Obama's secret ballot ban weakens workers

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
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'Instant unionization' prevents workers from considering alternatives to forced-dues payments

Here are just a few of Barack Obama’s proposals that he will initiate if elected president. All of them would decrease our strength as a nation:

• Unionize a vastly larger portion of our workforce with “card check.” (Card check is a method of organizing employees into a labor union in which employers enter into an agreement to recognize the unionization of its employers if a majority of employees sign authorization forms or cards.)

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

• Put the teachers union ahead of the needs of our children. (The union opposes vouchers which benefit our children.)

• Nationalize our health-care system and thereby make it vastly more expensive and inefficient.

• Restrict trade with other nations when competition is the only way to remain competitively strong.

• Surrender in Iraq despite our gains and thereby emboldening the Jihadists.

• Refuse to productively utilize U.S. nuclear and oil resources, thereby spending more of our dollars for oil from other nations.

• Fail to protect marriage, weakening families for future generations by sanctioning same- sex marriage.

• Squelch free enterprise by playing Robin Hood. Taxing small businesses to supplement the income of those who make less than $250,000 is a non-incentive for those who own businesses.

Now is the time to utilize every measure in order to strengthen our nation, not weaken it. Please consider what Obama’s liberal tactics would do to undermine our country when casting your vote on Tuesday. Vote for McCain-Palin.


Obama's looming card-check backfire

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: hereMore card-check stories: here

Era of labor union fascism breaks the horizon

Brace yourself: America could be hit by a blue tidal wave Tuesday. The warnings of a Democratic tsunami will come early in the evening if once-red states like Virgina, Ohio, Florida — maybe even North Carolina — start turning Tar Heel blue for Barack Obama.

If so, it will be a historic night for Democrats as voters effectively chuck whatever's left of Ronald Reagan's conservative movement onto the great ash heap of history. It may taste sweet for Democrats that night, but an overwhelming victory could be fraught with peril in the coming years.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

If polls heading into the final weekend are accurate and hold, Democrats will win back the White House and increase their numbers in the House and Senate.

In the Senate, the magic number for Democrats is 60. If they reach 60 senators, it effectively takes away the Republican filibuster, meaning it would be easier to approve Democratic legislation. Obama would preside over the most lopsided Democratically controlled Congress since LBJ in 1964.

And therein lies a problem — no matter your political view.

Historically, when one party rules, that party overreaches. Temptation is too great.

When Americans kicked the first George Bush out of office in 1992, Bill Clinton, despite receiving only 43 percent of the popular vote, perceived a sweeping mandate. He quickly pushed gays in the military and government-run health care.

The country, still mostly right of center, pushed back, electing in 1994 a historic wave of Republicans. The giddy GOP hadn't controlled Congress in 40 years, but with Clinton in the White House, they couldn't push forward all of their agenda for fear of a veto.

So they often were forced to meet in the middle.

Their stalemates forced the shutdown of the federal government, but ultimately Clinton tax hikes and Republican spending cuts produced a balanced budget, a surplus and a humming economy.

Split government at its finest.

Then, Americans elected George W. Bush in 2000. Even though he didn't win the popular vote, Bush smelled a mandate, too. He presided over an evenly divided country, yet veered far to the right with a compliant GOP Congress.

He didn't veto a single bill for years. More spending? Check. Ballooning social programs? Check? War waged on tax cuts? Check. Special deals for K Street lobbyists and crooks? Check.

With one-party rule, Bush and his cronies overreached. Republicans, swimming in scandal, were tossed out in 2006.

Yet today, Americans are again ready to embrace one-party rule. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week, 50 percent of likely voters say they would prefer that one party control the White House and Congress.

If it happens, the question for Obama becomes: Are Americans looking to further the progressive agenda, or have they simply had it with Bush and his big-government, borrow-and-spend buddies?

It's perhaps a little bit of both.

America is a centrist, if not center-right, country, yet many voters are looking for that proverbial change. How Democrats handle themselves, should they get the keys to Washington, will dictate how long they hold that power.

Obama, to be successful, could use a moderating influence. Strange as it may sound, it could end up being the bad economy, if it forces him to pull back a bit on his agenda. If they start the first 100 days pushing a far-left doctrine — "card check," the Fairness Doctrine — it could backfire.

Guess we'll find out in 2010.

Of course, as some have noted this past week, it's not like there's a Newt Gingrich out there beating back the blue wave and plotting the next Republican revolution.


Teamster: Trade Unionists are Socialists

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Government unions abuse locals' public trust

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Looking out for #1 in a top-rated labor-state

More than $1.6 million in taxpayer money was paid last year to municipal employees in Monroe County for work they performed strictly for their unions, including to dozens of labor leaders who have not toiled in their government jobs in years, a Democrat and Chronicle investigation has found.

Sanitation workers, teachers, receptionists, firefighters, mechanics, and police officers were among the beneficiaries of "release time" clauses in labor contracts that allow them to devote hours, days, weeks or months to union business while employed by taxpayers.

In addition to receiving government paychecks, those union executives also got salaries and other compensation totaling about $430,000 from their members, according to payroll records obtained through the Freedom of Information Law, unions' tax returns and federal Labor Department filings.

For instance, a city of Rochester sanitation worker who has not collected trash in 37 years collected more than $58,300 in city pay last year on top of almost $192,000 he received as head of two unions. The head of the Rochester teachers union was paid $101,200 by the Rochester School District last year although he has not taught in a city classroom since 1981. He also received more than $40,000 in compensation from his union.

Nothing suggests that double-dipping union officers are breaking any laws. Nor are release-time provisions uncommon in labor pacts within the public and private sectors, according to labor historians, who trace release-time's roots to the middle of the last century.

Nonetheless, such arrangements have rankled budget watchdogs mindful of the souring economy and are now on the bargaining table as cash-strapped Monroe County and Rochester governments negotiate pacts with several unions representing large portions of their work forces.

