Thursday wrap

Non-union: A broken business model? ... Even in a sector where they dominate, the unions didn’t stop the Big Three auto executives who have been losing money from getting bonuses or riding in corporate jets. The comments against EFCA were not an organized effort by business groups. I have written several times on this topic because if passed, it will cost even more jobs in what is the greatest employment crisis seen in our lifetime. These jobs don’t go away immediately so we don’t always see the connection. Union ranks are shrinking not because people are leaving them but because jobs are disappearing. Most outdated union models cannot compete in the global environment in which we live. They work where the market is captive and consumers have not been able to freely explore the best value. I was raised in this area and saw union jobs lost at Cat, Cleaver Brooks, Lebanon Steel Foundry, Alcoa, Bethlehem Steel and more. There were many contributing factors to these companies going away, but potential new employers that could have utilized a trained workforce chose to go elsewhere. There are still plenty of high-paying manufacturing jobs in the U.S., just not here. (ldnews.com)

It's not the America we used to know ... All these questions raise yet another that ought to be at the center of national debate but isn't: Do Americans understand the free enterprise system — the system that made this nation wealthy in the first place — well enough to intelligently scrutinize the policy proposals now being advanced by our elected leaders? A survey conducted last spring by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute suggests that most Americans do not. ISI gave a random sample of 2,508 Americans a 33-question civics exam that included basic questions on U.S. history, politics, international relations and free market economics. The average overall score on this test was a mere 49%, and of nine questions that focused on economics, the typical respondent answered only three correctly. Remarkably, the majority could not correctly define either "free enterprise" or "business profit." (ibdeditorials.com)

It's OK to discriminate against non-union workers ... A labor agreement guaranteeing set wages for local high school modernization projects is pitting union leaders who argue it will create a smooth bidding process against non-union companies who disagree and say it will decrease the number of bids. A project labor agreement, known as a PLA, setting union wages and fees for some construction projects will go before the San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees tonight. District voters passed Measure M, a $298 million bond measure, in 2006. Now school officials must decide if a PLA is necessary in hopes of ensuring bid process efficiency. Non-union companies, however, argue such an agreement creates unnecessary costs driving up bids and decreasing competition. “It’s just a horrible deal,” said Nicole Goehring, government affairs director for the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Golden Gate chapter. “They’ll lose bidders and the cost goes up.” (smdailyjournal.com)

AFSCME thug demands town workers' home addresses ... The union organizer working with unrepresented town employees trying to form a collective bargaining group has accused municipal officials of "playing games" by not turning over the addresses of all those qualified to vote to choose a union. Karen T. Renaud, an organizer with Council 93 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said on Tuesday that she will not organize an election to choose a union until officials provide the addresses of seven employees the town had tried to block from joining a collective bargaining unit. She noted that the state Labor Relations Commission ruled on Jan. 23 that the seven employees were eligible to join the collective bargaining unit that would include about 50 workers, many of them clerical employees at Town Hall. (masslive.com)

Union lobbyists swarm White House ... I remember an old-time politician's words, "Promise 'em Chanel but give 'em horse [urine]." I'm not smelling much perfume coming out of the new Obama administration. He promised hope. Instead he relies upon Americans' ignorance of the Great Depression to fearmonger about economic chaos if we don't accept his plan immediately and without question. He offered us integrity in government. Then he tried to stuff his cabinet with tax cheats and continues to coddle crooked party mates like Chris Dodd, the Countrywide Savings pay-to-play favorite son. He repeatedly said "no lobbyists in my administration." Today, you can't stir them with a stick. (azdailysun.com)

Two-faced on union disclosure

Union operatives suspicious of oppressive entrepreneur ... As the front-runner in Detroit's mayoral election and seeking critical support of unions, Dave Bing sought Wednesday to beat back criticism circulating among organized labor and said he would seek their endorsements. Bing's past views, such as support for charter schools, coupled with a complaint from a union that says he is disinterested in its views, have created suspicion that Bing is antiunion. A claim he denies. Bing said he thought he would get some union support, noting the UAW has represented workers at his Bing Group automotive supplier plant for years. "I think there's a lot of misinformation out there," he said. "I've been a UAW shop for the last 19 years, never having a work stoppage, never having gone on a strike. That says that I have a pretty good relationship." (freep.com)

