Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Horrifying story out of Iowa – Capitalist exploits mentally disabled workers

February 8, 2009

This horrifying story speaks for itself. Why did it take the state of Iowa so long to act?

And our libertarian Republican friends will say state regulation is unnecessary.


Company accused of exploiting disabled; state closes home

By CLARK KAUFFMAN • • © 2009,


Des Moines Register and Tribune Company • February 8, 2009


Atalissa, Ia. — Federal police, state health inspectors and county prosecutors descended on this eastern Iowa town over the weekend, launching a major investigation into the care and treatment of a group of mentally retarded men and ordering an emergency evacuation of the men’s living quarters.


The investigation focuses on Henry’s Turkey Service, a Texas-based company that for 34 years has employed dozens of mentally retarded men who work at the West Liberty Foods meat-processing plant in Muscatine County.


Can Obama Save Capitalism?

February 1, 2009

The whole house of cards seems to be crashing. The funny thing is, the capitalists, through their greed, did it to themselves. If they had left in place the safeguards and regulations established in New Deal welfare state capitalism, this depression – brought on by the housing bubble collapse – would not be happening. Instead we would have seen the continued slow grinding erosion of working class living standards we have had since the late 70’s. Which was working out pretty well for the capitalists – inequality had reached record levels in the 90’s and 2000’s. But no, they had to completely tear down all the stabilizers built into their own system. They thought, hey there’s no Soviet Union any more, communism and socialism are dead, so we can just go hogwild and take everything we want, let the average American citizen pay the price.

Well, now we are all screwed.

Obama has to do the work of rebuilding what FDR did, in the context of a global crisis. Can he do it?

So far Obama is being very cautious. For all the Republican blathering, his stimulus plan is only half what is really needed to get the economy off the ground. And Obama has not shown any real leadership on the banking crisis. The only solution is wholesale nationalization. To buy the toxic assets of the banks through a “bad bank” is a ripoff of the taxpayer and won’t solve the real problems.

My prediction is that Obama will be forced to come back later this year with a  stimulus part 2, and that eventually they will have to nationalize the failing financial institutions, and put a moratorium on foreclosures. It would be better to do it now, and stop all this bipartisan kumbaya sh*t – just ram it through Congress. The Republicans lost. Tell them to shut the f*ck up.

We’ll get to more drastic measures eventually. But millions will lose their jobs, their insurance, their homes in the meantime.

Capitalism will eventually re-stabilize itself (under left social-democratic or right wing authoritarian bourgeois leadership), unless the working class decides to challenge the logic of the system and present an alternative program. Working class consciousness in this country exists, but barely. We are just barely conscious of ourselves as a class, and there is very little consciousness of what we need to do, who are real friends and enemies are, and why we need our own political agenda. The labor union leadership is putting forward a very mild liberal agenda compared to what the times demand. It time to start thinking bolder. The Employee Free Choice Act should be a done deal by now. Singlepayer health care should be a done deal. We need to start thinking in terms of systemic reforms, not small half measures. The times have changed.

New health care union challenges SEIU cult

January 29, 2009

Welcome to the National Union of Healthcare Workers, NUHW

UHW leaders announced the formation of an independent union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and signaled their intention to decertify SEIU in hospitals and nursing homes, declaring that they would not permit appointed staffers to decide which union members belonged to.

see story at Labor Notes

SEIU imposes trusteeship on UHW to crush union democracy

January 28, 2009
Update – Today SEIU dictator and pro-corporate sell-out Andy Stern declared a trusteeship over the rebel local UHW, in order to crush democracy and dissent in SEIU against his anti-worker policies.  UHW members are still occupying their offices.
I expect the next steps will be California health care workers uniting behind a new union and decertifying the fake company union SEIU. This struggle deserves everyone’s support. And everyone should condemn the SEIU cult for its scabbing and union-busting.
Earlier, UHW started a web page for people to ask Pres. Obama to investigate SEIU for violations of members’ rights. Details below. If you care about democracy, go to the site and sign the letter.
With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.  But Andy Stern has attacked UHW because the members of UHW spoke out to oppose backroom deals with employers that were bad for patients and workers.  Last Thursday, Stern issued an ultimatum to UHW that would force 65,000 UHW nursing home and homecare members to be removed from UHW against their will or face a hostile takeover as soon as Tuesday. is calling on President Barack Obama and his nominee for Secretary of Labor, Rep. Hilda Solis, to protect UHW members by investigating SEIU for violations of our rights. Will add your name to the letter by clicking below?  It only takes a moment and will make a real difference.  Please click or copy and paste the link below:
Go to
for latest details of this important struggle.