The county is negotiating with nine unions whose contracts expire next month; the city is in contract talks with the firefighters and police unions.

"Release time is not found in the laws — employers and unions work out the provisions themselves," said Paul Clark, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Pennsylvania State University. "If things like double-dipping are happening, it's because the parties created a system that allowed that to happen. These things are negotiable."

Reining in release time

Release time is not busting any public budgets in Monroe County. In fact, the more than $725,000 that the Rochester School District paid 12 employees on full- and part-time release last year and the $590,000 that Rochester spent on 38 workers last year represented barely one-tenth of a percent of their respective budgets.

Monroe County last year released 82 workers, two of them full time, at a cost of about $238,000, according to payroll records. That represents about two one-hundredths of a percent of the county's $1 billion budget.

The purpose of release time is to foster good will between workers and management by allowing unions to handle grievances and bargain without disrupting the flow of business. Labor advocates contend the associated costs are a small price for employers to pay for such a benefit.

Still, as the county searches for ways to trim its budget in lean times, it is looking to shift the burden of funding release time from taxpayers to unions. Indeed, some labor contracts elsewhere in the country do not guarantee released employees full pay and benefits. Some only ensure job protection for released workers.

"In our contract negotiations, it is well known by all the unions that we have not supported any expansion of release time and feel that it is a high priority discussion item to have it paid for by union dues and not taxpayer dollars," said Brayton Connard, Monroe County's human resources director and lead labor negotiator.

Connard acknowledged, though, that a substantial effort to modify release time would be contentious and that, ultimately, the county is more focused on reducing heftier expenditures, such as health care costs.

"We recognize that union release time is very important to unions, and that it's unlikely that they would unilaterally give it up," he said. "They're not going to give it up without expecting something expensive in return."

Cristal Zaffuto, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents about half of the county's 4,600 employees and whose contract often sets the pattern for collective bargaining for other unions, declined to comment.

Like the former CSEA president who retired this year, Zaffuto heads the union full time and receives a county salary as well as a union stipend. County payroll records show Zaffuto's salary as a nurse's aide to be $28,000. The former president, James Volpone, was paid $6,750 by the union last year and around $60,200 by the county, payroll records and tax returns show.

Taxpayer dollars are not being squandered on release time arrangements, said Linda Donahue, a Rochester-based associate faculty member at the Industrial Labor Relations School at Cornell University.

"It's to the benefit of the employers, as well, to have a level playing field where both workers' interests and employers' interests can be represented by people who are equal players," Donahue said. "The union would be severely disadvantaged if the only people who could represent workers had to do it as volunteers on their own time."

Double salaries for leaders

Anthony Gingello stopped collecting trash as a full-time sanitation worker for Rochester when he was elected to lead the municipal employees union in 1971. But he never stopped collecting a city paycheck.

The longtime labor leader picked up $58,321 in salary from the city last year, on top of the $191,939 that tax returns and federal Labor Department filings show he received as president of two Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees unions.

Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, has not taught in a city classroom with any regularity since leaving John Marshall High School in 1981 to head his union.

Yet Urbanski was paid $101,200 by the Rochester School District last year for being a teacher in addition to receiving in excess of $40,000 in salary and other compensation from his union, payroll records and tax returns show.

The union bosses offer vivid examples of how release-time provisions commit taxpayers to paying municipal employees for union-related work — even if the workers draw union wages at the same time.

A review of public payroll records and tax returns found that Gingello and Urbanski are among 23 labor officers in the region who collectively received more than $1.1 million in government salaries while simultaneously drawing about $430,000 in pay, benefits and other compensation from their unions.

Among them were four full-time officers of the Rochester local of AFSCME headed by Gingello. His daughter, Jean Coia, a receptionist in the city's Department of Recreation and Human Services, was one of them.

Like her father, Coia held full-time positions in both the local and statewide unions, which tax returns show paid her $31,536 in salary and other compensation in addition to the $33,146 city payroll records show she received from the city.

Gingello said the multiple salaries he and others receive are authorized, and defended them as necessary to fulfilling duties to union members and city employees. The local AFSCME represents about 1,300 non-uniformed city workers.

"The city doesn't compensate us when we work nights and weekends," Gingello, said. "We work sometimes 10, 12 hours depending on what our members need. We have meetings at six o'clock in the morning. We get calls at three in the morning. We're not getting the money for nothing."

He said his union position has kept him from advancing within the city Environmental Services Department, and thus, elevating his pay and "padding" his pension with overtime, which his contract forbids. Gingello also said he has declined raises from the local for years — a claim the union's tax returns support.

School release

Although it can be perfectly legal for unions to pay officers who remain on government payrolls, the practice has drawn scrutiny. In 2003, former Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals President Linda Nash was indicted for, among other things, receiving unauthorized stipends from RAP while remaining on the Rochester School District payroll. Nash pleaded guilty to stealing $100,000 and was ordered to repay the union, according to court papers.

Today, the union's three full-time officers receive authorized stipends from the union in addition to paychecks from the school district. They represent more than 700 members.

"My day doesn't stop at 3 o'clock like it would at a school," said RAP President Margie Brumfield, who was paid about $48,100 by the district last year and $8,000 by the union. "My day doesn't end until 8 at night sometimes, and that's what our union has agreed to compensate us for. It's when we're off the clock."

The union is currently fighting to retain its third officer on full-time paid release. Its contract with the district stipulates that the treasurer be reduced to part-time paid release if the pact is not renewed by September 2008. A new agreement has yet to be struck.

Under the contract that governed RAP before its embezzlement scandal, the union was permitted to have only the president on part-time paid release.

Release time has been criticized in some local district, but has not faced any serious challenges.

"School boards don't want to touch it because they're going to tick off the union," said Charlie Hubbard, formerly of the Greece Board of Education, which released two teachers on a part-time basis last year at a cost to the district of about $60,000. "I never saw the educational benefit to it. If unions want to do union business, let the unions pay for it."

When Urbanski was elected president of the Rochester Teachers Association in 1981, only the union's president was fully released by the school district. Today, the union's contract allows for up to five full-time officers to be released and paid by the school district.

District payroll records show the union last year had four officers on full release and one released part time. The contract requires that the district be reimbursed about $44,500 for the president and $39,000 for each of the other officers. All of them are veteran teachers who are paid by the district. Four receive union salaries.

The RTA's current contract with the school district expires in June 2009. Asked whether he would like to see release time reduced, Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard replied: "The answer for us is yes. But to the union it will be no. There are going to be some difficult discussions."

Urbanski, who won national recognition in the 1980s and 1990s for negotiating agreements that gave Rochester teachers among the highest salaries in the country, said he is open to taking up the topic.

"Our goal is to have sufficient release time and the kinds of terms and conditions that permit us to serve our members competently and to serve as an effective partner for the district," Urbanski said.

"The bottom line is it's negotiated and if Superintendent Brizard would like to raise this matter in negotiations he should and we would certainly discuss it with him. We've got much more important matters, quite frankly, to negotiate than that."

City at the table

The city's contract talks with police and firefighters are the first bargaining sessions for Mayor Robert Duffy, who handily won election in 2005 with the help of strong labor support.

But Duffy's popularity with unions has waned in recent months with his moves to cut jobs, recall workers' city-owned cars and offer performance-based bonuses to employees in the name of curtailing spending.

Trimming taxpayer-funded release time would likely elevate tensions, city and union officials acknowledged.

"Philosophically, we would like to reduce the amount of release time," City Hall spokesman Gary Walker said. "That said, it is part of the collective bargaining agreements that have been built over decades and decades.

"If you want to roll it back or modify something that is standing, you have to give something up at the bargaining table that is of equal or greater value."

Under their current contracts with the city, the firefighters and police unions are permitted one and two full-time released workers, respectively.

They also can each dispense another 1,000 hours of paid release to members to tend to union business, in addition to offering members time off to attend annual conventions and participate in union elections and contract negotiations.

Some independent budget-watchdogs criticize such contract demands as outdated and excessive.

"It really should be examined from a cost-effectiveness point of view," said Elizabeth Lynam, deputy research director for the Albany-based Citizen's Budget Commission.

"Given the diminishing tax base in Rochester, the city cannot afford the kinds of practices that are traditional for their unions."

City payroll records show the city last year spent about $252,800 granting paid release time to 10 police officers, including four who combined received about $36,200 in compensation from their union, the Locust Club of Rochester.

The Locust Club president, Michael Mazzeo, did not return phone calls for this story.

Thirteen firefighters took paid release time last year at a cost of about $114,400, including $77,842 paid to the union president, James McTiernan. Recent tax returns for the union show it paid $26,600 collectively to four officers, including $8,000 to the president.

McTiernan said he would never entertain a reduction in release time, calling the notion "nonsense" and claiming his union has already shouldered more than its share of spending cuts.

"If anything, we need more time," McTiernan said. "We have the public in mind. We have been at the forefront of yelling and screaming about unnecessary cuts to the Fire Department. Public safety is in the public interest."


County gives SEIU workers a choice: Opt-out

More worker-choice stories: here

Most U.S. workers in unionized settings remain ignorant of their opt-out rights

Continuing its war with its largest labor union, Tulare County officials are providing step-by-step instructions to employees on how they can avoid paying union dues. The county and members of the Service Employees International Union, have been at odds since August over salary increases and benefit contributions.

More than 700 workers represented by SEIU staged a one-day strike last month, and more job actions haven't been ruled out by union officials. But the county says that it has received inquiries from 80 SEIU employees about resigning from the union and stopping the county from withholding dues from their checks.

An article in the county's regular newsletter to employees, "The Grapevine," gave workers step-by-step instructions on how to ask the county auditor's office to leave the union dues out of their paychecks.

"There is a legal method to opt out," said Eric Coyne, a county spokesman.

Although 2,700 employees are represented by SEIU, only half — about 1,350 — are dues-paying members.

Employees pay a percentage of their salary — about 2 percent, depending on the bargaining unit — toward union dues. The union has sent a written notice to employees telling them they are not allowed to resign from the union because it would violate a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, between the union and the county.

The county maintains the MOU expired June 30.

County may oppose agency shop election

SEIU officials could not be reached for comment. County officials declined to provide the names of workers who have asked to resign from the union, citing confidentiality concerns.

In a second salvo aimed at SEIU, the county Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau will ask the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to publicly oppose an agency shop election the union members will be holding at an as-yet-unscheduled date.

An agency shop is an arrangement where employees in a bargaining unit are required to pay dues to a union whether they are union members or not.

"Our employees have every right to unionize, we're not stepping in the way of that," Rousseau said. "But we oppose anything that forces our employees to pay union dues."

Regardless of whether there is a vote for an agency shop, all employees will be required to continue paying an "agency fee" for representation.

The agency fee adds up to about half of the SEIU's union dues.


Help save worker-choice

More EFCA stories: here card-check: here worker-choice: here

Workers' Rights are in Jeopardy! Tell Congress!

Big Labor is attempting to use "Card Check" legislation to stop the national decline in union membership. While they're calling it the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), it really robs workers of their fundamental rights:

• Workers will lose the right to a private ballot when voting in union elections, instead having to declare their vote publicly, increasing the potential for coercion and intimidation.

• If a company unionizes, every worker will be forced to join and pay dues, even those who voted against unionization.

• Workers will lose the right to merit-based job advancements, wages based on performance, and the right to approve or decline their contracts.

• Workers will lose the right to work directly with their employers to address grievances.

Let's join together in defending these important rights. Write your Members of Congress today and tell them to say "NO" to card check legislation.


