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Sunday, January 31, 2010

UAW greed has dismembered Michigan

Regarding the same union that tells its members to "Shut the f**k up!" and calls Toyota a "danger to America," the Washington Times has this fascinating post:
Legend has it that during a brutal contract bar -gaining session, Harry Bennett, Hen-ry Ford's enforcer, attempted to break the tension by passing around snapshots taken during a visit to Maxon Lodge, a gorgeous hideaway in the woods of northern Michigan.

Walter Reuther, architect of the United Auto Workers' rise, looked over the photographs, tossed them on the table and said to Bennett: "Come the revolution, we'll own that place."

It was no idle threat. In 1967, flush with cash from a bulging membership, the UAW purchased the lodge and 1,000 acres on Black Lake.

And, as often happens with revolutionaries, the temptations of power were too strong to resist.

The UAW turned the lodge into a stunning and sprawling $33 million complex, adding another 200 acres and a $6 million golf course rated among the best 100 public courses in the nation.

Although it bills itself as an education center, it is actually a world-class resort, long a favorite spot for the union's leaders to unwind. Reuther, who made the place his personal retreat, died in a plane crash on his way to Black Lake in 1970. His ashes are scattered on the grounds.

But today a "For Sale" sign hangs from the resort, which has required more than $25 million in subsidies from the union's depleted treasury over the past five years. The UAW's membership has fallen to roughly 430,000, from a peak of 1.5 million in 1979.

You can read the rest here.

h/t: Glenn Reynolds
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776
 
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Union Extremist Craig Becker's Glaring Hatred for Workplace Freedom

Following the near-certain death of the union bosses' hallucinogenically-named (and growingly unpopularEmployee Free Choice Act, the Democrats in the Senate are looking to throw their union cronies a bone by getting SEIU and AFL-CIO attorney Craig Becker seated to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) quickly, perhaps as soon as this week.

As the rules and the policies set forth through the NLRB affect nearly every private-sector workplace (except airlines and railroads), the persons who serve as NLRB members, regardless of their backgrounds, should be able to decide on cases with an open mind and issue decisions that are balanced, based on the law.

The problem with Becker, according to many, is not that he's merely a union radical (there are already enough of those to populate a big city--say Washington, DC or Detroit?).  The problem with Becker is that he is a union extremist and, by all accounts, appears to be opposed to individual rights for employees and their employers.

According to the worker advocacy group the National Right to Work Foundation, Becker:

  • Supports "home visits," in which union goons repeatedly harass workers at home until they sign union authorization cards (see here for an example of this intimidating practice)
  • Advocates letting government arbiters impose contracts on workers and employers on workers, without even allowing the workers to vote on the contract (a practice which even Far Left icon George McGovern opposes)
  • Believes employers should be absolutely prohibited from sharing any truthful and noncoercive information with employees about the effects of unionization
  • Illogically and radically compares union certification elections to US Congressional elections, stating that the only question decided in such elections should be which union gets monopoly control over workers, not whether they wish to remain independent and union free. [Emphasis added.]

Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, delves further into Mr. Becker's "threat to freedom":

Currently, Becker serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Most Americans have probably never heard of Mr. Becker and he may be a perfectly nice human being, but his views on the absolute and autocratic power labor should wield over small businesses is enough to make one shudder.

Becker has written that, “employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives.” Simply stated, Becker believes small businesses should have no say whatsoever over their own future, while union bosses have complete control.

In Craig Becker’s perfect world, every worker in America would be in a union, whether they choose to be there or not.

[snip]

As a member of the board, Becker would have significant authority to enact the SEIU and AFL-CIO’s agenda by fiat meaning the executive branch would do via administrative action what they have been unable to get enacted through elected representatives in the legislature who are directly accountable to voters.

And there should be absolutely no doubt what Big Labor’s agenda is… the forced unionization of small businesses so that billions in additional dollars from union member dues can flow into their coffers and they can continue to play kingmaker funneling massive amounts of money to the politicians who do their bidding.

Craig Becker’s nomination is a threat to freedom and must not be allowed to go forward. The Senate will hold a hearing on Becker’s nomination this coming week. [Emphasis added.]

There are those who fight for freedom and there are those who fight to end freedom.

Unfortunately, Mr. Becker appears to fall in the latter of the two groups.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Cross-posted.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

SEIU Front Group: America is a “Dangerous Idea”...Attacks Continue on America’s Tea Party Movement

Are the leaders of the purple behemoth known as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) opposed to America's founding principles?  Are America's founders "extremists" to people like Andy Stern and Anna Burger?

When you start to add up the evidence, it certainly appears so.

The SEIU is the same union...
...that has now been discovered as one of the principle piggy banks behind a shadow group that has launched an anti-Tea Party website.




According to the site's main page, the goals of SEIU's front group are as follows:

Our Mission
To prevent the Tea Party's dangerous ideas from gaining legislative traction.

Our Strategy
Our Strategy is simple. This movement is a fad. Some of their ideas include the belief that programs like Social Security and Medicare are socialistic and should never have been created in the first place and that President Obama is a Socialist. Other ideas include undermining the legitimacy of the federal government in favor of a radical rightwing form of state’s rights. We need to prevent their dangerous ideas from gaining a legislative foothold. So our strategy is to spread the truth about their dangerous ideas and prevent their policies from taking root in America.

Dangerous ideas?  Those "dangerous ideas" are many of the same ideas upon which America was founded.  However, it appears the SEIU believes that the original Boston Tea Party was a "dangerous idea" as well. 

