)

SEIU solves healthcare crisis ... The SEIU this week made an agreement with Kaiser Permanente medical facilities which requires Kaiser to replace irresponsible and anti-union security contractor, Inter-con, with Securitas. UNI has a global agreement with Securitas which make specific provision for union organizing. As part of the agreement with SEIU, Securitas has committed to hire the security officers who currently protect Kaiser's facilities. Securitas has previously ensured that other officers in California had a fair process to form a union with SEIU. SEIU's agreement covers 1,800 security workers at Kaiser and is expected to give these workers the chance to earn a decent wage and to obtain affordable health care. (uniglobalunion.org)

SEIU-Dem P2P on full display ... Pay-to-play politics exists in Southern Illinois, and some of it could be revealed in the impending impeachment and possible criminal trials of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld says. The Republican legislator declined to go into specifics Thursday from his Okawville district office but said some appointments and hires of certain jobs in state government locally have been questionable. When lawmakers and lawyers start questioning Blagojevich’s hiring practices, some of these appointments and hires could be highlighted, he said. “I think that it’s possible. It depends on what type of information is available, and the feds have been tight lipped on that kind of information,” Luechtefeld said. “I would suspect there would be a lot of things to come out that would surprise people.” The governor could save himself and the state embarrassment if he would resign, Luechtefeld said but add there is no indication Blagojevich will do so. (southernillinoisan.com)

CBS reporter rips Bam over P2P ... CBS's Bill Plante just now at Robert Gibbs' first White House press briefing, questioned the administration over ABC's inauguration night exclusive with President Obama. Plante: How is it transparent when it looks like pay to play when the president gives his only interview on inauguration night to a network that's paid $2 million for the privilege of exclusive coverage of an event... the Neighborhood Ball? Gibbs: No interview is decided on by me or anybody else who works for the president based on who might sponsor an activity. Interestingly, Plante was standing, off to the side, not seated in the front row as most of the broadcast network correspondents are. (mediabistro.com)

Dems playing labor favorites

SEIU bleeds California dry ... The state is about 10 days away from running out of money. In addition, the budget impasse is hurting California's credit rating. State leaders are back from the presidential inauguration and other political events. So it's back to job one: the budget crisis. It is the 78th day of the stalemate and the pressure is really mounting. California will not be able to pay all of its bills come Feb. 1. Only an agreement can prevent what Governor Schwarzenegger has called a "financial Armageddon." A lot is at stake for government services and the people who run them. "The pressure should be on. The pressure should be on. And if they can't solve it, they ought to be ashamed of themselves," said Yvonne Walker, SEIU Local president. (abclocal.go.com)

Unions: Anachronistic and counterproductive ... I think it’s time to accept the fact that unions, in their present form, are no longer a realistic answer to the needs of workers, companies and the public. They grew out of a genuine need to protect workers from unscrupulous companies that subjected workers to a multitude of sins. I’m sure there are still companies in this country that would take advantage of employees if they could get away with it, so there will always be a place for labor unions. But unions need to evolve into a radically different beast than they are right now, with far less power to disrupt business and no power to disrupt public services. (eastottawa.ca)

Pro-union Gov. takes on labor-state unions ... Gov. Ed Rendell is talking layoffs. The governor said Thursday that his budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1 likely will include eliminating some state programs, which would result in job cuts. "There will be some layoffs, and there will be universal pain," Rendell said. The governor was in no mood to apologize for that, either. Rendell reiterated his calls for "no whining." The reaction from some state workers was more like a howl. (pennlive.com)

Justice advocate: Unions are wrong ... In recent court filings opposing Proposition 8, more than 50 unions claim to speak for their combined 2 million members in support of gay marriage. Attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute, who regularly counsel employees frustrated by far-left union positions, beg to differ. Among the dozens of legal briefs filed last week with the California Supreme Court, a coalition of labor unions argued that Prop. 8 should be overturned. The union brief was filed on behalf of numerous affiliates of the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Communications Workers of America, Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers, and United Steel Workers, as well as the California Nurses Association, the Screen Actors Guild, the California and American Federations of Teachers, and others. Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "We are contacted almost daily by hard-working men and women who are appalled that their mandatory union membership and dues are being used to advance agendas that they strongly disagree with. It is just wrong for unions to forcibly demand hefty dues and then use those funds for extreme causes unrelated to labor, such as advocating against traditional marriage." (calcatholic.com)

Bam weighs forced-choice payback

More states join fight against Congressional union thugs ... Opponents of Democrat-backed "card-check" legislation, which would abolish the right to a secret ballot in union elections, are pushing state constitutional amendments to guarantee workers' rights. The amendment effort, now going forward in 10 states, is necessary because Congress "seems bound and determined to deny workers the secret-ballot guarantee that they have under current law," said former Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), chairman of Save Our Secret Ballot (SOS Ballot), the organization backing the effort. Istook announced yesterday that the group has added five new target states -- Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and North Dakota -- to its list, which already included Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada and Utah. (spectator.org)