Secret ballot ban bedevils powerful Dem

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: here

Voters learn about their union-thug Congressman who wants to ends secret ballot union elections

Voters in Rep. George Miller's congressional district found a surprise in their mailboxes and on their televisions this week. An Iowa-based conservative group called the American Future Fund has spent $200,000-plus on an anti-Miller TV ad and two mailers.

It has nothing to do with the Democratic congressman's re-election campaign. If this group wanted to influence competitive congressional campaigns, there are 70 races in play across the country and this is not one of them.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

A token Republican and a couple of minor-party candidates are challenging Miller. But the 32-year veteran hasn't had a serious race since the one that put him in office.

No, this is a shot aimed squarely at Miller's leadership post. He is the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's key advisers.

And with the possibility that Democrat Barack Obama could win the White House, critics say this group and others like it are trying to intimidate and harass party leaders in their home districts as a means to beat back policies they don't like.

The American Future Fund is a tax-exempt nonprofit group run by GOP strategists. Its Web site says it promotes conservative, free-market principles.

It has spent scads of money around the country in the past few months targeting federal lawmakers, primarily on oil-drilling issues.

The first anti-Miller mailer keys on $4.6 million in earmarks the congressman obtained for a local business that contributed $16,090 to his campaign.

The other mailer contains numerous factual errors. But in essence, it slaps Miller around for slipping a sentence into a bill that designated a parcel in San Pablo as tribal land for the Lytton band of Pomo Indians, who now run a successful casino there.

The TV ad appears to be part of a national campaign by business interests to defeat a controversial bill called the Employee Free Choice Act. The act would add a second method under which employees could form a union.

It passed the House in March 2007 but failed to win enough votes in the Senate to withstand a filibuster. Most expect this bill to resurface in the next Congress.

The ad alleges that Miller sponsored the act as payback for the more than $1 million that unions have contributed to his campaigns.

That's not only illegal, it's nonsense.

Miller has been a staunch union advocate for decades. No one has to pay him to support labor causes.


Did UAW big request layoffs?

More UAW stories: here

UAW Local 952 President Mark Cole denies asking for a layoff as negotiations appeared to unravel between the United Aerospace Workers and Spirit AeroSystems VP and General Manager Don Carlisle.

UAW workers agreed to a three-day work week in September when Boeing workers went on strike. That agreement expires next week. Union leaders are asking for a return to the five-day schedule. They're now upset with a letter Carlisle sent to employees Thursday, saying "the Union has asked us to move to a layoff once the agreement expires."

Cole posted a rebuttal letter on the union's website, saying "I do not recall telling the Company to proceed to a layoff."

If an agreement isn't reached by next Thursday, more than 300 UAW workers in Tulsa and McAlester will most likely lose their jobs.

"We still think in the long run people would rather have a paycheck working 3 days a week then no paycheck at all," said company spokesperson Debbie Gann. "We'd love to be at full speed 5 days a week; but we have to meet the needs of our customer, and we have all the product they don't need right now."

Spirit AeroSystems employs more than 1,600 people in the area. The company makes major components, like the fuselage, for Boeing airplanes.

A spokesperson with Spirit remains confident an agreement will be reached. While those talks continue, the company is also waiting on a vote Saturday that could end the Boeing strike.


Taxpayers fund gov't-union politics

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Labor-state government unions have taxpayers by the shorthairs

If you think you've seen Measure 64 before, you're right. This is the fourth time that Bill Sizemore has put this type of proposal on the ballot. And he's already filed it again as an initiative for 2010.

It's tempting to view this measure as simply an ongoing feud between Sizemore and public-employee unions. There's some truth to that, but there are broader issues at stake. And therein lies the problem: Measure 64 is a sweeping proposal that does far more harm than good. It deserves defeat.

The measure is a bad deal for the public employees who teach Oregon's children, guard the state's prisoners and perform scores of other unionized jobs. It's also a bad deal for the nonprofit organizations that shoulder more and more responsibilities in this difficult economy. And it is a bad deal for taxpayers.

Measure 64 would affect unions' efforts to collect dues through payroll deductions. It would ban using money collected with "public resources" for many political purposes.

There is a legitimate question at the heart of the measure: Should payroll-processing time and equipment — paid for with taxpayer dollars — be used to collect union dues that wind up in partisan campaigns?

Union leaders say yes. Thousands of Mid-Valley workers apparently agree, since they pay their dues voluntarily.

If they so choose, union members have the legal right to stop their individual dues from being used for political purposes. If they don't like that process, they can deal with it internally by changing how their union operates. That doesn't seem like a matter to be settled by voters.

An important side issue for taxpayers is that Measure 64 could create havoc for every charity, association and insurance carrier that collects money through public-agency payroll deductions.

The measure is so broadly written that it could hamper such worthwhile efforts as the state-employees food drive and United Way drives at government offices.

Sizemore has a good point that charities shouldn't be involved in political activities. However, the measure would impose huge penalties if nonprofits inadvertently spent money on one of the measure's forbidden purposes.

Such uncertainty can't be in anyone's best interests — not at a time when charities are being asked to partner with government to solve such intractable problems as drug abuse and the shortage of foster families.

Leaders of nonprofit agencies are some of the best-informed people on the challenges and solutions that the Mid-Valley faces. They should be spending their time addressing those issues, not worrying about the convoluted, time-consuming restrictions Measure 64 might impose.

The measure wouldn't even allow governments to rent space to political organizations if any fund-raising occurred. Under Measure 64, what would happen to the John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama rallies that were held in public venues — and paid for by the campaigns?

This confusing measure would tie Oregonians up in knots as they try to figure out what is allowed and what is forbidden. Imagine the costly lawsuits that would follow.

Vote no on Measure 64.


SEIU: Fat-cat, partisan, deceptive, fascistic

More EFCA stories: hereMore card-check stories: here

Militant unions and Obama want to force workers into paying tribute without a secret ballot election

Some big labor unions are spending millions to attack vulnerable Republican senators who have long opposed their agenda in Congress, sometimes channeling their money into non-profits that don't bear their names, federal records show.