Annoy Andy Stern, Sign this Petition

January 26, 2009

go to this site

It’s a petition started by California Nurses Association, a militant democratic union that is fighting with the corrupt pseudo-union SEIU international. I’m not sure the petition will actually do much other than get you on a CNA email list – which is a good thing in itself – but signing it will also annoy Andy Stern – which is another good thing.

CNA is building a national nurses union. In several states SEIU nurses are fighting to get out of their fake union and join CNA-National Nurses Organizing Committee.

CNA-NNOC is an AFL-CIO affiliate.

For more on CNA vs. SEIU, go to

UHW seeks contributions for anti-Stern union democracy fight

January 26, 2009

breaking news – if you can afford to give, please do


What You Can Do To Help UHW Members Resist SEIU’s
Current Take-Over Attempt

January 23, 2009

Dear Friend of Labor:

As you may have read in The New York Times last Sunday,
January 18, the dispute between SEIU-UHW is nearing a

As we write, SEIU international staff and board members
are setting up “war rooms” in the Oakland and in Los
Angeles. Several hundred staff recruits from pro-Stern
SEIU locals around the country are being sent in to
help seize control of UHW and evict its own elected
leaders, longtime reps, and organizers. SEIU is also
employing private security guards (apparently off duty
police officers) who last weekend placed UHW
headquarters in Oakland under surveillance.

At the same time, SEIU has released partial findings of
the UHW trusteeship hearing it convened last September,
with predictable results. The text of Ray Marshall’s
decision and his actual recommendations have yet to be
disclosed, however.

On January 9, the SEIU executive board (with a
surprising number of dissenting votes and abstentions)
gave President Andy Stern its backing for the removal
of 65,000 members from UHW. These nursing home and home
care workers are now being reassigned without their
consent to a massive new 240,000-member California
“local.” This entity has yet to be created but will
soon be run by international union staffers appointed
by Stern with no elected officers for as long as three
years. . We are writing to urge you–and all who have
expressed concern about this unwarranted trusteeship in
the past–to contact SEIU leaders in your area
immediately, particularly national executive board
members, and urge them to speak out against Stern’s
senseless organizational assault before it is too late.

Already, the leading Congressional backer of the
Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), U.S. Rep George Miller
(D-CA.), has been quoted in The Washington Post (on
Jan. 9) warning of the damage that UHW dismemberment
and trusteeship will do to labor’s already very
difficult campaign for EFCA.

As you can see from the UHW flyer below, the union
rank-and- file will be vigorously resisting the
destruction of their dynamic and democratic local.

We urge you to join us in supporting UHW members during
this difficult time by sending them a financial
contribution ASAP to the following address:

The Fund For Union Democracy
465 California Street, Ste. 1600
San Francisco, California 94104

This fund has been set up by labor and community
supporters of UHW to aid its members in their
continuing fight for union democracy and reform within

For more information, you can also continue to check:

Yours in Solidarity,

Cal Winslow, Steve Early, Suzanne Gordon


Text of UHW flyer calling for rank and file resistance





Alert! Andy Stern has flown in hundreds of SEIU staff from the East Coast to California using hundreds of thousands of our dues dollars to takeover our UHW through a phony trusteeship. Stern has done this before receiving the Hearing Officer’s report and before the International Executive Board has even voted on the Trusteeship—just another top-down decision without regard to member democracy.

Stern’s Goal: Destroy UHW. Stern wants to take over our bargaining and cut sweetheart deals, oust our elected leaders, and run a smear campaign on our Union, with the goal of destroying the power of our Union.

