Follow Up Fridays: Solis’ Nomination as DOL Secretary

I had no idea that when I first posted about Obama’s pick for Secretary of Labor that I would still be writing about her nomination process.  But last week two things happened which lead me to believe that either she will not be confirmed as the Secretary or we’ll be hearing a lot more about her in the near future.

First, Solis’ husband paid $6400 worth of outstanding tax liens placed on the company he owns.  LawMemo Blog’s expert, Ross Runkel, a 30-year employment law professor thought that this, alone was enough for Solis to withdraw her nomination, or conversely, Obama’s people “will drop Solis and move on to someone else.  The short-term and long-term costs of hanging onto Solis are simply too high.” 

But just hours before the Senate confirmation vote, the other shoe fell on Solis with The Weekly Standard‘s article “The Nominee who Lobbied Herself.”  Solis, who co-sponsored EFCA in 2007 was the treasurer of the union fronted American Rights at Work who had been lobbying Congress to pass EFCA.  In other words, “she is the official legally charged with the fiduciary duty of approving and signing off on all spending by the organization.  And to make matters worse, she did not reveal to her colleagues in the House of Representatives that membership on her financial disclosure forms, which may constitute a separate ethical violation.”  Members of the House of Representatives are not allowed to lobby or advise on lobbying on behalf of a private organization – even if the work is done for free.

“Now [Obama] has a nominee for Labor Secretary who apparently broke House ethics rules by lobbying for legislation that she sponsored, but who did not admit that she failed to reveal that fact on her financial disclosure forms until after her nomination became an issue.”  The Weekly Standard.

Like some of Obama’s other appointees, i.e. Tom Daschle’s $140,000 in back taxes and interest, Tom Geithner’s $42,000 in taxes and interest, and the lien placed on Nancy Killefer’s home for not paying unemployment taxes for her domestic help, Solis forgot to mention her affiliation with American Rights at Work in disclosure forms filed with the House of Representatives from 2004-2007.  In typical fashion, a White House spokesman chalked up the omission as an “unintentional oversight.”

But guess who’s still supporting Solis!  John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President urged the committee to move ahead with a vote as soon as possible to confirm Solis’ nomination and Andy Stern, President of SEIU said, “We urge [the] U.S. Senate to move swiftly in a bipartisan manner so Representative Solis can bring her work to improve lives for millions of workers in America.” 

For now, though, the vote is on hold until her ethical violations are fully explored and a decision whether to continue her nomination process is made – assuming she won’t withdraw her name in the interim.

Follow Up Friday: Obama’s Loves Lobbyists

Last week is when it was first covered that Obama was appointing lobbyists after promising lobbyists “won’t find a job in my White House.” 

In his early days of campaigning, he said that lobbyists wouldn’t be welcome in his new Washington.  Soon after the election he insisted on the “strictest ethics rules ever applied.”  In fact, he didn’t care if he excluded long-term Washington stalwarts because he wanted ethics in Washington.  But, “now lobbyists abound in Obama’s administration and have since day one.  Not only that, but tax cheats seem to be particularly drawn to the new president.”  In case you’ve forgotten, he’s appointed almost 2 dozen lobbyists (one more if you count Solis) and at least 3 that had trouble paying taxes (well, 4 if you count Solis’ husband).

Even MSNBC’s liberal talk-show host Rachel Maddow “blasted Obama for having former lobbyists in his administration, saying that his campaign-trail promise that lobbyists would not run his White House ‘sounded great; too great to be entriely true, it turns out.'”  Likewise, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said about the new administration, “They say they have a policy of no lobbyists, and yet every day we hear about a new lobbyist.”

What do I see from all of this?  More labor friendly legislation.  Obama loves the pay to play game.  He swindled American voters into thinking he was going to reform Washington.  He promised ethics like we’ve never seen before.  But now that he’s in power, he’s thrown all of that out the door and has appointed nearly 2 dozen lobbyists who have all championed his causes.  With it being public knowledge that labor unions put him in the White House, soon it will be public knowledge that labor unions (like lobbyists, not ethics) will proliferate under labor-friendly bills like we’ve never seen before.

