Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Human Wrongs Watch: Pier-less Hypocrisy

As the world’s über-retailer, Wal-Mart attracts critics like one of those crazy electric bug traps. Every other day — zap! So it was only a matter of time before the next in a host of far-left-wing groups attacked the company on the issue of unions. This time it was Human Rights Watch, which used to keep an eye on, you know, human rights. Now it’s using the specter of Wal-Mart (the very word sends shudders down the spines of some elites) to advocate the hilariously misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” which would deny secret ballot elections to employees deciding whether to unionize.

But HRW might want to take a look at its own statements and the words of the researcher who penned this attack study.

Human Rights Watch has openly acknowledged the importance of secret ballot elections as recently as 2005 in Mexico. And in a report in 2000, they actually state flat out: “Human Rights Watch believes that secret-ballot elections should remain a standard method of determining workers’ choice whether to bargain collectively with their employer.”

Further: “…In American culture now and for the foreseeable future, fairly run secret-ballot elections still have a moral primacy.” Groups advocating passage of EFCA claim (wrongly) that elections overseen by the federal government have run amok, and that workers are often fired during organizing elections. But a quick analysis from the Center for Union Facts found that very few election drives include wrongful termination.

You should also know a bit about researcher Carol Pier, who signed HRW’s anti-Wal-Mart report. She previously signed a letter advising Mexican labor authorities of the importance of secret ballot elections. More importantly, Pier was a researcher on the 2000 report extolling the virtue of secret ballot elections. (Besides, Pier’s claim that everyone needs a union ignores the fact that whenever a Wal-Mart opens, people apply for its non-union jobs in droves.)

To be fair, as of 2003 Pier did advocate for card checks to replace secret ballots. But her justification is that enacting the legal change would end the “trapping” of workers — as if that isn’t the desired effect of EFCA.

*Hat tip to the CUF researcher who uncovered all this hypocrisy.

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeamsters