Thursday wrap

Judge orders raise to cover union dues ... Let's see how this news plays out: Union takes on Wal-Mart under most favorable union laws in North America, and Wal-Mart wins hands down. The union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), had forced its way, via Quebec's union-friendly card-check organizing laws, into representing workers at a lone Wal-Mart store back in 2005. Yesterday, the union emerged with the first-ever North American Wal-Mart union arbitrated contract, with nothing to show for it in terms of worker benefits. After three years of negotiation and arbitration, the UFCW received the bad news yesterday from arbitrator Alain Corriveau. Union calls for wage and benefit increases were rejected, which means that all the union's big promises -- of bonuses and 5% annual wage gains worth up to $1.3-million a year --have turned to dust. In fact, new workers at the store, in the small community of Saint-Hyacinthe, south east of Montreal, will now find themselves paying union dues to a union that didn't get them anything. In a bizarre twist, the arbitrator did award existing workers a small wage gain of 30¢ an hour in each of the next two years. The reason: To prevent them from being "impoverished" by dues paid to a union that failed to justify wages increases to the arbitrator. As a result, new workers hired by Wal-Mart will not receive that extra 30¢. Among other findings, the arbitrator said that 80% of Wal-Mart employees are hired at rates above the minimum wage. The current wage scale runs from $9.21 an hour at the lowest level to $12.00 at higher levels and top rates of $16.20. The average wage at the store is around $11-an-hour. "The wages offered by Wal-Mart to its employees," said Mr. Courriveau, "are comparable to, sometimes even more advantageous, than those paid by Zellers to its regular full-time employees." (financialpost.com)

Casino workers use oppressive secret-ballot to reject UFCW ... Bartenders and other beverage workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino rejected collective bargaining Wednesday, voting 207-133 against affiliating with Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. “We are very pleased with the vote of confidence that these employees have given the beverage department management today,” Michael Speller, Foxwoods president, said in a statement released late Monday night by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the casino’s owner. UFCW officials said they would continue their efforts to unionize some 400 Foxwoods bartenders, beverage servers, lounge hosts and bar porters. Petronella said it frequently takes two and sometimes three votes before workers approve a union bid. “Workers will see that the company’s campaign was a smokescreen,” he said. “This is an education process for them.” (theday.com)

What We Say, What We Do ... (1) About 200 members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a protest campaign in March, accusing their employer of improper layoffs, unlawful bans on union activities, and reclassifying of workers to disempower the union. The employer of the workers is the national SEIU office, where they are staff members. (2) A federal arbitrator ruled in March that an employer had, for years, "willfully" violated the Fair Labor Standards Act in exploiting workers by failing to pay overtime. The guilty employer: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (journalnow.com)

Dems bend over for SEIU ... It would effectively steer these newly minted public workers into the waiting arms of the Service Employees International Union, which has been pushing long and hard for this legislation. Supporters claim that by creating a large, all-encompassing bargaining unit, state subsidies for low-income families would see a dramatic increase. Contracts for both directors and child-care workers would be negotiated between the governor and the SEIU, with the Legislature giving its blessing with a mandatory up-or-down vote. The bill even takes care of deducting union dues. The state would siphon off these dues from the providers' pay and send the money to the SEIU. The reason this labor-friendly bill has taken on a life of its own is due to the demise of the Worker Privacy Act -- one of labor's top goals for this legislative session. That measure would have made it illegal for employers to require employees to attend meetings or participate in activities related to political or religious matters. However, it took a sudden nosedive when e-mails from labor leaders were leaked tying future campaign donations to passage of the privacy act. (yakima-herald.com)

SEIU on strike v. Red Cross

Who's really running Government Motors? ... A Florida congressman is urging President Obama to be “even-handed” and ask United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ron Gettelfinger to relinquish his job – just as Obama forced the CEO of General Motors CEO to resign. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said both auto industry bosses “share equal blame” for GM’s financial woes. Firing Gettlefinger would signal a new beginning for the union side of the American auto industry, said Mack, who critized the union boss for his inability to renovate the UAW -- and for repudiating a compromise that would have helped the Big Three [G.M., Ford Motors, Chrysler] though cost-effectiveness and sustaining jobs. Mack called on President Obama to treat Gettelfinger and Wagoner as one and the same. "If President Obama believes it was appropriate to fire Rick Wagoner because of his role in the demise of General Motors," the congressman told CNSNews.com, "then he should also believe that it is equally appropriate to fire Ron Gettelfinger for his role too." (cnsnews.com)

Who pays for union kickbacks?

Obama-Stern NLRB bails out SEIU, smacks down rival union ... On April 7, the National Labor Relations Board officially dismissed a petition seeking to decertify SEIU UHW as the union representing more than 48,000 caregivers at Kaiser Permanente facilities stating that "the Feb. 26 petitions were clearly filed outside the appropriate window period and after the local and national agreements were reaffirmed for an additional two years, I find that a contract bar exists to the processing of these petitions." The ruling protects SEIU UHW member contracts, wages and benefits, and ends any other organization's hopes of invalidating the contracts members won and ratified in 2005 and 2008. Last month, the NLRB also threw out a similar petition at Catholic Healthcare West, reaffirming contract and union protections for another 14,000 SEIU UHW members. (prnewswire.com)

Terrified in labor-state ... Welcome to the Peoples' Republic of Wisconsin: Property taxes on the rise, the state proposes to dictate a smoking ban, effectively eliminating the rights of business owners to choose what they will allow in their own establishments. U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen is backing the Employee Free Choice Act; this act reduces the number of votes necessary to force an election and can expose the employee to peer pressure that he/she does not have to deal with now. The left-wing liberals in Madison support policies that take hard-earned dollars from people who try and play by the rules and give that money to those who do not pay taxes and are happy to sit at home and have the state provide for them. The government should be afraid of its people; that is what the founding fathers envisioned. Right now I am terrified of our government and the socialists who are in charge. (greenbaypressgazette.com)

Union voters restore strike boss ... Arnold Outlaw will once again head Hampton Roads' largest labor union after defeating two-term incumbent Alton H. Glass Sr. on Wednesday by a 51-44 percent margin. In an election where only 14 percent of eligible members of the United Steelworkers of America Local 8888 cast ballots, Outlaw gathered 67 more votes than rival Glass and will become president of the Newport News shipyard's primary union in May. Outlaw is a former two-term president of the labor group who led a 17-week worker strike in 1999. He was defeated by Glass in 2003 and again in 2006. But he and his supporters campaigned hard against Glass and his administration, despite having far fewer resources. He has promised a more confrontational relationship with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. (wtkr.com)

Labor-state Obamunists, Communists break bread ... As the Obama administration considers a shift in the half-century policy of isolating Cuba, members of the Congressional Black Caucus returned from Havana saying the Castro brothers are eager to see a new day in U.S.-Cuban relations. Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., one of three lawmakers to meet Fidel Castro on Tuesday, said she got the sense that "he really wants President Obama to succeed" in his foreign policy goals. "He sincerely wants an opportunity, I think, in his lifetime to see a change in America." Richardson was joined by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., head of the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus, and Bobby Rush, D-Ill., in meeting the 82-year-old Fidel Castro for nearly two hours in his home before the delegation returned to Washington. On Monday evening, six members of the group talked for four hours with Raul Castro, who replaced his ailing brother as Cuba's president 14 months ago. It was Raul Castro's first encounter with U.S. officials since formally replacing his brother as head of state. Raul, according to Lee, "said everything was on the table" in reopening the dialogue with the United States that was effectively shut off after Fidel Castro gained control of the island in 1959 and imposed communist rule. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Related video: Radical Caucus honors Castro Bros.

Greedy, striking Teamster drivers strand school kids ... Leaders from the union and management team involved in a school bus driver strike met Tuesday – but the two sides are still far from an agreement, a source said. The roughly 7,000 local children affected by the strike did not receive bus service Wednesday morning. That’s because talks broke off, said a communications specialist representing Stock Transportation, the company that employes the striking drivers. “Unfortunately, the meeting broke off [Tuesday] with the union still maintaining unrealistic wage demands,” said Tiffini Bloniarz, in an email to Kingston This Week Wednesday. “They are asking for an increase in excess of 11 per cent in the first year. No new talks are planned at this time. We are at an impasse and the union is still on strike.” The labour dispute is between drivers who are members of the Teamsters Local 91 and Stock Transportation, which manages buses that serve four local school boards. A Teamsters 91 union rep, Brian Macdonald, did not return emails sent to his blackberry Tuesday night, nor Wednesday morning. (kingstonthisweek.com)

Typical Teamsters election on trial ... A witness in the federal trial of three former Teamsters Local 743 officials accused of stealing a 2004 election testified yesterday that he noticed irregularities early on and was ultimately fired by incumbents trying to maintain control of the local. John Edward Kasen, a retired Department of Labor worker hired to officiate the first of two late 2004 elections, recounted a series of problems that emerged soon after secret ballots for an October 2004 election were mailed to members. Among the irregularities: The possibility of duplicate keys for P.O. boxes that he was supposed to be the only one authorized to access; disparities in the number of undeliverable ballots, and preliminary results showing every candidate of the incumbent Unity slate retaining their seat by slim margins except the president, who was behind challenger Richard Berg by seven votes. Only 58 ballots turned up in the P.O. box designated for undeliverable ballots, Kasen says, while more than 300 were returned to the campaign of Richard Berg, who is now the local’s president. Kasen said Berg’s concern was that “ballots were being stolen.” Prosecutors plan to show that Unity slate members manipulated the Teamster Information Terminal Accounting Network, or TITAN by its internal acronym, by inputting the addresses of friends and associates who would illegally mark ballots in their favor. (chitowndailynews.org)

Controversial social justice collectivists party on taxpayers' dime ... Who knows how long it will last, but there's a love fest underway today on Pennsylvania Avenue involving the White House and dozens of faith leaders. The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, whose mission is to empower religious and secular groups that provide social services, is hosting more than 60 people it considers key leaders at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a meeting that began last night and runs through this evening. Invited guests include the 25 members of the president's advisory council and a few dozen more insiders (almost all from faith-based groups), including people President Obama has turned to since he became a candidate for guidance on everything from torture ethics to Catholic politics to inner-city fatherhood programs. They included the heads of massive social service groups like Church World Service and Catholic Charities as well as ministers who are close advisors to Obama, like renowned civil rights activist Otis Moss Jr., progressive movement leader Jim Wallis and Derrick Harkins of Washington's Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. Church-state experts were also there, including Melissa Rogers of Wake Forest University and Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. (newsweek.washingtonpost.com)

Interloper Gingrich infiltrates non-GOP protests ... Tax day is looking like nirvana for agitated activists from the left and the right. There's been a ton of coverage of the "Tea Parties" scheduled by conservative activists around the country -- Newt Gingrich is said to be attending one of these anti-tax shindigs. And then there's the threat of counter tea party protests and "infiltration" by liberal activists. And now ACORN is getting in on the act, planning "dozens" of protests outside post offices on April 15, presumably to get the attention of last-minute tax return folks and the inevitable local media stakeouts of post offices on tax day. According to a statement this afternoon from the liberal group Americans United for Change, ACORN and other progressive groups like AFSCME and US PIRG "will hold dozens of events outside local post offices in at least 30 states to highlight President Obama's plan to help restore fairness to the tax code, including closing an outrageous loophole in the tax code that allows offshore corporate tax havens, as called for within the president’s budget." (politico.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez World Order ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is spending a few days in China. He doesn’t think much of the US or our new policy of “smart power” diplomacy. "We are creating a new world, a balanced world. A new world order, a multi-polar world," was one of the first things Chávez declared after arriving in China. "The unipolar world has collapsed. The power of the U.S. empire has collapsed," he continued. [Emphasis added.] "Everyday, the new poles of world power are becoming stronger. Beijing, Tokyo, Tehran. It's moving toward the East and toward the South." After Obama’s disastrous performance at the G20 conference , maybe someone should tell the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department the news: Most of the world doesn’t view our new administration as either smart or powerful. We live in a brave new world and the Obama administration doesn’t seem to have much of a place in it. (americanthinker.com)

