Nurses in the middle of fascist union war

The battle between two unions over the representation of nurses escalated Monday when the Service Employees International Union filed a motion in Alameda County Superior Court accusing the California Nurses Association of illegally seeking to silence the competing union.

The motion follows an Alameda County Superior Court commissioner's emergency order against SEIU on Wednesday. The order, issued in response to allegations by Oakland-based CNA that SEIU agents harassed its members at a Michigan labor meeting and at their homes in California, barred SEIU President Andy Stern and members of his union from assaulting, stalking or coming within 100 yards of CNA organizers.

SEIU, which denies the allegations, said in its motion Monday that the nurses union's petition for the injunction violated the state's "anti-SLAPP" law, which bars any lawsuit designed to chill free speech. The acronym stands for a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

The nurses union was seeking "to smear SEIU and Mr. Stern in the national media and to chill free speech by SEIU members and supporters," according to the SEIU motion, which seeks dismissal of last week's court order and which, if granted, could pave the way for SEIU to collect damages from CNA.

The nurses union said Monday the free-speech right asserted by SEIU doesn't include the "targeting, threats, and intimidation" that the CNA accuses SEIU of engaging in.


Orwellian forced-labor unionism threatens U.S.

For several years, Big Labor has spent millions of dollars of their members' dues money waging an offensive and often misleading PR war. Union efforts are being made in order to lure politicians into supporting a draconian bill entitled the Employee Free Choice Act. It is estimated that labor union spending on the November elections may exceed $1 billion in order to target and unionize millions of America's union-free workers through this Orwellian law.

Yet, it is a very public fight between unions that has taken place over the last two months, leading to allegations of union-led violence at a union conference on Saturday, April 12th, that demonstrates exactly why the Employee Free Choice Act should be opposed, says EmployerReport.com Editor and Chief Blogger Peter A. List, a noted labor relations consultant.

List is referring to the current clash going on right now between the Service Employees International Union, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an offshoot of the California Nurses Association (an AFL-CIO affiliate), and the AFL-CIO. All three have been locked in a heated battle over which union gets representational and monetary control over the nation's registered nurses.

This inter-union war has led to dueling press releases, allegations of harassment, stalking, violence, and even a union member's death that occurred at a labor conference in Dearborn, Michigan on April 12th. In California, a judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the SEIU over allegations of stalking and harassing CNA executive board members at their homes and workplaces. Last week, AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney issued a press release stating (in part), "Violence in attacking freedom of speech must be strongly condemned."

"For these union bosses to complain about the union tactics they are using on each another is both ironic and smacks of union hypocrisy," List (himself a former union activist) states, "since these are the very tactics these unions deploy on employers and their employees all-too-often during union organizing campaigns throughout the country."

"Many Americans are, perhaps for the first time, seeing the type of common tactics that union bosses have used against employers and employees for years, only this time unions are doing it to themselves," List says. "By their own actions against each other, unions are shedding light on exactly why EFCA should be exposed for the fraud that it is."

"If enacted, EFCA would strip workers of the right to vote on unionization by secret-ballot, causing the unionization of workers based purely on trained union organizers' ability to obtain signed union authorization cards through harassment and deception, as well as leaving workers exposed to the very tactics these unions are accusing each other of right now," says List.

An additional component of EFCA is the binding arbitration provision that mandates that a government-appointed arbitrator will impose a contract on a newly-unionized employer if the union and company representatives cannot reach agreement within 120 days of unionization.

"In a global economy, EFCA is the ultimate American job killer," says List, himself a former union activist whose union job was outsourced pre- NAFTA. "Both forced unionization and binding arbitration will further destroy countless American jobs and cause the destruction of a huge number of small businesses as their ability to compete will be damaged beyond repair."

"Politicians should not allow themselves to become the political pawns of union bosses in exchange for union support in November," states List. "Unfortunately, certain politicians are allowing themselves to be used by this special interest group in exchange for union money and union 'get-out-the- vote' efforts. However, these same politicians run the risk of becoming the paid-political puppets of union bosses in an effort that may, ultimately, lead to more American job losses."

EmployerReport.com, launched on Labor Day 2006, is a free website that provides employers and the legal community news links and commentary on labor unions and overly burdensome regulators.

- Peter A. List is Editor & Chief Blogger of EmployerReport.com, as well as Founder & CEO of Kulture, LLC -- a nationally known labor and employee relations consulting firm assisting employers with employee and labor issues.

For more information, go to http://www.employerreport.com/ or http://www.uskulture.com/


UAW strikes reflect festering local grievances

As a strike deadline looms at a key General Motors Corp. assembly plant today in Kansas, the president of the UAW local there said progress is slow, but the union might continue to work past today's deadline as long as talks are advancing.

The plant, in Kansas City, Kan., makes the Chevrolet Malibu, one of GM's hottest-selling cars. On Thursday, GM disclosed that it had received a 5-day strike notice from UAW Local 31.

"We're just hammering it out with them," Local 31 President Jeff Manning said Monday. "During the next couple of days, we hope to get it wrapped up."

GM's plant in Kansas is one of many where production is either shut down or threatened because of UAW strikes. The eight-week old UAW strike against GM supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. has now either shut down or limited production at 30 GM factories, as well as at an Indiana plant that makes the Hummer H2.

Workers have gone on strike at a GM plant in Delta Township near Lansing, and workers at two other plants in Michigan are on the verge of striking over local contract issues.

Talks between GM and each of the four UAW locals continued through the weekend. Negotiators for American Axle and their UAW counterparts took a break and resumed Monday.

Some have suggested that there is a connection between the UAW's moves at the GM plants and the slow-moving progress with American Axle, but Manning rejected that.

"We've been at it since June of 2007, and at some point, you've got to move forward," Manning said.

Work rules and other issues

GM reached a national agreement with the UAW last year that addresses wages and benefits. But the automaker must also negotiate agreements with local UAW chapters at about 77 plants, primarily covering work rules, to replace those that expired in September. So far, it has reached agreements at 10 locations.

