Wednesday wrap

Corrupt SEIU official reassigned to Anna Burger in D.C. ... The Service Employees International Union's highest-ranking California officer has resigned that position and two other leadership posts in the wake of an internal investigation of payments to her ex-boyfriend, it was announced today. The SEIU said its inquiry found no wrongdoing by Annelle Grajeda, who was one of six executive vice presidents of the national union as well as the head of its California council and the local that represents Los Angeles County workers. The union said Grajeda, who could not be reached for comment, had decided to become an assistant to the SEIU's secretary-treasurer in Washington, D.C. (latimes.com)

Fat-cat union bigs to so-called 'private sector': Shut Up ... Big Labor's drive to eliminate secret ballots for union elections has united American business in opposition, so labor chiefs are putting on the brass knuckles: The new strategy is to threaten companies with government retaliation if they don't stop lobbying against turning U.S. labor markets into Europe. We wrote on February 13 about the letter from the labor consortium Change to Win to the Financial Services Roundtable, demanding that banks receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program money keep quiet about union "card check." To its credit, the banking lobby hasn't backed down. Now Big Labor is escalating, demanding in a February 23 letter to Secretary Timothy Geithner that Treasury muzzle the companies if they won't muzzle themselves. "Firms receiving significant TARP assistance continue to lobby against the interests of hard working taxpayers," says the letter from Change to Win Chair Anna Burger. The letter targets in particular the Principal Financial Group, based in Des Moines, which it says should be denied TARP money because of the "scale and scope" of its lobbying. But wait -- Citigroup spent three times more money on fourth-quarter lobbying than the $515,000 spent by Principal, the unions admit. So, what gives? It seems Principal's real sin is that it "lobbied on 26-labor related bills . . . including the Employee Free Choice Act," and it is the only TARP applicant or recipient to have disclosed doing so. (wsj.com)

LA Times: Scandalous SEIU charity begins at home ... The union officer gets more from the nonprofit, run from his home, than from his full-time San Francisco transit job. He's also paid for use of the home and his son is on the charity payroll. A Bay Area officer of the scandal-clouded Service Employees International Union has collected double salaries, one as a city transit worker and the other from a charity that receives much of its funding from the labor organization and corporate interests, records show. In addition, the nonprofit paid more than $16,000 in rent for the officer's home in 2007, the most recent year for which the charity's tax return is available, according to his son, who is also on the charity's payroll. James Bryant, who earned just under $68,000 as a transit station agent in 2007, received about $117,000 that year as president of the San Francisco chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, according to the tax return and the city's Municipal Transportation Agency. He was also paid or reimbursed about $10,000 as an executive board member for SEIU Local 1021, whose political committee he chairs, the union's financial statements show. (latimes.com)

Obama, Rahmbo use military tactic v. oppressive U.S. capitalism ... The United States military used Shock and Awe to overwhelm and defeat the Iraqis in 2003. Barack Obama and the Democrats are now using the political equivalent of Shock and Awe to radically move the nation to the left. Shock and Awe is designed to confuse, overwhelm and cow opponents of Obama's legislative coup d'état. The president, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, other high administration appointees and congressional lefties are embarked on a very deliberate strategy of frontloading and ramming through big legislative packages and executive orders designed to "remake" America - to use the president's word. (americanthinker.com)

Obama likened to leading Latin social justice advocate ... Hugo Chávez and Barack Obama are two of a kind. Listen to Obama's my-way-or-no-way rhetoric, and it's frightening. He is shoving all his socialistic reforms down our throats while we are at our weakest moments. Like all dictators, he is taking full advantage of his party's power and majority. I am just waiting for him to suggest a third term of presidency to ensure the success of all his plans for our new people's government. I can't wait for 2010 and will do everything I can to ensure the Republicans stop him and his cohorts in their tracks. It is an absolute must or we will lose America as we know it. He is a danger to our country, we were blindsided by the overwhelming hatred for Bush. Wake up America. Please wake up. (sun-sentinel.com)

