Card Check: Debasing the Language

By May 1, 2007Labor Unions

Human Rights Watch is to human rights what the Employee Free Choice Act is to free choice by employees, that is, an advocate of anti-democratic measures as long as those measures serve a big-government, anti-business agenda

Or so one concludes after reading (here) that the registered lobbying group, Human Rights Watch, has decided that Wal-Mart is violating employees “human rights” because it resists unionization. By that standard, every state with right-to-work laws is a human rights violator, every employer who believes his company would operate more efficiently AND fairly without a union is on the same moral plane as Castro. It’s an ugly debasement of the English language and basic civility: I disagree agree with your position on labor policy, therefore you are an evil violator of human rights, worthy of international scorn and condemnation. You are Stalin.

This debased rhetoric comes in the service of a legislative agenda that would actually deprive employees of rights. From the AP:

Human Rights Watch is using the report to call on Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. The EFCA — which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March and is now under consideration in the Senate — increases penalties for labor law violations. The legislation also would restore what the group calls a “democratic” union selection process by requiring employers to recognize a union if a majority of workers sign cards showing their support. Currently, employers can force union elections and then intimidate workers with their aggressive anti-union message during the campaign period, Human Rights Watch said.

Currently, employers and employees both have the right to ask for a federally supervised election, conducted via secret ballot, on whether a worksite should be unionized. Secret ballots are the hallmark of democracy worldwide, protecting the freedom of conscience of those who vote. But to Human Rights Watch, such elections are a tool of oppression.

This is morally offensive, but for opponents of the Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act, probably a good sign, at least at the tactical level. Any pretense at fair argument has been tossed out the door. The labor unions who support card-check legislation as a means to increase their dues-paying membership have thrown themselves in with registered activists/lobbyists who believe no charge is too extreme — you are violating human rights! — to win their argument. Fortunately, enough reason still prevails in American politics that this approach will not succeed.

Join the discussion One Comment