2/17/09

Tuesday wrap

State legislature protests D.C. union organizers ... Mississippi state legislators are considering two resolutions supporting small business and opposing the Employee Free Choice Act, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). "Secret ballots are a sacred part of our democracy," said Ron Aldridge, state director of the NFIB. "If the unions and their friends in Congress get their way, it'll be like going to the polls on Election Day and having someone stand over your shoulder and watch you vote." The NFIB reports that the state Senate has passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 550, urging Congress to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. In the state House of Representatives, House Concurrent Resolution 25 has been approved with an amendment calling for an end to "denying workers a secure secret ballot vote in all union representation elections." "People should be free to vote their conscience," Aldridge said. "There's no free choice under the Employee Free Choice Act. It's the 'Employee Forced Choice Act.'" (msbusiness.com)


Leftist in Labor: Hilda Solis exposed ... Faced with the greatest economic downturn in decades, Barack Obama opted to put a far-Left ideologue in charge of labor-employer relations by nominating Hilda Solis his choice for Labor Secretary. Leftists swooned at the nomination. Solis has received significant support from such far-leftists as Nation magazine, Mother Jones, AlterNet, and the openly Socialist publication In These Times (which called her a “great choice for Labor”). Just how left-wing is her record? Consider this: In June 1996 Solis dispatched an individual named Antonio Aguilar to represent her and to serve as a presenter at a major Communist Party USA event. Likewise in June 2008, she sent a caseworker from her East Los Angeles office, Elana Henry, to represent her at a workers’ rights forum organized by the Socialist International, which bills itself as “the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist, and labor parties.” (frontpagemagazine.com)


Congress takes over Executive Branch: We don't need no stinkin' separation of powers ... Mr. Obama has missed his goal of not signing bills until they have been available for five days on the White House Web site, and Democrats in Congress wrote the final version in exactly the sort of closed-door sessions the president has said he would end. On specifics, Mr. Obama had to scale back the number of jobs he projected the bill would create from 4 million to about 3.5 million, and CBO said that was possible only in the best-case scenario for 2010. CBO said that the spending might create just 1.2 million new jobs by 2010. (washingtontimes.com)


Socialists: Bam to oppress UAW members ... General Motors and Chrysler are scheduled to submit restructuring plans to the White House today that include a drastic reduction of auto workers' wages and benefits and the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs. The outgoing Bush administration and Democratic-controlled Congress last December mandated the auto companies to submit plans to restore profitability as a condition for $17.4 billion in emergency loans. Under the terms of the agreement, the wages of 90,000 hourly workers were to be reduced to the level of non-union auto workers, and GM was to be allowed to pay half of its $20 billion in retiree health obligations in vastly devalued stock. The agreement includes a sweeping attack on the democratic rights of the workers. It stipulates that the government loans to the companies can be rescinded if any section of workers engages in a strike or work stoppage. (wsws.org)


Bam, Dems have small business running scared ... Some local employers expressed their reluctance about labor organizations, and how the EFCA would influence the entire process. In particular, employers are concerned about what the law's effect would be on small businesses, the end of secret-ballot elections and a requirement that they enter mandatory arbitration if they can't come to an agreement with a union after a certain period of time. "My personal take on it, we are not in an economic environment where we should shackle employers at all," said Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Bradley. "We should do everything to promote expanded employment. It makes employment more difficult. I don't see the upside for our national, state or local economy." (statesville.com)


Another U.S. Senate seat in SEIU P2P ... Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) will have the backing of a major Democratic union in his bid to win an open Senate seat, his campaign announced Monday. Meek won the support of the Service Employees International Union, a major force in Florida Democratic politics. The union pointed to Meek's backing of a 2002 initiative on statewide class sizes and his support for several health care initiatives. (thehill.com)


P2P-as-usual for Bam's old Senate seat ... In the case of Illinois politics, how do you know when a politician is lying? The answer of course is obvious, his lips are moving. Recently appointed Illinois Senator Roland Burris disclosed that he was approached by then governor Blagojevich's brother for campaign fundraising help or cash before he was appointed governor. At Blagojevich's impeachment trial in January Burris was specifically asked if he had ever spoken to Robert Blagojevich or other aides to the now-deposed governor about the seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Somehow the conversation with the ex-governor's brother was omitted from his testimony. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Saturday he was reviewing the disclosure, the latest twist for Democrats who only consented to seat Burris on the belief that there was no chance of "pay for play" politics surrounding his appointment. (gather.com)


SEIU unable to subdue NFIB for now ... Labor unions and business groups have teamed up in a multimillion-dollar national lobbying campaign to pressure President Barack Obama and Congress for big changes in the nation's health care system. But as they get down to the specifics, their strange-bedfellows alliance is quietly at odds. After spending two years and more than $20 million to promote the idea, collaborators in the Divided We Fail coalition - a project of the seniors lobby AARP, the service workers' union, and groups representing small business and the Fortune 500 - are indeed divided over key elements of how to fix health care. (sanluisobispo.com)


Non-union workers target Georgia ... The American labor movement saw its largest gain in membership last year, the first time since the government began tracking union activity in 1983. The ranks of union workers grew to 12.4 percent, even as companies deleted 2.6 million jobs from their payrolls. The increase mainly came from government workers whose membership rate grew to 36.8 percent from 35.9 percent in 2007. Despite last year’s growth, union membership overall is nowhere near its peak of the 1950s, when about 35 percent of U.S. workers belonged to unions. In Georgia, the number of workers belonging to unions has dropped by about 86,000 since 2000. In fact, Georgia has one of the lowest rates of membership in the country, 3.7 percent, second only to North Carolina. (ajc.com)


