Judge smacks down Dems' card-check ad gripe

Related story: "Dems try to halt 'no-vote unionism' ads"
Al Franken stories: hereEFCA stories: hereCard-check stories: here

Throwing union democracy, free speech under the bus

Today the Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings for the state of Minnesota dismissed the complaint filed by the DFL Party against the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) and other parties. The complaint asserted it was false to say that Al Franken supported a federal bill that would permit labor unions to force themselves on workers without a secret ballot. The judge dismissed the complaint without even waiting for an answer, ruling that the DFL complaint failed to allege any specific reason why the statements at issue are factually false.

Related video: "Franken opposes secret-ballot"

"We are pleased that the judge saw through the DFL's desperate political stunt aimed at preventing us from educating Minnesotans about the threat to private ballots in the workplace," said Brian Worth, vice president of the Independent Electrical Contractors of America and member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. "Our education campaign is working and their failed attempt to not let the facts get in the way of a good story won't miraculously change the realities of the mis-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)."

The DFL has consistently rejected the facts about how EFCA will effectively end the right of workers to cast their vote in private when deciding whether to join a union.

Under EFCA, the NLRB must recognize the union without an election if a majority of workers sign an authorization card identifying who they are. Once the 50% threshold has been crossed, the statute is unequivocal in its command: "the [NLRB] shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or organization as the labor representative." (Emphasis added.)

According to a recent poll conducted by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), 72% of Minnesota voters prefer secret ballot elections over a card check process when deciding whether or not to join a union. The same poll found that 65% of Minnesota voters were opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act.
A copy of the Order of Dismissal is: here.

About the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace is made up of more than 500 associations and organizations from every state across the nation that have joined together to protect a worker's right to a private ballot when deciding whether to join a union. For more information and a listing of our membership, please visit www.MyPrivateBallot.com.


Bush urged purge of voter rolls

Related story: "State chided for dip in voter registration fraud"
More ACORN stories: here

Union-backed vote-fraud groups like ACORN, Demos lag

Millions of low-income and minority voters are being denied opportunities to register to vote by state agencies that are violating a federal voting law, according to members of Congress and voting rights groups.

The ongoing failure has led to a nearly 80 percent drop-off in registering low-income applicants at state social services agencies over a decade, according to a recent report by the non-partisan voter advocacy research groups Project Vote and Demos.

"This noncompliance means the disenfranchisement of millions of low-income citizens, and a widening of the gap between the registration rates of high and low-income individuals," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairwoman of a House elections subcommittee that held hearings this spring on the widespread violations of Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

The under-enforced 1993 law is better known the "motor voter" law. Minority citizens lag behind white voter registration by as much 10 percent for blacks, and roughly 20 percent for Hispanics and Asian-Americans, in part because they are disproportionately low-income.

If minorities voted at the same rate as whites, there would be 7.5 million more minority voters on Election Day, Project Vote reported last fall. Just as troubling, 40 percent of adults in households with less than $25,000 in annual incomes are unregistered, compared to only 20 percent from those with family incomes above $100,000.

These disparities are worsened by other state and federal actions that limit access to voter registration and voting.

Battleground states such as Florida also impose draconian restrictions on voter registration groups seeking to register low-income voters. VA hospitals bar on-site voter registration drives of wounded soldiers. And states have toughened voter ID requirements, led by Indiana's photo ID law that was upheld by the Supreme Court in April.

In addition, some states, including Louisiana, are facing challenges to their efforts to hastily purge many thousands of often minority voters from their rolls. In response to these alarming trends, Project Vote declared last week, "Voter purges are one of several problems in the administration of elections that could not only bar legal voters from the polls, but could potentially influence the outcome of close races," including the tight Presidential race.

Some Progress Made

Although there has been relatively little cause for optimism on voting rights, a few recent legal actions have offered some rays of hope amid a generally grim picture of widespread barriers to voting. Unfortunately, this pattern of vote suppression has too often been abetted by a partisan Department of Justice. Yet just two weeks ago, the grass-roots advocacy group ACORN, backed by Project Vote and the public policy research group Demos, won an important victory for disenfranchised poor voters. A federal court ordered Missouri's Department of Human Services to finally comply with the NVRA, that federal law requiring the state's social welfare offices to provide voter registration applications and assistance to their clients. "This order could lead to more than hundred thousand new voters from low-income communities that have historically been under represented in the political process," said Jeff Ordower, Missouri ACORN's head organizer.

Even the Bush Department of Justice told Senate Democrats in a letter in mid-July that it was probing other state agencies with poor registration rates, and in May, it reached a settlement with the state of Arizona to enforce social services outreach to low-income voters.

"We are actively investigating a number of jurisdictions which have admitted to low voter registration rates at state public assistance agencies," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Keith Nelson said, without disclosing them.

The Justice Department letter was, in part, an apparent response to mounting pressure from Congress and advocacy groups over the continuing law-breaking by states that won't enforce the NVRA. The House elections subcommittee hearings chaired by Rep. Lofgren were followed by letters in April from leading House and Senate Democrats, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to the Department of Justice demanding that the agency take far more aggressive action to enforce Section 7. Instead, the DOJ has been using another provision of the law to force states and localities to enact widespread voter purges. "This creates the impression, whether founded or not, that the Department is more concerned with removing names from the voter rolls than adding them," said Sen. Whitehouse and other liberal colleagues.

Advocacy groups, led by Project Vote and Demos, have also been writing to the worst-performing states, warning them that they had to obey the law. This is a required prelude to potential lawsuits by these groups against such states as New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida. Indeed, a Project Vote follow-up survey released in early May of clients at 63 offices in Arizona, New Mexico and five other NVRA-violating states found that most social services clients weren't offered an opportunity to register. (Two of those states, Arizona and Virginia, have since reached settlements with either DOJ and Demos, respectively, agreeing to implement such major reforms as offering registration assistance to all clients.) The results from this latest survey were shocking: Only 18 percent of nearly 420 clients surveyed received any voter registration services. "Because of noncompliance with the NVRA," as Project Vote and Demos reported in Unequal Access earlier this year, "the rights of thousands of low-income citizens are violated daily."

A 'New' Justice Department?

Surprisingly, in only its second Section 7 enforcement action in eight years, the new John Mukasey-led DOJ actually has begun responding to all the increased pressure. In mid-May the department reached the agreement with Arizona to provide registration assistance. And the department's recent letter to Sen. Whitehouse and other Senators claims it is "committed to ensuring compliance" with federal voting laws, despite its notoriously poor record in civil rights under Bush.

Although DOJ hasn't publicly announced other enforcement actions since settling with Arizona, Congressional staffers see welcome initial signs of progress at the Justice Department. "We're encouraged by the Arizona settlement," says an aide to Sen. Whitehouse. "It's a positive step forward, and we certainly hope to see aggressive enforcement of the law so that Americans' rights to vote are protected."

If the Justice Department doesn't take further actions, Project Vote and other voting advocacy groups are likely to sue the worst-performing states if their negotiations with them fail. These include New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida, according to Doug Hess, a Project Vote consultant on NVRA. "There are only a few states that do it well," he says.

Those few states have often responded only to enforcement actions and the threat of lawsuits, leading to major reforms that have dramatically increased voting by poor voters. For instance, in his Congressional testimony, Project Vote's Deputy Director, Michael Slater, pointed to the turnaround in Tennessee resulting from a DOJ lawsuit in 2002 -- the only section 7 lawsuit brought by the department in the last eight years. With the state's welfare agencies now filing over 50,000 registration applications a year, Slater stressed, "During the 2006 election cycle, one in five voter registrations from public aid offices in the nation came from Tennessee."

A few other state officials, including those in Michigan and North Carolina, have actively embraced reforms after being presented with the disturbing Project Vote and Demos findings of low voter registration by their aid agencies. A 2006 survey, for instance, found that in some North Carolina welfare offices, not a single voter registration form was offered to any client. Within months, that state's board of elections, working with the governor, demanded that agency officials boost registration results, and backed it up with random, unannounced investigations. Annual registration by recipients then jumped six-fold. It's not just civic duty at work, however: In her testimony before Congress, Johnnie McLean, the deputy director of the North Carolina board of elections, observed, "We are appreciative of advocates' willingness to work with us, rather than file litigation against us."

Problem States Persist

New Mexico, on the other hand, denies any wrongdoing and will probably be sued before November's election. Matthew Henderson, New Mexico ACORN's head organizer, points to registration numbers that "continue to be horrible" from New Mexico's Human Services Department. Although improving in some local offices since January, the agency's own figures have shown as few as six registered voters in one social service office in Albuquerque, according to Doug Hess, an NVRA specialist with Project Vote. As Henderson observes, "They're passing up an opportunity to register people who are walking in their door, and it's very difficult for us to go out and find them." Paul Ritzma, the general counsel for the state's Human Services Department, blames poor quality reporting for any low numbers, and insists, "We're doing everything we're supposed to do."

Yet while state agencies in New Mexico and Florida have registered relatively few poor citizens, those states also try to thwart non-profit groups that try to register those same voters. They've passed draconian registration laws that threaten to punish canvassers and groups such as ACORN and the League of Women Voters with stiff fines and jail terms if they run afoul of petty rules, such as failing to turn in registration forms within 48 hours

In New Mexico, as a result of the restrictive law, registration plunged to 2,000 new applicants in 2006 from 35,000 two years earlier. This year, ACORN managed to comply with the law and register 40,000 voters so far this year, but at a very heavy cost of adding over a dozen quality-control staffers to meet the 48-hour deadline. Henderson says. "We'd rather be spending our money on doing more follow-up with new voters to get them thinking about issues and hiring more full-time organizers."

To top it all off, while voting rights groups are draining their resources because state agencies fail to register low-income and minority voters, some states, in essence, are also targeting those voters by indiscriminate purges of voter rolls. Nearly 500,000 black voters were purged from voting rolls in Ohio in the last two election cycles. Now, in Louisiana, Project Vote is challenging allegedly illegal state efforts to drop thousands of voters -- many of whom are minorities -- because they appear to be duplicates of voters registered in other states, based solely on similarities in birthdates and names.

Campaign Impact Unknown

Despite the array of barriers to registration and voting, the Democratic Party and Obama campaign still seem to be counting on massive voter registration drives to help sweep their candidates into office. Neither the Obama campaign nor the DNC would comment on their "voter protection" plans. But if past history is any guide, leading voting rights activists aren't counting on Democrats to go beyond registering voters to effectively protecting voting rights.

"Democrats don't get it," says Matthew Henderson of ACORN. The grass-roots advocacy organization has faced GOP-led smears over voter fraud -- and state laws restricting registration -- because of its success nationally in registering over 1.6 million voters since 2003.

ACORN has ramped up new quality controls over canvassers and challenged assorted voting restrictions as it pushes to add 1.2 million new voters in this year's election. But it's not clear that the well-funded Democratic registration drives will do the same.


Property rights interfere with union organizers

More Carpenters union stories: here

Federal Court smacks down Carpenters organizers, NLRB

A federal appeals court has overturned a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that would have permitted a carpenters union to distribute literature at Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, NY.

In the July 18 ruling, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that mall managers did not discriminate against the Empire State Council of Carpenters and Local 747 when they denied the union's request to set up a table in the mall and hand out literature in 2003.

"The standard for assessing discrimination must take account of the general rule that a private property owner need not provide a forum for expression on its property and may be arbitrary and inconsistent in its selection of speakers," the three appeals court judges wrote in their decision.

At issue, Christian P. Jones said, was whether the Salmon Run policy, to allow access only where it would increase foot traffic or enhance the mall's reputation, was discriminatory.

The NLRB focused on the motive of mall managers and said yes. The federal court examined the overall policy and said no.

Mr. Jones, a labor and employment law attorney for the Syracuse firm MacKenzie Hughes, represented Salmon Run Shopping Center LLC in the case. The limited liability company, which owns the mall, is a subsidiary of Pyramid Cos., Syracuse.

"The analysis should be: Did the mall treat the union any differently than they treated any other organization who wanted to speak on the same subject," Mr. Jones said. "The answer in this case was no."

The case can be traced back to 2003, when a contractor for Dick's Sporting Goods hired a subcontractor to remodel the mall tenant's space.

In August, a day before the new Dick's store was set to open, a representative from the carpenters union asked mall managers if he could set up a table to distribute literature. According to court documents, the subcontractor employed nonunion carpenters.

In a later hearing on the subject, the union representative said his literature included handouts criticizing the employment practices of both Dick's and the subcontractor. The handouts also included information on the potential benefits of joining Carpenters Local 747.

According to excerpts of her letter, which were included in the federal court decision, mall manager Mary P. Dudo denied the union's request to set up a table for their literature.

"We welcome civic, charitable, or other organizations to solicit in the common areas of the mall when the solicitation will benefit both the organization and our tenants," she wrote. "Based on these criteria, we are unable to grant your application at this time."

Ms. Dudo could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Mr. Jones said the decision was justified by the mall's stance on solicitation.

"The mall had not permitted competing unions to distribute organization literature," he said. "Nor had the mall allowed someone from Dick's or the contractors into the mall to defend the use of nonunion carpenters."

In November 2003 and January 2004, following denials for space at the mall, the carpenters union filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board.

The case was brought before an administrative law judge, who ruled that Salmon Run Mall was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act for refusing to allow the union access.

A three-member panel of the NLRB issued a cease-and-desist order in 2006 after similarly concluding that the "mall operator had excluded the Carpenters' Union from its property because it was a labor organization and thereby had engaged in an unfair labor practice," according to court documents.

In the July ruling, the appeals court agreed that the literature had been aimed at employee rights to self-organization, but concluded that the argument of discrimination was not reasonable.

"Because we conclude that the facts do not amount to discrimination under a properly framed standard, we deny enforcement of the Board's order," the judges wrote.


Labor-state wants out

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Most states mandate union-dues as a precondition of employment

Indiana is losing out on several fronts by not having a right-to-work law that prohibits requiring union membership or financial support as a condition of employment. This comes from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce today in its fourth public policy letter from its board of directors to the state’s two major party candidates for governor.

“By not having a right-to-work law, it basically handicaps the state’s ability to win more new jobs and immediately takes us out of the running for many projects,” surmises Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “Economic development professionals repeatedly stress that it’s a strong factor in business investment and relocation.”

Existing jobs are also lost each year because of the absence of a right-to-work law Brinegar asserts.

“For instance, at the end of 2007, the Colgate-Palmolive Company closed its factory in Clarksville and moved to a right-to-work state. That decision cost nearly 500 Hoosiers their jobs.”

In total, 22 states have right-to-work laws. The Indiana Chamber notes that workers in these states enjoy higher incomes. Oklahoma – the last state to adopt a right-to-work law – has since seen its real personal income grow by 13.6 percent between 2003 and 2006, according to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research. That’s also more than twice as fast as the overall personal income growth average in the 28 non-right-to-work states.

Brinegar says Hoosiers are becoming more and more aware of the situation. “A recent survey by Indiana Business for Responsive Government (the Indiana Chamber's political action committee) found that over 70 percent of statewide respondents said they favored a right-to-work law.”

The letter calling for making Indiana a right-to-work state plus the accompanying video commentary can be found at www.indianachamber.com/letters. There, Hoosiers can also view the timeline and subjects for all of the letters, as well as take the opportunity to share their thoughts on the Chamber blog.

The series, called “Letters to Our Leaders,” continues through August 26, with one letter released weekly to the general public and the candidates on a key issue area that needs attention from state government. These messages are distributed on behalf of Indiana Chamber’s 125 board members that represent 4,800 member companies employing 800,000 Hoosier workers.

Source: Indiana Chamber of Commerce


FedEx plans for Teamsters strike v. UPS

Related videos: 'Teamsters vote to strike v. UPS' • 'Chicago Teamsters strike vote v. UPS'
UPS stories: hereFedEx stories: here

What can Brown do for Jimmy Hoffa?

In a press release today UPS announced that its approximately 11,000 Teamster-member employees will strike on Friday, Aug. 1. iClick has a close relationship with UPS and uses the company as its primary shipper. Shipping manager of iClick, Tom Doyle, has already arranged for FedEx to commence shipping iClick freight on Monday so as not to disrupt any order deliveries the following week. Here is the press release:


Members of Teamsters Local 705, the second-largest local union in the country with about 11,000 members, authorized July 20 a strike effective Aug. 1.

A strike would send UPS drivers, package handlers and other union employees to the picket lines, leaving thousands of packages in the Chicago area, bordering states and possibly even nationwide undelivered.

Steve Pocztowski, secretary treasurer for the Local 705, which is independent of the national UPS union, said he expects to be on strike Aug. 1. He said his group gave UPS a proposal June 9, and UPS has done nothing to make a deal. The strike vote was nearly 93 percent in favor.

Pocztowski said UPS came back to them offering half the amount of a raise and less in pension contributions that the national UPS union received in their contract signed in October.

Norman Black, spokesperson for UPS in Atlanta, said he expects it to be business as usual at the beginning of August.

“We are absolutely confident that we will negotiate a deal that is good for the company, our employees and our customers,” Black said.

UPS hubs in Illinois include locations in Addison, Bedford Park, Chicago, Decatur, Franklin Park, Hodgkins, Northbrook, Palatine, Rockford and Rock Falls.

Pocztowski said if union members strike Aug. 1, he will extend an offer to other major hubs to join in on the strike, including New York, New Jersey, Boston and Los Angeles.


Barack OKs unionized national police force

Inventive Progressives seek new ways to harvest union-dues

In his speech July 2 in Colorado Springs, Denver, media darling Barack Obama said: "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

What Obama meant: "... we need a ‘civilian national security force’ that would be as powerful, strong and well-funded as the half-trillion dollar Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force ..."

But as reported by Joseph Farah of WorldNet Daily Obama’s comments concerning a national police force are not included in published transcripts of his prepared remarks. Moreover, transcripts posted at both the Wall Street Journal and Denver Post do not have the critical passage and none of the major news media even mentioned Obama’s call for a national police force.

The transcripts have all had the above paragraph censored. But on the YouTube video you can hear the above comment.

The budget of the Defense Department is about $585 billion, over $200,000 per employee. The Heritage Foundation reports that spending on military personnel averages $70,000 per member, though it is not clear what that entails. If Obama is talking about funding his civilian national security corps at the same level as the military, he would need at least an additional $500 billion. That can buy a lot of clicking boots and Lugers and other wafen for his national Gestapo.

Joseph Farah on WorldNet Daily wrote:

"If we're going to create some kind of national police force as big, powerful and well-funded as our combined U.S. military forces, isn't this rather a big deal. I thought Democrats generally believed the U.S. spent too much on the military. How is it possible their candidate is seeking to create some kind of massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together? Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that? If not, why did he say it? What did he mean?"

I think Obama said exactly what he meant although as a slip of the tongue because this part of his agenda is not something to be expressed prior to the election. Obama has a socialist, near communist agenda, of government control and redistribution of wealth. A national police force would be important in achieving Obama’s goals and could be used to stifle opposition. If you think this is just conspiratorial thinking, reflect back on the days before Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.

I thought we already had the FBI, DEA, BATF, U.S. Marshals, TSA, postal inspectors, park rangers, Secret Service, state bureaus of investigation, state police, local police, sheriffs and constables, among others, to already handle domestic law enforcement; why do we need an additional national police force? The only reason would be to exercise authority the existing agencies do not have.

In all his life Obama has never managed an organization larger than a Senate staff, or that of a law school publication. And, he's never operated a for-profit business or been responsible for any profit center within one. Yet now too many Americans seem willing to entrust him with management of the largest business in the world; and with a national police force as well.

All Obama’s experience prior to his 123 days in the U.S. Senate has been in community organizing. Among other things he worked with ACORN, the extremist community organization whose rap sheet include perpetration of numerous acts of violence, such as the destructive actions in Philadelphia where numerous buildings were burned to the ground. His other experience includes assisting in the Meals-on-Wheels programs in Illinois, training programs for Vietnamese Refugees, assembling congregations and a synagogue in a mid-sized Texas town to provide emergency assistance to low-income citizens, and being an expert witness at a Texas Senate hearing when legislation forming the state's Commission on Human Rights was being drafted. Although some of these community action deeds may be commendable, on one level, they hardly constitute any sort of experience to justify his election to the country’s highest office, and any comparison to Senator John McCain’s experience and background is laughable.

Putting Obama in charge of a national police force is akin to giving a paper hanger (Hitler’s previous profession) an armed force funded with billions of dollars (to be commensurate with the existing military) and the power to enforce an agenda that will change every fabric of American freedom.

I do not trust Barack Obama in the least and this only adds to my mistrust. If it had been John McCain who had made this proposal, the press would have been all over it. Why does Obama get a pass from the media; because they want Obama elected president!

Do you Obama supporters still want him to be president after knowing about this part of his agenda? If you buy into Obama's call for "change", is this the kind of change you want?

- Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California.


Union-backed candidate has Leftist cred

Change we've seen before, elsewhere

Since time immemorial, all of us have been judged by the company we keep. And, that's only fair. Even David, a man after God's own heart, was judged for the company he kept with Bathsheba. And that judgment lasted for several generations.

So, it certainly isn't too much to ask Barack Obama - a man whose choice of company includes a racist clergyman, an indicted embezzler, and a disgraced banking executive - to explain whether he embraces or eschews the Marxist teachings of several others he has also taken to his breast.

If he eschews them, fine, case closed. But, he needs to say so. If he embraces them, it is perfectly legitimate for his critics to condemn him as, at least, a "Fellow Traveler," and question whether his further travels should lead to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Let's start with the man Mr. Obama affectionately refers to as "Frank" in his memoir, "Dreams from My Father." "Frank," according to the author, played a pivotal role in his life in Hawaii just before he went off to college. "Frank" was introduced to the young, impressionable Barack Obama by the youth's own grandfather, who felt the fatherless child needed a male role model. Which, of course, Mr. Obama tells us "Frank" became - undoubtedly reciting for the lad his infamous poetry defending Soviet hegemony and attacking the United States.

"Frank," you see, was none other than Frank Marshall Davis - a notorious member of the Communist Party who advised Mr. Obama, not to "start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that [stuff]."

So, that was the message resonating in young Barack Obama's heart as he attended college and then journeyed off to Chicago to become a strong-arm rent collector preying upon welfare tenets for a wealthy slumlord. Until, that is, he apparently decided to go into politics. At that point, he reversed field and became a strong-arm community activist preying upon wealthy slumlords for welfare tenets (which, admittedly, sounds much more palatable in one's memoirs).

Still, the fever of politics was now in Mr. Obama's blood, so he needed a new mentor - preferably someone who could pick up where "Frank" left off, it seems. And he settled upon no less a renowned communist sympathizer than one Alice J. Palmer, the woman whose seat he would take (and "take" is the operative word) in the Illinois State Senate on his short march to the White House.

Perhaps Mr. Obama was attracted by the fact that in the 1980s, Ms. Palmer had served as an executive board member of the U.S. Peace Council, identified by the FBI as a communist front group.

Or perhaps, he was captivated by her remarks, as reported in the Communist Party USA's newspaper People's Daily World, upon her return from the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow. Obviously ebullient, Ms. Palmer delivered herself of such bloviations as: "The key word at the congress was 'acceleration.' The Soviet plan to provide people with higher wages and better education, health and transportation, while we in our country are hearing that cutbacks are necessary in all of these areas. I think that is a profound contrast."

In fairness, however, it must be conceded that Ms. Palmer's influence on the upwardly mobile Barack did not really last all that long. Sensing that her seat in the Illinois Senate might be a good stepping stone to higher office, Mr. Obama quickly had her candidacy for re-election declared illegal by saddling her with a fraud charge. The audacious young man was on his way to fulfilling the dreams of his father, "Frank," and even Alice - whose political demise he later admitted "was very awkward."

Still, before her "awkward" departure, Ms. Palmer had done Mr. Obama one last, major favor: she had introduced him to his two favorite communists of all - those who would help launch him on his road to Washington: the dynamic terrorist duo, William Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn.

Wining and dining with Bill and Bernie apparently became an important part of Barack's life as he eyed the heights of the political edifice. They partied together, sat side by side on the same boards, and strolled the aisles of radical conferences hand in hand (figuratively speaking, one would hope).

Undoubtedly, as Barack told them of his formative years at "Frank's" knee, they told him of their fugitive years as Marxist terrorists. Who wouldn't want to reminisce about the glory days of the late 1960s and early 1970s when Bill and Bernie were prominent members of the communist Weather Underground - setting off bombs in more than two-dozen buildings, including the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon; and conspiring to violently overthrow the U.S. government?