Leno hauled before Writers Union tribunal ... Comedian Jay Leno was hauled in front of his own union's trial committee Wednesday to address charges that he broke guild rules during last season's writers strike, a full year after the alleged violations. The NBC late-night host was a prominent backer of the Writers Guild of America during the 100-day work stoppage, but he alarmed union officials when he announced on the air that he was penning his own monologues while the strike was still in full swing. Guild leaders said Leno violated strike rules, which bar union members from performing "struck work" that would otherwise have been done by a WGA member. The incident created internal divisions within the union, which did not want to alienate the "Tonight Show" host, who brought doughnuts to writers on the picket line and publicly championed their cause. The matter was largely dropped until Wednesday, when Leno was called before the trial committee for a hearing to determine whether he violated the guild's injunction against writing, according to a source familiar with the proceedings. (latimes.com)

Idaho's state, local thugs vow to disobey high court ... Idaho teachers and firefighters say they won't allow a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to hamper their political activity. The court on Tuesday upheld a state law that prohibits public-employee unions from using payroll deductions to funnel money to political action committees. The ruling ends a six-year legal fight over a 2003 law that unions said was aimed at them. Several unions sued, saying the state was trying to curb political speech by the influential teachers, firefighters and police unions. But Ron Davies, a Pocatello firefighter, said Tuesday's ruling is merely a minor setback. "We'll overcome it, and we'll continue to be politically active," said Davies, who heads the main state firefighters union, the Professional Firefighters of Idaho. "Certainly we're disappointed," said John Rumel, a lawyer for the Idaho Education Association. "But they're teachers. They're optimistic. They're going to find ways to get themselves in the political process." (idahostatesman.com)

Multiple-Dip for ACORN, NEA, La Raza ... So President Barack Obama wants to cut the federal deficit in half by 2013? He can start by downsizing the amount of pork fat flowing to dozens of special interest groups that supported his candidacy. About a hundred of these groups, including the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Council of La Raza, have already received billions of tax dollars under Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan. Yet they now stand to rake in even more federal money under the $410 billion omnibus spending bill now wending its way through Congress. “The Democrats are asking taxpayers to pay for over 100 accounts in the omnibus bill that are also in the stimulus bill,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “It strikes us that we're on a spending spree of gargantuan proportions here. A good time to stop it would be getting this omnibus appropriation bill down to a size that’s consistent with the current budget,” McConnell said. (dcexaminer.com)

SEIU's Andy Stern: Little Lord Periwinkle

SEIU to pillage jobless trust fund because that's where the money is ... Sen. Karen Keiser is the latest legislator to try to tap money from the state's unemployment insurance trust fund. This time, UI money could make its way to unions, especially the Service Employees International Union. Here's how it works. Some UI money already funds job retraining programs. However, SB 6091 would allow some of that UI money to go toward the increased training for certain adult in-home healthcare workers, as required by I-1029. These workers are independent contractors who are also unionized with SEIU. The union can provide the training and receive the funding for it from the UI fund. (libertylive.org)

SEIU-Dem P2P infects Chattanooga ... Almost $30,000 has been contributed by labor unions and political action committees to two Chattanooga City Council races, and some candidates are questioning how much influence the money has in the upcoming election. In the District 6 City Council race, unions and political action committees contributed $20,000 to the campaign of Councilwoman Carol Berz. “Why are the unions supporting her so heavily?” asked District 6 candidate Marti Rutherford. “That’s the question I have.” Jeff Berntsen, a senior organizer for Service Employees International Union Local 205, said Wednesday that the unions put money into campaigns because many of their members live in the districts the council members represent. The SEIU donated $5,000 to the Berz campaign not because she does the union’s bidding, but because she listens to the union’s views, he said. (timesfreepress.com)

Union-style 'rigged' democracy leads to the abandonment of liberty ... With all this talk of nationalizing banks, the Fairness Doctrine to control radio speech, the possibility of the taking over of the auto industry, and even taking control of employees' 401(k)s and combine it with their Social Security really reeks of stench, or as the case may be socialism. At this point it may be just talk, but that's where it starts. Someone or more in Congress seems to be walking in the footsteps of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. It's time people start waking up and smell the coffee. There have been quotes made in the past. “Democracy is the road to socialism” and “The goal of socialism is communism.” Respectively, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. (mydesert.com)

Andy Stern's SEIU dues war escalates ... But Stern’s trusteeship of UHW seems unlikely to end the conflict. Ousted UHW President Sal Rosselli announced the next day that nearly 100 UHW leaders had resigned from SEIU to form a new union—the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW)—that will encourage UHW members to split from SEIU and join their new union. Within five days, workers at 11 hospitals and 51 nursing homes, employing 9,000 UHW members, filed petitions to decertify SEIU as their union and recognize NUHW. And NUHW was preparing many more filings in the following days. In most cases, majorities of workers signed, and NUHW asked employers to recognize the new union. (inthesetimes.com)