AFL-CIO bigs issue laundry list ... Gathering ideas from unions, analyses and experts, the AFL-CIO sent a 16-page "to do list" memo to the new Obama administration. The list submitted before the Democrat's inauguration, outlined a wide range of legislative and administrative moves the federation contended would help workers. But at least one of the recommendations – appointing a U.S. Trade Representative with "demonstrated commitment to addressing the destabilizing influences in trade policy and who is committed to ensuring trade policies provide broadly shared benefits for working people" – may already have been bounced. That's because Obama nominated former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who in that office pushed the benefits of the controversial jobs-losing North American Free Trade Agreement. Kirk was "not our first choice," federation policy director Thea Lee told the Dallas Morning News. "We have some concerns." (workdayminnesota.org)

Lion of Senate missed ... President Barack Obama’s nominee for Labor secretary is running into fierce resistance from Republicans over her reluctance to state her views clearly on legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize. The nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis has yet to be approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — even though her confirmation hearing two weeks ago was among the first for Obama’s cabinet picks. The committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, could not say Thursday when it would hold a vote. When asked Thursday whether he was satisfied with the answers Solis has given, Enzi said: “What answers?” “She doesn’t even recognize her own record when giving the answers,” Enzi said. “Right now there are people who don’t want her out of committee. It’s not just me.” Enzi said that while senators traditionally confirm a president’s nominations, “there’s also the obligation to really get it down on paper what their beliefs are.” Solis has a strong reputation as a friend of labor — her father was a Teamster, and as a congresswoman, she marched on the picket line during a high-profile grocery-store picket line in her Southern California congressional district. (lasvegassun.com)

Andy Stern's ugly SEIU dues war ... What happens when 91 percent of eligible Service Employees International Union members refuse to vote, as the two options given to them exclude the option many of them say they want? Just ask the international executive board of the SEIU. After the embarrassing nine percent vote, the SEIU board voted January 9 to merge three locals and create a single union of long-term home care and nursing home workers statewide. Recent coverage of the SEIU vs. UHW conflict in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times has omitted this free speech issue. That omission influences the view of both unions in the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, the UHW members' vote to disaffiliate from the SEIU may become a moot point. Consider this. "National SEIU officials are expected to launch a hostile takeover of UHW" in a matter of days, according to a January 18 press release from Sadie Crabtree of the UHW. It looks like they are already making the first move for that. (mrzine.monthlyreview.org)

SEIU's Andy Stern redefines 'justice' ... This decision is not based on law, or even on the issue that was before the hearing officer, but rather is a political decision designed for political expediency. Marshall grossly exceeded his authority. By structuring the decision in the way that he does, Marshall appears to allow his report to become a bludgeon to force UHW members into accepting a wrong-headed, undemocratic decision by Andy Stern and the IEB to divide rather than unite California's healthcare workers. In the last twelve months, UHW members have demonstrated multiple times through secret ballot elections, petitions and other democratic expressions their desire to stay united as one healthcare workers' union. The decision reaffirms that in SEIU, 'justice' means injustice for all those who disagree with Stern and his cronies." (marketwatch.com)

Injustice of Andy Stern exposed ... A high-stakes feud between United Healthcare Workers and its parent union, Service Employees International Union, reached a critical point today when SEIU’s International Executive Board approved a set of findings essentially accusing UHW of insubordination and financial irregularities and threatening to take over UHW if it doesn’t atone for its perceived sins within five days. As the Guardian has reported, the conflict revolves around a power struggle between SEIU head Andy Stern, who has been seeking to consolidate power within the international, and UHW head Sal Rosselli (based out of the union’s Oakland office), who is seeking to preserve the autonomy of SEIU locals and affiliates, particularly his own. UHW spokesperson Sadie Crabtree says the union’s executive board will be meeting soon to discuss how to respond to SEIU, which is threatening to take over UHW with a trusteeship within five days unless UHW agrees in writing to abide by an SEIU decision merging UHW’s long-term care workers into other SEIU locals, publicizes this decision to its members, purges its database of names allegedly pilfered from SEIU, and agrees to a fiscal audit by SEIU and to follow SEIU orders. “The decision reaffirms that in SEIU, ‘justice’ means injustice for all those who disagree with Stern and his cronies,” UHW said in a press release, while SEIU put out a statement that, “SEIU leaders believe this is a moment of history to change this country, and we believe this decision offers an opportunity to join together everyone in SEIU to change America.” (sfbg.com)

Gov't unions defend public mismanagement ... County Commissioner Bob Starr raised the privatization possibility during a retreat for Charlotte leaders in December, and the county administrator has been preparing requests for bids from firms that would take over the work. The idea sent shockwaves through Sheriff Bill Cameron's work force. And the firefighters and paramedics union has created a savecharlottecounty.org web site, complete with "Stop Privatization" petitions that Starr says are clogging the five commissioners' e-mail boxes. "People think we're going to be privatized and sell the jail and the fire department," Starr said. "That's not the commission's intent. We want to see what professional management can do." (heraldtribune.com)

Selfish teacher unions smacked down ... Oh dear. Apparently I have mortally offended kindergarten teachers and prison guards for suggesting, in these bleak economic times, they need to tone down their demands for pay and perks in their contract talks. In a recent column, I argued government is facing an unprecedented economic downturn. Tax revenues have dipped sharply -- and those who are paid from the public purse should trim their demands accordingly. I suggested these unions were out of touch. As if to underscore how selfish they are, I was inundated with e-mails from teachers and jail guards' groups explaining why they deserve the extra pay and perks. (I also got a lot of e-mails from elementary teachers who do understand what is going on and are embarrassed by their union's hard-ball tactics.) It pains me to say this, but all I can conclude is the problem isn't with government. It's with the teacher unions. (torontosun.com)

AFSCME bargainers subdue Toledo budgeters ... By a mere 10-vote margin, employees in the largest union in Toledo city government voted yesterday to accept a new three-year contract that freezes salaries for the first two years while raising co-pay costs for health care, among other concessions. Members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7 — representing about 800 workers — voted 332-322 for the offer. Unlike the last offer rejected Jan. 8, this contract does not place new employees on a second, lower pay scale — 85 percent of the current rate — that would have had tiered medical benefits. (toledoblade.com)

Teamster strikers offended by economic oppression ... Wendy Weiner said she knows her husband could make more money elsewhere doing the same job he did at Metalworks up until Oct. 29. Alan Weiner was happy enough working for $13 an hour or so because he was in Ludington and not elsewhere. But the contract offer that preceded an Oct. 29 strike vote would have pegged new hire wages at Metalworks at $3 less per hour than Alan’s wage. “Those are our children’s jobs,” Wendy said Tuesday at a public meeting hosted by Teamsters Local 406. “By agreeing to a wage cut, we’d be agreeing to giving them a job where they can’t even buy a house." The union’s legal counsel, Fil Iorio of Grand Rapids, said the company has not been negotiating with an eye toward a resolution. Iorio said he doesn’t think it’s fair for “the Paine family,” which owns the company, to say it didn’t want a strike because it implies the workers wanted to strike. “No one in this room wanted a strike,” Iorio said. “Actions speak louder than words and the company’s actions led to this strike.”(ludingtondailynews.com)

Unionists begin to reconstitute anti-worker NLRB ... On January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama designated Wilma B. Liebman, a Member of the National Labor Relations Board, as Chairman. Chairman Liebman has served on the Board since November 14, 1997. First appointed by President Clinton, she is now serving her third term, which will expire on August 27, 2011. In a statement, Chairman Liebman said: I am honored by President Obama's designation to serve as Chairman, and I look forward to continuing my service on the Board with my colleague, Peter Schaumber, and ultimately with a full complement of Board Members. Before joining the Board, Chairman Liebman served from 1994 to 1997 at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, first as Special Assistant to the Director and then as Deputy Director. She began her legal career as an NLRB staff attorney in 1974, then served on the legal staff of two labor unions: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (1980-1989) and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen (1990-1993). (earthtimes.org)

International Collectivism

The Real Ché Guevara Exposed ... Hollywood is kicking off 2009 with a monumental deception: Steven Soderbergh’s four-hour Spanish-language epic Ché, rendering a sadistic Marxist killer as, according to the New York Times, a “true revolutionary through the stations of his martyrdom.” The word “stations” suggests the adoration of Christ in the Stations of the Cross. The movie’s protagonist, Benicio del Toro, does indeed compare “the Cuban Revolution hero Ernesto Guevara” with Jesus Christ. Soderbergh’s Ché is a fiction once created by the KGB community, including my Romanian espionage service, the DIE, and at that time that placed me squarely in the picture. The real Ché was an assassin who presided over communist firing squads and founded Cuba’s ghastly gulag system. He was also a coward who called upon others to fight to the death for the communist cause and sent to the scaffold hundreds who did not do that, yet he surrendered himself to the Bolivian army without a fight even though he was armed to the teeth. “Don’t kill me,” Ché begged his captors. “I am worth more to you alive than dead.” Soderbergh’s movie omitted this part—it would have demolished his Ché. (frontpagemagazine.com)

