Friday wrap

Collectivist News Union drives Tree-Killer to the brink ... The Boston Globe’s largest union is pleading with the New York Times [NYT] to extend the today’s midnight deadline to come up with $20 million in cuts to keep the paper open, even as Publisher P. Stephen Ainsley told staff yesterday “there is much work yet to be done.”. The Boston Newspaper Guild last night asked for the stay of execution because it says management mistakenly counted $4 million of previous salary cuts among a menu of savings options from which the union could choose, the Globe reported. The Guild, which learned of the gaffe Wednesday, wants more time to negotiate new concessions to satisfy the New York overlords and keep the embattled broadsheet operating, according to the Globe. (bostonherald.com)

Obama sets U.S. Perestroika ... The biggest headache facing the Obama administration is the unprecedented growth in government deficit spending. This chart below shows how bad things could get in the near future. This the scariest chart I’ve ever seen. It makes President George W. Bush look like a piker.


Barney Frank defends union-backed, tax-funded fraud group ... Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) blogs at Townhall.com that House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-Taxachusetts) is trying to use legislation to help his buddies at the radical community activist group ACORN: "Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee passed my ACORN amendment that will prevent organizations, or employees of organizations, that have been indicted for voter fraud from being eligible for the housing counseling grants and legal assistance grants authorized under the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. Chairman Barney Frank accepted the amendment right there in front of the whole committee -- I assumed because it was his very own language as passed under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 -- and the amendment was then passed by unanimous voice vote. Later that day, Chairman Frank said he had reservations about my amendment and would discuss them with me. His staff approached mine with specific changes he would like to make -- changes which eviscerate the meaning of the amendment and were clearly not acceptable. [...]" (spectator.org)

Union operatives make headway v. oppressive secret ballots in Golden State ... While reviewing the SPN Labor Policy Exchange (which is free to anyone who wants to sign up), I found a couple pertinent legislative updates from other states. The California Senate passed the California Employee Free Choice Act for Farm Workers. The bill would allow ag workers to unionize if a simple majority sign cards to form a union. The bill is plagued by the same problem as the federal EFCA. Unless workers are allowed to express their opinion in private via a secret ballot, they are subject to coercion by outside forces, whether a union or employer. The Missouri House held and initial vote on a state constitutional amendment designed to ensure all elections -– including unionization elections -– within the state are held by secret ballot. Union opponents of the measure claim it is a form of union busting. Proponents say the measure is not about being pro-business or anti-labor, just preserving the integrity of uncoerced individual choice. See here for press coverage of the vote and here for more on the multi-state Save Our Secret Ballot campaign. (libertylive.org)

Would you buy a car from a bankrupt union? ... If General Motors (GM) and Chrysler somehow survive the current crisis, the United Auto Workers will end up with huge equity stakes in both companies under new restructuring plans. Is this good news for UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and his union? Maybe not. First, these equity stakes come at a huge cost in terms of lost jobs and benefit concessions. The UAW Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Assn. (VEBA) trust, which manages the health-care coverage of workers and retirees, is owed $9 billion by Chrysler and some $20 billion by GM. The UAW has agreed to take stock in exchange for half those future obligations. The union via the VEBA trust may end up owning 55% of Chrysler's shares and 39% of GM. (Late on Apr. 29, Chrysler and the Treasury Dept. were in talks with lenders to create, possibly via a bankruptcy filing, a new ownership structure with the UAW and Italy's Fiat as key shareholders.) The UAW's dual role as union and investor would be tricky. (businessweek.com)

Government Motors confidential: Obama gives $8 billion start-up funds to UAW ... Chrysler will file for bankruptcy after talks with a small group of creditors crumbled just a day before a government deadline for the automaker to come up with a restructuring plan, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The Obama administration said it had long hoped to stave off bankruptcy for the nation's third-largest automaker, but it became clear that a holdout group wouldn't budge on proposals to reduce Chrysler's $6.9 billion in secured debt. Clearing those debts was a needed step for Chrysler to restructure by the Thursday deadline. Chrysler will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York, giving Chrysler time to galvanize a partnership with the Italian car maker Fiat Group SpA. The government, which has poured $4 billion in loans into Chrysler, would provide up to $8 billion more to carry the company through bankruptcy, said senior administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity. The government also will help appoint a new board of directors. (newsmax.com)

Related video: Workers smack down UAW

Union Bullsh*t Watch #5: God Wants You In a Union? ... Several tipsters e-mailed us the Hot Air blog regarding the union bosses’ campaign to take enact the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act. It seems that union bosses are invoking religion to con the public into supposrting the effective elimination of secret-ballots on unionization and government imposition of wages and benefits on companies and their employees. As the folks at Hot Air point out:" Unfortunately, they prove themselves just as adept at religious analysis as they do at politics in connection with Card Check. “Our true wealth is the good we do in this world” isn’t an argument for higher wages, but a call to disregard the material over the spiritual. Did they even read that before sticking it on a representation of the Dead Sea Scrolls — which, by the way, had nothing at all to do with Islam? Only the middle quote, James 5:4, has anything to do with wages and payment — and even that was a parable. Jesus was not the “first community organizer,” and He didn’t die on the cross in order to get management to talk to labor." Pathetic? Disingenuous? Lame? In answer to all three and in a word: YES. Union B.S.? Pure! (laborunionreport.com)

