Chris Christie gets it. FINALLY, a governor who goes directly at the Left. We need more like him.
Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category
SEIU protesters arrived at the home of a Bank of America executive last week for a protest but the only one home was the exec’s teenage son, who was so terrified he locked himself in the bathroom.
Big Journalism has been all over this, including the odd detail that D.C. cops evidently escorted the Purple People-Beaters to the Bank of America executive’s home in Rockville, Maryland. Fox News regular Nina Easton was on the scene, with good reason: She lives right next door. Quote:
Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that — in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action — makes his family fair game.
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…
Now this event would accurately be called a “protest” if it were taking place at, say, a bank or the U.S. Capitol. But when hundreds of loud and angry strangers are descending on your family, your children, and your home, a more apt description of this assemblage would be “mob.” Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise, and it worked-even on the police. A trio of officers who belatedly answered our calls confessed a fear that arrests might “incite” these trespassers.
According to Easton, Baer is … a lifelong Democrat. For her trouble in reporting on this, she’s naturally been smeared by the left. As for why SEIU is singling out Bank of America for thug tactics, supposedly it’s a protest of foreclosures by banks generally but Big Journalism notes that the union apparently owes BoA $90 million, which, per Easton, means $4 million in outstanding interest and fees. Terrorizing an exec’s family might make them think twice about being too insistent in collecting.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse… From Human Events:
In February, the White House released its “Annual Report on the Middle Class” containing new regulations favored by Big Labor including a bailout of critically underfunded union pension plans through “retirement security” options.
The radical solution most favored by Big Labor is the seizure of private 401(k) plans for government disbursement — which lets them off the hook for their collapsing retirement scheme. And, of course, the Obama administration is eager to accommodate their buddies.
Vice President Joe Biden floated the idea, called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs), in the February “Middle Class” report.
In conjunction with the report’s release, the Obama administration jointly issued through the Departments of Labor and Treasury a “Request for Information” regarding the “annuitization” of 401(k) plans through “Lifetime Income Options” in the form of a notice to the public of proposed issuance of rules and regulations. (pdf)House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and a group of House Republicans are mounting an effort to fight back.
The American people have become painfully aware over the past year that elections sometimes have calamitous consequences. Republicans lack the votes (for now) to reign in the Obama administration’s myriad nationalization plans for everything from health care to the automobile industry.
Now the backdoor bulls-eye is on your 401(k) plan and the trillions of dollars the government would control through seizure, regulation and federal disbursement of mandatory retirement accounts.
What their ad fails to mention is the potential shortfall of the union pension that taxpayers may have to pay as well. Government Motors is in full swing.
Good read from Vincent Vernuccio in the Washington Post on how Andy Stern has left the SEIU over $85M in debt, while also laying off employees. With such an impressive track record, it’s no wonder Stern’s also on Obama’s Deficit Commission.
Purple may be the official color of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), but Andy Stern is leaving the union deep in the red. Last week, he surprised the labor community by announcing his resignation as president of SEIU. Mr. Stern has claimed victories in helping pass health care legislation and getting President Obama elected, but his impact within his own organization shows gaping budget deficits and massive underfunding of pensions.
SEIU has seen its liabilities skyrocket during the past decade. The union’s liabilities totaled $7,625,832 in 2000. By 2009, they had increased almost by a factor of 16, to $120,893,259. Meanwhile, SEIU’s assets barely tripled, growing from $66,632,631 in 2000 to $187,664,763 in 2009. A significant portion of SEIU’s current assets are from IOUs from hard-up locals.
SEIU is $85 million in debt, down from its 2008 high of $102 million, and has been forced to lay off employees. Mr. Stern has led protests against Bank of America, calling for the firing of Chief Executive Ken Lewis. Yet the union owes $80 million to Bank of America and $5 million to Amalgamated Bank, which is owned by the rival union Unite-Here.