Anti-American Latin collectivists collaborate ... Perez Roque was welcomed at the airport by his Nicaraguan counterpart Samuel Santos, Cuban ambassador Luis Hernandez, and Rafael Ortega, representing President Daniel Ortega. In brief statements to the press, Perez Roque said he brings a message of solidarity, support and friendship from the Cuban government and people to the government and people of Nicaragua. "We have the purpose of going through the bilateral relations, in particular in relation to the cooperation between our countries," said Perez Roque and added that his visit shows the excellent state of relations between the two countries. "I hope I can meet with President Ortega and reiterate the invitation for an official visit to our country," he said. Perez Roque said he would like to talk about how the current world crisis is affecting Central American countries, about the integration processes of Latin America and the way to boost new integration mechanisms like the Bolivarian Alternative for Our America. Perez Roque will hold talks with Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Santos and top government officials. He will also meet with members of the Cuban collaboration projects, diplomats and workers in Nicaragua. (cubanews.ain.cu)

Venezuelan communists blast U.S. over term limits ... The Communist Party of Venezuela called the people today to be alert facing a conspiracy of the ultra right wing with the coordination of the United States of America. The Secretary of Organization of the Party, Carlos Aquino, said in a press conference that the plan was designed in a meeting in Puerto Rico the past Jan 8th, between opponents, American government employees and the Director of Globovision Alberto Ravell. The objective, he assured, is to prevent the popular victory in a proposed constitutional amendment referendum next February 15, which will open the possibility of continual reelection in positions of popular election. The Communist Party of Venezuela condemned the vandalistic actions perpetrated by groups of student linked to opponent parties in the main cities of the country. Aquino assured these are factions trained and financed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, with the resources of the American people. (plenglish.com)

Chávez influence expands ... The presidents of Venezuela and Argentina have signed a host of bilateral cooperation agreements in the energy, industrial, agricultural, and health spheres during an official visit, Argentine press reported. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez hosted his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, on Thursday in Caracas, signing 12 accords, including one on the joint development of two oil fields in Venezuela. Chávez declared Venezuela ready "to supply Argentina with oil and later liquefied gas for the next 100 years." The two presidents also agreed on the creation of a bilateral fund to finance investments, including in the energy sector, and another nine agreements were signed by members of the leaders' delegations, according to reports. Cooperation between Russia and Venezuela in the oil and gas sphere is growing, with energy giant Gazprom and oil producers LUKoil and TNK-BP all involved in deals last year. (en.rian.ru)

Bolivia orbits Hugo Chávez ... Already, the country has flirted with unrest bordering on civil war in September, during which 20 indigenous government supporters were killed in a northern state, prompting Morales to slap martial law on the region. The roots of the conflict have been growing ever since Morales in 2005 became the country's first indigenous president and set about upending an order inherited from Spanish colonial times and subsequent military regimes that favored Bolivia's 'whiter' citizens. The opposition, led by state governors in the country's more prosperous east, fear that Morales' march towards a socialist state is taking their nation into the orbit of Venezuela's ferevently anti-US president, Hugo Chávez, and further away from economic efficiency. Already, Morales and Chávez last September expelled the US ambassadors to their countries, accusing the administration of former US president George W. Bush of interference. Washington retaliated by sending the Bolivian and Venezuelan envoys home. The United States "wants to finish with our government," Morales said Thursday, two days after US President Barack Obama took over from Bush. His comment, before the Bolivian congress, prompted the abrupt departure of the charge d'affaires of the US embassy, Krishna Urs, who had been in the public watching, according to a local radio station. Morales's nationalization of the telecommunications and gas sectors has scared off foreign investors, worsening state finances that are now also succumbing to the woes brought on by the global economic crisis. (google.com)

Bolivia to adopt Evo Morales' socialist constitution, power-grab ... If approved, the new constitution will allow Morales to seek a second term in an election late this year and would give indigenous groups greater representation in Congress and more autonomy in their home areas. Besides the indigenous favour greater government intervention in the economy which is openly rejected by the rich provinces. Morales, an Aymara Indian, took office three years ago and survived a recall vote last August with 67% support. Opinion polls show the charter has 55% support. Despite its aims, the proposed constitution is still a work in progress, with vague clauses that the judiciary may struggle to interpret and an implementation process that could be messy as politics here often run along regional and ethnic lines. Congress, where the opposition has an edge in the Senate, amended the draft constitution after critics accused Morales of wanting to grab more power. But this month, Defense Minister Walker San Miguel angered the opposition by saying that Morales could issue decrees and bypass Congress to implement the charter. While more battles are likely in Congress, it ratified the new charter in October just as opposition governors lost influence after protests in their resource-rich regions turned violent. (mercopress.com)
Related Posts with Thumbnails