A resolution memorializing Congress to support the Employee Free Choice Act related to workers’ rights to form and join unions was vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty May 8.
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), the resolution recognizes how the Employee Free Choice Act would:
• safeguard workers’ ability to make their own decision on joining a union without coercion, provide for first contract mediation and arbitration, and establish meaningful penalties when employers violate workers’ rights;
• authorize the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union as the bargaining representative when a majority of employees voluntarily sign authorizations designating that union to represent them;
• provide for first contract mediation and arbitration of a first contract; and
• establish meaningful penalties for violations of a worker’s freedom to choose a union.
“Collective bargaining and unions are still one of the better ways to help people move up from poverty and into the middle class,” Nelson said.
In his veto message, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the bill would only address federal labor law without having any impact on Minnesota.
Pawlenty wrote the act’s primary flaws include the elimination of employee elections. “Elections provide process for employees to choose whether they want union representation through a secret ballot. Neither the union nor the employer knows how an employee votes. This is an important protection for employees which the bill would eliminate.”
Another flaw is forcing contract terms on employers, he said. “The National Labor Relations Board will be authorized to force an employer to implement a collective bargaining agreement imposed by an arbitrator rather than through agreement between the employer and employees,” Pawlenty wrote. He said adding the change would be an “unprecedented governing intrusion on the right to bargain freely.”