With the SEIU's history of promoting higher taxes while, at the same time, attacking those who believe in liberty and lower taxes, we wonder: Are the SEIU's leaders that ashamed of America and its history that they would attack people with the same principles as the original founders?

Big hat-tip to Lee Doren for looking in the shadows and shedding some light on this.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Cross-posted.

Friday, January 29, 2010

UAW, Not Toyota, is the Real "Danger to America"

Union Bosses Gone Wild: To view how the UAW earned
the nickname United Against Work, go here.
As Democrats prepare for a public and politically-charged flogging of Toyota, the United Auto Workers bigwigs (along with their comrades from the Teamsters and some green-weenie enviro-activists) rained some atomic rhetoric on the Japanese car maker by calling it a "danger to America" while astro-turfing at the Japanese embassy in Washington yesterday.

While Toyota does have recall issues it is dealing with (as the UAW-controlled Big Three are all-too-familiar with), the UAW bosses are not protesting Toyota's safety issues. Rather, the union is protesting the company's plans to close the only Toyota plant in America that the UAW has its talons in, the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California on March 31st.

Apparently, 80% of the UAW's membership is angry with the union's handling of the plant closing (this is the same plant where a UAW boss told members to 'Shut the f**k up!' last weekend). As a result, UAW leaders appear to be trying to placate their members in a futile effort to change Toyota's mind, as Toyota appears solidly against keeping the California plant open or maintaining a relationship with the UAW.

With the UAW constantly agitating to gain entry into Toyota's other U.S. plants which are UAW-free, once President Obama's General Government Motors pulled out of NUMMI, Toyota could finally cut all ties to the UAW.

While it is unfortunate that 4,700 more jobs will be lost by the UAW, the NUMMI jobs are but a drop in a very large bucket of UAW job losses at the Big Three.

More importantly, as the UAW's rust-belt Democrats in Congress prepare to put Toyota on show trial, rather than helping the NUMMI workers in California, the UAW's radioactive rhetoric against Toyota may do more to hurt the thousands of other UAW-free Americans employed by at its other plants in the U.S.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Cross-posted.

AFL-CIO May Run Challengers to Blue Dog Democrats

By attempting to drive further to the Left, unions may be creating a worse nightmare for the mid-terms than they've already caused themselves.

From The Raw Story:
Union leaders in the AFL-CIO are considering supporting challengers to centrist Democrats in this year's mid-term elections.

Disappointed with Blue Dogs who helped foil the unions' hoped-for agenda in President Obama's first year, leaders of unions such as the United Steelworkers and AFSCME are considering supporting more union-friendly and more progressive candidates for the 2010 mid-term elections.

According to James A. Barnes in the National Journal, AFL-CIO members brought up the names of three Democratic senators some among them would like to see defeated: Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who caucuses with the Democrats and who is credited -- or faulted -- with scuttling the public option in the Senate.

Of those three, only Lincoln is up for re-election in 2010.

If the unions go ahead with the idea, they would mirror in the Democratic Party what appears to be happening with the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party. Members of the Tea Party movement are mobilizing to support like-minded candidates in the GOP primaries, in an attempt to force the Republican Party further to the right. [Emphasis added.]

No mention of Evan Bayh, or Diane Feinstein, or their (faux?) opposition to the Employee Free FORCED Act.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Hat-tip: Bret Jacobsen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Really Killed the Unions' Job-Destroying Employee Free Choice Act?

"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Pogo

If the misleadingly-named Employee Free Choice Act is truly dead, Democrats and union bosses have no one to blame but themselves.

By most accounts, union bosses' main legislative goal for the last five years, the hallucinogenically named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is all-but-dead.  Ever since it passed the House in 2007 (EFCA was re-introduced in both the House and Senate on March 10, 2009), the big labor bailout bill has drawn fire from business groups, but had gone little noticed by the public-at-large.
  • For an explanation of EFCA, go here.
While the official death certificate to the job-destroying EFCA has not yet been issued, Politico posted a piece on Tuesday entitled Labor helps kill its own top priority citing last week's election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts as the reason.  The problem is, while it is true that a majority of union houesholds in Massachusetts voted for Scott Brown, EFCA was pretty much DOA before last week.

Big Government, Auto Bailouts, Stimulus Spending, and Health Care Reform, not Scott Brown, doomed EFCA.

While Politico writer Jeanne Cummings correctly notes that the election of Scott Brown makes out-and-out passage of EFCA virtually impossible while Republicans can muster a filibuster, EFCA started to die back in January, shortly after Barack Obama's inauguration and has been dying ever since.

It was shortly after Obama's election that General Motors and Chrysler came to Washington with their hands out for bailout money.  The public, already annoyed with the shelling out of hundreds of billions to Wall Street raised a collectively dubious eyebrow at Obama's acquiesence to Detroit and the United Auto Workers, with many in the blogosphere correctly pointing out the UAW's complicitness in Detroit's demise.

As the administration forced the automakers into bankruptcy, Americans grew even more suspicious when President Obama appointed Ron Bloom to be the "car czar" [Bloom is now Obama's "manufactuing czar"] and the United Auto Workers wound up receiving ownership in both General Motors and Chrysler.

The auto bailouts, combined with the almost-simultaneous passage of more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars hundreds of billions aimed at stimulating the economy created a backlash as the public began to see a huge increase in the role of government, a debt that would be borne by future generations, all the while millions continued to lose jobs.

As the first "tea parties" began to shape up in April, the public pushback against big government began to grow.  Meanwhile, with the election of Democrat Al Franken in limbo throughout the much of the spring and Ted Kennedy falling ill through the summer, EFCA remained stalled.

Then, Democrats and their union allies made a huge strategic error by choosing to put health care reform ahead of EFCA.  This, not the election of Scott Brown, became EFCA's undoing.

The Light Gets Shined on Union Bosses' New-Found Favor in the White House...


As President Obama continued filling his administration with cronies from the union movement, more and more light was being shed on the favor union bosses were receiving in Washington.  To many Americans, it became apparent that Democrats and union bosses were not just after health care reform, they were after an out-and-out nationalization of the entire health care system. This is when Democrats and union bosses unwittingly awoke the proverbial sleeping giant. 

The push for a complete federal government takeover health care in the House of Representatives was too much for a growingly suspicious public and, as a result, politicians began to get blasted in town hall meetings in late July and early August.

Prior to the health care debate, most of the public remained in the dark about the extent to which unions were now in control in Washington.  And, for the most part, EFCA remained a labor vs. management issue.  However, as town halls erupted into open shouting matches, the White House told Democrats and their allies to "punch back twice as hard."  Unions, however, took the directive too far.  

On August 6th, a black conservative named Kenneth Gladney was allegedly beaten by SEIU thugs at a town hall meeting in St. Louis.  Gladney's beating created a firestorm of outrage throughout the internet and put Democrats on the defensive.  The public was now becoming increasingly aware of the union infuence in the health care debate and it led, in at least one case, for union attendees to be booed out of one town hall meeting.

By Labor Day, public opinion had turned against the Democrats' handling of health care, the run-away spending in Washington and, most importantly to the union bosses, public opinion had also turned against them.  On Labor Day weekend, Gallup released its annual poll on public support of unions and found that, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans disapproved of labor unions.

Backroom "Sweetheart" Deals, ACORN, and an Overly Influential White House Visitor

Less than a week after the Labor Day Gallup poll numbers, shockwaves were again sent throughout the internet when Barack Obama's former employer/client, ACORN, was exposed through some well-publicized undercover videos as allegedly having 'counseled' a "pimp" and a "prostitute" to skirt tax laws...not just once, but on several occasions and at several of its offices.

Given President Obama's well noted ties to the arguably-corrupt ACORN, as well as its sister companion (the SEIU), unions took another PR hit in October when the White House revealed that SEIU boss Andy Stern was the White House's most frequent visitor during the first six months of the new administration. 

Further, complicating the White House's exposed ties with the SEIU was the growing awareness of just how much the SEIU controlled the White House, even planting one of its high ranking officials, Patrick Gaspard, into the White House as the Director of Political Affairs.

Finally, the last bit of evidence many Americans needed to be convinced that union bosses were only out for themselves occurred in early January when union bosses had a closed-door meeting at the White House regarding the so-called "Cadillac tax" in the Senate's health care bill.  When union bosses emerged (a mere week before Scott Brown's election) with an exemption to the Cadillac tax in hand, many more Americans grew infuriated. 

Poor Priorities and the Scott Heard Around the World...

As Politico writer Cummings points out, a majority of union households in Massachuesetts did vote for Scott Brown.  This has effectively sealed EFCA's fate for 2010, as Democrats have become largely paralyzed with fear over the possible losses they face in November.

Now, after spending an estimated $1.5 billion in 2006 and 2008 to elect Democrats who would be beholden to their interests, union bosses are left to hoping consolation prize Craig Becker is successfully seated on the National Labor Relations Board.


If SEIU and AFL-CIO attorney Becker does make it to the NLRB, union bosses will still be able to flip labor relations in America on its head, but not nearly as far as they wanted to go with EFCA.  With Becker, unions will still see a higher win-rate in NLRB-conducted elections (their win rate was 73% in the first six months of 2009) and employers will likely see their rights to free speech eroded further.  However, with  EFCA's no-vote unionization and government-imposition of contracts, the delusionally-dubbed Employee Free Choice Act would have permanently changed the American labor relations landscape, as well created higher unemployment.  

Union bosses, not corporate bosses killed EFCA...

While it is true that corporations and business associations have lobbied extensively against EFCA, the public-at-large had been largely ignoring the back-and-forth between labor and management.  Both business and union bosses have spent tons of money attempting to present their case for or against EFCA.  As the Democrats have had a filibuster proof Senate (albeit for a short time), were it not for some leery Democrats in the Senate, EFCA would have passed. 

However, because union bosses have made an issue out of themselves, mainly through the auto bailouts and, more importantly, the health care debate, the public has become highly suspicious of their agenda.

And, for this, union bosses have no one to blame but themselves.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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MACHINISTS UNION PRESIDENT BUFFENBARGER BLASTS OBAMA...AGAIN!

Among all the union presidents cutting backroom deals with the White House, one has been noticably absent and that is Tom Buffenbarger, the president of the International Association of Machinists.

Buffenbarger, most-famously known for his 2008 tirade (see below) against then-candidate Obama is apparently on the White House's growing list of enemies and, therefore, is apparently not welcome in all of the back rooms at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where union bosses cut their deals.

Last night, following Obama's State of the Union address, Buffenbarger (who seems to be a frustrated poet) released the following statement:

It is hard to reconcile the images of a year ago – millions of Americans watching as one as President Barack Obama took the oath of office – and the faces of 31 million Americans who have been idled in this Grave Recession. Even the pomp and ceremony of this State of the Union address could not dispel the sense that something has gone terribly awry.

The clarion calls of hope and change have faded like the last notes of Taps. The enveloping darkness, a darkness of deepening disillusionment and even deeper cynicism, is settling across the land.

