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Card Check: Big Labor Falls Short in Arkansas

By | Labor Unions, Regulations | One Comment

We’ll defer to the unnamed White House official and his keen analysis of Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff election in Arkansas between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and labor-backed Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Lincoln defeated Halter, 52-48 percent. From Ben Smith, Politico:

“Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise,” the official said. “If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November.”

Pointless? No, not really. By devoting organizing muscle and pouring $10 million into Halter’s failed effort, the unions proved the point that labor leaders consider their own political power more important than their memberships’ concerns. And their political power is more pissant than puissant.

The anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act was a big factor in Tuesday’s primary in Arkansas. Labor turned decisively in April 2009 against Sen. Lincoln when, after months of ambiguity, she said she would vote against the Employee Free Choice Act.  Arkansas is a right-to-work state, and depriving employees of the secret ballot in union-representation elections and forcing contract terms onto employers — the heart of the Employee Free Choice Act — is anathema to voters.

Even Halter recognized that card check was bad electoral news. He hemmed and hawed on his backing for the measure, stuck between his need for union cash and voter support.

Lessons learned:

The Employee Free Choice Act is an election loser, which means it will not pass in the second session of the 111th Congress as stand-alone bill. So labor will look to add pieces of EFCA to other legislation, probably adding the word “jobs” to the measure.

The National Labor Relations Board is where the action is. Big Labor maligned Lincoln for opposing cloture on the nomination of SEIU and AFL-CIO counsel Craig Becker to the NLRB. It was a good vote. A recess appointment, Becker is already showing the signs of the pro-labor activism his critics warned of. It may come after the election — certainly after the last Republican appointee, Peter Schaumber steps down in August — but expect NLRB rule-making designed to achieve some of labor’s goals.

Big Labor can promise a candidate support, even deliver on that support, and yet not determine the elections. Voters dislike the bluster and threats of political force — in campaigns, and in the workplace.

So Much for Recusal from SEIU Issues

By | General, Labor Unions, Regulations | No Comments

Peter A. List of LaborUnionReport.com reminds us of Craig Becker’s ethics pledge, signed in conjunction with his recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board. The pledge includes this affirmation:

I will not for a period of two years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.

Becker served as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations.

So explain this:

St. Barnabas Hospital and Committee of Interns and Residents, Local 1957, SEIU, Petitioner. Case 2–RC–23356

June 3, 2010


BY CHAIRMAN LIEBMAN AND MEMBERS SCHAUMBER AND BECKER [our emphasis] The National Labor Relations Board, by a three member panel, has carefully considered the Employer’s request for review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election. The Regional Director directed an election among the Employer’s house staff. The Employer asserts, among other reasons, that the Regional Director should have considered the applicability of Brown University, 342 NLRB 483 (2004). We deny review.

We can guess the lawyerly defense: Oh no, I just recused myself from considering cases that involved SEIU International, not any of the locals. It’s a distinction without a difference: Local 1957, the Committee of Interns and Residents, affiliated with SEIU in 1997.

Indeed, Becker has already set the stage for the explanation. As the NAM’s Keith Smith wrote in a March 29 post about Becker’s confirmation hearing:

In his response to Senators’ questions, Becker committed to recusing himself for one year from any matters including either union internationals – the AFL-CIO or SEIU. This limited recusal is highly suspect. Most Board actions don’t normally involve internationals, but usually address conflicts between a local labor union and an employer. While Mr. Becker pledges not to be involved in the decisions of major labor organizations, he has not expressed a willingness to recuse himself of any decisions affecting labor local – and it’s entirely possible to make major changes in applying labor law through these decisions. This issue was noted by the letter sent from all 41 Republican Senators last week.

Well, if you’re going to blow through your ethics pledge, might as well be audacious about it. But Becker shouldn’t expect to be confirmed by the Senate via unanimous consent for a full term on the board.

