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SEIU tantrums in San Francisco; Update: Public-sector protectionism rejected in NJ

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 24, 2009 09:23 AM

Police arrested 18 SEIU Purple Shirts yesterday in San Francisco after their protest of city layoffs and budget cuts caused a traffic jam and massive headaches for other residents trying to commute to and from, you know, work:

Police arrested 18 members of the Service Employees International Union on Monday night after they blocked rush hour traffic on Market Street about a block from Civic Center Plaza to protest job cuts in the face of San Francisco’s budget deficit.

Protesters, trying to prevent 500 city workers from being laid off, reassigned or given smaller paychecks, had notified police ahead of time of their plans. Nobody was injured in the demonstration, police said. The demonstrators were cited and released with an order to appear later in court.

The SEIU also bragged about another disruptive caper in San Francisco on its blog last week:

“What does it take to get the mayor’s attention in this town?” was the question on their purple lips Thursday night (it was cold) after several dozen SEIU 1021 members and staff occupied Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office, while hundreds more cheered them on inside and outside City Hall. It was a two-pronged tactic of escalating the San Francisco campaign through civil disobedience on top of public rallies…

…How the caper went down: Like a scheme from Ocean’s 11, SEIU 1021 had a 14-foot puppet and a crowd of hundreds to draw public attention–while inside the halls of power, a joint member-staff task force prepared to occupy the mayor’s office at any cost.

After changing into purple nursing scrubs in a conference room near the supervisors’ second floor offices, members seized advantage of an opened door to charge through the hallway past Newsom’s budget director’s office and into the wood-paneled lobby of Da Mayor’s office itself. That’s where they stayed for more than two hours, chanting and discussing and demanding to see the mayor, who never showed. Outside, hundreds of SEIU 1021 members and supporters rallied outside, holding signs reading “I Am a Woman” and dancing to Bob Marley’s anthemic “Get Up, Stand Up!”

After negotiating their release from the mayor’s office (they were locked in), members were greeted with wild cheers by most of the outside supporters.

What the SEIU won’t brag about is its own increasing isolation from other workers as a result of its militancy. The demonstrations against the city provide distraction and cover from SEIU’s political troubles:

A lefty site breaks down the rivalry:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) held a boisterous picket line in San Francisco last night, but their chants targeted a surprising adversary: labor leaders and their political allies. While California Democratic Party Chair John Burton (labor’s greatest California ally), State Senator Mark Leno and leaders of UNITE HERE, the Sailors, Plumbers, Building Trades, and Police and Fire unions, were inside the Plumbers Union Hall honoring the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), SEIU was outside denouncing NUHW – and by implication its supporters – as corrupt. Last week, SEIU informed Burton that it would end its $1 million annual donation to the state Party unless he withdrew his support for NUHW, which he refused to do.

SEIU’s threat to labor hero Burton, and its reported statement to the United Teachers of Los Angeles (sponsor of tonight’s NUHW fundraiser) that it would seek to organize charter school teachers in retaliation for UTLA’s pro-NUHW stance, reflects a union increasingly at odds with the labor movement. In July, 25 international union leaders condemned SEIU’s raids on UNITE HERE, and new AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has since vowed to defend UNITE HERE against SEIU attacks. SEIU is now isolated, viewing fellow unions and pro-labor politicians as adversaries, and its scorched earth campaign against its former California health care leadership is coming at a steepening internal and political cost.

On a day when SEIU President Andy Stern joined hundreds of taxpayers protesting outside Goldman Sachs’ DC headquarters, the union he heads engaged in a vigorous street protest in San Francisco against labor leaders, political allies, and other supporters of the labor movement. SEIU’s protest further estranged it from a labor movement that Stern once aspired to lead, and culminates a year when its twin battles against NUHW and UNITE HERE have left the once inspiring union with more critics than friends in labor.

Let the sun shine in.

***

Meanwhile, hope and change of attitudes toward labor protectionism in NJ, via Jim Geraghty:

Let’s take a look at how voters in New Jersey feel about government, from Quinnipiac this morning:

New Jersey voters support 75 – 21 percent, including 70 – 26 percent among Democrats, a wage freeze for state workers to help balance the state budget, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today, three weeks after Christopher Christie toppled Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. A wage freeze wins 75 – 20 percent support from independent voters and 79 – 16 percent backing from Republicans. Voters in union households back a wage freeze 62 – 33 percent.

Garden State voters also support 61 – 33 percent layoffs for state workers to help balance the state budget, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. Support ranges from 50 – 43 percent among Democrats to 65 – 29 percent among independent voters to 69 – 25 percent among Republicans. Voters in union households split 49 – 48 percent.

A total of 97 percent of New Jersey voters say the state’s budget problems are “very serious” or “somewhat serious.”

Cut programs and services to balance the budget, 68 percent say, as 23 percent say raise taxes instead. Service cuts win 46 – 43 percent support from Democrats, 73 – 18 percent backing from independent voters and 86 – 8 percent backing from Republicans.

“If Governor-elect Christopher Christie wants to consider a wage freeze, New Jersey voters, even Democrats and union households, say send out for ice,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And if he’s thinking about swinging the ax, voters will help sharpen it. Garden State voters agree with their new Governor – overwhelmingly – that the state’s in a fiscal mess. And they agree he should use the ax, not the tax, to solve the problem.”

When 50 percent of Democrats, and 49 percent of union households support laying off government workers, the verdict is clear: for these voters in this state, government isn’t working.

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