Card-check backfire: Bargaining for injustice

More card-check stories: here

UFCW big says: 'We can't win that way any more.'

Labor unions as we know them in America’s private sector are dying. It is a natural death. In some respects they are victims of their own success. In a much broader sense, as was so well stated by Michael Wachter, labor unions are “A corporatist institution in a competitive world.”

Unfortunately, for the American public and the vast majority of American workers the unions’ death throes may have some nasty unintended consequences. The law of unintended consequences may be at work when it comes to organized labor’s drive to replace secret ballots with card checks for certifying unions as representatives of employees.

Does anybody imagine for a moment that taking away the right to a secret ballot vote on union representation and replacing it with an undemocratic process like card checks will make employers any less anxious to avoid the unionization of their employees? All a card check will do is move the battle line.

Let’s assume that you are an employer and that you would rather deal directly with your employees than through a union. Let’s also assume that you know that if a majority of employees sign union authorization cards, for whatever reason, you will be required to recognize the union as the representative of your employees.

To paraphrase Mr. Rogers, “Can you say psychologist?” Almost every job application process involves testing and an interview. Most of the test questions are looking for honesty and character. Some of the questions are very direct. Some of them are subtle. They were designed by psychologists because they know that a job applicant when asked, “Are you a thief?” is going to say, “No.”

Do you imagine for a moment that a good industrial psychologist couldn’t slip in a few questions to determine a prospective employee’s attitudes about organizing a union?

So what happens? A person who tests as likely to want union representation, whether that is accurate or not, doesn’t get a job offer. That’s an injustice but it is an inevitable consequence of going from secret ballots to card checks.

The old adage “be careful what you wish for” may be appropriate to union support for card check certifications. They might get much more than they bargained for.

- David Denholm


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