Saturday wrap

The price of Andy Stern's political power: SEIU's looming bankruptcy ... Record spending by the Service Employees International Union to help elect President Barack Obama has paid political dividends but extracted a financial toll. Officials say the fast-growing union spent $85 million during the campaign season last year, and that it was well worth it: The Obama administration has appointed union officials to top posts and is backing legislation to make it easier for workers to organize. "SEIU is on the field, it's in the White House, it's in the administration," SEIU President Andy Stern said in a video to members to mark the Obama administration's first 100 days. But Mr. Stern also said campaign spending eroded the international's funds. The union took out $25 million in loans last year to meet expenses and saw its net assets fall by nearly half -- to $34 million at the end of 2008 from $64 million in 2007. (online.wsj.com)

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Meet Craig Becker, AFL-CIO & SEIU Obamunist

Collective bargaining lesson for kids: Militant L.A. teacher unionists arrested ... Nearly four dozen people have been arrested in Los Angeles for blocking traffic in a protest of layoffs of teachers and other employees of the nation's second-largest school district. A Los Angeles police spokesman says 46 protesters have been arrested in Friday's demonstration outside school district headquarters. Teacher's union president A.J. Duffy was among those arrested. The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District voted last month to lay off as many as 2,400 teachers and 2,000 other personnel to deal with a $596 million budget shortfall for the upcoming school year. The teachers' union had called for a one-day strike on Friday, but a judge issued a restraining order. (cbs47.tv)

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Union-backed, tax-funded criminals: We only did what we were told ... Two former Pittsburgh-area members of the community group ACORN said Friday that they had voter registration quotas to meet, otherwise they faced losing their jobs. They are among seven workers charged in Allegheny County with either forging, illegally soliciting or illegally filling out voter cards in the lead-up to the 2008 elections. "We did it the way they trained us. Know what I'm saying? So why are we getting picked up, when it should be the people that's above us getting picked up? We only did what they asked us to do," Mario Wyatt Grisom said after a preliminary hearing in municipal court. Clarke, 21, of Pittsburgh, said supervisors with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now would sometimes complete partially filled applications. ACORN works to get low-income people to vote and lists offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. "The bosses, if the date of birth wasn't filled out, they would find it and fill it out for us," she said. FBI Special Agent Sonia Bush testified that Kinney said she submitted false registration forms because she faced the potential loss of her job if she failed to submit 25 per day, according to a report by WTAE Channel 4's news exchange partners at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. (thepittsburghchannel.com)

Bipartisan D.C. organizers disregard 'Forgotten' Amendment ... 10th Amendment to the Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." For some states, the message to the federal government is clear: Back off. Legislatures in Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota this year have approved resolutions asserting sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution and suggesting that Uncle Sam "cease and desist" from interfering in their business. Supporters insist this isn't a red state rebellion and that they are trying to take a stand against federal encroachment on state authority that has been going on for decades. "It has nothing to do with the Obama administration," said Key. He first introduced a state sovereignty resolution last year, when Republican George W. Bush was still in the White House. Like a number of other state lawmakers, Key said it was a law backed by the Bush administration establishing expensive security measures when issuing drivers' licenses - known as the Real ID Act - that prompted his action. Michael Boldin, a Los Angeles-based web marketer said he started the Tenth Amendment Center website "as a response to George Bush and Dick Cheney." Boldin, 36, said he opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and backed Republican Ron Paul for president. (wzzm13.com)

UFCW-Safeway member gets up in Starbucks' face ... A Starbucks barista has admitted to stealing more than $600 from his cash register, one $20 bill at a time, according to Bremerton Police reports. Police were called to the Callow Avenue Safeway on Wednesday afternoon after a store security officer figured out where missing money had been going. The security officer said he had determined that the 22-year-old Bremerton man was working on the days there were shortages, and then caught him on camera taking cash. The man reportedly said once a twice a week he would put $20 in an envelope, stick it in the check slot of his till and retrieve it later. He used the money for "necessities like food and cigarettes" for him and his roommates, he said. (kitsapsun.com)

