Fascistic labor landscape exposed

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Labor blogger Peter A. List shifts gears

Dear Readers: As the subject line above indicates, this is our last (and probably most important) EmployerReport.com post to you. After more than two years, of providing labor union news updates and opinions, we believe it is time to retire EmployerReport.com. However, we are not going away…But more on where we're headed at the bottom of this post.

Despite the fact that the presidential race was decided early last night, we were up well into the wee hours of the morning trying to get a handle on the Senate landscape. However, our telephones began ringing early (as it has been for the past week) with employers concerned about what lies ahead. So, here are four answers to questions that you may have about last night's election:

First question: As President, will Obama bring unity to the country and bi-partisanship to Washington? In a word, Nope.

For all the talk of President-Elect Obama last night and this morning by the media pundits about moving to the center and being a "unifying" president, do not believe it for a minute. President-Elect Obama's first appointment this morning was of Rahm Emanuel to be the White House Chief of Staff. Emanuel is a partisan pit-bull (lipstick or no lipstick) and is "hard-wired to go for the jugular," as described in this 2006 article.

Second Question: What about EFCA?

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Here's our analysis of things to come on the EFCA landscape:

Don't Breathe a Sigh of Relief on EFCA Yet. While many of the political pundits have stated that the Democrats have not gained a filibuster-proof Senate, you should not allow yourself to be lulled into complacency by thinking EFCA can't pass. If you believe that employers and their employees are out of the woods on EFCA, think again.

Given that Obama's election was all but certain, we have been saying for the past several months to watch the Senate as that is where EFCA will either live or die. As of this writing, the Democrats have a six-seat advantage (56-44) over Republicans in the Senate, which includes Independent Joe Lieberman (CT) and Independent/Socialist Bernie Saunders (VT), both of whom are EFCA supporters.

However, there are still four contests undecided: Alaska*, Georgia, Minnesota, and Oregon. Even if Democrats don't pick up two of these contests, EFCA stands a good chance of passage, as written. Here's why:

We've been saying for months that the GOP needs to hold at least 42 Senate seats because there are at least two (and likely more) GOP Senators from "union states" that could buckle under Democrat and union pressure. Specifically, Arlen Specter (PA), Susan Collins (ME), as well as two of the contested seat holders above (Norm Coleman of MN and Gordon Smith of OR) may all be gutless when it comes to EFCA. If Coleman and Smith lose their seats, then the Dems only need to pick off two GOPers on EFCA and it's done.

* Note on Alaska's undecided seat: Although it appears that GOP Senator (and convicted felon) Ted Stevens may actually win his election, it is likely that, if he does, he will be expelled from the Senate. This creates another vacancy that can go either way, depending on what Sarah Palin does.

It appears possible for either of two scenarios under Alaska's law to play out: 1) As governor, Palin could appoint someone (including herself) to fill Stevens' soon-to-be-vacated seat, or 2) there must be a special election held.

If there is an election, it is likely to assume that Stevens' opponent Mark Begich will win. So, to the GOP, a special election should be out of the question--but it all depends on Sarah. [An interesting Huffingtonpost post today speculates that Palin may, in fact, assume Stevens' spot so that she can gain a more national presence for 2012. Although, after her treatment by the media and the left over these past two months, we might question why she would pick Washington over Wasilla.]

So, this brings us back to EFCA…

Either two things will happen by early February—both of which do not bode well for you or your union-free employees:

1. EFCA passes as it stands with some arm-twisting of some gutless GOPers…

OR, as an entirely feasible scenario begins to develop (and is being quietly bandied about):

2. EFCA gets passed in the House immediately following President Obama's Inauguration but gets caught up in the Senate and "compromise legislation" is drafted that contains shortened election time-frames (think two to three weeks), increased penalties for Unfair Labor Practices and a temporary drop on the binding arbitration provision.

(Now, hold on for a moment before giving a collective sigh of relief over option 2…)

Here's how we see this playing out: Assuming that arm-twisting the GOP doesn't work (which we're not convinced of yet), and a compromise is worked out (as described above), the GOP (and the business lobby) will lose their main argument that EFCA is "anti-democratic." Why? Because unions and Dems can then say that they've kept workers' secret-ballot vote intact, dropped binding arbitration, and merely increased penalties on corporate 'scofflaws.'

Under this scenario, unions will still go forward with an all out organizing blitz and succeed in many cases, but fail in some others. It is these failures that they will use to trot out the 'victims evil corporation's union-busting efforts' to justify the need of further labor law reform.

Now, in 2010, they'll use some other issue to pick off a few more Republicans in the Senate (like opposition to the "Fair Pay Act" or FMLA expansion, and a host of other job-killing bills, etc.). Once a couple more GOPers are picked off, EFCA will be passed in its original form, this time without any sort compromise, filibuster or fight.

Third Question: What else should employers expect?

On the labor front:

Besides the actions on EFCA (as stated above), you should expect the following:

Within the next couple of weeks, you will likely see the pick for Obama's Secretary of Labor to come directly from the union movement. Although Change to Win's Anna Burger has been floated around and the SEIU was Obama's primary backer early on, she may, in fact, be too controversial for an Obama administration since she and her boss (SEIU's) Andy Stern led the break-up of the AFL-CIO three and a half years ago. However, a Burger appointment should not be ruled out.

The R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Act will likely pass without much of a fight. This is the union-backed bill that will cause many people employers now consider supervisors to become "non-supervisors" by altering the National Labor Relations Act's Sec. 2[11] definition of a supervisor. While many people do not yet realize the ramifications of this bill, it has been flying under the radar for more than a year and we don't expect the GOP will want to waste the political capital of a filibuster (if there are enough GOP senators to muster one) to fight this bill.

Expect a VERY pro-union National Labor Relations Board and, since this will be unions' "payback" to the Bush years. You should expect the majority of decisions going solidly against employers.

Expect the Department of Labor to re-interpret attorney's legal advice on union campaigns (specifically the drafting of materials) to be considered "persuader" activity under the LMRDA. There was an attempt to do this during the final days of the Clinton Administration, but was quickly undone when Bush took office.

Expect a ban on the use of permanent strike replacements during economic strikes to come mid-year (perhaps a little later).

Expect the Labor Department to relax unions' reporting requirements on their financial reports to come early next year. This is something that will likely occur before March 31st, when most unions are required to have their LM reports in to the DOL.

Expect expanded use of union-only Project Labor Agreements.

