5/6/09

Wednesday wrap

Nurses: We don't need no stinkin' union ... Defying a trend of rising union activity in healthcare, 380 registered nurses at a hospital in Independence, Mo., voted to decertify their union before it ever reached an initial contract. The RNs at 221-bed Centerpoint Medical Center voted last week to disband their union following what hospital President and CEO Carolyn Caldwell called “grass-roots” efforts by nurses and clear leadership by the management team “to make a strong statement that we would be better off as a facility if nurses could deal directly with management.” The final tally was 78 against and 226 in favor of decertifying Nurses United for Improved Patient Care Local 5126, an affiliate of American Federation of Teachers. (modernhealthcare.com)


Blame hiring freeze on Obama payback to union bigs ... Unions have not had such a sympathetic occupant in the White House, since, well, arguably FDR. Obama, as a senator, had been a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007, which would, with its Orwellian title, outlaw secret ballots in certifying unions in the workplace. Okay, so the card check proposal isn’t FDR’s Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 (labor on federal construction projects had to be paid no less than local rates on similar projects), or the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 (addressing the issue of agreeing NOT to join a union as a condition for employment), the Wagner Act of 1935 (guaranteeing workers rights to join unions) or the Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage). The above acts raised the cost of labor and contributed to the increase in unemployment during the Great Depression. Many feel that Obama’s labor agenda might do the same now. (registeredrep.com)


Union-backed, tax-funded fraud group in line for $8.5 billion this year ... As I told the Washington Examiner a few hours ago after reviewing the Obama stimulus bill and the proposed fiscal 2010 budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), ACORN and other left-wing advocacy groups could have a shot at pocketing up to $8.5 billion this year. Here's how I arrived at the $8.5 billion figure. The $800 billion-plus stimulus bill, which is now formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or Public Law 111-5, originally set aside $5.2 billion that could flow directly or indirectly into the coffers of ACORN and its liberal friends. It appears the $5.2 billion was chopped down to $3 billion in the version of the bill that President Obama signed into law on February 17. The $3 billion consists of $2 billion in funds set aside for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes and $1 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). (spectator.org)

Related video: ACORN busted in Nevada



Fascism gets a New Prog update ... Today, fascist (along with Nazi, homophobe, and racist, just to name the top few) is a favorite insult used by progressives against anyone espousing a philosophy or policy with which they find any kind of disagreement. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to use the word fascist in more of a historical context, associating it with the economic and social policies of progressive Europe in the 1930's. It's not difficult to broaden your understanding of modern-era progressive European fascism if you have access to the Internet and a little time on your hands. For instance, here is an excerpt from a short essay written by Sheldon Richman, editor of Ideas on Liberty and a senior fellow with the Future of Freedom Foundation: "The best example of a fascist economy is the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Holding that liberalism (by which he meant freedom and free markets) had "reached the end of its historical function," Mussolini wrote: "To Fascism the world is not this material world, as it appears on the surface, where Man is an individual separated from all others and left to himself.... Fascism affirms the State as the true reality of the individual." This collectivism is captured in the word fascism, which comes from the Latin fasces, meaning a bundle of rods with an axe in it. In economics, fascism was seen as a third way between laissez-faire capitalism and communism. (wizbangblog.com)


NYT in the tank for ACORN ... New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger was asked about the March 30 The Bulletin report that his paper intentionally did not use information that might be deleterious to the Obama campaign. Julian Gammon, a minority shareholder, asked the question during the annual shareholders meeting in The New York Times offices on April 23. “He said he didn’t know anything about it and told me to give the details to his staff assistant and she would get back to me,” Mr. Gammon told the Bulletin in an email. Mr. Gammon said that he gave all the information to the assistant – including a copy of the Bulletin story. To date he has not received a reply. When asked if he thought if the Times’ profitability is affected by actions such as this, Mr. Gammon replied, “I do not think their credibility is helped by this sort of thing.” (thebulletin.us)


SEIU losing grip on Golden State? ... The California Assembly voted Monday to delay action on a contract with the largest state employees' union until after the May 19 special election to see if California's budget problems worsen. If voters reject the budget-related propositions on the ballot, it would deepen what already is projected to be an $8 billion deficit in the fiscal year that begins in July. "We should not pre-empt the voters by dealing with this issue today," said Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello of Fair Oaks, vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. The Assembly fell three votes short of the two-thirds needed to send the contract to the Senate. The 95,000-member Service Employees International Union Local 1000 struck the agreement earlier this year with the Schwarzenegger administration. Under it, SEIU members would be furloughed one day a month instead of the two imposed on other state workers. That amounts to a 4.62 percent pay cut, half the 9.2 percent cut from the twice-monthly furloughs imposed on 10 other state unions. (news.ino.com)


Meet Deborah Greenfield, AFL-CIO Obamunist



We don't need no stinkin' union financial disclosure ... The Obama administration is seeking to change rules that protect workers from malfeasance by union officials by requiring strict financial disclosure. This was a concern I previously highlighted. As unions take over more of our industry and as that industry receives our taxpayer dollars , those dollars will feed union coffers. In turn, those unions will continue to spend tens of millions of dollars to support Barack Obama and Democratic candidates across America. Truly, public financing of campaigns - but partisan funding. (americanthinker.com)


How unions, lawmakers keep taxes high ... I suppose by now, many Pennsylvanians are asking whatever happened to the much blathered attempt at property tax reform by the governor and legislature. With its initial Act 50 attempt at tax reform in May 1999 to present, all have failed. One must begin to ask what is so difficult to implement tax reform and why it is taking so long. Could there perhaps be some purposeful reason or even a "conspiracy?" You judge. Let's begin by examining the 3.2 million member teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), not to mention the 1.4 million American Federation of Teachers. A powerful force don't you agree? Aside from its meddling in politics at the state and national levels handsomely rewarded via union dues, legislators and governors who support their causes. (pottstownmercury.com)


Socialism's big comeback ... Demonstrations in the U.S. on May 1 were far smaller. Nevertheless, May Day, long ignored in this country, has been re-established on the U.S. political scene thanks to the immigrant rights movement. That's an important achievement, because for decades, May Day was seen through the lens of the Cold War--it was a foreign, "communist" holiday that had nothing to do with U.S. workers. In reality, May Day is as American as apple pie. The first May Day protests in 1886 were led by anarchists and socialists in Chicago--four were hanged in the political witch-hunt that followed a bombing in Haymarket Square. So it's entirely appropriate that May Day 2009 once again finds socialism back in the political mix. (socialistworker.org)


Leftwing News Union death sentence delayed ... Leave it to the tabloid sensationalists at the New York Times Co. and in the Boston Globe newsroom to make labor negotiations exciting. Their complex labor deal to save the paper is TOP SECRET. Adorable. And puzzling: The Boston Newspaper Guild says the tentative, 3 a.m. deal is being kept under wraps "out of respect for our members." Apparently newspaper writers and editors are touchy about, um, news reaching the public in a rapid fashion, before it's gone out through proper channels. At least some people in the newsroom had the decency to leak: According to the Globe's story on the deal, which was reached at 3 am ET, the union gave ground on language guaranteeing lifetime employment to 200 members. There are presumably wage cuts, as well; the union on Sunday offered 3.5 percent wage reductions and a longer, 40-hour workweek. Union members must still vote to approve the deal. By the time that occurs, details will presumably be made public. For management, the bottom line will be $20 million in annual savings at a paper that loses four times that. Just $65 million to go, Times Company. (gawker.com)


Gov: Dem tax increase aimed at unions ... Gov. Linda Lingle today accused majority Democrats of giving public-sector labor unions a "false sense of hope" that the tax increases they have approved would help offset wage and benefit cuts in collective bargaining. The Republican governor, who plans to veto the tax increases at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at a public ceremony in the state Capitol rotunda, wants to achieve $278 million in labor savings through the negotiations. Lawmakers have refused to incorporate the figure in their two-year budget, arguing it is premature with the talks in progress. But Lingle said that lawmakers have inserted themselves into the negotiations by passing the tax increases. With labor costs 70 percent of the state budget, the governor said she has to realize labor savings to help close the deficit. (honoluluadvertiser.com)


IUOE strike boss unavailable for comment ... About 90 union members remain on strike at Fabick CAT’s Fenton headquarters after rejecting a new contract from the company Friday. The employees are members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 513. Union members represent more than 20 percent of the work force at the Fabick operation, which employs 400 people here. Fabick is one of the region’s largest private companies with 2008 revenue of $345.8 million. “Quite frankly the company is baffled,” Borlinghaus said. “The company offered a five-year agreement that included increases for wages, pension and health and welfare that equates to an increase of 3.3 percent each year. There have been some compromises of language agreed to by the company and some the company has requested from the union. From my perspective and that of the company, we feel this proposal would be fair and equitable even in a thriving environment and of, course, we all know that is not the case today. The company is not sure where we go from here, but we are open to further discussions, should the union wish to do so.” Borlinghaus said it is the first strike at the company in 15 years. Fabick and union officials referred questions about the strike to John Smistik, business agent for Local 513. He could not be reached for comment. (stlouis.bizjournals.com)


International Collectivism

Deadbeat Chávez to seize more private property ... Venezuela's Congress on Tuesday gave initial approval for state seizure of a group of oil service companies, upping the ante in a months-long dispute over billions of dollars in unpaid debts. The legislation would extend President Hugo Chávez's control over the OPEC nation's oil industry as state oil firm PDVSA struggles to make ends meet amid the tumble of crude prices from highs near $150 per barrel last year. It could directly affect natural gas producer and pipeline company Williams Companies Inc (WMB.N), majority owner of a gas compression facility in Venezuela, which in April reported a $241 million charge related to nonpayment by PDVSA. Troops earlier this year took over a company partly owned by British Engineering company the Wood Group (WG.L) that carries out water injection in Lake Maracaibo following a massive buildup of debts, two sources told Reuters. Analysts say slowdown in key service operations would lead to severe losses in production in Venezuelan fields. (reuters.com)


Workers' Paradise unravels ... The State Prosecutors Office said that officials had sought and secured court orders that eight police officers should be held in custody in connection with the death of student Yubán Antonio Ortega Urdaneta, an activist in President Hugo Chávez’ ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Ortega Urdaneta was shot in the head on April 28 during disturbances at the campus of the Technological University at Ejida in Mérida state. He went into intensive care at a hospital but died two days later. In a separate development, a union leader at the Toyota plant in Sucre state was shot dead in a hail of bullets outside his home in Las Chaunas, a district of Cumaná, on Tuesday morning. Interior Minister Tarek El Assaimi condemned the slaying of Argenis Vásquez and ordered the scientific and investigative police, CICPC, to detach a squad under the direct control of its commander, Wilmer Flores Trosel, to carry out a full investigation. Several union officials and workers have been killed in violence during labor disputes at large companies this year. Police conduct is under suspicion in several such cases. (laht.com)
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