Card-check endorsed by Communist Party USA

Anti-democratic Joelle Fishman praises AFL-CIO

The yearning in our country for a new direction and new priorities has taken hold in the 2008 elections. Voters turned out in record numbers for the primaries, propelled by economic necessity and determination to end the war, and inspired by the historic breakthrough of a woman or an African American as a major party candidate for president.

Voters of all races and nationality backgrounds and all walks of life, young and old, women, men, union members and unorganized, flooded the polls, undeterred by the constant corporate media barrage of racism, sexism and divisive tactics which might have suppressed the vote.

When Barack Obama surpassed the 2,118 delegates required for nomination, his unity appeal and outreach to Clinton supporters deeply touched the country and was greeted around the world.

Unity — especially unity of African American, Latino and white voters, women and men — will have to be fought for and forged anew, broadened out and deepened in this new phase of the battle to defeat McCain and the corporate ultra-right in Congress.

The choice is clear — stay with the Bush-McCain race to the bottom or come together and raise up the whole country with a landslide defeat of the Republican ultra-right.

Sounding like Grover Norquist, McCain speaks of never-ending war and shrinking government, privatizing services and cutting funds for human needs. In sharp contrast, Obama speaks of strengthening government to provide health care and jobs, address global warming and end the war in Iraq.

Obama’s program is not radical. Left and progressive voters will push for a stronger break from corporate control. This should not be cause for pulling back, but rather for greater involvement.

A landslide vote that is organized to stay in motion after the elections can challenge the demands that Wall Street and military interests will make on the new administration. Obama has shown he is ready to listen.

Big political shifts are under way. When Democracy Corps surveyed 45 congressional districts that voted Republican with big margins in 2004 and 2006, they found the majority of voters now plan to vote Democratic. Like the whole country, these voters are beleaguered by rising prices, rising death tolls in the war, rising unemployment and the inability of their state and local governments to maintain basic services due to federal budget cuts.

The big battles in Congress on war funding, Iran, children’s health care, extending unemployment benefits and immigration are connected to the elections. If the pressure is kept on, vulnerable Republicans and some conservative Democrats may be forced to change their votes or lose re-election.

But the business community has raised record sums and is also mobilizing with divisive messages against workers’ rights and civil rights.

During the primaries unions made different endorsements. The labor movement now has a pivotal role to unify and mobilize working families and their communities for November.

Thousands of grassroots union volunteers are already in motion as part of the largest-in-history labor mobilization, visiting co-workers to talk about the issues with the “McCain Revealed” program.

The Obama campaign, drawing upon the candidate’s community organizing experience, is also looking toward the grassroots. Unity for Change house parties across the country on June 28 will bring neighbors together for voter registration and getting out the vote.

A national coalition of peace and economic rights organizations is also gearing up for grassroots voter registration and mobilization.

Planned Parenthood Action is launching a One Million Strong Know McCain campaign with house parties June 14-20.

A host of creative projects to expose McCain’s record are being launched online.

African American, Latino and youth voters who could be decisive in this election are gearing up.

All these efforts can involve new activists, build for the landslide and take up top issues of concern.

As AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker told the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists convention, “This election cannot be only about John McCain’s failings. It must be about working people’s vision — our vision of a new direction for our country. A vision that includes universal health care, the elimination of poverty, good jobs and the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act … [W]e are going to spark a movement of those who are ready to make their voices heard in shaping the new America we must build together — and we are going collect our debt this November.”

The Communist Party USA’s emergency program to repair, renew and rebuild America is a contribution toward this effort. It is available at www.cpusa.org.

- Joelle Fishman chairs the Communist Party USA Political Action Commission and is also chair of the Connecticut Communist Party.


Guide: Union organizers use malicious litigation

Explosion of RICO lawsuits v. unions in federal courts

Union corporate campaigns have faced increasing scrutiny, and growing opposition by the employers that are subjected to their tactics, as organized labor continues to deploy the strategy with considerable success. A corporate campaign is used to pressure employers into voluntarily recognizing a union without a traditional NLRB-conducted secret-ballot election. Litigation is one of the standard weapons in the union’s corporate campaign arsenal. Aspen Publisher’s Employer’s Guide to Union Organizing Campaigns describes how unions use the courts as part of a pressure campaign:

A corporate campaign will typically include use of litigation to create outside pressure against the company from key stakeholders, including regulatory agencies and the general public. During an organizing campaign, a union may initiate federal, state and local complaints of violations related to the following matters:

* labor laws
* health and safety
* community health
* environmental protection
* zoning and planning
* building departments
* health departments
* equal employment opportunity (discrimination/harassment)
* wages and hours of work
* whistle blowing
* industry specific issues

In addition to individual actions, a union may initiate or assist in bringing a class action lawsuit on behalf of workers targeted for organization subjecting the employer to potentially multi-million dollar liability, costs of defending the suit and potentially high-profile adverse media exposure. These class action suits are also intended to demonstrate what the union can do for employees, as well as how badly it can hurt employers, and are very well publicized.

CASE IN POINT. In June 2005, during its Houston, Texas, Justice for Janitors city-wide organizing campaign, the SEIU issued a press release advising that janitors in Houston, Texas, were eligible to join a “growing class action for unlawful pay practices that could involve thousands of workers and millions of dollars.” The suit, which was for unpaid overtime wages and improper workers' compensation insurance deductions, was brought with the SEIU's assistance on behalf of certain janitors who worked in Texas and Illinois.

The same press release boasted that earlier in the year, 2,000 janitors who cleaned California supermarkets had won $22.4 million in settlement of a class action lawsuit initiated by the SEIU involving subcontractors' overtime and minimum wage law violations. It also advised that a janitorial company had agreed in 2004 to pay $1.9 million in back wages to 775 employees following overtime wage violation charges referred to the Labor Department after investigation by the SEIU and a labor-management watchdog group. (SEIU Texas press release, June 15, 2005).

Note that the District of Columbia and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals have viewed union-sponsored lawsuits for back wages that are announced to employees during the critical period before a representation election as an impermissible conferring of benefits or gratuities in order to influence votes, Nestle Ice Cream Co v NLRB, (6thCir 1995) 46 F.3d 578, 129 LC ¶11,283; Freund Baking Co v NLRB, (DCCir 1999) 165 F.3d 928, 137LC ¶10,356. But a union's initiation of an unfair labor practice charge during this critical period is permissible since the purpose of the charge is to prevent an employer's unfair labor practice from inhibiting employees' rights to freely vote for or against union representation. Freund Baking Co, Id.