"It all has to do with seniority and job security," Manning said. "Those are the two main things."

Negotiations with locals can sometimes be tense, even when relations between UAW's top leadership and an automaker are constructive, said Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor of labor studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

"The thing about local strikes on working conditions and such issues is that they have a dynamic which is independent of the larger dour circumstances of the domestic auto industry," he said in an e-mail to the Free Press. "Workers want to resolve local grievances, which fester forever."

In Wyoming, Mich., near Grand Rapids, workers could go on strike as early as Friday.

"The meetings are going on and are looking good, from what I have heard," UAW Local 730 Webmaster Karl Hamilton said in an e-mail to the Free Press.

"In my opinion, I still feel that there will not be a strike, even if the contract is not completely settled by Friday."

GM cuts production

Meanwhile, the eight-week strike at American Axle has forced GM to cut production at two more plants. On Monday, GM cut one of three shifts at an Oshawa, Ontario, factory that makes the Chevrolet Impala and Buick Lacrosse sedans. It also cut production of four-speed transmissions at a factory in Washtenaw County's Ypsilanti Township. The Oshawa plant normally employs nearly 4,000 hourly workers; the Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti Township has nearly 1,500.

GM spokesman Dan Flores said one shift returned to work at GM's Oshawa truck plant. That plant, which makes the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado, normally has about 3,300 hourly employees split between two shifts.

Pressure likely to rise

Renee Rogers, spokeswoman for American Axle, said the two sides have been making some progress but declined to elaborate.

Scrutiny of the American Axle strike is likely to increase as the week goes on. The company is planning to hold its annual meeting Thursday, and freep.com postings urge a larger-than-usual turnout on the picket line that day.

American Axle also is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings Friday, which could reveal how deeply the strike has hurt its finances.

Kirk Ludtke, senior vice president of CRT Capital Group LLC, said financial analysts will likely have a hard time evaluating what those financial results mean for American Axle's future unless the company reveals details about the status of negotiations, which he sees as unlikely.

Analysts will want to look at how much liquidity or available cash, American Axle has, but Ludtke said the company should still be in good shape.

American Axle shares dropped 41 cents, or 1.8%, Monday to close at $22.34.

Despite the production cuts for GM, its shares rose $1.14, or 5.7%, Monday to close at $21.27.


Labor unions anchor uneasy Dem coalition

Sen. Barack Obama's opponents are still working to exploit the flap over his remarks in San Francisco, gleefully labeling him an "elitist." "I don't think it helps to divide our country into one America that is enlightened and one that is not," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) charged. "If you want to be the president of all Americans, you need to respect all Americans." Steve Schmidt, an aid for Sen. John McCain, piled on. "It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," he claimed.

Portraying Obama as a pompous, Harvard-educated elitist, critics have mocked his diction, his manner, even his accent. While it may seem surprising to find a black man from a broken family fighting charges of snobbery, anti-elitism has been a familiar feature of American politics since the Republic's early days. Since Richard M. Nixon perfected the tactic in the 1960s, it has become a particularly effective tool for derailing liberal Democrats from Northern industrial states. Indeed, since the 1960s, white Southern Baptists who could roll a convincing "y'all" off their tongues have been the only Democrats to capture the White House.

To end the long drought, Obama might have to tap into the fighting spirit of his fellow Harvard alumni -- Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Those men overcame their privileged backgrounds, cultivating reputations for toughness that appealed to ordinary citizens.

Resentment against the swells became a staple of presidential politics in the 1820s, when Andrew Jackson, a former general and substantial slaveholder, become king of the common man. As the franchise expanded to the unpropertied, Jackson defeated the Boston Brahmin John Quincy Adams in 1828, laying to rest the once-dominant principle that the masses should submit to the rule of their natural betters. Eight years later, the opposition Whigs cemented this new style of presidential politics, when they linked their candidate, William Henry Harrison, a Virginia aristocrat and military hero, to humble life in a log cabin.

But if the Jacksonian era made anti-elitism a touchstone of American politics, it certainly did not mark the exit of patrician princes from presidential campaigns. Men to the manner born -- with prominent family ties, inherited wealth or elite educations -- have frequently occupied the White House -- to the present day, in fact.

Four of the last six presidents (George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Gerald R. Ford) have held degrees from Yale or Harvard. The current incumbent embodies this seeming paradox. How did the son of a president and grandson of a senator, scion of inherited wealth, graduate of Andover, Yale and Harvard, pass himself off as the ultimate good ol' boy -- the regular guy everybody wants to share a beer with, even if Bush doesn't drink beer?

More important, how did anti-elitism -- a charge which never stuck to liberal Democrats like Roosevelt and Kennedy whatever their background and style -- become a potent weapon against liberalism?

Certainly, no president should have been more vulnerable to charges of snobbery than Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The descendant of Dutch patroons -- the aristocrats who settled the Hudson River valley in the 17th century -- FDR lived out the life of the American ruling class. He had private tutors, attended Groton, considered the most elite of the English-style boarding schools, and had admission to Harvard guaranteed by family connections. The cigarette holder and pince nez placed him among the snootiest of Americans.

But Roosevelt's dedicated efforts to shield ordinary Americans from what he called the "hazards and vicissitudes of life," his congenial temperament and his zest for the rough-and-tumble of partisan politics more than compensated for his aristocratic background. FDR also reveled in the opposition his presidency provoked among his fellow sons of privilege. Never before had the forces of selfishness, FDR told a massive rally at Madison Square Garden in 1936, "been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me. They hate Roosevelt -- and I welcome their hatred."

Kennedy was also the pampered child of an extremely privileged background. With his erudition, his unmistakable accent and his consummate style, Kennedy should have been easy target for populist scorn. But unlike many liberals of his age -- twice-defeated presidential standard-bearer Adlai E. Stevenson prominent among them -- Kennedy felt no squeamishness about power. He enjoyed exercising it in the service of domestic reform, foreign policy and in political struggle with his rivals.

