Saturday wrap

Jobless jolt lacks punch ... It's been only a month since hundreds of thousands of union members and their families helped Barack Obama win key battleground states in the election. Yet, some labor supporters of the president-elect fear he may be backing away from a key campaign commitment to workers threatened by recession. While running for office, Obama said he strongly backed the Employee Free Choice Act, a long-overdue labor law reform measure that should be part of his promised economic stimulus plan. However, when Obama recently introduced his top economic advisers and talked about steps to "jolt" the economy in January, the Act was not part of the package. (boston.com)

U.S. moves toward Fascism ... This modern American societal fascism of the left has already become well established across the culture. Some of it arises out of simple, seemingly innocent things that many would scoff at taking very seriously, such as all manner of “political correctness,” which has been progressing for several years. What is this so-called political correctness, anyway, but activist imposition of revised standards, according to politically left sensibilities, for acceptable and unacceptable thought and behavior? Like any forced evolution toward political totalitarianism—the logical outcome of an unchecked fascist trend—the progression begins with the seemingly innocent stuff. Eventually, coercion, intimidation, and suppression of non-conforming viewpoints becomes institutionalized here and there on the way to everywhere. (valleynewsonline.com)

UAW organizers' real problem: Worker choice ... It seemed clear from the hearings that to OK any larger bailout plan, Congress was going to insist on cutting labor costs. Already, Gettelfinger has coughed up concessions on job security protections and delayed payment to a retiree healthcare trust and is talking about modifying contracts. And yet there is nothing inherently unsustainable about employing a high-priced, unionized workforce. The crisis of Detroit's wage bill is entirely relative. Specifically, their labor costs far exceed the low-cost, nonunion American workforce at the U.S.-based, foreign-owned plants of competitors Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru. If the UAW really is to blame at all, then, it is because of the union's utter failure to unionize any of the transplants. What has the UAW been doing all these years? Isn't it the responsibility of any good union to protect union employers from competitive labor disadvantages by organizing wall to wall, throughout the industry? How could it have left these transplants unorganized? As is now clear, when the UAW exposed the Big Three to insurmountable competitive disadvantages, it cut its own throat. Perhaps these accusations seem overly harsh. After all, aren't most of the transplants located in the right-to-work states of the Deep South? Some are, but this hardly explains why the UAW failed to organize the first Honda transplant, located not in Alabama but right in Ohio, the heart of the industrial Midwest. (latimes.com)

Fat-cat union big lists demands ... "We just won an election. It's no secret." By "we," Andy Stern means "American workers." He also means Big Labor. Speaking on behalf of the fastest growing trade group in America, the Service Employees International Union -- and as one of labor's most powerful figures today -- Mr. Stern sets this simple bar for the Obama presidency: "I expect nothing less than what he said he was going to do, and we should hold him accountable." (online.wsj.com)

Andy Stern scapegoats a protege ... The president of a Los Angeles chapter of the Service Employees International Union has been barred from the union for misusing member funds, the union announced last week. SEIU Local 6434 President Tyrone Freeman was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.1 million. SEIU national President Andy Stern made the decision after reviewing a report from outside hearing officer and former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin, who found that Freeman had engaged in a pattern of financial malpractice and self-dealing in violation of the SEIU Constitution and local bylaws. In September, SEIU filed seven union charges against Freeman involving improper payments to a company owned by Freeman’s wife, improper expenses relating to his 2006 wedding, the misuse of nonprofit funds to benefit Freeman and his relatives, the improper expenditure of union funds on a private cigar club membership and violations of procedural and democratic safeguards. (wavenewspapers.com)

SEIU's Stern and Burger fix the vote ... After three weeks of voting and with turnout for SEIU’s phony vote abysmally low (only 5.2 percent of the 309,000 members who were sent ballots have voted) Andy Stern and Anna Burger have gone to a new low by changing the rules of the election at the 11th hour. Yesterday, the SEIU-appointed election officer informed UHW, 6434 and 521—the locals with members eligible to vote—that he will be changing the rules for the last week of the balloting by allowing local union staff to get directly involved in the voting process." (seiuvoice.org)

