2/2/09

Monday wrap

Pay-to-Play lobbyists swarm Bamelot ... Call it the fine print, an exception, a waiver, but there have been caveats to many of Mr. Obama's first actions. The lobbying issue has drawn the most ire, especially since Mr. Obama spent so much time blasting lobbyists on the campaign trail. "Change we can believe in, as long as we pay attention to the disappointing asterisk on the word 'change,' " complained Rachel Maddow, a liberal talk-show host for MSNBC. Miss Maddow on Friday night blasted Mr. Obama for having former lobbyists in his administration, saying that his campaign-trail promise that lobbyists would not run his White House "sounded great; too great to be entirely true, it turns out." (washingtontimes.com)

Related story: "NYT: SEIU lobbyist Craig Becker authored Bam's union-payback executive orders"


Steelworker organizers chafe under rolling strike notice ... The United Steelworkers union agreed to extend contract talks for another 24 hours today, avoiding a strike of thousands of workers at U.S. refineries. The contract between the union and expired at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, but the oil companies and the USW union will continue negotiating Monday morning with a 24-hour rolling contract, according to wire reports. A strike could affect about 26,000 oil workers, who have threatened to strike if demands over healthcare and safety issues are not met. (beaumontenterprise.com)


Bam policy: Organize oppressive small employers for P2P ... EFCA, which has already passed the House and is pending in the U.S. Senate, would eliminate many vital safeguards for employees and employers, essentially abolishing workers' and employers' rights. What is particularly troubling is that unions could use this legislation to more easily unionize the smaller businesses, businesses that do not have the wherewithal to fend off sophisticated union tactics. EFCA eliminates employees' anonymous voting rights. Under the language of the EFCA bill, all a union would have to do to unionize is to get more than 50 percent of the employees to sign a card, agreeing to unionize. That's it. Once that is done, the employer must recognize the union. Furthermore, if the employer and union were unable to reach an agreement, then a federal mediator would be called in to write a contract. (greenvilleonline.com)


Obama warns workers: You'd better join a union ... "I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem, to me it's part of the solution. -- President Barack Obama, January 30, 2009. The great union leader John L. Lewis, who headed the United Mine Workers from the '30s through the '50s and helped organize millions of workers into the CIO, used to declare in organizing drives: "President Roosevelt wants you to join the union." Roosevelt never said that in so many words, but FDR did strongly back the Wagner Act, giving workers the clear right to organize. So, while Roosevelt's words never quite urged workers to join unions, his deeds spoke volumes. John L. Lewis was well within the bounds of poetic license. On Friday, President Obama, a onetime organizer, had more words to say about unions, and they were the kind of explicit endorsement that we literally haven't heard from a president since FDR's day. "We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement," the President said. (huffingtonpost.com)


Bam's indefensible, fascistic union strongarm tactics cited ... Intensifying the polarized rhetoric surrounding the Employee Free Choice Act, a top Forbes magazine editor called the bill "anti-free choice" and "pro-slavery" on Fox News Saturday. Appearing on Forbes on Fox, Forbes national editor Mike Ozanian also said the bill "would be bad for the economy, bad for jobs, and bad for consumers. It would essentially allow unions to bully people into joining them." In fact, as the House Committee on Education and Labor says on its website, the Employee Free Choice Act would make the choice between the National Labor Relations Board's secret ballot election process and a card sign-up process "a majority choice of the employees, not the employer." During the Forbes on Fox discussion, Forbes.com contributor John Rutledge said, "Banning secret ballots, that is a terrible idea. This is a Gestapo tactic." On-screen text during the segment featured the sentences "Union Membership Soaring; Why Ban Secret Votes at Work?" and "Unions Push to Ban Secret Votes at Work as Membership Soars." (rawstory.com)


SEIU's greedy, corrupt Andy Stern triggers union-dues war ... Late into the night, the last of the holdouts stood pressed against the locked glass door, peering into the murky streets of downtown Oakland, waiting to be routed from their building by fellow unionists. A long standoff between the giant Service Employees International Union and its second-largest California local was nearing an end. But their respective leaders were preparing for what some say could become a war of attrition for the right to represent tens of thousands of healthcare workers -- and perhaps a boon for employers eager to see a sector of organized labor divided. "If you don't have a court order, you're not getting in!" Angela Glasper, 48, shouted through the door at two men who approached the local's headquarters. The men soon retreated. Glasper was among 10 or so members of United Healthcare Workers-West who had been sleeping in the building. Last week, the SEIU placed the chapter into trusteeship, ousted its president, Sal Rosselli, and 17 other elected officers and moved to seize control of the premises. A handful like Glasper refused to leave, determined to send SEIU President Andy Stern a defiant message. The sacked officers have launched a rival union to raid the SEIU's ranks. That rare step has stoked fears that the "Battle by the Bay" could open a broader rift in labor at a time when unity promises big gains under the pro-union Obama administration. Rosselli's new organization, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, plans to seek alliances with groups such as the California Nurses Assn., a fierce SEIU foe. "We think that in days, thousands of members will petition to join this union, maybe tens of thousands," Rosselli said as he walked out of the UHW building for the final time. He had been president of UHW and a predecessor local for 20 years. "This is a movement." Not that he expects to compete with SEIU's financial might. The SEIU has annual expenditures of about $265 million, its latest financial reports show. The insurgent union has roughly $250,000, collected at a recent fundraiser. The new group has leased 1,500 square feet of office space a couple of blocks from UHW's 35,000-square-foot building. So far, the staff consists of the 18 former officers and about 40 people who resigned from UHW, Rosselli said. No one is getting paid, he said. (latimes.com)


