Tuesday wrap

Labor overlords rule D.C. Dems with iron fist ... The huge economic stimulus bill working its way through Congress is just the latest measure to bypass the normal operating procedures on Capitol Hill — the "regular order" of subcommittee and committee hearings, committee markups of legislation and vetting and amending through floor debates before a final vote. Republicans, distinctly outnumbered in both the House and Senate, are predictably unhappy with their lack of influence on the bill-drafting process. What has been striking is that many Democrats are demanding a return to regular order as well. Nearly 70 members of two influential House Democratic caucuses — the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs and the centrist New Democrats — wrote an open letter last week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer complaining of the way the $800 billion-plus stimulus bill was being rushed through. (washingtontimes.com)

Centrist-socialist GOP troika will be thanked ... There are moments, even in highly polarized political times, when the center holds – and counts. This week’s Senate vote on a massive economic recovery plan is one such moment. Three Republican Senators – Arlen Specter (PA), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Susan Collins (ME) – are poised to give Democrats the last few votes they need to pass President Obama’s $800 billion-plus stimulus plan in the Senate. With a handful of GOP colleagues, they are the likely “swing votes” that could make or break legislation in the Congress for the first years of the Obama administration. It’s a bare working majority. But if the relationship develops, it allows the president to go forward largely without regard to majority conservative views in the GOP caucus. (features.csmonitor.com)

Failed policies of the past: formerly-known as National Socialism ... Three weeks into his term, the illegitimate usurper, Also Known As (AKA) Obama, is already losing ground in the polls. Boyish good looks, a slim physique, and flashing pearly whites only go so far. Not even great oratory skills can save the day when there is nothing behind the façade that is of merit and the teleprompter isn’t around. The obvious lack of experience is glaringly evident as is the communist agenda. Swooping into Washington, DC on the genie’s magic carpet, spouting “hope and change,” AKA promised those gullible enough to listen to empty promises spoken on the wings of smooth oratory, such that they would vote for him, that his Administration would not be conducting business as usual. But alas, as is always true of the politically corrupt, what you see is what you get; the ingrained smut of corruption just doesn’t wash off. AKA came out of the same corrupt Chicago political machine that produced Rod Blagojevich and he’s just as dirty, just as tainted, and one would have to be terribly naïve to ever believe AKA isn’t guilty of the same pay-to-play scheme as Blagojevich. (newswithviews.com)

Fed, state and local gov't fuels union-dues growth ... A slightly larger share of Alabama workers were unionized in 2008 than in 2007, while Mississippi's unionized workforce fell in 2008, according to new figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report showed Alabama had 199,000 workers represented by unions in 2008, or 10.7 percent of its workforce. The state had 201,000 workers represented by unions in 2007, 10.6 percent of what was then a larger total workforce. Alabama and Mississippi are right-to-work states, which means employees covered by union contracts can choose whether to join that labor organization. Thus some workers covered by union contracts aren't union members. Nationwide, union activity has been increasingly concentrated among government workers. Nationwide, government employees were nearly five times more likely to belong to a union than were private sector employees in 2008. Layoffs are likely to lag in the public sector, Cryer said. (al.com)

Oregon's Rx for small-minded unionists ... A local carpenters union has agreed to conduct sensitivity and diversity training sessions for members after a nasty series of confrontations at Portland picket lines last June. The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Joiners of America and Exterior & Interior Specialists Local 2154 of Portland also agreed to pay $450,000 in damages to Hoffman Construction, the general contractor at some of the sites where the incidents took place. The picketing began after a wage dispute between drywall installers and contractors prompted the carpenters union to call a strike. The union includes drywall installers. "Threats, epithets, obscenities and other picket line misconduct are not needed," the union letter states. "Our positive, working-family union message will be more effective when we don't resort to tactics that make us look small-minded and weak or detract from our message." "Threats, epithets, obscenities and other picket line misconduct are not needed," the union letter states. (oregonlive.com)

Fascistic AFSCME thugs draw lawsuit ... Three Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) employees filed a federal suit challenging two Pennsylvania laws that unconstitutionally prohibit workers from leaving union ranks. Union officials rebuffed the employees’ repeated requests to resign from formal union membership in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) local affiliate 1203B and District Council 83 unions. Local 1203B and District Council 83 union officials are using the Pennsylvania Public Employee Forced Unionism Law and the Public Employee Relations Act as justification to compel the employees into continuing formal union membership and require the CATA illegally to extract full union dues from the employees. As well as challenging the state law, the employees are suing for their right to retroactively object to formal union membership and obtain refunds. The employees are backed by decades of case law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. As a result of the National Right to Work Foundation’s precedent-setting case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public employees can be forced to pay some union dues, but cannot be compelled to pay for politics and other union dues beyond the cost of collective bargaining. Abood thus also established that full union membership cannot constitutionally be required as a condition of employment. The Foundation’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson Supreme Court victory requires union officials to provide employees with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. Local 1203B or District 83 union officials did not provide such a breakdown. (nrtw.org)