CNN, FMLN team up in El Salvador ... A former CNN correspondent turned communist politician may soon become the head of state in one Latin American country. The story may add fuel to the fire of some conservative critics who refer to CNN as the "Communist News Network." Political analysts expect former "CNN en Español" correspondent Mauricio Funes to be elected president of El Salvador on March 15. According to The Washington Post, Funes was recently recruited by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a Soviet-inspired communist group that waged a bloody guerrilla war in the 1980s, and is now a viable political party in El Salvador. Funes and FMLN have even run ads featuring images of President Obama, including a television spot that borrows Obama's campaign slogan "Yes, we can!" Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, says if Funes is elected and drags the country to the left, it will further demonstrate just how "dramatically liberal" one can be and still work for CNN. "This is a party in El Salvador that came out of the Salvadoran communist party," he explains. "So it just shows...what kind of hiring [CNN does], what are they looking into, what kind of people fit their mold -- and it's certainly not a mold of strictly objective people. It's usually people who have a liberal or left-wing agenda." Graham says the Mauricio Funes story is "the closest thing to finding out Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez used to work for CNN." (onenewsnow.com)

The Audacity of Putting Union Organizers in Charge ... In his book, "Audacity of Hope", Barack Obama recognized his debt to labor unions and revealed what he would do if given the chance to lead this country: "I owe those unions... When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I don't mind feeling obligated." Of course Obama's obligation is not to the rank and file union members, it is to the big time union bosses; they are the ones that call the shots and devote huge amounts of money to Obama's ambitions. Indeed, many union members do not subscribe to the Obama socialist program and did not vote for Obama. But the way unions are structured members have little to say about how their leadership does things and who or how union bosses spend their dues money on politics. Obama won the election but he was in no way given a mandate to grant union bosses carte blanche on all matters related to union-management relations or to grant unrestricted rights to unions not only over their membership but also the employers who pay their wages. He was not in any way elected as Human Events says to push through policies that will: "1) Deny workers the right to a secret ballot when voting on whether or not they want to be part of a union (this is at top of the agenda for Big Labor, because it would enable union organizers to forcibly unionize millions more workers into dues-paying union ranks); 2) Ban companies in effect from running their companies during a strike -- a right they have held for roughly 70 years; 3) Attack 22 State Right to Work laws, which make union membership and union dues voluntary; 4) Appoint hundreds of labor cronies on the federal courts, throughout the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and other federal agencies; 5) Expand the definition of "employee" and narrow the definition of management, thereby placing more employees under union boss control; and 6) Force state and local governments under the monopoly control of union bosses as the monopoly bargaining agents for police, firefighters, and other first responders. Each of these steps will dramatically increase the political influence, money, and power of the far left big time labor bosses." (rightsidenews.com)

Market-savvy D.C. union organizers rally capitalists' confidence ... When asked whether there is any connection between Obama’s policies and the market’s month-long plunge, Democratic leaders were unanimous in blaming the record losses on anything other than their efforts. “If there’s any message from the Congress to the markets it is that this (the stimulus package) is a fiscally sound package, because markets don’t like spending, as we know. This is a fiscally sound package designed to be a recovery stimulus package with finite investments, not long-term spending,” Pelosi said. “This is very market-oriented,” Pelosi continued, referring to Obama's “energy policy innovations and the whole building of the (power) grid to encourage the private sector in many, many ways.” Other congressional Democratic leaders praised Obama’s economic medicine. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said the administration’s policies were pro-market, but that they will take time to work. “With an enormous economy like this and problems that have been years in the making, (things) don’t turn on a dime," Frank said. “They don’t even turn on a trillion.” “I believe that what we are doing is very pro-market. We are dealing with some problems in the marketplace today, and we are talking about putting in place in the future things that will help the market work better.” (cnsnews.com)

Obama's Bounced Stimulus Check ... Barack Obama provides a study in contrasts. He is personally measured, but his agenda is radical. Although his top personnel are largely centrist, his objectives are standard leftist issue. If his program succeeds, the U.S. will look a lot more like Europe, with far more of life controlled by the central government. Rather like American Uncle Sam meets French Sun King. One of the most important goals of the Obama program is to strengthen labor unions. Explained the president: "I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution." Of course more powerful unions would make it easier for him to push through the rest of his policy agenda. That's why he is backing the "card check" bill, which makes it a battle to control the entire economy. No one can predict with certainty the economic consequences of card check. Unions assume they would have millions of new members and billions of new dollars. (spectator.org)

