Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Your Union. Delivered.

Back in May, we posted an item about state Democratic Party chairman Joe Wineke signing on as a lobbyist for AT&T to push for a cable TV franchising bill the company desires. The firestorm that Wineke's dual roles created eventually forced him to put an end to his lobbying work for the telecommunications giant.

Now we learn that AT&T's stable of lobbyists includes none other than Communications Workers of America Local 4611 President Michael Goebel.

Questions abound. . . . Would Goebel know a conflict of interest if it bit him on the backside? Would he care? How many rank and file members of CWA Local 4611 know that their union president is paid to shill for AT&T? How many will stand for Goebel's divided loyalties when all this becomes widely known?


Ron Honse CWA Wisconsin Political Coordinator said...

My name is Ron Honse, and I am the Communications Workers of America Legislative Political Coordinator for the State of Wisconsin.

Mike is far from a “shill” for AT&T. Mike was asked by, and is working on behalf of, the Communications Workers of America and the CWA members in the State of Wisconsin for passage of the current video legislation that is being considered by the State Senate. The legislation is very important to the Communications Workers of America as it continues to strive for new job creation by AT&T in Wisconsin

This bill is fully supported by the CWA National Union and Mike is doing great work for the members of CWA that work for AT&T in Wisconsin. He should be praised rather than castigated for his work, and his Local should be proud of his efforts and dedication to the Union

Ben Manski said...

Ok . . .

So, Ron, can you clarify who is paying for Goebel's lobbying hours? Is he or is he not personally taking AT&T money?

Working for the union with the employer is one thing (business unionism), working for the employer with the union, well, that's another.

Mike - Member/Steward CWA 4611 said...

Mr. Manski by definition a shill is: A house employee who bets money and pretends to be a player to attract customers. Shills typically follow the same rules as the dealer which makes them somewhat easy to spot (ie, they don't Double Down or Split). Kinda sounds like it is synonomous with what a lobbyist does, attracts others to join in on a certain cause. So by definition, I guess Mike would certainly be a shill for AT&T (to bad he's not a young lady, he would probably attract a few more people). Anyway, I was wondering myself, do you not personally take AT&T money every day? Are you an employee of this company? I would much rather see Mike's paycheck come out of the pockets of the company who can afford to do so more than I would like to see it come out of the pockets of the local/Union that could definately have a better use for it. I can tell you that none of this has caused a conflict of interest. In many cases it has given Mike some extra leverage in Union matters. There has also been instances when Mike has nearly walked away from the lobbyist position but has been asked not to by local and State members not to because of the sheer importance of this legislation. Oh, and to answer your question, there is not one person in his local who does not know Mike is doing this or who is paying him. He has been very clear and open about his position and dealings. Sometimes to the point that it becomes almost annoying. So I end this with two simple question to you. Do you think what you are doing here is actually helping anyone? What have you done lately to help out this Union at the State level? Solidarity.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to another Mike to Sound Off.

I am a Member of Local 4611.

Yes we know what he does.

Conflict of Interest? UMMM last time I checked...isn't it good if the Company you work for does well??

These are our JOBS of the Future. We all understand the importance of this TV Bill.

I am a rank and file Member, I agree with Steward Mike...Thanks for saving me alot of typing Mike!

Widely Known???? Dude do your homework on Local 4611.

Walter ... the only Walter in 4611. However we do have a few more Mike's.

Who's Next?

Ben Manski said...

Thanks for making clear who pays the bills.

Cynthia Laitman said...

After reading all comments by union members vigorously defending Mike Goebel and his lobbying for AT&T, two facts stand out.

1) The union members who have commented do not understand the concept of “conflict of interest” and
2) None of the union members who have commented have actually read the bill in question (SB 107/ AB 207).

“Conflict of interest” means that you can’t play for both teams at the same time. The reason unions were created in the first place was to protect the interests of workers against the abuses of the more powerful corporations that employed them. Remember sweat shops? Remember 7-day work weeks? It’s a sad day when unions are duped into abandoning their independence in exchange for smoke-and-mirrors promises from the very corporations whose profits increase when labor costs decrease.

For every union member who believes that this bill is going to bring new jobs to Wisconsin, I challenge you to read the bill for yourself. You can download it from the State of Wisconsin website. Then, after reading the bill, if you still think it’s going to create jobs, I invite you to explain to me exactly HOW.

The fact is, there isn’t a single clause in AT&T’s cable bill that would create even one new job. New jobs come from build-out, and this bill explicitly erases any obligation of “video providers” from having to build beyond their current ‘footprint’.

Then, there are the hard, cold facts about this company’s record. The current AT&T (previously known as Ameritech aka SBC Ameritech) has a history of cutting jobs in Wisconsin, not creating them. In fact the company has cut its Wisconsin workforce by nearly half since the early 1990s. And the most recent cutback occurred this past July, when AT&T closed a service center and cut over 100 good union jobs—even as the company was pushing you to support their pet legislation.

Wishful thinking is not going to create good union jobs. Facts and an independent organized labor force will. When you surrender that independence, it’s the workers who lose.

Anonymous said...

Another CWA local out in California doesn't seem so thrilled with AT&T. (Go here to see what I mean.)

