House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made passing critical labor reforms, like raising the minimum wage and enacting the Employee Free Choice Act, a priority for the 110th Congress. To distract from that effort, right-wing media outlets are now engaged in an effort to tar Pelosi as anti-worker.
The conservative claim, initiated by Hoover Institution fellow Peter Schweizer, is that Pelosi and her husband are guilty of hypocrisy over workers’ rights because they own a vineyard in Napa Valley that is non-union. The claim has filtered up through the blogs to Fox News and conservative print outlets like Investor’s Business Daily.
Last night, the ABC News affiliate in San Francisco filed an investigative report that systematically debunks the charge. Watch it:
Here are the key facts:
1) Pelosi treats her workers better than unionized vineyard workers. “The Pelosis pay more than union workers are paid in the same valley — that from the pastor at St. Helena’s Catholic Church, a well known advocate for farm workers who’s involved in labor negotiations with the same labor manager the Pelosis use. … Monsignor Brenkle says the Pelosis pay a $1.25 an hour more than workers at Napa’s biggest union winery. … Of the more than 300 vineyards, fewer than four are union, and most of the farm workers in the Napa Valley get paid better.”
2) Pelosi is prohibited by law from helping her workers unionize. If Pelosi wanted to have union workers, “she could not ask the union for a contract. It’s illegal and has been since 1975.” Marc Grossman of the United Farm Workers Union explains: “It is patently illegal for any grower to even discuss a union contract, which is the only way you can supply union workers, without the workers first having voted in a state conducted secret ballot election.”
An ABC News reporter asked Peter Schweizer “if he had researched those facts before he called Pelosi a hypocrite.” Schweitzer responded, “It’s not my responsibility to go and find out how every single particular circumstance is handled on the Pelosi vineyard.” Why burden yourself with the facts?