Monday wrap

Union bigs deserve blame for hiring freeze ... When Barack Obama won the election, Big Labor’s ambitions soared. It spent $400 million to elect Democrats and expected an easy ride ahead. A hundred days into the Obama administration, it’s playing defense. Organized labor has only itself to blame. With goals at odds with the interests of the country, it should have adapted itself to the national direction or else localized its aims. But that’s not the approach it took. In varying ways, the two largest confederations, the AFL-CIO and the Change To Win coalition, focused on two unpopular efforts. One is the coercive Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check,” which deprives workers of the right to secret ballot in union elections. The other is halting the U.S.-Colombia free-trade pact, citing violence against labor unions in that country (though violence against unionists there is down 87% since 2002, and lower than the rate against nonunion members). Both positions led to laid-off workers, like the 20,000 from Caterpillar pleading for free trade, and to the hiring freezes that occurred as employers tried to fend off the threat of card check. It’s too soon to call Big Labor finished as a force, but right now it’s regrouping. If it wishes to maintain, or even increase, its influence, it would do well to align its goals with the direction the country is moving in. (investors.com)

In case you missed it: The Union News weekend
Sunday: Leftwing helps itself to TARP, bailout booty
Saturday: Rank-and-file oppose union bigs by more than 5-to-1

Why is Andrew Cuomo busting fat-cat Labor-Dem chops over gov't-union pension kickbacks? ... Public pension funds in all big states generate enormous piles of money that must be invested. Big financial companies want their hands on that capital. Elected officials have influence over those funds. When the white-collar economy was stout - and investment funds flourished - dealings with insider middlemen might have seemed benign. But today's slim pickings make popular targets of perceived fat cats. The Democratic Party connections of financial players involved in areas of investigation by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office are commanding wide attention. Just in recent days, this much has come out: Federal agents have questioned New Mexico investment fund officials about a Dallas-based equity fund that shared fees with Hank Morris. A small firm operated by Dan Hevesi, former state senator and son of the ex-comptroller, got $1 million in fees as intermediary in New York City and New Mexico. Former New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli apparently worked alongside Morris, and also raised funds for Hevesi. Steve Rattner, a party fundraiser picked by President Barack Obama to help revamp the auto industry, had his Quadrangle Group hire Morris. Los Angeles Democratic fundraiser and ex-union official Daniel Weinstein's firm shared fees with Morris, involving California pension funds. (newsday.com)

ACORN whistle-blower has a blog ... Are you wondering why Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D.-N.Y.) is blocking a Congressional investigation of ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)? Or why Aaron Dorfman, Executive Director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, put out a fundraising appeal for ACORN on September 24, 2008 beginning "It’s time for funders to resume funding ACORN, and to consider major new investments in the organization in the coming year. In times like these, the country needs ACORN back at full strength"? For its readers, The New York Times has not offered a clue. If you want to know, ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief's blog (www.anitamoncrief.blogspot.com) is the place for you. Go to it and read all her posts, especially the most recent two. (webcommentary.com)

Typical labor-state gov't-union turf war ends without workers' vote ... Council 94, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, has wooed and won one of the few remaining pockets of nonunionized Rhode Island state court employees after a hard-fought battle with Local 808 of the Laborers International Union of North America, led by state Sen. Frank Ciccone. The prize: at least 68 clerical workers in the Family Court who, five years ago, had voted to reject a Council 94 organizing drive. In this latest go-round, the two competing unions battled over which had the lower dues structure and which gave the workers more power to select their representatives. But the tipping point appears to have been Local 808’s successful effort to win permission from both Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah and Court Administrator John Baxter to “accrete” the 68 employees into the Laborers’ fold without a vote. There is some debate over which union reached out to the employees first. (projo.com)

Typical pro-union mandate revealed ... A project labor agreement (PLA) or project stabilization agreement (PSA) is a contract structured to make a construction project essentially a union-only job. A PLA/PSA is negotiated exclusively by construction unions and a project owner (or agent of the owner), and all contractors and subcontractors have to sign it before work begins. Contractors are not permitted to participate in the negotiations. (sddt.com)

Napolitano needs to look Left ... A 52-year-old Oklahoma City man was arrested on tax day for threatening to kill people attending a taxpayer tea party protest at the state Capitol. News of the arrest came after the Department of Homeland Security issued a controversial report warning of the increase in violent "right-wing extremism in the United States." According to an FBI criminal complaint, Daniel Knight Hayden, who went by the name CitizenQuasar on a popular microblogging site, threatened murder on several occasions in the run-up to tax day. On April 11 he posted a message on Twitter that said,"The WAR wWIL [sic] start on the stepes [sic] of the Oklahoma State Capitol. I will cast the first stone." (washingtontimes.com)

