Federal officials are refusing to answer questions on what sort of relationship they have with a top union leader, according to videos released Tuesday.
The three videos were taken during an Oct. 16 talk by two top federal officials. The first video depicts National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin admitting certain recent federal initiatives have been solely influenced by unions. Particularly a union-backed movement known as Fight for $15. The second two videos show Griffin and Wage and Hour administrator David Weil dodging the question of what sort of connections they have with a union leader connected to the movement.
“The sole reason why our agency is involved in the McDonald’s situation,” Griffin said during the talk. “Is because there is a national campaign that’s called the ‘Fight for $15’ that is being run by a fast food workers alliance that is seeking to raise wages in the fast food industry to $15 a hour.”
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is one of the main backers of the Fight for $15 movement. When leaving the talk, the officials were asked when was the last time they spoke with SEIU president Mary Kay Henry.
“Mary Kay Henry?” Griffin said. “Uh, I haven’t spoken to her in, I don’t know that I’ve ever. I don’t know.”
When Weil was asked the same thing, he said nothing. The videos were released by the conservative opposition research group AR Squared (AR2).
“This video highlights the cozy relationship between the NLRB and the SEIU,” AR2 deputy communications director Natalie Gillam said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “With a close ally in the SEIU, it’s no wonder the NLRB is lashing out against franchises and backing the Fight for $15 movement.”
The main NLRB initiative in question alters employment standards for contracting and franchising. One of its main targets is McDonald’s. Critics claim it’s all being done to unfairly benefit unions. Fight for $15, however, claims to be advocating for better wages and benefits for franchise workers.
The alleged attack on franchising and contracting is two-sided. On one side worker movements may allow unions to bypass limitations normally in place for union organizing campaigns. The National Labor Relation Act (NLRA) states groups like Fight for $15 are allowed to advocate for workers. They are limited in that they are not supposed to organize employees. Attempts to organize workers without accepting the normal legal restrictions is illegal.
On the other side of the alleged attack is agencies under the Obama administration. Business coalitions and some lawmakers say the NLRB has shown a clear bias in favor of unions with recent policy changes. One big change is how employment is defined within franchising and contracting. The changes, according to opponents, will mean more groups of businesses that contract with one another will be considered single employers as opposed to many employers. The change is believed to help unions because it’s easier to unionize one large employer as opposed to many.
Republicans Sen. [crscore]Lamar Alexander[/crscore] and Rep. [crscore]John Kline[/crscore] are leading much of the effort to stop the rule changes. Thus far, their efforts have been unsuccessful due to President Barack Obama using his veto powers. Lawsuits filed against the NLRB by the business community have also been unsuccessful.
The NLRB told TheDCNF it does not have any comments at this time.
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