This morning I blogged about how there really hasn’t been much noise about EFCA recently, and just a few hours later I’m compelled to draft this second EFCA Update update. Arlen Specter, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania who voted in favor of EFCA last time but recently said he would vote against it and thus it wouldn’t have enough support to pass, just changed sides and is going to run for re-election as a Democrat. What does this mean to EFCA? Plenty. It means Specter will vote for EFCA, if EFCA is taken up this term. Specter, who had been losing by great margins to challenger Toomey for the Republican bid for the Senate election, will now garner all of the organized labor support – and we’ve seen how organized labor, i.e. unions, can put whomever they want in elected positions. So is EFCA still dead? Not at all. With Democrat Al Franken from Minnesota being recently (finally) confirmed the winner against Coleman and now Specter supporting EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act just got a lot more scarier for companies.
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.
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.
At least that’s what the unions want you to believe. Actually, the very first WalMart in North America did become unionized earlier this month. By North America, I mean in Quebec, Canada. And by Canada, I mean a country that has labor labour laws similar to the Employee Free Choice Act and card check and arbitrated contracts.
So what does a unionized WalMart look like now? Not a whole lot different then before. After three years of negotiations and lengthy arbitration, the wage and benefit increased – promised by the union in return for a signed card – were rejected by the arbitrator. In fact, “new workers at the store, in the small-community of Saint-Hyacinthe, south east of Montreal, will now find themselves paying union dues to a union that didn’t get them anything.“
The NLRB Modernization Act would require employers to provide labor organizations with equal access to employees prior to a representation election. Specifically upsetting for employers is the provision that requires it to notify the union of “any activities the employer intends to engage in to campaign in opposition of the union” – this includes meetings, announcements, signs, literature, etc. It also contains EFCA-like provisions like increasing employer penalties for unfair labor practices during organizing campaigns and to expedite the bargaining process for first agreements. Unlike EFCA, though, this bill lacks the controversial card check provision.
This bill was introduced by Democratic Representative Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania in early March in what appeared to be the first compromise bill for EFCA. Since then, EFCA has lost many key Senators and a compromise is certainly required if any form of the Employer Free Choice Act will become law. I don’t think that this compromise will be what we see, but it at least got the ball rolling on how Democrats view the compromised bill.
Unions started “UnionBook” which is designed solely for trade unions around the world. Why was UnionBook created? Because Union members were being blocked from spamming others on more traditional social media platforms. No joke! Here’s an excerpt from the AFL-CIO’s blog:
“Union activists are, well, active. Sometimes that’s a problem on social network sites like FaceBook, MySpace and others that tend to limit an individual’s activity if it exceeds their arbitrary limits. . . If you’re too active doing the kind of networking that we trade unionists do all the time – recruiting friends, sending out messages, and so on – FaceBook can blacklist you and close your account. This has already happened to a number of union activists.”
Reading between the lines, it is clear that the likes of EFCANOW and the others that litter anything on the Internet that remotely pertains to labor with spam and propaganda have suffered the penalties described above from Facebook. So now, the union activists all preach to the choir on UnionBook – doesn’t that defeat the purpose of trying to spread their message to the masses?
FedEx has been in the news over the last month regarding a couple of labor union issues. FedEx is not unionized (except for some of its pilots). UPS is heavily unionized. FedEx wants to remain non-union. UPS wants FedEx to become union. Does UPS think it’s operating at a disadvantage against non-union FedEx? Why else would it so desperately want FedEx to organize? Here’s the skinny on the FedEx labor issues that recently made news.
1. FedEx formed in the 1960s as an airline and thus falls under the 1926 Federal Railway Labor Act, which was designed to limit work stoppages and strikes. UPS, on the other hand, began in 1907 as a trucking company and falls under the regulations of the National Labor Relations Act which permits (if not encourages) work stoppages and strikes. UPS has been working behind the scenes in Washington D.C. to get an amendment to the Federal Aviation Authorization bill which could remove FedEx from the Railway Labor Act and in place it firmly within the confines of the NLRA.
2. FedEx announced that it will consider canceling its plans to purchase up to 30 new Boeing cargo planes if EFCA passes. Remember when Sir Richard Branson threatened to stop buying Boeing planes for Virgin Airlines after the Boeing strike stalled the production of several of his airplanes? And now FedEx may also leave Boeing. Looks like Boeing is suffering the same fate as most every other unionized operations. . . a slow, steady decline in business.
3. FedEx won a court battle after refusing to bargain with a the Teamsters. Specifically, the Teamsters have been relentlessly trying to organize FedEx drivers and actually thought they had succeeded. But FedEx refused to meet with the Teamsters to negotiate a contract, so the Teamsters sued FedEx. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled last week that FexEx did not have to meet with the Teamsters because those drivers (and many FedEx drivers) are independent contractors, not employees, and thus not eligible to join a union.
Of course FedEx is on the short list, along with WalMart, McDonalds, and Burger King to be organized. In fact, unions even have a FedEx Watchwebsite with anti-FedEx propaganda. For the WalMart Watch website, click here. Unfortunately, all of this union attention has resulted in FedEx stock being downgraded from “peer perform” to “underperform” while the price of the stock went from $120/share a few years ago, to around $50/share now, and an expected continued slide down to around $30/share in the next year.
The proposed constitutional amendment to the Utah Constitution to mandate secret ballot elections in union organizing drives will be voted on by the people of Utah in November 2010. Utah is the first of the SOS (Save Our Secret ballot) states to approve the issue for a vote. Many people (including myself) still have doubts that a state constitutional amendment would trump a federal law like the Employee Free Choice Act, but I remain hopeful that it can withstand the certain United State Supreme Court scrutiny that it will receive. On another point, the vote in November 2010 will happen long after Congress decides which version of EFCA it will pass.
In other SOS news, the SOS Chairman, Rep. Ernest Istook responded to Teamster International President, Jimmy Hoffa’s ridiculous question of “since when is the secret ballot a basic tenet of democracy?” Rep. Istook responded with the following:
“Mr. Hoffa’s statement is the epitome of arrogance and willful ignorance. The secret ballot has been a basic tenet of democracy since its earliest beginnings in Greece. Skipping ahead a few millennia, modern democracy has relied on secret ballots to ensure that the voting process is untainted by coercion and intimidation, something I think he may be familiar with. He should ask those Democratic sponsors in the House and Senate if they enjoyed secret ballots in their leadership elections, and he also should ask Rep. George Miller why he felt it necessary to ask the Mexican government to protect secret ballots for their workers.
“SOS Ballot has been conducting a number polls with Wilson Research Strategies on the secret ballot in states where we are launching campaigns, and we have found that this issue enjoys enormous public support, including 90% support in union households. Mr. Hoffa needs to reacquaint himself with the rank and file Teamsters whose dues pay his salary before he makes another arrogant statement. Its clear that the union boss agenda is to oppose secret ballots throughout our society. We cannot let them get their anti-democracy foot in the door because they might never stop. Today they attack the secret ballot rights of their own members; tomorrow it’s the rest of us. We saw this before our recent victory in Utah, when the UT AFL-CIO leadership referred to the secret ballot process as anti-democratic.”