McCain v. Schwarzenegger on same-sex marriage

I got a news release this morning from the National Organization for Marriage, which says it helped gather more than a million signatures to put on this November’s ballot a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

mccain.jpgIn the release, NOM executive director Brian Brown claims that “(a)t a March 24th fundraiser at the La Jolla Marriott, I asked Sen. McCain whether he supported NOM-California and Protect Marriage’s current effort to get a constitutional amendment protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman on the ballot this November. Not only did McCain promise to support California’s marriage amendment, he also highlighted his role as honorary co-chair of a similar effort to pass a state marriage amendment in Arizona.”

As the release points out, McCain was quoted in an Associated Press article this month as saying he’s “proud to have led an effort in my home state to change our state constitution and to protect the sanctity of marriage as between a man and woman.”

schwarzenegger2.jpgSo perhaps we’ll be treated this fall to dueling ads, for and against such an amendment, from the Republican presidential nominee and California’s Republican governor, who has endorsed that candidate? After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently told the Log Cabin Republicans he would stand with them in opposing this kind of amendment. If McCain takes the time to push for it, will Schwarzenegger take the time to push against it? Or will neither really get involved in the race, reiterating their positions if asked but refusing to lend their time and effort to supporting or defeating the amendment?

Which of them, if either, will put his money where his mouth is?


CNA’s TRO against SEIU tossed by court

An Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner this afternoon vacated a temporary restraining order that the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee had obtained last week against the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU put out a news release claiming victory:

“For months, CNA leaders have made inaccurate and exaggerated claims trying to cover up their own anti-union tactics in Ohio and other states. They have produced doctored ‘evidence,’ they have made phony allegations and they have cried wolf,” said Andy Stern, SEIU International President. “Today’s court decision shows the public what the CNA is really about, but that’s little comfort for the thousands of Ohio nurses and hospital workers who saw their dreams of forming a union destroyed by the CNA. It’s time Rose Ann DeMoro and the CNA wake up and apologize to the workers they hurt.”

CNA spokesman Chuck Idelson told me the order to vacate the TRO was based mainly on the SEIU’s contention that labor law pre-empts the court’s authority in a matter such as this, not on the facts of the case.

“That’s clearly what the decision is referencing: There’s uncertainty about the jurisdiction,” Idelson said, adding it’s “disgraceful to hide stalking and harassment behind the important protections of labor law.”

Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman’s order also says, however, that “the relief sought in the petition is not supported by the declarations submitted with it.”

Idelson sent out a news release moments later:

“The TRO gave the nurses a few days reprieve from harassment,” said Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who said she had six SEIUers make a stalking visit to her home.

“Nothing in today’s ruling should be construed as a license to continue behavior and a pattern of threats and harassment that has become an SEIU trademark,” said Jenkins.

“Hopefully Stern and SEIU will use this opportunity to learn from this experience that it is time for them to respect nurses, that their deplorable behavior is not acceptable and does not enhance their reputation or their credibility,” Jenkins said.

So each union is telling the other to wake up, apologize, reconsider. Fat chance.

This war — with the SEIU accusing the CNA/NNOC of trying to poach SEIU’s current or potential nurse members, and the CNA/NNOC accusing SEIU teams of stalking and harassing CNA/NNOC leaders at their homes and workplaces as well as at a recent labor convention in Michigan — predated the court action and will outlast it as well. Not that the court action is finished, however: There’ll be a June 4 hearing on the SEIU’s anti-SLAPP (stratetic lawsuit against public participation) motion, in which SEIU claims CNA sought the restraining order to squelch SEIU’s free-speech and organizing rights. A win there would let SEIU collect attorney’s fees from its rival union.


Stark, Miller help pitch federal paid leave bill

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; House Ways and Means Health Subcomittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, today introduced the “Family Leave Insurance Act of 2008,” which would provide workers 12 weeks of paid leave for maternity or paternity; to care for a sick family member; to recover from an illness; or to deal with emergencies related to someone’s armed-services deployment.

That’s substantially more than the 12 weeks of unpaid leave now provided by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or the six weeks of paid leave available under California’s state law.

pete-stark.jpgStark said there’s a lot of talk about family values in Washington, and now it’s “time for Congress to… take action that families will actually value. The Family and Medical Leave Act has been a tremendous success, but many workers cannot afford to take unpaid leave.”

Miller said millions have taken unpaid leave under FMLA, but “millions more are put in the impossible position of choosing between paying their bills and dealing with an illness or welcoming a new child to the family. Americans shouldn’t have to make that choice.”

miller.jpg“Family-friendly policies like guaranteed paid leave not only help parents balance work and family, but also improve employers’ bottom lines,” he continued. “When workers have the ability to take advantage of these family-friendly policies, their employers benefit from increased recruitment and retention rates, decreased absenteeism and improved productivity.”

Per Stark’s news release, the bill would:

  • Provide all workers with 12 weeks of paid leave over a 12-month period to care for a new child, provide for an ill family member, treat their own illness, or deal with an exigency caused by the deployment of a member of the military;
  • Provide these benefits through a new trust fund that is financed equally by employers and employees, who will each contribute 0.2% of the employee’s pay;
  • Let self-employed workers opt in by paying both the employer and employee premiums;
  • Progressively tier the benefits so that a low-wage worker (earning less than $30,000) will receive full or near full salary replacement, middle-income workers ($30,000- $60,000) receive 55% wage replacement, and higher earners (over $60,000) receive 40-45%, with the benefit capped at approximately $800 per week;
  • Administer the program through the Department of Labor which will contract with states to administer the program (similar to how the Unemployment Insurance program is run); and
  • Let states and businesses with materially equivalent or better benefits opt out of the program.
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    Dems unveil anti-Andal web site

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled today its first frontal assault on presumed GOP Congressional District 11 nominee Dean Andal, the man (pictured on the right) expected to challenge incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the November general election.

    Not surprisingly, the site, www.RadicalAndal.org, paints Andal as an uber-conservative.

    The Republican equivalent organization, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, has had its site up for months targeting McNerney. (Pictured on bottom right.)
    Its site, www.votemcnerneyout.com, calls McNerney a leftwinger who votes lockstep with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (It’s part of a slate of similar sites targeting freshmen Democrats elected in the 2006 wave.)

    Read more for the DCCC’s press release today:

    Continue Reading


    Schwarzenegger video of the week

    This week, an unsettling vision of science run amok…

    “My nipples are very sensitive.” Arrrrrrrrrgggggh.

    Previous SVOTWs: April 15, April 8, April 1, March 25, March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.


    Anti-SLAPP motion filed in CNA v. SEIU war

    The Service Employees International Union today asked the Alameda County Superior Court to vacate a temporary restraining order filed against it and its president, Andy Stern, last week at the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee‘s behest.

    The SEIU has filed a motion to vacate the TRO, as well as a separate motion under California’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law. The latter motion is necessary, the SEIU claims, because the CNA/NNOC sought the restraining order solely “to smear SEIU and Mr. Stern in the national media and to chill free speech by SEIU members and supporters.” The anti-SLAPP motion, if successful, would result in the whole case being thrown out of court and would let the SEIU recover attorneys’ fees.

    From the CNA’s news-release response:

    CNA/NNOC attorney Pam Allen noted that free speech is very different than the actions employed by SEIU bands who have gone to the nursing stations of CNA/NNOC leaders looking for them and demanding home addresses and phone numbers, following them in cars, pounding on their doors, pointing video cameras in their faces, screaming at them, and refusing to leave until being told the police were on the way.

    In a statement to the court, Margie Keenan, RN, a CNA/NNOC Board member described one such visit to her home which also included visits by SEIU to the nursing floor in the Long Beach hospital where she works.

    At her home “they began yelling loudly, demanding that I come and speak with them in a very aggressive, boisterous manner. I became very scared, as they continued yelling and pounding on my door, so I dialed 911 and asked the operator to dispatch police as soon as possible. While I was waiting for the police to arrive, I climbed the stairs to the second floor of my house and went quietly to a balcony to wait for the police. After several minutes, they began to leave, then saw me on the balcony and began yelling again. I went immediately back into the house and waited for the police to arrive. By the time the police came, the intruders were gone.

    “I was very frightened by the approach at my home because it was extremely aggressive and hostile, and I live alone. Shortly after they left my house, I received a telephone call on my home phone and the caller asked for me by name. I recognized the voice as one of the intruders and immediately hung up the phone. She later learned of the visit to her nursing floor.

    “I felt very unsettled and frightened by these events, so much so that I did not feel able to report to work (the following two days) which were my next scheduled days of work. I called in sick both of those days and learned over the weekend of a number of events that have only increased my fear and concern for my personal safety,” Keenan declared.

    The SEIU’s news release claims Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman this afternoon said he was “strongly of the belief” that the TRO doesn’t pass muster under the state’s Labor Code, and gave the CNA one day — until 3 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, April 22 — to respond to the motion to vacate before he makes a ruling.

    The unions are at war over accusations that the CNA/NNOC has been trying to poach SEIU’s current or potential nurse members. The CNA/NNOC says SEIU teams recently have targeted CNA/NNOC leaders in nursing stations, harassed them at home, and followed cars.