04.30.2009 0

Obama Grants SEIU Wish at Expense of Golden State

  • On: 05/13/2009 09:54:44
  • In: Big Labor
  • By Isaac MacMillen

    As ALG News reported on Monday, the Obama Administration is threatening to withhold supplemental Medicaid funds from the state of California if they did not rescind a pay cut to home healthcare workers—deemed necessary by California’s liberal government to stem growth of the state’s then-projected $42 billion deficit.

    Now, the Service Employees International Union, one of the nation’s largest unions, admits that it is responsible for requesting the Obama Administration to look into the pay cut. And the federal government was more than happy to oblige, essentially blackmailing the California state government in response.

    Significantly, this is not the first time such heavy-handed aggression has been displayed by Obama enforcers on behalf of union allies. To the Chrysler bondholders who refused a staggering 70 percent loss on their investment, the Obama administration resorted to a strategy of threats and coercion in an attempt to secure their compliance, as ALG News reported earlier this month. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union was the clear recipient of the “deal,” being handed 55 percent of company stock.

    And now, the SEIU wants its share—as evidenced by the fact that the Administration invited the SEIU union bosses to participate in a conference call about the issue with Obama administration officials earlier this month.

    What’s also evident is that the tawdry deal was undoubtedly part of what amounts to a bald pay-to-play scam based upon SEIU 2008 campaign contributions. According to OpenSecrets.org, SEIU was the number one contributor to 527s last year, and its $34.5 million was over 5 times what the next highest contributor donated. SEIU ranks 9th overall in terms of 1998-2008 political donations, with 95 percent of its over $27 million given to Democrats. So, clearly, the influence of this 2 million-member organization is going to be significant for the Democrats.

    The Democrats listened, and responded by violating federalism principles to intervene in the affairs of a state. As ALG President Bill Wilson stated in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, “Madam Secretary, for an agency under your control to threaten a State government as a service to a private organization – and the SEIU is a private organization – smacks of favoritism to a degree not seen in Washington since the days of the Teapot Dome scandal.”

    Imagine for a moment that Exxon-Mobil had fought a state-level ban on oil exploration and lost. Imagine also that it had been invited as a non-essential third party to participate in a teleconference with the Bush Administration. Imagine further that the Bush Administration then announced that an obscure clause in a bill meant that states prohibiting oil exploration could not receive federal subsidies totaling in the billions. And then imagine that Exxon-Mobil admitted that they had requested the government to take that course of action. The outcry would be deafening. And rightly so.

    And yet, just a scenario is unfolding in California, relegated largely to the back burner by many of the mainstream media outlets that would headline it for weeks were it Exxon-Mobil and not the SEIU, and the Bush, rather than the Obama, Administration. The media, unfortunately, is not the only one to play the hypocrite. The SEIU joins them, arguing that the county contracts trump state law while simultaneously demanding that the state submit to a misguided federal ruling.

    Currently, twenty counties exceed the new cap that goes into effect July 1st, and according to LA Times, some of them are contractually required to make up for the loss in state dollars. However, contracts at the county level do not and cannot preempt state law. Nor does the federal government have any power or role to play in extracting state dollars on behalf of the counties or local union chapters when the California state government rules that it simply does not have the money to pay the workers. State lawmakers are required by law to make these tough decisions, and it is clearly a state matter with which the federal government has no authority to impede.

    The LA Times, one of the few media outlets to actually explore the issue, correctly states in an editorial that the SEIU’s influence is both unprecedented and dangerous. They state that, while they disagree with the cuts, they “don’t think the federal government should use its leverage to pressure California on behalf of a well-connected group.”

    And to that, we must add a hearty, “Amen!”

    Isaac MacMillen is a Contributing Editor to ALG News Bureau.

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