Tuesday wrap

Unionists' ambitious social agenda ... A major battle is brewing between organized labor and Corporate America over the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), legislation backed by President-elect Barack Obama that would make it far easier for workers to join unions. "What you are going to see is a massive fight in this country about the Employee Free Choice Act," said Greg Denier, a spokesperson for the Change to Win (CTW) labor federation. "That is both literal and symbolic, because the Employee Free Choice Act is a question of power in the workplace and power in the economy. This election was not only about changing the occupant of the White House, but changing the power equation of society." (zmag.org)

Writers Union's ugly blacklist goes to court ... The case over whether the WGA violated labor laws by listing names of members who elected to become financial core members during the 100-day strike is heading back to Los Angeles. On Friday, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board in Washington ordered the case, instituted by the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, remanded to the Los Angeles regional director with instructions to issue a complaint. The AMPTP says the WGA's letter naming 28 writers was a direct violation of federal labor law. (hollywoodreporter.com)

Judge smacks down CNN, sides with union ... An administrative judge with the National Labor Relations Board has ruled against CNN in a dispute filed by the National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET). Judge Arthur J. Amchan ruled CNN must reinstate 110 workers with full back pay; retraining, if necessary; and it must recognize the union. Ed McEwan, president of NABET-CWA Local 11, said, the decision by the is a victory for workers. "Everyone in America should know that the network management we rely on to bring us the news are not above the illegal practices that they headline on a regular basis," said McEwan.(mediabistro.com)

Workers fear AFSCME, drop out ... Membership in a union representing Doña Ana County's blue-collar workers dropped by more than half recently, after 32 employees quit paying dues. Just 19 employees remain in the union, which means membership declined about 62 percent, according to figures from the county. In total, 119 employees are eligible. Lawrence Rodriguez, executive director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18, said the drop appears to be tied to the economic downturn, a factor that's impacting unions across the state. "I think everyone got scared," he said. "There was a lot of fear and there still is. That always is a factor when people drop out of unions." (lcsun-news.com)

Union cancels long strike over forced-tribute clause ... Bus drivers ended their three-month strike Monday against the Portage Area Regional Transit Authority. The need for a paycheck and health benefits outweighed the one demand by the union that led to the strike: a fair share provision that requires nonunion members to pay dues of up to 2 percent of their salary. The bargaining committee that represented 67 full- and part-time drivers withdrew its request for the provision, which it had sought because nonunion employees would benefit from the union. (cleveland.com)

Feds bust Steelworker dues-embezzler ... A federal grand jury indicted the former treasurer of a Nassau County chapter of the United Steelworkers International Union, charging he embezzled more than $100,000. Tarris Dynell Dallas handled finances for the union’s Local No. 9-415 for about a decade before his dismissal from that role in January, chapter vice president Jeff Bell said Monday. Bell said that other Fernandina Beach union officials found a problem with the books and confronted Dallas, also alerting federal labor department investigators. (jacksonville.com)

Teamsters take a dues hit in Flint ... Coca-Cola Enterprises plans to lay off more than 60 Flint production workers, one of a series of shifts in Michigan. Representatives from Teamsters Local 332, which represents the union employees, could not be reached Monday for comment. Coca-Cola has been in the Flint area since 1962, according to records at the Flint Public Library. (mlive.com)

SEIU strikers serve labor-state solidarity ... The two-day strike of the Service Employees International Union Local 113 at Regina Medical Center got under way Monday. On Monday afternoon, after more than 10 hours outside, Hastings resident Barb Bauer was still going strong on the picket lines. She’s been at Regina for 20 years and works as a cook and baker. While the temperatures were less than enjoyable, Bauer said she still felt good. “It’s a little breezy, but the solidarity, you can’t beat it,” she said. (hastingsstargazette.com)

Sell Obama ... Legendary global investor Jim Rogers recently pointed out that taxing capital to prop up failing businesses is taking money from the competent and give it to the incompetent. "They're taking the assets away from the competent people, giving them to the incompetent people and saying to the incompetent: 'OK, now you can compete with the competent people, with their money.' I mean, this is terrible economics. This is outrageous economics," Rogers told the FT. US President-elect Barack Obama has two policies to speak of, Rogers told attendees at the World Money Show, and both of them are disasters for the economy. "First, he wants to tax capital, just when capital is at its weakest. And second, he wants to protect American jobs." "The best hope for America is that everything Obama has said so far has just been rhetoric," Rogers says. (bi-me.com)

George Will: Unconstitutional Bailouts ... Because a Republican administration began the bailouts, many Republicans have endorsed them—grudgingly, queasily and with uneasy consciences. It is, however, probable that some Democrats relish this eruption of government into finance and industry. It serves the left's agenda of expanding the scope of politics by multiplying the forms of dependency on government. Hence liberalism's enthusiasm for enriching the menu of entitlements; hence liberalism's promotion of equality by making more groups and entities equally dependent on government. A Republican revival requires both Democratic blunders and Republican talent to refute them. The occurrence of the former is certain because of the enthusiasm for bailouts; the appearance of the latter is less so, but will be encouraged by the former. (newsweek.com)

Act to form a more imperfect union ... The U.S. Supreme Court long ago noted that in addition to the "possible use of misrepresentation and threats," a card-check system is unreliable due to ". . . the absence of secrecy and the natural inclinations of most people to avoid stands which appear to be nonconformist and antagonistic to friends and fellow employees." Even the AFL-CIO once conceded in its own guidebook for organizers that cards are sometimes signed just to "get the union off my back." Unions will be able to use card-check as a hostile and undemocratic means to get what they want - new members - at the expense of what the employees themselves might want - balanced information and a fair opportunity to make a choice free from pressure. (istockanalyst.com)

LIUNA can't get enough in labor-state ... A ranking official of the Laborers’ International Union of North America yesterday became the third person to face criminal charges in an ongoing investigation into kickback payments on a development in the city’s Olneyville neighborhood. Nicholas Manocchio, director of the Laborers’ New England Region Organizing Fund, also known as NEROF, has been indicted on one count of labor conspiracy for allegedly accepting cash and other items of value, including liquor, rental cars and gift certificates from an undercover FBI agent posing as a contractor looking for business in Rhode Island. Manocchio, 55, of Cranston, has deep criminal bloodlines. He is the nephew of Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, described by the authorities as the longtime head of the Patriarca crime family, otherwise known as the New England mob. (projo.com)

Union-backed voter fraud? Guilty. ... A 34-year-old Chester man arrested last month for alleged voter-registration fraud admitted his guilt yesterday in Delaware County Court. Jemar Barksdale, an ex-employee of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), was accused of turning in voter-registration cards for 18 already-registered voters, altering information, and forging signatures. He entered a negotiated guilty plea to charges of forgery, identity theft, and tampering with public records, said Deputy District Attorney Greg Hurchalla. Under the terms of the agreement approved by Delaware County Court Judge Patricia Jenkins, Barksdale, who spent about a week in prison on the charges, must serve six to 23 months on house arrest, undergo a psychiatric evaluation, perform eight hours of community service, and pay $574 in restitution to ACORN, Hurchalla said. (philly.com)

GOP Sen. explains vote against union secret-ballots ... Despite his vote last year in favor of considering legislation favorable towards unions, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter remains undecided on whether he will support the Employee Free Choice Act if it comes to an expected vote early next year. “In voting to impose cloture in the 110th Congress, Sen. Specter was explicit that he cast that procedural vote to enable the Senate to consider and deliberate on labor law reform including the ‘Employee Free Choice Act,’ and he expressed no conclusion on the underlying merits of the bill,” Kate Kelly, Specter’s press secretary, said on Monday. (timesleader.com)

Dems v. Dems ... Forget the Republican filibuster and the race to 60. The real fight in the next Congress is Democrats vs. themselves. With nearly complete control of Washington for the first time in three decades, Democrats are entering a treacherous power zone in which many of their priorities could easily be undone by the geographic, demographic and ideological factions that compete for supremacy within the party. (politico.com)

Chávez World Order ... "We are in front of a new geopolitical dynamics; that is why we are moving fast," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez told last September his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev, at the beginning of a meeting held in the city of Oremburgh, south of Ural, bordering Kazakhstan. This is not the first time President Chávez makes reference to the advent of a new international order which, in his view, is starting to operate in the world. He did it earlier in his previous six visits to Russia as from 2001. (eluniversal.com)

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