Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 11, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Congressman Raul Grijalva

  |   Video
  • A discussion with Democratic Congressman from Arizona Raul Grijalva who recently rescinded his call for a boycott of Arizona over SB 1070.
Guests:
  • Raul Grijalva - U.S. Congressman (Dem.)
Category: Immigration

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas:
Arizona Democratic Congress y'allan Raul Grijalva called for a boycott of Arizona soon after senate bill 1070 was sign, but he backed off from that call after a judge blocked parts of the law from going into effect. His stance has resulted in Beth threats and belts being fired into his offices. Here now is Congressman Raul Grijalva. This explanation the extra security around the building today. Let's talk first about the boycott. Why did you decide it was time to rescind it?

Raul Grijalva:
There's really three basic reasons. The first was, the injunction. And the injunction taking the heart out of 1070 was a factor. The other factor, quite Frankly, is strategically, part of what's going on nationally in terms of lost receipts, it's almost organic. It's happening regardless of whether you say yes or no to a boycott, and I think to some extent that effect is going to continue, and it's caused by not only the actions of 1070, but the continued comments about beheadings, people dying in the desert, kidnapped capital of the world, rampant violence, crime going on. You know, the one scout master has said is it safe for me to bring my scouts into Arizona? That kind of rhetoric has to be toned down. The other reason is to take the boycott off the table in terms of my perspective. The issue of the economic sanctions. One of the reasons people haven't wanted to sit down and look at a real solution about immigration and fixing this broken system of ours, especially around adds border, one of the excuses has been this boycott, despicable, distraction, and the third, and I think this is -- when Arizona went through its boycott on Martin Luther King, it had an effect. It had an effect on the business community it had an effect on the revenue, and eventually hit an effect of turning back around that bad policy decision. I'll be honest, I just don't think that there's going to be that kind of effect on the leadership of this state that -- on this issue. You see Pearce celebrating the idea that you're losing business, Brewer has made the campaign stamp, and that's what she's running on. So strategically are we going to change it? And then who are we hurting? Many of the workers of resorts and hotels have -- happen to be the same people this law was directed at. The lowest paid and the ones with the most problems, economically as a consequence of this law. So I met with them, I met with resort owners who are opposed to the law, and with artists that are opposed to the law, and I thought, well, it's time to take a step back, suspend that call. Other things will continue, I mean, there's a lot of ire against the diamondbacks and their owner for the huge amounts of money he's given to Russell Pearce and everybody else that voted for 1070, he's hosted them in the sky box. His comments on 1070, totally unlike what the suns did. So there's -- there continues to be a great deal of ire on the Diamondbacks, and that national movement about that all-star game continues with or without my call for a boycott.

Richard Ruelas:
You called it organic. And you say it's with or without your call for a boycott. Do you think your call had an effect?

Raul Grijalva:
I think we nationalized it, and that was the point. It got attention. We wanted to have attention. We felt this issue couldn't be a quaint little Arizona problem. That its implications constitutional and civil rightswise had a national implication, and it did. And I think we wanted to bring attention to it, we've done that, and we're happy with the reaction that we got in terms of the injunction, and other parts.

Richard Ruelas:
But you thought the boycott might have had the effect of having the business community look at their lawmakers and policymakers, it seems like it had the effect, what you're saying of hardening the --

Raul Grijalva:
It wasn't even a question of hardening. It's a question of there's -- their sigh excellence deafening on the issue. They won't take a position, many of them, they -- some of the leadership carps about the boycott, and yet when confronted with, do you think this law is bad, and is hurting your business, they won't take a position. So you can't have it both ways. At some point some of the corporate interests in in state have to have the courage to stand up and say, this law is bad, it's hurting our business, and I think that will come with time. Right now there's -- they're just afraid to step up.

Richard Ruelas:
SB 1070 like you said, the heart of it has not gone into effect, but during the time between when it was signed and the federal judge issued that injunction, your district touches on some west valley communities and sort of reaches extended down to southern Arizona. What were you hearing from your constituents, particularly here in areas like Tolleson and Avondale?

