Category ►►► Unionista Ululations
January 20, 2010
Life Goes On: Adios, Erroll Southers
The week in politics just keeps getting better and better.
In a brief and happy follow-up to an earlier post on Big Lizards, Terror Strike Out, we are pleased to report that Barack H. Obama's nominee to head up the Transportation Security Agency, Erroll Southers, has withdrawn. Or Obama withdrew him. Or he was informed that he would never be confirmed, so beat it.
Or else, maybe another big revelation was about to drop, and he high-tailed it -- Bog only knows:
President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew his name Wednesday, a setback for an administration still trying to explain how a man could attempt to blow up a commercial airliner on Christmas Day.
The Obamacle nominated Southers in September, but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) put a hold on the nomination. To quote ourselves (one of our favorite pastimes)...
DeMint's hold... is due to Southers' refusal so far to answer one simple question:DeMint won't withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question -- does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint's question, even though it's importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.
In addition, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line noted that Southers repeatedly lied to the Senate during his, Southers', confirmation hearings. (Actually, I don't think Paul has ever undergone Senate confirmation hearings, so you probably weren't confused. Never mind.)
During testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, two senators, Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) and Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%) -- the chair and ranking member of that committee -- questioned Southers about his abuse of authority when he was in the FBI. In response, he lied at least twice. He "corrected" his testimony only when he was caught.
Southers later admitted that he used his FBI powers to run a database search on his "then-estranged wife's boyfriend," and that the FBI censured him when they found out; that was lie number one. The second was that in his corrected testimony, he said that he had gotten the local police to do the search; in fact, he subsequently admitted he had run it personally, himself. Each correction was issued only after the lie was discovered.
The "coups d'étatist" just keep coming, don't they?
Southers continues to whine about his ill treatment, rather than simply man-up and answer the questions:
Erroll Southers said he was pulling out because his nomination had become a lightning rod for those with a political agenda. Obama had tapped Southers, a top official with the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, to lead the TSA in September but his confirmation has been blocked by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who says he was worried that Southers would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Southers said the confirmation process made him question his willingness to participate in public service.
"I am not a politician. I'm a counterrrorism expert," Southers said Wednesday. "They took an apolitical person and politicized my career."
His response makes me doubly glad that DeMint stood firm on the unionization question, and that Lieberman and Collins stood firm on the abuse issue. Curiously, it looked like Obama and Southers had already won just before they pulled the plug (kind of like the voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers). From the Washington Post piece liked atop:
The withdrawal of Southers' nomination was another setback for the TSA at a time when the government is still trying to answer questions from Congress about how a man was able to carry out a bombing attempt on Christmas Day on a Northwest Airlines flight found from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Democrats had lined up behind Southers' nomination after the December incident, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying he would call for a full Senate vote on his confirmation this year.
This is why I wonder whether another shoe was about to drop: Ordinarily, a president doesn't pull a nominee when the Majority Leader of the Senate has practically guaranteed a vote. Perhaps Southers, like ObamaCare, fell "victim" to the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts... which means that Obama must have been pretty sure that Republicans would vote en masse against the Southers nomination.
Frankly, I would find that unlikely... unless the president (or his nominee) knows something I don't know, a possibility that now becomes a probability.
I admit that on paper, he looked like a good candidate to head the TSA; but that's why you don't hire an applicant until you've had a chance to interview him in person. In this case, it was the tête-à-tête in the Senate that brought out both these problems, either of which alone should have been a deal-killer:
- That Southers clearly had every intent of giving "collective bargaining" rights to TSA employees, so they could threaten national security by going on strike whenever their union demands it (so much for being "an apolitical person");
- And that he had already abused his authority at one law-enforcement agency, then lied to the Senate about it at least twice -- a point he failed to bring up in his whiny withdrawal announcement.
In any event, another Obamic nominee bites the dust. So it goes.
January 4, 2010
Terror Strike Out
The Washington Examiner notes that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) has put a "hold" on Erroll Southers, Barack H. Obama's nominee to head up the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). The Senate has not yet acted on Southers' nomination for two good reasons.
First, there is DeMint's hold, which is due to Southers' refusal so far to answer one simple question:
DeMint won't withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question -- does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint's question, even though it's importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.
(Hat tip to Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.)
