FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
A Death By A Thousand Cuts
We have written on numerous occasions that the Obama Administration is controlled by union bosses. Throughout the administration, union bosses have planted their people in order to do their bidding to help unionize America. After you read this post, it will be hard for you to disagree with the following statement:
The Obama Administration is the most anti-business administration
in the last 70 years—if not ever—in the United States of America.
For years, American unions have engaged in a tactic known as “corporate campaigns.” Corporate campaigns have a very basic strategy known as “A Death by A Thousand Cuts” to bring the targeted employer to its knees. The way unions have historically engaged in corporate campaigns is through the use of every means at their disposal, be it negative publicity, using (union-funded) ‘grassroots’ groups for demonstrations, shareholder actions, as well as heavy use of governmental agencies like the EEOC, OSHA, NLRB and the Department of Labor’s Division of Wage & Hour.
The purpose of a union’s corporate campaign is simple: To bring the targeted employer to its knees in order to unionize it, to agree to a contract favorable to the union, or to settle a labor dispute. The most common purpose of a union’s corporate campaign, however, is to unionize an employer. Whether it is through shaming an employer through negative publicity, or costing it huge sums of money defending itself from an onslaught of litigation (or both), the goal of the corporate campaign is to bring a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ upon the employer until it gives in.
Now, imagine if you will, the federal government (at the behest of union bosses) terrorizing American businesses with the same ‘death by a thousand cuts’ strategies that unions use during corporate campaigns. However, instead of unions engaging in all of the tactics at the union’s expense, your tax dollars will be helping to fund the union’s corporate campaign.
Does that seem unimaginable? Well, it is precisely what President Obama’s Department of Labor appears ready to unleash on the nation’s employers—or at least those that become administration (read: union) targets.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about the Department of Labor’s U.S. Solicitor of Labor, Patricia Smith and her “operating plan” to “dramatically increase pressure” on employers.
On Sept. 22, Labor’s Office of the Solicitor—which employs 400 attorneys to enforce the nation’s labor laws—issued a draft “operating plan” to dramatically increase pressure on employers. A source inside the department says the plan has been adopted.
Patricia Smith, who heads the solicitor’s office, told me in an interview yesterday that the plan is a “living document” that will “never be finalized.” Whatever its status, it includes the following:
- “Identify a public affairs liaison in each Regional Office” to “send stronger, clearer messages to the regulated community about DOL’s emphasis on litigation.“
One tactic to be employed by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) division will be to “deter [employers] through shaming.” Ms. Smith told me she didn’t know what that means. But whatever it might involve, it doesn’t sound appropriate for an agency charged with carrying out the law in an even-handed fashion.
- “Engage in enterprise-wide enforcement.” Ms. Smith said that means targeting multiple work sites of the same company. A department source says it also is likely to involve enforcement agents from the Wage and Hour Division and from OSHA showing up at the same time. The plan also calls for “Imposing shorter deadlines for implementing remedial measures in conciliation agreements and consent decrees.”
- “Engage in greater use of injunctive relief,” which means using court injunctions rather than fines to enforce compliance. The department plan also wants to “identify and pursue test cases” that could stretch the meaning of the law. [Emphasis added.]
Given what you’ve just read, it is also important to know just “who” the U.S. Solicitor of Labor is. Patricia Smith is the former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor.
During Ms. Smith’s tenure as the NYS Labor Commissioner, Ms. Smith introduced a program called New York Wage Watch [pay particular attention to the areas in bold].
Modeled in part after the Neighborhood Watch program, New York Wage Watch will help promote labor law compliance through formal partnerships between the New York State Labor Department and community groups. The effort will start with a pilot program with several groups in New York City and Long Island for the first six months, and then be opened up to interested groups from throughout the state.
