Thursday wrap

SEIU can't expunge ACORN, Rathke ... A photo retrieved from SEIU Local 100's website today. The original photo caption reads: "Organizers from Local 100, ACORN, and SEIU, supporters and attorneys celebrate our victory on February 3, 2002." The man with the sandy hair to the right of the microphones is Wade Rathke, founder and then-chief organizer of ACORN. ACORN did a strange thing today. It scrubbed its website of references to two of its key affiliates, Locals 100 and 880 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an event reported by Kevin Mooney of the Washington Examiner. Why would the radical left-wing ACORN do that? An observer I spoke with earlier today speculated that organized labor doesn't want to be associated with ACORN, which is pure PR poison, right now as it presses for the most important item on its legislative agenda: the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) also known as "card check." Is the labor movement actually taking political heat for its ties to ACORN? It seems like a reasonable hypothesis but I don't have proof right now. Perhaps in time we'll find out. In any event, erasing the listings is weird. What is ACORN afraid of? In detail, here's what went down: ACORN, which until recently proudly listed Locals 100 and 880 of SEIU as affiliates, removed the short blurbs and logos of the two entities from its allied organizations page. As of April 20, one day before Mooney's article on ACORN and its ties to unions ran in the Washington Examiner, the ACORN website page looked like this. (The link leads to a PDF of the page I made on Oct. 30, 2008.) From the same website, here is a copy that I made on Oct. 24, 2008 of an official list of ACORN's affiliates, a document called "ACORN, ACORN Affiliate, and COUNCIL Offices." Moreover, SEIU Local 100's most recent publicly available IRS Form 990 shows ACORN founder Wade Rathke as that local's chief organizer (see page 5 of above linked PDF file). (For background information on ACORN, please see the November 2008 issues of Foundation Watch and Labor Watch, two monthly newsletters I edit at Capital Research Center.) (spectator.org)

Founder Wade Rathke joins SEIU, ACORN at the hip ... Just a few days after The Washington Examiner reported on links between the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) and organized labor it appears the self described group of non-partisan community activists has erased web site references to union affiliates that were cited in the article. Fortunately, Matthew Vadum, a senior analyst and editor with the Capital Research Center (CRC) who closely scrutinized ACORN and its many affiliates has a record of the web site. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and ACORN are essentially joined at the hip. SEIU Locals 100 and 880 were previously identified as allied organizations on ACORN’s web site. But the reference was deleted shortly after The Examiner story ran. U.S. Department of Labor LM-2’s (financial disclosure forms) point to over $600,000 in transactions between these same SEIU locals and other ACORN operations. A 2007 LM-2 form shows SEIU Local 880, which is active in Illinois and Minnesota, donated $60,118 to ACORN for "membership services." Organized labor has kicked it back in the form of gifts and grants to ACORN totaling $2.4 million, the LM-2’s reveal “ACORN claims to be non-partisan but there are mountains of evidence that show it is flagrantly partisan,” Vadum said. “It celebrates the most left-wing politicians and endorses Democratic Party candidates. Whenever ACORN is called out for activity that might violate their tax status, the standard operating procedure is to deny responsibility and to place the blame on rogue actors. Their network is deliberately set up to avoid scrutiny and to create confusion.” Top ACORN officers have also been supportive of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as the Card Check bill, Vadum points out. The bill was reintroduced earlier this year by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Organized labor has contributed to members of congress, mostly Democrats, who have expressed support for Card Check. In 2008 SEIU spent over $42 million on independent expenditures and communications, more than any other group aside from the Republican and Democratic National Committees, according to OpenSecrets.org. SEIU’s political action committee (PAC) also contributed about $2.3 million to candidates in the 2007-2008 cycle, with 94 percent of its donations going to Democrats, campaign records show. The web site that listed SEIU 100 and 880 up until a few days ago no longer has these affiliates listed. An older copy of the web site that includes the SEIU affilates is available here. (washingtonexaminer.com)

SEIU's oppressive unionism exposed! ... As of about an hour ago, this was the scene outside SEIU's offices on Dupont Circle in Washington DC (click photos to enlarge) ... SEIU staff and officers think they can hide in the dark. Already in their hostile takeover of UHW they've injured members, held boss-style captive audience meetings for staff, and refused to give us their names. Andy Stern and his appointees love to think they're rich, famous, powerful, and accountable to no one. A member led union just doesn't fit in with their plans for stardom! They like to drive around in SUVs with tinted windows, acting like they (literally) own the place. So if they want to be famous, let's help them! If you're an SEIU member or employee, tell Perez what the SEIU trustees and appointees are up to, and help them feel just like Paris Hilton. (perezstern.blogspot.com)

SEIU HQ picketed: Shame on Andy Stern! ... Members of Local 54 of UNITE-HERE in Atlantic City were among the union supporters who picketed Wednesday in front of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, headquarters in Washington, D.C. SEIU has been fostering a "hostile takeover" of its union, assisting in the secession of members and attempting to raid UNITE-HERE jurisdictions, according to UNITE-HERE. New York-based UNITE-HERE said about 300 members were picketing, some holding signs that read, "Shame on you SEIU!" Ramona Oliver, a spokeswoman for the SEIU, said UNITE-HERE's claims are "clearly not factual." The SEIU represents about 2 million health care, building cleaning and janitorial workers nationwide. Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said he is upset that SEIU president Andy Stern has not tried to support Local 54 as it prepares to renegotiate its contracts with 10 of the gaming halls in Atlantic City this summer. (pressofatlanticcity.com)

Gov't-union greed exposed ... So the mayor and the firefighters union have done a good job over the last week of getting out their message that there's no choice but to close down the Tarkiln Hill Road fire station until July 1. Maybe longer. But I don't think either side has been frank about what's really driving Fire Department costs. I'm talking "minimum manning requirements." Minimum manning requirements are the costly overtime policies that are part of both police and fire union contracts. And they make those departments much, much more expensive to run than they used to be. I initially suspected something unusual was driving the Fire Department costs when I recently examined the list of top city employee wage earners. I was surprised to learn that some 12 firefighters — the deputy chief, seven district chiefs, three captains and a lieutenant — had all earned in excess of $90,000 in 2008. One district chief even made $110,000, to give you an idea of the kinds of money we're talking about. I didn't think district fire chiefs, never mind captains and a lieutenant, made that kind of money, so I suspected it involved a lot of overtime. I was right. The New Bedford Fire Department last year paid out more than $847,000 in overtime for 235 employees, or an average of a little more than $3,600 per firefighter. The biggest problems were the district chiefs, who are wrongly defined as union members and not management. The union contract requires two district chiefs per shift, so one ended up earning more than $20,000 just in overtime. Municipal unions right now — the teachers, police, and fire — are the most powerful unions in the county. They are what the Teamsters and steel workers unions used to be. But they are now demanding that private sector workers pony up for the kind of salaries, pension and health care benefits that are no longer available to most private sector workers themselves. That's an unsustainable position for government unions. And it's unsustainable in struggling New Bedford even more than other places. (southcoasttoday.com)

Labor-states can't compete ... As the nation considers increasing marginal tax rates and facilitating greater union membership, I thought it might make sense to look at the states with the highest and lowest unemployment rates to see if there might be any relevant patterns. The six states with the highest unemployment rates are: 12.6% Michigan • 12.1% Oregon • 11.4% South Carolina • 11.2% California • 10.8% North Carolina • 10.5% Rhode Island. The six states with the lowest unemployment rates are: 5.2% Iowa • 5.2% Utah • 4.9% South Dakota • 4.6% Nebraska • 4.5% Wyoming • 4.2% North Dakota. In the six states with the highest unemployment rates, the average top state income tax bracket is 8.05%. All but Michigan have marginal tax rates of at least 7% (and Michigan has a very high unionization rate). On the other hand, the average top tax bracket for the six states with the lowest unemployment is only 4.4%, with 4 of the 6 states having a top marginal rate of 5.54% or less. Further, union representation averages 14.1% in the six high unemployment states, with a median of 17.4%. All but the Carolinas are among the most unionized states in the nation (and the Carolinas have relatively high marginal income tax rates of 7% and 7.75%). Putting this together, 3 of the 6 states with the highest unemployment (California, Oregon, and Rhode Island) have both high marginal income tax rates and high union representation. Michigan has high unionization but moderate marginal income tax rates, and the Carolinas have high marginal income taxes, but low unionization rates. Among the 6 states with the lowest jobless rates, 4 have low unionization rates and no state income tax or modest marginal rates and a fifth (Nebraska) has average income tax rates and low unionization. The exception is Iowa, which has average unionization rates (13%) and high marginal income taxes (8.98%). (volokh.com)

Ugly, gov't-mandated racism supported by Labor Bigs ... The mayor's only means of making progress toward this goal is to give public money to unions to fund more minority apprenticeships. But this short-term response creates another cost for taxpayers while failing to address the cause of the problem: Pennsylvania's prevailing-wage law, which is excluding the non-union firms that employ the most minority workers. Pennsylvania passed its prevailing-wage law in 1961, 30 years after enactment of its federal counterpart, the Davis-Bacon Act. Prevailing-wage laws, which set minimum wages for public-works projects in a given region, were originally passed partly to prevent black laborers from the South from taking public construction jobs in the North. At the time, union organizers testified in congressional hearings that "colored labor" was depressing wages and referred to black construction workers as "an undesirable element of people." Because of union pressure, these racist laws have remained in effect at the federal level and in 32 states, including Pennsylvania. (philly.com)

Experiment in freedom cut short by public servants ... As an independent, I follow the debate over which party is to blame and which is to lead with some skepticism. Both parties are to blame. If you dig beneath the rhetoric, you find vested interests: the behavioral economists and billionaires such as George Soros vs. the banks and the energy companies. Currently, TARP and the massive debt are poised the sink the banks while government mandates shift energy use. High-dollar interests use the political parties to do their bidding and sometimes hedge their bets with contributions to both. One party lavishes tax subsidies and contracts to its interests, while the other taxes and shifts money to its own interests. The parties achieve dominance through voter fraud (Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004 and ACORN in 2008), massive amounts of donations, rules inhibiting the rise of independent candidates, catering to lobbyists and public relations manipulation. The political parties and vested interests wield more power in a practical sense than the Constitution itself. Our founders bequeathed a limited government with checks and balances to us, but they could not protect us from future tyranny. That was to be our contribution to the experiment in freedom. (amarillo.com)

Obama weighs repealing presidential term limit ... Well, President Barack H. Obama has returned from his world apology/rock star tour after bad-mouthing America to every Third World dictator he could find. In the Battle Creek Enquirer on April 20 he stated that by bad-mouthing the U.S. it has put us in better standing with the world. It seemed that Obama and Hugo Chávez (communist dictator of Venezuela) had a slobbering love affair going on until Hugo lost control of the cameras and they were focused on Barack. I for one do not care if Chávez, Castro, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong and Prince Abdullah like my country or not. It was a little embarrassing to read and watch Obama shaking hands, smooching and bowing down to and giving cheap gifts from China to people who hate America. Most of the dictators that Obama has befriended have tortured more people than the liberals have killed babies, and not slapping faces or putting bugs in their cells, or loud music from Barry Manilow but smashing knee caps and cutting heads off. Their political prisoners would like waterboarding, it would be a relief, and it would cool them off. The only thing that terrorists (am I allowed to say terrorists?) understand is torture. They only understand power over their enemies and if the terrorists think we are weak, they will take advantage. I hope that our president does not get any ideas from Hugo Chávez or Raul Castro and tries to do away with term limits for the president of the United States. (battlecreekenquirer.com)

