(Also posted on National Review Institute’s Media Malpractice blog.)
LA Times reporter Tom Hamburger has a very good article in Tuesday’s paper chronicling the business community’s largely behind-the scenes lobbying effort against the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act,” also known as the “card check” bill, which would largely do away with the secret ballot in unionization elections.
To Hamburger’s credit, he provides a lot of details about the business community’s lobbying effort that were not reported contemporaneously by the national media, such as an April meeting of 250 business owners in Arkansas that aimed to pressure Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor in opposition to the card check legislation. Hamburger also reports about an “airlift” operation by pro-business groups that flew business owners to Washington for personal visits to their Senators’ offices.
However, Hamburger leaves unchallenged a questionable claim from an unnamed union advisor that unions have been “outspent” by business groups this year, and he gives the impression that unions have been largely sitting on their hands during this year’s debate:
“… once (Obama) was elected, labor leaders made a fateful decision … The labor groups scaled back (lobbying efforts on card check,) partly to give Obama time to get his bearings amid the deepening economic crisis…. Before labor groups had fully engaged this winter, the allied business groups successfully cast the legislation as undemocratic… The unions stepped up their pressure. On a frigid, blustery day in early April, 100 union members gathered outside Lincoln’s office in Little Rock and chanted for her to support the legislation.”
Those who have been fighting the card check bill over the past six months should be forgiven for wondering exactly when this supposed “scaled back” union lobbying period occurred, or when they weren’t “fully engaged” in the debate. Were unions giving Obama “time to get his bearings” on Jan. 14, when the union organization American Rights at Work announced a massive $3 million national TV ad campaign in support of card check?
Was it on Jan. 30, when the same group announced a “new television, print and online advertising campaign setting the record straight on the Employee Free Choice Act…?” Or maybe it was on Feb. 4, when labor unions brought hundreds of their members to a huge rally on Capitol Hill in support of the bill? In fact, a look at American Rights at Work’s news release web page shows a steady stream of announcements touting one ad campaign after another on the issue.
Is it likely that more strategic and effective grassroots lobbying by the pro-business community has helped give card-check opponents the upper hand, at least for now? Yes. But have labor unions been dramatically outspent or not “fully engaged” this year? Not by a long shot.
Filed under: Card Check, Unions / Labor | Tags: Card Check, efca, employee free choice act, unions
If you’re at all interested in the card check / EFCA debate, you should check out this must-see video over at the Heritage Foundation’s Insider Online site.
In the video, former union organizer Rian Wathen exposes some of the secret tricks that he and his colleagues used to get workers to sign cards in support of unionization. Interestingly, Wathen goes beyond the intimidation line we’ve heard a lot about; in the video he also explains how the one mandatory sentence calling for unionization can be hidden or camouflaged in the middle of a lot of other unrelated and innocuous text:
“The card can have any language on it, as long as it has one line on it, which is the suggested language from the National Labor Relations Board that says ‘I hereby authorize what ever the union is to represent me for the purposes of collective bargaining.”
Wathen goes on to display a creative unionization card that SEIU has been using in California:
“It’s a color pamphlet, and it has real nice pictures on the front, and it has a bunch of fluff about SEIU and how you’re going to get better wages and benefits and all this wonderful stuff. Buried in the middle of the paragraph on that front is the line about how you authorize SEIU to represent you for purposes of collective bargaining… But most interestingly about this card, is the inside of the card – it’s just a line of signatures – put your name, put your address, put your phone number. I don’t see anything on that page on the inside of the pamphlet that says ‘I authorize SEIU to represent me for the purposes of collective bargaining. So I have this pamphlet, I’m a union organizer, I hold a meeting at the local pizza joint where I’m buying pizza and beer, and I lay this down on the table like this and say, “Here… sign in here on our sign-in sheet. Right? Not against the law. This is the card that they’re using right now in California.”
Wathen describes several other methods of manipulation — check out the entire video here.
Filed under: Card Check, Unions / Labor | Tags: Card Check, efca, labor, uaw, unions
Inspired (if that’s the right word) by Time magazine’s photo essay featuring the ruins of Detroit, I put together a few mock inspirational posters for the upcoming debate on the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. Enjoy:
For larger versions of these posters, e-mail me here.
Filed under: Card Check, Online Video, Unions / Labor | Tags: Card Check, dan boren, intimidation, seiu, unions
Throughout the card check debate, union bosses have bristled at the notion that organizers intimidate workers into signing cards in support of unionization. “Us, intimidate workers?” they ask with cat-that-ate-the-canary grins.
Not sure who to believe? Just take a look at the disgusting video below, in which the SEIU attempts to tie the horrible death of an industrial worker to U.S. Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, one of the few House Democrats who have voiced concerns about the bill.
This video is a clear signal not just to Boren, but to every other Member of Congress who has concerns about the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. Some would call the video an intimidation tactic, but you be the judge. Watch the video below… then ask yourself if union bosses would ever resort to intimidation…
Michael A. Fletcher at the Washington Post reports that a Senate committee confirmation vote on Obama Labor Secretary-appointee Hilda Solis has been postponed because her husband just yesterday paid a longstanding tax lien against his business.
Of course, this comes on the heels of reports that she failed to disclose that she served as Treasurer of a pro-labor lobbying group at the same time she supposedly did the people’s business as a United States Representative for everybody who lives California’s 32nd Congressional District.
A Senate committee today abruptly canceled a session to consider President Obama’s nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis to be labor secretary in the wake of a report saying that her husband yesterday paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business — including liens that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years.
The report, by USA Today, came just before the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee was slated to meet to consider Solis’s nomination, which had been delayed by questions over her role on the board of the pro-labor organization American Rights at Work. A source said that committee members did not learn about the tax issue until today.
Does anybody in this Administration pay taxes? And just how many jobs could have been created in this troubled economy had the Obama Transition Team actually hired a few vetters?
Yesterday afternoon, organized labor rallied on Capitol Hill in support of card-check legislation that would effectively end secret ballot elections for workers.
At the rally, at least one worker claimed that 90% of his colleagues signed cards supporting a unionization election, but it turns out when workers cast their secret ballots, the pro-union forces only won by two votes.
Organized labor claims that secret-ballot elections lead to intimidation by employers, but if 90% of workers signed cards when confronted by union organizers in dark parking lots or in vacant break rooms and then only a very slim majority actually voted to unionize when those union operatives couldn’t see their votes, doesn’t that prove that union intimidation is much worse than employer intimidation?
We asked that simple question to two union officials at the rally, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Not surprisingly, neither were really able to answer the question. Check it out in the short video below: