American Rights at Work Archives - Shopfloor

A Few Other Notes about Recess Appointments to the NLRB

By | General, Labor Unions | One Comment

The White House had obviously kept Wilma Liebman, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, in the loop on President Obama’s intention to make recess appointments to the NLRB. At 4:08 p.m. the board’s press shop Tweeted its news release, “White House announces recess appointments of two attorneys to fill Board vacancies.” You would hope an independent, quasi-judicial agency would keep a little distance from the political moves of the White House, but welcoming new members is harmless enough, probably.

The labor group, American Rights at Work, was naturally delighted with the appointment of two labor lawyers to the NLRB, Tweeting, “Obama has appointed Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the NLRB. We can’t wait for them to get to work for working people!” You would hope an independent, quasi-judicial agency would get to work interpreting the law.

So now three Democrats and one Republican will comprise the Board. The term of the Republican, Peter Schaumber, ends on August 27, 2010. The possibility, however theoretical, of an NLRB made up of three members of only one party should give pause. The term of the general counsel, Ronald Meisburg, a Bush appointee, also expires in August. Unlike most federal branch agencies, the NLRB’s general counsel must be confirmed by the Senate, so more maneuvering is possible. Brian Hayes, the pending Republican nominee whom President Obama did not appoint, is likely to buffeted by the political winds.


The Hill (blog), “Labor group praises Obama for appointing Becker, Pearce

UPDATE (6:45 p.m.): Bloomberg reports, “Obama Bypasses Senate, Makes Appointments to NLRB, Treasury, quoting the NAM’s Keith Smith:

“You will see a radical overhaul of the labor law system,” said Keith Smith, director of employment and labor policy at the Washington-based industry group. “You could see significant limits on employers’ ability to communicate.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of Labor Columnists

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

As a professional consumer of the blogs and columns of organized labor and their “progressive” allies, we use a rule of thumb: You can stop reading as soon as the writer uses the phrase “war against workers.” The rest of the post or column will just be low-quality agitprop, offering neither insight nor pleasing turn of phrase.

In Roll Call today, we see this column by Kimberly Brown, executive director of the labor policy and advocacy organization American Rights at Work, “No More Limbo for Workers’ Rights.” She writes:

The war on working people has a new battleground: the National Labor Relations Board.

Thanks, Kim! You saved us a lot of time.

Card Check: Harkin Then, Harkin Now

By | Labor Unions | One Comment

Today Senator Harkin talked to a gathering of union activists about labor’s No. 1 priority, the Employee Free Choice Act:

As of July, I can tell you this openly and I know the press is all here but we had worked out a pretty good agreement. Labor was at the table.

However on July 29th the Senator claimed:

I think we’re 80 [percent] to 90 percent there,” Harkin said, without detailing what is keeping the sides from agreement.

Harkin has set several moving targets for action on the EFCA, as we’ve noted here previously.

Card Check: Unions Continue to Portray Employers Negatively

By | Labor Unions | 2 Comments

The labor front group, American Rights at Work, has released a report that they funded with the Economic Policy Institute, continuing the strategy of painting all employers as villains intent on obstructing their employees’ efforts to form unions. The charges in the “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing” report by Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner are inflammatory, the data weak, and the conclusion predictable: Pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Start with the quality of the sample. The author uses data that’s already six years old (collected from 1999-2003), information gathered from questioning paid union organizers.

That’s a perfectly non-biased sample for a supposedly serious academic study, isn’t it?

The study further claims that “workers filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges in about 40% of elections”. To be clear: Filing a charge just represents an allegation, not a finding of fault. The report itself shows that 55 percent of the charges either have no merit or are resolved in the settlement process.

The study also claims that “more workers would choose to be unionized if given the opportunity than at any time in the last 30 years” by indicating that efforts by employers have suppressed unionization rates to 12.4 percent, from 22 percent three decades ago. The study fails to address other possible explanations, such as the workforce doesn’t necessarily see the need to be unionized in order to have a productive workplace relationship with an employer. In fact, a recent survey by Rasmussen shows that only 9 percent of non-union workers would like to join a union today.

We do agree with one assertion of the study:

It would be preferable if scholars could interview workers in the aftermath of each organizing campaign and find out how the employer campaign had affected their vote.

Instead of looking at ways to enforce current law, labor leaders are using these types of faulty “studies” to argue for the Employee Free Choice Act as a legitimate attempt at labor law reform. But legislation that effectively removes secret ballots, and imposes contract terms written by government arbitrators is not a serious attempt to increase the principles of balance inherent in our labor law system. No proposal that stems from the EFCA can result in positive change for today’s economy.

Card Check: Welcome. Welcome. Now Dance!

By | Economy, Labor Unions | No Comments

From Politico, “Labor presses Specter on EFCA,” video and the script of a new ad by American Rights at Work airing in Pennsylvania targeting Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). The script:

Pennsylvania backed Specter when he was the deciding vote for President Obama’s stimulus package. It’s already bringing new jobs. Specter usually does the right thing. Two years ago; he supported the Employee Free Choice Act, to help working people join together for fair pay and benefits. So now, where will Specter stand? With Obama, Biden, and the working families of Pennsylvania… Or with greedy CEOs, and Big Business lobbyists? Call and Tell Specter Pennsylvania’s for him…..As long as he’s for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Subtle people, these American Rights at Work operatives. Although we’re disappointed the union front group decided to illustrate “Greedy CEOs and Big Business lobbyists” with grainy photos of Wall Street buildings. Couldn’t they have found a George Grosz caricature or something more evocative?

American Rights at Work… American Rights at Work…. They were in the news recently. What was it? Oh yes, “Labor Advocate to Join Biden’s Middle-Class Task Force.” You would think Mary Beth Maxwell would want nothing to do with the the Middle Class Task Force.

Filling the Ranks at DOL

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

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.”

Card Check: The Caricature vs. The Reality of Employers

By | Economy, Labor Unions | No Comments

The script from a TV spot by American Rights at Work, “Greed,” ostensibly supporting the Employee Free Choice Act but really just trashing corporations:

“Greed” TV: 30


“It’s the Wall Street way of doing business.

Getting rich is everything. Reward yourself for failure.

Employees don’t matter.

Exploiting them is acceptable.

Don’t let workers get ahead.

That’s why they think they deserve bailouts and bonuses for bringing our economy down.

And then turn around and try to keep workers from joining unions to earn better wages and benefits.

Don’t let them get away with it.

Tell Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act now.

It’s time the economy worked for everyone again.”

The voice over is the usual voice of ominous attack. Now, compare this foaming “kill the rich” message with a first person account by an employer who opposes the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s an op-ed in today’s Washington Examiner by Brett McMahon, “Card Check could kill my company and yours“:

Our company has been operating for more than 60 years — six decades — to build the American dream. We have been named America’s top concrete construction firm in four of the last five years.
So take it seriously when I warn:  The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) could kill our company, or many like it.
EFCA, known by many as the “Card Check” bill is an absolute abomination. Its card check provision would allow union organizers to harass thousands of our company’s employees.
Its “binding interest arbitration” provision would substitute the judgment of a government-imposed bureaucrat for decades of practical know-how developed during the building of a successful company within the free enterprise system. That’s why the fight against EFCA is personal for me, my family, and thousands of our employees.
So what about it, American Rights at Work: Do you want to debate the issues or just demonize a caricature of American businessmen and women?

Card Check: WSJ Lambastes Those Who Misquote It

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

The Wall Street Journal today editorializes on a topic that’s naturally close to its heart: the shameless misrepresentation of the paper’s position on the Employee Free Choice Act. As we’ve written here, here, and here, the SEIU, the House Education and Labor Committee, and union front groups seized this sentence from a  WSJ editorial, “Unionize or Die,” stating clear, unambiguous opposition: “The bill doesn’t remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act but in practice makes it a dead letter.”

The  card check advocates turned the sentence into an endorsement by hacking it half. An SEIU blog post proclaimed, “Wall Street Journal: Employee Free Choice Act ‘does not remove the secret ballot’,” citing as evidence, “‘The bill doesn’t remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act,’ wrote the WSJ.”

Today the Journal responds, “George Miller Loves Us –Too bad he and Big Labor can’t read.”

These guys must really be desperate. As we’ve written many times, “card check” effectively ends secret-ballot elections because it would allow labor organizers to automatically organize a work site if more than 50% of workers sign an authorization card. Thus our words: “dead letter.”

Currently, an employer can insist on a secret-ballot election if 30% of employees sign union cards. But under this proposal, if more than 50% of the authorization cards are signed, there is no election because union recognition is instant. In theory, the bill would allow for an employee to request a secret-ballot vote if cards have been signed by between 31% and 50% of workers. But only the organizers know how many cards have been signed, and they have no incentive to tell the company or employees. Why would unions risk a secret ballot when they can publicly pressure employees into signing an authorization card?

Which is to say that the claim that “card check” would preserve secret-ballot elections is deeply dishonest. Big Labor is afraid that its big chance to rewrite labor law to diminish worker rights is slipping away, as more Americans discover what the bill really says. Thus Mr. Miller’s creative editing, which should embarrass him, if he were capable of being embarrassed.

We await the next half-page American Rights at Work ad based on the paragraph above: “Wall Street Journal admits, “‘Card check’ would preserve secret-ballot elections.

Card Check: Lying Through Ellipses and Expensive Ads

By | General | 5 Comments

The labor front group, American Rights at Work, has joined the SEIU, the House Ed & Labor Committee, and the lefty activists at Think Progress in a dishonest and cynical distortion of the Wall Street Journal’s opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

ARAW does so by lying through omission in a half-page ad in today’s Washington Post:

Again, here’s what the Wall Street Journal said in its March 20th editorial, “Unionize or Die“:

The bill doesn’t remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act but in practice makes it a dead letter.

ARAW’s ad drops the essential last-half of the sentence.

If a political candidate misquoted his opponent so blatantly in order to completely reverse his meaning, the media would jump all over him. Stories would carry quotes from campaign consultants who would say, “Wow. They must be really be desperate to lie so obviously.” Granted, distortion is the coin of labor’s rhetorical realm, but this is really something.

Why be so obvious? Organized labor knows the elimination of the secret ballot is the most powerful argument against the Employee Free Choice Act, and since most of the public is still not familiar with the issue, it’s important to continue claiming that secret-ballot elections are still possible. Even when they’re not.

American Rights at Work considered it worth spending $12,000 or so of union members’ forced dues to promote the lie through a half-page Washington Post ad.

But timing worked against the union activists this week. Given the usual minium three-day lead time for print ads, we suspect ARAW contracted for this placement before Senator Specter announced he would oppose cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act. The Senator’s statement changed the political dynamic in Congress, and the smart unions are no doubt rethinking their messaging. In the meantime, ARAW got stuck peddling the same old claptrap.

Card Check: From the Unions, Retraint toward Sen. Specter

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

Credit where credit due, even when it’s due to Change to Win, a conglomeration of labor unions. The group put out a statement Tuesday in response to Senator Specter’s announcement he would oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. It comes from Change to Win chair Anna Burger:

The Employee Free Choice Act is a vital component to restoring our economy, rebuilding the middle class and renewing the American Dream for America’s workers. Allowing workers the choice to join together, free from intimidation and harassment, to bargain for job security, better wages and health care will stimulate our economy and put working families back on the path of prosperity. We will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Specter, to pass this critical legislation and make our economy work for everyone.

We disagree with the supposed facts and arguments Change to Win uses, but it’s a good, positive statement supporting something and avoiding name-calling.

And another  reasonable statement from a labor front group: “Statement from American Rights at Work Executive Director Mary Beth Maxwell.”

The statement from Andy Stern of the SEIU is also restrained, at least by the SEIU’s standards, but it includes a guffawable line: “That’s why we’re dismayed by those who say they support the democratic process, yet refuse to allow meaningful debate and a democratic vote on critical legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act.”

This from a guy who wants to eliminate the secret ballot so union organizers can intimidate employees into signing up for union representation against their will. A guy who wants a government official to impose contract terms on employers and EMPLOYEES through binding arbitration.


Now if you want bile and name-calling, you can always read the comments at Daily Kos.