"The primary reason for putting Smith and Boylan in the Department of Labor
is to allow union thugs to enforce wage laws as a tactic in union organization.
Then we'll have these shakedowns and coercive tactics happening nationwide
against non-union businesses."—ALG President Bill Wilson.
October 14th, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today urged Republican Senator Mike Enzi to continue his opposition to Patricia Smith, Obama nominee for Solicitor of Labor, following the withdrawal of another controversial Labor nominee, Lorelei Boylan.
"Senator Enzi put a much-needed hold on a very controversial, radical nominee, Patricia Smith who repeatedly misrepresented her record under oath," said Wilson. "And now it appears that the heightened attention on Smith and Boylan's track records as New York union cronies has had a much-needed impact in slowing down and even halting their admission into the federal bureaucracy."
Smith was nominated to be Solicitor of Labor in March, the third highest official and the person with the final word on all legal advice in the Department. Boylan had been nominated to be the Administrator of the Department's Wage and Hour Division in May, the division responsible for enforcing minimum wage and overtime laws among others. Boylan withdrew earlier this week, allegedly for "family reasons."
With the senatorial hold put on Smith, it will require a 60 vote cloture motion to have it lifted. Wilson says this gives the Senate more time to examine her record, to follow up on outstanding questions, and "to generate opposition to a record that would in essence has put labor unions in charge of the departments responsible for fighting union corruption."
Both Smith and Boylan are currently officials in the New York State Department of Labor. Smith Serves as Commissioner and Boylan as Director of Strategic Enforcement in the Labor Standards Division.
Wilson pointed to a contentious Smith-Boylan enforcement initiative called, "wage watch," which deputizes private entities, such as ACORN, to do enforcement work through "formal partnerships" with the state. Boylan has headed the initiative.
Groups participating in this initiative are given a specific geographic zone to patrol, are provided with training and literature, and are assigned a designated contact person to which they provide "referrals" when they find what they decide are violations of wage and hour laws.
The majority of groups participating in the initiative are either labor unions or labor union-affiliates.
"This is in essence state-sponsored union vigilantism, working with community organizers like ACORN, to target businesses that have not unionized with imagined violations," Wilson said. "This is strong-armed union thuggery, and now it's state-sanctioned in New York."
"The primary reason for putting Smith and Boylan in the Department of Labor is to allow union thugs to enforce wage laws as a tactic in union organization. Then we'll have these hakedowns and coercive tactics happening nationwide against non-union businesses," Wilson explained.
When the initiative was launched in January, a coalition of trade associations representing thousands of New York businesses protested, writing to Smith that "To give quasi-enforcement capabilities to certain, seemingly hand-selected constituencies sets a troubling precedent that could spread among the spectrum of state agencies."
The letter continues, "We wonder how such an effort can create an atmosphere of anything other than vigilantism where every honest employer will have a legitimate concern for the preservation of his or her rights as a taxpaying business owner in the state of New York. The image painted by the Department in its January 26 release is of a posse of activists, duly deputized by the weighty imprimatur of the Department, demanding access to any employer in the state whom they have chosen either at random, by will, or by prejudice."
In Senate testimony, Smith downplayed the significance of the initiative as a "pilot" program, and Wilson said "that's why she's in trouble."
"There are definite misstatements of fact by Ms. Smith about 'wage watch' that need clarification before the confirmation process can go forward," said Wilson, pointing to her testimony before the Senate. "She said that unions didn't invent 'wage watch,' but they did, and that her department did not have plans to expand the initiative, but they did."
"Senator Enzi should keep that hold on, and until she can clarify the record, it should not be lifted and there should be no cloture vote," Wilson added.
"Downplaying and misrepresenting a controversial New York State program that deputizes labor unions that she may well implement nationally in office should not win Smith confirmation, it should raise questions amongst Senators about the Department of Labor. Maybe it's really the Department of Labor Unions now," Wilson concluded.