Attorney and labor expert, F. Vincent “Vinnie” Vernuccio is currently heading up the labor policy team at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). He is the creator and editor of CEI’s labor news website WorkplaceChoice.org, home of the acclaimed Big Labor vs. Taxpayer Index which, “comprehensively ranks each state on 23 individual aspects to determine the degree to which states favor organized labor and which favor taxpayers.”
Vinnie is an attorney and labor consultant, previously having served as an official in the United States Department of Labor. He is a frequent speaker on labor panels in Washington, D.C., and across the country. He has advised Fortune 500 companies, sitting senators and congressmen on a multitude of labor-related issues. Recently he testified before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and Labor Policy.
He is a regularly published and highly sought after labor expert. You may have read his work in places including The National Review, Forbes, The Washington Times, FoxNews.com, The Daily Caller, and Investor’s Business Daily, or you may have seen him on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. Or if you are a graduate student, you may have read his study published in the McGraw-Hill textbook Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Management.
Learn the value of hard work.
Vinney attributes his success to being well-connected, but he attributes being well-connected to working extremely hard and relentlessly pursuing his goals.
It was because of my political connections and hard work. It’s not just that you have to be connected – you get connected because of hard work.
Vinnie first learned the value of hard work in law school. He chose to go to Ave Maria School of Law, then located in the state of Michigan, because it had a reputation as a conservative college. There he was able to learn from Judge Robert H. Bork as a professor, and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as guest lecturers.
In his words, “law school is one year of hell and two years of video games.” After his first year, Vinnie began looking for ways to get involved with the local republican party.
After my first year I got more politically involved with the Republican party in Michigan. I did not know a soul. You just have to be willing to start at the bottom and do the grunt work… Do the thankless tasks that no one wants to do, and then you start building.
His efforts paid off when his newly-made connections in the Michigan Republican Party asked him to run for the United States House of Representative against the now longest serving member, John Dingle, in the 2006 election.
While he was obviously intimidated, he took on the challenge “because we needed a candidate – the people needed a choice.” They ended up running a write-in campaign, which fortunately for someone with a name like ” F. Vincent Vernuccio,” the voter did not need to spell the name correctly in Michigan. While Vinnie’s congressional aspirations were not realized in 2006, his willingness to step up for the Michigan Republican Party led to him rising to the state committee.
In the space of about two to three years, I started not knowing a soul to being in the “smoke filled room” all while being in law school. So when everybody says that you have to be a part of the “old network to be successful,” they are wrong. If you are willing to start at the bottom and devote a lot of time and a lot of hard work, and you will get ahead.
Plan for when things don’t go as planned.
As another testament to his hard work, Vinnie’s connections on the Michigan Republican Party State Committee, led to him received a political appointment by President Bush to the Department of Labor (DOL). He says that his time at the DOL was an amazing learning experience, where he had the opportunity to work directly with great mentors such as then Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao. This position lasted almost exactly a year.
I started January 22, 2008 and worked through January 20, 2009… the American people fired me when they elected [President] Obama.
As a political appointee, he was out of the DOL with the rest of the Bush administration. And needless to say, being without a job in 2009 was not a good position to find one’s self. Vinnie had the added complication of being a Republican, a feature which did not do him any favors in the overwhelmingly Democrat nation’s capital.
People talk about the “revolving door” for administration employees. It is generally believed that if their party loses, then they go and work as a lobbyist or in a think tank for a few years, and then when their party wins again, they go back to the administration. But the traditional jobs for former administration employees just weren’t there in the economy of 2009. The few and far between lobby and research jobs where highly competitive due to the large volume of well-qualified people out looking for work.
In this time of uncertainty, Vinnie went back to what had served him well so far – working hard.
I just started writing. I had one or two contacts. Writing was all new to me, because I was a policy wonk.
The more he wrote, the more traction he gained. His first article ever published was in The Washington Times, then he was commissioned to conduct a study for CEI, and his work was published in a graduate textbook.
After doing this kind of high-profile but low-pay work for over a year, he began to realize that “there is no one-size fits all job for me. I just have to do something myself.”
He came up with a proposal to focus on labor policy research, using his experience from the DOL. He took the initiative to find funding for his idea, and he began taking it around to different think tanks trying to find someone to buy into his idea. He says his pitch was as simple as,
This is what I want to do, this is what I bring to the table, this is my history, here is my funding – are you interested?
His connections with CEI made that a natural fit, and in the almost two years since the labor policy team, WorkplaceChoice.org, and the Big Labor vs. Taxpayer Index have flourished. Due to his hard work, he says he “literally created my own job.”
After being unemployed, there is no better feeling than a hard day’s work. Hard work is good for the soul.
A final piece of advice from Vinnie.
For young people just coming out of school, or for those with internships looking for full-time employment, the job market which has not fully recovered can be an intimidating place. Vinnie says that most important thing to learn is “how to be humble.”
You have to go through a lot of steps. It’s not just about earning it, it’s about learning. It’s about gaining experience.
Start by working hard and making connections now. In Vinnie’s case, he took advantage of online networking through Facebook to connect with other young conservative professionals in the Washington, DC, area. Many groups, including America’s Future Foundation (AFF), will advertise free networking events using social media.
A lot of the early events and function I went to, and some of the first people I met when I arrived in DC, were through AFF.
These kinds of events were great because they allowed him to make actual friends. “It is more important to make friends,” Vinnie advises, “than simply acquaintances that can do something for you.”
If you are interested in labor policy, make sure to check out WorkplaceChoice.org and the Big Labor vs. Taxpayer Index. Also, follow Workplace Choice on Twitter.
Jacqueline Otto’s shelves at home are lined with used-book store finds; just a few of her favorite authors include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Orson Scott Card, Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, and George Orwell.
She first read F.A. Hayek and Frédéric Bastiat at 16. Her political affiliation on Facebook is “Freedom,” and she hopes to always be known as a lover of liberty.
Jacqueline is on Twitter at @jacque_otto.
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