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Come Out of Hiding, Bret Jacobson

Hey, all, this is from Seth Michaels at AFL-CIO Now.

OMG. A labor secretary who might look out for workers?

As an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times makes clear, President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Rep. Hilda Solis as secretary of labor is too terrible to contemplate. “A Disastrous Pick for Labor Secretary,” shouts the headline by author, Bret Jacobson, who tries to terrify readers by telling them that Solis is—gasp—looked on favorably by leaders in the union movement and worst of all, supports the Employee Free Choice Act.

Solis doesn’t hide the fact that she’s a longtime friend to workers and will be a great advocate for safe workplaces, fair treatment and the freedom to form unions and bargain.

But what’s Bret Jacobson hiding, and why is he so scared of a pro-worker secretary of labor?

Jacobson isn’t a neutral observer and he isn’t, as the L.A. Times credulously allows him to calls himself, simply a “research and communications” consultant. In fact, he’s the sidekick to slime-lobbyist Rick Berman, the corporate hack whose career features attacks on Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the alcohol industry. (Jane, Gregg and Scarecrow have done a great job of keeping an eye on Berman and the media outlets who rely on him for anti-union quotes.)

Jacobson and Berman founded the misnamed “Center for Union Facts,” one of the central corporate front groups in the long-standing campaign against workers’ rights. And Jacobson is the founder of a firm specifically hired to protect corporations from unions, consumers and public oversight.

Yet in today’s L.A. Times column, Jacobson doesn’t say he’s opposing Solis on behalf of a corporate client (even though his firm’s website includes “writing op-eds” as a service for hire). He speaks as though he’s an independent observer with “troubling but important questions” about Solis and the Employee Free Choice Act. He spins the well-worn falsehoods about unions we’ve come to expect from union-bashers, and, as usual, pretends that it comes from a sincere concern for workers’ rights.

Destroying unions and workers’ freedom to bargain for a better life is Jacobson’s agenda, and he’s handsomely rewarded for it by undisclosed corporate donors. (Indeed, at the website for Jacobson’s consulting firm, he smugly brags about the ability to advance corporate clients’ agendas without revealing who’s paying the bills.)

Let’s be blunt: Giving a corporate crony like Jacobson a platform to attack a pro-worker Labor Department nominee is like hiring a slaughterhouse owner to judge vegetarian restaurants, or hiring an arsonist to weigh in on the qualifications of a new fire chief.

Major media outlets have allowed right-wing smear merchants and corporate lobbyists like Jacobson and Berman free rein to define the Employee Free Choice Act in misleading, negative ways, while letting them hide their affiliations.

Jacobson is doing the job he gets paid very well for: advancing an anti-worker, anti-union agenda. The really “troubling but important question” is why the L.A. Times lets him get away with it.

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