Card Check: Dirty Tricks, Espionage, and Scams

By May 8, 2009Labor Unions

Now the unions are hiring Pinkertons!

A federal lawsuit by an international security company, the OSO, details services the company provided to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as the union dealt with fraternal battles over representation of California health care workers, specifically the rebellious local, United Health Workers.  As a news release from the National Union of Healthcare Workers (an anti-SEIU group) details (OK, claims):

On January 15th the OSO Group began its operations for SEIU, according to the lawsuit. It deployed off-duty and retired police officers – at $110 per hour – to conduct 24/7 surveillance of UHW’s offices. The agents, who were stationed in cars outside SEIU-UHW’s offices, attempted to intimidate union members and staff by photographing and videotaping them as they came and left the offices. Click here to see pictures of one of the company’s plain-clothed, gun-toting agents on the sidewalks in front of SEIU-UHW’s Oakland office before the trusteeship.

In addition to surveiling SEIU-UHW’s offices, the OSO Group provided 24/7 “protection services” to SEIU’s “out-of-town leadership. including the provision of protection and privacy for SEIU executives involved in discreet meetings with CEOs of major hospital organizations and one or more members of the California Legislature and staff.” It also provided “executive protection and drivers for the upper echelon of SEIU leadership visiting California.”

The SEIU is even spying on its own membership.

In the first known acknowledgement of this matter, the lawsuit indicates that SEIU directed the OSO Group to conduct “a security and surveillance operation” targeting thousands of members who attended five SEIU-UHW membership meetings held in schools and auditoriums across the state on January 24th.

Out in the world of cyberactivism, there’s a new Twitter scam trying to deceive people into supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. From Walter Olson, Point of Law, “A card-check Twitter scam“:

A busy Twitter account of undisclosed sponsorship has been beaming out messages with texts like “Join @newtgingrich @sanuzis in signing the EFCA Freedom Not Fear petition at …[URL]” Unwary fans of Republican leaders Newt Gingrich and Saul Anuzis who click through and sign are in fact signing a pro-union group’s petition in favor of EFCA, a position of course strenuously opposed by Gingrich and Anuzis. [The Hill; incidentally, Point of Law can itself be found on Twitter at @pointoflaw]

This strikes me as a really counterproductive tactic to use in support of the card-check bill, above all because it will tend to remind people of the many attested instances in which organizers have gotten unwary workers to sign union-authorization cards by leading them to believe they’re signing something entirely different. And if people think too much about those instances, they’re likely to be even less keen on replacing secret ballots with “sign here” card procedures, don’t you think?

Espionage, dirty tricks and online scams. Maybe they’re all parts of a new message campaign: “Pass the Employee Free Choice Act unions don’t have to stoop to these tactics. If you rig the system right at the start, there won’t be any need to engage in dirty tricks later.”

That’s a winner.

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