Stern’s Thugs Will Be Coming to Our Facilities. SEIU’s plan which we recently received shows that in the first day of Trusteeship, which is very imminent, they will have their East Coast thugs leaflet at the change of shifts, come to patient floors and attempt to meet workers in lunch rooms saying, “They are here to help.” This is not true. They will be here not to help us but to destroy our Union all because we stood up to them to protect our Union, our contracts, our democratic Union.

They are calling and recruiting stewards to set up facility meetings. Stern has been notifying management that he is the one that they must deal with in the future, not our stewards, not our leaders, not our UHW-just Stern.

Throw Them Out. When they come into our facilities—and they will, throw them out!  Tell them to go back from where they came. Tell Stern’s henchmen that we will never bow to his dictatorship.

Leaders/Activists/Stewards. Come to our meeting on Saturday.
We WILL win!

The Truth About SEIU’s 21st Century Company Unionism – A View from the Inside

January 25, 2009

A friend of mine who is also a long time trade unionist drew my attention to a series of posts on Talking Union, the labor blog of the Democratic Socialists of America, to which we both belong.

Leaders of the rebel SEIU union local United Health Care Workers West – a good and militant democratic union – have been debating with fake-leftist posers who are cronies of the corrupt Andy Stern clique that runs the international SEIU. The dueling posts can be found here:

The two fake leftists responding from the Stern side are Eliseo Medina, who is unfortunately is an honorary chair of DSA, and Gerry Hudson. The honest trade unionist Paul Kumar (who also has a history with DSA) responds from the UHW side.

The debates were prompted by the Stern gang’s moves to put the rebels under trusteeship (with Stern puppet Ray Marshall pretending to offer a fair and balanced opinion after being put in place as the judge by Andy Stern).

DSA leader Paul Garver has also written some posts on the issues, attempting to take a mediating position between both sides.

My friend, Andy English, did a 2 and a half year stint working for the SEIU purple plague and he described his sojourn with the Stern cult in horrifying terms.

I left another union to work for SEIU international, in the South-Southwest region over which Medina presides. I was shocked and disillusioned by what I discovered.

What I discovered is an organization that has institutionalized (and centralized) hypocrisy, cynicism and dishonesty to a degree unprededented in the American labor movement. The closest comparison I can think of is to the old stalinist ruling parties of the Soviet bloc. And SEIU is run on the same “principle” of “democratic centralism.” The slightest deviation from the “party line” of Andy Stern leads to retaliation. There is an atmosphere throughout the organization that is intolerant of dissent, and a culture of fear and intimidation among the frontline staff. The personality cult of Stern is pervasive (and supplemented in the south-southwest region by the lesser personality cult of Medina).

SEIU poses to outsiders as the most progressive left-wing union in the USA. Internally what they tell staff is much different.

First of all, they dismiss all other unions as irrelevant, bad, out-dated, stuck in the past, and just horrible. They tell staff that nothing can be learned from other unions, that only Andy Stern and the leadership around him knows what to do. This includes the other Change to Win unions. They make fun especially of UFCW and the Teamsters.

They tell SEIU staff that “we don’t do representation”, that workers’ grievances are unimportant, that “disgruntled” workers with grievances are probably guilty of something and the union should “add value” by helping the boss get rid of them. They accuse other unions of being “needlessly adversarial” and “against partnership”. Shop floor stewards are not needed and can be replaced with call centers. We don’t want militant workers in the leadership, we want “happy, shiny” workers who love their bosses to be the leaders. (The first time I heard this from my SEIU manager I was completely nauseated, as someone who’s actually worked in blue collar jobs. Only an obnoxious yuppie could even think this, much less utter these words.)

I was on one public sector campaign where we were directed to submit the text of a leaflet to the employer for his approval before we could print it, and not to agitate the workers over economic issues like pay and health insurance that they cared about, but to only talk about “partnership”. Behind the scenes they continued to beg the elected officials for recognition, but because of their weak-kneed brown-nosing approach, the organizing committee was tiny, and the employer just ignored the begging.

I saw SEIU continually seek to cut secret backroom deals with employers behind the backs of workers.

I saw them spin and exaggerate minor victories to the point of absurdity and try to steal credit for lobbying victories of other unions. I saw them blatantly lie to the press about membership figures.

