Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BushCo Union Busting

There has been a fair amount of reporting regarding BushCo's relaxation of regulatory boards rules or lack of enforcement. Some government agencies have switched direction, such as the DOJ electoral enforcement arm, seemingly now tasked with a contradictory agenda. One that has escaped much notice is the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

The WaPo reports on a Center for American Progress study that shows:

Political operatives in the Department of Labor are using federal reporting requirements to undermine trade unions and conduct a "political misinformation campaign" against them, a report released yesterday charges.
There certainly seems to be a pattern of harassment by an office lead by Don Todd, a former Republican National Committee strategist best known for his role in the Willie Horton ad. The 1959 Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act tasked the Dept of Labor according to Department of Labor spokesman Richard Manning with "the express purpose of safeguarding the hard-earned dues of union members and their right to democratic union elections." That's what he says, on the other hand the Bill states:

Declaration of Findings, Purposes, and Policy
(29 U.S.C. 401)

SEC. 2. (a) The Congress finds that, in the public interest, it continues to be the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect employees' rights to organize, choose their own representatives, bargain collectively, and otherwise engage in concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection; that the relations between employers and labor organizations and the millions of workers they represent have a substantial impact on the commerce of the Nation; and that in order to accomplish the objective of a free flow of commerce it is essential that labor organizations, employers, and their officials adhere to the highest standards of responsibility and ethical conduct in administering the affairs of their organizations, particularly as they affect labor-management relations.

(b) The Congress further finds, from recent investigations in the labor and management fields, that there have been a number of instances of breach of trust, corruption, disregard of the rights of individual employees, and other failures to observe high standards of responsibility and ethical conduct which require further and supplementary legislation that will afford necessary protection of the rights and interests of employees and the public generally as they relate to the activities of labor organizations, employers, labor relations consultants, and their officers and representatives.

(c) The Congress, therefore, further finds and declares that the enactment of this Act is necessary to eliminate or prevent improper practices on the part of labor organizations, employers, labor relations consultants, and their officers and representatives which distort and defeat the policies of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, as amended, and the Railway Labor Act, as amended, and have the tendency or necessary effect of burdening or obstructing commerce by (1) impairing the efficiency, safety, or operation of the instrumentalities of commerce; (2) occurring in the current of commerce; (3) materially affecting, restraining, or controlling the flow of raw materials or manufactured or processed goods into or from the channels of commerce, or the prices of such materials or goods in commerce; or (4) causing diminution of employment and wages in such volume as substantially to impair or disrupt the market for goods flowing into or from the channels of commerce.

It certainly seems that by definition the Act also has to do with Employers, you know, people BushCo likes if they're big enough and rich enough. BushCo has been a part of the diminution of union membership and certainly has fought any legislation favorable to labor organizing activities.

The amount of information required from unions has increased by 60% since Todd took over, including expanding the conflict of interest form from 3 pages to 9 pages and include 100,000 new filers in the AFL-CIO alone. Shop stewards who volunteered to work on health and safety committees would be required to submit forms defining any or no relationship between lending institutions with their car loans or mortgages and their union or any other company with business with their union. Having dealt with conflict of interest forms I can assure you that it would be a meaningless nightmare for those people.

The Act's purpose was not to be an arm of harassment for unions or employers, the purpose was to have some measure of control of the corrosive effects of money on the relationship between labor and management and to protect labor's money. BushCo and their never ending campaign to use government as an arm of the political party doesn't see it that way.

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