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May 2009 Archives

May 1, 2009

Obama 'Re-Shaping' the Court?

It's funny to watch these memes develop, especially among the mindless press that often just follows like sheep. Case in point, today's coverage of Supreme Court Justice Souter's apparent retirement. Says the New York Times:

"The departure will open the first seat for a Democratic president to fill in 15 years and could prove a test of Mr. Obama’s plans for reshaping the nation’s judiciary. "(Emphasis ours)

The WaPo:

"A vacancy would give President Obama his first chance to begin reshaping the court..."(Emphasis ours)

USA Today:

"Breaking news overnight that Supreme Court justice David Souter is retiring, So Obama will probably get his first chance to reshape the nation's highest court..." (Emphasis ours)

In fairness, all go on to note that this likely won't change the balance of the Court, but then why all the reshaping talk? A liberal will be replaced with a liberal, steamrolling through the Senate where the GOP doesn't even have enough votes to maintain a filibuster. And so once again,. Obama will negotiate with Harry Reid and the left, but not with anyone else.

So in the end, this doesn't really look like re-shaping, does it?

Continue reading "Obama 'Re-Shaping' the Court?" »

May 8, 2009

Sen. Ben Nelson: Card Check 'A Fool's Errand'

A very lucid comment from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) about card check, to Fox News yesterday:

"You take away the arbitration issue, and you still have the ‘card check’, so that doesn’t work. You take away the ‘card check’ and you still have the arbitration problem. And if both go away, you’re left with nothing. It’s a fool’s errand to do this. I just don’t see an agreement happening,” Nelson said."

Let's hope party-switcher Arlen Specter puts his plans to find a compromise on the back burner.

May 11, 2009

'Feinstein, Specter Compromises Pave the Way for Passage of Employee Free Choice Act'

Here's a worrisome story from Jane Hamsher at the Huffington Post by the above title. It is worrisome because of its credibility. Here are the opening two paragraphs:

"New compromise measures supported by Diane Feinstein and Arlen Specter may pave the way for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

With 900,000 union members in the state of Pennsylvania, the Arlen Specter firewall appears to be crumbling. He knows he can't win a Democratic primary in Pennsylvania without labor, and they have made it clear that their support is contingent on his vote on Employee Free Choice."

The WaPo lead editorial today scolds the anti-EFCA forces for not leaving room for compromise, but it just may be that compromise here is a bad thing. If people want labor law reform, then we should have that conversation, with all options on the table - and not do it through a power play, because the unions think they have the votes.

May 14, 2009

This Doesn't Seem Fair....

The WaPo in its lead editorial today correctly (albeit gently) scolds the Obama Administration for a little uneven-handedness in dealing with the various Chrysler creditors during the Chapter 11 process. "President Obama may call them 'speculators,'" goes their sub-head, "but the economy needs private investors." Not likely, given the track record thus far, to wit:

"The government's intervention in GM's financial affairs tilts the scales so dramatically in the company's (read: government's) favor that it risks shutting out the legitimate interests of some creditors in favor of politically connected players who are owed much less and have less of a claim to the company's money. GM bondholders, for example, are being pushed to accept a 10 percent equity stake in repayment of their $27 billion in loans to the company. The United Auto Workers, on the other hand, is being offered a 35 percent equity stake in exchange for its claim of roughly $10 billion -- a claim that would typically be wiped out in bankruptcy.

While the hedge funds are likely to receive less than 30 cents on the dollar, a health-care fund controlled by the UAW is being handed a 55 percent ownership stake in Chrysler. If bankruptcy rules had been strictly followed, the union would have been entitled to little, if any, return.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and it was with this thought in mind that we endorsed the federal government's decision to pump billions of dollars into the automakers. But the spectacle of creditors being stripped of their legal rights in favor of a labor union with which the president is politically aligned does little to attract private capital at a time when the government and many companies need these investors the most."

Holding the UAW harmless while dinging the investors is a lousy way to run a railroad - or a car company. Over time, this will come back to bite the Administration - and Chrysler's' proud new majority owners, the UAW. The UAW shares the blame for the sorry state of the auto industry.They can only kick the can down the road so far before they will have to come to grips with what they have wrought.

Welcome, Manufacturing Crunch!

Is it possible to build a user-generated, online global manufacturing community? That's exactly what ManufacturingCrunch endeavors to do. Audacious, maybe, but worth a shot. You manufacturers out there (you know who you are), hope you'll check it out and join the discussion.

The weak of heart should avert their eyes...

May 26, 2009

This (Still) Doesn't Seem Fair....

Further to our post of May 14, kudos to the WaPo, who is like a terrier with a bone on the issue of the blatant inequity in the government takeover of Chrysler and GM. They've now editorialized on it twice in a little under two weeks. In today's installment, entitled, "Government Motors," they point out once again the proposed haircut (more like a buzz cut) for the investors while the UAW gets a trim:

"While the Obama administration has been playing hardball with bondholders, it has been more than happy to play nice with the United Auto Workers. How else to explain why a retiree health-care fund controlled by the UAW is slated to get a 39 percent equity stake in GM for its remaining $10 billion in claims while bondholders are being pressured to take a 10 percent stake for their $27 billion?"

As the WaPo points out, this has become a political, not a financial, process. Good luck finding investors for other future adventures.

Go here to join an online manufacturing discussion on the topic.

What's on the Employment Law Horizon?

Here's a good article from HRExecutive Online - based on their interview with the top employment lawyers in the country. It covers their collective expectations about what is on the horizon for the Obama Administration and what steps employers might take.

May 27, 2009

The UAW, Fiddling While GM Burns

Just can't stop staring at this, from the Washington Post story on the GM bailout this morning:

"The union's cost-of-living increases, along with some holiday pay, were suspended. Yet UAW President Ronald A. Gettelfinger stressed that there would be no reduction in the membership's base hourly pay, health care and pensions...

Most of GM's hourly workers will receive another buyout and early retirement offer. Production workers will be offered $20,000, plus a $25,000 car voucher. Skilled employees will be offered $45,000 plus the vehicle voucher. The biggest buyout package, for employees with at least 20 years of service, includes $115,000 plus the car voucher." (Emphasis ours)blockquote>

Is this a group behaving like they work for a company that's about to go under....?

May 31, 2009

Ricci, et al. v. DeStefano: Sonia Sotomayor's Controversial Decision

There is so much more heat than light being shed on the controversial case decided by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, as is typically the case with Supremer Court nominees post-Robert Bork. The Obama Administration ash dispatched its "spinners" to the talk shows to beat back criticism from the right about the case.

And so we just moseyed over to the Google and found this helpful site that lays the facts out pretty well. Just take a look through this fairly sterile recitation of the facts and then draw your own conclusions. The case had to do with white firefighters in New Haven (CT) denied promotions by the city after garnering top scores on a promotion test. All who garnered top scores were white, hence the hullabaloo.

In some ways, this is a perfect case around which to have this debate in America. These issues should be aired, not obfuscated.

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About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Pat Cleary.com in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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