5/17/09

Sunday wrap

No Choice: Obama throws rank-and-file workers under the bus ... President Obama has issued four executive orders that fundamentally change the government’s policy on federal contracting—in ways that dramatically favor organized labor. Presidents have the authority to adopt executive orders that dictate how the executive branch of the government conducts its affairs. Obama signed the four new orders less than 30 days after taking office. The “Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws” executive order requires employers to post signs informing employees of their right to engage in collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. This executive order revoked one signed by President George W. Bush that required employers to inform employees of their right to limit their financial support of unions to collective-bargaining activities and refrain from contributing money to political causes favored by unions. In essence, Bush required employers to post signs letting unionized employees know they don’t have to pay dues to support union political causes, only collective-bargaining efforts. (businessmanagementdaily.com)


Fraud groups exposed: SEIU-ACORN finances commingled ... Glenn Beck has really gotten his teeth into the corruption at ACORN and its connection to SEIU. He admits that he believes the connection is very complicated and designed to be so. He is correct. ACORN has 330 tentacles with two of them reaching in to Andy Stern’s SEIU. Why? Because SEIU locals 100 and 880 are run out of the same address on 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans. It is important to understand how the money flows from SEIU Locals 100 and 880 to ACORN. Employment Policies Institute has highlighted the money flow in its piece, Rotten Acorn. I am going to let the EPI discuss it in their own words. As with most ventures ACORN is involved in, it would take a forensic accounting expert to track all of the money flowing from one ACORN group to another. But the financial disclosure forms from ACORN’s unions shed some light on their cash flow. Local 880’s Department of Labor financial filings from 2005 show a pattern of loans and payments to ACORN-run organizations: (theunionlabelblog.com)


Congress compared to swine ... The quote of the week comes from Pittsburgh attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, who's long been bird-dogging allegations of impropriety against ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. It was her congressional testimony that prompted House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., to say, at least initially, that he'd consider hearings on the matter. He conveniently reneged on that consideration right in the middle of Nevada and Pennsylvania officials lodging charges of voter registration fraud against the group that also was no two-bit player in the subprime mortgage mess. Said Ms. Heidelbaugh, at a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who called on legislators to block ACORN from receiving any additional taxpayer dollars: "We've had a swine flu scare here in the United States. I think there is denial flu in Congress. It's either a case of serious denial or complicity." (pittsburghlive.com)


Obama: Government greed is good ... Just how much government debt does a president have to endorse before he's labeled "irresponsible"? Well, apparently much more than the massive amounts envisioned by President Obama. The final version of his 2010 budget, released last week, is a case study in political expediency and economic gambling. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that's atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70%, up from 41% in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80%). The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82%. But wait: Even these totals may be understated. By various estimates, Obama's health plan might cost $1.2 trillion over a decade; he has budgeted only $635 billion. (ibdeditorials.com)


U.S. diagnosed with terminal collectivist corruption ... It’s now clear to most Americans that their country is not only headed in the wrong direction, but on the brink of complete extinction. In just the last six months, every major economic sector is speeding towards bankruptcy and the Fed has spent trillions in printed funny money, in an unbridled and ill-fated effort to buy up (not bail out) America’s free-market economic system, leaving the nation, its currency, its people - and yes - FREEDOM, headed towards imminent total collapse. Opinions about how to save American freedom and liberty are plentiful. But without a proper fact based diagnosis, there is no way to know which remedy will save the day, and which might kill the patient. Before we can discuss a cure, we must carefully assess the illness… Money, power and influence over government are indeed at the root of the problem. However, we must separate political spin from fiscal reality in order to properly identify the real culprits. The cycle of corruption must be broken and Americans must identify and attack the greatest offenders first. If they fail to go after the kingpins of government corruption, they will waste a lot of time and resources chasing their tails in pursuit of mere pawns, or even worse, the wrong guys. (canadafreepress.com)


Union-backed, tax-funded fraud group forces workers to break the law ... Two former members of political advocacy group ACORN said Friday that they had to meet voter registration quotas, otherwise they faced losing their jobs. The two were among seven workers charged in Allegheny County last week with either forging, illegally soliciting or illegally filling out voter cards in the lead up to the 2008 elections. Mario Grisom and Ashley Clarke told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the quotas outside a courtroom Friday where preliminary hearings were taking place. "We definitely had to reach a quota. If we didn't reach a quota we'd lose our jobs," said Grisom, 28, of Wilkinsburg. Clarke, 21, of Pittsburgh, said supervisors with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now would sometimes complete partially filled applications. ACORN works to get low-income people to vote and lists offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. "The bosses , if the date of birth wasn't filled out , they would find it and fill it out for us," she said. Hearings for Grisom, Clarke and four others were postponed so they could get lawyers. A seventh defendant was held for trial. (philly.com)