Related video: UFCW organizer smacks down EFCA

Jumbo union in typical labor-state strike threat ... Thousands of union workers from the Safeway Distribution Center voted to reject an offer over pension cuts and authorized a strike Thursday. "At this point, we're just hoping that the company realizes that it's going to lose a lot of money if the employees are this unhappy with the new contract," said Spenser Hill, Safeway union employee. Now there are concerns thousands of other union workers will do the same. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is Colorado's largest union. (cbs4denver.com)

UFCW forces employer to buy wanted ads ... King Soopers Inc. and Safeway Inc. will begin advertising Friday to hire replacement workers should unionized workers go on strike after their contract expires May 9. It would be the first walkout against the state's grocers since 1996. Starting today, both chains will start radio and newspaper advertisements announcing that they will hire thousands of workers statewide to keep their stores open if members of United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 7 in Denver launch a strike. Safeway will begin taking applications on Saturday at all stores, while King Soopers will take applications between Monday and Wednesday at all of its supermarkets. "We still want to bring negotiations to a conclusion with a mutually acceptable agreement. We are hopeful of reaching a peaceful resolution" Kris Staaf, a Safeway spokeswoman in Denver, said Thursday. (gazette.com)

CUPE on strike: Who can they piss off next? ... With the union stopping city buses, utilities trucks and construction and even taking on the border fight, and a city councillor calling the union's provincial president a "national embarrassment," this municipal strike is becoming increasingly bizarre. After two weeks, with Windsor's popular festival season fast approaching, the city and its 1,760 inside and outside workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, seem further than ever from a settlement. Instead, CUPE has hit the nail on the head when it comes to how not to run a strike. As one observer commented, "Who can they piss off next?" On Wednesday, it was construction workers -- whose jobs have nothing to do with striking city employees. After promising not to, pickets shut down or disrupted several road, sewer and water construction projects and streetscaping on Ouellette Avenue. CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox, who represents inside workers, admitted she promised not to picket construction sites. But the union's board disagreed with her decision. (canada.com)

City strike backfires on union bigs ... Delaying Enwin Utilities and Windsor Utilities Commission vehicles from entering their facility on Rhodes Drive the past couple of days is the latest slow-down tactic employed by striking municipal workers to create awareness of their fight for a new contract. But it’s a tactic one city councillor said has backfired on pickets from CUPE locals 543 and 82. Since the strike started two weeks ago, pickets have slowed vehicles at Spitfire hockey games at the WFCU Centre, Transit Windsor buses, trucks entering the Lou Romano sewage treatment plant and golfers at Roseland Golf Course. Vehicles cannot legally be blocked by strikers. The local practice has been to slow them for up to five minutes. “If I was on that side of the fence I would not not see it as a good strategy,” said Coun. Alan Halberstadt. “I see it as terrible if they want to get people on their side. It backfires. “People are going about their lives working, playing or to get entertainment — they don’t want to be hit with a blockade or inconvenienced.” (windsorstar.com)

Unions call for cookie boycott ... The following excerpted resolution in support of striking Stella D’Oro workers was passed by the New York State United Teachers on April 4. NYSUT organized a busload of 50 teachers from Westchester, N.Y., to join the picket lines and present a $2,500 check for the Stella D’Oro strike fund on April 27. (workers.org)

U.S. Leftists gather to celebrate Hope, Change ... Organizing for the June 14-17 People’s Summit and Tent City in Detroit is building fast. A planning meeting April 25 was attended by representatives from a broad base of progressive organizations. They included the Autoworkers Caravan, which has been in the forefront of challenging the massive attacks on auto workers’ wages and benefits; the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions; disabled activists from Warriors on Wheels; Call ’Em Out; the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality; and the National Lawyers Guild. Two UAW members from Toledo, Ohio, also attended. The People’s Summit in Grand Circus Park will be an opportunity to link the struggles challenging the war on poor and working people, and to put forward a program for jobs, universal health care and a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, as well as full rights for oppressed nationalities, immigrants, people with disabilities, women and the lesbian/gay/bi and trans communities. Segments of the summit will be devoted to demonstrations targeting specific struggles such as the massive threats on auto workers. There will be a moratorium on evictions during the People’s Summit as organizers will participate in flying squadrons to aid individuals facing the hated dumpsters and bailiff evictions. (workers.org)

International Collectivism

Hillary's First 100 Days ... Of course, there are some negatives. Here are a few: --David Cloud at Politico mentions that in the first 100 days there hasn't been much in the way of "diplomatic breakthroughs, peace deals or the standard measurements of State Department success." On the other hand, he admits that these types of accomplishments can't be expected to happen in a mere 100 days. --Then there was the blooper with the reset button that Clinton gave to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Instead of saying "reset" in Russian to indicate wanting to press the reset button on U.S.-Russia relations, the button had printed on it a Russian word that translated to something along the lines of "overload." --Additionally, many Americans were upset when Clinton played down human rights when she visited China in February. On human rights in China she said, "Successive [U.S.] administrations and Chinese governments have been poised back and forth on these issues, and we have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis." --Then, of course, there's the whole issue about reaching out to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. (hillary.foreignpolicy.com)
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