Card Check: For Our Coalition, the Term is ‘Up-Front Group’

By June 22, 2009Labor Unions

The AFL-CIO blog is promoting a piece by the union’s secretary-treasurer, Richard Trumka, published in International Union Rights, the journal of the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR). It’s the usual foam-flecked attack against business and therefore dull, but Trumka does use a term we’ve been meaning to mention: front group.

Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act have launched a $200 million campaign to defeat it. Working through front groups with innocuous-sounding names like the Center for Union Facts, organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and giant corporations are bombarding the airwaves and filling major newspapers with pricey advertisements designed to turn public opinion against the proposed legislation. More crucially, their lobbyists are deluging lawmakers in Congress with repeated visits and contacts to pressure them into voting against the bill when it comes up this year.

Labor calling business coalitions “front groups” is meant to imply shadowy, dishonest organizations created to hide one’s alliances. It cannot conceivably be applied to the Coalition for Democratic Workplace, the group the National Association of Manufacturers is active in. In our posts on the CDW’s activities, we almost always include a line associating the NAM with its efforts, such as, “The National Association of Manufacturers is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and glad of it.” And here’s the CDW’s membership list.

If Trumka wants his attacks against “front groups” to have some modicum of intellectual honesty, he might want to level them via some other group than the International Centre for Trade Union Rights.

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