In some cases, lawsuits initiated or assisted by unions have little or no merit and serve primarily to advance an organizing campaign. In one case, UNITE HERE brought suit against a company under the Securities and Exchange Act, claiming the company issued a proxy statement that contained misleading statements and omissions about material facts related to two directors who were slated for reelection. The union sought an injunction forcing the company to make corrective disclosure quickly enough for shareholders' receipt and consideration prior to casting their votes at the company's annual meeting or, absent timely disclosure, rescheduling the annual meeting, declaring solicited proxies null and void, or invalidating the results of any vote or election utilizing the proxies.

Denying the union's motion for a preliminary injunction, the court wrote:

“It appears that the plaintiff had no genuine belief in the merits of its claims, but brought this lawsuit as part of its campaign to harass a corporation and gain leverage in a unionization struggle.”

The court further held that even if the union filed its suit out of concern for the best interests of the company or its shareholders, UNITE HERE had not shown that any of the disclosures it sought would be material to shareholders as they engaged in voting at the annual meeting.

In many cases, the union withdraws a lawsuit before any decision on the merits is reached because its organizing goals have been realized. Even when lawsuits have little or no merit, the legal actions may succeed in distracting the employer by forcing it to incur immense legal fees and expend large amounts of time defending the suit, and by damaging the company's reputation and threatening its business. (See the district court's conclusion in UNITE HERE v Cintas Corp, (SDNY 2006) 2006 US Dist LEXIS 75376.)

- From Aspen Publishers’ An Employer’s Guide to Union Organizing Campaigns, by Jackson Lewis. Excerpt from Ch. 9, “The Corporate Campaign: What to Expect.”


Pro-cartel Barack

Related story: "Meet the pro-union Antipreneurs"

Union organizer-in-chief strikes a 'pro-business' pose

Barack Obama is shaking his head. "No, no, no, no, no." His slim figure had been bent forward in a folding chair (prime position to radiate outsized charm).

But my question - does he consider corporate America a destructive force? - prompts him to bolt upright to a more defensive pose. It's a purposely provocative query, but a fair one: When Obama talks about business, it's usually to complain about corporate tax breaks or trade deals or jobs shipped overseas. High-paid CEOs are the familiar villains in his stump speeches, including the one he has just given on this Raleigh fairground.

Free-market critics look at his varied plans to raise taxes and pronounce him hostile to wealth creation and market growth. And in a small but telling episode during the Indiana primary, his campaign used a 2007 Fortune cover story - "Business Loves Hillary" - to attack Clinton, as if "business" were a dirty word, not the nation's economic engine.

So? "There's a reason why the business community in Chicago as a whole has been very supportive of me," he says. "They know I am a pro-growth guy, and I'm a pro-market guy. And I always have been. What I do get frustrated with is an economy that is out of balance, that rewards a very few - with rewards that are all out of proportion to their actual success - while ordinary, hardworking Americans continue to get squeezed. Over the last decade or so, this economy grew substantially, and more than half of the total growth was captured by the top 1%."

Here, the great reconciler pauses, just briefly, to give due to forces that aren't easy targets of political blame. "Now part of that has to do with globalization and with global capital being able to move everywhere it wants. It has meant a winner-take-all environment."

But, he adds, quickly returning to Washington politics, "a lot of it has to do with tax policies" that favor the big winners. That means President Bush's policies, and by extension those of Obama's rival, John McCain.

We are sitting in a bare, cinderblock room next to the hall where he has just kicked off a two-week tour to promote his economic plan.

"I love the heat - I just don't like wearing suits in the heat," he explains as we take refuge from a 100-plus-degree North Carolina afternoon, and he politely asks permission to take off his suit jacket and drape it on the back of his chair.

I think back to the first Obama campaign rally I covered, picking through treacherous ice patches in the parking lot of an Iowa high school gym, where earnest troops of volunteers operated under the motto Respect, Empower, Include, as if they were prepping for a Boy Scout jamboree.

The first-term Senator from Illinois - unheard of on the national scene until his "audacity of hope" speech at the 2004 Democratic convention - was an improbable nominee. Yet five months later, this political upstart had dashed a former First Lady's carefully laid plans, and with Kennedy-like cool, laid claim to the Democratic nomination.

Now November suddenly looms, and Obama must court an audience far larger than the nearly 18 million voters who checked his name in the Democratic primaries - most of whom told pollsters they were either "liberal" or "very liberal." He must win over not only skeptical independents but also a like number of Democratic Clinton voters - many of them in key swing states and some of whom worry that Obama is too far to the left or too inexperienced to govern.

Toward the business community, he will build on a message of "tough love" that he has delivered since he landed in Detroit a year ago to tell the auto industry he would impose strict emissions standards, but in return help them with crippling health-care costs. In the coming months voters will hear that a decade-long middle-class squeeze hurts business, because it "reduces demand for the stuff that companies are selling," says his economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee. Therefore, he argues, business should support Obama's plan to shift the tax burden toward the wealthy and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 over two years (under current law it goes to $6.55 in July).

As Obama says on the campaign trail, "In America, prosperity has always risen from the bottom up." Likewise, he argues, increased regulatory oversight, capital requirements, and transparency standards will help capital markets by injecting stability. More federal spending on education and basic science will improve workforce quality.

"I still believe that the business of America is business," Obama told Fortune. "But what I also think is that with all that power and talent, and all those resources at their disposal, comes some responsibilities - to not game the system, to not oppose increased transparency in the marketplace, to not oppose fiscally prudent measures to balance our budget."

Obama insists that he's a pragmatist, not an ideologue. "We're not an ideological people," he says. "We're a commonsense people who say, 'What's going to work?' and 'Let's figure it out.'"

His voting record, however, is among the most liberal in the Senate, reflecting the sensibility of a former community organizer who for 20 years belonged to a church that urged congregants to disavow the pursuit of middle-classness. During the primary campaign, his rhetoric was sharply populist, denouncing big business and blaming the shift of jobs overseas on free-trade agreements.

