Saturday, February 03, 2018

AFL-CIO vs EMILY's List In Texas: "Anybody But Lizzie"


EMILY's List always manages to find the worst women to back. Here you have a Blue Dog, a New Dem and a union buster. Why not top notch progressives like Nina Ahmad and Jess King?

Mother Jones published a story the other day, , One of the Most Influential Unions in Texas Just Came Out Against a Rising Democratic Contender, the starts with two really wrong-headed assumptions: "With support from progressive groups like EMILY’s List, Houston attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher has proven herself a top Democratic contender to flip Texas Republican John Culberson’s congressional seat this fall." First of all, EMILY's List may have been a progressive group a decade ago... but not since then. In fact, if anything, EMILY's List is part of the establishment and conservative Democratic infrastructure. They generally back conservative women for office. No one cares about EMILY's List's endorsements outside the Beltway and in the clueless media, and the group generally hurts candidates-- by interfering in their campaigns and siphoning funds to connected consultants while demanding that funds not be spent on anything EMILY's List can't get a piece of (like field and voter registration drives)-- more than helps them. They are especially disrespectful, bullying and even tyrannical with women candidates of color.

An anti-Fletcher critique has been building in South Texas inside organized labor circles for at least a month. It's no secret that the DCCC favors one of her very conservative opponents, Jay Hulings, who was recruited by the Castro Machine in San Antonio, and has been endorsed by the New Dems and Blue Dogs, the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party. (If Hulings had different plumbing, EMILY's List wouldn't have even considered Fletcher.)
In a statement announcing its endorsements, the Texas AFL-CIO told members that it opposed Fletcher’s candidacy. The group’s opposition stems from a lawsuit that dates back to the mid-2000s and was resolved in 2016, during which Fletcher’s law firm, AZA, represented a Houston commercial cleaning company that won $5.3 million in damages from a labor union affiliated with the Texas AFL-CIO. (Fletcher is an AZA partner; an AZA associate, Adam Milasincic, is running in a state primary race as well.)

Zeph Capo, president of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation (the Houston-area arm of the Texas AFL-CIO), said in a letter to the Harris County Democratic Party that AZA investigators intimidated immigrant workers who may have otherwise testified and humiliated those who did. Milasincic and other AZA lawyers turned the courtroom into an “anti-union and anti-immigrant circus,” according to the letter, which was published by the Texas Observer.
The Texas Observer explained the case a little more thoroughly and how the lawyers "hounded union witnesses with ridiculous and objectionable questions," and referred to witnesses as "union thugs" and "mob bosses." The lawyers turned the courtroom into "an anti-union and anti-immigrant circus, inflaming the prejudice of the jury against the janitors and their union," also hiring "investigators who intimidated a number of immigrant worker potential witnesses," some of whom opted not to testify or changed their testimony after being visited by investigators.
In 2007, Professional Janitorial Service (PJS) sued Service Employees International Union (SEIU) over disparaging claims the union made about the company to third parties. The case has its roots in the “Justice for Janitors” organizing campaign, a high-profile effort to unionize workers at Houston’s largest commercial cleaners more than a decade ago. After PJS balked at recognizing the union, SEIU began leveling accusations at the company. In court, PJS argued that some of the accusations-- such as those pertaining to forcing  employees to work off clock and firing janitors for engaging in union activities-- caused the company to lose business.

...“We believe that progressive voters and organizations should be aware of the work of this firm and these lawyers in undermining the rights and efforts of predominantly immigrant janitorial workers in the city of Houston to unionize,” the group wrote... The group has not made an endorsement in the 7th Congressional District, other than to say: “Anybody but Lizzie (Fletcher),” Capo said."
There are two progressive reformers in the race for the Democratic nomination, Dr. Jason Westin and activist Laura Moser.

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