Representatives Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Michael Michaud (D-ME) and seventeen other Members of Congress sent a letter to Georgetown University President John DeGioia today to urge the University to respect the rights of Georgetown employees.  The text of the letter and list of co-signers follows:

February 15, 2006


John J. DeGioia, President

Office of the President

204 Healy Hall

37th & O Streets, NW

Washington, DC 20057


Dear President DeGioia:


We are writing to respectfully direct your attention to an important workers’ rights issue at Georgetown University.  It is our understanding that a solid majority of janitors working for a Georgetown contractor, P&R Enterprises, have signed cards seeking union representation but that the company reportedly has refused to recognize their union.


If this information is accurate, we are concerned that the rights of workers to choose to be represented by a union might not be fully recognized by a contractor with your prestigious university. 


The right to organize, and collectively bargain, is an internationally recognized human right.  It is same right by which we measure the democratic nature of other countries.  Unfortunately, as you may know, this right has been under sustained attack in our own country.  American workers’ rights are undermined daily. 


We are writing to respectfully request that you take the necessary steps to ensure that Georgetown University protects its contractor employees’ right to organize.


The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was designed to protect the right of American workers’ to form and join unions and collectively bargain.  Thanks to weak enforcement mechanisms, this law has been weakened by employers bent on denying workers the freedom to unionize.  The election process under the NLRA is open to manipulation, delay, and interference.  These NLRA election procedures improperly pit employers against employees, generating unnecessary conflict in the workplace for what should be a simple choice made by and among the employees.  In short, current law simply fails to protect the rights of millions of Americans to make decisions about workplace representation without intimidation or fear of reprisal.


That is why there is a growing consensus to recognize the right of workers to choose a union through majority-verification processes other than the NLRA election, namely the card-check process.  This process grants workers the right to collectively bargain when a majority of workers sign union cards.  This same process is the centerpiece of the Employee Free Choice Act, which has the support of over 200 members of Congress from both parties.  Current law allows the parties to voluntarily do the right thing and agree to this card-check process.


As a result, throughout the country, many employers have chosen to step aside and let their employees choose whether or not to unionize without interference.  Voluntary card-check procedures have worked to protect employees’ rights and minimize conflict in the workplace.  These procedures ensure that the choice lies with the employees, as it should, rather than with the employer. 


We have been presented with evidence that the majority of janitors working for P&R Enterprises at Georgetown University want union representation.  Unless evidence exists disputing the employees’ choice, we strongly believe that their choice should be respected. 


We urge you to ask P&R Enterprises – and all contractors at Georgetown University – to respect that choice and recognize the employees’ union through a card-check process.  Such a process is fair, democratic, and used by other employers in this country, and it ensures that employees, not employers, decide who, if anyone, will represent them.


Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.