Archive for the ‘Big Labor’ Category

by Liberty Chick & Adam Baldwin  ~  at BigJournalism.com

Police warn UC Davis protesters

UC Davis protesters encircle police to prevent them from leaving. Police issued multiple warnings to those in the path to clear access. Just prior to the pepper spray, Officer Pike gives a final warning to each protester, "Do you understand that if you stay here when the police squad comes, you will be subject to the use of force?

On Monday, students, faculty and supporters at the University of California, Davis, attempted a mass general strike to protest tuition hikes and to demand the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after police pepper-sprayed eleven protesters who blocked a public access way at an #OccupyUCDavis event on November 18th. Students maintain it was Chancellor Katehi who requested the police remove the Occupy encampment and clear access to the facility.  The incident sparked a firestorm of media all across the world and has become a viral phenomenon, and now even an Internet meme.

We stand behind those calling for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation.  But not for the reasons they might think.

The events of UC Davis and the way in which the pepper-spray was handled has set a number of dangerous precedents.  In the setting of academia, the rights of the majority of students are being trampled on to appease the tyranny of a minority.  Further, the very system of law and order and its public servants instituted to protect the rights of the public at large have been undermined by incompetent leaders, unable to withstand the growing pressure of a noisy minority and the corrupt media that supports it.  Most importantly, propaganda has established a foothold that is now stronger than ever, and far more dangerous than the short-term effects of pepper spray.

Over the last week, we have seen the media pick up the UC Davis story and run with it, always highlighting the same twenty seconds of one Officer Pike, methodically pepper-spraying eleven “peaceful protesters,” as onlookers gasp and scream in horror and dismay.  The public was almost undivided in its immediate condemnation of the act.

But just as Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Perhaps in this case, it’s not so much a lie, but a lot of omissions.

Continue…

This is a reprint of one of my old posts from June 3, 2009.  It has more relevance today, thanks to the exposure that the new documentary film “Battle for Brooklyn” is finally bringing to this horrible tale of eminent domain abuse, after all the years that so many in that community toiled to tell it.

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acorn-ratnerAmidst the coverage of ACORN for allegations of voter registration fraud, the Rathke embezzlement scandal, the ACORN-8 civil lawsuit and Justice Department complaint, controversy over Project Vote and alleged misuse of the Obama donors list, and most recently ACORN’s role in the upcoming Census in 2010, there lies a lesser told tale of controversy, conflict and allegation. Correction: it’s a feverishly told tale, at least in New York, but one largely ignored, perhaps because the very checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to expose allegations of impropriety apparently fall by the wayside when the media itself becomes part of the story (allegedly…).

This is a long, complex story that has many twists and turns, and many angles (angles that, quite frankly, I’d consider more important than the one I’m going to cover here). This is a compartmentalized version of a broader story, and will focus primarily on its relevance to ACORN.

On December 10, 2003, one of the most ambitious real estate development projects in the history of Brooklyn was announced, a project that would later unfold into layers of conflict and speculated corruption, and be considered by many to be “the most controversial project ever in New York.”

The Atlantic Yards project, an endeavor of high-profile real estate developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Ratner companies, is a 22-acre mixed-use commercial and residential development project that cuts through the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights and Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY.   To understand how deep the personal impacts would be, you need to understand the area and the development plan.

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Labor unions and leftist activists are expected to once again descend upon the Captiol in Madison, WI on Tuesday. They plan to protest Governor Scott Walker’s first 2-year budget proposal, which seeks to cap entitlement programs and make cuts in education while expanding school voucher programs, in an attempt to close a $3 billion budget deficit. Republicans also expect to add the collective bargaining provisions that were passed in March, unless the State Supreme Court issues a ruling before then.