Raul Grijalva:
I think it's the -- it was the fear of the unknown. How is this going to affect me? It was -- and when I think that the generalized reasonable suspicion theory, which attached to the profiling, there was fifth, sixth, seventh, 10th generation Latinos born in this country and raised in this state that now all of a sudden were in the same category as someone that was undocumented that got here yesterday. I think that had a huge reaction. Plus, just the apprehension, the sense of -- the sense that all of a sudden because of who I am, I am a target. I think those feelings were really strong. And at the same time, the 1070 has continued to be a very, very divisive issue, a polarizing issue. What 1070 did that -- you know, let's be honest. Underneath the discussion of immigration is the issue of race, period. People don't want to confront, that that's fine. There was a certain gentleman's agreement that that issue wasn't always touched upon. 1070 brought that issue front and center. Of of the discussion. And so now with those overtones, plus the division, plus the polarization among people in the state, you felt that tension, you felt that division, and you felt that anger on both sides of the question.

Richard Ruelas:
Although those who are advocates of 1070 will say just the opposite. This law applies to any officer stops racially -- racial profiling except as allowed by the constitution of the United States is prohibited. How do you see it bringing race to the forefront?

Raul Grijalva:
Well, I think reasonable suspicion, and the issue of profiling, racially profiling, and I think the whole tenor -- 1070 is part of the petRi dish in Arizona. We've had a series of laws that keep adding up. And when you accumulate all these laws, and all these efforts, and all this rhetoric, there's a sense that this is addressed at me. And so not just 1070, it's an accumulation of things being done and things being said. When McCain talks, now it's direct -- there's an understanding now that I hope people understand there's a long memory in this. And for the life of me, the Republican party making immigration and Latinos per se the whipping boy and the wedge issue in these next election is a huge mistake. They might get traction and win, but the long-term laws for their party is significant. As a strategy, as a politician, I can't understand why they would bite that for a short-term gain, and abdicate long range for the long time for generations to come.

Richard Ruelas:
As a politician, someone who has run some campaigns, do you think it will win?

Raul Grijalva:
I think it's going to have some traction. It's going to have some effect. I think -- I really believe the effort nationwide is to make this a central wedge issue, the third rail in this. And to beat the democrats with it over and over again. And I really believe that some races are going to be tougher than they should be. Because of this issue, and because of the polarization that's occurred. It's very sad state of affairs that we can't talk about immigration and the middle ground that it has to be either/or. And hopefully now that we've done some more enforcement money on the border, that we can begin to take that enforcement only mentality off and say, OK, who wants to fix this broken system, sit down, and begin to compromise? That's what we've lacked now for five years.

Richard Ruelas:
Do you see any movement towards that? Can you foresee after the November election as you go back to Washington --

Raul Grijalva:
I hope people come back after this election and understand that it's not just about immigration reform, it's about keeping the social fabric of our nation together. And we cannot create a permanent division in which we create a double standard of law in this country, or double standard of behavior toward each other in this country. So I hope people come back and say, this issue of immigration reform is also a proxy for keeping this nation together, it's a proxy for civil rights, it's a proxy on diversity, and we begin to approach it that way as an important social legislation that's going to keep this country together.

Richard Ruelas:
You have a personal interest in seeing the rhetoric get toned down a bit. Soon after your call for a boycott, your office received some threats, and there was some bullet holes outside your office. What were those days like for you and your staff?

Raul Grijalva:
More so for the staff, you know. I used to tend to pooh-pooh those things, just blow-hards, they're mad, and they need to vent. But, you know, a direct act of violence, some really ugly death threats, the safety of the people that come in to seek help in our offices, and the safety of the fine people that work in the offices became paramount, and we've taken precautions.

Richard Ruelas:
Has the mood calmed at all?

Raul Grijalva:
I think it has. I think it has. I think the injunction, it peaked a reaction, but it also was a necessary pause for us to begin to think about what we're going to do long-term on this issue.

Richard Ruales:
What is life like for you in D.C.? We know there's a tea party caucus, and there's a Latino caucus, and is the camaraderie still there?

Raul Grijalva:
The level --

Richard Ruales:
even the Arizona members?

Raul Grijalva:
We get together, and there's mutual issues. I mean, Arizonans get together on water, make sure California doesn't take it all. There's issues we talk about. But the level of civility that one hears about, the house of the very deliberate debate to get things done, the issue of, we could agree to disagree, those are gone. It's partisan, it's got-you politics, it's how -- and I think it's a loss for the nation, because many times the solution to the problem is a compromise, and accommodation for either side. Not being given that option every issue is black and white, every issue is yes or no, and the loss in the long-term is for the American people. They're not getting the kind of legislation they deserve because everything is pitted yes or no.

Richard Ruelas:
Given that, I guess because were you polarizing figure after calling for the boycott, with -- in hindsight, was calling for the boycott right thing?

