Diary

SherrodGate: AFL-CIO weighs in with a lesson on deflection

You really didn’t think union bosses would stay quiet on the Obama administration’s “foolish, impulsive and reactive” knee-jerk firing of Shirley Sherrod, did you?

After all, their pro-union President’s administration just did the unthinkable: fired a worker without investigation, without due process, without hearing her side of the story and, apparently, without using any judgement whatsoever. [Yep. We’re coining the phrase: SherrodGate.]

Now, the White House is in “crisis mode.”  As a result, the White House needs to do four things:

  1. The White House needs to quickly try to put this behind them (requisite falling on sword: check.  Apology tour: coming soon.)
  2. The White House needs to prove that they aren’t incompetent at everything other than nationalizing industries, so it must change the topic quickly
  3. The White House needs to find something (anything!) to go on the offensive again;
  4. The White House needs to have its surrogates come to its aid…

Enter Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO.

In a post on the AFL-CIO blog, Baker feebly tries to defend the Obama administration’s handling of SherrodGate before quickly pivoting to turn it into a cause for the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act.

Defend:

All across the nation, people are watching the case of Shirley Sherrod, who was asked to resign as Georgia state director for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of an edited video clip. A moment of personal honesty about a redemptive experience in her own life was snipped into an apparent example of bias, and the unforgiving 24-second news cycle was not her friend.

While it was wrong for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to force Sherrod to resign before he had all the facts, I am sure that she will receive a fair hearing and get her due process.

Turn. Pivot. Deflect. [& snip]:

While the case of Shirley Sherrod has shined the spotlight on one case of unjust firing, millions of Americans whose cases don’t make the news need  protection to make sure they are not deprived of a job for no reason. The best protection is a union contract that spells out the worker’s rights and establishes a due process before the worker can be fired.

But when workers try to form unions, many are threatened, intimidated by their employers or fired.  That’s why we in the union movement are working so hard to ensure that working people can exercise their freedom to join a union and gain their voice. Congress must pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field and let workers, not their bosses, decide how they want to choose a union.

Every worker has a right to a voice in the workplace. It’s time we began protecting that right by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

Baker’s attempt at deflection could perhaps be taken more seriously had she not tied EFCA into Sherrodgate. You see, even if Shirley Sherrod was eligible to be a union member, the lightning-like speed at which the administration has flip-flopped over its making Sherrod politically-expedient roadkill to offering her a ‘unique’ job has happened faster than any union could ever have done…even if it wanted to.

Further, by Baker’s bringing EFCA up and trying to tie job security to EFCA is laughable as Lee Ohanian of the American Enterprise Institute reminds us that research suggests the job-destroying EFCA would further cripple the economy.

…if unionization rates returned to 1970s levels (roughly in the mid 20% range of the private work force), and if new unions could achieve the same wage premium as existing unions have achieved over nonunion workplaces, then employment could decline by about 4.5 million and real GDP could fall by about $500 billion per year.

As Shirley Sherrod’s seemingly racist rant sounded compelling at first pass, Baker’s attempt at deflection also sounds good…until you put it into its proper context.

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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Cross-posted.

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