Thursday wrap

Card-Check Communists ... The appointment of Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary was noted with accolades on the Web site of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The CPUSA has also been a longtime supporter for the Employee Free Choice Act — also known as card check. During both the 2000 and the 2004 election, the CPUSA was vehemently opposed to Bush’s reelection because of his opposition to card check. The Democratic Socialists of America is also a strong supporter of the of card check. Pillar No. 3 of their “Economic Justice Agenda” is to have a strong labor movement. One of the things needed for this is card check. (thebulletin.us)

NYT covers up Stern-Burger SEIU corruption scandals ... The Los Angeles Times deserves praise for its coverage of a hornet's nest of scandals that keep emerging involving one of the nation's most powerful unions, the Service Employees International Union. Today's paper discloses yet another scandal. Meanwhile the New York Times ignores the controversy. Why is this noteworthy? Because the SEIU has become a powerful political force in America. Maybe Andy Stern, leader of the Service Employees International Union (who has become one of the more powerful political players in America because of his control of the SEIU and its fund) should focus more on the corruption that keeps emerging from his "union". Or perhaps he can hand off that chore to Anna Burger, the Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU. But maybe she too is more interested in playing politics with its members money than ferreting out fraud among its officials. Burger is chairwoman of the Change to Win Federation, a coalition of labor unions formed to promote advocacy. Both Stern and Burger have links to the Democracy Alliance-a group of very wealthy donors and political activists who have joined forces to promote vast policy changes from our government. Burger, Stern and the SEIU have close ties to the Obama administration. Burger was recently appointed to the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Maybe both of them should work to clean up corruption instead of focusing on advancing their political agenda. (americanthinker.com)

Unions destroy the Middle Class ... In this deep downturn, most sectors of the U.S. economy are suffering, but a common thread among those in the deepest trouble is their heavily unionized work forces. That's an inconvenient truth that needs to be acknowledged as Congress prepares to consider legislation that would make it dramatically easier for unions to organize in the American workplace — the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act. Studies show that while unionization can raise worker productivity, it typically raises wages and benefits even faster. Restrictive workplace rules, gold-plated health and pension plans, and inflexible hiring and firing rules add to the burden on employers, and cut into employer profitability. (investors.com)

Hoffa: The epitome of arrogance, willful ignorance ... Earlier today, a link to a Teamsters press release appeared on Twitter: http://twitter.com/efca. In this release, Teamsters president Hoffa praised the House and Senate sponsors of card check and asked, "Since when is the secret ballot a basic tenet of democracy?" Upon reading this statement, SOS Ballot Chairman Rep. Ernest Istook responded, "Mr. Hoffa's statement is the epitome of arrogance and willful ignorance. The secret ballot has been a basic tenet of democracy since its earliest beginnings in Greece. Skipping ahead a few millennia, modern democracy has relied on secret ballots to ensure that the voting process is untainted by coercion and intimidation, something I think he may be familiar with. He should ask those Democratic sponsors in the House and Senate if they enjoyed secret ballots in their leadership elections, and he also should ask Rep. George Miller why he felt it necessary to ask the Mexican government to protect secret ballots for their workers. SOS Ballot has been conducting number polls with Wilson Research Strategies on the secret ballot in states where we are launching campaigns, and we have found that this issue enjoys enormous public support, including 90% support in union households. Mr. Hoffa needs to reacquaint himself with the rank and file Teamsters whose dues pay his salary before he makes another arrogant statement. It's clear that the union boss agenda is to oppose secret ballots throughout our society. We cannot let them get their anti-democracy foot in the door because they might never stop. Today they attack the secret ballot rights of their own members; tomorrow it's the rest of us. We saw this before our recent victory in Utah, when the UT AFL-CIO leadership referred to the secret ballot process as anti-democratic," Istook continued. (reuters.com)

Obama is wrong about organized labor ... If businesses are hurt, so are their workers. Unfortunately, Big Labor is using these economic problems to push for legislation that would help beef up its coffers and pit workers against business owners. The legislation the union bosses are supporting — the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act — would hurt both workers and businesspeople, and it is not the type of legislation we need if this nation's economy is to make a timely recovery. While many find it convenient to paint a picture of business owners and workers having separate and contradictory interests, the current economic situation illustrates how shallow that thinking is. When businesses fail, workers lose their jobs, and when workers are not treated well, businesses do not thrive. The interests of workers and business owners are not in conflict; they coincide. The antagonism that would be engendered by this legislation is a step backward for businesses and workers. As we are seeing from the current crisis among the Big Three U.S. automakers, a confrontational relationship between a union and businesses is bad. In fact, many heavily unionized industries in the Midwest have been declining for decades. Businesses in Florida and other Southern states, where unions have not been as strong, have been thriving. (tallahassee.com)

