Tuesdays are EFCA Update Days

Well, there’s not much to report in the land of EFCA from the last week.  All is rather quiet on the that front since Senators Lincoln and Specter denounced their support of EFCA in its current form.  While the business world is taking a big sigh of relief and awaiting the many versions of the compromise bill to be bantered about, Unions have increased their marketing and advertising.  In fact, Unions are still acting like they have tremendous support for the bill and that it will pass with no problem.  News to them: there has already been a problem with the bill and it will not pass in its current form.  Here are a few noteworthy items, though:

Last month the card check process tore the Dana Corporation Auto Parts plant in Albion, Indiana apart after harassment and intimidation from the UAW to get people to sign cards.  Here’s a video from some of the intimidated employees:

Mitt Romney chronicles how he vetoed card-check for public employees, but once he left office, his Democrat successor signed it into law.  His story is a warning for all card-check supporters.

You may have heard about the Costco/Starbucks/Whole Foods “Third Way” approach to EFCA.  Here are its details.  A self-described “pro-labor liberal Democrat” attorney from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff, an international law firm that represents companies, partnered with those three companies and proposed an EFCA free of card check and other restraints while still “substantially leveling the playing field for union organizers, improve their access to employees, and provide a fair chance to make their case for a union election.”  Here are the details of the “Third Way”:

II. Statement of Principles of Reform “Third Way” Legislation:

(1) Secret Ballot. Guarantee the right of management and unions to require a secret ballot under all circumstances.

(2) Certification and Decertification Treated Equally. Permit management to initiate a decertification campaign through a secret ballot election just as employees and unions are presently able to initiate certification and decertification campaigns.

(3) Date Certain for Elections. Guarantee a fixed time period for the secret-ballot election–i.e., do not permit delays of an established day for a secret ballot to certify or decertify a union.

(4) Equal Access to Employees for Campaign Purposes. Level playing field for unions and management to access employees during non-working hours during the campaign period, e.g., permitting each to make presentations to employees at a neutral location concerning the issue of whether to form a union.

(5) Expedited Enforcement and Stricter Penalties. Expedited enforcement for serious and pervasive violations of law by labor and management and stricter penalties for serious and pervasive violations (e.g., unlawful discharges), including the penalty of mandatory injunctions when appropriate.

(6) Preserve Private Collective Bargaining. No mandatory arbitration that dictates contract terms, but stricter penalties and expedited enforcement for violations of good faith bargaining rules, including an expedited timetable to begin bargaining after union certification.

Here’s a couple of snippets from the SEIU’s blog that distorts both the need for EFCA and the role of business.  According to the article, “The area’s fractured employment model has turned a recession into a depression.  There are now tens of thousands of laid off warehouse workers with no unemployment, no safety net at all, just barely getting by.”  No unemployment?  Unemployment is run by each state individually and has nothing to do with businesses.  The fact that California doesn’t have any money in the unemployment coffers is not a result of businesses.  The article continues, “As conditions worsen in the Inland Empire, the big retail companies that created the broken business model have not accepted responsibility for the damage they have done.”  How has the employer done this?  If employers pay employees substantially more money and tremendously greater benefits like Unions want, companies would run out of money quicker and the employees would be unemployed faster.  The article continues, “It is time for Wal-mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, and Sear/Kmart to take responsibility for the workers who helped them become so profitable and to treat them with dignity and respect.”  Employees at those companies, like the 92.5% of the other companies in this country, choose not to unionize.  The SEIU wants us to believe all employees want to be in unions.  That’s just plain wrong.

Here’s a great article on How EFCA could change Health Care for the worse from Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

And finally, a little over a month ago, Rasmussen Reports did a survey on how many non-union workers want to join a union.  Not surprising, just 9% of those polled said they wanted to be in a union.

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NLRB Proves No Need for EFCA

In May 2007, 400 card dealers at the Trump Marina Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City voted on whether to join the UAW and the company won the election.  I know, you’re thinking the UAW?  Well, this shows just how desperate unions are that they now go outside of their historical membership just to get anyone signed up who will pay them monthly union dues.  And the weak United Auto Workers target casino workers.  But I digress.

