Wells Fargo Succumbs to DOJ’s ‘Civil Rights’ Shakedown; Agrees to Pay $175 Million

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage logoObtaining mortgage aid by claiming “discrimination” has become a high art. The problem is that someone always has to pay. Just ask Wells Fargo & Co. On July 12, the San Francisco-based bank, the nation’s largest mortgage originator, agreed to spend $175 million to settle accusations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that for several years it steered black and Hispanic homebuyers toward high-cost loans, so it could charge excessive interest and fees. The agreement, in which Wells Fargo admitted no wrongdoing, ostensibly will defray borrower losses and expand homeownership opportunities in lower-income areas. More likely, it will raise the cost of borrowing for everyone, lower underwriting standards and keep lawyers employed. It amounts to a shakedown. And in the context of the big picture, $175 million is on the low side.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, often in conjunction with nonprofit civil rights organizations and other parties, …

Over-Stimulus, EV Indifference a Lethal Mix for Battery Companies

Volt recharging photoThe Obama Administration has over-stimulated the electric vehicle battery market, as companies inspired by the flow of federal stimulus support don’t have enough customers for their products.

The government promise of a coming electric car (and truck) revolution, thanks to moves such as President George W. Bush’s signature to approve a $7,500-per-electric-vehicle tax credit and Congress’s passage of the Recovery Act, instigated a buildup of capacity and inventory for batteries. Now putrid EV sales – including the newly introduced Ford Focus electric – have put their battery makers in peril, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“A looming shakeout in the industry, which would likely include plant closures and layoffs, is also likely to touch off a fierce debate over whether federal and state government officials made a major error by using more than $1 billion in grants and tax credits to spur massive investments that are not …

Port Security Law Watered Down by Union Bosses, Congress

When Congress sent a seaport security bill to President Bush’s desk a few weeks ago, supporters were enthusiastic that our nation was giving top priority to a previously neglected area of national security.  Shipping terminals and cargo containers, they noted, are ideal places where terrorists, with some inside help, could place a bomb, possibly of mass destruction.  President George W. Bush, at the October 13 signing ceremony of the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006, also known as the SAFE Port Act, expressed the need for the law this way:  “Our seaports are a gateway to commerce, a source of opportunity, and a provider of jobs.  Our ports could also be a target of a terrorist attack, and we’re determined to protect them.”  The law, however, may be more significant for what it leaves out than for what it includes.  And

L.A. Transit Authority Accuses Striking Union of Mismanaging Pension Fund

As a transit union strike wreaked havoc on rush hour transportation in Los Angeles, transit officials insisted on increased control over the union’s insolvent pension fund.  Local 1227 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), representing 2,200 Metro. Transportation Auth. Mechanics, began their strike on Oct. 14.  The union representing some 6,000 MTA drivers and train operators refused to cross the ATU’s picket line, and an estimated half-million commuters have had to find alternative transportation since.


At issue is a trust fund that pays for the employees’ insurance and medical expenses.  The fund is currently losing $5 million a month.  Local 1227 president Neil Silver is demanding that the MTA increase its financial support for the fund, which is currently $16.8 million.  MTA officials have offered to contribute an extra infusion of $2.6 million for one time only in exchange for gaining temporary control of

Appeals Court Upholds Bush Order on Forced Union Dues

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 23 upheld President George W. Bush’s Executive Orderrequiring federal contractors to post notices informing employees that they cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues spent for partisan politics or other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.   

The 2-1 decision overturns a previous ruling from the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia that invalidated the President’s Executive Order.  In addition to defending the order as amicus curiae in the case, the National Right to Work Foundation had called upon the Bush Administration to appeal the District Court’s original decision and delivered over 100,000 signed grassroots petitions urging President Bush to defend his Executive Order from union attack.

“This ruling is a step toward informing employees they have the right not to be shaken down to pay for union political activities,” stated Stefan …

Bush 2004 Budget Adds Funds to “Revitalize” Labor-Mgmt Standards Ofc.

