Seyfarth Shaw cut their union-busting teeth fighting Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in the 70’s. Now they’re a haven for disgraced lawyers from the Bush Department of Justice and they’re my school board’s lawyers.
A little more about Seyfarth Shaw, the giant law firm where Esther Slater McDonald found a home after she resigned from the Bush Department of Justice. As I pointed out in a previous post, McDonald’s job at the DOJ was to do Google searches of prospective Department lawyers to see if they were connected in any way to issues of environmental justice, affirmative action or social justice. If a lawyer’s name popped up along with the word’s social justice, then the application went in to the big round file. The problem is that hiring or not hiring lawyers at the DOJ for political reasons is against the law. Oops.
So, about Sayfarth Shaw. McDonald left the DOJ, refused to answer any questions about her Googling and promptly got a job at Sayfarth Shaw. Which happens to be the law firm for our Board of Education.
And would you be surprised to know that this law firm is one of the biggest union busters around?
The firm’s reputation for anti-union tactics grew largely through its
representation of agribusiness interests in their fight with United Farm
Workers President Cesar Chavez in the 1970s. In the late 1970s, its
notoriety grew with its representation of the city of Normal during a
40-day firefighters’ strike.
The notoriety continued most publicly when Yale University hired
Seyfarth, Shaw in 1984 in that university’s struggle with newly formed
In the book, “On Strike for Respect” (published by the UI Press),
authors described how Seyfarth, Shaw engineered a 10-week strike by the
Yale clericals in an attempt to break the union.
“Its standard approach was to persuade clients to avoid serious
negotiations with unions and then at the 11th hour to make an offer known
to be unacceptable to them,” the book said. “This tactic forced the unions
to strike and risk defeat before solidifying their membership.”
Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union,
said the firm deserves the respect one would grant any formidable
“They’re pros all right. They’re pros at resisting and breaking unions,”
he said. “It’s discouraging that the university in particular and the
cities are using them. Just their presence gets any bargaining
relationship off on the wrong foot.”