"He's the least influenced by corporations and CEOs" of any candidate, proclaimed Anna Burger, president of the union coalition Change to Win. Obama was so tightly aligned with labor leaders, embracing a legislative measure to promote union organizing, that it's still hard to find any points of disagreement.

Yet there are hints that the presumed Democratic nominee's economic agenda remains a work in progress - and will evolve toward his ambition to win in November. Already his circle of advisors has expanded beyond a small core of academics to include veteran capitalists inside the Democratic Party.

In late March he gave a thoughtful if sometimes vague speech on the need for more financial-markets supervision, which was heavily influenced by advice from former Fed chairman Paul Volcker.

He is frequently on the phone with billionaire CEO Warren Buffett ("one of my favorite people," says Obama, "he's just completely down-to-earth and as smart as they come"), a critic of the financial industry and of tax breaks for the rich who also happens to understand capital markets better than just about anyone.

Obama calls on Apple's Steve Jobs to help him "think about how to be successful and nimble in the current global environment."

Advice also comes from Wall Street veterans like J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly - as well as longtime Chicago friends Penny Pritzker of Hyatt (who runs his campaign finances), Ariel Capital's John Rogers, and investor James S. Crown.

In his first management act as de facto Democratic nominee, Obama signaled that he might inch toward the center. He enraged labor leaders and liberal activists by appointing Jason Furman to run his economic team. Furman directed the Hamilton Project, a Brookings Institution--based initiative sponsored by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a centrist and pariah among hard-core liberals. Furman has defended free-trade agreements, and at a time when unions were on the warpath against Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), he produced a research paper arguing that the chain's low prices are a boon to low-income consumers.

On the same day that Furman's appointment was announced, Obama told CNBC he might consider deferring some of his tax increases if the economy remains in bad shape. According to Furman, Obama will consider cutting the corporate tax rate while revising the tax code to eliminate business incentives to accumulate more debt and to discourage moves offshore. And in Obama's interview with Fortune, the candidate suggested that his overheated rhetoric on NAFTA was just that - overheated rhetoric.

Asked what single economic concern worries him most and will be uppermost on his mind if he steps into the Oval Office next January, Obama said energy supplies. "It's not a problem I think we can drill our way out of," he says. "It can be a drag on our economy for a very long time unless we take steps to innovate and invest in the research and development that's needed to find alternative fuels, to make our transportation system more energy efficient, retool our industry and our buildings."

But to encourage a transition toward alternatives, Obama favors legislation that would make fossil fuel more expensive. Doesn't that mean more pain to come under an Obama presidency? "There is no doubt that in the short term, adapting to this new energy economy is going to carry some costs." But, he adds, citing the coal industry's ability to adapt to stop acid rain in the 1980s, "I would never underestimate the power of American innovation."


During this year's long, hard-fought primary campaign, Obama had about the same effect on his audiences as Bruce Springsteen did on his breakout Born to Run tour. This time they had seen the future of the Democratic Party, and its name was Barack Obama. In Iowa they braved below-zero wind gusts; in balmy Oregon they had to contend with each other: a throng of 70,000 human beings gathered on the Portland waterfront. By contrast, this June kickoff to the general election campaign is oddly subdued - as if the excitement over the freshness of his candidacy, his message of unity and optimism, hasn't carried over to the mostly traditional Democratic policy prescriptions he offers in the small print of his campaign.

Here in Raleigh, there are empty seats sprinkled about rather than hourlong lines to get in. His audience is respectful but lacks the mass energy that transformed this 46-year-old Harvard Law graduate into a national phenomenon. And anyone hoping for an innovative response to the previous week's outpouring of bad economic news will be disappointed. At the climax of his speech, Obama offers ... another $50 billion federal stimulus plan.

Bill Clinton jumped to the front of the pack in 1992 with a commitment to break with liberal orthodoxy, promising to balance the budget and "end welfare as we know it." Obama has praised Ronald Reagan for bringing optimism, dynamism, and a sense of entrepreneurship that changed the "trajectory of America." Likewise, Obama burst on the scene as an inspiring and inclusive leader, one offering a "politics of practicality vs. ideology." A standard applause line was, "It's easy to be against something. It's harder to be for something." Money poured in, and he used it to build a nimble, efficient, and admirably honorable campaign operation.

His critics say that, unlike Reagan or Clinton, there's not much that is daring or innovative in his economic policies. The core of Obama's economic plan is

(a) more government spending: $65 billion a year for universal health insurance, $15 billion a year on alternative energy, $20 billion to help homeowners avoid default, $60 billion to bolster the nation's infrastructure, $10 billion annually to give students college tuition in exchange for public service, and on and on;

and (b) shifting the tax burden upward: ending the Bush tax cuts on families making more than $250,000 and raising payroll taxes on those same higher-income earners (the latter meant to bolster Social Security without cutting benefits or raising the retirement age). Middle-class earners would receive tax cuts, and low-income seniors would pay no income tax. Combined with a tax rebate as part of this new $50 billion stimulus plan, he argues, putting more money in the hands of middle-class consumers will help them cope with the income squeeze as well as rising energy prices.

Obama also wants to raise a range of other taxes on business and investment. He would increase the 15% capital gains tax rate - probably to 25%, according to advisors, though he excludes small businesses and new ventures from the tax altogether. He would raise the dividends tax, reinstate a 45% tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million, and close $1.3 trillion in "corporate tax loopholes." The thinking behind those tax hikes comes in part from Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist who has studied behavioral response to economic policies. Goolsbee believes the Republican argument that lower tax rates - by spurring investment and productivity - end up generating more revenue than they lose is overblown. (He notes that Obama wants to go back to the rates of the '90s, when the economy was booming.) Instead, he believes the tax code should be used to ease financial pressures on the middle class.


In mid-February, as the Democratic primary contest between Obama and Clinton moved toward the Rustbelt, the populist rhetoric of both candidates sharpened. Both candidates blamed free trade for factory closings. And in a move that unnerved leaders around the globe and prompted top House Democrats to distance themselves, both Obama and Clinton vowed to opt out of America's most important standing free-trade agreement, NAFTA. The pact linking Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. into a North American free-trade zone was Bill Clinton's signature accomplishment, but NAFTA is also the bugaboo of unions, liberal activists, and plenty of angry Midwesterners looking for a root cause of factory closings.