But in 1968, Nixon changed the debate. A man who seethed with resentment against the elites he felt lorded over him with their superior connections and Ivy League educations, the never-popular Nixon suffered crushing loses in the 1960 presidential campaign and his 1962 race for the California governorship. By the end of the 1960s, however, Nixon would embody the concerns of millions of white, middle-class Americans unmoored by the turmoil of that tumultuous decade.

Appealing to the "forgotten American" and the "silent majority," Nixon stoked anger against an out-of-touch liberal establishment that turned up its nose at the values of ordinary Americans. Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew sneered at bureaucrats, the media ("nattering nabobs of negativism") and the intelligentsia (the "effete corps of impudent snobs"). They attracted working class Democrats to the conservative fold by attacking the cultural hauteur and smug superiority of the privileged. In the process, they helped the Republican Party shed its long association with the country club set.

Nixon wrote the playbook that almost every future Republican would follow -- link Democrats to a condescending elite of opera tickets and Grey Poupon. By making himself into a pork rind-loving, cowboy-boot-wearing Texan, George H. W. Bush (of Andover and Yale) played this hand to discredit the son of immigrants, Michael S. Dukakis in 1988.

In recent years, as the Democratic Party became an uneasy coalition of young activists, affluent social liberals, union labor and minority voters, this strategy has also become a key component of Democratic primary campaigns. In 1984, Walter F. Mondale used it to undermine Gary Hart's "yuppie" campaign. When Hart left the race, one pundit wagged, there will be no trans-Atlantic Perrier pipeline, no national quiche stamps program.

And, this year, witnesses the astonishing transformation of Hillary Clinton -- once reviled by the right as the ultimate latte liberal -- into the candidate of "pinochle and the American dream." The charge of elitism has stung liberal Democrats -- especially those insurgents who tried to move the party beyond its union labor base, so that it would appeal to growing population of educated professionals and wired workers, the type of Americans who actually drink lattes.

To defuse these attacks, Obama needs to counter-punch vigorously against his two multimillionaire opponents. And he seems to be doing just that. He also needs to remind voters of where he came from.

Obama's education and accomplishments should not distance him from ordinary Americans, but instead showcase an authentic striver, a member of the meritocracy attuned to the perils and the promise of American life. Like FDR's fight with polio and Kennedy's Catholic heritage, Obama's life includes struggle and his politics need to embrace the beneficent use of power.

If Obama can do this, he might finally lay to rest the phony populism of Nixon that has dominated U.S. elections for the last four decades.

- Bruce J. Schulman is the William Huntington Professor of History at Boston University and the author of "The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society and Politics" and Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism.


Change to Win resembles same old AFL-CIO

When the seven unions that now make up the Change to Win labor federation left the AFL-CIO in 2005, many of them cited frustration with the overemphasis on campaign-related activism that yielded uncertain payoffs. "We don't think throwing more money into the political process and ignoring organizing will get the job done," United Food and Commercial Workers International President Joseph Hansen said shortly before the split. "The status quo can't stand." So it is surprising that Change to Win made a high-profile endorsement this year (siding with Barack Obama), while the AFL-CIO has stayed on the sidelines of the Democratic primary.

Judging by the primary results thus far, Change to Win should have stuck with its original cautious approach. By gambling big on its ability to deliver for a single Democratic candidate, the federation has only exposed its political weakness this primary season. The AFL-CIO, on the other hand, seems to have learned its lesson from years of risky primary endorsements; staying out of the primary battle may not prove its influence, but it won't undermine its capital, either.

When Anna Burger, chair of Change to Win and secretary-treasurer of its largest union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), announced the Obama endorsement in February 21, she hedged no bets in describing what she thought the impact of that endorsement would be. "We think it's time to bring this nomination process to a close, and we think we can make a difference and get this done," Burger said, citing the large numbers of Change to Win union members in Texas and Ohio, which then loomed as crucial states in the Democratic primary.

Her language marked a shift from SEIU's original approach to the primaries, when it pushed candidates to release detailed health care reform plans and to spend a day on the job with SEIU members. Those tactics called significant attention to SEIU's priorities without costing the union any money or political clout.

But the prospect of playing a decisive role in the primary--a feat that had the potential to bring it enormous political clout--seems to have been irresistible to Change to Win. SEIU in particular, as president Andy Stern suggested, thought that its Obama endorsement could have a ripple effect through Latino communities--a constituency Obama had proved unable to crack, and one with which many SEIU locals had built strong relationships around issues like immigration.

Change to Win's predicted knockout punch never landed. Hillary Clinton beat Obama by a 2-to-1 margin among Latinos in Texas and by ten points among union members and 14 points among union households in Ohio. In much the same way, the high-profile endorsement from Nevada's largest union, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 (members of Latino-friendly and Change to Win-affiliated UNITE HERE), failed to deliver the state to Obama. Though Clinton pulled in a narrower margin of union voters--she took 45 percent of their votes, compared to Obama's 44 percent and John Edwards's seven percent--she held on to a commanding lead among Latino voters, walking away with 64 percent of their votes.

Anna Burger's blunt insistence that the Change to Win would play a significant role in delivering the nomination to Obama and ending the primary set up Change to Win to fall short repeatedly, as it has. SEIU 's strongest claim to victory is that their 1,200 members in Wyoming played a pivotal role in handing Obama a win there--hardly the kind of prize the union initially promised to deliver.

Obama's much-ballyhooed comments about the "bitter" feelings of working class workers may or may not hurt him in Pennsylvania, which had 830,000 union members in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But even though those union members outnumber the 789,882 Democratic voters who turned out to vote in the 2004 presidential primary, Change to Win's lackluster performance thus does not bode well for their chances of handing Pennsylvania to Obama.

AFL-CIO, which had always made high-profile endorsements during the Democratic primary and followed them up with large investments of time and money on behalf of their chosen candidate, has mostly sat out this year's primary battle. Instead, it has put much of the $53.4 million the federation has pledged to spend on the presidential election into a campaign attacking John McCain's economic record. The federation launched a website, is holding several hundred town hall meetings on health care in April, plans to make 100,000 phone calls in May, will hold a national door-to-door canvass on May 17, and will have volunteers dogging McCain at every one of his campaign stops. These efforts will strengthen the unions' political clout no matter who ends up winning the Democratic nomination.

