Saturday wrap

Obama plays pro-SEIU hardball with Stimulus ... Federal funds rarely come without strings attached. Now, President Barack Obama is threatening to withhold billions of dollars in federal stimulus money if Gov. Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers don't restore wage cuts to unionized home healthcare workers. Now, the Obama administration, in response to a plea from the S.E.I.U, is threatening to rescind some $7-billion in stimulus money for California unless those wage cuts are reversed. "You look at a government union, they spent $16 million on Obama's campaign just six months ago and now a little change in pay that this home health care worker gets and all of a sudden, California has to come to a screeching halt in what little spending cuts they made?" said 17 News Political Analyst Cathy Abernathy. Even Gene Tackett, a staunch Democrat, is critical of the President's threat to withhold stimulus money from California. "This is a terrible, terrible act against local control. Maybe we should ask the President or his staff, where should we cut. If they're going to say we won't cut in-home health care, where else should we cut?" said 17 News Political Analyst Gene Tackett. (kget.com)

Blame anti-business Administration for continuing job losses ... Have you heard the one about the recession being over? New data out today show 539,000 workers lost their jobs in April and the nation’s unemployment rate worsened to 8.9 percent, from 8.5 percent in March, according to the Labor Department. Jobs lost in April were spread across nearly all major private-sector industries. Jobs lost include 149,000 in manufacturing; 110,000 in the construction industry; 122,000 in professional and business services; and 47,000 in the services industry. Even more worrisome, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 498,000 to 3.7 million over the month and has risen by 2.4 million since the start of the recession in December 2007. The official unemployment rate is bad. But the real unemployment rate is far worse. If those who are underemployed or who want a job but have given up looking are counted, the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 15.8 percent—more than 25 million Americans. (pww.org)

WSJ takes on union-backed, tax-funded fraud group ... Democrats are split on how to deal with Acorn, the liberal "community organizing" group that deployed thousands of get-out-the-vote workers last election. State and city Democratic officials -- who've been contending with its many scandals -- are moving against it. Washington Democrats are still sweeping Acorn abuses under a rug. On Monday, Nevada officials charged Acorn, its regional director and its Las Vegas field director with submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms last year. Larry Lomax, the registrar of voters in Las Vegas, says he believes 48% of Acorn's forms "are clearly fraudulent." On Thursday, prosecutors in Pittsburgh, Pa., also charged seven Acorn employees with filing hundreds of fraudulent voter registrations before last year's general election. (online.wsj.com)

Beck takes on Wade Rathke ... BECK: Can you tell me this? Here is something, Kevin, that I don't see anybody really talking about is the link between ACORN and SEIU. This is the service union. These are the people — these are the people that ACORN was protesting, driving people out to the AIG people. These are the "brown shirts." Then the service workers union — or the SEIU — these are the people that were protesting in front of AIG. They're henchmen. Are they tied together? MOONEY: They are absolutely linked. You can find this through disclosure forms that labor unions have to report, the LM-2 disclosure forms. The Service Employees International Union and ACORN have exchanged funds back and forth. And as you may know, the SEI Union has been leading the charge for the card check bill, the Employee Free Choice Act, which has been — was reintroduced just earlier this year. So, they are very much linked in with labor unions. In fact, the day after we published our story linking in ACORN with the Service Employees International Union, they actually took down from their Web site the member affiliation portion that identified SEIU. BECK: Hold on just a second. Wasn't — what's his name, Wade Rathke, right? MOONEY: That's the founder of ACORN. BECK: Founder of ACORN. He is now tied into the unions because — didn't he leave ACORN because his brother embezzled $1 million as the CFO? And Wade, was he involved? Did he know about it or what happened? MOONEY: His brother Dale Rathke was the chief financial officer at the time, and he was being accused of embezzling close to a million dollars. ACORN was going to bring suit, but they dropped it, instead now, some restitution and he's permitted to pay some of that back in the form of a loan. Wade Rathke, apparently, did not report that to the police and was removed from ACORN, at least according to their board minutes. But Wade Rathke is still active with the Service Employees International Union as their chief organizer. (foxnews.com)

Union bigs freed to resume attacks against rank-and-file workers ... The Obama administration has delivered a strong message to crooked union bosses everywhere: happy days are here again. On Thursday President Obama, who has pledged to usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility, touted $17 billion in proposed cuts to his $3.4 trillion budget. The media noted that about half of the reductions came out of the defense budget, but lost in most reports is the fact that the administration also slashed funding for the only entity in government tasked with policing unions. Under the leadership of Secretary Elaine Chao from 2001 through this January, the Labor Department beefed up the Office of Labor-Management Standards. During this time, the division's actions led to 929 convictions of corrupt union officials and to the recovery of more than $93 million on behalf of union members. Yet the Obama administration has proposed slashing the unit's budget by more than 9 percent, from $45 million in 2009 to $41 million in 2010. Funding for the agency, which was created in 1959 as part of legislation to root out union corruption, represents a tiny fraction of the projected $13.3 billion 2010 Labor Department budget. (spectator.org)

