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United States Chamber of Commerce challenges labor law

01.09.10

January 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

United States Chamber of Commerce challenges labor law

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 27th- The United States Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit on December 22nd alleging that a new State of Oregon law is unconstitutional because it is too pro-union.

The business organization jointly filed the lawsuit with Associated Oregon Industries and is arguing a new Oregon law “unconstitutionally eliminates an employer’s right to conduct mandatory meetings with employees to rebut union rhetoric and provide information about drawbacks of a unionized workplace.”

“Organzized labor hasn’t been able to muster the votes or the public support to pass Card Check, so they’ve moved on to “Plan B” to muzzle employers during union organizing drives. Just like Card Check, this law flies in the face of the country’s democratic values,” said Steven Law, chief legal officer and general counsel for the business organization.

Oregon is the first state in the nation to pass such a law that would prohibit employers from conducting mandatory meetings with their employees during union organizing campaigns. The Oregon legislation is modeled after language in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct) legislation that is currently being held-up in Washington, DC.

The United States Chamber of Commerce told the newspaper the federal law pre-empts the Oregon law, which runs counter to fifty years of federal protection for employers’ right to hold mandatory meetings to rebut labor leaders’ rhetoric about unionizing. The business organization lawsuit also alleges the law violates employers’ speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The legislation became law on January 1st, 2010.

The law, known as SB 519, and the case is Associated Oregon Industries and Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Brad Avakian and Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 296.

“This legislation is organized labor’s first salvo in an apparent state-by state assault on federally protected employer speech,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the United States Chamber of Commerce public policy labor firm.

Organized labor has urgued for decades that the conducting of mandatory meetings with workers by employers during organizing campaigns were unfair because all employees must attend or face being discipline or termination.

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