Citizens for Strength and Security, for example, has spent more than $1 million in recent weeks to attack North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole, who is locked in a contentious battle with Democrat Kay Hagan. Unions are among the group's major financial backers, including the 2-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which contributed $220,000 in September.

Dole and other Republicans in close Senate races have been the target of negative advertising after opposing legislation that is a top priority for unions: The Employee Free Choice Act.

The union proposal would require employers to recognize a union if a majority of employees sign cards opting to organize. Under current rules, employers can demand a more costly secret-ballot election to form a union. Labor groups say workers are threatened with job losses during such elections.

"We need to make sure we elect people in the U.S. Senate and the House and up and down the ticket ... who actually stand up for working families," said Anna Burger, SEIU's secretary-treasurer.

The bill failed in the Senate last year. Democrats need nine more seats to gain a filibuster-proof 60 votes.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the legislation. Steven Law, the chamber's top lawyer, said the plan would "dispense with basic protections" for workers and employers. The group is spending more than $30 million to help congressional candidates it views as pro-business. It is running ads to help several GOP senators who are against the plan and are in tight races, including New Hampshire's John Sununu, Oregon's Gordon Smith and Mississippi's Roger Wicker. The ads identify the chamber.

Dole spokesman Dan McLagan said the outside advertising in North Carolina is hurting the Republican but said he remains optimistic about her prospects. He called the ads "deceptive."

If unions "were up front about who was paying for the ad, it would scare the hell out of people in North Carolina," he said. "They can make up a name. We have to put our name on our ads."

Burger said the union is not hiding its role. "The more coalitions we can build … the better off we are," she said.

Citizens for Strength and Security was established by Lora Haggard, who served as a top campaign aide to former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, federal records show. She did not return phone calls.

Unions have spent heavily under their own name in other races:

• The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the nation's largest public employees union, spent $642,000 on Monday to run an ad opposing Sununu. The union's Paul Booth said AFSCME has spent $1.2 million in Senate races.

• A consortium of unions last week called 27,000 Kentucky union members, urging them to toss out Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, who opposes the bill to ease union-organizing rules. His lead in polls against Democrat Bruce Lunsford has shrunk. Lunsford backs the bill.

"We brought (Lunsford) from behind to a tight race," said Janice Carroll-Garkovich, political director of an alliance of four unions. "We're really proud."

McConnell campaign manager Justin Brasell said "the backers of outside leftist attacks … just want another reliably liberal vote."

Lunsford spokesman Cary Stemle called that "absurd." He said McConnell also gets outside help to "distort" Lunsford record.


Chávez, Alinksy, Obama: Collectivist troika

More ACORN stories: hereMore collectivism stories: here

Union-backed candidate's global socialist cred checks out

Want to know about an Obama presidency? Check his friends and mentors: Hugo Chávez strong-arming his way to permanent office without re-election and to "nationalize" industry. (Buy his gasoline at CITGO.) Chávez's election is suspect, even without ACORN.

Beside Bill Ayers, the bomber terrorist, there is Saul Alinsky. This card-carrying Communist wrote a field manual for leftists, dedicated to "the first radical, Lucifer."

Obama's mother zealously exposed her son to these people. Leftists would abolish private property -- "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." If they decide you don't need something, they can take it away -- car, house, income.

Morphing the Constitution into the Communist Manifesto may take another 50 years with "moderate Republicans" in office. With Obama, it might be only one term.

To see this as his goal, you have to listen carefully, since the big fawning media will always bury it. But he needs a leftist Congress. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi believe they can achieve a filibuster-proof Congress this election cycle.

Lenin and his Bolsheviks advocated "change" and attracted followers. In power, Lenin would not tolerate opposing views and advocated terror to enforce his policy. His controlled news outlet was called Pravda ("Truth" in Russian). The so-called "fairness doctrine," advocated by Obama, will control the media.

You have moral and spiritual convictions? Obama said he will sign the big "choice" legislation to nullify all state restrictions on even partial birth abortion, and a nurse with a conscience who refuses to take part in an abortion will lose her job.

Obama is more pro-abortion than NARAL. He believes a child that survives an abortion should be left to die. He is further to the left than socialist Bernie Sanders.

How much more do you need to know? McCain is no conservative, but at least he is not a leftist.

- James M. Anderson, New Milford


Expert links Obama to Marxist Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky stories: hereMore collectivism stories: here

Iconic Chicago leftist inspired union organizers and Barack Obama alike

If recent polling holds true, a former community organizer from Chicago will be America's next president. Barack Obama's success thus far has been largely attributed to his efficient grass-roots voter-registration campaign and pensive eloquence. Meanwhile, detractors like Fox News and author Jerome Corsi have sought to discredit Obama by linking him to Saul Alinsky.

Before John McCain, Corsi, on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes," accused the Obama campaign of seeking to redistribute wealth and creating a "cult of personality" similar to that of Cesar Chavez "borrowed directly from the organization of the farm workers going back four decades."

According to Corsi, Obama must be feared for his promotion of economic justice and empowering the near powerless — two core principles of Alinsky.

Cesar Chavez I know, but who is Saul Alinsky? I asked the same question 10 years ago after attending a Teatro Campesino production in Orange County. The theater company was inspired by Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the 1960s, and after the show, UFW activists led a series of call-and-response cheers: "Que viva Cesar Chavez! Que viva! Que viva Dolores Huerta! Que viva!"

Paeans to other Chicano icons followed. Then came a less-familiar blast: "Que viva Saul Alinsky!" The crowd roared its answer, but I was stumped. Alinsky wasn't a surname I had heard during my Chicano upbringing. Saul, yes. But not Alinsky! As a history professor at Cypress College, I was too embarrassed to ask anyone in the crowd that day.

Later, I learned that Alinsky founded the Chicago-based Industrial Areas Foundation, which sent battle-tested organizers to train and develop local leaders on issues related to voting, discrimination and police brutality. In his classic treatise, "Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals," Alinsky showed how working-class blacks and white ethnics could work together to end employer discrimination and municipal neglect.

For example, to influence elites holding power to make concessions, "Rules for Radicals" proposed the tactic of threatening to have community activists purchase 100 seats for a symphony performance in Rochester, N.Y. Beforehand, the attendees would enjoy bowls of baked beans with subsequent "obvious consequences" as they sat in their concert seats.

To persuade an upscale department store to change its discriminatory hiring practices, Alinsky suggested that protesters order all items in sight, have them shipped C.O.D., and then refuse delivery later. These two tactics signaled that long-standing privileges would be threatened if a community withheld basic rights from its most disadvantaged residents.

One of Alinsky's disciples, Fred Ross, founded Community Service Organization chapters throughout California after World War II. In Los Angeles, the CSO worked with Chicano activists to promote English and citizenship classes, voter-registration drives, and get-out-the vote campaigns. To aid Edward R. Roybal's election to the Los Angeles City Council in 1949, the CSO registered 12,000 new voters. Roybal became the first Mexican-American to sit on the City Council since the 1880s, and he later represented Los Angeles in Congress for 30 years.

One of Ross' protégés was Cesar Chavez. Like his mentor, Chavez traveled the state developing CSO chapters and leaders. After asking community members to invite neighbors, co-workers and family to a house meeting, Chavez listened to their problems and organized them to demand redresses to their grievances. His success led Alinsky and Ralph Helstein, president of the United Packinghouse Workers of America, to summon Ross and Chavez to San Francisco in 1958 to discuss the creation of a CSO chapter in Ventura County. Helstein believed that a CSO there could buttress the UPWA's efforts to combat the citrus industry's exploitation of bracero guest workers.

Impact on Ventura County

So, with a hefty budget worth about $144,000 now, Chavez listened to community complaints in house meetings, tapped into the energies of activists and assisted Mexican residents with their everyday problems. From a long series of house and community meetings, the Ventura County CSO increased enrollments in English language classes, guided longtime Mexican residents through the naturalization process and registered citizens for the 1958 election. On Election Day, CSO organizers worked tirelessly to get out the vote. In the Oxnard barrio community of La Colonia, turnout was an impressive 82 percent. The CSO had convinced residents that showing up to the polls could bring about social change.

Months later, Chavez would use the apparatus of the 1958 election to organize Ventura County domestic farm workers to combat the Goliath-like might of the agricultural industry. Indeed, short-lived successes in this struggle inspired Chavez to leave the CSO a few years later to start his own national farmer workers union in Delano. It was here that Chavez used the strategy of organizing one true believer, one household, one community at a time to bring about hope for the future.

So, in the midst of an economic recession in 1958, disciples of Alinsky used his rules of radicalism to empower men, women and children to believe in themselves.

And today Obama's ground game of true believers is getting out the vote in highly contested states such as Florida, Missouri and Ohio. Similar to the diligent work of Chicago's Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and California's CSO, the Obama campaign has inspired a new generation of citizens to participate actively in our democracy and this is good, no matter what Fox News and Corsi would want you to believe. Que viva Saul Alinsky!

- Frank P. Barajas is an associate professor of history at California State University Channel Islands.


U.S. Progressives end Era of Prosperity

More collectivism stories: here

The wrong kind of change

There have been many attempts to usurp free market capitalism with Marx- and Engels-style socialism. Whether you cite cases in Russia, Cuba, Ethiopia or Somalia, they all end as dismal failures unable to feed their unfortunate subjects. The collectivist approach goes against basic human instincts of self-interest and self-determination. Prosperity is diminished when productive parts of society are required, by gunpoint or threat of prosecution, to redistribute the fruits of hard work, skills and intellect evenly among those that choose to sit back.

Give a man a fish and he'll eat until the government runs out of people willing to fish all day, only to have their wealth confiscated and redistributed. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever, once he discovers that he is free to benefit from his own hard work and innovation.

The American people, along with an intellectually bankrupt and biased media, seem bent on some ambiguous change that could result in diversion toward Marxist government confiscation and redistribution of wealth. Socialism, collectivism, Marxism -- whatever you call it -- hasn't ever resulted in anything but an equitable redistribution of economic underachievement. After the regime of Pelosi, Reid and Obama have stolen our 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and neutered our First Amendment free speech (via the Fairness Doctrine), we may all be left with the wrong kind of change.

- Thomas Reid


Union-backed putsch against economic freedom

More collectivism stories: here

Few Americans remember any of socialism's vast record of failure

Can this be the way economic freedom ends, by voting it out?

The election on Tuesday poses a very hard choice: Do Americans continue with a free market economy or go with socialism?

Who would have thought we'd be voting on this? Wasn't it decided? Capitalism clearly "won." America produced the best life for the most people over the longest time. Centrally planned economies never did nearly as well. Communism failed. Wherever tried.

"The end of history," a respected scholar felt entitled to name a book. Just let every country do as the United States does. Problem solved.

But have we unlearned our own lesson? Does prosperity, enjoyed for so long, subtly undermine a people's conscience? So that we forget how wealth is created. And think it can be made to grow by government-directed slices of the pie.

Old age insurance and welfare programs, for example, keep folks from serious deprivation but teach a bad lesson. That they don't have to save for themselves. They depend on the "entitlement." And it's their right, by golly.

From this it's only a short step to see all economic benefits as a creation of government. Politicians love this. It's they who seem to bring you "good times."

So while the country's road, bridge, school, sewer and prison systems deteriorate -- all basic responsibilities of government -- social welfare programs commit tens of trillions in future obligations. Which have to be met by higher taxes or cheaper money -- inflation. Business people, beware.