Union embezzlement epidemic: GMPU bigs loot rank-and-file ... The former leader of the Glass Molders and Plastics Union Local 285 was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to repay the money he took from union coffers. Jeffrey C. Harris, 48, listed in 2007 as the union’s vice president, was charged in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne with a single count of embezzlement of union funds in excess of $5,000. He is the fourth leader of the union local to be charged with stealing from the group’s coffers and pleaded guilty in February. On Friday, U.S. District Judge William C. Lee sentenced Harris, ordering him to serve three years on probation and to pay back $5,048 of union funds. Late last year, the union’s former president, Janette McFarland, was ordered to pay more than $7,000 in restitution after she admitted to embezzlement. Prosecutors believe McFarland was in cahoots with another union official, Frederick W. Jones, who admitted to taking more than $10,000 from the union. He was sentenced to a year on probation. Another union leader, Michael D. Updike, was sentenced to probation in 2005 after he, too, admitted to taking money from the union. (journalgazette.net)

Thrown under the bus: Rank-and-file union members ... President Obama's budget proposal to reduce funding for the Labor Department office responsible for overseeing labor unions is sparking an outcry from business leaders and Republicans. Obama asked for $41 million for the Office of Labor-Management Standards, a 9 percent drop from last year's $45 million. Unions have to send annual financial disclosure reports to the office, which then investigates fraud and embezzlement. The cut would "more appropriately reflect the agency's workload," the budget said. "It is a tremendous disappointment to see where the administration chose to cut," said House Education and Labor Committee ranking member Howard (Buck) McKeon, R-Calif. OLMS is "the only office in the federal government tasked with overseeing union leaders and protecting rank-and-file workers," he said. "Workers deserve better." (govexec.com)

Boilermaker big embezzled dues, gets wrist-slap ... U.S. Attorney W. Walter Wilkins said Friday that Joseph Johnson, 51, of Charleston, was sentenced to a year in prison for theft of union funds. Federal District Judge P. Michael Duffy also sentenced Johnson to three years off supervised release following his prison term, and ordered Johnson to pay restitution. Johnson was the formerly the secretary-treasurer and business manager of the Boilermakers Union in Charleston. Wilkins said that from July 2004 through July 2006, Johnson embezzled $102,519 from the union. He said Johnson wrote more than 120 union checks to various apprentices for work that was never performed. He then forged the apprentices’ signatures as the endorsee on the back of the union checks and deposited the checks into his personal bank account. (counton2.com)

Supreme Court smacks down oppressive union bigs ... Unions in nine of Canada's 10 provinces cannot use the court system to collect fines from their members, according to a Supreme Court of Canada decision issued on Thursday. The court slammed the door on an appeal from the Public Service Alliance of Canada that was trying to overturn an October 2007 decision by the Ontario Superior Court. The Ontario Superior Court ruled that the union cannot use the courts to enforce fines against its members -- a disciplinary measure employed by many unions. (canada.com)

Obama walks a day in Jimmy Carter's shoes ... Some days it seems Republicans' greatest hope is that Democrats will self destruct. Newt Gingrich was in town Wednesday and I asked what it would take for the GOP to regain its popularity. The former House speaker, who led the Republican resurgence of the mid-1990s, responded that Barack Obama is this generation's Jimmy Carter, and predicted the current administration will saddle the country with debt, inflation and weak foreign policy. (ocregister.com)

Sen. Russ Feingold placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check). WHAT: Feingold received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $2,500 in 2008 election cycle. Boilermakers Union (PAC) $1,000 in 2006 election cycle. American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $10,000 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 eight convictions. The Boilermakers have had 10 members convicted, while the IBEW has had 14 members convicted. The amounts of embezzled funds range from over $5,000 to over $100,000. WILL FEINGOLD GIVE IT BACK: Feingold did not respond to The Examiner’s request for comment. Number of Democrats who have given it back: 0 • Number of Republicans who have given it back: 0 • YOUR TURN: You can reach Sen. Feingold’s Washington D.C. office at 202-224-5323. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Out-of-state SEIU picketers protest against secret-ballots ... Members of Service Employee International Union- District 1199 joined with healthcare workers and community members in an informational picket outside the Chillicothe Country Club Friday morning as the Chillicothe/Ross Chamber of Commerce met with members of the business community. "Working families are already struggling to get by-wages are down, costs are skyrocketing, and jobs keep getting cut," said Gabe Kramer, Chief of Staff of SEIU / District 1199, the health care and social service union. "Americans voted in November for change and now big business is convening at a country club to think about ways to stand in our way. CEOs want to continue to deny the Americans who funded their bailout a chance to create a better life for themselves and their families." Kramer claims the Chamber’s country club gathering was aimed at coming up with a strategy to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. Opponents of the Act say it doesn't give workers the chance for a secret ballot on whether they want to join a union. (wkkj.com)

