[JURIST] The AFL-CIO [official website] and three other labor groups filed a complaint [PDF text] with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) [official website] on Thursday, alleging that Wal-mart Inc. [corporate website; JURIST news archive], the largest employer in the US, violated federal election laws by forcing employees to attend meetings where political and presidential campaign issues were discussed. According to a report [text] by the Wall Street Journal , the labor groups Change to Win, WakeUpWalMart.com, Americans Rights at Work [official websites], and the AFL-CIO filed the complaint based on Wal-Mart meetings which were intended to convince lower-level department heads that electing a Democratic president would make it easier for workers to unionize, which in turn could lead to lower salaries and violations of privacy. According to the labor organizations, federal regulations allow companies to promote voting for a presidential candidate to high-level managers but not to lower-level managers and department heads. The Washington Post has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.
At issue is the Employee Free Choice Act [HR 800 materials], which would require a company to recognize a union as soon as a majority of a company's employees signed cards saying they want to organize a union. Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-Ill) [campaign website] supports the legislation, while Republican Party presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) [campaign website] does not. In June, the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled [opinion text; JURIST report] that a 2000 California law [Assembly Bill 1889 text] that prohibits employers from using certain funds they receive from the state to influence union elections is unconstitutional. Previously in 2006, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld [PDF text] the California law, ruling that it was neither preempted by the National Labor Relations Act [text] nor rendered unenforceable by the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause.