How Obama Affected the Construction Industry

Since I will be speaking to a group of NARI (National Association of Remodeling Industry) leaders about labor and employment issues since Obama took office, I was thinking about how his Executive Orders have impacted the construction industry more than probably any other industry.  Here is a brief recap of what those Orders are and how they affect the construction industry.

  • Federal contractors will no longer be reimbursed for educating their employees about the benefits and detriments of forming a union.  The Notification of Employee Rights Concerning Payment of Union Dues or Fees was revoked and replaced with Notification of Employee Rights under Federal Labor Laws.  Federal contractors are no longer required to post instructions on how employees could opt out of union dues earmarked for political purposes.  As such, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has discontinued onsite visits to union employers during compliance reviews.  These on site visits involved a review of required postings, contracts and purchase orders, facility accessibility for individuals with disabilities, veterans and disabled recruitment efforts and an I-9 inspection.  This rule effectively mutes contractors that only do federal construction projects because all of that contractor’s money is trailed back to the government.  This Order may face a constitutional challenge, especially since the intent of the National Labor Relations Act was to manifest a clear intent to encourage free debate on labor relations issues and because Congress explicitly intended for noncoercive employer speech to remain unregulated.

 

  • The Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts Order creates rights for employees of federal contractors when a  contract changes hands – which frequently happens.  Contracts must now contain a specific provision granting employees of a federal contractor that has lost the service contract the right of first refusal for employment with the successor contractor.  Essentially, the new contractor cannot hire hourly workers until all employees of the predecessor contractor have been offered employment, and if the contract goes from a unionized company to a non-union company, the non-union company must offer employment to all those union workers (and all of their added costs and restraints) first and has to bargain with the union even though it has not been certified as the employees representative.  Contractors who willfully violate this Order will be disbarred from federal contracts for 3 years.

 

  • Project Labor Agreements on construction projects costing more than $25M.  Obama’s Order overturned President Bush’s ban on the federal government requiring PLAs on such projects.  Whether a PLA was used would normally be wholly dependant on your town’s political make-up.  However, projects using some of the roughly $800M earmarked in the stimulus bill for federal construction will likely be PLA-only work.  PLA work typically adds 20% to the cost of the project.  PLA really means labor union-only work as unionized companies are typically  the only ones forced to abide by the PLA strictures.  And unionized construction companies make up less than 10% of construction companies, so effectively, this Order eliminates 90% of the companies from performing federally funded construction work.

Tuesdays are EFCA Update Days

I’ll start off with a whopper today:  Both the Communist Party USA and the Democratic Socialists of America are strong supporters of EFCA.  After thinking about it, we shouldn’t be surprised, but still, it’s discomforting to see it in black and white.

Mickey Kaus, famed blogger on Slate.com, Harvard Law School Grad, and son of former Democratic California Supreme Court Justice, opined that card check is worse then originally thought.  According to Kaus, “The arbitration parts of the card check bill are so vaguely drawn that nobody knows who the arbitrators will be.  The job appears to be delegated entirely to the Federal Mediation [and Conciliation] Service.  The FM[C]S might decide to use its own employees.  It might decide to use arbitrators from the private sector selected along more traditional lines…. Since thousands of arbitrators might quickly be needed for the expected explosion of mandatory arbitration, it’s unlikely they would all be newly hired GS-12s.”  Kaus continues, “The bill would have the effect of freezing in place hierarchies and job categories both across industries and withing individual firms.  You want to start an innovative job structure that, say, collapses six gradations of pay and authority into one?  You think workers will be happier and more productive if they’re delegated authority in this more non-hierarchical arrangement?  Sorry-if the union objects, then the arbitrator is likely to uphold the old regime on the grounds that that’s the way it’s always been done (and the way everyone else does it).  A recipe for rigor mortis!”

According to economist Anne Layne-Farrar, who studied the card check system in Canada, EFCA would result in 600,000 lost jobs following every 3% gain in union membership.  With this statistic, Ms. Layne-Farrar agrees with me that EFCA will make it harder for the unemployed to find jobs.  Binding arbitration will erase the union’s desire to bargain for a contract, but rather, the union’s unreasonable demands will be the starting point for the arbitrator.  Since FMCS (i.e. the government) will likely be the arbitrators and will impose wage and benefit levels for a 2-year period regardless of the economic consequences, a neo-Nixonesque government wage and price controls on private companies is not too far away.

Another academic found that unionized companies suffer not only lower profits but lower investment in physical and intangible capital and slower growth.  According to economic  Professor Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University, unionized firms tend to lose market share to nonunionized firms, whether foreign or domestic.  Furthermore, companies can survive unionization as long as every other competitor faces the same "tax" or if markets are notcompetitive at all.  “This is why government is the only area where unionization has been growing.”

Following up on Prof. Hirsch’s analysis that unionization only works if it’s the only game in town, Professor Gary Chiason, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Massachusetts, speculated that if EFCA passed, unions would focus on organizing low-unionization states, i.e. right to work states, making those states less attractive to businesses.  Accordingly, “it’s in Michigan’s interest that Alabama become more unionized.”  Conversely, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy believes that EFCA would likely strengthen unions in Michigan more than other states.  According to the Mackinac, EFCA is bound to lead to the establishment of unions in workplaces where union support is weaker and weaker union support in the workplace means more union opponents who would probably opt out of joining the union and paying union dues, an option that is available in right to work states but not Michigan.  for unions, there will be a strong incentive to focus on states like Michigan where they can be assured of receiving dues from all workers, even if support in the workplace is weak.  “Secondly, because card check is vulnerable to abuse, unions will be tempted to resort to intimidation to secure signed authorization cards.  Intimidation is both easier to engage in and more tempting when one has the advantage of numbers.  Intimidation tactics are also harder to resist when one cannot be sure that the powers that be will protect you.  Michigan, with its sizable number of labor officials and politically entrenched unions, is prime territory for rough recruiting methods.”  I tend to agree with the Mackinac analysis.  How about you?

The Chambers of Commerce in Right-to-Work States agree with Chaison (and not Mackinac).  Specifically, they have 181 Chambers in right to work states have banded together to urge Congress not to pass EFCA.  According to this group, “While some have suggested that businesses in right-to-work states would not be significantly affected by EFCA, nothing could be further from the truth…  Even though workers in right-to-work states do have the right to refuse to pay union dues, if the workplace is organized, they must give up their right to deal directly with their employer.  Likewise, employers would be forced to accept arbitration agreements that may impose conditions inconsistent with established business models and impede the ability to compete.”

I started this post with reminding us all that EFCA is favorable to communists and socialists, so I’ll end it with a little levity.  Last week the AFL-CIO claimed that “Union members aren’t the only ones supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.  This week in Wisconsin, Milwaukee-area business owners got together to talk about why they support EFCA.”  The AFL-CIO’s blog hypertexted “Milwaukee-area business owners,” just like how I hypertext words in this blog that you can click on for more information.  So I clicked on those words on the union’s website and was directed to the below picture.  Correct me if I’m mistaken, but there’s 7 people on a panel and only 1 person in the audience!  So much for that non-union support! 🙂

WI: Business Panel by aflcio2008.

Follow Up Fridays: Solis’ Nomination as DOL Secretary

I had no idea that when I first posted about Obama’s pick for Secretary of Labor that I would still be writing about her nomination process.  But last week two things happened which lead me to believe that either she will not be confirmed as the Secretary or we’ll be hearing a lot more about her in the near future.

First, Solis’ husband paid $6400 worth of outstanding tax liens placed on the company he owns.  LawMemo Blog’s expert, Ross Runkel, a 30-year employment law professor thought that this, alone was enough for Solis to withdraw her nomination, or conversely, Obama’s people “will drop Solis and move on to someone else.  The short-term and long-term costs of hanging onto Solis are simply too high.” 

But just hours before the Senate confirmation vote, the other shoe fell on Solis with The Weekly Standard‘s article “The Nominee who Lobbied Herself.”  Solis, who co-sponsored EFCA in 2007 was the treasurer of the union fronted American Rights at Work who had been lobbying Congress to pass EFCA.  In other words, “she is the official legally charged with the fiduciary duty of approving and signing off on all spending by the organization.  And to make matters worse, she did not reveal to her colleagues in the House of Representatives that membership on her financial disclosure forms, which may constitute a separate ethical violation.”  Members of the House of Representatives are not allowed to lobby or advise on lobbying on behalf of a private organization – even if the work is done for free.

“Now [Obama] has a nominee for Labor Secretary who apparently broke House ethics rules by lobbying for legislation that she sponsored, but who did not admit that she failed to reveal that fact on her financial disclosure forms until after her nomination became an issue.”  The Weekly Standard.

Like some of Obama’s other appointees, i.e. Tom Daschle’s $140,000 in back taxes and interest, Tom Geithner’s $42,000 in taxes and interest, and the lien placed on Nancy Killefer’s home for not paying unemployment taxes for her domestic help, Solis forgot to mention her affiliation with American Rights at Work in disclosure forms filed with the House of Representatives from 2004-2007.  In typical fashion, a White House spokesman chalked up the omission as an “unintentional oversight.”

But guess who’s still supporting Solis!  John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President urged the committee to move ahead with a vote as soon as possible to confirm Solis’ nomination and Andy Stern, President of SEIU said, “We urge [the] U.S. Senate to move swiftly in a bipartisan manner so Representative Solis can bring her work to improve lives for millions of workers in America.” 

For now, though, the vote is on hold until her ethical violations are fully explored and a decision whether to continue her nomination process is made – assuming she won’t withdraw her name in the interim.

Tuesdays are EFCA Update Days

We’ll start off today’s EFCAUpdate with a video where Stern, President of the SEIU, says that his union has saved millions of dollars to unelectDemocrats who did not live up with their promise to vote in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act.

 

When will EFCA be introduced is anyone’s guess, although most agree it will be sometime in 2009.  Obama and Biden think it will be on hold until the fall, and it looks like Obama’s pro-labor executive orderswere an overt act to pacify the unions for several months.  In fact, Biden believes it will be done “This year.  This year we hope.  Our expectation is this year, this calendar year.”  Thank you for your clarity, VP Biden.  House Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) says House action won’t start until Spring or Summer.  Senate Majority Reid (D-NV) said that that Senate won’t see it until the Summer.  Here’s a video of Biden discussing EFCA.

 

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplaceconducted a straight forward, two-question survey to determine support levels for EFCA.  The Ohio Employers Law Blog did a great recap of the results indicating that most people do not want EFCA.  Click here to see those results.

Obamatapped New Hampshire Republican Senator Gregg to head the Department of Commerce, which meant his Senate seat needed filled.  We’ve all learned about filling a Senate seat: Blago, anyone?  So, it became a foregone conclusion that Gregg’s seat would be filled by a Democrat, since New Hampshire’s Governor is a Democrat.  Filling Gregg’s seat with a Democrat would put the Dems at the supermajority number of 60 Senators where filibustering legislation (the Republican Senators’ defense to EFCA last time) would be impossible.  Not so fast!  Gregg made sure that his seat would be filled with a Republican before accepting the position with the Dept. of Commerce.  So now, Bonnie Newman – someone who has never held elected office and does not have any official positions on any major issues, i.e. Employee Free Choice Act – will fill Gregg’s seat and presumably vote against EFCA.  Remember, though, even with 59 Republican Senators, EFCA will likely pass since Arlen Spector (R-PA) voted in favor of it last time.

I laughed when I read that the AFL-CIO’s new video (narrated by the executive VP of the union) was intended to “cut through the deceptive campaign and give the facts about the Employee Free Choice Act.”  The video has a cameo spot, too, from the executive director of the union-fronted organization American Rights at Work to “cut through the spin” of corporate America.  This video is supposedly being featured at union meetings and around the country – why are they showing union members how “the system for forming unions is broken.”  Seems like members of unions, who already went through the system be become unionized, wouldn’t necessarily think that the system was broken.  Here’s the video:

 

On the anniversary of the last EFCAattempt, unions symbolically held a rally in Washington D.C. and supposedly brought with them 1.5 million signatures of people who supported the Employee Free Choice Act.  Also present was Rep. George Miller (D-CA) who co-sponsored the last bill and said: “decisions aboutthe workplace belong to the worker.”  Excuse me?  What aboutthe owner?  What aboutthe person who lives, breathes, and sleeps the business; the person who mortgaged his house to start the company; the person who risks to lose everything when the market dried up, a catastrophic injury occurs, malicious Internet press abouthis company surfaces?  Since when should the workers be the ones to make the decisions about someone else’s company, Representative Miller?

Interestingly, 1 million signatures would represent 1/16 of the current total unionized workforce in America.  Conversely, EFCA threatens the right to a secret ballot for 105 million Americans – well beyond the 69 million who voted in the last presidential election.  If the unions could only drum up enough interest from 1 out of every 16 of their own members to sign a petition, I hardly think that EFCA is something that the public at large is interested in seeing passed in Congress.  And I wonder how many of those signatures are from people who do not belong to unions.  No one has (or likely will ever) challenge the purported number of signatures to make sure they are legitimate.  In all, this is just a bunch of propaganda, an advertisement that will not be scrutinized, by 6% of the unionized workforce wanting us to believe that they represent the 105 million people currently working in America.

The AFL-CIO uses some “real life examples” of why employees need unions.  One of them is Theresa Gares who says, “Once [her company] found out we were trying to organize a union, they started having meetings.  They’re trying to talk people out of it, discourage them.  This is what we’re fighting for: We’re fighting for fairness in the workplace, a voice in the workplace, things that we deserve.”  Are you kidding me?  Ms. Gares is the union’s marquee spokesperson and all she has to say is the company “started having meetings.”  And this is the intimidation that unions claim is happening and why employees need EFCA?

LaborPains.org is always good for an entry here each week, and this week doesn’t let us down, either when highlighting who is against EFCA.  Some of the more notable names include: 

  • George McGovern, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate
  • Rev. Al Sharton, American Baptist minister, political and civil rights/social justice activist, and radio talk show host
  • Richard Epstein, professor of Law at the University of Chicago who says, “There is simply no legitimate government interest in promoting unionization that justifies a clandestine organizing campaign which denies all speech rights to the union’ adversaries.”
  • Ariella Bernstein, former deputy director of public affairs at FMCS and a field examiner and supervisor at the NLRB who says, “I am a Democrat who has worked at both the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, two agencies that figure prominently in this legislation [Employee Free Choice Act].”

Fox Rothschild’s Employment blog out of Philadelphia set the record straight about the elimination of secret ballots when it said: “The reality is that once Unions are given the option of having the NLRB certify a union immediately upon presentation of at least a majority of union authorization cards signed by a specific unit of employees versus waiting some 40 days, whereby employees become educated during this period, and then having a secret ballot election, Unions ar going to avoid, at all cost, the election route.  I mean, why do you think the Unions’ have placed so much money, time, and effort in seeing that the EFCA passes?  is it because the EFCAcalls for mandatory injunctions?  I think not.  How about the mandatory contract arbitration?  Yeah, could be, but without a certification, there can be no representative or contract for that matter.  So, there is no “misinformation” being spread – just realty, which is that once a “card-check” certification is in place, the secret ballot election may die.”

This former “rank and file” employee enlightens people as to what it’s like to work a union job when he says: “As a young man I was forced to join a union when I was working in a job I dearly loved.  Even with the secret ballot in place, the intimidation by the union and the sycophantsworking with them was tremendous.  Almost immediately upon the union being voted in, the productivity of our work dropped precipitously.  People I had known for years cut the pace of their work activities by 25 to 33%.  I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to slow down – that I worked too hard and too fast.  After a year of this, I resigned my position without a job.  I was ashamed of what was happening to a company I loved.  The owners of this very large business in my home town gave up as well just a few years later and sold the business.”  He went on to discuss the difference of productivity in right to work states, “I once met a gentleman here in Jacksonville that owned a unionized plan in the north and a non-unionized plant in the south and in his words the difference in productivity was start.  He eventually moved all the work to the south and closed the other plant.”

Misc. Mondays: Labor-Lovin’ Presidents

This article (and the headline) come from the SEIU who thought it would be a good PR move to publish one-liners from past Presidents who supposedly loved labor unions.  This list, though, fails miserably in showing people that Presidents like unions.  The Presidents listed in the article are: Lincoln, Kennedy, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Carter.  That’s it.  One President from the 1800’s, and the others from 1933, 1953, 1961, and 1981.  What’s more noticeable is that only 4 of the 13 Presidents since the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act are included in here, and even their quotes are cryptic at best and could easily be out of context.  So, to reiterate what is on most people’s minds – unions are a thing of the past, served a purpose in the past, and should not be the focus of our future.

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: Boeing Laysoff 10,000 Post-Strike

    Boeing Co., which went through a major strike by the machinists union last year announced that it plans on reducing employment by 10,000 people company-wide in 2009.  These 10,000 layoffs are in addition to the 4,500 that the company already incurred.  Are all of these jobs union jobs?  Not likely.  Are these layoffs solely because of the strike?  Not likely, although the strike did lead to a 15% reduction in deliveries. But, it certainly was a contributing factor, which leads me to ask – are you machinists who went on strike better off now that you don’t have a job?