Card Check: Demanding Accountability in Michigan

By June 1, 2007Labor Unions

Last week we noted (in this post) the inflammatory and insulting comments at the Michigan state AFL-CIO convention by Andy Levin, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth’s deputy director. To again quote the news account:

Levin, who worked in the national AFL-CIO’s organizing department for 10 years, said the only way to stop the “terror campaign” that companies initiate after workers vote to form a union is to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which contains stiff penalties for such abuses.

That’s typical ugly union bluster, but it’s not a union official fulminating, is it? It’s a state official whose duties include business recruitment and workforce development. For Levin to accuse employers of leading “terror campaigns” is outrageous, obviously.

Saul Anuzis, the state Republican Party chairman, called on Levin’s ultimate boss, Governor Jennifer Granholm, to fire Levin — news release here — and as an aggressive partisan has been keeping up the drumbeat on the issue. (UPDATE, 11:30 a.m.: Anuzis interview on WJR’s Paul W. Smith show.)

Now, the nonpartisan Michigan Chamber of Commerce has expressed its views via a letter from Jim Barrett, the Chamber’s president and CEO, to Keith W. Cooley, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth.

I am writing to express the Michigan Chamber’s outrage and disappointment in Deputy Director Andy Levin’s inflammatory comments at the 27th Biennial Convention of the AFL-CIO where he characterized the actions of Michigan employers exercising their legal rights against unionization efforts as “terror campaign[s]” and called for the passage of the so-called federal Employee Free Choice Act. In that same speech, Mr. Levin called for the enactment of a graduated Michigan income tax.

Mr. Levin’s advocacy for the so-called Employee Free Choice Act and a graduated income tax undermines his ability to fulfill his current job responsibilities. DLEG administers the Labor and Mediation Act (LMA), a statute regulating collective bargaining relationships between private sector unions and small private sector employers, and the Bureau of Employment Relations, which is responsible for resolving labor disputes between public and private sector employers and employees. Given his recent remarks and obvious biases, how can Mr. Levin and the administration of Governor Granholm make fair determinations in labor-related matters?

Good question. Good letter. You can read a copy of it in .pdf format here.

Barrett ends his letter by encouraging Cooley and his associates “to fairly administer your responsibilities, and not act as propagandists for labor unions against employers.” Seems like a reasonable request to make of public servants.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • ClawsonChris says:

    Oh please. Do you really think he meant an actuall terror campaign? I mean, he should have chosen a different set of words (like initimidation campaign) to refer to employers who fight the unionization efforts of their employees. It does happen. Levin was probably caught up in some pro-union fervor. He’s been a union advocate his whole life, after all.

  • Nowling says:

    Bah, to you, Christine. Your complaint is picayune and off point.

    This issue is what Andy Levin said and implied about Michigan businesses. What, exactly, is this “terror campaign” Levin — an high-level appointee of Governor Jennifer Granholm — is inferring? Is it that Michigan businesses want to eliminate private voting on union organization? No, actually it’s the good ‘ol unions that want to force workers to publicly state whether they want to unionize. Presumably, it would seem, so they can conduct their own “terror campaign” against workers who don’t want to join a union.

    Levin’s comments were a slap in the face to thousands of Michigan’s businesses who pay their workers a fair wage and offer real benefits. He deserved to be called on the carpet.

    The sad thing is that Andy Levin’s comments are all too indicative of the ideology that maintains a Stalin-esque grip on the Democratic Party. Governor Granholm’s refusal to rap Levin’s knuckles on this gives tacit approval to others within her administration to demonize Michigan businesses. That’s something many on the Left have been frothing at the mouth to do for more than a decade.

  • Christine says:

    Bah. Partisanship is a matter of supporting a group or a cause. As such, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce is NOT non-partisan. For years they have pumped out propaganda to convince the people of Michigan that we are overtaxed. This is despite the reality that our tax structure is very competitive. In other words, they have supported the GOP effort to defund our government.

    So they’re about as non-partisan as the Detroit News and the Mackinac Center. They identify each other as ‘non-partisan’ to give themselves more credibility.

    If you really believe the MI C of C is non-partisan, then by that same standard, Andy Levin’s remarks are also non-partisan.

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