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Community Organizers in Charge: Three who pack a political punch

Community Organizers in Charge: Three who pack a political punch

By John Gizzi, Organization Trends, September 2013 (PDF here)

Summary:  “Community organizer” is a term few Americans had heard until one was elected president in 2008.  Now it’s a badge of honor and a passport to the highest levels of political power.  We profile three of the most significant examples of the breed.

Community organizer? Ever heard that term before?

A credential increasingly found in up-and-coming leaders in government and the younger leadership of the labor movement is a background in community organizing.  The former top political adviser to the president, a man touted increasingly as the premier voice for immigrants, and the founder of a fledgling league of restaurant workers who is tapped as the future superstar of organized labor—all spent their formative years in jobs mobilizing small communities into action.

The reason for the rise to political clout of former community organizers (not to mention the growing interest in them) can be summarized in two words: Barack Obama.

As the first president who actually held a job bringing together citizens of a local community to advance their common interests (as defined by the far Left), Barack Obama put the position of “community organizer” on the map.

Fresh out of Columbia University in 1983 and unhappy with his first job as a financial planner in Manhattan, the young Obama moved to Chicago and went to work on behalf of the residents of the Altgeld Gardens public housing project.  Frequently billed as “the man who gave Obama his start,” veteran Chicago community organizer Jerry Kellman hired the future president at an annual salary of $10,000 and threw in another $2,000 for Obama to buy a used car.

From there, Obama went to work agitating among the 5,300 mostly black and lower-income residents of Altgeld Gardens, and seeking solutions to the perceived problems in their community.  These included, according to Kenneth Walsh of U.S. News and World Report, “a nearby landfill, a putrid sewage treatment plant, and a pervasive feeling that the white establishment of Chicago would never give them a fair shake.”

As his wife, Michelle, would recall years later to Walsh, “His work as a community organizer was really a defining moment in his life, not just his career,” because it helped Obama decide “how he would impact the world.” A better public service announcement for a starting career as a community organizer could not be scripted.

Obama is not, of course, the first community organizer to have gone far, and he won’t be the last.  But because of an early career that is unique among presidents, there is considerable interest in other leaders of today who began as organizers of local citizens and their concerns.

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Catalist for Victory: How Nonprofits and Unions Have Struggled to Re-elect President Obama

Catalist for Victory: How Nonprofits and Unions Have Struggled to Re-elect President Obama

By Neil Maghami, Organization Trends, November 2012 (PDF here)

Summary: Supposedly nonpartisan nonprofits on the Left and their union allies have exploited the latest “microtargeting” technology as they’ve worked feverishly to elect Democrats. The most powerful weapon in their arsenal is Catalist LLC, a state-of-the-art data firm that services both “nonpartisan” nonprofits and every would-be Democrat officeholder who can afford it. (Note: This study went to press shortly before the election.)

Winning in war, quipped a Southern leader in the Civil War, is all about getting to the battlefield “firstest with the mostest.” That’s a formula for victory in presidential politics, too. When it comes to mustering all possible support on Election Day 2012 for the Democratic Party, unions and tax-exempt left-wing groups have played a critical role in the party’s get-out-the-vote strategy. Since 2006 a high-tech operation called Catalist LLC has helped both unions and tax-exempt groups fine-tune their electoral influence to the point that they may well provide the Democrats the edge they need.

Catalist boasts it was vital to President Obama’s 2008 victory. By its own admission, “over 90 organizations, campaigns and committees” used the company’s services. “Based on data that was loaded into the Catalist databases and then standardized,” a Catalist analysis of the 2008 cycle says, “progressive organizations, the Obama campaign, and federal party committees attempted to contact more than 106 million people. This means that the progressive community attempted to contact over 46% of the U.S. adult population. Contacts were delivered in-person, over the phone, by mail and over the internet.”

Catalist says that “data stored by all progressive groups (over 90 organizations, campaigns and committees) working with [us] in the 2008 cycle shows that presidential [voter] ID activity alone reached 15,452,954 people—a difference of over 80% [compared to 2004]. Overall, Catalist customers were responsible for generating over 7 million voter registration applications. They completed over 127 million contacts to over 49 million unique individuals. Of these individuals, 28 million voted on Election Day, representing over 20% of all votes cast. Furthermore, 82% of progressive activities occurred in 16 highly contested states. Progressives contacted 37% of all the people who voted in the 16 battlegrounds.”

If this is what Catalist and its allies could achieve in 2008, imagine their goals for 2012, after four more years of refining their techniques. This edition of Organization Trends examines the who’s, why’s, and how’s of Catalist. We’ll also explore Catalist’s link to George Soros, the Left’s Daddy Warbucks. And we’ll look at some of Catalist’s known customers in the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt community and among labor unions.

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Rallying the Catholic Left

Rallying the Catholic Left

By Patrick Reilly, Organization Trends, July 2012 (PDF)

Summary:  The 2012 race for the White House may depend heavily on the Catholic vote.  Catholics significantly contributed to President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, but neither Democrats nor Republicans can claim their loyalty.  If the embattled president again attracts Catholic support despite recent disputes with Catholic leaders, the cause will largely be a network of Catholic leftists, university faculty, union organizers, and Democratic Party strategists.  They are determined to prove the Left’s appeal to Catholics, especially after the embarrassing defeat of the liberal Catholic Sen. John Kerry in his 2004 presidential bid.

 

Two organizations—Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—are the most powerful groups hoping to damage Republicans in 2012 by appealing to Catholics’ traditional concern for the poor while trying to defuse concern over abortion. The latter issue has been problematic for the groups, because they must convince pro-life Roman Catholics to support mostly pro-choice Democrats by making the dubious claim that expanded federal welfare programs will reduce abortions among the poor.

These groups enjoy the assistance of a host of activists with ties to financier George Soros, the Tides Foundation and its affiliated Tides Center, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Democratic Party. Behind the curtain, they have support from such influential Democratic-leaning groups as Faith in Public Life and John Podesta’s Center for American Progress.

These activists’ preferred battlegrounds are in the media and at highly secularized Catholic universities because liberal reporters and professors lean heavily in their favor.

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Should Union Members Get to Re-Elect Their Unions? One Way to Make Unions Accountable

(From the June 2012 publication, Labor Watch, PDF here)

It’s the law: when employees are unionized they may not negotiate wages, benefits, or other working conditions directly with their employers. Instead, unions represent employees and negotiate on their behalf. Even if a worker does not support the union and its priorities, the union negotiates for the worker. In representing workers during contract negotiations, the union decides what provisions to press for and what concessions to make.

Surprisingly, very few union members today voted for the union that represents them. Analysis of union elections results and Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that only seven percent of current private-sector union members voted for their union. The vast majority of active union members—over nine-in-ten—are represented by a union they never chose and had no say in electing.

This happens because the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not require unions to “stand for re-election.” A unionized company remains unionized either until the company goes bankrupt or until the workers themselves initiate a process to decertify the union as their bargaining agent. Read all »

Corporate Campaigns: How Unions Take the Secret Ballot Away from American Workers

By  Trey Kovacs and F. Vincent Vernuccio

View as PDF file here.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka once called a corporate campaign the “death of a thousand cuts.” He was referring to a type of union organizing strategy that uses an arsenal of legal, political, and public relations attacks to wear down a company’s resistance to unionization. These tactics are intended to impose financial and legal liabilities on the target company, sully its reputation with its suppliers, shareholders and customers, and hurt its standing in the community by subjecting corporate officers to personal embarrassment.

The union’s goal is counter-intuitive. In effect, it aims to organize the employer, not the employees, by exerting public pressure on the employer to become a de facto partner in forcing union representation on employees. The most ambitious corporate campaigns try to pressure multiple companies to agree to the wholesale unionization of entire industries city or statewide. By using a corporate campaign it’s easier for a union to organize all the hotels in a city, a nationwide restaurant chain, a statewide consortium of hospitals, or the janitorial staff in a city’s downtown office buildings, far easier, that is, than by going door-to-door persuading workers at individual job sites to join the union. Read all »

The Left’s Army of Election Law “Experts”: They Are Getting Ready for the 2012 Election

The Left’s Army of Election Law “Experts”: They Are Getting Ready for the 2012 Election

By J. Christian Adams, Organization Trends, October 2011 (PDF available here:  OT1011)

Summary: Liberal foundations, public interest law firms and advocacy groups have created a permanent network of experts and organizations devoted to an arcane but critical task: monopolizing the narrative on election laws and procedures. Cloaking their actions in the rhetoric of civil rights and the right to vote, they seek to affect the outcome of the election. They challenge any effort to protect the integrity of the ballot box by denying the possibility of vote fraud and crying “Jim Crow.”