SEIU’s pensions are in even worse shape. Both of SEIU’s two national pension plans, the SEIU National Industry Pension Fund and the Pension Plan for Employees of the SEIU, issued critical-status letters last year. The Pension Protection Act requires any pension fund that is funded below 65 percent of what it needs to pay its obligations to inform its beneficiaries of the deficit.
Many SEIU local pension plans are in as bad a shape as the national plans – if not worse. In 2007, well before the financial meltdown, the SEIU Local 32BJ Building Maintenance Contractors Association Pension Plan was funded at an anemic 41 percent, the SEIU 1199 Greater New York Pension Fund at 58 percent, the 32BJ District Building Operators Pension Trust Fund at 56 percent, and the Service Employees 32BJ North Pension Fund at 68 percent.
Mr. Stern’s abrupt resignation has led many to question his motives and ponder his next steps. Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: He leaves SEIU – especially its pension funds – swimming in red ink. Sadly, it will be the union’s rank-and-file members who will be paying for Mr. Stern’s profligacy well into the future.
Thanks to former Liberal Democrat Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the Dill Act in 1978 which gave public unions collective bargaining rights, California’s pensions are grossly underfunded. In the case of the teachers’ pension fund, California has resorted to firing current teachers in order to pay for those who have long retired. While state residents will again be forced to pay for the pension differences, its current and future students who will pay the most by way of larger classrooms and less funding.
Governor Brown – who is currently the Attorney General and running for Governor again – is like the Jimmy Carter of California in that his short-sighted, detrimental policies continue to negatively affect the Golden State long after his exit.
From Jane Jamison in the American Thinker:
California is the nation’s shameful example of what happens when Democrats influenced by big-government labor rule the statehouse for forty years.With 12.5% unemployment (up from 4.5% a mere three years ago) and a “recognized” budget deficit of $21 billion, California has just found that out it is in much, much more financial trouble than anyone, especially a Democrat, really wants to admit.
California’s governor Schwarzenegger commissioned a study by Stanford University, which has found that California’s three public employee pension funds (The California Public Employees’ Retirement System [CalPERS], California State Teachers’ Retirement System [CalSTRS], and University of California Retirement System [UCRS]) lost $109.7 billion in portfolio value in one year (June ’08 to June ’09) and are currently in shortfall of “more than half a trillion dollars.”
By law, California taxpayers are required to pay the public employees’ pensions shortfalls that may occur. Local governments cannot “print money” as the federal government does to cover budget deficits.
What should have been considered a huge scandal in the state pension fund system in the past year got little attention but is more pertinent now: The two largest plans, CalPERS and CalSTRS, were reportedly near bankruptcy in 2009 after it was learned the funds had lost from 25%-41% of their value due to risky investments in real estate and the stock market. Former employees of the state plans were accused in January of getting huge fees to direct pension investments to certain banks or ventures.
There are outrageous examples of abuse in the California public pension system.
PensionTsunami.com, which has been tracking the pension fund liability issue for five years, has found that 9, 233 retired members of CalPERS or CalSTRS receive more than $100,000 per year in retirement benefits, amounting to more than a billion dollars a year.
The retired city administrator of Vernon, California, Bruce Malkenhorst, receives an annual pension of $449,675 from CalPERS. Vernon, a Los Angeles suburb, has 92 residents.
California’s state employee pension fund liabilities have ballooned for years with increased numbers of state employees, many of whom can retire at age 50, can “spike” their last years’ income with overtime to increase their retirement, and can then move on to other government or private jobs without losing their pensions.
Approximately 22,000 California teachers have just received “pink slips” indicating that they may be laid off due to budget cuts next fall. An additional 20,000 were laid off last year. California is cutting “live” teachers out of classrooms in order to pay for retired teachers.
California schools have gone from number one in the country in the 1970s to at or near the bottom in performance and funding.
Who is to blame for this ticking-time bomb of unfunded public pension liability?
