Sunday wrap

UAW Bailout FUBAR ... So why does Michael Hicks, director of Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic Research, say Congress' proposal “is not a bailout of the auto industry. It's a bailout of the UAW”? According to Hicks, the cost of labor at GM plants in Fort Wayne and elsewhere isn't the cause of relative insolvency when compared to foreign competitors. The true and unsustainable discrepancy is elsewhere - some of it due to management alone, some due to union complicity. For example, Hicks said, 3,500 UAW workers nationwide are part of the union's “job bank” that pays 85 percent of salary and 100 percent of benefits even when they're not working. In addition, he said, some foreign competitors sell more cars with half the number of expensive-to-maintain dealerships GM has. “The UAW contract adds about a $2,000 difference to the price of a car,” said Hicks, who believes only reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws can rescue American automakers from expensive labor agreements he considers obsolete. (news-sentinel.com)

Bailout Mania: 'We're going to have riots' ... Last week, in an eerie and foreboding coincidence, a labor leader and a Republican senator said almost the same thing. “If we have Republicans who oppose us, we are going to take to the streets, we are going to occupy places,” Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, said during a conference call on a proposed “Main Street” bailout plan. “We are not going to allow any more of our members’ lives to be destroyed.” The next day, following the U.S. Senate’s review of a proposed $14 billion bailout of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina (who wasn’t aware of Gerard’s conference call), when asked where all the bailouts would end, answered: “We’re going to have riots.” (sundaypaper.com)

UAW thugs held Senate Dems hostage ... In an interview with Politico, Corker said that the bailout plan lost any hope of Republican support in the Senate when the UAW refused to agree to a “date certain” on which the Secretary of Labor would begin the process of certifying that the wages paid by domestic automakers were “competitive” with those paid by foreign manufacturers with U.S. plants. And in a press conference, Corker said a Republican alternative to the White House-backed plan could have passed both the House and the Senate if the UAW had “released” Democrats to vote for it. “I hate to be so blunt,” Corker said. “That’s politics.” (mlive.com)

UAW backs into Chapter 11 corner ... Festering animosity between the United Auto Workers and Southern senators who torpedoed the auto industry bailout bill erupted into full-fledged name calling Friday as union officials accused the lawmakers of trying to break the union on behalf of foreign automakers. The vitriol had been near the surface for weeks as senators from states that house the transplant automakers' factories criticized the Detroit Three for management miscues and bloated UAW labor costs that lawmakers said make them uncompetitive. But the UAW stopped biting its tongue after Republicans sank a House-passed bill Thursday night that would have loaned $14 billion to cash-poor General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to keep them out of bankruptcy protection. ... Union officials also accused the senators of retaliating for the UAW's overwhelming support of Democratic candidates in federal races. The union gave $1.9 million to Democrats but only $11,500 to Republicans in the 2008 election cycle. (zwire.com)

Blame the UAW ... Right after the UAW vetoed a compromise, bankruptcy-lite, Detroit-little-three rescue plan put together by Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, UAW president Ron Gettelfinger played the blame game by blasting Corker and the Republican party for "singling out" union workers to shoulder the burden of reviving the U.S. car business. In truth, the UAW is to blame. If Sen. Corker's plan had prevailed, with UAW support, many believe it would have had 90 votes in the Senate. GM could have gone forward with a clean-as-a-whistle balance sheet under a three-part restructuring plan that included a $60 billion bond-refinancing cram-down, a renegotiation of the $30 billion VEBA health-care trust, and a pay-restructuring plan that would put Detroit compensation levels in line with those of foreign transplants Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and BMW. (realclearpolitics.com)

