AWESOME: Union Front Group Got Taxpayer Funds From Department of Labor to Push Minimum Wage Hikes

Guest post by Eric Boehm

The U.S. Department of Labor handed over $ 275,000 in taxpayer-funded grants in 2009 to an organization that claimed to be a charitable nonprofit with tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

But that organization was not officially certified as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit until 2010, documents show.

The Restaurant Opportunity Center, or ROC-United, a national organization working to raise the minimum wage and improve working conditions for restaurant workers by combing the labor organizing muscle of powerful unions with Occupy Wall Street protest tactics, got the grant anyway.

The group is organizing several high profile events this week to highlight the $ 2.17 national minimum wage for tipped workers.

In the 2009 grant application, ROC United submitted a letter to the Department of Labor that showed the IRS had granted tax exempt status to ROC New York — an affiliated but legally separate organization — even though the $ 275,000 grant would flow to ROC United.

The department was either fooled by the application or didn’t check it closely enough.

Either way, ROC was awarded the grant through the Susan Harwood Grant Program, which is supposed to be limited to 501(c)3 charitable nonprofits, a status not granted to ROC United until June 2010.

“This is also further reason why ROC should not be receiving taxpayer funds. ROC takes taxpayer money, then turns around and lobbies Congress and pushes labor-backed initiatives across the country,” said Mike Paranzino, communications director for ROC Exposed, a political nonprofit that obtained the 2009 grant application via a Freedom of Information request.

Documents obtained by ROC Exposed show that when ROC United applied for the federal grant in August 2009, the group was in the midst of a back-and-forth battle with the IRS over its tax status.

On the application, ROC United claimed to be a “nonprofit with 501(c)3 status.”

But six months later, in February 2010, lawyers representing ROC United were still haggling with the IRS over the organization’s status, and indicated in a letter that the IRS hadn’t granted ROC United official 501(c)3 status.

By that time, the grant records show, federal cash was already flowing to the organization.

A spokesman for the department didn’t respond to a request from Watchdog.org seeking information about the grant application and whether it could be reviewed five years after it was approved. The department also didn’t respond when asked if there could be penalties imposed for grants that were obtained with inaccurate application information.

ROC United didn’t return calls for comment.

When the Labor Department announced the grants in 2009, the award given to ROC United was supposed to “provide training to small restaurant employers” and to develop “local health and safety committees for ongoing workers and employers.” The grant said ROC United would provide training to 50 restaurants and an estimated 2,000 workers in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Since 2009, affiliates of ROC United have sprung up in each of those cities.

But training workers on safety issues is hardly the organization’s primary purpose.

Founded after 9/11 to help restaurant workers displaced from their jobs in lower Manhattan, ROC has morphed into a national organization with branches in most major cities. The organization’s goal is “to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce,” according to its website, which brags about ROC’s role in several states’ recent decisions to raise the minimum wage.

The organization has helped organize protests against several restaurant chains and is helping promote protests on Thursday — February 13, a date meant to draw attention to the $ 2.13 per hour wage for tipped workers — around the country.

The group joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Wednesday for a conference call urging an increase to the national minimum wage, and ROC United bragged on its Facebook page about being at the White House for an event focusing on the minimum wage.

The group has slowly gained more influence with the Labor Department since that initial 2009 grant, regardless of whether the grant was obtained properly.

In 2011, the department announced an “alliance” with ROC to promote workplace safety.

Its success has caught the eye of major unions, who see service sector employees as a new frontier in labor organization.

All over America, workers are organizing in all kinds of ways, and they call their unity by all kinds of names — workers’ unions, associations, centers, networks,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in September, praising ROC United’s executive director Saru Jayaraman for her role in organizing restaurant workers.

While ROC United puts pressure on restaurants to increase wages, Congress might soon put pressure on them.

Two years ago, the House Oversight Committee caught wind of the 2009 grant application and the seemingly inaccurate representation of the group’s tax exempt status.

In a letter to the Labor Department, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked for information about that questionable 2009 grant and why it was awarded when the organization wasn’t yet recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit.

ROC’s history of intimidation towards opponents and management problems with its own restaurant raises significant questions about why DOL decided to form an alliance with and provide federal funding to the organization,” Issa wrote.

The grant is one of six taxpayer-funded grants ROC has received from the federal government — the other five came from the U.S. Department of Health, federal records show — totaling more than $ 1 million.

Caitlin Carroll, spokeswoman for the House Oversight Committee, said lawmakers and staff are currently reviewing additional materials received from the Labor Department concerning the issues raised in the July 2012 letter.

Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org. Follow @WatchdogOrg and @EricBoehm87 on Twitter for more.

Doug Ross @ Journal

Dems Push Executive Orders For Full Employment: “Should Be Our Number One Agenda”

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The honorable Congresswoman from Texas, who recently argued that welfare should be renamed to a transitional living fund, has another brilliant idea up her sleeve. Given the overwhelming success of the Patient Affordable Care Act in reducing premiums, providing high quality health care to all Americans, and improving the economy, Congressional democrats have established a “Full Employment Caucus” which aims to give every American who wants to work a job.

According to Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) you’re either going to support it, or President Obama will use his Executive Powers to push it through without Congressional approval.

This one is straight out of the Communist Manifesto and like any good collectivist approach it will be mandated by our benevolent central leadership committee:

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said that the new Congressional Full Employment Caucus will “give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign.”

Jackson Lee added that writing up executive orders “should be our number one agenda.”

“We will be answering the call of all of America because people need work and we’re not doing right by them by creating work,” the Texas congresswoman said.

“I believe this caucus will put us on the right path and we’ll give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign with pride and strength”…

“In fact, I think that should be our number one agenda. Let’s write up these executive orders — draft them, of course — and ask the president to stand with us on full employment,” Jackson Lee added.

According to a recent commentary by Rep. Fredrica Wilson and Rep. John Conyers, who are part of the Full Employment Caucus, this is an absolute necessity in America because of the widening income inequality gap:

We need a movement for a full employment society.

Every American has a stake in stopping unemployment. So it’s time to kindle a new movement built on a simple vision: Every American who wants to work should have the right to either employment or training.

Someone may want to get in touch with these Congressional Representatives, because last time we checked, every legal resident and citizen who wants to work already has a right to work in the United States of America. That’s been the case for quite a while, but we understand if these Congressional democrats weren’t aware of it because it appears in an obscure little document called The Constitution of the United States of America.

Wilson and Conyers continue, in an attempt to educate us about how big government isn’t really big government, and this regulatory environment is necessary for the optimum functioning of capitalism:

A 21st Century New Deal would establish public trusts to create work opportunities and training programs in needed areas including construction, infrastructure repair, energy efficiency, education, health care, and neighborhood renovation.

Some of our conservative colleagues in Congress might call this approach “big government.” To the contrary, we know it’s the way to optimize free-market capitalism. When every person is trained, working, earning a salary, and contributing to the tax base, we have less need for government assistance and higher levels of consumer demand and investment. We therefore have less debt and more economic growth.

This sounds great on paper. Free health care and 100% employment always do. But as we’ve seen throughout history, it doesn’t always work out that way in the real world.

You cannot mandate full employment, otherwise you end up with mega-cities that lack people. Or, as was often done behind the Berlin Wall in the East Bloc during the cold war, tens of thousands of products would be built, only to be destroyed later because no one could afford to buy them. Everyone was employed, but the economies of these communist nations collapsed in on themselves because market participants were not free to do what the market demanded. They were forced to do what government demanded.

Here’s a thought for Sheila Jackson Lee and her Caucus colleagues. Since the idea is to establish a “New Deal” for the 21st century, perhaps we could get all of those folks on “transitional living funds” and instead of doling out thousands of dollars in government distributions to people who essentially sit on their butts all day waiting for their next check, we have those folks earn their keep. We’re already shelling out billions of dollars a year to cover their “salaries,” so why not do with welfare what Ms. Jackson Lee suggested by making it a truly transitional and temporary government assistance program?

Let’s transition those folks from their couches into actual productive human beings.

If you want a check from the government and you have two functioning arms and two functioning legs, then get to work!

