Some of AIPAC’s Biggest Donors Are Also Financing Attacks Against Labor Rights (Truthout) (2024)

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The movements for labor and Palestinian rights have common cause against the billionaires who aim to destroy them both.ByDerek Seidman,TRUTHOUT Published June 5, 2024

Some of AIPAC’s Biggest Donors Are Also Financing Attacks Against Labor Rights (Truthout) (1)

In response to Israel’s genocidal siege of Gaza, a new progressive effort, the “Reject AIPAC” coalition, iscallingon federal candidates to refuse endorsem*nts and contributions from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose vast political operation has spent millionstrying tocrushleft-leaning Democrats who criticize Israel. At the same time, the labor movement,includinga burgeoning network of over 200 unions and worker organizations, has raised calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

These two blocs — progressives pushing back against AIPAC’s political influence, and the labor movement — have common opponents: Some of the biggest donors to the pro-Israel electoral machine are also financing the national union-busting infrastructure that has, for decades, waged a frontal assault on U.S. workers.

ATruthoutinvestigation reveals that a handful ofbillionairedonorswho have given huge sums to AIPAC’s political efforts have also spent millions funding key groups aiming to demolish the labor movement. Some of these anti-labor groups include the Job Creators Network, the Center for Union Facts, the Koch-backed State Policy Network, the Manhattan Institute, and the Liberty Justice Center, a central group behind the 2018Janus v. AFSCMEdecision. Moreover, major anti-labor AIPAC donors from Wall Street are among the key backers of Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who is leading the McCarthyist congressional hearings against critics of Israel on campuses and in unions.

The dual aims of some of AIPAC’s top donors — bolstering unquestioned support for Israel and crushing the labor movement — are increasingly merging.Labor historianJeff Schuhrke hasarguedthat anti-union forces are now deploying accusations of antisemitism to attack labor unions, and he believes that unions must fight back against the weaponization of antisemitism against the Palestinian solidarity and labor movements.

“It’s not just about standing in solidarity with Palestine for its own sake, which is vital and important,” Schuhrke toldTruthout, “but also to try to stop this … repressive environment that’s gunning for the labor movement itself.”


Some of AIPAC’s Biggest Donors Are Also Financing Attacks Against Labor Rights (Truthout) (2)

Pro-Israel Billionaires Line Up Behind NC Republican Leading Campus Witch Hunt

Virginia Foxx uses her position of influence to amplify the GOP’s war on universities through congressional hearings.ByDerek Seidman,TRUTHOUT

March 9, 2024

War Against Labor Unions and Palestinian Rights

Bernie Marcus is the co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot. He is worthnearly $10 billion. For decades, he’s used his vast wealth tofunda host of conservative organizations and far rightpoliticians, as well as arangeofultra-Zionistgroups.

Marcus is no ordinary donor to AIPAC. In the current election cycle, Marcus hasgiven$2 millionto the United Democracy Project (UDP), an AIPAC super PAC that has spentmillionsagainst progressive candidates. This makes Marcus thefourth topdonor to AIPAC-tied electoral groups, according to the investigative news outletSludge. In the2022 cycle, Marcus also donated $1 million to UDP.

Marcus has been a longtime enemy of the labor movement, funding numerous organizations that are waging war against labor unions and workers’ rights.

Some of AIPAC’s Biggest Donors Are Also Financing Attacks Against Labor Rights (Truthout) (3)

One of Marcus’s pet projects is the Job Creators Network (JCN), abillionaire-backedpublic relations and lobbying operationthat attacksthe National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),pushesright-to-work laws andopposesthePRO Actas “radical labor legislation.” Marcusfoundedthe JCN in 2010, thencalledthe Job Creators Alliance. Since then, he has given the JCN at least$6.9 million.

The JCN has spentnearly $1.4 millionon lobbying the federal government since 2016. Its recent lobbying efforts havefocusedonmeasureslike overturning the NLRB’s joint employer rule, which expanded rights for workers with multiple employers, and pushing the National Labor Relations Board Reform Act, whichwouldweakenthe NLRB for workers by preventing a Democratic majority.

The JCN hasreceived millionsfrom anti-union industry groups like the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the National Restaurant Association, and JCN “partners” includeFreedomWorks,Americans for Prosperityand theAmerican Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC), all key hubs of the Koch dark money empire that has been a driving force behind state-level attacks onlabor unionsandworkers’ rights.

