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One of the most popular characters on the iconic 1970's comedy MASH was Corporal Max Klinger. Determined to return stateside, Klinger repeatedly tried to get out of the army by dressing like a woman. Much like his fictional counterpart from Ohio, Rep. Chip Cravaack is trying to return to Congress by cladding himself in just enough pretty labor votes to fool the truly gullible. While even the bumbling Col. Blake didn't fall for such an obvious ploy, the Operating Engineers Local 49 just sent Klinger home, announcing Thursday they are endorsing union buster Cravaack in the race for 8th district congress.

Indeed, the 49ers' announcement praising Cravaack for his support of project labor agreements, willingness to break with his party to stand up for workers of his district and  "support of jobs and our union", shows how enamored they are by Cravaack's frilly dresses. They obviously haven't yet taken a peek under his skirts. Endorsing Cravaack is like taking Klinger to the prom: You may enjoy dancing with him, but you're in for a big surprise once you get him home.

According to the AFL-CIO, Cravaack took the labor position on key votes only 7 times (just 6 more than his mentor Michele Bachmann) in 2011: 5 votes for the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law, 1 vote against completely defunding the NLRB, 1 vote against completely defunding the Affordable Care Act. Cravaack voted against organized labor on 22 of 29 key votes in 2011. This includes

Three votes AGAINST Project Labor Agreements

1. Cravaack voted for an amendment that would have prohibited the use of PLAs on federal projects. Twenty-six Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. The amendment failed on a tie vote.

2. Cravaack voted for an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriation bill prohibiting PLA's on federally funded projects. Twenty-eight Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them.  The amendment failed by a vote of 207-213.

3. Cravaack voted against an amendment to strike provisions prohibiting the use of funds to implement or enforce  PLAs on federal construction projects of over 25 million from FY 2012 Military construction/VA Appropriations bill. Twenty-seven Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. The amendment passed by a vote of 204-203.

Seven votes AGAINST worker safety and collective bargaining rights
1. Cravaack voted for HR 2587, a bill gutting the NLRB. According to the AFL-CIO "the bill was part of an orchestrated attack by congressional Republicans on workers’ rights and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It was sweeping legislation that undermines the basic rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain by permanently eliminating the NLRB’s only effective remedy against a wide range of illegal employer conduct. In addition to crippling the enforcement powers of the NLRB, the bill makes it easier for companies to ship jobs overseas creating a new race to the bottom for American workers."  Seven Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. The bill passed by a vote of 238-186.

2. Cravaack voted for HR 1, described by the AFL-CIO as providing for "cuts to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) that will eliminate job safety enforcement and investigations; cuts to job training and Employment Services; cuts to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which will undermine workers’ ability to have a voice on the job; and cuts to Head Start which will result in 218,000 fewer kids in the program. Overall, H.R. 1 would destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs." Three Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. It passed by a vote of 235-189.

3. Cravaack voted for HR 3010, a bill that rolls back rules vital to worker health and safety, putting costs ahead of protection for workers. No Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. The bill passed by a vote of 253-167.

4. Cravaack voted for HR 3904, which the AFL-CIO describes as "part of the orchestrated attack by congressional Republicans on workers’ rights and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The bill would mandate election delays, giving companies more power to wear down support for a union, and create new opportunities for stalling elections. The bill would allow employers to game the system and force workers to wait months, and perhaps years, before they are allowed to vote on whether to form a union." Eight Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. The bill passed by a vote of 235-188.

5. Cravaack voted for an amendment that would prohibit union reps in the FAA from conducting activities on behalf of unions, such as contract negotiations, on official time. Forty-one Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. The amendment failed by a vote of 195-227.

6. Cravaack voted against an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill (which he co-sponsored) that would have upheld National Mediation Board ruling providing for fair union elections for airline and rail workers. Sixteen Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. Not surprising, since Cravaack cast the deciding vote in committee against similar amendment. Amendment failed by a vote of 206-220.  

7. Cravaack voted for an amendment to Homeland Security appropriation bill that stripped Transportation Safety Administration workers of their long fought and newly won collective bargaining rights. Eighteen Republicans broke with their party to vote with organized labor. Cravaack was not one of them. The amendment passed by a vote of 218-205.

Cravaack earned an AFL-CIO rating of a whopping 24% for his efforts on behalf of workers in his district.  And unlike Klinger's commanding officers who weren't buying his act, Cravaack's COs in the Tea Party are complicit in his charade, ordering him to take a few pretty votes for labor and are now sitting back and enjoying the show. Fortunately most of organized labor is smart enough to see through Cravaack's guise, with only the 49ers being naive enough to fall for his act.A guy in a dress is still a guy, and a right wing extremist who takes a few votes for Davis Bacon on advice of his handlers is still a union buster.

A labor union endorsing Tea Party Chip Cravaack is more than wrong.  It's just plain stupid.

To contribute to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsed candidate for 8th district congress, please click here.

Originally posted to keewatinrose on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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