Big Labor Hires Priests, Rabbis, and Imams as Union Organizers


A Los Angeles Times article exposed part of Big Labor’s undisclosed labor persuader scheme that uses the pulpit to promote compulsory unionism. The Times’ Stephanie Simon reported that the AFL-CIO “… hired more than three dozen aspiring ministers, imams, priests, and rabbis to spread the gospel …”of Compulsory Unionism. Her article provides a solid example of years of labor union bosses’ hiring religious leaders to act as labor persuaders; here the persuaders are attempting to use their religions to cloak the Big Labor message.

AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, paid seminary students to organize “… security guards in metropolitan Washington, carpenters in Boston, hotel maids in Chicago, [and] meatpackers in Los Angeles. Some spend their days with the workers, trying to give them courage [read motivation] to mobilize. Others visit local congregations to urge solidarity with the union cause.”

These AFL-CIO contracted “ministerial” apparatchiks “… march on management, quoting Scripture, hoping the power of prayer — and embarrassing public theater — might force concessions come contract time. ‘We’re showing up in their office,telling them that God does not want them to act the way they’re actingtoward their workers,’ said rabbinical student Margie Klein, 26. ‘They’re going to get the message.’” Typically, the targets of these unionists are non-union employees and employers — even employers who pay more than union wages and employees who receive better than union wages.

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It will not come as a shock to Dave Bego and his employees, who experienced SEIU “corporate campaign” assaults that included clergy coordinated events and political pressure. (Years later, one member of the union organized clergy contacted Bego and said, “Mr. Bego I want to apologize to you. I have read your book, and I have done some soul searching, and I had already begun to have doubts about the SEIU. … I was behind the scenes. ..I was at the rally downtown where the other clergy were. I was there, and I spoke against you. That was wrong. I apologize; … I would be happy to write letters on your behalf recommending your company.”)

SEIU’s religious organizing is highlighted in the Times article. Simon writes, “Rabbinical student clasped hands with Islamic scholar and Methodist seminarian. Heads bowed, eyes closed, they sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ And prayed that the security guards employed here would join the Service Employees International Union [SEIU].”

This 2005 Times article gives us a rare glimpse into the union-organized religious pressure involved in corporate campaigns and card-check forced-unionism. It appears most of the cast of identified union-paid clergy remain enthusiastically involved in compulsory unionism activism.

Margie Klein’s bio, published in her book Righteous Indignation describes Klein as “ . . a passionate activist and budding religious leader. Founder and director of Moishe House Boston: Kavod Jewish Social Justice House, she is a student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. She is the founder of Project Democracy, a program that mobilized 97,000 students to vote in the 2004 election.”

However, Klein’s bio leaves out a very important part of her history as a mouthpiece and instigator for Big Labor.

Ali Abrams, described as a rabbinical student in the article, is now Rabbi Abrams, who has continued to promote Big Labor’s forced-unionism objectives. Rabbi Abrams remains an active labor union persuader. Here , she is pictured taking part in a corporate campaign to bypass secret-ballot elections, designed to force a card-check scheme at a Los Angeles hotel.

In Silver Spring, MD (location of the soon-to-be-sold AFL-CIO Labor College) Rev. Rachel Cornwell, a union intern in 2001, has continued her Big Labor in the pulpit activities. As part of the Washington, DC AFL-CIO’s “Labor in the Pulpit,” Rev. Cornwell handed her pulpit over to American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union Secretary-Treasurer David Cox to proselytize her congregation.

Cornwell has been the Secretary of the UM Concern for Workers Task Force. She co-wrote an article, Celebrating Work and Standing for Justice on Labor Day 2003,that encouraged churches to participate in Big Labor’s “Labor in the Pulpit” program. She also helped coordinate speakers for the AFL-CIO partnership calledNational Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (NICWJ). NICWJ Executive Director Kim Bobo used Rev. Cornwell in the AFL-CIO’s corporate campaign against Cintas.

The Times article claimed that Junaid Ahmad, “a Muslim intern, beamed, ‘If this [Big Labor ideology] isn’t faith,’ he said, ‘what is?’” Ahmad graduated from William & Mary Law School and went on to represent and work for the NICWJ. On at least two occasions, Ahmad presented the “theme of interfaith solidarity for worker justice at the largest gathering of Muslims in North America, the Islamic Society of North America convention[s].”

“In addition, [Ahmad] has worked as a labor organizer in Washington, DC, on two principal campaigns, the ‘Justice for Janitors’ campaign and the Hotel and Restaurant Workers campaign, as part of the national organization, Service Employees International Union (SEIU).”

The Times article exposes Big Labor and their willingness to conceal their intentions with a religious veneer in an attempt to hide union bosses’ desires to coerce workers into sacrificing their wages on the altar of union compulsion.

Furthermore, these coordinated and forced dues-financed, religious-oriented labor persuaders have failed to file any Labor Persuader reports with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). It is time for DOL to force these union activities into the sunlight.