Sean O’Brien, the longtime boss of Boston-based Local 25 of the notorious International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union, thinks President Biden-nominated Marty Walsh is the perfect guy to head the U.S. Labor Department (DOL).
And that fact in itself tells Americans who support the individual employee’s Right to Work without being forced to bankroll a union as a job condition all they need to know about what kind of DOL secretary Walsh, Boston’s union-label mayor since 2013, will be.
In the summer of 2017, four union toughs affiliated with Local 25 were on trial for threatening and assaulting the cast and crew of the Emmy Award-winning reality show Top Chef during a Massachusetts shoot.
Rather than testify under oath about the extent of his knowledge of and involvement in the alleged shakedown scheme, O’Brien informed the court in advance of being subpoenaed that he would plead the Fifth Amendment.
The four Local 25 goons tried that summer ultimately got off scot-free after the judge in the case, displaying a dubious understanding of federal court precedents, instructed the jury not to convict them unless the jobs sought through their alleged shakedown were "no-show" jobs involving no work at all. O’Brien was never called to testify.
And since that summer, the evidence that Mayor Walsh’s Boston is a haven for union bosses who wish to seize monopoly power over jobs through extortion has continued to mount.
In August 2019, two Walsh aides were convicted of extorting a private company to hire forced union dues-paying workers the company didn’t want or need by purposefully holding up the issuance of permits required to conduct a music festival.
But in February 2020 a federal judge overturned the guilty verdicts. His apparent legal theory is that extortion ceases to be extortion when it’s done for political gain.
In his pre-mayoral career as a construction union boss, Walsh himself allegedly used his political connections to pressure contractors to hire union-only labor.
As Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi recalled in January, in an October 2012 conversation "recorded through federal wiretaps," Walsh informed a fellow union boss "that he had told housing developer AvalonBay Communities that it would face permitting delays if it did not hire union workers [only] . . . ."
Moreover, in December 2012, according to another developer, Walsh "pressured him to rescind building contracts" awarded to union-free contractors.
Walsh was never charged.
Over the years, he has consistently denied that he ever did anything wrong.
Now top union bosses like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka are gleefully anticipating that as labor secretary he will use shakedown tactics even more aggressive than his mayoral administration has allegedly used in Boston to browbeat companies across the U.S. into submitting to Big Labor control.
The AFL-CIO’s top economist, William Spriggs, and his cronies at Trumka’s favorite D.C. "think tank," the relentlessly pro-Big Labor Economic Policy Institute, gave a foreshadowing of their vision for the DOL in a mid-December webinar covered by Law360’s Braden Campbell.
Spriggs recommended that employers who resist unionization–by, for example, furnishing employees with third-party information about why unionization might not be in their best interest–be prohibited from taking on any federal contracts.
Based on what is known about Walsh and his appointees from his years as a union boss and as Boston’s mayor, it is understandable why Trumka and many other union bosses are confident he will transform the DOL according to their wishes.
On February 11, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions approved Walsh’s nomination. It is expected to come to the chamber floor soon.
Given that senators of both parties are generally inclined to let new Presidents pick practically whomever they please for Cabinet positions, opposition to the Walsh nomination will be an uphill battle.
But it is a battle the National Right to Work Committee has no choice but to take on.
By speaking out now about the threat Walsh poses to the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the Right to Work principle, the Committee and its members are making it clear in advance that over the next four years we will do everything we reasonably can to protect independent-minded employees from the Biden DOL.
Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee. Mix began working for the National Right to Work Committee in 1990, becoming Executive Vice President before being named President of both the Committee and the Foundation in 2003. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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