Bored UFCW organizers act up ... The United Food and Commercial Workers, which has not shied away from too many fights in Southern California over the last few years, is again at odds with the area's three major supermarket chains, this time over pharmacists. Pharmacists voted to join what is called UFCW's Professional Division in 2008, and the union wants to sit down with representatives of Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs and negotiate a separate contract. But the three grocers believe they're not obligated to negotiate until the union's current contract with the stores expires in 2011. (blogs.pe.com)


Steelworker big gets the keys to U.S. auto industry ... Ron Bloom, a key adviser to President Barack Obama's new auto industry task force, brings a combination of Wall Street savvy, ties to labor unions, and a penchant for out-of-the box solutions to the government-led restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler. Bloom, 53, a former investment banker who has worked with the United Steelworkers union since 1996, will serve as a top adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as the Obama administration attempts to revamp two corporate giants living off billions in government loans. (jconline.com)


AFSCME demands pay raises, fairness ... Public employees and some lawmakers are still hopeful there will be room in the budget for pay raises, despite West Virginia leaders calling for fiscally conservative decisions this session due to the recession. "Certainly we understand - we have brother and sister members in other states that are facing layoffs and are facing concessions," Ed Hartman, state director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' West Virginia Council 77, said Monday. "We just want the governor and the legislature to be fair," Hartman said. (dailymail.com)


Foreign collectivist quits political front-group ... In response to a request by Mr. Michael Vachon of The Soros Fund and the World Economic Forum 2009, Mr. Soros leaves the company of the other proposed Leadership of TPM; Al Gore and Mitt Romney as Managing Directors; and as the Board of Advisors, Eli Broad, John T. Chambers, Alexander Friedman, John Hatch, Jeffrey R. Immelt, Michael Milken, Charles Munger, Colin Powell, Joseph Stiglitz, Tom Tierny, and Meg Whitman. Inclusion in the list above, does not indicate that the individuals named have agreed to direct The Prosperity Mandate. The list is offered to show the prestige, authority, and diversity requisite to make a program of this magnitude and complexity work. Asked for comment, Mr. Neal Katz, Founder of The Prosperity Mandate noted, "This saddens me, as Mr. Soros is one of my personal heroes. His acumen, guidance and intentions will be missed in the Leadership of TPM. The purpose for the Leadership nominees is to show that TPM is a national non-partisan proposal for a new sustainable Monetary Policy to solve our crisis from a point above politics. The Prosperity Mandate will always welcome any and all direction from Mr. Soros." (prweb.com)


International Collectivism

Latin socialist revolution to accelerate ... An emboldened Hugo Chávez vowed to speed up "the construction of true socialism" in Venezuela following his decisive victory in a vote to allow him to stand for reelection indefinitely — a measure which opponents said put the country on a path towards outright dictatorship. The fiery leftist president told ecstatic supporters that his nine-point win in a referendum on removing term limits had exploded the barriers to a permanent socialist revolution in the Latin American country, one of the world's largest oil producers. (timesonline.co.uk)


Colombia term limits may fall next ... Colombian President Álvaro Uribe congratulated his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez Monday for his victory in Sunday's referendum that allows the leftist leader to be re-elected indefinitely. Uribe, currently on an official visit in Brazil, denied seeing the victory of Chávez as a threat to democracy. "I will respond positively with a feeling of brotherhood with the Venezuelan people and I want to publicly congratulate President Chávez for the democratic victory and the Venezuelan people for participating in a referendum," Uribe said. Uribe and Chávez have been working on improving the relation between their governments after the right wing Uribe attacked a FARC camp on the territory of Venezuela's left wing ally Ecuador in March 2008. Colombian authorities said they found proof in that camp of Venezuelan support of Colombia's largest rebel group. (colombiareports.com)


Chávez's victory may prove his downfall ... I was giving a talk to a group of young people from black and ethnic minority groups the other day when I happened to make a simple point about political cycles, how individuals and ideas run out of time and favour, to be replaced by new ones – or a return to revived versions of the old. In my level-headed audience, organised by Operation Black Vote to increase civic understanding and participation, a young woman, from a Latino background, I suspect, was quick to contradict me, citing Fidel Castro's remarkable 50-year rule over Cuba. It was well meant and we agreed to differ. "Any political system which depends on one ailing Castro brother handing over to another Castro brother is a bit fragile," I ventured. What I thought was that the Cuban revolution will be hard-pressed to survive in good shape after Fidel and Raúl's deaths. (guardian.co.uk)


Collectivist monarch worshipped ... With all outside eyes focused on whether North Korea would test-fire a ballistic missile to coincide with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Asian tour, inside the reclusive country a festive mood marked the birthday of the country’s "Dear Leader" on Monday. With Kim Jong Il in poor health and no clear successor designated, his 67th birthday was celebrated with loyalty rallies and cult worship campaigns aimed at tightening his grip on the famine-hit population. (upiasia.com)


Strikers fail to subdue Berlitz ... It has been 14 months since members of the Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto) first downed chalk and launched rotating strikes against the language school Berlitz Japan. The strike has grown into the longest and largest sustained strike by language teachers in Japan. While about 500 Nova teachers struck during that firm's collapse in 2007, the action only lasted a day. (japantimes.co.jp)

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