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SEIU President Calls Senators ‘Terrorists’ for Opposing the Card Check Bill (Click Here)

Thursday, January 28, 2010
By Joe Schoffstall

Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, took a swipe at Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) Tuesday, calling the senators “terrorists” for their opposition to the card-check bill, which Democrats call the Employee Free Choice Act.
“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,” Stern told Bloomberg News. His comments, which appeared in BusinessWeek magazine, apparently were prompted by the senators’ reluctance to support the union-sponsored bill.
Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes the card-check legislation, roundly criticized Stern over the comments.
“My first reaction after hearing Andy Stern’s comments comparing the senators to ‘terrorists’ was that I was initially speechless,” Packer told “It’s unthinkable the images evoked in my head when I think of the word. To accuse someone in the Senate of being a ‘terrorist’ for sticking up for their constituents is unbelievable.”
Packer added: “Mr. Stern ought to lose his job over these comments, and at minimum he should lose his access to the West Wing,” referring to the release of the first visitor log by the White House, which, ironically, listed Andy Stern as the most frequent visitor.
Packer added: “I’m surprised this hasn’t received much media attention. Could you imagine if this were someone on the other side of the aisle who made these statements? The media would be all over it.”

When contacted SEIU for clarification of Stern’s comments, a union spokeswoman responded: “They weren’t the best words for Mr. Stern to use, and he does regret it.”
Union pressure to pass a card-check bill began in earnest a year ago, but the legislation has since taken a back seat to the health-care reform and “cap-and-trade” energy bill debates.
Under the proposed legislation, if union organizers can get a majority of workers to sign union authorization cards, the union is immediately recognized in the workplace, with no further discussion or debate—and no secret ballot election.
Opponents claim the legislation would bypass free and fair union elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board and could be used to intimidate and coerce workers into signing cards that would authorize the formation of a union.
Unions claim the National Labor Relations Act already allows unions to call for card checks, and that employers frequently intimidate workers to k

Posted by Admin on 01/28 at 01:20 PM

Labor Agenda in Doubt as Republican Wins Senate Seat (click here)

By Holly Rosenkrantz

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg)—Labor leaders, who spent the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency taking advantage of renewed influence in Washington, may struggle to achieve their agenda after Republican Scott Brown won a Senate seat in Massachusetts.

“Labor is the real loser in last night’s election,” said Gary Chaison, an industrial relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in an interview today.

Union leaders last week celebrated an agreement with the administration shielding union members from a proposed tax on high- cost health insurance plans. Now, those labor-led negotiations may be moot as Scott’s election throws Obama’s health insurance overhaul into doubt.

Brown’s takeover of the late Democrat Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat gives Republicans 41 votes in the chamber, enough to stall the legislation. Democrats were seeking ways to salvage the health legislation after months trying to assemble the 60-vote coalition generally needed for Senate passage.

“You can’t spend a year working on this and then say to voters we didn’t tackle health care somehow,” said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic consultant and former political director of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor organization, in an interview. “If any worker spent a year working on a project and got nothing done, they’d probably be fired.”

Labor ‘Taking Stock’

Labor leaders are “taking stock” of their agenda today, Bill Samuels, the chief lobbyist for the 11-million member AFL-CIO, said in an interview. Unions oppose one shortcut to health-care legislation: getting the House to accept a Senate-passed version as- is.

“They can’t pass it, there are too many problems with that bill,” Samuels said. The labor-negotiated compromise announced last week “is very much alive.”

Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union and a close ally of Obama, said in a statement that the House of Representatives should pass the Senate’s health insurance bill, with an agreement that it will be “fixed, fixed right, and fixed right away through a parallel process.”

“Some in Washington may want to throw up their hands and walk away; others may call for walking back reform by passing something smaller,” he said. “There is no turning back, there is no running way, there is no reset button.”

Additional Issues

Labor’s other agenda items also may be in doubt. Union leaders promised their members passage of so-called card-check legislation, making union organizing easier, in the first quarter of the year. The bill already faced opposition from Democrats such as Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who faces a re-election challenge in November.

Unions are going to push Republicans such as Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, who have voted with Democrats in the past, to support a “bipartisan version” of the card-check bill, Samuels said.

Supporters of the measure have negotiated a compromise dropping the provision that gave it its name, a requirement that companies grant union recognition as soon a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards saying they want a union.

Obama nominees backed by unions are also awaiting votes in the Senate, where one member can hold up confirmation. Craig Becker, an attorney who has represented the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, has been blocked from a position on the National Labor Relations Board by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Union-friendly senators are going to have a tough time securing Becker’s confirmation after the Massachusetts outcome, Clark University’s Chaison said.

Lack of Muscle

Labor unions failed to demonstrate their muscle by getting out the votes and helping score a Democratic victory in Massachusetts, he said. Moderate Democrats may be willing to take their chances and vote against labor issues without fear of repercussions at the polls, he said.

“The fear of having labor against you, particularly the ground troops, is largely gone,” Chaison said.

Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said lawmakers need to quickly shift their policy making to creating jobs.

“The election is an exclamation point that the government needs to focus on good middle class jobs and rebuilding the economy,” he said in an e-mailed statement. Union members want Congress to “prove they can and will support the creation of good middle class jobs.”

Failing to do that could lead to an “outright catastrophe” in midterm congressional elections in November, where union members are looking for a more “populist strategy” to energize their get out the vote efforts, said Harley Shaiken, a labor relations professor at the University of California at Berkley.

“Mid-level union leaders will sit on their hands,” Rosenthal said. “They worked hard” for Democrats “and they will have little to show for it.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Admin on 01/20 at 06:33 PM