Tuesday wrap

SEIU's Andy Stern: An embarrassment to organized labor ... "The International Executive Board of the Service Employees International Union," crowed an SEIU press release, "today voted overwhelmingly to adopt the recommendations of an outside hearing officer." Although the release was issued Friday, many SEIU members had the feeling it had been typed two years ago -- when a rift over the merger between UHW head Sal Rosselli and SEIU president Andy Stern became public. The Oakland-based Rosselli and his members boycotted a December election on the merger issue, which they claim to have been illegitimate. Basically, Rosselli's group wants to remain autonomous in the face of Stern's policy of creating super-locals out of SEIU's more independently minded units ... SEIU is the country's biggest and fastest-growing union, but has recently been beset by corruption scandals triggered by allegations of wrongdoing committed by disgraced Los Angeles leaders -- including Tyrone Freeman, with whose former local Rosselli's members are to merge; SEIU even figures into the investigation of disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. The fight between the Stern-controlled SEIU international and Rosselli's rebels promises to be long and bitter. (blogs.laweekly.com)

SEIU Pay-to-Play taints another Bam Cabinet appointee ... Arizonans In Action (AIA) Executive Director Nathan Nascimento today released a 10-year summary of public employee union contributions to the Arizona Democrat Party showing that union contributions rose from under $75,000 to more than $1 million over the past decade, with most of the increase coming after Governor Janet Napolitano took office. "Governor Napolitano's 'meet and confer' executive order is nothing more than a quid pro quo to the unions for their generous campaign contributions to the Democrat party during her administration," said Nathan Nascimento, Executive Director of Arizonans In Action. "It is as clear a case of influence peddling as the state of Arizona has ever witnessed, at the very highest levels of government." (icarizona.blogspot.com)

Bam's new World Order: Pay-to-Play ... 'Pay to play' is a new term, coined by the outrageous actions of Illinois Governor Blagojevich's blatant auctioning Obama's former senate seat to the highest bidder. And pay to play is emerging as the dominant feature of Obama's new administration. Consider: When Obama is asked to comment on the Israeli/Gaza conflict, he has repeatedly stated that there can only be one president at a time. Thus, he has neatly avoided being forced to publicly choose between Israel and the Palestinians terrorists. Obama's 'only one president at a time' explanation, however, didn't stop him from proclaiming "We must close Guantanamo", thereby rendering illegitimate America's right to remove our enemies from the battlefield. Payback to the far left who were responsible for his election? Despite the economic crisis facing our economy, the very first legislative action of the newly elected 111th Congress was approving a bill making clear that women who are victims of gender-based discrimination can sue for compensatory and punitive damages. Payback to the trial lawyers and feminists? Was Obama's proposal of adding 600,000 new government jobs a payback to the unions? (speroforum.com)

Barack Obama (D-SEIU)

Political corruption explained ... Sometimes I wish there were a humane way to get rid of the rich. Without the rich for whipping boys, we might be able to concentrate on what's best for the 99 and a half percent of the rest of us. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, with about $60 billion in assets each, are America's richest men. With all that money, what can they force us to do? Can they take our house to make room so that another person can build an auto dealership or a casino parking lot? Can they force us to pay money into the government-run retirement Ponzi scheme called Social Security? Can Buffett and Gates force us to bus our children to schools out of our neighborhood in the name of diversity? Unless they are granted power by politicians, rich people have little power to force us to do anything. A GS-9, or a lowly municipal clerk, has far more life-and-death power over us. It's they to whom we must turn to for permission to build a house, ply a trade, open a restaurant and myriad other activities. It's government people, not rich people, who have the power to coerce and make our lives miserable. Coercive power goes a long way toward explaining political corruption. (baltimoreexaminer.com)

Union-backed Mayor indicted

Dems eye small business economic engine ... "If the language remains as we understand it, employers cannot lay out the economic hardship and the ramifications of being organized, and really, this would leave the most vulnerable workers open to coercion by unions," said Veronica Meter, vice president of government affairs for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Added Cheryl Blomstrom, immediate past president of the Nevada chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business: "Under the Employee Free Choice Act, the employer is essentially shut out. They can be unionized without even knowing it. A union can gather card signatures in a bar, in a neighborhood, in a park -- it doesn't have to happen in the workplace. There's no employer involvement in the process." For unions, that's the point. Employers have been too involved in organizing for too long, and that's shifted the balance irretrievably in management's favor. (lvbusinesspress.com)

UAW exposes shameful Unionism Roach Motel ... The United Auto Workers Monday challenged an employee's effort to decertify the union at her Kentwood automotive parts plant. The UAW argued the multi-plant local would have to decertified not just at the Talon Court SE factory, but at all 12 plants now operated by the Johnson Controls Inc. arm, JCIM. Those plants were formerly owned by the bankrupt Plastech of Dearborn. The union pact is being challenged by Dawn Lambert, a first-shift machine operator at the Kentwood plant. She gathered signatures of more than half the 150 production workers who want to drop their representation by UAW Local 19. "The issue is that they make it very easy to get into the union but they make it very difficult to get out. It's sort of like the roach motel," said Glenn Taubman, the attorney representing Lambert's petition. (mlive.com)

Spreading the wealth: Bush issues transition Pig Call ... Acting at Barack Obama's behest, President George W. Bush on Monday agreed to ask Congress for the final $350 billion in the financial bailout fund, effectively ceding economic reins to the president-elect in an extraordinary display of transition teamwork. Obama also sharply criticized Bush's handling of the money and promised radical changes. Bush's move sets the stage for Obama to get swift access to the $350 billion and the opportunity to overhaul the much-criticized rescue package after taking office next Tuesday. Obama said that it would be "irresponsible ... to enter into the administration without any potential ammunition should there be some sort of emergency or weakening of the financial system." Congress, where the use of the money has met stiff bipartisan skepticism, has 15 days to vote to reject the request. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was considering holding a vote on a resolution of disapproval as early as Thursday in hopes it would be defeated, thus making the funds available about a week after Obama inherits one of the worst financial crises in U.S. history. (dcexaminer.com)

Franken-Soros coming out for Hollywood Left ... Well, there's no question that it did. I mean, Al Franken raised the majority of his money out of the state of Minnesota, and California played an active role in that. The question is if Al Franken is seated in the United States Senate as to whether California will be gaining a third U.S. Senate seat and Minnesota will still be underserved. I mean, the liberal lead from Hollywood played an active role during his campaign in fund-raising. California played an active role in providing Franken resources and the Hollywood elite. Franken traveled out there to do fund-raising. He didn't pay his taxes out there, but he certainly raised a lot of money there. And George Soros was very helpful after the recount providing Franken with money, so he played a very tremendous role. (foxnews.com)

Union-backed fraud group resists cleanup ... Last year a scandal rocked ACORN when it was revealed that the brother of the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Dale Rathke, was caught by the ACORN board embezzling one million dollars in the organization’s operations cash. For eight years founder Wade Rathke hid the theft from public consumption as well as from his fellow ACORN board members and tried to arrange a pal of his to “pay back” the money to cover up his brother’s theft. (see here, here, and here) Now, several ousted members of the ACORN board are seeking a federal criminal investigation into their ouster and Dale Rathke’s theft. The self-dubbed ACORN 8, led by Marcel Reid and Karen Inman, were removed from the ACORN board last year after they failed to convince others to join their efforts to instigate a federal probe of the embezzlement. This is on top of all the many states that have been investigating, charging, and convicting various ACORN operatives for voter fraud, especially in the last two general elections. ACORN is now or has been under investigation for voter fraud in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and others since 2006. As recently as January 6, for instance, an ACORN employee was charged with voter fraud in Missouri. (canadafreepress.com)

New Year resolutions for union bigs ... Here are the common sense goals of the union watchdog organization based in Washington: - Don't eliminate secret ballots; defeat the deceptively titled Employee Free Choice Act. - Provide fair representation; actually represent the interests of the rank and file. - Allow growth; stop the practice of rigid job classifications. - End union gag rules; unionism should not preclude the right to speak freely. - End high dues. - Provide a voice; allow employees to deal directly with their employers regarding pay and benefits. - Encourage merit pay; merit, not simple seniority, should determine compensation. - End biased politics; not all union members support Democrat policies all the time, so why do union leaders support Democrats most of the time? - Stop discrimination; the union record is an abysmal embarrassment. - Stop embezzlement by union officials. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been squandered. (pittsburghlive.com)

U.S. socialism: Too big to fail ... Where I am seriously concerned however, is whether Obama's plan is going too far in trying to satisfy the conservatives in Congress without the plan having a chance to achieve what we all want it to do. Mr. Obama has said, "I'm afraid that if dramatic action isn't taken as soon as possible, this recession could deepen and could linger for years." But it is appearing that Mr. Obama's prescription may not live up to his diagnosis. The economic plan he's offering isn't as strong as his language about the apparent economic threat. In fact, it appears to fall well short of what's going to be needed. (americanchronicle.com)

Worker-choice question: Above Solis' pro-union pay-grade ... We've already told you about the hypocrisy of Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), President-elect Obama's pick to head the Department of Labor, on the secret ballot, and about how Solis as Secretary of Labor is likely to support cuts to the Office of Labor-Management Standards, which investigates union corruption. On Friday, Solis appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The Ted Kennedy-led committee is presiding over Solis' nomination. The LA Times has a good rundown of the hearings. Importantly, "Solis also was pressed by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) about preserving "right to work" laws in states such as his that prohibit employers from requiring workers to be members of a union or to pay dues as condition of employment. " But Solis told Alexander she was "not qualified" to give him a response on the issue, except to say that she believed "that the president-elect feels strongly that American workers should have a choice to join or not to join a union. And to me that is the basic premise of our democracy, whether you want to be associated with a group or not."" (nrtw.org)

