Union bigs pressure Prez Bam for payback

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

AFL-CIO's Trumka boasts of 'infinite number of strategies' for enacting fascistic dues scheme

Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, to help level the playing field between workers and bosses in union organizing and bargaining, will be labor's top priority in the new 111th Congress, top AFL-CIO officials said. But roadblocks remain for the legislation.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

One big problem will be the U.S. Senate, where workers and their allies did not get the filibuster-proof 60-vote majority they were shooting for. The law, passed by the House in this Congress, was derailed by a Senate filibuster led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who won re-election Tuesday.

Unionists and their allies gained at least half a dozen seats – not enough to break a filibuster, with one Senate race, in Georgia, headed for a runoff in December. Three other Senate races, including those in Minnesota and Alaska, are still too close to call.

But another problem may be that president-elect Obama and vice-president-elect Joseph Biden, both strong supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act, will have other economic issues on their platter first – and AFL-CIO leaders have not recently discussed EFCA's provisions and its scheduling with Obama's team.

"We discussed how to win the election, first," Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka said after the federation's post-election news conference Wednesday.

The Employee Free Choice Act would help level the playing field between workers and bosses in union organizing and in bargaining initial contracts. It would write into labor law "card check" recognition of unions – a 45-year-old practice where unions are recognized if they sign a majority of covered workers at a site to NLRB election authorization cards. Currently, workers can use "majority sign-up" in lieu of going to a National Labor Relations Board election only if the employers agrees. EFCA would allow employees to choose how they determine their union representation.

The legislation also would sharply increase penalties, to $20,000 per violation, for labor law-breaking and would make it easier to get court orders against employers who violate worker rights. And it would mandate binding arbitration between unions and bosses if they cannot reach an initial contract within 120 days of starting talks.

Trumka, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other union speakers emphasized the situation will change for the law just because two of its supporters will be in the White House, as opposed to GOP President George W. Bush, who opposes it.

"For the first time in eight years, we have a president who supports workers' rights," federation Political Director Karen Ackerman added.

"We must counterbalance corporate power. The gap between the wealthy and everyone else has grown from a gulf to a chasm under Bush," Sweeney said. "We cannot rebuild the middle class and ensure that economic growth is shared unless we give working people back the freedom to improve their lives through unions and bargain for better wages and benefits.

"Workers in unions, after all, make 30% more than those without a union and there are much more likely to have benefits. And so our top priority is passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that will restore workers' freedom to bargain for a better life. In an economy that gives corporations too much power, a union card remains the single best ticket into the middle class," Sweeney added.

But under questioning, Sweeney had no schedule for its consideration in the new Congress. "We don't have final races on all congressional races yet. And we'll be strategizing about it based on that situation," he said. He also admitted "we have to see what the final results are from the Senate."

"We're a lot closer to passing it than we were before the election, because candidates up and down the ballot supported it," added Legislative Director Bill Samuel.

Trumka said that every possible way to get the legislation through Congress will be on the table. The Chamber of Commerce and other business groups spent a combined $60 million in an anti-EFCA drive, focused on key and close Senate races, in the 2008 campaign's homestretch. They have already made stopping it their top priority

"There are an infinite number of strategies to get it passed and each one of them will have our complete attention," Trumka said.


Prez Bam pledges to organize TSA

More AFGE stories: here

Federal unions to be rewarded by Dems

President-elect Barack Obama said he will expand family leave, flexible work schedule and teleworking benefits to federal employees; roll back controversial pay-for-performance systems; review current outsourcing policies; and give collective-bargaining rights to Transportation Security Administration employees.

In a series of late-October letters to John Gage, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Obama sounded off on numerous issues and policies. The union released the letters today.

“While I strongly believe that workers can and should be rewarded for high quality work, the administration’s failure to fund the [pay-for-performance] initiative guaranteed that rewarding one employee would be at the expense of another,” Obama said in a letter on Homeland Security Department issues. “This is unfair and serves to reduce morale, rather than improve it.”

In another letter, Obama said getting TSA screeners collective-bargaining rights “will be a priority for my administration” and a means to better workplace conditions and cut down on TSA’s high attrition. “It is unacceptable for [transportation security officers] to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections,” he wrote.
Obama also wrote that he may dismantle TSA’s pay-for-performance system, the Performance Accountability and Standards System, if he finds it is unfair and not transparent, and put TSA employees back on the General Schedule.

In a September letter to AFGE and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Obama said he might alter or repeal the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

Obama also expressed doubts that the Bush administration’s outsourcing efforts are saving the government money, and said his administration will review work that is contracted out.

In a letter addressing Housing and Urban Development Department issues, Obama wrote that “it is dishonest to claim real savings by reducing the number of HUD employees overseeing a program but increase the real cost of the program by transferring oversight to contractors. I pledge to reverse this poor practice.”

He said he would favor hiring more staff at the Social Security Administration to help it confront a large backlog of disability claims.

Obama wrote that he supports efforts to bring paid family leave, flexible work schedules and increased teleworking to the federal government.

“It’s time we stopped talking about family values and started pursuing policies that truly value families ... with the federal government leading by example,” Obama said.


