Unions Try to Monopolize Green Jobs

House Education and Labor Committee Republicans yesterday held a forum to examine Big Labor political cronyism permeating the Obama administration’s agenda.  Hosted by Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), senior Republican on the committee, witnesses included Steve Forbes, President and CEO of Forbes and Elaine Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor.

“While the administration focused in 2009 on appeasing its organized political allies, job creation ground to a halt,” Chao said in testimony.  “Current job figures are abysmal.  The dearth of job creation during this administration distinguishes this recession from other downturns.”

“In the best of years, millions of jobs are lost,” Chao said.  “Even when America’s economy is by all measures healthy and the unemployment rate quite low, there are businesses that suffer or fail and lay off workers.  But there is nearly always a simultaneous and even greater bursts of job creation occurring.  That’s not happening now.”

One of the more startling revelations at the forum came in testimony from Stephen Worth, President & CEO of Worth and Company, a merit shop mechanical contractor out of Pipersville, Pennsylvania, currently employing more than 400 people.

Amid testimony of union harassment and exclusion from contracting bids was a startling revelation of union methods to monopolize “green jobs” through illegitimate and discriminatory regulatory definition.

“‘Green jobs’ is a phrase being used to describe work that is environmentally friendly, both inside and outside the construction industry,” Worth told the forum.  “However, there is no agreed-upon definition.  Currently, organized labor is attempting to define ‘green jobs’ as positions held by workers that receive special green training through union-only apprenticeship programs.”

Given that narrow definition, literally all government contracts would be unionized merely by categorizing the work as a “green job.”  But why stop there?  Given the enviro-whacko aims of this administration, EPA regulation could apply that definition to permitting for any construction project.

“Organized and certain special interest groups claim that only union apprenticeship programs can properly train workers to build green projects,” Worth said.  “However, these claims are nothing more than an effort to monopolize the construction workforce on green building and other construction projects.  Most green building techniques involve simple architectural changes or the use of environmentally-friendly building materials, which requires workers to learn skills that can be taught through both union and nonunion training programs.”

Every rock you turn over in this administration, another green frog jumps out demanding to be kissed.

I asked Rep. Kline about other schemes the Obama administration may be secreting this year with their Big Labor allies.  What should concerned Americans watch for?

“The unions will continue to press for the weakening of the capability of the Office of Labor Management Standards,” Kline told HUMAN EVENTS.  “We’ve already seen the Obama administration cut that budget again.  That tiny, tiny, tiny office is the enforcing agent to keep union leadership honest in its dealing with union members.”

“We will see the continued pushing for the Employee Free Choice Act — whether they think they can get it or not… the big union leadership, SEIU, the AFL-CIO, they see in this administration, in this White House an ally and they are going to them and unashamedly — and frankly to the leadership in the House and Senate — unafraid of asking for special deals,” Kline said.  “I think the fact they asked for and got in the Senate the carve-out special treatment for their Cadillac insurance plans is shocking, and I think it is offensive to the American people.”

“Seven percent of the American workforce is in the union,” Kline added.  “That means, doing the quick math, that 93 percent are not, and it had to make them mad.  It doesn’t seem that the big union push for special advantages is going to stop.”

I spoke with Steve Forbes at the forum about Obama’s newly-proposed “Responsibility Tax” on TARP recipients that reeks of cronyism in its exclusion of the union-choked automobile industry.

“To show that this is purely political is that the biggest beneficiaries of TARP money have been Chrysler, GM and GMAC,” Forbes told HUMAN EVENTS.  “They are going to cost together over $50 billion.  Most of that money is never going to be repaid, yet they’re exempt from the tax.  Hello?  And then Fannie and Freddie, well they didn’t directly take TARP money, but they are the beneficiaries of massive bailouts.  Just before Christmas Eve, the government announced that any cap on their bailout money was going to be removed.  So they’re going to get some money from the banks and hurt lending, banks that have paid the money back, most of whom didn’t want the money in the first place, and yet the biggest perps, the auto companies and the directly Fannie and Freddie, are getting off scot free.”

“Many of the banks who would pay the tax were forced to take the TARP money,” Forbes continued.  “They did not ask for it.  All except for CitiGroup have paid the money back with interest — paid it back early with interest.  And now they’re going to get hit with this so-called responsibility tax which is going to hurt shareholders and it’s going to hurt lending.  It’s just part of an environment where any kind of success or pool of capital is seen as fair game.  It’s putative and it’s simply playing to what they think is the crowd and it would hinder recovery, at least it would be one of the factors.”

Isn’t this the style of politics roundly rejected in the Massachusetts Senate special election this week?

“People instinctively understand disturbing things are happening, and they don’t like it,” Forbes said.  “And whether you focus it on taxes, health care, bailouts, favoritism, trying to give the unions a bye on health care taxes, people are offended.  It’s not what this country is about.”


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