All over the country, right-wing lawmakers are waging a war on Main Street America’s labor rights, purporting to do so out of a desire for fiscal restraint (while also backing budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthiest among us).
Now, the city of Winter Park, Florida, is going to new lengths to stop nearly 150 city workers from joining a union. Apparently more concerned with stopping the union than saving money, Winter Park hired consultants at Kulture LLC, “a firm specializing in labor relations” at the rate of $2,500 a day to persuade workers to vote against organizing this summer:
Winter Park is paying a consultant $2,500 a day to help the city’s staff dissuade about 150 city workers from joining a union. [...] Employees in the public works, parks, fleet maintenance and water departments are likely to vote in June or July on whether to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, known as AFSCME. In the past few years, the city has done away with longevity bonuses and pay increases because of the economy. [...] Members of AFSCME have criticized the use of tax money to pay a group that they say has a politically right-leaning agenda.
A spokesman for the city told the Orlando Sentinel that it didn’t “do a political background check” on Kulture before hiring the firm and that the city just wants to inform workers about their options. Yet a cursory look at Kulture and the activities it conducts shows what the firm is all about: union-busting.
Kulture’s website is replete with right-wing ideology. It hosts op-eds claiming that sweatshops are an opportunity for the “third world poor” and bragging that the “labor movement is dead.” Its webpages direct users to far-right sources of information such as the Ayn Rand Institute and The Federalist Society. It also hosts the anti-union laborunionreport.com, which hosts anti-labor articles and a monthly “anti-union report.” The organization’s CEO, Peter A. List, has said that “unions are a by-product of a bad relationship.”
“We’re basically hiring them to make sure that factual, accurate information is given to our employees before they make a vote on whether or not to join a union,” says Winter Park spokeswoman Clarissa Howard. But one has to wonder how hiring a radical, Ayn Rand-promoting anti-union organization will do anything but try to scare workers into submission.