Fat-cat union operatives sledgehammer voters

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"
worker-choice: here union-dues: here

Union bigs preserve forced-dues flow in successful propaganda war v. worker-choice

Amendment 47, the so-called “right-to-work” initiative that would have barred unions from collecting mandatory dues from nonmembers, was defeated Tuesday, along with Amendment 49 — another measure that labor leaders opposed.

But a third measure that unions fought (Amendment 54, which regarded payroll deductions for union dues) maintained a slim lead for passage with 91 percent of the precincts reporting early Wednesday afternoon.

The outcome concludes a contentious campaign that divided local business leaders and drew millions of campaign dollars from out of state from both sides.

Supporters said Amendment 47 wouldn’t have abolished unions, but would have let workers decide whether they wanted to support organized labor with their earnings.

They also said that having a right-to-work policy could help the state draw new employers and push job growth.

But opponents said Amendment 47 would have seriously undermined Colorado’s small-union presence and damaged the economy by driving down wage pressure. They also maintained that Colorado’s 65-year-old Labor Peace Act had served the state well.

Meanwhile, Amendment 49, which would have barred public employers from giving unions automatic payroll deductions, was far behind Wednesday afternoon, with 90 percent of the results counted.

The labor-oriented initiatives were fought by an unprecedented coalition of labor and business interests. Opponents of amendments 47, 49 and 54 raised significantly more money than opponents, and appealed to voters by stressing the effect the measures would have on teachers and professional firefighters.

Unions planned to counter Amendment 47 with several ballot initiatives that business leaders feared would hurt Colorado’s economic climate. The unions proposed several ballot issues, including one that would’ve required most employers to offer health-care coverage and another that prohibited businesses from firing workers without just cause.

The unions agreed to drop the anti-business initiatives after a coalition of business leaders agreed to campaign against amendments 47, 49 and 54.

Joel Heinemann, a professional firefighter who campaigned against amendments 47, 49 and 54, said the business coalition made a “big difference” in defeating at least two of the measures.

“It’s not often you see business and labor come together, but when they did, voters saw the deception behind these measures,” Heinemann said.

Also on Tuesday’s ballot of interest to business:

• With 90 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday afternoon, the “yes” and “no” votes on Amendment 46, which prohibits Colorado governments and their contractors from participating in affirmative action programs, were virtually tied.

• Amendment 50, which would raise bet limits at mountain casinos from $5 to $100 and direct 78 percent of the gaming revenue to the schools, was on its way to victory.

• Amendment 59, which would untangle some of the constitutional quandaries created by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and 2000’s Amendment 23 setting mandatory levels of state education funding, was trailing.

The measure would have created a rainy-day fund that would accumulate funds when the economy is good.

• Voters who thought there were too many ballot issues in this year’s election may suffer a setback. Referendum O, which would have established stricter standards for getting constitutional amendments on the ballot, was heading for certain defeat.


Out-of-state union cash kills worker-choice

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

30-to-1 spending advantage preserves forced-labor unionism, dues flow to Dems

On Election Day, Colorado voters tossed out Amendment 47, a contentious “right-to-work” measure that sought to restrict the way unions organized in the state. It has been more than three decades since such a proposal was actually defeated on the ballot.

At an event at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Denver — separate from the Democratic bash that was taking place around the same area — hundreds of union supporters gathered to watch the results come in, whooping and hollering as the fate of Amendment 47 began to appear more dismal.

The measure, which was backed by number of business groups including the state chamber of commerce, failed with a “nay” vote of at least 55 percent, according to the most recent polling results on the early morning hours of Wednesday.

“God bless Colorado and God bless Colorado voters,” yelled UFCW Local 7 president Ernest Duran with the No on 47 campaign over a microphone shortly after the results were announced at approximately 9 p.m.

The proponents of Amendment 47 with the group A Better Colorado also released a statement after the results, stating that “The outcome, we feel, was unfortunate, but we are comforted in knowing that we took a principled stand and fought for it until the end.”

Former Democratic state lawmaker Mike Cerbo, who helped to fight the proposal as head of the Colorado AFL-CIO union coalition, said he thought the measure failed because voters “didn’t see a need for Amendment 47.”

Not only did numerous unions unite in opposition to Amendment 47, but they also drew upon a unique alliance between major business leaders and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, raising millions to defeat the measure after labor agreed in October to pull four other proposals that would have regulated business practices.

At the time of the arrangement, businessman and Oakwood Homes founder Pat Hamill called the partnership “an unprecedented campaign” in Colorado politics.

Said Littleton firefighter Joel Heinemann, a campaign supporter who claimed Amendment 47 would have weakened the bargaining rights for public servants in the state, “Today the voters showed me and my fellow firefighters that they support us.”

Amendment 47 was first proposed for the ballot in the summer of 2007 and was initially sponsored by Aurora city councilman Ryan Frazier.


Leftists demand more union power

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

No-vote unionism would swell Dem coffers with flood of forced-dues labor cash

Fresh off a smashing victory at the polls, President-elect Barack Obama is getting advice from across the political spectrum urging a cautious, moderate start to the new administration. That would be a huge mistake. Far from playing it safe, Obama must get early action on issues that are often dismissed as left-wing pet priorities - but are in fact vital to the well-being of working families.