'Bailout Bush' buys time for UAW ... Nothing more perfectly illustrates the real story of the campaign for a federal bailout of the Big Three U.S. automakers in Detroit than this – United Auto Workers union representatives were in the room for the climatic final negotiating session with Senate leaders, while the company executives were outside. The negotiations failed for one simple reason – UAW leaders refused to set a date certain for when they would free GM, Ford and Chrysler to pay workers compensation equal to that paid by Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers with plants here in the U.S. ... Now it appears President Bush will agree to fund a $15 billion Detroit bailout using funds previously approved by Congress in the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Two things are clear: First today’s bailout is merely a bridge to a much more expensive bailout in 2009, and, second, without UAW concessions and new business models, GM and Chrysler are ultimately headed to extinction, with or without the temporary bailout. So Bush is simply buying time for the UAW till the Obama administration arrives to save the union for good (they think). (dcexaminer.com)

Reckless Bush pledges taxpayer life-support for UAW ... The "haircut" included limits on executive compensation, a prohibition on paying shareholder dividends and even a ban on the operation of corporate jets. But the haircut for all didn't include much of a trim for members of the United Auto Workers, whose excessive compensation, benefits and retirement packages are a big part of the problem facing the Big Three. When the UAW refused to reduce compensation for its workers to that paid to employees in the U.S. plants of Japanese automakers, the bailout deal died in the Senate. That's probably a good thing. Without fundamental changes in the way the Big Three operate, a taxpayer-funded bailout merely delays the inevitable. It's keeping a sick patient alive until the money for life-support runs out. It does nothing to cure the illness. (eagletribune.com)

Fatal UAW Bailout Conceit ... "We have to provide a blood transfusion to the patient right now to make sure the patient is stabilized." - President-elect Barack Obama, in a pre-taped interview aired on NBC's "Meet the Press" DEC. 7, explaining why he favored a now dead deal that would have loaned $14 billion to the largest American automakers as part of a federal takeover which would have put them under the control of a "car czar." (lvrj.com)

The UAW needs to go away ... For many years Unions have taken the price of goods and services to an all time high and is one of the major causes of the downfall in the economy. Unions worked for the good of the people long before OSHA came along and did wonders for safety guidelines and fair pay. Those days are gone. Unions need to go away. They serve no good purpose in the world of today with government regulations and right to work states. You should get paid what you earn, not what your union negotiates. Fair pay for amount of work done. Unions have caused Americans to become LAZY. (islandpacket.com)

The Blago Indictment in Plain English and the Obama Connection ... Today CBS News reported that "[Rahm] Emanuel discussed the vacancy with Blagojevich himself..." and "FBI transcripts captured Emanuel discussing a list of acceptable candidates." Obama "has used careful language when discussing" the vacancy. CBS concluded that "It's pretty clear there was some contact... and a risk of becoming a political wound." The following is my (slightly modified) version of the key portions of the indictment. I've substituted real names for opaque references like "Senate Candidate 1", where possible, that were determined using open-source references. From my careful reading of the indictment, I've come to a likely possible reason that Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel has gone to ground. I believe that he and Blago discussed, in very specific terms, the merits of employing Blago in 501(c)(4) -- non-profit Leftist front groups like Americans Coming Together -- in exchange for Blago naming a candidate on Obama's desired list of Senate candidates. (rightsidenews.com)

SEIU, Blago and Bam ... Organized labour leaders open up to the American Prospect on their hopes and dreams for the Barack Obama era. They’re awfully optimistic. Says Bill Samuel of the AFL-CIO, “We’re talking about a $500 billion jobs bill. No one is talking about free trade as the answer to our economic crisis.” Says Anna Burger of the Service Employees International Union, the much-desire Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for employees to unionise, “won’t cost the government a dime”. You can see why some labour organisers are worried about the Rod Blagojevich scandal. The fact that the corrupt governor had used a (still unknown) SEIU member as a conduit to the the president-elect’s transition team, coupled with Mr Blagojevich’s interest in a job with the Change to Win coalition (of which the SEIU is part), is a problen at a time that the union wants to be moving full steam ahead. The official spin from Change to Win is that Mr Blagojevich’s job hopes had “no basis in reality”. But as the New York Times points out, Mr Blagojevich had paid the SEIU favours such as allowing them to organise state child-care workers, and the union had spent more than $26m to elect Mr Obama to the presidency. (Walk past its office today, and a large flatscreen TV still plays a sunny video documentary about all the work the union did for Mr Obama.) The union still might come away from the scandal with minimal damage, but this is the last thing it needed as the Democrats move into power. (cdobs.com)