Hearst to void News Union contract, end dues deduction ... Albany Times Union Publisher George Hearst III has told employees that the newspaper will terminate its Albany Newspaper Guild contract by next month. In a memo issued to employees Tuesday, Hearst indicated that the newspaper would end its month-to-month contract with the union as of April 9. The publisher said the move is aimed at forcing progress in negotiations with the bargaining unit, which saw its last agreement expire more than seven months ago. “While this action is not unusual in most labor-management negotiations, it is unprecedented here,” Hearst explained in the statement. (dailygazette.com)

Not all union bigs are corrupt racketeers ... Cintas had sought damages from the three unions due to UNITE’s “Cintas Exposed” Web site (www.cintas exposed.org), which it said falsely portrayed the firm as having “a long history of antiunionism” and depicted Cintas as “bent on racist, sexist and illegal acts.” As part of the campaign, UNITE “reached out to Cintas’ customers, especially small, minority-owned businesses, to pressure Cintas,” the lawsuit alleged. Additionally, UNITE’s campaign urged Cintas’ customers to check their weekly invoices in order to object to unauthorized products and services and demand notification of any changes so Cintas couldn’t slip in new fees unnoticed. Cintas had alleged the Web site amounted to unfair competition and generated profits for the union by diverting sales and profits away from the company. Also, Cintas had alleged UNITE engaged in attempted extortion through its attempts to unionize the company’s workers through a card-check campaign. Pauley cited previous court rulings that held such card-check agreements benefit both the union and the company because both parties give up certain rights under the process. “While the company is disappointed in and disagrees with the judge’s decision on the federal claim, the state law RICO and defamation claims were not dismissed by the court,” says Pamela Lowe, a Cintas vice president. “Cintas plans to vigorously pursue those claims and is also considering whether to appeal the judge’s dismissal of the federal claim.” (citybeat.com)

UFCW strike captains prep Safeway pickets ... You may need to rethink that trip to the grocery store. As many as 3300 Safeway workers could be hitting the picket lines on Monday. They could take strike action if a new agreement cannot be reached by then. Negotiations are ongoing between Safeway and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. So far those talks have been fruitless and both sides are planning for a possible strike. Safeway took out ads in both Winnipeg newspapers on Wednesday advertising a job fair for temporary workers. The UFCW says strike headquarters are going up at all Manitoba Safeway stores as well. Union officials tell CTV News there will be a vote on Sunday. (winnipeg.ctv.ca)

SEIU out on strike ... An elderly Michigan man was let go with a warning after his vehicle drove slowly through a line of striking security guards at Windsor Raceway Tuesday, carrying one picket on his hood a short distance. Windsor police Staff Sgt. Ed McNorton said nobody was hurt in the incident, although one picket ended up on the hood. He said nobody wanted to press charges against the 81-year-old driver. Windsor Raceway’s 16 security guards, who had previously voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike, hit the picket line last week. No further talks are scheduled. (calgaryherald.com)

Big Labor v. The U.S. Constitution ... Indeed, from 1935 to 1974, labor had its way with elections. Federal law gave unions the upper hand by allowing them to form new unions simply by getting a majority of employees to sign cards. A 1974 Supreme Judicial Court decision swung it in favor of secret ballot elections. This bill would undo the 1974 decision. There's no doubt that unions have won important workplace victories that we all benefit from. But it's equally clear that when it comes to unionizing, employees have been voting with their feet. Union membership has plummeted over the past few decades. It peaked in 1954, when 28 percent of Americans were in unions. Today, it is about 9 percent. Workers have made a choice that union leadership doesn't like. It's clear what the real intention is. It is much easier to cajole or coerce people into signing a card than it is to win an election after labor and management have been given ample opportunity to state their case. (newburyportnews.com)

