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June 22, 2005

GOP Rep: Unions "Weapons of Mass Destruction"

Senator Durbin condemns torture and is eviscerated by the rightwing.

However, a rightwing Congressman can hyperbolically compare labor unions to terrorist weapons and it doesn't make the news.  Yesterday, at a hearing on the so-called "Truth in Employment Act", one of its main sponsors, BNA's Daily Labor Report reported that Steve King (R-IA) referred to union organizers who sought employment at non-union employers as "economic weapons of mass destruction."  

The proposed bill would allow employers to fire any employee who sought to be hired as part of a union organizing drive, a tactic called "salting" in the labor field.  In any union drive, employers have day-to-day access to propagandize and threaten employees.  "Salting" -- ie. getting an organizer hired by an employer -- has been one of the few tactics available to unions to make sure someone is at the workplace able to give the pro-labor side of the story to fellow workers at a job site. 

But creating any fairness or free speech in the workplace is considered equivalent to terrorism by the rightwing, a telling example of where any war on terrorism will go if they have any further strength.   Not only does the rightwing want to silence whistle blowers on the government payroll, they want to eviscerate the rights of any private employee who promotes unionism in the workplace. 

The insidious part of the bill is that any promise by a union to help an allied worker supporting a union drive find alternative employment if they are fired -- a reasonably common practice by unions given the high rate of firings of union activists -- would convert those employees into "salts" and, ironically, make them even more vulnerable to firings by the employer. 

So pro-union employees would be stuck in a catch-22; if they are pro-union, they risk being fired illegally by their employers (as 22,000 union activists do each year) but if the union promises to help them find alternative work to ease the risk, that would give the employer the right to fire them without even risking the minor fines currently assessed against illegal firings.

It boggles the mind how anti-worker is the rightwing GOP, yet the regular media can't even be bothered to report on the constant drumbeat of anti-worker rhetoric coming from these rightwing politicians.

Posted by Nathan at June 22, 2005 06:43 AM