None Dare Call These ‘The Friendly Skies’

Spirit Airlines will fly you for as little as $9 each way, provided you don’t mind paying extra for choosing your own seat ($9-$20), checking in a piece of baggage ($100 for the third one), or drinking water while in the air (priceless).

And if you work for Spirit at its Miramar, Fla., low-rent headquarters, you’ll be expected to clean your own space, empty your own trash, and vacuum around you. Even CEO Ben Baldanza keeps his own Oreck at work to clean his office floor (at least he has an office, eh?). He brought the Oreck from home and replaced it with a Dyson.

Spirit has attitude too. Consider this now-infamous TV commercial: A younger man is lying in bed with an older woman (pictured) talking to his friend on the phone.

He: “Dude, there’s no way your mom is cheating on your dad.”

She: “That wasn’t Jay, was it?”

He: “Yeah, that was your son. Don’t worry, he’s not going to find out.”

Voiceover: “You think that’s low? Spirit Airlines fares are even lower.”

Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly (after viewing the ad): “Maybe we are living in Sodom and Gomorrah, and I just haven’t seen the sign change.”

More infamous perhaps even than this TV spot was an e-mail that Baldanza wrote about a customer’s complaint that leaked to the blogosphere:

“We owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned,” Baldanza wrote in his response about a customer’s complaining about a flight cancellation. “Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.”

So if you want to travel cheap and let the airline assign your seat, and you can forego baggage, food and water–and endure verbal abuse for your complaints–Spirit is all for you.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Not Quite the Pet Rock, But ‘Layoff the Game’ Fits the Times

layoff_gameSomeone had to do it, so now we have an online game entitled Layoff to amuse ourselves with as we await our next unemployment insurance debit card refill (while applying online for nonexistent jobs).

Not only do you get to lay people off (except for the bankers), but you can merge with other banks and even obtain a federal bailout. How soooo 2008-2009!

I wonder if there’s a cage for Hank Paulsen and Tim Geithner, the executioners of Lehman Brothers, which started all this panic.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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No Money, No Problem: Health Care Reform Still on Fast Track

Things in the nation’s capital get curiouser and curiouser everyday for those who pay attention to what’s being said and done (and who aren’t the ones actually doing the doings and saying the sayings and those who are supposed to report on them in the Fourth Estate).

First, Senator Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.), chairman of the Budget Committee, shreds Barack Obama’s budget by half (the discretionary part at least, so don’t get your hopes too high for a balanced budget any decade soon) and leaves no money in it for health care reform. He does, however, leave some wiggle room in something called “deficit-neutral” reserve funds.

Now, I assume “deficit-neutral” means something like “don’t add to the already-ginormous budget deficit,” but it’s probably just another way of saying one thing and allowing another to occur. Thus “don’t increase the deficit” becomes “don’t talk about increasing the deficit even as you do.”

At least, that’s the conclusion I drew from Senator Max Baucus, D.-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, when he immediately observes: “I’m very happy that healthcare reform does not have to be paid for in the first five years. We could not do meaningful healthcare reform [otherwise].”

In other words, we’ll do what we please and the press (Fourth Estate) will interpret away all the red ink for public consumption.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just print money in our basements?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Sacre Bleu! Managers Held Hostage in France?

Let’s hope American labor leaders don’t read international news reports.

Turns out that a new habit is taking hold in France in labor relations. To wit: When employees hear bad news, they hold their manager hostage until s/he changes the bad news. Police refuse to intervene for fear of violence.

A manager of a French sbusidiary of 3M is, as I write, being held hostage after he announced a layoff of 110 workers. Employees say they won’t let him out until he makes amends. Just what amends aren’t clear–whether they want no or fewer layoffs, better severance packages or what–but Luc Rousselet is barricaded in his office until he pulls out his magic wand and makes things right.

Rousselet told reporters (presumably by phone, but that’s not clear in the story either) that he “knew there was this risk when I came here.”

There’s some recent precedent for the union and workers at the 3M factory in Pithiviers, near Orleans in the South of France. Earlier this month, employees at Sony, also in the south of France, held both the chief executive and human resources director overnight until they agreed to better pay packages for workers being let go.

Who needs the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) when a good ol’ lynch mob will do?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Despite Public Bravado, Labor Sees EFCA on Life Support

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who in 2007 voted to invoke cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), came out yesterday and said his vote will be “no” this time around. That leaves the Democrats–Labor’s mouthpiece and sometime lackey–with 58 (59 if and when Al Franken arrives) votes to end a sure Republican filibuster. Unfortunately, 60 votes are required.