Forced Choice update ... "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)

D.C. union organizers would shutter small businesses ... The truth is small business owners work for a living. They do the books, but they also sweep up and take out the trash. They're struggling with everything from higher fuel costs to finding - and keeping - affordable health insurance. Small business owners take pride in the work they do and in treating their employees fairly. They're not making piles of money, but they believe in taking care of the people who work for them. If the unions and federal bureaucrats get to decide how much a small business pays its employees and what benefits it gives them, small business owners are going to have to make some tough decisions. They're going to have to decide whether they can afford to grow. They're going to have to decide whether they can afford to add jobs. They're going to have to decide whether they can even afford to stay in business. Secret ballots are a sacred part of the democratic process. Let's not throw them away simply to prop up the unions. (savannahnow.com)

Belated opposition to union thugs surfaces in D.C. ... Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today launched a pre-emptive strike against the most controversial labor-related bill expected in Congress his year. In fact, the pre-emptive strike was filed before the bill itself has been introduced in this session. The members behind the Secret Ballot Protection Act beat congressional Democrats to the punch. (kansascity.com)

Federal unionists picket, protest v. U.S. Navy ... Up to 1,200 skilled union laborers are worried they could lose their jobs at Naval Station Norfolk, according to the Tidewater Virginia Federal Employees Metal Trades Council Local 613. President Richard Burwell says the Navy is studying privatization to save money and is considering replacing workers with non-union contractors. About 100 members of the Metal Trades Council are holding an informational picket in front of Gate 2 on Hampton Blvd. They carried signs and chanted ‘Save our jobs. Save our jobs’ and drivers honked horns in support. (wvec.com)

Candidate wants union-backed, Porkulus-fed fraud group out of Michigan ... When asked what her agenda would be, Sen. Michelle McManus, now a candidate for secretary of state in 2010, replied: "I think every voter should have the opportunity to vote here in the state of Michigan. My platform is maybe a little different from some of the other candidates running. I mean, first of all I believe in customer service. Lines can never be too short in my mind. Number two, I am very interested in looking at how we can be more transparent at the secretary of state. And I’m also interested in taking on groups like ACORN that, you know, promote fraud and, you know, come into Michigan when they shouldn’t be here." (michiganmessenger.com)

Typical union tactic at Boeing: Strike threat ... The union representing engineers at the Boeing Co.'s military aircraft plant here has recommended that its members reject the company's contract offer and authorize a strike. Negotiations broke down Tuesday between Chicago-based Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents 700 engineers at Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems plant. Union members will vote next week on the same contract they rejected 209-28 earlier this month. This time, the union also is asking for a strike authorization. The vote requires a simple majority on both issues. Bob Brewer, Midwest director for SPEEA, said Boeing never intended to negotiate with the union about the rejected contract offer. Brewer said there is "a good probability" that the members will authorize a strike. The union says that doesn't mean a strike will take place. But, SPEEA said, the ability to call one would give union negotiators more clout when talking to the company. (manufacturing.net)

Failed strike devastates workers, town ... The union workers at Moncure Plywood had no idea when they walked off the job in July that they would be on the picket line through the tropical storms of fall, the chill of winter -- and the near-collapse of the U.S. economy. Now, after seven months of picketing beside a rural road in Chatham County, they find themselves at the center of a rare and protracted labor dispute, fighting for shorter work weeks, lower health-care costs and other workplace rights in the worst of economic conditions. Laid-off workers from other factories flocked to take their jobs, and in the past few months, the company has shed a third of its work force as the market for furniture dries up. The striking workers -- many of whom spent 30 or 40 years mixing glue, sorting wood or driving forklifts -- are faced with searching for jobs in the worst economy in a century. "I thought a couple weeks and they'd realize they need somebody in there who knows what they're doing," said Lewis Cameron, local president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents the striking workers. (newsobserver.com)

Fat-cat Teamsters buy big office building ... After a three-year search, the Brotherhood of Teamsters & Auto Truck Drivers Local 70 found a new home at 400 Roland St. in Oakland, CA. Boehm Liquidating Trust sold the Airport Business Park building for $2.9 million, or about $111 per square foot. The two-story office building, built in 1970, measures 26,209 square feet and boasts 27 private offices. Renovations were completed after the close of escrow, and the move will take place early next month, according to sources at Local 70. (costar.com)

