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Varney Lies About Employee Free Choice Act

Reported by Ellen - July 11, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Brian

On yesterday’s (7/10/09) Your World, Stuart Varney claimed that unions were using President Obama’s meeting with the Pope to push their agenda, the Employee Free Choice Act a/k/a Card Check legislation. Varney used that accusation as a launch pad for distortions about the Act. The guest, Stewart Acuff of the AFL-CIO, did not let Varney get away with it. With video.

After being accused by Varney of “using the Pope’s words and his message for your own political agenda,” Acuff said, “Stuart, the Catholic Church has a long tradition of supporting workers’ rights and supporting labor unions and supporting the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively. It didn’t just begin with this Pope.”

Apparently unable to rebut that, Varney interrupted to say, “Let’s get to Card Check… This is what we’re really talking about here.” After another swipe at Acuff for “using the Pope,” Varney added, “Now Card Check would do away with the free vote."

"No it would not,” Acuff said. “You are wrong Stuart, you are wrong. The Wall Street Journal has said that that is a lie. The Chamber of Commerce has said that that is a lie. And it's just not true."

Varney said hostilely. "It's not. It is true. It would do away with a secret ballot… If you get a certain number of workers to sign a card,… you get a certain proportion, the union is in.” His voice raised now, Varney alleged that that was somehow coercion. He shouted, “The Pope is not in favor of coercion… There is coercion implied in card check, and I don't think that the Pope wants to be associated with coercion."

Acuff shouted back, "Twenty nine thousand workers last year in this country were retaliated against by their employers for exercising legally protected workers rights… Stop lying!"

Varney laughed scornfully as Acuff spoke. He then responded, "A guy goes to a… non-union shop. A guy goes to a union meeting, he comes to work next day, and he says to the boss, ‘I went to a union meeting last night.’ The boss says, ‘Did you go? What do you think of it?’ That, in your book, is coercion. That is intimidation from management. That's how your lawyers see it. And I know this for a fact. I know this for a fact."

Acuff replied, "That failure comes from the National Labor Relations Board, and it is those workers who have been denied money, fired, disciplined, demoted, had their shift changed, denied money by their employer, and it is more than 20,000 workers a year for the last 15 years. That is coercion, that’s intimidation, that’s retaliation, and you, Sir, are wrong."

In fact, Acuff is correct. The House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor put out a statement called, Employee Free Choice Act: Myth vs. Fact, saying, “FACT: The Employee Free Choice Act does not abolish the secret ballot election process.” Media Matters also has an excellent rundown of Fox News’ persistent distortions about the Act. The House Committee also debunks Varney’s suggestion that the Act would cause harassment by unions, saying, "FACT: Harassment by unions is not the problem. Unlike employers, a union organizer can’t fire you, cut your pay, or deny you a promotion. But, if you’re an employee actively trying to organize your coworkers, you have a one in five chance of getting fired by your employer for simply exercising your democratic rights. Even a pro-business group could only find 42 cases of union deception and/or coercion in obtaining card signatures over the last 70 years. Contrast that with roughly 30,000 workers who received back pay from employers that had fired or illegally intimidated them for each year of the Bush administration. It’s clear where the problem lie."