For someone who claims not to be anti-union, Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) certainly seems to have it out for the president of the Teamsters.
On Wednesday, at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Mullin prefaced a diatribe by averring: “I want to make it very clear, I’m not against unions. I’m not at all. Some of my very good friends work for unions. They work hard and do a good job.”
But it didn’t take long for Mullin, who owns a plumbing company, to begin complaining about how union organizers (presumably none of his “very good friends”) had harmed him, personally.
“Back in 2009, you guys tried to unionize me,” he said, addressing Teamsters president Sean O’Brien. “They [union organizers] would show up at my house. They’d be leaning up against my trucks. I’m not afraid of a physical confrontation. In fact, sometimes I look forward to it…And then when that didn’t work, they started picketing our job sites, saying, ‘Shame on Mullin.’ Shame on Mullin, for what? For what? Because we were paying higher wages? Because we had better benefits and we wasn’t requiring them to pay your guys’ exorbitant salaries?”
Mullin pointed out that O’Brien’s salary was $193,000 in 2019. (A senator’s salary is $174,000 per year.)
Mullin then began attacking the nature of O’Brien’s work. “What do you bring for that salary? What job have you created?” he said, before becoming slightly incoherent. “One job, other than sucking the paycheck out of somebody else that you want to say that you’re trying to provide because you’re forcing them to pay dues.”
“No, we don’t force anyone to pay dues,” O’Brien said. “You’re out of line, man.”
As O’Brien and Mullin began talking over each other, committee chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) started pounding his gavel and told Mullin to allow O’Brien to answer the question. Then the exchange really heated up.
“We create opportunity,” O’Brien said, “because we hold greedy CEO’s like yourself accountable.”
“You’re calling me a greedy CEO?” Mullin said.
“Oh, yeah, you are,” O’Brien said. “You want to attack my salary, I’ll attack yours. What did you make when you owned your company?”
“When I made my company, I kept my salary down at about $50,000 a year because I invested every penny into it,” Mullin said.
“You mean you hid your money?” O’Brien shot back.
In 2013, Mullin earned more than $600,000 from his plumbing companies, in excess of the $27,495 limit on outside earned income for congresspeople, according to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Instead of using his time to contribute to a debate about labor law, Mullin engaged in an ad hominem attack, and O’Brien gave it right back to him. At the end of his time, Mullin asked O’Brien, “If you’re really for the employee, then why are you against right-to-work? Why are you against private ballots?” But Mullin didn’t give O’Brien the opportunity to answer these questions. He had already made up his mind.
Watch the exchange beginning at about 48:50 in the video below:
🚨WATCH NOW: AFL-CIO President @LizShuler, @SEIU President @MaryKayHenry and @Teamsters President Sean O'Brien @TeamsterSOB testifying this morning before @HELPCmteDems defending our right to organize! https://t.co/kw6fprWSnc
— AFL-CIO #PassThePROAct (@AFLCIO) March 8, 2023