But business is far from without sin. It lobbies shamelessly for the public's money via subsidy and tax break. It "partners" with politicians on pork barrel projects. It pays top executives like princes, although this tarnishes the notion of fairness in the minds of workers. Meanwhile, they are badly taught the country's history and the virtues of capitalism in the first place, in government-run schools.

Among elite liberals the prosperity created by free enterprise isn't just taken for granted. It is despised. It wastes and pollutes. It can only be curbed by "green" technologies -- subsidized, of course, by the public.

But are Wall Street or the big banks any better? They take taxpayer bailouts against their own herd-like lending. On overpriced houses with underpriced mortgages! But who was it that made them do it? The government. The politicians.

Communism couldn't do all this damage to us; we did it to ourselves.

Tuesday's election could bring more self-inflicted wounds: quick passage of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (a power grab by labor bosses). And a new list of Constitution-flouting Supreme Court justices. And a gamble that 5 percent of high-earning Americans can be squeezed for enough taxes to share with everybody else, without crippling the economy.

If you vote for nothing else Tuesday, beware of further socializing an economy that under both parties has been brought to the brink.

- Jack Markowitz is a retired business editor of the Tribune-Review.


President Chickensh-t?

GOP big doesn't understand social justice, community organizing

House Republican leader John Boehner has used a vulgar expression to refer to Democrat Barack Obama and his voting record in the Illinois legislature.

While campaigning for Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Wednesday, Boehner told a small crowd at a bar in the college town of Oxford that failing to vote "yes" or "no" on an issue meant a lawmaker was a "chickens---." The Ohio congressman said the last thing the country needs is to have a "chicken" in the White House.

Boehner spokesman Jessica Towhey confirmed the remarks on Saturday but said the congressman wasn't calling Obama the vulgar term. "The point that Boehner was making was that Barack Obama has consistently avoided making tough decisions and taking tough votes, and voters need to know that," she said.

The remarks, first reported in The Miami Student, the college newspaper published at Miami University, alluded to Obama's record of voting "present" 129 times as a state lawmaker. About 100 people attended the event, most of them Republican college students.

"In Congress we have a red button, a green button and a yellow button, all right. Green means 'yes,' 'red' means no, and 'yellow' means you're a chickens---," Boehner said to the loudest applause of the event. "And the last thing we need in the White House, in the Oval Office, behind that big desk, is some chicken who wants to push this yellow button."

In the Illinois General Assembly, "present" votes are common and used for far more than avoiding a difficult choice. At times lawmakers vote "present" when they have a conflict of interest. In other cases, they do it to register opposition to a procedural decision or to signal that they support a bill's goal but feel the legislation is flawed.

In Obama's case, the 129 "present" votes amounted to about 3.5 percent of the votes he cast in nearly eight years as a state senator.

During his talk, Boehner also disparaged Obama's work as a community organizer.

"This guy was a community organizer for 20 years," Boehner said. "If somebody can tell me what a community organizer is, maybe I can understand it better."

Obama spokesman Tom Reynolds called Boehner's words an angry attack.

"It's sad that John McCain and his supporters are closing their campaign with increasingly angry, desperate, false attacks instead of offering up a single thing John McCain would do differently on the economy than George Bush," Reynolds said.


Tennessee turns blind-eye to ACORN fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group makes inroads in worker-choice territory

Voter fraud has been so rampant in the early voting leading up to this election that it will be a miracle if we get anything close to an accurate count.

ACORN has been at the epicenter of much of this voter fraud, yet Barack Obama has tried to distance himself from them. He looked right into the camera in the last presidential debate and told the American people, "The only involvement I've had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law." We now know that was a lie.

This past week, a former ACORN employee testified in a Pennsylvania courtroom that her group used Obama's campaign donor list to solicit contributions. We also know that Citizens Consulting Inc., the umbrella group over ACORN, received more than $800,000 from Obama to get out the vote in several primary states. Obama knew this when he was asked about ACORN in the debate. Instead of coming clean, he chose to lie.

But ACORN's work may pale by comparison to the out-and-out voter fraud taking place across the country. WLBT-TV in Mississippi reported that Madison County, Miss., had more than 123 percent more registered voters than they had people eligible to vote. They want to purge the rolls of dead people and people who have moved but, by law, they can't do it within 90 days of an election. Mississippi also has no voter ID law, so they merely have to take people at their word that they are who they say they are when they show up to vote.

Here in Tennessee, as I reported to you last week, we have people showing up at the polls who speak no English and are being escorted into the voting booth by people who do. Brook Thompson, the state election coordinator, says I don't know the law when it comes to allowing translators at polling places.

He says the voter is allowed by law to bring someone to assist them. I don't dispute that. But the law doesn't allow it to work the other way around. In other words, the law doesn't allow an interpreter to drive up with a vanload of people of questionable citizenship and allow them to vote.

That's exactly what's been going on in Tennessee during early voting. Since my column last week, I've received tips from people across the state who have witnessed the same thing. What concerns me is that Thompson, to my knowledge, has not personally investigated a single complaint of this type of voter fraud.

Oh, and remember the scum I told you about who was driving mentally disabled people to the polls and voting for them? They're back. I've had reports from North Carolina and several places here in Tennessee. How do we stop this nonsense?

It all goes back to the difference in interpretation of the law. The law, as I understand it, requires the person voting to request assistance. That's the important distinction. It stands to reason that if you're either mentally disabled to the point that you don't understand what you're doing or you can't speak the requisite amount of English to become a citizen you won't be able to request assistance and, therefore, you won't be able to vote — or be exploited by others.

The law works when properly applied. That's just it. The law is not being properly applied.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that we have no uniformity in our election laws when it comes to presidential elections. That needs to change. If some states want to let dead people vote in their county commissioner races, that's their business. When election shenanigans affect who my president will be, then it becomes my business.

In the meantime, we should expect that our election officials are doing everything they can to ensure a fair election. I don't think that's happening in Tennessee.

- Phil Valentine is an author and syndicated radio talk-show host.