Though some Change to Win unions have begun similar efforts, the group has been spending money and paying significant attention on the Democratic primary. As of April 13, SEIU has spent $6.3 million on the primary; its New York-based 1199 branch alone has spent more than $800,000 to turn out SEIU voters for Obama. UNITE HERE has spent almost $100,000 thus far, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, another Change to Win union, has spent almost $600,000. These efforts have not been enough to help Obama win in crucial states, and unlike the AFL-CIO's anti-McCain activities, will not endear the group to Clinton if she clinches the nomination.

To be sure, no matter how poorly Change to Win has performed in this year's primaries, the unions are not at risk of being abandoned by the eventual Democratic nominee. In a post-election poll in 2006, Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that a staggering 74 percent of union voters pulled the lever for Democratic candidates. And the eventual nominee will surely benefit from the work that unions will be doing to highlight the economic differences between the two parties.

But by overestimating its ability to turn out voters for its endorsed candidate, Change to Win has drawn attention away from the labor movement's strengths and towards the uncomfortable facts of its campaign weaknesses. Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa's declaration in 2005, just before his union left the AFL-CIO to join Change to Win, now seems ironic: "[The AFL-CIO's] idea is to spend more money on politics. We reject that idea." Their about-face on political involvement is particularly damaging at a time when Democratic majorities in Congress could grow large enough to advance union priorities, and as union membership is experiencing its biggest rise since 1979, unions need to look as strong as possible to turn small advances into real political momentum. As Change to Win continues to find its political footing, its leaders would do well to remember a rule the AFL-CIO seems to be abiding by, at least for the primaries: You cannot lose if you do not play.

- Alyssa Rosenberg is a staff correspondent at Government Executive and a regular contributor to National Journal.


SEIU terms its violent thuggery 'free speech'

Attorneys for the Service Employees International Union claimed in an Alameda County courthouse today that their stalking, harassment, and other acts of intimidation against officers, directors and staff of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee is nothing more than "free speech."

A temporary restraining order issued last week by Alameda County Superior Court Commission Jon Rantzman remains in effect today. Rantzman said the court was taking the matter under submission and directed additional evidentiary papers to be filed on Tuesday, April 22.

In testimony to the court, SEIU attorneys portrayed the systematic campaign conducted by SEIU under the direction of its President Andy Stern as "protected" free speech -- dismissing the serious concerns voiced by numerous CNA/NNOC leaders who have been subjected to the targeting, threats, and intimidation.

CNA/NNOC attorney Pam Allen noted that free speech is very different than the actions employed by SEIU bands who have gone to the nursing stations of CNA/NNOC leaders looking for them and demanding home addresses and phone numbers, following them in cars, pounding on their doors, pointing video cameras in their faces, screaming at them, and refusing to leave until being told the police were on the way.

In a statement to the court, Margie Keenan, RN, a CNA/NNOC Board member described one such visit to her home and a visit by SEIU to the nursing floor in the Long Beach hospital where she works.

At her home "they began yelling loudly, demanding that I come and speak with them in a very aggressive, boisterous manner. I became very scared, as they continued yelling and pounding on my door, so I dialed 911 and asked the operator to dispatch police as soon as possible. While I was waiting for the police to arrive, I climbed the stairs to the second floor of my house and went quietly to a balcony to wait for the police. After several minutes, they began to leave, then saw me on the balcony and began yelling again. I went immediately back into the house and waited for the police to arrive. By the time the police came, the intruders were gone.

"I was very frightened by the approach at my home because it was extremely aggressive and hostile, and I live alone. Shortly after they left my house, I received a telephone call on my home phone and the caller asked for me by name. I recognized the voice as one of the intruders and immediately hung up the phone." She later learned of the visit to her nursing floor.

"I felt very unsettled and frightened by these events, so much so that I did not feel able to report to work (the following two days) which were my next scheduled days of work. I called in sick both of those days and learned over the weekend of a number of events that have only increased my fear and concern for my personal safety," Keenan declared.

SEIU attorneys today also challenged the restraining order on the basis of a state law exemption of labor disputes from state court intervention. "It's deplorable that SEIU would hide behind important labor law protections to justify their disgraceful attacks against registered nurses," Markowitz said.


SEIU counter-sues CNA

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today filed an anti-Strategic Lawsuit to Prevent Public Participation motion against the California Nurses Association (CNA) to prevent the union from further efforts to silence critics of its divisive tactics. The motion cites a temporary restraining order against SEIU President Andy Stern and SEIU that the CNA obtained as a publicity stunt last week as the latest effort by the CNA to suppress nurses and hospital workers who have criticized its anti-union tactics in Ohio and other states.

SEIU also filed an application today to vacate the temporary restraining order, which was obtained by the CNA on April 15 from a local court commissioner -- without any notice to SEIU -- and based on misrepresentations by the CNA.

"CNA leaders have waged a dishonest and desperate campaign to divert attention from the truth that they have robbed more than 8,000 Ohio workers of the right to form a union," said Andy Stern, SEIU International President. "Their latest trick was the cynical use of important laws intended to protect people from real abuse and harassment -- most often women -- and it simply went too far."

The motion against the CNA was filed today under California's Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16, a statute intended to prevent organizations from using a Strategic Lawsuit to Prevent Public Participation or "SLAPP" suit to suppress free speech from critics or opponents. SEIU expects to recover its attorney's fees and costs for having to vacate the improper restraining order.

"California's anti-SLAPP legislation is designed to ensure organizations, like the CNA, cannot stand in the way of the First Amendment rights of SEIU workers--or anyone else -- simply because they don't like being criticized," said Stephen Berzon, a partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP, the San Francisco-based law firm handling the case.

