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National Right to Work Committee

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Follow the money in the Koch wiki.

The National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC), the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF), and the National Institute for Labor Relations Research are a related group of nonprofits that have been the national leaders in the effort to destroy public and private sector unions by pushing anti-union legislation at the state and federal level and by bringing lawsuits, such as the 2014 Harris vs. Quinn pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2012, the three groups combined reported over $25 million in revenue.[1]

While the NRTWC claims to be a “nonpartisan, single-purpose citizens’ organization,” a Center for Responsive Politics analysis on the National Right to Work Committee PAC shows that 100% of its political contributions have gone to Republicans.[2][3]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Controversies

Harris vs. Quinn in the U.S. Supreme Court

Harris vs. Quinn, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014, may have been "the court’s first step toward nationalizing the 'right to work' gospel by embedding it in constitutional law," according to Cynthia Estlund and William E. Forbath, professors of law at New York University and the University of Texas-Austin, respectively.[4]

The case originated in Illinois, where home health care workers have been successfully organized by public sector unions. A small group of these workers, represented by lawyers from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF), sued, and their lawyers contended that the agency fees, or the fair share dues that even non-union members of a bargaining unit are required to pay to unions that bargain for higher wages on their behalf, violated the First Amendment. Agency fees are barred in so-called "right to work" states.[1]

Before the decision was announced, Joel Rogers, a professor of law and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the case "the most important labor law case the court has considered in decades." This is because when the Supreme Court decided to take on the case, the NRTWLDF dramatically expanded the scope of the case beyond the home health care workers to include all public sector workers, from teachers and firefighters to sanitation workers to librarians.[1]

The Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in favor of the plaintiffs on June 30, 2014. In a decision written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., the Court ruled "that some government employees did not have to pay any fees to the unions representing them. But the court declined to strike down a decades-old precedent that required many public sector workers to pay union fees," according to the New York Times.[5]

As The Nation explained, the ruling "created -- and exempted -- a new category of worker, the 'partial public employee.' Because these workers are paid by the government but hired, fired and managed by individual clients, Alito declared, they are neither fully of the public sphere, nor fully of the private, but hover in some liminal, unprotected half-space." The language of the ruling raised concerns about how it would be interpreted and about future Supreme Court decisions on labor issues.[6]

In response to the ruling, NRTW president Mark Mix said, "We applaud these homecare providers' effort to convince the Supreme Court to strike down this constitutionally-dubious scheme, thus freeing thousands of homecare providers from unwanted union control."[7]

Connected to national right-wing network including the Koch's and ALEC

The National Right to Work organizations have strong connections to the national right-wing network, including to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Republican National Committee, and the State Policy Network (SPN). The National Right to Work Committee also received over $1 million in 2012 from Koch-linked sources.[8] See chart below for more on these ties.

Funds to lobby Congress and support GOP candidates

The National Right to Work Committee has become an anti-worker lobbying powerhouse on the federal level, having reported spending $33 million between 1999-2013 (see below). Furthermore, many of the National Right to Work organizations’ board and staff members are major Republican donors who have given large amounts of money to countless GOP committees, presidential candidates, governors, U.S. senators, members of congress, and state legislators over its 58 year history.[9]

Massive Off-the-Books Mass Mailing Operation"

In January 2014, the Center for Responsive Politics detailed whistleblower allegations that the NRTWC was running "a massive off-the-books mass mailing operation" attempting to influence the 2010 election in Iowa, and possibly other states. Reportedly, the NRTWC did not disclose it was participating in political activity that year to the IRS. The whistleblower also alleged that the NRTWC was coordinating its activities with candidates' campaigns during the election. Former IRS official Marcus Owens commented to the news outlet, saying that "people have gone to jail for precisely the facts that you are describing."[10]

Convicted of violating campaign finance laws by the U.S. Supreme Court

In a 1982 lawsuit with the FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court found the NRTWC had violated campaign finance law by mailing to 267,000 individuals during the 1976 election to solicit contributions for their Employees Rights Campaign Committee for federal candidates. As a result of these solicitations, the NRTWC received $77,000 in contributions, but at the time non-stock holding corporations, labor unions, and nonprofit organizations could only solicit political contributions to a separate fund for federal candidates from “members” of the organization. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 267,000 individuals who received NRTWC’s mailing were not “members” of the NRTWC.[11]

Role in Indiana right to work 2012

The National Right to Work Committee had registered lobbyists in the Indiana since at least 2006.[12]In 2010 alone, the National Right to Work Committee led a group of national and local organizations to send out 278,000 pieces of targeted mail identifying legislators’ position on Right to Work.[13]NRTWC President Mark Mix admitted “we practically mailed the phone book in targeted districts.” The National Right to Work Committee was also accused of using the Indiana Opportunity Fund to run pro-Right to Work ads in Indiana during the 2012 debate over Right to Work in the state.[14][15]