Union bigs in D.C.: Like a moth to a flame ... Call it “Take 4” on Capitol Hill for a high-stakes bill that gives workers the right to unionize without a secret ballot – and dramatically expands government’s role in settling labor disputes. The Employee Free Choice Act, or “card check,” has been introduced in the past three Congresses, but it always failed to win the 60 votes needed to pass controversial legislation in the Senate. With expanded Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate – and a president pledging to sign the legislation – this year may be different. “In these dire economic times, I can’t think of a better way to restore stability to middle-class families than to strengthen unions, said Jim Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in a statement. (features.csmonitor.com)

Employee No-Choice Act exposed

D.C. union organizers reach out to U.S. small business sector ... The National Federation of Independent Business is one of several business groups including Small Business Hawaii and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii that opposes the measure: NFIB says: "This process would take away an employee’s right to a secret ballot and leaves them exposed to intimidation. Furthermore, it would destroy the careful secret-ballot process which is a more accurate indicator of a business' desire to unionize." What's worrying business owners even more than the secret ballot, Business Week reports, is what comes if the union leaders are successful: "Perhaps even more worrisome for business, the measure would require companies to submit to binding arbitration if they can't come to terms on a contract 120 days after the union submits cards demonstrating that workers want to be represented." Union members themselves don't seem to want card check, according to two recent polls. A recent Zogby poll document that 71% of union members say the current private-ballot process is fair; and a McLaughlin & Associates poll documents 74% of union members want to keep the existing system in place rather than change it to one with less privacy. (hawaiireporter.com)

AFL-CIO vows to get even as Dem House frosh abandon Big Labor reservation ... Nearly a quarter of the House Democratic freshman class has not signed on to co-sponsor the controversial card-check bill, despite being showered with campaign contributions by organized labor. Many of these Democrats represent battleground districts, and their reluctance to support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) reflects worries it would affect their reelection in 2010. Business groups staunchly opposed to the bill campaigned against supporters in 2008. But by not supporting the bill, which would make it easier for workers to forum unions, the freshmen risk alienating labor groups that could help them remain in Congress. “Their decision not to co-sponsor raises an issue that will have to be addressed to their constituents,” said Bill Samuel, legislative director for the AFL-CIO. “It’s really between them and their local union members, many of whom walked precincts for them.” Reps. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.), Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) and Parker Griffith (D-Ala.) all won with less than 52 percent of the vote. Reps. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) and Tom Perriello (D-Va.) each required a recount to claim their seats. Only Reps. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) won by comfortable margins. “It’s a rock and a hard place. If the bill stands as is, there’s no good answer,” said an adviser to one of the seven freshmen, who asked not to be named to avoid angering labor allies. Republicans are relishing the thought that their rivals find themselves in political no-win situations. If the freshmen stay away from EFCA, they hurt themselves with labor. If they support it, Republicans and business groups stand ready to pillory them as job-killing business-haters. “This is something that is the No. 1 issue for a broad cross section of business groups large and small,” said Barbara Comstock, a veteran Republican strategist and a top official at the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes the bill. “To harm job-creators in your district is never a good thing.” (thehill.com)

Dem Senators now wish Big Labor hadn't brung them to the dance ... Rep. G.K. Butterfield and Sen. Kent Conrad cosponsored the Employee Free Choice Act when it was introduced in the last Congress. This year? They both seem to have ... other things to do. Caught between Big Business and Big Labor in the midst of a deepening recession, moderate Democrats are washing their cars, polishing their silver, rearranging the pictures on their desks — anything they can do to buy some time while hoping that EFCA somehow goes away. Eleven Democratic senators and 22 Democratic House members who cosponsored the 2007 version of EFCA — or “card check,” as its opponents call it — have steered clear of the version unveiled this week by Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Asked about EFCA Wednesday, freshmen Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) — who cosponsored it last time in the House — wouldn’t talk about it as an aide directed the reporter to call his office. A call to his office went unreturned. “Why do we need to get bruised up if it’s not going anywhere over the Senate?” Butterfield asked. “Let’s get 60 votes in the Senate first.” (politico.com)

U.S. Senate: Big Labor takes names ... From the Union Voice, here are the Senate co-sponsors of the deceptively-named Employee Free Choice Act: Senator Daniel Akaka, Senator Mark Begich, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Roland Burris, Senator Robert Byrd, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Benjamin Cardin, Senator Tom Carper, Senator Bob Casey, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Russ Feingold, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Tim Johnson, Senator Ted Kaufman, Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Carl Levin, Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Jack Reed, Senator Harry Reid, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Tom Udall, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Ron Wyden. Here are the Senators that haven’t co-sponsored the bill: Senator Max Baucus, Senator Evan Bayh, Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senator Kent Conrad, Senator Byron Dorgan, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Kay Hagan, Senator Herb Kohl, Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Senator Claire McCaskill, Senator Ben Nelson, Senator Mark Pryor, Senator Jon Tester, Senator Mark Udall, Senator Mark Warner, Senator Jim Webb. (laborpains.org)