No. 1 on the list should be passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier to organize labor unions. Few moves would help middle-class families faster than getting a million new people enrolled into unions that can get them enhanced benefits, decent pay and a higher standard of living.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

The president-elect should also move aggressively to get pro-environment incentive programs off the ground, providing a market boost for solar and wind power, hybrid cars and clean coal technology.

He'll be criticized as impractical for leading off with initiatives that conservatives hate.

But it's the only way to succeed.

If Obama hopes to be a truly transformational President with the impact of a Franklin Roosevelt or a Lyndon Johnson, he must take the kind of chances that brought him to the White House in the first place.

That means bucking the conventional wisdom.

At a recent panel held at Baruch College, two establishment political gurus - Republican strategist Ed Rollins and Democratic powerbroker Harold Ickes - both warned that Obama and the newly strengthened Democratic majority must avoid pushing too hard, too quickly, on controversial issues.

Both cited the example of Bill Clinton, who tried - and failed - to jam a major health insurance program through Congress in his first year in office, provoking a partisan backlash that led to a Republican takeover of the House and Senate in 1994.

"Obama can be swept out as fast he was swept in if results are not forthcoming," said Ickes.

"If you have discipline and you pick three or four things and not overreach, then you may have a realignment," said Rollins. "If you get greedy - if you basically decide, 'We've been in the wilderness too long,' and everybody gets their fancy programs and you jerk this [economy] into a worse recession, then you're going to pay a price."

I couldn't disagree more.

As economist Bob Kuttner argues in the book "Obama's Challenge," the 20th century's greatest Presidents were linked to social movements that were both allies and critics of the White House.

In the 1930s, an active labor movement put pressure on FDR to create one New Deal program after another to pull the nation out of the depression.

A generation later, the civil rights movement put a similar kind of heat on the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, leading to Johnson's War on Poverty and the innovations of the Great Society like Head Start, Model Cities and Medicaid.

FDR and LBJ didn't confine their ambition to small-bore tax cuts and easy-to-pass legislation. Obama shouldn't, either.

The problems facing the nation are big, not small. The solutions must be, too.

Obama won a major victory - beating John McCain by 7.5 million votes - by redrawing the political map to campaign in states considered off-limits to Dems, like Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina. He should expand his legislative and policy map the same way.

He musn't be a cautious tactician who picks, chooses and maneuvers like a politician. Instead, he should bring a sweeping agenda to the table and keep his movement for change active and engaged. The people, and Congress, will follow.


Labor unions seek 1930's replay

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

Collective bargainers want to kill the golden-egg laying goose

Will the recent economic turmoil be remembered by the history books as "the panic of 2008?" If Democrats actually adopt the policies they have advocated on the campaign trail, they will be repeating with eerie precision the mistakes made by both parties that gave us the Great Depression, says Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Economists generally have concluded that, in addition to woefully misguided Federal Reserve actions, two policy errors worsened and prolonged the Great Depression: the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and the rapid expansion of unionization and cartelization that followed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

But perhaps the key negative component was the massive increase in unionization, from 13 percent of the workforce in 1935 to 29 percent in 1939, explains Hassett:
* Then, greater unionization led to a doubling of the number of strikes and an increase in their effectiveness because new rules let workers use "sit-down" tactics that shut plants; now, if tariffs were mentioned, a trade war could easily ensue.

* The key labor policy parallel to the 1930s is "card-check" -- union organizers can forgo standard secret ballot procedures when they receive signed union-authorization cards from a majority of employees.

* Although card-check procedures are legal, current law lets employers reject card-check petitions and require secret-ballot elections instead.
Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, coercion attempts by union leaders are numerous when card-check procedures are in place, and include "threats of termination, deportation, and loss of 401(k) and health benefits for not signing a card; and promises of green cards, termination of supervisors and free turkeys for employees who did sign cards.''

Supporters of card-check are presumably willing to accept the possibility of coercion because they believe the end -- a large increase in unionization -- justifies the means. But if that end is achieved, then it likely will lead to a surge in labor costs and reduction in competitiveness for U.S. companies at just the wrong time.

Should Democrats deliver on these promises, we will have a trade war and a reorganization of the workplace on par with that of the 1930s, predicts Hassett.

Source: Kevin Hassett, "'Panic of 2008' Is Better Than the Alternative: Kevin Hassett," Bloomberg, November 3, 2008.

For text:


Prez Bam welcomed by Latin leftists

More collectivism stories: here

Chávez, Morales, Ortega, Castro weigh in

Two months after expelling the American ambassador as diplomatic ties reached rock-bottom, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has expressed a desire for “new relations” with the United States under an Obama administration.

The leftist former paratrooper commander, who has developed close ties with Iran and Russia while using oil revenues to shore up allies across the region, is among the most vocal critics of President Bush and what he calls the U.S. “empire.”

Chávez joined other left-wing Latin American leaders in calling President-elect Barack Obama’s election historic.

“The historical election of an Afro-American to lead the most powerful country in the world is a sign that the changing times which originated in South America could be knocking the doors of United States,” he said in a statement.

Invoking Simon Bolivar, the 19th century South American independence leader, Chávez said, “From every corner of the planet, there is an increasing outcry demanding a change in foreign relations and the construction, as the liberator Simon Bolivar said, of a world of balance, peace, and human coexistence.”

His government, he said, was ready for “a constructive bilateral agenda for the welfare of Venezuelan and North American peoples.”

