TRADES & UNION DIGEST > Need to Know > Trump Hires Union Busters to Oversee Unions

Trump Hires Union Busters to Oversee Unions

3 years ago
Charlie Sprang

Two union busters have been hired by the DOL department that regulates organized labor

by Brian Young
on Feb 05, 2020

Within the Department of Labor, there is a section that is devoted to providing oversight to labor unions. It is responsible for auditing financial disclosures and investigating officer corruption.

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, has hired two new people to work in this oversight role who has a long history of working against unions. Rusty Brown, worked as a union-avoidance consultant. He helped to decertify a union of 27,000 home care workers in Minnesota and pushed the Labor Department to investigate a prominent Texas worker center that was a vocal critic of dangerous conditions in the construction industry. He will begin work in the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS).

The other hire, Trey Kovacs will work as a “special assistant” to OLMS. Kovacs previously worked at the Competitive Enterprise Institute where he advocated for treating worker centers more like labor unions, requiring them to file detailed financial statements and oversight. He has also accused the department of dragging their feet on expanding union financial disclosures. According to his bio, Kovacs writing focuses on the adverse effects of public sector unions. He has written in support of ending the Obama-era Joint-Employer Rule, advocated for the end to exclusive representation for public sector unions, and claimed that eliminating union time would save veterans’ lives at the VA.

According to the Department of Labor, Brown will be developing policy while Kovacs will be drafting research.

With these two hires worker centers are expecting to come under new scrutiny. Worker centers are advocacy groups that have sprung up in many areas with low union density, like the right to work states. They advocate for things like protections for low-income workers, safety issues, and often focus on immigrant communities such as day laborers. Groups like the US Chamber of Commerce have called on the Department of Labor to treat them less like advocacy groups and more like unions, even though they don’t engage in collective bargaining like a union would.

Brown, while working for the Alliance for Economic Freedom, lodged complaints last summer against the Texas Workers Defense Project. These complaints led to an investigation by the state into the group. Brown’s bio also states that he “led the largest union decertification campaign in United States history.” He also held the title of Vice President of the union avoidance firm RWP labor, which is based in Washington. During the decertification campaign in Minnesota, Brown actually volunteered to reach out to people to decertify the union. “He was a volunteer who worked extensively to help reach PCAs on the campaign for the decertification election,” said Doug Seaton to Bloomberg. “Rusty certainly was instrumental.” Seaton was another union-buster on the campaign who Trump considered for an appointment to the National Labor Relations Board.

“It’s no surprise that the Trump Administration continues to pack the Department of Labor with people who are hostile to workers, especially low-wage and immigrant workers—appointees who will try to deter workers from speaking up or organizing to remedy violations of baseline labor and employment protections,” said Charlotte Noss, the worker center program director at the National Employment Law Project, in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.


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