In the past year, America has witnessed the true face of organized labor and the thuggery and mob tactics that typify it. This behavior is no less than what national labor union figureheads have been promoting for decades — but in truth, they desire to see much worse. These fixtures of the Democratic political machine commonly push their followers into committing acts of criminality and brutish intimidation, while inciting hatred toward union enemies and free-market capitalism. Greed and an obsession with power have spawned a syndicalist culture that bears a striking resemblance to another well-known crooked subculture: that of organized crime. Frontpage’s new series of articles, “Union Gangsters,” will illuminate these very commonalities. Below, investigative reporter Matthew Vadum provides our first profile, featuring Craig Becker, Big Labor consigliere and Obama appointee.
There are union thugs and then there are those who try to give union thugs intellectual respectability.
Labor radical Craig Becker, now a member of the powerful National Labor Relations Board, is not a union thug per se. He’s more of a consigliere to union thugs.
In the spirit of Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky, Becker supports doing whatever needs to be done in order to advance the cause. Lying, cheating, and using violence are all fair game.
Becker advocates a strange, authoritarian version of syndicalism in which no one would have the right not to join a union; individuals would only get to choose which union to join. This labor fascist believes that “employers should have no role in the unionization process,” according to Brian Johnson, former executive director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom.
Free market capitalism is an impediment to social justice in Becker’s eyes. In a 1987 Harvard Law Review article, he explained how Big Labor should shiv industry.
“The right to engage in concerted activity that is enshrined in the Wagner Act – even when construed in strictly contractual terms – implicitly entails legal restraint of the freedom of capital,” he wrote. “What threatens to eviscerate labor’s collective legal rights, therefore, is less the common law principle of individual liberty than the mobility of capital, which courts have held immune from popular control.”
Of course there is no such thing as a collective right. Rights are possessed only by individuals, at least in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Becker would overthrow all of that in order to move the ball forward for unions, giving collective bargaining units the power to dictate to employers.
“If you cut through all the academic speak here, in effect, what he’s saying is collective bargaining and the Wagner Act doesn’t set up a system of collective bargaining. It sets up a guaranteed outcome,” according to Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government. “What he’s saying here is labor unions can’t possibly succeed unless you guarantee their success. In his reading of the law, any notion of workers who choose to collectively bargain sitting down with their employer and working out a deal is gone.”
Although leftists like Becker talk a good game about democracy, they don’t support it in the unionization process. Desperate to boost the anemic ranks of union members in the private sector, they support the thuggish “card check” method. Currently, workers vote in a federally supervised secret-ballot election, but under card check, if more than 50 percent of employees at a particular facility sign a card, the government certifies the union without a proper vote. Union goons would be free to intimidate workers into signing the cards, which is just fine by organized labor (and President Obama). Labor leaders would be delighted if the NLRB would simply abolish secret ballots by administrative fiat.
Becker would love to oblige them.
Becker may have played a role in drafting a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) manual that explained how union organizers could intimidate businesses into taking away the secret ballot from workers. The “Contract Campaign Manual” surfaced during a racketeering lawsuit filed against SEIU by the food and facilities management company Sodexo Inc. The company alleged that SEIU ran an “illegal campaign of extortion.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the manual tells union members how to undermine the reputation of an employer and its management by hurting the employer’s relationship with customers and suppliers. It urges union members to break laws and dig up dirt on individual managers and publicize it in order to weaken management’s bargaining position in contract negotiations.
“[O]utside pressure can involve jeopardizing relationships between the employer and lenders, investors, stockholders, customers, clients, patients, tenants, politicians, or others on whom the employer depends for funds,” the Alinskyite vade mecum explains. Legal and regulatory pressure may be brought to bear in order to “threaten the employer with costly action by government agencies or the courts.”
The manual urges using community groups to “damage an employer’s public image and ties with community leaders and organizations.” It recommends targeting senior managers personally, long a favorite tactic of ACORN, SEIU’s community organizing doppelgänger.
When questioned by Hatch about his involvement in unions’ corporate campaigns, Becker said very little, often invoking attorney-client privilege in order to avoid answering. But he did acknowledge that, as associate general counsel to SEIU, his duties “included providing advice concerning organizing and contract campaigns.”
According to labor lawyer F. Vincent Vernuccio, this shows “at the very least” that Becker knew about the manual “and probably used it.”
Becker appears to make a habit of bending the truth to suit his political objectives.
As I report in my new book, Subversion Inc., at his nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) asked Becker this straightforward question: “Do you perform work for and provide advice to ACORN or ACORN-affiliated groups while employed by your current employers or on a volunteer basis?”
Becker decided to take advantage of the confusion that surrounds ACORN’s byzantine organizational structure. He responded, “Senator McCain, I have never done so.”
But that answer—that Becker “never” provided advice “to ACORN or ACORN-affiliated groups”—is demonstrably false.
Becker gave advice to SEIU Local 880 in Illinois, which was part and parcel of ACORN, before it merged with another SEIU bargaining unit. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Becker acknowledged previously that he had “worked with and provided advice” to Local 880. And in a blog post, ACORN founder Wade Rathke couldn’t help bragging about Becker’s NLRB nomination, calling it “a big win no matter how you shake and bake it.”
In March 2010, Becker became a member of the National Labor Relations Board, itself a socialist anachronism left over from the New Deal. He received a recess appointment from President Obama the month after Senate Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster of his nomination.
Before, Becker was an activist and a lawyer.
Now, he has the might of the United States government behind him.