4/25/09

Saturday wrap

Rank-and-file oppose union bigs by more than 5-to-1 ... Four out of five people support the use of secret ballots to organize unions, and that number is even higher among union members, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports. The NRF conducted the new poll with BIGresearch just as Congress considers legislation that could make it easier to form unions by eliminating the right to a secret-ballot election. The NRF poll conducted March 31 through April 7 surveyed more than 8,600 U.S. adults nationwide. Of the total, more than 81 percent believe that votes on whether to unionize should be secret. Of those surveyed who are union members, almost 84 percent wish to keep union elections secret. (corporatelogo.com)


Huge D.C. union protest v. SEIU, Andy Stern ... "Unite Here pickets SEIU headquarters in Washington, D.C. SEIU has been raiding Unite-Here hotels and casinos. Union members from Philadelphia and Atlantic City, among other places, came to tell Andy Stern to back off and leave them alone. (And at least one person wanted to tell him to burn in hell.) The Washington Post said there were more than 200 protesters." See Flickr set here. (perezstern.blogspot.com)


One term and out! ... What a waste of time in today's political environment! There was a point in time when protests like the "Tea Parties" would, quite possibly, have been somewhat effective in influencing your political representative's actions, but those days are long gone. Our representatives do not care, and will not change, because of a little ol' silly tea party. They are too entrenched, powerful, emboldened and full of contempt (an intense feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless - it is similar to scorn) toward their constituents for a tea party to get their attention. It is exactly as syndicated columnist Walter E. Williams stated: "Unfortunately, for the future of our nation, Congress has successfully exploited American constitutional ignorance or contempt." As stated several times on these pages, the only hope the voter has of change and cleansing our government of the vile and persistent scum running it is to never, ever vote for an incumbent! Take 'em off their lofty perch and put their backsides back on the street with the voters - after one term! (amarillo.com)


U.S. thrown under the bus ... The calendar says President Barack Obama took office in 2009, although that's only a technicality. In his own mind, Obama ascended in Year Zero, a time of ritualistic cleansing in preparation for the relaunching of an America free from its past sins. Has an American president ever appeared less vested in his nation's history than Barack Obama? He shrugged off a rancid attack on the United States by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at the Summit of the Americas, including a rant on the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961, by saying he'd only been 3 months old at the time. Nothing to do with me. President Obama's overseas performance sheds light on Michelle Obama's infamous formulation during last year's primary campaign -- that the rising tide of hope in the Democratic primaries made her proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. Listening to Obama's dreary depiction of American faults, one wonders what possibly she could have found to be proud of prior to her husband's rise. (sltrib.com)


Union-backed Gov. spooked by Chávez ... State-owned Venezuelan oil company Citgo finalized a deal yesterday to donate an island it owns in the Delaware river back to the state of New Jersey. Citgo built refineries on Petty Island decades ago but the facilities are no longer in use and the island has become a sanctuary for eagles and waterfowl. New Jersey plans to create a nature sanctuary on the island. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez trumpted the deal at last weekend's Summit of the Americas. According the Newark Star Ledger the involvement of Chávez spooked New Jersey governor Jon Corzine who decided not to attend the handover ceremony: "A ranking Corzine administration official, however, said the governor's office feared Chávez was planning to issue a video statement complimenting Corzine, which would prove potentially sticky for the Democrat during his re-election bid this year. The official said the concern was that Republicans would use a Chávez statement to paint Corzine as a 'socialist.'" You know things have gotten bad when the former CEO of Goldman Sachs is afraid of being called a socialist. (blog.foreignpolicy.com)


Labor-state Dem: Tell it to the union ... Here's another sign of just how ineffective some public-sector unions have been this session. When a UW grad student testified against increased college tuition costs this morning, Sen. Margarita Prentice asked if he was a TA. The student replied, "No, … technically I am an RA, a research assistant." Prentice responded: "Ok, I remember that group, too, when we gave you collective bargaining rights." My reading of what she meant: You hired a union, now go plead your case to them, not us legislators. Perhaps these grad students should rethink whether they want to continue with union representation. Or perhaps legislators could let these and other public employees opt out of their unions entirely, thereby giving unions an incentive to work for their members. (libertylive.org)


Exposed: AFSCME's ugly abuse of labor-state bus drivers ... With free legal aid from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation, three bus drivers have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against union bosses for an illegal scheme to bully nonmember employees into paying full union dues. Barry Hickman, Connie Hickman, and Thomas Spencer II drive school buses for First Student, where they are forced to accept the “representation” of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3826. In March and April 2008, Barry and Connie Hickman sent two letters each to AFSCME Council 62, the regional body which handles the local’s objection policy, objecting to pay for non-bargaining costs they could not be required to financially support. Spencer sent a similar objection letter in May. Because Indiana is not yet a Right to Work state, nonmembers may be fired from their jobs for refusal to pay compulsory fees to a union with which they want nothing to do. However, union officials may not lawfully compel nonmembers to pay for activities like political activism, lobbying, and member-only events. (nrtw.org)


NYT News Union greed



Radical law prof to advise Obama Pentagon for Soros ... Rosa Brooks, radical law professor and former op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has joined the Obama administration as advisor to Michelle Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy. Ms. Brooks, known for her scathing attacks on common sense and the Bush administration, is expected to play a major role in influencing U.S. policy. At the LA Times her stock in trade was comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler. A harsh critic of the war on terror, Brooks once referred to al-Qaeda as an “obscure group of extremist thugs” that simply got lucky on 9/11. Her previous experience includes serving as a senior adviser to Harold Koh while he was Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for President Clinton, and throwing hand grenades on such rarely watched cable news productions such as the Rachel Maddow Show and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In addition to holding various academic positions, which undoubtedly prepared her for a key post at America’s military nerve center, Brooks also served as special counsel to the president at the Open Society Institute, a front organization for George Soros’s global world government campaign. (jbs.org)


Change: U.S. becoming like Europe ... Does Barack Obama understand the people he leads? Do his aides? These may seem cheeky questions to ask of a team that just won the presidency. But there is something in their cool, insouciant, blase demeanor, in the face of insults to their country, that suggests there yet exists a chasm — between them and us. Now, the change since the 1960s in the character of the nation has been great. The moral and social sappers spawned by that decade have done their work well. But Middle America yet remains a blood-and-soil, family-and-faith, God-and-country kind of nation. We are not Europe - yet. (ibdeditorials.com)


Union-backed, taxpayer-funded bailouts prolong nation's agony ... You should read the Warren report. Not the one about the Kennedy assassination, but the one about the TARP, the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program that has bailed out big banks and American International Group, the giant insurer. Elizabeth Warren chairs the panel appointed by Congress to oversee the TARP. In its latest report (cop.senate.gov/documents/cop-010909-report.pdf), the panel finds that six months into TARP's existence, evidence of its success or failure is mixed. But the panel doesn't stop there. It provides alternatives to the strategy that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appears to be following. The more we read, the more we were convinced that Treasury policy is both opaque and drifting, and that this does not bode well for ending the banking crisis. More specifically, it appears that the current strategy of subsidizing large financial institutions is merely postponing an inevitable day of reckoning that will entail liquidating or reorganizing them. It may be cheaper for the taxpayer and hasten the recovery to tear the Band-Aid off now, identify failed banks and liquidate or reorganize them. There's no doubt this would be painful. But postponing it merely prolongs the agony and magnifies the cost. (sltrib.com)


Obama's unionist comes in from the cold ... Labor unions scored a victory today when the President Barack Obama named a top labor advocate to serve in a key position in the Labor Department. Mary Beth Maxwell will join the administration as senior advisor after serving for years as the executive director of the labor coalition American Rights at Work. In the administration, Maxwell will work with the White House Task Force on Middle Class and Working Families, a group that is working to improve the lives and jobs of workers. Maxwell will be replaced by the organization’s current board chairman David Bonior and deputy director Kimberly Freeman. American Rights at Work is the leading labor coalition pushing Congress to enact the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure that would make it easier for workers to join labor unions. The legislation suffered a setback earlier this year when several senators who voted for it in the past reversed course and said they would oppose it this year. However, labor believes that it can still prevail. Support for the legislation “is as strong as ever,” said Bonior, a former senior House Democrat. Justin Wilson, the managing director of the Center for Union Facts said this is the “latest example of the outsized influence labor leaders hold over President Obama and the Department of Labor.” (blogs.wsj.com)


Obama fakes leave of absence from ACORN ... As Democrat presidential candidate, then Senator Obama never said (at least in public) that he would transform the United States of America into a socialist society. (He WAS caught on tape, at a private fundraiser in San Francisco, essentially parroting the Marxist line about religion being the opiate of the people, but any promise he made to take over America's banks after his inauguration never appeared on the public radar.) Candidate Obama was distressed and discombobulated when "Joe the Plumber" astutely replied to him that what he had said sounded like socialism, but he politically survived his chance encounter with "Joe," thanks to the media. Still, the evidence of Obama radical ties was there to find and National Journal had ranked then Senator Obama as the most liberal United States senator, even more liberal than admitted socialist Bernard Sanders of Vermont. In order to win the presidency, Obama needed to obfuscate and appear moderate and he needed the liberal media establishment to help him by not reporting everything that voters should have known. Obama blatantly misrepresented his relationship with ACORN, even in the last presidential debate, and smoothly and softly explained away his other radical associations, while the liberal media establishment paved his path to the White House and lauded him and his spouse. (postchronicle.com)


Andy Stern restocks Obama NLRB with union operatives ... Craig Becker currently serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1978 and received his J.D. in 1981 from Yale Law School where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. For the past 27 years, he has practiced and taught labor law. He was a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law between 1989 and 1994 and has also taught at the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools. He has published numerous articles on labor and employment law in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law Review, and has argued labor and employment cases in virtually every federal court of appeals and before the United States Supreme Court. Mark Gaston Pearce has been a labor lawyer for his entire career. He is one of the founding partners of the Buffalo, New York law firm of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux where he practices union side labor and employment law before state and federal courts and agencies including the N.Y.S. Public Employment Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board. Pearce in 2008 was appointed by the NYS Governor to serve as a Board Member on the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals, an independent quasi-judicial agency responsible for review of certain rulings and compliance orders of the NYS Department of Labor in matters including wage and hour law. Pearce has taught several courses in the labor studies program at Cornell University's School of Industrial Labor Relations Extension. He is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Prior to 2002, Pearce practiced union side labor law and employment law at Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP. From 1979 to 1994, he was an attorney and District Trial Specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo, NY. Pearce received his J.D. from State University of New York, and his B.A. from Cornell University. (talkingpointsmemo.com)


Typical labor-state teacher union strike-threat exposed ... Leaders of the Crestwood School District support staff union are authorized by their members to call a strike, after a vote Wednesday night that was “overwhelmingly” supportive, according to Pennsylvania State Education Association representative Virginia Cowley. The 118-member support staff union represents employees such as secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers, teacher’s aides and hall monitors. Board member Gene Mancini emphasized that the strike vote authorization does not necessarily mean the support staff will be going on strike. It is part of a process that starts with union members giving leaders permission to strike, the leaders deciding to go on strike and setting a start date and then the union actually going on strike. “That’s not saying they are walking the picket line tomorrow,” he said, adding that even if the support staff strikes, “The teachers have to cross the picket line to teach. It’s not going to shut the school down.” (citizensvoice.com)


Militant L.A. teachers talk strike ... The union representing Los Angeles teachers is organizing for a possible one-day strike next month to protest looming layoffs. The work stoppage would have to be approved by a majority of teachers, who will be able to vote over a several-day period, starting today. Last week, the Los Angeles Board of Education, by a 4-3 vote, approved a budget package that could result in more than 5,300 job losses, including about 3,500 teachers who lack tenure protection. "We must act before the layoffs are finalized," states information posted on the web site of United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The district "will be making important decisions in the coming weeks as the budget picture becomes more clear. Now is the time to make a strong statement." (latimesblogs.latimes.com)