Here’s an example of someone who’s itching to transition right now:

Shock Interview: Welfare Recipient: “I Get to Sit Home… I Get to Smoke Weed… We Still Gonna Get Paid”

While workers out there are preaching morality at people like me living on welfare, can you really blame us?

I get to sit home… I get to go visit my friends all day… I even get to smoke weed…

Me and people that I know that are illegal immigrants that don’t contribute to society, we still gonna get paid.

Our check’s gonna come in the mail every month… and it’s gonna be on time… and we get subsidized housing… we even get presents delivered for our kids on Christmas… Why should I work?

Ya’ll get the benefit of saying “oh, look at me, I’m a better person,” but when ya’ll sit at home behind ya’lls I’m a better person… we the ones gettin’ paid!

Full employment mandates are so going to work. Let’s break out the pens and Executive Orders and get this economy fixed!


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

GENIUS: House Leaders Prepare to Push Amnesty Though Only 3% of Americans Believe It’s a Priority

Guest post by Van Esser

As Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans gear up for an internal debate over whether to address immigration in 2014, a new Gallup poll lends support to those who want to delay consideration. The poll found that only three percent of Americans think immigration is the top problem Congress must tackle this year. This is consistent with rankings in the recent past so why does Boehner consider immigration to be urgent or even a priority?

Of the new poll, Gallup’s Lydia Saad said, “Americans start the new year with a variety of national concerns on their minds. Although none is dominant, the government, at 21%, leads the list of what Americans consider the most important problem facing the country. The economy closely follows at 18%, and then unemployment/jobs and healthcare, each at 16%. No other issue is mentioned by as much as 10% of the public; however, the federal budget deficit or debt comes close, at 8%.” And below that at 3 percent, just above "lack of respect for each other," comes immigration.

There are a variety of reasons why Americans’ top priority is the category “dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians; poor leadership; corruption; abuse of power.” Anyone who reads or listens to the news knows there have been a string of governmental failures and outrages, including President Obama’s setting aside enforcement of the immigration laws he does not like. Second and third come the economy and unemployment – two matters that Congress has debated for years but failed to address, at least in any effective manner. That in itself is an outrage. Unemployment remains high, especially for less-skilled/educated Americans and young Americans, and long-term unemployment is forcing people to abandon the workforce. The labor participation rate is the lowest it has been in the last 36 years yet politicians find time to address everything but putting Americans back to work.

Perhaps that is changing now that the President has “pivoted” to jobs and Speaker John Boehner said jobs would be the House’s top priority this year. “Our focus will continue to be on jobs,” he said. Actually, that’s not true but it sounds good at the beginning of a new congressional year. “All during the break, I kept hearing from people that they wanted us to focus on the economy. The American people are still asking the question: ‘Where are the jobs?’” he said.

If he follows through, that would at least make action in the People’s House more consistent with the people’s wishes as evidenced by the Gallup poll and many others. So why is Boehner pushing to take up immigration — a low-priority in the people’s eyes – when the solutions Republicans are said to be considering can only detract from his top goal?

Boehner is a leader who, although mindful of the polls, is largely motivated by the desires of his Republican caucus and business groups/campaign donors. We know that he’s listening to his caucus on immigration because he promised not to bring up related bills unless they’re supported by a majority of his caucus. He doesn’t often publicly promised to comply with the so-called Hastert rule, and has never gone back on his word when he did, so this is important.

As for business groups, to deny that they have Boehner’s ear would be like denying that the National Security Agency collects a lot of data. And the truth is, business groups want a comprehensive amnesty irrespective of what the people want or how severely it hurts American wage earners. They want more high-skilled foreign workers. They want more guest workers in the low- and medium skills range. And they want a legalization, if not citizenship, for illegal aliens.

You might ask, how can Boehner not see the incongruity? Advocating simultaneously for policies that, on one hand, put more Americans back to work while, on the other, give out work permits to millions of additional foreign workers. Bringing in more cheap foreign labor will exacerbate long-term unemployment, not turn it around.

House Republicans will soon leave town for their annual retreat where the topics of jobs and immigration will be discussed. Boehner’s staff have been vetting draft GOP immigration principles within the Republican caucus in advance of the retreat. While the one-page document is supposedly vague, it reportedly reflects much of what was contained in the Senate-passed comprehensive amnesty.

Since he’s working under the Hastert rule, Boehner will try to convince a majority of Republicans at the retreat to support his statement of principles. You can be sure that Republicans who oppose moving legislation this year will argue that Boehner’s immigration push is incompatible with his top priority — putting Americans back to work — and the desires of the American people.

When you think about it, the fact that Boehner is carrying water for the cheap labor lobby demonstrates why most say their top priority is “dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians; poor leadership; corruption; abuse of power.” Boehner would never see it that way but let’s hope his caucus realizes that they can begin to address the public’s top three concerns by telling Boehner to start over again with an enforcement-only focus.

Read more at NumbersUSA

Doug Ross @ Journal

Push of a Button: This Is How Fast They Can Lock Down the Entire Banking System

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Late last week it was learned that some 40 million charge cards were obtained using physical processing systems located in Target retail locations nationwide. Though no details of the how the hack attack was executed have been released by Target, the FBI or other agencies investigating the breach, it is likely that the processing machines themselves were compromised. Target claims that the hack was sophisticated, but on the technical side, once hackers found a way into the credit card processing machines, probably via remote entry from servers somewhere in Eastern Europe or Russia, the theft of credit card data itself would have been fairly straight forward by using scripts or applications that simply capture the data and send it off to servers owned by the hackers.

This was probably one of the largest credit card thefts in history, though it is not at all surprising. Two years ago we noted that cyber attacks would soon be targeting America’s e-commerce systems and just a few months ago it was noted that rogue terrorist groups were specifically working on sabotage operation to bring down the U.S. economy. While this latest attack on Target stores and their customers fell far short of crashing our economy or financial system, it proves, as did recent breaches of Pentagon military networks, that even the most highly secured systems in the world can be compromised.

Furthermore, what this attack highlights is that with the right type of “event” the economy and financial system of the United States can be shut down… almost instantly.

If you are a JP Morgan Chase banking customer and happened to use your debit card at Target stores between November 27th and December 15th, then you got a first-hand taste of what a shutdown of the banking system might feel like and how fast in can happen.

It was done with the push of a button and impacted some two million holiday shoppers:

JPMorgan Chase has notified card holders impacted by the Target breach that their cards will be restricted to $ 100 ATM cash withdrawals and $ 300 card purchases until replacement cards can be issued. The new limits impact nearly 2 million debit card accounts, but not credit card holders.

Chase bank made no announcement to their customers of the coming restrictions just days before Christmas. They simply obtained a list of the potentially compromised cards, uploaded them into their system, and with the flick of a finger shut down electronic access to customers’ funds. Whether Chase’s actions were a bad business move is not necessarily at issue, though it was probably quite inconvenient for those affected.

What is at issue is what many in alternative media have been warning about for some time – that the entire financial system of the United States can be shut down within a matter of minutes should the right set of events be realized.

Most Americans don’t believe it can happen. Likewise, most people didn’t think that American domestic security agencies could shut down our borders and put transportation across the country on lock-down within a few hours – until it happened on September 11, 2001.

Former national security coordinator Richard Clarke has warned that America’s cyber infrastructure is so fragile that it could literally be brought down by a coordinated cyber attack in a matter of 15 minutes. It sounds absurd to suggest that our country could potentially be crippled that quickly, until you realize that China, Russia, and Iran have long been mapping our entire utility, commerce and communications grids, all of which would be the first targets in any large-scale confrontation.

Because cyber space is now considered a national asset, the President of the United States has the authority to completely shut down the internet (and all of the components attached to it) with what experts call a “kill switch.” If this executive action is ever implemented the President would need very little justification to shut it all down – the financial system, commerce systems, and all personal web surfing – for a period of up to four months, and then indefinitely if he can provide a justifiable reason to Congress.

We live in a world that is, for those paying attention, completely out of our control. Our entire way of life could change overnight for any number of reasons.

A war with a foreign power, a rogue terrorist attack, or a false flag event could all be a trigger event for something so debilitating that it would cause pandemonium from coast to coast.

Former Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano recently said that a massive and serious attack on the homeland is imminent. It makes no difference why it happens. Only that it does.

And when it does, you’d better be ready for it.


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You