Right to work in Pennsylvania

The NRTWC has coordinated with several groups to support the “right to work” effort in Pennsylvania, including Americans for Prosperity, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and the Associated Builders & Contractors.[16]In January 2013, the NRTWC, along with the mentioned organizations, jointly held a press conference with select Pennsylvania legislators to announce their push for “right to work.”[17]The NRTWC previously worked with Americans for Prosperity, the Independence Institute, and the Associated Builders & Contractors to push for a failed Right to Work ballot amendment in Colorado in 2008.[18]

Infiltrated unions and Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984

In 1984, the National Right to Work Committee spent $100,000 to hire private detectives to infiltrate the AFL-CIO, the National Education Association (NEA), and the Mondale for President Committee for the purpose of gathering evidence that the unions were using their general treasury monies to provide support to Walter Mondale's presidential campaign, which was prohibited at the time.[19]After a legal battle with the NEA over the issue, the FEC filed a lawsuit against the NRTWC in 1990, but a district court later ruled that the lawsuit was void because the five-year statute of limitations had expired.[20]

Accuracy of research questioned

The accuracy of research dealing with labor relations and working conditions produced by the National Right to Work organizations has been questioned by academics, labor leaders, and elected officials alike.[21]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

Organizations with links to the Koch brothers have reported giving funding to the National Right to Work Committee, including DonorsTrust and the Donors Capital Fund. In 2012 alone, NRWC received $1 million from the Koch-linked organization Freedom Partners Longtime NRWC director Reed Larson shares a hometown--Wichita, KS--with Charles and David Koch. According to reporting by PR Watch, Larson "became an early leader of the radical right-wing John Birch Society in Kansas," which was co-founded by Fred Koch, and many "other founders and early leaders of the NRTWC were members and leaders of the John Birch Society, specifically the Wichita chapter of which Fred Koch was an active member."[22]

Mark Mix, the Foundation's president, attended the June 2010 Koch Strategy Group Meeting. He spoke on a panel entitled "Mobilizing Citizens for November" along with Koch operative Sean Noble, Karl Crow of Themis, and Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity.[23]

Lobbying and Legislative Activities

NRTWC spent $33 million on lobbying and influencing Congress between 1999 and 2013

As a 501(c)(4) organization, the NRTWC can participate in unlimited lobbying activity as long as it pertains to the organization’s mission. The federal lobbyist disclosure database shows that the National Right to Work Committee has reported spending $33,680,000 on lobbying the federal government between 1999 and 2013.[24]

On its 2011 IRS 990 tax form, the NRTWC disclosed $8,142,985 in total nondeductible lobbying and political expenditures.[25] NRTWLDF and NILFF did not itemize any expenditures for lobbying in 2011.

NRTWC opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, calling it "forced unionism" and claiming that it would "empower union bosses to force a business's employees to accept a union as their exclusive bargaining agent solely through the acquisition of signed union authorization cards from employees in a particular bargaining unit." [26]

NRTWC opposed the nomination of then-Congresswoman Hilda Solis as President Barack Obama's Labor Secretary. NRTWC's Mark Mix called Solis "a die-hard forced unionism activist who apparently believes that all workers should be gathered into union collectives whether they like it or not." [27] An NRTWC press release stated, "The U.S. Department of Labor is not supposed to be the U.S. Department of Big Labor. The Labor secretary should be on the side of workers, not union bosses who seek to trample workers' rights." [28]

The following are current and former registered lobbyist for the NRTWC:

Federal Registered Lobbyist Years Registered to Represent NRTWC
Mark Mix 1999-2013
Raymond J. LaJeunesse 1999-2012
George W. Mourard 2004-2013
Dimitri N. Kesari 2007-2011
Patrick H. Parsons 2008-2011
Douglas A. Stafford 2004-2011
Reed E. Larson 1999-2007
Richard J. Clair 1999-2006
John F. Tate 2002-2003
Christopher J. Tosto 1999-2003

NRTWC’s State Level Lobbying

The NRTWC also had registered lobbyists in Indiana and Michigan in 2012, the year both states became so-called “right to work” states, and were in Indiana since at least 2006.[29][30]Both the NRTWC and New England Citizens for Right to Work, an organization that has received significant funding from the NRTWC, have had registered lobbyists in New Hampshire.[31] New Hampshire passed its own Right to Work bill in 2011 but was later vetoed by the governor.[32]

Funding

Chart created by Center for Media & Democracy

According to its 2012 IRS 990 filing, the National Right to Work Committee alone, not including the legal or research arm, reported $16,236,323 in revenue, $14.5 million in expenses, and year-end assets of $10.6 million.[33] It reported $12,221,924 in lobbying and political expenses in 2012. According to this report, the NRTWC is related to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research and wholly owns and operates a for-profit subsidiary, Liberty Phone Center, which had $1,737,981 in taxable income in 2012.

