Sunday wrap

Unions' Pay-to-Play misunderestimated ... As academic research and information brought to light in several important lawsuits have shown, organized labor's indirect contributions to candidates - providing campaign workers, organizing selective get out the vote drives, etc. - are worth far more than the checks they write to candidates. These in-kind contributions are the real deal-makers. After they help get candidates elected, union officials pour additional millions into lobbying: an estimated $343.9 million from 1998 to 2008. Organized labor now expects a payback. The name of that payback is the Employee Free Choice Act, which is intended not to guarantee workers a free choice, but to give union officials a free ride. With the U.S. economy on the ropes, this is an unnecessary bailout bill America clearly can't afford. Its price tag would be far too high: a loss of individual freedom for many rank-and-file workers and further erosion of U.S. competitiveness. (washingtontimes.com)

Take Job-Killer Act off the table ... Given organized labor's role in helping Democrats win back the White House and congressional majorities, many observers feel the Employee Free Choice Act will come up after the first of the year. Obama would be wise to at least put this on the back burner. It is going to mean a bruising battle between labor and business that will distract from finding solutions to real problems. If passed, a legal fight is also likely. The best thing would be to take the proposal off the table entirely. Secret ballots are a fabric of democracy and the best way to ensure a voter has complete privacy to make the choice of his or her conscience. A more suitable name for this would be the "Employee No Freedom of Choice Act." (pennlive.com)

Why should workers pay the UAW? ... Despite its claims, this bailout won't fix the problems at GM and Chrysler. I think a bankruptcy of these companies is nearly inevitable. It might also spell the demise of the UAW. Here's why. A very rapid paced set of contract negotiations should now be under way. For GM and Chrysler to avoid bankruptcy, the companies are going to have to emerge from this process looking a lot like Honda and Toyota. The problem is that in order to stay relevant, the UAW cannot allow this. To become competitive, both GM and Chrysler have to get rid of job banks, ease a greater share of health care and pension costs to workers, and have more flexibility in their labor contracts. In short, they have to craft a company that is as competitive as the foreign imports. The real question is whether, once UAW workers have contracts that are the same as their non-unionized neighbors, they will still want to pay union dues? (thestarpress.com)

Fat-cat unions are not progressive ... Capitalism and free enterprise are usually the best way to determine success. This is what the senators are saying, although the outcome would be too devastating to let this play out under these circumstances, which were not created entirely by the automakers. The writer states that "70 years of progress" in the labor movement will be lost if the UAW disappears. If "progress" means more benefits and higher wages and a potential strike if the union doesn't get those -- despite the U.S. and global economic circumstances -- has it really been progress or just the formation of a volcano? (mlive.com)

Labor-state strikers replaced ... It is Christmas time, but there is little holiday cheer at the Stella D’Oro cookie factory in the Bronx. The 136 workers at the famous Italian biscuit company, members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union Local 50, have now been on strike for more than four months and it may be several more before they head back to work. “They came with a plan,” insists Thillet indignantly, walking up and down the line. “They did this to the drivers. They made them go out on a strike, they finished with the union, and now they have independent contractors delivering the cookies. They’re trying to force us out.” Filippou, the shop steward, agrees. “They’re trying to make a quick dollar – get rid of the union and sell the company afterwards for a good amount of money,” he said. “If they get rid of the union, they don’t pay vacations, holidays, pensions, nothing. So they’ll have very cheap labor and they’re going to sell it to somebody else for a lot of money.” Brynwood Partners did not return calls for comment. In a December 18 letter sent to striking workers, however, the firm warned that it has now filled more than half of the positions at the cookie plant with “permanent replacement employees.” (indypendent.org)

Teachers union gagged ... A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by a group of public sector unions to grant an injunction against the provincial government’s restrictions on pre-election advertising. Last spring the B.C. Liberal government moved to restrict third-party advertising before the next election, a move opponents referred to as a “gag law”. Amendments to the B.C. Elections Act limit parties to spending $2.2 million in the 60 days before the official 28-day election campaign, and advocacy groups such as unions and business groups can spend only $150,000 during that time. Lawyers for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, the B.C. Nurses’ Union and unions representing post-secondary instructors and municipal workers argued that the restrictions amounted to an infringement of their freedom of speech. The BCTF has budgeted $1 million to oppose the B.C. Liberal government in the next election, and B.C. unions spent three times that much in the 2005 election. Justice Frank Cole ruled that the 250,000 union members affected by the spending rule can’t claim to represent the broader public interest. The Independent Contractors and Business Association backed two union members who joined the case to object to their union dues being used for a political campaign they don’t support. (bclocalnews.com)

Unstimulating Government

The United Socialist States of America ... Americans face many decisions about how best to respond to the financial crisis, automobile industry, state government money shortfalls, gross political corruption and a new president who offers the heavy hand of government giveaways to solve all of these problems and many more. Officials at the U.S. Treasury are winding up their money printing machines to pay for all of this. Free-market solutions, such as cutting all taxes to put money into the hands of the spending public, and capital gains tax reductions, to spur greater investment, are off the decision-making board. Should Americans really take the well-trodden path of government dominance, or should they take "the one less traveled by" -- the road that "made all the difference" for poet Robert Frost? How does democratic socialism work? The system begins with a symbiotic relationship between those dependent on government handouts and the politicians needing their votes to stay in office. It is much like the symbiotic relationship between a nursing mother and her suckling baby. The government-dependent "milk-takers" (voters) reward the political "milk-givers" (politicians) so long as they are nourished well. The Chicago political machine is a schoolhouse for corruption that is based on the symbiotic relationship that exists between the "milk-taker" government dependents and the "milk-giver" political class. Preserving the symbiosis with the less fortunate allows politicians the necessary freedom of action needed to focus on the "real deal" or "pay to play" games of personal enrichment. (thereporter.com)

International Collectivism

Ascending ALBA taps Iran's abundace ... Iran and ALBA member states held their first joint congress for the expansion of industrial and economic cooperation in Tehran on Saturday. The Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (Spanish: Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra America or ALBA) is an international organization that was established to promote the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The congress has been organized to discover avenues for strengthening Iran-ALBA ties and implementing bilateral and multilateral projects. Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Honduras, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are full members of ALBA and Ecuador is an associate member. Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoudi told the seminar that Iran and ALBA can use their abundant potential for the benefit of Latin American nations. For example, about 200 cooperation agreements have been singed between Iran and Venezuela, and the value of non-oil sector economic cooperation between the two countries is estimated to be $4 billion, he added. “The economies of Iran and Latin American countries can complement each other,” Davoudi noted. (tehrantimes.com)

Chávez for Hamas ... President Hugo Chávez says Venezuela condemns Israel for its attacks on Hamas-ruled Gaza. Chávez on Saturday called Israel's retaliation "criminal" and urged a "massive campaign of repudiation." He says the U.S. is the only government compliant with the attacks. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe had criticized the Hamas attacks and said Israel was defending its people. (kansascity.com)
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