ACORN whistleblower starts new blog

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group will be scrutinized long after 2008 election

Idealistic Anita MonCrief wants ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to live up to its ideals. So Anita recently testified under oath that ACORN has not done so. And Anita just established a blog--http://anitamoncrief.blogspot.com/.

Anita explained on her blog: "There has been much speculation as to my motives, which is ironic to me since the media has given me a lesson in integrity and political motivations this year. I speak for myself and I am not afraid to post the truth."

Thanks be to God, Anita had the strength to testify in court, and to be interviewed by Laura Ingraham.

Don't count on Obama to be THAT courageous!

To listen free to Anita's eye-opening interview, go to www.lauraingraham.com.

Anita's first blog article is titled "ACORN Whistleblower asks: What Happened to Karyn Gillette?"

The article demonstrates that Anita is courageous (and please don't confuse courageous with fearless or foolhardy).

Anita wrote:

"Coming forward was not an easy choice and I weighed my options repeatedly and realized that there was not much of a choice. ACORN is a corrupt organization that is preying on the marginalized in this society and they have become the cancerous growth of this election.

"I have never claimed to be perfect and only answered questions honestly on the stand. ACORN brought 3 witnesses to testify but only two did. What happened? Karyn Gillette had the opportunity to take that stand and call me a liar and 'set the record straight' and instead she fled the courtroom. Ms. Gillette sat two seats from me on the same row and as I prepared to face my former mentor and the woman who I thought was my friend, I realized that she had no idea that I would completely tell the truth and therefore she was confident in her role as the person sent by ACORN to discredit me.

"After I testified under oath, I noticed that the attitude of the ACORN people had changed in the room, the intimidating stance was gone as Karyn typed on the Blackberry at lightning speed, and the other ACORN folks heard the truth in my words.

"I am a liberal Democrat, pro-choice and a Obama supporter. I never wanted for this to progress to this point. I tried contacting www.rottenacorn.org in June of 2007 before the credit card, before the termination. I was told that it could get ugly and that since I was a single mom and needed this job for my baby, that I should try to find somewhere else and then contact them again.

"I urge Karyn and Brian Kettering to follow my example and stop hiding behind the media. If I am such a liar, then by all means, say so in sworn testimony. Why did Karyn Gillette leave the courtroom? Only she knows, but I guess if had something to do with the fact that I told the truth and she wasn't willing to get on the stand and do the same thing.

"I have never needed anyone to speak for me. I speak for myself and have always been prepared to deal with the consequences of my actions."

I have been reporting on what Anita told me. (She contacted me and I'm delighted that she did.)

It's obviously hard for an idealistic young African-American single mother of a baby who is unemployed and supporting Obama to say anything that reflects badly on Obama.

But the truth is the truth...and Obama has only himself to blame.

Obama declared during the final presidential debate that his only connection to ACORN was representing it in a motor voter case alongside the United States Justice Department.

Anita wishes it was true, but she knows it's not.

Obama has repeatedly said that his relationship with ACORN began and ended with legal work he did with the group in 1995.

Did Obama forget those training sessions he did for ACORN years ago or the hundreds of thousands of dollars his campaign has paid an ACORN subsidiary for canvassing efforts this year?

Or the grants he directed to ACORN?

Of course not.

Anita told me of revealing connections between ACORN and the Obama campaign based on both personal knowledge and documents.

Anita told me about these connections between Obama and his presidential campaign and ACORN:

1. Zach Polett, former Executive Director of Project Vote and former director of ACORN Political Operations, mentioned that Obama had worked for us and that he even supervised him during a ACORN Political staff retreat in November 2007 (based on direct knowledge).

2. In late 2007, Anita received a call from the Obama campaign asking if this was the same Project Vote that Obama worked for in the 90's. With a staff retreat fresh in mind, Anita answered yes and sent an email to Zach Polett, Karyn Gillette, Nathan Henderson James, and Kevin Whelan stating that the campaign wanted someone to call them back regarding some media questions that were being asked at the time.

3. In late 2007, Karyn Gillette approached Anita to tell her that she had direct contact with the Obama campaign and had obtained their donor lists. This meeting took place sometime in November of 2007 and may have even been a conference call between the campaign and Project Vote. Anita was given an excel spreadsheet to work with for cultivation of new donors. When Anita had trouble because of the duplicates, Karyn stated that she would contact her person at the campaign and see if they had another one.

4. Karyn Gillette also provided lists obtained from the Kerry and Clinton campaigns, as well as the 2004 DNC donor lists, and these lists were shared with the Political directors of roughly 12 ACORN battleground states in order to raise money for a $28 million dollar (number as of 11/2007) voter registration drive (based on direct and indirect knowledge and documents).

5. Sidley Austin, Obama's old law firm, is representing ACORN pro-bono and Mesirow Financial, the firm hired to provide financial advice to ACORN, is headed by a major Obama donor, Richard Mesirow (based on indirect knowledge and documents).

After Anita testified in the Pennsylvania case, the McCain campaign accused Obama of lying to voters about the extent of his ties to ACORN.

"Today's testimony by a former employee of an ACORN affiliate proves Barack Obama is guilty of lying to the American people about his relationship with ACORN," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said in a written statement, accusing Obama of working "hand-in-glove" with the group, which is under investigation for voter registration fraud in several states.

Are you really surprised that "the Senator from ACORN" lied?

Do you really believe Obama on what he knew and did know about William "domestic terrorist" Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah A. "God damn America" Wright, Jr.?

Do you really believe that the Los Angeles Times is NOT refusing to making that tape of Obama to help Obama?

Do you really believe that the liberal media has properly scrutinized Obama?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are dangerously naive.

In the famous fairy tale, a child who had not been brainwashed suddenly announced that the Emperor had no clothes.

The child was right.

Anita surely shares Obama's political views, but when she speaks the truth, she exposes Obama as a liar.

It's his fault, not hers.

Hurray for Anita!

- Michael J. Gaynor

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