If campaign contributions from unions pose a conflict, surely those from business groups do, too

March 03, 2011

Collective bargaining is recognized as a right of workers that allows them to achieve a form of workplace democracy. The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 states in Article 23 that "Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."

Yet, while we in the U.S. cheer for the Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans and others in Middle East countries who risk their lives to achieve democracy and reach for better lives for themselves in their countries, some newly-elected public officials seek to end the democratic process of collective bargaining for public workers.

Among the arguments that are heard in support of terminating employees' rights is that for any elected official to negotiate with a labor organization which has contributed to the official's election campaigns raises a potential conflict of interest. Yet, you hear no similar complaint from these same elected officials about doing business with the identical business interests whose contributions funded their campaigns for election.

The irony is unmistakable and an affront to their workers.

Edward J. Gutman, Baltimore

The writer, an attorney, is employed as a mediator and arbitrator in labor and other disputes.

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