Labor-state voters rethink mandatory unionism

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More worker-choice stories: here

Worker-choice advocates won't be bullied

Only two people can pull a proposed "right-to-work" amendment from November’s ballot, and neither of them is budging. While much has been made of brewery descendant Jonathan Coors’ financial backing of the controversial measure, it was formally proposed by two other men: Ryan Frazier, an Aurora city councilman thought to be an up-and coming GOP politician, and Julian Jay Cole, who runs a Golden-based consulting firm that helps companies avoid becoming unionized.

Amid pressure to withdraw Amendment 47 so that others will pull competing initiatives, the "right-to-work" campaign issued a statement Monday on behalf of Frazier and Cole. The bottom line "in no uncertain terms": They have no intention of backing down before November’s election.

Frazier has referred past calls about his involvement to the campaign and did not return a phone call to his office on Friday.

"The journey of right-to-work in Colorado began with a great deal of soul searching, careful consideration and a commitment to the principles this country was founded on," Frazier said in Monday’s statement. "That journey continues because Amendment 47 is the right thing to do for our state. Principle must never be trumped by convenience."

Frazier, who eventually will face term limits as an Aurora councilman, is seen by some in his party as a possible candidate for higher office.

"He’s a very bright, articulate, young and ambitious individual," said Bob Legare, a Republican and former member of the Aurora City Council. “I think he’s got potential if he wants it."

Efforts fail to make a deal

Lawmakers and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce say they have tried to persuade Frazier and Cole to take the measure off the ballot. The hope was that organized labor groups would then pull several countermeasures viewed by some as detrimental to Colorado’s business climate and, ultimately,workers.

But attempts to work out a deal have gone nowhere.

"To pull the measure before the November election would be insulting to every person who is relying on Amendment 47 to end the corruptive practice of forced unionism," Cole said in the statement issued by the A Better Colorado campaign group.

Because federal law already prohibits forced union membership, the amendment would have the effect of banning agreements that compel workers to pay union fees if they are covered by collective bargaining contracts.

In Colorado, those all-union agreements already require majority approval by workers before they take effect. And workers can request they pay only "core" dues covering the cost of union representation.

Cole, who is listed as one of the two proponents of the right-to work measure, has a long history of working for companies trying to prevent unions from forming.

"Cole Associates has a superior track record in defeating union organizing attempts and in winning union elections," according to his Website. "CA has successfully coordinated many of the most challenging and sensitive elections in the last 10 years."

At a dinner at the Capital City Club in Montgomery, Ala., last year, executives dined on London broil at the monthly membership meeting of the Society for Human Resource Management. Also on the evening’s agenda, which is still posted on the Internet, was a speech by Cole on the topic of "union avoidance."

Cole did not return a phone call to his offices on Monday.

Labor’s countermeasures

The head of a labor-backed group called Protect Colorado’s Future reacted to Frazier and Cole’s statements by saying they continue to put "their own ideology ahead of the needs" of Colorado residents.

"Mr.Cole, Mr.Frazier, the members of the Coors family and other special interests need to answer for why their ideological beliefs are better for Colorado than strong nurses, firefighters, teachers and police officers," said Jess Knox, executive director of Protect Colorado's Future.

Knox and his group proposed two ballot measures earlier, both of them in reaction to the right to-work proposal banning mandatory union dues.

One of the measures would make executives criminally liable for wrong doing while another would require employers to provide reasons for firing workers.

The food and commercial workers union has two other initiatives on the ballot - one requiring employers to pay most of the cost of health insurance for workers and another that would allow workers to sue for more damages after collecting workers compensation benefits.

"In these risky economic times when working families are being squeezed, it just makes no sense to fix a system that is not broken," UFCW Local 7 President Ernest L. Duran Jr. said in a statement about the right-to-work proposal.


