Tuesday wrap

Jumbo union oppresses its own workers ... The world's largest airline pilots union is getting a taste of its own medicine as workers in one in its divisions have filed a complaint of unfair labor practices against their bosses, the workers' union said on Monday. It's an unusual twist in the organized labor movement, pitting a unionized staff against its employer -- which itself is a powerful labor union. The parties in the dispute are the Air Line Pilots Association Professional and Administrative Employees (UALPAPAE) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which fights for the rights of pilots at UAL Corp's United Airlines and other carriers. "When it comes to its pilot members, ALPA is a major champion of the pilots' rights to fair labor practices," said Jay Wells, president of United's unit of UALPAPAE. "But when it comes to the well-being and welfare of its own staff, ALPA management seems to adopt a different set of labor union principles." The in-house professional employees' union, which represents 170 staffers that include lawyers and lobbyists, has complained to the National Labor Relations Board that ALPA management failed to meet its obligation to disclose information requested about ALPA's plan to lay off 10 professional employees of this year. ALPA, which represents 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in North America, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the complaint. (reuters.com)

ACORN delivers Obama loyalty pledges ... Organizing for America (OFA) volunteers went door-to-door in all 50 states March 28 and collected more than 100,000 signatures on pledges of support for President Obama’s 2010 Budget. Charles Strickland, 65, of Port Angeles, Washington, telephoned his Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both Democrats, to ask them to support Obama’s budget. “I am a borrow and spend Democrat who believes that we must support our President’s program to invest in universal health care, education and green energy for the sake of our children and grandchildren and their future,” he told the lawmakers. Strickland accused Republicans of “hypocrisy” in whipping up hysteria against deficit spending. “This is not the time to worry about running up the national debt,” he said. “They should have been worrying about that debt over the past eight years.” (pww.org)

Unions' tight-fisted grip on politics ... While my comments were complimentary of the president, I highlighted that politically powerful unions, such as the UAW, police, prison guard, municipal employee and teachers unions (and their unfunded pension liabilities) are a major stumbling block to fixing our federal, state and local budget deficits. Further, I noted that much of the spending in President Obama's "stimulus" package was on projects that funnel billions in tax dollars directly back into those same trades that help keep Democrats in office. The sway public employee and trade unions hold over elected Democrats through their PAC money (funded partly by non-voluntary union dues) makes it virtually impossible for the president, the governor, the California Legislature or the Marin County Board of Supervisors to solve our financial problems. The recent bankruptcy of Vallejo (where runaway public employee compensation and pension benefits were rubber-stamped by union-supported elected officials) is stark example that should have been a wake-up call for California taxpayers. Here in Marin, the public employee unions have run up over $1.5 billion in unfunded liabilities, medical benefits and amounts "guaranteed" by county taxpayers in the case of losses (which today is estimated to be $300 million) in their defined-benefit pension plans. These amounts would make even Bernie Madoff pay attention. (marinij.com)

Attests to political power of unions ... I’ve seen many feel-good titles given to legislation over the years but few as deceiving as that of the Employee Free Choice Act. This legislation, more aptly titled the Free to Coerce Employees Act, is the most undemocratic bill to be considered by Congress in decades. Contrary to what unions have argued, the real purpose of this legislation is to centralize power with labor leaders, not give workers a “choice.” In eliminating the secret ballot, the Employee Free Choice Act would allow labor leaders to visit rank-and-file workers in their homes up to four times to “educate” them on the benefits of forming a union, a pitch presumably culminating with the checking of a card to signify their support of unionization. I am sure they will bring flowers and a box of chocolates with them, along with some helpers named Tiny and Guido. To most members of Congress, this vote is based upon a concern about the future electoral balance of power. Why? Because this bill has nothing to do with workers’ rights; it’s all about political power. Passage would empower the most reliable arm of the Democratic Party to expand its membership and political capabilities exponentially at a time when the power of Big Labor is on the decline. However, for those congressmen from manufacturing states, this vote is about today. In these states, the influence of the United Autoworkers, the United Mine Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters is unmistakable. Having represented Pennsylvania for 12 years in the Senate and the union stronghold of Pittsburgh for an additional four years in the House, I can attest to the political power of unions. (wvgazette.com)

Related video: Teamster militants lobby D.C.