“We are convinced that the time has come to establish a new relation between our countries and with our region based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and real cooperation.”

On the eve of the election, Chávez said he would be willing to meet with Obama as “equals,” while warning that relations would “struggle” in the event of a victory by Republican Sen. John McCain.

During the campaign, McCain criticized Obama for expressing a willingness to meet with leaders of hostile states, including Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and North Korea – without preconditions and during his first year in office.

Although the U.S. is the largest customer of oil from Venezuela – it was America’s fourth biggest supplier during 2007, after Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico – relations between the two countries have been chilly.

Chávez notoriously called Bush “the devil” during a speech at the U.N. in 2006, has drawn close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and will later this month host Russian warships for muscle-flexing joint exercises in the Caribbean.

Last September, he expelled U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy and withdrew Venezuela’s envoy from Washington, amid accusations of a “yankee” conspiracy to overthrow his and other left-wing governments in the region. One day earlier, Chávez ally Bolivian President Evo Morales had ordered the departure of the American ambassador to Bolivia, alleging U.S. interference in his country. The U.S. denied the accusations.

Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, also welcomed Obama’s win Wednesday, drawing parallels between himself and the African-American president-elect. He said he was confident relations between Washington and La Paz would improve.

Fellow leftis, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua called the election of a black man a “miracle” and said he was “very happy” about the outcome, Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency reported.

Ortega’s Sandinista government has the distinction of being the only one anywhere to follow Moscow’s lead in recognizing the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent.

Cubans hail ‘meteoric’ campaign

For the Chavez-led leftist clique, how Obama deals with the Cuban economic embargo will be a key indicator of future relations, and the Venezuelan and Bolivian leaders on Wednesday both urged Obama to end the ban once in office.

The embargo against the communist Castro regime was imposed 46 years ago and opposition to it has been growing by the year. In an annual ritual, the U.N. General Assembly votes by overwhelming numbers for a symbolic resolution on lifting the embargo.

The most recent vote, a week before the presidential election, saw 185 countries support the measure while only Israel and the tiny Pacific island of Palau voted with the U.S.

Obama, who as a Senate candidate in 2003 supported lifting the embargo, said while campaigning for the presidency that it should be eased in stages, with the first step being to allow Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba and to send remittances to Cuba.

He also said he would be willing to meet with Cuba’s leaders, “but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.”

From Cuba itself there was no official reaction Wednesday to the election outcome, although state-controlled media ran several articles on the subject.

In a commentary carried by the official ACN news agency, Cuban writer Marcos Alfonso said it was not by chance that a black man had won the presidency, suggesting that Obama’s victory was part of a scheme to save beleaguered capitalism.

“The policy led by the [R]epublicans over the past eight years has been so wrong that the U.S. system had no other alternative than making the concession of opening [to] Obama the doors of the White House, in an effort to maintain capitalist rule alive,” he argued. “The U.S. presidential history shows that, no matter who takes the presidency, the postulates and principles that Capitalism boasts must prevail.”

In a more straightforward if someone awestruck analysis, the Communist Party mouthpiece, Granma, ran a piece by Ramon Sanchez-Parodi Montoto, a Cuban diplomat and international relations specialist, who tracked Obama’s “meteoric” campaign since his “magisterial” 2004 Democratic Convention speech, expressing admiration for his organization, use of the Internet and fundraising achievements.

In his regular “Reflections of Fidel” column, published on election day, Fidel Castro wrote that Obama was “no doubt more intelligent, educated and level-headed” than McCain, who he dismissed as “old, bellicose, uncultured, not very intelligent and not in good health.”

The reclusive former president also described the U.S. as a “parasitical and rapacious empire.”


Anti-leftists urged to adopt Alinksy rules

Saul Alinsky stories: here collectivism: here card-check: here

Opposition must use iconic socialist's techniques v. modern collectivist Progs

Conservatives may not realize just how difficult it might be to recover from this week's elections.

The day after the big defeat, the conservative chatter everywhere was about how the "movement" and the Republican Party (two different things) could finally unshackle themselves from the bad old habits that brought them down, and about how the ability to draw a sharp contrast with the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate would allow us to focus attention, rally the faithful, and re-storm the castle in 2010 and 2012.

Fat chance.

Too many conservatives think we've seen all this before -- in 1964 and 1974 and 1992 -- and that we know how to handle it. Fly, meet ointment: We're not dealing with the same sorts of opponents. These New Alinskyites who are taking over the White House, combined with the most leftist congressional leadership in memory, will not let us play by the same rules under which conservatives recovered from those earlier debacles. They will try to drastically tilt the playing field, seed our side of the field with land mines and, in short, rig the process to make it next to impossible for the political right, or Republicans, to recover. And they are likely to succeed in at least some of these designs.

It will begin with their efforts to secure a filibuster-proof majority of 60 senators (including the two independents). Right now the libs (and yes, all the Democratic senators, with the possible exception of Nebraska's Ben Nelson, are libs) have 56, with three Republican moderates and one conservative leading their races but awaiting recounts or runoffs. Watch for the Alinskyites to try stealing all four, and to succeed in at least two. We've seen this game before. They did it in Indiana's "Bloody Eighth" congressional district in 1984. They almost succeeded in 2000 in Florida. They did succeed, outrageously so, in the Washington State governor's race in 2004. Those are just the most obvious of many similar examples. And now they are even more ruthless, more lawyered-up, and in a more powerful position to pull it off than they were in any of those instances.

