Friday, March 27, 2009

Joe The Plumber Speaks Against Employee Free Choice Act And Real Plumbers' Interests

The most important labor issue in years is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Following a decades-long slide in union membership, the EFCA would help employees form a union more easily and deter the activities of anti-union employers. The bill gives workers the right to unionize as soon as a majority signs cards stating that they want to do so. Workers would also have the right to hold a secret-ballot election.

The initiative sends the Republican party, big business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce into a panic. Fox News, the right-wing spin machine posing as a news channel, has been propagandizing against it.

Now the anti-union Americans For Prosperity has picked Joe the Plumber to speak at Pennsylvania rallies against the EFCA. It's fitting that this group's false populism is represented by an individual who isn't a licensed plumber. Meanwhile, the licensed plumbers represented by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry don't necessarily see Joe as their spokesman. Here are the comments of Rick Terven, the group's political and legislative director:

Joe the plumber is selling out real plumbers. Right now, labor law is stacked against real plumbers. Real plumbers want and need the Employee Free Choice Act as a way to empower themselves to join a union, without fear of intimidation or losing their jobs. Joe the Plumber doesn’t speak for real plumbers.

In fairness, though, let's give the last word to a representative of the Americans for Prosperity on the credentials of Joe the Plumber:

“The public loves Joe the Plumber,” the spokesperson, Mary Ellen Burke, claimed to me. “They see him as a role model.”

Asked whether Joe the Plumber had any particular knowledge or expertise about EFCA that might explain the decision to enlist him, Burke said that he was being enlisted to provide a “grassroots perspective” and “the working perspective” on the measure.

Pressed on whether Joe the Plumber has any particular claim to being a spokesperson on the issue, Burke replied that “he represents the American worker.”

Burke couldn’t immediately say whether Joe the Plumber was being paid for his appearances.

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