Friday wrap

States to shield workers from Congressional union thugs ... A newly launched organization wants to amend the Missouri Constitution amid fears that a new administration and labor unions will eliminate secret ballots for employees in union elections. Save Our Secret Ballot officially launched on Tuesday. It must obtain the signatures of 151,274 Missourians to place a measure on the ballot in 2010. Missouri is part of a five-state launch, state Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin, a Save Our Secret Ballot advisory board member, told the Globe this week. The group also plans initiative efforts in Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and Utah. Citing elimination of secret votes as a union priority, Loudon said the group will work across the country in an additional 20 to 30 states “We’re trying to guarantee the right to a secret vote in city hall or in the workplace, free from intimidation,” Loudon said. “Unless the vote is secret, you’re exposed to undue intimidation for whatever reason.” (joplinglobe.com)

Job-Killer Act was tried, abolished in Canada ... The supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act say that the law is already used in Canada. In Canada, all 10 provinces once operated under a law similar to the Employee Free Choice Act. Today, that law has been abolished in all but four provinces. Recently, an arbitrator in one of the Canadian provinces still operating under the free-choice-act-like law increased wages by 33 percent. The company eliminated jobs. Basic labor economics show that when jobs are eliminated, unemployment (supply) increases and wages elsewhere (demand) decrease. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, an arbitrator may increase wages. Labor claims that an increase in wages would be good for the economy. This is true only if the employer can afford to pay them. Let us not repeat the Canadian experiment. The world economy is in turmoil. Detroit’s automakers have asked Congress for a bailout. And organized labor chimes in with a demand for Congress to pass this new bill to save the day, so it will be easier for them to organize workers. The so called Employee Free Choice Act goes against one of our country’s greatest traditions – the right to vote by private ballot. Throughout history, Americans have fought to protect and expand voting rights. The right is guaranteed when workers vote in political elections; there is no reason why they should surrender this right in the workplace. (delawareonline.com)

MM takes on Fat-Cat UAW ... Last week on my blog, I noted that the UAW owns and operates Black Lake Golf Course -- a "championship caliber" course opened in 2000 that's part of a larger "family education center" and retreat nestled in 1,000 acres of property in Onaway, Mich. Spearheaded by former UAW president Steve Yokich, the resort also includes "a beautiful gym with two full-sized basketball courts, an Olympic-size indoor pool, exercise and weight room, table-tennis and pool tables, a sauna, beaches, walking and bike trails, softball and soccer fields and a boat launch ramp." Like everything else we're subsidizing these days, the UAW's playground is a money pit. The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this year that the golf course (valued at $6 million) and education center (valued at $27 million) have together lost $23 million over the past five years. While membership in the union has plummeted, the UAW retains assets worth $1.2 billion. Curious about how the UAW will be spending my money and yours, I sifted through the union's most recent annual report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (which you can find at unionreports.gov). Who knew hitting the links was so central to the business of making cars? (ibdeditorials.com)

Gov't protects SEIU Pay-to-Play in Connecticut ... After scandals early in this decade, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state lawmakers sanctimoniously pledged to clean up politics. Since the Rowland administration scandal in particular involved a few crooked lobbyists and state contractors, Gov. Rell and lawmakers enacted a blanket prohibition against campaign donations from anyone in those fields, thus depriving all lobbyists and contractors of their First Amendment rights because of the wrongdoings of a tiny minority. That U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill, a Yalie and Clinton appointee, upheld the ban is no surprise, but he went the extra mile to congratulate lawmakers for their zero tolerance of a fundamental right: "(T)he legislature had a constitutional, sufficiently important interest in combating actual and perceived corruption by eliminating contributions from individuals with the means and motive to exercise undue influence over elected officials." At best, the feel-good reforms stanched the flow of some money into politics through direct channels. But even in concert with the new public campaign-finance system, they have done little to change the pay-to-play politics under the Dome or reduce corruption, "actual or perceived." (rep-am.com)

Kennedy v. Hoffa

So-called 'Pay-to-Play reform' spares organized labor ... The New Jersey model has effectively restricted political contributions by state contractors, restoring merit, integrity and cost-effectiveness to a broken state contracting system. Versions of this approach have been adopted in other states, including Connecticut, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and West Virginia. The cities of New York and Philadelphia have adopted pay-to-play protections as well. In an odd way, the well-publicized allegations against Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich underscore the effectiveness of this approach. The governor allegedly stepped up his attempts to trade state contracts for political contributions partly because he wanted to amass as much campaign cash as possible before Illinois' new pay-to-play reform was to take effect as of yesterday. State contracts also would rise dramatically under Obama's proposed stimulus. After all, most road projects are awarded or distributed by state governments. As such, a reform-minded executive order by the president-elect would not only help establish a new culture of pay-to-play-free federal contracting. It also could provide strong leverage and a prominent example for state and local governments, so that our stimulus dollars are not wasted on corrupt government contracting. (philly.com)

