Wednesday wrap

UAW Bigs Gone Wild ... Today, amidst further negotiations between General Motors (GM), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the federal government, the UAW filed its yearly financial report which shows hard times for auto workers did not translate to the UAW’s lavish expense accounts and salaries. Every UAW officer made in excess of $141,000 in total compensation in 2008. More than 550 employees (over half of the staff making above $10,000 annually) made more than $100,000 in total compensation. Over the course of the year, the union expensed $98,775 on golf courses, another $75,492 at casinos, and over $150,000 at resort conference centers. The $33 million UAW-owned Black Lake Golf Course came with its own costs. The union spent $23,488 in member dues in a tax assessment dispute regarding property taxes for the course, and $28,000 transporting people to the resort. Unlike years past, the union did not file an auditor’s report revealing how much the course lost in operations. The excessive spending doesn’t end there. Towels ($7,842), puzzles ($7,617), ponchos ($9,015), 35 “handcrafted computer bags” ($5,394), and bowling tournaments ($29,867) were all paid for with money from union members’ salaries. They also spent $172,641 on what must have been extremely luxurious briefcases and another $149,592 on t-shirts! You might expect that the UAW spent 2008 getting its financial priorities in tune with the the dismal state of the domestic automotive industry, but you’d be wrong. At a time when the entire automotive industry is making deep cuts, the UAW continues to spend members hard-earned dues on frivolous expenses. With leadership like that, it is not surprising that the UAW’s membership fell to a record low not seen since before World War II. Click here to read the UAW’s complete LM-2 report filed with the Department of Labor. (laborpains.org)

U.S. stocked with 'undeclared socialists' ... When the IBD/TIPP Poll asked respondents back in August if the U.S. was evolving into a socialist state, only 25% said yes, 42% said no and Republicans had the highest percentage of "yes" votes at 39%. But this month the yeses overtook the noes 39% to 36%, and the percentage of Republicans who believe the U.S. is on the path to socialism leapt to 63%. Democrats, however, went the other way. Seven months ago, 20% of them believed socialism was on the march, but this month the percentage fell to 13%. They're part of a larger group our pollster calls "undeclared socialists," who believe in socialism's tenets but don't see the U.S. turning socialistic. (ibdeditorials.com)

Rules? What Rules? We don't need no stinkin' Republicans ... Welcome to the cap-and-trade crap sandwich. The Democrats want to rig the game so you don’t have time to figure out this latest act of collective thievery before it’s perpetrated. They have been colluding on a plan to circumvent the Senate’s 60-vote threshold and amendment process by attaching their massive green tax scheme to a special budget legislative maneuver (“budget reconciliation” in the parlance of the Washington sausage-makers). No less than Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd criticized this short-circuiting of debate as an “outrage that must be resisted” and “an undemocratic disservice to our people.” But the eco-zealots on the Hill seem hell-bent on telling Americans to shut up and swallow. On the Senate floor Tuesday, Republicans tried valiantly to stop the cap and trade bullet train – only to be met with histrionic entreaties from the likes of Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dick Durbin shrieking about floods, dinosaurs, and The Children. Boxer and Durbin indignantly accused GOP Senators of “fear-mongering” over the costs of radical greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Then, without missing a beat, the Democrats returned to their wild predictions of the earth fizzling up and their grandchildren perishing like the prehistoric creatures who once roamed our doomed Earth. GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, and John Thune of South Dakota pushed back. President Obama, the Republicans noted, said last week that the cap-and-trade component of his budget is “non-negotiable.” This global warming reduction proposal amounts to an unprecedented national energy tax on every man, woman, and child. Every household. Every business. Far-reaching and regressive, the White House’s own budget officials first pegged the price tag at $646 billion – but admitted to Senate staffers that the actual number would be “two-to-three times” that figure. Which means an estimated $1.3 trillion and $1.9 trillion between fiscal years 2012 and 2019 by the Obama number-crunchers’ (or rather, number-cookers’) own calculations. (michellemalkin.com)

Feds probe SEIU ... The union of low-wage caregivers that Tyrone Freeman once headed has taken him to court to demand restitution of more than $1.1 million -- dues money that allegedly financed his lifestyle of $175 glasses of cognac, $250 bottles of wine and a $3,400 trip to the NFL's Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles-based chapter of the Service Employees International Union opens another legal front in a scandal that dates to last summer and remains the subject of a federal criminal investigation. In the civil complaint, brought in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the United Long-Term Care Workers accuses Freeman of misappropriating funds in a broad scheme to enrich himself and his relatives. Named as co-defendants are his wife, Pilar Planells; his mother-in-law, Carmen Planells; and the video and day-care companies they operated out of their homes. The suit, which also seeks unspecified punitive damages and legal costs, alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty and conversion of union funds for personal benefit. (latimes.com)

Prog Era union racial discrimination law protected by Congress ... Davis-Bacon certainly had "rare historical impact" when Herbert Hoover signed it into law in 1931. The act's origins lie in the ugly racism that defined American organized labor for the better part of five decades. In 1927, an Alabama contractor brought a crew of black construction workers up to Long Island, New York to work on a new Veteran Bureau's hospital. In response, Republican Rep. Robert Bacon introduced legislation to ban such "cheap" labor by requiring that all contractors working on federal projects worth over $5,000 pay their workers the "prevailing wage"—which effectively meant the local (white) union wage. During Senate hearings on the bill, American Federation of Labor President William Green argued that, "colored labor is being brought in to demoralize wage rates." Emil Preiss, business manager of the New York branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (a whites-only union), told the House of Representatives that the black Alabama crew were "an undesirable element of people." The result of this race baiting was that President Hoover signed Davis-Bacon into law just as the federal government began a massive public works spending spree. For black workers (who were banned from most unions), their main competitive advantage came from working for sub-union wages. Davis-Bacon destroyed that advantage when they needed it most. (reason.com)

Union-backed House Baron makes corruption list ... With a federal corruption investigation circling around Rep. John P. Murtha’s ties to a Washington lobbying firm, Democrats risk being tarred with the same “culture of corruption” label that helped them retake Congress in 2006. The FBI is busy looking into Murtha’s earmarks to defense firms represented by the PMA Group. But inside the walls of the Capitol, there is no such scrutiny of the 18-term Pennsylvania lawmaker. Murtha’s seniority and status within his party may help to forestall a congressional probe. “It is true there is no one policing Congress,” said Melanie Sloan, who heads the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group has named Murtha one of its 20 most corrupt members of Congress. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Obama Dems unify Anti-socialists ... Last week, my husband and I were in Dallas and we attended a gathering called “We Surround Them,” one of the nationwide assemblies originated by Fox Commentator Glenn Beck. This particular gathering to watch Beck’s show was held in Grapevine, Texas, and was jammed with at least 250 people. They were there to support the rights and principles of our Constitution and rights of individuals in this great country. At least 3 million people across the country attended gatherings or participated by viewing this program. It showed the discontent that is growing in our country with the direction that President Obama and the Democratic controlled Congress is taking us. The president and his administration along with those that control Congress are playing with the laws of this country and its Constitution. The proposals and bills that are being shoved through congress without review could send us down the road towards socialism. You don’t pass laws that take people’s freedoms away. One example is the card check bill for unions. All workers in this country should have the right to a secret ballot. Socialized medicine is another program that is being submitted and would ruin the outstanding medical and research programs we already have. (thedestinlog.com)

Culture of Corruption: Illinois eyes union-only P2P ... A reform group charged with lassoing Illinois' Wild West approach to politics said Tuesday it's time to set limits on how much campaign cash candidates can collect and who can give it to them. "We have a culture of corruption in this state that has consequences both financial and human," said Collins, a former federal prosecutor who helped put former Republican Gov. George Ryan in prison. "It affects us all in both perception and reality. We're also here today because attention has really turned to Springfield, we are in the midst of a legislative session which is really the only place that some meaningful reforms can take place." To battle "pay to play" politics, the panel wants lawmakers to include themselves in a ban forbidding companies with large state contracts from giving to campaigns. (chicagotribune.com)

EFCA: Welcome to George Miller's Hotel California ... With card check, workers can check in but they can't check out. For workers to leave the union, a secret ballot would still be required. This is the height of hypocrisy--that the so-called benefits of "employee free choice" only apply to join a union but not to leave it. Equally harmful is the bill's little-publicized mandatory arbitration provision, which short-circuits collective bargaining. If the union and the employer fail to reach an agreement on pay and benefits after 90 days of talks, the bill would require them to submit to binding arbitration, with a mandated contract that would hold for the next two years. That requirement would be unprecedented in American labor law. It would revoke the basic principle of free collective bargaining--that employers and unions may disagree unless they voluntarily accept arbitration. The union-sponsored bill is intended to help unions reverse a long-term decline in membership. It would harm the economy by increasing unemployment, potentially making the economies of Texas and Oklahoma look more like those of Ohio and Michigan. And, despite his talk of fiscal responsibility, President Obama has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The problem is that the Employee Free Choice Act, if passed, would do just the opposite. It would slow economic recovery by increasing unionization, artificially raising wages, and therefore raising unemployment. It would turn states with below-average unemployment rates, primarily in the South, into states with high unemployment rates. What Mr. Miller is asking for American workers is less than what he once sought for Mexican workers. In a letter dated August 29, 2001, coauthored with 15 other congressmen, Mr. Miller wrote to the arbitration council in Puebla, Mexico, "We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." (pointoflaw.com)

Related video
: Card Checkin'

AFL-CIO thugs isolate Wurzelbacher ... Joe Wurzelbacher is scheduled to appear at the Capitol today for a rally against the Employee Free Choice Act, but the man known as "Joe the Plumber" might find himself the subject of an even bigger protest rally. Buses carrying union members from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Central PA ALF, Central PA BCTC and the Harrisburg Region CLC were scheduled to start running from a Steelton union hall at 10 a.m. Union officials were busy sending e-mail alerts out earlier in the morning in a bid to gather a large crowd at the steps of the Capitol. Their rally is to support certified workers and the EFCA legislation, better known as 'card check.' However, the sub-title of their protest? They're calling that: "A rally against Joe the Plumber." (pennlive.com)

Speech thugs disrupt Joe

Labor expert: 'UAW has little of value to offer' workers ... Accepting more concessions could also hurt the union's ability to grow at healthy companies. The UAW has been unable to organize U.S. workers at plants run by foreign auto makers. Accepting more cuts to GM wages and benefits would make organizing elsewhere even more difficult because the union would have little of value to offer nonunion workers, says John Russo, co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University. (wsj.com)

House Dems stall ACORN probe ... A Republican congressman is welcoming a proposal recently voiced by House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers to hold hearings into the activities of the controversial group ACORN. The Washington Times recently reported that Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and a fierce partisan, suggested a congressional probe after scathing testimony about ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Conyers called the accusations "a pretty serious matter." However, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa), who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, says getting a Democrat-led Congress to investigate ACORN is going to be difficult. "John Conyers clearly called for a hearing to investigate ACORN," King shares. "And he got pushback from the chairman of the Constitution subcommittee, Jerry Nadler [D-New York], who said [he would] consider an investigation when there's credible evidence." According to King, Conyers argued there was already credible evidence -- a witness who has testified under oath and has succeeded in getting a partial injunction against ACORN. So while King says he supports the idea of an investigation of ACORN, so far no hearing has been scheduled. (onenewsnow.com)

Teachers issue mid-year strike notice in typical labor-state bargaining tactic ... The Eagle Point schools employees union voted Tuesday to go on strike after more than a year of fruitless contract negotiations. "We're still hopeful we will get a contract," said Deborah Brudevold, union bargaining chairwoman. A settlement would effectively cancel the strike. After the vote, the union bargaining team resumed a mediation session with the administration that began at 3 p.m. and was expected to continue late into the night. District officials said they were disappointed by the union's decision because they felt the two parties had made progress toward a settlement in recent days. "If the union does strike, we want the community to know that we will bring in qualified substitutes to keeps the schools open so our seniors can graduate," said Eagle Point schools Superintendent Cynda Rickert. "We are not going to turn our backs on students." (mailtribune.com)

Bankruptcy cancels collective bargaining agreements, News Union takes dues hit ... The Sun-Times Media Group and its affiliates, including the Merrillville-based Post-Tribune newspaper, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday. The cases were filed separately in the U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The voluntary filing will allow the company to reorganize and to restructure its debt, the Sun-Times Media Group reported in a prepared statement. "Over the past several months, the company has taken several steps to reduce costs and strengthen our organization," said Jeremy L. Halbreich, the company's chairman and interim chief executive officer. "Unfortunately, this deteriorating economic climate, coupled with a pending significant tax liability dating back to previous management, has led us to today's difficult action." The company said it plans to continue operating its 34 print and online editions, including the Chicago Sun-Times, and has hired Rothschild Inc. to help sell some or all of its assets. Locally, Post-Tribune officials declined comment on the bankruptcy. However, Andy Grimm, president of the Gary Newspaper Guild, said, "The company laid out a pretty depressing scenario and some unpleasant options." (nwi.com)

