ACORN Part II: Anna Burger, SEIU and the Change to Win story

UPDATE:  I originally made this post in May 2009.  But with the recent coverage on the APOLLO Alliance this August, I thought I’d also point my readers to this 2007 press release, headlined “Business, Environmental, Labor Leaders Join Senators, Governors At Apollo Alliance Summit – Urge Congress To Invest In Clean Energy Initiatives”.   Read Anna Burger’s statement in that release…then read the post below…and then, be sure to follow it up with my post titled “Whose Agenda Is It, Really?”.  I’ll allow you to connect your own dots.

As I left off with Part I of my last post, “Rathke, ACORN, SEIU, Tides Foundation, Oh My…“, the trail that begins with the Rathkes quickly intersects with groups and individuals like ACORN, SEIU, Drummond Pike, the Tides Foundation, Citizen’s Consulting Inc. (aka Citizens Services Inc.), George Wiley, Democracy Alliance, George Soros, They Work for Us, Change to Win and Anna Burger. (Seriously, look them all up with a map from Muckety.com, or look at the maps I created in my last post)

I want to pick up Part II beginning with Anna Burger.
In February of 2009, Ms. Burger was appointed by President Obama to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  Announced on November 26, 2008, the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) is a new panel of non-governmental experts from business, labor, academia and elsewhere that President Obama instituted on February 6, 2009. The board reports regularly to Obama and his economic team on the current economic crisis and develops proposals that are then recommended to President Obama.

Anna Burger is a key member of this Board, also having been active in the Progressive Labor Movement for over 30 years, with leadership roles in organizations such as SEIU (and ACORN), They Work for Us, and Change to Win.  She campaigned heavily for Obama, and invested millions in advertising, campaigning, canvassing and organizing in support of Obama. In fact, through SEIU, she filed almost $28 Million worth of expenses with the FEC (see report below) in support of Obama during the election (and another $3.5 Million in ads against John McCain).  Given that she has aggressively pushed the Economic Recovery Act from her position as economic adviser to Obama, as well as a progressive agenda that includes the same Health Care initiatives as the president’s, I’d say this seems like quite a big conflict of interest. But I’ll address that in more detail later.

FEC-db

Click to open full report in PDF. Support expenses on pg. 6.


According to her own “Change to Win” website, Anna Burger

changetowin-web“is both a top ranking officer at SEIU, the nation’s largest and fastest growing union, and the first chair of America’s newest labor federation, Change to Win.

Founded in September 2005 by SEIU and six other major unions representing six million workers, Change to Win is developing joint industry-based organizing campaigns aimed at ensuring that workers, not just CEOs, benefit from today’s global economy.”

Change to Win is a well-known organization with a history in labor union organizing founded upon the the social movement unionism/community unionism models.  They have been active with member groups such as The Teamsters union, SEIU, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, and Unite Here, among others. With over 6 million members, they organize worker uprising events such as the “End Corporate Excess” campaigns, which included the March 19th Take Back the Economy rally, aimed at (their words, not mine) “the greedy CEOs who use taxpayers’ money to feather their own nests and restrict your right to organize”.

The odd parallel to this story is that several of these very same organizations, most notably “Change to Win” and SEIU, are referenced in the current federal complaint against forrmer IL governor Rod Blagojevich. While some of the story has been released in bits and pieces by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and other sources, the ongoing legal investigation calls for the majority of it to be kept under wraps while legal proceedings progress.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that we hear very little on this subject from Anna Burger, Andy Stern, SEIU, Change to Win or any of the Good Ol’ Boys Club from the shining city on the Hill. Further, since so much of Change to Win’s money is funneled into ACORN and many of its hundreds of affiliates, there’s no shortage of places to stash the Stimulus cash that continues to pour into these groups to fund their very progressive agenda, which is an assault on Capitalism and free markets, and often resorts to very intimidating tactics. And many of these are organizations that have been around a long time.

Here’s just a sampling of a report from a query of the Office of Labor Management Standards Public Disclosure database, the system that records payment activity to and from organized unions and union PACs.  It’s interesting to note the various organizations that Change to Win deals with, and the amount of money that goes into and comes out of some specific organizations, such as ACORN and SEIU, among many others.  In 2008 alone, nearly $18 Million changed hands between the triangulation of the federal government, Change to Win, and other organizations. Perhaps it’s all 100% legitimate; I’m simply pointing it out. Whether it’s legit or not, with that much money involved, it creates the opportunity for abuse, which is a concern in and of itself.