Labor Secretary Solis placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California. While in Congress, Solis co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act. WHAT: Solis received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $5,000 in 2008 election cycle; $5,500 in 2006 election cycle. Boilermakers Union (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle; $1,000 in 2006 election cycle. American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $1,500 in 2008 election cycle; $2,000 in 2006 election cycle. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $10,000 in 2008; $8,000 in 2006. Service Employees International Union (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $6,000 in 2006 election cycle. United Steelworkers of America (PAC) $2,500 in 2006 election cycle. WHY IT’S DIRTY: At least eight members of these unions, including several division presidents, secretary-treasurers and business managers, have been convicted since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy. At least 10 members of the Boilermakers and 14 IBEW members were among those convicted, while at least 30 members of the Paper, Allied-Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE) were convicted. The amounts embezzled ranged from $5,000 to more than $100,000. WILL SOLIS GIVE IT BACK? Solis refused to comment when asked by The Examiner if she would return these contributions or give them to charity. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Obama throws UAW the Big 3 keys ... Politico queried a number of experts, including Columbia econ prof Charles Calomiris, who argues that Wagoner's execution was evidence that the White House is owned by the unions: "We never should have tried to stop the bankruptcy process, which is the only path toward dealing with reality for these companies. We have a competitive, successful US automobile industry; it just doesn't happen to be unionized, or owned by the "big three," and it isn't based in Detroit. If the current Administration weren't a captive of the union bosses, and if Detroit, Ohio, and Indiana weren't important swing states, none of this nonsense would be happening. Of course, as my uncle used to say, "If my grandmother had a mustache, she would have been my grandfather." In other words, politics, not economics, guides the Administration's wasteful pandering to Detroit; that obvious fact also means that the problem is unfixable by the application of irrelvant economic logic. Ultimately, of course, economics will matter in forcing a rational solution, but that may require another decade of waste, decay and economic ruin in the rust belt. Will the voters of these states ever wake up?" See, it's not so much that Wagoner was an enemy of organized labor, but as we've said from the beginning, a bailout of GM -- or even a highly structured bankruptcy of it -- is essentially a bailout of the union. Shareholders have been whacked. Management has been taken out. The board will be replace and bondholders of various classes will take a major bowl cut. But will the UAW end up taking a sizable hit? Probably not. If anything, knocking the UAW is the last of the White House's priorities here, after making sure that every other party takes its lumps. (businessinsider.com)

Big Brands sell out U.S. to D.C. union thugs ... A suggestion for a card check compromise from Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, and Costco appears to be getting a cold shoulder from opponents as well as supporters of the labor issue that some have labeled an assault on democracy. "There is no room for compromise on this issue," said John Conley, National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) president. "If anything, the fact that long-time liberal gadfly Lanny Davis (the attorney representing the compromise group and Democrat politico) is involved shows the forces pushing this un-American proposal are getting worried. You cannot compromise with the plague. Business must continue to fight to kill this bill, not to accommodate any of it." (refrigeratedtrans.com)

Related video: Ex-union thug recants

Dem unionists use ancient racial discrimination law to pad Obama Stimulus ... Secretary of Labor Ray LaHood is now preparing guidelines that will expand the scope of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, according to a department spokesperson. “This is good news for American workers,” said Tom Owens, director of communications for the Building Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO . “Everything in the stimulus program is covered. Congress was very clear about prevailing wages.” (washingtonindependent.com)

Civil rights really means dependence on government handouts ... Shouldn't it embarrass black Americans that one the nation's largest and most prestigious civil rights organizations offers a long list of proposals to improve black life in our country, and every single proposal is a government program? Government funded jobs as the answer to unemployment, more government money in public schools, government health care, government business loans, government money for retirement accounts, government programs for counseling homebuyers, government worker training programs, government money for building construction, and on and on. There's not a single proposal that I could find in a several hundred-page report about improving black life that does not start with government. The civil rights movement once was about freedom and liberation. Now it's about government dependency. We should be ashamed. (kitsapsun.com)

SEIU in rolling strike v. Red Cross ... Homecare workers employed by Red Cross staged a one-day strike in the Bracebridge region today calling on the McGuinty Government to address the crisis in Ontario's home care system. More than 50 Red Cross workers are taking part. “The women and men who provide homecare support have been pushed to their limit. The McGuinty Government needs to take responsibility for the crisis in Ontario’s homecare system,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada, in a release. Red Cross is one of the largest agencies under contract with the government to provide homecare services. Homecare is the delivery of health care and personal support services in the home. The service enables seniors, people recovering from surgery and children with special needs to stay within the comfort of their own home- a more comfortable environment. About 3,000 Red Cross personal support workers with SEIU Local 1 have been in a legal strike position since March 23. Last summer members voted 88 per cent in favour to strike to address key issues. Two one-day strikes have already occurred in Sudbury and in Own Sound. (thebarrieexaminer.com)

'Irrelevant' SEIU organizers smacked down at MIT ... Simply put, unions have never acknowledged the irreconcilable paradox of their actions: astronomical benefits and pay undermine the financial integrity of very company that pays them. And without the company, there would be no jobs at all. It is the same case here. For now, this statement has been tabled at the request of the SEIU, but the UA should reject it entirely. MIT students have nothing to gain from an association with the Service Employees Union, and we have so much to lose if they succeed. Like all choices in society, this one arises out of scarcity. With only a limited budget, we cannot fund all of our desires. While the SEIU chooses to ignore it, scarcity also provides the answer to our problem. In a time when all students and staff are being asked to cut back, the union is obligated to share our pain. Moreover, for every worker in the union, five are outside of it, meaning there is no shortage of MIT employees who think they don’t need a union. The UA should follow their lead and ignore this legislation and the union that supports it as out of touch with the realities of today and ultimately irrelevant. (mit.edu)

Typical bargaining tactic: Jumbo union authorizes strike v. AT&T ... With a contract expiring this week, hourly employees of AT&T Inc. will hold an informational picket Thursday in downtown Kansas City. Workers are expected to be in front of the AT&T building at 500 E. Eighth St. during the lunch hour, trying to gain public support for the bargaining. Nearly 3,000 AT&T employees in the Kansas City area are covered by the negotiations going on with the company in Austin, Texas, according to union officials. Most are customer service representatives and service technicians, said Anetra Session, president of Communications Workers of America Local 6327. Contracts for 125,000 Communications Workers-represented employees are going on at six AT&T units around the country. Five of the contracts, including the one covering area workers, expire on Saturday. (kansascity.com)

AFSCME sets P2P corruption in Virginia ... The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest union in the AFL-CIO, endorsed Terry McAuliffe today for Virginia governor. In a release, AFSCME, which has more than 10,000 union and household members in Virginia, cited McAuliffe's "leadership, business experience and bold vision for Virginia." The group added that McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, "has been a longtime supporter of AFSCME's and working family issues." McAuliffe is vying with two Virginia lawmakers -- former Del. Brian Moran and state Sen. Creigh Deeds -- for his party's nomination. Quarterly financial reports will be released in April, and McAuliffe, who has already aired television ads in critical pockets of the state, Hampton Roads and Richmond, is expected to far outraise his rivals. The AFSCME endorsement, meanwhile, adds to a broader sense of momentum for McAuliffe, who won a recent annual political Northern Virginia straw poll by double digits. "I am proud to have earned AFSCME's endorsement," McAuliffe said in a statement. "Every day, their members are working to serve the people of Virginia, and I will be honored to have them at my side. Together, we will work to create quality jobs and establish Virginia as a leader in the new economy." (nationaljournal.com)

Unions only take money from workers ... Brian Cooney has no real world workforce time. He is in a classroom. I work for a union company. I can tell you what unions do. They take money out of your check. They protect people who get in trouble at work, and that is about it. If you work and follow the rules and you don’t get into trouble, the union does nothing but take money out of your pocket. That is it. The long and short of it is they are not needed in today’s workforce. The card check system they want pushed is because most workers no longer want to feed unions out of their paychecks, so the unions can organize and pester people into signing cards. Lately, on the news I have seen where places have tried the card check and the workers claimed to have union officials showing up at their homes and pestering them trying to get them to sign cards. Then when that factory decided to do a private vote the union went down in flames. Unions do nothing but protect the screw-ups and take money out of your pockets. (amnews.com)

Law enforcement shields union-backed fraud group ... In the last presidential election, how many cases of voter fraud were detected involving ACORN? In which states? How many people were prosecuted? During the 2008 presidential election, law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states including Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN. No criminal charges were filed against the nonprofit organization, which collected 1.3 million registrations in a nationwide get-out-the-vote effort. The agency said the bogus cards represented less than 1 percent of those collected. The problem forms — some bearing names such as "Mickey Mouse" and "Donald Duck" — were completed by lazy workers trying to get out of canvassing neighborhoods, ACORN officials said. (tampabay.com)

NYT runs interference for ACORN ... A lawyer involved with legal action against Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 The New York Times had killed a story in October that would have shown a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign because it would have been a “a game changer.” During her testimony, Ms. Heidelbaugh said Ms. Moncrief had told her The New York Times articles stopped when she revealed that the Obama presidential campaign had sent its maxed-out donor list to ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office. Ms. Moncrief told Ms. Heidelbaugh the campaign had asked her and her boss to “reach out to the maxed-out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN.” Ms. Heidelbaugh then told the congressional panel: “Upon learning this information and receiving the list of donors from the Obama campaign, Ms. Strom reported to Ms. Moncrief that her editors at The New York Times wanted her to kill the story because, and I quote, “it was a game changer.”’ Ms. Moncrief made her first overture to Ms. Heidelbaugh after The New York Times allegedly spiked the story — on Oct. 21, 2008. Last fall, she testified under oath about what she had learned about ACORN from her years in its Washington, D.C. office. Although she was present at the congressional hearing, she did not testify. U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., the ranking Republican on the committee, said the interactions between the Obama campaign and ACORN, as described by Ms. Moncrief, and attested to before the committee by Ms. Heidelbaugh, could possibly violate federal election law, and “ACORN has a pattern of getting in trouble for violating federal election laws.” He also voiced criticism of The New York Times. “If true, The New York Times is showing once again that it is a not an impartial observer of the political scene,” he said. “If they want to be a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, they should put Barack Obama approves of this in their newspaper.” Academicians and journalism experts expressed similar criticism of the Times. (thebulletin.us)

Worker choice boosts Beehive State ... Utah continues to be the top-ranked state for its economic outlook, according to a report released Monday. Another report, being released Tuesday, ranked Utah in the middle among states for employment and average wages in the technology industry. For at least the third consecutive year, Utah was No. 1 among states for economic outlook, according to a report from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of state legislators "dedicated to advancing the principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty." Utah's 2009 outlook topped those of Colorado, Arizona, Virginia and South Dakota, the remainder of the top five states. The bottom five were New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and New Jersey. The economic outlook rank was formulated from rankings in 15 state policy variables. Utah was in the top 10 in top marginal corporate income tax rate, personal income tax progressivity, whether a state/inheritance tax is levied, state liability system survey, state minimum wage, average worker compensation costs, and whether Utah is a right-to-work state. (deseretnews.com)

International Collectivism

Chávistas take care of #1 ... Now, Oscar Pérez of Alianza Bravo Pueblo, the party formed by Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a key opposition figure who’s been under siege from government supporters since winning office last November, believes he’s unlocked some secrets. Pérez announced Monday that Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramírez, who doubles up as president of the state oil corporation, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), was raking in BsF83,000. That, he said, was the equivalent of BsF10,000 more than United States President Barack Obama’s salary at the White House. Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), was getting BsF42,000, Pérez continued. In announcing his wish to see pay restraint in the top echelon of the government, Chávez had wondered out loud that he’d like to know what CNE directors were paid. Pérez also disclosed the salary paid to Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russián, whose ban on over 200 people, mainly from the opposition, from running for or holding public office has brought accusations that he’s the government’s stooge. Russián, Pérez said, was paid BsF41,000. Pérez condemned the official for being “complicit” with the government. (laht.com)

Chávez renews Communist vows ... Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez may add a stop in China to a trip this week that will take him to Iran and Japan, local media reported, citing unnamed sources linked to the president. Mr Chávez was scheduled to visit Iran April 3 after attending a summit of South American and Arab leaders in Qatar. He was to arrive in Japan April 5. Venezuelan media said he may also make a brief visit to China where he would be received by President Hu Jintao. Venezuela and China have close relations in a variety of fields from energy to finance and industry. Last year, Venezuela launched its first geostationary satellite thanks to cooperation with China. Caracas recently purchased a fleet of 18 K-8 reconnaissance and training aircraft from Beijing with delivery expected in January 2010. Mr Chávez last visited China in September 2008. (straitstimes.com)

Chávez reaches out to allies ... Venezuela’s president said he had no plans to resume ties with Israel in the wake of its military incursion in Gaza. Hugo Chávez said in an interview Sunday with Al Jazeera that he would not consider resuming diplomatic relations until the Jewish state reconsiders its “genocidal attitude.” Chavez made his comments in Doha, Qatar, where he is scheduled to attend the second Summit of Arab-South American countries beginning Tuesday. The conference is running in parallel with the Arab League summit currently meeting in the Qatari capital. Chávez expelled the Israeli delegation in January to protest its military operation in Gaza. In the same interview, Chávez reaffirmed his close relationship with Iran, referring to the nation and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as Venezuela’s best friend. Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” (jta.org)
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