UFCW demands that CBA survives bankruptcy ... More than 600 employees of Birmingham-based Bruno's Supermarkets LLC have signed a slew of petitions filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, asking that their union contract not be removed. The bankrupt grocery chain and the United Food and Commercial Workers union have been locked in a battle over the existing collective bargaining agreement, particularly a clause that requires a new owner of the company to abide by the current labor pact. Bruno's says the so-called successorship clause is hindering a sale of its stores, threatening jobs. However, petitions signed by the employees asked that the successorship language not be changed, noting that it serves as a protection for them. (al.com)

News Union malpractice alleged ... Newsweek is running an oversized photo of Nobel laureate economist and liberal sage Paul Krugman on its current cover with the headline: “OBAMA IS WRONG.” The cover of the left-leaning New Republic this week features a cartoon of angry Senate Democrats surrounding an exasperated Barack Obama with the caption: “Why The Democrats Can’t Govern: Look Who’s Killing Obama’s Agenda Now.” It is true: After he served up a $787 billion stimulus package, a $3.6 trillion budget, restructurings of the bank and auto industries, and a new plan for Afghanistan, some members of the president’s own party have found things they don’t like. But it would be journalistic malpractice to portray the discontent as a sign of a significant fissure in the Democratic Party. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Big Apple News Union cringes ... The New York Times said it would save $4.5 million if unionized workers at the cash-strapped company went along with a 5 percent pay cut, according to the union representing those workers. The Times tomorrow is set to begin paying editors and managers 5 percent less in salary as the struggling company continues to trim costs, and has begun talks with the Newspaper Guild about imposing similar cuts on unionized employees, which include journalists. (nypost.com)

Wrist-slap for labor-state union embezzler ... A Rochester woman has been sentenced for embezzling $70,000 from a union benefit plan fund. Mary Ann Quartieri, 47, has been sentenced to five years probation and will pay $70,000 in restitution. She was convicted in November of a felony charge of theft and embezzlement from the benefit plan. She stold the money from the Rochester Lithographic Employers & Union Welfare Fund between 2003 and 2005. She was working as a fund administrator at the time. She made unauthorized payments to herself and family members using the fund’s money. Since she pleaded guilty to the charges, Quartieri is prohibited from working for any union or employee benefit plan for at least 13 years. (13wham.com)

Lost & Found: Jimmy Hoffa ... For many years there were countless loose ends in the Hoffa case. There were no doubts that the man was murdered, but nobody had found his body. In the years since 1975, Hoffa has been declared legally dead and most of the suspects in the case had gone to prison for other crimes, but the mystery of where his body was still remained. Hoffa was best known as the famed president of the Teamsters Union from 1957 until he went to prison in 1967. It was his alleged ties to organized crime that landed him in prison, but it wasn't until those same gangsters turned against him that he disappeared. Hoffa was reportedly last seen on July 30, 1975 when he was scheduled to meet with Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano, and Detroit Mobster Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone at Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township. Reports failed to mention Hoffa stopped by The Fairlane Estate on July 31, 1975 for a guided garden tour. It was no secret that Hoffa was a big admirer of flowers. Hoffa's body was found on the unmarked trail between the peony garden, and the rose garden. "I had no idea he was murdered here," said Estate gardener Lilly Thomas. "This place is always a little spooky, but I always thought it was just the rumor of Ford." The Henry Ford Estate isn't new to the ghost scene. In fact, the grounds are closed after dark due to suspicion that Henry Ford's ghost wanders his old buildings. The road is gated and locked after sundown. "All along it was Hoffa, huh that's weird," said UM-D student Billy Ray. Details of the case have not been released as of print time. Police are still investigating suspects, including university officials for covering up the crime. (themichiganjournal.com)

Related videos:
In search of Jimmy Hoffa

Kennedy v. Hoffa

Coming Out: Jim Wallis, Obama's unapologetic Leftist evangelical ... For Jim Wallis, who leads an antipoverty group called Sojourners, it was just the beginning of another long day of power politics. An afternoon interview at his Washington office was cut short so he could hop on a conference call with President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Then he was off to dinner with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In more than three decades in the capital, the 60-year-old Wallis has never been so much in demand. As a politically progressive evangelical, he had long been an outcast in both evangelical and progressive political circles. Agitating for a greater government role in fighting poverty and promoting world peace, he pushed an agenda that was at odds with the Christian-right leaders who purported to speak for American evangelicals. Wallis decried those leaders' fixation on fighting abortion and gay rights. His own politics lined up closely with the Democrats, but the party had little interest in consorting with evangelical pastors. Now, all that has changed. Many evangelicals, particularly younger ones, have broadened their political agenda beyond hot-button issues to embrace causes like combating climate change. Many of the Christian right's top leaders have died or lost influence. And Democrats all the way up to the White House are now embracing religion's role in politics and are actively wooing evangelicals. Seemingly overnight, Wallis has gone from outside agitator, arrested 22 times for acts of civil disobedience, to inside player, talking with presidential aides a few times a week. "I've been 40 years in the wilderness, and now it's time to come out," Wallis says. "This is a new experience for me." (usnews.com)

