UPDATE: I originally made this post in May 2009.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.
According to her own “Change to Win” website, Anna Burger
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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: