Monday wrap

Oppressive UFCW puts Dem politics before workers ... Did a union that supports a candidate for U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel's seat fire a worker for endorsing a different candidate? The campaign of Dr. Victor Forys, a Polish-born physician seeking Emanuel's seat, will host a news conference today allowing Agnes Sobczyk to tell her story. Sobczyk said she had been working as a receptionist for the Rosemont-based United Food and Commercial Workers Union for nearly a year when she was abruptly fired Thursday. Her crime? She said she passed a letter to a co-worker detailing her concerns about State Rep. John Fritchey, the candidate the union has endorsed to replace Emanuel. She passed the letter to her co-worker on Wednesday night and on Thursday morning, she said Union President Ron Powell called her into his office. "He shoved this in my face and said, 'Explain this!'" she said. Sobczyk said she told Powell she was concerned about some stories she read about Fritchey and that she thought Forys was a better candidate. "Then I just stopped talking and said, 'I'm fired, right?'" she said. "He said, 'Yes you're fired.' I couldn't believe it. I got nothing but good reviews there." Sobczyk came to the United States from Poland as a child herself like Forys but that is not why she is supporting him, she said. "He's not part of the machine, like Fritchey, like the union," she said. Sobczyk spoke to the Sun-Times Saturday afternoon at a Forys campaign office on the Northwest Side. She said she only started volunteering for his campaign after getting a call two weeks ago. Sobczyk's immediate supervisor at the union told the Sun-Times, "I have no comment on that." (suntimes.com)

In case you missed it: The Union News weekend
Saturday: Middle Class demands forced-labor unionism
Sunday: Social-justice protests sweep U.S.

Mickey Mouse: Big Labor rodent ... The Disneyland Resort announced last week that it reached a four-year agreement with The Master Services Council, a coalition of four labor unions that represent 4,500 Disneyland Park cast members. The collective bargaining agreement with SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW, and Bakery & Confectionery Union is the Resort's largest union contract, and the new agreement was signed two weeks before the existing contract expires on March 15. The Master Services Council also negotiated the same terms for DCA cast members, well ahead of that contract's expiration in October, 2009. Meanwhile, negotiations with Unite Here Local 11, representing over 2000 workers at the three Disneyland Resort hotels, seem to be indefinitely stalled. Disney presented their "best, last and final" offer to Local 11 last December; an offer the union eventually rejected in January. The major sticking point in that negotiation is health insurance, with Local 11 rejecting Disney's proposal to transition covered cast members to the same health plan offered to employees under the master services contract. (mouseplanet.com)

Joining the Union: Pilot

Obama flunked Economics ... President Obama's war on wealth continues. As does his steering of the ship of state toward all-but-confessed socialism. It is happening so fast, there is no time to sort it all out. The crisis is too severe, we're incessantly told. We must not dilly-dally over the thought process. Just do it. And ignore the little voice that says the economy won't right itself if we dive deeper and deeper into the red sea like this. It's now magically clear how to finance health care for the 40- plus million uninsured. No problem, just let it be done at least half by rich people, "rich" meaning the good earners. A couple bringing in more than $250,000 a year will qualify. Their tax bracket would go up, and they'd lose about a quarter of itemized deductions in the fiscal year budget starting Oct. 1. Churches, symphonies and other nonprofits that benefit from deductions might feel the pinch, too, but Obamanomics doesn't dwell on unintended consequences. The worst casualty would be all the investing power and other job multipliers that ripple out from high- earning households. Where did we get this foolish notion that money stops with the rich? Oh, and has it sunk in that the FY 2010 budget will be $1.75 trillion in deficit? If you're not shocked, it's the numbing effect. Trillions are commandeered so recklessly they don't weigh on people's minds much more than billions. (istockanalyst.com)

