AFL-CIO teams with Big Brands against worker-choice ... Does "card check" have a Plan B? Yes, according to a group of businesses spearheaded by self-described pro-labor Democrat Lanny Davis. Davis and the CEOs of Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods, who consider themselves progressives, have an alternative to the derailed card-check legislation. Yet an alternative that tries to please everyone is not always met with open arms. Card check is dead. Although organized labor and business will disagree, when Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., jumped off the labor-friendly bandwagon (taking Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., with him), the bill lost its mojo. The CEOs call their effort the "Committee for A Level Playing Field." Their proposal retains secret-ballot union elections, essentially taking out the "card check" component. They also propose eliminating binding arbitration and giving employers the right to apply to the National Labor Relations Board to decertify a union. Labor's benefits would come from tougher penalties for businesses for unfair or punitive labor practices, a quicker way to enforce those, and equal access to all employees during non-working hours. AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard Trumka's reaction was a blunt "no way." "Their proposal is woefully inadequate to protect workers' rights. Maybe if someone shows us something that protects workers, but not this," Trumka said after a miners rally in Uniontown. He said he was still very confident that card check will pass this year. "I am working on three senators right now whose votes will make this pass," he said, declining to name them. (pittsburghlive.com)
Catholics vexed by IAF's Alinskyite 'liberation theology' ... Efforts to foster community organizing within local congregations, including several MidTown Catholic parishes, are linked to a national group with a philosophy rooted in the 1960s-style political organization philosophy of Saul Alinsky. That is provoking reaction among many who disagree with Alinsky's self-described “radical” views on politics and economics. The local divisions have come to light after nearly two years of quiet preparation and fundraising here in collaboration with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). IAF draws heavily on the political philosophy of Alinsky, whose “Rules for Radicals” advocated recruitment within faith communities. A local group, named Oklahoma Sponsoring Committee, has formed the alliance with IAF. That has met with criticism from conservatives, who bluntly tag IAF as an unsavory mixture of liberation theology and Marxist ideology. One local Catholic says, "The Church's primary mission is not political or social, but rather spiritual -- i.e., the salvation of souls. With IAF, the mission has been hijacked -- to being one of redemption from poverty and material injustice, or in other words the Marxist redirection present in all wrongheaded forms of liberation theology.” Another person from Texas, where Austin Interfaith has been active, said, “For me, the pivotal issue is that the ‘collective bargaining’ aspect of the political function of Austin Interfaith is a violation of conscience.” This person said that although IAF’s public activities do not directly contradict Church teachings on moral concerns, nonetheless ”Austin Interfaith does not directly support any social issues that are of particular concern to the Catholic Church.” In his letter, Klinge described the effort as “Congregation Based Community Organizing” (CBCO) and said 25 individual church institutions had joined the effort at that point. “Our goal is to have forty church institutions as members by mid 2009.” (tulsatoday.com)
• Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
• More Saul Alinsky stories: here
• 'Rules for Radicals' at amazon.com
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Untouchable incumbents seek more protection from critics ... The "campaign finance" reformers are back. Seems the number of U.S. taxpayers who check that "this won't cost you a thing" box on their income tax forms to send a dollar to the presidential campaigns of the Republican and Democratic candidate has now dwindled to 10 percent. What is this? The reformers can't figure out why the public is so dumb they can't see that letting the government finance all the election campaigns is the only way to eliminate corruption in the system. (Hint: If the Congress went back to the far more limited tasks outlined in the Constitution, why would all these greedy capitalists feel any need to bribe the congressmen to keep the regulators off their backs?) Legislation was introduced Tuesday to cap donations to U.S. House and Senate candidates at $100, with the federal government offering a $4-to-$1 match for contributions from home-state residents. Candidates could raise as much as they want and would also get a lump sum -- $900,000 or more -- from the government. "It's total hypocrisy if you're not for public financing," explains former Connecticut Democratic Rep. Toby Moffett, who shocked everyone upon leaving office by becoming a lobbyist. "You're not getting to the link between lobbying and access unless you attack campaign finance." Otherwise known, unhappily for the sponsors, as "freedom of speech." (tulsatoday.com)
MSM censors plague restless social justice activists ... Local activists have joined a national grassroots effort sending a message to government officials that “enough is enough” when it comes to corporate bailouts and tax hikes. Backed with slogans such as “revolution is brewing” that hearken back to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, residents are planning a series of “tea parties” for Tax Day April 15. “I’m fightin’ mad and I’m excited at the same time,” said Rick Radecki, who is organizing an all-day protest at Bear Valley Road and Cottonwood Avenue. Radecki partnered with activist and talk-show host Barb Stanton, who is heading up a “Taxed Enough Tea Party” rally in front of Victorville City Hall at noon April 15. “I’m calling it high noon in the High Desert,” Stanton said of the event. She chose Victorville City Hall for the rally because of what she sees as a lack of accountability for how the council has spent millions of taxpayer dollars and outrage over decisions such as considering selling the Victorville 2 power plant to mainland China. “My statement to Victorville is they’ve been bullies for far too long,” she said. “And the council needs a reminder that their careers and their legacies are at stake.” In another “tea party” throwback, VVDailyPress.com viewers are urging Victor Valley residents to join a national campaign this month mailing tea bags to the White House in protest over government overspending. (vvdailypress.com)
Related video: Why All The Tea Parties?
You cannot kill the Card Check vampire ... The Employee Free Choice Act, or Card Check, would change how unions are allowed to organize workers in America. The proposed law is alive and kickin', but it's starting to struggle - just a bit. Card Check is a bad law. Organized labor will emerge as winners, but at a significant cost to business, employee rights, jobs, and the economy as a whole. Just about every business is facing the fight of their lives trying to stay afloat in this crazy economy. Although the AFL Web site asserts Card Check is "key to turning around the economy," every business owner who creates jobs and pays the bills knows the opposite is true. This is not the time to increase business costs, or become side tracked from saving jobs. Let the unions survive on their own terms, if they can. Our legislators don't need to bail them out, too. Although Voinovich's and Specter's stance has possibly brightened the horizon, it's not the time for opponents of the legislation to idly sit back, and hope for the best. A grassroots effort is still needed to defeat the measure. (zanesvilletimesrecorder.com)
Obama to unionize efficient TSA workers ... The American Federation of Government Employees - a labor union that representing Transportation Security Administration workers - is hopeful that President Obama will make good on his campaign promise to appoint a new TSA Administrator who favors granting them collective bargaining rights. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, which created the TSA, places discretion over collective bargaining in the hands of the TSA administrator. During the Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security opined that giving workers collective bargaining rights could endanger travelers by adding a layer of labor union negotiations to TSA operations and slow response time to immediate terrorist threats. Speaking before a congressional committee last month, AFGE President John Gage said it was an "insult, really, to the labor movement to say that somehow having the right to belong to a union somehow affects national security." (aero-news.net)
Iowa turns anti-business: We don't need no stinkin' economic development tool ... Chamber and business leaders at the Iowa Statehouse warned those in attendance at the Des Moines Summit Thursday there are a lot of anti-business measures being passed around. "There are a number of anti-business bills in the Legislature and most of them have been very quiet," said Nicole Molt, a lobbyist for the Association of Business and Industry. In addition to the prevailing wage bill, which did not receive enough votes to pass but may be brought back up at any time, Molt noted there are others out there as well. These have included high profile issues such as fair share, worker's compensation reform and changes to collective bargaining. Molt noted just as Iowa seems to be moving away from Right-to-Work legislation, other states, traditional union states, are looking to move to that concept. This includes Michigan, the heart of union country. "They see that as a huge economic development tool," she said. (timesrepublican.com)
CWA militants begin picketing v. AT&T ... Some Springfield workers say they're getting short-changed on the job, and they claim the economy is not to blame. Dozens of AT&T employees picketed outside the downtown Springfield office Saturday in hopes that their efforts will help their union make a deal. The sign-holders are members of the local chapter of Communications Workers of America. The union contract with AT&T expired at midnight nnd negotiations for a new one are at a stand-still. “AT&T made $2.9 billion profit last year and they are wanting to cut retiree benefits and employee benefits and they can afford to pay them. They are not like some of the companies going out of business,” explains Local 6301 President Sandy Grogan. AT&T employs about 300 people in Springfield. (kspr.com)
Chávez sweeps Iran ... Islamic Revolution Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his entourage on Saturday hailed the Venezuelan President's brave and justice-seeking stances and his philanthropy and said, "as you came to power in Venezuela a new page was opened in the history of the Latin American region and braveness of the Venezuelan government and nation have brought self-confidence to the people of the region." Ayatollah Khamenei lauded the courageous stances of the Venezuelan government and president over Gaza and cutting ties with the Zionist regime and said, "what the Venezuelan government did in fact was the duty of the European governments which are so-called advocates of the human rights but unfortunately the European governments performed in the opposite direction." The Islamic Revolution Leader said that America was accessory to the Zionist regime's crimes and pointed to the arrogant governments' anger at the stances of the Venezuelan government during the Gaza war and said, "the anger of the arrogant governments and their statements against us revealed our influence in this regard." The Islamic Revolution Leader termed the level of cooperation between Iran and Venezuela as good and said that the capacities of the two countries for expansion of ties are great and these mutual ties could be changed into multilateral ties at the international and regional arenas. Ayatollah Khamenei said that confidence and support of the Venezuelan people for their president is a great blessing and opportunity and said, "every popular government could resist firmly against powers and these conditions and divine blessings are existed in Venezuela and Iran." President Hugo Chávez for his part expressed his satisfaction over another meeting with the Islamic Revolution Leader and named himself as follower of the Islamic Revolution and its leaders saying,"we have taken many lessons from political experiences of the Iranian government and nation for resisting against enemies and imperialism and will continue firmly our fight to preserve our independence." Chávez termed his talks with his Iranian counterpart as useful and constructive and said, "we agreed over the 'Road Map' for ten years cooperation between the two countries and we hope that bilateral ties would be increased more than before." Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was present in the meeting. (isna.ir)
Popular Communists adopt Putin model, ignore constitutional term limits ... Moldova will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament. The significance of the election is that after the introduction of the parliamentary form of government it is lawmakers who determine the composition of the Cabinet and appoint the president. The intrigue increases further as the president's term in office expires in April. The incumbent President, Vladimir Voronin, cannot seek the third term, in accordance with the Constitution. Voronin, leader of the Communist Party (PKPM) has already stated he would not quit "big politics." Experts believe he may take the post of speaker, but, as leader of the ruling party, will continue to control the country's foreign and domestic policies. He might be able to accomplish it due to the rigid Party vertical of power and the popularity the Communists enjoy in Moldova. (itar-tass.com)