PDF
ChangeToWin-2008-pymts

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE OF THE MONEY TRAIL – FINANCIAL RECORDS, REPORTS, COURT FILINGS

Going back to the Blagojevich case, here’s where some of the alleged connections come into play:

The Hill reported on  12/9/2008 :

In a taped phone conversation with Chief of Staff John Harris and an unnamed Washington, D.C.-based adviser on Nov. 7, Blagojevich allegedly plotted out a three-way deal to acquire a job as head of Change to Win, with a desired salary of $250,000 to $300,000 per year. Blagojevich would then have appointed Jarrett–allegedly identified as the president-elect’s favorite for the spot–thereby currying favor with Obama. He would then have spent that favor by arranging for the president-elect to help push Change to Win’s legislative agenda, which includes health care reform, a broad economic stimulus package, and the controversial Employee Free Choice Act.

Jarrett, a close adviser to Obama, was not named in the report but has been identified based on other information the report contained.

According to the Department of Justice’s account of the taped conversation, Harris suggested that Blagojevich could be crowned as head of Change to Win by an unnamed Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official. SEIU is one of the largest unions under the Change to Win umbrella; it is currently headed by Andy Stern, who led the creation of Change to Win. SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger serves as its chair.

Both SEIU and Change to Win have denied such allegations.

See the Chicago Fox News affiliate report on the Blago-SEIU union contract allegations from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (posted by the National Right to Work):

The connection between Blago, SEIU, and “Change to Win” becomes even more evident when reading the affidavit that was filed as part of “United States vs. Rod R. Blagojevich and John Harris”:

Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there,” the affidavit states.

Two days later, in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called “Change to Win,” which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

On November 10, Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, Governor General Counsel, Advisor B and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed, among other things, a deal involving the SEIU. Harris said they could work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Blagojevich’s appointment of Senate Candidate 1, while Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future. Also during that call, Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.

I may just be your average layperson, but this really does not seem to be entirely on the up and up. I’m not accusing….just sayin’, that’s all.  At the very least, it warrants some public explanation from either Anna Burger from “Change to Win” (and member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board),  or from President Obama himself. I just don’t feel very good about the fact that since as far back as 2005, possibly even 2003, this ginormous coalition of big, powerful labor unions now in “Change to Win” has been very active in the Chicago machine…and now, many of the very same players are in some of the highest positions in the country, with immediate access to our President, advising the President of the United States on how and where to spend the emergency Stimulus money during a time of economic crisis.

These are all also the very same unions that are hired to rally against private corporations, the same ones that receive funds from Congress for a multitude of programs, like mortgage subsidies, and many will even be involved in conducting the 2010 Census.

After reading and listening to Anna Burger’s remarks in 2008 about her organizations’ agendas, which were again reinforced in the federal complaint where even Blago allegedly promised “to push Change to Win’s legislative agenda, which includes healthcare reform, a broad economic stimulus package, and the controversial Employee Free Choice Act”, it just seems literally impossible that it’s all just a coincidence.

divider

aburger-obamaHow would it be coincidence that Obama selected Burger as a key member of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, despite this ongoing investigation into these allegations?

And more importantly, just look at the key agenda items again:
healthcare reform, a broad economic stimulus package, and the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check bill).

Sure, she is a legitimate, well-known figure in the labor movement, and has been for a long time.  I’m not necessarily accusing anyone of anything illegal.  But I am pointing out what to me seems an obvious conflict of interest; to me, potentially unethical.

divider

Is it really just coincidence that now, 7 months later, this President has focused aggressively on precisely those key agenda items, among others I’ve not even mentioned yet?

Just listen to this speech given by Ms. Burger in 2008 at the 2008 SEIU Convention, in her roles as Secretary of the SEIU and Chair of Change to Win, prior to the Presidential election. It’s also followed by other videos that outline her agenda for America under the Obama administration.

Anna Burger Talks About SEIU’s support for Barack Obama

Anna Burger Lays Out Service Workers’ Agenda at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO

Big Moment for Labor Movement
Anna Burger on the employee free choice act and other priorities.
http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=7068521

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE OF THE MONEY TRAIL – FINANCIAL RECORDS, REPORTS, COURT FILINGS

Now I know I may sound as though I’m anti-union.  And maybe to some extent, I am. But I’m only against unions that abuse their powers, that use their cause as a front for something else, that purposely keep their members down and hold them back for their own selfish purposes, and those that use bully tactics to push an agenda that might be TOO progressive – to the point that the agenda might conflict with the very ideals upon which this country was founded. But I do support unions that serve a necessary purpose – those that truly protect workers from harm and provide them with fair wages that never would have been won otherwise. Those that help their members succeed by giving them access to true opportunity in a fair, competitive, free market system where their talents will shine and they will thrive.

As an aside, I myself was once forced to be in a union while I worked for AT&T for several years.  I do know what the environment is like. I did not want to be in a union, but as an employee, we were forced to belong. We were not given any choice.  I never once received any benefit from such membership. Hundreds of dollars were taken from my paycheck annually. In fact, the only thing union membership did was hold back my career terribly – I was actually promoted early on for my very hard work, long hours, dedication, and especially for the special skills I’d developed in Internet strategy. But during the promotion review process, it was deferred by the managers who are responsible for checking such transactions with all union regulations. During that process, it was determined that there were several union members who had more seniority than I did that were eligible for being promoted in my division before me – this was despite the fact that none of those members had any Internet skills whatsoever in a time when the Internet was just entering the corporate scene.  I literally had to wait 18 months for two of those members to be promoted, to completely unrelated positions mind you (one was promoted to an executive secretary, the other to a project manager). Meanwhile, I pretty much did two jobs for those 18 months – my job, and the job of the promotion I was supposed to get, since no one else had the skills to fill it while I waited out my time.  And all around me, layoffs occurred by the hundreds of thousands (think AT&T in the 90’s, trivestiture from Ma Bell…). Believe it or not, I wanted those layoffs – the company needed it – it was overgrown with slackers and it was behind the times. It needed to reinvent itself. The unions only prolonged that, stifling the much needed innovation that was necessary to save that company. The days of wired telephones and long distance phone service would have died in the early 90’s instead of dragging into the 21st century, had it not been for the “protection” of the unions.

But, I digress. Getting back to the point of this research…
Again, maybe all of this is 100% on the up and up. Maybe there isn’t a single fraudulent activity or questionable person involved in any of these relationships.  (I doubt it, but I’m going to offer the complete benefit of the doubt to make my next point).

My immediate concern is with PERCEPTION.  It’s in good judgment to, at every possible opportunity, avoid creating any circumstance that would even create the appearance of anything that could be a conflict of interest. It’s what we expect from our nation’s leadership.

Just the appearance of a conflict of interest makes me, as an American citizen, and a hard-working taxpayer, very uncomfortable. It bothers me that so much of today’s policies are so focused and so driven by hard-core union organizers, with very little diversified feedback from others to counter-balance those views. And many of these (not all) are the very types of unions that are abusive, and corrupt, and that are not exactly in the best interest of their members. Look at the others on the PERBA; the majority are also progressive union organizers too, or are heavily affiliated with such voices.  I’m middle class, a hard worker. I’m one of the very people that union organizers always claim to be fighting for, but as I mentioned earlier, being unionized did nothing for me but pay me less money and hold back my career simply because of seniority (years served) at that company. That is not what I want for my country. But THAT is what is advising our President and our Congress from all angles right now in that shining city on the Hill.

I for one think that President Obama should ask anyone involved with any organization mentioned in the Blago complaint to step down. I don’t care if that means Anna Burger and half of his Economic Recovery Board would have to step down. That’s what’s right for this country right now.

Someone in Congress with the courage to stand up for The REAL Middle Class needs to demand the investigation into ACORN until it cannot be denied any longer. Cracking that one open will shed the light on the “Change to Win” stories, and the Soros connections, and the links to the causes of the economic crisis, and so, so much more. THAT is the Truth Commission we need. There are TRILLIONS of dollars at stake.

Wake up America, this little ACORN story is about so much more than Voter Registration fraud. It’s bigger than just the current or the last administration. This is a story with twists and turns, of epic proportion that we need to make sure STAYS in the news. It must be investigated once and for all.

Be sure to read Part III .

