Thursday wrap

SEIU infuriates its own Union of Union Representatives ... The Service Employees International Union, considered the most influential union in the nation, has notified the union that represents about 220 of the SEIU's national field staff and organizers that it is laying off 75 of the employees. In return, the workers union, which goes by the somewhat postmodern name of the Union of Union Representatives, has filed charges of unfair labor practices against the SEIU with the National Labor Relations Board. The workers union's leaders say that the SEIU is engaging in the same kind of practices that some businesses use: laying off workers without proper notice, contracting out work to temp firms, banning union activities and reclassifying workers to reduce union numbers. "It's completely hypocritical," said Malcolm Harris, president of the workers union. "This is the union that's been at the forefront of progressive issues, around ensuring that working people and working families are taken care of, but when it comes to the people that work for SEIU, they haven't set the same standards." (washingtonpost.com)

Congress calls Obama's Porkulus unconstitutional ... A nonpartisan congressional report released Wednesday concludes that it likely would be unconstitutional for a legislature to supplant a governor in accepting and using economic stimulus money. The Congressional Research Service analysis could imperil tens of millions of stimulus dollars reserved for South Carolina and Texas, whose Republican governors have said they will reject some of their states' shares of the money. (kansascity.com)

Where do we stand on Big Labor? ... “Do You Favor/Oppose Making It Easier For People To Form Labor Unions By Allowing Them To Publicly Sign A Card, Even If That Might Eliminate A Secret Ballot Vote?” That’s the question from a newly released CBS News poll. The answer: 45 percent say they oppose, 38 percent would favor. Another question: “Do You Think Labor Unions Have Too Much/Too Little Influence On U.S. Life And Politics Today?” 47 percent say too much. Only 18 percent say too little. Just another reminder: Americans may not be anti-union, but they are against efforts to eliminate the secret ballot. (thetruthaboutefca.com)

Congress to probe union-backed fraud group ... A lawyer for a whistleblower on the activist group ACORN is prepared to tell a House panel Thursday that the group provided liberal causes with protest-for-hire services and coerced donations from the targets of demonstrations through a mob-style "protection" racket. ACORN called it the "muscle for the money" program, according to prepared testimony Pittsburgh lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh plans to deliver at a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties. A copy of her prepared testimony was obtained by The Washington Times. The protest shakedowns are among a slew of accusations that Ms. Heidelbaugh intends to make against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. She also will accuse the nonprofit group of violating tax, campaign-finance and other laws by sharing a list of President Obama's maxed-out campaign donors to solicit more funds for a get-out-the-vote drive. The accusations, which are based entirely on sworn court testimony late last year by ACORN whistleblower Anita Moncrief, range from unlawfully coordinating campaign activity with Mr. Obama's presidential campaign to deliberately engaging in voter-registration fraud and misusing federal grant money. ACORN officials say none of the charges is true, though they declined to respond to any of the separate claims. "None of this wild and varied list of charges has any credibility, and we're not going to spend our time on it," said Kevin Whelan, ACORN deputy political director. He said the group's voter-registration drive succeeded in bringing many disaffected minority and low-income voters into the democratic process. (washingtontimes.com)

ACORN wants to know

Anti-business Feds squeeze U.S. employers ... Washington Post reporter Alec MacGillis recently wrote: "Get ready for one of the nastiest fights of President Obama's still young first term as opponents of the Employees Free Choice Act come out in force." On March 10, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lost no time flying in 200 members from around the country to lobby the key legislators who will decide the bill's fate. Chamber members are billing their action as a "Workforce Freedom Airlift." The Chattanooga Times editorialized, "It is ironic that union organizers are pursuing a proposal in Congress that is dishonestly titled the ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ but would deny real free-choice secret ballots and (instead) substitute card-checks by union organizers." A move to counter card-check is under way with the introduction of a bill co-sponsored by Senators Bob Corker, R-TN, and Lamar Alexander, R-TN, entitled, "The Secret Ballot Provisions Act," which is intended to amend the National Labor Relations Act so that workers would be guaranteed the right to a vote by secret ballot on whether to join a labor union. Sen. Alexander said, “There are few American rights more fundamental than the secret ballot, whether it's a vote for president, mayor or to unionize a work place. American workers deserve to be able to vote their consciences without having to worry about potential retaliation." (frontpagemagazine.com)

Just another Thursday: Union thugs to demonize corporate America ... Tapping into public anger about bonuses paid to bailed-out financial firms, a coalition of union-affiliated groups plans to hold protests around the country on Thursday. These are the “first coordinated national public protests” since the federal bank bailouts began, organizers said. “Working families and a broad coalition of community groups will join together to send a message to Congress that Americans have had enough,” the news release said. Protesters also will “call for quick action to pass measures that will help build an economy that works for everyone rather than just the few at the top: the Employee Free Choice Act; affordable, quality health care for all; and strong banking reforms.” Event sponsors include the Service Employees International Union, Change to Win, Partnership for Working Families, Catholics United, Jobs with Justice, United Students Against Sweatshops, and other regional groups. According to the news release, “The demonstrations will take place at the offices of major banks whose behavior both before and since the government bailout epitomize an era of CEO and corporate excess -- at the expense of broader prosperity -- that has weakened the economy.” (cnsnews.com)

New U.S. policy discriminates against non-union workers ... President Obama recently signed four executive orders, which strongly favor the interests of organized labor and will affect many employers that enter into contracts to provide goods or services to the federal government. By their terms, the orders will not have any real impact until the Secretary of Labor issues implementing regulations later this year. The orders will not affect the obligations of federal contractors under existing contracts; the requirements will be imposed pursuant to the terms of new contracts following the promulgation of the Secretary's regulations. The new executive orders, which revoke several executive orders issued by President Bush, are detailed below. (mondaq.com)

Rand would shrug ... Ayn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged," is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history. There's a reason. In "Atlas," Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar? The novel's eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. "If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society," Rand wrote elsewhere in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," "you can predict its course." Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don't just happen by themselves; they are the product of the philosophical ideas prevalent in a society--particularly its dominant moral ideas. Why do we accept the budget-busting costs of a welfare state? Because it implements the moral ideal of self-sacrifice to the needy. Why do so few protest the endless regulatory burdens placed on businessmen? Because businessmen are pursuing their self-interest, which we have been taught is dangerous and immoral. Why did the government go on a crusade to promote "affordable housing," which meant forcing banks to make loans to unqualified home buyers? Because we believe people need to be homeowners, whether or not they can afford to pay for houses. (hawaiireporter.com)

Massive debt, deficits undergird New Prog Era ... Back when he was running for president, Joseph Biden Jr. often quoted his father when talk turned to the budget. “My dad always used to say, ‘Don’t tell me what you value — show me your budget,’ ” Biden would tell supporters. “Show me your budget, I’ll tell you what you value.” The point was, you can tell a lot from what might otherwise seem an excruciatingly boring and mundane government document. And that has never been more true than in the case of “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise” — otherwise known as the Obama administration’s 2010 budget. So what does Obama value? What has struck most observers since the release of the $3.6 trillion budget is his willingness to push hard for his long-term goals, even if they have no direct connection to the current economic emergency. * He asked Congress to set aside $634 billion for health care reform — details to be announced. * He announced plans to collect $646 billion from a “cap-and-trade” tax on energy — details to be announced. * He proposed spending billions more in federal education spending — details to be announced. The new spending plans came on the heels of his $787 billion stimulus bill, and, while each is controversial in its own right, together they are becoming a drag on the new president’s popularity. “You’re seeing a cumulative effect that’s beginning to affect his job approval,” Republican pollster David Winston told me. “People are getting the sense of a dramatic change that is going to add to the deficit, add to taxes, add to spending.” (dcexaminer.com)

Inflation, union subsidies key U.S. collectivism ... Amid all of the mixed messages on the strength of the economy coming from the White House, one theme has emerged loudly, clearly, and unvaryingly: The American economic system is about to undergo a profound shift. “Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously stated. “Never waste a good crisis,” concurred Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Americans, said Obama, should “discover great opportunity in great crisis.” What kind of opportunity? “Capitalism,” Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner said last week, “will be different.” All of Obama’s economic policies thus far are designed to drive America into full embrace of socialism. His chief means for this transformation: inflation. He is attempting to inflate the currency through two primary means: intense deficit spending, and pushing up production costs through union subsidization. (cnsnews.com)

Community organizers lead nationwide protests against social-justice fraud ... The honeymoon is over for President Barack Obama. Just look at the “tea parties,” as angry citizens protest his policies, carrying signs that say such things as, “Honk if I am paying your mortgage.” Poor, benighted souls. They still think self-responsibility matters, not just allusions to it in Obama speeches, but the real thing. That would entail squashing policies in which the government robs hard-working, frugal Peter to pay slothful, reckless Paul while excusing the crime as social justice. The demonstrations are patterned after the anti-tax Boston Tea Party, and just may grow in the face of anger over $165 million in bonuses given to AIG, recipients of billions in bailout money. As avaricious as these AIG contractual bonuses were, it is unconstitutional overreach for the government to try to block them at this point. Obama does not care. He shares the blame for anger at the executives, having railed repeatedly and demagogically against economically insignificant CEO salaries. Now that this public fury is turning in his direction, his administration is making it clear it is perfectly happy to throw the rule of law overboard. This president has botched up more things in two months in office than most presidents manage over two terms, amply illustrating the campaign charge that his inexperience equipped him for next to nothing. (venturacountystar.com)

Workers oust Teamsters, go union-free ... Printpack has had union represenation for the last 57 years. Three years ago the Teamsters Local 662 took over to deal with pension issues. Since then the National Labor Relations Board has cited Printpack for violating federal labor laws. After three years of negotiation, some Printpack employees decided they didn't want union representation. Tuesday night those employees got their wish. According to David Reardon a Teamsters Local 662 Union Representative, the Teamsters withdrew representation of the Printpack employees at 5:00pm tonight. This means the Teamsters no longer represent the union at Printpack. Reardon says they decided they could withdraw representation because all issues, such as the recent National Labor Relation Board's decision, had been settled. In a phone interview, Reardon tells Newswatch 12, "We didn't decide to go earlier because there were still issues left to be resolved like the board charges, and securing the backpay and the bonuses, things of that nature." Matt Skinner is the spokesperson for "Decertify Printpack Now" he says after all the years of struggles he's glad it's over with. He says, "This is a relief, it's not just a relief for me, but it's a relief for the employees of the plant, it's certainly a relief for Printpack, it may even be a relief for the union as well, this has been a struggle on all sides of the issue." Skinner adds now that the union is gone employees will be eligible for paid personal time off and paid sick leave, something he says they didn't have before. (wjfw.com)

Corrupt Illinois SEIU big welcomed to White House ... Union boss Tom Balanoff was on the guest list for yesterday's St. Patrick's Day bash at the White House. As the Wall Street Journal reported in December, Balanoff was allegedly a player in Blago's attempted bribery scheme: "One effort apparently involved the head of the Service Employees International Union in Illinois, Tom Balanoff. He approached Ms. Jarrett and related the governor's desire to be named Health and Human Services secretary while also mentioning the governor was considering her for the Senate seat, according to the Obama memo. Mr. Balanoff didn't say Mr. Blagojevich was linking the two, the memo said. "Ms. Jarrett viewed that as a ridiculous proposition and waved it off," said Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama's choice for White House counsel." (weeklystandard.com)

Worker-choice boosts Beehive State ... If you're worried about the economy, you'll be happy to know the results of a new study. It ranks Utah #1 in the country for chances of prosperity and economic growth. A lot of it has to do with Utah’s laws relating to the economy. The study is called “Rich States, Poor States.” It's from the 2009 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. It looks like the authors behind it feel if you're looking for a place that will weather the economic storm, Utah is the best place to be. The study ranks Utah #1 for economic outlook of 2009. The authors looked at each state’s economic policies and believe Utah has the best policies to recover from the recession. For example, Utah has no estate tax, and Utah is a right to work state which gives workers the option whether or not to join unions. (abc4.com)

Call it the Employee ‘No Choice' Act ... In the face of our serious financial crisis, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are again telling the American people that special interests are more important than jobs, retirement savings, and economic growth. First, it was the trillion-dollar so-called economic stimulus – the largest spending bill in our country's history that does little to create jobs, but does plenty to grow the government and our budget deficit. Then it was the president's mammoth budget proposal that will raise taxes on small businesses and on all Americans through its misguided “cap and trade” scheme. And now it's the deceptively named “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA), which will eliminate secret ballot elections when employees decide whether or not to unionize. Unions have the ability to serve a legitimate role in the lives of American workers. But I oppose any effort that undermines the basic principles of our democracy and will do further harm to our economy at the worst possible time. That is why I support the alternative “Secret Ballot Protection Act,” which would guarantee workers the right to a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board and prohibit unions from coercing employees to join a union. A majority of workers still could vote to join a union in a secret ballot election, but that would be their “free choice.” American workers, entrepreneurs and families are living through difficult times. Congress and the president should not force policies on them that will make it even harder to survive financially whether you are an employee or small business owner. (mysanantonio.com)

Florida protects workers' rights from rapacious D.C. union organizers ... Business and labor squared off Wednesday on a bill that would prohibit open or "card check" union-organizing drives in Florida. As expected, business groups prevailed, as the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee approved the bill on a 6-3 party-line vote. The Republican-sponsored Florida bill is inspired by an effort by the Democratic-controlled Congress to force employers to recognize unions if a majority of workers organize through an open signup process. All future union elections in Florida would have to be by secret ballot only. Speakers who turned out to testify in favor Wednesday represented the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated Industries, Florida Chamber, Florida Retail Federation, Florida Home Builders Association and National Federation of Independent Business. Opponents included members of the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, Florida Education Association, United Transportation Workers Union and Communication Workers of America. The bill (SJR 1908), by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, seeks to amend the state Constitution, which requires a three-fifths vote of both houses of the Legislature followed by 60 percent approval by voters in November 2010. (blogs.tampabay.com)

Obama's NLRB smacks down SEIU rival ... A new union attempting to lure workers at Catholic Healthcare West to leave Service Employees International Union and join its fold cannot call for elections because a current contract is in place, according to a Tuesday ruling by the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, formed Jan. 28, the day after SEIU took control of its aggressive California local, United Healthcare Workers West. Within days, the new union filed petitions calling for new union elections to be held at CHW and other employers. (sacramento.bizjournals.com)

SEIU bigs put politics first - ahead of workers ... Here at Freedom@Work, we spend a lot of time documenting union bosses' shameless hypocrisy, but this latest incident (almost) surprised even us. The powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) recently fired 75 staffers. But why is an organization that collects hundreds of millions of dollars in easy money (forced dues) per year cutting jobs now, in the midst of a devastating economic recession? Simple - they want even more cash for political lobbying: "It's completely hypocritical," said staff union President Malcolm Harris ..." Harris said his union's understanding is that the layoffs are the result of budget troubles faced by SEIU, which, on top of the California dispute, spent $80 million during the 2008 election and is planning to spend tens of millions more to advocate on behalf of Obama's health-care plan and card check. The entire sordid episode is sadly reminiscent of the SEIU's election-year shenanigans, when the union hierarchy threw in the towel on the notion of hands on employee assistance replacing it with a remote call center -- the goal being to free up even more resources to political campaigning. And now, yet again, SEIU bosses are demonstrating that they are more concerned with politics and forced-dues dollars than looking out the working man. (nytimes.com)

Writers Union adjusts to self-inflicted damage ... The Writers Guild of America, West, is planning to cut its staff by about 11 percent, or 20 employees, because of a $2 million budget deficit caused by declining financial markets and lower revenues from members during the writers’ strike last year. The union, which has an annual budget of about $25 million, has also undertaken a major effort this year — so far unsuccessful — to organize workers on reality television programming who the union says perform writing duties. The guild’s coffers were hit by the 100-day strike, which also increased the networks’ use of reality programming. In an e-mail message last month to union members on the anniversary of the strike’s end, David Young, the union’s executive director, said the strike had “achieved gains that will stand the test of time.” (nytimes.com)

International Collectivism

Latin Socialism: A Growth Industry ... Antigua and Barbuda is reportedly willing to join the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) according to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Mr. Chávez said he had learned about Antigua and Barbuda's interest in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who was re-elected in that country recently. With an extraordinary meeting of the ALBA due to be held on April 16, the Venezuelan president has also opened the doors for El Salvador's entry. ALBA is an integration and cooperation bloc made up of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. (radiojamaica.com)

The newly-elected government of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador is interested in strengthening ties with ALBA countries, FMLN Representative in Cuba Alfredo Elias said. According to Elias, El Salvador has already been benefitting from the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) by getting oil, fertilizers and medical aid Venezuela and Cuba, ALBA´s two main pillars. We should establish relations with all nations, Elias said on Cuba´s national television. He also said reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba should be a priority for the future government. "For us, Cubans are blood brothers," said the FMLN representative, who recalled Cuba´s solidarity to El Salvador. (plenglish.com)

Chávez subdues capitalist icon ... The Coca-Cola bottler in Venezuela has agreed to hand over a parking lot it used as a distribution centre to the government in Caracas. The deal to turn over the land and relocate to another location has been signed by officials of Coca-Cola FEMSA de Venezuela SA and Caracas authorities. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had given the bottler two weeks to hand over the parking area. Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, a Chávez ally, said the land in the poor neighbourhood of Gramoven was needed for public housing. (google.com)

Devaluing Hugo Chávez ... Venezuela’s bolivar plunged the most this year as speculation mounted that the government will devalue the currency after a tumble in oil exports. The bolivar declined 5.3 percent to 6.30 per dollar in the unregulated market, from 5.97 yesterday, traders said. The government pegs the currency at an official exchange rate of 2.15 per dollar under restrictions imposed by President Hugo Chávez in 2003. Venezuelans turn to the unregulated market when they can’t get dollars at the official rate. “Rumors the government will devalue are making people nervous, leading them to buy dollars to protect the value of their money,” said Nelson Corrie, head trader at Caracas-based brokerage Interacciones Mercado de Capitales. (bloomberg.com)

Azerbaijan: Anti-socialistic term limits voided ... Azeri election officials reported strong turnout in a referendum Wednesday that is almost certain to hand President Ilham Aliyev the chance to rule Azerbaijan for life, provided he keeps being re-elected. The opposition had called for a boycott, but authorities put turnout at 64.1 percent at 5 p.m., well over the 25 percent threshold for the result to stand. Polls closed two hours later to the sound of the national anthem. The Aliyevs have dominated the tightly controlled former Soviet state for decades, first under the late Heidar Aliyev as Communist leader and president, then under his son Ilham since 2003. The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party now wants to lift the country's two-term presidential limit so that Aliyev, 47, can keep running for election after his second term ends in 2013. (themoscowtimes.com)

Iran to get Russian missiles ... Russian news agencies say a top defense official has confirmed that Russia has signed a contract to sell S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran but that none of the weapons have been delivered. Russian officials have consistently denied claims that it already has provided some of the powerful missiles to Iran and had not clarified whether a contract existed. The state-run ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies and the independent Interfax quoted an unnamed top official in the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service as saying Wednesday the contract had been signed two years ago. Service spokesman Andrei Tarabrin told The Associated Press he could not immediately comment. Supplying the S-300s to Iran would markedly change the military balance in the Middle East. (newsmax.com)
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