Illinois Progs urged to cement Pay-to-Play corruption via free-speech ban ... Campaign finance reform should top the agenda of the Legislature when it seats new lawmakers this week. The struggling economy is obviously a critical issue, along with the related matter of an unbalanced budget. But the state is unlikely to recover and attract new and/or expanded business until Illinois sheds its image as a corrupt state with a poor business climate. Illinois needs to end any hint of pay-to-play government - the practice or perception that one must contribute to campaigns in order to land lucrative state business or positions in government. Tougher restrictions on contributions by individuals and entities doing business with the state took effect Jan. 1. That's a start. But it's not enough. (pantagraph.com)

Union-backed pols fail to get blood from stone ... The city of Chicago cannot recover any of the millions of dollars it pumped into Republic Windows & Doors before the company's sudden shutdown in December that led to a high-profile worker sit-in, the city's top attorney said today. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Ald. Manuel Flores (1st) had asked if the city could recover some of the $10.4 million, drawn from Goose Island tax increment finance district funds, the city provided to help build Republic's plant under a 1996 agreement. "The time frame for receiving penalty payments has expired," Corporation Counsel Mara Georges told aldermen. Republic in December closed its doors, leading to the sit-in that ended when the company and its creditors agreed to give each union worker $6,000 in severance pay. (chicagobreakingnews.com)

Strikers retain humor ... CUPE 3903 will hold a "Kill the Rat" rally Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 12 noon to protest the latest attempt by York University administration to derail the bargaining process and cause unnecessary delays in reaching a fair settlement. The administration's call for a forced ratification vote will postpone bargaining negotiations by two weeks. (cnw.ca)

International Collectivism

Lula welcomes Latin socialist resurgence ... Both were on display at the beach resort in Bahia state where Brazilian President Lula da Silva hosted a mega-summit. Four regional summits had been convened simultaneously — the first occasion, he told participants, for all countries “south of the Rio Bravo” (Rio Grande) to meet “without exclusions and without the presence of those foreign to the region.” That meant Cuba was present and U.S. representatives were not. The groups on hand were: Mercosur, four Southern cone nations joined in a trade alliance; The Rio Group, formed in 1986 to resolve regional conflicts and now numbering 23 nations; UNASUR, 12 member nations intent upon EU-style integration; and the new 33-nation Latin American and Caribbean Summit (CALC). Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s announcement that Cuba had joined the Rio Group brought forth shouts: “Viva Cuba,” “Viva Fidel.” Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez declared, “Cuba is part of the soul of Latin America.” President Raul Castro assured delegates, “For us this is a transcendent moment in our history.” The CALC conclave unanimously denounced the anti-Cuban U.S. economic blockade. Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed that “If the [U.S.] economic blockade is not lifted, we will lift their ambassadors.” President Lula advised waiting for action, if any, by the new U.S. president. The tables are thus turned. Participants judged the Organization of American States, a U.S. cold-war creation, to be obsolete. Within that framework all Latin American states save Mexico broke diplomatic relations with Cuba back in 1962. Rather than join the OAS, as some proposed, President Castro suggested the OAS go out of business. (pww.org)

Left takes Brazil ... Type: Federative republic. Independence: September 7, 1822. Constitution: Promulgated October 5, 1988. Branches: Executive - president (chief of state and head of government popularly elected to no more than two 4-year terms). Legislative - Senate (81 members popularly elected to 8-year terms), Chamber of Deputies (513 members popularly elected to 4-year terms). Judicial - Supreme Federal Tribunal (11 lifetime positions appointed by the president). Political parties: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), Democrats (DEM), Democratic Workers Party (PDT), Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), Party of the Republic (PR), Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B), Progressive Party (PP). Popular Socialist Party (PPS), Green Party (PV), Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), the National Mobilization Party (PMN), National Workers Party (PTN), Humanistic Solidarity Party (PHS), the Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), Christian Social Party (PSC), Christian Labor Party (PTC), and the Labor Party of Brazil (PT do B). (brazzilmag.com)

Chávez probes U.S. over term limits tweak ... President Hugo Chávez said Saturday he may expel a top U.S. Embassy official for allegedly plotting against his government from Puerto Rico. Venezuela's socialist leader said he has information that leaders of the political opposition were meeting with U.S. advisers in Puerto Rico to discuss how to prevent a referendum on term limits from passing. "I'm investigating the possible presence of a U.S. Embassy official in Caracas at this meeting," said Chávez, without naming the official. "If I confirm it, I will throw him out of the country." The referendum — which may take place as early as February — could allow Chávez to run for re-election indefinitely. (rutlandherald.com)
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