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Lawyers From Top Union-Busting Firms Are Backing Biden And Buttigieg

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Employees of these firms range from associates to CEO’s and from low dollar donors to bundlers, but their support of these candidates may hint that the labor policies they expect from a Biden (or Buttigieg) administration are more employer-friendly than what unions are expecting.”

Lawyers from the nation’s most powerful union-busting law firms have united behind candidates, according to a preliminary analysis from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), with Joe Biden receiving the most support from anti-worker attorneys and Pete Buttigieg in a distant second in support from the firms.

“These groups include elite law firms and consulting companies with long histories of offering expensive ‘union avoidance’ services to employers looking to squash their worker’s organizing efforts among other anti-labor services,” wrote CEPR’s Andrea Beaty. These firms include Ballard Spahr, Morgan Lewis, Jackson Lewis, Cozen O’Connor and O’Melveny and Myers.

Ballard Spahr, which was hired by both the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pennsylvania to suppress unionization by graduate students, includes six employees who have contributed at least $2800 to the Biden campaign, with over 20 contributing in total. The University of Pittsburgh spent $240,000 in the firm’s battle against grad students.

Biden has taken “$4,200 from attorneys working with Jackson Lewis, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, a powerful New York-based firm the AFL-CIO has called the ‘No. 1 union buster in America,'” writes the Intercept’s Aida Chavez.  Jackson Lewis’ most prominent anti-union history include campaigns against workers at Ikea, as well as manufacturersmedia outlets, and universities.

Three Biden bundlers are connected to O’Melveny and Myers, the law firm that “provides advice on union- avoidance, elections, and strikes, and represents employers in front of the NLRB” (National Labor Relations Board), as per CEPR.

CEPR speculates that the lawyers are seeking influence in an administration that reflects their anti-union views and interests. The policy research organization notes that anti-worker firms like Morgan Lewis, which has 6 employees that donated at least $2800 to Joe Biden’s campaign, have long revolving door histories with the National Labor Relations Board.

“Employees of these firms range from associates to CEO’s and from low dollar donors to bundlers, but their support of these candidates may hint that the labor policies they expect from a Biden (or Buttigieg) administration are more employer-friendly than what unions are expecting,” wrote CEPR.

“At the very least, these firms may be looking to influence strategic appointments at Departments and Agencies like the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, where sympathetic board members can help ensure the firm’s clients stay ‘union free.’”

Buttigieg is the second-favorite of anti-worker law firms, as he “received significant support from Barnes & Thornburg, which has an enthusiastic Labor and Employment practice that boasts ‘favorable results in more than 96% of the campaigns’ in which they represent employers facing union organization,” reported CEPR. “Buttigieg has over 20 donors from the firm in total. All four maxed out donors are partners at the national firm, which seems to have a strong presence in the Midwest and has four offices in Indiana alone.”

As the Intercept’s Aida Chavez reported, union endorsements “remain critical for political candidates, especially for canvassing and phone-banking efforts in early states,” even though union membership in the American workforce has sunk to around 10% from around 30% in the 1950s and 60s.

While national unions have largely held off endorsements this election, Chavez notes that the Postal Workers Union, “National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in the country with its 150,000-plus membership; United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest teachers local in the country; and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America have endorsed Sanders, whose union plan would overhaul U.S. labor laws and seek to double labor union membership by the end of his first term in office if elected president.

Meanwhile, Biden has won endorsements from the “International Association of Fire Fighters, which staunchly opposes Medicare for All. On Wednesday, he was endorsed by the 130,000-member International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers,” Chavez reported.

Biden’s presidential campaign began with a $2,800-a-plate fundraiser at the home of Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David Cohen, and as Sludge reported, 94% of Comcast executives’ and vice presidents’ contributions to Democratic presidential candidates have gone to Biden.

Comcast owns MSNBC, which Sludge argues has given Biden largely favorable coverage while misreporting the Sanders campaign’s fundraising, polling, and general electoral prospects. Sanders has called to break up Comcast with antitrust action. CNN was also widely criticized for bias against Sanders in the most recent debates, and critics speculated that Sanders’ vocal support for the network’s union in their $76 million dispute settlement with CNN influenced their coverage of the Vermont senator.

Beyond the Comcast CEO, Biden’s first fundraiser also featured Ken Jarin, lobbyist and partner at anti-union firm Ballard Spahr, and Steve Cozen, the founder of Cozen O’Connor and a bundler for Biden who has also given $25,000 to Biden’s super PAC. According to the Cozen O’Connor website, the firm helps corporations “avoid unionization through positive employee relations and regain nonunion status when employees indicate they no longer wish to be union-represented.” More than ten Cozen O’Connor employees have maxed out contributions to the Biden campaign.

As Citizen Truth previously wrote, Biden and Buttigieg both host a number of unsavory corporate elites in their lists of bundlers and high-dollar donors. Other top tier candidates Sens. Sanders and Warren have rejected big-money fundraisers and don’t have bundlers.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a staff writer and assistant editor at Citizen Truth.

1 Comment

  1. anon February 2, 2020

    A former O’Melveny attorney created a blog about their problematic practices, below if you’d like to learn more. https://www.omelvenymyersethics.org

    Reply

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