Democrats’ Supreme Hypocrisy On Labor Rights

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Jeffrey H. Joseph Professor, George Washington University School of Business
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President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court infuriated Democrats and their union donors, who described it as an affront to workers’ rights.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued that he “routinely rules against working families.” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), claimed that Kavanaugh’s nomination would “tilt our country further towards billionaires and greedy corporate CEOs, and away from all working people.”

But many of these self-described defenders of the working class throw stones from glass houses. In recent years, the SEIU and unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO have been slammed with hundreds of unfair labor practice (ULP) complaints — many of them filed by union members themselves.

Henry’s union also suggested that opposition to Kavanaugh was essential to preserving the well-being of women, making her attack particularly hypocritical. Last year, four SEIU executives were fired or resigned following allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct. The bad behavior was reportedly an “open secret” among women at the union, and union leadership failed to act until the #MeToo movement picked up steam.

Perhaps an even nastier attack came from Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who’s currently campaigning to become his state’s next attorney general. Ellison said Kavanaugh’s nomination would cement an “extremist conservative Supreme Court majority hostile to working people for a generation.”

His concern for working people apparently doesn’t extend to his own campaign donor, American Crystal Sugar (ACS). ACS is a Minnesota-based sugar processor, whose employees are represented by the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which has filed ULPs against the company while it has been a donor for Ellison. ACS even locked employees out of the plant during a contract dispute.

But it hasn’t prevented Ellison from taking the company’s campaign cash or money from other PACs to which ACS has donated.

Ellison’s House colleague from Illinois, Representative Jan Schakowsky, was even more aggressive in her attacks against Kavanaugh. She said the nominee is “as bad as it gets” and warned that “women’s rights” and “worker’s rights” are at stake. If Schawowsky is so concerned about worker’s rights, then perhaps she should return the money she received from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

The UAW is currently the target of a widening Justice Department investigation for misuse of funds that were intended for member training. In Schakowsky’s backyard in Chicago, UAW representatives have been accused by female employees at a Ford plant of initiating or overlooking sexual harassment in the workplace. The women have claimed that UAW leadership knew about the scandal and did nothing to help them.

In the words of UAW member Tonya Exum: “I often complained to the UAW, which was supposed to represent my interests, only to hear crickets in return.”

So much for caring about the hard-working women of labor.

Kavanaugh should be evaluated on the merits of his temperament and legal record. One thing is clear: Don’t just take his critics’ word for it.

Jeff Joseph is an adjunct professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.