Brown, who has been governor, Oakland mayor, and attorney general, now wants to be California governor…again. Four big, grateful government labor unions are backing him…again.
Speaking recently to the Service Employees International Union, Jerry Brown “the populist” said he was proud to have given state employees “the choice” to belong to unions in the ’70s, and he will “take a look” at the pension funds to make sure that they are actuarially sound. Big applause line.
Speaking to another union group in Sacramento, Brown was caught on videotape asking the labor leaders to “do the dirty work” and “attack” Republican candidates who oppose him in the governor’s race. (Hear it here.)
Who else is to blame?
Since Brown gave them a green light in the 1970s, public employee unions have become a muscular, dominating force in California politics. State employee unions spent a whopping $31.7 million on state races just from 2001-2006, according to the California Fair Political Practices commission — higher than any other group, including corporations. The majority-Democrat California legislature has voted accordingly.
What can be done?
Jerry Brown the rerun, who is running technically unopposed by any other candidate in the Democratic primary, has been oddly silent on his state’s dire budgetary woes. His campaign site news releases do not mention budget problems.
At the same time, it has been noted by the tabloid media that Jerry Brown has been weirdly over-involved as California’s attorney general, his current job, in the celebrity death investigations of Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, and Corey Haim. His office spent several months investigating ACORN employees who were caught in a videotape sting organizing houses of prostitution in government housing. Brown has just determined that there will be no prosecution of ACORN in his state.
Other appointees include Alice Rivlin, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ann Fudge, former CEO of Young and Rubicam Brands, and Dan Cote, CEO of Honewell. Obama had previously named former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Clinton official Erskine Bowles to co-chair the group, which wil make recommendations for reducing the nation’s long-term debt.
The choice of Stern is already drawing fire from business groups.
The Workforce Fairness Institute, which has steadfastly opposed major labor legislation supported by SEIU, blasted the decision in a statement Friday morning.
“Either the White House doesn’t read the newspaper or simply doesn’t care, but naming Andy Stern as a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Katie Packer, the group’s executive director.
Andy Stern is also, thus far, the most frequent guest at the White House. View some interesting quotes from the SEIU president below.
From Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:
The progressives are not just trying to split the tea party movement from the Republican Party, they’re also trying to legitimize and destroy the tea party movement itself.
This website recently popped up on the internet:
The Tea Party Is Over–
Our Mission: To prevent the Tea Party’s dangerous ideas from gaining legislative traction.
Lee Doren did his research and found out who is behind this anti-freedom website:
I just came across a new website titled: http://www.TheTeaPartyIsOver.org
It is paid for by the American Public Policy Committee. Well, according to opensecrets.org, the two donors for American Public Policy Committee this year are Patriot Majority and Patriot Majority West.
However, according to opensecrets.org, the 2nd largest contributor in 2008 to Patriot Majority was SEIU and other top Unions around America.
It figures. When the SEIU is not out cracking heads and stomping on tea party vendors they’re working on other ways to destroy the tea party movement. They will do anything to force their radical agenda on America.
Democrats are once again caving to Unions by allowing their members to be exempted from the “Cadillac Tax” on health benefits. Under the plan, Union members won’t have to pay the tax until 2018 but you just know that come 2017 more back-room dealings will occur and they’ll again be exempted.
In pushing a giant step closer to a health care reform deal, Democratic leaders are once again drawing fire from their critics for extending special treatment to an interest group in exchange for its support of the bill.
The latest deal was struck Thursday among the White House, Congress and union leaders over the proposed tax on high-value “Cadillac” health insurance plans.”
Unions had objected strongly to the proposed tax on high-value insurance policies, fearing it would hurt their members, and they won several concessions from the administration. Under the deal, if it becomes law, union workers will be shielded from the 40 percent tax for five years — until 2018. The threshold for the tax also was raised so that it will kick in for plans worth $24,000 instead of $23,000. And dental and vision coverage will not count toward that threshold.
But what about everybody else?
The unions, traditional supporters of the Democratic Party and a major factor in Obama’s political infrastructure, got a deal, but Republicans said that non-union workers will still have to pay the tax from the get-go starting in 2013.
The Allentown, Pennsylvania chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is under fire after its chapter president threatened legal action after learning of a volunteer cleanup effort of a local park by Boy Scouts.
Nick Balzano, president of the Service Employees International Union’s Allentown chapter, said last week that the union might file a grievance against the city for allowing 17-year-old Kevin Anderson to clear the hiking trail, instead of paying some of the 39 recently laid-off SEIU members to do the work.
Balzano’s office did not return messages left by FoxNews.com, but the Morning Call quoted him as telling the city council that the union would be “looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails … There’s to be no volunteers.”
SEIU spokesman Matt Nerzig called Balzano’s comments “completely unauthorized and insensitive” and said the union was “not at all” considering a grievance in this case.
“Not sure if it was out of context or just a bad moment, but we’ve got no intention of doing anything like that,” Nerzig told FoxNews.com. “Not sure where he got the idea but he certainly doesn’t have the authority to do so.”Anderson, a member of Boy Scouts Troop 301 of Center Valley, spent more than 200 hours creating the 1000-foot path in Kimmets Lock Park along with fellow scouts, friends and parents.
The junior at Southern Lehigh High School said he took on the project in an effort to earn an Eagle Scout badge and allow others to walk along the river while avoiding the busy road nearby.
In the process, he said, he and his team also transformed what was once a run-down section of the park into something residents and visitors can enjoy.
“The volunteers and I removed trash, many old tires and recyclables from this former illegal dump-site,” Anderson told FoxNews.com.
“My trail will become a part of the 165-mile Delaware and Lehigh (D&L) Heritage corridor,” he added.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said Anderson’s work was a “great service to the community.”
“We would hope that the well-intentioned efforts of an Eagle Scout candidate would not be challenged by the union,” he told the Morning Call.
View the entire article here.
Interesting read from Politico.com regarding the AFSCME’s opposition to the Baucus Healthcare bill.
The president of one of America’s largest labor unions, Gerry McEntee, has emerged as a major obstacle to the White House’s efforts to maintain a unified front in the health care debate.
The veteran president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has crossed lines that few labor leaders – even those who quietly agree with him – would go near.
McEntee led workers in chanting a barnyard epithet to describe Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus’s health care bill, which would levy a new tax on expensive health care plans. He published an op-ed in U.S.A. Today warning, in terms that could be used against Democrats in the midterms, that the plan could tax the middle class and cost workers their health care. And he blew off a plea from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and published an open letter promising to “oppose” legislation that contained the tax – published over the objections, several labor officials said, of other union presidents whose names appeared on the letter.
“We have had just about enough of his gratuitous slaps,” said a senior White House official Friday, calling the politically charged language “outrageous and unacceptable” from an ally — even from one that had, the official noted, devoted substantial resources to health care efforts.
“He’s doing his members a real disservice,” said the official, who said that while all other labor leaders had been careful to keep their opposition to elements of health care proposals modulated and largely inside the tent, McEntee was “beyond the pale.”
But a spokesman for AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stood by McEntee.
“We work closely with the White House and count ourselves among their strongest supporters,” said the spokesman, Eddie Vale. “Sometimes being supportive means staking out a tough position, and nobody understands that better than President McEntee.”
McEntee’s posture – and the fierce response from a White House determined to keep allies in line – reflects a broader dilemma on the left of the Democratic Party, which is feeling both lingering satisfaction at Obama’s victory and frustration at his caution.
From labor to civil libertarians to anti-war activists, progressive organizers have had to choose between biting their tongues and losing the access and power that comes with friends in the White House. McEntee is among the most prominent leaders who has been willing to challenge the administration.
View the entire article here.