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  • Morning Bell: Workers Deserve Better Than a Big Labor Lackey

    Today may well turn out to be a major turning point in the history of the labor movement, and not because Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) will face questions at her Secretary of Labor confirmation hearings in the Senate. No, the bigger story is the voice vote conference call Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern has scheduled for 2 pm today. If things go the way Stern plans, the SEIU board will approve the forced break up of the third largest SEIU affiliate in the country, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW). The UHW’s sin? Their leader, Sal Rosselli, has been a big critic of Stern’s leadership. The Los Angeles Times reports:

    [Critics] say Stern’s push to centralize control over the 2-million-member union created conditions for abuses. They say his consolidation of locals into bigger and bigger chapters has reduced SEIU democracy, and thus limited the ability of rank-and-file members to monitor and challenge officers they suspect of unethical conduct. “When your union is less democratic than the Teamsters, you have to look in the mirror and say, ‘What happened?’ ” said Ken Paff, national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a reform group. Paff said the “mega-locals” formed under Stern’s administration have made it nearly impossible for dissidents to collect enough money or candidacy signatures to run against incumbents in union elections. … Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at UC Santa Barbara, has lauded Stern’s accomplishments over the years, but sympathizes with Rosselli. He said Stern’s consolidation program “lends itself to a more autocratic leadership style.”

    So at a time when even labor activist leaders are worried about the democratic future of the labor movement, the stewardship of the Department of Labor during the next administration will be particularly important. Unfortunately, after spending $16.5 million to elect President-elect Barack Obama and another $85 million to elect a Democratic Congress, big labor is pushing a far reaching agenda that reduces transparency, oversight, accountability, and democracy. Solis should face tough questioning on all of these issues:

    Preserving the Right to a Secret Ballot: Organized labor’s highest legislative priority is the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, which effectively replaces traditional secret ballot organizing elections with publicly signed cards. Workers would have to voice their choice in public, in front of union organizers, exposing workers who do not want a union to pressure, threats, and harassment from union organizers. This legislation is popular with union bosses but opposed by large majorities of workers. Solis should explain how taking away private ballots could possibly protect workers?

    Misuse of Worker Pension Funds: The AFL-CIO wants the Department of Labor to “rescind all 2008 guidance regarding the legal standards imposed on pension plan fiduciaries when considering investments in “economically targeted investments” and “the exercise of shareholder rights.” These guidelines provide important protections for workers, preventing union officials from misusing workers’ pension funds for their benefit while imperiling workers’ retirement. Will Solis continue to require unions to manage pension plans in the sole interest of workers and maintaining strict fiduciary responsibilities on union pension managers?

    Union Financial Transparency: This past August the president of the largest SEIU local in the country, former-Los Angeles local member Tyrone Freeman, resigned after the Los Angeles Times revealed that Freeman fleeced his fellow union members — who make about $9 an hour caring for the infirm and disabled — of over $1 million in 2006 and 2007 alone. When questioned about their knowledge of Freeman’s crimes, the SEIU responded: “Until we read these allegations in the L.A. Times, nobody ever brought before us serious credible evidence of wrongdoing.” Clearly unions are completely incapable of policing their own. The Department of Labor recently revamped union financial disclosure forms so that they now provide meaningful information to union members about how their dues are spent. The LAT uncovered Freeman’s fraud by examining discrepancies in these new LM-2 forms. Now union lobbyists want the Department of Labor to rescind those regulations. Will Solis commit to keeping the existing financial disclosure requirements in place?

    Union Accountability: Over the past eight years, the Department of Labor has increased the amount of money spent to audit union books to ensure they are accurately reporting their finances. As with businesses, audits hold unions accountable and discourage fraud and corruption. However the AFL-CIO wants the Department of Labor to conduct fewer audits and is lobbying to have the amount of money spent auditing union books cut. Does Solis believe cutting funding for the amount of money spent auditing books is the best way to protect union members?

    The benefits to union bosses of increased unionization and decreased union oversight are clear. If just Wal-Mart’s United States work force of 1.4 million were unionized, that would mean an additional $500 million a year in union dues for the Andy Sterns and Tyrone Freemans of the world to play around with. Our struggling economy can not afford such invitations to corruption, fraud, and waste. Workers deserve a union watchdog, not a big labor lackey.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to Morning Bell: Workers Deserve Better Than a Big Labor Lackey

    1. David - Minneapolis, says:

      Putting Hilda Solis in charge of the DOL makes as much sense as putting Bernie Madoff in charge of the SEC. The DOL will once more become a lethal "tool" of "Big Labor," which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the modern democrat party. That $500 Million (or more) of new union dues will be split between lavish salaries and perks for union bosses and the democrat party campaign cash.

    2. Jim, Wisconsin says:

      Hello 1984, it probably won't be long until we the people will vote publicly in front of our in house or should I say cubicle big screen in front of big brother. To quote President Reagan " Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our childre in the bloodstream. It must be fought for , protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

      This coming administration is nothing but scary!!

      All I can say is God help us and you people who voted for them!!!

    3. Bill Dana NC says:

      Obama is a Marxist, and the rest of his so call cabinet are Socialists. So what do you expect. The people who elected him need to get off their pink clouds and open their eyes to reality!! And the so called Conservatives need to get out from beneath their rocks and let their voices be heard.

    4. Jim Medley says:

      It seems to me that we are in the mess we are in because creative ways to leverage funds have led to excessive spending by all. If that is the case then how is it that more spending and debt is the answer? Why is it no one askes the question about where the government gets the authority to spend money on car manufactureres and banks and who knows what else? Do they think it is the general welfare clause of the Constitution? More of what should have been good for us but did not help is not the answer.

    5. Tom, California says:

      As a member of the railroad side of the UTU, I saw first had how corrupt the leadership of that union was. Alas, if was only after I left railroading that the light of day was focused on these rats to the point that some of them were removed, replaced, or convicted.

      However, I noticed that the US House is holding a memorial service for the UTU Legislative Rep who died earlier in the week. I did not know the man, but I come from the perspective that ALL the NATIONAL OFFICERS of the UTU in the 90s were guilty by association. There were NONE of them that couild not have known of the complete corruption of the other leaders. (but that does not seem to matter to the equally corrupt US HOuse of Representatives!)

      And, the UTU is a relatively small union, just think of what is REALLY going on in other larger organizations.

      I think that the concept of free participation unions for the workers benefits/protections is a good thing. And, generally speaking, they seem to do the job very well in the local arena. However, the problems erupt when the size exceeds the ability to manage honestly. Power in the hands of a few is not good! (Think Teamsters and now the SEIU)

    6. Bernie T says:

      Where is the oversight for the 700B bailout of the banks? Was this just reteric, no bite? Where is the Congressional Committee calling for the heads of the Execs who refused to answer the 4 questions where the money went? This is an example of our Congressmen at "Work"! Throw the Bums Out!

    7. Chuck Jankowski Chel says:

      I like your organization but e-mailing your editorials only reaches those who subscribe. I know newspapers and magazines are dwindling: but, they are still the best way to educate the otherside. Try getting papers to start printing hyour editorials. Thanks

    8. Ernie Kurtock Swan R says:

      Who is mirroring whom??? The US congress runs with reckless abandon,so why not the labor union Bosses who likewise are commandering the laborers funds like the funds are their own private Dipping Pots…

      No one seems to care as long as they are getting some freebies tossed to them like a Doogie to a Boney…

    9. Patrick O'lone says:

      Big labor,the media,crooked politicians,George Soris and his organization and the Euopean Union are all in bed together and coordinated to promote one world government,one world banking and socialism. Without their backing, Obama could never have been elected. We must ALL work toward getting the Democrats out of congress in 2012. If we are not sucessful the limited presidential term will be rescinded, the North American Union will be brought into existance and will eventually join with the European Union.

      BEWARE THE ONE WORLDERS.

    10. Pingback: Workers Deserve Better Than a Big Labor Lackey · THE UNION LABEL

    11. Michael Grace, Maryl says:

      Conservatives like numbers, so check these out:

      2000-Federal Budget–$230 billion SURPLUS

      2008-Federal Budget–$455 billion DEFICIT

      2000-National Debt–$5,674 trillion

      2008-National Debt–$10.6 trillion

      2000–Unemployment–4%

      2008–Unemployment–7.2%

      …..Oh, heck. You get the picture: its all Clinton's fault.

    12. Michael Grace, Maryl says:

      Shucks, the corporate world had a lackey for the past 8 years and they did very well: CEOs made millions, Wall Street traders made millions, Bankers and Mortgage companies made millions.

      Elections have consequences.

      Now, maybe, working families will get a lackey for a few years.

    13. R.Gates, San Diego says:

      Yeah, like you guys care about workers.

    14. t moore, savannah, g says:

      When you cite specific government legislation it would be nice if you would also add the senate or house bill number as it would be easier to reference the bill number when emailing our congressmen.

      Thank you.

    15. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      Yes, workers do deserve better than a big labor lackey!

      Alas, what we have here are a number of examples of the fact that, not only is the "dirty little secret" that "big labor" IS "big business" (making the "labor vs. big business" charade quite disingenuous), but also it has long been a favorite tool of International Leftists/Marxists/Communists/Socialists.