Expect passage of the Public Safety Employee-Employer Cooperation Act which unionizes local public safety employees (i.e., EMTs, paramedics, fire and police personnel), although this would be worthy of a GOP filibuster, there are no constituents (aka voters) to offend by its passage, so it is difficult to imagine a filibuster taking place on this.

On the HR front:

We give high probabilities to the passage of the following:

* Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the bill that removes the statute of limitations on pay discrimination claims and subjects employers to potential years of back pay.

* Passage of an expansion to FMLA to include parenting responsibilities, as well as paid sick leave.

* Note: Both of these merit a filibuster and the business lobby will likely pursue one to come from the GOP. However, the Democrats would probably love that since they could further demonize the GOP in 2010 for being "anti-woman" and "anti-family."

Fourth Question: What should be done?

It's time to get a lot more aggressive. Although we (and a few others) have been forewarning of this day and EFCA before the name Barack Hussein Obama ever became known to the nation, too few businesses and their associations paid attention. Finally, when people started waking up and despite the millions poured into EFCA education, it was too little too late…

Now, it's time to ratchet it up a notch (or ten).

As we told you (and the world) some time ago, America's voters were the victims of the largest and most expensive union campaign in history. The problem for employers (as well as the GOP), however, is that the advisors and strategists running campaigns in DC do not run union campaigns. So, from our standpoint as ex-union organizers and agents who handle union campaigns for a living, the pathetic outcome of last evening is not surprising at all because we've known what the unions have been saying all along.

Here's some simple advice: F*** the Focus Groups.

The GOP and business lobby have had and continues to have the wrong message (the exception being the new ad from EmployeeFreedom.org which focuses on job security). As we've been calling EFCA the "Kill American Jobs Act" for more than two years, people only came to the realization in the last few weeks that EFCA equals unemployment. That should have been the message all along.

So, for those of you who have spent your corporation's money and are still spending money on the campaign to raise awareness about EFCA, you might want to forward this message along with your next check:

The next EFCA ads that need to be run should focus on the loss of jobs and the closure of companies that unionization will bring through the enactment of a "Union Bailout" or "Union Welfare Act" and should end with "Tell Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President-Elect Obama to reject a union bailout that could cost you your job."

[Start using testimonials, show more company closures and get down and dirty…otherwise, you are wasting your money.]

If the EFCA ads continue focusing only on the "anti-Democracy" portion of EFCA, don't be surprised in January when Obama and the Dems compromise with two-week elections and shove it up the GOP's… The Unions Will Have You in Checkmate!

That said, dear reader, as we started this post, we mentioned that this is our LAST EmployerReport.com post. Tomorrow morning, the lights will be temporarily turned off.

However, please be assured, we are not going away. Indeed, although EmployerReport.com is being retired, and we cannot tell you right now what we have up our sleeves, we can assure you that what we're planning will drive the union bosses bonkers.

So, with that said, dear readers, we'd like to end EmployerReport.com with a couple inspiring quotes for you:

"Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." -George Bernard Shaw

"It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other." — President-Elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008

"It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master." - Ayn Rand, “The Soul of a Collectivist,” For the New Intellectual, 73.

Until next time, dear readers, best wishes!

Peter A. List
Editor & Chief Blogger


Workers threatened by Prez Bam unions

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

Jobless surge would accompany forced-unionism law

If downtown business people are quite welcoming of Washington's new order, there is one thing that is setting their hair on fire: the possible passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. "We're uniformly against it," said Steve Falk, president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

The proposed law, a bipartisan measure co-sponsored by East Bay congressman George Miller, has been vigorously pushed by labor to combat what it sees as unionization efforts on numerous shop floors being sabotaged by employer harassment. The key provision of the bill would allow employees to join a union if a majority simply signed cards rather than, as at present, vote by secret ballot. Business organizations charge that such a change would worsen existing labor-management relations and kill jobs. Before the election it had been stymied by a GOP filibuster.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

President-elect Barack Obama has said he would sign the bill if delivered to his desk. Organized labor spent $400 million to help Democrats get elected on Tuesday, and leaders are hoping their efforts will be rewarded by an increased Democratic majority in Congress. But Jonathan Tasini, executive director of the pro-union Labor Research Association in New York, is not sure it will get that far. "Now that the bill is closer to reality, will conservative Democrats go for it, especially given a knockdown, drag-out fight with the business community?"

An employment law specialist in the San Francisco office of Littler Mendelson P.C. was breathing a sigh of relief Thursday because it is likely that Democrats will fall short of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Some pro-labor attorneys believe a compromise will be worked out, and a bill passed, giving the ailing labor movement new life. Still, the San Francisco attorney added, the advice his firm gives to company clients concerned about passage of the law - be proactive with good wages and benefits, grievance procedures and management practices - remains valid. "Employers should be doing these things anyway," he said.


Unions to fight anti-corruption law in court

Ending 'Pay to Play' scheme would disrupt special interest payback

Supporters and opponents of Colorado’s only successful union-targeting ballot intiative found something to agree on Wednesday — both sides expect the constitutional amendment to land in court.

Amendment 54 proposed banning winners of no-bid government contracts from making campaign contributions to candidates or political parties. The measure defined public employees collective bargaining agreements as no-bid contracts.

Two union-weakening measures — amendments 47 and 49 — failed at the ballot box Tuesday. With a few thousand ballots left to count by early afternoon Wednesday, it appeared slightly more than 51 percent of Colorado voters supported Amendment 54.

Tom Lucero, organizer of the of the Clean Government Colorado group that backed Amendment 54, said Wednesday that the victory at the polls isn’t likely to settle arguments about how broadly the measure will apply.

“I’m assuming it’s going to be litigated,” Lucero said.

Deborah Fallin, spokeswoman for Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, recalled the court fight set off by a 2006 measure, Amendment 41, which banned gifts to state politicians and government employees.

That amendment took nearly two years to enact amid lawuits over its legality before being upheld by the state supreme court and legislation more clearly defined who was affected by the measure.

Fallin predicted Amdendment 54’s passage will set off a similar legal scrum.

“This thing is so poorly written, I don’t think the lawyers will agree what it really means,” said Fallin.

The CEA was part of a business and labor coalition called Protect Colorado’s Future that formed to defeat amendments 47, 49 and 54.

Critics argue the Amendment 54 is too far-reaching and prohibits any public employee union member and their family members — including grandparents, grandchildren and in-laws — from making political contributions. The amendment could be read to encompass anyone working for businesses with government contracts, unless those contracts were won in a process involving three or more bids.

It’s not uncommon for government requests for proposals to draw only one bidder.

“It’s a lot broader than teachers,” Fallin said. “It takes in small businesses, utilities and everyone who does contract work at all levels of government.”

Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility company, looked into whether the amendment would apply to it, as the only electricity supplier in much of the state.

It assumes Amendment 54 won’t affect its employees, but Xcel isn’t certain about it, spokesman Mark Stutz said in an email. It reaches franchise agreements with cities that aren’t bid competitively.

“That is the nature of a public utility, a monopoly,” Stutz wrote. “To then turn around and limit our ability to address other energy issues or support those we believe will act in the best interests of our customers and shareholders seems to us to be an unintended conflict in the amendment.”

The amendment’s backers met with Xcel this year and tried reassure it that the law wouldn’t affect utility companies, Lucero said.

The measure is far more targeted than opponents let on, he said, and is intended only to stop dirty dealing in government contracting.

The amendment’s political contribution ban would apply only to owners of businesses receiving no-bid contracts and those who sign the contracts plus their family members — not all of a company’s workers or rank-and-file union members and their families, Lucero said. If a government makes a good-faith effort to get competing bids but gets only one, the amendment’s contribution ban wouldn’t apply, he said.

However, the initiative’s language doesn’t spell out those specifics clearly, and leaves open other interpretations that are likely to be fought over in court.

Lucero said Amendment 54 was intended to stop instances in which businesses won projects without competitive bidding, and then the owners of those businesses contributed to the campaigns of elected officials involved in awarding the contracts.

Collective bargaining contracts were included in the measure for philosophical reasons, not as an anti-union tactic, he said.

“Whenever government awards contracts without competition, taxpayers lose,” he said.


Strike turns University into Ghost Town

Related: "York University on strike" • More strike stories: here

Students get a crash course in collective bargaining

A strike by part-time workers has turned Toronto's York University into a virtual ghost town at the height of the November mid-term crunch, with all classes canceled, assignments postponed and pickets letting cars onto the campus only every few minutes.

"I'm looking for tumbleweed, it's so empty," said kinesiology major Michael Peters, 23, who sat in a deserted food court working on a book report and "feeling kind of peeved" at the walkout by 3,350 contract faculty, teaching assistants and graduate assistants over wages, benefits and job security.

"From my perspective, I know teaching assistants are important - I have them in all my courses - but if you're working part-time while you're a grad student, you can't expect to be living in the red."

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903 walked off the job early this morning over issues of job security, wages and benefits. It represents 1,850 graduate students, who work as teaching assistants (most of them PhD students) and 550 graduate students, who work as research and administrative assistants, and 950 contract faculty, who teach roughly half the courses at York but do not have tenure or permanent status.

No new talks are scheduled, and both sides say it is up to the other to make the first move. York says it is waiting for CUPE to agree to binding arbitration; CUPE says no way, but it would "go back to the table in a heartbeat," says chief negotiator Graham Potts, "if York wants to put a serious offer on the table."

"Some people say we're just strike-happy and we want our day in the sun," said official Sharon Davidson, "but that's simply not the case. We know what's at stake - and it doesn't look good on York.

"If I were a parent thinking about where to send my child to university, maybe I'd think twice about sending my kid to York given the labour history at this university."

A 78-day strike in 2001 did not close down classes, but interrupted them enough that Reading Week (in February) was cancelled so students could make up work.

This time, university officials say they would consider extending the first semester into January, if needed, for students to make up class time, and also at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, commuter buses are refusing to cross picket lines, which are expected to be in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although campus services, such as the health centre, banks, library, bookstore, fast food outlets and the gym are open for the handful of students on campus, many of whom live in residence.

CUPE has rejected the university's latest offer, presented Tuesday, which includes a wage increase of 9.25 per cent over three years and improved dental and health benefits and paid leaves, an offer that York officials have said dovetails with other settlements across the public sector.

Already this week, another York CUPE local representing maintenance and grounds workers ratified a three-year deal with the same wage hike, and York University's staff association, which represents clerical workers, also has approved the same three-year agreement.

But CUPE says while its teaching assistants are believed to be the highest paid in Canada - at about $17,386 a year for roughly 10 hours of teaching a week - their wages still fall below the poverty line.

"There is no percentage in being the highest paid workers in a poorly paid sector," said Punam Khosla, a PhD student in environmental studies who is also a teaching assistant and CUPE activist.

"The university has seen the provincial government put more money into universities, tuition fees have been rising and everyone knows when the economy falls, the number of people who enrol in university goes up," said Khosla.

"So yes, we know about funding cuts and the hard economic times, but the university is in a unique position to be able to count of growing revenue from increased enrolment."

York spokesperson Alex Bilyk said that when all the union's demands are factored in, the actual increase it is seeking amounts to a 41 per cent hike, "something that is totally unrealistic."

"We are disappointed with this interruption in educating our students for the future."

The university says funding shortfalls from the provincial government have forced it to plan cuts of 2 per cent to the operating budget for each of the next three years.

The financial crisis has also shown early signs of eroding York's pension plan and endowment fund by 10 per cent.

The university has asked the union to agree to turn the dispute over to binding arbitration, but the union has resisted it, fearing it could lose some of the benefits it made as one of the first unionized groups of teaching assistants in the province.

"It's been 50 years since York began in a farmer's field, and that growth would not have been possible without York's reliance on contract faculty who often teach twice the course-load for about half the pay," noted Davidson.

She said professors on contract can teach up to five courses at a time, whereas tenured faculty typically teach three. Yet contract professors must reapply every semester for their job, even if they have been working for 10 to 15 years.

The union wants the university to restore a five-year contract for longer-term contract faculty that was scrapped in 2001.

"Because of the university's reliance on contract faculty, we've been able to negotiate fairly innovative deals, but binding arbitration would compare us to other institutions," and possibly recommend reducing some of those benefits, Davidson said.

"Most unions don't look at binding arbitration as a good strategy, yet that's what York has been recommending since the third week of negotiations back in the summer."

"I'm not really sure what to do; this strike is very confusing and frustrating," said international student Sade Clarke from Barbados, who wandered from her dorm room this morning to the main gates to watch about 100 students and union activists stage a rally to kick off the strike.

"I was supposed to have a big chemistry test today and I studied really hard for it, but now it's cancelled," said Clarke, who is studying environmental science at York on a full scholarship.

Like many, Clarke said the strike makes it impossible to know when to book a flight home at the end of term - "and the longer we wait, the higher the fares."