After the company won the election, the NLRB ordered a new election because it determined that threats, intimidation, and other actions by the Trump Marina violated federal labor law.  The hotel and casino was also ordered to make up the pay and benefits difference that suspended dealers missed and post the famous notice that the employer violated federal labor law.

Interestingly, Unions have used this victory to advertise the need for EFCA.  I, however, see it differently.  To me, this is proof that the current National Labor Relations Act, as interpreted by the Board, works.  It appears that Trump Marina violated labor laws and was ordered to remedy its wrongdoing.  The employees were repaid money that was due to them.  The bargaining unit got to vote again for representation. 

Employees of a Massachusetts Nursing Home also won the right to an election after the Boston Board determined that the employer violated labor laws.  Hearings were held to determine whether certain employees were supervisors and thus unable to be members in the bargaining unit, as well as to determine if the employer threatened layoffs, intimidated employees, and held improper meetings with employees.  The Board found that all of those things happened and ordered an election.  Again, the Nursing Home was ordered to remedy its wrongdoing.

 These cases prove management’s point that the laws work and there is no need for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Tuesdays are EFCA Update Days

ALF-CIO alleges that bailout recipients AIG and Bank of America were involved in a conference call for lobbyists and corporations to discuss raising funds to defeat EFCA.  From that, the union is alleging that bailout money was used to plot against Employee Free Choice.

American Rights at Work launched the below television commercial called “The Secret Big Business Doesn’t Want You to Know.”

 

The SEIU’s plan to shorten recover from this down economy is a shortened workweek and less productivity from employees.  Accordingly, an employer who currently offers no paid vacation can offer 3 weeks of paid vacation, approximately a 6%  reduction in work time.  Employers can cut the standard work week from40 hours to 36 hours, a 10% reduction in work hours.  These policies would “bring the US in line with the rest of the world.”  Newsflash to the SEIU – we’re America, not the rest of the world.  The rest of the world looks to us for leadership, protection, and guidance.  Diluting our productivity and companies is not the right solution for a viable, stable economy.

Human Rights Watch, the union-described watchdogs of human rights and the freedom of association, claims that the US is deficient in protecting the freedom to form unions.  Oddly, the HRW’s findings is comprised of the typical union slang: “unfair election procedures that are badly slanted toward employers; the lack of serious penalties for corporate misconduct, including firing workers; and the ability of companies to ignore workers’ choice to bargain collectively.”

Last week a lot of discussion dealt with Obama’s interview with the Washington Post and whether Obama really meant that he is tabling EFCA for some time.  The short answer is he is not tabling EFCA.  The Washington Postonly quoted 28 of the 611 words Obama gave on the matter

In March 2008 MIT Sloan School of Management released the results of a comprehensive study about unionization.  The study’s results concluded that few bargaining units make it from initial petition to a first contract; unfair labor practice charges reduce the chances of getting a contract; unfair labor practice charges reduce the changes of getting to an election; and even after a majority votes for a union, many units fail to get a contract.  What text of the results is slanted with the typical pro-union rhetoric about “the need for EFCA to level the playing field.”  What is not reported, though, is that under the current state of the law, only after an initial petition are companies allowed to openly campaign against unions.  For example, a union will promise an employee a 3% wage increase  if the employee signs an authorization card.  With enough cards signed, a petition is filed.  After the petition is filed, the employee hears that although the union promised him a 3% wage increase, the union does not have the power to do increase wages, and wages for all employees are subject to bargaining and could go up, stay the same, or go down.  In other words, many of the promises given to employees to sign cards are later exposed as not true and employees then decide not to vote for the union.  So, I am not surprised with the small number of bargaining units that make it from the initial petition to a first contract, and the removal of educating the employees about the lack of truth behind all of the union’s promises will be prohibited if EFCA passes.

Watch (well, really listen while watching SEIU photographs) Obama discuss his support for easing the ability to unionize and how business that oppose this notion “won’t get to far” with him.

 

I want to clear up a misunderstanding that was published in a mostly unbiased article in the Boston Globe about the Employee Free Choice Act.  The article says that the National Labor Relations Act lacks any real penalties to punish violators for wrongly terminating union supporters during organizing campaigns beyond making companies rehire those employees and pay them back wages.  This is not true.  With egregious enough violations of labor laws, the National Labor Relations Board has the ability to not hold an election and to order both sides to immediately begin negotiating a contract.  Unfortunately, the Globe’s article recited union propaganda about the weaknesses of the NLRA.