Misc. Mondays: Solis Not a Done Deal Yet

Beginning today, Mondays are dedicated to miscellaneous topics/updates that do not necessarily warrant a full day to themselves, but nonetheless are newsworthy.

Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA) has not yet been approved by the Senate, and the Senate could not identify exactly when they will vote on whether to approve her as the next Secretary of the Department of Labor.  Even if the committee approves Solis, her nomination could be blocked by a Republican filibuster because the Republicans are rightfully angry that she refuses to discuss her position on many of the controversial legislation that will likely be voted on in the near future, including the Employee Free Choice Act.  At her confirmation hearing before the House of Representatives, she said she was not qualified to answer questions about those issues.  According to Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, it’s time she becomes qualified and gives answers to those questions.

Misc. Mondays: AFL-CIO’s To Do List for Obama

Beginning today, Mondays are dedicated to miscellaneous topics/updates that do not necessarily warrant a full day to themselves, but nonetheless are newsworthy.

The AFL-CIO sent a 16-page “to do list” to the new Obama Administration.  Here are the highlights of the list:

1. Appoint a U.S. Trade Representative with “demonstrated commitment to addressing the destabilizing influences in trade policy and who is committed to ensuring trade policies provide broadly shared benefits for working people.”

2. Send the Federal Aviation Administration back to the bargaining table to negotiate a new union contract with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

3. Pass an economic stimulus bill and send dollars to homeowners facing foreclosure and to aid states, auto workers, and manufacturers.

4. Obama should use the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to campaign for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

5. Restore project labor agreements for federally funded construction.

6. Provide bargaining rights for Justice Department workers.

7. Suspend bargaining on all new trade and investment pacts, and review all past pacts as Obama promised during the election campaign.

8. Have the U.S. take the federations’ extensively documented trade case against China – which has the largest trade surplus with the U.S. – to the World Trade Organization.

9. Identify and nominate federal judges “who have a demonstrated commitment to equal rights,” including understanding the courts’ role in protecting those rights, including workers’ rights.

10. Appoint pro-worker members and chair of the NLRB and restore the Labor Department, its Wage and Hour Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Mine Safety and Health and Safety Administration to their “historic roles” as “advocating for and protecting the interests of workers.”

11. Formalize the Clinton-era ban on wage-and-hour investigators sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.  It would also require ICE to get a high-level OK before raiding work sites during union organizing drives.

For more detail on this list, click here.

Today Ends EFCA Update Week

I hope you have enjoyed catching up on all things EFCA this week.  So many people ask me what’s going on with EFCA, what are the unions saying about EFCA, do I think EFCA will pass, etc. that I think a week dedicated to EFCA is informative for everyone.  Hopefully those of you who still thought EFCA wasn’t a big deal, now realize it’s huge but just not getting much mainstream media coverage.  And for you who have always been watching it brew and approach our country, it’s time to prepare for it now.  Educate those around you.  Educate your employees.  And continue to educate yourself about the impact that the Obama Administration will have on the labor laws of this country.

 

Here is the anti-unions’ Center for Union Facts’ “Resolutions for Union Officials” which covered a full-page ad in the New York Times. 

 

This article from the Las Vegas Business Press reminds us that small businesses are most susceptible to unionization.  Although this article is long, it is worth the read.

 

The SEIU claims EFCA will create wealth and prosperity in our country.  Much of the thought is that between 1940s and 1970s was one of the most prosperous times in our country’s history and when unionization was at its height.  Unions want to revert back to those times without looking at where we are now in large measure because of those times:  the UAW purchased the retirement health insurance (in simplified terms) because the Big Three couldn’t afford it anymore; the Big Three need bailed out just to stay in business a few more months (except for Ford who “mortaged” everything it owned, including its logo to creditors); the steel industry is a fraction of what it used to be; the rubber workers no longer make most of the tires in this country; the list goes on and it’s mostly because of the 1940s-1970s.

 

This Pennsylvania newspaper article chastises Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) for being the only Republican in support of EFCA, especially because he is from a heavily industrial state.