Legalizing Capitalism: Anti-Leftist community organizers to extend protests ... The anti-stimulus demonstrations that began about two weeks ago moved Friday to more than 35 cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The protest in D.C. attracted about 200 people and included conservative commentators and celebrities such as Michelle Malkin, Deroy Murdock and Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher. The protests' theme is moving beyond the stimulus to President Obama's proposed budget, tax hikes, and mortgage and bank bailouts. One protester, Lisa Miller of Silver Spring, Md., said: "I do banking, and every time I see a Bank of America ad, I know I'm paying for that. So I have to compete with my government." "We have to pay our own mortgage, we got a house we can afford," said Jo Ann Abbott, a military wife. "My grandson is going to pay for Obama's spending." The Tea Party continued out West, where a better-than-expected turnout of roughly 200 people showed up on the Santa Monica Pier in California. Brooks Bayne, CEO of social media tracker The Graph, organized the event. And it wouldn't be an L.A. protest without some Hollywood star power, as ex-Saturday Night Live comedian Victoria Jackson came out to voice her opposition to excessive government spending. With four days to pull the event together, Bayne was very happy with the turnout. "This kind of spending is not wise when the nation faces a deficit over a trillion dollars, and within the first month of his administration, Obama has doubled the budget deficit," he said. "This is not the kind of change I was looking for." The crowd held signs that read "Legalize Capitalism," "The best government, governs least" and "No to Socialism." Many resented being forced to bail out others for their reckless mistakes. Or as one D.C. protester's sign put it, "Your mortgage is not my problem." There have only been a few high-profile conservative figures taking part in the protests. On the other hand, that underscores the true grass-roots nature of the events. "I think you could see the next generation of young conservative leaders and politicians come out of this," said Malkin, whose eponymous blog has been an Internet focal point for the protests. "There are a lot of people who are here for the very first time. I'm finding that it's bringing out people who've never been involved in partisan politics or movement conservatism before." Caldera concurred: "We're not quite ready for prime time. The left knows how to throw a wonderful rally. We're learning, slowly, how to communicate with each other in a viral way, which the left has done masterfully." A virtual Tea Party was organized via Twitter and Facebook. The future may show how broadly the anti-spending sentiment is shared. More protests are being planned for April 15 and July 4. (investors.com)

Alinskyite Left-wing bloggers ridicule anti-Socialist demonstrators ... Attendance numbers for the tea parties was not so important as the very fact of their existence. Top rightblogger Instapundit said, "it's much bigger news when 200 people with jobs who've never protested turn out, than when 20,000 of the usual suspects organized by ACORN or ANSWER march with preprinted signs." "Conservatives don't live for politics, unlike the Left," concurred Backyard Conservative. "When we do turn out we are not a rent-a-mob with pre-printed signs bused in by union bosses or Obama's precious ACORN." "OK -- it is a beginning," said the Catholic Libertarian. "The Left has ACORN and an array of activist groups. They call a meeting and within a day have professionally printed signs and rhyming chants." (blogs.villagevoice.com)

Carpenter strikers picket in Atlanta

Thin-skinned socialist Dems stung by critics; Rahmbo whines to CBS comrades ... President Barack Obama's chief of staff says talk show personality Rush Limbaugh is a top figure in the Republican Party. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel says Limbaugh is the "intellectual force" of the GOP. Emanuel says Republicans now have to live with that choice. Limbaugh gave a major speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting this weekend in Washington. Limbaugh says it's fine for Republicans to criticize Obama's plans and says Republicans must return to their core beliefs. Limbaugh has been a vocal critic of Obama's, saying he hopes the new president's plans fail. Liberal and labor groups have broadcast ads citing Limbaugh as a driving force inside the GOP. Emanuel spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation." (townhall.com)

