Friday wrap

True: SEIU's Pay-to-Pay front-man was Balanoff ... The commercial, called "Union Boss Bailout," is also running in Arkansas, Nebraska and North Dakota. QUOTE: He's the corrupt Illinois governor charged with trying to sell a Senate seat. TRUTH: This contains both opinion and fact. It is true that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Illinois) was arrested by federal agents and accused by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago of trying to benefit personally from filling the Senate seat opened up when Barack Obama won the presidency. Whether he is "corrupt" though will be a decision made by an Illinois jury. He has not been convicted of corruption in a court of law. QUOTE: They're the union the Washington Post connects to the governor discussing the payoff. TRUTH: The reference to the Service Employees International Union and one of its high-ranking officers, Tom Balanoff (the man whose picture is shown in the commercial's graphic), is true. (9news.com)

Bam's contradictory Pay-to-Play denials ... The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Emanuel spoke directly to Blagojevich. "Emanuel talked with the governor in the days following the Nov. 4 election and pressed early on for the appointment of Valerie Jarrett to the post, sources with knowledge of the conversations told the Sun-Times. There was no indication from sources that Emanuel brokered a deal, however. A source with the Obama camp strongly denied Emanuel spoke with the governor directly about the seat, saying Emanuel only spoke with Blagojevich once recently to say he was taking the chief of staff post." (msnbc.msn.com)

Union ads reveal SEIU-Dem Pay-to-Play ... The pro-business Americans for Job Security is running a TV ad in Arkansas, Nebraska and North Dakota telling Democratic senators in those states not to vote for the EFCA, commonly referred to as the "card check" bill but dubbed the "union boss bailout" in the ad. The group likens the money the Service Employees International Union used to help elect Democratic senators to the pay-to-play accusations against Democrat Blagojevich. The spot alleges that the senators' "payback" to the SEIU will take "from workers the right to a secret ballot." The ad links the two issues through a Dec. 10 Washington Post article that reports a SEIU official acted as an "apparent intermediary between the governor and Barack Obama's camp in discussions over Obama's Senate seat." AJS President Stephen DeMaura said that the SEIU and Blagojevich are "very close." Just as the governor looked to sell the Illinois Senate seat, the SEIU looked to buy Senate seats for $85 million, DeMaura said. The ad targets Democratic senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska; Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota; and Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. (nationaljournal.com)

Meet Bam's labor pick

Blago to throw SEIU under the bus? ... Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attorney is offering a glimpse of his client's unfolding legal strategy, saying he'll challenge the lawfulness of court-ordered wiretaps at the heart of federal corruption allegations against the Democrat. But the two-term governor may go public to defend himself first. With Blagojevich saying he's itching to talk, perhaps as early as Friday, Chicago attorney Ed Genson continued bashing what's gotten his client in a legal bind: FBI wiretaps that prosecutors say catch Blagojevich scheming to deal President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for campaign cash or a plum job. (latimes.com)

Corrupt Pay-to-Play is business-as-usual for Dem solon ... A New York Times article, "Schumer builds clout in crisis," (Times Union, Dec. 14) outlined Sen. Charles Schumer's close ties with and legislative support of the financial institutions that have benefitted from hundreds of billions of dollars in a taxpayer bailout. In consistently opposing tighter regulation of the industry, Schumer was one of the many in Washington who made possible the dreadful financial crisis we are in. Though a leading advocate of the bailout, Schumer has been actively trolling for campaign contributions from the firms and executives who would benefit from the bailout. (timesunion.com)

AFL-CIO: Fear of unions a drag on U.S. economy ... “I don’t think it is something employers should fear,” declared Frank Snyder, an AFL-CIO official from Pennsylvania, just ahead of a December 17 gathering in Cleveland. Snyder is talking about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the bipartisan legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2007 but was blocked by a Republican filibuster the following June ... Ettlinger argued that access to collective bargaining is not merely a benefit to workers but to the economy as a whole. “The act makes sense from a general economic perspective by making people better off and producing an upward spiral and greater economic growth,” he said. (chainleader.com)

Richard Epstein: EFCA thuggery is illegal ... It is commonly supposed that economic regulation is immune to constitutional challenge since the New Deal. That's not the case with this labor law. Consider card check and the First Amendment. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) today, an employer can insist upon a secret ballot after 30% of workers indicate by card checks their interest in a union. The campaign that follows lets the employer air his views about the downsides of unionization before the vote takes place. To be sure, the employer's free-speech rights are limited under the NLRA. He cannot threaten to move or shut down if workers vote for the union. Nor can he promise higher wages if they don't. But he can make predictions of what will happen if his firm is unionized, and he can point to the reversal of worker fortunes in other unionized firms. The Supreme Court (unfortunately, in my view) has held that the peculiar labor-law environment justified these abridgements of ordinary speech rights. But it hardly follows that if the government can curtail speech rights, the EFCA can eliminate them. There is simply no legitimate government interest in promoting unionization that justifies a clandestine organizing campaign which denies all speech rights to the unions' adversaries. The mandatory arbitration provisions of the EFCA are also constitutionally suspect. (online.wsj.com)

EFCA: DINO unionism ... Mike Sullivan's take on the Workers' Free Choice Act (Letters, Dec. 17) tells only half the story. Under federal law, when a majority of a work force signs authorization cards, albeit often under duress, the employer will be petitioned at once by the union to recognize the union without a secret election. If the employer chooses to capitulate and notifies union organizers of such, contract negotiations will be scheduled immediately. Every worker would be required to join the union whether they wish to or not. There will be no secret ballot. An election would occur only if, after a specified period, workers want to decertify the union, and then they must hire their own counsel and petition the National Labor Relations Board for a decertification election. While not unheard of, this is not an easy process and the employer can give no assistance. Union organizers know this and hope through the Free Choice Act to shortcut the organizing process and in fact circumvent the workers' democratic choice. (indystar.com)

SEIU's socialist protests flop at McDonalds ... While placing her order at the 600 N. Clark McDonald's on Thursday afternoon, Rosa Salto was intent on educating the server about his employer. She stressed that McDonald's chief executive makes about 770 times what the cashier is making and that the corporation wanted to keep unions out of its shops. "Did you know that? ... Are you OK with that?" the representative of the Service Employees International Union pushed. Restaurant workers played it straight, not acknowledging the questions posed by Salto and about 25 other union representatives. It was one of about 60 such actions at McDonald's restaurants across the country, responding to reports of a November memo the Oak Brook-based corporation sent to its franchisees encouraging opposition to proposed legislation that would have workers certify a union by signing a card, not by a secret ballot election. (suntimes.com)

Napolitano signs Pay-to-Play order favoring SEIU ... Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano has signed an executive order authorizing the state to conduct informational talks with union officials about budget and other issues if state workers vote to approve union representation. The order was posted on the governor's Web site Thursday. It was dated Wednesday, the same day incoming Republican legislative leaders issued a statement calling on Napolitano not to sign any executive orders setting policy before leaving office ... Napolitano used the state's public campaign financing system for her two gubernatorial campaigns, in 2002 and 2006, but campaign finance reports filed by the state Democratic Party for this year's election listed more than $910,000 in contributions by labor groups to the party. The contributions included $204,000 from the SEIU. Others included $205,000 from the Communications Workers of America and $250,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "Just weeks before leaving office" when she doesn't have to deal with the order's consequences, "Arizona's Democratic governor is now saying 'thank you' to the unions for their campaign cash," Pullen said in a statement Tuesday. (tucsoncitizen.com/)

Freshman Dem wavers on Job-Killer litmus test ... Fifth District Congressman-elect Tom Perriello said Thursday he does not necessarily support provisions in a federal bill to help labor unions organize that could result in workers being unable to cast ballots privately. Perriello, D-Albemarle County, said he supports the Employee Free Choice Act — also known as the Card Check Bill — overall. However, “I generally support” workers and other Americans being able to cast ballots in private, he said, to avoid being pressured by other people on how they should vote. (martinsvillebulletin.com)

Labor-state workers use secret ballot to reject AFSCME ... The state Public Employment Relations Board on Dec. 2 conducted a mail ballot election for all full-time and part-time school bus drivers and school bus attendants in the Jordan-Elbridge school district. After tallying the ballots, the election showed the majority of eligible voters choose not to be represented, for the purpose of collective bargaining, by Civil Service Employees Association Inc., Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Local 834, Unit 7819. (syracuse.com)

Cynical unions bigs destroy collective bargaining ... Organized labor was a one-century phenomenon. Look it up. Union members were only 9.5 percent of the private sector work force in 1999, down from a peak of 37 percent 40 years earlier. The last time union membership was that low was in 1902, when union members were 9.3 percent of the private sector work force. And back then, unions were true member-based organizations poised to play a significant role in the new century’s economic growth, not the government-coddled, coercive institutions they have become. The current union leaders, led by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, have no realistic plans to change course. They are presiding over the final, terminal stage of organized labor. And they like things just the way they are. Today union leaders, politicians, and employers conspire to take from their members, constituents, and employees hundreds of millions of dollars every year, in violation of the First Amendment. What was once a proud mass movement that improved and dignified the lives of its members in vital segments of the manufacturing-based economy is now no more than a special-interest adjunct to a political party, humored and tolerated less for the voting bloc it no longer commands than for the soft money it can deliver. Organized labor in the private sector no longer serves the interests of its members. It has failed to adapt to the new information economy, as it successfully adapted to industrialization in the early 20th century. It is dying before our eyes. (reason.com)

UAW-Detroit bigs issue typical threat ... Chrysler said Wednesday it would shutter all 30 of its factories for one month and idle 46,000 workers, while GM said it was delaying a key supply plant for the Chevrolet Volt, as both attempted to avoid imminent collapse while the Bush administration pondered its rescue. (freep.com)

Stop the labor-state shakedown ... Simon Campbell, president of the nonprofit Stop Teacher Strikes Inc., helped a non-union employee get back her money from a union that she doesn't want representing her. Her victory has statewide ramifications for anyone forced to pay a union as a condition of employment. Pennsylvania is not a Right-to-Work state. An employer and a union representing his employees can agree to force any worker to pay union dues or a "fair share" or "agency fee" (usually 80 percent of the dues) to remain employed. That's even if the worker wants no union association. About 67 percent of the state's 501 public school districts have sold out their employees by agreeing to this travesty. (pittsburghlive.com)

