Democratic National Convention Chair’s Firm Helps Clients Fight Labor Law Reform

President Biden has a go-to line in speeches, saying he’s “essentially the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” Subsequent yr’s Democratic Nationwide Conference, although, can be run by an government of a public affairs agency that’s serving to corporations comparable to Lyft and Tenet Healthcare struggle labor protections.

Final week, Minyon Moore, a principal at public affairs and consulting agency Dewey Sq. Group (DSG), was announced because the chair of the 2024 Democratic Nationwide Conference. As chair, Moore will lead the workforce of Biden allies planning for the occasion that can be held in her dwelling metropolis of Chicago.

At DSG, which celebrated her appointment, Moore “leads the State and Native Affairs and Multicultural Methods practices with purchasers starting from the Fortune 100 to startup non-profits in search of counsel for growing methods that deal with rising client markets and obtain public coverage targets,” wrote the Democratic Nationwide Committee (DNC). A longtime celebration insider, Moore is presently a co-chair of the DNC Guidelines and Bylaws Committee and was CEO of the DNC in 2001, in keeping with her LinkedIn profile.

To solidify its pro-labor picture within the presidential race, the Biden-Harris re-election marketing campaign has reached a so-called peace settlement with Chicago unions forward of the conference. DSG’s roster of company purchasers, nevertheless, have led lobbying and public relations campaigns in opposition to main labor legislation reforms that Democrats are positive to invoke once more subsequent yr. The DNC didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Moore’s state coverage consulting, and DSG didn’t reply to requests for touch upon the agency’s company purchasers.

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Opposing Gig Employee Protections

Final yr, DSG scored an eight-figure payday from its shopper Lyft as a part of a Massachusetts marketing campaign to forestall state lawmakers from classifying gig staff as impartial contractors. Then-Lawyer Common Maura Healey, a Democrat who was elected governor final yr, introduced a go well with in opposition to Uber and Lyft in 2020 arguing the businesses had been violating labor legal guidelines by treating drivers as impartial contractors and accusing them of “unfair and exploitative practices.”

In response, Lyft and different corporations launched a public affect marketing campaign — following the playbook the corporate had developed with a high-spending California poll initiative marketing campaign, and a New York lobbying push — supporting a proposed Massachusetts poll initiative that might classify app-based drivers as impartial contractors, amongst different insurance policies. Lyft contributed $14 million to the state group backing the initiative, in what the Boston Globe called the biggest political donation ever in Massachusetts.

The Lyft-funded group, named Flexibility and Advantages for Massachusetts Drivers, paid DSG almost $10.6 million in two funds in August and September final yr, in keeping with state information from the Workplace of Marketing campaign and Political Finance, making DSG by far its high vendor. Final summer time, a Massachusetts courtroom threw out the measure and prevented it from showing on ballots.

Additionally final yr, Lyft helped form a commerce group, the Flex Affiliation, to cease federal Democrats’ push to reclassify gig staff as staff by means of provisions within the PRO Act, standing for “Defending the Proper to Set up.” Amongst different issues, the PRO Act would make misclassifying an worker as a contractor a violation beneath the Nationwide Labor Relations Act, and would enable staff and the Nationwide Labor Relations Board to find out union election procedures.

The PRO Act handed the Democratic-controlled U.S. Home in 2020 and 2021, however was not introduced up for a Senate vote. President Biden campaigned on his sturdy help for the PRO Act and known as on Congress to move it, however the invoice, opposed by the highly effective U.S. Chamber of Commerce and enterprise teams, was sure to face a Republican filibuster within the Senate and was not superior out of committee within the 117th Congress, with its slender Democratic management within the Senate.

Lyft and gig financial system corporations additionally unleashed large spending campaigns over the previous few years to dam labor legal guidelines in California and New York.

A 2019 California legislation often known as AB5 set standards for classifying staff as impartial contractors or staff, although the legislation was overturned by a 2020 poll measure often known as Prop 22 and is the topic of ongoing authorized challenges.