      Thus also, given Leftist Marxism/Communism/Socialism's proven convenience and hospitality for Leftist/Socialist magalomaniacs, "the labor movement" has all too easily become dominated by such Leftists/Socialists; thus making this situation a "perfect marriage" for the Leftist/Socialist-dominated "labor movement" and a Leftist/Socialist Obama and Congress, which is bad news, however denied as such, for everyone except such as "big labor" bosses and their government allies.

      The bottom line is, right now there isn't a whole lot we can do to "dissolve" such a "marriage", and repair at least some of the damage, at least until the elections of 2010 and 2012.

    16. LVKen7@Gmail.com - says:

      WOW!

      I'll start at the bottom of the comments list and go up.

      R.Gates = PERFECT Comment

      I started a GDoc of = HF Hate Words – Just added – "lackey"

      Michael Grace – I am going to SAVE and use the REAL Numbers YOU posted. Thanks.

      Patrick O'lone – Like YOU say -

      WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!!!!

      Chuck Jankowski Chelsea -

      I agree

      THAT is why I post my email address

      as a place for us to join together,

      'cause it is the thing to do.

      Jim Medley – When Big 3 Auto

      got in $$$ Problems

      they should have gone to Big Oil.

      After all

      they worked together to keep

      Gasoline prices high

      and keep us DEPENDENT on Oil.

      KJ

    17. Pingback: Workers Deserve Better Than a Big Labor Lackey &laquo Publius’ Forum

    18. Dorothy Morgan, Okla says:

      To Ken……tough crowd here today…..don't understand the reality of a good union apparently.

      Another time….

    19. John, Ohio says:

      you people are scary. you don't realize that the labor movement brought america out of the great depression in the 30s and 40s and created our middle class and that you have labor to thank for whatever health insurance, 401k, sick leave and other benefits you have. companies only starting offering this to everyone after unions made them standard in order to keep other workers from unionizing.

      the weakening of american labor is what has us in an economic crisis we can't get out of because there's no "permanent" stimulus in people's checks, ie, better pay.

      instead of attacking 'big labor,' take a look at yourselves and/or the people and corporations you prefer to advocate and first ask what they've done to our economy and ask "what are they doing to help workers?" you won't have an answer. (oh, and offering low wage jobs with unaffordable health insurance isn't an answer. ps- the fact that we have an employer-based system of health insurance and corporate america isn't interested in a real solution for fixing the health care crisis is A. bad business, and B. inhumane and disgusting)

      now go back to your ridiculous banter about big scary labor bosses, most of whom really want to help working people including you or people you care about. and don't start in on obama, after 8 years of the disaster your outgoing president just left us. your party gets the penalty box for 4 years, it's our turn. go sit on the sidelines and watch someone who cares about people for a change.

    20. ella quinn kinsto says:

      I am for getting all the democrats out of office. in 2012 we have to make it better.lets get someone like mitt romney in.Ella Quinn

    21. Jack Kyle, Lubbock,T says:

      I would like for anyone that is thinking about joining a union to buy a ticket, while you still have a job and the money to purchase a ticket, and visit China, India, and Mexico so you can visit with the person that will have your job in the near future. I have worked in the home furnishing business all of my adult life and up until recently the best most beautiful furniture was manufactured in the United States, but not anymore. Most all of the furniture is being made in some Asian country now because the unions have priced themselves out of the market. I have never belonged to a union and am proud of it. Paying someone so I can have a job is like paying some mobster to let me operate my own business in “his territory”. Come to think about it, it is one and the same.

    22. Jack Kyle, Lubbock,T says:

      Saving the Automobile Industry

      If the “Big Three” auto industry is to be saved, it will have to be through the actions of the American consumers. Unless the unions that control the auto industry are forced to bring their demands in line with that of their foreign competitors, the automobile industry as we have known it will not be able to last. There are few with leadership roles in our government that are willing to stand up against the United Auto Workers (UAW). The American consumers are the only ones that can either save or send our automobile industry to the graveyard of failed businesses.

      I am 69 and have always purchased and driven GM products. I have purchased a new GM product within the last five months, but it will be my last unless the UAW agrees to change its policies. It is not right for our government to force the American taxpayer to save GM and Chrysler. It should be our choice.

      If the American taxpayers and consumers will stand up and send a clear message to both management and labor that if they are not willing to make their intentions clear by March of this year, that we will not be willing to purchase their products after that date.

      It’s time to sink or swim.

      I am willing to sign my name to any list that will urge this process along.

      Jack Kyle. Lubbock, Tx.

    23. Valerie Hall says:

      honestly liked coming upon your thread, I'll absolutely check back in on it!!

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