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Private Equity Lobby Won’t Take Side on Employee Free Choice Act

The premiere lobby group representing the private equity industry has surprised many observers by staying neutral in the epic battle between business and labor over the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would dramatically alter the rules for forming a union.

Unions support the bill because it would make union organizing easier. Big business opposes the measure for the same reason. The stakes are high and business and labor are pouring money into TV ads, field organizers and lobbyists.

You might expect that venture capital firms like the Carlyle Group, capitalists that they are, would join with their brothers and sisters in big business to defeat pro-union legislation. But as Matt Cooper reports on TPMDC, that’s not how it’s playing out:

But the main voice of private equity firms in Washington, the Private Equity Council, has stayed out of the fight and the answer would seem to be owing to the fact that unions provide so much capital to private equity. In fact, the Private Equity Council’s own research shows in 2007 alone,” the top 20 public pension funds, representing nearly 10 million retirees in states including California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, had a collective private equity investment of nearly $140 billion.”

So there you have it. The private equity lobby has opted out of the fight because its interests pull in different directions. They don’t like unions, but they want union money. It’s strictly business. The Private Equity Council’s decision to sit this one out is a blow to the business coalition arrayed against the EFCA and could help tip the balance for the unions.

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