Union pension funds squandered by bigs ... The Employee Free Choice Act, which would take away employees’ free choice about whether to join a union, has brighter prospects now that Arlen Specter is in the mood to compromise. This is wretched news, of course, because secret ballots matter (I'll point out why in Sunday's Journal Sentinel) and because the bill also imposes binding arbitration on company-union negotiations. As George McGovern recently put it, this is lunacy. Diana Furchgott-Roth points out that Specter’s compromise might well be to give way on the secret ballot – unions would have to swallow not winning 100% of the time – but include the arbitration. This still works from the union standpoint. It rescues them from insolvency, says the former Department of Labor chief economist. Here’s how: “Failing pension plans are a major problem for unions. Unions create these multiemployer, collectively-bargained plans in order to provide retirement income for workers in several different places of employment. This requires the union, the sponsor of the plan, to negotiate with each employer to join and contribute to the fund.” How bad off are the union pension funds? SEIU has only three-quarters the money it’s promised to beneficiaries. The Sheet Metal Workers Union has 42%. Non-union plans are much better off. (jsonline.com)


We don't need no stinkin' worker-choice for nurses ... For almost two years, registered nurses at Fremont-Rideout Health Group (FRHG) have been fighting for the basic right to determine for themselves whether they want continued representation by the California Nurses Association (CNA). First, nurses filed for a decertification election so they could vote on the issue. When the union filed charges to block the nurses' right to vote, the nurses gathered signatures from a majority of their colleagues on a petition seeking removal of CNA. Now, the union has once again blocked the will of the nurses through legal maneuvering that has overturned their petition, and CNA has been re-imposed on the nurses. FRHG will be returning to the bargaining table with CNA shortly, where the union will undoubtedly return to its favorite subject, "union security," which simply means forcing all nurses to pay union dues in order to keep their jobs — whether they want to join the union or not. Throughout this process, FRHG has stood in support of our nurses' rights to freely decide whether they want union representation, and to freely decide whether to pay union dues. Would it have been easier and less costly in the short run to simply give the union the only thing it truly wants, mandatory dues? Perhaps, but we made a commitment to stand with our nurses who don't want to be forced into a union they don't support, and we will not betray their trust. hy has CNA continually refused to agree to a contract with an "open shop," allowing nurses to decide whether or not to pay dues? And why has CNA gone to extraordinary lengths to re-impose the union on nurses who don't want to join? The answer is that CNA could take approximately $600,000 a year in dues from the paychecks of nurses at Fremont-Rideout hospitals. Over the course of a three-year contract, that represents nearly $2 million in income for the union. (appeal-democrat.com)


Bailout nation turns to propaganda units ... As part of the proposed new “media infrastructure,” Free Press is calling for a $50-billion “Public Media Trust Fund” to underwrite the creation of new jobs for journalists and the use of the existing federal AmeriCorps program “to include journalistic activities as part of its mission” in the form of “journalism positions” and “journalism projects.” AmeriCorps is a federally-funded national and community service agency. The group is also urging a direct federal bailout of liberal media institutions, declaring that “The Department of Labor could design a program aimed at keeping reporters employed at existing news organizations or at new outlets.” Free Press explains, “If the government were to subsidize 5,000 reporters at $50,000 per year, the cost would be $250 million annually, a relatively modest sum given the billions coming out of Washington.” In addition to the $50-billion “Public Media Trust Fund,” another one of the proposals from the Free Press group is a $50-million “government-seeded innovation fund for journalism,” described by Craig Aaron of Free Press as “a taxpayer-supported venture capital firm that invests in new journalism models.” (smallgovtimes.com)


Striking unionist hospitalized in picket-line violence ... A striking outside city worker said he suffered serious injuries after a confrontation with a private contractor who was trying to mow grass on Kildare Road, according to a union statement and a police report. The union member, who remains at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital awaiting surgery Saturday, suffered a broken ankle after he fell to the ground. He also had cuts to his nose and face, said Jim Wood, president of CUPE Local 82, which represents about 400 outside city workers who have been on strike since April 15. Another 1,400 inside city workers joined the picket lines on April 18. According to police, around 4 p.m. Friday a private contractor, who does landscaping for Windsor Regional Hospital, was asked by a hospital official to mow a city median on Kildare Road because it was very overgrown, said acting Staff Sgt. Steve Cincurak. (windsorstar.com)


Oppressed Teamster strikers shut down labor-state radio station ... Radio KDNA employees decided Saturday to protest the termination of two former co-workers who they say were fired for trying to join a union; management says that had nothing to do with it. Now, employees of the Spanish-language public broadcaster said they will return to work only when their former co-workers do, too. In the meantime, static replaces all programming on 91.9 FM. Scores of KDNA listeners showed up to support station employees throughout the day Saturday while they picketed in front of the Granger building, and later at a community rally at Hisey Park. "We are no longer getting the respect we deserve," KDNA night supervisor Manuel López said. "We no longer have a voice here. In the 29 years of this station's existence, we have never had to go off the air because of a labor conflict like this." (yakimaherald.com)


