In early January of this year, the President decided to ban the presence of unions in the Department of Justice "out of concern that union contracts could restrict the ability of workers in the Justice Department to protect Americans and national security." This was as clear a symbol as any that the Bush Administration was seizing on September 11 to advance one of its central domestic priorities: the crushing of labor.
"A lot of these Justice Department workers have been members of unions for twenty years, and there's never been an allegation of a problem," said Steven Kreisberg, associate director for collective bargaining of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents more than 300 employees of the Justice Department. "It's a very cynical use of the September 11 tragedy by an anti-union Administration."
But worse news on the labor front was soon to follow. Next, Bush took advantage of a recess to bypass Congress and appoint two pro-business labor lawyers to the National Labor Relations Board: Michael J. Bartlett, formerly of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and William B. Cowen, the former chief attorney for Institutional Labor Advisors, which plotted with coal companies against the United Mine Workers.
A few weeks later, Bush again used the recess to make an anti-labor appointment. He placed Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in the position of solicitor general for the Labor Department. The younger Scalia was an extremely controversial choice, and his nomination repeatedly hit bumps.
Scalia was a leading opponent of the OSHA ergonomics rule enacted by President Clinton. At public hearings on the rule, where Scalia served as the industry representative, he referred to ergonomics as "quackery" whose claims derived from "junk science." This must have come as a great shock to schools such …