Unions demand that Romney fire his labor advisor

The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, yesterday demanded that Mitt Romney fire his chief labor advisor for improper use of inside information obtained from his federal government connections.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka charged that Peter Schaumber, a former Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board, used his connections to obtain and disseminate inside information from a current board member.

A report from the agency’s inspector general says that current Republican member Terence Flynn violated ethics rules by giving details of confidential board deliberations to Schaumber. The inspector general’s report has been sent to the Justice Department for further investigation.

In addition to demanding that Romney fire Schaumber, Trumka called upon Flynn to resign from the five-member board, which was set up in the 1930’s to protect workers’ rights by preventing unfair labor practices by companies and by supervising union elections.

The inspector-general’s report said Flynn violated the ethics rules in 2011, when he was chief counsel to the board’s other current GOP member, Brian Hayes. The report said Flynn gave Romney’s man Schaumber information about the status of pending cases and the opinions of board members before they had even made their final decisions.

“The report makes clear that Schaumber used his inside connections through his former chief counsel Flynn to get internal, confidential information that he then utilized in ongoing public attacks on the actions of the NLRB,” Trumka said.

The Romney campaign and Schaumber have thus far ignored inquiries from the Peoples World. Flynn has also refused comment but has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and promising to remain on the board.

Trumka charged that it is clear from the report that Schaumber, who under President Bush was the NLRB’s chairman, had received confidential information about the board’s activities and deliberations, including attorney-client privileged information, that he used in a “relentless campaign to undermine and discredit the NLRB through legal and rhetorical challenges to the agency’s activities.”

“Working people deserve to know that public officials who take an oath to honor the public trust will do so,” said Trumka, “and that is especially true for officials charged with protecting workers’ rights.”

Trumka said the findings will be a “test for candidate Romney. A key adviser has been found to have used inside connections in a way that resulted in violation of ethics rules. Allowing Schaumber to remain as an adviser will speak volumes about candidate Romney and the value he places on ethics in government officials.”

A review of public records by the Peoples World shows that Schaumber was running in 2011 with his inside information to whatever right-wing outfits were receptive to the information and to the conclusions he had drawn from it.

On June 21, 2011 the rabidly anti-union National Right to Work Committee printed the following “warning” from Schaumber when the former NLRB chairman wanted to stir up opposition to NLRB plans to shorten the time between filing of petitions for a union election and the election itself:

“Imagine a political election in which only one party were given the opportunity to tell voters its side of the story, and could set an election date only days away, all without prior notice to the other side,” Schaumber was quoted as saying on the NRWC website.

“Schaumber knew damned well that the proposed rules the board was talking about didn’t trample on any management rights,” said Ashley Catanello, an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers in northern New Jersey supermarkets when she spoke to the PW by phone this morning. “And, to boot, the rules the NLRB was discussing wouldn’t really stop strong arming of workers by bosses during union elections. He (Schaumber) must think workers are stupid especially when he compared union elections with the big political elections.

“Unlike company bosses, the Republicans and Democrats can’t force voters to sit in captive audience meetings, brainwashing you over and over again with anti-union hate talk. People who signed up for my union over the years have had to sit through three or more days of that bullshit.”

Unions say Schaumber, Romney and all the anti-union forces are determined to slow down union elections so companies have more time to overwhelm, confuse, intimidate and even fire union supporters.

“Schaumber is as big a liar as the rest of the union haters,” Catanello said. “He knows that management will always get its chance to give its opinion. The media and the court houses are stocked to the gills with anti-union reporters, lawyers and judges who are always more than willing to make sure that the bosses and the rest of the 1% get heard.”

Photo: AFL-CIO



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is editor in chief at Peoplesworld.org. He started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.