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New legislation for US lodging industry workers fails to pass

Supporters of a measure to gut landmark New Deal legislation and strip American workers of their right to vote were dealt a setback in the U.S. Senate by failing to garner the 60 votes needed for passage. With a…

Supporters of a measure to gut landmark New Deal legislation and strip American workers of their right to vote were dealt a setback in the U.S. Senate by failing to garner the 60 votes needed for passage. With a vote of 51–48, a worker’s right to a private ballot was protected.



“We want to thank those Senators who voted against this bill and supported the right of American workers to have a federally-supervised secret ballot election,” said Marlene Colucci, executive vice president for public policy for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). “Courts and labor law experts have all noted that there is no more fair, accurate, or democratic way to determine an individual’s free choice on any matter than through the use of the secret ballot election.”



S. 1041 and H.R. 800, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), respectively, would have eliminated American workers’ right to federally-supervised private ballot elections in the workplace and install a public “card check” system. Currently, workers have the right to choose their workplace representation and conditions in private to allow them to vote their conscience.



Initially confident of widespread support spearheaded by union leaders who contributed heavily to Democratic victories last November, Rep. Miller and Sen. Kennedy introduced H.R. 800 and S. 1041. Once American workers had an opportunity to examine the bill, however, the expected support among the public never materialized. In fact, opposition to the bill grew quickly as members of congress realized the implications of the bill.



In an effort to defeat the legislation, AH&LA co-chaired the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW). The CDW did extensive polling and developed a strong message in opposition to the bill. A poll conducted in January 2007 by McLaughlin & Associates found that 89% believe having a federally-supervised secret ballot election is the best way to protect the individual rights of workers, and that same percentage says a worker’s vote to organize a union should remain private. The poll also found that 79% of American opposes the legislation while only 14% support it. In addition, the poll found that 73% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats would be less likely to vote for a member of congress who voted in favor of taking away a worker’s right to a federally-supervised secret ballot election.



Based on the results of that poll, the CDW raised funds to launch a Website, containing information about the legislation. The coalition also funded ads in targeted congressional districts. Those ads worked.



Faced with growing opposition to the provisions in the bills, leaders in the House of Representatives rushed the House bill (H.R. 800) through the congressional process in 25 days to secure a vote as fast as possible to avoid further erosion in their support. Although the measure passed in the House in March, the CDW was able to diminish support for the measure.



“Many members who were thought to support the bill voted no because of the growing backlash against the attempt to strip workers of their rights,” said Joseph A. McInerney, president and CEO of AH&LA. “This vote in the Senate reflected the same concern, and the vote to deny the bill’s passage is proof that our efforts made the difference.”



“Defeat of this legislation signals the public’s recognition that employees deserve the right to a private ballot,” said Colucci, “and simply naming something that takes away that right ‘the Employee Free Choice Act’ does not fool anyone.”

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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