I was in one meeting where they talked about positioning themselves to curry favor with local business leaders and the chamber of commerce by deliberately putting forward the most conservative state health care “reform” plan, and where they disparaged singlepayer advocates as “silly leftists.”

While Medina has an admirable history, its clear that long ago he sold his soul to Andy Stern. The majority of managers I met in SEIU international never worked a blue collar job or any kind of working class job, and had no interest in listening to workers (polls and focus groups were all they cared about). They were arrogant, conceited, obnoxious, convinced they were right about everything, and that they were the “cool kids” that everyone else had to bow down to. Anyone with experience in another union, and with working class experience outside of SEIU was considered suspect, and if they showed the slightest hesitation about drinking the purple kool-aid, they were marked for elimination. SEIU prefers to hire and promote people who know nothing about unionism besides the SEIU line and will drink the kool-aid because they don’t know any better.

So if anyone reading this is thinking about going to work for SEIU international, be prepared to conform and sell your soul too or they will find a way to get rid of you.

I am sure there are good locals of SEIU that still abide the traditional principles of trade unionism. But the locals in Colorado were completely under the thumb of the international union. And they would hold membership meetings once every 2 or 3 years. They are completely staff-driven, not worker-driven. The workers are only called upon to ratify what the “cool kids” have already decided. Everything is staged, scripted and faked.

With regard to Medina’s role in DSA – as a DSA member I think he should be disqualified from serving as an honorary chair or any other kind of officer in a democratic socialist organization. To me a union is not just an institution – the union is the unity of the workers in the shop, be it a factory, a hospital, a nursing home or whatever. UHW members are clearly united behind their leadership. By attacking UHW to crush dissent within the organization, SEIU international is attacking the workers and engaging in union-busting. By backing this union-busting as the top leader of SEIU in California, Medina is scabbing on the working class movement. His loyalty is to Stern, not to the working class.

If this is 21st century unionism, then leave me back in the 20th century when unions acted like unions. If old-fashioned militance was good enough for Walter Reuther, Harry Bridges, the original Jimmy Hoffa and Jerry Wurf, then it is good enough for me. Eliseo Medina, Gerry Hudson, Anna Burger and Andy Stern aren’t worthy of wiping the feet of those great unionists.

Back after long break

January 25, 2009

I started this blog last month, and then my home internet went down for a week, I was traveling for the holidays, and I’ve been extremely busy with work since I got back. So that’s why posting abruptly halted. I am going to try to get back into the routine of blogging, so bear with me.

Rather than try to be a news and analysis type of blog, I may take a more conversational approach, and just post current thoughts and musings. Hopefully this may be of interest to some folks. If not, then its just another random blog out of millions on the internet, which is fine with me. The next Billmon I’m not. (And I wish Billmon would go back to regular blogging, especially about the economy. That guy is sharp! Steve Gilliard was my 2nd favorite blogger and he’s gone now. The internet is just not as fun without them.)

So in no particular order – here’s some thoughts.

Good riddance to George Bush! Not an original thought, of course. In fact, it seems to be the mainstream concensus these days. Now we can finally have some progressive discourse in the national debate, since conservatism is completely discredited. Which comes at the cost of a worldwide economic meltdown. Hey maybe that Karl Marx guy was right about some things – like capitalism is inherently unstable, and the more free reign we give the bloodsuckers, the wilder, crazier and stupider it gets. FDR saved capitalism – George W Bush almost did it in. Now Obama is no socialist. He’s clearly a centrist who leans just a little to the left, as left is defined in America. I think his economic recovery package needs to be doubled at least – and liberal economist Paul Krugmann says the same thing. But at least its a start and far more than what McCain would have done. McCain would have let the economy drown while he bombed Iran. That guy clearly cares nothing about the average American and gets his hard-ons from war.

But lets move on. Hopefully the economic recovery package will be just the first deposit on what we need, which is a lot more public sector in our economy. If it was up to me, I’d say nationalize all the banks (they are busted and on the federal tit already, why not own them collectively), nationalize the auto companies, and take a look at public ownership of energy sectors on top of that.