In 2012, NRTWLDF reported $8,544,587 in revenue, and the NILRR reported $339,554.[34][35] Together, the three groups had over $25 million in revenue that year.

The Committee had a budget of $10.3 million in 2011[36], $15.6 million in 2010.[37], $10.8 million in 2009, $8.3 million in 2008, and $6.6 million in 2007[38]

NRTWC connected to the national right-wing network

Organization/Person Connection
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
  • The National Right to Work Committee was an exhibitor at ALEC’s 2011 Annual Conference.[39]
  • The National Right to Work Committee has republished ALEC repots on its website, including ALEC’s “Right States, Poor States” in 2010.[40]
  • ALEC has used data and studies from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research in its publication, ‘’Inside ALEC.’’[41]
  • One of ALEC’s most commonly used pieces of “model legislation” is its “Right to Work Act.”[42]
Koch Brothers
  • NRWTC/NRTWLDF President Mark Mix was a presenter at the 2010 Koch Conference in Aspen, Colorado.[43]
  • NRTWLDF participates in the Charles G. Koch Associate Program.[44]
  • At least three NRTWLDF staff attorneys are current or former associates with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation or the Charles Koch Institute.[45]
  • Mother Jones listed NRTWLDF trustee Ethelmae Humphreys as an attendee of the 2010 Koch Conference in Aspen, Colorado.[46]
Americans for Prosperity
  • NRTWC has coordinated with AFP for right to work in both Colorado and Pennsylvania.[47][48]
Cato Institute
  • NRTWLDF trustee Ethelmae Humphreys also serves on the board of the Cato Institute.[46]
State Policy Network (SPN)
  • NRTWLDF is listed as an associate member of SPN.[49]
  • NILRR is also listed in SPN’s list of like-minded “other organizations.”[50]
Amerian Conservative Union
  • NRTWC board member Morton Blackwell is a member of the ACU’s board of directors.[51]
Republic National Committee
  • NRTWC board member Morton Blackwell is a conservative activist who serves on the Republican National Committee’s Standing Committee on Rules and has also been a campaign and White House staff for Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and former Sen. Gordon Humphreys (R-NH).[52]
  • NRTWC board member Guy Short was elected a member for the RNC’s Platform Committee in 2012.[53]
  • Several NRTWLDF staff attorneys are former GOP legislative and campaign staffers.[54]
Associated Builders and Contractors
  • NRTWC has coordinated with ABC to push for right to work in Colorado and Pennsylvania.[55][56]
The Council for National Policy
  • Morton Blackwell was previously the Executive Director the Council for National Policy.[57]
National Rifle Association (NRA)
  • Right-wing actor and former NRA President Charlton Heston appeared in NRTWC ads in the 1990s.[58]
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
  • NRTWLDF trustee Ethelmae Humphreys was featured in a Mackinac Center article, in which Mackinac called her a “longtime supporter of the Mackinac Center.”[59]
Rio Grande Foundation
  • NRTWC/NRTWLDF President Mark mix was a featured speaker at a Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s State Policy Network think tank, event in 2012.[60]
Independence Institute
  • Working America reported that the NRWTC worked with Americans for Prosperity, the Independence Institute (Colorado’s State Policy Network think tank), and the Associated Builders and Contractors to push for a failed right to work amendment in Colorado in 2008.[61]

Elections Spending and Activities

NRTWC runs two political action committees, the National Right to Work Committee PAC and the State Employee Rights Campaign Committee. NRTWC spent $3.62 million on lobbying in 2013.[62]

A Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the NRTWC PAC shows that 100% of its contributions have gone to Republicans.[63]

Some notable political candidates, members of Congress, and political organizations who received funding from the NRTWC PAC include:

  • 2012: former Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), and former Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO)[64]
  • 2010: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and the Senate Conservatives Fund[65]
  • 2008: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), and then-Congressman and now-Governor Mike Pence (R-IN)[66]
  • 2006: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), former Sen. George Allen (R-VA), the House Conservatives Fund, and the Free Enterprise Fund PAC[67]
  • 2004: Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Sen. John Thune (R-UT)[68]

As of the first quarter of 2014, the National Right to Work Committee PAC had donated $34,900 to federal candidates, including $20,000 to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).[69] All of its donations were to Republicans. Since 1992, the PAC has given $587,690 to federal candidates.[70] It has never given any money to a Democratic candidate.