And one has to wonder if the unrepentant terrorists directly told Barack Obama what Bill Ayers boasted of to the New York Times: "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."

The truth is, neither has Barack Obama done anywhere near enough to disavow the chilling links to the communists in his past. So one is honestly left to wonder - and it's high time for the media to ask: Does this man have any good, decent, democratic friends?

- Carter L. Clews is the director of communications for Americans for Limited Government in Fairfax, Va.


Nurses try again to oust unwanted union

Secret-ballot decertification vote set for next month

Nurses at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar (CA) will vote a second time on whether they want to decertify their union after a judge threw out the first election because of the hospital's intimidating tactics.

The vote on whether to keep the California Nurses Association will be Aug. 27 and 28, said James Small, regional director for Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board. If the nurses vote to decertify the union at the Wildomar hospital, it would end almost five years of legal disputes between the two sides.

Nurses voted to drop the union affiliation in November 2006 by a 129-101 vote. But the nurses union filed an objection, claiming hospital managers and the consultants they hired violated numerous federal labor laws.

After a six-day hearing, Administrative Law Judge Gerald A. Wachnov agreed.

Small said nurses will be officially reminded about the 2006 election when they vote next month.

"Notices will point out that this election is being conducted as a result of the employer's unfair labor practices and objectionable conduct," Small said. "It will be on the notice, and the employees will be able to draw their own conclusions."

The hearing on the 2006 election was held late last year in Riverside and Murrieta, and Wachnov, in a decision released in March, upheld most of the union's objections.

They claimed hospital managers and representatives of Yessin & Associates, a Tampa, Fla.-based consulting firm the hospital hired, coerced and intimidated nurses before the vote and, in some instances, conducted surveillance while at work.

Hospital managers also denied nurses the right to wear pro-union logos on their scrubs and unlawfully confiscated CNA literature from nurses, according to federal documents.

Small said the hospital had a right to file an objection to the judge's opinion but did not. The hospital is owned by Universal Health Systems, based in King of Prussia, Pa.

The nurses union first made efforts to unionize the hospital in late 2003. The nurses voted to join CNA by a 129-84 vote in May 2004.

But more than two years later, with the two sides stalemated in efforts to reach a first contract, the nurses voted to decertify.

Neither representatives of the hospital or the union returned calls seeking contact Tuesday.


AFSCME: Tap Rainy Day Fund for union salaries

'Go where the money is ... and go there often.' - Willie Sutton

Some people call it a rainy day fund. Others see it as a savings account. But for 22 employees affected by Naples’s work-force reduction plan, the city’s $15 million reserves could be their saving grace.

Local representatives for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that represents about 200 city employees, announced on Tuesday a plan that could prevent more than a dozen employees from losing their jobs. The plan would tap into the city’s reserves to balance the fiscal 2009 budget, according to Irwin Scharfeld, a labor relations consultant for AFSCME Council 79, the local arm of the union. “The money is there,” Scharfeld said during a press conference Tuesday.

The union, which counts 14 people affected by the layoffs among its more than 200 members, requested a review of the city’s budget earlier this summer. The review, conducted by Mark Murphy, a fiscal policy analyst for the union in Washington, D.C., showed the unreserved general fund balance totaled $15 million, or about 45 percent of the city’s annual expenditures.

“The city is in good financial condition, with a large unreserved fund balance that allows it to weather the revenue impacts of an economic downturn,” Murphy said in a letter to the union’s regional director last week.

“Some jurisdictions within Florida have claimed a ‘financial urgency’ in order to renegotiate or impose new economic terms in their collective bargaining agreements. I would conclude, based on the information available, that Naples would not be justified in declaring a financial urgency.”

The city is predicting a more than $3 million shortfall in 2009. The work-force reduction — a net loss of 32 positions — would save the city $2.3 million. The rest of the shortfall would be made up through a slight tax increase, or by using $600,000 from the reserves to balance the budget.

“From our view using the reserves is not the way to resolve a budget deficit,” said Naples City Manager Bill Moss. “The reserves are the equivalent to a savings account ... if you use them, eventually there will be a day of reckoning.”

The money in an unreserved fund has no specified purpose and can be used for any number of things, such as one time expenditures or for disaster relief. The city used about $8 million from its reserves in the months following Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Collier County in 2005, Moss said.

But for the 22 employees likely affected by the layoffs, this is an emergency, Scharfeld said.

“That’s what a rainy day fund is for,” he said. “It’s raining in Naples.”

Tracy Brock was notified in June that her job as a community service aide in the police department may not be funded in the coming fiscal year. Brock, 39, makes about $60,000 a year, including benefits, with which she supports her two children and a grandchild.

“That was devastating,” she said. “This job has changed my life. It’s almost like (I am) going through the grieving process.”

Councilman Bill Willkomm, who attended the press conference Tuesday, said he expects the city will discuss alternatives to layoffs in the near future.

“They’re all of our friends,” Willkomm said.

Naples City Council is expected to discuss the budget on August 18 when council reconvenes from its two month break. Scharfeld said the union plans to present the plan to City Council during its next meeting.


Teamsters take dues hit from AirTran

Union opts for job cuts over givebacks

AirTran Airways plans to shrink its Atlanta hub as high oil costs put pressure on the airline, the company's executives said Tuesday. High oil prices mean it makes less sense to fly "lower-yielding leisure customers," AirTran's Chief Financial Officer Arne Haak said during an investor conference call. "This will result in our Atlanta hub getting smaller."

The Orlando-based airline has rapidly grown its Atlanta hub in recent years, bringing in more price competition against market leader Delta Air Lines.

"We created the market in Atlanta for low fares, for close-in regional business fares," AirTran Chief Executive Bob Fornaro said during the conference call. "Quite frankly, those average prices need to come up." When prices go up, the market will contract, and Fornaro said the number of flights AirTran has this summer is "too much."

Aside from cutting back in Atlanta, the airline also expects to close more operations in other cities it serves.

Fornaro also said that mechanics represented by the Teamsters have voted against a proposed pay cut. AirTran announced earlier this month that it plans to cut employee pay by 5 percent to 15 percent.

"Over time we will go back again to the Teamsters," Fornaro said. Haak said if the airline is not successful in cutting pay, it will need to reduce its fleet further, "and that will result in more terminations."