Smokin' Bam cheers libertarians ... Barack Obama smokes cigarettes, so Big Nanny's in a fuss. For freedom-loving Americans, it's almost good news. The president-elect would need magic to outdo George W. Bush as a socialistic, big-government president. Unfortunately, he's likely to try. Obama has promised a massive public works program in which government will create jobs and pay workers with tax money. He has promised to continue the Bush social-spending spree known as the Faith Based Initiative, which dilutes religion by entangling it with government. Obama promises a litany of government cures to problems individuals should solve. That means citizens who want to live in a free-market, limited-government, pro-freedom society are in for more of the same, if not something worse. At least he still smokes, as revealed Dec. 7 on "Meet the Press." For freedom defenders, it says Obama disobeys Big Nanny - that ugly, collectivist manifestation of social and government forces that tells us what to eat, drink and inhale. It means he'll be hard pressed to enable oppression of smokers, in the realm of health care or anything else. (gazette.com)

DINO disaster in the making ... As a management-side labor attorney, I can tell everyone that we routinely have cases where 100 percent of employees signed cards, yet the union was defeated in a secret ballot election. That is democracy in action - the secret ballot. The reason that the union was defeated had nothing to do with employer threats or misconduct. It had everything to do with the fact that the cards were signed without conviction. Once employees heard both sides of the story, they regularly voted against having a union in their workplace. EFCA will certainly be brought up again. EFCA is bad legislation. Under EFCA, workers will lose the right to express their will in private. The right to vote is at the core of democratic beliefs. Much of the support for EFCA is based on a political desire to give union leaders what they want. But, one-sided legislation like this is rarely good for either side. It is bad law. It is bad policy. NLRB elections are the very bedrock of our labor-management policies. We should not upend decades of settled labor law. (dailyherald.com)

The Card-Check Arkansas Finesse ... He does not want to repeat Clinton's early mistakes of going too far left, losing smart focus and engendering polarization. Tellingly, Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, would not provide a straight answer when asked at a business gathering in New York if Obama would push card check. So let us introduce our president-elect to what we call the Arkansas finesse. For all the Democratic gains, this measure still does not have 60 votes to end filibuster. That's true even if Al Franken pulls out Minnesota and a moderate Republican, perhaps Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, votes to end debate. That's because Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas, is talking about how the bill needs fuller debate and amendments, while Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, is talking about how we ought to focus instead on fixing the economy and health care if we really want to help both working folks and employers. Both know their Arkansas bread is buttered by management, not labor. Obama can be for card check while explaining to his liberal base that there's no reason to push it because those yahoos from Arkansas are going to kill it. Blame the founding fathers. They were the ones who gave every state an equal number of U.S. senators -- two. (lvrj.com)

AFL-CIO to rebalance U.S. economy ... New labor law reform legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, will restore workers' freedom to improve their living standards, and our economy, by forming unions, free from employer interference, and intimidation. It will add balance back into our economy, and give working people the tools they need to win fair wages and treatment in corporate America. - Joe Rugola is president of the Ohio AFL-CIO.(toledoblade.com)

Union-backed fraud group wants your tots ... Project ACORN is a Morristown-based nonprofit dedicated to funding high quality preschool education to children of working families in need in Morris County and surrounding communities. Preschool education has been demonstrated to help provide lower-income children with tools they need to succeed in their educational life. (dailyrecord.com)

Change small employers can believe in ... As Washington, the states and local municipalities move to create millions of jobs through the construction of roads, bridges, sewer systems and schools, now is the time to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 and all similar labor price controls. President-elect Obama wants to create millions of new jobs. At the same time value creation should not be forsaken. Right sizing project costs by 20-30 percent will create more opportunity for small and minority businesses to participate in the recovery plan. An unintended consequence of this antiquated public policy is discrimination. The bureaucratic paperwork necessary to navigate this system precludes small business. Today’s inclusionary free market possesses greater transparency compared to 1931. The more households that find work the greater the economic multiplier effect. Let us all hope a new direction is on the horizon because change tethered to special interests is no change at all. (delawareonline.com)