Additional references of interest:

National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, List of Complaints Against SEIU

seiu

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11 Comments

Filed under Economy, Budget, Bailouts, Banks, Auto, Insurance, Socialism, Government Size, stimulus, obama, Inside the White House, ACORN

11 responses to “ACORN Part II: Anna Burger, SEIU and the Change to Win story

  1. Pat

    Hi Liberty,
    Good article. I agree this is much bigger than we know yet. Maybe a little (or a lot) of money laundering?

  2. Pat

    Hey Liberty,
    I’ve got a mystery that I haven’t been able to figure out yet. On the Dept of Labor’s site a bunch of unions fall under the “UNNAF.” This is new (I’ve been on this site for 2 years and this is the first I’ve seen this). I don’t know what the organization is. Typically unions fell under the AFL-CIO. When I look at individual unions that have this prefix, their budgets say that their “International” union is now doing the books for them as of 2008. I can’t figure out who the UNNAF is. Any thoughts on this?

    • flutemandy77

      UNNAF just means “unaffiliated”…meaning it’s a union that doesn’t belong to any single specific coalition of other unions. Usually they’re smaller unions that are local, community, or for a specific company. But occasionally, an affiliated union (i.e. SEIU, which belongs to “Change to Win”) can sometimes get categorized in the system as “unaffiliated” even though it’s an affiliated union. (Not sure of the DoL’s taxonomy, but maybe if the local branch of an affiliated union is smaller than a certain # of members? Just a guess…)

      • Pat

        Thanks! That is a good guess. I had never seen that before and thought it might be a larger federation that took over smaller unions. There was an issue with the SEIU trying to make itself into a big conglomerate, I thought it might be along the same lines.

        This org deals with problems within unions–the are pro-labor but against corruption in unions. They have the info about the SEIU: http://www.uniondemocracy.org/

  3. teadrinker

    brilliant. follow the money trail. CA will be restricted federal stimulus money unless Arnold puts the SEIU labor raises back into the CA budget. So said the SEIU and then said the Prez44. The SEIU is creating policy through the Strawman (Prez 44) I don’t want the stimulus money, and I didn’t want this president. We are all in for the most profoundly corrupt and inept 4 years that anyone has witnessed in this country. The layers of the onion are just starting to unfold. keep peeling, please, for all of our sakes. thank you.

  4. Captainron

    As a union member–and part of the Change to Win coalition—-I share a lot of your concerns. I am more specifically concerned that Change to Win has firmly become part of the “open borders lobby” and that the policies that Ms. Burger and cronies want this nation to pursue will result in runaway population growth. We are fighting one aspect of that, locally, where some of us are trying to stop a massive transportation/construction project. We don’t need this particular project—and they are ignoring a much less costly, and better alternative. To add to the problem, the favored project will only trigger a far bigger project in the future—and who knows how many expensive “corrections” after that.

    But labor leaders, like the Change to Win hacks, love this, because it gives them more membership and bigger salaries. Government waste is their lifeblood. I have a list of the “Stimulus” projects and was just horrified at the outlandishly expensive public works projects all over the country. Many of the current Change to Win leaders cut their teeth in California union organizing—so signing up illegal aliens as union members is just part of their nature. ( See: “Organizing Immigrants” by Ruth Milkman _—communist UCLA professor)

    So if the SEIU/Obama/Burger coalition stays in power we will see: 1. outrageous waste, 2. an entrenchment of these people as economic leaders and 3. a constant push for more immigration. My own city is becoming more crowded every year and now I have a lot more fear that I am going to, someday, be involved in an accident that really hurts or kills someone. But these cronies don’t care what happens in the real world—just in their contrived, make believe world of “social justice.” I’m pro-union and against the abuses we have often suffered from big business—but I am not for this current organized labor craziness.

    I guess it is not surprising that SEIU is having financial troubles. I have hardly met anyone these days who lives within their means. The Change to Win bosses typically have salaries in the 300-400,000/yr range and who knows what other rewards and perks.

    • Ron,
      Thank you for your comment. I hear some of the same sentiments on the immigration debate from many other readers, too. And I’ve especially been following the labor unions’…shall we say…”interesting” perspective on immigration policies. I will likely write more on that in the future.

      But I wanted to specifically thank you for posting an open and honest opinion as someone who is not only a union member yourself, but specifically one of the CTW coalition. It is refreshing and insightful to read your views. Thank you for contributing.
      -Liberty Chick

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