RICHMOND, March 7, 2006 â€“ Today the Virginia House of Delegates failed to confirm Gov. Kaineâ€™s appointment of a former AFL-CIO director and the stateâ€™s top labor leader to head the Secretary of the Commonwealthâ€™s office.
Gov. Kaine nominated Daniel G. LeBlanc to head a state agency as Secretary of the Commonwealth which is a position not viewed as a cabinet level secretariat but one that from time to time meets with Secretaries and can have an effect on business-related and state policies. The Secretary of the Commonwealth also maintains oversight of political patronage and more than 4,000 gubernatorial appointments to boards and commissions.
The House based its decision not to appoint LeBlanc from a lengthy interview before the General Laws legislative committee. Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) said that the decision was not made hastily but based on considerable debate and deliberation of Mr. LeBlancâ€™s career and his views on â€˜Right-to-Workâ€™ laws. â€œI have had constituents contact my office at a rate of 9-1 in opposition to his appointment. The people of the 97th district clearly understand where mainstream Virginians are and that we must continue to move our economy forward.â€
As background, the right-to-work law prohibits any employer from requiring compulsory union membership as a condition of employment. The right-to-work law also prevents any business or union from denying an employee the right to work if they choose to do so.
One of the leading state business associations, The National Federation of Independent Businesses, believes abolishing the right-to-work law, would severely undermine one of the pillars of Virginia's successful economy.
Delegate Peace spoke about LeBlanc. â€œI am sure that he is a good and decent man but he has spent his life and sustained a career by opposing the right-to-work laws, which are an important part of our ability to attract new business and industry to Virginia. We must ensure a continuation of our economic growth to keep taxes low and create more jobs. Today the House confirmed that Virginia must remain open to business.â€
Earlier this Assembly session, LeBlanc confirmed reports from an article in an online publication, the People's Weekly World, which quoted him as saying that white executives of Newport News Shipbuilding ran the shipyard and its black workers like "a plantation." The site, which bills itself as "a progressive, leftist, socialist and communist weekly," quoted LeBlanc as comparing "right-to-work" lawmakers with segregationists.
Also during the 75-minute session, lawmakers asked LeBlanc about his arrest record regarding a United Mine Workers strike approximately twenty years ago. He acknowledged that he had in fact been arrested.
Moreover in that same period Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) questioned LeBlancâ€™s views on how the Kaine administration intends to carry out restoring voting and other civil rights of those who have been incarcerated. There has been much speculation that even the rights of violent offenders would be restored. Gov. Mark Warner restored rights to more than 3,000 former inmates during his term.