Big labour enlists guerilla theatre to battle private equity
SEIU uses humour, absurdity to shed light on buyout kings, absentee owners.
by Thomas Heath, Washington Post
April 18, 2008 - Forget the marches and strikes that once defined the union movement. Big labor is relying more on guile and theatrics than blunt force to attack the ascendancy of a new form of corporate ownership: private equity.
And tactics often get personal. Union allies staged a satire outside buyout king Henry Kravis's lavish Long Island home, asking passersby to sign a petition giving him a break on his property taxes. Weeks later, protesters in business suits sneaked into a private-equity conference at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, where Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein was giving a speech. They sought to shame him with a banner that read: "Why does he pay taxes at a lower rate than the hotel's doorman?"
Then on Halloween, union members wearing Rubenstein masks paraded in front of Carlyle's offices, handing out Sugar Daddy suckers.
The unorthodox protests are part of a campaign by the Service Employees International Union and its allies to position themselves as a check on what they regard as a new economic order, one dominated by the big private buyout firms. . .
Links and sources
"Ambushing Private Equity: As SEIU Harries New Absentee Owners, Buyout Firms Dispute the Union's Agenda", by Thomas Heath, Washington Post, April 18, 2008.
SEUI project: Behind the Buyouts.org
Posted: April 21, 2008
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