Communism has tainted socialism ... It seems that today everything offensive is blamed on socialism: higher taxes, abortion, suppression of people, murder, theft, manslaughter, bad weather. OK, maybe that’s going too far. But, anyone who paid attention to what the Republican party during their recent presidential campaign and paid very close attention to the Canadian election will notice that socialism was painted again and again as the imminent death keel that could destroy our democratic society. (centretownnewsonline.ca)

UAW: Time for Change at the Top ... When a multi-billion dollar organization has lost market share for years, sees its top executives getting paid more than ever, cuts wages of its members and in general is losing public confidence and those it seeks to influence... reasonable people would say it's a time for a change. Indeed. Time for a turnaround. That's why fixing the failed UAW starts at its top. The UAW's top union boss, Ron Gettelfinger must resign. He seems like a nice guy; I've had the chance to chat with him. But likability has never been a compelling data point for merit. Organizations don't fail, people do. And Gettelfinger has been a failure. Here's 5 reasons Gettelfinger should step down: (news.aol.com)

Smurfit's Sub-human Strikers ... David Gwinn, Ron John and Bill Hanway have spent decades inside Smurfit-Stone Container, working to support their families. Now, one hand clasped to a wooden stake and another keeping warm next to a fire, the men talk with each other, just trying to survive another day. About 86 workers went on strike Monday after union members rejected a third contract offer from the company. Now, a week's worth of cold is leaving lips chapped and cheeks flushed, but hope has kept many warm on the picket lines outside the Lower Lake Road plant. This is the first strike at the plant in more than 30 years of operation and representation by the union. "This is the first management team we've had that didn't regard us as people," Mr. Gwinn said. (tmcnet.com)

Militant Teamster strike boss gets personal ... Both sides refuse to let go of the ugly, ongoing labor dispute. And there doesn’t appear to be any reasonable end in sight as the rhetoric and accusations continue to fly between striking Teamsters and the Auburn-based trucking company. At the core of the strike is the Teamsters’ allegation that the company is conducting unfair labor practices in a bid to bust up the union. The company says that claim is unfounded. “It’s become personal on both sides,” said Al Hobart, Teamster vice president and Joint Council 28 president. “It’s not good.” (pnwlocalnews.com)

AFL-CIO big lauds green pork ... Leaders of both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations, still thrilled over labor’s role in helping elect Barack Obama and more pro-labor members of the Congress, told a gathering of labor journalists here Nov. 21 that now there are promises to keep. Arlene Holt Baker, the AFL-CIO’s executive vice president, said, “We have to give them the support they need to make the tough choices. We need an economic recovery package that will turn around this broken economy for workers with good jobs, green jobs, re-regulation of our financial system and health care.” (pww.org)

Secretary of Union-Only Commerce ... Richardson has proven his fidelity to the union party line before. He boasted: "One of my first actions as Governor was to reinstate collective bargaining for public employees, including Fair Share. We also secured the first public works labor agreement in New Mexico history. And we made our prevailing wage a union wage.” He also supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which would deny workers the right to cast secret ballots when deciding whether to form a union. The EFCA’s “card check” system opens the door to worker disenfranchisement and union intimidation such that George McGovern opposes the bill. Yet Richardson has a history of delivering for labor; his AFL-CIO lifetime voting record is 88 percent. His bilingual acceptance speech this week may signal yet another change to our nation’s workforce. (frontpagemagazine.com)

Teamsters pay off lawyers ... FedEx Corp. said today that it would pay $26.8 million to settle a case in its ongoing battle over whether its Ground unit workers are illegally classified as independent contractors instead of employees. The California Appeals Court ruled last year that about 200 contractors who operated in the state were employees.Lane says the bulk of the settlement - $19 million - is for plaintiff attorneys fees, interest and court costs. The company in October announced the Internal Revenue Service withdrew a $319 million tax penalty relating to the model. (latimes.com)

Police union demands executive authority ... Louisville's police union told Mayor Jerry Abramson yesterday that he should wait 30 days before enacting any budget cuts that will reduce employee pay or benefits. That would give the union's independent financial analyst time to go through the city's records to determine whether the shortfall is as dire as the mayor says, union officials say. (courier-journal.com)

Labor-state University embraces union thugs ... The Michigan State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a project labor agreement allowing only unionized workers to complete upcoming Brody Hall renovations. The agreement means MSU would use only unionized construction firms or workers willing to unionize for the $49.8 million renovation. (lansingstatejournal.com)

IBEW organizers unwelcome in Tennessee ... The construction industry has, over the past 40 years or so, been the leader in making Nashville the strong financial market it is today. It has accomplished this by not being burdened by the outrageous demands of labor unions. If our leaders want the local building industry to become like the auto companies, they should let this modern day “Trojan horse” in. If they want our economy to remain healthy, they should lock the gates before the contents of the horse kill the building business. (tennessean.com)

Another News Union takes another dues hit ... Newsday announced plans Friday to cut 100 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce, and raise newsstand prices for the weekday and Sunday editions as the newspaper grapples with the worsening economy. Officials at the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters union said they were told 45 to 50 members in the newsroom and operations departments would be affected, including people who work on a printing press slated for shutdown. (newsday.com)

Teachers union rip-off averted ... Marc Stuart Dreier, a high-living New York lawyer who has a gaggle of celebrity clients and a large firm that bears his name, was released from a Canadian jail on Friday after promising to return to court to face charges that he impersonated another lawyer on Tuesday at the offices of a large Canadian pension fund. Mr. Drier, 58, a Yale University alumnus who got his law degree at Harvard, had been a partner at two prominent New York firms before starting his own firm in 1996. His client roster includes names like the rock star Jon Bon Jovi and the former football star Michael Strahan, and he lived a moneyed lifestyle, with homes on Manhattan’s East Side and in the Hamptons. Toronto police have said that they were summoned to the offices of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan on Tuesday. They charged Mr. Dreier with impersonating a lawyer through his remarks and also by handing out another person’s business card. Constable Wendy Drummond, a police spokeswoman, said the business card had the name of Michael Padfield, a senior lawyer with the pension plan. (nytimes.com)

Ex-Teamsters reject different union ... By a margin of only six votes, All-Star Transportation school bus drivers on Friday rejected a second union organization effort begun by drivers frustrated about their wages. In a 41-35 vote, the drivers opted against joining the United Service Workers of America. Five drivers did not vote. In 2007, the drivers voted to decertify their affiliation with Teamsters Local 677, a vote so close it was disputed for several months. It came just two weeks after the Teamsters negotiated a contract that ended a 10-day bus strike. (newstimes.com)

Communists nabbed for capitalistic spree ... The Chinese bureaucrats who spent taxpayers' money on a $700-a-night Las Vegas hotel and visits to Hawaiian beaches and a San Francisco sex show might have gotten away with it if someone hadn't lost a bag on the Shanghai subway. The dozens of documents and receipts in the bag, with officials' names and enthusiastic comments attached, were swiftly posted on the Internet, spreading like wildfire across Chinese cyberspace over the past week. That brought swift punishment for some officials involved — and another disgusted shrug from Chinese citizens all-too-familiar with corruption. (google.com)

U.S. critics enter Panama Canal ... A Russian warship has entered the Panama Canal for the first time since the second World War. The Canal is a vital shipping route and analysts have interpreted the move as a challenge by Russia in America's backyard. The Admiral Chabanenko, which has a crew of 451 people, was taking part in exercises with the navy of Venezuela, whose president Hugo Chávez is a strident critic of the United States. (inthenews.co.uk)

Chávez: Trust experience, seniority ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said the National Assembly will propose a constitutional amendment to abolish term limits rather than have his party collect signatures to force a referendum on the issue next year. Chávez said that after debating the issue with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela he decided to have the assembly present the amendment, which will require the approval of 30 percent of lawmakers, according to a statement on the information ministry’s Web site. (bloomberg.com)

SEIU demands Golden State tax hike

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