Raul Grijalva:
I think it was. Because the purpose was to nationalize it. I think in hindsight, as many people react, hindsight I would -- I would think a lot more closely about reacting in anger. I was angry about that. I felt personally insulted. I felt it was insulting a community and a people that didn't merit being victims of this law. And one reacts with anger if -- I'm ashamed to say that, because we shouldn't, as politician react with anger. I'm certain no one else in our delegation ever gets angry, but I did, but we wanted to nationalize the issue. If I had to do it over again, would I have been more pragmatic and strategic about it.

Richard Ruelas:
Well, I'm sure you'll have opportunities, I'm sure, to address this issue.

Raul Grijalva:
I don't think it will go away for a while.

Richard Ruelas:
Congressman, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule and your campaign, I should add, to join us.

Raul Grijalva:
My pleasure. Thank you very much.

Secret Ballots for Unionizing

  |   Video
  • The pros and cons of a ballot measure, approved by state lawmakers in special session, that attempts to block proposed federal legislation regarding the formation of labor unions.
Guests:
  • Clint Bolick
  • Stan Lubin - Attorney, AFL/CIO
Category: Government

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas:
The state legislature wrapped up a special session today to get a measure dealing with unions back on the ballot. After a judge threw the first measure out saying it was illegal. The measure approved today is aimed at blocking a proposed federal law that would make it easier to form a union by having a majority of workers sign a petition. That measure has not been approved by Congress. The Arizona ballot measure seeks to preserve the right to a secret ballot when voting on unionization. Here theory discuss the measure are Clint Bolick, for the secret ballot proposition, and Stan Lubin, an attorney for the AFL/CIO, who opposes the measure. Gentlemen, thank you both for coming on the "Horizon" show tonight. Clint, we'll start with you, since it's a measure -- you have come up with this idea, why preempt, if the federal government has not passed this, what's the rush to have the statement government in essential session, the legislature in special session?

Clint Bolick:
Of course would it have been on the ballot if the union not gone to court at the 11th hour to strip it from our November ballot. So that's why the special session was necessary. But there's two reasons to have it on the ballot this November. First of all, President Obama has -- who is basically hostage to the unions on this issue, has said that he continues to make this a top legislative priority, the democrats know that their numbers are probably waning in the senate, and they're going to try to push this through in a lame duck session. Obama said fit doesn't happen then, he is going to do it by bureaucratic -- by regulation. So we need to have this in our constitution to protect the right to secret ballot.

Richard Ruelas:
And for the union's -- how often is this type of measure used? We're talking about instead of a vote among workers to unionize, they hand out essentially cards to get a majority of workers. How often is that procedure used?

Stan Lubin:
The cards are used in almost every single organizing campaign and have been for 75 years. Right now the law allows the majority recognition by card check. It's not going to be new. What will be new, if the employee free choice act passes, it will change it from allows the employer to decide whether there will be an election, to allow the union and the employees to make that choice. That's what the freedom -- the free choice act does. It does not change it -- the right to an election is there, the right to a card check has always been there. It has been in the act since 1935. That will not change.

Richard Rulas:
But this will now make it so that if workers get a majority to turn in cards saying we want a union, it becomes a union rather than right now the --

Stan Lubin:
Right now the employer can block it by saying no. It's the employer's choice now. We're saying it should be the employees' choice.

Clint Bolick:
But employeeless not have a choice.

Stan Lubin:
Yes, they will.

Clint Bolick:
To have a secret ballot. If they -- this will be eliminated if they get 50% of the cards. Everyone knows what happens in these situations. You have either the employer or the employee exercising coercion. Lots of instances you have majority of cards that are signed, but then when the workers go into the secret ballot, they turn down the union. And that's because they are in that setting and that setting alone exercise can their free choice.

Richard Ruelas:
Are there going to be some times that -- even with the secret ballot, does it -- isn't there pressure from the bosses to vote not to unionize?

Clint Bolick:
Of course. But what do you in the secrecy of the voting booth is your business. And you can express yourself fully. That's why over a dozen Democratic members of Congress, including representative George Mitchell, a huge union advocate, wrote to the government of Mexico when they were going to do away with the secret ballot in union elections, and they said, we need to have the right to secret ballot, the same principle applies here in the United States.