CUPE has promised not to interfere with a conference this Saturday sponsored by the advocacy group People for Education, at which education minister Kathleen Wynne is slated to speak.

First-year student Krupa Shah came to school today to visit a friend who lives in residence, and said she felt frustrated she couldn't hand in a huge report due today for her Women and Society course.

"To be honest, like most students, I like having a couple of days to catch up on my sleep, but it'll suck if the school semester or year gets pushed into our vacation," said the English major from Richmond Hill.

"This is the second strike I've had so far this year - I just got through the Viva transit strike last month. What a way to start university."

York students are encouraged to watch the York website for updates on the strike (yorku.ca).


Catholics losing faith in ACORN

More ACORN stories: herefraud stories: hereWade Rathke stories: here

Embezzlement, tax-fraud by union-backed 'social justice' group does not sit well with mega-donor

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has begun investigating the more than $1 million in church grants given to the voter registration group ACORN, the Washington Times reports. Fearing the grants may have been used in partisan or fraudulent ways that could threaten the Church’s tax-exempt status, they have hired forensic accounting experts, according to the newspaper.

Workers with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are being questioned by state officials and the FBI about voter registration forms they submitted with signatures from Mickey Mouse and members of the Dallas Cowboys football team, according to the Times.

ACORN’s registration efforts target low-income neighborhoods believed to favor the Democrats. President-elect Sen. Barack Obama himself once worked with ACORN as a community organizer and lawyer in Chicago.

According to the Times, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) granted $1,037,000 to ACORN in 2007, including a $40,000 grant to an ACORN affiliate in Las Vegas that the Nevada attorney general’s office raided last month as part of a voter fraud investigation.

The CCHD has reportedly given more than $7.3 million to ACORN over the past decade for about 320 projects.

A $1.2 million grant to ACORN was frozen by the Church in June after the group was accused of voter fraud in 15 states.

Also in June, ACORN disclosed that Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, had embezzled nearly $950,000 from the organization in 1999 and 2000. His actions were reportedly kept secret from most of ACORN’s board members until a whistleblower publicized the matter.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morin of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, who chairs a committee overseeing the CCHD, sent a July 11 letter to more than 200 bishops saying the investigation is “thorough, serious and ongoing,” adding that USCCB money was not knowingly misused.

Charles Jackson, communications director for ACORN, told the Times that no investigators for the Catholic Church had contacted his group, adding that the group’s board has started its own forensic audit.

The CCHD receives about $9.4 million each year in second collections from Catholic churches. This year’s collection for CCHD will take place on Nov. 23. According to the Times, the donations go to anti-poverty groups, interfaith associations, peace and justice groups, immigrant aid groups, environmental coalitions, labor rights groups and housing coalitions.


Obamunists shortchanged

More ACORN stories: herefraud stories: here

Failure to pay workers is an old ACORN community organizing trick

Lines were long and tempers flared Wednesday not to vote but to get paid for canvassing for Barack Obama. Several hundred people are still waiting to get their pay for last-minute campaigning. Police were called to the Obama campaign office on North Meridian Street downtown to control the crowd.

The line was long and the crowd was angry at times. "I want my money today! It's my money. I want it right now!" yelled one former campaign worker.

A former spokesman for the Obama campaign said 375 people were hired as part of the Vote Corps program and said people signed up to work three-hour shifts at a time. Three hours of canvassing got workers a $30 pre-paid Visa card.

The workers showed up to get their cards Wednesday morning at 10:00 am.

"There was a note on the door saying 1:00 pm and then at 1:20 pm everybody was like why is nobody here. They just got here and they're trying to get it organized," said Heather Richards, a former campaign worker.

The large gathering of around 375 people prompted police to call in extra officers and set up temporary barricades. The barricades helped keep the crowd from spilling out onto Meridian Street. Police say the several hundred people in line were for the most part orderly.

"No arrests. Some of the people were upset at first because the line wasn't moving as fast as they thought it should. But we really haven't had any problems," said Major Darryl Pierce, Metro Police.

Eventually people did start getting paid, but some said they were missing hours and told to fill in paperwork making their claim and that eventually they would get a check in the mail.

"Still that's not right. I'm disappointed. I'm glad for the president, but I'm disappointed in this system," said Diane Jefferson, temporary campaign worker.

"It should have been $480. It's $230," said Imani Sankofa.

"They gave us $10 an hour. So we added it. I added up all the hours so it was supposed to be at least $120. All I get is $90," said Charles Martin.

"I worked nine hours a day for 4 days and got paid half of what I should have earned," said Randall Waldon.

Some people weren't satisfied with filling out a claim form for money they felt was still due to them.

"They say that they gonna call you or they going to mail it to you, but I don't know. We'll see what happens," said Antron Grose.

"Talking about they'll mail it to us. I ain't worried about that, man. They're not going to mail nothin'," said Martin.


Fed unions demand of Prez Bam

Being CEO of the USA will allow Prez Bam to satisfy government unions

Well, it's all over including the shouting. The right is out. The left is in. In its opening press release on the upcoming change in administration, AFGE says, "Early in the election season, Obama met with AFGE leadership on several occasions, during which he signified his support for organized labor and federal workers." It appears obvious that AFGE and other Federal unions believe the Obama win signals a new age and opportunity for them and maybe their constituents as well.

A key question is whether there were any real lessons learned among those same unions who traded a photo op and little else with Bill Clinton for 238,000 lost Federal employee defense jobs. Do they remember that Mr. Clinton's other agenda items for Federal government and particularly Federal employees, wasn't so friendly.

Not that any Federal union would even consider listening to my advice, but if you are reading this, it might be wise to spend the next few months carefully structuring your goals and quickly identifying their relative priority.

Here are the goals Federal unions have espoused at one time or another and those that appear likely targets. I'll leave it to the commentors to decide the order in which they should be ranked.

Agency Shop – Rating #__

The American Heritage Dictionary calls an Agency Shop, "an establishment in which a union represents all employees regardless of union membership but requires that nonmembers pay union dues or fees." Currently, few Federal unions get past 10 or 15% membership. I don't know about you but if I had to pay anyway, I would join and make sure I got leadership that advanced my interests. That would throw a monkey wrench into a lot of local union politics.

Pay Bargaining – Rating #__

FAA, some banking agencies and a few others have it now. It may be unlikely that Congressional appropriators will want to deal with unions on labor dollars, an issue that makes up 90%+ of many Agency budgets. If Federal unions try to expend their political capital here, they may be disappointed.

Organizing TSA – Rating #__

It appears clear that an Obama administration will extend collective bargaining rights to many TSA employees particularly Transportation Security Officers. Talk about a major family fight. Both AFGE and NTEU have made it clear that each considers TSA their organizing target. With 35,000 plus potential dues payers and over $18 million in potential dues, this fight looks likely to be as hard fought as NTEU's $8 million losing battle to take the Social Security Administration away from AFGE. John Gage, Afge's National President was at the helm of SSA Local 1923 at the time and is known for a long memory. While NTEU's then leader is now a college professor, the current Executive VP was a general in that battle and will not likely roll to an easy AFGE win.

In AFGE's post election press release on TSA, it says that:

"The union has worked closely with Cong. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., to help sign co-sponsors to H.R. 3212, a bill introduced by Lowey that would repeal of a footnote of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (under which TSA was created) that gives the TSA administrator free rein to "employ, appoint, discipline, terminate, and fix the compensation, terms and conditions of employment" for TSOs."

Careful what you ask for, AFGE. If you get TSA under the current law, management would likely have to bargain pay as the provisions for setting pay are identical to those governing FAA.

Favorable FLRA and Impasses Panel Selections – Rating #__

Maybe the easiest to accomplish, Federal unions will likely get a shot at proposing and vetting if not actually hand picking a new Chairman (third member) and General Counsel for the Authority and a bunch of Panel members. After screaming about the lack of neutrality during the Bush administration, it may be too much for them not to jump at supporting union friendly nominees.

Friendly Players at OPM and Labor – Rating #__

During the Clinton years, former AFGE employees not only went in droves to OPM but one actually got the top job. Could there be some resume updating going on at 80 F Street? Federal unions can probably forget the Department of Labor as the private sector union heavies will likely get those nods.

Sick Leave Credit Toward FERS Retirement - Rating #__

While costly, this should be a no brainer as it encourages employees to not treat sick leave as a personal day. Of course, the President-Elect will inherit a bunch of issues requiring costly fixes and may be tighter around the wallet than some might believe.

Greater Involvement in Agency Decision Making - Rating #__

Partnership was a highly touted but frequently overrated benefit by involved union leaders. A notable blue collar representative once told me that helping management make decisions only made this union part of the problem and that members want to go to the union with complaints about management. "If union and management "partnered" on the decision", he said, "Where do employees go if they don't like the outcome?"

Canning the FLRA and the Panel to Rely on Arbitration – Rating #__

Right here on Fedsmith, NTEU's National Executive Vice President called for "Scuttling the Federal Labor Relations Authority." Of course, that could change if NTEU is comfortable with the players at either FLRA or the Panel. Who knows? Maybe the new administration will nominate that self same individual to be Chairman. After all, he has a doctorate and years of Federal labor relations experience. I wonder if AFGE would consider him neutral?

Reverse Contracting of Federal Employee Jobs – Rating #__

This is listed as one of three top goals for AFGE in the press release cited in the first paragraph. Again, this may be a costly consideration for President Obama when put in context with other costly efforts.

Dealing with Government Reform – Rating #__

"But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less--because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy" – Barack Obama, August, 2008.

Another Democrat, Jimmy Carter, sought to reform government. Perhaps the lessons learned from the civil service reform efforts and law of the late 1970s should be reviewed before unions go chasing bandwagons much less jumping on one.

As usual, any opinion expressed above is mine alone and (probably also as usual) no one else's.

- Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies.


Related story: President Obama pledges to unionize TSA

Union members choose a dues discount

More union-dues stories: here FiCore: here worker-choice: here

How to keep union dues from politics

To answer the question posed in "Spend member dues elsewhere" (Oct. 26, Letters): Yes, there is a way for teachers' dues to be excluded from donations to issues that they feel are morally reprehensible. Any teacher may go to their union's office and request to become an agency fee payer.

All union dues collected by the local teachers' union, California Teachers Association and National Education Association that are used for political purposes of any kind are reimbursed to the teacher annually.

Your union rep will tell you that if you do this you will lose the million dollar liability insurance provided by NEA. That's OK, because you can join another teacher association and get your insurance there. I belong to the Association of American Educators. I pay an annual membership fee of $150 -- $25 of that is for the premium for a $2 million liability insurance policy. I get well over $400 of my dues reimbursed every year. That gives me at least $250 each year that I can donate to my church or other organizations who represent the same values in the community that I hold dear.

- William J. Fredericks, Modesto


Secret elections limit fraud

Labor-union fascism gains momentum

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

Surge of unemployment expected from enactment of forced-labor unionism

In April, then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said in Philadelphia, “I’ve fought to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate. And I will make it the law of the land when I’m president of the United States of America.”

President-elect Obama will move into the White House with increased Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, which also support legislation designed to stem the tide of declining union membership.

The bill replaces the secret ballot by allowing union organizers to publicly ask workers to sign a card in favor of unionizing. If a bare majority of employees approve, then an employer would have to recognize the union.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Supporters say that “card check” organizing simply makes it easier for the employee to organize, but opponents of the legislation – including former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern – warn that the legislation would do away with the secret ballot.

However, a pro-union advocacy group believes public opinion is on the union’s side. The group, American Rights at Work, released a poll Thursday to remind the public about the president-elect’s support of the proposal.

The poll, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associations, showed that 60 percent support the legislation, and 31 percent believe it should be a top priority for Congress.

That came despite a $20 million advertising campaign against the proposal that aired in nine battleground states, said David Bonior, chairman of American Rights at Work and a former liberal Democratic congressman from Michigan.

“We have only seen the beginning of the fight to restore workers’ rights in this country as we can expect more sound and fury from opponents of this bill,” Bonior said in a statement.

“But voters have clearly spoken. In our current economic climate, the American public is hungry for measures to strengthen the middle class and our new Congress should heed this call and make it a priority,” he said.

Republicans in Congress do not believe the bill is unstoppable, said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“The right to a secret ballot should be important to Republicans and Democrats,” Steel told CNSNews.com. “There are a lot of Democrats elected from traditionally conservative districts. They will either have to defend the right to the secret ballot or be expected to explain themselves to their constituents.”

Card check passed the Democratic House last year but died in a Republican-led filibuster. As long as Republicans have 40 votes in the Senate, they can stop the bill, said Mark McKinnon, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes card check.

“It is an Orwellian term,” McKinnon told CNSNews.com. “It is not the Employee Free Choice Act – it is the forced choice act. There is no problem with the private ballot. If you eliminate that, it opens it up to coercion.”

This would be no way for Obama to govern in a post-partisan fashion, McKinnon said. He added that if Obama supported the proposal right away, it would cause uproar from small business owners across the country.

“It could be what gays in the military was for Clinton,” McKinnon said, describing a turbulent policy in Bill Clinton’s first year in office. “This could be a great opportunity for President-elect Obama to stand up against an issue that is bad for the country and would be bad for Obama.”

Also, under the proposal, if parties can’t settle a dispute within 120 days, the dispute goes to an arbitration panel that can impose a contract that is binding for two years. Opponents of the bill say that would take away any incentive for either side to negotiate.

Organized labor contributed about $400 million this year to congressional candidates who support the bill, according to the Workforce Fairness Institute. Under current law, more than 55 percent of secret ballot elections go in favor of unions, but under the proposal, unions anticipate that rising to 80 percent, the institute says.

The problem with elections is that management controls the process and can intimidate or fire people that initiate the process, according to the AFL-CIO, a labor advocacy group that lists the EFCA on its Web site as a top priority.

Further, a workplace could still hold an election, while the EFCA would just provide a second option for union organizers, according to the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO says majority card check is nothing new, and “responsible” companies such as Cingular have allowed it voluntarily.

However, a Heritage Foundation study cited evidence of coercion at workplaces where card check was used. During a card check campaign at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, union organizers said that workers who did not sign union cards would lose their jobs, according to the study.

In another case, a United Steel Workers of America official threatened to report migrant workers to federal officials if they did not sign the cards.


Unions use clout with strong-arm tactics

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

Prez Bam pressed by militant unionists

But with the president-elect's support of the deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act, the so-called "card check" bill that would make it easier for unions to organize, Big Labor is poised to make a big comeback.

The House has already passed card check, which would allow unions to do away with secret balloting in union-organizing drives. But the bill failed in the pre-election Senate, receiving only 51 of 60 votes needed for passage.

Current law requires union organizers to hold elections in which employees cast their votes confidentially. These elections are overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, which has standards in place to ensure accuracy and fairness.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

But union organizers say such oversight is coercive. Rather than an election, they want to collect people's names on authorization cards, forcing people to make their choice publicly known to colleagues and employers. Though retaliation would be illegal, peer pressure could force people to endorse unions, even though they may be bad for business.

union organizers would likely confront manufacturers first. It's also conceivable that hospitals and hotel chains could become union shops. But it's the retailers -- the Walmarts, grocers and pharmacists -- that the unions really want.

Businesses worry, rightly so, that the bill's passage would increase their costs. If unions organize and force excessive wage hikes -- as Tampa's public-employee unions have so successfully achieved -- the costs could force price hikes or job losses. And in today's economy, the nation cannot afford to lose more jobs.

This is more than a labor relations issue; it's a competitiveness issue.

Unions complain that businesses have the upper hand in keeping employees from organizing, but the organizers and their allies are not beyond using pressure tactics themselves. By changing the rules, the unions, which have steadily lost membership in the last half century, could increase their diminishing rolls and influence.

Yet McCain, who called the bill "a poorly disguised attempt by the labor unions to swell their ranks at the expense of workers' rights and employers," did little to alert voters about this scary proposition.

He should have championed the issue and explained the implications to voters, but in a desperate need for blue-collar votes, he refused to call attention to it.

It's true that a union revival will not take place overnight. And since the Democrats -- who rely on unions to help win elections -- did not achieve a filibuster-proof Senate majority, the bill may not move.

But labor does a disservice to those it would represent by using this time of economic uncertainty to strengthen its hand. Workers can ask for union representation if they want it, but unions should not be permitted to pressure workers to join against their will.

As former Sen. George McGovern, a union supporter, has said: "Working families deserve a voice and a private vote."


News Union takes a dues hit in Boston

More union-dues stories: here

Tree-killers beset by paper-stream waste, red-ink, left-wing bias

The Boston Globe terminated as many as 40 high-level employees today, various employees told the Herald. “The cold, hard hatchet was coming down all day,” one Globe employee said. “It was a bloodbath.”

Throughout the day, various department managers escorted the senior level, non-union employees out of the paper’s Morrissey Boulevard headquarters. Sources said those impacted people worked on the business side of the paper - in the advertising, production and strategic planning departments.

The company also told six members of the Boston Globe’s labor union that their jobs would be eliminated on Nov. 14. Those people work in the newspaper’s classifed advertising department.

“It’s disgusting and disgraceful,” Boston Newspaper Guild president Daniel Totten said.

The New York Times [NYT] Company, which owns the Globe, declined to comment on the layoffs, and a Boston Globe spokesman could not be reached for comment.

After today’s cuts, the Globe has about 2,450 employees.


SEIU lawbreakers enrage Berkeley neighbors

More SEIU stories: here

Militant unionists violate anti-noise law

A group of neighbors of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center have always had a good relationship with the hospital’s workers, they say, until early last Wednesday.

When members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West descended upon the hospital’s Ashby Avenue campus on Oct. 29 to protest what they called unfair labor practices by Sutter Healthcare, Alta Bates’ parent company, some Prince Street residents complained of being awakened from their sleep at 5:45 a.m. by chanting and screaming with bullhorns.

Peter Shelton, an area resident, said the noise from the megaphones woke up his entire family, including his 5- and 7-year-old sons. Shelton said that when he approached Jonathan Mello, the union’s hospital division representative, to complain about the noise, Mello apologized for it and called the incident an “unintended, unfortunate consequence” but refused to ask the strike leader to turn down the volume.

“I was cursed, screamed at and touched inappropriately by a striker,” he said. “It is difficult for me to support them under these circumstances.”

When reached by the Planet Thursday, Mello refused to comment.

Another neighbor, Laurie Ann Doyle, wrote to City of Berkeley officials, saying that the sound initially reminded her of a woman being abused.

“The female shouts were so loud and intelligible,” she wrote. “If they had started at 7 a.m., no problem. That would make more sense because that’s when night-shift workers flood out the doors and visitors arrive. Strikers impinging on our rights while fighting for their own is only counterproductive.”

Doyle said that when her husband asked the strikers to be quieter, he was asked to “find a new place to live.”

“This is the same as management telling them to get another job,” she said. “The strikers could have had our support, if they had been considerate. History shows that community support can make or break a strike. It’s a sad day in Berkeley.”

Fred Medrano, director of the city’s Health and Human Services Department, said that the union had violated their permit since they were not authorized to start the amplification that early in the morning.