New Prog Era: 100 days, 100 mistakes ... [N.B. link includes slideshow] 1. "Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of 'earmarks,' urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. 'Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,' Obama said." -- McClatchy, 3/11 • 2. "There is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments." -- Obama during the campaign. • 3. This year's budget deficit: $1.5 trillion. • 4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million -- a whopping .0027%! • 5. "The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties." -- ABC News, 4/15 (nypost.com)

Related video: Progressive Era remembered

Culture of Corruption: We don't need no stinkin' transparency ... The Obama administration, which has boasted about its efforts to make government more transparent, is rolling back rules requiring labor unions and their leaders to report information about their finances and compensation. The Labor Department noted in a recent disclosure that "it would not be a good use of resources" to bring enforcement actions against union officials who do not comply with conflict of interest reporting rules passed in 2007. Instead, union officials will now be allowed to file older, less detailed conflict reports. The regulation, known as the LM-30 rule, was at the heart of a lawsuit that the AFL-CIO filed against the department last year. One of the union attorneys in the case, Deborah Greenfield, is now a high-ranking deputy at Labor, who also worked on the Obama transition team on labor issues. Labor officials declined to say whether she played a role in the new policy, noting that Ms. Greenfield is abiding by all government ethics rules. In court filings, she and other union attorneys called the 2007 rules "onerous." The Labor Department also is rescinding another key labor financial disclosure regulation. The expansion of the so-called LM-2 rule, approved during the last days of the Bush administration, requires unions to report more information about finances and labor leaders' compensation on annual reports. Critics worry that the rollback of union reporting requirements will keep hidden potentially corrupt financial arrangements aimed at rooting out corruption. (washingtontimes.com)

Corrupt union hurting for member-dues ... Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has fended off unions at its U.S. stores throughout its climb to the top of the retailing world, is now the focus of a major organizing effort by the United Food and Commercial Workers. The union, with 1.3 million members in North America, is actively recruiting potential members at more than 100 Wal-Mart stores in 17 states, including the store at 8801 Base Line Road in Little Rock. Meghan Scott, a Food and Commercial Workers spokesman in Washington, said the union increased its organizing efforts after the election of President Barack Obama and the reintroduction this year of federal legislation that would make it easier for workers to gain union representation. (nwanews.com)

Related video
: UFCW: Chronicles of corruption

Union Bullsh*t Watch #2: Marxists Claim Cargo Container Work is the Same as Stocking Shelves at Wal-Mart ... In a post this afternoon on Political Affairs [Marxist Thought Online], the far-left wing writers are clamoring for EFCA by claiming that “unions are good for workers.” Per the usual left-wing modus operandi, the Marxists cite the (faulty) BLS data typically used by unions and their pushers, as well as the de-bunked union studies so often cited by EFCA pushers and their political puppets in efforts to foist the no-vote unionization law (aka the Employee Free Forced Choice Act). What makes their posts merit a Union Bullsh*t Watch post is one of the most ludicrous comparisons we have seen in a very long time, in which the Marxists state: "Moving cargo on the Oakland waterfront pays three times what stocking shelves does at WalMart, because longshore workers have had a union contract since 1934." One would hope that moving cargo pays three times what stocking shelves at Wal-Mart does since the work is entirely different, as anyone who has ever been to a port can attest to. The post goes on to pump out the same deceptive B.S. that all the left-wing nutjobs are blathering on about these days as to why they want the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act signed into law. Wouldn’t it be much simpler if they just came out with their true intentions and stated something like this: “We are Marxists. We know our arguments are bullsh*t but we like unions and we don’t think people should have a choice to join our unions. Furthermore, we don’t like company bosses and we want to see them go out of business so we can nationalize their property and have one big happy, socialist system …” (laborunionreport.com)

Militaristic prog Andy Stern declares desert war ... A month ago, when labor leader Andy Stern was drumming up excitement over a nationwide campaign to organize hotel and casino workers, he said his union wouldn’t set up shop on the Strip. This was, after all, Culinary country. “We are certainly not intending to go raid anybody,” Stern said at the time. “We don’t think there’s a need in Las Vegas for another union to represent the hospitality workers that are there.” That was then. An affiliate of his Service Employees International Union is now knocking on doors. It wants in. The affiliate, called Workers United, sent letters this month to gaming companies in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, asking for the same organizing rights afforded the Culinary and its parent union, Unite Here. Letters were also sent to hospitality and food service companies across the country where Unite Here represents workers. The action is the latest chapter in the escalating rivalry between two of the nation’s most progressive unions, with the hotel workers union accusing the service workers of attempting to cut into Unite Here membership and turf. (lasvegassun.com)