Next, watch what happens if they regularly can't peel off enough Republicans (or hold their own semi-fairminded people like Nelson and Joe Lieberman) to overcome whatever filibuster attempts Republicans do mount. Watch for an assault on the filibuster itself. Watch how they use as precedent the GOP "nuclear/constitutional option" on judges in 2005 -- except instead of just using it for judges, watch them use it against all filibusters. It's easy: Make the ruling from the chair that the filibuster is out of order for some reason. Instruct the parliamentarian to rule in their favor. Win the appeal of the parliamentarian's ruling by simple majority vote. And watch the courts pronounce it an internal matter of the legislative branch and thus outside of courtroom purview.

Watch a cheerleading establishment media -- the Fourth Estate as a veritable Fifth Column -- actually back these lefty maneuvers. It's all in the name of one-man/one-vote democracy, dontcha know? The filibuster once served its purpose, they'll say, but as a vestige of Southern "massive resistance" to integration it is now being used for massive resistance to the first black president, which invalidates it (suddenly) as a legitimate tool.

Watch the left use these tactics and others to pass even more liberalized voting laws -- an open invitation to even more fraud that is more creative, easier to hide, and less challengeable in court.

Watch what Michael Barone called the Obama "thugocracy" use the Justice Department to stifle dissent. Anybody who complains about vote fraud will be charged with "vote suppression." Anybody who complains about DoJ's actions will be charged with interfering with an investigation. Anybody who denies having interfered will be charged with perjury. Likewise, anybody who peacefully protests abortion clinics or the use of state-sponsored racial quotas will be charged with a civil rights violation. And the accused won't be able to look to the Supreme Court for help: Anthony Kennedy's "evolving standards" of justice will evolve to match the new zeitgeist, providing a 5-4 majority for the administration. Meanwhile, of course, Obama's other appointments will be filling up the rest of the judiciary at a rapid clip, with nobody able to stop them.

Other ways the Obama axis will tilt the playing field: "card check" legislation to eliminate secret ballots in unionizing and to force union victories in contract negotiations. Provision after provision giving favors to the trial bar so it can sue enemies into submission. Copious new regulations, especially environmental, to be used selectively to ensnare other conservative malcontents. Invasive IRS audits of conservative think tanks, other conservative 501 organizations, and PACs.

What Ohio officials did in rifling through so many of Joe Wurzelbacher's files will serve as ample precedent. (Just watch, by the way: Nobody ever will be effectively disciplined for the violation of Wurzelbacher's rights.)

And, only when the time is right and the ground (or air) has been well prepared, will come the grand-daddy of all fights, the re-enactment of the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine."

Oh, they'll be clever. They'll pick their spot. They'll wait until Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Michael Levin says something innocent they can twist out of context and call "hate speech" -- and then they'll highlight some schoolyard fight where a member of a "victim group" gets the worst of it as if the "attack" were caused by talk-rad…no, make that "hate radio," which will be the new moniker the Fifth Column/Fourth Estate hangs on the talkmeisters.

(Even before imposing the Fairness Doctrine, they'll use the Federal Communications Commission in other ways to put a muffler on their opponents.)

And, always, a few carefully calibrated street demonstrations, splashed with just the right headlines across the East Coast newspapers and captured by just the right camera angle on CBS News, will be used any time, on any issue, to make the point that civil unrest would be the price of resistance to the benevolent desires of the Obama regime.

The erosions of conservative rights will be incremental. Each one will have its own justification. Each one will be supported by the establishment media. Each one will be timed so as to allow the general public to become accustomed to it, to accept it as unremarkable, or even to come to regard it as a public good for the sake of keeping conservative "troublemakers" from fomenting disorder.

And the Obamessiah, still speaking frequently to stadia full of admirers, will provide a tone of reasoned moderation, combined with further appeals to hope, in order to justify it all.

These are the sorts of things Alinskyites do. These are the sorts of tactics used by ACORN, at whose conferences Obama himself regularly taught seminars on "power." These are the sorts of policies favored by the academic left, Obama's old milieu -- the policies that favor speech codes and stolen campus newspapers and the firing of faculty for "offensive" remarks.

Conservatives have fought things like this for years already, of course. But they've never fought it while the left controlled so many of the levers of power, and certainly not when the left was led by such a charismatic and near cult-inspiring leader who was so smart, so well steeped in these stratagems, and so fully supported by a Fourth Estate up whose legs warm feelings run every time he waxes eloquent.

It will take very focused, very intelligent, very skillful action by conservatives to stop this creeping subversion of a free society. This is a whole different political battlefield than any on which we've fought before. And we haven't yet found our Omar Bradley.


Russian leaders back Prez Bam

More collectivism: here

Russian people agree with their collectivist leaders

Russian politicians are being cautiously optimistic about Barack Obama’s triumphant victory at the election.

Russia’s major media outlets and prominent politicians said prior to the voting in the United States that building relations with Russia would become one of the serious tests for the new American president. Spokespeople for Obama’s headquarters stated after the victory of their candidate that Obama would obviously defend USA’s interests although he would be able to find a pragmatic base for cooperation with Russia.

A recent opinion poll conducted by Russia ’s Levada Center showed that most Russians gave more of their sympathies to Barack Obama than to John McCain. Most of the polled Russians said that the Russian administration could find a common language with the Democratic Party of the United States.

Russia’s Vice Prime Minister Igor Sechin said that the Russian government was ready to cooperate with the new US President Barack Obama. Spokespeople for Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that they hoped for more constructive approaches in the US-Russian relations after the election of the new President in the United States .

Moscow hopes that the results of the presidential vote in the USA would help build a new environment in the cooperation between the two countries in the field of foreign politics, economics and finance.

Igor Shuvalov, the first Vice Premiere of the Russian government, hopes that the voting results in the US would show a favorable influence on the economic situation in the world. “The first reaction on the stock market shows that there is a hope,” the official said.

The leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, welcomed Barack Obama’s victory. “His election is the choice of the younger, and the modern America which has been totally disappointed in the politics of George W. Bush. The Americans will not forgive the Republicans the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Zyuganov told Interfax Wednesday.

“Obama does not have answers to many vital questions yet, although he stated in many of his speeches that he would change the previous political course, which is highly important. All Republican presidents have always defended national interests, ignoring the interests of other countries of the world. The new US president cannot but understand that it is impossible to seek and find answers to many global issues without the participation of such a great country as Russia,” the leader of Russian communists said.


Special interests blast anti-corruption law

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Voters are sick and tired of 'pay to play' labor-state corruption

The passage of Amendment 54 casts too wide a net, legal experts say, banning political contributions by everyone from union members to prominent business leaders serving on the boards of local universities and nonprofits.

By extending the donation ban to family members, the narrowly approved initiative faces an even bigger chance of being challenged in court for violating constitutional rights to free speech.

"Courts don't like to overturn voter amendments, but this one is going to have great difficulty withstanding constitutional scrutiny," said Doug Friednash, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig who led a challenge of a 2006 amendment banning gifts to elected officials, government workers and their relatives.

Backers of Amendment 54 included associates of the Golden-based Independence Institute, a free-market think tank that also pushed a defeated amendment that would have prevented governments from deducting union dues from workers' paychecks.

Tom Lucero, spokesman for the successful campaign, argues that other states have similar limits that have managed to withstand legal challenges.

The point of the measure, Lucero said, is to save taxpayers money by encouraging competitive bidding for government contracts.

It prohibits political gifts by holders of contracts worth $100,000 or more if the government awards them without a competitive bidding process. The ban covers officers and board members of companies and nonprofits, as well as unions that represent government workers.

"We believe unions fit this principle," Lucero said. To avoid the ban "they can remove collective bargaining from their contracts."

The amendment's impact on board members has recently captured the attention of the many nonprofits that contract with the government to provide specialized research or health care, often in rural areas where no other provider exists.

"I can't imagine any board member for any institution being happy with the amendment," said Paul Chan, general counsel for the University of Denver.

Among those with an interest: Oakwood Homes CEO Pat Hamill, who serves on DU's board and would be unable to make any contributions to candidates or issue campaigns until two years after DU's contracts expire.

Hamill headed the business coalition that agreed to fight Amendment 54 and two other anti-labor initiatives in a compromise that had unions pulling four other measures from the statewide ballot.

"I immediately feel like my rights are taken away," Hamill said, who raised the possibility the business-labor coalition will mount a challenge.

Labor unions spent heavily trying to shoot it down, saying the language of the amendment will also deny teachers, firefighters, police officers and other state workers the right to contribute to political campaigns.

"We're looking at legal action," said Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Mike Cerbo. "People thought they were voting on contractor reform. There are other ways to get at that than depriving citizens of their voice."

Forbidden by 54

Amendment 54 will forbid a wide array of Coloradans from making political contributions, raising the likelihood of a free speech challenge by opponents of the measure. Among those affected:

* Unions and union members (teachers and firefighters, for instance) if they contract with government and nonprofits providing health care and other specialized services under exclusive contract with the government.

* The state has a variety of no-bid contracts with local universities, whose trustees no longer would be able to contribute to political candidates or issue campaigns until two years after a contract's expiration.

* Prominent community members affected include a long list of University of Denver board members, such as attorney Steve Farber, developer Pat Hamill and financier Donald Sturm. Board members at Colorado State University, which is listed as a government contractor for the state in 2008, include real estate executive Doug Jones and Denver Metro Chamber President Joe Blake.


Dues-neutrality measure still leads in Oregon

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Labor-state officials furiously tabulate 'found' pro-union ballots

A ballot measure that would undercut the economic power of the state's public employees unions continued to hold a slim lead Wednesday but the outcome remained too close to call.

With 75 percent of the vote counted, 50.5 percent of voters supported Measure 64 and 49.5 percent opposed it. A batch of ballots from Multnomah County had yet to be counted. "It's razor thin," said political activist Bill Sizemore, who sponsored the measure. "We don't have a good feel for how Multnomah County could go."

But Scott Moore of the Defend Oregon Coalition, a union-based organization that campaigned against Measure 64 and four others put on the ballots by Sizemore, said he expected the final results would show voters rejected the measure.