When one-fifth of America's workforce is idled to some degree, the full force of government, business, labor and academia must be marshaled to get them back to work. But no such comprehensive strategy was outlined tonight.

Tonight, for all those Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, the darkness grew deeper, the cold grew more penetrating, the hunger grew more acute and the fear – yes, the fear – of what tomorrow would bring grew more intense.

Tomorrow morning, when America's jobless open their morning newspapers, they will know that their national nightmare will last through 2010. The winter, spring and summer of their discontent now will feel interminable. And their growing anger and frustration will find an outlet, most probably in the 2010 midterm elections. [Emphasis added.]


Even though the Machinists' union reluctantly eventually went "all in" by endorsing Obama once Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 primaries, Buffenbarger has never backed down from his 2008 comments when he called Obama a "silver-tongued orator from Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois? The man in love with the microphone" and his supporters  "latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies."

View his entire tirade here



Apparently, Buffenbarger doesn't care to be invited to the White House in 2010 either.


Addendum: There's also bad blood between Buffenbarger and the SEIU's Andy Stern.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Andy Stern's Vietnam

Last night, we blogged on the NUHW's big victory over the purple behemoth, the SEIU, out in California, where the former SEIU-UHW leaders and their rank-and-file members trounced their former union 1652 combined votes to the SEIU's 257 votes.

Today, Politico's Ben Smith has a post up on the SEIU's loss in California.  At the end, Smith writes:

An insider explains that Andy Stern foe and UHW leader "Sal Roselli is still a very charismatic/popular leader to the rank and file. They also have a very tight old/school organizing model that is much more in touch with the members. As others have pointed out think of SEIU as the US in Vietnam...NUHW is the Viet Cong." [Emphasis added.]

If history is any indication, the battle with NUHW will not end well for the SEIU.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SEIU Rival Gives Purple Behemoth a Beat Down (Again)...

Barely a month after the Union of Purple People Eaters (aka the Service Employees International Union) was beaten (283-13) in an NLRB election by the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers, the NUHW gave the purple behemoth another beating today.

In three-closely watched elections at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, the NUHW trounced the SEIU with 1652 combined votes to the SEIU's 257 votes.  Here is the breakdown:

RNs:

  • NUHW: 746
  • SEIU: 36
  • No Union: 3
  • Void: 1
KPC:

  • NUHW: 717
  • SEIU: 192
  • No Union: 7
HPC:
  • NUHW: 189
  • SEIU: 29
  • No Union: 13
  • Void: 2
  • Challenge: 3

According to the pro-union Labor Notes:
 
A last-minute push by the Service Employees (SEIU) to impound the ballots and prevent the vote count was denied by the National Labor Relations Board.

The vote comes nearly one year to the day after SEIU placed its third-largest local, the dissident United Healthcare Workers-West, into trusteeship, prompting members and leaders to establish the breakaway NUHW. Within a month of the trusteeship more than 100,000 workers had filed petitions to leave SEIU and join NUHW.

But 2,300 Kaiser professionals last week were among the first to secure a head-to-head vote. SEIU has effectively stalled elections for months with blocking charges and other legal hurdles at the labor board.

NUHW’s strongest support came from nurses at Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center complex, winning that unit 746 to 36. In the smaller bargaining unit of dieticians, speech pathologists, and other professionals the vote was 189 to 29. A third vote count among psychologists, therapists, social workers and others is expected later today. NUHW officials are predicting a victory there as well.

As their peasants continue their revolution, the King and Queen of Labor (SEIU's Andy Stern and Anna Burger) feeling rather squeamish this evening for instigating this uprising.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Cross-posted.

UAW Boss to Members: 'Shut the F*ck Up, You Motherf*ckers...'

On March 31st, NUMMI, the UAW-represented joint venture between Toyota and General Motors, will be closing its doors in California, throwing another 4,700 United Auto Workers out of work.

With 80% of the UAW members upset with their union, this past Sunday, the Union of Ailing Workplaces (aka UAW) held a membership meeting that turned into a shouting match between rank-and-file members and their union leadership. 

At one point, one UAW leader (identified as Javier Contreras) yelled at the crowd, telling them to "...Shut the f*ck up, you motherf*ckers!..."

Things got so bad, that UAW leaders had to call the police to restore order.

Fremont police were called in to help restore calm at a rowdy United Auto Workers meeting on Sunday as union leaders faced heckling from rank-and-filers as the March 31 shutdown of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. sends tempers rising and morale sinking among more than 4,700 plant workers who expect to lose their jobs.

While union leaders blamed the disruption on company "plants," the company denied the charge.

Longtime Nummi worker and union member Ken Villegas, who was at most of the meeting, said the general tenor of the rank-and-file complaints were that union leaders should go after GM, as well as Toyota, and that they should be working harder at getting a package to assist workers who soon face the loss of hard-to-replace jobs.

WARNING: Strong Language, Not Workplace Safe






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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine December 23, 1776


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SEIU's Stern: Some Senate Dems are 'terrorists'...

From HuffPo comes this amazingly interesting choice of words from the SEIU's lavender-lapeled lord of labor Andy Stern speaking at the Center for American Progress:
Reflecting on the policy changes that these senators [Democrats Joe Lieberman, CT and Ben Nelson, NE] secured during health care negotiations, he argued that the country "should send the national security people over to [the Senate to] explain to them why we don't negotiate with terrorists..."

"Because there are a lot of terrorists in the Senate who think we are supposed to negotiate with them when they have their particular needs that they want met," he added.

