Employees in the fast food industry, before anything else, know that they aren't going to make lots of money. Employers in this part of the restaurant world are in business to provide convenience at low prices rather than creativity or elegance. The wages they offer are a reflection of this. Yet the Service Employees International Union and an allied New York-based nonprofit coalition, Fast Food Forward, are bent on boosting these workers' wages in dramatic fashion. Last Thursday, August 29, the day after the 50th anniversary rally of the 1963 March on Washington, these activists led walkouts and demonstrations in dozens of cities in hopes of winning a $15 an hour minimum wage and union recognition for fast food employees.
On July 12, Sofia Gonzalez, former bookkeeper for Service Employees International Union Local 925, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to five years of probation for embezzling $40,087 from the Seattle-based union. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Gonzalez, who had worked in the local's Vancouver, Wash. office, had been charged in February and pleaded guilty in April. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
"Comprehensive immigration reform," like virtually any initiative containing the magic word "comprehensive," looks good on the surface. But the details of the comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate in June by a 68-32 margin reveal much wrong underneath. Oblivious to this, top union leaders are gearing up for an all-out blitz this fall to secure passage of a similar bill in the Republican-majority House of Representatives. Led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (in photo), they are obsessed with providing 11 million or more persons illegally in this country with amnesty and eventual citizenship, and with enabling millions of family members to come here to join them.
A series of puny protests against the now Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly and governorship were perpetuated the last few months thanks to coverage by a compliant local media, but now threatens to grow as liberal groups from outside the state ship in additional forces.
With previously powerful NC Democrats now shunted to the sidelines, Republican political leaders have undertaken ambitious overhauls including the reduction of unemployment benefits, tax reforms, budgeting changes, voter ID, elections adjustments, and health care. Especially drawing liberal ire was the refusal to expand the Medicaid rolls because North Carolina’s system is wasteful and broken, and because the federal government only promised support for a few years before the state would have to bear a greater burden.
If there were any doubts that the oft-used term "comprehensive immigration reform" is a stalking-horse for amnesty, a new Senate proposal unveiled yesterday should dispel them. The measure, touted as a way to fix our "broken" immigration system, will do the opposite. Not only will it demean U.S. citizenship and rule of law, it also likely will produce adverse economic effects. The main feature of the 844-page bill is that it would allow millions of illegal immigrants to apply for legal residency and eventual citizenship. Significantly, the bill bears a strong union influence. And labor officials aren't bashful about it. Ana Avendano, AFL-CIO director of immigration, declared last week: "Politicians know that if they stand in the way of citizenship we will steamroller them."
On March 22, Rufino Sanchez, former president of National Association Government Employees (NAGE) Local R3-10, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to one count of mail fraud resulting in the loss of $18,565 in funds from the union, formerly based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. Sanchez had been indicted last July on 22 counts of mail fraud relating to the theft of $15,723 in union funds and arrested in August. NAGE is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The indictment, arrest and guilty plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 27, Sofia Gonzalez, former bookkeeper for Service Employees International Union Local 95, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington with bank fraud and embezzlement of $40,087 in funds from the Seattle union. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
When is a union not a union? Apparently, it's when members say it isn't. Yet a change in terminology can't alter reality. Over the past several years, hundreds of organizations, known as ‘worker centers,' have established a presence in the labor movement, targeting retail and restaurant chains for organizing and picketing. While they don't like being called unions, for all practical purposes they operate as such. And they have the advantage of being outside the jurisdiction of labor law. At least one is a reconstituted key affiliate of the defunct radical network, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Tyrone Freeman (see photo) was convinced he was innocent. It proved less a conviction than a delusion. This past Monday, January 28, a Los Angeles federal jury convicted the once-powerful Southern California Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leader on 14 criminal charges, including embezzlement, mail fraud and tax fraud. It was an ignominious downfall for a man whom many believed one day would succeed his ally and mentor, then-SEIU President Andrew Stern. "This was a case about abuse and betrayal," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "Freeman abused his position as a leader of the SEIU, and he betrayed the hardworking people whose interests he was supposed to represent."
The increasing overlap of labor and political activism is an insidious form of public corruption in this country. It enables union officials to deemphasize their role of representing workers at the bargaining table in favor of advocating policies to socialize the economy, building incestuous relationships with politicians, and fattening their bank accounts. This tendency was heavily felt in 2012, a presidential election year. Union leaders recognized the need to re-elect their ally and benefactor, President Barack Obama, over someone who was a wealthy Republican with a strong business background; i.e., someone they truly could despise. They got what they wanted. In the process, they further built a political infrastructure. Yet union leaders also experienced reversals of fortune at the state level - most of all, in Michigan - where they had been used to getting their way.