Medrano said that the city issued the union a special event permit for 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. and a sound permit for 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“I understand their [the neighbors’] concern,” Medrano said. “If there was noise in front of my house I would feel the same way. We will make a note of the problem and, if we get requests for a permit like this in the future, we will have a discussion with the union about the conditions of the permit.”

John Borsos, vice president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West, said that the union was open to working with neighbors if a similar problem occurred in the future.

“When healthcare workers strike, it’s to call attention to a significant problem at the hospital,” he said. “We want to be sensitive to neighbors and patients. I am not aware that any of the residents or neighbors came over and asked the strikers not to make noise. It was a lack of communication.”

Borsos added that the union wanted to maintain a good relationship with the hospital’s neighbors.

“Alta Bates has a long history of being insensitive to the needs of neighbors and they are treating their caregivers the same way,” he said. “We have much more in common with the neighbors than we have with Alta Bates.”

The strike, Borsos said, was scheduled to start all over the Bay Area at 6 a.m.

“I am not sure that the amplification started at 6 a.m.,” he said. “There might be some noise when strikes start. We sent out notices to the hospital about it.”

Debbie Pitts, Alta Bates’ manager of public affairs, told neighbors in an e-mail that the hospital had set out letters to area residents Tuesday, alerting them about the strike.

Shelton said that he had not received any notices and did not know of any neighbors who had. Calls to Pitts were not returned.

“The biggest concern is nobody is taking responsibility for this,” Shelton said.

The neighbors affected by last week’s incident said that the beat officer on the scene provided them with inaccurate information, claiming that state law allowed strikers to use amplification at any point during a strike.

In an e-mail to the neighbors, Berkeley Police Department Chief Doug Hambleton said that the police department was taking responsibility for its officers’ failure to handle the noise complaint appropriately.

“When I learned of this situation late yesterday, I gave direction to officers that strikers and labor protesters are not exempt from the city’s noise ordinance, in particular the requirement for permits for amplified sound,” he wrote.

Hambleton added in another e-mail that the city’s Environmental Health Unit, not the police, was primarily responsible for enforcing the noise ordinance.

“I do know they have been in touch with the strikers, and their behavior the other morning will be factored into future decisions regarding their applications for sound permits as well as any required future enforcement,” he said.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who represents the neighborhood, said, “I am a passionate pro-union activist, but that doesn’t mean you can wake people up in the middle of the night. It’s illegal and irresponsible.”

Worthington said he would be scheduling a meeting to discuss the neighbors’ concerns.


Corrupt union agrees to secret-ballot election

More RICO stories: herecard-check: here

Union bigs used racketeering to demand card-check recognition until RICO lawsuit

In what is hoped to be an end to the war between the two sides, Smithfield Foods has dropped a racketeering and extortion lawsuit against union organizers, and has agreed to allow a union election at the company’s Tar Heel plant. The United Food and Commercial Workers union has agreed to call a halt to its publicity campaign against Smithfield, one that has cost the company upwards of $900 million.

Each side has agreed not to make public statements about the decision, and neither will speak publicly until the union election is over.

The decision was reached Monday, October 27, as Smithfield’s civil racketeering lawsuit, filed in October, 2007, was about to go to trial in federal court in Virginia, the company’s home. U. S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne accepted then sealed the decision, which came before the lawsuit case was convened.

It appears that a secret ballot election will be allowed for the Tar Heel plant employees, but no date has been announced for that election.

The union has long wanted employees to make their decision known through card-check, a process where if more than half of the employees sign a union card, the company must recognize the union. Smithfield has long allowed for a secret ballot election.

In the 1990’s, two attempts by the union to organize at the Smithfield plant were voted down by employees. The union challenged these results. In June, 2007, it began its campaign against the company, calling for product boycotts, negative publicity and other actions.

Smithfield claimed these actions were extortion and sued the union.

Smithfield Foods has about 5,000 employees at its Tar Heel plant, which is the world’s largest hog slaughtering and processing plant.


Teamsters picket UPS Air

Prez Bam sees Dem cash-flow boon

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

Epic fight looms over union organizing process

With Barack Obama headed for the White House and Democrats in firm control of Congress, an epic labor vs. business fight looms over the rules that determine whether workers want to unionize.

Obama is a Senate cosponsor of the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," also known as the card-check bill. It would recognize a union in a workplace as soon as a majority of workers sign authorization cards.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Under current law the National Labor Relations Board, known as the NLRB, conducts a secret ballot election if at least 30 percent of employees in a workplace sign an authorization card and a particular union requests a vote. If more than 50 percent of workers vote in the secret ballot election to unionize, the company must recognize the union as the workers' bargaining agent.

The card-check bill would make it harder for companies to fight union-organizing drives.

Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, said, "We have a commitment from Senator -- now President -- Obama, that if this legislation came before him, he would sign it." Asked if passage seems a certainty, Perdue said, "It's something if you want it bad enough you work at it. It is our intent to work very hard at it."

Perdue said the proposed legislation is needed because the current system does not work.

"When things get bad in the workplace, that's when workers come to us and say, 'We'd like to have a union,'" he said. "This (legislation) would allow that process to follow through. Right now that process isn't allowed to happen because corporate America has been able to stop the organizing and the NLRB process. They (companies) can delay elections. Companies are allowed to have secret meetings with employees and strong-arm employees and tell them, 'If you vote for a union, you'll lose your job.'"

"There are a lot of workers who would like to be in a union and we believe they need an opportunity," Perdue said. "It (the legislation) will enhance our membership and give workers a chance at what we think is a more stable workforce. They would have the potential of a pay raise, health care and a pension.

"A lot of people in West Virginia for one reason or another -- Medicare, Medicaid, the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), even prisoners -- have health care. The people who don't have health care are typically the people who are working. Typically in a union facility some form of health care is negotiated."

The West Virginia AFL-CIO is an umbrella group of more than 420 affiliated unions. The organization's Web site, www.wvaflcio.org, contains a link to a national AFL-CIO Web site, www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca, which says the union movement is mobilizing to collect one million signatures supporting passage of the bill.

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said, "In the United States the secret ballot is nearly sacred. What the unions want to do is take away the secret ballot. They want to be able to get in a worker's face and intimidate the worker into signing a card. They want to stand there and say, 'Did you sign the card or not?' Obviously there are workers who would be intimidated into signing a card whether they want union representation or not.

"This legislation also allows the union organizer to follow the employee home, go to the employee's home, place of recreation -- in other words, there's virtually no limitation on where you can go and say, 'Hey, sign this card.'