Obama jumped right into the antitrade waters with Clinton, calling NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake" - even though a 2005 Congressional Research Service study showed the pact had a mild positive effect on the U.S. and Mexican economies. Obama's own advisor, Goolsbee, had argued that America's wage gap was the result of a globalized information economy - not free trade.

There were signs back then that Obama's view was more conflicted. On Feb. 8, Goolsbee met with the Canadian consul general in Chicago and offered assurances that Obama's rhetoric was "more reflective of political maneuvering than policy," according to a Canadian memo summarizing the meeting and obtained by Fortune. "In fact, he mentioned that going forward the Obama camp was going to be careful to send the appropriate message without coming off as too protectionist."

With the primary contest over, I asked Obama to clarify his remarks on NAFTA. "I think that sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he concedes. Did his? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself." During a debate before the Texas and Ohio primaries, Obama said, "We should use the hammer of a potential opt-out" to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA. Now, however, he says he doesn't plan to unilaterally reopen NAFTA, that he had just spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that morning (Harper had called to congratulate him on the nomination), and that "I'm looking forward to a conversation with him. I'm a big believer in opening up a dialogue and figuring out how we can make this work for all people."

Obama also argues that "there are costs to free trade": He notes that under NAFTA, a more efficient and modernized U.S. agricultural industry displaced Mexican farmers, producing more immigrants. We "can't pretend that those costs aren't real. My job as President is to take those into account." Otherwise, he says, it feeds "the protectionist sentiment and the anti-immigration sentiment that is out there in both parties."


The Author of "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" is, at root, a storyteller. So he has a narrative on the troubled U.S. economy behind his stump-speech observation: "We did not arrive at the doorstep of our current economic crisis by some accident of history. This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle that was beyond our power to avoid." Today's mortgage-market troubles, according to the Obama camp, are the inevitable result of a middle-class squeeze that President Bush never addressed. "It left people with no margin for error," notes Goolsbee. "The savings rate goes to zero. People start taking money out of their houses. And a powder keg gets lit when a downturn comes." The next potential implosion, he says, is credit card debt, and Obama has proposed a consumer bill of rights that restricts card companies' ability to raise rates and creates a federal credit-card rating system.

At the center of Obama's plan to help ease the middle-class crunch would be a requirement that nearly all businesses provide health insurance or contribute to a government-backed "purchasing pool" that includes private plans and one public plan like Medicare. Since there is no mandate that adults buy insurance (as there was in Clinton's plan), critics note that healthy young people will opt out altogether, making an expensive government program even more costly. (Obama says he will pay for the program by ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.)

While Obama insists that "we don't need more heat, we need more light" in Washington, his plans to increase spending and taxes - to "make the most fortunate pay more of their fair share," as he puts it - is certain to generate plenty of heated opposition from business and taxpayer advocates. Already, though, Team Obama is on the prowl for areas of consensus, pointing to growing calls by business leaders for health-care reform, for energy independence, for a more skilled workforce, for investments in the country's physical infrastructure - roads and bridges and communications networks. Obama argues that American business needs government help to stay competitive in the global economy. He has made believers out of Chicago's business leaders - now he has four months to persuade the rest of America that it's not just spending he wants, it's investment in the future.


ACORN's legal lapses swept under rug

More ACORN stories: here

All is good as union organizers' political front-group gathers

About 2,000 members of ACORN, an advocacy group for low-income individuals, focused on getting out the vote this fall as the group gathered for its national convention Sunday.

ACORN, or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation's largest community organization with offices and 400,000 member families in 42 states. The group is hosting its biennial national convention at Cobo Hall with workshops on the mortgage foreclosure crisis, voter registration, health care, and other key issues affecting low-income families.

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke at the ACORN National Conference at Cobo Center Sunday.

Link: sevenload.com

"It is time for a regime change in America," said Maude Hurd, ACORN national president, to whistles and enthusiastic applause.

State by state, they told how they were affecting change in their respective communities -- from sponsoring forum to lobbying legislation -- but all agreed more had to be done.

ACORN's political action committee has supported Sen. Barack Obama in this November's presidential election and Hurd encouraged all members to become active in voter registration. It's estimated this year, ACORN will help 1.2 million people register to vote in 26 states, including 120,000 in Michigan to date.

Sunday's sessions at times resembled part political rally and part revival meeting.

Jim Wallis, best selling author and president/chief executive officer of Sojurners, told those at the conference: "Hope is believing in spite of the evidence and then seeing the evidence of change."

Wallis encouraged them to work to affect change.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, D-Mich. also stressed a need to get out the vote to put Obama in office an ultimately, she said, to bring soldiers home and use resources spent on war to help rebuild America by helping families in need, including those losing homes in mortgage foreclosures.

"We are on the cusp of doing something different," Cheeks-Kilpatrick told them. "You have the power in your hands.... It won't be an overnight thing."

The convention closes Monday after more workshops and remarks from Detroit City Council President Kenneth V. Cockrell, Jr.; Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and keynote speaker, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards.


News Union faces dues hit in Detroit

No comment from left-wing Newspaper Guild official

In an effort to cut costs, the partnership that oversees the joint business and advertising operations of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News is seeking 150 volunteers to accept buyouts by July 18.

The Detroit Media Partnership also will halt publication of the 11 Free Press weekly community sections and Twist, the Free Press Sunday supplement aimed at women, by early August, said Susie Ellwood, the partnership’s executive vice president and general manager.

“The environment in which newspapers operate continues to worsen rapidly, and the Detroit Media Partnership faces unique challenges because of the state’s business and economic climate. We must take action to reduce our expenses,” The Detroit News Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman wrote in an e-mail to staff on Monday.

Layoffs are a possibility.

“If the voluntary offer doesn’t result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if in the future, economic conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider layoffs,” Wolman wrote.

Volunteers will be selected based on seniority and position, and will receive two weeks of severance for every year of service, capped at 52 weeks.

Ellwood didn’t know how many staffers work on the weekly sections, but she said the partnership hoped enough volunteers would accept buyouts to allow those staffers to be moved elsewhere in the newsroom. Some of the weekly content will be folded into other sections.

In October, the partnership trimmed its overall workforce, including newsrooms, by 5 percent, or about 110 employees. All were volunteers.

