6/26/08

Coloradans learn about 'no-vote' unionism

Related story: "Forced-labor unionism exposed in Colo. ads"

TV ads provide valuable education to voters

You may have seen the provocative anti-union ad making claims about union bosses and coerced union elections. The ad is tongue-in-cheek, but the point it makes is no joke. It comes from an out-of-state 501C4 group called the Center for Union Facts.

Related video: "How card-check works"



The group refused to release its donor list although a like-minded sister organization in Colorado called Coloradans for Employee Freedom lists local conservatives Sean Tonner, Jon Caldara, Mark Hillman, Cory Gardner, and Frank McNulty among the local group's board members.

Ad: What if labor bosses controlled class elections. Thanks for your vote. I want to assure you that a vote for me is best for you. Ms. Hudgens has just agreed that there isn't gonna be any secret vote. Sign these cards showing us who you like the best, and my campaign committee will collect and count em.

Here's the spin. The ad attacks legislation in Congress - the oddly-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). If approved, it would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier for unions to organize. How would it work? If a simple majority of workers sign cards saying they want a union, EFCA would essentially require the National Labor Relations Board to certify the union, assuming there was no illegal coercion involved in gathering the signatures. Under these circumstances employers would be barred from demanding a secret vote.

The relevant portion of EFCA states "If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection."

While the Center for Union Facts commercial implies EFCA would end secret ballots, that implication isn't technically accurate. The pro-union group American Rights at Work, correctly points out that employers could still call for secret votes when unions gather cards of more than 30 percent, but less then a simple majority of the work force (source: Josh Goldstein, American Rights at Work). The Center for Union Facts counters that unions are unlikely to move for certification with less than 50 percent of the cards in hand because such elections would likely fail. Instead, under the proposed EFCA, union organizers could bypass the election process by simply obtaining signed cards from more than 50 percent of the workforce. (source: Tim Miller, Center for Union Facts).

Read the text of the amendment: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.800:

Ad: Labor bosses have a new scheme to do away with the secret ballot.

It's not the whole story. Those who support the measure say it would protect union organizers in the workplace by making them less vulnerable to being intimidated or fired for trying to unionize. It would speed up the process and remove potential stalling tactics. This is because the text of the measure calls for specific remedies including multiple back pay penalties for job retaliation and binding mediation in cases where contract negotiations go beyond 90 days.

However, those who reject this approach say it would also force employees to reveal their preference to union organizers rather than voting by secret ballot. They complain that people who don't want to form a union might be identified, harassed, and pressured by co-workers. (source: Center for Union Facts)

In fact, EFCA does have a provision requiring the NLRB to look into whether illegal coercion was used to pressure employees into signing the cards. However, it's not clear how the government would do that.

The relevant portion of EFCA states "The Board shall develop guidelines and procedures for the designation by employees of a bargaining representative in the manner described in paragraph (6). Such guidelines and procedures shall include (A) model collective bargaining authorization language that may be used for purposes of making the designations described in paragraph (6); and (B) procedures to be used by the Board to establish the validity of signed authorizations designating bargaining representatives."

Bottom line. Unions have a done a lot of good for American workers but have also been the target of valid criticism. However you feel about unions, their membership has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years. The Employee Free Choice Act would certainly make it easier to form union shops. But if it becomes law, workers opposed to unions would likely lose their ability to remain anonymous.

While this ad has no direct connection to the union v. business initiatives we'll see on the Colorado ballot this fall, the commercial is no-doubt intended to influence the way Coloradans perceive unions generally. Tim Miller of the Center for Union facts explained that the ads are targeted in states where unions are actively making a move.

(cbs4denver.com)

1 comment:

K said...

Thanks for the information on no-vote unionism. Hope the vote goes well!!!

We recently wrote an article on if doctors should unionize at Brain Blogger. With doctors struggling with financial issues and having issues with the government reimbursement system, should doctors unionize? But are the downsides too much; is it really worth it?

We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Kelly

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