Albuquerque isn’t about to replace Hollywood anytime soon as the nation’s movie and television capital.But a new studio nearing completion at least should make the fast-growing New Mexico city and surrounding area a major industry presence.The $74 million, 50-acre facility, by all accounts, is state of the art.The financing, however, has involved some old-fashioned expense-account fraud – or so certain Los Angeles businessmen allege.On April 9, Pacific Coast Capital Partners (PCCP), the majority owner of Hollywood’s famed Culver Studios, filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court.The partnership charges that the project’s main financial backer, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Pacifica Ventures, and its two principal officers, Hal Katersky and Dana Arnold, fraudulently billed Culver Studios more than $1 million for various services.What makes this action particularly intriguing is that Pacifica received extensive funding from union pensions to get the project off the ground.
If growth in numbers were all that mattered, the Service Employees International Union’s Andrew Stern would be America’s most successful labor leader, hands down.As a top lieutenant in that union to president and future AFL-CIO head John Sweeney, and then, starting in early 1996, as SEIU president himself, Stern has built his union into a powerhouse – “1.8 million members and growing,” to quote the union’s website.Supporters of mass immigration among organized labor officials point to the fact that a huge portion of that growth is attributable to foreign-born persons, especially from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.This, they argue, is evidence that Third World mass immigration is good for the SEIU and for unions as a whole.But growth may have come at a steep price:sweetheart deals that all but in name deliver substandard contracts for members. One large health-care workers’ local in California thinks Stern has sold out his people, a rift suggesting a major power struggle ahead within the Service Employees and its parent federation, Change to Win.
When the new 110th Congress convenes this week, it can count on intensive and sustained pressure from organized labor to enact pressing agenda items.Unions spent an estimated $100 million on the 2006 midterm elections, with the AFL-CIO paying for about $40 million of the tab.The candidates benefiting from this largesse, directly or indirectly, were overwhelmingly Democratic.Now that the Democrats have regained a majority in the House of Representatives and (to a lesser extent) in the Senate, ending a dozen years of frustration, labor bosses want Congress to deliver the goods.That means hiking the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour; restricting free-trade agreements; and expanding employee health and safety coverage.Most of all, it means passing card-check legislation, introduced in the last Congress by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., that would enable unions to obtain exclusive representation of workers without necessarily having to win a majority in a secret-ballot election.In effect, labor officials want Congress to seriously compromise a principle of more than 70 years of established labor law.
Union leaders often have a blind eye when it comes to corruption in their own ranks, but they are quick to punish the smallest faux pas, spoken or written, when it comes to perceived acts of disloyalty from political allies.Just ask Washington, D.C. Council Member Vincent C. Gray.Gray, a Democrat, a first-term representative of the city’s Ward 7, is running for council chairman.Not long ago he had begun passing out 15,000 campaign leaflets at Metrorail stops and meet-and-greet encounters.The leaflets, which carried a page of endorsements from ward Democrats, business organizations and unions, seemed innocuous enough.The problem was what they didn’t contain:a union logo.That’s because the leaflets weren’t union-printed. That, in the world of organized labor, is a political no-no.
Submitted by NLPC Staff on Fri, 09/01/2006 - 12:00
In September 2006, NLPC published a Special Report titled Common Cause with America's Enemies: How Labor Unions Embraced Antiwar Extremism. Authored by Dr. Carl Horowitz, the director of NLPC’s Organized Labor Accountability Project, the report details the close relationships between union leaders and anti-war activists. Click here or on image at right to download 28-page pdf of Special Report.
According to Horowitz, “It's no secret that much of the opposition to our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is anti-American, and not simply antiwar. Prominent self-styled ‘peace activists’ such as Cindy Sheehan, Leslie Cagan and Ramsey Clark rarely waste an opportunity to portray America as the number-one obstacle to world peace. What may be less known is the prominent role that many of the nation's labor unions have had in promoting this view.”
The California School Employees Association (CSEA), an AFL-CIO affiliate, represents over 230,000 bus drivers, janitors, secretaries, cafeteria workers and other public school support staff.As the largest union of its kind in the country, some bad apples inevitably make their way into its more than 750 local chapters.Such is the case in Tracy, a San Joaquin Valley community not far from Stockton and Modesto.Earlier this month officials of the local CSEA chapter filed a police report claiming that the union was about $9,000 short.The prime focus of the investigation is former treasurer and bus driver Lincy Merritt, who stepped down August 15.
Unions, argues the NLPC report, form one part of an interest-group triumvirate that consistently acts to thwart real immigration reform. The other two elements are big business and ethnic politicians. Each has cultivated a working relationship with the other. Congress and the successive presidential administrations listen to them more than the American people.
Monday, May 1, 2006 was “A Day without Immigrants.”At least that was its official billing.Sponsors of marches and rallies in roughly two dozen cities across the nation had intended to make a Grand Statement:Illegal immigrants are indispensable to our economy.Without them, lawns would not be mowed; drywall would not be hung; floors would not be scrubbed; and restaurant meals would not be cooked or served.And so on May 1, as an act of solidarity, immigrants, legal and illegal alike, would not show up for work.The boycott was the latest in a continuing series of events in opposition to pending federal legislation (H.R.
It’s hardly front-page news that the AFL-CIO has fallen upon hard times.Since late July, seven unions representing some 5.5 million workers have formed their own counter-federation, Change to Win, in hopes of adding to that total by millions more.Six of the unions had broken away from the labor federation beginning this July; a seventh, the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, already had taken flight back in 2001. Yet with understandably less fanfare, the AFL-CIO, whose unions represent 8 million union members (plus another 1 million workers who are not full-fledged members), has begun to recoup some of the lost ground.In September, the California Nurses Association, with 65,000 members, requested a charter from the AFL-CIO to begin petitioning for membership.This month another union, the United Transportation Union (UTU), which along with the Carpenters had left the federation four years ago, is back in.
It began on June 15 of this year as a rump faction within the AFL-CIO.And now the Change to Win Coalition, on Tuesday, September 27, made it official:It is now a federation in its own right.The group split from the AFL-CIO after several years of growing acrimony.Change to Win (CTW) unions came to believe that the AFL-CIO was pouring enormous amounts of money and energy into political advocacy at the expense of organizing.The result of misguided priorities was a decaying labor movement.“Organizing is our core principle.It is our North Star,” declared Change to Win founding chair, Anna Burger, before a large, cheering convention in St.