Saturday, March 31, 2007

Don't Talk About Religion Or Politics - Especially At Work In CT

Our CT legislature has proposed yet another pair of idiotic bills - which seem to me to be a violation of free speech. Perhaps those guys and gals need a refresher course on the Bill of Rights.

The offending legislation of which I speak are the so-called “captive audience” bills which are being promoted by organized labor to prohibit employers from communicating with their employees about a wide variety of subjects in mandatory staff meetings. Here is a brief report from the public hearing on this.
These bills ban an employer or his agent from requiring employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings with the employers of his agent for the primary purpose of communicating an employer's opinion on religious or political matters or the decision to join any political, social, or community group or activity or labor union. Such mandatory meetings are referred to as “captive audience” meetings.
Hmmm.. I wonder how that would be enforced, as well as how businesses that actually deal with those subjects, will be able to operate. No business will be able to organize to fight against legislation being proposed that will hurt them!
SB-602 was approved by the Labor Committee and HB-7326 was recently heard by the Judiciary Committee.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association sees this as very anti-business legislation, and add to the hostile environment that CT already has toward business.
They say this:
Although the bills purport to prohibit only discussions about religion and political matters, the term “political” is so broadly defined that almost any topic could be considered off limits in the workplace — including developments at the State Capitol, government contracts, employee health benefit plans, and community and social issues.

Federal law already ensures a proper balance of communications between employers and employees on union-organizing and other labor law issues. This bill only upsets that balance in favor of labor organizations.
Personally, I find this type of legislation more nanny state interference in the operation of business and also very restrictive to the ability to speak freely. If anything, a business should decide policies for themselves without the State horning in and dictating to them what they can and cannot do or say on their own premises. What comes next? Barring what people can say in their own homes?

So let's read it again...
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
UPDATE after posting : I was thinking today... if these bills pass then how would that be any different than the "captive audience" that school teachers have with students and the influences they have over them regarding religion and politics?? That goes for college kids as well... That wouldn't seem to be any different in my mind. That argument never even came up in public hearings.. perhaps something should be said about that. What do you think???

UPDATE 04/03/07 : Apparently the bill has had some language revisions:
Nothing in this section shall prohibit: (1) A religious organization from requiring its employees to attend a meeting sponsored by such religious organization or to participate in any communications with such religious organization or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate such religious organization's religious beliefs, practices or tenets; (2) a political organization from requiring its employees to attend a meeting sponsored by such political organization or to participate in any communications with such political organization or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate such political organization's political tenets or purposes; (3) an institution of higher education, or any agent, representative or designee of such institution, from meeting with or participating in any communications with its employees concerning political or religious matters that are part of the regular coursework or any symposia or academic program at such institution; or (4) casual conversations between employees or between an employee and an agent, representative or designee of an employer, provided participation in such conversations is not required and such conversations occur in the normal course of the employee's duties.
It is still absurd.

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