Big Labor demands more secrecy

Finger on the button: Obama exposes defective sense of humor ... So how did it come about that the U.S. secretary of state gave a gag "reset" button to the Russian foreign minister, but the Russian word inscribed on the small box by the State Department turned out to mean "overload" instead? Well, let's ask the State Department. "We received your inquiry in the DOS Press Office; however, I will not be providing you with comments re: the English-to-Russian translation ('Reset') topic," department spokesman Fred Lash wrote in response to an e-mail query. The gaffe occurred last Friday, when Mrs. Clinton met with her counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Switzerland. There, she presented him with the lighthearted gift, intended to symbolize the Obama administration's desire to begin a new relationship with Russia or, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said, to press the "reset button." But instead of the Russian word for "reset" - "perezagruzka," which also translates into "reboot," the small black-and-yellow box with the red button said "peregruzka," which means "overload" or "overburden," as with an elevator or a schedule. "You got it wrong," Mr. Lavrov said with a tight smile, but he gamely joined Mrs. Clinton in jointly pushing the "overload" button. Later, he seemed to relish bringing the fiasco back up. (washingtontimes.com)

International Collectivism

Obama bails out Castro Bros. in omnipork bill ... The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would relax some limits on contacts with Cuba, in what could herald deeper changes to the long-standing U.S. policy of shunning the communist-ruled island. The Obama administration had to cajole two members of its own Democratic party to support the legislation containing the Cuba provisions, a massive spending bill that had to pass to keep the U.S. government running. The episode raised questions about how easy it will be for Obama to change Cuba policy, which officials have indicated they would like to do. (newsmax.com)

Marxist Nicaraguan Prez bristles at term limit ... Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega says the country's ban prohibiting presidents from a second term is unjust, suggesting he might try to amend the constitution to allow him to run again. "The president can't be re-elected. Only the congressmen can be re-elected. It is not just, it denies the people of their right to choose," Ortega said in a speech late on Tuesday. Ortega's close ally in the region, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, recently won a referendum clearing the way for him to seek another term in office, a victory he claimed for his self-styled socialist revolution. Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War-era foe of the United States, first ruled Nicaragua after taking power in a 1979 leftist Sandinista revolution. During the Sandinista government, back-to-back presidential stints in power were permitted but after Ortega was voted out of power in 1990, opposition parties banned re-election in the 1995 constitution. Ortega's critics say an attempt to have himself elected again would squash the political opposition and unfairly extend Ortega's power. Violence briefly erupted after local elections last year, with rightist parties accusing Ortega's Sandinistas of fraud when they won 105 of 146 municipal races.(stuff.co.nz)

Trotskyite Lula pimps Chávez to Obama ... Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's President, is set to advocate Venezuela during his meeting next Saturday with US President Barack Obama. Regarding Venezuela, García stressed that Lula, as agreed with President Hugo Chávez, will talk to President Obama about Caracas' interest in having "a policy of rapprochement with the new government of the United States." "Lula will do it" because Brazil "considers that a better coexistence between countries as important as Venezuela and the United States will be good for everyone," Lula's aide stated. (english.eluniversal.com)

Russian workers out on hunger strike ... Sixteen Russian steelworkers have begun a hunger strike in protest against wage cuts, mounting a rare show of dissent in a country where unemployment rates have soared to their highest in a decade. Workers at the Zlatoust steel mill, owned by private steel group ESTAR, are angry at plans to reduce salaries by a third and have accused management of threatening to cut jobs, protest organiser Alexander Negrebetskikh told Reuters on Wednesday. Management at the plant, which employs more than 9,000 people and produces steel alloys used in spacecraft and submarines, called the strike illegal and referred the case to the local prosecutor. In a statement on its website, www.zmk.ru, the plant said: "The activities of those participating in the action are, in our opinion, provocative, of an extreme nature and are aimed at destabilising the situation not only at the enterprise, but in the town itself." (kyivpost.com)
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