Anti-Union Attacks

Marcus’s huge donations to the JCN help fund one the most notorious union-busters alive: Rick Berman, the consultant behind the Center for Unions Facts and a vast web of other corporate-backed nonprofits and astroturf efforts.

Over the past decade, the JCN has paid$6.5 millionto Berman’s firm, presumably to oversee its campaigns.

One of Berman’s core missions is to destroy the labor movement. “I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions,” hetolda group of oil executives in 2014. Berman’s anti-labor front groups, backed by millions in corporate cash, are key weapons that business power employs in war against labor unions.

Bermanoverseesa dizzyingarrayof nonprofits and front groups aimed at attacking unions and other progressive causes, much of which resort to mudslinging and personal attacks. His Center for Union Facts functions as the corporate elite’s attack dog against unions like theUnited Auto WorkersandStarbucks Workers United. His Employment Policies Institutewages war againstminimum wage increases.

Through supporting Berman’s operations, big AIPAC donors like Bernie Marcus have been able to fund attacks against the labor movement and critics of Israel simultaneously. For example, the Center for Union Facts has started attacking unions that show any sympathy with Palestinian solidarity efforts. Itdenounced SEIUfor opposing the repression of student protestors andattackeda leader of Starbucks Workers United who criticized Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Links to Historic Assault on Labor

Marcus funds other attacks on the labor movement through his huge donations to groups like the Liberty Justice Center (LJC), a right-wing law firm that played apivotal rolein the 2018JanusSupreme Court decision which ruled that government workers are not required to pay dues to unions that represent them in collective bargaining.

In 2021, Marcus gave$1 millionto the Liberty Justice Center. The LJC ispart ofthe State Policy Network, the vast network of conservative state and national groups funded by the Koch donor network thatincessantlyattacklabor unions and pro-worker legislation.

The LJCrepresentedMark Janus in theJanuscase, which Schuhrke, writing inJewish Currents, called “one of the most consequential assaults on organized labor in recent years.”Janus, writes Schuhrke, “effectively imposed ‘right-to-work’ on the nation’s entire public sector.”

Schuhrkealso saysthe LJC isnowweaponizingthe charge of antisemitism against the labor movement through a currentlawsuitagainst the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA), which passed a strongly pro-Palestinianresolution. The lawsuit argues that members who view the resolution as antisemitic should not be required to pay union dues because the union members’ employer is a nonprofit that receives government funding.

“The suit is an attempt to use the union’s pro-Palestine position as a justification to extendJanusto private organizations that receive government funding,”writesSchuhrke.

Koch Ties

Along with Marcus, top AIPAC donors from Wall Street are key players in the national anti-union landscape.

Paul Singer, worth$6.1 billion, is currently thefifth topdonor to the AIPAC political network in the 2024 election cycle, with$1 milliondonated to UDP — thesame amounthe donated in the 2022 cycle.

Singer is thefounderof Elliott Management, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds. A 2012Fortuneprofile called him “a passionate defender of the 1% and a rising Republican power broker.” Singer is a vulture debt investor widelycriticizedfor preying on nations in the Global South.

One of Singer’s pet projects is the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative, corporate-funded think tank that has been a consistentopponentofunionsandworkers’rights.

Singer has donated at least $8.76 million to the Manhattan Institute since 2010. He’s also thechairmanof its board, sitting alongside other billionaires like former Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos.

Like the Liberty Justice Center, the Manhattan Institute ispart ofthe Koch-backed State Policy Network (SPN), which alsoincludesgroups like ALEC and Americans for Prosperity, which for years have been at the forefront of the Koch network’santi-laboroperation. Theanti-unionNational Right to Work Foundation is alsopart ofthe SPN.

Marcus is also a huge donor to SPN affiliates and partners. Since 2010, he’s given at least $2.43 million to theSoutheastern Legal Foundation, $1.25 million toJudicial Watchand $800,000 to theFederalist Society.

AIPAC Wall Street Donors Back Virginia Foxx

The heads of two of thevery biggestprivate equityfirms in the world — Blackstone Group and Apollo Global Management — are also big donors to AIPAC.

