For Release — Tuesday, June 25, 2002
COUNCIL: 'LABOR INTIMIDATION ACT' WOULD
HUMAN SERVICES AGENCIES THAT GIVE STATE ESSENTIAL GOODS, SERVICES
ALBANYA bill to use state contracting to encourage union organizing would unfairly handcuff the management of any not-for-profit agency or business that receives any state funds - and, in the process, give unions unfettered power to intimidate workers deciding whether to organize, The Business Council said today.
The Business Council strongly opposes a bill it is calling the "Organized Labor Intimidation Act," and today urged lawmakers not to pass it.
The bill (S.7718-Rules/A.11784-Rules) slipped onto the legislative agenda in the last week of the legislative session with strong support from Dennis Rivera and other labor leaders. It is also strongly opposed by hospitals, hospital associations, and a variety of health-care providers. Representatives of several such institutions and associations representing them joined The Business Council at a press conference today urging Albany to reject the proposal.
"This bill would require employers to give unions virtual carte blanche to strong-arm workers into supporting organizing efforts," Daniel B. Walsh, president/CEO of The Business Council said today. "At the same time, it would require state contractors and vendors to say nothing whatever to their employees about the advantages and disadvantages of unions.
"Requiring employers to accept such a gag order just to care for New York's more vulnerable or provide essential goods to the state is an unconscionable violation of this nation's labor-relations traditions and, more fundamentally, an affront to any reasonable sense of fair play."
He added: "The National Labor Relations Act and other federal laws already clearly spell out what employers and employees can and cannot do during union organizing events. This bill is an attempt to supersede those laws. What can be the purpose of such redundant legislation if not to promote union organizing?"
The bill would:
- Prevent employers that have any state contract from sharing their perspective on union representation on state property or in a state facility - even if an active union organizing effort is unfolding.
- Require the contractors and vendors of state and municipal agencies to agree to provisions that would give organizing unions clear tactical advantages organizing and require employers to renounce well-established rights to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of unions with employees on the employer's time and property.
The bill would do this by requiring state agencies and municipalities to include in all contractual documents language designed to oblige vendors and grantees to give up their rights under labor law by acquiescing to a number of provisions, including:
- Taking no steps to influence employees' decisions about accepting or rejecting unionization.
- Accepting a majority of authorizing cards as approval of a union, instead of the traditional secret ballot that protects workers' rights and reduces the efficacy of strong-arm tactics by unions or employers.
- Submitting to binding arbitration to settle disputes arising from union organizing campaigns. Such binding arbitration requirements typically occur only in union contracts - after workers approve a union.
- Granting representatives of the organizing union access to workers and information about the employer. This would overturn employers' well-established right to have access to their own workers on their own time and property, and to deny that access to organizing unions.
The bill emerged quietly last week in the waning days of the legislative session under the sponsorship of the Rules Committees of the Senate and Assembly. Organized labor interests are aggressively pressuring lawmakers to pass the bill.
"Federal and state labor-relations law has evolved over time with the overriding goal of ensuring a fair balance between workers' right to organize and employers' right to air their perspective in the debate over organizing," Walsh concluded. "We see no public interest in dramatic, one-sided legislation intended solely to emasculate that tradition of fairness."