Job-killers exposed! ... The California Chamber of Commerce on Friday announced it’s opposing 27 proposed state laws, calling them “job-killers” that would harm the state’s business climate if passed by the Legislature. That’s down slightly from 34 bills targeted in 2008, but up from the 23 bills labeled as job-killers in 2007. The chamber defines job-killer bills as imposing additional costs on employers, either across the board or in specific industries. “We are feeling the weight of overly burdensome regulations, unique to California, passed when times were good,” said California Chamber president Allan Zaremberg. “Now, more than ever, legislators must vote no on every bill that has the potential to drive up costs for consumers and businesses and to harm the economy.” This year’s crop includes many bills that were blocked in previous years, including an oil extraction tax, increases in benefit payouts to injured workers, and a single-payer universal health care bill. Among the new proposed laws on this year’s list are a state counterpart to federal card-check legislation for union elections and a pair of recycling mandates. (labusinessjournal.com)

Keystone State: #1 in the nation for school strikes ... A school district in northeastern Pennsylvania plants to keep its schools open during a strike by support staff. Luzerne County's Crestwood School District is facing a strike on Monday by the 118-member Crestwood Education Support Professionals Association. The union represents teachers' aides, cafeteria workers, custodians, secretaries and other support staff. By law, teachers must continue to work during the strike as long as the school district keeps the schools open. (wfmj.com)

Sickout: School kids get a lesson in collective bargaining ... School officials at Broomfield High School were left scrambling to find enough teachers Friday after 60 of the school's 84 teachers called in sick. Teachers in the Boulder Valley School District are in contract talks with the district. The union wants a permanent cost-of-living increase to the pay scale while the district offered a 1-percent pay raise for one year only, according to the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper. School district spokesman Briggs Gamblin told 7NEWS, the administration is not aware of a formal strike by the Boulder Valley Education Association which represents BVSD teachers in contract negotiations. (thedenverchannel.com)

Police union lawyer defends local EIT ... An attorney representing the El Monte police officer who kicked a prone suspect in the head after a high-speed pursuit said Friday the tactic was justified under the department's use of force policy. Television cameras captured the incident in Pico Rivera on Wednesday, sparking a sheriff's criminal investigation and an internal affairs probe that could stretch for two or three months, officials said. "It's actually a tactic that they teach you in the police academy," said Dieter Dammier, counsel to the El Monte Police Officers' Association. "It's designed not to damage or injure people, it's to distract them. That's why you see one kick. If the officer really wanted to pummel this guy he would have kicked him more than once." (whittierdailynews.com)

Gov't-funded labor-state unionist downplays worker-choice ... Currently, 22 states have right-to-work laws that allow employees to decide whether to join a union. Michigan has a union shop provision allowing employers and unions to negotiate rules that mandate employees join a union or pay union dues and fees. Littmann said unions have "strangled this state to death." Without a right-to-work provision, he said, the state will continue in its "graveyard spiral." "And it's going to get worse," said Littmann, who is MIT educated and a former Comerica Bank senior vice president and chief economist. Richard Block, an MSU professor in the School of Labor and Industrial Relations who studied labor laws in states, said there's no evidence that being a right-to-work state has an effect on economic growth. (mlive.com)

Lagging labor-state boasts never-ending 'shortfall' ... With Friday's economic forecast projecting even less money coming in during the next two years, the political spotlight will shift to how the Oregon Legislature's chief budget writers propose to spend it. Their plan is due Monday, a few days after they absorb the latest news. Their basic job: to cut the pie by almost 25 percent or find other available money by raising taxes, finding savings or receiving funds from the federal government. Most likely they will do both. The continuing slump in Oregon's economy will result in $3.8 billion less than experts say is needed to maintain state services and aid to schools in the next two years, according to the quarterly projection by State Economist Tom Potiowsky. (statesmanjournal.com)

Citizens getting fed-up with militant gov't-union strikers ... Voices were raised and engines were revved on the picket lines at City Hall Square on Friday — leading Windsor police to take a report of a hit and run incident between a striking union member and a vehicle. CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox said the picketer wasn’t hurt and the union won’t press charges, but she has noticed an escalation of aggressive behaviour by drivers entering and leaving the square’s parking lots. Fox said she was told of three incidents at the square on Friday where “very irate” motorists shouted obscenities and drove their vehicles without regard for the safety of picketers. (windsorstar.com)

Judgment Day nears for corrupt labor-state AFL-CIO-political boss ... The more than three−year−long saga that has obliterated the reputation of one of Queens’ most influential political and labor leaders may finally come to a close next week. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said former Democratic Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin was scheduled to be sentenced in Manhattan federal court May 20 at 3 p.m. The sentencing would end a chapter in one of the largest federal corruption probes in Queens’ history. In a pre−sentencing hearing Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Judge Richard Sullivan indicated that he was considering a departure from federal sentencing guidelines in what appears to be a move toward a tougher punishment, citing McLaughlin’s “abuse of public trust” in bilking millions of dollars from labor groups, his own re−election committee and the Electchester Athletic Association, according to court papers. (yournabe.com)

Teamster dissident has balls of steel ... The National Right to Work Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the Teamsters Union in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit involves a non-union worker forced to pay union dues, according to National Right to Work Foundation spokesman Stefan Gleason. "We were contacted by Jeffrey McCabe because he was objecting to the union's use of his monies for all kinds of things that have nothing to do with representing him in the workplace," Gleason explains. "But because Pennsylvania is not a right-to-work state, he can be compelled to pay some dues to the union as a condition of employment." But Gleason points out that McCabe has a right to due process, and the union failed to provide him with even the most basic information -- including how dues are spent. "Unions are running around playing politics and doing all kinds of ideological stuff," he contends. "Union officials are required under law to disclose to non-union members or people who want to become non-union members how the money is being spent." McCabe says he is willing to pay union dues used for collective bargaining. (onenewsnow.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez seeks neo-fascist axis ... Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has called for unity among Latin American nations in order to ensure freedom from the crumbling 'neo-liberal system.' Speaking at a news conference with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Friday, the Venezuelan leader told the former First Lady that Argentineans revolutionized the country after electing her husband to the presidency in 2003; they wanted to free the South American country from economic recession. He went on to criticize the free market system for wreaking havoc on the global economy, saying, “We are all thinking positive, but were also capable of an alternative path to the neo-liberal model, which has collapsed the whole system.” Chavez noted that "only united can we (Latin Americans) be free," adding that the "axis Caracas-Buenos Aires is vital" for such freedom. (presstv.ir)

Oppressed Venezuelans suffer from failure of regulated pasta ... The Venezuelan government began Friday what officials said would be a 90-day occupation of a pasta plant owned by U.S.-based food giant Cargill after finding that it was not producing the stipulated amount of product to sell at the regulated price. The “temporary occupation” of the plant located in La Guaira near Caracas was announced by Venezuela’s deputy minister for food, Rafael Coronado. Coronado said the measure was applied after a government inspection showed that the plant was not producing the proportion of 70 percent pasta at the regulated price and 30 percent of the kind that may be sold at a free market price as the law has required since March. Found at the plant during the inspection on Thursday were 786,000 kilos (866 tons) of pasta, of which 466,000 kilos (514 tons) were non-regulated pasta and 320,000 kilos (352 tons) were at the regulated price, the official said. Inspections at pasta plants began this week after the detection of a “failure in the supply of regulated pasta,” Coronado said. (laht.com)

Chávez takes a brief time out ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Friday said that "for the time being" he is not thinking about nationalizing other banks, as he would do in a few days with Banco de Venezuela, owned by Spanish Grupo Santander. "Do we plan to nationalize other banks? Not for the time being," answered Chávez in a press conference with Argentinean President Cristina Fernández, following a bilateral meeting in Buenos Aires. (eluniversal.com)
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