"Are the Senate rules really appropriate for a 21st-century country where we can create gridlock by very limited hard work?" Stern added. "If we are going to have filibusters, let's at least have a debate. At least make people go to the floor. Let's put the cots on the floor permanently... Change can easily die in the wells of the Senate."

Asked how badly he wanted filibuster reform, he replied: "Very badly."

One could snidely comment about Stern's use of the term terrorist It takes one to know one.  (But we won't.)

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Cross-posted.

There They Go Again! Union Bosses Want 86-Year Old Volunteer Crossing Guard Fired!


There they go again.  Big union bosses seem to have a penchant for putting their interests ahead of the larger community.

A couple of months ago, it was purple-shirted SEIU bosses picking on an eagle scout for volunteering his time to clear a pathway.  Now, the union bosses at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) want 86-year old Warren Eschenbach removed from being a volunteer crossing guard at Riverside Elementary School.

Here's the scoop:

Eighty-six-year-old Warren Eschenbach's voice lifts when he talks about the kids who live on the northeast side of Wausau.

Eschenbach braves frigid temperatures, snow and rain to help Riverside Elementary School students get safely across the intersection of Maple Hill Road and Henry Street.

The Wausau School District last summer built a new area for parents to pick up their kids near the intersection. The added traffic from parents and increasing enrollment caused many neighbors to become concerned about kids crossing the street. That's when Eschenbach met with the school and decided he wanted to help.

"I tell you, you can't get away from these kids," he said. "You tell them you're going to be gone for a couple days, and they ask, 'Will you be back?' They don't want you to go."

But Eschenbach's volunteer job helping the kids might be at risk. A local union representing city workers is challenging him, claiming he is doing a job that should be done by a paid city employee and undermining the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 1287. The city pays part-time crossing guards at 12 other intersections near schools.

Those employees are paid $12.65 an hour and the city cut their hours from 15 a week to 10.

AFSCME filed a grievance with the city in October, asking the city to get rid of Eschenbach and instead open the position to the union. That request was denied by the Police Department, Human Resources Department and finally, on Monday, the Human Resources Committee. If the union wants, it now can ask for an arbitrator to make a ruling on the grievance.

AFSCME's local staff representative, John Spiegelhoff, said having a volunteer doing the job raises a lot of questions. He asked who is liable if the man is struck by a car, or if someone did background checks on Eschenbach.

Human Resources Specialist Ila Koss stated in the city's denial that Eschenbach is a volunteer for the Wausau School District, not the city, and the city has nothing to do with his volunteering. Wausau Police Lt. Ben Bliven wrote a letter to the union in response to the grievance, saying that there is not a present need for a crossing guard at the school, and therefore the city wouldn't fill the position. The school has never had a crossing guard, according to Principal Steve Miller.

Eschenbach is a retired Wausau Water Works employee and he also worked five years as a crossing guard at Franklin Elementary School, until about three years ago. The city provided him a vest and stop sign for his new job.

Miller said about 120 people volunteer at the school in the classroom, library and at recess, among other ways.

"He's giving back to the community," Miller said. "I don't know how anyone can find fault in this." [Emphasis added.]

We're not sure how anyone can find fault in this either.  However, to unions like the SEIU and AFSCME, apparently giving back to the community is wrong...unless they're collecting union dues.

Pathetic.

[Update: AFSCME Still Want Warren Eschenbach Fired.]
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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

Follow LaborUnionReport on Twitter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Craig Becker: Big Labor's Billion Dollar Consolation Prize?

A Billion Dues Dollars Spent &
All We Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.



With a plot full of intrigue, special interests, and morally bankrupt politicians, if this were a movie, 2010 is shaping up to be a blockbuster.

Here's the plot:

A group of cigar-chomping bosses spend hundreds of millions of dollars (of other people's money) to buy all the politicians possible to get a couple of laws passed that will line the bosses' pockets with even more billions...At the last minute, the public gets wise to the ploy and, after a confronting the bosses and their political patsies, elects some guy in a pick up truck to put the brakes on the bosses' scheme. 

With their aims exposed and all-but-blocked, the bosses fall back on their political friends to throw them a bone...an appointment of one of their own, an enforcer, to help give them a leg up on their opponents.


After union bosses across America spent an estimated $1.5 billion on the 2006 and 2008 elections in order to have their political cronies nationalize health care and pass the job-destroying and hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act, their hopes to get either passed in 2010 became all but dashed with last week's election of Scott Brown to the Senate.

Now, attention is being turned to what can only be considered a consolation prize for union bosses to pin their hopes on...that is, President Obama's re-nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.  According to The Hill on Monday.

Becker, an associate general counsel to both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO, is being treated by business trade groups as someone who could institute parts of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) through executive action if confirmed, a bill favored by unions but opposed by the business community.


Unfortunately, few have explored the potential conflict of interest regarding Becker's being an employee of both the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, then sitting as a member of the NLRB.  As a member of the NLRB, Becker will be hearing disputes between companies and his former employers (a total of approximately 64 unions).  Given Mr. Becker's previously noted biases, it is impossible for remains highly doubtful whether Mr. Becker can be viewed as anything other than a servant to the union bosses that have kept him employed.

However, with the nationalization of health care hanging by a thread and EFCA all but dead, it appears that union bosses' billion-plus dollar investment to buy American politics has been reduced to a consolation prize...and a potentially conflicted one at that.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Union Meets to Plot War Strategy Against New Jersey's New Governor

The Communications Workers of America, the red-shirted behemoth that represents a large chunk of public employees in New Jersey is planning its attacks on the Garbage Garden State's newly seated governor, Chris Christie.

About 800 shop stewards from the Communications Workers of America -- New Jersey’s largest state workers union -- are meeting at the Trenton War Memorial this morning, less than 24 hours after Gov. Christopher Christie took the oath of office in the same building.

Strategizing on how to deal with the pugnacious new governor – who was short on specifics in yesterday’s inaugural address but has vowed to make deep budget cuts -- will be Topic A.

Bob Master, the union’s regional political and legislative director, said that the meeting will address “our preparations to face what we expect to be the most serious attack that we’ve seen,” where union officials will lay out steps for “internal mobilization.”

The meeting also comes just a few hours a Quinnipiac poll showed overwhelming public support for furloughs and layoffs of state workers (58%-35%) and freezing wages (71% - 23%). Pollster Maurice Carroll said that amounts to a "chopping license" for Christie.

“It’s not dissimilar from polls that have been out already. We know that when you have people scapegoating you for years on end, this is the result,” said Master. “And unfortunately, I think we have to work overtime to get our message out to the public about what we actually do and who we actually are.”


Given that New Jersey's last governor, ousted-Democrat Jon Corzine slept with now ex-CWA boss Carla Katz (who apparently ruined Corzine's marriage), it is a safe bet that, at least with Christie in office, the governor's bedroom will not be a place that too many union deals are made.

One question that is not answered by the above-referenced article:  Who paid these 800 shop stewards while they are busy plotting their strategy?  Hopefully, it is not New Jersey's taxpayers.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776


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Chicago's Mayor Daley to Teamsters: 'Go ahead, make my day.'

Chicago's Mayor Daley just upped the ante with the Teamsters' strike threat to cripple the Windy City's snow removal, garbage collection and airport operation services over the mayor's desire to stop paying people for not working.

Mayor Daley today sloughed off a planned strike-authorization vote by 2,000 Chicago truck drivers, saying he doesn’t believe truckers would risk their “great” jobs by crippling city snow removal, garbage collection and airport operations.

City Hall maintains that the Teamsters union’s contract includes a no-strike clause that gives the city authority to fire those who walk off the job and take civil action against their union.

[snip]

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that 2,000 truck drivers in the city of Chicago’s Departments of Aviation, Streets and Sanitation, Transportation, Water Management and Fleet Management plan to take a strike authorization vote this week to protest Daley’s decision to cut back their hours and “ignore” their contract.

O’Hare and Midway Airport snow-removal drivers affected by one of the mayor’s moves — going from a guaranteed, eight-hour work day to just two hours on days without snow — have said Daley is “punishing” the Teamsters for rejecting his demand for furlough days and compensatory time off instead of cash overtime.

The Teamsters was one of only two hold-out unions. The mayor laid off 141 of its members.

Today, the mayor said the Dec. 15 cutback affecting snow-season truck drivers at O’Hare and Midway had nothing to do with retribution. Instead, he said, it had everything to do with the fact that the airline industry is “really suffering” and can no longer afford to guarantee eight-hour shifts.

"If there’s no snow coming for the next week, they show up and they get two hours a day,” Daley said. “You can’t pay them for eight hours. It’s just impossible…You can’t guarantee someone not to work for eight hours…You just can’t do it — whether in government or in the private sector.

“That’s why I’ve taken 24 days [off] without pay. Many other unions have taken 12 days without pay….When people are suffering, government has to respond."  [Emphasis added.]

So, just to put this into perspective:  Chicago's mayor wants to change the way people are being paid to not work...the union's response is to threaten to strike and the mayor's response is 'go ahead, make my day...'
 
Fascinating!
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776


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California's Union Wars

As California sinks with an ocean of debt, two stories over the weekend describe the state of union affairs in the Golden State.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal's Steven Greenhut wrote about how public employee unions are sinking California.

The state is in a precarious position, with a 12.3% unemployment rate (more than two points higher than the national average) and a budget $20 billion in the red (only months after the last budget fix closed a large deficit). Productive Californians are leaving for states with less-punishing regulatory and tax regimes. Yet so far there isn't a broad consensus to do much about those who have prodded the state into its current position: public employee unions that drive costs up and fight to block spending cuts.

California's bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is responding to his adopted state's crisis with proposals that promise to turn California into a battleground with public union bosses and their members on one side and the 'governator' and taxpayers on the other.  According to the Los Angeles Times:

Among the plans in the governor's budget: privatize prisons, which would strip members from the influential guards union; curtail seniority protections for teachers, a key union-won protection; and reduce the number of sick, disabled and elderly Californians cared for through the state's In-Home Supportive Services program -- almost all union jobs -- while cutting what their caregivers are paid.

Schwarzenegger also wants to permanently lower state workforce salaries by 5% without returning to the bargaining table with public-sector unions. And he would require state workers to chip 5% more into their retirement plans.

"The public sector also has to take a haircut," Schwarzenegger said, arguing his policies would save California billions of dollars, now and in the future.

Matt David, Schwarzenegger's communications director, says the governor's proposed budget makes hard but necessary choices, given a $20-billion deficit.
"This budget wasn't about attacking any specific group," he said. "It was about trying to fix what's broken in this state and prioritize the funding we have so we can protect education."

Union bosses are not pleased.

Labor and the unions' Democratic allies are already girding for battle.

"It's a continuing jihad against organized labor," said Steve Maviglio, a Sacramento-based Democratic strategist. "The governor thinks public employee unions are Enemy No. 1."

Unfortunately, if Schwarzenegger fails at reining in the costs, it may be that all Americans will be footing the bill of California's give-aways to the public employee unions.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Friday, January 22, 2010

No Wonder There are No Jobs...