At a hearing this afternoon at the Alameda County Superior Court, the court conveyed it was "strongly of the belief" that the temporary restraining order obtained by the CNA was unlawful under the labor code. The court granted the CNA the opportunity to respond to the SEIU motion to vacate the order within 24 hours -- by 3PM pacific on Tuesday, April 22 -- and is expected to make a ruling immediately thereafter.


The CNA filing of the temporary restraining order last Wednesday is the latest tactic in a campaign of untruths and misinformation led by the California-based union. After waging a vicious "vote no" operation at Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) hospitals in Ohio that sabotaged a three-year effort by nurses and hospital workers to win a fair process to freely choose whether to form a union with SEIU, the CNA has consistently and inaccurately characterized efforts by CHP workers and supporters to engage with CNA leadership over the union's anti-union tactics as "harassment." Video footage shows that what the CNA called "5 male staffers harassing CNA Board members" was actually a registered nurse and respiratory therapist going door-to-door to try to speak to CNA leadership: (available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGw2QJTgw4I).

"I just wanted to talk with CNA leaders and ask them to explain why they stood in the way of union elections for me and other hospital workers in Ohio," said Sue Allen, a registered nurse with CHP in Springfield, OH who spent a week door-knocking alongside one of her coworkers to try to reach CNA board-members. "For the CNA to call that 'stalking' is an exaggeration to say the least."

Last week, the CNA posted widely an exaggerated and distorted depiction of a protest at an April 12 Labor Notes Conference in Dearborn, MI, featuring photos and video of SEIU members and staff injured by conference security as "evidence of violence by protesters." Despite outcry from Rachael Holland, the SEIU organizer in the images, the CNA has failed to admit its misrepresentation of actual events. The CNA has even created a video featuring Rachael's photo as "evidence" (available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiMH20aJiXg).

"Talk about adding insult to injury," said Rachael Holland, SEIU 1199WKO organizer from Ohio, in her blog response days after the incident (available online at http://www.openleft.com/showComment.do?commentId=58295). "A photograph of me being assaulted by them, and yelling out in pain has been posted on the web by CNA bloggers as fake evidence of OUR treatment of women!"


Rather than face SEIU members and other protestors led by CHP hospital workers from Ohio, CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro cancelled an appearance at the April 12 Labor Notes Conference in Dearborn at the last minute. Days later, amid growing criticism of the CNA's disruption of union elections among CHP hospital employees, DeMoro also cancelled her appearance as featured speaker at an April 25 gathering of Chicago's labor and progressive allies hosted by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

"It's bad enough the CNA continues to distort reality to divert focus from the real issues and avoid debating their anti-union tactics," said Tom Debruin, President of SEIU Healthcare PA. "Now the CNA is trying to use the legal system to rob CHP nurses and health care workers of their right to free speech right and hiding the truth from hospital workers nationwide."

For more information visit http://www.shameoncna.org/.


Unions kept OLMS very busy in March

Recent Criminal Enforcement Actions

NOTE: An indictment is the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. As in all criminal cases, each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

On March 31, 2008 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Kurt E. Swanstrom, former Financial Secretary and Treasurer of PACE/USW Local 5-1560, pled guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $12,328, falsification of union records, and filing a false financial report with the Secretary. On January 8, 2008, Swanstrom was indicted on one count of embezzling union funds in the same amount, one count of falsification of union records, and one count of filing a false labor organization report. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.

On March 19, 2008 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Karimah Bailey, former Treasurer of AFGE Local 3197, was charged with making a false statement and representation of a material fact, knowing it to be false, on the local’s annual financial report. The charge follows an investigation by the OLMS Seattle District Office.

On March 19, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Norman K. Brown, former Bargaining Committee Chairperson of UAW Local 2911, pled guilty to embezzling approximately $41,478 in union funds. On March 7, 2008, an information was filed charging Brown with one count of embezzlement of union funds in the same amount. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Chicago District Office.

On March 18, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Joseph Capece, former Business Manager and Financial-Secretary of IBEW Local Union 163, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, two years probation (to include six months in home confinement), fined $4000 and ordered to pay a special assessment fee of $100. On September 11, 2007, Capece pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $256,000. Capece had previously made restitution of the full amount, plus any other costs associated with his crime. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Philadelphia District Office.

On March 17, 2008, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, a criminal information was filed charging Zona Albritton, former Manager of General Services for AFSCME, with one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $75,446. The charge follows an investigation by the OLMS Washington District Office.

On March 14, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Deborah Anthony, former Financial Secretary of Steelworkers Local 1196, pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $1,245.45. The plea agreement requires Anthony to make restitution in the amount of $34,134.47. On November 7, 2007, Anthony was charged with eight counts of embezzling union funds totaling $6,955.18 and one count of preparing false union records. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office.

On March 12, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, an information was filed charging William Day, former Treasurer of Steelworkers Local 1-1462, with one count of embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $11,140.88. Subsequently, Day pled guilty to the offense. The charge and plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office.

On March 10, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Darren Johnson, former President of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 78, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, including six months in a community corrections center, ordered to make restitution in the amount of $13,748.50 and attend a substance abuse program. On December 3, 2007, Johnson pled guilty to one count of bank robbery and incidental crimes. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office.

On March 7, 2008, in the County Court of Adams County, Colorado, William J. Kohut, former Treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1755, pled guilty to a one count felony charge of forgery. On May 23, 2007, Kohut was charged with theft (one count), identity theft (one count), unauthorized use of a financial transaction device (one count), and forgery (one count), in connection with his alleged conversion of union funds totaling $2,839.65. The plea follows an investigation by the Denver District Office.