Obama flunks economics ... The key question is not whether America will recover from the current managed economic decline, but whether America will be allowed to recover. And the key factors that will determine are whether we will have a free market economy, or a socialist economy dominated by vastly expanded and empowered unions, cap and trade, and a great deal of new taxes and regulations. Obama’s new jobs program has gotten off to a good start, as he’s busy running Chrysler into the ground. After slashing Chrysler’s ad budget by 50 percent, the company will also be closing nearly 1/4th of its dealerships, killing 38,000 jobs. But don’t worry, while 38,000 small business jobs may have been lost… but Obama’s UAW supporters will keep their jobs. And that of course was the whole point. (canadafreepress.com)


UAW earns well-deserved national scorn ... The United Auto Workers, like the automakers whose employees it represents, is struggling to survive the worst financial crisis to hit the auto industry since the Great Depression. The UAW's ranks have been decimated, dramatically reducing income from membership dues, and further losses are on the way as Detroit's automakers close more factories. Its vaunted benefits, long the gold standard for America's working class, have become the subject of national scorn. (detnews.com)


Keystone State: #1 in the nation for school strikes ... The Crestwood (PA) School District support staff will go on strike starting Monday, but district officials announced all schools will remain open. The Crestwood Education Support Professionals Association notified the district Friday that the work stoppage will begin Monday, their first strike since their original contract expired in 2001. However, district officials said the schools will remain operational and the strike will not affect the district’s education of students. “It’s something that we’ve been putting off for a long time,” Dominic Azzara, union vice president, said. “It’s something we didn’t want to do, but we’re backed into a corner.” (standardspeaker.com)


Culture of leftwing corruption plagues U.S. ... The wheels of government are firmly in the hands of Democrat legislators with besmirched records, questionable friends and associates, and as often as not, liars of the first order. One need only look at the President who came out of the “Chicago machine” and his previous associations with a convicted real estate developer, an anti-American preacher, a former Weatherman, and others of that ilk. This is a President who will not release his birth certificate, nor any other records attesting to his competence and right to hold office. In the House, Congressman Barney Frank who plays a crucial role in determining the way the bailouts and stimulus money are spent first gained fame when he publicly admitted his homosexuality six years after he had been elected in 1981. In 1991, he received an official reprimand for reflecting “discredit upon the House” as the result of his relationship with a male prostitute who ran a prostitution ring from Frank’s home. Frank said he knew nothing of this illicit enterprise. Six members of the House recently traveled to Castro’s Cuba to explore how restrictions between the United States and that communist dictatorship could be lifted. They were Emanuel Clever, Marcia L. Fudge, Barbara Lee, Laura Richardson, Bobby Rush, and Mel Watt. All six are leadership member within the 2009 Congressional Black Caucus founded by one-time card carrying member of the Communist Party USA, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan. The Caucus has 42 members of whom 30 are also members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. (canadafreepress.com)


Socialist unionists celebrate icons ... US longshore workers, members of the ILWU, today pay tribute to the two union brothers, the ILWU's first martyrs, who were the first to give their lives in the Strike of 1934, with the unveiling of a sculpture of Harry Bridges. It is the 75th anniversary of the deaths of Richard "Dickie" Parker and John Miles Knudsen. To commemorate the event, locals 13, 63, 94 and the Southern California Pensioners Group decided to organize a march and memorial service. The three mile march will begin at the Harry Bridges Boulevard in Wilmington and conclude with a 12:00 p.m. memorial at the Longshore Memorialin San Pedro. The highlight of this year's event will be the unveiling of a bronze bust of Harry Bridges, sculpted by the renowned artists Eugene Daub and Rob Firmin of San Pedro and Emeryville, California. Harry Bridges was the legendary founder of the ILWU, an Australian seafarer who jumped ship in San Francisco in the twenties, joined the waterfront and founded the ILWU after bitter struggle culminating in police firing on workers on July 5, 1934, Bloody Thursday. (pww.org)


International Collectivism

Chávez: Collectivism will save the world ... Wynter asked Chávez: “Could you explain why ‘socialism of the 21st century’ is important and relevant to people of the developed countries, like Australia?” Chávez answered: “The Bolivarian revolution is an important support for the salvation of humanity, and also the salvation of nature. “Both entities are closely related, human and nature, because humans are part of nature and nature is part of humanity. “Therefore, for the developed world, as you may call it, this current level of development of the countries of the North, of Australia, of Europe, must be made sustainable. Therefore, socialism is [necessary for] the salvation of the entire world.” (greenleft.org.au)


Latin progressive takes on terrorist critics ... “Don’t be surprised if the government takes action against a few media which continue to practice terrorism”, said Chávez during a press conference in Buenos Aires where he arrived for a brief visit in support of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner administration. His warnings follow instructions to his officials to begin legal actions against the “terrorist” media of Venezuela. Chávez was referring to the recent controversy involving the Deputy Communication minister Mauricio Rodriguez who recalled that US writer and thinker Noam Chomsky said in 2007 that if in the US or in Europe any media had acted as some did in Venezuela during the frustrated 2002 coup, “their owners would have been executed”. (en.mercopress.com)
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