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The Real Mob

“Rather than doing what they were elected to do — safeguarding wages and benefits for union members — they took cash and other bribes to turn a blind eye on contractors’ schemes to cheat the rank and file”

As Swamp Yankee noted earlier today, the AFL-CIO is going all-in on the healthcare debate. Their plan, in their own words, is to “organize major union participation in Congressional Town Hall meetings.” Unlike the spontaneous rejection of socialism springing from our grassroots, Big Labor plans to service their symbiotes in government by putting up money, transportation, and talking points in order to influence the healthcare debate and, ultimately, shut you up.

There’s a word for that. I can’t think of it. Rhymes with mastro murfing I think.

Of course, also unlike the senior citizens Obamacare proponents happily smear as an unruly mob, big labor is absolutely ready to use intimidation and scare tactics to get their way. Hey, it’s what they do.

You may be wondering, though, whether they may have a good point. After all, if the unions exist for the purpose of advocating for the rights of workers, couldn’t their support of Obamacare be seen as part of that mandate? Um, could you please stop laughing? I’m going somewhere with this!

So OK, let’s have a look at just how well Big Labor takes care of “the little people” then, shall we?

We’re going to give Big Labor a sporting chance here. To gather examples of union competence and negotiating skill, or lack thereof, in advocating for the little guy, I won’t go to a conservative blog. I won’t go even to a conservative magazine. Hey, let’s not even go to the mainstream media, right? I will generously pull a story from The World Socialist Website (yep, that’s a thing. I was surprised too.)

New York City hospital workers, members of 1199SEIU, are facing nearly a billion dollars in wage givebacks, $350 million in benefit takeaways, and attacks on their pension benefits as a result of the union’s reopening of a 2007 contract.

Hmm. That’s just the opening. Not looking good so far.

The 1199SEIU bureaucracy, headed by national healthcare union president Dennis Rivera, justified the contract reopening with the argument that the Wall Street collapse had endangered the union’s pension funds, which had dropped in value by about 30 percent. The union’s “solution” to the crisis was to demand that the rank and file workers, already struggling to support their families on wages averaging less than $30,000 annually, give up their scheduled wage increases over the next several years, along with other concessions.

… snip …

As far as saving pensions, the supposed reason for the concessions in the first place, the fine print indicates otherwise. While the employers agree to increase annual contributions to the pension funds in several steps, existing and future pension benefits are also cut as part of the deal. Active workers will lose the full pension increase negotiated in the existing 2007 contract, when the multiplier used to calculate pension benefits was raised from 1.85 to 1.875. All retirees will lose their Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) due to be paid in December of 2009 and the COLA due to be paid in 2010.

I’m guessing a few pensioners are reconsidering their support of card check legislation right about now.

Wait, just one more:

These efforts in collaboration with the Obama administration and the profit-making conglomerates that dominate health care in the US, together with the drive to impose concessions, demonstrate that, far from defending the interests of hospital workers, the union has become an integral partner in the drive to impose the burden of the economic crisis on the backs of the working class.

Aside: Could it be MORE fun reading socialists complaining about Obama sticking it to the little guy? Seriously. I’m eating popcorn here.

But despite this being a socialist website, and despite the article arguing from the far left, the incident is highly illustrative. Big Labor is far from the working man’s friend. It’s an interest unto itself, with an eye on self-preservation, and it has a symbiotic, or perhaps parasitic, relationship with the Democrats who so utterly depend on Big Labor votes and brib … err, donations.

Ok, so maybe the story above shows some nasty self-interest coupled with general incompetence. But who am I to suggest that Big Labor is full of corruption, right? The unions are no mob, they aren’t tied to organized crime (he says while checking the locks and running a mirror under the car). Right wing websites always try to smear the unions with such charges, but you won’t find such criticism out of our fever swamp. Right? Absolutely true … IF you consider the New York Times a right wing blog.

Nearly two decades after the federal authorities moved against New York City’s carpenters’ union to loosen the mob’s grip and end a culture of contractor bribery, they have leveled corruption charges against the union’s leader and nine other union officials and contractors. The charges, announced on Wednesday, include racketeering, bribery, fraud and perjury.

The men were named in a 90-page indictment that alleges crimes similar to some set out in a civil racketeering lawsuit that Manhattan prosecutors brought against the union, the New York District Council of Carpenters and Joiners of America, in 1990. That case led to a 1994 consent decree and, years later, a court-appointed corruption monitor; both are still in place, and the charges seem to raise questions about the effectiveness of the current monitor.

The 29-count indictment was unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan hours after a predawn roundup in which many of the officials were arrested on their way to work. It charges that in exchange for bribes valued at about $1 million, they helped corrupt contractors steal millions of dollars more from the union and its benefit funds by allowing contractors to pay members cash wages below union scale without benefits, hire illegal aliens and nonunion workers and skip contributions to the union’s benefit funds.

Oh boy. That sounds pretty bad. Let’s read on, maybe it gets better.

The federal charges unsealed on Wednesday, a result of a lengthy investigation by Manhattan prosecutors, the F.B.I. and the Department of Labor Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, were not Mr. Forde’s first brush with such accusations. He and another district council official went to trial on bribery charges involving the union in state court in Manhattan twice in recent years, with the first case ending in a conviction that was later overturned, and the second in acquittal.

–snip–

Among the others charged in the new indictment with Mr. Forde and the other union officials was Joseph Olivieri, a benefit funds trustee and executive director of the Association of Wall, Ceiling and Carpentry Industries of New York. F.B.I. reports and law enforcement officials say Mr. Olivieri has a long history of ties to the Genovese crime family, the powerful Mafia clan that for generations has held sway over the union.

But while the indictment makes only passing mention of another Genovese family figure, it does not charge that organized crime wielded any influence over the district council. But several law enforcement officials said the investigation was continuing.

–snip–

“Rather than doing what they were elected to do — safeguarding wages and benefits for union members — they took cash and other bribes to turn a blind eye on contractors’ schemes to cheat the rank and file,” Joseph M. Demarest Jr., the head of the New York F.B.I. office, said in the news release.

Yeah, I gotta say. THAT sounds like a mob. Or rather, the mob.

Big Labor hasn’t given up on card check. They haven’t given up on intimidation, incompetence, or corruption either. And now they plan to crash healthcare townhalls to make sure the folks represented here aren’t able to say their piece.

Democrats and their fellow travelers are doing everything in their power to marginalize the conservative movement. They’ve been at it with new vigor and earnestness since the election. In the healthcare debate they’ve sunk to new lows and, now, they are unleashing the only real mob in this debate. Don’t let them shut you down. Just follow Erick’s advice and continue to exercise your freedom … while we yet have it.

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