Congress will Collectivize ... "The real question is: Will Congress be Congress and slow things down . . . and muck things up with too much local politics?" said Robert D. Reischauer, head of the Urban Institute and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. The challenges Obama and the next Congress face are great. The sheer magnitude of the nation's economic turmoil confounds experts in both political parties. (latimes.com)

Stockholm Syndrome in Colorado ... "Colorado Concern made a huge tactical mistake," said Jon Caldara, president of Golden-based think tank Independence Institute, which financed one of the measures fought by unions. "If you're going to pay ransom, you're only going to get more kidnappings." Schuck, a right-to-work proponent, slammed the group's decision to bankroll the deal. He said he was embarrassed. He wrote a newspaper editorial that asked, "When did 'business leaders' begin carrying the mail for unions?" The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the local arm of the U.S. Chamber, backed Amendment 47, and treads cautiously when commenting on the direction Colorado Concern will take moving forward. "While there was some concern in the days leading up to the election about business being split on those ballot issues, I'm confident now at this time that business groups will be united in their opposition to any legislative efforts that AFL-CIO or SEIU (Service Employees International Union) or the unions bring to weaken or repeal the Colorado Labor Peace Act," said Chuck Berry, CACI president. The Labor Peace Act is the law governing how unions can organize in Colorado. (denverpost.com)

Big Ed collective bargaining gets ugly ... Some years ago, I crossed a faculty picket line at a large university — the only faculty member out of several hundred professors to cross. Every fiber in my body opposed the strike, and I was pathologically unable to not cross. The nightmare that followed was the most stressful experience in my life, save for the cancer and death of my wife. On my first crossing, I was met and surrounded by my colleagues of 14 years. But they were now transformed into characters whose behavior I did not recognize. These were my friends with whom I had conversed about Shakespeare, had invited into my home and had drunk wine with. I had known them as Ph.D., pipe-smoking listeners of Mozart and readers of Jane Austen. ... As for my professorial friends, Frank screamed to me down the pathway filled with students, "You a******!" Walter said he was going to take a picture of my crossing the line and show it to people, hoping that I would get hurt. Donald said to me in the crowded faculty lunchroom, "There's Trowbridge. No, he's not a scab; he's an oozing, running sore." Laughter erupted. Sheila called me a "scab," with a scowling, mean face. She really meant it. Jay, my telephone mate and one I had taken in as a guest at my summer cottage, was so red-faced with anger at me that he yelled, "That's it, Trowbridge, I am never again going to answer your telephone!" The striking professors would sometimes latch on to students going to my classes, directing them to pass on certain epithets to me, such as "Up yours," "Scab," "Give him the finger." My students did so, with laughter and anger aimed at the strikers. Students had paid tuition, but were getting nothing for it. Strikers were seeking an agency shop, which would require non-union members to pay a fee commensurate with dues. When Gene, a white-haired Southern gentleman with proper etiquette and precise diction always, learned of this agency shop provision, he exclaimed to me in the crowded lunchroom, "Goody, goody, goody, goody." (chron.com)

Collective Bargaining: Volunteer-killer ... A longtime Community Pride volunteer walked off the job this week after the Common Council settled a union grievance by assigning a city worker to the program. Harry Green, who supervised and worked alongside groups of Community Pride participants Saturday mornings for nearly six years, has informed primary organizer Joe Kibler that he’s not doing it anymore. “If the city’s gonna pay somebody to do what I’m doing for free, let them do the work,” Green said. “I quit.” Community Pride is a City Court-ordered program in which young people are assigned community service for the city. It’s managed by adult volunteers who supervise work crews, line up jobs and transport the crews to and from work sites. (lockportjournal.com)

Hoffa grieves predecessor ... Ex-U.S. Teamsters Union President Ron Carey, a reformer waylaid by his own scandal, has died at 72, a friend said. ... In 1997 Carey led a 15-day walkout against UPS that garnered widespread public support, forced the company to abandon demands for pension concessions and persuaded it to convert thousands of part-time jobs to full time, the Times said. But only days after his UPS victory, Carey was hit by allegations of improperly financing his 1996 campaign win over rival James P. Hoffa, son of the famous Teamsters leader. In 1998, a court-appointed review board expelled Carey from the union, the newspaper said. (upi.com)

Brave Czechs buck global trend ... The petition "Do Not Get Used to Communists" has been signed by 18,000 Czechs within a month, organisers told CTK today. The petition was launched as a response to the result of regional elections in October after which some senior officials of the Communist regime got into the leadership of regional authorities. The opposition Social Democrat (CSSD), who won the elections, rule in a number of regions with the support of Communists. The name of the petition alludes to the statement by CSSD leader Jiri Paroubek that the public should get used to the Communists' sharing of power after the regional elections. This idea is rejected by the authors of the petition. "It is inadmissible for us to see the people who still deny the criminal substance of totalitarian regimes in our country that was suffering under the rule of Nazis and Communists in recent history to share power," the petition reads. (ceskenoviny.cz)

Foreign collectivist funds Bam Fest ... Billionaire George Soros ($250,000) and hedge-fund founder David E. Shaw are among donors who have helped President-elect Barack Obama raise almost $10 million so far for inaugural celebrations next month in Washington. Hollywood names are prominent among the $50,000 donors, including actors Jamie Foxx and Sharon Stone and producer Robert Zemeckis. Seattle-area glass artist Dale Chihuly also gave the maximum, as did Soros, his sons Robert and Jonathan, Shaw and Howard Marks, the chairman of Oaktree Capital Management LP. (dailyherald.com)

Dem foreign policy success took decades ... Russian officials donated generators and computers to Nicaragua on Saturday during a visit by three Russian warships to the Central American nation that opposition leaders condemned as illegal. Russia donated about $200,000 worth of equipment to hospitals, police and the army during the stop at the southern port of Bluefields, Gen. Julio Aviles, the Nicaraguan army's chief of staff, told state radio. The visit by the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and two support vessels was the first since the 1990 fall of Daniel Ortega's Marxist Sandinista government, which allied itself with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Ortega, who returned to power in 2007, has courted Russia and has aligned Nicaragua with regional leftists, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. (reuters.com)

Latin socialists gather around Chávez ... Cuban President Raul Castro was to hold talks with diplomats and military officials Sunday during his symbolic first official trip to Venezuela, Cuba's vital political and economic ally. The visit is the first by Raul Castro, 77, outside Cuba since he formally took over the presidency of Cuba in February, after replacing his ailing brother Fidel, 82, more than two years ago. Initially set to last only a few hours, the trip was extended until Monday morning when Castro will fly directly to Brazil to take part in a Latin American summit, diplomats and officials said late Saturday. Castro was also to meet with Cuban specialists working in Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a staunch supporter of Cuba and close friend of former leader Fidel Castro, received Castro with military honors Saturday. "Brother, welcome to your country," said Chávez. "I bring greetings to all Venezuelans and an embrace from the Cuban people and the leader of the revolution, comrade Fidel Castro," Raul Castro said. (google.com)

News Union takes dues hit in Pittsburgh ... About two dozen newsroom employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette accepted buyouts on Friday from the newspaper, which floated the offer to cut costs. Had fewer than 18 agreed to forfeit their jobs, management might have resorted to layoffs, a union official said. The Post-Gazette offered to buy out about half the employees in its 200-person newsroom in mid-October. Workers who accept will receive one year of salary and one year of health care coverage, plus an option to buy two more years' coverage. Eligible are those whose age plus years of P-G service equal 70 or more. ... The newspaper is laying off between 10 and 20 Teamsters from jobs in circulation, transportation and the stock room by year's end. The P-G laid off 80 such workers in early 2007. (tmcnet.com)
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