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National coalition says major corporation has created “astroturf” campaign to cover up claims of racism and sexual harassment in Alabama factory.

NEW YORK,  August 5—Jobs to Move America (JMA) has filed formal complaints with the New York Attorney General and the Internal Revenue Service asking them to investigate whether the Transportation Diversity Council (TDC) has breached its legal obligations as a not-for-profit corporation that is tax-exempt by law. 

Earlier this year, New Flyer, the largest bus manufacturer in North America partnered with TDC to help the company respond to complaints by its workers and community organizations about discrimination and unfair working conditions in the company’s production facilities in Alabama, New York, Kentucky, Minnesota, and California. Over 80 percent of New Flyer’s revenues come from public transit agencies in cities across North America, including Birmingham, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and many others.

“A central tenet of laws governing non-profits like TDC is that they function exclusively for their exempt charitable, scientific and educational purposes, and not for the personal benefit of their leaders. We have found evidence that suggests TDC leadership is acting outside of the scope of their exempt purposes,” said Madeline Janis, JMA’s executive director. 

JMA and its partners charge in a separate report that New Flyer hired TDC to run an “astroturf” campaign to lend a facade of legitimacy to New Flyer’s refusal to address the concerns of workers and residents. 

“New Flyer’s ‘framework’ document is far from a real Community Benefits Agreement. It contains no real enforcement mechanisms or measurable commitments and was drafted by a New York consultant without any involvement from workers or community members. This is not a CBA, it’s corporate PR,” said CBA legal expert Scott L. Cummings.

In a recently released report, JMA researchers have documented how New Flyer’s relationship with TDC follows a well-traveled astroturf playbook:

  • TDC has collaborated with New Flyer to produce a vague “framework” that has no mechanisms of enforceability and no means for input by affected workers, instead of an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement created with true worker and community participation that provides meaningful benefits and genuine accountability;  
  • Evidence suggests that TDC is acting on behalf of New Flyer, not representing the independent interests of workers and community members;
  • According to their website, TDC, as part of its core activities, advocates for transportation businesses and executives and assists their efforts to access taxpayer funds; and
  • TDC has conflicts of interest that likely prevent it from independently representing worker or community interests.

“It is unacceptable for New Flyer or any other company to try to defeat worker and community demands for a CBA by using a fake grassroots organization to create an unenforceable “framework” with no participation from or democratic accountability to workers and community members,” write Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, and Rev. Terrence Melvin, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, in the foreword to the report.

For more information, go here

Watch our press conference:

Video of our press conference on August 7, 2020.

Speakers:

  • Dean Hubbard, author of “Diversity for Hire”
  • Miranda Nelson, Jobs to Move America New York/New Jersey Director Charles Crooms, Jobs to Move America Alabama Community Organizer
  • Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries
  • Scott L. Cummings, CBA expert and Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics and Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law

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