Solicitor of Labor Documents Show Plan to “Shame” Employers into Unionizing

December 3rd, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Documents obtained by Americans for Limited Government (ALG) Research Foundation through a Department of Labor whistleblower show a coordinated strategy by the Solicitor of Labor, Patricia Smith, to force reluctant employers to unionize.

ALG Research Director Don Todd, whose office obtained the documents, explained, “To help the unions, the Department of Labor is going to put public-relations people in every regional office to beat the drums on EEOC, OSHA, and wage-an-hour violations of employers that refuse to organize. And they will find violations.”

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, Smith said “she didn’t know what” a plan to “deter [employers] through shaming” meant.

An ALG backgrounder Todd said the “broader plan outlines exactly what it means. Employers that refuse to unionize are going to be targeted for litigation.”

Fund commented in his column, “whatever [‘shaming’] might involve, it doesn’t sound appropriate for an agency charged with carrying out the law in an even-handed fashion.”

The Solicitor’s strategy includes plans to:

• “Identify a public affairs liaison in each Regional Office” to “send stronger, clearer messages to the regulated community about DOL’s emphasis on litigation.”
• “Focus on cases against employers in priority industries.”
• “Litigate cases that cut across regions.”
• “Engage in enterprise-wide enforcement,” e.g., send every DOL enforcement agency against a particular employer.
• “Identify and pursue test cases.” This will be done to “challenge legal principles that impede worker protections; successful challenges will advance workers’ rights, as will successful enunciation of new interpretations.”
• “Engage in greater use of injunctive relief.” The Department believes that fines are not enough.
• “Focus SOL’s amicus program: We will focus our amicus program on those cases where DOL’s participation will provide the court with a unique voice on worker protection that the parties are not likely to articulate.”

The document also details tactics for implementing the strategy as they affect the various enforcement agencies within the Department:

• “identify theories and practices that can be pursued for lowering the rate of cases in which LJFs and the Commission reduce MSHA [Mine Safety Health Administration] penalties.”
• “Pursue at least one § 108(a)(2) injunctive action in federal district court.” (Refers to injunctions against coal mines where the Secretary “believes” that the operator has a pattern of violation of safety standards.)
• “Imposing shorter deadlines for implementing remedial measures in conciliation agreements and consent decrees.”
• “Deter [employers] through shaming.”

In a recent video interview, ALG’s Todd said that the document proves that the Department of Labor has “become a tool for the labor unions to beat businesses over the head.”

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson said in a statement, “These documents prove the Department of Labor has become nothing more than a weapon of labor unions to force employers to unionize.”


How Obama’s Department of Labor Plans to ‘Enforce’ Labor Law,” Americans for Limited Government Research Foundation, December 2010.

ALG Research Director Don Todd Video Interview, December 2010.

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson or ALG Research Director Don Todd.