Refuting Steve Rawley

by Steve, June 6th, 2011

I do like stirring the pot.

By the time I’d posted my story of butting heads with Brian “Mr. Eileen Brady” Rohter way back in the 90s, the Kindergartners over at Blue Oregon already had their panties in a knot about somebody else asking if entrepreneur and mayoral candidate Eileen Brady might be anti-union (a legit question, since she’s running to be the boss of many unionized workers).

(Aw, shit, I owe a serious apology to Kindergartners everywhere. Those Blue Oregon wankers wish they were half as mature and cool as Kindergartners.)

I posted a link to my Nature’s story to the comment thread at BO, which was met with more bashing of the guy who asked the first question, and hand wringing over what this had to do with anything, since it was 15 years ago (never mind the fact that Rohter and Brady are non-union employers in the heavily unionized grocery industry).

Anyway, stupid political hacks and wannabes being what they are, somebody jumped on their iPad late that night and searched Google using the phrase “refuting Steve Rawley nature’s union.”

This is funny on multiple levels:

  • It shows how freaked out they are by this open secret.
  • It’s a really poorly formulated search term; the top five results link to sites owned by me, the guy they want to refute.
  • And they clicked through to my site. Four times.

I got a hint for Brady and her sycophants: you can’t refute it, because it happened. Also, you’re not very good at using Google.

Let’s review: Brian Rohter, Eileen Brady’s husband and business partner, aggressively opposed at least one union drive, using the standard union-busting tactics of intimidation and happy talk (“we’re different,” “it would destroy our culture,” “union bosses make much money,” “a big union would stand between little old us and our happy employee family,” “two bosses,” “good as we’ve been to you,” etc.).

At some point, maybe, somebody will ask Brady directly how she feels about collective bargaining in her stores. Then we’ll get to hear a lot of pablum about that speshul New Seasons culture, and how staff doesn’t even want a union.

If it’s a typical lazy Portland political reporter asking the question, they’ll just print the fluff unchallenged.

But if the question is asked in a union hall (mayoral candidates have been known to make the rounds), I can imagine a nice follow up: “If you’re not opposed to your staff being represented, would you allow reps access to employees on site, and would you recognize the union if a majority of staff were to sign authorization cards (i.e. ‘card check’)?” (Note that in 1997, Nature’s, with Brian Rohter as general manager, not only refused card check, they launched a specious challenge to their workers’ right to hold an election after a majority in one department had signed authorization cards.)

So obviously, this is a very delicate question for Brady, probably more so for her business operations than for her political aspirations (a mayoral candidate can certainly win without union support). Whatever her answer may be, just asking the question puts her in a difficult spot.

So… who’s gonna ask?