Communists: Obama 'best opportunity in decades' for democracy ... President Obama's leadership is "one of the best opportunities that Americans have had in decades," declared a civil rights activist addressing an overflow crowd at a gathering sponsored by the official newspaper of the Community Party USA. The Peoples Weekly World last weekend held its 35th Annual African American History Month celebrations in Connecticut, drawing large crowds in both Hartford and New Haven, including high school students who participated in an arts competition with the theme "Dear President Obama, My dream is ... ." Panelists at both events spoke about and took questions on this year's theme: "Building the Momentum for Change. Realizing the Dream for Jobs – Peace – Equality." The events featured local guests, music and a tribute to the author and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, who was a Communist Party member according to expert Trevor Loudon. A report in Peoples Weekly World stated speakers at the events were asked to "reflect on [the] next steps to achieve equality and how to keep the unity growing that elected Obama." "You are not going to agree with everything Obama does," exclaimed New Haven panelist Clifton Graves, identified by the Communist newspaper a long time civil rights activist, "but it is up to us to keep the momentum going for change. This is one of the best opportunities that Americans have had in decades." Panelist Brian Steinberg, a Communist Party USA member, was quoted explaining Obama’s election represents an "expansion of democracy in our country, won by the unity of the people, which must continue on." (wnd.com)

Faith in the brotherhood: Hush-hush organizers' confab kicks-off ... Closed-door discussions with Vice President Joe Biden and new Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, plus brainstorming on how to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, head the agenda at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting this week in Fort Lauderdale. The meeting starts Monday night when Solis, daughter of two union members and a former congresswoman from Latino areas of East Los Angeles, joins AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other leaders in a visit to a Miami church. (workdayminnesota.org)

Federal supremacy haunts state action v. fascistic D.C. union organizers ... In case closing a $5 billion budget gap isn't a big enough task for the upcoming Florida legislative session, House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Boca Raton, has joined a national effort to combat Big Labor's top initiative for 2009. Hasner is leading the charge for a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right of Floridians to cast secret ballots in all elections - from presidential contests to employee votes on whether to unionize. Similar efforts are taking place in several states using amendment language drafted by constitutional lawyer Clint Bolick, who's been part of numerous conservative and libertarian causes. Businesses say using pledge cards rather than private ballots will allow labor organizers to coerce workers into approving a union. If Congress passes the card-check law and Florida approves the secret-ballot amendment, courts would likely resolve the conflict. Bolick says there's precedent for state laws prevailing over federal ones, but concedes in a strategy memo that "federal preemption law will present a significant challenge to state constitutional protections." (palmbeachpost.com)

We don't need no stinkin' worker-choice ... According to the Feb. 20 newspaper, 200 union activists spent a morning hooting and hollering outside an event that Congressman Charlie Dent attended. They don't like his stand on the "card check" bill that would allow union organizers to do away with the secret ballot when it comes to union elections. So they exercised their constitutional right to protest. Now imagine that you don't want to belong to a union for whatever reason, and you don't sign the card as the ''organizers'' want. Next thing you know, there are 200 union activists outside your home practicing their constitutional right. Do you still think the Democrats in Congress should cave in to the union bosses and take away your right to a secret ballot? (mcall.com)

Powerful union thugs revel in Obama payback ... President Barack Obama quietly revoked in February his predecessor's ban on the use of union-friendly deals in federally funded projects. It's unclear how many California construction projects could come under what are known as project labor agreements as a result of Obama's action. But folks may recall that Contra Costa has been ground zero over the years in the political squabble over the use of PLAs. It's common here to ask candidates for county supervisor, the school board and the city council their positions on their use. Local agencies with pro-PLA policies include Contra Costa County, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Contra Costa Water District and West Contra Costa Unified School District. The John Swett Unified School District board voted last month to use PLAs on its voter-approved bond program. So, what is a project labor agreement? The details vary but it is typically a formal arrangement where a public agency (or a private company) requires a contractor, among other things, to hire the workers — union and nonunion — through the local union hall, use its apprenticeship programs and pay into the union's benefits pool. Nonunion contractors call PLAs payoffs to powerful unions and say the deals drive down competition and boost costs to taxpayers. (contracostatimes.com)