Sen. Jack Reed placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Senator Jack Reed, D-RI, a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check). WHAT: Reed received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle. The Boilermakers Union (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle; $1,000 in 2006 cycle. The American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $2,600 in 2008 election cycle. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $5,800 in 2008 election cycle; $1,000 in 2006 election cycle. The Service Employees International Union $5,000 in 2008 election cycle. WHY IT’S DIRTY: Multiple officers and members of these unions, including division presidents, secretary-treasurers and business managers, have been convicted since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy. The Communication Workers of America and the American Federation of Government Employees have had at least 8 members convicted, The Service Employees International Union has had at least nine convictions, the Boilermakers have had at least 10 members convicted, while the IBEW has had at least 14. The amounts of embezzled funds range from over $5,000 to over $100,000. WILL REED GIVE IT BACK: Reed did not respond to The Examiner’s request for comment. THE SCORE: Number of Democrats who have given it back: 0. Number of Republicans who have given it back: 0. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Obama: No need for union scrutiny ... "It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is choosing a time of financial crisis to cut investigations into financial corruption, solely because it may reside in its own political constituency," Hatch said. The new rule would have required unions to disclose additional information in annual disclosure reports about compensation to union officers and employees, details about buying or selling union assets, and additional information about union receipts. The Bush administration said it would discourage embezzlement by making it easier to find. But the Obama administration said Tuesday that labor unions made compelling arguments that the rule was overly burdensome and would have little effect on efforts to detect fraud. Hatch complained on Wednesday, "In a time when the president himself said we need more accountability and transparency in government, cancelling rules to help root out corruption is not the way to go." He added, "Americans want the administration to eliminate all fraud, not just that which is politically expedient. I urge the Department of Labor to use, instead of stow away, all the tools at its disposal to reduce financial corruption in unions." Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that unions hailed the action by the Obama administration. "From our perspective, the only interest served by this rule was to harass unions," AFL-CIO attorney James Coppess said. (deseretnews.com)

D.C. union thugs: Job-Killer Act or Bust ... Samuel downplayed any talk of modifying EFCA to make it more palatable for business. “I don’t think the question is ‘Are we open to compromise?’” Samuel said. “The way Congress works, a bill is marked up, amendments are offered, it’s either improved or weakened, and you make a judgment at that time. Stern “is firm about the principles and of getting labor law passed in this Congress, and we are too,” he added, referring to Stern’s comments to the Washington Post editorial board, in which the SEIU president noted that “no matter what you do, you have to change the election process.” SEIU spokeswoman Christy Setzer echoed Samuel’s call of dedication to passing the EFCA. “Given our current economic crisis, now more than ever, we remain committed to the principles of the Employee Free Choice Act: allowing workers, not employers, to choose how and when to form a union; enforcing real penalties for employers who break the law; and ensuring that those who’ve chosen a union can actually secure a contract,” Setzer said in a statement. Keeping that message in mind, labor organizers are continuing to put pressure on lawmakers. Jobs with Justice, a national campaign for workers’ rights, kicked off union actions Wednesday with a press conference moderated by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed.” EFCA supporter Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) also attended, rallying attendees to continue to press the Senate to pass the card check bill. Brown, whose daughter works as an organizer at the SEIU, told union leaders that the opposition to the bill is largely the same business types that have historically opposed Medicare, Social Security and the minimum wage. (rollcall.com)

Oppressive employers rejects Card-Check compromise ... In a letter sent to Congress earlier this week, more than 3,000 companies from 47 states opposed any compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation known as ‘card check’ because it would eliminate a company’s ability to demand a secret ballot election before workers can form a union. The letter, signed mainly by members of the Associated Builders and Contractors, called on Congress to vote down the bill in all forms. Have you weighed in and contacted your elected officials? Unions recently indicated they would consider a compromise that would eliminate the bill’s card check provision and instead reform the way union organizing elections are conducted. (rotor.com)