A message was left for Lou Mleczko, president of Newspaper Guild Local 34022, which covers newsroom staff of both newspapers

The buyouts come in the wake of financial struggles for the parent companies of both newspapers.

Standard & Poor’s credit-rating service recently lowered Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc.’s debt rating by two levels to CCC, four levels above default. MediaNews owns The Detroit News.

S&P analyst Emile Courtney in a report said MediaNews is in danger of default and is likely to restructure because it faces increasing cash-flow problems this year due to dwindling advertising.

The partnership is 95 percent controlled by McLean, Va.-based Gannett Co. Inc., owner of the Free Press.

Gannett has reported its May print advertising revenues dropped 14.3 percent compared with May 2007, and the company has lost about half its share value over the past year. The company plans to write down its assets by up to $3 billion this quarter, citing declining value of its U.S. and British operations.


CWA: Barack for Organizer-In-Chief

Support cited for dues-boosting 'card-check' unionization scheme

The Communications Workers of America overwhelmingly endorsed Senator Barack Obama and pledged to work harder than ever to elect him President ofthe United States. The 2,000 delegates to the union's 70th convention voted by acclamation to support Senator Obama's bid, citing the values that he shares with working families and his support for the critical issues of Employee Free Choice, health care, fair trade and jobs and retirement security.

Senator Obama addressed the CWA convention by satellite. He stressed that families across the country want real change: "an economy that rewards not just wealth but the work and workers who create it."

"Change is having a President who's been an organizer...and who lets unions do what they do best and organize our workers. That's what change is and that's the choice in this election," he said.

CWA President Larry Cohen said CWA had committed to the 2008 elections like never before, "in ways we never dreamed of," to bring about the election of Barack Obama as president ofthe United States.

Cohen pointed out that CWA and its Alliance partners - the Steel Workers, Auto Workers, and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers - has more than 1 million active and retired members in the critical election states ofOhio,Pennsylvania andMichigan. "In these states, we will unite working families and take our message to members in the workplace like never before. With President Obama, we can reform health care, we can win the Employee Free Choice Act and bring about real, positive change for working families in our country," he said.

Senator Obama has declared that "we are ready to play offense for America's workers" and CWA is ready to work to make that happen," Cohen said.

Delegates noted that Senator McCain is in lockstep with President Bush, voting with the administration 89 percent of the time overall and 95 percent in 2007.

Senator Obama's message of hope and real change has invigorated a new generation of voters and touched Americans of all ages - Democrats, Republicans and Independents, CWA delegates said.

"He is determined to change the culture inWashington, to dispel the current tone of bitter partisan rhetoric and to work to address our nation's many challenges. If anyone can inspire our leaders and all Americans to make this vision a reality, we believe it is Senator Obama," they declared. "His historic presidency will be a victory for every American."


Gov't-union protesters swarm state Capitol

Barack's former workplace exposed as union hotbed

Tinnie Randall of Springfield found herself in an ironic situation Monday. A public service administrator with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Randall joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees only about a year ago after going years without a pay raise.

On Monday, Randall joined thousands of AFSCME members, their families and retirees to protest a state contract offer that union leaders say will result in no net pay raise for employees over the next four years.

"I just feel they should give us the best contract possible, instead of trying to reduce our income to supplement the state," Randall said. "We work hard. We're short of people, yet we keep everything going."

AFSCME called for the rally and a noontime march through downtown Springfield to draw attention to what the union feels is an unfair contract offer from the Blagojevich administration. State negotiators want AFSCME workers to pay more for health insurance premiums, co-payments and pensions without offering salary increases as compensation, union leaders said.

The current contract expires June 30.

"At this late date, they have on the table a proposal for a four-year agreement that adds up . . . over four years to a big fat zero," said AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer. "We're here to say no to that zero."

In an e-mailed message, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget spokeswoman, Kelley Quinn, said, "We are negotiating in good faith, and understand AFSCME's concerns. However, it would be irresponsible to comment on ongoing negotiations."

Under the state's offer, health insurance premiums would increase by 50 percent and co-payments would go up 75 percent for some union employees, Bayer said, at a time that costs of gasoline, utilities and food also are on the rise.

"We don't get discounts at the gas pump. We don't get discounts at the food store," Bayer said. "We're paying for those things as well as everything else in the state."

AFSCME estimated more than 5,000 of its members from all parts of the state attended Monday's rally and march that started at the state Capitol and wound its way downtown to the Hilton Springfield, where contract talks resumed Monday.

Police estimated the crowd more conservatively, at about 4,000.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said workers took vacation days, personal leave or spent their lunch hours at the rally that was scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. and was concluded by shortly after 1 p.m. Lindall predicted the turnout would have been larger, especially among prison guards and mental health workers, if staffing cutbacks hadn't prevented many from taking time away from the job.

Terry Baker of Taylorville, an officer at the Taylorville Correctional Center, said workers wanted to get the message out that prisons and other state-run facilities are short staffed.

"We work for the people of Illinois, and we want them to understand that they've cut our numbers down and slowed state government to where it is not as efficient as it once was," he said.

Like others at the rally, Baker is upset with the contract offer that calls for higher insurance and pension costs coupled with minimal pay raises. He wants to send a message to Blagojevich.

"The governor wants all kids covered by health care, but yet he wants to cut our kids' health care and cause us more financial burden to cover our families," Baker said. "The governor seems to be a creature of the media. This seems to be the only way we can get him to come to the table and talk to us in a fair and equitable manner."

Jack Rigney of Springfield said he likes his job at the Department on Aging and doesn't want to lose ground in a new state contract.

"The pay raises won't keep up with the cost of living, and we're just here to protect what is ours," Rigney said. "We hope (Blagojevich) sees the numbers here and what this means to the people of Illinois. The people put him where he is."

Randall said she thinks Monday's rally will help soften the administration's position on its contract offer.

"Even though the governor sometimes seems like he doesn't care, I believe he does care," Randall said. "We're not just union people, we're voters. He knows that we are important people."

Lori Laidlaw, who works at the Dixon Correctional Center and is member of AFSCME's negotiating team, said the administration can't help but take notice of the turnout.

"He should get the message that we are not going to go backwards," Laidlaw said. "We're not going to back down and give up."


Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona DINO

Related story: "Public opinion survey on card-check"

Democrat wants to end secret-ballot union elections

Signifying a strong national effort to elect a working family-friendly Congress, the Alaska State AFL-CIO and the Arizona AFL-CIO have announced endorsements in important federal races. The Alaska State AFL-CIO has made history by endorsing, for the first time, a challenger to longtime incumbent Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican who voted to block the Employee Free Choice Act when it came up for a vote last year.

The state federation will endorse Mark Begich, the Democratic mayor of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Begich has pledged to fight for new jobs, protect Social Security and support affordable health care for all.

Alaska State AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said the state’s unions would work hard to elect Begich: "Mark Begich wholeheartedly supports the legislation most important to Alaska’s working families."

In Arizona, the state AFL-CIO has announced endorsements in races for the U.S. House. In addition to incumbent Reps. Ed Pastor (D-4th District), Harry Mitchell (D-5th District), Raul Grijalva (D-7th District) and Gabrielle Giffords (D-8th District), the Arizona AFL-CIO has endorsed three challengers. State Sen. Ann Kirkpatrick is endorsed in her race for the open 1st District seat, while 2nd District challenger John Thrasher and 3rd District challenger Bob Lord have earned the endorsement in their races. All three candidates are Democrats running for Republican-held seats.

You can find out more about the 2008 congressional elections in Alaska and Arizona at Working Families Vote 2008.


Soros - AFSCME ad pilloried, parodied

Union unleashes powerful psychological warfare

If you scan through the 24-hour news channels, you probably have seen the “Alex” ad. It opens on a young mother with her baby as she says: “Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. He’s my first. “So far,” she continues, “his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That and making my heart pound every time I look at him.

“So, John McCain,” she concludes, “when you said you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”

“It’s a powerful ad,” my wife Ellen said after seeing it once, “and it will influence many women.”

This ad was concocted by the psychological warfare propagandists of two far-left groups. One is MoveOn.org, created in the 1990s to argue America should “move on” and not punish the perjury under oath and wildly unethical behavior of President Bill Clinton.

Now, of course, MoveOn.org’s Political Action Committee has no desire to move on from presumptive Republican presidential candidate Arizona Sen. John McCain’s awkward reference to keeping U.S. troops in a peaceful Iraq as we now keep troops with little problem in Japan, Germany, and many other countries.

And, of course, MoveOn.org is careful to give this ad’s viewers no inkling that this was the context in which McCain spoke.

Allied with MoveOn.org in funding this anti-McCain smear ad is AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. This is a public employees union whose fat political bankroll comes, in effect, from your taxpayer dollars.

One of the truly unethical schemes of modern politics has been that Democrats in power have unionized millions of government employees, then gotten kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions from the dues unions squeeze out of these public employees.

How different is this from the bad old days when civil servants were threatened with loss of their jobs if they refused to make direct donations to the Democratic Party machine?

The ad itself certainly violates the spirit of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law. This ad is a 527-style “swift boating” of McCain, and perhaps is part of the $40 million that radical billionaire George Soros has pledged for ads smearing McCain.

As to the ad itself, it is illogical nonsense. Since Republican President Richard Nixon ended the draft during the Vietnam War, the kind of conscription that in theory could drag young men who never served in the military or National Guard off to war against their wills has all but disappeared.

If baby Alex somehow wants to volunteer for war, he must wait 17 years or so to become an adult — long past the outer limit of an eight-year McCain presidency — at which point Alex will be his own person with freedom to choose.

The MoveOn.org ad’s young mother speaks of this baby as “mine,” not “ours,” and makes no reference to a husband — all the better to reach resentful single mothers, one of the Democratic Party’s cornerstone constituency groups.

But the political left has an advantage here. The majority of those who vote for Democrats come from that half of our population that has an IQ of 100 or lower.

These sheep neither notice nor care about the irrationality and cynically manipulative nature of this dishonest all-feelings, no-brain ad. It’s no accident that the actress performing this ad spoke her lines like a dimwit, all the better to bamboozle its target audience.

McCain will ignore this ad, and wisely so. It is a sermon delivered to the choir, to those who already oppose him. Why waste time, energy or money to counter it, and thereby give it more attention?

But what if the Republicans chose to fight this fire with fire?

Imagine a few logical 527-group counter-ads done in the same style, each opening on a similarly empathetic, highly emotional young mother and her baby named for Alexander the Great: “Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you’re willing to have him die in some future terrorist 9/11 attack because you want to surrender in the war against terrorism and bug out of Iraq and its other battlefields, you can’t have him.”

“Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you expect him to pay off the $4 trillion in tax increases and extreme government spending you advocate — and to spend most of his working life paying an 83 percent tax rate to fund your socialist schemes — you can’t have him.”

“Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you want to conscript him and his children into being taxed to bankroll a world government that violates American constitutional rights and destroys American sovereignty, you can’t have him.”

“Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you want to require him to provide unpaid ‘community service’ to radical political or environmental groups in order to get his high school diploma or other credentials, you can’t have him.”

“Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you want to force him into public schools where government teachers will propagandize him with values contrary to the fundamental beliefs and morals of our family’s religion, you can’t have him.”

“Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you want to deny worker elections as a way to force him to join a left-wing labor union like AFSCME and pay dues that are used, against his will, to elect promise-breaking Democratic politicians like yourself, you can’t have him.”

With the breaking of his written pledge to accept the spending limits of public campaign funding if his Republican opponent did likewise, Obama has proven himself to be not a new voice of hope but the same old untrustworthy voice of special interest politics as usual.

We now have other corroborating evidence of this in Obama’s unwillingness to denounce, and to call upon MoveOn.org and AFSCME to halt, this disreputable ad.


Teachers union stonewalls state pension reform

News sheet fails to credit union-friendly Gov. Beshear

In 2004 thousands of teachers showed up at rallies organized by their unions to protest then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher's health care plan -- applying enough pressure to persuade the governor and lawmakers to change course. This year their influence has been felt again in the debate over state pension reform -- though perhaps not as directly.

"When you start touching on subjects they are involved in, you are touching sacred cows … and no legislator is going to buck that," said Kentucky Parks Department historian Ron Bryant, who has written extensively about the state's history. The bill that will be considered by this week's special session will make few changes to teachers' pensions.