From Bloomberg:
Obama Seen as Anti-Business by 77% of U.S. Investors

U.S. investors overwhelmingly see President Barack Obama as anti-business and question his ability to manage a financial crisis, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The global quarterly poll of investors and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers finds that 77 percent of U.S. respondents believe Obama is too anti-business and four-out-of-five are only somewhat confident or not confident of his ability to handle a financial emergency.

This, unfortunately, says a lot about why unemployment remains at 10+%.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Politicizes Office, Calls for Congress to Act on Job-Destroying EFCA

President Obama's Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis just issued a press release this morning regarding the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Annual Union Membership Report.  While a press release from a government bureaucrat (regardless of party) wouldn't ordinarily draw our attention, the blatant political homage paid to Solis' old union cronies as well as the nakedly partisan call for the hallucinogencially-named Employee Free FORCED Choice Act (EFCA) is astonishing. 

The job-destroying and delusionally-dubbed Employee Free Choice Act is the union bosses' dream which has been further put into jeopardy this week with the election of Scott Brown to the Senate.

In sum, EFCA does three things:

  1. First, it effectively removes the right of workers to vote by secret-ballot on the question of unionization, replacing the decades-old secret-ballot process for "majority sign-up"
  2. Second, it give a federally-appointed arbitrator the right to impose a contract on workers and their employers, which is an extraordinary and unprecedented intrusion of the government into the private sector.
  3. Thirdly, it imposes unrealistic monetary penalties on employers whom the union-controlled National Labor Relations Board rule has committed Unfair Labor Practices.

For more background on EFCA, go here.

Given that one of Secretary Solis' previous positions while she was in Congress was on the board of the union-funded lobbying group American Rights at Work (a potential conflict noted by the Weekly Standard last year), Ms. Solis' union loyalties are unquestionable.  However, to use the power of her office in such a brash display of union payback is appallingly lacking in tact and beneath the office which she holds.

Here's the text of the release [with emphasis added]:

"Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that, in 2009, the unionization rate of employed wage and salary workers was 12.3 percent, in essence unchanged from the 12.4 percent rate in 2008. Among private sector employees, the rate dropped to 7.2 percent from 7.6 percent in 2008.


"The data also show the median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary union members were $908 per week, compared to $710 for workers not represented by unions. Union members earn 28 percent more than their non-union counterparts.

"When coupled with data showing that union members have access to better health care, retirement and leave benefits, these numbers make it clear that union jobs are good jobs.

"As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, these numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more American workers to access the benefits of union membership. This report makes clear why the administration supports the Employee Free Choice Act."

Of course, Ms. Solis and her union comrades completely ignore the fact that unions have destroyed millions of other jobs in industries like the American auto, steel, textile, trucking and other industries.
 
Delusional.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
 
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Public v. Private-Sector Union Membership: Three Times More Union Members Work in the Post Office than Auto Industry

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual Union Members Summary for 2009 earlier today.  The data this year provides some interesting insights.  Here are some brief takeaways:

Nearly 88% of ALL workers in the U.S. are union free.  Unsurprisingly, union membership fell in 2009 from 12.4 percent in 2008 to 12.3 percent in 2009.  This, of course is largely due to the recession, as unions overall lost 771,000 members.

Nearly 93% of the private-sector is union free.  In the private sector, unions lost an astounding (but not unexpected) 858,000 members [see table here].   This means that union membership in the private sector is at a near all-time low of 7.2 percent (down from 7.6).

The Wall Street Journal notes that private-sector membership dropped ten percent.
The broader drop in U.S. employment and a small gain by public-sector unions helped keep the total share of union membership flat at 12.3% in 2009.

The report caps a week of bad news for organized labor, as Democrats lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, dashing union hopes for passing legislation to ease union-organizing rules, and putting the union-backed health-care bill into question.

On the other hand, union membership in the public sector has risen yet again and, for the first time ever, the number of union members in the public has surpassed the number of members in the private sector.

Detailing what this means, the Heritage Foundation has a tremendous post up today.  Here's a couple of excerpts:

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that a majority of American union members now work for the government. The pattern of unions adding members in government while losing members in the private sector accelerated during the recession. The typical union member now works in the Post Office, not on the assembly line.

Representing government employees has changed the union movement's priorities: Unions now campaign for higher taxes on Americans to fund more government spending....

52 percent of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments, a sharp increase from the 49 percent in 2008. A majority of American union members are now employed by the government; three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry.



Read the rest here.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

WSJ: AFL-CIO Poll Shows Union Households Boosted Brown [Ouch!]

Perhaps the WSJ's article should have stated "Majority of Union Households Voted for Brown" because no matter how union bosses try to spin it...
A poll conducted on behalf of the AFL-CIO found that 49% of Massachusetts union households supported Mr. Brown in Tuesday's voting, while 46% supported Democrat Martha Coakley. The poll conducted by Hart Research Associates surveyed 810 voters.

[snip]

Karen Ackerman, the AFL-CIO's political action director, said the results of the Massachusetts poll indicate "what we call a working-class revolt" in which voters were responding to the fact that no one was addressing their needs or interests. But she played down the greater support union household members had for Mr. Brown. [Emphasis added.]

Downplay or delude, it's all the same.
Delusion: de⋅lu⋅sion [di-loo-zhuhn] –noun

1. an act or instance of deluding.

2. the state of being deluded.

3. a false belief or opinion: delusions of grandeur.

4. Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

To repeat: A majority of union households voted for Brown.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Cross-posted.

BECKER'S BACK: Obama Nominates SEIU Radical for NLRB Post (Again)

SEIU's Associate General Council Craig Becker is back again, thanks to President Obama.  Yesterday (January 20th), following a procedural rejection by the U.S. Senate in December, the President renominated Becker to fill one of the vacancies at the National Labor Relations Board.

Craig Becker, the man who would be SEIU's point person at the National Labor Relations Board has been roundly criticized because of his anti-choice belief for workers' rights on unionization. 

As opposed to being neutral, according to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Becker's a union bias is alarming:
In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, he explained that traditional notions of democracy should not apply in union elections. He wrote that employers should be barred from attending NLRB hearings about elections, and from challenging election results even amid evidence of union misconduct. He believes elections should be removed from work sites and held on "neutral grounds," or via mail ballots. Employers should also be barred from "placing observers at the polls to challenge ballots."

Moreover, Mr. Becker's seems to believe that workers choice should not be whether or not to be unionized, but which union to be unionized by:
“To try to justify his extremist position, Mr. Becker, associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO, borrowed an extraordinary analogy:

Just as U.S. citizens cannot opt against having a congressman, he contended, workers should not be able to choose against having a union as their monopoly-bargaining agent.

“‘Employees' only choice, explained Mr. Becker, should be over which set of union officials get ‘exclusive’ power to negotiate their wages, benefits, and work rules.”

Mr. Becker also appears to disagree with employers having private property rights or the right to speak to employees on a decision that could drastically affect its business (and their jobs):

More extraordinary, Mr. Becker advocated a new "body of campaign rules" that would severely limit the ability of employers to argue against unionization. He argued that any meeting a company holds that involves a "captive audience" ought to be grounds for overturning an election. If a company wants to distribute leaflets that oppose the union, for example, Mr. Becker said it must allow union access to its private property to do the same.

Mr. Becker also, according to today's US Chamber letter to Capitol Hill, appears to not believe in the First Amendment right of employers:

Mr. Becker has written prolifically about the National Labor Relations Act, the law he would be charged with interpreting and enforcing should he be confirmed. Many of the positions taken in his writings are well outside the mainstream and would disrupt years of established precedent and the delicate balance in current labor law. These positions have raised significant concerns in the employer community, for example, the extent to which he would restrictively interpret employers’ free speech rights.

Apparently, President Obama and Senate Democrats would rather appease the SEIU and other unions than respect the Constitutional rights of employers and their employees.


[Emphasis added throughout.]
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Solidarity? AFSCME Members Vote to Throw Their Union Brethren Out on the Streets

"An injury to one is an injury to all...?"

"United we bargain, divided we beg...?"

"Solidarity...?"

Apparently, none of those age-old union adages apply in today's collectivist union movement.

Collectivist unions are supposed to be of single mind, single body. A sort of "all for one, one for all," "you go, we go" selfless and self-sacrifing collection of union brothers and sisters.  Afterall, that is what a union is, right?

Of course, the problem with this philosophic mindset is that it goes against basic human nature.  Nevertheless, it is still amusing when today's unions don't practice what they preach.

For example. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when faced with the choice of everyone taking a pay cut, or having their union brethren laid off, 73% of workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees chose to throw their union brothers and sisters to the street. 

According to this press report:

Members of the City Worker's Union, AFSCME have voted in an opinion poll for layoffs instead of pay cuts.

AFSCME is the union that represents Tulsa city workers not affiliated with police and fire departments.

729 AFSCME members voted and 533 said 'yes' to layoffs, which is about 73%

The AFSCME website details just how far today's unions have devolved into bastions of empty rhetoric:

None of the people who voted today want anyone to get laid off, but a decision had to be made and we all made the decision we had to make for ourselves and our family, but the decision was made with heavy hearts.

UPDATE: The following comments were posted on Newson6.com:

Bill Roland is the union president, "It's tough. How can I look at somebody and say, 'Well, the employees voted that you go out the door?"

"I thought it was wrong. If a union's for unity why didn't they stand together and take the 5.1 or whatever percent it was and everyone keeps their job instead of some guy being without a paycheck, without a way to support his family, it's not fair,"  said Tulsa worker Howard Coughlin.

So much for principle, long live empty collectivist slogans.
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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776


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[Updated] U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Free Speech

In a ruling that will have huge implications on the political stage not only this November but for years to come, the United States Supreme Court ruled that freedom of speech includes corporations and unions with regard to political expenditures.

From the Washington Times:

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year's midterm congressional elections.

The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

The case also does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.

It is likely that, given unions' almost free reign to use members and their dues on politics, this ruling will put corporate money back into the political fray--especially with so much at stake in 2010 and beyond.

Let the games begin.

UPDATE:

The Queen of Labor, SEIU's Anna Burger issued a statement condemning the Court's ruling:

Today the US Supreme Court lifted the floodgates and started dismantling century-old restrictions on corporate electoral activity in the name of the ‘free speech rights’ of corporations—meaning if you are a ‘corporate person’ (aka a CEO or corporate official), you are now free to hit the corporate ATM and spend whatever of your shareholders’ money it takes to elect the candidates of your choice.


Now, that's rich!  The SEIU and other unions spent an estimated $1 billion of their members' money on the 2008 elections.

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"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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How Much Do You Know About the Employee (Not So) Free Choice Act?

If you are seeking information about the Employee Free Choice Act, go here.

If you would like more information about unions and their tactics, go here.

If you would like to receive regular updates on the status of the Employee Free Choice Act, as well as news and views about today's unions go here.

More on the Hallucinogenically-Named Employee Free Choice Act

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