Opponents of Walker’s proposal view their side as an issue of human rights and a statement against corporations, and have not surprisingly ratcheted up the rhetoric. On its website announcing Tuesday’s protest, the Wisconsin state AFL-CIO posted:

Debate will be limited, democracy will be circumvented and the balance will greatly tip in favor of ramming through an anti-worker, anti-family, anti-community agenda. Come bear witness to this denial of democracy… Please take part in democracy and bear witness to the extreme attack on the people of Wisconsin. Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, June 14, as we continue to stand strong against a budget that guts public schools, attacks health care, raises taxes on workers and seniors, and jeopardizes public services like police and fire. All while handing over $300 million a year in tax breaks to the rich.

Oh, the drama….

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In Hastings, Pennsylvania, an old coal mining area, Marcellus Shale is an important component of local commerce.  The  sedimentary rock is in fact a very familiar part of the entire region’s landscape, where you can drive for miles and miles alongside cliff faces that look almost as though someone cut through the mountains with a serrated knife.  Through the slice were all the once thriving coal mining towns that used to scatter the Pennsylvania mountainside.  These alien-looking areas of Pennsylvania, while few of them coal mining spots anymore, are now some of the most promising natural gas resources this side of the country.  With the rising prices of gas, the environmental stronghold over coal, and the recent increase in political hostility toward oil, many are turning to natural gas to fill a void.  In 2008, there were 52 active permits for natural gas drilling in Cambria County alone, as drillers began courting landowners for access.  And in 2011, as towns like Hastings struggle to create jobs in a down economy, some are relying upon natural gas to create those jobs.

Well…not SEIU, apparently.  The union has teamed up with environmentalists in the area to start harassing the natural gas companies.  They’ve scheduled a protest to demand that these evil drillers pay their fair share!  Only – there’s one small problem.  The place that SEIU selected to protest?  Yeah…not actually a Marcellus drilling location.

When union workers and environmental activists picked a Hastings-area site to protest inaction on a Marcellus Shale severance tax, they made one mistake.

Marcellus activity isn’t occurring within miles of it.

Service Employees International Union officials issued an apology Monday, saying they mistakenly set up their protest Thursday – and a makeshift tollbooth asking the industry to pay its fair share – next to a surface well property that has been around for years and isn’t set up for shale drilling.

“There is no Marcellus Shale drilling on that property, and we’ve contacted the property owners and apologized. It was a mistake, and there was no malice intended even when we thought it was a Marcellus well,” said Neil Bhaerman, a SEIU Healthcare spokesman. “It was an honest mistake that we are going to take extra care to ensure never happens again.”

The union, with environmental officials and area parents, set up protests at three western Pennsylvania sites Thursday to urge for the shale drilling industry to pay its fair share.

Bhaerman said local workers from an area nursing home told them about an apparent drilling site near Third Avenue, just outside of Hastings, and the union didn’t do enough homework on it.   Read the full article.

Imagine that.  The union didn’t do their homework.

I seem to recall that when SEIU protested at ESSA Bank & Trust in East Stroudsburg because of their dispute with Pocono Medical Center, they hadn’t done their homework then, either.

Because while they thought they were intimidating the bank president Gary Olson, who also happens to be chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, they weren’t aware of the fact that Olson has zero authority over any labor issues at the medical center.  He himself has said,  “the union members wouldn’t benefit by targeting me. I’m a volunteer director who was elected chair of the board and am not involved in any union negotiations.”   They didn’t exactly do their homework then, either.  And they still continue to harass the same individual.

The union has  been embroiled in a dispute with the hospital over the issue of a prior vote to make union membership voluntary and  the “closed shop” clause in workers’ contracts, a detail the union vehemently opposes.  SEIU wants to continue to force workers to join their union.

“…local workers from an area nursing home told them about an apparent drilling site near Third Avenue.”

Chances are the bad tip mentioned above came from other workers at the nearby Golden LivingCenter-Haida (GLC-Haida), a nursing home on Third Avenue represented by SEIU Healthcare PA, though this hasn’t been confirmed.  The nursing home is part of a well-known chain of facilities in Cambria County, statewide across Pennsylvania, and nationwide.  GLC workers on the eastern side of the state in East Stroudsburg, PA have participating in the actions against Pocono Medical Center.

Funny how all these supposedly random little occurrences all seem to be connected all the time, isn’t it?