“Big Labor’s drive to eliminate secret ballots for union elections has united American business in opposition, so labor chiefs are putting on the brass knuckles: The new strategy is to threaten companies with government retaliation if they don’t stop lobbying against turning U.S. labor markets into Europe.”
Union leaders are calling on tax cheat Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to prohibit companies that have received TARP money from lobbying against card check.
“The letter targets in particular the Principal Financial Group, based in Des Moines, which it says should be denied TARP money because of the ‘scale and scope’ of its lobbying. But wait — Citigroup spent three times more money on fourth-quarter lobbying than the $515,000 spent by Principal, the unions admit. So, what gives? It seems Principal’s real sin is that it ‘lobbied on 26-labor related bills . . . including the Employee Free Choice Act,’ and it is the only TARP applicant or recipient to have disclosed doing so.
In case Mr. Geithner doesn’t get the political point, the letter helpfully notes that ‘there is now a Congressional effort underway to curb lobbying by TARP recipients.’ Senators Dianne Feinstein (California) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) are leading that effort to limit corporate political speech, and Ms. Burger copies no fewer than 13 Members of Congress on her Treasury missive.
The double standard here is remarkable. Every year, unions collect millions of dollars in grants from government agencies they lobby. In 2002 and 2003, the Service Employees International Union — the main driver behind Ms. Burger’s consortium — lobbied the Department of Health and Human Services while receiving between $563,226 and $938,388 per year in grants. Imagine if Tom DeLay had ever said that labor unions or AARP couldn’t speak up about Medicare because they or their affiliates had accepted federal grants. The headlines would have read: ‘Republican Gag Rule.’
Labor chiefs are desperate to pass their easy-organizing agenda this year, because they know liberal majorities on Capitol Hill won’t last. They also know they haven’t been able to organize workers with a level playing field, so they want to rewrite the rules so their organizers can see which individual workers are voting no and apply peer and other pressure. Most workers can see how unions have contributed to the destruction of Detroit, U.S. steel makers and so many other industries. That’s why unions need government-sanctioned coercion to prevail both against business and with workers.”