Sunday wrap

Halcyon pro-union 1970's remembered fondly ... Thirty years ago, Toledo’s mayor and its City Council members were at an impasse with the city’s police and fire unions — much as they are today. Back then, the disputes were over pay raises, benefits, and the number of police officers and firefighters assigned to each crew. The impasse led to what many people viewed as an illegal walkout of 3,400 municipal employees on the morning of July 1, 1979. It occurred during the era of runaway inflation at the end of President Jimmy Carter’s administration, months after Chicago firefighters and Memphis police had gone on strike. Worse than any of the usual name-calling was a 48-hour gap in public safety that allowed mayhem to rule Toledo streets. Toledo’s strike was believed to be the nation’s first in which both police and firefighters walked out the same day. Countless blazes were set, including the firebombing of the former Plaza Hotel on Monroe Street across from the Toledo Museum of Art. About $50,000 of city property — much involving vehicles — was trashed. Residents armed themselves with shotguns and other weapons. One TARTA bus driver was slain and another was robbed, prompting the agency’s chief to pull all drivers off their routes because he feared for their safety. (toledoblade.com)

Punk'd by Obama ... In a show of what can only be described as Brass Balls, yesterday President Obama jerked on the stimulus money, setting the hook, which will now allow him to control the state’s budget. Specifically, $74 million dollar budget cuts to the pay of unionized home healthcare workers. As reported in the L.A. Times, "Schwarzenegger’s office was advised this week by federal health officials that the wage reduction, which will save California $74 million, violates provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Failure to revoke the scheduled wage cut before it takes effect July 1 could cost California $6.8 billion in stimulus money, according to state officials." In other words, Obama is doing the same thing to California that he is doing to the auto and banking industries. Do what we want, because we gave you money. You took money, therefore we own you. The citizens of California are unimportant. The projects that would be paid for with the $7 billion, also not important. The taxpayers, many yet to be born, that are paying for the stimulus cash, definitely not important. The home health care union workers, who I’m sure would rather take a pay cut than lose their jobs, they’re important. However, they are important only to a certain extent. The workers belong to SEIU, which is a branch of ACORN. As reported in the L.A. Times, but probably never in the MSM, "The workers, who collectively contribute millions of dollars in dues each month to the influential Service Employees International Union and the United Domestic Workers…" This is an ACORN payoff, plain and simple. ACORN is in large part responsible for the election of Barack Obama, and he owes them big. The state might very well be out of cash by June, so for Obama to put a political ally ahead of they needs of millions of citizens (which, ironically, voted for him in large numbers) is narrow minded, supercilious, and narcissistic. Sorry California, you just got punk’d by a nut. (hotair.com)

Let's take a look at ACORN

The political business of America is anti-business ... You know how sometimes you have a week that starts with a mediocre Monday, then Tuesday is pretty lousy, Wednesday is worse, and everything goes downhill from there? A week so foreboding that you start to wonder whether you’re seeing the beginnings of a trend and hope you’re wrong? We’ve just had one of those weeks — and you should have too, if you support US business. Three recent events should have you very worried. Each suggests a rising tide of union influence and the concomitant lowering of US competitiveness, just when our country can least afford it. Now, some might be thinking: “Here they go again, bashing organised labour because of its higher wage rates.” Not so fast, please. We are very much in favour of competitive wages and employees from the shop floor up having a voice in their companies. What we object to are union work rules, which tend to be rigid and adversarial and which almost always inject needless, gummy bureaucracy into organisations. Work rules kill productivity. We’ve seen it happen in industry after industry. Which brings us to the three events that have us concerned. (thetimes.co.za)

UFCW picks, freezes, personalizes, polarizes King Soopers ... Safeway workers voted to authorize a strike Saturday night, but will come to work Sunday while talks continue. The vote allows United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 negotiators to use it as a last resort. Earlier Saturday, King Soopers executives agreed to a contract extension with its workers in order to continue bargaining. Safeway and King Soopers have been in negotiations with the union since April. The existing five-year contract expires at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. Workers will continue to work under the old contract until a new one is agreed upon by both grocers. King Soopers agreed to an extension of the current contract until May 30, and bargaining is ongoing, said Diane Mulligan, spokeswoman for King Soopers. "The contract extension will protect our associates and the company from a work stoppage when the contract ends," Mulligan said. "If the union doesn't accept our contract extension proposal, our workers will still be able to work without a contract and receive the same pay and benefits as they did under the old contract." Tension was high Saturday for workers. (denverpost.com)

Bonus links:
Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
• More Saul Alinsky stories: here
'Rules for Radicals' at amazon.com

Obama ridicules the hand that feeds him ... Greed is good -- until it gets in the way of a union-friendly restructuring deal. President Barack Obama, generous recipient of Wall Street largesse, angrily derided a group of hedge fund managers this week as "speculators." The miffed president suggested that uncooperative firms were selfish for holding out on the government's Chrysler bankruptcy plans and refusing to make "sacrifices" to benefit the United Auto Workers. The "sacrifices" involved Chrysler debt holders agreeing to sell the debt to the government at prices determined by union-beholden bureaucrats instead of bankruptcy courts. The hedge firms balked. Obama sneered that the dissenters were looking for an "unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout." But the holdouts never took banking bailout funds from Washington. Obama's corporate-bashing rhetoric should, of course, come as no shock. During the campaign and continuing through his first 100 days, he has routinely attacked the "ethic of greed." When U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., publicized Obama's wealth redistribution comments to Joe the Plumber, Obama snarked that McCain was "fighting for Joe the Hedge Fund Manager" and was "in cahoots with Joe the CEO." (courierpostonline.com)

AFSCME big caught stealing election ... A union judicial board has called for a new election for the top jobs in Suffolk's largest union because of "sufficient evidence" that president Cheryl Felice and her ticket used union resources in a way that gave them "unfair advantage" in the race. However, Dan Farrell, treasurer of the Association of Municipal Employees, which represents county workers, called the board's finding "unfounded," saying board members "did not do all their homework." Farrell, also a member of Felice's ticket, predicted the union's 41-member board of directors, which makes the final decision on a revote, would reject a new election. The judicial board's finding came after Felice last month won a record third term as president of the 6,700-member union in a five-way race. Linda McGregor, who ran for executive vice president, challenged the election. "Cheryl's actions were reprehensible," said Lydia Sabosto, the union's executive vice president who ran second in the presidential contest. "The ball is in the court of the board of directors to do the right thing." (newsday.com)

Some Dems gag on EFCA ... The Employee Free Choice Act is still alive, and George McGovern still isn't fooled. Kill it before it gets to be law, he pleaded the other day. Not in those exact words. McGovern is, after all, a member of President Obama's party, a former senator and 1972 candidate for president. He has known and admired labor leaders. They're just dead wrong on this one, says the onetime World War II bomber pilot, now in his 80s. Contrary to rumor, as McGovern pointed out in a Wall Street Journal guest column the other day, the teeth in organized labor's top demand in Washington haven't been pulled. Yes, the most notorious provision possibly has been (though no one should let down his or her guard). That is "card-check." It would allow unions to organize a workplace simply by getting a majority of workers to sign for it. But workers would lose their right to a secret-ballot election to vote the union in or out. They could easily be bullied to sign. And that has caused some lawmakers to gag — even among the Democrats heavily funded by labor unions. (pittsburghlive.com)

Jumbo unions sue California for $$ billions ... To secure billions of dollars in additional funding for education, two school employee unions filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Thursday. The lawsuit argues that the state must repay schools the amount it's taking away — and sooner than other funding schemes would allow. Faced with a state budget crisis, Sacramento has taken $8.6 billion from K-12 and higher education over two years. The lawsuit argues that the state must repay much of that, and cites a 1988 voter initiative that guaranteed minimum funding for education. This week, the state Department of Finance suggested that schools may lose an additional $3.6 billion. That threatened reduction "made it imperative to file" the suit, said Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, which filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court. It was joined by the Service Employees International Union Local 99, in Southern California, which represents janitors, secretaries and other support staff. The CFT represents about 100,000 teachers, librarians and other credentialed school employees, and is the smaller of two unions representing public school teachers in California. (denverpost.com)

U.S. Asleep at the Wheel ... Death to America! Hmmm. Where have I heard that before? This is now coming from the one source — American citizens — who really could cause America to die, and they are succeeding at an alarming pace. All the words summarizing Barack Obama’s first 100 days can be reduced to three deaths to America. The supposed achievements are headlines with the Tea Parties. Only 86 days passed before hundreds of thousands of people joined in protest of being Taxed Enough Already (TEA). American-flagged ships had been free of piracy for 205 years, but that span has been broken. I have not heard any plan to keep pirates away for another 205 years. All we have to celebrate is the release of one captain, thanks to extraordinarily skilled efforts by U.S. fighting forces. Now we are about to outdo ourselves with much worse financial problems, of our own making, in the form of deficits and debt bigger than anything ever seen in this country. (tcpalm.com)

Administration throws rank-and-file workers under the bus ... The Obama administration, while trumpeting "transparency," wants to rescind accountability and financial disclosure regulations for America's unions. And while that's music to the ears of union bosses, it's a sour note for dues-paying members. It's one thing if the tougher regulations initiated by the Bush administration served no purpose. But the record shows otherwise. Since 2001, heightened fiscal scrutiny has led to more than 1,000 indictments of union officials and 929 convictions, according to The Heritage Foundation. A small cross section of bad apples? Perhaps. But those rotten to the core also were slapped with $93 million in court-ordered restitution to union members. Among the casualties of exposure: Tyrone Freeman, who led the 160,000-member Service Employees International Union of Los Angeles. That is, until filings revealed that the union paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to companies owned by Freeman's family members with nary any benefit for the union's members. Mr. Freeman ultimately resigned. It's argued that the disclosure requirements are too onerous. Or is this Obama's overture to Big Labor until a fresh lather of lipstick can be planted on the pig that's card check? Congress didn't buy the union-organizing, secret ballot-busting, binding arbitration-invoking Employee Free Choice Act -- at least not yet. It shouldn't fund new labor regulations that rescind the old and turn a blind eye to transparency. (pittsburghlive.com)

Union organizer charges LIUNA with racketeering, corruption ... My name is John Buck, I was formerly an organizer with the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund NYC, NJ, DEL Laborers International Union of North America, located at 104 Interchange Plaza Monroe NJ. In 1993, after military service, I became a laborer for local 913 laborers Dover NJ [north],after my local union was merged with local 592 North Bergen NJ and after achieving shop steward and labor foreman positions on multiple projects, I was approached to become an organizer for LEROF, which I accepted in 2002. It became clear to me almost from the beginning that there were three main mission statements. They are in order of priority as follows, 1, to collect information on current and past business managers in the NYC, NJ, DEL areas mostly by house calling members, keeping a daily journal and submitting said reports to Raymond Pacino, head of LEROF through his subordinate, David Johnson also of LEROF. 2. To promote and facilitate the acceptance of induction of illegal aliens into LIUNA and use any info of a criminal nature these aliens may produce regarding corruption in the construction industry and send it through channels previously mentioned. 3. To attend public bid openings in order to gather information on construction companies not yet allied with LIUNA and report thru same channels the bid prices these companies were submitting in order to either organize their illegal alien workforce or report thru same channels the illegality of such use this workforce in order to pressure said companies to sign with LIUNA. After making several comments to the effect that we ourselves would be culpable of facilitating and harboring thru the induction of illegal aliens by giving them union cards without proper ssn's, most likely fictitious, or any other form of proper ID, I was sent to the George Meaney Center for Labor Studies, Silver Springs MD in the next phase of my organizing training. After relaying my opposition and suspicions to other construction trade representatives from across the country and Canada. I was awarded a shirt signed by all saying "born to organize" at the conclusion of training. I came back to LEROF, we terminated our association and tried to go back to work at local 592 N Bergen NJ. I never worked as a laborer again. Through years of trying and demanding my re-instatement it was told to me that I had been working, without my knowledge or consent, for the NJ Attorney General's office and the F.B.I. while an organizer and that my continued relationship with LIUNA would never happen. This means to me the Laborers Union and the Justice Department, were and most likely still are in collusion for two benefitting outcomes, the Justice Department makes organized crime and political corruption cases and in return the Laborers Union leaders get to induct illegal aliens into the Union to increase membership dues to politically advance it's agenda. THIS IS BY DEFINITION A R.I.C.O. VIOLATION. (unionforums.org)

SEIU rank-and-file members smack down union bigs ... At least five Monterey County SEIU union members said on Friday afternoon during a press conference that the union is misusing monies intended to represent them during contract negotiations. Members of SEIU local 521, the union that represent most county employees, said union leaders are not representing the county workers at a time when the county is looking at concessions from unions to help close a $41.6 million budget gap. The members said they want to change unions but SEIU leaders are blocking them. Union officials deny these charges. The conflict in Monterey County stems from changes that occurred after the local union merged with units in Santa Clara, Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties. (thecalifornian.com)

SEIU's Andy Stern earns well-deserved criticism ... Back then, as Unite, the garment and apparel workers union, and Here, the hotel and casino workers union, considered merging, Stern suggested an alternative: join SEIU, which was surging forward as the country’s largest and fastest-growing union. Unite President Bruce Raynor and Here leader John Wilhelm declined. Instead they formed Unite Here, parent of the Culinary Union, promising to organize large numbers of workers nationally. The honeymoon was short-lived, and long-simmering tensions between the two leaders erupted into public view this year, with Raynor calling for a divorce and Wilhelm struggling to keep the merger intact. Enter Stern. The SEIU president revived his old proposal that they join him. Raynor has accepted, effectively leading a secession. His former Unite allies took 150,000 members and formed a new SEIU affiliate, Workers United. The move outraged Wilhelm, who accused Stern of raiding Unite Here and engineering a hostile takeover of the union’s hotel and casino jurisdictions. By now, Stern is accustomed to criticism. (lasvegassun.com)

Obama's oppressive suits flirt with bankruptcy ... This Monday, May 11, 500 workers at the Chicago-based apparel firm Hart Schaffner & Marx will hold a rally and historic "sit in" vote to fight for their jobs as major lender and TARP fund recipient Wells Fargo & Co. pushes for a bankruptcy closure of the facility. Mirroring the struggle of 250 Republic Windows and Doors workers who succeeded at saving their jobs last December, Hartmarx workers, members of the union Workers United, an SEIU affiliate, are receiving growing support from state and national leaders who are slamming Wells Fargo -- a $25 billion taxpayer bailout recipient -- for shortsightedly refusing to invest in U.S. companies and workers. Illinois Treasurer Giannoulias has vowed "Unless the company remains open, [Wells Fargo] will not be doing business with the state of Illinois any longer." The Hartmarx workers' struggle sounds the alarm on what could be a firestorm of job losses and company closures perpetuated by U.S. financial institutions. Ruby Sims who has worked at Hartmarx for 31 years states "I can't believe that a bank that got some of this [TARP] money would turn around and do us like this." In an effort to hold banks that have received over $450 billion in taxpayer bailout funds accountable for mounting costs to U.S. workers, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will announce the formation of a toll-free hotline to gather stories of workers hurt by shortsighted banking practices at Wells Fargo and other financial institutions. Chicago-based Hartmarx, the largest menswear manufacturing company in the nation, filed for bankruptcy protection in January after U.S. banks curtailed its lines of credit. The clothing maker employs 3,500 across the nation, with about 1,000 of its employees located in Rock Island and suburban Des Plaines where suits for President Obama are made. (prnewswire.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez creates Venezuelan Workers' Paradise ... The streets of Caracas filled with workers from a wide variety of unions, the government’s pro-poor social missions and other community organisations — all in red T-shirts emblazoned with slogans supporting the Bolivarian revolution. The march was organised by the left-wing National Union of Workers (UNT) and the mass party led by President Hugo Chávez, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Speaking on the aims of the Boliviarian revoluition, Chávez told the crowd: “It is necessary to increase the battle for socialism, and redouble our efforts.” He said: “There’s no socialism without the working class ... solid, conscientious, and committed to what is being born in Venezuela, which is socialism.” He said the government will invest almost US$1000 million in 200 “socialist factories”, whose aim will be to create new relations of production in the next period. “There must be a breaking-up of market relations in society, to give life to processes outside of consumption”, Chávez said. He said the construction of socialism would take a long time. Noting that the aim of building socialism fell apart within the former Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries, Chávez said “that does not mean that it is impossible to construct a socialist model. We are not at the point of claiming victory, but we are going to show that we can do it.” Chávez said Venezuela’s existing institutions were the “territory of the bourgeoisie”. Pointing to nearby public buildings, he said: “We are throwing them out of there, and they will never return. We will keep on liberating spaces.” He asked unions to not limit themselves to just economic struggles, but commit themselves to “the people and the revolution”. Chávez said: “I know we are reaching the limits of cooperation with that capitalism that leads to the workers being divided and fragmented, converted into beggars, fighting [for small gains] with the bosses. “The workers [are moving into] new trade unions, class based, revolutionary, socialist, transcending all the divisions, to fight, because workers continue to fight for their due rights. “The new working class must be incorporated fundamentally into the construction of the new Venezuela, a socialist, Bolivarian society.” (greenleft.org.au)
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