Richard Trumka, the burly president of the AFL-CIO, believes the climate for an upsurge in union organizing couldn't be better. And just to make sure that the federation and its member unions can take advantage of opportunities to get out the pro-union vote, Trumka (see photo) and top officials are laying the groundwork for their own version of what is fast becoming the ultimate campaign fundraising tool: a political action committee (PAC) which, unlike a standard PAC, faces virtually no limits on individual contributions.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) admitted to the FBI that he accepted free upgrades on a town home he purchased from convicted Chicago influence-peddler Tony Rezko, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The congressman has previously been the subject of a federal investigation for engaging in real estate deals with a developer named Calvin Boender.
During a 2008 interview with the FBI, Gutierrez reportedly said that he asked Rezko for upgrades on the town house before purchasing it. The congressman claimed that the price of the home had risen by $35,000 since he had first considered buying it, and Rezko agreed to give him an additional bathroom and a higher quality carpet to make up for the increase in cost.
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a triumph of rhetoric over reality. In the name of expanding worker choice, this proposed federal legislation, stalled for the past couple years, effectively would eliminate secret-ballot elections for nonunion workers seeking to decide whether to join a union and would mandate government arbitration if collective bargaining following a successful "card check" fails to produce a settlement. EFCA is coercive to the benefit of organized labor, a fact that extends to finances. And unions, once having realized a dues windfall, will use a certain portion of that money to fund political activity of the sort that put the bill on the front burner in the first place. An ad hoc nonprofit group, the Workforce Fairness Institute, recently released a report estimating union-controlled political activism would exceed $1.75 billion, at minimum, in the initial decade.