Card Check: Human Rights Watch Hypocricy

By January 28, 2009Labor Unions

Following up on the post noting that the Human Rights Watch contends that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is a human rights imperative.

In 2005, Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, opposing a labor reform proposed by then President Vincente Fox. Here’s a key excerpt, as posted under the headline, “Mexico: Fox’s Labor Reform Proposal Would Deal Serious Blow to Workers’ Rights”:

Secret Ballots in Union Elections Undermined
In Mexico, trade union elections to supplant pre-existing unions are often open ballot elections. Workers must publicly declare their union preference in the presence of numerous employer and non-independent union representatives and even, on occasion, hostile hired thugs. Intimidation by these parties has frequently prevented free and fair elections. Mexico has recognized this problem, and in its May 18, 2000, joint declaration with the United States under the NAALC, the government agreed to “promote the use of . . . secret ballot elections in disputes over the right to hold the collective bargaining contract.”

On its face, the Abascal Project addresses this issue. It would amend current law to require that elections to oust pre-existing unions occur only by secret ballot. In practice, however, the new procedural requirements that independent union supporters must fulfill prior to such an election would undermine, if not entirely negate, any benefits of a secret vote.

As discussed, under the Abascal Project, an election to gain workplace representational rights could only occur after workers supporting the vote presented to the relevant Board the requisite legal documents and papers containing their names and signatures. As noted, these requirements would be virtually impossible to meet. As a result, workers would rarely, if ever, get to enjoy their new right to a secret ballot election.

Human Rights Watch stood up for the rights of employees to organize via secret-ballot elections — in Mexico. But in the United States, eliminating secret ballots is a “human rights imperative.”


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