AirTran reported Tuesday that it lost $13.5 million in the second quarter and will cut flight capacity by 7 percent to 8 percent in the last four months of this year and by 4 percent to 8 percent in 2009 — steeper cuts than previously planned. Fornaro hopes to increase that capacity cut to as much as 10 percent, depending on how many planes the airline can sell off. The company also is deferring deliveries of four more aircraft from Boeing — for a total of 22 deferrals.

Though the airline is cutting back its operations, Fornaro said the airline may consider adding international routes such as to Cancun or to places in the Caribbean.

During the investor conference call on the airline's financial results, Fornaro said, "Clearly we are disappointed."

The company's second-quarter loss is equivalent to 12 cents per share. That compares to a profit of $42.1 million, or 42 cents per share, a year earlier, according to AirTran.

The airline's plans for additional capacity cuts come as airlines across the industry shrink to cope with high fuel costs. AirTran had previously planned to cut capacity by 5 percent instead of earlier plans to grow 10 percent.

The company also said it has negotiated an extension of its credit card processing agreement through Dec. 31, 2009, and agreed to a requirement by the credit card processor to hold back cash. The company said it now has a commitment for a line of credit of up to $150 million to cover part of the credit card processors' potential hold-back requirements. Hold-back requirements have contributed to problems for other airlines, including Denver-based Frontier Airlines, an AirTran partner. Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

AirTran said its revenues in the second quarter ended June 30 were $693.4 million. That's up 13 percent from $613.5 million in the year-ago quarter. But its operating expenses were $738.9 million, up 37.9 percent from $535.7 million a year earlier.


Verizon unions set huge strike rally

Related Verizon stories: here
More strike stories: here

Strikes votes may be a bargaining bluff

At least 2,000 Verizon workers are expected to attend a rally at Post Office Square on Thursday night in front of Verizon’s New England headquarters as they attempt to pressure the company to reach a new contract agreement.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America voted earlier this month to authorize union leadership to call for a strike after their current contracts expire at the end of the day on Saturday.

“We’re expecting this will go right down to the wire on Saturday,” said Paul Feeney, a spokesman for the IBEW Local 2222 in Dorchester.

Roughly 65,000 Verizon workers nationwide are covered by the contracts that are currently under negotiation.

In New England, the contracts affect about 6,875 IBEW members in Massachusetts and 1,125 in Rhode Island, and about 1,200 CWA members in Massachusetts, said Rand Wilson, a spokesman for the unions.

Feeney said the union leaders and the telecommunications company’s representatives are having a hard time reaching an agreement. Specific issues affecting the New England locals are being hammered out in Rye, N.Y., while top-level talks are taking place in Washington, Feeney said.

“The company has had this laissez-faire attitude at negotiations,” Feeney said. “They’ve dug their heels on major issues, things like health care benefits for retirees and job security language for current employees. ... We want to send the message that the lack of progress at the table is going to result in nothing less than a strike on Saturday night.”

Phil Santoro, a spokesman for Verizon, said the managers at the New York-based company remain hopeful that a new contract agreement can be reached before the current contracts expire.

“What you’re seeing right now is typical union noise that takes place whenever contracts come down to the expiration date,” Santoro said. “These are employees who have very good jobs and very good wages, among the best, if not the best, in the telecommunications industry.”

The union rally in Boston will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday and will shut down part of Franklin Street. Feeney said he expects at least 2,000 Verizon employees will attend, including representatives from the relatively new Verizon Business subsidiary, who are trying to form a union.


News Union takes huge dues hit

Related story: "Spotlight: The Newspaper Guild"

Tree-cutters beset by paper-stream waste, unchecked leftism

A.H. Belo Corp., the parent of The Providence Journal Co., plans to pare its work force by 500 jobs, or 14 percent, as it struggles to cope with declining advertising revenue.

“A.H. Belo continues to make notable progress in our strategy to diversify revenue and continue building strong brand equity,” Robert W. Decherd, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement late yesterday that accompanied the release of the quarterly report. But, he added, “while these successes are transforming the company, the weak macroeconomic environment and declines in overall advertising spending have impacted AHC significantly. Given that the declines in ad revenue are unlikely to stabilize in the near term, we’re taking steps to dramatically change AHC’s cost structure.”

At The Providence Journal Co., voluntary buyouts have been offered to about 260 workers represented by The Providence Newspaper Guild, the union said in a statement on its Web site. “The Journal buyout program targets 20 job titles that the company has determined it are overstaffed. The company is seeking to cut up to 54 workers by Sept. 12.”

The company’s offer “provides 1.5 weeks pay for the first 15 consecutive years or service and 2.5 weeks pay for each year of service over 15,” the Guild noted. Employees who work fewer than 22.5 hours a week or whose job title is not among the 20 targeted by the company as “overstaffed” are not eligible, the union said, adding “Positions excluded from the buyouts include: Pre-publishing, credit office, housekeeping and most online jobs,” the Guild said.

“This marks the end of the Journal as we have known it,” added Providence Newspaper Guild President John Hill.

Decherd wrote yesterday, in a letter to shareholders, that the process will begin with a buyout offer made yesterday “to many employees of A.H. Belo newspapers.” The 500 jobs targeted for elimination are in addition to the roughly 170 full-time equivalents the company already has eliminated this year, he noted.

“We expect to complete the voluntary severance process by mid-September, and have notified A.H. Belo’s newspaper employees that if we are not able to achieve the goal of a 500 FTE reduction, an involuntary reduction-in-force will be necessary,” Decherd said. A severance payment, based on length of service, will be offered to employees who accept the company’s voluntary buyout offer, “or are part of the subsequent reduction-in-force,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, in its financial report yesterday, A.H. Belo posted a second-quarter loss of $3.20 million. That represented a 65.99-percent improvement from the preceding quarter’s $9.4 million loss but a substantial decline from the $12.30 million profit recorded for the 2007 second quarter, when the company was the newspaper segment of Belo Corp.

The loss per diluted share amounted to 16 cents in the quarter ended June 30, compared with the first period’s 46-cent-per-share loss and the 2007 second quarter’s 60-cent gain.

A.H. Belo – spun off in early February from Dallas-based Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) – owns and operates three major daily newspapers, the Journal, its flagship Dallas Morning News and The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif.; a variety of specialty publications for the youth and Hispanic markets; the Web sites associated with its publications; and direct-mail and commercial printing businesses.

Second-quarter net operating revenue fell 15.09 percent year-over-year to $163.25 million, but increased 1.01 percent more than the first quarter. Internet revenue topped $12 million, accounting for 7.4 percent of the second-quarter total, the company said.

Advertising revenue – including print and Internet revenue – fell 20.52 percent compared with a year ago to $125.34 million, “driven by declines in classified revenue at The Dallas Morning News and The Press-Enterprise” the company said. The Press-Enterprise, which “continues to encounter strong cyclical pressures,” saw total ad revenue fall 25 percent year over year, a slight improvement from the first quarter’s 26-percent year-over-year decline, A.H. Belo added.

Meanwhile, circulation revenue companywide increased 8.54 percent year over year to $30.27 million. And other revenue rose 14.39 percent compared with the 2007 second quarter, “driven by commercial printing revenue,” to $7.64 million, A.H. Belo said.

Second-quarter operating costs shrank 5.26 percent compared with a year ago to $167.36 million. Corporate expenses “declined more than $4 million versus the same period last year,” the company said. “The decline was due primarily to a drop in direct compensation and other operating expense.”

Newspaper expenses were pared by $5.8 million, or 3.9 percent, compared with allocated costs in the 2007 second quarter. Direct compensation fell $2.7 million compared with a year ago, while newsprint expenses were down $1.9 million, thanks to “diligent control of newsprint volume in the increasing newsprint price environment,” the company said.

Among second-quarter highlights, the company “furthered its commitment to maximizing the use of its existing infrastructure, building new partnerships and investing in Internet businesses related to [its] core operations. These initiatives have the potential to develop meaningful and sustainable incremental revenue streams.”

Letters from Decherd to shareholders and colleagues – detailing those initiatives and discussing current operating conditions – can be viewed at www.ahbelo.com/invest. The options under consideration include property sales or other methods of using the company’s real estate holdings to boost revenue; further reductions in the web (paper) width at The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise; and cuts in travel, marketing and discretionary expenses.

“Our internal estimate is that property owned outright by AHC in Providence, and property jointly owned with Belo Corp. in downtown Dallas, could produce pre-tax proceeds of about 35 million for AHC. … However, like all real estate transactions, it is difficult to put a time-frame on this process,” Dechard wrote in his letter to shareholders.

The third quarter so far has included an investment, announced last Tuesday, in ResponseLogix. That deal will enable A.H. Belo to sell the technology company’s Internet lead management system to local auto dealers. And in late August, The Dallas Morning News – whose DallasNews.com won this year’s Edward R. Murrow National Award for best Non-Broadcast Affiliated Web site – plans to launch a “condensed” news publication, called Briefing, that will target Dallas-area households with incomes of at least $75,000 per year.

In addition, A.H. Belo said, “the company’s three newspapers have all recently secured contracts to print and/or distribute other publications.” Those contracts, it said, “will contribute at least $4.0 million of incremental revenue in 2008 and another $1.5 million in 2009.”

A.H. Belo Corp. (NYSE: AHC) owns and operates The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif.; a variety of specialty publications for the youth and Hispanic markets; the Web sites associated with its publications; and direct-mail and commercial printing businesses. For more information, visit www.AHBelo.com.

The Providence Newspaper Guild – whose parent organization, the Newspaper Guild, is part of the part of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO – represents 400 workers at The Providence Journal Co. For additional information, including details of A.H. Belo’s buyout offer, visit www.riguild.org.


Unions in China subdue Wal-Mart

A slap in the face to left-wing U.S. unionists

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Friday reached collective bargaining agreements with China's official union that includes pay increases for the retailer's workers there, the parties said.

The All China Federation of Trade Unions, the country's only legal union, which is also government-run, last week negotiated an agreement with Wal-Mart in Shenyang in the northeastern province of Liaoning to raise worker's wages by 8 percent this year and by the same amount again in 2009.

Wal-Mart said it had negotiated similar pay increases for union workers in Shenzhen, in the southern Guangdong province, and in Quanzhou, in southeastern Fujian province.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse that the retailer was in talks with unions in other Chinese cities.

The agreements follow two years after the Chinese union launched a high-profile campaign to organize Wal-Mart workers.

Wal-Mart employs more than 83,000 workers at its China stores.

"We support these efforts because of the valuable, mutually-beneficial partnership the government-run union offers and because of their commitment to assisting business in our growth and development in China," said Kevin Garden, a Wal-Mart spokesman.

Wal-Mart directly exports about $9 billion from China annually and estimates export volume by third party suppliers is also around $9 billion, according to the company's Web site.

Wal-Mart first came to China in 1996 and now has 105 stores in 55 cities operating as Supercenters, Sam's Club and Neighborhood markets. It operates 101 additional stores under the Trust-Mart banner.

Workers in other countries including Brazil and Argentina have also successfully organized, but the retailer doesn't have a great track record with cutting deals with unions.

Wal-Mart abandoned its Germany operations in 2006 amid speculation that the unionized workers there diminished the retailer's profits.

Butchers at a Wal-Mart store in Texas successfully organized a union in 2000 and Wal-Mart immediately announced plans to phase out meat-cutting operations. Wal-Mart also closed a store in Jonquiere, Quebec in 2005 just six months after workers unionized.

"In America their attitude has been that they would rather cut off their right arm than unionize," said David Nassar, director of union-funded Wal-Mart Watch. "We of course think it's great that workers in China have more of a say than they did before, but we are disappointed that Wal-Mart and (CEO) Lee Scott don't think that American workers deserve the same respect."


Colorado unions suspected of petition fraud

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

If ACORN was involved in signature gathering, labor-state elections officials could look the other way

The union-backed group pushing the so-called corporate fraud ballot initiative submitted nearly 124,000 signatures today to the secretary of state's office for certification. The measure, which seeks to hold executives criminally liable under state law for corporate wrongdoings, needs 76,047 certified signatures to appear on the November ballot.

Former Qwest cable splicer Lew Ellingson, a key proponent of the measure, said the proposed law is long overdue.

"No more slaps on the wrists for these people," he said.

Union interests are expected to submit signatures for three other ballot measures this week. The pro-labor initiatives are considered countermeasures to the business-backed Amendment 47, which has been certified for the ballot. Amendment 47 would ask voters to amend the state constitution to say that union membership and the payment of dues or fees cannot be mandated as a condition of employment.