Pro-union pork is constructed on racial discrimination ... The stimulus bill wastes billions by requiring that labor on funded construction projects be paid a "prevailing," meaning union, wage. Why should our infrastructure be rebuilt under a Jim Crow era law intended to block minorities? The Depression-era Davis-Bacon Act is applied throughout the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1). The original law, passed in 1931, required federal construction contractors to pay what is determined to be the "prevailing wage" in a given area. The law was introduced and passed to block wage competition from black construction workers following an Alabama contractor's successful bid on a federal construction project on Long Island in 1927. (investors.com)

Fed Up Black Contractors Say ‘Enough Is Enough’ ... With millions of dollars earmarked for the urban core, black contractors are concerned that they will be left out of the selection or bid process for many of the construction projects which may result from the stimulus money and many of the projects that are underway throughout the urban core. THE CALL met with Sam Dowdy, Billy Gilreath, Anthony Arnold and Mike Richardson over the lack of participation black contractors are getting with most of the construction projects taking place in the urban core. “Somebody has to stand up and do something and say something about the things that are going on in our community,” Arnold said. “It is a crying shame that a black church with 99.9 percent black people that attend their church every Sunday and finance the development, end up with 100 percent white folks on their jobs. Do the white people come in their church on Sunday and put a nickle in the collection plate? More than likely they don’t. But they stand over us every Sunday asking us to dig a little deeper in our pockets to help with their cause,” he said. (kccall.com)

Ron Carey on Teamster corruption

I am not a crook: Obamanomics inspired by Richard Nixon ... If you think General Motors and Chrysler are models of the unionized workplace, you will no doubt cheer news that Card Check – known to union bosses and prostrate lawmakers by its saccharinely official name, the Employee Free Choice Act - was formally introduced in Congress Tuesday by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, and Rep. George Miller, D-CA. Harkin, Miller and their union overseers want to kill the secret ballot in workplace representation elections. Doing that, according to economist Anne Layne-Farrar, who studied the card check system in Canada, would mean 600,000 lost jobs following every three percent gain in union membership. So Card Check would make it even harder for the millions of people who are now unemployed to find new jobs. But there’s something else in Card Check that its backers hope nobody notices, unless it’s needed as the basis of a legislative compromise later this year. It’s an obscure but potentially more dangerous provision that empowers federal arbitrators to set wages and benefits for employees in newly unionized companies. The bill imposes a binding arbitration process if union leaders cannot reach agreement with company officials within 90 days. At one party’s request, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) would then step in. If the parties still disagree within another 30 days, an FMCS-appointed arbitrator would impose wage and benefit levels for the next two years, regardless of the economic consequences. Somewhere Richard Nixon, the last president to impose government wage and price controls on private companies, is laughing manically. (dcexaminer.com)

Union-backed fraud group teams-up with Teachers ... A school board meeting turned into a display of civil disobedience Tuesday as about 50 educators refused to leave, creating a brief standoff with police, who refused to make any arrests in the presence of media. A protester explains why union members staged an illegal occupation. The members of ACORN and United Teachers Los Angeles -- all wearing bright red shirts -- entered the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday afternoon, sat down and began chanting. Police said the protesters were staging an illegal occupation of a public building. The district said no arrests would occur as long as members of media were in building. UTLA President A.J. Duffy approached the speakers' lectern and told the board, "You know why we're here. You know I'm not leaving this rostrum. You know I'm going to keep talking." (nbclosangeles.com)

Rep. Dennis Kucinich placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check). WHAT: Kucinich received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $5,000 in 2008 Cycle; $8,500 in 2006 Cycle. Boilermakers Union (PAC) $2,500 in 2008 Cycle. WHY IT'S DIRTY: At least eight members of these two unions have been convicted since 2002 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy. WILL KUCINICH GIVE IT BACK? Kucinich did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment. (dcexaminer.com)