To defeat the California legislation that might allow drivers to hitch unions, Lyft and gig financial system corporations shelled out a record-breaking $200 million backing the poll initiative, then brought a equally heavy-spending lobbying and donations effort to New York State to go off a possible legislative push from Democrats there. In the course of the first three months of the Biden administration, gig financial system corporations racked up $1 million in federal lobbying spending to beat again the PRO Act, and final yr Lyft and different corporations dropped one other $1 million on advertisements opposing the PRO Act.

Lyft’s federal lobbying continues this yr on policy matters concerning the classification of impartial staff, in addition to the “proposed DOL rule concerning impartial contractors and nominations,” in its talks with Congress.

The Division of Labor rule talked about by Lyft is anticipated to be finalized this yr and is just like the California legislation that was supported by Julie Su, the Biden administration’s performing secretary of labor, in her stint as a state official. The Flex Affiliation has urged the federal rule be withdrawn and the commerce group’s CEO Kristin Sharp came out staunchly against Su’s nomination in a Might op-ed.

Lyft’s board contains former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, and former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx beforehand labored as its chief coverage officer. Jeremy Chicken, previously nationwide area director for the Obama-Biden re-election marketing campaign, took over the title of chief coverage officer in January 2022.

Different Company Shoppers

McDonald’s is one other DSG client displayed on the agency’s web site. As of its most up-to-date political disclosure final yr, the quick meals large was a member of commerce group the Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation, which is now main the battle in opposition to a California labor legislation, the FAST Act, signed final yr by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Labor Day. The invoice, a high union priority, established a 10-member Quick Meals Council to supervise working situations in quick meals chains and carry staff’ wages, now being challenged by a statewide poll measure anticipated in November 2024. Within the op-ed together with Sharp, the restaurant business group’s Sean Kennedy, government vice chairman of public affairs, mentions Su’s help for the FAST Act and AB5 as driving their opposition to her nomination.

DSG additionally labored for the Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation because it opposed laws guaranteeing sick go away for staff and the pro-union Worker Free Alternative Act. In 2009, DSG was paid $772,110 by the Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation, in keeping with The Intercept.

DSG’s shopper Sony Footage is a member of commerce group the Alliance of Movement Image and Tv Producers (AMPTP), which is now in a monthslong, high-profile labor dispute with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), actors group SAG-AFTRA, and others. In remarks on Might 8, Biden spoke out in help of the writers’ strike. Sony Footage has not too long ago been lobbying Congress on “Market entry points in international markets” and “Mental property, market entry, and companies points in present and potential commerce pacts,” points that might have an effect on residual rates for streaming which are being negotiated within the standoff.

Different DSG purchasers have been within the enterprise of selling sugary drinks, methane fuel, and corn-subsidized biofuels. In the course of the Obama administration, DSG earned thousands and thousands of {dollars} from every of the American Beverage Affiliation (ABA) and the American Pure Fuel Alliance, in keeping with tax paperwork from the commerce teams. In 2017, the ABA paid DSG greater than $5.7 million in “skilled charges.” That very same yr, DSG obtained virtually $1.2 million from the Nationwide Biodiesel Board, and in 2019 and 2021 DSG obtained one other $1.5 million from the biodiesel group for consulting. A 2008 paper in Science discovered that biofuels, by changing forests and grasslands into farmland, have the impact of accelerating greenhouse fuel emissions.

Since 2003, a yr after Moore joined the agency, DSG has been paid greater than $1 million by the DNC for communications, media, and strategic consulting, in keeping with Federal Election Fee information. One other $1 million in disbursements have come from the Democratic Congressional Marketing campaign Committee (DCCC) and marketing campaign committees of Secretary Hillary Clinton, amongst DSG’s dozens of previous celebration purchasers. Different DSG principals like Maria Cardona and agency co-founder Charlie Baker have served on high celebration committees, backing the political targets of the Biden-Harris White Home’s political advisers.

DSG’s State Lobbying Shoppers

Along with Washington D.C., the place Moore is predicated, DSG retains places of work in Sacramento, St. Louis, and in Boston, the place it was based in 1992 by a trio of political strategists.

