12:08 PM Eastern - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Home Depot Founder to CEOs: You "Should Be Shot"

In the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill in Congress that would give workers the free choice to form unions, we've seen some crazy hyperbole from greedy CEOs and their front groups who oppose free choice for workers.

Anti-free choice groups have thrown around tired union mob stereotypes, including actors from the Sopranos, bad "24"-style parodies, and photoshopped pictures in GOP election mail.

But next time anyone asks about "union intimidation," tell them to watch out for Home Depot founder and ex-CEO Bernie Marcus.

Thomas Frank in the WSJ this morning has the Home Depot Founder saying any CEO that doesn't contribute to Republicans opposed to Employee Free Choice "should be shot."

And hear the lamentations of the billionaires. "This is the demise of a civilization," moaned Bernie Marcus, cofounder and former CEO of The Home Depot, during an Oct. 17 conference call about card check. "This is how a civilization disappears. I'm sitting here as an elder statesman, and I'm watching this happen, and I don't believe it."

Mr. Marcus sketched out the doomsday scenario for his listeners, with unions going after what he called the "low hanging fruit" and proceeding to organize workers in industry after industry. He had taken it upon himself to notify the nation's CEOs of the danger, but they were not yet grabbing their guns. "This is as important as anything that's ever happened to these companies. And they're not reacting, and they're not fighting. The old time fighters are gone."

But in the class war, as in the real deal, there are always ways of motivating the yellow. "If a retailer has not gotten involved with this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to Norm Coleman and these other guys," Mr. Marcus said, apparently referring to Republican senators facing tough re-election fights, then those retailers "should be shot; should be thrown out of their goddamn jobs."

There you have it: ex-CEO says people who don't contribute to Republicans against Employee Free Choice "should be shot."

Marcus has been at the forefront of CEOs' fight against Employee Free Choice, trotting himself out as the representative of business groups' opposition to the bill. He's debated the bill on CNBC, penned a WSJ op-ed warning of "economic ruin, and defended the status quo in the pages of Business Week.

Also, Frank trots out a quote from Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott that very clearly illustrates what all CEOs opposed to free choice actually think:

Card check is about power. Management has it, workers don't, and business doesn't want that to change. Consider the remarks made by Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott at an analyst meeting on Oct. 28, when he was asked about the possible coming of card check: "We like driving the car and we're not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us."

That's really the heart of the fight for Employee Free Choice. The anti-Free Choice groups say they're "fighting for worker freedom," and that they have the interests of America's working families at heart. But their true intentions are now quite clear.

CEO-types like Home Depot's Bernie Marcus and Wal-Mart's Lee Scott have their hands on the steering well, and anyone who fails to heed their battle cry to block attempts by workers to take control of the wheel "shoul be shot." It's too bad that for the last several decades, this cavalier attitude has led these greedy CEOs to drive the car off the economic cliff.

(cross-posted at OpenLeft.com)

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