Dems stray off the Big Labor reservation; names will be taken ... Democrats on Tuesday formally introduced the controversial card-check bill in the House and Senate, but with fewer sponsors than in the last Congress. The drop in support comes despite the fact that Democrats now hold more Senate and House seats, and suggests lawmakers are wary of the bill ahead of the 2010 elections. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has been subject to an intense lobbying war between business and labor, and was a campaign issue in several states and districts in 2008. Forty senators had signed on as co-sponsors on Tuesday, compared to 46 in 2007. Eighteen Democratic senators did not sign on as co-sponsors, including 11 lawmakers who were co-sponsors in the Senate the last time it was introduced. No Republicans co-sponsored the bill. In the House, the bill was introduced with 223 co-sponsors, compared to 230 in 2007. (thehill.com)

Capitalists disrupt business-as-usual on Capitol Hill ... The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on March 10 led nearly 200 local business and community leaders from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Louisiana, and Nebraska to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives and voice opposition to legislation that would effectively eliminate workers’ right to a private ballot election in union organizing drives. The misnamed-Employee Free Choice Act, commonly known as card check, was introduced in the House today with 223 original co-sponsors, 7 fewer than when the bill hit the House floor in 2007 despite expanded majorities supposedly sympathetic to the bill. The bill also hit the Senate with 40 co-sponsors, 7 fewer than in 2007. “In the midst of this economic crisis, small business owners are flocking to Capitol Hill because they know card check must be defeated,” said Steven Law, the U.S. Chamber’s chief legal officer and general counsel. “These depressed co-sponsorship numbers show that lawmakers aren't just getting cold feet on card check – they're getting frostbite.” (finchannel.com)

Union big opposes anti-democratic Card-Check scheme ... Neal Catlett is a former president of the union representing workers at Whirlpool’s Fort Smith plant who has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the local union. Catlett, now retired from Whirlpool, opposes card check. He told The City Wire that he has seen plenty of “nonsense” among Whirlpool leaders and union leaders to know that anything other than a secret ballot will lead to intimidation, coercion and corruption on all sides. “I strongly support secret ballots. Period. It doesn’t matter at what level, whether it is voting for a union or the president or your congressman,” Catlett said. “Your ideas should be personal as to if you want a union or don’t want a union.” Catlett doesn’t argue with union leaders who say the current labor rules make it too tough and are tilted in the favor of business. But he says card check is the wrong way to create a more level playing field. And he also says unions use the same coercion and intimidation used by business owners. “Doing away with the secret ballot is not good for the unions. It’s not good for any business. ... Open voting creates an atmosphere of intimidation. It creates an atmosphere where people will use your opinion against you. I’ve seen the threats and I’ve actually seen the physical conflict, if you know what I mean, come from the business side and from the union side,” Catlett said. “I just don’t see how any process that is not private will protect the worker.” (thecitywire.com)

Obama, Dems clash with U.S. non-union workforce ... Earlier this month a poll showed that 82% of Americans do not want their job to be unionized, which demonstrates that there is no national appetite for legislation to dramatically change the organization process in the unions' favor. In addition, a new study out last week by Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar showed that in the first year after the implementation of EFCA, this job killer would cost the nation 600,000 full-time employees and permanently shrink the number of working Americans. These facts are clear to the 100 editorial boards across the country who have opposed this undemocratic legislation, in stark contrast to the paltry three that have supported it. Even the former Democratic Party Presidential nominee, Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), has vocally opposed this legislation, saying that EFCA "cannot be justified." "These legislators should respect the overwhelming majority of Americans who support retaining the secret ballot and have no interest in joining a union," said Employee Freedom Action Committee Executive Director Rick Berman. "They should be ashamed for backing legislation that will not only strip employees of their right to a secret ballot, but will cost the nation over a half million jobs, and force innumerable Americans into a union against their will." (news.prnewswire.com)

No social justice for Walmart shareholders ... The debate over the Employee Free Choice Act is heating up. Congress is expected to formally introduce the bill today. Just in time, Citigroup has reduced its rating of Wal-Mart's stock from "buy" to "hold" in response to negative effects the company will suffer if the bill passes. In that case, Wal-Mart might have to shoulder higher wages for more seasoned employees and increase employee benefits significantly. In addition, its flexibility in the job functions of its workforce could be decreased, while relationships between store-level managers and store associates could be impaired, the analyst said. Wal-Mart could also see its competitiveness reduced if it's forced to raise prices to help offset higher labor costs, she wrote in a research note. It "could be a significant drag to earnings," she said. (usnews.com)

International Collectivism

Obama welcomes Trotskyite Latin emissary to White House tête-à-tête ... President Barack Obama is to ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba as he continues efforts to build bridges with traditional foes of the United States. An administration official said: "All policies are under review, but we expect a decision soon on family remittances and travel." During the Bush years, US allies in the region felt ignored as the White House concentrated on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president, forged a new Leftist alliance that was hostile to Washington. The official said the summit was: "A chance for the new administration to engage Latin America. The region as a whole has liberalised and we have great allies there." However Mr Obama's plans fall far short of demands from Cuba and pro-Cuba groups in the US for a complete end to the embargo. One Cuba campaigner, who asked not to be named, said: "If Obama lifts up the curtain and this all he has to show, it's going to look pretty small time." Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, is expected to urge Mr Obama to end the US trade embargo on the island when he visits Washington on Saturday. (telegraph.co.uk)

Chávez outsources presidential security, education, police to Castro brothers ... Cuban influence in Venezuela is growing beyond politics in a broad range of areas, from agriculture and commerce to energy and education, and even presidential security. About 40,000 Cubans are now working in Venezuela, and the island has received millions of dollars in petroleum subsidies that sway between 90,000 and 130,000 barrels a day, according to some estimates. Hector Navarro, Venezuela's minister of education, revealed last month that a group of Cuban experts are giving his government lessons in public education. Sources within the Venezuelan military say Cuban military experts control several security circles that protect President Hugo Chávez and have penetrated strategic areas of the armed forces and the central government, including the situation room in Miraflores, Venezuela's presidential palace. The Venezuelan government recently announced a program that will supervise police forces throughout the country, and Cuban advisers will play a critical role. (drurymirror.com)

Latin socialist cracks down on corruption ... A former governor who broke ties with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has been charged with corruption. Prosecutors investigating Eduardo Manuitt say they discovered irregularities in the purchase of air conditioners for hospitals in 1999, when he was governor of central Guarico state. Investigators believe Manuitt pocketed money from the transactions. Manuitt denies any wrongdoing and says the corruption allegations are politically motivated. The Attorney General's Office announced Monday that Manuitt would be charged with corruption - a crime punishable by three to 10 years in prison. Manuitt distanced himself from Chávez last year, when the president's ruling party refused to back his daughter as his replacement for governor. (etaiwannews.com)

Evo Morales: The Robert Mugabe of the Andes ... Standing next to his tropical-fruit-juice cart, William Martinez, an indigenous Bolivian with a thatch of black hair and broad shoulders, says it offers more promise than his hometown of La Paz. The administrative capital and its most famous resident, President Evo Morales, Martinez says, seem increasingly distant and out of touch. “The president has resentment toward the middle class, the mestizos,” Martinez told me. “Instead of governing for a whole country, he is governing only for the indigenous class and has brought racism with him … We don’t want to march [with him], we want to work.” Morales’s racially charged approach may be losing its appeal. Martinez and other indigenous citizens in Santa Cruz and LaPaz say they are growing weary of the calls and threats from Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS, party. One community leader near La Paz said MAS representatives threatened her constituents with fines if they did not join a march in October to support constitutional reforms. When Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and the Drug Enforcement Administration in late 2008, he killed a trade agreement with the United States that was one of the few lifelines for Bolivia’s exports. Depressed oil and gas prices have since meant less revenue for Bolivia, and less support from Morales’s chief mentor and benefactor, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. The only growth industry, in fact, appears to be coca. (theatlantic.com)

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