On March 6, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Robert Walston and Thaddeus Bania, former President and Comptroller, respectively, of Teamsters Local 743 were indicted as part of a 14-count superseding criminal complaint alleging conspiracy, mail fraud, theft of honest services, and embezzlement of union funds arising from multiple schemes involving the local’s voided October 2004 regular election of officers and a rerun election that was held in December 2004. This indictment supersedes the indictment issued by the grand jury on September 6, 2007 and includes three original defendants who were either officers, agents, or employees of Local 743: Richard Lopez, who was an incumbent candidate for Recording Secretary in 2004 and who also briefly held the position of president after Walston; Cassandra Mosley, a former business agent who resigned in December 2006; and David Rodriguez a former organizer who resigned in July 2007. The superseding information includes a forfeiture allegation of over $2 million dollars in salary, expenses, and benefits. A superseding misdemeanor information was also filed against Mark Jones, a former business agent and director of organizing for the local, involving allegations of opening mail not directed to him relating to the voided mail-ballot election in October 2004. The indictments follow an investigation by the OLMS Chicago District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

On March 6, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Brad DuBray, former Treasurer of Carpenters Local 113, was sentenced to three years probation, including six months of home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,048.11 and a special assessment of $100. On November 14, 2007, DuBray pled guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $14,548.11.The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office.

On March 4, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Steve Dobyns, former Secretary-Treasurer of Glass Molders Plastics Local 325, was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay the balance of his restitution totaling $415 and a $500 fine. On December 3, 2007, Dobyns pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $865. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Dallas District Office.


Worker-choice threatens labor-state

The Rocky Mountain chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors has voted to endorse the right-to-work ballot initiative. The proposed ballot measure also recently attracted the support of the Housing and Building Association of Northwestern Colorado and the chambers of commerce in Craig, Delta and Trinidad. The initiative would prohibit workers from being forced to join a union and pay union dues.

"Just as companies should have the right to work on a job regardless of labor affiliation, that same right should be given to employees," said Mark Latimer, president of the local chapter of ABC.

Backers of the initiative recently filed 133,000 signatures in an effort to get the measure on the November ballot.

Coors Brewing Co. is among companies that have said they will not support the initiative, and the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce also recently voted not to endorse the measure.

They have said the initiative is unnecessary because of Colorado's Labor Peace Act, a 65-year-old series of laws that governs the way unions can organize workers.

The act requires two separate votes by employees to create all-union workplaces. That requirement has resulted in a relatively small number of union shops in the state.


Unionized Big Print suspicious of worker-choice

A group pushing a "right-to- work" measure in Colorado said Monday that it has lined up more business support for a proposal to outlaw labor agreements that require workers to pay for union representation. The group calling itself "A Better Colorado" said business chambers in three rural communities - Delta, Craig and Trinidad - have endorsed the amendment, which could wind up on this fall's statewide ballot.

A Better Colorado said that other business groups also have officially endorsed the ballot initiative. They include the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and the Housing and Building Association of Northwestern Colorado.

"The right-to-work amendment is important to protect the rights of all employees," Thea Jo Davis, board director of the Delta Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

Jess Knox, a spokesman for a labor-backed coalition called Protect Colorado's Future, expressed disappointment that business groups would back a "divisive measure like this that will take Colorado backwards."

"This is an endorsement of profits over workers," Knox said.

Only the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce has spoken out against the right-to-work initiative, because it doesn't want to see several other labor-related measures on November's ballot.

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has yet to take a stand publicly, but its board members have been meeting to discuss possible strategies now that labor groups have been pushing several measures aimed at countering the right-to-work proposal.

A statewide chamber, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, already has voted to support the right-to-work initiative.

Campaign spokesman Kelley Harp said he expects to see "many more major endorsements coming in."


UPS denies its workers a secret-ballot election

An overwhelming majority of about 100 workers at UPS Freight (formerly Overnite Transportation) terminals in Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers who have signed cards to 10,100 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers will be joining Local 270 in New Orleans; Local 61 in Asheville, North Carolina; Local 509 in Charleston, S.C., and; Local 30 based in Jeannette, Pennsylvania.

"We continue to rack up organizing victories nationwide, including in right-to-work states. This shows the determination of UPS Freight workers to join the Teamsters to gain a strong contract and a strong voice in the workplace," said Teamsters Package Division Director Ken Hall.

"This victory means a lot to the workers here in New Orleans, which is still in disarray from Hurricane Katrina," said David Negrotto, President of Local 270. "By becoming Teamsters, these workers have just guaranteed themselves a good contract."

"We have people calling us everyday, asking how they can join the Teamsters," said L.D. Fletcher, President of Local 509. "This victory means a lot to UPS Freight workers in South Carolina. We are seeing our membership continue to grow."

"The card check agreement that Ken Hall was able to get for us was priceless," said Brian Ball, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 61. "That helped us tremendously in our victory."

"This is a huge victory for the workers who tried for years to become Teamsters when they worked for Overnite," said Ernie Gigliotti, President of Local 30. "We are proud to have them join us."

Earlier this month, more than 89 percent of UPS Freight workers who are already Teamster members ratified a new contract, which improves wages, benefits and working conditions.

A majority of UPS Freight workers in 34 states have submitted cards: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Victories have come in numerous large cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.


Hostile labor unions swarm tribal casinos

While the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation continues to assert that tribal labor law applies on tribal land, two unions are now competing with each other to organize employees at Foxwoods Resort Casino under federal law, and four unionization petitions under federal law are pending. The United Auto Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are both trying to organize technicians at Foxwoods.

Related video: "UAW unionizes Foxwoods dealers"

The UAW filed a petition with the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in Hartford April 14 to unionize slot technicians, electronic bench technicians, field service technicians and senior field service technicians.

The IBEW filed its petition a week earlier. Both unions said their organizing efforts are supported by at least 30 percent of employees in the potential bargaining unit.

The UAW petition included employees at MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which is scheduled to open May 17.

Both unions belong to the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 national and international labor unions. It is not clear how - or when - their competing interests in organizing the Foxwoods employees will be resolved.

The UAW filed another petition April 15 to unionize racebook writers and dual-rate racebook writers in the casino's off-track betting area.

And in March, the International Union of Operating Engineers filed a petition to organize 262 physical plant workers - electricians, plumbers, power plant operators, sheet metal mechanics and others who maintain the casino facility.

An election date for plant workers has been scheduled for May 1.

So far, five petitions to unionize Foxwoods employees have been filed.

The first UAW petition was filed last year and resulted in an election in which poker dealers voted 1,289 - 852 to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act rather than tribal labor law.