Pres. George W. Bush, on Feb. 3, proposed adding $8.3 million and 75 new staffers to better protect union members rights and promote the financial accountability of union officials.

At a press conference announcing the Dept. of Labors proposed budget for fiscal year 2004, Deputy Secy. of Labor Cameron D. Findlay said that the Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards (OLMS) would receive an extra $6.1 million, along with the new staff, to improve the OLMS enforcement of the Labor-Mgmt. Reporting & Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, that 1959 law mandates free and fair local union elections, and requires union officials to annually report the finances of their unions to DOL.

But acc. to Victoria A. Lipnic, Asst. Secy. of Labor for Employment Standards, cuts in the OLMS staff since 1991 have hampered the OLMS efforts to enforce the LMRDA. In the area of union democracy, for instance, …

Union Watchdog Ask President to Appeal Ruling Striking Down Beck Executive Order

As reported in the last UCU issue, U.S. Dist. Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. (D.D.C., Clinton) struck down President Bush’s Executive Order 13201 Jan. requiring fed. contractors to post notices informing employees of their rights not to join a union or to pay fees for nonrepresentational purpose, under the Supreme Court’s 1988 decision, CWA v. Beck. The Nat’l Legal & Pol’y Ctr. was written President Bush requesting that he and his Administration appeal Kennedy’s adverse ruling.  …

Unions Sue to Stop Bush’s Beck Order

Complaining that President Bush’s executive order enforcing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Communications Workers v. Beck imposes “substantial administrative burdens” on businesses, three unions and a federally funded union-established corporation have filed suit against the Bush Administration. The union suit seeks to prevent unionized employees of federal contractors from learning about their rights to be nonmembers and reclaim their forced union dues spent for politics. The United Auto Workers, along with the UAW-Labor Employment & Training Corp. and two affiliates of the Office & Prof’l Employees Int’l Union, filed the suit in May in the U.S. Dist. Court for D.C. against Sec. of Labor Elaine Chao, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and several other Administration officials.

Bush’s Executive Order 13201, signed on Feb. 17, requires federal contractors to post a standard workplace notice informing employees of their rights under Beck, a case won by Nat’l Right to Work Fdn. in …

Bush, Chao Focus on Fraud and Abuse in DOL Programs

According to BNA, the FY 2002 budget “blueprint” suggests that attention is being paid early in the Bush administration to longstanding concerns regarding a variety of Dep’t of Labor programs that may be subject to fraud and abuse.  Issued Feb. 28, the preliminary budget referred to three areas identified in the past by the DOL’s inspector general as in need of attention. These include programs that provide benefits to workers, such as the unemployment insurance (UI) program; administration of grant funds; and foreign labor certification programs.  DOL IG Gordon Heddell’s spokesman said he “looks forward to working with” Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao “and her management team to address these longstanding issues.” Heddell, a 28-year veteran of the federal law enforcement system was confirmed IG by the Senate on Dec. 15.

DOL’s portion of the Bush administration’s budget proposal stated that the inspector general “continues to be concerned about the …

Gore, Unions Hit With FEC Complaint Over Ad

The Nat’l Legal & Pol’y Ctr., a union corruption watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Fed. Election Comm’n Oct. 30 against Gore/Lieberman, Inc., AFL-CIO and Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees for an apparent violation of federal election law. The complaint concerns a full page advertisement that appeared in the Washington Post on Oct. 11, which attacked Tex. Gov. George W. Bush’s tax cut plan and listed 300 economists.

The ad stated: “Paid for by the working men and women of [AFSCME] and the AFL-CIO.” It also said: “We, the undersigned, oppose the large-scale tax cuts that are the centerpiece of presidential candidate George W. Bush’s economic proposals.” It states: “Targeting the surplus to these families as proposed by Vice President Gore makes more sense.” It said: “To waste that opportunity with this tax  scheme would be economically and socially irresponsible.”

The ad could be considered express …

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