Hotel California update: Governator + Teachers Union > SEIU ... Schwarzenegger also has transferred more than $1 million to the ballot campaign from his own political account. The Schwarzenegger-led committee pushing for the propositions also has accepted large checks from a frequent adversary of the governor: the California Teachers Association. The association has kicked in $6.7 million, although most of that has gone to a campaign committee focused solely on promoting Proposition 1B, the education measure. Altogether, the campaigns for Propositions 1A and 1B have collected about $13 million. The opposition campaign, by contrast, has collected just over $1 million, with about $600,000 of that total coming from the Service Employees International Union's state council. The California Faculty Association has contributed $177,000, and the California Federation of Teachers, a rival to the CTA, has given $116,000. Union opponents say Proposition 1A's spending cap would starve state programs that help the needy, (insidebayarea.com)

Details of socialized health-care begin to emerge ... "Activist" groups lavishly funded by multi-billionaire George Soros — the de facto leader of the Democrat Party — have ordered their puppet in the White House and their Reid-Pelosi minions on Capitol Hill to stop talking, even talking with private health interests behind closed doors — where they are accused of plotting to "cave" to (gasp!) the "for profit" private insurance industry. (And we all know how capitalist profits are inherently evil, don't we? Except for Democrat Party leader Soros, who swims in billions — says he is having a "glorious crisis" — while the rest of us watch our portfolios/savings plummet.) Our guess is they have nothing to worry about as far as President Obama is concerned. What these socialist activists have reason to fear is the reaction of the American people when they become acquainted with the details likely to emerge in the witches brew in store for them if socialized medicine comes to America. (renewamerica.us)

International Collectivism

Iran military aids Chávez bid for peace through strength ... Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar was welcomed by his Venezuelan counterpart Ramon Alonzo Carrizalez Rengifo in Maiquetia on Sunday. Although Tehran and Caracas enjoy close ties, this is the first time that an Iranian defense minister has visited the Latin American state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mohammad-Najjar's stay in Caracas could add joint defense projects to the increasing economic and industrial cooperation between the two states. The prospects of defense ties between Iran and Venezuela have not been welcomed by Washington, as the US opposes Tehran establishing links in its 'strategic back yard'. Industrial cooperation between Tehran and Caracas irritated the administration of former US president George W. Bush, who at one point even accused Iran of building a nuclear plant in Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has ridiculed the notion, skewering the former US chief executive on the issue in one of his famous Alo! Mr President television programs. (presstv.ir)

Democracy Exposed: How Communists win elections ... I’ve just been in a rural part of West Bengal’s Barrackpur constituency hearing devastating criticism of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose Left Front government has run the state for 32 years and is now being challenged in the general election by a local alliance of the local Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, and the Congress Party. I have heard many allegations in the past about how the CPI(M) uses rough undemocratic tactics to fix elections, but have not before had a chance to learn first hand about the way that local people say its cadres control the state. As word of our approach spread, women and men came out of their houses to the roadside to tell us they have been scared to vote in elections - echoing what we had earlier heard in a local town. “Will I be able to vote?” asked Kiran Ghosh. “For the last many years we have not gone because when we go and put one foot inside the voting booth, the officials says your vote is cast, go away, so we come back home”. “My [grown up] children don’t go to vote because they will be beaten up,” said Rekhi Ghosh, an elderly scheduled caste woman. “They usually come at night a few days before voting and threaten us if we go to vote,” said Abdul Razzak. “They say they will cut you in two if you vote - and they poison the water”. According to these and other stories, the CPI(M) has used such tactics to scare the poor into submission for many years. (ft.com)

Chicago-educated Latin communist redefines democracy ... Socialist President Rafael Correa tightened his grip on power in politically volatile Ecuador by winning re-election Sunday, exit polls showed. Correa, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, has butted heads with the United States, but he praised President Barack Obama at the recent Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. Correa won about 55 percent of the vote against seven challengers, exit polls showed. Lucio Gutierrez, a one-time army colonel and former president, received almost 30 percent. "We need a real democracy here, based on justice, equality, and dignity," Correa said Sunday while heading to vote. Correa, Ecuador's eighth president in 13 years, is now probably the most powerful president Ecuador has had since democracy was restored here 30 years ago. During his two years in office, Correa has tripled government spending on schools and health care, increased pensions, hiked the minimum wage and doubled a monthly payment for single mothers. Correa, 46, has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and he's following an ambitious script he laid out during his successful 2006 presidential campaign. (miamiherald.com)

Common interest unites Chávez, Palestinian bigs ... Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki visited Venezuela Sunday as part of a move to open a diplomatic mission in Caracas, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said. On Monday Malki and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro are set to sign a joint communique establishing diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the Palestinian Authority, paving the way for a diplomatic headquarters. Venezuela severed ties with Israel on January 15 in reaction to the Jewish state's assault on the Gaza Strip. Caracas said at the time it was reacting to the "cruel persecution of the Palestinian people directed by Israeli authorities." Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez slammed Israeli authorities earlier this month by saying that "the Hebrew people do not deserve this genocidal, murderous government." (google.com)
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