Wash. Post quoted strategist criticizing Employee Free Choice Act -- but didn't ID him as spokesperson for group opposing the bill

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher quoted political strategist Mark McKinnon in an article criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act but failed to identify him as a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, which Fletcher described, elsewhere in the article, as "one of a growing number of business coalitions working to defeat the measure."

In a December 9 Washington Post article, staff writer Michael A. Fletcher quoted political strategist Mark McKinnon criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) but failed to identify him as a spokesperson for an organization opposing the legislation. Fletcher quoted McKinnon stating of the EFCA, which would give workers the right to form or join a union if a majority of workers sign a card stating they want to unionize: "I really worry that this issue is a public policy disaster and political nightmare in waiting. ... I think it has the potential to be like gays in the military was for Clinton if they try to roll this out quickly." Fletcher identified McKinnon only as a "political strategist ... who worked for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the Republican primary season but refused to work against [President-elect Barack] Obama in the general election." Fletcher did not note that McKinnon is also a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), which Fletcher described, elsewhere in the article, as "one of a growing number of business coalitions working to defeat the measure."

On its website, WFI states: "WFI is funded by and advocates on behalf of business owners who enjoy good working relationships with their employees, and would like to maintain those good relationships without the unfair interference of government bureaucrats, union organizers and special interests." WFI also states: "Currently WFI is focused on educating the public on the damaging effects of the deceptively named 'Employee Free Choice Act' or 'card check.' "

McKinnon has appeared in the media as a representative of WFI in several instances:

  • McKinnon appeared on the October 31 edition of KCRW's To the Point, which identified McKinnon as a "Republican consultant and representative of the Workforce Fairness Institute, founded to fight the Employee Free Choice Act, and funded by large retailers and other businesses."
  • During the November 13 broadcast of her syndicated radio show, Janet Parshall identified McKinnon as a spokesperson for WFI.
  • During the December 1 edition of Fox Business Network's Money for Breakfast, host Alexis Glick identified McKinnon as the "vice chairman for Public Strategies Inc. and a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute." Glick added that McKinnon is "against the bill." While McKinnon spoke, text identifying McKinnon as associated with WFI also appeared on screen:

McKinnon

The National Journal's Peter Stone reported on November 22 that the "business lobby and Big Labor are girding for a battle royal in the next Congress ... Other muscle is being applied by a fledgling pro-business nonprofit called the Workforce Fairness Institute, which has been doing grassroots work in 16 states for about six months, said Katie Packer, the executive director. The institute, sources say, is looking to raise about $10 million and has the backing of several big retailers. It has also tapped GOP strategist Mark McKinnon to serve as a spokesman and handle media." Additionally, in an article about the EFCA, McClatchy's Kevin Hall reported that McKinnon "now works with the Workforce Fairness Institute, a coalition that's lobbying against the change."

From the December 9 Washington Post article:

"We are trying to shine a little broader spotlight on what we think are the dangerous aspects of this legislation, particularly in this economy," said Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, one of a growing number of business coalitions working to defeat the measure.

In recent television ads, opponents have linked heavy unionization to job cuts and other problems afflicting the airline, steel and automobile industries.

"I really worry that this issue is a public policy disaster and political nightmare in waiting," said political strategist Mark McKinnon.

McKinnon, who worked for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the Republican primary season but refused to work against Obama in the general election, argued that the opposition to the issue could jeopardize the rest of Obama's legislative agenda. "I think it has the potential to be like gays in the military was for Clinton if they try to roll this out quickly," he said.

Democratic congressional leaders have said they plan to move on the legislation quickly once Congress convenes in January. The measure is at the top of the list of concerns for organized labor, whose leaders say that current organizing rules have depleted the power of workers to bargain for good wages. In the past quarter-century, the share of workers in unions has declined from 20 percent to 12 percent, and many are public employees. Just 7.5 percent of private-sector employees are unionized, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
Michael Fletcher
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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