Pitfalls of 'no-vote' unionism revealed

More EFCA stories: hereMore card-check stories: here

False 'free choice' scheme excludes decertification by card-check

In an attempt to reverse the precipitous decline in union membership over the last 30 years, recent initiatives by organized labor reflect a determined assault on workplace democracy designed to organize new groups of employees regardless of whether those employees truly need or want union representation. One of organized labor's primary tactics is to secure passage of the deceptively misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This highly controversial piece of legislation would radically alter the method by which employees select union representation and transform the process by which employers and unions initiate collective bargaining agreements under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

EFCA undoubtedly will be a major issue in the Presidential election. Senator Barack Obama supports the legislation. The bill passed the House of Representatives in 2007 and if Senator Obama is elected, many presume this will be one of the first items on his legislative agenda.

In anticipation of the heightened EFCA debate, Ford & Harrison's D. Gerald Coker answered the most pressing questions the legislation presents.

What is the Employee Free Choice Act?

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is proposed legislation which aims to amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to establish a new system by which employees unionize and companies and unions negotiate first contracts.

If passed, how would EFCA affect the current law?

Drafted as proposed amendments to the NLRA, EFCA would effect three fundamental modifications to federal labor law:

1. EFCA establishes a mandatory card-check recognition process in lieu of the current secret ballot election system administered by the National Labor Relations Board.

2. EFCA sets forth special procedural requirements for reaching an initial collective bargaining agreement, including the imposition of a "neutral arbitrator" (after four months of unsuccessful bargaining) to determine the terms of the first collective bargaining agreement.

3. EFCA revises enforcement procedures against employers with respect to alleged unfair labor practices that occur during union organizing drives and alters the remedies available to alleged discriminatees because of such violations.

What is a card-check, and how does it work?

A card-check does away with the secret ballot system. Employees will no longer cast ballots on union representation in the privacy of a voting booth; instead, an employer would be required to recognize a union as the employees' exclusive bargaining representative once the union presents signed authorization cards from a simply majority of the employees in the work group targeted by the union.

Are card-checks a fair alternative to the secret ballot?

Card-check recognition would give unions a license to use high-pressure tactics against employees behind closed doors in order to obtain signed union authorization cards. The proposed legislation does not contain any provision allowing employees to "ratify" the card-check. EFCA does not specify whether employees can decertify a union through a card-check majority.

Are card-checks foolproof?

Experience has shown that signed authorization cards do not necessarily reflect how the majority of employees really feel about union representation. Currently, an employee who signs a card out of ignorance or under duress is free to vote "no union" in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board several weeks later. Moreover, EFCA fails to provide any guidance with regard to the processing of authorization cards. How long will authorization cards be valid? Can an employee rescind or revoke his card and, if so, how? Will there be a process for detecting forged cards?

There's a lot of talk about how EFCA affects employees, but how does it affect the employer?

EFCA affects employers in a number of ways:

-- EFCA excludes employers from the representation process. EFCA will create a largely unregulated atmosphere where employee "choice" is sealed off from any input but that of the union's. This violates the spirit and intent of the free speech rights expressly set forth in our labor laws.

-- Employers must consider a year-round campaign. EFCA allows a union to gather signatures without the employer's knowledge. An employer may not find out until the union asks the NLRB for certification, and at that point, it is too late for the employer to do anything about it. If EFCA were to pass, an employer would have to consider communicating with employees throughout the year about union organizing, which can be a major distraction and misinterpreted as an anti-union campaign.

-- EFCA allows a government-paid arbitrator to set wages and benefits in a first contract. A union can call for mandatory arbitration if the parties have not reached a first labor agreement after only 120 days; this has the potential to impose significant contract provisions that are not in the employer's best interest.

-- Higher union density could mean higher costs. As EFCA reinvigorates Big Labor's organizing efforts, the renewed energy and EFCA's card-check process would result in more organizing "victories" and thus increased union membership. This increase in union shops combined with mandatory arbitration of first contracts could force employers to increase their labor costs, adversely affecting the economy and employment levels on a national scale.

How does EFCA change the bargaining table during negotiations for a first contract?

