House of Labor
Labor Advocate to Join Biden's Middle Class Task Force
By Alec MacGillis
Organized labor has had trouble rallying support for its legislative priority, the Employee Free Choice Act, but it can least take heart that it will have another of its own arguing its case within the Obama administration.
The White House announced today that Mary Beth Maxwell, director of the pro-labor advocacy group American Rights at Work, is leaving that organization to become a senior adviser to the middle-class task force being headed up by Vice President Biden.
Maxwell, a Nebraska native who previously worked as a deputy field director for NARAL, was said to be on the short list for labor secretary. The position ultimately went to Hilda Solis, a California congresswoman who was on the board of American Rights at Work.
As director of American Rights at Work, which was founded in 2003, Maxwell has been at the forefront of promoting the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would make it easier for workers to organize by allowing unions to form after a majority of workers signed pro-union cards; as it stands, employers can require secret ballot elections. The organization, which gets funding from unions and pro-labor donors, has spent heavily on ads for TV, radio and newspapers pushing the legislation. But the bill has stalled for the time being as its supporters struggle to find 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster.
With Maxwell's departure, the group will be led by David Bonior, the former Michigan congressman who recently returned to the post of the organization's president, and by its deputy director, Kimberly Freeman. It is unclear just what Maxwell's role with the task force will be.
Posted at 4:03 PM ET on Apr 24, 2009
House of Labor
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