Making Pay-to-Play union-only in Illinois ... After watching two consecutive governors leave office in disgrace, Illinois leaders are eager to convince angry voters they can clean up state politics. They're appointing commissions and making promises as fast as they can. But it's not certain the talk will translate into action. Lawmakers are being asked to overhaul the very system that got them into office. Major changes -- such as limiting the size of campaign donations -- are bound to get a skeptical reception. Then there are genuine disagreements about the best way to address the state's ethical problems, as well as concerns about the cost of some proposals. (thehawkeye.com)

International Collectivism

Latin socialist sets high bar for Obama ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a former paratrooper turned socialist revolutionary and regional leader, declared a national holiday for February 2, the tenth anniversary of his being in power. On the day of the newly mandated celebration, Chávez reminded Venezuelans of the prosperity the country has witnessed over the last decade. He rallied his supporters with a speech proclaiming that his administration had encapsulated “three words: revolution, independence and socialism.” He proclaimed to the thousands of sympathizers lining Caracas' streets that the spirit of Venezuela's forefather, Simon Bolivar, had been revived in him ten years ago, and assisted in the effort to liberate the Venezuelan people. Chávez, the founder of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), also used the occasion to issue a new document, “The Achievement in 10 years of Revolution.” It outlines the government's accomplishments such as economic reform, social welfare, and the prospect of major land reform. Chávez triumphantly told his followers that, “We have done in 10 years what couldn't be done in one century.” Alberto Barrera, a reputable writer, accused the Venezuelan leader of “promising Venezuelans paradise but that paradise, which he calls socialism, depends on oil above $120.” Now, although such a tart remark may be more revealing of Barrera's skeptical politics than a telling insight into reality, he might have a point. As of only days ago, world oil prices stood at a meager $40 per barrel. Nonetheless, Chávez assured the world that his revolution will withstand the American-fueled economic crisis. He may be right. The Burlington County Times, amongst others, have projected oil prices might ascend to $60 per barrel. If gas prices are truly on the rise, Chávez won't have to wait it out too long before the national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, starts raking in money once again. As long as oil is being bought and sold at a profitable price (around $60 per barrel), Chávez's social programs can stay afloat even after his $42 billion in hard currency savings run out. In regards to ties with the United States, Chávez has had a rocky history with his Northern neighbor. In an appearance before the United Nations, Chávez dubbed President George W, Bush “the devil.” With such saucy language in the background leaving a troubled legacy, interactions with the U.S. since President Obama's inauguration have failed to improve. While Obama offered to open talks with Venezuela to foster better relations, Chávez seemed almost uninterested to the U.S. leader's previous green light for diplomatic talks, perhaps due to Obama's perception of Chávez as a destructive force. Specifically, Obama has recognized him as “being a force that has interrupted progress in the region.” Chávez responded, arguing that Obama had the “same stench” as Bush. The prospect of Obama and Chávez conversing and forging the beginnings of a diplomatic relationship is encouraged by the fact that the U.S. leader has promised to no longer ignore Latin America and its multiple plights. Obama has already met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and speaks publicly about engaging in talks with longtime U.S. adversary Cuba. Hugo Chávez's ten year legacy culminates with the February 15 vote on a re-election referendum, which to an extent will decide the future course of himself and his Revolution. (petroleumworld.com)

Doctor Silences Venezuelan Socialist For Three Days ... A rare feat has been accomplished by a Venezuelan doctor: he's ordered Hugo Chávez for three days to stay silent. Known for his 5+ hour speeches, a sore throat has forced him to stop talking in order to regain the faculties of his voice. "I am a little affected by the intensive, continuous and permanent use of this cannon I've got here and the doctor has told me not to talk." He noted however that the silence was not what he needed. He spent 7 hours speaking at Congress in January. During the beginning of a show which he hosts every week, Chávez said: "I said 'listen friend, do what you can but how am I going to follow this treatment?' Three days without talking? I lasted one, not even one." (shortnews.com)
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