The arbitration provisions of involving a "neutral arbitrator" would completely undermine the employer's power and leverage at the bargaining table. A union would have no incentive to reduce its bargaining demands prior to the arbitration procedure. Arbitration could substantially and arbitrarily increase the costs of a first union contract and likely lead to decreased competition in the marketplace and the higher cost of goods and services. An employer may be compelled to accept certain contract provisions contrary to the employer's best interests such as participation in a multi-employer defined benefit pension plan (many of which are underfunded), wage increases without regard to merit, restrictive work rules, seniority-driven promotion and layoff processes, cumbersome discipline and discharge procedures, and minimum staffing requirements just to name a few.

What types of employer practices will be punished by the proposed regulations?

EFCA would require the National Labor Relations Board to give priority to conducting the preliminary investigation of certain charges filed either when employees are seeking union representation or during the period between an employer's recognition of a union and the point where the parties reach agreement on their first contract. These "priority charges" include those alleging that an employer discharged an employee to discourage union membership or that the employer threatened to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee in order to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization as protected by Section 7 of NLRA.

What can employers do to voice their opposition of EFCA?

Since EFCA is not a law yet, employers, either on their own or through various trade associations, can let candidates and elected officials know how they feel about this piece of legislation.

Companies will also want to consider being proactive with managers and employees. Steps would include publishing a lawful union-free philosophy which communicates to employees that a union-free working environment works best, providing education and training to their managers and employees so they understand authorization cards and signature petitions, and assessing the status of employee relations now with the intention of addressing legitimate workplace problems before any union organizing begins.

- D. Gerald Coker devotes his practice to working with companies on a broad range of labor and employment matters, with an emphasis on union organizing drives, NLRB representation cases, union corporate campaigns and strikes, and the investigations and trials of NLRB unfair labor practice cases.


Barack's biggest backers include lobbyists

Does union-backed candidate apply a double-standard?

While Sen. Barack Obama takes great pride in having recruited more than 1.2 million donors to his presidential campaign — many of whom contributed less than $100 — he hasn’t always been a man in touch with the grass roots.

Indeed, his early campaigns for the Illinois state Senate were heavily financed by well-connected business leaders, lobbyists, trial lawyers, and labor unions, a Newsmax review of campaign finance records shows.

Obama launched his first campaign for the Illinois Senate in July 1995 with a $5,000 loan from Al Johnson, a prominent Cadillac dealer in Chicago who was a close crony of Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

Johnson boasted of having provided luxury cars to Jackson free of charge, as I reported in my 2002 book, "Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson."

Johnson added another $2,000 to the pot as a contribution to the campaign in September 1995, making him Obama’s single largest supporter.

Not all of the Friends of Obama campaign reports are available online through the state of Illinois Web site. While there is no specific record available showing that he paid off the $5,000 loan to Al Johnson, his June 30, 1997 financial statement shows that his campaign’s debts had been reduced from $12,494.38 to $3,637.01.

The connection to Johnson came through Michelle Obama, who reportedly had been close to Jesse Jackson and his family since childhood.

Obama’s only other contributor in the early days of his campaign was Tony Rezko, the Chicago slumlord and developer convicted in July on 12 counts of wire and mail fraud.

Rezko gave Obama $2,000 in July 1995 as corporate donations from Lakeside Refreshments and Rezko Foods, both of which he controlled.

Obama has said he never intervened on behalf of Rezko in state or federal business, and did not benefit from a sweatheart land deal with the convicted felon, although Rezko sold him a lot next to Obama’s house in Chicago at what appeared to be below-market prices.

But in the 1990s, Obama’s Chicago lawfirm represented Rezko and his company, Rezmar Corp, as Rezko won government grants to build low-income housing for the poor. Both Rezko and his wife, Rita, worked on Obama’s first state Senate campaign in 1995, in addition to contributing money directly and through corporate entities.

Once Obama was elected as a first-time state senator in 1996, he turned increasingly to big labor and big donors. Money from Political Action Committees (PACs) — the vehicles used by lobbyists and labor unions — often outweighed contributions from individuals by as much as 10-to-1.