There’s another way to get it passed through the Senate through a process called reconciliation, which is generally reserved for budget matters. Reconciliation chokes off the filibuster option.

However, using that for such a controversial piece of legislation would be the equivalent of nuclear war–it could be enough to cost the Democrats dearly in the next election.

This leaves the Costco-Starbuck’s-Whole Foods compromise looking more and more like what will finally emerge–so long as sane minds prevail and the House and Senate act (for once) like adults.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Deja Vu All Over Again With Health Care Reform

Two admittedly left-leaning columnists, a married couple (he a pollster, she a lawyer), have produced a comparison of polling results then and now. “Then” refers to the Hillarycare hubbub in 1993-1994, and “now” refers to the Obamacare hubbub in 2009-?.

Results are a bit different than you would expect if you listen to or read what our left-leaning media have to say about health care reform.

Surprise, surprise, there was more public support then than now!

You can read through the nitty-gritty polling numbers in “A New Day or Groundhog Day,” but let me focus on just one of the results to show you why Obama and the Democrats are going to stuff health care reform down our throats whether we like it or not.

A poll in 1993 when Hillarycare filled the air found 66 percent agreeing with the statement, “I would be willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone can have health insurance.” Just 30 percent were opposed. A poll released March 1 of this year found just 49 percent agreeing and 45 percent disagreeing.

But wait–here’s where it gets interesting. When those who agreed with the statement in 1993 were asked how much they’d be willing to spend a month so that everyone could have health insurance, just 25 percent said $50, 40 percent said $30, and 61 percent said just $10.

The same breakdown isn’t available for 2009, but I bet you’d find few people willing to pay $50 more a month in this economy. I’m not even sure you could get a majority to commit to $10 (unless they thought that they would then get health care for free, an extraordinarily popular delusion in this day and age).

That in a nutshell is why the Dems are rushing to pass “reform” before anyone can sort through the details (which in any case won’t be fully available until the thing is published as law). They know the nation can’t afford it and taxes will be flying at everyone (and not just the rich) right and left to try to fund so-called reform (to say nothing of the long lines to see doctors, waiting lists to get hospital treatment, and medicines and procedures banned to save money).

Medicare is already on the fast track to go bankrupt in 10 years or less, and somehow our sleight-of-hand artists in D.C. are trying to get us to believe that spending more money actually saves money (in the long run, they add as a disingenuous qualification).

Welcome to life in our Brave New World, where deficits result in savings and less health care is better health care.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Chinese Use Card Check to Unionize All PRC Wal-Marts

I’ve written previously about the card-check union organizing provision in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) now before Congress. It turns out that this is the same method, gathering signatures, that Chinese workers used to set up unions in every Wal-Mart branch in China.

This was fairly revolutionary for the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which had been accustomed to being co-opted for a price. Generally, the union would approach the management of a company and strike a deal for one of its own to be given a mid-management position to oversee the union branch, and in the bargain would receive two percent of all wages for its operations. That two percent, naturally, would go to the main union, but it would also be used to buy presents for the workers at Chinese New Year’s and so on. Workers’ rights would hardly be considered.

Wal-Mart, however, balked at this process and wouldn’t accede to hiring a union rep or to paying the two percent. It pointed to Chinese law, which said that the workers had to request a union. This was anathema to the ACFTU, which had never had to organize and by law couldn’t even strike. ACFTU had no experience in grass-roots mobililzation.

Surprise, surprise, however, came when workers at the Jinjiang Wal-Mart in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, met in the middle of the night and collected the 25 signatures necessary to form a union. Wal-Mart at first threatened to fire anyone who joined the union, but as branch after branch went through the “card check” process, Wal-Mart accommodated the ACFTU and is now unionized nationwide.

So, you can see why American unions thirst for EFCA and card check.

Somehow, though, I think unionization would cost Wal-Mart U.S.A. more than two percent of its payroll. That’s why its opposition to EFCA is so ferocious.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Business Group Offers Alternative to Employee Free Choice Act

Starbuck’s, Whole Foods and Costco have floated a proposal to level the playing field, as they term it, in union organizing. The group rejects two prongs of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)–the card-check and binding arbitration provisions–and keeps in place the current system of secret balloting.

What they do retain from the EFCA is the provision for increased penalties on employers who obstruct the unionization process or who otherwise threaten, intimidate or outright terminate activist employees.

What they offer in place of card check and arbitration are an expedited election process and equal access for the union to employee gatherings held pre-election for informational purposes, meetings which unions claim are currently used by employers to spread disinformation and scare employees into voting no.

The proposal was instantly rejected by Congressional sponsors of the EFCA as “written by CEOs, for CEOs.” An AFL-CIO spokesperson said it was “simply not an alternative.”

The three companies found little comfort in the business world either, where a line of no compromise has been drawn in the sand.

It appears that friends and foes of the EFCA alike have adopted an all-or-nothing appoach. Time will tell if one side or the other eventually blinks–or if both do.

(For the record, Costco is the only one of the three companies to be unionized, and it is just partially unionized through a handful of locations that were organized by the Teamsters when they were Price Clubs. Costco does, however, give all its employers the same wages and benefits that it negotiates with the Teamsters every three years. Whole Foods actually once had one unionized location in Madison, Wisconsin, out of 300 or so total outlets. The company’s co-founder, John Mackey, has routinely blasted the “intellectually bankrupt left” on his blog and derided unions as “like having herpes.” In fact, Mackey discovered an online community on Yahoo devoted to Whole Foods and contributed nearly 1400 comments over seven years using the pseudonym rahodeb, a variation on the name of his wife Deborah. This activity of his came into play when Whole Foods made an offer to purchase Wild Oats, and the SEC discovered that Mackey had used the online communities for Whole Foods and Wild Oats to game the deal. Whole Foods, to its credit, does provide all employees with free health insurance and competitive wages, factors which have helped stave off unionization at all locations save that one. Starbucks has been in and out of hearings and courtrooms in the past for alleged union-busting activities, and late last year was found guilty by a National Labor Relations Board judge and ordered to reinstate three employees with back pay. There is a Starbucks Union Web site, but its account has been suspended, which hosting services will do for unpaid bills, overuse of bandwidth, violations of terms of service, and other reasons. Even if I had the time, I doubt I’d be motivated to find out why the union’s site has been suspended–unless I can discover some kind of scandal hidden therein.)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Top Ten States in the Foreclosure Sweepstakes

You can call this my corollary to the GovRegs blog posting on “Top 15 Companies With Cash on Hand.”

‘Cept this one ain’t so pretty–it’s a list of the top 10 states in terms of foreclosures. I’ll list them in reverse order to save the winners for last. The number in parentheses represents the ratio of foreclosures per house in the state; for instance, 1-500 means one in every 500 homes is facing foreclosure. Here goes:

Ohio (1-451)
Oregon (1-448)
Georgia (1-389)
Illinois (1-369)
Michigan (1-360)
Idaho (1-358)
Florida (1-188)
California (1-165)
Arizona (1-147)
Nevada (1-70)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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The ‘Human Monster’ Rick Berman Is At It Again

The man whose very son called him “despicable” and a “human molestor,” labor antagonist Rick Berman, is spreading the word again–the word against the EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act.

At least he’s come up with interesting anti-EFCA studies, though one can never know the extent of the bias (if any) built into these things.

First, he cites Princeton economist David Lee, who studied the effect of unionization on companies’ stock valuations.

According to Berman, Lee found “substantial losses in market value following a union election victory–about a 10 percent decline, equivalent to about $40,500 per unionized worker.”

Should EFCA pass, the Human Molestor concludes, “Lee’s data suggest that the market value of firms will decline by as much as 11 percent.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which he also cites, chimes in that EFCA will cost the nation 600,000 jobs in the first year.

Here’s more labor molestation:

In a 2002 study, economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway calculated the burden that labor unions had on American economic productivity. They found that between 1947 and 2000, ‘the economic cost of unions’ in cumulating lost income, investment, and output was $73 trillion. That’s more than the gross world product last year.

Dunno, but that sounds awfully inflated or made up to me, and I’m no fan of the EFCA.

Berman gets in some licks of his own, of course, but he doesn’t reveal his source when he claims that the top ten most unionized states achieved just two-thirds the job growth of the top ten least unionized states from 1997-2007.

This is all good stuff in the arsenal of weapons to be used against the EFCA, but I doubt any Democrats will be listening in Congress.

Are you listening, filibuster-killer Arlen Specter?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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