Supported Todd Akin in 2012 as a part of $7 million campaign

In November 2012, the National Right to Work Committee announced that would spend $25,000 on print and television advertising in the final week of the 2012 general election campaign to boost Rep. Todd Akin, the 2012 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate infamously known for his “legitimate rape” comment. The spending on Akin was part of $7,000,000 the NRTWC spent in other Senate races, including races in Virginia, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arizona.[71]

Pressured U.S. Senators on card check legislation

In 2009, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported that the National Right to Work Committee was “running hundreds of television ads in states” to put pressure on U.S. Senators to oppose card check legislation.[72]

Launched $1.7 million attack ad campaign in 2002 against congressional candidates

In August 2002, the National Right to Work Committee launched a $1.7 million TV advertising campaign to target members of Congress to support a National Right to Work Act. Most notability, one of the NRTWC’s targets was Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), then-Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Workforce. Despite Boehner’s history of opposing labor unions and his support for the National Right to Work Act, the NRTWC still ran ads connecting him to labor leaders because Boehner would not hold a vote on the bill because he did not think it had a chance of passing his committee or the full House.[73]

Released attack ads against U.S. Senate candidates in 2002; may have not reported activity

The National Right to Work Committee has a history of running political ads against legislators who oppose the organization’s anti-union activities, according to a Public Citizen report. In 2002, the NRTWC ran ads attacking six federal Republican incumbents for refusing to introduce right-to-work legislation. NRTWC also ran attack ads near Election Day against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Pryor, a Democratic challenger to a U.S. Senate incumbent in Arkansas. Public Citizen stated that since the NRTWC did not report any expenditures for political activities to the IRS between 2000 and 2002, the group claimed that none of its communications mentioning the names of candidates were intended to influence the outcomes of elections.[74]

Released attack ads against U.S. Senate candidates as part of $1 million campaign in 2000

In 2000, the National Right to Work Committee released ads in four U.S. Senate races against candidates who opposed the National Right to Work Act. The NRTWC spent $100,000 on these Senate ads, part of a larger $1 million campaign for that year, including ads against Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).[75]

Major funder of the 2008 Colorado Right to Work ballot campaign

The National Right to Work Committee made two contributions, totaling $500,000, to the “A Better Colorado” ballot measure committee in October 2008. [76]“A Better Colorado” was the primary organization behind Colorado’s Amendment 47 in 2008, which would have made Colorado a “Right to Work” state.[77] One of the initiative’s major supporters was Jonathan Coors, a prominent member of the Coors family.[78] The Coors family had previously contributed $35,000 to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in 1997 through the family’s Castle Rock Foundation.[79] Amendment 47 was defeated with over 56% of the vote in November 2008. Colorado Secretary of State records show the funding committee as the “National Right to Work Committee,” and therefore it was likely the 501(c)(4) nonprofit contributing to “A Better Colorado,” and not one of the FEC or IRS registered political action committees.[80]

Political contributions by key people in NRTWC

Mark Mix has contributed at least $15,298 to political candidates and committees on the state and federal level between 1992 and 2012, including contributions to Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), former Senator George Allen (R-VA), Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA), Dick DeVos’s 2006 Michigan gubernatorial campaign, and the National Right to Work Committee PAC.[81][82]

Personnel

NRTWC's officers, and the amount they were paid in 2012, are as follows:[83]

Contact details

8001 Braddock Road, Suite 500
Springfield, VA 22160
Phone: (800) 325-7892
Fax: (703) 321-7342
Web: http://www.nrtwc.org

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jay Riestenberg and Mary Bottari, Who Is Behind the National Right to Work Committee and it Anti-Union Crusade?, PRWatch, June 3, 2014.
  2. National Right to Work Committee, About NRTWC, National Right to Work Committee website, accessed June 5, 2014.
  3. Center for Responsive Politics, NRTWC Summary, OpenSecrets.org, accessed June 5, 2014.
  4. Cynthia Estlund and William E. Forbath, "The Supreme Court Ruling on Harris v. Quinn Is a Blow for Unions," New York Times Opinion section, July 3, 2014.
  5. Steven Greenhouse, "Supreme Court Ruling on Union Fees Is a Limited Blow to Labor," New York Times, July 1, 2014.
  6. Eileen Boris, Jennifer Klein, Joel Rogers, Joshua Freeman, and Jane McAlevey, "After 'Harris v. Quinn': The State of Our Unions," The Nation, July 2, 2014.
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External resources

External articles