Tag: United Nations

Report to U.N.: Wonder What Bills the Administration Means

We wrote Tuesday about the U.S. State Department’s document, “Report of the United States of America Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review.” The Obama Administration’s report, released first in September and then formally submitted last week in Geneva, appears to curry favor with the United Nations by highlighting America’s shortcomings.

Except in many cases these shortcomings are in the fact policy disagreements. To even suggest that the United States falls short in the area of human rights because it has not enacted the Paycheck Fairness Act is an insult to those who believe that employers, not the federal government (or trial lawyers), bear ultimate responsibility for determining an employee’s compensation.

The report also scores the United States in the area of freedom of association.

23. Freedom of association also protects workers and their right to organize. The labor movement in the United States has a rich history, and the right to organize and bargain collectively under the protection of the law is the bedrock upon which workers are able to form or join a labor union. Workers regularly use legal mechanisms to address complaints such as threats, discharges, interrogations, surveillance, and wages-and-benefits cuts for supporting a union. These legal regimes are continuously assessed and evolving in order to keep pace with a modern work environment. Our UPR consultations included workers from a variety of sectors, including domestic workers who spoke about the challenges they face in organizing effectively. Currently there are several bills in our Congress that seek to strengthen workers’ rights—ensuring that workers can continue to associate freely, organize, and practice collective bargaining as the U.S. economy continues to change.

What bills could the State Department possibly be referring to?

Hah. Obviously, it’s the Employee Free Choice Act. No other legislation is as topical. This is the bill that would replace the secret ballot in union elections with the “card check” process of an employee publicly signing a card, opening the employee to pressure and intimidation by union organizers.

That’s right: Only by eliminating the secret ballot can America “strengthen workers’ rights” and rise to the United Nation’s high standards on human rights. (continue reading…)

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Paycheck Fairness Act: Negative Employment Effects

The Hudson Institute is sponsoring a forum on Capitol Hill Wednesday, “The Negative Employment Effects of the Paycheck Fairness Act.” If jobs are the priority, then this bill has to fail.

When the Senate reconvenes for its lame-duck session later this month, senators will consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would vastly expand the role of government in employers’ compensation decisions. The bill would require the government to collect data from employers on the sex, race, and national origin of employees, significantly adding to red tape, paperwork, and hiring costs, and trapping firms in costly litigation.

At a time when the unemployment rate is above 9 percent and almost 15 million Americans are out of work, the Paycheck Fairness Act would impose substantial new burdens on employers that would encourage hiring overseas and discourage hiring in America. As the Washington Post concluded in a recent editorial, “Discrimination is abhorrent, but the Paycheck Fairness Act is not the right fix.”

Please join Hudson Institute to analyze the costs of the bill and its effects on employment from the economic, legal, and small business perspectives at this Capitol Hill event. Luncheon keynote speaker is the 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, now a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

The event starts at 9:45 a.m. at the Capitol Visitors Center.

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Apologizing for America, Administration Touts Paycheck Fairness Act

The State Department last week submitted a report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the first time the United States has provided such a self-accounting under the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review. The basic message is that the United States is deeply flawed, injustice abounds, but the Obama Administration is bringing us into a new age of enlightenment and justice.

This document gives a partial snapshot of the current human rights situation in the United States, including some of the areas where problems persist in our society. In addressing those areas, we use this report to explore opportunities to make further progress and also to share some of our recent progress. For us, the primary value of this report is not as a diagnosis, but rather as a roadmap for our ongoing work within our democratic system to achieve lasting change.

The Administration believes that roadmap directs us to the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would further inject the federal government into every hiring and pay decision in the private sector while opening employers to a new wave of pay discrimination lawsuits.

37. As one of President Obama’s first official acts, he signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which helps women who face wage discrimination recover their lost wages. Shortly thereafter, the President created the White House Council on Women and Girls to seek to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly and equally in all matters of public policy. Thus, for instance, the Administration supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.

The one thing the bill would help ensure is litigation. It allows unlimited punitive and compensatory damages in cases of suspected discrimination, while changing class-action suits from a system of “opt-in” to “opt-out,” giving trial lawyers additional leverage to pressure companies into huge settlements. (The National Association of Manufacturers has prepared a ManuFACTS sheet that details the legislation’s many anti-employer provisions.)

When each new employee is a potential lawsuit, why would a company hire anyone?

Senate Majority Reid filed cloture on the latest version of the bill, S. 3722, making its consideration possible in next week’s lame-duck session of Congress. The original Senate bill, S. 182, was introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton in January 2009 before she became Secretary of State, a position from which she now promotes the same bad idea.

If jobs and the economy are truly a priority for the President and his Administration, he will ask Sen. Reid to make certain the Paycheck Fairness Act is removed from the Senate’s schedule and relegated to the vault of bad legislation.

And drop the appeals to the United Nations. Employers in the United States have enough problems without having their own government imply they fall short when it comes to human rights. With this report, Administration sends a message, “We really don’t think very highly of business.”

(Hat tip: Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, writing at National Review Online’s The Corner, a post, “The U.S. as U.N. Punching Bag.“)

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‘Weak’ U.S. Labor Laws are a Human Rights Violation?

The U.S. Department of State last week submitted its first-ever report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on conditions in the United States, “Report of the United States of America Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review.” (News release, report.) We’re not so great, really, the State Department seemed to be saying.

News coverage centered on the report’s inclusion of Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law as an affront to human rights, a violation the Obama Administration was addressing through court action. As Politico reported, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called the criticism of the state’s law “downright offensive.”

The State Department report also suggests that labor policy is an area where the United States falls short:

Freedom of association also protects workers and their right to organize. The labor movement in the United States has a rich history, and the right to organize and bargain collectively under the protection of the law is the bedrock upon which workers are able to form or join a labor union. Workers regularly use legal mechanisms to address complaints such as threats, discharges, interrogations, surveillance, and wages-and-benefits cuts for supporting a union. These legal regimes are continuously assessed and evolving in order to keep pace with a modern work environment. Our UPR consultations included workers from a variety of sectors, including domestic workers who spoke about the challenges they face in organizing effectively. Currently there are several bills in our Congress that seek to strengthen workers’ rights—ensuring that workers can continue to associate freely, organize, and practice collective bargaining as the U.S. economy continues to change.

Our emphasis. If the legislation is needed to “strengthen workers’ rights,” the implication is that U.S. labor laws are weak and these rights are not adequately protected.  Those claims — commonly made by organized labor and other advocates of the Employee Free Choice Act — are not founded in fact:

In 2009, labor unions won 68.5 percent of representation elections. Furthermore, 95 percent of all elections are conducted within 56 days of the filing of a petition by the union, with a median of 38 days.

But the report eschews fact-based analysis to base its claim for legitimacy on “civil society” consultations, a series of hearings around the nation dominated by aggrieved activists, interest groups and people with an an axe to grind.

(continue reading…)

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