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