Stan Lubin:
The coercion issue is a phony issue. In the 75 years that we've had this law in place, there are less than 40 or 50 times when elections have been set aside because the union aggression or overstatement or pushing people around, probably 50,000 elections have been set aside because the employers have done the same kind of thing. To say union thugs will be doing this is stupid. It is really a question of stopping management consultants who use very sophisticated techniques to scare these employees into voting no. They're voting fear, they delay things, everything goes down at the employer's pace. The statute has been twisted by delays caused by the employers stopping and insisting on these elections.

Richard Ruelas:
What other -- you mentioned delays so they can put off the election. What other tactics have you seen businesses use --

Stan Lubin:
They basically have on the time clock meetings, in which they tell employees that if you vote for the union we start at zero, they threaten that they'll bargain forever. They talk about the fact that they will not be able to keep their jobs. They threaten to send stuff overseas. This is not Mexico this, is the United States. In Mexico the government controls a lot of the unions, so yes, they need secret ballots. Here the government does not control the unions, I don't see where the president is a hostage either.

Richard Ruelas:
We know that the -- you say the president is not a hostage?


Stan Lubin:
No. He's -- if he was a hostage, this law would have passed two years ago. We know you mentioned the business techniques, we note unions use thugs.

Stan Lubin:
What thugs? The fact is you do not see any instance other than -- like I said, 40 or 50 times in 75 years, you might have seen overly aggressive, bad activity that caused people maybe to push around. I happen to be involved in a lot of the litigation back in the '60s when I first started as a lawyer, I was at the NLRV and I was involved in two of the cases that went to the Supreme Court. One of which went to the Supreme Court, which established the right to have card checks. And I was involved in one of those cases myself. So I'm pretty familiar with it. I've been living with it since then the leading cases that came down in the early '60s and '70s.

Richard Ruelas:
Is that really known as a hard union state, have you heard of instances in Arizona where there's been coercion through card checks?

Clint Bolick:
Absolutely. And one of the reasons why we need to have the right to secret ballot is so that we don't have a mass push to unionization in this state. It's one of our few competitive advantages. I've been a member of a union. I've felt the heavy hand on my shoulder, the adversarial relationship that is oppressed by unions. That's one of the reasons why private sector unionization has plummeted over the last few decades, and often times when people vote their conscience in the ballot, they vote against unions. And that will not happen if you have pressure from either side. I agree with Stan on one point, there's employer thuggery as well. The right to secret ballot. It's important to protect against coercion in both instances.

Stan Lubin:
The problem you have is with the sophisticated -- as sophisticated antiunion consultants grew, union Marie Provine has gone down. There's no question. As manufacturing has moved overseas, union Marie Provine has gone down. The fact is, that the real need here is to stop employers from choosing what their employees' rights are. That's what this is about. I'm convinced there will be another lawsuit by passing this legislation, and I'm convinced that lawsuit will be filed shortly. And --

Richard Ruelas:
you're saying maybe after Congress passes this, we might --

Stan Lubin:
I'm not sure we need to wait that long. I don't know. I don't know if it will be filed right away or right after that passes. I'm not the one to make that decision.

Richard Ruelas:
There are currently laws against coercion in the union election.

Clint Bolick:
That's correct.

Richard Ruelas:
That's right. But the goldwater institute fights for less government control of private instance Tuscons, you're pushing for more government control.

Clint Bolick:
This is is an exist rate. It has been existing rate under federal law for 75 years. And so we are seeking to protect the right to secret ballot basically people being forced against their will, against the majority will of workers to form unions. And I'm wondering whether Stan has polled his own members, our polling has found that there is overwhelming support for the right to secret ballot in union elections, and that the strongest support comes from union members.


Richard Ruelas:
I guess the secret ballot is still allowed if it's just that the card check is another --

Clint Bolick:
if you get 50% plus one, you are a union.

Richard Ruelas:
And people have the right to contest and through to get a secret ballot, and --

Clint Bolick:
Basically the secret ballot will fall but disappear -- all but disappear from this process unless you can prove that coercion was used. Right now --

Richard Ruelas:
This is a big enough issue to don't the government involved in a ban of this -- of the card checks system.

Clint Bolick:
Absolutely, because a right that has existed in American law for 75 years, a right that is as American as apple pie, is in serious jeopardy right now.

Stan Lubin:
OK. That's really not accurate at all.

Richard Ruelas:
When the lawsuit gets filed, we'll have you both back.


Clint Bolick:
We may be slugging it out.

Richard Ruelas:
Thanks for joining us this evening on "Horizon."

Clint Bolick:
Thanks for having us.

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