Jumbo unions merge, organizers fear downsizing ... Two Southern California grocery workers union locals are merging in a move they say will allow them to spend more time and money organizing nonunion retailers. Local 1036 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union will merge into UFCW Local 770 early next month after votes by the membership of both groups this week. The merger will create the single largest local in the grocery workers union, with more than 40,000 members working at stores in a region that stretches from Los Angeles north to Santa Maria and Bakersfield. The merger will establish a "state-of-the-art organizing department" that will seek members at nonunion retailers, said Rick Icaza, president of Local 770, which will be the surviving local with Local 1036 dissolved. "By pooling all our resources we will be able to afford to do that." (latimes.com)


AFSCME big: Typical embezzler awaits wrist-slap ... A former employee of Middlesex (NJ) County College was placed on probation yesterday for five years and ordered to repay more than $6,000 she stole from her union and more than $600 she took from the North Brunswick Township High school soccer team. Superior Court Judge Frederick De Vesa, sitting in New Brunswick, also ordered Deborah Gorden, 54, of North Brunswick, to forfeit her right to hold any public employment position or office. Gorden pleaded guilty in February to one count of misapplication of entrusted property and admitted to taking $6,365 from Local 2269 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees while she served as treasurer for the union. At the time of the thefts, she was an assistant in the college registrar's office. Gorden was charged after an investigation revealed she was cashing checks from union funds. Included was a check for a personal loan in the amount of $4,500. (nj.com)


Labor-state GOP wants union-only P2P to govern stimulus spending ... State legislators are moving to introduce a bill expanding the current pay-to-play laws to address the billions of stimulus dollars flowing into the state. Sen. Bill Baroni, R-Hamilton, and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, announced yesterday they were introducing legislation that would restrict awarding federally funded contracts to businesses that have made political contributions, effectively modifying the current pay-to-play guidelines that apply only to state government contracts. (nj.com)


Incumbent protection racket: NLRB bars UFCW from competing for workers ... The feds have squashed an employee-led effort at Murray's Chicken to throw out a new three-year contract and replace their union. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that a contract that runs through 2012 is valid and, by federal law, bars any election on union representation for the duration of the contract. That agreement was reached in February between Murray's and the International Union of Journeymen & Allied Trades, which has represented the workers for a decade. After the agreement was signed, The United Food and Commercial Workers filed a petition with the Labor Board seeking an election, where employees would have a choice between the unions or no union representation. The UFCW claimed that the new contract wasn't valid because employees never voted on it, among other reasons. The UFCW says roughly half an estimated 250 employees signed a petition seeking an election. (recordonline.com)


International Collectivism

Chávez gets up in Obama's face ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said Friday that despite his warm, smiling greetings with US President Barack Obama at the Americas summit, the US empire is still "alive and kicking." At the gathering of regional leaders last weekend in Trinidad and Tobago, one of the biggest stories was the friendly handshake between fierce US critic Chávez and Obama. "The hand, yes. The smile, yes. But make no mistake, the empire is still there, alive and kicking," Chavez said at a public event here. "I hope that, for the good of his race, Obama is the last imperialist president of the United States." Chávez said the book he gave Obama -- "The Open Veins of Latin America," about the region's colonial past and exploitation by the world's big powers. "We're looking at it. We think it's a positive idea," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood. (google.com)


Benevolent fascists to compare notes ... A delegation of labor leaders is leaving Delaware on Sunday for a weeklong visit to Venezuela, to share ideas with government and business officials there. The trip highlights the ongoing relationship Delaware has had with the South American nation since its former U.S. ambassador visited Wilmington in December 2005. That visit was followed a few months later by a shipment of low-cost heating oil from President Hugo Chávez. The controversial leader has sent more than a million gallons of discounted or free oil here since then. This week's trip is part business, part cultural exchange, said Richard Korn, a political consultant and lobbyist who organized the departure. Venezuelan business leaders are interested in learning about American-style apprenticeship programs, collective bargaining and other aspects of organized labor. Korn will make the trip with Harry Gravel, president of the Delaware Business Trades Council; Mel Phillips, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; and Sam Lathem, president of the Delaware AFL-CIO. Lathem said he has never been to the country and is looking forward to the trip. "It's going to be quite different," he said. "They look like they've got a very aggressive agenda for us. Based on what they've done in this state, they've been very benevolent. I think Richard and his wife have been a big part of establishing that relationship." (delawareonline.com)

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