10/31/07

Did pro-union Congressman foul a union election?

A Virginia nonprofit association filed legal papers with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday supporting Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino's appeal of a June board recommendation that casino dealers have union representation.

The Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation submitted a "friend of the court" brief that took issue with conduct leading up to a March election in which dealers voted 324-149 for representation by the United Auto Workers. Echoing Trump Plaza's claims, the group argued that the union's use of political support misled casino employees.

Both parties' claims center on a press conference the UAW held one week before the election. The union invited U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews, D-1st, state Sen. James "Sonny" McCullough, R-Atlantic, and Assemblyman James Whelan, D-Atlantic, to a "card-check" ceremony in which it counted pledge cards signed by employees in support of unionization. The group aimed to show that Trump Plaza should recognize its workers' interest in organizing.

The event, broadcast that night on WMGM-TV40, became the main tenet of an April objection Trump Plaza filed with the board, seeking a new election. The casino said the broadcast could have led employees to believe that election results favoring the union were a foregone conclusion supported by the government. An administrative law judge at the board's Philadelphia office dismissed Trump Plaza's objection. The casino filed an exception, or appeal, in Washington, D.C., in July, where it has remained unsettled.

The foundation had filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the UAW a day before the election, seeking postponement. That charge is being resolved together with Trump Plaza's objection.

The foundation's brief mentioned only Rep. Andrews. It claimed that as employees understood Andrews was part of the federal government, they could have also believed his participation had the legal effect of designating the UAW as their representative under federal law.

The foundation implored the board to honor Trump Plaza's appeal.

"Otherwise, politicians can (and will) use the authority of their office to mislead employees that the government requires or favors a particular result in Board certification elections," it wrote.

The foundation, which provides free legal aid to employees whose rights have been "violated by abuses of compulsory unionism," said it had not filed papers until now because of the volume of cases it handles.

The group denied any ties to Trump Plaza. Friend of the court briefs can be submitted by parties who are not directly involved in litigation but believe they have an interest in its outcome.

Neither Trump Plaza nor the UAW returned calls seeking comment.

(pressofatlanticcity.com)

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