The big test of Obama will be on the Employee Free Choice Act. Nothing drives American capitalists crazier than the idea of having to let workers have any kind of voice at work – they are already fighting this tooth and nail. Will Obama cave in? Stay tuned. If Obama sticks to his guns, and they ram it through the Congress and sign it, there may be some hope for American liberalism after all. EFCA won’t solve all the unions’ problems. We also need to repeal Taft-Hartley, repeal “right-to-work-for-less”, ban permanent striker replacement (scabbing), and engage in a little thing called class struggle. But EFCA’s a good start.

Speaking of class struggle vs. class snuggle, folks should pay attention to the latest news from the purple plague – SEIU. It’s long been clear to any decent trade unionist that SEIU Pres. Andy Stern is the sleaziest lying hypocrite the American labor movement has ever produced. His “21st century” “we-love-our-bosses” approach to unionism, which means secret back room sweetheart deals with employers is the opposite of real unionism. More and more SEIU members are sick of his bullsh*t, and are in full rebellion against his dictatorial rule of SEIU. The seiu-sh*t is now hitting the fan, and Stern is attempting to put the 150,000 member United Healthcare Workers West in California under trusteeship – sending in hundreds of kool-aid drinking staffer-scabs to take the over the rebel union and do occupation duty. UHW rank and file leaders are saying they will throw the scabs out of the workplaces when they see them. Let’s hope this becomes Andy Stern’s Vietnam and the end of his personality cult for once and for all. Sternism is basically modeled on stalinism without the ideology. To see him disappear would be a good thing. And take his kool-aid drinking corrupt cronies and hacks with him.

And lastly, what about Iowa?

Well, we have a couple of issues. The budget crisis threatens to severely hurt public services that people need and laying off public employees is not going to help the economy. We need to start taxing the rich and closing corporate loopholes to fix the budget shortfall. Culver’s bonding plan is a good thing – borrowing money when interest rates are almost zero is smart. Culver screwed up badly last year when he vetoed open-scope collective bargaining. He’s got a chance this year to redeem himself by helping with fair share agency shop (where everyone who’s in a union workplace helps pay for bargaining and representation, greatly strengthening the power of workers and their ability to engage in collective action by making free-riding a non-option). Will Culver wimp out again? The GOP tried to run against “big labor” in last falls elections and they got nowhere. That dog just doesn’t hunt. It time to tell the Republicans to shove their free market crap where it belongs, and tell them that its a new day in Iowa and the nation. F*ck bipartisanship.

And that’s the word from the frontlines of the class war in Iowa.

Hopefully I’ll be back next week with another rant.

Happy class struggle everyone!


P.S. – Iowa blogs I recommend are

Bleeding Heartland

Iowa Independent

Iowa Politics


The Des Moines Register is pretty clueless, and seems to be laying off so many reporters that they are becoming a 3rd rate rag. Dead tree journalism is in pretty deep sh*t these days and thats a shame.

Important struggle for union democracy

December 7, 2008

Here’s a link to the latest update in the California press about the fight in SEIU. The struggle in SEIU pits the corrupt authoritarian machine of Andy Stern (the corporate CEOs favorite sell-out union leader) against the rank and file of SEIU’s largest health care workers union in California, United Healthcare Workers West (UHW) and other dissidents nationwide. 

Stern is a believer in “partnership” with the employer, by which he means giving up on all effort to represent workers — SEIU staff are told that workers with grievances are bad, lazy workers and that the union should “add value” to the employer by throwing them under the bus. The model they follow is this — first SEIU international organizes a unit, and then if the local union follows the Stern-approved model, most of the staff disappears once the dues are coming in, because “we don’t do representation.”  The newest wrinkle in Stern-town is pretending to provide representation through a 1-800 number that goes to a call center. Dial-a-union, in other words.

SEIU is moving away from shop floor stewards and merging union locals into giant mega-unions with Stern-appointed leaders. Anyone who doesn’t drink the purple kool-aid and blindly worship Stern is driven off the international union staff. SEIU calls this “21st century unionism” and disparages all other unions as “stuck in the past” especially those that still have autonomous local unions rather than Stern-style top-down control.

Here’s a link to today’s San Francisco Chronicle story

For more information, go to

Video on the Chicago Republic Windows workers factory occupation

December 7, 2008

UE video one

UE video two