At the end of March, the nation filed an appeal with the NLRB in Washington of an administrative law judge's decision to certify the UAW election.

While the appeal deals with some procedural issues, the nation's overarching argument is that tribal nations as sovereign entities with a government-to-government relationship with the federal government are not subject to federal laws, known as "laws of general applicability," such as the NLRA.

MPTN enacted tribal labor laws last year that are modeled on state governmental laws and provide the same rights to organize unions, bargain collectively and seek arbitration - and the same prohibition against striking, said Jackson King, the nation's general counsel.

"If you cut off the revenue from the casino, it's just a matter of time before the government shuts down. We won't have the money to meet the payrolls of police, firemen and other employees. That's one of the reason the NLRA does not apply to states - teachers, firemen, policemen cannot strike. The tribal laws are pretty much the same as state laws. They can do anything but strike."

MPTN vowed to take the labor jurisdictional issue to the highest court.

The NLRA was passed in 1935, a year after the Indian Reorganization Act. Even though it did not include tribal nations with state and local governments as exempt, the law was not applied to tribes for decades.

But then a dispute between two unions at a casino owned by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California led to an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which ruled in a precedent-setting 3 - 1 decision in March 2004 that the federal labor law applied to San Manuel.

A circuit court in February 2007 upheld the NLRB ruling in its own 2 - 1 split decision.

Tribal casinos have created about 670,000 jobs, according to the National Indian Gaming Association. Around 75 percent are non-Indian, which factored into the NLRB claim in San Manuel that federal law applies.

The UAW began to organize Foxwoods dealers at the same time and the dealers' vote last November was the first to be conducted under federal labor laws.

Peter C. Schaumber, a Bush appointee who was designated chairman of the NLRB in March, wrote the sole dissenting opinion in the San Manuel case in March 2004.

At the 33rd annual Federal Bar Association Indian law conference in Albuquerque, N.M., in early April, Schaumber said he was extremely disappointed when his colleagues overturned 30 years of precedent and subjected tribes to federal labor law, according to a report on www.indianz.com.

Schaumber said the board was "turning a blind eye" towards retained tribal sovereignty and the principles of federal Indian law that protect them.

A former federal prosecutor, he said the 2004 ruling is now being expanded at the expense of tribes.

"I will dissent in those decisions that expand San Manuel."


'Shame on' Carpenters hauled before NLRB

The union responsible for a series of protests outside local businesses has been accused of harassing construction workers and assaulting a man at a February demonstration near California Avenue and Mohawk Street. The Central California chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. announced Monday that it leveled the charges in a complaint filed Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board.

Representatives of the union against which the trade association filed the charge, Local 1506 of the Los Angeles-based Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The complaint focuses on alleged actions of two union representatives at a Feb. 24 protest at Santa Barbara Business College, 5300 California Ave.

The association's government affairs director, Kevin Korenthal, said the two union representatives walked onto college property and "got agitated" after speaking with workers from two local construction companies performing interior improvements at the site.

"They began to kick around things that were sitting on the ground, such as buckets and tools," Korenthal said.

Soon the college's facilities manager -- who could not be reached Monday -- became involved in a "verbal altercation" with the union representatives, who Korenthal said pushed the man to the ground.

"He was not hurt, but he was very shaken up by the incident," Korenthal said.

Members of the union have staged various demonstrations at businesses and other locations around Bakersfield. The events, which typically feature people holding up "Shame on" banners, are aimed at pressuring local construction companies to pay higher wages to their workers.


Dems use Steelworkers' strike as photo-op

Along the Ohio river and near one of Pittsburgh's many bridges is a heavily industrialized island, home to the Calgon Carbon Company and United Steelworkers Union Local 5032. You will also find the issues at the center of the Democratic Party campaign.

United Steelworkers is the largest industrial labor union in North America. Just outside the gated entry of Calgon Carbon are makeshift tents, where members of 5032 picket, 24 hours a day. Yesterday marked the seventh week members have been on rotating six-hour shifts, due to a company lock down.

For nearly two months, Local 5032 members have refused to sign a contract they say is "unjust" for replacing pensions with retirement 401Ks and not offering the healthcare policies sought by the union. The Steelworkers were addressed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a forum in Pittsburgh on April 14.

"[The contract offers] is a slap in the face," said Jerry Morton, who joined Local 5032 in 1979, and is currently president of the Calgon Unit. Morton explained the company has enjoyed steady profits.

Jim Allen, a native of Pittsburgh and a Local 5032 member for 35 years, said his co-workers just want a decent contract. Member Dan O'Hara said the stalemate was a result of "corporate greed." Allen and O'Hara, and other members, work together at one of two Calgon Carbon Company locations. The other is just up the street, where Local 5032 members also picket at the gated entry, on rotating shifts.

Other unions in the area have shown support for Local 5032 by periodically dropping off firewood, food and drinks. Although it was unusually warm yesterday, in the 80s, there have been many cold nights in the last seven weeks. Occasionally, passersby will honk in support. Trucks rumble along the side of the road, but the noise soon fades like a distant echo against the vast open spaces cleared for industry here during the boom times.

Signs in support of any of the presidential hopeful candidates were absent on the island. But union members readily shared how they felt about the candidates and the upcoming primary.

Clinton's "for the workin' man, more than anyone else, I think," said Allen who is leaning toward the New York Senator. O'Hara, a father, said he hadn't made up his mind yet, but added he would like to see Clinton and Obama on the same ticket, even though he has not liked all of the "dirt-slinging," that has gone on between them.

John Mifflin, a Local 5032 member for 35 years, said he supports Clinton, too, because of the way the economy was when Bill Clinton was President. Morton is first and foremost a John Edwards supporter. The USW endorsed Edwards last year. Morton explained there were no answers for the working class, which he said began in the years the late President Ronald Reagan was in office. "We just want fair trade," said Morton.

Not all who were on lockdown shift supported a Democrat. Chas Rafalowski is a Republican. Rafalowski, who served time in the United States Navy, said John McCain is the best choice to lead the country. "I would like to have a military man in office. A strong country needs a strong leader."

As the sun set and the sky faded to pink on Friday, these men sat in their chairs, and waited and talked. Saturday they will do it all over again. And probably the next day and the next.


Ugly writers' union blackballs dissidents

The Writers Guild of America has named and shamed 28 members who effectively resigned from the union in order to work during the strike. The individuals applied to downgrade their membership to "financial core" status, meaning they could still work under WGA conditions, but paid slightly less fees and were no longer active members.

In a letter to members, Patric Verrone and Michael Winship, presidents of WGA West and East respectively, said many of those named worked and were paid.

Most were writers for soaps. They included Paula Cwikly (As the World Turns), Hogan Sheffer (Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns), Barbara J Esensten (The Guiding Light), Dena Higley (One Life to Live) and John F Smith (The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful).

A notable high-profile name was John Ridley (Three Kings).

"...among the many there were a puny few who chose to do otherwise, who consciously and selfishly decided to place their own narrow interests over the greater good," the pair wrote.

"This handful of members who went financial core, resigning from the union yet continuing to receive the benefits of a union contract, must be held at arm’s length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are - strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk...

“Without concern for their colleagues, they turned their backs and tossed the burden of collective action onto the rest of us, taking jobs, reducing our leverage and damaging the guilds for their own advantage."


Chicago-style union politics define Dem rivals

Pennsylvania happens to be the physical location of the latest contest between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. But in terms of political culture, their duel is situated in Clinton's original home and Obama's current one -- Chicago. You can even say the battle is between two neighborhoods on the Windy City's South Side.

The first of those is Bridgeport, the down-to-earth district from which Richard J. Daley, the father of the current mayor, ruled the city in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Daley was famous for his efficiency -- he got the snow plows out in the blizzard of 1967. As mayor, he reigned so successfully that he gave new meaning to the words "boss" and "clout.'" At its best, Bridgeport is reliable. At its worst, Bridgeport is numbingly corrupt.

The other neighborhood is Hyde Park, the base for Democratic reformers seeking to supplant the party establishment. I grew up in this college community, and I love it. The discourse there tends to the polysyllabic.

Clinton would be appalled to be paired with "the boss," Daley. Though she grew up in Park Ridge, her early political life included making the rounds among the South Side Left. That was her Saul Alinsky period, when she worked with Obama-type people who dropped phrases like "the harmony of dissonance." The Illinois people she and Bill worked with while he was governor hated the "Machine" -- Daley's establishment.

The Clintons love gatherings of big brains -- when Bill was president, they liked to attend Renaissance Weekend, loosely modeled after Davos. But long before there was Davos, there was Hyde Park.

Daley Redux

The Clinton campaign thus far has been an exercise in Daleyesque clout. She rewarded New Yorkers from her post as their senator, and correctly predicted that the Empire State would pay her back with electoral votes.

She worked for unions, which is why James Hoffa's endorsement of Obama came as a shocker and why Gerald McEntee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was in Pennsylvania stumping over the weekend. She is the women's candidate. Clinton's "3 a.m. commercial," the one in which she suggests she's the one who can get the job done, is the foreign-policy equivalent of Daley's promises that his snow plows would be ready come the next storm.

Obama by contrast is pure Hyde Park, as scintillating and idealistic as a professor. At its best, Hyde Park represents liberalism at its best -- a place where free-market liberals can send their children to school with progressive liberals.

At his best, Obama also represents that liberalism -- a thoughtful and colorblind view of the world. At his worst, Obama is the classic Hyde Park snob. That is to say he pretends to be tolerant even as he proves himself intolerant. This is what came out in Obama's description of small-town voters as gun slingers who nurse "antipathy to people who aren't like them."

Getting a Lead

So what does Bridgeport versus Hyde Park tell us about Pennsylvania and beyond? The Bridgeport in Hillary is what gave her the lead over Obama. A poll released by the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette and MSNBC just before the vote found more Clinton supporters than expected among gun owners, bowlers and beer drinkers -- in short, a Bridgeport-type crowd. They don't care if Clinton contradicts herself, as long as she delivers.

But the Bridgeport-Hyde Park split also bodes well for Obama. Contrary to the spin, Hyde Park-style figures sometimes triumph on the national stage, especially in periods like now, when Washington is looking particularly destructive or inept.

Paul Douglas of Illinois, a sort of pre-Bama, got to the Senate on sheer good character. So did Abner Mikva, a congressman who later became a federal judge and the Clintons' counsel. Gene McCarthy and George McGovern didn't make it to the presidency, but Jimmy Carter did. Carter wasn't even a Northerner, but he did feature that "I-live-in-my-own-head" idealism familiar to those who dwell and work along the Midway.

How They Govern

The trouble with Hyde Parkers isn't how they campaign, but how they govern. Once they get in office, they find themselves building their own machines. Since they are new to the game, they tend to play it worse than the old pols.

From Clinton's point of view the rest of the Democratic contest is all about forcing Obama to reveal his interest-group apparatus now rather than later, so she can attack it. New York is a long way from Chicago, but the dispatch with which that old party man Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, dethroned Governor Eliot Spitzer, the self-proclaimed king of change, was an example of what a Bridgeport can do to a Hyde Park.

If a Hyde Parker in office survives, he eventually morphs into a Bridgeporter. That is what may happen to Obama.

In other words, the Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, may be going crazy campaigning against two different figures. But in reality he's running against a single opponent -- the evolving Democratic politician from the ultimate political city, Chicago.

- Amity Shlaes, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in economic history, is a Bloomberg News columnist.


UAW strikers to face labor-state scabs

Now an update on workers still striking at a plant in Paris. Members of UAW local 2343 voted against their newest contract proposal. The workers at ZF Boge in Paris, Illinois have been on strike since their contract expired on April 6th.

The company has issued a written statement to News 10 saying "as we said before, we have made a fair and just offer which is clearly in line with area and industry standards. We are extremely disappointed in this decision. We will begin hiring temporary replacement workers on Monday".

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