"That really goes to the heart of why workers and employers are so concerned about this really far-out-there proposal," Roberts said. "It smacks of intimidation and, I'll say it again: It takes away the right to a secret ballot and subjects the employee to intimidation that is currently unlawful."

A 2009 state chamber policy paper opposing the bill is posted online. Go to www.wvchamber.com and scroll down to "W.Va. Chamber's 2009 Policy Papers."

Roberts said that nationally from 1998 to 2002 there were several thousand union representation elections each year. The unions won 56 percent of the elections in 1998, 53 percent in 1999, 51 percent in 2000, 53 percent in 2001 and 54 percent in 2002, he said. More recently, unions won 61.4 percent of the representation elections held across the nation in 2006 and 60.1 percent in 2007, he said.

"So it's not true to say that the deck is stacked in a way that keeps workers from choosing a union if they want one," Roberts said. "The unions seek card check as a way to automatically boost their membership without having to do the work that goes into an organizing campaign."

Perdue said workers who testified in favor of so-called Worker Freedom legislation at the Legislature this year and during interim committee meetings confirmed the AFL-CIO's view that the business community has effectively blocked unionization efforts.

Neither Perdue nor Roberts could say how many West Virginia workplaces have requested a union in recent years and the outcome of NLRB-supervised elections here. Perdue said the number of West Virginia workplaces certified by the NLRB in recent years "has been minimal."

The NLRB's Cincinnati office said such information could only be obtained by submitting a written request under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Roberts said of the card-check fight, "I think this is potentially a very big story. National labor organizations have reportedly spent well over $300 million to elect 60 Democrats to the Senate. We now know they failed. The reason they wanted to elect 60 Democrats to the Senate was simply so they would have a chance to stop a filibuster in the Senate against the card-check bill.

"For the national business community, this is probably the biggest national issue," Roberts said. "And for organized labor, I think this is the biggest topic, from the standpoint of where they've invested their resources.

"From the state business community's perspective, boards of local chambers all around the state are talking about this," Roberts said. "Retailers who are not traditionally unionized have been calling us. There are certain hot buttons that get employers' attention. They are paying attention to this."

The state chamber advertises itself as "the voice of business in West Virginia."

The labor movement's push for the card-check bill comes at a time when union membership has been in decline, both nationwide and in West Virginia.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members accounted for 12.1 percent of employed wage and salary workers nationwide in 2007 and accounted for 14.7 percent of workers in West Virginia.


Prez Bam threatens worker-choice

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

Fascistic labor law would force disinterested workers to pay union dues without a secret vote

It was largely assumed, pretty much from the git-go, that the contest to succeed retiring Senate lion John Warner was a mortal lock for former Gov. Mark Warner (no relation). The only question was by how much Mr. Warner would beat his gubernatorial predecessor, Republican Jim Gilmore.

The answer, as Election Day quickly proved, was lots. Mr. Warner waltzed to victory, claiming 64 percent of the vote. We extend him our congratulations for this landmark triumph.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Mr. Warner has earned his chops as a politician both eager and able to win support on both sides of the political aisle. His speech at the Democratic National Convention preaching the virtues and necessity of bipartisanship earned him many kudos. What remains to be seen is whether he’ll perform his legislative duties as a Virginian — or with Virginia’s best interests in mind — or succumb to the allure of career advancement in a highly partisan Senate.

One of his early tests may be a vote on the woefully misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” which seeks to replace the secret ballot in union organization with a “card-check” system. Should such a vote transpire, will Mr. Warner remember he represents a proud “right-to-work” state?

With demographic changes altering the political face of Northern Virginia, the 10th District House seat could very well have been deemed something less than a safe hold for the GOP. But that would ignore the man who has represented the district well for 28 years.

Two years ago, Frank Wolf beat Democratic challenger Judy Feder comfortably, 57-41. This go-round, Mr. Wolf increased this margin of victory, notching 60 percent of the vote against Mrs. Feder and independent Neeraj Nigam.

We are pleased, therefore, to note that Frank Wolf remains the dean of Virginia’s congressional delegation.


Prez Bam to outlaw union democracy

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

Appeasing Soviet-style unionists

Unions, still giddy over putting their man in the White House and consolidating Democrat power in Congress, see 2009 as a year of effort-free labor organization.

Expect them to push for quick passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Also called card-check legislation, the bill would eliminate secret ballots and allow unions to be certified when a majority of employees sign the cards now used to gauge interest in voting on union participation.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Big Labor, which spent more than $53 million in the just-finished election cycle to get Democrats elected, shouldn't have to work hard. The Democratic Congress will be eager to pass the bill, and the Democratic president will be pleased to sign it.

At present, workers vote by secret ballot in union organizing elections to keep coercion to a minimum. But under the card-check system, the potential for intimidation is limitless. Pressure to sign by union organizers could wilt even the strongest man who doesn't want to be a member of the collective.

With a righteous wind at their backs and card-check legislation in their pockets, unions will aggressively try to organize low-price retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. This might result in higher wages for some workers, but it could also increase prices for consumers as well as drive now-successful retailers into the same economic ditch that unions shoved the U.S. auto industry into.

Then come the layoffs required to offset the higher payroll costs and keep prices competitive. Hurt the most will be those at the bottom of the economic ladder — the very people that Democrats and their union supporters claim to look out for.

Wal-Mart, with 7,000 stores and 2 million employees, is not only the world's largest retailer and one of America's largest employers. With a price structure that has helped keep inflation in check, it's a genuine public benefactor.

Economic analysts at Global Insight found that from 1985 through 2004, domestic retail food prices fell 9.1% due to Wal-Mart's pricing and the competition it provoked. Prices of other goods declined 4.2%, and overall consumer prices eased 3.1%.

Global Insight also reckoned that because of Wal-Mart, consumers saved $263 billion over those years, with a family of five averaging annual savings of almost $225.

A unionized Wal-Mart or Target could also impact health care costs. The $4 prescriptions pioneered two years ago by Wal-Mart, and since matched by Target and drugstore chains, could melt as quickly as an ice cube on a Bentonville sidewalk in August.

A Zogby poll found that 71% of union members agree that the secret-ballot process is fair, while only 13% disagree. Nearly eight in 10 (78%) favor the system the way it is.

Meanwhile, nonunion workers, by more than a 3-1 margin, don't want to join organized labor. Though few in these majorities are likely to understand the economic impact of a card-check law, they have at least found the right side of the issue.

It shouldn't be too much to ask a simple majority in at least one congressional chamber to do the same.

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