Not content with confusing "the right to work" and
"paycheck protection" with unionbusting, the bosses’ apologists in
Congress are attempting to redefine "blacklisting."
A blacklist, as almost everyone who is not a Republican member
of Congress knows, is notorious in U.S. history as a means of denying workers
jobs because of their union or political affiliations.
Long-time UE leader Ernie DeMaio offered this
definition in his book Words for Workers in Changing Times: "A
list of working class activists maintained by employer associations, the FBI,
CIA, and other repressive agencies, who are denied employment, socially
shunned and indexed for arrest and detention in the event of a ‘national
That’s not what Rep. Pete Hoekstra has in mind.
According to the Michigan Republican who heads a subcommittee
of what used to be the House Labor Committee, blacklisting means keeping track
of companies that violate federal labor law — violations that might include
blacklisting (as the rest of us understand the term).
Hoekstra’s topsy-turvy notion of blacklisting came to light
in June when the Clinton Administration finally made moves to make good on its
promise that federal contractors’ compliance with labor laws be taken into
account in determining contract eligibility.
Under the Administration’s proposal, companies hoping to win
contracts would be expected to comply with labor and employment, environmental
and consumer laws. In addition, companies would be disallowed the costs of
interfering in union representation elections, such as the cost of hiring
This amounts to blacklisting, complained Hoekstra, adding that
if it "looks, walks and talks like blacklisting, it must be
By keeping a record of companies that violate federal law by
firing and threatening their employees for organizing unions, is the
government sinking to the level of bosses who maintain a list of workers to be
fired for exercising their right to organize?
This bizarre re-definition did not originate with the
Congressman, a former furniture company executive. Contractor groups denounced
the Administration’s plan as "blacklisting" when first unveiled by
Vice President Gore two years ago. It’s not as if such outfits haven’t
had experience with actual blacklisting. A look in their files might reveal
just why blacklisting is a violation of the federal labor law the Clinton
Administration is finally trying to protect.