The first model of its kind, New York Wage Watch will provide ordinary people with a formal and systematic role in the fight against wage theft. Participating groups will select a geographic zone for their efforts, and within that zone, they will participate in a range of activities aimed at improving labor law compliance, including holding know-your-rights training; providing employers with information about compliance; and distributing literature to workers in supermarkets, laundromats, nail salons, and other community settings. When they encounter workers facing serious violations of the law or employers with detailed questions about compliance, New York Wage Watch groups will have a designated point person for referrals in the Labor Department’s Division of Labor Standards, which enforces wage and hour laws. The Department will provide training and materials to participating groups.
Just which ‘participating groups’ do you suppose jumped onto the New York Wage Watch program? Community activist groups and unions.
According to James Sherk at the Heritage Foundation, the New York Wage Watch became a blunt tool for unions to target employers whose employees they wanted to unionize.
Within weeks of the program’s creation, convenience and retail stores began complaining that it “steps well over the boundaries of even the most constructive collaborations with community groups and advocates.”
No one opposes enforcing minimum wage or overtime laws. However, businesses began to suspect that “wage watch” had less to do with fighting malfeasance and more to do with giving unions a way to target unorganized firms. Union organizers deputized by the state can create a public relations nightmare for targeted firms by reporting spurious violations to the government for investigation.
As the program unfolded, many union organizers applied to join. Curious. Then a union local wrote down its plan to use wage watch in “all of our organizing campaigns.”
During Smith’s confirmation hearing, Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo) discovered just how deeply embedded unions are in New York’s Wage Watch program despite Ms. Smith’s testimony to the contrary:
“First, Ms. Smith stated that the Wage and Hour Watch program was developed internally and only then did the New York Department of Labor approach outside groups. However, two of the pilot groups, the Retail Warehouse and Department Store Union (RWDSU) along with Make the Road New York, a public interest entity financed in part by unions, were heavily involved in developing all aspects of the program. They, along with another public interest group, participated in: a) deciding participant eligibility, b) drafting program documents, c) creating training materials and conducting training, d) developing press strategies, etc. The approximately 3000 pages of documents provided by New York in fact show little internal government development of the program.
“Second, Ms. Smith characterized Wage and Hour Watch as an educational program. It does not appear, however, that Ms. Smith’s subordinates, including the Wage and Hour Administrator nominee, Ms. Lorelie Boylan, or the union organizers and public interest groups who helped design the program concurred. For example, documents describe the program as an “enforcers” program, and email as well as a training document describe participants as community enforcers. There appears no question that those who created the program considered it enforcement.
“Third, Ms. Smith stated that the two unions who were selected for the pilot program were told not to use the program for organizing. Unfortunately, that direction appeared nowhere in the approximately 3000 pages of material reviewed. Instead, the documents showed that the unions planned to use the program for organizing and the State appears to have done nothing about it. For example:
- The Coordinator of Retail Organizing Projects for RWDSU is prominently involved in pushing for and developing the program, and RWDSU organizers conducted part of the program training.
- The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 in their written application stated that they plan to use Wage and Hour Watch in “all of our Organizing Campaigns.”
- A March 2009 union newsletter states the union will specifically investigate “non-union” groceries as part of the program.
- Signatories for the pilot program agreements for the two unions are union organizers as appear to be all those attending the program training and receiving state identification cards.
- The Co-Chairman of the Wage and Hour Watch program is the president of the RWDSU.
- A number of later applicants to join the program are entities whose sole purpose is union organizing -– e.g., the New York State Laborers Organizing Fund and the organizer for a Plumber’s Local.
- The Wage and Hour nominee in an email suggested altering program participation requirements specifically to ensure up-state trade unions were eligible to join Wage and Hour Watch.
As Ms. Smith took her state experience to the federal level—by following Barack Obama’s pledge to the AFL-CIO to do the union bosses’ bidding—it now appears that Smith will be doing what she did to New York businesses to the rest of America.
No wonder businesses don’t want to hire in the United States. With as anti-business as the Obama Administration is, what sane business leader is going to invest in jobs so they can be targeted and shamed by its own government?
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776