Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hypocrisy - and the Employee Free Choice Act

While I have previously written about one aspect of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, see Deceptive Advertising - The Employee Free Choice Act, I was surprised amused by a letter by a number of Congressman written on August 29, 2001:
Junta Local de Conciliacion y Arbitraje del Estado de Puebla, Lic. Armando Poxqui Quintero, 7 Norte, Numero 1006 Altos, Colonia Centro, Puebla, Mexico C.P.


As members of Congress of the United States who are deeply concerned with international labor standards and the role of labor rights in international trade agreements, we are writing to encourage you to use the secret ballot in all union recognition elections.

We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required by, Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.

We respect Mexico as an important neighbor and trading partner, and we feel that the increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the Mexican workplace.

(Emphasis added)


The letter is signed by 14 Congressmen. Check here to see how the ones who remain in Congress voted on the EFCA, which passed the House on March 1, 2007. (To save you the trouble, those in blue voted in favor of the EFCA, those in black are no longer members of the House.)

George Miller (D. Cal)

Marcy Kaptur (D - Ohio)

Bernard Sanders (I - Vt) (now in the Senate), where he supports the Employee Free Choice Act,

And restoring the right of workers to join unions, which is the key to rebuilding a vibrant middle class? There's a clear way to do that. Next week, the Senate will take up the Employee Free Choice Act, which the House has already passed. By compelling employers to recognize unions if a majority of their workers sign affiliation cards, the legislation would bring a modicum of balance to workplace relations, and to the American economy as well.

William J. Coyne

Lane Evans

Bob Filner (D - Cal)

Martin Olav Sabo

Barney Frank (D - Mass)

Joe Baca (D - Cal)

Zoe Lofgren (D - Cal)

Dennis J. Kucinich (D - Ohio)

Calvin M. Dooley

Fortney Peter Stark (D -Cal)

Barbara Lee (D - Cal)

James P. McGovern (D - Wash)

Lloyd Doggett (D. Tex)

I thought it might be interesting to see if, or how they have responded to questions about this letter, but the only thing I could find was this Q&A on the website of the Committee on Education and Labor which Congressman Miller chairs:

MYTH: The Employee Free Choice Act's sponsors support secret ballot elections for workers in Mexico, but not in the United States.

FACT: Members of Congress wrote to Mexican authorities in 2001 arguing in favor of a secret ballot election in a case where workers were trying to replace a sham incumbent union with an independent union. The Employee Free Choice Act is consistent with this: it would require an NLRB election in cases where workers seek to replace one union with another union. Indeed, the original framers of the National Labor Relations Act intended elections for precisely those cases where multiple unions were competing – particularly where one was a sham company union and another was a real independent union.

One problem, that doesn't really address their letter, which recommended secret elections for all union recognition elections.

If anyone has any explanations I will be happy to listen to them, but until then, I will just put it down to hypocrisy — a word that never runs out of proper usage in Washington D.C.

A hat tip to Greg Guidry of the Onebane Law Firm for calling this letter to my attention and to he and his wife, Jane, for hosting a wonderful weekend in New Orleans for the Management Labor and Employment Law Roundtable members.


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