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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Moved to a new blog: The Oregonion

This is the last item to be added here. New items are already being posted to The Oregonion blog at the new address.

If you view posts here via feed or email, the same service is available at the new address and you are invited to subscribe.

Thank you for visiting here. This blog will remain open as an archive.

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Register your pets to vote in Washington State

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Public disapproval of Congress explained

Meet the new boss

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sten, Leonard, Adams demand recount

Something went wrong on the way to livability

It must be the road building ban. Or maybe the City Council. Or perhaps our unique commission form of government that lacks limits that come from separation of powers. Whatever the reason, Money Magazine failed to rate Portland among best places to live in the U.S. of A. The ranking of the country's 100 best places was released today, with Sherwood, Lake Oswego, and Camas making the list.

The ratings were based on Money's assessment of each town's economic opportunity, quality of schools, crime, activities and sense of community. It said Sherwood is growing fast and always has something going on in town.

The Oregonian, July 17, By ERIC MORTENSEN

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Candidate pushes positive agenda

John Edwards Vows To End All Bad Things By 2011

The Onion

John Edwards Vows To End All Bad Things By 2011

DES MOINES, IA—Edwards' "Good Things for All" initiative builds on previous efforts to end bad things, like skinned knees, splinters, and non-union labor.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Property rights tradition questioned

Current politicians more experienced, smarter than voters

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Congress in Labor Day holiday extension

The Onion

U.S. House Hardly Working

To date, the House of Representatives has worked less than 25 days this year. What do you think?

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Friday, July 13, 2007

State's economic policies widen wealth gap

Oregon governments in "Reverse Robin Hood" scheme
Are you better off than you were 30 years ago?

Thirty years ago, state government signaled a new progressivism by starting a program at the Univ. of Oregon for the benefit of organized labor called the Labor Education and Research Center, or LERC.

The taxpayer investment paradigm, modeled closely on that of Western Europe's social democracies, called for the collectivization of political and civic life. Labor unions were granted the legal authority to occupy the political power center, and to wield the gavel in determining winners and losers in public budgets and regulations.

In a blistering critique of the so-called "LERC Agenda", a coalition of in-state free-market think tanks this week blasted Oregon's new #1-in-the-nation ranking for government unions.

According to the critics, Oregon's labor rank proves that the new progressivism is a colossal failure. They say the regime has resulted in a widening of the state's wealth gap, via the prosecution of a "reverse Robin Hood" scheme where the government robs from the poor - in the form of regressive taxation and regulation that kills jobs and raises the cost of living - and gives to the rich - in the form of subsidies, legislated monopolies and protections. According to the critics, Oregon's success is in spite of, not on account of, the new progressivism.

They complain that Oregon politics and mostly-meaningless candidate elections amount to advance auctions on stolen goods, and that state and local governments in Oregon are, in effect, a legalized kleptocracy where politically-connected insiders form an apparatchik that reserves the spoils for itself. Here, the spoils that translate directly into votes include an overabundance of government jobs and tax-free state and federal pensions. They point out that by now, Oregon's PERS system is wealthy enough to have recently bought 10% of TPG, the private equity behemoth formerly known as Texas Pacific Group.

Labor government defenders on the progressive blog BlueOregon.com admit that they have no working knowledge of the complex web of federal and state labor laws. That did not prevent them from lashing out at the "self-styled" free-market think-tank coalition with charges of "politics-as-usual." Kari Chilsom, the blog's founder who also manages the state AFL-CIO website, announced that state investigators have launched an inquiry that could result in revoking coalition members' tax-exempt status.

The Oregonian, July 13, By BETSY HAMMOND

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Keep America Beautiful

Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007)


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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oregon revives Iraqi national labor unions

Critics: War expenditures are unsustainable

Abdullah Muhsin of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers explains the revival of trade unions in the war-torn nation, thanks in large part to efforts put forward by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and the tax-funded University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center (LERC).

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Labor Report: Your taxes hard at work

Trillions of Leisure Hours Lost To Work Last Year

The Onion

Trillions of Leisure Hours Lost To Work Last Year

PORTLAND—According to a report released Monday by union officials at the tax-funded U. of O. Labor Education and Research Center (LERC), more than 2 trillion leisure hours were lost to work in Oregon last year.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Portland's strikers define "scab"

Freightliner union bosses educate their members
Unaccustomed to conflict, locals risk misinterpretation of union methods

from the striking Freightliner/Portland machinists website:

Scabs have been called many things by many people during the course of labor history but Jack London's description of the scab, "written with barbed wire on sandpaper," easily dwarfs all others.

"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out. No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British Army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust or corporation. Esau was a traitor to himself: Judas Iscariot was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a strikebreaker is a traitor to his God, his country, his wife, his family and his class."

(iamll1005.org)

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Another Oregon first: Gay labor unions

Pathbreaking discrimination law approved
In Oregon, same-sex gender-bias, if favorable, is now permissible

In the waning days of the session, the Oregon House approved a measure backed by powerful government worker lobbyists that, buried deep within the collective bargaining agenda, received scant attention until now. It's out. Oregon will become the first to allow gay labor unions that can legally discriminate on the basis of gender preference. Oregon also becomes the first to do so without being directed by a court.

The state Senate had overwhelmingly approved the gay-unions bill earlier, and Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Friday that he will sign it. The House also passed an amendment - favored by Kulongoski and designed to make the bill more palatable to more conservative members - that defines a gay union as comprising both men and women.

"It's an unbelievable victory," said Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), one of the bill's main supporters and a reliable pro-labor vote. "The idea that both houses endorsed this concept of gay unions is an incredible step."

Oregon's push toward gay unions cuts against a national backlash that has followed the unionization of almost every job in the government sector.

In November, 11 states outlawed gay unions through ballot initiatives, and at least 18 have passed "Right to Work" amendments to their constitutions, defining unions as voluntary.

The Oregon House bill passed 42 to 18 after six hours of debate that ended just after 8 p.m.

It would provide private sector gay unions with state and municipal tax benefits now granted only to government unions, as well as monopoly representation rights and a host of other benefits, including PERS.

In the end, the most ardent advocates on both sides of the issue said they were disappointed.

"It's bittersweet, certainly, because of the amendment. It's also surprising, because even last night we thought we had the votes to stop it," said Wayne Scott, the House Republican Minority Leader.

Letty Owings of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, which helped coordinate support for the bill, said that she welcomes the amendment, and considers the bill "a victory for all of society."

Recent polls have shown that Oregon residents oppose discrimination on the basis of gender preference and would not support a gay union law. Bill opponents argued in vain that the measure is equivalent to extending marriage rights.

"I think we're just playing with words," said Rep. Linda Flores (R). "This bill is the same as same-sex marriage, it's just called gay unions."

Kulongoski, who took won re-election last year only after AFL-CIO officials took over his campaign, had earlier said he was comfortable with "the concept" of gay unions but wanted to see the final version of the bill.

(oregonlive.com)

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Heyyy, we want Greg Oden!

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Friday, July 6, 2007

New poll reveals startling results

The Onion

Poll: 73 Percent Of Americans Unable To Believe This Shit

Princeton, NJ-According to the latest Gallup Poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday of this week, nearly three out of four Americans can no longer believe this shit.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Solar Warming blunts power pols, subsidy seekers

Earth's warming not man-made after all
Cutting CO2 emissions here won't help other planets

Earth is heating up lately, but so are Mars, Pluto and other worlds in our solar system, leading some scientists to speculate that a change in the sun's activity is the common thread linking all these baking events. Others argue that such claims are misleading and create the false impression that rapid global warming, as Earth is experiencing, is a natural phenomenon.

While evidence suggests fluctuations in solar activity can affect climate on Earth, and that it has done so in the past, the majority of scientists seeking research funding, as well as most politicians and media experts, contend that the sun is not to blame for an alleged sudden uptick in global temperatures on Earth, which they say is mostly a mess created by our own species.

Wobbly Mars. Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, recently linked the attenuation of ice caps on Mars to fluctuations in the sun's output. Abdussamatov also blamed solar fluctuations for Earth's current global warming trend. His initial comments were published online by National Geographic News.

"Man-made greenhouse warming has [made a] small contribution [to] the warming on Earth in recent years, but [it] cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance," Abdussamatov told LiveScience in an email interview last week. "The considerable heating and cooling on the Earth and on Mars always will be practically parallel."