If passed, the measure would bar public employee unions from using money from payroll deductions on political campaigns. Sizemore, who said the measure would keep the government neutral on elections, has tried and failed to pass similar measures in the past.

His opponents argue Measure 64 unfairly targets government employees and has such broad language that it would not only limit unions contributions to political campaigns but to charities, too.

"It would severely limit working Oregonians from participating in the political process," Moore said, "and it would leave the door wide open for corporations and out-of-state millionaires."

Sizemore's other measures proposed changes in the state school system and attempted to loosen rules on tax deductions and building permits. All were rejected.

One reason the vote tally on Measure 64 remains so close, Moore said, is because it was the only one of Sizemore's measures that he and his supporters spent a significant amount of money on.

Sizemore's work was financed by Loren Parks, the owner of a medical equipment company in Aloha who moved to Nevada in 2002, and the Republican-leaning group Freedom Works. Sizemore said that of the five measures he authored, Measure 64 was his top priority.

Public employee unions spent more than $15 million on ballot measure campaigns, primarily fighting Sizemore's measures.

"It has become very clear that Bill Sizemore's attempt was to divide labor unions and organizations in the state by putting a number of measures on ballots and divide their attention," Moore said.

If Measure 64 is approved by voters, Moore said Defend Oregon will consider taking legal action, because it's possible the measure would deny the union members from practicing free speech rights. Sizemore disagreed.

"I think we'll look very seriously at whether the measure is legally sound," Moore said. "Similar measures passed in other states have been thrown out by federal appeals courts."


Jumbo unions emboldened by Prez Bam

More SEIU stories: hereMore AFSCME stories: here

You'll be hearing lots more about SEIU, AFSCME

Unions are planning aggressive organizing drives at Chicago-area hospitals in the wake of Tuesday’s election of Barack Obama, a close ally of organized labor.

The Chicago hospital market has been a tough one for unions to crack — less than 10% of hospital workers in the city and suburbs are union members, one of the lowest rates among large U.S. cities. But local hospitals would be fertile ground for union campaigns under a measure championed by Mr. Obama that would make it easier for unions to sign up new members.

“The hospitals here are a huge target,” says Christopher Cimino, a Chicago-based labor consultant who works with hospitals. “They’re worried.”

Mr. Obama is co-sponsor of a bill that would require employers to recognize unions if a majority of employees sign “union-authorization” cards, eliminating the current secret-ballot process. The House passed the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007, but Senate Republicans blocked the bill. It faced a certain veto from President George W. Bush.

Business groups are spending millions of dollars to fight the measure, which they claim would strip employers of their ability to communicate with workers regarding the pros and cons of unionizing. Labor leaders say the current process allows employers to quash organizing drives by pressuring employees.

Chicago hospitals appear ready for a battle regardless of whether the bill passes. After spending much of the last two years campaigning for labor-friendly Democrats, local union leaders say they’ll quickly shift their focus to organizing. A sweeping labor-reform law would boost those efforts, they say.

“It would change the whole landscape and give more incentive for hospitals to work with labor,” says Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. The chapter of the Service Employees International Union has 83,000 members in the two states, including almost 5,000 at Illinois hospitals.

Local hospitals mostly dodged recent organizing efforts. SEIU in 2003 began a campaign aimed at Oak Brook-based Advocate Health Care that tried to galvanize workers on issues like adequate staffing levels and charity care. While the state’s largest hospital chain suffered some public-relations hits, the union hasn’t forced an election at any of Advocate’s eight hospitals.

A similar campaign by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 against Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care, the state’s second-largest health system, also hasn’t gained much traction.

Mr. Kelleher says SEIU will resume its campaign against Advocate after a lull but adds that the union is “working on campaigns to organize large numbers of hospital workers” at other institutions. SEIU has organized a few smaller employee groups like food-service workers and engineers at Illinois hospitals in recent years but has had better luck with home-health workers and at nursing homes.

An Advocate spokeswoman declines to comment.

AFSCME will keep its focus on Resurrection regardless of whether there is a new labor law, says Roberta Lynch, deputy director of Council 31. “I think Sen. Obama’s election victory will give a lot of people, including workers at Resurrection, tremendous encouragement,” she says.

If a law is passed that makes it easier for workers to join the union, “we are committed to the letter and the spirit of the law no matter what that is,” a Resurrection spokesman says. However, “we don’t see a large groundswell of employees who feel like they need outside representation.”

Another union that has set it sights on Chicago hospitals is the California-based National Nurses Organizing Committee, which represents 1,800 Cook County nurses. It lost an election last year at Mount Sinai Hospital but has organizing committees at many other Chicago hospitals, says Fernando Losada, the union’s director of collective bargaining for Illinois.

“Chicago is a very big opportunity for us nationally,” he says, declining to name specific hospitals.

Only five hospital systems in the Chicago area have unionized registered nurses — by far the largest bargaining unit in hospitals: University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago; Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet; University of Chicago Medical Center; Veterans Affairs Medical Center in North Chicago, and the three hospitals run by Cook County, including John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital.

Local hospitals support workers’ right to join a union but want the secret-ballot process retained, says Mary Ann Kelly, vice-president and chief human resources officer at the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, a trade group of 140 hospitals and other health care organizations.

Ms. Kelly says many hospitals have improved staffing and benefits in recent years, a big reason unions have not made further inroads.

“It’s a high priority for our hospitals in Chicago to focus on a positive work environment,” she says.


Will Prez Bam ram through card-check?

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

Fascistic labor bigs want to force disinterested workers into unions with no secret ballot election

Now that Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States, the question of how he will govern has started to arise. The answer to that question will determine the shape of the next four years.

There are three theories.

Barack Obama Will Govern Passively

This theory suggests that President Barack Obama will not be a particularly energetic commander in chief. This is based on the fact that Barack Obama was not a particularly energetic Senator or State Senator before that.

Under this scenario, the national agenda will not be set in the White House, but by Congress, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid (or whomever replaces him.) The Democrat Congress will send up legislation and President Barack Obama will ratify it by signing it. Meanwhile foreign policy and national security policy will be determined by President Barack Obama's cabinet, under whatever fiscal or other restrictions that Congress chooses to make.

Barack Obama Will Go Full Bore Left

This scenario means the Barack Obama of the primaries becomes President. President Barack Obama tries to ram through every left wing policy idea that can be imagined. Tax increases, the Fairness Doctrine, Card Check, and regulations hitherto unimagined will become priorities. President Barack Obama dials back on the War on Terror, withdraws from Iraq, and shows a marked preference for diplomacy over military action.

Barack Obama Will Govern as a Centrist

People who advance this theory suggest that Barack Obama, being a clever politician, will realize that despite his election, the United States remains a center/right country. Whatever his personal inclinations, President Barack Obama will know that there is only so far he can go. He will block, with his veto pen, some of the more radical stuff that will come out of the Democrat Congress. Barack Obama will pursue a more vigorous foreign policy, slow or put on hold plans to withdraw from Iraq, and pursue the War on Terror vigorously in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and everywhere else. Barack Obama will, to use a tiresome phrase from the 1990s, triangulate between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.


Showdown looms over union secret ballots

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

Prez Bam challenged to side with regular workers over union bigs

Congratulations to President-elect Obama. What an impressive campaign. The book has been rewritten, and this will be discussed and analyzed for years.

One gets the sense that as good as Obama was when this all started about two years ago, the campaign made him better. Much better. As difficult and long as the process is, it forges presidents. It is a gauntlet that prepares leaders for the kind of physics they will face in the White House.

“No Drama Obama”—it’s a well deserved nickname. Obama’s equanimity throughout the course of this roller coaster campaign communicated a temperament well-suited to the Presidency. And boy will he need it. Because the hard part has just begun.

Obama needs to show he is not going to be rolled by the special interests of the Democratic Party. He needs to gore an ox.

Obama has proved he can be popular. Now he must prove he is unwilling to be unpopular. Because that’s what it takes to be a true leader. There is discussion that Obama will be the first “wired” president. Watch out for that one. Plugged in is good. Driven by and held hostage to mass opinion, not so good.

I admire and respect Obama enough that I chose not continue working for Sen. McCain after the primaries. But aside from my political differences there is one charge against Obama that continues to give me pause. There is scant evidence of him taking truly unpopular positions (being against the war in an Illinois State Senate district doesn’t qualify) or going against the interests of his party. John McCain has made a career of showing the courage to stand up powerful interests, including his own party (campaign finance reform, Gang of 14, earmark opposition, torture policy, the surge, opposition to the Medicare prescription drug bill).

President-elect Obama has so many challenges and so many opportunities. But he’d be wise early on in his administration to find at least one issue where he could provide some evidence that he is not simply going to be rolled by the special interests of the Democratic Party. He needs to gore an ox. A great place to start would be with Big Labor.

This election, Labor put its money where its special interests lie. They spent upwards of $400 million to support Democrat candidates. The cost of their financial largesse? Pledging support for the Orwellian-sounding Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), proposed legislation that would be the most radical change in labor law since the 1930s.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

EFCA strips employees of the right to cast secret ballots in union elections and forces them to declare their intention publicly, which would subject them to coercion from union organizers. This is a solution in a search of a problem. Private ballots are a sacred Democratic tradition. So sacred that ten Democrats who are supporting EFCA today wrote a letter to the Mexican Congress in 2001 urging support for private ballots, which was just affirmed by the Mexican Supreme Court. The real but unstated “problem” is dramatically declining labor rates, from a third of the private work force in America in the 1950s to around just seven percent today.

This legislation is nothing but a Trojan horse full of goodies designed to make it easier for Big Labor to organize and impose hefty union dues on a workforce already stressed by the recent economic downturn. One of those presents calls for a federal bureaucrat to arbitrate terms of employment for an automatic two years if an agreement is not reached in 120 days. So, if you’re labor, why negotiate?

This legislation is so outrageous that the liberal icon George McGovern has come out of retirement to campaign against it, saying, “We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.”

Most employers in this country have no idea about EFCA. And when they discover it may be coming around the bend, they are going to revolt. This issue could turn into a firestorm and severely handicap Obama’s presidency before it gets out the crib, much like gays in the military hampered Clinton’s early days.

Obama should recognize that economic circumstances have dramatically changed and it would be wrong to impose this legislation on a workforce already in crisis. It’s not in the best interests of the country or his Presidency.

Gore this ugly ox and Obama will demonstrate he is truly his own man and capable of great things.

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