Becker’s answers to three questions about recusal from SEIU cases are in the extended entry below:

13. Will you recuse yourself from all objections and SEIU complaints,
filed by or against the SEIU, while you are a Board Member?
Answer: I have entered into an ethics agreement with the NLRB which has been
approved by the Office of Government Ethics. I intend to fully comply with that
agreement, which provides as follows. Upon confirmation, I will resign from the
position of Associate General Counsel for the SEIU. Pursuant to 5 CFR 2635.502,
for a period of one year after my resignation, I will not participate personally and
substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which the SEIU
is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate, pursuant
to 5 CFR 2635.502(d). In addition, I am vested in the Pension Plan for Employees
of the Service Employees International Union. This is a defined benefit plan and,
upon eligibility, I will receive monthly retirement benefits. Because I will
continue to participate in this entity’s defined benefit plan, I will not participate
personally and substantially in any particular matter that will have a direct and
predictable effect on the ability or willingness of SEIU to provide me with this
contractual benefit, unless I first obtain a written waiver under 18 USC 208(b)(1),
or qualify for a regulatory exemption under 18 USC 208(b)(2). Finally, I
understand that as an appointee I am required to sign the Ethics Pledge (Executive
Order No. 13490) and that I will be bound by the requirements and restrictions
therein in addition to the requirements cited above.
14. What standards of recusal will you apply?
Answer: I will use the standards of recusal applicable to executive branch officials
set forth in 5 CFR 2635 and in Executive Order No. 13490, considering any
other arguments for recusal raised in a particular matter based on the
relevant facts and applicable law and, where prudent, in consultation with
the agency ethics officer.
15. Certainly, at the least, you will agree to recuse yourself from any SEIU
cases which arose while you were its Associate General Counsel?
Answer: Please see my answer to question 13. In addition, I will not participate
personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties that
arose while I was counsel to SEIU and in which the SEIU is a party, unless I am
first authorized to participate, pursuant to 5 CFR 2635.502(d)

So Is This What the SEIU Means by ‘Transparency?’

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | No Comments

The Washington Examiner editorializes today decrying the tactics of the Service Employees International Union last week who were bused to Chevy Chase, Md., to rally and trespass at the home of a Bank of America executive. As Nina Easton, a Fortune columnist and next door neighbor to the BoA executive, reported:

Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.

Baer, on his way home from a Little League game, parked his car around the corner, called the police, and made a quick calculation to leave his younger son behind while he tried to rescue his increasingly distressed teen. He made his way through a din of barked demands and insults from the activists who proudly “outed” him, and slipped through his front door.

The Examiner’s editorial protests the concomitant outrage, that D.C. Metro police officers escorted the SEIU bully boys into Maryland jurisdiction, in the process enabling the trespass. The editorial, “No more police escorts for union thugs“:

There are multiple lessons to be gleaned from this highly disturbing situation. Such tactics are standard fare for SEIU, whose leaders think it’s just fine to target the private homes and families of people associated with whatever company the union has decided to demonize. These assaults are clearly meant to shock and intimidate. Congress long ago banned secondary boycotts from union tactics. It’s time to put a stop to all such assaults on private homes and families. And the conduct of the D.C. police highlights another critical question — should law enforcement officers be pawns of union bosses? Collective bargaining should no longer have a place among those sworn to protect and serve the public.

We doubt you can write a constitutional aw prohibiting rallies in front of someone’s home. As for what the SEIU did in Chevy Chase, there’s already a law — trespass.

The SEIU, by the way, has endorsed the DISCLOSE Act, the legislation sponsored by Congressional Democrats meant to restrict political speech after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

The union is not a credible advocate for speech, transparency, or civility in politics. That the union endorses the DISCLOSE Act speaks volumes about the legislation’s goals.

Tough Night for the Card Check Crowd

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

Sen. Arlen Specter, as (R-PA) was an original cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act when Sen. Kennedy introduced the bill (S. 842) in 2005. He subsequently moved away from the bill, but then in this election cycle as Democrat re-associated himself with organized labor’s No. 1 priority. Who can forget the Senator’s comments at the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh last September, when he proclaimed:

We have pounded out an Employees Choice bill which will meet labor’s objectives. I believe before the year is out, and I will join my colleague Senator Casey in predicting, that there will be passage of an Employees Free Choice Act which will be totally satisfactory to labor.

Speaking at the AFL-CIO gathering, President Obama opened his comments with a salute to Specter for being willing to “fight for the working men and women,” which, given the context, we took to mean union members.

Despite the support of organized labor, Democratic voters said no thanks on Tuesday, nominating Rep. Joe Sestak over Specter for the Senate seat. Big Labor’s two priorities in Pennsylvania in 2010: Arlen Specter’s re-election and the Employee Free Choice Act. Hasn’t worked out, has it?

In Arkansas, the left-wing challenger and labor’s annointed candidate against Sen. Blanche Lincoln failed to unseat her in the Democratic primary. The unions were incensed at Lincoln for her criticisms of the Employee Free Choice Act, and they promised money and support to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to mount a primary challenge. As The Washington Post reports, “In Arkansas, dissatisfied labor unions worked hard against Lincoln.” Excerpt:

SEIU, which has only 1,000 members in the state, spent more than $1.5 million, including a $1 million television buy, Youngdahl said. The national AFL-CIO spent $3 million or more on Halter’s behalf, spokesman Eddie Vale said.

All that money, all those organizers working the precincts, all that fervor for the Employee Free Choice Act, and the best labor could do was force a run-off election in June. And that’s thanks to D.C. Morrison, a third candidate who, running as a conservative businessman who opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, gained 13 percent of the vote. With Lincoln’s 44 percent of the vote, that’s a 57-percent anti-EFCA vote in the Democratic primary.

The Employee Free Choice Act and labor’s political efforts figured prominently in both races (more in Arkansas), so voters were informed about the issue. The result: The Employee Free Choice Act, rejected by the voters.

Card Check: EFCA Continues to be Labor Leaders’ Priority

By | Labor Unions | One Comment

In an interview with BNA (subscription needed) the newly elected SEIU president, Mary Kay Henry, reports that her labor union’s top priorities will continue to be health care reform, immigration reform and passage of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act.

We’ve highlighted before that labor leaders’ approach to passing this economically disastrous piece of legislation has changed. Political realities have forced labor groups to seek to implement the legislation by attaching it to other piece of legislation that are likely to move forward in Congress. Additionally Henry notes that labor is looking for ways to pursue the legislation at both state and national levels “any way [they] can.”

It’s still possible that labor group will seek to have the legislation called up for a political litmus vote in the Senate. Henry indicated that the groups wants to “hold Congress’s and the president’s feet to the fire,” presumably by forcing them express support for the bill through a vote.

One quote in particular provides a bit of insight into the mindset of this new labor head: “[There] always will be conflict because employers don’t want workers to have a say.” Talk about shutting off discussions before they can begin. Rather than pursuing conflict, shouldn’t employee representatives seek ways to work with employers and employees to seek solutions to the challenges facing our economy?

On this rainy Monday afternoon numerous labor groups staged a protest blocks away from NAM headquarters on K Street to blast Wall Street without any real discernible goals of their own.

Correction (2:50 p.m.): CW — We misidentified the photo originally posted above. It’s Liz Schuler of the AFL-CIO:



Do You Want Lies with That? SEIU Invades Fast Food Industry

By | General | No Comments

The Service Employees International Union has its sights on unionizing the fast food industry, encroaching on the United Food and Commercial Workers’ territory through an multifaceted, aggressive campaign that would rely on the anti-democratic force of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Peter List of LaborUnionReport.com has the ominous, fascinating details, “SEIU’s New Burger Queen? Internal Documents Expose Plan to Unionize Fast-Food Industry“:

Internal SEIU documents have exposed a December 2009 plan hatched to unionize the nation’s fast food workers. The SEIU plan details how the purple behemoth plans on targeting fast-food chains in Los Angeles first, the using L.A. and an “east coast” city as a spring board into other cities.

The SEIU’s plan is based on a labor landscape that is post Employee Free Choice Act, but its strategies demonstrate how the SEIU plans to use EFCA to unionize an almost-entirely union-free industry. While there is much to comment on about the SEIU plan about how a union targets workers within an industry (see highlighted text), we’re just going to you with the plan itself.

The point-by-point strategy document is well worth reading.

Ezra Klein had a piece in today’s Washington Post Online, “Andrew Stern departs the SEIU now weakened by infighting and expenses,” which reported:

[Stern’s] own union’s spending — notably the multimillion-dollar tab from internal battles he has waged — is drawing sharp criticism from within the labor movement. Stern has expanded his union, but his decisions have left it, and the labor movement as a whole, financially strapped, according to disclosure reports that have received little scrutiny.

It looks like the SEIU’s campaign of expansion is driven by the need to continue bringing in new members to disguise its shaky financial foundation. First service workers, then government workers, then fast food workers, then … manufacturers?

But the only way the SEIU can effect its scheme is by applying anti-democratic power of the Employee Free Choice Act.

It Gives Us Something to Aspire To

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

SEIU Blog, April 22, 2010, “Rallying Against Cuts to Public Services in California & Illinois“:

CALIFORNIA: Dismal, rainy weather didn’t deter thousands of people from gathering to protest against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s drastic proposed cuts to public service programs.

Bloomberg, May 4, 2010, “Greek State Workers Escalate Protests at Budget Cuts“:

May 4 (Bloomberg) — Greek government workers shut down schools and hospitals and disrupted flights as demonstrators occupied the Acropolis in an escalation of protests against 30 billion euros ($40 billion) of additional wage cuts and tax increases unveiled this week.


Using the NLRB to Implement Card Check Legislation

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

In a memo to the SEIU’s Board, the current SEIU interim-president and Andy Stern’s heir apparent, Anna Burger, outlined her campaign to succeed Stern at the labor union’s president. In a detailed memo she describes specific tactics that she will seek to employ if elected president. One item jumped out as worthy of alarm:

Use smart strategies to push the labor‐friendly majority on the NLRB to level the playing field and make it easier to organize through regulation and reconciliation to make quick elections and first contract arbitration the law of the land

The NAM has been quite concerned that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may seek to implement elements of the jobs-killing EFCA through Board actions. It’s been clear for some time that organized labor bosses wanted to circumvent Congress by implementing their highest priority item – EFCA – through the NLRB. The AFL-CIO’s Stewart Acuff made the point clearly when supporting the nomination of Craig Becker to the Board. Now, this memo from Anna Burger confirms her plans to push the newly constituted board to enact such radical policy changes to U.S. labor law.

NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman has recommended against an aggressive agenda that puts the Board in a policymaking role. We hope her colleagues follow her advice.

To read this memo click here. (Hat tip: Ben Smith @ POLITICO)

To Andy Stern: Wait a Little Bit More Before the Revisionism

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

Andy Stern, who on Friday confirmed his retirement as president of the Services Employee International Union, partakes in a Q&A in today’s Washington Post. Most interesting passage for our manufacturing audience:

EK: It seems like you’re saying that the labor movement itself needs to be less employer-based.

AS: I think the labor movement needs to be more industry-based, more sectoral-based, and more focused on the needs of workers. I don’t think it can be simply as based on work site by work site, work rule by work rule, as opposed to industry by industry.

. . . I do feel like trying to figure out how to partner with employers, appreciating that it takes two to tango, is important. Our work has always been best when we try to make our employers successful and we share in that success.

Eh. In this forum, Stern wants to appear reasonable, but the demands of the government-employee unions have helped bring California to its economic knees. The public-sector unions showed no interest in partnering with the taxpayers, who are, after all, their employees.

And the Employee Free Choice Act represents the antithesis of the “partnering” approach, instead being intended to impose union representation on unwilling employers and employees alike.

Andy Stern: My Work Here is Done

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

A statement from Sal Rosselli, Interim President of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a union that went to battle against the SEIU.

Stern’s multi-million-dollar fights against NUHW and Unite Here have diverted resources away from healthcare reform and employee free choice, weakening the former and scuttling the latter. These wars of choice have taken a toll on the union’s finances as well as on Stern’s credibility.

Stern’s departure would leave SEIU with a crisis of leadership. His likely successors, Mary Kay Henry and Anna Burger, have been tarred by the same ethics scandals and failed policies that marred his tenure. Stern’s legacy is that SEIU has become a rogue union, undemocratic, unable to pay its bills, and unwilling to defend its members at the national level.

Rosselli previously served as president of the third largest SEIU affiliate and the International Union’s executive council.