Michael Nelson's blog

Union Disrupts Delaware River Bridge Board Meeting

The Delaware River Port Authority ejected union members from its meeting Jun.17 following a rowdy protest on behalf of 12 workers terminated for blocking traffic during a demonstration in May. Unionists turned out to support the toll collectors, and maintenance and construction workers fired last week by the Port Authority. The workers were fired for shutting down the Benjamin Franklin Bridge during a protest May 16. The agency said they created an unsafe condition on the span.
 
Shortly after the meeting began, Bill Kane, president of the NJ State Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO, sought permission to address the commissioners. Union members, who lined the perimeter of the room, stood and began

From Worcester Telegram & Gazette editorial [06/23/98]: "Unreasonable concessions lead to more demands":

"It is good that a prolonged bus strike has been averted in Worcester. But the question is: at what price?
[The] one-day strike, staged by the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, was described as an "illegal" job action by Robert E. Ojala, administrator of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority. That may have been an understatement. The specter of labor action by this union has been lingering for some time. It threatened to picket the Worcester Centrum Centre during the Democratic State Convention, but a last-minute compromise negotiated by the city manager and the mayor saved the city from embarrassment.
 

Court Denies Hoekstra Sealed Papers

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cornelius Blackshear has denied a request by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) for sealed documents pertaining to the bitter dispute involving Mademoiselle Knitwear, a union contractor; Liz Claiborne Inc., and UNITE. In an Jun. 8 order, Blackshear did not give a reason for his denial other than to say that his court, where Mademoiselle is in Chapter 11 proceedings, "is primarily concerned with maintaining the sanctity of the confidentiality agreement and the fidelity of the case."
 
Hoekstra sought access to the documents as part of a congressional probe he is leading into the adequacy of U.S. labor law. A key element in the Mademoiselle controversy consists of multimillion-dollar payments made by Claiborne to UNITE under the practice of liquidated damages -- penalties paid by union manufacturers to UNITE when they turn to nonunion production -- and the issue of liquidated damages has become a focal point in Hoekstra's investigation. [Capital Cities Media 06/11/98]

Poshard & AFL-CIO Dance Around Disclosure Laws

U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-IL) has filed papers acknowledging help from a union, but he continues to deny GOP charges that he violated campaign finance disclosure laws. The Democrat's gubernatorial campaign filed a statement with the Illinois State Board of Elections Jun. 23 disclosing the spending of $108,000 by the AFL-CIO to run radio ads boosting Poshard near the end of the primary campaign.
 
The Illinois Republican Party filed a complaint with the state board charging that Poshard failed to disclose the in-kind contribution within the required 2 business days. The GOP is claiming that Poshard's filing of the statement is an admission that he violating the law by not filing it earlier. The federation spent more than $200,000 on radio spots for Poshard in the last 2 weeks before the Mar. 17 primary.
 

Rep. Norwood Holding Program Accountable

The Labor Department's removal of Guess? Inc. from its list of apparel manufacturers and retailers that have voluntarily taken steps to ensure their goods are not made in sweatshop conditions drew criticism at a Jun. 19 congressional hearing. The so-called "Trendsetters List" came under scrutiny as part of an ongoing congressional review of the agency's program administration and law enforcement efforts. At issue is whether the Labor Department acted arbitrarily in designating companies for the list, possibly running afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.
 
How department officials decided which companies met its criteria for inclusion on the list was the focus of the hearing by the Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who chaired the hearing, questioned both the agency's decisions as to which companies to place on the list as well as its subsequent move to put Guess on "probation."
 

CWA Tries to Stop WorldCom-MCI Merger

On Jun. 19, Communications Workers of America opened new battle to block merger of WorldCom & MCI, saying in detailed analysis that deal would deprive the companies of access to capital and cut, rather than expand, local competition. CWA filed a statement with the FCC complaining the merger is anti-competitive, and in its latest disclosure its "union economist" claims the merger fails tests set by FCC. CWA's action came the same day that European antitrust authorities moved close to approving the transaction. Analysts strongly believe, despite the best attempts of union radicals, the merger will go through. [Communications Daily 06/22/98]

LIUNA Radicals Loose in California

Despite a LIUNA nurse and hospital technicians strike that threaten patient health and radical leaflet propaganda, the Tenet Corporation which owns San Francisco's Redding Medical Center was able to keep the center an "open shop." LIUNA went on strike Jun. 4, but a federal mediator got them back to the table the next day. On Jun. 23, the union relented and although the hospital made concessions, it remains an open shop which means union membership will not be a condition of employment. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/25/98 & Providence Journal-Bulletin 06/05/98]

Election Monitor Tries to Blackmail Congress

Michael G. Cherkasky, the court-appointed Teamsters election monitor sent a strongly-worded letter to U.S. District Judge David N. Edelstein on Jun. 24 threatening to end all federal supervision of the election unless the court can resolve a standoff over election funding. Cherkasky's threats come on the heals of a major setback for taxpayers in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit refused to reconsider its Mar. 30 ruling that forces taxpayers to fund the upcoming rerun election.

Cherkasky's Other Job Going Well

Cherkasky doesn't only work for the government monitoring the Teamsters. He has remained the President & Chief Operating Officer of Kroll Associates which is part of the Kroll-O'Gara Company (NASDAQ: KROG), a worldwide private investigator & security firm based in N.Y. On Jun. 18, Cherkasky spent the day in Toronto closing a $16 million deal on Kroll's latest acquisition of a Canadian forensic accounting firm. "It's hard to beat them so we had to buy them... We can expand very rapidly across the world," Cherkasky boasted to the Toronto media. The merger builds Kroll's presence to 40 cities in 16 counties. Apparently, Cherkasky doesn't have his hands full because he said he is looking to further expand his Moscow office's work against burgeoning crime syndicates in Russia. [Toronto Star 06/18/98]
 
UP SHOT: How does Cherkasky have time to run his multi-million dollar business and still ensure the upcoming Teamsters election is not marred by corruption again?

The GM Strikes: An Eye-Opening Perspective

From Investor's Business Daily's editorial [06/22/98]: "It takes a lot of effort to put on a strike. Bodies are needed for the picket lines from dawn 'til after dusk. Somebody has to work the telephones. And the media message must be honed. That's almost as much coordinated work as it takes to build cars. So we want to know: Why don't members of the United Auto Workers direct their energy to making a superior product, instead of striking General Motors. There are many reasons, but one big one is that the union bosses wouldn't like it. Workers would learn that they don't need the union. They could earn high wages by simply turning out a car that buyers prefer...

The Flint stamping facility is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to productivity. It has about half the output per hour worked of similar GM facilities. And the plant has a history of militant union activism that the carmaker estimates cost it $50 million a year...

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