Big Labor bussed thousands of activists to Capitol Hill Tuesday to lobby for the Employee Free Choice Act—an act union leaders have called their top legislative priority for the 110th Congress.
Event organizers claimed they brought 2,000 participants on 62 busses from the Campaign for America’s Future’s “Take Back America” conference to the Upper Senate Park.
There, a parade of Democratic congressmen and senators delivered hard-line progressive rhetoric to their pro-union advocates.
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) furiously ripped up a full-page advertisement sponsored by the Center for Union Facts that was published that morning in the New York Times, USA Today and Roll Call.
The Center for Union Facts opposes the act, and their advertisement featured a large quotation: “There’s no reason to subject the workers to an election.” This quotation appeared with the question, “Who said it?” and displays photos of the former President of Uganda Idi Amin, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees Bruce Raynor.
Kennedy held the advertisement high and said, “Here is that advertisement! They say there is no reason to subject the workers to elections. [It asks,] 'Who said it?' And then it says union bosses are pressuring the Senate to change the rules on union organizing. Learn about their scheme to eliminate workers’ right to a secret ballot at Union Facts.com. This is what I say to that!”
At that point Kennedy tore the advertisement into shreds-- an act that drew wild applause from the crowd.
Small print at the bottom of the Center for Union Facts’ ad reveals the quotation came from Raynor. The quotation was published in a May 31, 2003 article by the New York Times titled “Labor Turns to a Pivotal Organizing Drive.”
Brett Jacobson, a senior researcher at the Center for Union Facts, watched Kennedy’s outburst. Responding to this, Jacobson said: “Ripping up the ad tells you how desperate labor leaders and their politicians are to only have one side of the story told.”
The Employee Free Choice Act would allow unions to organize places of employment through a public petition-like process called “card check.” Currently, in order to organize, the majority of workers must cast votes of support to unionize their workplace in a secret ballot process. Opponents of “card check” believe eliminating secret ballots would encourage union bosses to intimidate workers into supporting Big Labor.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) also appeared at the rally in support of the bill. She told participants: “We [politicians] work better when you [labor] work for us!”