But the Kentucky Education Association and its largest local affiliate, the Jefferson County Teachers Association, also represent classified school workers such as janitors and bus drivers who would be affected by proposed changes. And three major changes supported by the Republican-led Senate, and opposed by the KEA and JCTA, were ultimately omitted from the bill:

Moving future state hires into a 401(k)-style plan resembling those in the private sector.

Shifting classified school workers out of the County Employees Retirement System and into one of the state's other retirement systems.

Eliminating for new hires the so-called "inviolable contract," which guarantees that the state will pay benefits promised to employees when they are hired.

"They (the teachers' unions) are directly responsible for defeating three crucial parts of future reforms that we ultimately have to do," said Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville.

Rep. Mike Cherry, the Princeton Democrat who played a lead role in the pension negotiations, said House leaders rejected those ideas not because of the teachers' unions but because Democrats generally felt strongly about them.

"I don't know which came first, the chicken or the egg," he said, adding that most Democrats were united on them "from the start."

Making sacrifices

The unions could have taken a hard-line stance against changing any benefits for current employees and future hires.

But Democratic and Republican lawmakers have all said in recent years that reforming the retirement systems, which are facing a $26.6 billion shortfall, is a high priority.

And union officials say they were willing to make sacrifices -- in the form of reduced benefits for future hires -- as long as the state made some commitments as well, mainly by promising to get the retirement systems back to full funding by 2024.

"Our members knew that if we were going to have pension reform, then we were going to have to bear some of the pain," said KEA President Sharron Oxendine.

In 2004 the unions took a much harder line.

Fletcher called a special session to make changes in his new health-care plan after teachers threatened to strike. The plan would have raised monthly premiums for most state workers and increased out-of-pocket expenses for all of them in 2005.

Teachers called off the strike after the legislature passed a bill that allowed state workers and school employees to keep essentially the same benefits and premiums in 2005 that they had in their 2004 plans.

This year Williams actually found himself siding with KEA on one issue during negotiations earlier this month. KEA and Senate Republicans pushed the House -- which ultimately relented -- to add the full-funding timeline to the bill.

The major reforms in the bill affect only future employees, although, to KEA's chagrin, current employees will see a reduction in their cost-of-living adjustment upon retirement. The new adjustment, however, will be the same as currently retired teachers receive.

KEA, which has about 40,000 members, also opposed giving counties and cities a reduction in their required contribution amounts for the next two years. Legislative leaders ultimately settled on a one-year break.
Influential groups

Williams said KEA and the JCTA had too much influence over House Democrats and some House Republicans during the pension debate. He said they "did great damage overall on our ability to offer a retirement system to future non-teacher retirees that reflects the private sector."

But House leaders denied having been unduly influenced by KEA and JCTA, saying many other "stakeholders" -- including other labor groups -- had a say in the bill's direction.

"We Democrats, our stakeholders, the employee representatives and the employees themselves … played some role," Cherry said. "In the final analysis, I think the decisions were … a reasonable compromise between the positions of the stakeholders and what was needed for the system."

The teachers unions have long been influential in Kentucky politics, in part because their members vote in large numbers, Bryant said.

"It's a voting bloc, really, and that's where the power comes from," he said. "You don't have to have millions of dollars (for campaign contributions) if you can deliver the vote."

Indeed, KEA's political action committee in recent years has never had more than $300,000 on hand.

JCTA President Brent McKim said many of the current and retired teachers who are KEA members vote and volunteer to work for candidates.

"We are probably one of the pre-eminent forces in helping to elect candidates who support children and public education," he said.

Cherry acknowledged as much.

"A large number of Democrats are running for election every two years," he said. "Are we very attuned to and interested in the positions of our employees and working folks in general? Yes, of course. And they play a role in our deliberations."


Teamsters, Dems demand halt to privatization

Union-dues politics usually prevail in labor-states

Union and Democratic Party officials are pressuring Cascade County (MT) commissioners to at least hold off on making a decision Tuesday on whether to privatize the county's garbage collection system — if they don't shelve the idea.

Hiring a private hauler would eliminate four positions from the county payroll.

"My fear is they're selling them out for pennies on the dollar," said Jim Stone, business representative for Teamsters Local No. 2, which represents the workers.

Commissioners say they're satisfied with the county's calculations, which show the move's projected savings, but Stone is raising questions about the numbers being used to justify the switch.

"Ultimately, I'd like to see them drop the privatization and keep it in-house," he said.

The union is demanding that the county bargain over any decision to contract out the work, saying a refusal violates the law.

In a letter hand-delivered to commissioners Friday, Teamsters Local 2 attorney D. Patrick McKittrick wrote that contracting out the work would have an adverse effect on wages, hours and working conditions of the bargaining unit employees.

Stone said the company the county may choose for the job, Waste Management Systems, has agreed to hire the employees, but he said the pay and benefits aren't as good.

"We think there needs to be more public comment on this," he said.

The Cascade County Democratic Central Committee, in a letter addressed to commissioners and mailed Friday, called for a more detailed explanation of county costs and private alternatives. At stake, the letter said, are the livelihoods and pensions of four county employees who became members of the Teamsters in June 2006, and came under a collective bargaining agreement with the county in September 2007.

"Some of these drivers are near retirement age and prospects of equal re-employment are dim," states the letter, which was sign by Olaf Stimac, vice chairman of the party.

Commissioners are expected to discuss the garbage issue Tuesday, and Chairman Lance Olson, a Republican, said Friday he plans to call for a vote.

Regardless of whether the county keeps the service in-house, rates will go up for residents, Olson said.

If the county keeps hauling garbage, the cost per property owner will rise from $57 a year to $134, as opposed to $90 a year under the privatization plan, according to county figures.

County officials say they have had to dip into reserves to cover the costs of running the program for the past several years. They also foresee additional expenses in the future, including having to hire on-site attendants to police uncontrolled dumping at the sites.

Almost 9,000 residents use the eight dump sites scattered across Cascade County. The county's drivers then haul the waste from those sites to the landfill.

Both Olson and Commissioner Peggy Beltrone, a Democrat, say they're comfortable with the numbers being used to guide the decision.

Beltrone acknowledged they are projections, but added that they are "based on current reality."

"I've gone over the numbers and I believe it paints an accurate picture," she said.

Stone doesn't agree. He said he has doubts the county can consistently charge residents $90 a year if a private hauler takes over the work. For example, he said, the county's calculations factor in an equipment sale to Waste Management, even though that's a one-time transaction.

"I don't think the county is giving residents full disclosure on what's going on," he said.

Olson said he expects that the county will save money in the long term by hiring a private hauler.

"Those rates will increase less under privatization," he said.


Out-of-state union raider shifts focus

CNA: 'We hear a lot of moralizing from SEIU about raiding.'

The California Nurses Association, unsuccessful so far in pushing aside the powerful Service Employees International Union as the preferred organizer of nurses in Southern Nevada, has set a new goal: to unseat the SEIU at University Medical Center.

And it’s allowing itself plenty of time to muster its attack. The UMC contract with the SEIU, which represents 17,500 health care and public-sector workers statewide, has another two years to run.

The early organizing effort suggests the battle to represent Nevada’s nurses isn’t likely to end soon, and that Nevada is shaping up as a battleground state in the nurses association’s national feud with the SEIU, the country’s largest union.

The smaller, more militant California-based union says the SEIU has traded away higher contract standards to win organizing agreements with anti-union employers. The SEIU counters that its contracts have set the bar in the health care industry in right-to-work states and that increasing its ranks will result in more clout.

The California Nurses Association, which represents 80,000 nurses nationwide, nearly poached 1,100 registered nurses from the SEIU during an election last month at three St. Rose Dominican hospitals. The union earned more votes than the SEIU, but failed to garner the required majority because a few nurses voted for no union.

That contest is now bogged down in legal wrangling after the SEIU filed objections and unfair labor practice charges against Catholic Healthcare West, which owns the St. Rose chain.

Another election is likely, but the California Nurses Association is not standing idly on the sidelines.

The insurgent union sent organizers into UMC last week, targeted the hospital with fliers and is mailing literature to nurses at home.

Its efforts come two years before it could actually unseat the SEIU at the county-run hospital. The incumbent union’s contract doesn’t expire until mid-2010, and labor law prevents another union from forcing an election until shortly before an existing contract expires.

Labor experts say unions often wage long campaigns to build support in a workplace.

“You can almost have a de facto CNA if they win the loyalty of the people and bide their time until the moment comes,” said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The main thing is, do they have a group of people who will switch their loyalties?”

Several UMC nurses are assisting the California group’s efforts, and there are other indications the hospital might be ripe for a challenge.

The SEIU represents 3,579 workers at UMC, 1,253 of whom are registered nurses, according to the hospital. Because Nevada is a right-to-work state, those represented by a union aren’t required to be members and pay dues. If membership is a sign of satisfaction, then the California Nurses Association may be walking onto fertile ground: Only 612 of UMC’s registered nurses — or 49 percent — are SEIU members.

SEIU Nevada spokeswoman Hilary Haycock denounced the nurses association’s efforts at UMC.

“It’s just another example of their refusal to go out and organize nurses who don’t have a union,” Haycock said. “It’s raiding and it’s inappropriate union behavior when there are millions of nurses across the country that could use the help of a union to raise standards in their hospital.”

The nurses association counters that the SEIU also is seeking to represent workers across the country who already have a union. In Arizona, for example, the SEIU is trying to replace the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees as the collective bargaining representative of state workers.

“We hear a lot of moralizing from SEIU about raiding,” said Chuck Idelson, spokesman for the California Nurses Association. “There is no union in the United States that engages in more raids than the service union.”

Haycock said she could speak only for the SEIU in Nevada.

“We haven’t raided anyone,” she said. “We’re opposed to raiding.”


SEIU uses ballot stalking-horse for GOTV

Is sick-or-not leave mandate a clever hoax?

Here in the Buckeye State, there are approximately 2.2 million workers who are employed by small businesses that do not have paid sick days as part of their employee benefits. This statistic was compiled by the Cleveland-based political think tank Policy Matters Ohio. An act has been proposed by the Ohioans for Healthy Families coalition that would require that an Ohio business having 25 or more employees must provide their employees with at least seven paid sick days. And any days left over at the end of the year get carried over into the next calendar year.

The coalition has already gathered the needed number of votes and has presented the issue to the Ohio lawmakers back in January 2008, but they failed to meet the deadline to act on this issue. So now the coalition is working on gathering the 120,683 signatures needed by August 6 to place the issue on the general election ballot. That would put the issue alongside senators John McCain and Barack Obama on November 4.

The media are already comparing this issue to the gay marriage ban issue back in 2004. As we now know, Bush won the state of Ohio in 2004 with 51 percent of the vote over Democrat John Kerry's 49 percent. Part of that win is credited with the push by state conservatives that sent 2.5 million bulletins to 17,000 churches statewide to vote to ban gay marriages. Then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and Bush campaign co-chairperson, recorded automated phone calls that went to millions of Ohio homes on the issue and urged Republicans to the polls to vote.

The Sick Days Act is heavily supported by the United Auto Workers, United Steelworkers and the Service Employees International Union, along with other organized labor groups. These unions have become very good at getting out the vote campaigns, especially for Democrats that are backing their issues.


Labor-state GOP endorses worker-choice

Forced-labor unionism usually silences opposition

After years of failed debate, the West Virginia Republican Party has added a controversial issue to its platform. The vote on “Right to Work” came over the weekend at the GOP state convention in Flatwoods.

"At the end of the day, delegates from the state convention approved adding the Right to Work plank to the platform this year," according to GOP political consultant Gary Abernathy.

Hundreds of members of the GOP attended the one-day event to choose alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention and set the party's platform for the next year.

Right to Work was the most hotly contested issue of the day and far from unanimous according to Abernathy. "Frankly there will be candidates and officeholders in the party that take the other position and don't go along with it. But those people who make the decisions about what's going to go into the official party platform, the majority of those made the decision to add it to the platform,” he said.

Abernathy says the platform is simply the party's formal stance on Right to Work. "What it means for the state is that the state Republican Party has taken a position that the state of West Virginia should have in its law a Right to Work plank which just says you can not and should not be coerced or required to join any kind of organization in order to get a job or keep a job."

The issue hasn’t been a popular one in West Virginia because of strong ties to organized labor, but supporters say Right to Work states have stronger economies.


Rep. Shea-Porter defends card-check

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