Second, the Senate has dilly-dallied in taking up the nomination because Southers has been too busy giving false testimony to that august body, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) have been holding his nose to the fire about it. Again, we turn to Power-Line Paul:
It looks like Erroll Southers, the Obama administration's nominee to head the TSA, corrected his testimony about his abuse of his position with the FBI only after Senator Susan Collins learned that his tesimony was inconsistent with FBI records and asked him to account for the inconsistency. To summarize this situation, about which I wrote here, In an affidavit, Southers admitted to Congress that he was censured by the FBI in 1988 for using his position to gain access to data about his ex-wife's new boyfriend. He claimed that he had asked a co-worker's husband who worked for the police to run the database search. When Senator Collins asked Southers whether this was the only case in which he engaged in this serious abuse, he testified that it was.
Later, however, Southers sent a letter to Collins and Senator Lieberman (the two key members of the Senate Homeland Security Committe) stating that on two occasions, not one, he misused his position to gain access to information about the "boyfriend." Moreover, he did not ask the police to run the search; rather, he ran it himself and passed the information on to the police....
The chronology set out in today's Washington Post answers the question. On November 19, Senator Collins voted in committee in favor of Southers' nomination. However, she did so "conditionally" and asked him to account in writing for the inconsistencies between his testimony and FBI documents she had reviewed. On November 20, Southers sent the letter to Senators Collins and Lieberman correcting the record. By that point, he had no choice.
Collins and Lieberman have indicated that, regardless of his lack of candor in previous testimony and his admitted (multiple) abuses of his authority, they're ready to vote to confirm Southers anyway.
But let's get back to the unionization issue. Jim DeMint has his own question, but I have mine: Suppose after extending "collectivization" (unionizing) to the TSA, they go on strike?
And what if, during that strike, a terrorist boards an airplane (as did Abdulmutallab), uses a non-defective ignition system this time, and blows up the plane over a populated area, killing hundreds of people? How will the American citizenry react to such a concatenation of events -- a barbaric terrorist attack on us directly enabled by "labor action" in the TSA, action which has the blessing of Obama's new appointee to head up that very agency?
Does the president understand the risk he's running? Does he understand the words "aborting his own presidency?"
For the most selfish of all reasons, Barack Obama should seriously rethink his appointment of Errol Southers to such a critical position as Administrator of the TSA. It's one of those "serious" appointments, like Secretary of Defense or Attorney General; not a mere political plum -- like Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, or something.
September 9, 2009
Courageous Stand Against Card Check; but What About the Rest of Us?
A large "corporation" has just fought a courageous and ultimately successful battle against union thuggery; amazingly enough, that brave entity is the Legal Services Corporation -- a "private" (public sector) not-for-profit established and funded by Congress to ensure legal representation for the poor.
When the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) tried to "organize" the LSC, they decided to make the fight a ringing victory for the "new" tactic of Card Check (which is not currently allowed by federal labor law); instead of the normal secret ballot, whereby employees get to vote for or against the union without intimidation (since unionistas can never know how a particular employee voted), union agitators demanded that IFPTE be automatically established if they submitted a certain number of cards, supposedly freely signed by employees, representing at least 50%+1 of the particular "labor unit" -- in the LSC case, the entire quasi-private corporation.
They did so, but the very left-leaning LSC rejected the demand, as they are allowed to do under current law... until and unless Big Labor is able to bully Congress into enacting the Orwellianly named Employee Free Choice Act of
2005 2007 2009 (and assuming the EFCA will apply to public- as well as private-sector corporations). Instead, LSC President Helaine Barnett told the union agitators that the LSC would hold a secret ballot -- which evoked howls of outrage and fury from the unionistas and from the ultra-Left in Congress:
Calling himself a longtime supporter of the LSC and its mission, Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, in a letter last week obtained by The Washington Times, said it was "troubling to learn that LSC is now using hard-fought-for taxpayer funds to retain a law firm and engage in a campaign to potentially frustrate employees' desire to exercise their right to join a union...." [Yes, it must be very frustrating when you want to join a union that a majority of your co-workers don't want to join. -- DaH]
Josh Goldstein, a spokesman with American Rights at Work, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, said it probably would be in Ms. Barnett's interest to accept the cards rather than go through a time-consuming election. ["Be a real shame if something were to, you know, happen to this nice place you got here..."]
"The workers would have a union, and they could move forward and get back to the actual work they are supposed to be doing," he said. "Whereas now, even if you go in with the best of intentions, outsiders are going to be coming in to create another step in the process."
Although Helaine Barnett was appointed president of the LSC by President George W. Bush, she's not an anti-LSC (or anti-labor) activist; rather, she is a long-term LSC apparatchik, having served most recently as attorney-in-charge of the Civil Division of the Legal Aid Society of New York City.