Socialist Senator promises enactment of Card-Check compromise ... Although Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown backs the legislation in its current form, he says it won't get enough votes for passage in the Senate now that former backers including Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter have withdrawn their support. He said he expects a compromise will be reached to continue the secret-ballot elections, but require them to be conducted swiftly and handled in a way that doesn't inordinately favor businesses. "There are discussions going on now with Republicans and Democrats who were not supportive of the bill in its original form," Brown told The Plain Dealer after addressing a forum on the issue organized by the pro-union "Jobs with Justice." He said the Senate wants to tackle the legislation because "fair minded people in both parties understand this system has not worked well." "It has not been fair to workers," he continued. "Large numbers of people in this country want to join a union but have not been able to because of the way the system is rigged. A strong majority of Senate and House want to make the rules fairer and there are a lot of ways to do that." (blog.cleveland.com)

Student takes on Collectivist News Network ... After the coverage last week of tea parties protesting big government and the liberties and freedoms that the bureaucracy looks to take away, it is clear why the "drive-by" media doesn't understand what real dissent is supposed to look like. And to me, that's OK. Susan Roesgen of CNN is a great example. She asked a man why he was protesting. "Because I hear that the president believed in what Lincoln stood for, Lincoln believed that people had the right to liberty." Susan changed from reporter to journalist. "What does this have to do with taxes?" The man replied, "Lincoln believed that people should bear the fruits of their own labor." With the stealth of Sandy Berger shoving CIA documents down his pants, Sue became a game show host. "Do you realize that the land of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of the stimulus? That's $50 billion, sir!" I was surprised that a door didn't suddenly pop out in front of Sue and the man with a new car behind it. She was a chameleon, changing from a game show host to rabid Cujo. (media.www.mainecampus.com)

Rolling SEIU strike v. oppressive Red Cross ... A 20-day-long strike by home-care workers came to SD&G Tuesday as Canadian Red Cross employees protest the amount of pay they receive for travel time. There are 150 Red Cross home-care workers, who aid the elderly, ill and disabled to live at home with assistance, in Cornwall and area who took their turn to picket the local office on Montreal Road. Negotiations broke off 20 days ago, followed by a strike in a different city each day. (standard-freeholder.com)

Related video:

SEIU plots County takeover in secret ... The chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors was served with recall papers Tuesday by opponents who called it "unethical and improper" for supervisors to give themselves a raise and then cut county services. Charles Ulmschneider, saying he was speaking for a group calling itself Concerned Citizens of the 3rd District, stepped to the microphone during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting and asked the clerk to hand Phil Cox the notice. "It is our intent to recall you as a member of the Board of Supervisors for a complete loss of confidence as well as a breach of public trust," Ulmschneider said. Ulmschneider then thanked Cox for allowing himself to be served and told him to have a good day. "Anytime," Cox replied. Details about the group leading the charge for the recall have been slow in coming. Ulmschneider said the recall organization — which he said has about 50 members — is just “a group of people” unaffiliated with any political group or union. SEIU members are a part of the recall group, he said. (visaliatimesdelta.com)

Obama adds unionist to management ... Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts: William E. Spriggs, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Labor; and Rebecca M. Blank, Under Secretary for Economics Affairs, Department of Commerce. Bill Spriggs became professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Howard University in Washington, DC in December 2005. In fall 2008, he served on the Agency Review Team for the Department of Labor for the transition efforts of President Obama. In the Spring of 2008, with Steven Pitts, Bill co-authored "Beyond the Mountaintop: King’s Prescription for Poverty," for the Rosenberg Foundation, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2008 he served on the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union National Commission on ICE Misconduct and Violations of 4th Amendment Rights, chaired by UFCW president Joe Hansen which included former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack. Starting in July 2006, he also serves as Chair of the Independent Health Care Trust for UAW Retirees of Ford Motor Company, and is on the board of the Retiree Health Administration Corporation which administers the health care trusts for UAW retirees of Ford and General Motors. Beginning in January 2007 he is also a Senior Fellow with the Community Service Society of New York, where he helps with Working for Change, a public policy forum held on Capitol Hill on the problems of young low-income workers and their families. Beginning in August 2008 he is Chair of the UAW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health and Welfare Trust which administers the health and disability trusts for UAW retirees of the Dana Corporation. He serves as Vice Chair of the Board of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute. (allamericanpatriots.com)

Hoffa lackey rips oppressive federal judge ... "We are disappointed in the court's decision to deprive FedEx drivers of the right to form unions and bargain for better working conditions and wages, leaving them at the mercy of this notoriously anti-worker company run by a member of the Forbes 2008 Billionaires Club. We are confident that the decision will not survive review by the full court or by the U.S. Supreme Court. "The Teamsters' fight on behalf of these workers will not stop. We remain committed to those FedEx drivers who have sought the protection of a legitimate collective bargaining agreement to improve their lives. The facts remain: More than 30 states continue administrative and tax reviews of the employee status of FedEx Home drivers. The IRS is examining the company's tax classification for 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and the federal courts are still hearing the national and state claim lawsuits. The National Labor Relations Board has primary authority to determine whether workers are properly classified as employees or independent contractors, and reviewing courts are required to defer to the board's justifiable findings. In yesterday's decision, the majority of the court chose to ignore its legal obligation to defer judgment to the NLRB, disregarding detailed findings. (news.prnewswire.com)

Labor-state unions preserve P2P ... Lehigh County commissioners last night introduced a watered-down version of their latest measure to combat "pay to play." The ordinance would require the administration to notify the commissioners in writing each time the county's ''best value'' provision is used to award a contract. The provision allows the county to bypass bidding on some contracts, including computer purchases. The written notice would include an explanation of the due diligence performed by the administration to show that the county received the best value for its money. The measure is weaker than the one the commissioners initially proposed, which would have required the administration to compile a list of qualified vendors for each "best value" contract based on agreed-upon criteria. (mcall.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez scores propaganda victory over Obama, U.S. ... “Handshakes matter,” said David Paul Kuhn in RealClearPolitics. That’s why President Obama is taking flak for clasping hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at the recent Summit of the Americas. (Watch Obama's encounter with Chávez.) A handshake with an adversary can symbolize detente—as did Ronald Reagan’s with Mikhail Gorbachev. But Obama accomplished nothing, other than handing a propaganda victory to one of America’s “fiercest critics.” (theweek.com)

French unions pave the way for global social justice ... French automotive workers hurled floor lamps at windows and stomped on furniture as despair over the economic downturn took a violent turn. "Unacceptable," government officials said Wednesday of the rampage by workers at a factory north of Paris and nearby regional government offices. Officials are looking increasingly overwhelmed by protests that have engulfed France in recent weeks as the nation faces its worst economic outlook in 30 years. Workers have locked up their bosses. They have blocked production of Toyota Yaris cars and deliveries to key oil terminals. They've burned tires at protests and marched on the capital to ask for government help. Most of the acts have been non-violent. But on Tuesday, workers from a factory run by German auto parts maker Continental AG exploded in anger after a court north of Paris refused to forbid the company from shutting down the site next year. They smashed windows at the factory in Clairoix and at a regional administrative office in nearby Compiegne, pulling up lamps and crushing desks and cabinets. While strikes and protests are common among French workers, this kind of outburst is rare. (google.com)

Trouble in Paradise: Fidel rips Raúl ... The United States Wednesday hailed what it saw as signs of the end of communist Cuba, while Fidel Castro insisted that US President Barack Obama had "misinterpreted" Havana's stance on possible talks on human rights. Obama and President Raúl Castro, Fidel's younger brother, have said they were willing to open talks on such hot-button issues as political prisoners and human rights. But the longtime leader of the Communist island, 82-year-old Fidel Castro said his brother Raúl's words on potential changes for political prisoners and human rights had been misunderstood by Washington. Raúl Castro said last week: "We are open, whenever they want, to discussing everything: human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything they want to discuss." Fidel Castro, writing in an article posted on the official website CubaDebate, did not correct his brother but insisted that "without a doubt, the president (Obama) misinterpreted Raul's statement." (google.com)
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