 

Americans used to believe their elections ran smoothly: You left the voting booth, the votes were counted and reported. Although voters lacked first-hand knowledge, they had faith that whomever gets the most votes wins. The presidential election of 2000 changed all that. The 36-day battle for the presidency revealed mechanical flaws in the electoral system; it showed elections can be decided in courtrooms instead of at the ballot box. In 2000 competing teams of highly paid lawyers argued over hanging chads, military ballots, and uniform statewide counting standards. Like a 15-round heavyweight prize fight, one team of election lawyers eventually knocked the other out.

These days Americans have grown accustomed to elections that end in legal maneuvering, but they assume both sides are evenly matched and similarly funded. Even if today’s electoral fights aren’t front page news, the public expects each contender to have a battery of lawyers and experts, equally prepared to tangle in court or before the media over the rules and procedures of the election.

That assumption is false. With the 2012 national election fast approaching, it’s important to understand that the Left is fully engaged. It is ready to dispute how the next election is organized and administered by state and local election officials. The conduct of that election has genuine consequences—and the battle over the interpretation of election law next year is already taking place.

Left-Wing Groups Dominate Election Law
Leftists dominate the field of election law. Like so many other institutions, from academia to foundation philanthropy to the media “experts” who cover every corner of our electoral system, they have financial sponsors who understand that there are battles to be fought over election law and voting systems long before voters cast their ballots. The dominance of the Left affects both the outcome and the integrity of elections, and the future course of the nation.

Read all »

Leftist SEIU Thug Andy Stern Accepts Sinecure At Georgetown

Former SEIU president Andy Stern, a vicious Alinskyite thug, has accepted a plum post as “senior research fellow” at Georgetown University’s Georgetown Public Policy Institute effective Aug. 1.

What Powerful Post Does Obama Have In Mind For Andy Stern?

The Politico reports that Andy Stern is quitting the presidency of his public-sector union, the radical Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Stern, a frequent antagonist of TV talk show host Glenn Beck, is reportedly stepping down from his post at arguably the most powerful union in America. It’s unclear why Stern chose this precise moment to leave SEIU. One theory is Stern’s high profile, high pressure job left him exhausted. “Health care getting done is a good culmination,” said one unidentified union official.

According to the Politico:

The SEIU has emerged as a central political player and has grown rapidly under Stern’s tenure, and some close to him had expected him to resign during the first term of the president he helped elect, and after the achievement he’d spent years focusing on, widening access to health care. But he’s also waged a series of bitter battles inside the labor movement, one of the nastiest of which turned in SEIU’s favor with a California court ruling last week. Stern also won a victory when Obama named his union’s lawyer, Craig Becker, to the National Labor Relations board over Republican objections in a recess appointment last month.

Regardless of why Stern’s calling it quits, it seems a sure bet that the Obama administration has a fine patronage plum in store for the New Leftist agitator who was instrumental in forcing ObamaCare down the throats of the American people.

We’ll have to wait and see.

A born hard-left street fighter, Stern has practically lived in the Obama White House. He’s visited there so many times that he’s reportedly being investigated for illegal lobbying.

Leftist Fanatic Craig Becker Lied to Senator McCain

Another article of mine from the American Spectator.

It begins:

President Obamas radical union-backed nominee to the National Labor Relations Board lied to a Senate confirmation panel earlier this week about his ties to the embattled leftist advocacy group ACORN.

The nominee is Craig Becker, who, at least until recently, was longtime associate general counsel to SEIU. Becker is considered radical in part because he believes that employers should have no role in the unionization process,according to Brian Johnson, executive director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom.

During a hearing Tuesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Becker this question: Do you perform work for and provide advice to ACORN or ACORN-affiliated groups while employed by your current employers or on a volunteer basis?

Becker responded, Senator McCain, I have never done so.

But that answer that Beckerneverprovided adviceto ACORN or ACORN-affiliated groups” — is demonstrably false. Evidence abounds that he gave advice to SEIU Local 880, which, as I will show below, was part and parcel of ACORN before it merged with another SEIU bargaining unit.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, Becker acknowledged previously that he had worked with and provided adviceto Local 880. [...]

ACORN Dispersing Resources to SEIU, Other Liberal Groups, House Probe Finds

So reports Capital Research Center contributor Fred Lucas of CNSNews.com.

I attended the hearing in the House Rayburn Building yesterday but am swamped with work so I don’t have time to blog about it today. Sorry.