Profile: Coalition for a Democratic Workplace

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace is an ad-hoc alliance of industry groups opposed to federal legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, called the Employee Free Choice Act, but it died in the Senate last year, as the coalition launched a multi-media campaign against it. This year, the coalition is running a $20 million campaign targeting Senate candidates based on their support or opposition to the bill.

The campaign argues that Democrats want to take away secret ballots in union elections, making it harder for workers to stand up to labor bosses. A separate group, the Employee Freedom Action Committee, is waging a similar ad campaign. On the other hand, supporters of the bill say it will help curb harassment by corporate management.

The coalition's political strategy and communications efforts are run by DC Navigators, a consulting firm that also does work for Republican politicians. Navigators explained the strategy on the firm's Web site: "Unions lost control of the message fight; they wanted [the] fight to be a debate about [the] merits of joining a union and Navigators made it a fight about secret ballots."

The coalition's leadership and funding comes from groups such as Independent Electrical Contractors, National Association of Manufacturers, National Federation of Independent Business, National Retail Federation, American Hotel and Lodging Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Franchise Federation and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

Funders: Members of the coalition.

Leadership: Brian Worth, Mike Murphy, Todd Harris, Rob Stutzman, Rhonda Bentz. Read more about these leaders in The Secret Money Project's Who's Who Directory of Key Leaders of Independent Groups.

Will Evans is a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, NPR's partner for the Secret Money Project.

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