There’s been a rather heated discussion going on in a couple of threads about the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and the way they use the “retro rebate” program in our workers compensation system to finance their highly partisan political campaigns. So I thought I’d give this topic it’s own thread.
FYI, the discussion was sparked by George Howland’s piece in the Seattle Weekly, “Political Capital“, in which he reveals that the BIAW is using insurance revenues from municipal governments to help finance their political activities. The article also gives some good insight into the winner-takes-all attitude of the BIAW:
This past election cycle, it spent between $1.7 million and $1.8 million, mostly in support of three candidates: Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dino Rossi, Republican Attorney General-elect Rob McKenna, and conservative state Supreme Court Justice-elect Jim Johnson. Erin Shannon, the BIAW’s public relations director, is thrilled with the results: “It was a big ‘Fuck you!’ to all the liberals out there.”
Replies Shannon of the BIAW: “We are kicking their ass. How many years have we whipped labor?”
I may not be an expert on workers compensation reform (yet), but one thing I know a thing or two about is PR. And their PR director’s choice of words was arrogant or calculated or both. Either way, it was revealing.
I like to wear my bias on my sleeve, so you should know that I first became aware of the BIAW last year during their campaign for Initiative 841. You can read my column in the Tacoma News Tribune, “I-841 ergonomics initiative is well-funded flimflam, to get an idea about who I believe we’re dealing with.
Lot’s of organizations across the ideological spectrum have partisan political agendas. But the BIAW stands out for a number of reasons. They are aggressive, relentless, effective… and I believe they have been working on a “big picture” strategy that ends with turning WA into a “right to work” state, effectively defunding Labor. This is a strategy intended to turn WA into a one party state along the lines of Texas.
The time has come for workers compensation reform that benefits both businesses and workers, and in the process, cuts off BIAW from it’s government money trough.
UPDATE: I just read Joel Connelly’s latest column in the P-I which includes the following comment pertinent to this discussion:
In looking at Rossi’s campaign, this greenie’s blood runs cold at the half-million-dollar investment by the state’s nastiest, most vocal anti-environmental lobby.
Will the Building Industry Association of Washington now move into the governor’s office, or simply use it as a business address?
Just so you know I’m not out in the wilderness on my opinion of the BIAW.