Sharpton backs workers over union bigs ... the Rev. Mr. Sharpton took a surprisingly — and refreshingly — common-sense approach to the proposal that would banish the secret ballot from union organizing. Speaking recently on his radio show, the New York City minister said, “Clearly I’m for any legislation to give any state the right to organize, but I’m talking about specifically where workers are not protected from coercion, in terms of [the] card checks” provision. The Rev. Mr. Sharpton, for all his excesses, is nobody’s fool. He sees the legislation — which would mandate union organization if 50 percent of employees at a workplace affix a checkmark to an authorization card — for what it is. The measure would not only give organizers the upper hand — not to mention a strong arm, better to coerce workers with — in the workplace, but would also deprive management of the right to plead its case against the formation of a union. What’s more, as a guest on the show told the Rev. Mr. Sharpton, what is more democratic than making choices in freedom, without “fear of reprisal”? That’s what the secret ballot is all about. That’s why the proposed legislation is so inappropriately titled. (dailynews-record.com)

Union big defends worker-choice, opposes card-check ... Unions and the federal bill would chew away at the free-speech rights of employers while placing workers under the unvarnished scrutiny of organizers. Further, it would allow a government panel to establish a two-year collective bargaining agreement if the two sides fail to broker their own deal within 130 days. That places workers as well as employers at a disadvantage when considering the impact of unionization. For these reasons, Congress should reject the Employee Free Choice Act. Because the concept is bound to linger whether it survives this year or not, the General Assembly should press ahead with Saxman’s legislation. That even a union leader such as Flickinger finds the state’s right-to-work law acceptable is a testament to its fairness. The ability of workers to organize is part of life in the American workplace. So, too, should be the right of workers to just say no. (starexponent.com)

Collectivist friend-of-Bam backs socialist idea factory ... Three blocks from the White House, on the 10th floor of a sleek glass building, young workers pound at computers, with giant flat-screen TVs overhead. It has the look and feel of a high-tech startup. In many ways it is. The product is ideas. Thanks in part to funding from benefactors such as billionaire George Soros, the Center for American Progress has become in just five years an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals, including many that are shaping the agenda of the new Obama administration. “The center is the premier progressive think tank in Washington,” said Mark Green, head of the New Democracy Project, an urban-affairs institute in New York. CAP, which has 180 staffers and a $27 million budget, devotes as much as half of its resources to promoting its ideas through blogs, events, publications and media outreach.(blog.ira-401k-realestate.com)

McDonalds backs workers over congressional job-killers ... Union activists are fighting McDonald’s over the company’s opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, which will likely remain a hot-button topic in the new congress. McDonald’s USA President Don Thompson sent a memo to 2,400 franchisees on Nov. 25, encouraging them to “contact your U.S. senators and representatives to oppose” the Employee Free Choice Act. He also stressed the “gravity of the issue,” saying the bill, “if enacted, will impact the McDonald’s system,” according to Crain’s Chicago Business.(findingdulcinea.com)

Failed union organizers cast blame ... Blame for declining union membership is usually attributed to structural changes in the economy, increased globalization, and unions’ failure to devote adequate resources to organizing. But a recent union drive at a private college in South Florida tells a much different, and far too typical, story. It is an account of immigrant workers who got tired of earning minimum wages, and submitted cards authorizing representation by SEIU Local 11. Their employer, UNICCO, accepted the workers decision to unionize, and prepared to begin collective bargaining. Story over? Not quite. After UNICCO informed Nova Southeastern University, which employs the contracting company, that it was recognizing SEIU, Nova put UNICCO’s contract out for bid. A non-union company, TCB Systems, then replaced UNICCO, and farmed out Nova’s janitorial work to multiple subcontractors. The leaders of the union drive and other pro-union workers soon lost their jobs, and people’s lives were destroyed for the “crime” of seeking decent wages, benefits and working conditions. SEIU Local 11 and its supporters did everything right to fulfill Nova janitors’ desire to unionize, but the nation’s labor laws do not reward successful organizing. The Obama Administration must change this. (beyondchron.org)

Developing new sources for union dues

International Collectivism

Anti-capitalist kudos pour in to Cuba ... Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua on Thursday congratulated Cuba on the 50th anniversary of its socialist revolution. The Cuban Revolution was the "mother" of all Latin American freedom movements and the vanguard of people's pursuit for dignity in the continent, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said in Caracas. The Venezuelan government said in a statement Cuba had set an example for people seeking dignity, and had won the admiration and appreciation of Latin Americans. The victory is inseparable from the resolution, courage, dignity and resistance of the Cuban people, and it had brought hope to people in Latin America, the statement said. (news.xinhuanet.com)
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