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Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval Legislation on Labor-Management Relations

July 30, 1996

To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith without my approval, H.R. 743, the "Teamwork for Employees and Managers Act of 1995." This act would undermine crucial employee protections.

I strongly support workplace practices that promote cooperative labor-management relations. In order for the United States to remain globally competitive into the next century, employees must recognize their stake in their employer's business, employers must value their employees' labor, and each must work in partnership with the other. Cooperative efforts, by promoting mutual trust and respect, can encourage innovation, improve productivity, and enhance the efficiency and performance of American workplaces.

Current law provides for a wide variety of cooperative workplace efforts. It permits employers to work with employees in quality circles to improve quality, efficiency, and productivity. Current law also allows employers to delegate significant managerial responsibilities to employee work teams, sponsor brainstorming sessions, and solicit employee suggestions and criticisms. Today, 30,000 workplaces across the country have employee involvement plans. According to one recent survey, 96 percent of large employers already have established such programs.

I strongly support further labor-management cooperation within the broad parameters allowed under current law. To the extent that recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions have created uncertainty as to the scope of permissible cooperation, the NLRB, in the exercise of its independent authority, should provide guidance to clarify the broad legal boundaries of labor-management teamwork. The Congress rejected a more narrowly defined proposal designed to accomplish that objective.

Instead, this legislation, rather than promoting genuine teamwork, would undermine the system of collective bargaining that has served this country so well for many decades. It would do this by allowing employers to establish company unions where no union currently exists and permitting company-dominated unions where employees are in the process of determining whether to be represented by a union. Rather than encouraging true workplace cooperation, this bill would abolish protections that ensure independent and democratic representation in the workplace.

True cooperative efforts must be based on true partnerships. A context of mutual trust and respect encourages the prospect for achieving workplace innovation, improved productivity, and enhanced efficiency and workplace performance. Any ambiguities in this situation should be resolved, but without weakening or eliminating the fundamental rights of employees to collective bargaining.


The White House, July 30, 1996.

William J. Clinton, Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval Legislation on Labor-Management Relations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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