Meet the Anti-Capitalist Congressional Ambassadors ... While the leftist American press kept public attention focused upon Obama's International Apology Hajj, working around the clock to put a positive spin on Obama's failed Throw America Under the Bus Tour abroad, another important and equally dastardly trip was taking place below the average American's radar ... Six members of the US Congress traveled to Castro's Communist Cuba over the weekend to open talks aimed at establishing a cooperative relationship between the United States and Communist Cuba. The six member Congressional delegation to Cuba included the following House Representatives; * Hon. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05) * Hon. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) * Hon. Barbara Lee (CA-09) * Hon. Laura Richardson (CA-37) * Hon. Bobby Rush (IL-01 * Hon. Mel Watt (NC-12). All six are leadership members within the 2009 Congressional Black Caucus. The caucus, founded by one time card carrying member of the Communist Party, U.S. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan, has 42 members as of today, 30 of which are also members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is the official legislative arm of the Democratic Socialists of America, boasting 76 congressional members today, 30 of which are also members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Democratic Socialists of America proudly proclaim, "The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International. DSA's members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly socialist presence in American communities and politics." What in the world could the United States possibly have in common with Castro's Communist Cuba? The answer is nothing. - However, Castro has much in common with the six members of Congress who just returned from Cuba. Like Castro, the six members of Congress who just returned from Cuba, share a common belief in Communism, and a common disdain for freedom, especially "economic freedom," otherwise known as free market capitalism. Likewise, the new Obama Administration shares the belief that capitalism, aka economic freedom, is the problem, rather than the solution to current economic woes, which were actually created by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. (rightsidenews.com)

Cardinal Urosa smacks down repressive Chávez ... Venezuela's Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino said that President Hugo Chávez continues discrediting the leaders of the Catholic Church, but he has failed to answer to the questions they have raised. Cardinal Urosa's statements came following the Mass on the Day of the Nazarene of Saint Paul. Reference was made to President Chávez's remarks lashing out at the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference (CEV). On Tuesday, the CEV issued a communiqué showing concern about the climate of political tension in Venezuela, after a justice imposed a 30-year prison sentence against three former Metropolitan Police commissioners. In the communiqué, the leaders of the Catholic Church also rejected the government moves to put and end to decentralization, among others. "Unfortunately, President Chávez has failed to reply to the concerns we have raised. You do not answer to the concerns we have voiced –which the Venezuelan people share - just by uttering discrediting, insulting and outraging remarks." (english.eluniversal.com)

Cuba's Venezuela ... Cuba and Venezuela have often crossed paths. In the early 1960s, Havana abetted armed groups against democratically elected Venezuelan governments. Meddling in Venezuela's affairs, in part, determined Cuba's 1962 suspension from the Organization of American States. Caracas and Havana stood at irreconcilable odds afterward. By the early 1970s, Cuba's foreign policy made a U-turn. With the failure of guerrillas, Havana largely embraced diplomacy. It was a fortuitous pivot that led Cuba down the path of a world-class foreign policy. Under Rafael Caldera (1969-1974), Venezuela also changed. Left-wing parties, which had supported Havana's meddling, were legalized. Caldera likewise opened a dialogue with the English-speaking Caribbean that had looked askance at Caracas's hostility toward Havana. In 1975, Carlos Andrés Pérez (1974-1979) normalized relations with Cuba. Embassies were opened and trade resumed. Thanks to a Caracas-Moscow agreement, Cuba imported Venezuelan oil while the former Soviet Union supplied Caracas' clients in Europe. Though subsequent presidents strayed from Pérez's track, Venezuela never restored a policy of confrontation. As president again from 1989-93, Pérez again improved relations with Cuba. In 1992, little-known colonel Hugo Chávez staged a failed coup against Pérez that landed him in jail. Havana quickly congratulated Pérez in surviving the coup. When freed in '94, however, Chávez traveled to Havana where Fidel Castro gave him a hero's welcome. (miamiherald.com)
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