How Unions Influence Policy With Tactics They Denounce

Labor unions used front groups to get favorable legislationpassed in San Francisco according to a new report releasedMonday.

Employment Policies Institute (EPI) released the report titled“By Big Labor and For Big Labor?”.It analyzed hundreds of emails obtained through a California PublicRecords Act request. The emails reveal how unions use front groupsto influence San Francisco lawmakers into enacting union-friendlylaws. Tactics that unions have often condemned when it comes fromthe right.

“Since early 2012, labor unions and the left-wing pressuregroups they fund have attacked conservative policy organizationsfor assisting state and local legislators in developinglegislation,” the report notes. “However, many ofthe same unions and left-wing pressure groups employ nearlyidentical tactics to develop and enact liberal policies.”

The report lists several organizations and city lawmakersallegedly doing the bidding of big labor. The front groups includeJobs with Justice San Francisco (JWJ SF), the SF Labor Council andthe National Employment Law Project (NELP). The lawmakers listedare San Francisco Supervisors David Chiu and Eric Mar.

“Labor unions and their activists in San Francisco entered2014 riding high,” the report notes. “Mayor Ed Lee hadendorsed a citywide minimum wage increase and the city had justenacted an ordinance to require businesses with more than 20employees to offer a ‘right to request’ for workers whoneed flexible scheduling arrangements to care for children or sickpeople.”

Those involved have several connections, according to thereport. They constantly emailed each other about the legislation,had private meetings and in some cases were related.

“It was with the political winds at their back that anassortment of union representatives, left-wing union-fundedcommunity organizers, labor-aligned academics, and politiciansgathered in early February 2014 to plan,” the reported says.“And in 2014, amid a burgeoning campaign for a $15 minimumwage ballot measure, labor groups sought to impose additional laborregulations.”

Eric Mar was the lead sponsor of the formula retail bills. Heis also brothers with Gordon Mar who conducted payrollsoperations for JWJ SF. He did his work through Local 3 of theOffice and Professional Employees International Union. The SEIUUnited Service Workers West is also listed as beinginvolved in the network of lawmakers, front groups and unions.

“It shouldn’t be surprising that thereare unsavory special-interest negotiations and backroom dealings incity and regional politics,” the report concludes. “Butunions like the SEIU, the Teamsters, and the AFL-CIO along withlabor-funded groups like the Center for Media and Democracy areengaging in hypocrisy.”

For example, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) isoften a main target of unions. The group has drafted templates forseveral laws unions hate. One of the more significant policies thatput ALEC at odds with unions is what is known as right-to-work. Thepolicy outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition ofemployment.

When Wisconsin began to rein in union power under Gov. ScottWalker, the AFL-CIO was quick to denounce it as a ALEC conspiracy.Local 3 is an affiliate of AFL-CIO. The local affiliate of SEIUdid the same. Speaking with The Daily CallerNews Foundation back in February, ALEC dismissed the criticism as a difference ofopinion, rather than legitimate concern. What comes out of theirmeetings is public record and their template legislation ispublicly available as well.

The alleged front-groups, lawmakers and unions did not respondto requests for comment from TheDCNF.

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