Pathetic news coverage of organized labor by News Union ... I pay close attention to stories about declines in newspaper circulation. This trend has been of particular interest to me because I am a labor leader. Stories about readership decline often contain news of job losses. That's a subject about which labor leaders are very sensitive. Beyond that, though, I have thought for a long time that newspapers report reductions in their own circulation and readership quite differently than they report declines in union membership. The Free Press announcement followed a pattern I have seen before. It was full of context. The Internet, changes in lifestyle, rising costs for newsprint and transportation, and other external forces were identified and explained in stories and columns that took up more than three full pages. But context is exactly what's usually missing when newspapers talk about the decline in union membership. This past Labor Day, I saved examples of the typical stories about falling union membership. Sure enough, there were lots of predictable headlines such as "Labor Unions on the decline" (The Wichita Eagle). A Google search turned up a campus newspaper article titled: "Labor pains --Though unions may have been necessary a long time ago, they now do more harm than good to American prosperity." (freep.com)

We now return to you regularly-scheduled teacher strike ... Citing a refusal by the school board to act on an offer made Dec. 9, The Lake-Lehman Education Association has notified the district it intends to strike beginning Monday morning. The notice came exactly one week after the neighboring Northwest Area School District teachers returned to work following nearly four weeks on the picket line. In a press release, union lead negotiator John Holland put the onus for the strike on the school board, saying the union had asked the board to vote on the Dec. 9 offer by Thursday, but that the board took no action. District Solicitor and lead negotiator Charles Coslett rejected Holland’s attempt to blame the board for the strike. “We’re not going to roll over and give in to his demands simply because he sets a deadline,” Coslett said, “The bottom line is their demands are far beyond the ability of the district to pay, they are far beyond the economic realities as they exist currently.” (timesleader.com)

XMas Wish List, part 1

Labor Sec. picked by Pay-to-Play, the Chicago Way ... Hundreds of trees have been sacrificed in the past week by newspapers printing the outraged comments and analyses regarding accusations by Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder. But will there be similar outrage over Obama’s rewarding of a special interest that spent millions to get him elected with a key position in his White House cabinet? (dcexaminer.com)

Bam begins payback ... Labor unions shelled out well over $100 million in donations to political candidates during the 2008 election. More than 90 percent of that total went to Barack Obama and the Democrats. With President-elect Obama's nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis to be his secretary of labor, the payback has begun. Solis, a liberal Democratic congresswoman from Los Angeles, is one of big labor's best friends. Don't take my word for it, however. Listen to the chorus of union leaders and labor-friendly progressives praising her nomination. "Hilda Solis is an outstanding choice," Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Applebaum said in a statement. "She has demonstrated a life-long commitment to working people and, like President-elect Obama himself, knows first-hand how unions can lift poverty wage workers into the middle class." AFL-CIO President John Sweeney pronounced himself -- and the 55-union, 10 million-member labor organization he leads -- "thrilled" by Obama's choice. (spectator.org)

Brazil welcomes U.S. enemy ... Raul Castro visited Brasilia on Thursday to cement Cuban-Brazilian relations, one day after emerging triumphant from a Latin American summit that sided with his communist island against its arch-enemy, the United States. After a weekend visit to Venezuela to see his chief ally President Hugo Chávez, Castro on Tuesday and Wednesday attended a meeting of 33 countries making up Latin American and the Caribbean that handed him a diplomatic victory. The summit concluded with an appeal to incoming US president Barack Obama to end the 46-year-old US economic embargo imposed on Cuba, and the "immediate" scrapping of reinforced sanctions brought in by outgoing President George W. Bush over the past five years. (iol.co.za)

Ortega genuflects to Russian thugs ... Russian President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday met Nicaragua’s leftist leader Daniel Ortega, in the latest bid to rekindle Soviet-era ties with Latin American countries on the United States’ doorstep. The visit by the former Marxist rebel comes after Nicaragua won fulsome praise from Russia for recognising the independence of two pro-Moscow Georgian rebel regions, the only country other than Russia to have done so. “I told the president that Russia would like to have fully-fledged long term relations with Latin America, and in particular with such an important partner as Nicaragua,” Medvedev told reporters during the talks in Moscow. Ortega, who battled an uprising by US-backed Contra rebels as president in the 1980s, lashed out at supporters of the “unipolar world” in a thinly veiled attack on the United States. (thepeninsulaqatar.com)

Collectivists conclude Latin Lovefest ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez participated in the two day "mega summit" in Brazil that included four meetings of regional organizations, joining leaders from 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations, which aim to confront the world financial crisis with increased regional economic and political integration. The countries faulted the wealthy nations for causing the world financial crisis and agreed to remain united in demanding a new international financial structure that guarantees democracy and transparency. In the summit's final declaration, the countries agreed to study the creation of a regional currency, a proposal made by Chávez and other member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas trade bloc (ALBA). (venezuelanalysis.com)
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