- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 16, 2008

LABOR

FEC asked to probe Wal-Mart

The AFL-CIO and three labor rights groups have asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unlawfully pressured employees to vote against Democrats in November because their party would help workers unionize.

The groups - which include Change to Win, American Rights at Work and WakeUpWalMart.com - say in a complaint processed Friday with the FEC that “there is reason to believe” Wal-Mart broke federal election rules by advocating against Democratic candidate Barack Obama in meetings with employees.

The labor organizations based their complaint on a report earlier this month from the Wall Street Journal. The report said Wal-Mart held mandatory meetings with store managers and department supervisors to warn that if Democrats prevail this fall, they would likely push through a bill that the company says would hurt workers.



The legislation, called the Employee Free Choice Act, would allow labor organizations to unionize workplaces without secret ballot elections. It was co-sponsored by Mr. Obama and opposed by John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, employs 1.4 million workers. It has rigorously resisted being unionized and opposes the bill.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter has said it did discuss the bill with its employees, including what it sees as the negative impact. It also said it has not advocated that its employees vote against backers of the legislation.

BALLOT

Nader petitions turned in for Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine | Supporters of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Friday submitted to state election officials what they say are far more than the minimum number of petitions that they need to place his name on Maine’s November ballot.

Mr. Nader would be the fourth presidential candidate on the ballot, along with the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, and the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney.

Campaigners for Mr. Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez said they collected nearly 7,000 voter signatures - or 3,000 more than the required minimum - and turned in 5,400 to the secretary of state’s office hours before Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

Maine became the 30th state in which ballot petitions have been filed to get the longtime consumer advocate on the ballot, said Ben Chipman, who organized the drive in Maine. The goal is to get Mr. Nader’s name on the ballot in 45 states. The campaign is skipping five states whose ballot access laws it considers too stringent.

Mr. Chipman said Mr. Nader supporters turned in enough signatures to thwart any attempt by the Democrats to challenge his candidacy in Maine. Democrats unsuccessfully challenged his petitions four years ago.

The 74-year-old Mr. Nader, who made campaign stops in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Portland in June, maintains that most voters are disenchanted with the two major parties because of the shaky economy and the prolonged war in Iraq. He has called for President Bush’s impeachment.

Mr. Nader ran for president on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004. He is still loathed by many Democrats who say his candidacy cost Al Gore the 2000 election.

FLORIDA

Obama camp hopes to avoid ‘00 repeat

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Barack Obama’s campaign manager says part of winning in Florida means making sure the election is properly run. He wants to avoid the state becoming the poster child for dysfunctional elections again.

David Plouffe told reporters Friday that the campaign is already working in Florida and elsewhere. They are making sure there will be enough poll workers and properly functioning machines in precincts where higher turnout is expected.

Many Democrats think the 2000 election would have turned out differently if not for problems in Florida. President Bush carried the state by 537 votes in an election that took five weeks to resolve.

Many of the reported problems were in largely-black precincts.

From wire service dispatches.

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