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Funny Thing ... Business
Worries About "Blacklisting!"

Blacklisting ... If Uncle Sam were to make sure that federal contracts were not awarded to labor-law-breaking employers, would that imply a "blacklist"? Not the way we understand it! But the prospect of requiring employers be law-abiding before being given taxpayers' dollars has big-business supporters in Congress plenty worried ...

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 emergency.’"

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 unionbusting consultants.

This amounts to blacklisting, complained Hoekstra, adding that if it "looks, walks and talks like blacklisting, it must be blacklisting."

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.

UE News - 07/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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