But Abdussamatov's critics say the Red Planet's recent thawing is more likely due to natural variations in the planet's orbit and tilt. On Earth, these wobbles, known as Milankovitch cycles, are thought to contribute to the onset and disappearance ice ages. "It's believed that what drives climate change on Mars are orbital variations," said Jeffrey Plaut, a project scientist for NASA's Mars Odyssey mission. "The Earth also goes through orbital variations similar to that of Mars."

As for Abdussamatov's claim that solar fluctuations are causing Earth's current global warming, Charles Long, a climate physicist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Washington, says the idea is nonsense.

"That's nuts," Long said in a telephone interview. "It doesn't make physical sense that that's the case." In 2005, Long's team published a study in the journal Science showing that Earth experienced a period of "solar global dimming" from 1960 to 1990, during which time solar radiation hitting our planet's surface decreased. Then from the mid-1990's onward, the trend reversed and Earth experienced a "solar brightening."

These changes were not likely driven by fluctuations in the output of the Sun, Long explained, but rather increases in atmospheric clouds or aerosols that reflected solar radiation back into space.

Other warming worlds. Others have pointed out anomalous warming on other worlds in our solar system. Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University who monitors studies and news reports of asteroids, global warming and other potentially apocalyptic topics, recently quoted in his daily electronic newsletter the following from a blog called Strata-Sphere:

"Global warming on Neptune's moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto, and now Mars has some [scientists] scratching their heads over what could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets ... Could there be something in common with all the planets in our solar system that might cause them all to warm at the same time?"

Peiser included quotes from recent news articles that take up other aspects of the idea. "I think it is an intriguing coincidence that warming trends have been observed on a number of very diverse planetary bodies in our solar system," Peiser said in an email interview. "Perhaps this is just a fluke." In fact, scientists have alternative explanations for the anomalous warming on each of these other planetary bodies.

The warming on Triton, for example, could be the result of an extreme southern summer on the moon, a season that occurs every few hundred years, as well as possible changes in the makeup of surface ice that caused it to absorb more of the Sun's heat. Researchers credited Pluto's warming to possible eruptive activity and a delayed thawing from its last close approach to the Sun in 1989.

And the recent storm activity on Jupiter is being blamed on a recurring climatic cycle that churns up material from the gas giant's interior and lofts it to the surface, where it is heated by the Sun.

Sun does vary. The radiation output of the Sun does fluctuate over the course of its 11-year solar cycle. But the change is only about one-tenth of 1 percent-not substantial enough to affect Earth's climate in dramatic ways, and certainly not enough to be the sole culprit of our planet's current warming trend, scientists say.

"The small measured changes in solar output and variations from one decade to the next are only on the order of a fraction of a percent, and if you do the calculations not even large enough to really provide a detectable signal in the surface temperature record," said Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann.

The link between solar activity and global warming is just another scapegoat for human-caused warming, Mann told LiveScience.

"Solar activity continues to be one of the last bastions of contrarians," Mann said. "People who don't accept the existence of anthropogenic climate change still try to point to solar activity."

The Maunder Minimum. This is not to say that solar fluctuations never influence Earth's climate in substantial ways. During a 75-year period beginning in 1645, astronomers detected almost no sunspot activity on the Sun. Called the "Maunder Minimum," this event coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, a 350-year cold spell that gripped much of Europe and North America.

Recent studies have cast doubt on this relationship, however. New estimates of the total change in the brightness of the Sun during the Maunder Minimum suggest it was only fractions of a percent, and perhaps not enough to create the global cooling commonly attributed to it.

"The situation is pretty ambiguous," said David Rind, a senior climate researcher at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who has modeled the Maunder Minimum. Based on current estimates, even if another Maunder Minimum were to occur, it might result in an average temperature decrease of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, Rind said.

This would still not be enough to counteract warming of between 2 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit from greenhouse gases by 2100, as predicted by the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

livescience.com, Mar. 12, By KER THAN

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Big Government Party reflects

The Onion

Democrats, Republicans Unite In Good Laugh Over Reform Party

Salem, OR—In a rare moment of bipartisan unity, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and their campaign donor-lobbyists fondly recalled the Reform Party Monday.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

U. of O. labor unit discovers new element

Three decades of LERC subsidy begins to pay dividends
Taxpayer-critics decry give-away to Organized Labor Lab as "adding insult to injury"

Last week, the 100% tax-funded Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named Governmentunium (Gu). The new element has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentunium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Gu can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take over four days to complete.

Governmentunium has a normal half-life of 2 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Gu's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some LERC experts to believe that Governmentunium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentunium becomes Administratunium ... an element that radiates just as much energy as Gu since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

capitalpress.com, July 2

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Newspapers questioned on environment

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

AFSCME notes Oregon's anti-democracy law

Union boss nods to new first-in-the-nation rule


AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee discusses the U.S. Senate vote on the anti-democracy bill that would deny workers a secret ballot election in unionization campaigns, and substitute intimidation instead. A total of 51 senators voted for the measure, but a minority of pro-worker legislators were able to block a vote on the bill. Near the end, he boasts that Oregon recently enacted the law at the state level.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Independence Day strike hits Oregon drinkers

Inflationary labor stoppages ordered by state unions
Acting Gov. Leonard: "There will be no rollbacks in my state."

Budweiser drinkers might need to get to the stores early if they plan to have their favorite cold one on hand for a Fourth of July barbecue. Every Teamsters Local 962 union member of Budweiser distributor Western Beverage Co.'s 50-man driving fleet in Medford joined a statewide strike on Tuesday morning.

Drivers are picketing in front of the distribution site at 610 Mason Way and have been seen at other local Budweiser retailers, including the 7-Eleven convenience store on the corner of McAndrews Road and Crater Lake Avenue. Union drivers in Eugene and Salem also are taking part in the strike.


Phil Morton says he has worked for Western Beverage Co. for 28 years and never missed a day of work until Tuesday’s strike. Morton and other local Teamsters Union drivers have joined a statewide strike because of Western Beverage’s change in retirement and health benefits.

Managers with commercial driver's licenses will try to meet delivery commitments while the drivers are on strike.

According to Dan Ratty, the secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Local 962, the drivers are upset about a new 401(k) retirement plan being proposed by the company as well as a change in health benefits.

"This is a multimillion-dollar company and they're trying to shortchange people and it's not right," Ratty said.

Some local grocery store managers said they believed the strike would end quickly and wouldn't affect future sales. Mike Hammers, one of the managers at Food 4 Less, was not as optimistic. "We didn't get our normal service today," Hammers said. "We're hoping they get this matter figured out so we can have it (Budweiser) on our shelf for the Fourth. It's one of our top-selling brands."

The most recent compensation package offered to the unionized workers would shift health benefits from the Teamster plan to the company's PacificSource health policy, which would save Western Beverage 48 cents per hour of employee time worked. That money would be added to the employees' hourly wage to make up the difference.

Retirement benefits would be shifted from a Teamster pension plan to a 401(k) that nonunionized Western Beverage employees have had since 1991. Under the Teamster pension, retirement benefits are equal for all hires; under the new plan, employees must work up to full benefits.

Independent benefit firm DPA Inc. was hired by the company to do a comparison of the two retirement plans. In a letter to union employees, Western Beverage said that DPA found that "most employees are expected to receive more money under the 401(k) plan than under the Teamsters' pension plan."

Western Beverage has been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with its union since December, with the hope of avoiding a work stoppage. On Monday, the union turned down the company's most recent proposal and started the strike late that night.

Western Beverage Executive Vice President Jack Willis said the drivers chose one of the company's busiest times of the year to go forward with the strike. Willis, 62, started loading trucks for the company in 1974 and had to help out on the loading dock again on Tuesday for the first time in more than 10 years. "It's a tough time," Willis said. "I anticipate working all weekend so that we can make all of our deliveries."

The strike came as a surprise to Willis, who said that his company's employees receive up to $3 more per hour - across all positions - than other distributors such as Gold River and Columbia.

"Any time there is a work stoppage we want employees to get back to work as quickly as possible," Willis said. "It's in the best interest of the company, the employees and their families. We're not ashamed of the offer we put out there at all."

Ratty said the Teamsters made a calculated move to start the strike during the peak of business. "We're going out at the beginning of their busiest season," Ratty said. "And we plan to stay out until they do the right thing."

Dennis Fiedler, Western Beverage's general sales manager, said he's not sure when the strike will end. "The membership of our union voted down our third, best, and final offer," Fiedler said.

