UnionMaine

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Will the Employee Free Choice Act be "fair"?

Thanks for the cartoon to Mike Konopacki. Please check out his work at this site.

First, we have to define a fair election.

Does the current process guarantee a fair election, and if I decide to vote for a Union in the privace of my own home should I be denied the right?

In any other free election in this country all sides are allowed access to the voter rolls so they can reach out with their message. The NLRB gives “free and fair” the same meaning as Fox news gives to “Fair and Balanced” Employers are supposed to provide employee lists to Union organizers but over and over delaying tactics are used that prevent a Union from reaching the employees with their side of the story While the process goes on, the Em[ployer plasters the work place with anti-Union messages and forces employees to attend one sided anti-Union meetings.

Under current labor law an election will be held when workers petition for union representation with at least 30 percent support. After receiving a petition the NLRB will set a date for a secret ballot vote. Almost sounds like Democracy.

This is where the deck is stacked. No political campaign for animal control officer would be allowed if it were as one sided as the NLRB rules.

In an NLRB election there is no true free speech; no equal access to the voters, no equal ability to reach the voters with materials or information.

Candidates for dog catcher are guaranteed access to the voter rolls, but in an NLRB election management can delay giving out that information until the election is almost over and the penalties for delaying are nearly non-existent.

On average, unions don’t get the voter list until less than 20 days before an election. Suppose the Democrats or the Republicans tried to pass a law that said that the other side could not have access to the voter lists until three weeks before an election. Is that anyone’s idea of a “free and fair” election?”

I look around at Americans and at my fellow Mainers. I don’t see a bunch of wimps that will vote “Union Yes” just because one of their co-workers comes over to talk to them. Try to force your neighbor to do what you want in Maine you will get kicked so hard your butt will still be sore when you roll over the Massachusetts border.

The anti-Union forces know that given a free choice most people have nothing against better pay and benefits.

Hit em in the wallet. Threaten their kids.

In political elections it is illegal for corporations to tell employees that if the Republicans or the Democrats win their company will close.

In a “fairly run” NLRB election these tactics are completely legal, while at the same time the employer can deny access to the employees by the Union organizers.

In the U.S. we know how to have a fair election.

Election law demands that newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations sell ad time on the same terms to all candidates and provide equal access.

The NLRB does nothing to allow employees to hear both sides. Management can cover every hall bathroom stall, and cube with anti-Union propaganda and ban pro-union employees from the same actions (we don’t need no stinking free speech). The employer is free to campaign against Unions in any way, all day, in the workplace. Pro Union workers are banned from talking about unionization except on break times.

Don’t blame the employer for legal actions.

In America and we have a fierce tradition of competition and Pro-Union employees and anti-Union management can not be faulted for using every legal tactic at their command.

The lack of enforcement or penalties for illegal action by the employer has fostered a level of illegal activity on the side of management that would make a third world dictator proud.

The EFCA demands that over 50% of employees must vote to join a Union for the vote to be honored and a Union recognized.

The EFCA would force an arbitration process if a contract can not be reached within a reasonable time because 32% of employees don’t have a signed collective bargaining agreement one year after voting for union representation. Denying a contract is another method of trying to destroy Unions and the laws in place are useless and rarely used.

22,633 employees fired as part of the free and fair discussion.

The 1993-2003 NLRB Annual Reports, show an average of 22,633 workers per year were ordered to receive back pay from their employers. No retroactive benefits, no other financial penalties for possibly destroying an employee causing the loss of a home savings and family.

91% of employers force employees to attend anti-union meetings with their supervisors during union organizing drives.

There is nothing illegal about an employer holding meetings with employees about matters that could affect working conditions. The employer is paying for their time, at meetings, or at their desk.

Does the current law protect employees from coercion or threats? Check the statistic above. 22,633 workers fired each year for Pro Union activity.

Up to 51% of employers illegally coerce workers into opposing unions with cash promotions or favors during union organizing drives.

There are no serious penalties for employers engaging in these illegal actions. The penalties are so small they are just considered a cost of doing (crooked) business.

30% of employers illegally fired pro-union workers during union organizing drives.

The response by the right is that this means that yes, charges were filed and back pay was received, but since they didn’t admit to anything it doesn’t mean anything. How many employees needed to jump at the back pay for mortgage payments, or medical bills? How many had gotten desperate enough to settle? Desperation is the goal of the employer and there are no penalties or to discourage it. The employee on the other hand will get back pay only. No financial payback for lost benefits or even a lost home.

How much can the NLRB hurt an employer for bribing threatening assaulting or firing a pro-Union employee?

Not one penny, nada, zilch, nothing, the employer is holding up one finger, but it does not mean one dollar.

National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. The NLRB does not have the authority to impose fines, revoke licenses, or impose prison time on those who violate the National Labor Relations Act.

If serious financial penalties for employers were in place with criminal penalties in place for management that violated even the puny laws in place now there might be an argument to leave things alone. The E.F.C.A. is the simplest change that can be made to level the playing field. What we have now is neither Fair or Balanced.

For other references to prove the facts above see:

http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/publications/general/undermining-the-right-to-organize-employer-behavior-during-union-representation-campaigns.html

By Chirag Mehta and Nik Theodore, Center for Urban Economic Development, UniversityIllinois at Chicago

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June 30th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | 3 comments

3 Comments

  1. Hi, just stumbled across your site, good to see more labor bloggers out there, especially ones who have been doing it longer than myself.

    This is a nice piece that explains the Employee Free Choice Act.
    I recently did a poll at DailyKOS and was astonished at how many “progressives” have no clue as to what the bill is about, maybe you can cross post this there? I know it’s work, but I’m sure it would be worth it.

    also added you to my links at Joe’s Union Review, keep up the good work, great images from Konopacki

    In Solidarity,
    Joe

    Comment by Joe638NYC | June 30, 2008

  2. The more I read about Allen’s H.R. 800, the more I think about Animal Farm and other Orwell works.

    Comment by Elaine | July 9, 2008

  3. So where’s the moneyshot of your article. What’s the answer? Do you think that a process that includes removing the secret-ballot vote from the workers is the way to go? I don’t/ I was an organizer for 15 years, and quite simply, I could get a card signed by a dead man.

    Card check actually is a never ending election in which one side can win if on one day out of a never ending amount of days they can say they have 50% of the vote. ImaginE that. Imagine if that is how we elected Presidents. Imagine that for a moment to all the people out there that support this nonsense legislation. imagine if on one day next year, McCain could simply go to the Electoral College and say just switch your vote to me and if on that one day he got to 270. Then he would be President and Obama would have to launch a re-election effort and try to take the seat back. That is what card check is. It is a never ending election where one side can win and worse yet win almost FOREVER by simply getting to 50% one day. That is not democracy. That is about as unfair a process as one can come up with in order to determine anything.

    Comment by Joe Brock | November 25, 2008

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