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Jack Lew: Union-Buster


Related to my dismissal of Obama’s words about Hilda Solis yesterday (and here’s Dave Jamieson with a good run-down of Solis’ term as Secretary of Labor, Josh Eidelson has a piece up about soon-to-be Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew’s union-busting past. Lew was COO at New York University when it busted the graduate student union in the mid 2000s. While it’s hard to pin down exactly what role he played, he was certainly central to the conflict:

By the time Jack Lew left his post as NYU COO to become COO of Citigroup Wealth Management, the six-month strike was over, and the union had lost.

When we talked last year – soon after Obama had promoted Lew from his OMB director to his chief of staff — Local 2110 president Maida Rosenstein told me that Lew had acted as “the point person” in “representing management’s position” against GSOC. She said that NYU’s choice to stop recognizing the union meant the membership “has had to organize from scratch.” But when I asked if she thought Lew’s role should have disqualified him for the promotion, she answered, “I would love it if he had a chief of staff who had a direct history of being very pro-union. But he was in charge of the budget at NYU. Within that context, he did what he did. Maybe he’s learned something from it.”

Maybe, but I doubt it.

Noam Scheiber has a much more positive view of Lew. But then Scheiber and Eidelson are talking about different issues. It’s entirely possible that Lew is very strong on Medicare and Medicaid. I sure hope so. But that hardly he means he is strong on organized labor. One could say this about many Democrats in 2013.

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