You’d sort of think that Citigroup, perhaps the biggest public assistance recipient in history ($50 billion or so and counting), would be a little careful about meddling in politics right now. Logical, but apparently wrong.
First came the news that Citi was downgrading its rating of Wal-Mart’s stock on grounds that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)–which was just reintroduced in Congress this week–might pass and damage the retail giant’s profits. Then it transpired that the same analyst who pulled that bizarre scare-tactic stunt, one Deborah Weinswig, actively participated in a conference call among EFCA opponents to strategerize about defeating the infamous socialist legislation that would let a majority of employees in a workplace form union bargaining units without formal NLRB elections.
As explained by Sam Stein at HuffPo, the conference call was organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, represented by Gordon Spencer, who explained its highly nuanced position on EFCA as follows:
“From the Chamber’s perspective, and I would say probably from the whole business community’s perspective, there are really no amendments you could make to this bill that would make it acceptable.”
So much for the spirit of compromise and bipartisanship.
In any event, the hysteria level among business lobbyists about EFCA is very high, strange as that may seem at a time when you would think they have a lot of bigger fish to fry.
As for Ms. Weinswig and Citi’s involvement in the anti-EFCA cabal, they aren’t the only corporate welfare loafers who think it’s okay to beg the Obama administration and a Democratic Congress for money while lobbying against legislation they support. According to Stein in an earlier article, Bank of America hosted its own anti-EFCA conference call three days after receiving a $25 billion subsidy from the feds.
It’s unclear at this point if EFCA has the votes to get through the Senate. But even if it does, and without the sort of amendments that the Chamber is already ruling out, the only way it would affect the business community is if it made it a bit easier for workers to organize unions. If the position of the anti-EFCA crowd is that unions are so intolerable that they ought to be outlawed, then they should come right out and say so without all the crocodile tears about preserving the sacred right of workers to vote against unionization via secret ballots after long, employer-dominated campaigns. But those who are accepting vast public subsidies to stay in business ought to have the decency to stay out of lobbying efforts based on the idea that corporate America should be allowed to do whatever it damn pleases, or they’ll plunge us all into penury.