Apollo’s co-founder and CEO,Marc Rowan, worth$6.7 billion, gave$250,000to AIPAC’s United Democracy Project last November, the same amount he gave in2022. According toTheLever, which obtained confidential internal AIPAC documents, Jonathan Gray, the president of Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, pledged $1 million to AIPAC. Blackstone committed millions to AIPAC “to support humanitarian relief efforts” after October 7. This includes $3 million from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and $1 million personally donated from Gray (whose personal net worth is $7 billion), and Blackstone founder and CEO Stephen Schwarzman (whose personal net worth is $36.9 billion).

Both Blackstone and Apollo have poor records on workers’ rights. ThePrivate Equity Labor Scorecard, which grades private equity firms on their labor practices, gave Blackstone an “F” and Apollo a “D.” Blackstone recently faced major controversy when one of its portfolio companies, the slaughterhouse cleaning service Packers Sanitation Services Incorporated, wasfoundto have employed over 100 children, some as young as 13.

Perhaps more significantly, Apollo’s Rowan and Blackstone’s Schwarzman, along with Singer and other AIPAC-donating billionaires, are lining up behind the single politician who, more than anyone, is currently driving the congressional witch hunt against labor unions that voice criticism of Israel: Virginia Foxx.

Foxx, who represents North Carolina’s Fifth District, chairs the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. She’s used that seat of power to wage hearings into alleged antisemitism on campuses, the most high-profile examples of which took place last December with the president of Harvard, MIT and Penn.

Foxx, whose ultraright political agenda includes anunremittinghostilitytolabor unions, isexpandingher witch hunts to other campuses — and also, now, tounionsthat express solidarity with Palestinians.

Rowan, Schwarzman and Singerhave beenmajor contributors to Foxx, especially since she began her hearings into campuses and unions in late 2023. Rowan is a massive donor to the University of Pennsylvania, and heled the efforttounseatformer Penn President Liz Magill. Weeks after Foxx’s grilling of Magill, Rowanreportedlyco-hosted a fundraiser for Foxx in New York City. Rowan and his spouse Carolyn also donated$13,200to Foxx in January 2024.

Meanwhile, Schwarzman donated$11,636to Foxx in February 2024, while Paul Singer donated a total of$28,400between 2016 and 2024.

AsTruthouthasnoted, far right billionaires like Tim Dunn, Art Pope, Harlan Crow and the late Sheldon Adelson have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Foxx. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee PAC, AIPAC’s political action committee, has channeledover $80,000to Foxx since 2022.

Common Cause

As billionaire-backed politicians and groups increasingly use the cudgel of “antisemitism” to attack labor unions, one thing should be clear: The Palestinian solidarity movement and the labor movement have common cause against big corporate donors that seek to destroy them both.

Schuhrke says it is vital for the labor movement to resist the new McCarthyism against pro-Palestinian activists and critics of Israeli actions — many of whomthemselvesare union members.

“This kind of repression, no matter what form it takes,” says Schuhrke, “is always inherently the enemy of the labor movement.”

All this suggests agrowing basisfor a stronger alliance between the labor movement and the fight for Palestinian rights.

Indeed, in December 2023, union members led amass marchin New York City demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and calling on elected officials to reject AIPAC contributions.

Right now, thousands of unionized graduate workers, postdocs and researchers across the University of California (UC) system, who are members of thepowerfulUAW Local 4811, are waging amilitant strikeinresponseto violent attacks on peaceful protesters. The union claims the UC administration committed unfair labor practices by repressing workers who were engaged infree speechover working conditions.

Local 4811 has been one of the most outspoken unionsdemandinga ceasefire in Gaza and indisplayingsolidaritywith the plight of Palestinians. Many members of Local 4811 participated in the UC Palestine Solidarity Encampments, and the union iscalling onthe UC administration to negotiate with the protest movement to reach an agreement on its demands around divestment from the UC’s investments in weapons companies that are profiting from Israel’s war on Gaza.

“I think that’s where a lot of Palestine solidarity activists in the labor movement want things to go,” said Schuhrke. “They want to see actual withholding of labor, and boycotts and divestment — things that will actually have a material impact to put real pressure on Israel and the U.S. government to not only end the genocide, but the occupation and apartheid as well, and allow Palestine to be free.”


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Some of AIPAC’s Biggest Donors Are Also Financing Attacks Against Labor Rights (Truthout) (4)


Derek Seidman is a writer, researcher and historian living in Buffalo, New York. He is a regular contributor forTruthoutand a contributing writer for LittleSis.


Some of AIPAC’s Biggest Donors Are Also Financing Attacks Against Labor Rights (Truthout) (2024)
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