International Collectivism

Anti-Democracy Update: If at first you don't succeed ... By scrapping presidential term limits, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez has eliminated one of the last hard constraints on his power. Latin American presidents often act like elected dictators while in power, riding roughshod over congresses, courts, and their political opponents. Presidential power is limited only by rules that define their terms in office—how many years until the next election, and how many times they can run—and by their ability to win elections. Of course, leaders often attempt to get around even these rules. Alberto Fujimori discarded Peru's constitution to allow his own re-election in 1995. He even violated his own tailor-made constitution by running for a third term in 2000. More recently, new constitution in Bolivia, approved in a referendum on Jan. 25, will enable President Evo Morales to run for another term. A similar referendum in Ecuador last year will enable President Rafael Correa to run for two more terms. And the Feb. 15 referendum in Venezuela was the second attempt by Chávez to change the constitution to allow indefinite re-election; an earlier attempt in 2007 failed. (embassymag.ca)

UT Venezuelan Students React ... UT students Carlos Acedo and Jean Paul Behrens shared their thoughts with The Minaret on the constitutional change that occurred in their home country. Do you think that Chavez passed the referendum fairly? Carlos Acedo: Yes and no. The official results show that he actually won. Since he first won the election, he has been taking control of all the institutions of the government. The current vice president of Venezuela also used to be head of the organization that controls elections. This is just one example of how Chavez has too much influence on the formal organizations in the country. Jean Pierre Behrens: Not at all. For example, I couldn’t vote. The consulate in Miami would not let me register. Imagine all the people that are outside Venezuela that couldn’t do that. Chavez could not pass the referendum allowing indefinite terms in 2007. How was he able to pass it now? CA: What Chavez wanted to do was a complete overhaul of the constitution. One of the major laws he wanted to pass was this referendum. He took all the major changes he wanted to make and broke them down into little packages of laws, and he is going to try to pass them progressively, not all at once as before. The change would have been too extreme and he realized that. In the new referendum, he included a provision that said all government officials could run for indefinite terms. Do you think that was a huge factor? CA: He realized that if he was the only one to be re-elected, he would not have the support of the people in the congress that could actually vote for this referendum. When he switched the referendum to allow all public officials the chance to be re-elected for indefinite terms, he gained the support of all of the people of his party. Even if someone other than Chavez comes into power, nobody is going to take that law away. Power corrupts people, and that is one law that allows people to become more corrupted. If you stay in power for too long, at some point you become a tyrant. I think it hurts the democracy. (theminaretonline.com)

Deadbeat, kleptocratic socialist raises concerns ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s seizure of $12 billion from the central bank last month is “something of a concern” because it may allow him to put off spending cuts and tax increases, Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Roberto Sifon said. “We don’t think that’s a positive,” Sifon said in a telephone interview from Miami. Pulling $12 billion from the central bank’s $41 billion of foreign reserves is “a lot of money,” he said. Signs are building that “they are going to weather the storm by running their reserves or using their assets. That’s something of a concern that we’re looking at.” (bloomberg.com)

Chavez Critic's Brother Slain ... A man has been ordered to be held in custody in connection with the murder of the brother of a National Assembly legislator and another man in President Hugo Chávez’ home state of Barinas last Thursday. César José Azuaje, 28, and another man, Yoel Caraballo Contreras, 27, were gunned down at a gasoline station during the early hours of the morning. Azuaje’s brother, Wilmer, is a dissident legislator from the president’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) who has raised questions about property acquisitions made by the Chávez family in Barinas. The president’s elder brother, Ádan, is governor of the state, following in the footsteps of their father, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez. Azuaje claims the family has acquired up to 17 properties, some allegedly in the name of front men or testaferros, since the state came under the political control of the Chávez clan. (laht.com)

Gov't union strikers shut down Greece ... A 24-hour strike by Greek civil servants disrupted services across the country Wednesday, forcing public hospitals to accept only emergency cases and airlines to cancel at least 68 flights. Hundreds of striking workers marched through central Athens chanting "Hands off our pensions!" Doctors, teachers, ambulance crews and tax office workers were among those participating in the strike, called by Greece's umbrella civil servants union, ADEDY, to demand better social security benefits and wage increases. (google.com)

Striking teachers paralyze public schools ... Academic activities were on Wednesday paralysed in public schools in Lagos, Oyo, and Osun States as teachers began a strike to protest the states' refusal to pay them the approved 27.5 per cent salary increase. The Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) had called on its members to begin an indefinite strike until the state government effects the payment. Some teachers stayed out from the school having got wind of the strike, those who reported for duty went back home immediately. In some schools, pupils played on the premises until they got tired. (allafrica.com)
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