Thursday, March 5, 2009

Republican Union Busting Tactics Backfired

Huffington Post


Fox News broke the story before they did their homework. They jumped to conclusion assuming what looks like a duck must quack like a duck. This duck came back and bit them, hard. The AFL-CIO came out smelling like roses for doing exactly what unions are suppose to do, looking out for its members in the big corporate world, by negotiating with the big guys using the collective power of the little guys.


Conservative media outlets have been hammering the AFL-CIO for hosting a board meeting at a glitzy resort in South Beach Miami. But a key fact has gone unmentioned: as a condition for booking that unionized hotel, the AFL-CIO was able to make major advancements for organized labor.

On Wednesday, Fox News ran a segment lambasting the AFL-CIO for hosting its Executive Council meeting at the posh Fontainebleau Hotel.

"That's where they did the Victoria's Secret show a couple months ago," said host Bill Hemmer. Added co-host Megyn Kendall: "That's a boondoggle for everyone involved, the AFL-CIO and Brian Wilson."

A number of other outlets followed suit, running the clip of the segment after it was broadcast on Fox News and blasted out by Danny Diaz, a Republican operative mobilizing anti-union efforts.

The Fontainebleau Hotel is, indeed, luxurious. But it owes its glint in large part to union hands. The hotel is one of the few in the area that has a unionized workforce -- a primary reason it was chosen as a venue for the meeting. It gets even better.

According to the AFL-CIO, when the hotel was planning an extensive renovation three years ago, the union and its state and local affiliates entered into negotiations: in exchange for hosting the union's Executive Council meeting in 2009, the developers would agree to hire workers with union protections. The result was four million work-hours for local construction workers, with benefits and high pay over a two-and-a-half year period.

"The booking of the hotel for our Executive Committee Meeting was included in a negotiation that created tens of thousands of good-paying, family-supporting jobs," said a union official. "The hotel kept their part of the deal and created many jobs for Floridians so of course the AFL-CIO kept our part of the deal and held our Executive Council meeting here."

In short: the ALF-CIO advanced the very crux of its political objectives in exchange for hosting its meeting at an upper-end hotel. The union may have shelled out a few extra bucks in the process, but the message sent is not, it seems, the one of indulgence that Fox News was portraying.

"We are proud to work in conjunction with companies that do provide fair wages, benefits, and job security," said the AFL-CIO aide.

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