Union bigs cool to Dodd re-election bid ... State Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said during an appearance in New Milford this week that U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-East Haddam) is in more political trouble in his 2010 re-election race than U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Stamford) was in 2006 when he lost the Democratic primary and had to win a fourth term running as an independent. "It relates to his personal conduct and issues of ethics," he said of Mr. Dodd, who has had to respond in recent months to charges that he and his wife, Jackie, received favoritism on the refinancing of a mortgage and that the senator allowed loopholes in legislation that provided bonuses for executives of AIG, which had received federal assistance. "None of it is true," Mr. Dodd said in an interview in Torrington last month regarding the negative coverage that he has received recently. (zwire.com)

Teamster unionist expresses regrets ... I was brought up in a Teamster household. Both my father and my brother were Teamsters and were able to retire with small pensions. I understand the purpose of unions and the good they have accomplished as well as the negative things they sometimes do. Have you ever been on a Hollywood set and seen the cost of some of the union rules? The result is that many TV shows and movies are now made in other places. The rules are self-defeating; instead of creating jobs, they cost jobs. I’m all for the union doing its job, which is protecting the workers it represents. If business had not at one time mistreated their employees, there might not have been a need for unions. But they did, and the union movement was born. It is with deep regret that I anticipate little or no assistance from any large union in addressing the very real problems that our failing economy requires, whether it be the auto workers or government employees. Even if you were to stipulate that unions hold no responsibility for the problems that have to be dealt with, and that is not something I would be willing to stipulate to, it is time for all union workers to face the fact that what was is no more. (citywatchla.com)

IAM bigs launch raid against Teamsters ... The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today announced a campaign to help United Airlines'(UAL) 9,000 Mechanic & Related employees return to Machinists Union representation. "At the request of a diverse group of United Airlines Mechanic & Related employees, the Machinists Union has launched a drive to help them return to the only union that can provide a secure defined benefit pension plan and the cross-classification solidarity they need," said IAM General Vice President Robert Roach, Jr. The IAM currently represents United Airlines' 17,000 Ramp & Stores, Public Contact, Food Service, Maintenance Instructor, Fleet Technical Instructor and Security Guard employees. IAM members are the airline's only employees who have a defined benefit pension plan, the IAM National Pension Plan. The Machinists Union represented UAL's Mechanic & Related employees until 2003, when they voted to be represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA). AMFA was replaced by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, their current union, in April 2008. (amtonline.com)

CBS News rips corrupt Obama-UAW thievery ... Chrysler's sad tale that led to this week's bankruptcy hearing in New York is not only an important business and political story. It also encompasses morality, the rule of law and strong-arm tactics used by some politicians. A normal bankruptcy filing would be straightforward. Senior creditors get paid 100 cents on the dollar. Everyone else gets in line. But President Obama and his allies don't want that to happen. So they interfered on behalf of unions (the junior creditors) and publicly upbraided the senior creditors who were asserting their contractual rights and threatening to head to bankruptcy court. Last week Mr. Obama lambasted them as "a small group of speculators" who "endanger Chrysler's future by refusing to sacrifice like everyone else." Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, sent reporters a statement calling the creditors "vultures" and "rouge hedge funds." Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm piled on, taking aim during her radio address at a "few greedy hedge funds that didn't care how much pain the company's failure would have inflicted on families and communities everywhere." It must be a coincidence that the United Auto Workers has handed $25.4 million to federal politicians over the last two decades, with 99 percent of that cash going to Democrats. And that Mr. Obama's final campaign stop on Election Day was a UAW phone bank. If those politicians thought about this a bit more, they'd probably realize their mistake. Creditors didn't force Chrysler's management to head to the capital markets and beg for funds: It was poor management, uncompetitive wages, and a union that opposed pay cuts. (cbsnews.com)

