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The New Union Busting Tactic…Just Drown ’em in Paperwork…

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Who is Grover Norquist? He is a GOP hack conservative anti-union lobbyist and President of the tax lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist, along with Bill Kristol, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Clint Bolick and David McIntosh is one of the so-called “Gang of Five” identified in Nina Easton‘s 2000 book by that name, which gives a history of leaders of the modern conservative movement.

They are all anti-union at their core of mud.  

Every dollar that is spent [by labor unions] on disclosure and reporting is a dollar that can’t be spent on other labor union activities.

Grover Norquist

Well, at least Grover was honest about his motivation for strangling labor unions, and a new in depth report from the Center For American Progress, shows that’s not the case with most of the partisan Republican hacks who have been directed by their corporate masters to drown unions in paperwork.

The CAP report details what all union officials already know. Over the past five or six years, the Bush Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards has systematically and dramatically increased the financial reporting burden faced by labor unions.  Now, no real unionist is opposed to transparency and sensible reporting – but the reporting requirements imposed by the Bush administration have little to do with transparency, and everything to do with forcing unions to waste time and money jumping through hoops.  

Here are some passages from the report: 

Lax regulatory enforcement, however, has not been a government-wide policy. In at least one instance, rigorous and in fact pernicious regulatory enforcement was the course chosen by the Bush administration. That instance involved the regulatory authorities of the U.S. Department of Labor under the Landrum Griffin Act aimed at improving the governance of the nation’s organized labor organizations.

Rather than relax these regulatory responsibilities, the Bush administration shoveled significantly more federal tax dollars into the department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards so that key political operatives in OLMS could expand and exercise regulatory authority to:

-Impose costly and confusing new reporting requirements
-Attempt to increase the number of criminal prosecutions
-Disclose the results to the public in seriously misleading ways
-Mis-characterize the published data through a variety of false analyses

The underlying purpose, of course, is to undermine the reputation of the labor union movement through a classic political misinformation campaign-all under the supervision of a lifelong partisan political operative whose career has been dedicated to the destruction of his political opponents.

Read the whole report here…

Make no mistake. Any conservative who says they are pro-union is lying to your face. I haven’t met a genuine conservative labor supporter yet. Unions and union bebefits eat at the almighty profit margin, and we all know Bush won’t have any of that. This report frames the perpetual greed and complete lack of respect that conservatives have for the American worker. They outsource our jobs, force wages downward, and bust unions all in the name of profit.

Just ask anyone who works at Wal-Mart.

The ideology and actions of the so-called “Gang of Five” is pathetic, short-sighted and patently anti-American. Little do they realize that the artificial pressure they endorse that is strangling unions will ultimately backfire as more and more American workers are realizing that they’re employers are not working in their best interest, only their own.

The cycle will come full circle…it is already beginning. 

  

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Huge Labor Organization Drive in New York City Adds 28,000 New Members to UFT…Most Since 1960!

Providers celebrate the victory at UFT headquarters

Recently, home child care providers in New York City held an election with the goal of organizing and joining the United Federation of Teachers. The votes of the union election have been counted, and the results are in.

Yes to joining the UFT :8,382 votes
No to joining the UFT :96 votes
The effort took two years of organizing and a month-long get out the vote campaign, but the end result was worth it and serves as an event for organized labor in general. With this vote, the UFT gains 28,000 new members – making this organizing drive the largest labor organizing drive in New York City since 45,000 teachers joined the UFT in 1960.

The 28,000 home child care providers that chose to join a union, care for over 100,000 kids and they serve as the first educators for these kids, helping them with their reading and fine motor skills, as well as speech and homework. What did American business owners think this effort was worth? Their average salary is $19,000 a year with no pension, health insurance or paid sick days – making home child care providers in New York City among the lowest-paid workers in the region. That is why home child care providers voted overwhelmingly to join the UFT.

Provider Luz Alvarez tells her story:

Thank Heaven we finally have a union. I’ve been a provider for eight years and in that time I’ve had one vacation, which was to attend my daughter’s wedding. The union can help us go in and negotiate a salary and other benefits so we can take a vacation once a year or take a sick day without losing pay.

Americans better realize that unionizing is the only hope workers in this country have when it comes to leveraging their position against large corporations that only concern themselves with the bottom line and the whims of stockholders, and smaller greedy companies that clearly do not value what their employees do.

Workers must begin to utilize their collective strength to regain the respect they deserve or they will continue to be trampled by downward wage pressure and a global movement to replace higher paid American workers with lower paid and exploited foreign workers both domestically and abroad. Too often workers fell isolated and helpless in the face of management pressure that often results in intimidation, or job loss. As a nation of workers, we must reverse this trend.

Key roles in the New York City organizing drive were played by ACORN and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. It is in this way, that is, building relationships with Democratic politicians and other labor organizations, that American labor can return to a level of respect and job security that they deserve. The predatory redistribution of wealth from greedy owners to needy workers is the first step in restoring a system that saw both workers and companies prosper during the post World War II era.

Anyone who says labor unions hurt business, only needs to look at the numbers.

From 1945 to the 1960s, union density in this country and corporate profitability increased steadily as unions and management worked together to build an environment of cooperation that resulted in a winning situation across the board.

Then came Reagan.

With the birth of the Neo-Con era, we saw open hostility toward unions, egged on by uninformed media pundits who simply want to protect the rich and exploit American workers.

Enough is enough. The conservative experiment is not working, in fact, it is slowly destroying the middle class as health-care costs sky-rocket, wages become depressed, job security drys up, and our education system falls to pieces.

Anyone who labels themselves as an ‘American’ must look out for labor. Only enemies of this nation and our way of life would look to destroy unions and the protections they offer the middle class. If this group includes conservatives, and I believe it does, then they are nothing more than treasonous leaches.

Support unions if you know which end is up…in the long run it is our only hope as middle class workers. 60% of your fellow workers want to…   

Bush’s Position on Employee Free Choice Act 2007 (H.R. 800)…

In an official release, the Bush administration completely disregards labor law reform to strengthen unions embodied in the Employee Free Choice Act, holding firm to the status quo that is slowly destroying unions in the United States. The Republican position on unionized labor is disgraceful and fundamentally unamerican.   

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EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503

February 28, 2007 (House Rules)

 

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 800 – Employee Free Choice Act of 2007

(Rep. Miller (D) CA and 233 co-sponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 800, the “Employee Free Choice Act.” H.R. 800 would strip workers of the fundamental democratic right to a supervised private ballot election, interfere with the ability of workers and employers to bargain freely and come to agreement over working terms and conditions, and impose penalties for unfair labor practices only on employers — and not on union organizers — who intimidate workers. If H.R. 800 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.

The Administration opposes any effort to circumvent supervised elections and private balloting. It is a fundamental tenet of democracy that individuals are able to vote their conscience, privately, free from the threat of reprisal. It was in part because of widespread intimidation of workers during organizing drives in the 1930s and 1940s that Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act in 1947 expressly to provide workers with the right to a private ballot. Substituting a “card check” mechanism for private ballots would turn back the clock 60 years and return us to a failed system.

Additionally, compulsory binding arbitration as required by this legislation would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the right to bargain freely over working terms and conditions, would take away the right of members of a newly recognized union to accept or reject a contract, and would overturn nearly 60 years of law and precedent on collective bargaining.

Under this bill, workers would lose substantial control over their employment situation: without a private ballot they lose control over whether they belong to a union in the first place, and with mandatory binding arbitration they lose control over the decision to accept a collective bargaining agreement.

Finally, the bill would provide excessively punitive penalties that apply only to employers, not to unions, that interfere illegally with organizing drives. The National Labor Relations Board can already order remedial damages if an employer is found to have committed such violations. The bill’s one-sided penalties are particularly troubling in conjunction with a mandatory card check process. The bill would effectively expose workers to coercion to join a union through card check, and then muzzle employers with new penalties, without any offsetting check on unions’ behavior in obtaining signed cards.

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The True State of the American Workforce on Labor Day 2007…

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Corporate America continues it’s war against the labor movement. After a long period of prosperity from 1948 to 1973 in which unions and corporations both prospered, most corporations have adopted a hostile attitude toward unions, spurred on by a series of anti-union presidents, including Reagan, Bush #1 and Bush #2. Where unions are present, large employers, like Wal-Mart and others, seek break them. In workplaces without unions, employers are prepared to do whatever necessary to prevent workers from organizing, even if that means violating the law.

