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Big Fraud Returns to Big Labor By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 14, 2009

The three most significant federal statutes affecting labor-management relations are the Wagner Act of 1935, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959.  These laws may be described in very general terms as follows: Wagner, principally sponsored by New York Senator Robert F. Wagner and supported by the New Deal, conferred rights upon labor unions.  Wagner was quite favorable to organized labor.  Taft-Hartley, sponsored by Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft and New Jersey Representative Fred L. Hartley, Jr., was enacted in the 80th Congress, over President Harry S. Truman’s veto. Taft-Hartley amended Wagner, more evenly balancing rights.  Landrum-Griffin, sponsored by Georgia Representative Philip M. Landrum and Michigan Senator Robert P. Griffin, was controversial but less so. Landrum-Griffin was enacted after revelations of union-leadership malfeasance, corruption and lesser misbehavior.

Landrum-Griffin has been only as effective as various Department of Labor (“DOL”) leadership and policy managers have applied it. The DOL Office of Labor Management Standards was supposed to enforce Landrum-Griffin and erratically did so. Under the exceptionally  competent and objective leadership of Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, the only George W. Bush Cabinet  Member to serve the full Bush eight years, 2001-2009, DOL batted almost 100 percent, securing 929 convictions arising from union fraudulent  and fraudulent-related activity. The present DOL shows strong signs of reduced anti-fraud activity, beginning with hands-off as to a conflict-of-interest form, upon the spurious ground that it would cost too much.

As if that were not sufficient to imbalance labor-management relations and lessen workers’ knowledge of, and rights to, honest union leadership, the Barack H. Obama presidency appears to be pushing the smilingly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, called by most people with familiarity the Card Check Bill.

The Card Check Bill not only would deprive workers of their secret ballot but also would impose a measure of Federal Government intervention in the form of compulsory arbitration. The revivified big-labor push for enactment undoubtedly stems, at least in part, from the downturn in union membership.

This commentary spoke favorably, if surprisingly, of former Senator George S. McGovern’s opposition to the Card Check Bill. Once again, Senator McGovern has posted a newspaper column reiterating his opposition to the Bill and citing his empirical experience to support his opposition. Once again, one must commend him upon his courage, objectivity and sense of fairness. Whether the 111th Congress would be entitled to such commendation remains to be seen.

Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.

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