Beware unsavory union organizers ... The Employee Free Choice Act is anything but a "free choice!" In fact, it removes employees' free choice by eliminating the unhampered freedom of a secret ballot to choose or not to choose a union to represent them in the workplace. If you believe as I, this Employee Free Choice Act is bad legislation eliminating employees' unmolested free right to a secret ballot election during a union's organizational drive, then I urge you to contact your elected officials in Washington and strongly express your desire for them to vote down this act! Why do I believe this is bad legislation? Employees presently have the right to join a union! They currently may do so with a secret ballot election under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board. So why are unions pushing and spending many, many dollars to have Congress eliminate the secret ballot? Unions know, during an organizational drive, many employees sign cards in favor of the union, but then with their secret ballot, vote against the union. Why does this occur? Sometimes during an organizational drive workers are promised the moon, harassed, abused, intimidated, coerced, and yes, threatened by union sympathizers and organizers to sign union cards. The easiest way to get these people off their backs is to sign the card then later express their true desire, in private, with a secret ballot. If Congress take away this right of freedom and protection from employees, the "barn door" is open for unions to easily become certified as the bargaining agent for employees through the continued use of unsavory acts. (mariettatimes.com)

Unionists do the Lord's work ... The notoriously corrupt Teamsters Union is not typically renowned for its piety. But a Methodist bishop still traveled to Washington, D.C., to address a Teamsters rally during the Lenten season -- to tell them that "the very purpose of Jesus' coming" was to establish economic justice on earth. "I welcome the opportunity to tell the truth about justice anywhere, anytime," United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of Pasadena, California, enthusiastically declared to hundreds of Teamster protesters. The placard-waving demonstrators from the 1.4 million International Brotherhood of Teamsters were snarling traffic outside the National Restaurant Association to protest the trade association's "anti-worker and anti-union lobbying activity." Teamster demonstrators were particularly targeting the restaurateurs for daring to oppose increasing the minimum wage and also the Employee Free Choice Act, which would deny a secret ballot to laborers reluctant to join a union. (opposingviews.com)

International Collectivism

USW big calls for nationalization of shut-down industry ... Ottawa should nationalize U. S. Steel Canada’s Hamilton plant if the company won’t restart production, says the head of the union representing 1,700 workers facing an uncertain fate following March’s shutdown. United Steelworkers Local 1005 president Rolf Gerstenberger said his members “don’t have the luxury” of waiting until the economy recovers to get back to work because those who were laid off when the plant’s blast furnace closed in November will run out of employment insurance benefits in two months. (stoneycreeknews.com)

Deadbeat Chávez seizes private property ... The Venezuelan government, nationalizing dozens of oil ventures it shared with private companies for years, also seized two long-term projects of Williams Cos. in the South American nation, the Tulsa-based natural gas firm confirmed Friday. The Venezuelans took control of Williams' El Furrial and Pigap II assets earlier in the day. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the nation's state-run oil company, has not paid Williams for oil and gas services performed there since the fall of 2008. Williams was forced to take a $241 million writedown on its first-quarter earnings due to the impasse with PDVSA. The seizures did not include Tulsa drilling contractor Helmerich & Payne Inc.'s rig operations in Venezuela. PDVSA is $116 million behind in its payments to Helmerich & Payne. (tulsaworld.com)

Chávez rips Obama ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Friday slammed U.S. President Barack Obama for air strikes in Afghanistan that killed scores of civilians, criticism that came weeks after the leaders shook hands in a sign of warming ties. Afghan officials said 147 civilians died as a result of attacks by U.S. warships on Taliban militants this week. Chavez, a socialist, has welcomed Obama's efforts to improve ties after a decade-long war of words between Caracas and Washington, but he accuses the new U.S. leader of maintaining an "imperialist" foreign policy. "President Obama, let's see if it's true, take apart the forces of imperialism and end the abuse of innocent peoples of the world," Chavez said during a televised speech. (reuters.com)

Obama support stabilizes Latin collectivists ... One measure of the political turmoil that has roiled Ecuador, the Colorado-sized country in the Andes, is its rapid turnover for presidents: eight in the last 13 years. So the recent re-election of Rafael Correa is a notable step toward a more mature democracy. Correa, who took office in January 2007, last month became the first chief executive in 30 years to win re-election without a runoff. And thanks to his abundant spending on social programs and a new constitution that gives him a shot at staying in office until 2017, Correa's popularity and staying power have now coalesced. The Ecuadorean president is widely expected to use the political capital he has won to continue his country's shift to the left. That's worrisome to many American observers, especially because some of Correa's most popular moves at home seem aimed at provoking the United States. He has intentionally defaulted on some of Ecuador's debt payments, expelled U.S. diplomats accused of "meddling" and refused to renew the lease for the U.S. military base at Manta. Correa's success is a sign of stability for Ecuador, but whether he will turn out to be a permanent president like Venezuela's Hugo Chávez or a leader who can lay the foundations for a sustainable democracy remains to be seen. (winnipegfreepress.com)
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