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

Rep. Hilda Solis: Dishonorable lobbyist revealed ... But, if we are lucky we may just see the appointment of this hardcore union shill go down in flames. Apparently, Solis has been caught hiding on official filings with the House her complex and integral activities as a lobbyist at the same time she was in the House of Representatives, a violation of House ethics rules. The Weekly Standard has the details of this close lobbying work on the very bill that Solis, as Sec. of Labor, would be asked to fairly apply to business and Big Labor alike. It turns out that Solis was not only a member of the House of Reps trying to push through the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) but she was at the same time a board member of the labor organizations that this act would benefit. This is a clear violation of House ethics. (renewamerica.us)

Bamulus inspires union-backed Dems ... Barack Obama is going to cost the TV networks literally millions of dollars, because he has to appear on prime time TV three times this month to sell his stimulus bill that no one likes. The problem with radical pragmatism is that you end up having to sell a crappy bill that no one believes in. Obama's poor, beat-up stimulus bill is hated by the Republicans because, hey, it's government spending, and its hated by Democrats because it's not as big and substantial and country-saving as it should be. If Obama's philosophy is the art of the possible, well, he fucked up by thinking that a good-faith effort to make a bill palatable to moderate conservatives would actually work to appease any of them. And so he's out there selling something he knows isn't actually that good, which is why he's forced to couch his pitch entirely in negative tones: if we don't pass this bill, if we do nothing, we are all seriously fucked. Not, like, "once we pass this bill things will get better," but just pure it's-better-than-nothing. Inspirational! (gawker.com)

Bam organizes non-union workers, throws transparency under the bus ... Obama signs an executive order encouraging stimulus projects costing more than $25 million to use union-only project labor agreements. This means that any contractor or subcontractor working on a large project will have to submit a bids with collective bargaining agreements spanning one or more unions for the duration of the project. In theory, you could bid a job with non-union labor, but let a union run the bargaining. In practice, projects with PLAs almost always go to union shops. What does this mean for the stimulus? Union labor is more expensive. Every project that uses a PLA will cost more, and many of those jobs will use as much capital equipment as possible to minimize the demand for labor. That means that we will get a lot less employment for every dollar of stimulus spent than we would without the PLA. Obama is offering these "cheap" concessions to the unions because it's lookng less likely that the Democrats will be able to get EFCA through. But these things aren't free. They're just less transparent. (meganmcardle.theatlantic.com)

Job-Killer Act explained

Surprise: You're unionized, and -- you're paying back Dems ... The misnamed Employee Free Choice Act would, among other measures helpful to union expansion, allow a shop to unionize before its owner knew a union campaign was being waged. The proposed law is undemocratic, possibly unconstitutional, and certainly unfair. Already approved by the House but lacking a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the measure would make a number of changes to complex labor laws. The most dramatic change would be to open the door for unionizing without a secret-ballot vote by all workers. That change alone should be enough to doom the legislation, but that is far from certain. Supporters say fears are exaggerated, because if enough employees publicly say they want a secret vote, they would still get one. Employers are right not to feel the least bit reassured. They know that if union organizers twist enough arms, pat enough backs, and make enough promises, they'll get the required number of worker signatures to unionize before workers get a chance to hear management's side. (tbo.com)

UAW bigs in D.C. to punish oppressive employers ... Union presidents from Freightliner plants in Gaston and Rowan counties travel to Washington, D.C., today to meet with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. Scott McAllister, president of United Auto Workers local 5286 in Gastonia, said the act would allow workers to organize without intimidation from company officials. (gastongazette.com)

Such a deal: Labor-Dem P2P yields D.C. gravy-train ... International Brotherhood of Teamsters spent $373,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby on the effect of the financial crisis on retirement funds and other issues, according to a recent disclosure report The union also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving workplace health and safety, funding for veterans' training, security regulations for vehicle repair stations in other countries and more. In the October-December period, the Teamsters lobbied Congress, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Justice Department and the Labor Department, according to the report filed Jan. 21 with the House clerk's office. (news.moneycentral.msn.com)

Fascistic Stern invites massive SEIU decert drive ... After seeing their union building seized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International office, the ousted leaders of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) are seeking to launch a new health care union. The SEIU takeover of UWH came January 27, capping a year-and-a-half-old battle that began with a rift over how contracts would be negotiated. In particular, former UHW President Sal Rosselli disagreed with SEIU President Andrew Stern over whether UHW should forego certain rights--such as the right to strike or even publicly criticize employers--in order to obtain an employer's blessing to organize its employees. Now that Stern's operatives have seized physical control of the UHW building, the union's ousted leaders have announced the formation of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), an entity that will attempt to regain UHW's bargaining units by running union decertification campaigns. (socialistworker.org)

The Colorado Model: Democracy corrupted by Labor-Dem P2P ... Unions soaked Colorado with $25 million in campaign contributions last year, winning victories on two of three ballot measures and backing state candidates to ensure the legislature remained in Democratic control. Contributions to state-level races from labor unions dwarfed those from the business community by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. And the $25 million was almost four times the amount spent by unions in Colorado's previous four elections combined. "Labor is re-energized," said professor John M. Holcomb, who teaches business, public policy and ethics at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business. "I would expect to see unions mobilize even more money into Colorado and add more pressure (on politicians)." (denverpost.com)

Balanoff's SEIU easily outpaces corporate corruption ... As part of their "pay-to-play" probe of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, federal investigators are examining state bid proposals and other records from 18 heavyweight engineering and construction companies that made hefty political contributions and got big contracts from the state and from City Hall, records show. In all, the companies have made more than $3.6 million in campaign contributions since the mid-1990s, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows. More than a third of that -- about $1.3 million -- went to Blagojevich, whose administration gave 11 of the companies $656 million in contracts since 2004. (suntimes.com)

International Collectivism

ACORN gains ground in Nicaragua ... Last November 9, the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) won majorities in most of a series of municipal elections throughout Nicaragua. Because these elections were the first since the national balloting in 2006, in which the FSLN captured the presidency as well as gained influence in the National Assembly, they offer a significant indication of the relative positions of the ruling FSLN and other political parties in the country. However, the nature of the balloting did not provide a complete view of the relative position of the parties or other political groups in the country. The fact is, according to members of the opposition, numerous critics, and the relatively few observers who were present to record what they saw and heard, there were numerous incidents regarding problems with the conduct of the elections, the counting of the ballots, and perhaps most importantly, with the arrogant attitude of the government. (scoop.co.nz)

Politics of today are worse than the 1930's ... Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary and close ally of Gordon Brown, said the downturn was more serious than people realised. And he believes this to be "the most serious global recession for over 100 years". Balls also warned the downturn could last for up to 15 years, leading to the rise of the hard right in Britain. The off-the-cuff remarks to Labour's Yorkshire conference will be seen as a major gaffe. Brown has been desperate not to "talk down" the economy for fear of making the recession worse. But Treasury insiders admit they have been rocked by the scale of the multibillion pound losses suffered by the banks. Balls told delegates: "These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape. "This is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy." (istockanalyst.com)

Unionists confer at Communist HQ ... TRADE unionists from across the country gathered at the Communist Party of Britain's headquarters in Croydon over the weekend to debate the impact of the current capitalist crisis. A broad platform of prominent figures in the labour movement addressed the CPB's Trade Union and Political School event at Ruskin House on Saturday. RMT general secretary Bob Crow called for maximum support for the new People's Charter, supporters of which are seeking one million signatures. He said that the charter gave an opportunity to "put forward a powerful alternative which also combats the inroads the right is able to make by exploiting the crisis situation, scapegoating non-white and foreign working-class people. (pww.org)

Leading Latin socialist gives props to Iran ... In a statement issued on Tuesday, Caracas suggested that the Islamic Revolution has been a source of inspiration for countries with "revolutionary hopes". "We joyfully celebrate the memorable, popular uprising against the Shah in February 1979, a historic date ... in fanning the revolutionary hopes of all the people of the world struggling for emancipation," a statement by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry quoted Chávez as saying. The congratulatory message by Chávez comes on the 30th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, which ended the dictatorship of the US-backed shah. (presstv.ir)

Social justice campaign targets U.S. troops ... Communist leaders have ordered an attack on American troops involved in joint military exercises on Panay Island. In an undated e-mailed statement, the Panay Regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the presence of American troops in Capiz and their participation in the 25-day exercise was an “act of aggression of foreign troops.” “The Communist Party of the Philippines considers American troops involved in the Balikatan (military exercises) as a belligerent force. They are, therefore, legitimate targets of (New People’s Army’s) tactical offensives in the course of their participation in military operations with the (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” said rebel spokesman Julian Paisano in the statement in Hiligaynon. (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
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