The anti-union drive has largely enjoyed the support of the government. According to a study by John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, one in five organizers will be fired during an average organizing drive. Such firings are illegal, but enforcement is painfully slow, and the penalties ineffectively small. As evidence shows, most anti-union employers eagerly embrace this blatantly anti-union loophole.

Government policies have also supported anti-union practices in other ways. The main purpose of trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), no matter what supossed advantages of this destructive policy you are spoon fed by short-sighted globalists, is to make it as easy as possible to relocate factories overseas and allow corporate fat cats to stuff their pockets on the back of American workers. This, coupled with incompetent management of the economy by the Bush administration has resulted in a 30 percent over-valued dollar which in turn effectively imposes a 30 percent tariff on goods exported from the United States.

The result of these dog-and-pony-show policies is that much manufacturing, and in once manufacturing powerhouse places like Buffalo NY – virtually all manufacturing – has been moved overseas in the last quarter century, giving the country a trade deficit of more than $700 billion annually that continues to grow. These lost jobs have been disproportionately union jobs. While the unionization rate in manufacturing was more than 40 percent in the sixties, in 2007 it is just around 12.0 percent. And, with the loss of these union jobs has come weaker, watered down benefits because workers simply do not have the muscle to negotiate for fair treatment against collossal, well financed anti-union employers, who are prepared to hurt American workers at the prodding of stockholders.  

The weakening of the labor movement is not just bad news for the workers who lose union jobs. According to polling data, there are tens of millions of workers who would like to be represented by a union at their workplace, but don’t have that option. Right to work laws in many Southern conservative states make it all but impossible to organize. While public sector managers are not generally friendly to unions either, they are more restricted when it comes to firing union organizers or using other harsh anti-union tactics that are now standard practice in the private sector. As a result, more than 36 percent of public sector employees are members of unions, while private sector unions languish. When polled regarding the freedom to choose, data suggests that as many as sixty percent of American workers would join a union if they could. 

Congress is currently debating a bill that would take an important step toward re-establishing the right of workers to join a union. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would require a company to recognize a union once a majority of workers have signed a card indicating they want to be represented by a union. This gets around the election process, which gives employers a chance to intimidate workers and fire the leaders of an organizing effort. (Under the EFCA, workers can still request an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.) The bill passed by the House by is currently being blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. While the EFCA is not likely to become law under this Congress (anti-worker President Bush would almost certainly veto the bill even if it did pass), pro-labor groups should recognize the importance of legislation. The right to organize is not the concern of just a small special interest group as many conservatives would have the American electorate believe, it is a basic and essential right that should concern every American that wishes our country continued prosperity. 

Unions have also been essential to a wide range of political initiatives over the post-war World War II period. Programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Head Start would not have been possible without the strong support of the American labor movement. Big labor has also prevented President Bush from privatizing Social Security and it will be difficult to make more progress on other key social and economic legislation without the support of a strong labor movement.

This Labor Day weekend, make an effort to say thanks to all of those who have built and continue to make America the greatest place on earth in which to live – call out conservatives for the short-sighted, anti-American worker, political hypocrites that they are – support organized labor.

Organized Labor Shouldn’t get too Comfortable with the Democrats…

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During and after last nights democratic forum in Chicago, organized labor hooted and hollered over the lip service they were getting from the democratic candidates for president. Personally, I’m embarassed by the lack of compassion that my party has shown labor over the past 40 years. Indeed, back to the time of John F. Kennedy and his handling of the railroad workers strike during his tenure in office, through Jimmy Carter – who managed to accomplish absolutely nothing of any substance for labor with a democratic majority in Congress, right to Bill Clinton who could only boast an ‘unpaid’ Family Medical Leave Act, democrats have hardly been the saving grace they all claim to be for big labor. This is also evidenced during the current administration. Congress has managed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the House, but not in the Senate. The consistency is frustrating. 

If you listened closely to the pundits and the candidates, only Dennis Kucinich appeared to be honest when dealing with labor related issues. For instance he was the only candidate who stated unequivically that he would withdraw from NAFTA during his first week in office. No other candidate dared make that claim. Instead they tried to tap dance around the issue claiming that the U.S. could work within the framework of NAFTA – unfortunately none said exactly how. Obama and others said we need to “take China to the mat…” on currency manipulation, but no plan was offered. Most of the candidates said China was a competitor rather than an adversary – stop the train. A quick definition of these two words for the benefit of the Webster impared Democrats. A competitor strives within the same marketplace toward certain economic goals, an adversary opposes or resists. Does currency manipulation, human rights violations, enviromental violations, ignoring international trade laws, and illegal import restrcitions against the U.S. sound like ‘competition’ or ‘opposition’ on the part of China? 

The fact of the matter is, China is playing by their own rules and they are, as Joe Biden said so frankly last night, “holding the mortgage on our house.” A trade war at this point would be disasterous, however small steps toward reversing the current short-sighted and damaging trade policies that are currently in place – like protecting the auto manufacturing and the aerospace industry, coupled with paying down our debt, would leave us in a more advantageous international trade position. But, if labor is waiting for the democrats, they’ll be waiting until someone finds Jimmy Hoffa, because until  greasy money is separated from politics, corporate fat cats will continue to sell us out in the name of short-term profit. Make no mistake, the Democrats are as corrupt and insulated from the plight of the middle class as the Republicans. If they win the presidency in 2008, I predict they will not pass any meaningful legislation to help labor. Labor should demanding to see something significant. If the Democrats really want to make a big splash in the labor pond, they should repeal the Taft-Hartely and Lundrum-Griffin Acts!     

  

    

The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800)…

The Employee Free Choice Act was passed by the House in March and it would at long last amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to establish a new system enabling employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations in the establishment of a union more easily. Ronald Reagan just sat up in his grave I think – sorry Ronny. Anyways, certain provisions call for mandatory injunctions that would thwart unfair labor practices directed at employees, during organizing efforts, by employers. The bill would also establish harsher penalties for employers who violate employee rights when an employee attempts to form a union, and institutes new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes in dog’s years. Of course all that is very nice, but the card check provision is all that really matters in the new legislation. The law would essentially allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation as opposed to the current law that calls for a secret ballot election. Under current law, if employees present an employer with union authorization cards signed by a majority, the employer can demand a secret ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). However, the (NLRB) election process, unknown to most outside of labor circles, provides a distinct advantage to the employer due to its tedious and time-consuming nature. Predictably, it gives employers time to intimidate, coerce and harass workers; dragging out the review process indefinitely while workplace anti-union activities run amok. Even more predictably, when workers try to form a union after a card check, employers routinely respond with intimidation, harassment and retaliation. Polls suggest that 65 percent of the public approves of unions, but those same polls also show that nearly one-third of the public does not realize how hard management fights workers who seek to form unions. Personally, I believe it is high time that organized labor gets to hang one in the win column. For twenty-five years, courtesy of Ronald Reagan’s PATCO precedent, organized labor has been getting bludgeoned to death with the (NLRB) stick by employers who exercise an unrestricted reign of terror on anyone who even thinks of unionizing a workplace. Sadly, these practices are often upheld by politically motivated (NLRB) case decisions, a pathetic lack of labor reform policy by labors so-called party in Washington, namely the Democrats, and a general cultural brainwashing that is fueled by right wing talk radio blow-holes. Here are some hard stats. Currently, 15.4 million or 12 percent of the American work force belongs to unions, down 325,00 workers from last year. Another 60 million workers, when polled, stated that they would support a union in their workplace. Also, 67 percent of all workers say that they disapprove of employer anti-union activities when a union is proposed and another 77 percent say that they strongly support laws that help form new unions. With these statistics serving as a backdrop, the contrast of employer’s reactions is startling. Statistics show that when employers are faced with the establishment of a union, they universally engage in a variety of anti-union activities. For instance, 25 percent of all employers fire at least one employee during union organizing activity. 75 percent of all employers who face union organizing activity hire outside union-busting consultants to disrupt the union organization drive. 78 percent of all employers force their employees and immediate supervisors to attend at least one anti-union information session, while 92 percent force employees to attend anti-union closed door meetings. And the most ridiculous and underhanded tactic of all deals with illegal workers that were consciously hired by an employer. When those workers start talking union, 52 percent of employers threaten to call immigration and report the employee’s illegal citizenship status. Given all this, it is about time the tables begin to turn. What is the worst that can happen – higher union wages that pay a real working wage and robust union mandated health and retirement benefits force some manufacturing companies out of business or to relocate to China? What do we have to lose?

Posted by Matthew Podoba 3/30/07