For the first half of 1997, for example, he collected $12,200 from PACs and trial lawyers, and just $4,175 from individuals. But even here, $2,000 of the money accounted for as individual contributions came from Rezko Concessions and Rezmar Corp, both of which were controlled by Tony Rezko.

For the first half of 1998, this trend continued, with just $1,505 collected from individuals and $13,500 from PACs. Tony Rezko provided food valued at $457.70 that was listed as an “in-kind” contribution.

As the 1998 elections approached, Obama picked up close to $30,000 from individuals, and an additional $23,850 from lobbyists.

His single largest contribution — $5,000 — was from the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education (IPACE), the political arm of the state teachers’ union.

His second largest — $3,000 — came from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. Next, with $1,000 each, came PACs representing the Teamsters, Social Workers, lawyers, dentists, the Chicago Teacher’s Union. A wide variety of local and federal labor unions gave him smaller amounts.

By January 1999, lobbyists and lawyers had become his single largest source of funding.

For the first half of 2000, Obama no longer bothered to solicit individual campaign contributors, while raising $14,600 from the lobbyists.

Even though 2000 was an election year, he only raised $2,400 from individuals that fall, while raking in $28,560 from lobbyists and lawyers. And of the $2,400 from individuals, more than half came from Evanston, Ill., lawyer, Larry Suffredin Jr.

“Obama’s source of support comes from the very far left of the Democrat party — unions, trial lawyers, social workers — not individuals,” said Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm Foley and Lardner, which specializes in campaign finance law.

“So, now they try to say they have all this money from little people. He didn’t get there with small contributions from little people. He got there with being financed for a number of years by ultra left wing interests.”

It was those larger interests that provided the seed money and expertise that allowed the Obama campaign to build the broad base of smaller donors that his campaign now boasts of having recruited, Mitchell told Newsmax.


Corrupt SEIU big barely avoids ouster

Related Joe DiNicola stories: here

Members of jumbo gov't-union local are unable to enforce accountability

An effort to recall Joe DiNicola, the embattled president of Oregon state government's largest union, has fallen short.

Leaders of the recall campaign say they weren't able to gather enough signatures to force a recall vote against DiNicola, who heads Salem-based Local 503 of Service Employees International Union. The recall started after DiNicola tried to claim nearly $110,000 in back pay for overtime. The union denied the claim, saying he wasn't entitled to overtime but DiNicola continued to pursue it in court.

Organizers collected 5,281 signatures, more than 600 short of the 5,920 they needed to force a recall election. Still, they claimed a victory of sorts, saying that it showed the depth of unhappiness with the union president. In addition, they said they decided to quit gathering signatures in part because they don't want to conflict with the upcoming election of a new slate of officers.
To Signature Gathering Union Sisters & Brothers:

This memo is probably the last word regarding our recall efforts to protect SEIU 503 from the ineffective leadership and greed of the out-going president.

Attached are: the cover letter submitted with the signed petitions, the "official" SEIU count of the signatures submitted, a copy of our news release, and a copy of the Official SEIU results of the 2006 election for Statewide Officers, revealing that the current 503 President was elected with only 2,688 votes.

Many petitioners have questioned why we handed in the 5,281 petition signatures (2,593 MORE signatures to recall than voted to elect the incumbent) to SEIU, even though we knew we did not have enough signatures to trigger a recall election. Below are some of our reasons:

* We wanted the implicit contract between signature gatherers and those members who signed to be honored.

* As ballots for statewide officers will be mailed out in less than two weeks, we wished to avoid any confusion that might result from continuing the recall effort during the election of new officers.

* Given that SEIU 503 is growing at such a rapid pace, we could not keep up with the ever-growing number of signatures needed to satisfy the 20% of members-eligible-to-vote requirement. Moreover, many of the early signatures would not be counted as the signers died, retired or transferred to management. The required number of validated signatures jumped from 5,200 to 5,400 to 5,900 in just this calendar year.

* Despite several attempts to "rally the troops" and other attempts to recruit fresh signature gatherers, we found that most members were not interested in spending their own limited time and dime to get the job done.

* Our efforts to get realistic recall language adopted by the Board of Directors and the General Council failed for lack of understanding and the never-ending legal concerns.

When in SEIU 503 history have members done so much for so long without an "official" 503 game plan? This is truly history for SEIU 503. And without the requisite pizza! To date, there were at least 65 individuals who gathered more than 10 signatures. And dozens who provided hundreds! The sheer number is a strong message about members' loyalty to SEIU 503 as their Union!

There is no way to credit so many who did so much for so long to get us over the 5,200 mark. Despite the bad times, the good prevailed! Thank-you to each and every one who gathered signatures and to each and every one who signed! Please share this mailing with your co-workers who signed.

Barack's connections to voter fraud exposed

Related story: "Barack paid ACORN unit at least $850K"
More 'Citizens Service' stories: here

Will Barack now throw union-backed ACORN under the bus?

Stemming from noble roots, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is a self proclaimed non-partisan group devoted to fighting for social justice. It formed in 1970 and has worked on ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, sought to register voters in historically underserved communities, and is known as a community organization to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, ACORN is also plagued with the wrongdoings of some employees, such as the voter fraud charges reported by the Seattle Times illustrate. It is this very organization which has now been connected to community organizer and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

You see, the law firm where Barack Obama plied his trade prior to entering the wild and woolly world of elected office represented ACORN in its suit against Household International, Inc. that netted the community organization a hefty sum for its financial counseling and literacy programs, according to a HSBCUSA press release.

The Tangled Web of Organizations, Their Offshoots, and Barack Obama

World Net Daily is raising the question if the Obama campaign is actively seeking to obscure any connection that exists between the candidate for President and Citizens Services Inc. (CSI), which is called an organization that originated within ACORN and then branched off.

The ties between the two organizations are close, and the report mentions $800,000 as the kind of cost that would cover the services rendered by Citizen Services Inc. Cost for what? According to FEC filings mentioned, they were for stage lighting (among other things). It is unclear when a community organization entered this line of business, but OK.

An unwelcome spotlight is now being shone on Barack Obama and his close ties to what are considered extremely left leaning organizations that muddle with the holy cow so many hold sacred: the free market, capitalism, and the American way. Why is money changing hands?


Obama, Acorn, And Voter Fraud

More ACORN stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group gains attention

Barack Obama, being a community organizer, Acorn, and voter fraud are all in the news today. Sarah Palin, in her acceptance speech at the RNC made a pointed reference to mention Barack Obama's "community organizer" experience as if it was a bad thing. Now, several of the organizations are fighting back.
"Community organizers work in neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the failing economy," said John Raskin, founder of Community Organizers of America and a community organizer on the West Side of Manhattan. "The last thing we need is for Republican officials to mock us on television when we;re trying to rebuild the neighborhoods they have destroyed. Maybe if everyone had more houses than they can count, we wouldn't need community organizers. But I work with people who are getting evicted from their only home. If John McCain and the Republicans understood that, maybe they wouldn't be so quick to make fun of community organizers like me."
Acorn, an organization that was the subject of a voter fraud scandal in 2006 is the largest such organization. Acorn has a political action committee which endorsed Barack Obama for President.
"What it came down to was that Senator Obama is the candidate who best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about like stopping foreclosures, enacting fair and comprehensive immigration reform, and building stronger and safer communities across America."

IAM-Boeing strikers' destructive power

Related IAM-Boeing stories: hereVideo: "IAM bigs prep Boeing clash"
• "IAM-Boeing strike costs misunderestimated"
• "IAM striker: I didn't think Boeing was serious"
• "Others pay price for IAM strike v. Boeing"

Militant union bigs act out insecurity

Production lines at Boeing, one of the world's most powerful corporations, ground to a halt after midnight September 6 when a 48-hour contract extension came to an end, and International Association of Machinists (IAM) members went on strike.

The IAM represents 27,500 members at Boeing--25,000 in the Puget Sound region, 1,200 in Portland, Ore., 700 in Wichita, Kan. and 70 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

On the Everett picket line outside Boeing's main--and now silent--manufacturing plant where over 20,000 IAM members work, Jun Delos Santos, an employee for a year, working on 777 Body Structure, summed up how machinists felt about Boeing:
I don't like striking. I've got two kids and a wife. But if we don't strike for this now, who's going to fight for it? Nobody. If they can nail us down now, they're going to do it every contract. Every contract, they will just oppress the little ones. And it makes me feel really angry.
What you can do

At the 751 Rank and File Voices Web site, run by Don Grinde, a 31-year member of IAM District 751 and crane operator at Boeing's Everett, Wash., plant, you'll find updates and commentary on the strike. Check out the video of the march out on September 5.

The site also has a PayPal link to donate to a new member hardship fund.

That anger was evident September 3 when IAM members, by a resounding 80 percent margin, voted down Boeing's "last, best and final" offer. Then, by an even bigger margin of 87 percent, they voted to authorize the union leadership to call a strike.

But instead of calling the walkout, Mark Blondin, the former president of IAM District 751 who, since the last 28-day strike in 2005, has been promoted to national aerospace coordinator for the IAM, announced that the union had agreed to return to the table with a federal mediator for 48 hours.

The Seattle IAM hall immediately erupted in a chorus of boos, as infuriated machinists shouted down Blondin and current District 751 President Tom Wroblewski.

While the two sides did meet at the Walt Disney Coronado Springs Resort hotel in Orlando, Fla., where the IAM is holding its international convention, the machinists might as well have been on strike. As a September 6 Seattle Times article pointed out, according to reports from IAM members, as many as 30 percent of workers stayed home Thursday and Friday instead of working during the 48-hour contract extension.

The main issues in this fight are pensions, wages, health care cost increases and outsourcing.

Boeing is offering a pension increase from $70 to $80, which would increase a machinist's monthly pension payment after 30 years of work by 14 percent, from $2,100 a month to $2,400. While it's an improvement, for the union, it isn't enough. Top Boeing executives who "earn" $3 million a year receive an annual pension of $1.4 million, or $120,000 a month--or 50 times what a machinist would earn.

Boeing offered a lump-sum, first-year-only payment, plus a ratification bonus of $2,500 and an 11 percent wage increase over the three-year contract (5 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent). The union is demanding a 13 percent wage increase over three years.

Commenting on the wage proposal not meeting rising inflation, Jun Delos Santos said, "I know right now we don't get paid as much as new guys, but later on, as we progress, we'll get paid more. But still it's not enough. The way that commodities are going high, prices are going high, gas is going high, we can't keep up. There's no way."

On top of this, any wage gains would be offset by increased health care costs. Among many increases Boeing tried to shove through was raising annual out-of-pocket maximums for a family of three or more, from $4,000 to $6,000 per year.

The biggest contract issue revolves around outsourcing. According to TheStreet.com, about 70 percent of the work on Boeing aircraft today is done by outside employees. As a result, the IAM is pushing to strengthen contract language to ensure no union member will be laid off because of subcontracting. Boeing has refused this language.

Boeing could easily meet the IAM's demands. It is flush with cash. Since the last contract was ratified, profits have been $8.5 billion. The company has made $13 billion since 2002, with $4.1 billion of that coming last year alone. Profits were over $2 billion in the first half of this year.

It's clear that Boeing hoped to use the union's undemocratic constitution to its advantage. For a strike to happen, even if a majority of members vote the contract down, two-thirds must vote for a strike to take place. Boeing's "last, best and final" offer frontloaded the contract with money, as management tried to buy off one-third of union members in the strike vote.