International Collectivism

Exclusive representation, forced-labor unionism scheme rocks Guam ... Right now, workers in Guam enjoy the protections of a Right to Work law, which guarantees employee freedom. Currently, Guam's workers are not forced to pay dues or fees to labor unions as a condition of employment. This means the only people who give money to labor unions in Guam are those who voluntarily choose to do so -- the way it should be for any private organization. But even popular laws have their opponents. And union officials and their cronies in the Guam Legislature don't like the fact they can't force workers to pay up or be fired. So today, Guam's Right to Work law is in severe danger. Sens. Rory Respicio, Judith Guthertz and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz have introduced Bill 20. And if it passes, workers in Guam will be forced to hand over a portion of their paychecks to labor union officials -- or they'll be fired. But in pushing to destroy Right to Work, they're not even being honest about what their bill would do. You see, they know just how popular Right to Work is, so forced unionism apologists are trying to mislead Guamanians. They make the claim that labor unions are forced to represent all employees, both union and nonunion, and all Bill 20 does is make non-union workers pay their "fair share." Their claim rests on the fiction that union officials are forced to represent every worker within a bargaining unit -- even non-members. This is entirely false! It's nonsense! The truth of the matter is union officials have the option of representing only dues-paying members, but they choose not to exercise it. Instead, they choose to exercise their tyrannical power under federal law to force monopoly or "exclusive" representation on every worker, forbidding non-union workers from representing themselves. (guampdn.com)

Chávez, Arab League back Darfur genocide perp ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, speaking to reporters as he arrived in the Qatari capital of Doha for a summit of Latin-American and Arab leaders on Tuesday, backed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in his confrontation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN Security Council, reported dpa. The ICC "has no power to take such an action against a sitting president," Chávez said in remarks broadcast on Doha's al-Jazeera satellite news channel. "It does so because it is an African country, a Third World country," he said, referring to the ICC's attitude towards the Sudan. "Why would the ICC not order (former US president George W) Bush's arrest or the arrest of the president of Israel (Shimon Peres)?" Chávez asked. Venezuela is a state party to the Rome Statue establishing the ICC, and as such is bound by the UN Security Council to execute the court's arrest warrant if it can. At the 21st summit of the Arab League in Doha on Monday, the Arab League formally announced its support for al-Bashir, who was present for the meeting despite the ICC's warrant for his arrest on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity. (turkishweekly.net)

Nobody is safe from Chávez ... It is hard to believe that there are still people who think they are safe from judicial terrorism in Hugo Chávez's fascist, neo communist autocracy. Not only has the sequestered Judiciary firmly dug its claws into the regime's political “enemies” (and will continue to do so), but “customized legal” persecution is also used (and will continue to be used) against businessmen in all sectors and individuals from all walks of life. The powers that be have not had – nor will they have – the slightest compunction in harassing and coercing those who have demonstrated their solidarity with or who have been close to Hugo Chávez at some time or another. That being the case, it is highly unlikely that they will stop at going after, much less protect, people who thought they would escape if only they kept their nose out of politics and simply got on with their private business. All, but All Venezuelans are potential targets of Chavista “justice” if they are perceived as being an obstacle to the purposes of the revolution or if they can be used to send a message to a given sector of the population (scapegoats). (petroleumworld.com)

El Salvador braces for Hurricane Hugo ... Salvadoran president-elect Mauricio Funes said in Costa Rica that under his administration Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will not meddle in the internal affairs of El Salvador. Funes, however, highlighted that he wants to have a good relationship with the Venezuelan ruler. Funes, the first leftist president in El Salvador, was elected two weeks ago. The Salvadoran ruler made his debut Monday in the international arena by participating together with outgoing President Antonio Saca in a meeting of Central American leaders with US Vice president Joe Biden. Funes told reporters that while he wants to have good relations with Chávez, he will not allow let "Venezuela meddle in the internal affairs of El Salvador." He said he wants to have superb ties with Venezuela, as well as Bolivia and Nicaragua, whose leaders are allies of President Chávez. (eluniversal.com)
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