Filling the Ranks at DOL

By April 27, 2009Labor Unions

In the continuing staffing up of Cabinet agencies, the White House last week announced the appointment of Mary Beth Maxwell to be a senior advisor to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, with liaison responsibilities to Vice President Joe Biden’s Middle Class Task Force.

AP summarizes: “President Barack Obama has appointed a key union activist as senior adviser to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, another sign of the influence that organized labor wields in the Obama administration.”

Maxwell has been the executive director of American Rights at Work, a union front group* that has financed much of the advertising in support of the Employee Free Choice Act — or more accurately, attacking business as greedy exploiters of the working man and women. The political scuttlebutt before Solis’ nomination as Labor Secretary was that Maxwell might fill the post. (See this Wall Street Journal blog post.) Solis served on American Rights at Work’s board of directors.

We’re in low, low dudgeon about appointments like Maxwell’s. Of course a Democratic White House is going to put labor allies in positions of power at the Department of Labor. And being named as a liaison to a PR effort looks like the very definition of a sinecure as opposed to being put in a substantive position of power.

* We refer to American Rights at Work as a “union front group” just as a dig. Its hack writers are always referring to the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace as a front group for corporations, etc., when the group — in which the NAM is an active member — is clear about its membership. CDW opposes the Employee Free Choice Act.

If anything, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace should be called a “corporate upfront group.”

* American Rights at Work describes itself as a non-profit. Yes, but the group is also registered as a lobbying organization. See its latest disclosure. So we’ll now call them a “union front group and lobbying outfit.”

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