How long will it take for Local 4611 to learn the lessons that Local 9415 out there already has learned?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the bill does not specifically guarantee new jobs. However, I don't know where you come from, but here in Kenosha our Uverse build will not happen unless this bill is passed. Therefore, once passed will increase the numbers of prem techs needed in the area; inturn creating more jobs.

If this bill is not passed, there will be less of a need for construction techs probably resulting in the loss of more positions from this local. Don't lecure me on the loss of jobs and cutting workforce. We recently lost 7 GOOD techs, who were forced to Milwaukee, because we had "too many people."

You can sit here and quote to me the dry specifics behind the bill. That is fine. Read between the lines. Without this bill there will be many areas in this state who will not be able to build out their uverse because of local governments. Without uverse, WE WILL loose many customers to other providers.

Union independancy is ideal, however we must also have a symbiotic relationship, at times, with this company. How many of you have forgotten that this job is based on customer service? From the offices to the field without customers, we have no job, and no union.

Mike may, by your definition, have a conflict of interest. However by putting his ass on the line for people such as yourselves to beat up on, he is helping to pass a bill that can only help us, and I do mean US, in the future.

Cynthia Laitman said...

To "Anonymous": The "dry specifics" of this bill is what's going to become state law, not what you believe is "between the lines".

There's NOTHING -- not one single thing -- in this bill that's going to help anyone but AT&T and its stockholders. The rest of us -- you and your co-workers included -- are going to lose whatever protections we have now.

I repeat -- wishful thinking is not going to create new jobs, and neither will this bill.

John Wallace said...

Special Interest Money is Nothing More Than Bribery

Members of Congress have managed to create a seemingly lawful system whereby they can legally accept money from lobbyists or other persons who represent special interest groups that are actively involved in trying to influence those same politicians in future votes. The special interest groups that contribute large sums of money to political campaigns want and expect “their politicians” to enact (or help in some way) legislation that favors the group that provided the money. In America today, we are living under a political system that not only allows, but encourages and condones the legalized bribery of members of congress. That is why I believe “America has the best congress that special interest money can buy.”

Compare these two examples:

1. If a known drug dealer gives a police officer in a narcotics enforcement unit a $1,000. “Contribution” for the policeman’s ball and says “I hope you consider looking the other way when I’m selling drugs on the corner.” Whether or not the police officer takes any kind of official action that benefits the drug dealer, if he accepts the money, he commits the crime of bribery, right?

2. If a lobbyist or member of a special interest group gives a member of congress a $1,000. “Contribution” for his campaign and says: I hope you consider our position on any upcoming votes that affect us.” Whether or not the congressmen or Senator takes some kind of official action that benefits that person or organization, if he accepts the money, isn’t that still bribery?

Neither of these public servants should be taking money from people or organizations to influence their decisions they will make during the course of performing their official duties. Shouldn’t both situations be considered illegal conduct by those involved? Well, not if you are a member of congress. Bribery is defined as “a corrupt activity in which a person offers or receives goods, money, services, etc. to sway a person’s opinion, action, or decision.” Merely accepting the goods, money, services, etc, is a crime. It is immaterial whether or not the person receiving the benefit, does anything. In the case of members of congress, however, receiving money is only considered to be bribery if the briber explicitly says to the politician (the one being bribed): "I'm giving you this money as payment for a yes or no vote on the house floor tomorrow."

The reality of political life in America today is that politicians are being bribed every day by special interest groups that want them to legislate in a way that benefits them and not the American people. Americans are bearing the brunt of this horrific situation in ways that affect us all every day of our lives. The current campaign finance laws are built on a legal fiction. The legal fiction is that campaign contributions from special interest groups are considered to be legal and within the law even though they are actually bribes. Money given to members of congress by special interest groups is nothing more than "legalized bribery." Through bundled contributions and PAC giving, industries, labor unions, and other special interest groups pay to persuade lawmakers to vote their way on the issues.

No matter how it is said, Special Interest dollars buys votes and it also buys elections. The real scandal in the nation’s capitol is that this everyday bribery remains legal. Candidates who please their special interest money donors through their votes, are usually rewarded with more bribes, I mean more campaign contributions. This legalized bribery system has created a “Privileged Oligarchy” made up of selected members of congress and big donor elites from wealthy special interest groups. This oligarchy is currently governing this country and making decisions that oftentimes are not in the best interests of the American people, but rather in favor of the special interest groups.

Our elections should be about what American citizens want, not about what big special interest donors want.

I will support any legislation that defines the receipt of special interest money by members of congress as bribery and therefore illegal.

I also will support legislation that removes the monetary limits on individual contributions to campaigns, as the US Constitution does not give Congress the authority to set such limits because it limits the citizens’ free speech rights.

I support the continuation of legislation requiring the full and immediate disclosure of all contributions to Federal election campaigns. No exceptions or loopholes allowed.

Although I do not fully support the concept of government financing of campaigns, the following two pieces of legislation, currently introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives, are a step in the right direction and I would support them as well. They are H.R. 1614 “The Clean Money, Clean Elections Act of 2007” and S.936 “The Fair Elections Now Act.”

Candidate for Congress
New York’s 20th Congressional District