One of the employees on the picket line is Phil Morton, who has worked for Western Beverage for the past 28 years. Up until Tuesday, Morton said, he had never missed a day of work. "Not for sickness, injury, or anything," Morton said.

Michael Armitage of Ashland, who is also taking part in the strike, has worked for the company for 11 years. "We're not going to get rich doing this job," Armitage said. "We do this job to take care of our families, and health benefits and our retirement package play a big part in that."

Ratty said he understands that Western Beverage offers greater compensation than other distribution companies, but maintained that the company should because it's more profitable. "They're the King of Beers," Ratty said. "They have the best and hardest working employees and they should be paid like it."

Medford Mail Tribune, June 27, By BOB ALBRECHT

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Broken business model - #1 in the nation

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Over-funded, out-of-control, running amok

Citizen control of government: "A quaint anachronism"

It's not just here in Portland, in the state's capital city of Salem, and in the nation's captial, Washington, D.C. It's become a nationwide epidemic. With federal, state and local coffers flush due to rising tax payments - and elected officials insulated from public critique by incumbency protections - local police around the nation have become alarmingly unruly.

It goes like this. Police use heavy-handed brutality against a citizen committing a minor violation. (Meanwhile, more serious personal and property crime goes unchecked.) A Good Samaritan with a cell-phone camera records the brutality and posts an internet video.

Arkansas police in skateboarder crackdown

Locals mount a protest against their rogue peace-keepers but the public lacks the legal authority to provide effective discipline. The officer is placed on leave with full pay and the new Chief of Police says, "You'd better get used to it." Regarding the officer's misconduct, he jokes, "Tell it to the union."

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Legislature to stay in session full-time

Democrats, Republicans have unfinished business
New Supreme Court Chief Justice Tim Nesbitt OK's emergency measure

Our Oregon's Patty Wentz gushed. "This is great! It's the best news we've had in 16 years!"

Oregon's Senate and House leaders have decided to keep the state Legislature in session. Instead of coming back for an "emergency" session next year - what was to have been an experimental, first-ever test in annual sessions - lawmakers have agreed it will be better to legislate continually, year-round. Sine die, or "last day", thus becomes a relic of the past. According to Wentz, "Adjournment is a quaint anachronism that no longer serves the public good."

Government union political experts said that with increasing experience under the new rule, Oregon's Legislature will begin to fulfill its promise of being responsive and accountable. Combined with an election reform measure enacted earlier this session that shields incumbents from challenges, the experts say we will soon have the #1 rated Legislature in the nation.

The Oregonian, June 26, By EDWARD WALSH

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Nationwide UFCW grocery strike in the works

Governator urges Californians to stockpile foodstuffs

Southern California grocery workers voted Sunday to give their union the authority to strike Albertsons and others. The measure passed by 95%. Full story: here. LA City Beat story, June 21, about the UFCW strike spreading nationwide: here.

In this video, Jerry Butkiewicz of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council speaks to the 150+ activists at the June 20 rally supporting the San Diego/Southern California Grocery Workers.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The O looks at NASA's best



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Friday, June 22, 2007

State spending to make unions stronger

Oregonians' tax dollars hard at work
Labor Lab at the U. of O. focuses on gaining, keeping political power

It's no accident that Oregon is #1 in the nation for government unions. For decades, Oregon state taxpayers have funded a "Labor Lab" that has played a crucial role in accomplishing that goal.

Even after 30 years of subsidy, most Oregonians are completely unaware of one of the Legislature's most effective, results-producing appropriations.

Here are more details about LERC, from its tax-funded website at the U. of O.:

Oregon Labor Education and Research Center

• We believe that the presence of a strong union movement not only provides workers with vital protections but also is essential to maintaining a just and democratic society.

• LERC faculty provide technical assistance to legislators, community activists, and governmental agencies at the state, local, and federal level and frequently furnish background information on labor and employment issues to the news media.

• Sample course titles
1-420 Labor and Politics
1-130 Fighting Contracting Out and Privatization
1-520 Building Successful Campaigns
2-450 Workers Compensation

• Today's union leaders need an understanding of the changing economic, political and legal environment. They must also know how to:

* Activate their members
* Organize new work units
* Engage members in the political process
* Communicate well in different settings
* Plan and carry out innovative strategies that best protect and represent their members

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Big Labor protection at core of new laws

You'd better get used to it
"It's been a great session. Any other questions?"