I couldn’t say it any better than this editorial from the Las Vegas Review Journal:  “But in this economic climate, with each week producing a new empty parking lot with plywood on the windows, do the geniuses in Washington really mean to create a situation where business owners already struggling to stay afloat can without warning be handed their “last straw” — a stack of cards adorned with the message, “You’re now a union shop; here are our demands”?

The State of Michigan should support EFCA.  With the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Michigan would be just as attractive of state as a southern, right to work state would be to house a company.  In 2007, 19.5% of Michigan workers belonged to unions.  Conversely, the following are statistics in unionization for southern states: Alabama = 9.5%; Mississippi = 6.7%; Florida = 5.9%; Texas = 4.7%; Georgia = 4.4%; South Carolina = 4.1%.

Another editorial that took the words right out of my mouth: “If businesses are hurt, so are their workers; When businesses fail, workers lose their jobs.  And when workers aren’t treated well, businesses do not thrive.  The interests of workers and business owners are not in conflict – they coincide.  But it is in the interest of union bosses to foment conflict – it leads to more unions being formed and greater revenue for their coffers;  When workers are forced to declare their allegiance to a union in the open, they are far more subject to intimidation and coercion than when they make this decision in private.  It is no coincidence that, when private-ballot elections are used, fewer workers vote in favor of union than when they are asked to publicly sign a card; Many heavily unionized industries in the Midwest have been declining for decades.  Businesses in Florida and other Southern states, where unions have not been as strong, have been thriving during this time.”

Because unions are not democratic, they’re socialistic, a poll of 1000 likely voters with a subsample of 400 union households, results show that most people oppose EFCA

  • Three out of four voters (74%) oppose the “The Employee Free Choice Act.” Union households also strongly oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, 74% oppose to only 20% support.
  • When given a more detailed description of the Employee Free Choice Act, nearly 9 out of 10 voters, 86%, feel the process should remain private and only 8% feel it should be public information. Again, even union workers feel strongly that the process should be kept private, as 88% said private and only 8% said public.
  • Four out of five voters, or 82%, favor having a federally supervised election as a means to “protect the individual rights of workers.” The voters clearly see this as a basic right, especially given that only 11% of voters feel the card check would be the best way to protect the individual rights of workers. Support increases to 85% among union households.
  • The majority (52% to 26%) of American voters believe that the Employee Free Choice Act is not good for job creation. Even among union households, the plurality (48%) believes that the Employee Free Choice Act will cost America jobs.
  • In the current economic climate, 52% of voters are particularly opposed to any measure that would risk jobs or job growth.
  • Further exemplifying the electorates’ distaste for the Employee Free Choice Act, 71% agreed that this legislation would be “unwise” and “risky.” In today’s economic climate, the electorate has little confidence in the federal government’s ability to make such major business decisions.
  • The National Right to Work Act was introduced last week in an effort to remove compulsory unionism.  In other words, every state in America would be like the south – right to work states where employees have the choice to join a union or not.  Here is a video of Senator DeMint (R-SC):

     

    When speaking about a potential Card Check Compromise, Sen. DeMint said, Democrats could, “go out with a secret ballot and be magnanimous and withdraw it.  Then some Republicans may breathe a sigh of relief and vote for arbitration,” which “could actually be worse in the way it slows decision making” because arbitration rulings (in Michigan) take on average 15 months to be rendered.

    In another South Carolina entry today, an entrepreneur/legislator, State Rep. Eric M. Bedingfield wrote, “I recently introduced a constitutional amendment that guarantees the right of workers to a secret ballot in union-organizing election (H3305).

    Lew Ebert, the President and CEO of North Carolina Chamber reminds us that “Congress replaced the card check system with secret-ballot elections in 1947 after workers were coerced, intimidated, and in many instances beaten up and forced to join labor organization against their will.  Yet, 60 years later, we find Congress poised to deliver back to unions the same substandard system that exploited workers and proved grossly ineffective.”  Thank you to the Carolinas for helping us fight the battle against forced unionization!

    Another entreprenuer speaks about the damaging effects of EFCA.  “Small businesses already are near the breaking point as they try to cope with the crippling credit crunch, skyrocketing healthcare costs, and paralyzing recession.  Meanwhile, organized labor is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in political campaigns.”

    Here’s another entrepreneur’s viewpoint of how EFCA will kill small businesses:  “In fiscal year 2005, more than 20 percent of elections conducted by the NLRB involved bargaining units of 10 employees or fewer, while a full 70 percent involved bargaining units of 50 employees or fewer.”  He recently asked a business owner with 24 employees what he would do if overnight he was told he became unionized, and the response was “shut down shortly thereafter.”  This is a typical response.  Unfortunately, the NLRB has the right and power to force a company to re-open, rehire all employees, pay them back wages, and continue operating as a unionized company for as long as the NLRB feels is appropriate.  Companies cannot simply shut down and start another company as a non-union company.

    Thanks to LaborPains.org for this information:  American Rights at Work opined that “from 2000 to 2007, income for the median working-age household actually dropped $2,000 after inflation.”  According to LaborPains.org, “This is nothing new.  There are these events called recessions – ever heard of them.  Besides this period, there was also medial income stagnation from 53-54, 57-58, 70-71, 73-77, 79-85, and 89-93.  Notice that many of these years are the “good old days” of unions. . . The study finishes off with the usual: everyone wants to join a union but can’t because of intimidation according to (union-funded) research.  Nothing new to read here.”  Thanks for the detail, and for the sarcasm LaborPain.org!

    The AFL-CIO headlines: “Union Membership Grows in 2008. When People Can Join Unions, They Do.”  In fact, membership grew for the second straight year in a row.  So, I ask, why do unions need EFCA?  If unions win 60% of their elections, and their membership has grown the last two years, why is Obama, Democrat Congressmen, and Labor Unions all crying that our country needs to ease the ability for employees to unionize?

    I’ll end today’s EFCA Update on a sour note.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the increase in unionized workers in 2007 and 2008 “demonstrates that workers see unions, and higher job standards, benefits, and protections they provide, as a key solution in this struggling economy.”  I don’t see that.  The economy (other than home sales) wasn’t necessarily struggling in 2007 and there weren’t the mass layoffs in 2007 or 2008 that there are now.  The Bureau continues, “The uptick further points to the strengths of unionized workplaces – where labor and management work together as a team, they are able to tackle challenges and better withstand an economic downturn.”  Really?  Ever heard of the Big Three?  What about Boeing’s strike that resulted in 10,000 employees being laid off?  Or the 22,000 UAW represented employees that Caterpillar is laying off?  The list continues, but my point has been made.  My last bones to pick with the Bureau is its claim that “25 percent [of employers] even fire pro-union workers organizing campaigns.”  Where does that stat come from?  Oh wait, it’s not the BLS reporting that, it’s fancy writing from the labor-fronted American Rights at Work to sound like it’s the government reporting that!

    Misc. Mondays: UAW Says Everyone Needs to Save Auto Industry

    Beginning today, Mondays are dedicated to miscellaneous topics/updates that do not necessarily warrant a full day to themselves, but nonetheless are newsworthy.

    According to UAW President, Ron Gettelfinger, all stakeholders have to participate in saving the auto industry, including management, board members, dealers, suppliers, and secured and unsecured creditors.  He further denies that the domestic auto industry is not in trouble because of union members or union contracts.  According to Gettlefinger, the problem is the global credit crisis that has dried up funding for businesses and consumers, and the federal government must tackle the “external factors that are a major part of the crisis facing the domestic auto industry.”

    Obviously Gettlefinger is seeking more than the federal government’s financial bailout.  He wants the  auto industry’s suppliers and creditors to help bail the domestic auto industry out of the problem caused by unions.  Although car sales are down worldwide, foreign car companies that operate non-union production plants in the United States aren’t asking for federal bailout money.  They didn’t sell their retirees health care to the union.  The first couple thousand dollars from each car sold does not go to cover contract costs.  They keep building more facilities and hiring more workers.  It’s clear to most of us that Gettlefinger is shifting the blame for what his union has done to the domestic auto industry onto the rest of the world and expecting the rest of the world to bail him out.