Dear Senator:

The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), an organization established in 2003 to combat anti-worker legislation and promote free and open labor markets, urges you to support Senator Mike Enzi’s (R-WY) call for President Obama’s withdrawal of  Patricia Smith’s nomination for Solicitor at the Labor Department.

During Senate hearings in May, Ms. Smith gave false testimony about the development of New York’s Wage and Hour Watch program, a group Smith presided over. In her testimony, Smith said the Wage and Hour Watch program was developed internally by state officials, when, in fact, the new program received substantial funding from organized labor unions.

Predictably, the Wage and Hour Watch program became a means for unions to organize. Labor’s organizing arms, the New York State Laborers Organizing Fund and the Plumber Local, applied to join the program. Once in, they regularly attended meetings, despite having nothing to do with the programs intended purpose, preventing wage abuse.

The Wage and Hour Watch program was not only a tool for unions to organize but a weapon for them to intimidate employers. After acquiring Wage and Hour Watch licenses, unions could pressure nonunion employers to recognizing collective bargaining agreements or face litigation.

Unions saw an ally in Smith, evidence of which is found in a union newsletter which assured its members that the Wage and Hour Watch program will only investigate “non-union” grocery stores. Unions, after shoveling money into Wage and Labor Watch and then becoming the programs police officers had successfully hijacked Smith’s program. 

Smith also lacked a basic understanding of her program during her hearing before Congress calling it an “education effort” when it is characterized as an enforcement agency. At best, Smith’s testimony shows a unaccepable level of ignorance about the basic function and development of a program she created. At worst, her testimony demonstrates an attempt to mislead the Senate.

In either case, she is unfit to lead a large, complex organization. Smith has shown an inherit bias towards labor through her management of New York’s Hour Wage and Hour Watch program. It is for these reasons that I urge all of you to follow Senator Enzi’s lead and pressure President Obama to withdraw Patricia Smith’s nomination.    

Brian M. Johnson, MPA
Executive Director