That "other step" Josh Goldstein decries is, of course, a chance for workers actually to vote in secret, rather than be brought into the office of the union rep by a couple of apes, given a card, and told, "don't read it -- sign it!"
The surreality of the argument for the EFCA begins with the name: Employees already have a free choice; they can vote in a secret ballot for or against any particular union that wants to represent them. For that matter, private-sector workers can even vote via "card check;" it's already provided for in the law.
The only significant change -- and it's a biggie -- is that under the EFCA, if a majority of workers in a labor unit "sign" cards (whether under duress or even forged), the union is formed immediately upon certification by the Labor Department, which is not exactly a disinterested third party. Thereafter, if the employer and union cannot come to a collective-bargaining agreement within a certain period of time, federal arbiters come in and make the agreement themselves.
Since the arbiters are almost certain to lean strongly towards the union's position on virtually every issue, the net effect is that mere submission of the cards automatically puts the union into place on the union's own terms.
Under current law, if workers "vote" for a union via card check, and the union and employer cannot agree, there is no required federal arbitration; only if the vote is via a federally supervised secret ballot. This gives even the union a great incentive to work through the secret ballot, as otherwise it has no mechanism for force management to come to agreement.
So all that the EFCA does is remove any practical hope workers might have for a secret ballot, if, for example, the shop floor is rife with union thuggery and intimidation (as so many are). The "free choice" offered by the bill is in fact the removal of the free choice to vote in secret, without Guido and Nunzio looming over you, watching narrowly as you sign the card the union rep shoves into your trembling hands.
But the surreality continues. Consider this whiny complaint by the union organizers at LSC:
Employees in LSC oversight offices, with the help of the IFPTE, appealed to LSC President Helaine Barnett in a July 20 letter, asking her to accept authorization cards signed by "an overwhelming majority" of workers signaling their intent to unionize. Ms. Barnett dismissed the request in a July 28 letter, saying that "authorization cards are often an unreliable indicator of support for a union," according to a copy of the correspondence obtained by The Times.
But if "an overwhelming majority" of workers honestly and freely support being represented by the IFPTE, then why the urgency to use card check instead of a secret ballot, already scheduled for this Thursday and Tuesday? The obvious implication is that they really don't have a majority of workers legitimately signed up.
If the LSC holds the election as planned, and if a majority of workers vote for the IFPTE on a secret ballot, then the union and LSC start to negotiate; if they cannot come to agreement, federal arbiters step in, and the union gets more or less everything it wants. In which case, the outcome is the same as if Barnett and the LSC board of directors accepted the cards... no harm done.
But if they hold the election and a majority of voters reject unionization under IFPTE, what would that tell us? First and foremost, it would demonstrate for all the world to see that you cannot rely on signed cards to determine the true desire of the workers for a union. It would be the greatest argument against the EFCA that could possibly be made -- and it would be made by the unionistas themselves.
But there is one more wrinkle to this case: It's telling that the administration of President Barack H. Obama is pulling every trick in the book trying to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed for the private sector; meanwhile, it's being rejected as unrepresentative and unworkable by a corporation that was established by Congress, is funded by Congress, whose board members are appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation (just like cabinet members -- but with more oversight than Obamic czars), whose most famous board member and board chair was a thirty year old gal named Hillary Rodham, and whose website is http://www.lsc.gov/.
So the operating philosophy appears to be "card check for thee but not for me":
The preference of the LSC, which is legally structured as a nonprofit corporation, for using the secret-ballot election process complies with federal organizing requirements. Federal agency employees, unlike their counterparts in the private sector, aren't permitted to unionize voluntarily using authorization cards.
"They have to go through the secret-ballot election," said Sarah Whittle Spooner, legal counsel for the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which has jurisdiction over government agencies. "There is no process for voluntarily organizing in the federal sector."
Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, said this amounted to a double standard.
"It's the height of hypocrisy to say that when [the government's] interests are at stake it's not an accurate way to hold an election, but when it's a [private] company, it is," she said.
However, she said LSC made the right decision. "We totally agree with them: This is not an accurate way to judge support," she said.
I have no idea whether the current version of the EFCA would extend the card-check requirement to public-sector employers; perhaps a reader versed in labor law can take a look and report back. But it is an interesting question... just how far is the Obama administration willing to go to operate under the same restrictions, limitations, and regulations it demands private employers suffer?
Probably not very far, as Obama's answer to the infamous health-reform question implies.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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