Boeing was banking on a change in the demographics of the workforce to shove through a concessionary contract. According to Bloomberg.com, in 2005, when 18,500 workers walked out, there were only 37 machinists under the age 30. Now there are 2,300--about 10 percent of the IAM membership in Boeing's main Everett manufacturing hub--because Boeing has recalled laid-off workers and hired new employees.

While the average machinists salary is about $54,000 a year, more than 4,000 machinists make less than $30,000, according to the union.

The overwhelming strike vote proved management couldn't buy off newer workers. People like Jun Delos Santos, who makes just over $13 an hour, show why. When asked what the biggest single strike issue was for him, he said, "To me, I want to take care of my brothers here at the union who are retiring. I have a friend here who wants to retire, but he can't because the medical care is too expensive."

This is the fourth strike by the IAM in the last 20 years--following earlier strikes in 1989, 1995 and 2005--and the seventh in the IAM's history.

This time, the stakes for the IAM--and for the labor movement overall--are higher. In addition to being the world's second-biggest commercial airplane manufacturer, Boeing is also the Pentagon's number two military supplier. According to TheStreet.com, Boeing is the largest employer in Washington state and largest exporter in the U.S.

But as powerful as Boeing is--it has $10 billion to try to wait out the strikers--the machinists have the power to take on the company and win. In fact, the IAM arguably has the most leverage it has ever had, thanks to Boeing's backlog of more than 3,400 aircraft it has orders to build. This eight-year backlog--worth $346 billion in future sales to Boeing--is the biggest in its history.

The company has a backlog of 900 orders, worth $155 billion, for the new 787 Dreamliner alone. According to Business Week, it's the most anticipated commercial jet in history. However, the 787 is more than 15 months behind schedule. The delay has cost Boeing some $2 billion or more. As a result, a strike could cost the company $120 million a day, or $3 billion a month, as customers' planes sit idle on the production lines.

Boeing workers have a sense of their power--and the rank and file is as angry as ever. On the day of the strike vote, more than 7,000 machinists marched from the plant in Everett to the IAM hall to vote. At the same time, some 2,000 of the 3,600 machinists from the Renton plant marched and rallied.

At the Everett picket line, Paul Thai, a seven-year veteran who has been laid off twice in the last 10 years, summed up well why the strike was happening. "We build the plane," he said. "We build the profits for the company--us union members, 27,000 of us to build a plane. We make the profits for the company. They need to give more to us."


Teachers strike continues in PA

More strike stories: here
Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Teaching kids a valuable lesson in collective bargaining

After the first week of the teachers strike in the Souderton (PA) Area School District, each side's position remains similar to that of a week ago. And today, students are still out of class, teachers are walking the picket lines and no new talks have been scheduled.

A look back at the first week of the strike includes:

Last Monday, a negotiation session set up by state mediator Jill Leeds Rivera failed to produce an agreement between the two parties.

A strike vote had already been taken by the Souderton Area Education Association, the union representing the district's teachers, on Thursday, and the teachers voted 448-17 in favor of the strike.

"We were not able to reach an agreement; in fact, what they brought back to us is worse than the contract that expired on June 30th," said SAEA head Bill Lukridge on Tuesday, Sept. 2, the first day of the teachers strike.

Senior high school students held a sit-in across the street from their school that morning, looking to make their voices heard too.

"I just want them to know that I'm a senior, and I want to go to school. It's not in favor of the teachers or of the school board," said student Liz Kramlik that morning.

Rivera, the state mediator, kept in contact with both sides over the course of Wednesday and Thursday in order to set up Friday's negotiation session.

"The board is willing to work hard for the resolution of this matter, and its positions in the negotiation process are not impacted by the teachers' work stoppage," said Jeffrey Sultanik, school board negotiator, on Wednesday.

The Friday negotiation session was confirmed on Thursday, as was the Sept. 23 "critical date" by which the strike must end, and both sides seemed optimistic heading into Friday.

"If that's the date, right now we're going to be back in no later than Sept. 23, but I wish we could come back in sooner and have a settlement sooner," Lukridge said on Thursday.

Unfortunately, Friday morning's negotiating session brought no such agreement; and it lasted less than an hour.

Lukridge said that neither side agreed to modify their proposals or change their positions on Friday.

No future negotiations had been scheduled as of Sunday, Lukridge said on Sunday evening.


Bellevue, WA teachers still on strike

More strike stories: here

Unionists walk out 'for the children'

Bellevue's striking teachers have voted to continue their walkout. After a three-hour meeting at which the Bellevue School District's latest offers on salary, health care and curriculum were discussed, the teachers voted 75 percent Monday night to stay out.

The district had increased its salary offer to 4.5 percent over a three-year contract. Combined with a 5.1 cost-of-living allowance from the state, teachers' salaries would have increased 9.6 percent.

The earlier combined salary offer was 8.1 percent.

About 16,000 students have missed a week of school. The walkout by about 1,200 teachers began Sept. 2.


Barack's dangerous collectivism

Union-backed candidate displays eerie similarity to Karl Marx

A friend sent me a message over the weekend. They informed me of a link on Barack Obama's campaign Web site, "Public Allies" and informed me that once there if you read a bit you would find the statement, "Individual salvation depends on collective salvation."

Once you begin to pull apart the weave of the Obama narrative, you discover his affinity for the word "collective." In the real world, outside the one inhabited by Obama, the word collective in the way and manner that Obama uses it skirts the border of communism. OK, I was being nice, it doesn't skirt it or even flirt with it, it crosses the line into full fledged Marxist territory.

That is one of the planks of communism. Since you have to disclose too much personal information if you wish to visit Obama's Web site, I took to the Internet in search of the Obamessiah in his own words. We hear him tout a philosophy of the communist platform, "... My individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for the country."

These words were also echoed in a speech he gave as he stood in for an ailing Ted Kennedy during a commencement speech at Wesleyan: "(B)ecause our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because only when you hitch your wagon to something greater than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role that you'll play in writing the next chapter in the American story."

These words only hold power if you begin by understanding that in a world conjured up by Karl Marx, a society where the individual must cease and the pursuit must be one where you become a productive part of the collective.

Capitalism is the enemy of Marxism, it is the truest form of individualism depending on one's self to either succeed or fail. But make no mistake, capitalism is what America is based upon and there is a stark contrast between the America of our fathers and and the world of collectivism preached by Marx.

It doesn't take much of an effort to look at the teachings of Marx and the speeches from Obama to see that his agenda is an approach to align itself more with the idea of collectivism versus the American Dream as realized through capitalism. Here are just a few of examples of the collectivist proposals, some are merely in the spirit of Marx while others are a modern-day manifestation of a philosophy that is diametrically opposed to American values and beliefs.

Obama wants to reinstate the death tax, a Marxist tenant which moves us closer to rather than further away from abolishing all rights of inheritance.

He is an advocate of the Fairness Doctrine, which perpetuates the idea that the free market is not an adequate way to express political and social ideas.

He supports the attendance of all children to a single system public school, Marxist in philosophy that once again separates individual rights in favor of a collective form of education.

His mortgage bailout plan and health care plan are moves to centralize these programs under the government rather than trusting them to the free market.

Obama has called for an army of volunteers or community activists as preached through his "Public Allies" program. This is eerily similar to the industrial and agricultural armies of Marx.

These examples should serve as a warning to any American that an Obama administration would usher in a new era of social consciousness that undermines the basic principle of what America is. Instead of building strong individual Ameri-Cans, it seeks to define all of us as Ameri-Cant's, unable or unwilling to take on personal responsibility while seeking comfort within the collective rather than the satisfaction and pride as individuals.

If you believe that government is the answer, then by all means vote for Obama. If you believe that the power of this country resides in the heart and the soul of the individual, then I would ask that you seriously think twice about casting a vote for Barack Obama, because the only faith that he has in the individual is the belief that you want nothing more than to become part of his collective society.

- Eric L. Burton lives in the East Valley.


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