 

EFCA will be a “firestorm” in the Senate because depending on who you speak to on any given day, Republicans either have exactly the number needed or are 1 vote shy of being able to filibuster EFCA.

 

This is another article about the devastating effects EFCA will have on small businesses.  The author opines that EFCA will force many entrepreneurs to decide whether they can afford to grow, add jobs, or even stay in business.

 

Former Rep. David Bonior, a member of Obama’s economic transition team, named EFCA as a way Obama can help get the economy back on track.

 

 

 

No one, including Mitt Romney, believes that the answer to EFCA is for a company to move its operations outside the United States, even though that’s what many companies are threatening to do if EFCA passes.  Which raises 2 points.  1) the Patriot Employer Act isn’t enough to keep companies in a union-heavy America; and 2) Unions would rather see a company leave/close than not be able to organize it without regard that the person they tried to organize (and promised job security, better wages, etc.) is now unemployed.

 

The New York Times, which openly supports EFCA, published a piece claiming that EFCA is under attack and lays out all the ways that EFCA is being fought.  This is one article I didn’t mind reading from the otherwise liberal newspaper.

 

This spin is making me dizzy!  The SEIU reminds the public not to use the term “card check” when referring to EFCA, but to repeatedly say the “Employee Free Choice Act” because “it reinforces the idea that workers, not corporations, should be the ones who decide how to form a union.”  Am I missing something?  I don’t see where “card check” says that corporations should decide how to form a union.

 

You may remember my post about the group “Save Our Secret Ballots” who is trying to create a state constitutional amendment to block EFCA from being law in a handful of states.  Although I’m not sure how this group intends to get around the preemption doctrine, I am following it and will update you on its progress.  Right now, the SEIU has published the names of its board members and major supporters.

 

The AFL-CIO ignores the fact that our country’s economic situation is a result of structured investment vehicles and collateral debt.  Instead, according to the AFL-CIO, the underlying problem for our economy is “the corporate search for cheap labor.”  I try to be fair on this blog, with the required degree of slant necessary, but sometimes things bug me (like when the SEIU tells its followers not to say “card check,” and that a return to heavy unionization like in the 1940s-1970s will bring prosperity to this country) and this is one of those articles.

 

 

Let me know what you thought about EFCA Update Week and if you’d like to see it become a regular even every few weeks here.

Thursday This Week is EFCA Update Day!

Are you ready for more EFCA Updates?  We’re just half way through the first EFCA Update Week, and already I’ve received great feedback about the articles.  Hopefully these will inform you further.

 

 

This article critiques the Employee Free Choice Act by dissecting all arguments – business, union, academia – before concluding that EFCA is not beneficial for our economy or our country.

 

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn), who serves on the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee offers an insight into the perils of EFCA.

 

This interesting piece highlights how Republicans view EFCA as a tool that will reunite their fractured party because it is a common ground that all members can oppose

 

This is likely not a surprise to anyone, but Chambers of Commerce oppose EFCA.  This article just happens to be from Virginia, but Chambers everywhere have banned together to fight against the negative effects that it would have on businesses throughout America.

 

About 2 months ago I heard that the SEIU is going to organize banks.  Well, the campaign has started.  The SEIU is going public telling the bank employees that some of the bailout money should go to them.  When it doesn’t, the employees will be disgruntled, and disgruntled employees are easier to organize.    This is just one of the new niche areas of organization.  Over the next few years, unions will be sprouting up in job sectors that we never thought would be targeted.

 

 

Outgoing Labor Secretary Elaine Chao write this insiders article titled “Our Workers Deserve a Secret Ballot” that was printed in the Wall Street Journal.

 

In my quasi-effort to present both sides of EFCA (because readers want to know what the other side is doing and thinking), incoming Labor Secretary Hilda Solis opposes secret ballots.

 

Union Presidents up for Obama Administration appointments.  Two former union presidents and one current union president are being considered for jobs in the Obama Administration.  Like you didn’t see that one coming?

 

Here’s another union-member who is against the Employee Free Choice Act.  He encourages unions to work on self-improvement instead of bullying their way into companies that don’t want them in the first place.

 

Rapid City, South Dakota is weighing on opposing EFCA and reminding the readers of the Daily Herald that over 30 years ago, William Raspberry of the Washington Post wrote this about compulsory unionism: “good unions don’t need it and bad unions don’t deserve it.”

 

Remember when Democrats who now support EFCA expressed the opposite view to Mexico in 2001? Remember when Rep. George Miller (D-Cal) wrote a letter to the Mexican government saying, “we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose?”  Remember how John Boehner (R-OH) challenged Congress about the hypocrisy to of having secret ballot elections on politically tough votes within their caucuses while “leaving employees open to harassment and intimidation in the workplace on organizing votes?”  This article remembers.

 

One more day left, folks!  Come back tomorrow for our grand (well, I don’t know grand it will be) finale for the conclusion of our first EFCA Update Week!

Wednesday This Week is Another EFCA Update Day!

Now that the inauguration is over, it’s time for President Obama to get to work.  And for labor unions, that means working with Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, RESPECT Act, Patriot Employer Act, “Union of One” Act, Middle Class Opportunity Act, and he needs to appoint new NLRB Board Members to ensure that Minority Unions become a reality.  Whew!  He’ll be a busy man.  In the meantime, I will continue to cover all of those developments.  But for now, here is another day’s installment of what happened in the world of EFCA last week.

 

Outgoing Labor Secretary warns that the Labor Department could be used to harm American worker competitiveness through misguided regulations and punitive policies – and at the top of that list is EFCA.

 

This is a follow up to my previous post referencing Michelle Malkin’s expose about the luxurious lifestyle the top Union brass live thanks to the hourly dues paid by their members.

 

Former union lawyer and current NLRB Member (Judge) resoundingly endorses EFCA despite having to impartially enforce it when it passes.

 

Obama Administration encouraged the 12 major labor unions to reunite – and they’re meeting to do just that!  For those of us who followed the defection of the SEUI from the AFL-CIO, this is major news!  Looks like Obama will do what the union wants and the union will do whatever Obama wants.

 

Newly sworn in Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) is wasting no time showing his strong support for EFCA by saying that he understands the significance and importance of it – that EFCA  is the most important labor bill in 70 years.

 

Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) introduced H.R. 243, which enacts one of EFCA’s three major provisions: binding arbitration.  According to LaborPains.org, it’s not going to go anywhere, but does set the stage for EFCA.  I think this is a tester bill to see what kind of reaction it will get or if it will continue to fly under the radar like most of EFCA has done.

 

Secretary Solis does not commit to preserving funding for the Office of Labor-Management Standards, the office that requires accurate financial reporting of union finances through LM-2s. 

 

 

Union leaders from 45 different countries met with the AFL-CIO President, John Sweeney and representatives of U.S. union organization to discuss the union movement in the United States and the need to work together to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

 

This AFL-CIO post compares the union density of the top 10 economically strong countries and the United States is 6th on the list and concludes (without supporting evidence) that the top five countries on the list have stronger pro-worker laws than the US, and that 16 of the top twenty have laws similar to EFCA.  But do we really want to compare ourselves to Ireland and Demark?

 

OK, so this isn’t really an EFCA update, but it’s so news worthy for this blog that I just have to post it.  Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) introduced a bill that does away with term limits for Presidents.  Appears he was lobbying for Obama to be allowed to run for a third term before Obama was even sworn into office!

 

The SEIU is still touting that Congress is committed to passing EFCA despite the naysayers.  And that’s something the SEIU and I agree on.  Those claiming that it will not pass are engaging in wishful thinking, and every now and then I let myself believe those thoughts, too.  But, the reality is that the economy will be worse in 2009 than it was in 2008.  Unemployment will continue to climb.  House values will continue to fall.  And oh yeah, there are political thank yous that need cashed in for putting Democrats in the White House and in the majority of Congressional seats.

 

Come back tomorrow for more EFCA Updates!