It's being called the best legislative session in more than a decade for Oregon's government labor unions. Lawmakers came down hard on individual rights, union elections, economic growth and property rights.

"This has been a landmark session for Big Labor," said Acting Gov. Randy Leonard, who has signed a host of bills over the past two days - including shortage-producing price controls on loans and disaster relief - that give the government unions huge leverage over Oregon's ordinary citizens.

"These are bills that have been backlogged for 16 years" - the amount of time Republicans have controlled at least one chamber, said Patty Wentz, spokeswoman for Our Oregon, the government union political group regarded by Salem insiders as the 800-lb. gorilla of state politics. "It's been a great session."

Leonard, a Democrat, said the political shakeup at the Legislature made the difference this year. "Everyone knows that when you get this change in the majority, you have this pent-up promise to do these things that should have been done a long time ago," the former Firefighters union boss said.

"Far too often, those who can least afford it, wind up paying the highest price by working in a government job," Leonard said. "Union protection - at its core - is about the principle of fairness. Any other questions?"

While labor groups celebrated; a business lobbyist said it's too soon to assess the overall impact of the bills on the sustainability of Oregon's economy.

The Oregonian, June 20, By HARRY ESTEVE and BILL GRAVES

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Get to know your Labor Education and Research Center

U. of O. gov't union unit celebrates 30th anniversary
Critics say state taxpayers are negotiating against themselves


When Willamette Week reported last week that Sen. Kurt Schrader (D-Portland) had held up a $188,000 funding increase for The University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center, the publicity "outed" a labor union subsidy program that landed on many Oregonians' radar for the first time.

Add to the mix a state economy hurting due to inflationary labor strikes and a state budget shortfall that is requiring the Legislature to retroactively raise taxes, and the LERC subsidy is drawing renewed attention. LERC's Director is (see bio) Associate Professor Bob Bussel. According to LERC's U. of O. website:

LERC to was established in 1977 by the Oregon Legislature. They adopted a recommendation by the Oregon higher education system to create a bridge to the public university system for the state's working people and their unions.

LERC is committed to improving the lives of working Oregonians and enhancing their ability to participate effectively in workplace and community affairs. We believe that the presence of a strong union movement not only provides workers with vital protections but also is essential to maintaining a just and democratic society.

Programs and offerings funded by Oregon taxpayers include:

* Non-credit education and skills training ("Leadership Schools") throughout the state, culminating in a non-credit certificate in union leadership.
* Conferences on important labor and workplace issues in campus and off-campus settings.
* Multi-day residential institutes for union staff and rank-and-file leaders.
* Occupational safety and health training.
* Customized educational programs and classes tailored to the needs of individual unions and community organizations
* Research on vital issues related to work, employment, and occupational safety and health.
* Applied research for union and community partners.
* An internship program that places students with unions and other organizations dealing with work and employment issues.
* Consultation and technical assistance to unions, policy makers, community organizations, and other stakeholders.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to tell if your union is corrupt

Internet gives folks access to useful info
Informed Oregonians make better citizens

The Oregonion recommends:

1. The handy Union Corruption Update from the National Legal Policy Center

2. The U.S. Department of Labor's convenient Recent Criminal Enforcement Actions

Excerpt: On April 25, 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, Marlene Watson, former President of the Associated Field Representatives (AFR), was indicted on one count of embezzlement of labor union assets in the amount of $9,030 and one count of making a false statement in an annual financial disclosure report. The indictment follows an investigation by the OLMS Seattle District Office.

3. Determine if your union is using members' mandatory dues or fees for purposes other than collective bargaining, against your will: in particular - for political causes or candidates you oppose, or against political causes or candidates you support.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sicko: Glorifying socialized medicine

Michael Moore's new '08 campaign ad

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

The O grills Gard & Gerber

Get to know Oregon's #1 damage-control firm
Favorite of local unions and their politicians, corporate executives

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Friday, June 15, 2007

New Oregon law bans supervisors, management

"Fair Choice Act" replaces extreme, artificial Taft-Hartley limits

Although Oregon is already #1 in the nation in government unions, for 60 years an obscure federal law known as the "Taft-Hartley Act" has banned unionization among so-called supervisors and management.

Oregon's "Fair Choice Act" - passed with an emergency clause and with bipartisan support - will now open those categories of employees to organizing campaigns, allowing thousands of workers the chance to participate in, rather than frustrate, the trend toward collectively bargaining over terms and conditions of employment and having a representative to arbitrate grievances.

Oregonians have a rich tradition of acting locally and thinking globally - and are often in the forefront of statewide movements to solve the nation's most intractable problems. Whether it's the bottle bill, universal health care, global warming, or auto pollution standards, GOP neglect at the federal level has been effectively answered by legislative action by Democrats in Salem and other state capitals.

Now, that model is being used to reform an antiquated federal labor law that has been stagnant and unchanged since 1947, in a first-in-the-nation modernization that will update the community roles and responsibilities of management and labor in Oregon.

Acting Gov. and ex-Firefighter Union boss Randy Leonard, declaring victory for the working families of Oregon, dismissed GOP and business critics, saying only "Mark them absent."

The new Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, ex AFL-CIO boss Tim Nesbitt, dismissed legal critics questioning the constitutionality of the Fair Choice Act, saying "It's a done deal. You'd better get used to it."

Officials from Our Oregon, SEIU Local 503, the Oregon Education Association, and AFSCME Local 75 were unavailable for comment.

The Oregonian, June 15 by EDWARD WALSH

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pritchard pulls off pre-draft mega-deal

Williams for Johnson, Leonard for Nesbitt
Critics say trades don't address state's core ethical weakness, culture of corruption

Last year, assistant General Manager Kevin Pritchard's draft-day deal-making wizardry earned the Portland Trail Blazers the cream of the 2006 crop: the NBA Rookie of the Year combo guard Brandon Roy and the versatile big LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as the Spanish point guard pheenom Sergio "Chacho" Rodriguez. This year, with the Blazers holding the #1 pick in the June 28 draft - likely the highly-coveted Ohio State freshman center Greg Oden - Kevin Pritchard, now the General Manager, is angling for a second 1st round pick, maybe even the Atlanta Hawks' #3, to complete the current phase of the rebuilding project.

But the peripatetic Pritchard, whose cell phone is literally wearing out, was not too busy to answer a desperate call for help from former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D). The result: Pritchard helped the longtime union lawyer engineer a pre-draft blockbuster involving all three branches of state government, the powerful government unions, and the City of Portland that will likely go down as the biggest deal in the history of Oregon state politics.

Corrections Department Director Max Williams for State Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose)

Sen. Johnson, an aviation and land-use expert, resigned from the Senate and, as predicted by political insiders, is headed to Corrections. Johnson accepted an appointment to run the huge Department, replacing former GOP Rep. Williams, who moved to a log cabin in Scappoose and changed party registration to Democrat late last year. Williams has accepted an appointment to fill the remaining three years of Johnson's term in the state Senate.

Portland City Commissar Randy Leonard for Acting Governor Tim Nesbitt

Out of the Executive branch goes former AFL-CIO boss and acting Gov. Nesbitt, who moves over to become Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, replacing the retiring Justice Wallace "Rasheed" Carson. Into the Governor's office comes the former Firefighter's Union boss, Commissar Leonard. He assumes the title of acting Governor for the three years remaining in the term and will sign the raft of end-of-session bills.

According to a Blazers insider, a last-minute snag almost foiled the complex deal. But under an emergency rule negotiated by Pritchard and passed by the Portland City Council, enacted by the state Legislature, signed by the acting Governor, and approved by the state Supreme Court, Leonard will be able to serve simultaneously in the new role of acting Governor and as Portland City Commissar for at least the remainder of that term, and possibly longer, depending upon certain undisclosed performance incentives that received SEIU Local 503 approval.

At a Salem press conference announcing the mega-deal, Blazers owner Paul Allen said he was pleased to lend Pritchard to the state, even amidst the usual end-of-session tension and the mounting pre-draft buzz surrounding the Blazers that is bordering on hysteria. Allen praised his new General Manager, noting "KP has a knack for helping you decide what you want, and then going out and getting it."

The Oregonian, June 14 by JASON QUICK

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