Anti-union groups use election to push far-right agenda

The same far-right anti-union groups that blocked the Employee Free Choice Act and opposed hiking the minimum wage are pouring more than $400 million into the 2010 mid-term elections, according to a new report released by American Rights at Work, a non-partisan group that keeps tabs on groups that oppose the labor movement.

ARAW warns in the report that there has been, in the context of the mid-term elections, "an unprecedented surge of activity by shadowy organizations that use hidden donors to undermine the progressive social agenda for which organized labor has always stood."

The issues common to all of these groups, says ARAW, include opposition to collective bargaining rights, support for privatizing Social Security and Medicare, trade treaties that ship jobs over seas, and cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

High on the list of these groups is American Crossroads, an outfit founded by ‘Bush's brain,' Karl Rove. His group has spent $135 million in mostly unregulated corporate donations to back candidates friendly to big business and billionaires.

Rove has publicly campaigned this year against extension of unemployment benefits, saying corporate tax rate cuts would be a better idea. He has called for making the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent, for a flat income tax and, in a recent speech, said the GOP should pledge to end "power grabs" by unions, because "labor bosses" make America less competitive.

A second shadowy group identified in the report is Americans for Job Security which ARAW describes as "one of the nation's most vicious campaign hit teams."

The group was initially founded in 2000 with $2 million in seed money from the American Insurance Association for the purpose of "countering organized labor." As of Sept. 30 the group spent $8 million attacking candidates that it says are "too pro-labor."

Americans for Job Security doesn't disclose its members or their donations to the group and brags about this on its website. In addition, it is unclear where the group's offices, if any, are located.

According to Public Citizen, "Americans for Job Security is a sham front group that would better be called Corporations Influencing Elections." The Texas Observer referred to the group as "attack dogs" that "specialize in attempted assassination of political careers under the guise of issue education."

In May 2010, the group spent $1.5 million on ads targeting Bill Halter, the labor-backed candidate who challenged Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), in the primary. It featured alleged residents of Bangalore, India, speaking in heavy accents thanking Halter for exporting jobs to their country. The ad was criticized by many, including Blanche Lincoln herself, who said it was racist and untruthful.

Americans for Prosperity, another group identified in the report, has spent $45 million backing Republicans running for 50 House seats and six Senate seats. It was founded by oil billionaire David Koch, whose company Invista, during 2006, outsourced more jobs than any other firm operating in the United States.

Koch Industries has been fined a record $300 million for over 300 oil spills from its pipelines in six states and $1.7 million for 680 violations of rules related to air and water pollution, hazardous waste and emergency planning.

The Club for Growth, another group identified in the report, is so far to the right that it has been criticized by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as "nothing more than a bagman for the rich." The "club" supports eliminating Medicare, privatizing Social Security and calls the Employee Free Choice Act an "abomination."

The report also includes a thorough examination of Freedom Works, one of the most prominent organizers of the tea party movement.

Freedom Works, funded by both the insurance and oil industries and by large tobacco companies, is focusing on electing right-wing senators in Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. It has selected four congressional races that it is trying to win: Alabama's 1st CD, Arkansas' 2nd CD, Florida's 8th CD ans Ohio's 15th.

 

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