Sunday, October 03, 2010

Targeting Unions

The FBI has been going after "anti-war" activists who have given support to terrorism.

"These raids, searches and grand jury investigations are nothing more than an attempt to intimidate us and to intimidate the anti-war movement," Iosbaker said. "We have done nothing wrong."

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said Saturday that the bureau's investigations "are predicated on criminal violations, not First Amendment protected activities."

When reached Friday, FBI spokesman Steve Warfield declined to provide details of the searches, but said there was no imminent threat to the community and the agency wasn't anticipating any arrests "at this time." He said the FBI was seeking evidence related to "activities concerning the material support of terrorism."
And what about the politics? Well it is interesting if predictable.
The warrant for Kelly's home, provided by his attorney, sought evidence on travel he did as part of his work for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and information on any travel to Colombia, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria or Israel.

Two groups use the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one based in Chicago and one in New York. They split several years ago, and the New York group said it was not targeted.

The website for the Chicago group, which describes itself as a "revolutionary socialist and Marxist-Leninist organization," shows Kelly and Sundin have been affiliated with it. Kelly edits FightBack!, a Minneapolis-based website and newspaper for the group.

Kelly's subpoena also commanded him to bring records he might have relating to the Middle East and Colombia, along with "all records of any payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatam Abudayyeh."
I think pro-surrender might be a more appropriate name for the group. But that is a mere quibble.

What is even more interesting is the union connection.
According to the SEIU, Joseph Iosbaker is Chief Steward for Local 73 of the SEIU. Joseph Iosbaker is being investigated by the FBI for his connection to terrorist groups. Two days ago, ABC-7 also noticed that he was affiliated with the SEIU, and the Tribune has nearly noted this as well.
Dang. A Government Union leader possibly involved in supporting terrorism? You would almost think unions were some kind of communist plot. Not to worry. The government media has failed to notice the union involvement.
One might think it would be big news that a Chief Steward for a Local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is being investigated by the FBI for possible connection to overseas terror networks. Apparently, though, several Chicago news outlets didn’t see a reason to add this little fact to their stories. And even if it wasn’t big news that the FBI is investigating a union member, one would think that his profession would at least make an appearance somewhere in properly formulated coverage of the story… right?

Over the weekend the FBI announced that it was investigating Joseph Iosbaker for possible connections to overseas terror groups. Iosbaker and his wife Stephanie Weiner, both anti-war activists, are suspected of activities “concerning the material support of terrorism.”

The Chicago news has been all over the demonstrations that left-wing groups have mounted in Chicago to protest the FBI’s investigation of the anti-war activists. These stories are filled with all sorts of facts, dates and names. But in a significant handful of stories one little fact seems to have escaped the notice of these hardnosed journalists. Iosbaker is an SEIU union member. And not just a rank and file member but an official.
Gotta protect that union label. By covering it up.

That isn't all. The FBI is also investigating Andy Stern for, you will never believe this in a million years, corruption.
Prominent ex-labor leader Andy Stern is reportedly being investigated by the FBI and Department of Labor as part of a corruption probe involving the Service Employees International Union, authorities said.

Two organized labor officials met with federal agents this summer to answer questions about Stern’s role in approving money to pay the salary of an SEIU leader in California who performed no work and a book contract that Stern landed in 2006, The Los Angeles Times reported today on its website.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

The FBI and the Labor Department’s office of inspector general declined to comment for the record.

Stern abruptly resigned as president of the 2.2-million member SEIU in April.

Stern, who currently sits on President Obama's bipartisan deficit-reduction commission, has not commented on the investigation.

As part of the corruption probe, the feds have been examining $150,000 in consulting fees paid to a disgraced former Los Angeles labor leader under a confidential agreement signed by Stern, then president of the powerful Service Employees International Union, according to documents and interviews.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles had considered filing embezzlement charges against Alejandro Stephens, who headed the SEIU local for county government workers, in connection with the payments, records obtained by The Los Angeles Times reveal.
Dang. Unions stealing from workers? What has the world come to?

Apparently it has come to this.
SEIU Local 1199's Upstate Pension Fund has plunged from 115 percent funded in 1999 to 75 percent funded, and its Greater New York Pension Fund was funded at only 58 percent of its future obligations as of 2007, according to Hudson Institute analyst Diana Furchtgott-Roth. The union fat cats blame Wall Street. But while the pensions of SEIU workers nationwide are in "endangered status," the pensions of SEIU top brass have been protected and remain fully funded.

The D.C.-based Alliance for Worker Freedom, which monitors labor union abuses, reported last year that 13 major local SEIU pension funds are in serious financial jeopardy. Indeed, fewer than one in every 160 union-represented workers is covered by a union pension with required assets. Local 1199 workers — already subject to wage freezes to salvage their pensions — might want to know how their leaders were able to pony up $1 million for Haiti earthquake relief in January while their retirement funds wither on the vine.

SEIU leaders have shown a special talent for squandering their workers' dues. They poured $10 million down the drain in Arkansas on a failed bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln. They spent $10 million on a nasty lawsuit against a competing union in California. They've burned through union dues to transport SEIU radicals to bully bank execs and their families at their private homes and to bus workers to Arizona to protest crackdowns on illegal aliens, who depress the wages of law-abiding working-class Americans.

Under former Purple Army Chief Andy Stern, the union's liabilities skyrocketed from $7.6 million to nearly $121 million. Stern burned through $61 million to put Barack Obama and the Democratic ruling majority in place. And before abruptly stepping down in April, he installed a cadre of labor management stooges embroiled in financial scandals across the country.
Well we can't have eagles guarding the hen house when foxes are so much more convenient.

I think a Krugman analysis is appropriate here. The unions are not spending enough to stimulate voters. They need to double or triple the amounts. If they want effective stimulation. And union members? I think it is safe to say that they are getting screwed.

And there is more.
Republicans on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee have released a new report leveling fresh allegations and evidence of corruption against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Entitled “Follow the Money: ACORN, SEIU and their Political Allies [pdf],” the report presents information gleaned from committee investigations into hundreds of bank accounts, shell organizations incorporated under myriad sections of the internal revenue code, even an ACORN-directed accounting firm, Citizens Consulting Inc., charged with obscuring the trail and use of funding streams pouring into ACORN from taxpayers and charitable contributions alike.
The 112th Congress is going to have a lot to do when they get sworn in. What they should focus on is repeal (or defunding) of a few recently passed laws and investigations.

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