Protect Colorado's Future, the group pushing the corporate fraud initiative, plans to submit signatures for the so-called just cause initiative Thursday. That measure would require companies to provide reasons for firing workers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union plans to file signatures for two initiatives on Monday, which is the deadline. The UFCW measures would require businesses with 20 or more employees to provide health care coverage and allow injured workers to sue employers outside of the workers' compensation system.


Why we need more labor strikes

Collectivist progs seek to revive halcyon Labor Era

“Labor cannot, on any terms, surrender the right to strike.” —Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice

An imperfect analogy: Strikes are to labor unions what stiff fines and the threat of a prison sentence are to the IRS—something that is seldom used, but whose presence is vital to maintaining credibility.

Although most union officials are aware that by-laws can vary widely from union to union (even from local to local, within the same union), for nearly 40 years the executive board of Local 672 of the AWPPW (Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers) believed they were compelled by federal labor law to conduct their strike votes via secret ballot.

It made sense. Not only had they always done it that way, voting secretly on something as important as whether or not to give the negotiating committee strike authorization seemed like the only reasonable way to do it. A simple majority of the membership was required for approval (versus, for example, SAG by-laws, which require a 75% mandate).

As it turns out, a union may conduct a strike vote by various methods: secret ballot, a show of hands, even by acclimation (voice vote). Federal law is silent on the matter. And in the case of voting by acclimation, it’s only when the differential between the “yeas” and “nays” isn’t discernible that you’re required to call for a show of hands. Other than that, you’re free to pick your poison.

These same choices also apply to ratifying a contract, which also came as a surprise to local leadership. At Local 672, upon the conclusion of every contract negotiation, the membership was given a lengthy summary of the company’s final offer, after which they were asked to enter polling booths, close the curtains, and vote for or against the new contract. It was wildly democratic. It was private. It made sense. And we’d always done it that way.

Moreover, the membership was so conditioned to ratifying a contract in the privacy of a shrouded booth, people would have freaked out if they’d been asked to do otherwise. If they’d been told to vote publicly—right there, out in the open, on the floor of the union hall—there would have been a raucous demonstration, if not a minor riot.

For the record, the only instances where secret balloting is required by federal labor law is in the election of officers and in matters involving money—e.g., raising the price of monthly union dues or initiation fees. So, while strike authorization and contract ratification can be done publicly (with all the attendant peer pressure and gawking that go along with it), when it comes to money, the members must be allowed to vote by secret ballot. It’s a reasonable law.

Strikes themselves, although necessary, are traumatic, frightening undertakings. And, weirdly, they are virtually all alike. Despite significant differences between various industries and the unions affiliated with them, the cycle of emotions experienced by rank-and-file members during a strike is more or less identical. The arc consists of four distinct phases: euphoria, somber resolve, serious doubt, despair.

When you take a membership out on strike, you also have to realize that it’s going to be tough getting them to seriously consider going out a second time, especially if memories are fresh, and the strike was a particularly difficult one. In fact, sometimes you can’t even get a membership to give you strike authorization next time around, not if they think a walkout is a realistic possibility.

And who can blame them? A strike is a brutal thing, a case of self-inflicted economic homicide. Just because it is, undeniably, the only real (rather than frivolous) weapon a union brings to the bargaining table doesn’t make it any easier getting through one.

Figuring out how to call a strike in such a way that it satisfies two key requirements—i.e., getting the company’s attention and, at the same time, not spooking or financially crippling the membership—is how the notion of a “tactical” or “rolling” strike first took shape.

One of the problems with traditional strikes is that once you take the momentous step of pulling the plug, you never know how long you’re going to be out of work. Even if your reasons for shutting down were eminently sound, and even if your membership was prepared for it, given the unpredictability of the company’s response, you can never know the immediate outcome. You could be out three weeks or three months.

Also, if you go on strike for a particular purpose, it only makes sense that you stay out until you’ve achieved that purpose, otherwise the whole thing comes off looking like a monumental waste of time and money. But what if there’s a standoff? What if management is as stubbornly locked into its position as the union committee is locked into theirs? Prolonged stand-offs can lead to sieges, rather than mere strikes, and sieges can massacre a union.

That’s where the idea of the rolling strike comes in. In a rolling strike the union goes ahead and gives its 10-day notice to terminate the existing contract (such notification is required by law), exactly as it would at the outset of a “regular” strike. But in addition to announcing that the employees will be shutting down the operation at, say, one minute after midnight on such-and-such a date, the union also announces that they will be returning to their jobs at, say, 7:00 am, on such-and-such a date, five days later.

In short, a rolling strike is not open-ended; it has a clear and pre-determined life-span. This type of industrial action fulfills two objectives: You do the unthinkable, you shut down the company, you damage its ability to make a profit off your labor; but you also severely limit what that damage will be—both to the company’s productivity and to the membership’s pocketbooks.

An example of a tactical strike was the one recently called (on July 14) by service workers affiliated with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) against the University of California, in which AFSCME members stayed out for five days before returning to work.

The danger in these things is that there’s no guarantee the company will let you come back to work when you’re finished. Because your 10-day notice has expired, technically, you have no contractual agreement with them; and with the contract terminated, there is no governing language prohibiting the company from locking you out.

This doesn’t mean they will lock you out, only that it’s legal for them to do so. While some companies are happy to get everyone back to work after a rolling strike, with no lingering hard feelings (as was the case, apparently, with the University of California and AFSCME), other companies may see it differently.

Other companies may view your little mini-mutiny as a form of treason and decide that their rebellious and “ungrateful” employees need to be taught a lesson. So you walk out all sassy and confident, with the intent of returning five days later, armed with increased leverage, and the company surprises you by keeping you out for two months. That’s a textbook case of how a tactical strike blows up in your face.

Without question, the best strikes are the classic ones—the ones where you catch the company off-guard, where the membership is totally committed to the action, and where the shutdown results in tangible improvements in the areas you were going for. There used to be lots of those strikes, going back not only to the 1930s, but well before that.

Today, unfortunately, unless you’re the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), strikes have become far less effective. Still, until something better comes along, strikes are labor’s only weapon. And, in truth, tough as things are, we need more of them, not less.

- David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and writer, was a former labor union rep.


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