SEIU smacks down students ... The one group that was present and hindered the voices of the students was the union, SEIU 73. They wasted valuable forum time by filibustering, thus burning the clock so the present students could not speak. The representative from the union aired grievances about the state tax policy and the federal bailout. Perhaps he was not aware that UIC does not decide the state's tax structure. His actions made it clear that he only has the interest of the union in mind, not the students. A union is a business. When its employees make less money, so does the union, except the union management doesn't do as much work as the employees they represent. However, nobody sees anything wrong with this management structure. Another point that was brought up was that some of the administration makes much more money than other employees. This is just like the union. (chicagoflame.com)


Dems Win Ben Stein's Money for SEIU ... Columnist Ben Stein has taken a close look at President Barack Obama's proposed $820 billion stimulus package, and made some eye-opening discoveries. Writing for Spectator.com and NYPost.com, Stein calculates that: • The House of Representatives debated the bill for eight hours, or roughly $102 billion per hour. • Only 10 percent of the stimulus funds would be spent in 2009. • Almost half of the $820 billion would end up in the pockets of Democratic-controlled unions, such as the Service Employees International Union, and federal, state, and municipal employee unions. • At 680 pages long, neither Obama nor any member of the House had enough time to read the entire bill before the House voted. • The $820 billion would be enough to give every unemployed American $75,000. Says Stein: "There has been pork-barrel politics since there has been politics, but the scale of this pork is beyond what had ever been imagined before -- and no one can be sure it will actually do much stimulation. ... This has been a punch in the solar plexus to the kind of responsible, far-seeing, mature government processes that are needed to protect America." (newsmax.com)


ACORN operatives challenged


Unpopular partisan porkulus package funds union-backed voter fraud group ... As I am listening to the broadcast news and reading articles written about this stimulus package, something ironic occurred to me. There was so much hoopla made about the automotive companies and CEOs of failing financial institutions wasting money on bonuses and perks at the same time they were begging the taxpayers for bailout money. Much of this publicized scrutiny came directly from our D.C. lawmakers. I find it somewhat hypocritical that this “stimulus” plan to spark the economy contains MANY pet projects of the lawmakers. Although big bonuses for CEOs and private airplanes are not bad in and of themselves, they are wasteful when there is a lack of money. In the same way, projects such as sod, sex education courses, ACORN and contraception are not bad, they just don’t need to be funded when the economy is in a downfall as our president describes it to be. Maybe the Senate and Congress need to watch reruns on C-SPAN of their drilling of the automakers ... in the spirit of self-examination. I thought it was bad enough to see them at the time criticize anyone on the handling of money, but to watch them fill this bill with pork even after that is incredibly frustrating. (2theadvocate.com)


Bailing out Bam's bad actors ... U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has pointed out one concern. Capito was among those who voted against the stimulus package, which passed the House by a vote of 244-188. In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., by Capito and 21 other members of the House Financial Services Committee, an important concern was voiced. "We are concerned that this bill opens the door for groups like the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to have access to billions of taxpayer dollars," Capito and her peers wrote. As Capito put it to a reporter, "bad actors" may receive enormous amounts of taxpayers' money through the bill. Groups such as ACORN, unabashedly and sometimes illegally pursuing partisan ends, may be supported by a bill promoted by the president who has called for an end to partisanship. That should not be permitted to happen. It is likely that the package will be approved by the Senate, though it will do little to stimulate the economy quickly. There is no doubt that it will be loaded with "pork." But senators should address Capito's concern and amend the bill to keep more taxpayers' money from going to "bad actors" such as ACORN. The package will be a virtual money tree for many special interest groups. ACORN and similar organizations should not be among them. (theintelligencer.net)


Mountain State workers gain respect ... Labor union membership in West Virginia increased last year, according to an annual federal survey. About 101,000 employed workers in West Virginia -- 13.8 percent of the total -- were members of a labor union in 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In comparison, about 97,000 or 13.3 percent of employed workers in the state were members of a labor union the year before, the bureau said. Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, said, "I think there was a gain in just about every union. I know the service industry has increased, such as in health care. There was an increase with the Teamsters in their organizing of Overnight Trucking. As I look at those numbers I think of the American Federation of Teachers, which brought the West Virginia school service personnel in. That may not show up yet. Those are jobs in the public sector." "There has been a continuous effort to organize in West Virginia," Perdue said. "It has not stopped and it will not stop. It is our belief that workers want respect in the workplace. Typically it only comes from being involved in a union." (dailymail.com)


U.S. Organizer-in-Chief Gets Right To Work

Teachers unions plagued by dues-candor crisis ... The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today it will file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) asking it to investigate charges made by two Alabama educators who discovered a union scheme to divert their money into the National Education Association’s (NEA) political action committee (PAC). Claire Waites, the chair of the science department, and Dr. Jeanne Fox, an assistant principal, both work at Daphne Middle School in Bay Minette, Alabama. Waites and Fox are both members of the Baldwin County Education Association (BCEA), Alabama Education Association (AEA), and NEA teacher unions. In July 2008, Waites and Fox attended the NEA’s annual convention in Washington, DC, as delegates of the BCEA. By telephone, BCEA union president Saadia Hunter informed Waites and Fox that contributions to a “children’s fund” in their names were made from money included in their expense reimbursements for their trip to the convention. Although Hunter told Waites that these contributions were not political in nature, they actually went to the NEA’s PAC, the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Later, Hunter admitted that the money would be contributed to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Sworn statements by Waites and Fox indicate that the AEA union boss also admitted that the PAC contributions were paid with BCEA members’ dues. However, it is illegal for unions to contribute to political candidates using “dues, fees, or other moneys required as a condition of membership in a labor organization.” (nrtw.org)


International Collectivism

Strike pushes schoolgirls into 'sex work' ... Cases of child prostitution are on the rise in the border town of Malaba, Teso District. Parents have blamed it on the recent teachers’ strike. The parents, led by the National Rainbow Coalition Teso branch secretary Stephen Enaga, said many underage schoolgirls had resorted to prostitution as a result of being idle during the class boycott. (nation.co.ke)


Hugo Chávez: Latin America's #1 community organizer ... In the tradition of despicable despots before him, Hugo Chávez has turned to tear gas and thuggery to silence Venezuelan critics who stand between him and presidential perpetuity. This, as a Feb. 15 vote nears on a referendum that would lift term limits for Little Castro. A demonstration against the measure by more than 2,000 university students got gassed, as did the Vatican embassy in Caracas and the home of an anti-government media executive. "The streets are for the people, not the rich and the spoiled children of the rich," says Mr. Chávez. "Spray them with gas ... ." How presidential. Among shortages facing Venezuelans, tear gas is not one of them. This is Chávez's second attempt to seal his reign after a similar power grab, through constitutional reforms, failed in December 2007. His terms expires in 2013. Chávez has threatened civil war if he loses next month's vote, the Los Angeles Times reports. (pittsburghlive.com)


Happy Hugo Day: Chávez: Si! Term Limits: No! ... Venezuela's government, known for spur-of-the-moment decisions, on Sunday created a new national holiday on Feb 2 to commemorate populist President Hugo Chávez's taking power. The Sunday afternoon announcement came less than 24 hours before the holiday was to begin. The popular anti-U.S. leader, who on Monday celebrates 10 years of his self-styled socialist revolution, has changed the country's flag, coat of arms, and moved the time zone by half an hour. Vice President Ramon Carrizalez said on Sunday the day would declared "a day of festivity, because the people have things to celebrate and many things to defend." Chávez on Monday was to host friendly leaders including Bolivia's Evo Morales and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega to mark his taking power in 1999, two weeks before a vote to determine if he should be allowed to stay another decade. The vote would amend the constitution, which he helped rewrite, to remove a provision limiting presidents to two successive terms. (reuters.com)


Analysts fear another Cuban Missle Crisis ... Raúl Castro, the first Cuban president to visit Russia since the Cold War, signed a partnership pact with President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday intended to revive the once flourishing alliance between the two countries. Castro, wearing a dark suit and white shirt rather than the battle fatigues beloved by his brother Fidel, opened a meeting with Medvedev by recalling the long-standing ties between Moscow and Havana -- a constant irritant to the United States. "We are old friends, we have known each other in good [times] and bad, the ones when you really get to know friends best," said Raúl, 77. "This is a historic moment, an important moment in relations between Russia and Cuba." Medvedev congratulated Cuba on the 50th anniversary of its communist revolution and sent his best wishes to Raul's 82-year-old brother, Fidel, who led Cuba since 1959 but retired as president last year because of ill health. "Your visit to our country opens a new page in the history of Russia-Cuba relations and will mean their elevation to the level of strategic partnership," Medvedev said. The formal meeting, which lasted less than an hour, was followed by the signing of agreements giving Russian food aid and a $20 million loan to Cuba to buy Russian construction, energy and agricultural equipment. (themoscowtimes.com)

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