Since 2013, DSG has spent almost $2.5 million for the Tenet Healthcare hospital firm in lobbying Massachusetts on “nurse secure staffing necessities” and different points. The hospital business has been preventing laws within the state that has sought to cap the variety of sufferers that nurses may be assigned to at a given time, going again to a invoice that handed in 2014 making use of a cap for nurses in intensive care items. In 2018, the business opposed a poll measure backed by the Massachusetts Nursing Affiliation that might have utilized affected person limits at numerous ranges throughout all different medical items in hospitals. The union argued that nurses wanted the safety to have the ability to do their jobs safely and keep away from errors that may include being overworked, however the hospital business dramatically outspent the nurses’ unions and the measure was defeated.

In 2021 and 2022, Tenet Healthcare was engaged in a ten-month standoff in opposition to the nurses’ union at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, which the corporate owns, as nurses stayed on strike to demand a collection of modifications together with nurse-to-patient ratios. Following the strike, Tenet partnered with the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to try to have the union decertified, however the hospital nurses voted in March 2022 to protect their union.

Final yr, Tenet’s commerce affiliation memberships included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the large enterprise group Related Industries of Florida, whose political committees have contributed greater than $2.1 million to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis since he took workplace. In 2021, Tenet’s commerce group contributions included greater than one million {dollars} paid to the American Hospital Affiliation, which that yr warned in opposition to the PRO Act as posing a “important adversarial affect on hospitals and well being methods as employers.”

Different DSG purchasers in Massachusetts labored in opposition to main planks of the Democratic legislative agenda within the earlier Congress. In 2021, DSG started lobbying for Molina Healthcare on a senior care program within the state. The Fortune 500 firm is a member of healthcare business lobbying group America’s Well being Insurance coverage Plans (AHIP), which throughout Biden’s first yr in workplace opposed a public medical insurance choice. The Biden marketing campaign’s pledge to face up a public choice, a coverage fleshed out by Biden and Impartial Sen. Bernie Sanders in mid-2020 and talked about within the 2020 celebration platform, vanished upon Biden taking workplace.

And whereas a lot of DSG’s lobbying purchasers in Massachusetts and California are centered on renewable power, this yr DSG started work within the Bay State for fossil fuel utility Enbridge on “monitoring power and environmental legislative proposals.” The fuel and pipelines firm discloses its membership in fossil gas business commerce teams the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel Affiliation, which have lobbied in opposition to environmentalist efforts to chop U.S. greenhouse fuel emissions roughly in half by 2030, in keeping with the 2015 Paris Settlement on local weather.

A DNC Guidelines Change

DSG’s Moore and Cardona had been re-appointed to the DNC in 2021 as “at-large” members by new Chair Jaime Harrison, and each had been tapped to be members of the Guidelines and Bylaws Committee. Since final yr, Moore has been a co-chair of the opaque committee, whose written proceedings will not be accessible on-line on any official celebration web site and whose members will not be listed by the celebration. (A 2021 roster of the members of some DNC committees may be considered here, through a DNC member’s blog.)

Final summer time, the Guidelines and Bylaws Committee, which can also be headed by James Roosevelt III, put ahead 33 amendments to the celebration’s bylaws, which had been authorised as a package by DNC members — together with a controversial Modification #16. It reads, “this modification requires any decision adopted by the Nationwide Conference that amends the Bylaws to be ratified by the Nationwide Committee earlier than it turns into efficient.” The measure was handed by DNC members with out taking a written vote.

Simply after the contentious determination, The Intercept reported that celebration leaders despatched textual content messages pushing no less than 100 DNC members to low cost their colleagues who had been objecting to Modification 16, calling them a “disruption.” The measure locations additional energy within the arms of round 450 DNC members, a lot of whom on celebration committees are appointed by the chair and, like Moore, work as company consultants or lobbyists. By requiring ratification by the smaller physique of members, it undermines the flexibility for hundreds of conference delegates to approve modifications to the celebration’s bylaws. Many state celebration leaders, for his or her half, have little energy to propose conflict of interest rules, funds oversight practices, or pro-transparency reforms.

In 2020, a number of Democratic Nationwide Conference delegates told Sludge that the Biden marketing campaign intervened to assist sideline an ethics proposal to ban company PAC donations and bar company lobbyists from serving on the celebration group.

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