Rigging The Rules

It's not surprising to me that labor unions are doing all they can to survive and to expand their ranks. After all, union membership has declined since the 1950's, being only 7.4% of the workforce today versus 35% fifty years ago.

In the past labor unions were at the forefront of labor law, making sure that workers weren't exploited or endangered needlessly. Today there are widespread state and federal labor laws that codify the gains made by the unions. But because of those gains the era of unions is fading and fading fast.

Not that this has stopped the labor movement from trying to stem the loss of membership. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the tactics that the unions are trying in order to fill their ranks (and coffers) again.

First, it was the so-called WalMart law in Maryland, designed to punish WalMart because the unions couldn't get a foothold in the company any other way. Fortunately the law was struck down in court, thwarting organized labor's plans.

Next, it's their attempt to make it 'easier' to vote a union in. But this is a lie. While the unions and the supporters of legislation that would do away with secret ballots by workers voting about organizing a union say that the open balloting will prevent business from intimidating potential union members to vote against a union, it is really a means for organized labor to intimidate workers into voting for a union.

The union claim is that employers are engaging in rampant unfair labor practices to prevent employees from exercising their right to organize. But data from the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union elections, show no rise in such activities. The reality is that union membership has been in decline for decades, and labor leaders are desperate to rig the rules in order to reverse the trend.

All of which explains the drive to rewrite the rules and do away with secret-ballot elections administered by the NLRB, a procedure in place since the 1935 Wagner Act. Under current rules, once 30% of employees at a workplace express interest in unionizing by signing an authorization card, organizers can go to management and demand voluntary "card-check" recognition. The employer then has the option of recognizing the union or demanding an election.

It shouldn't be surprising that many workers who sign these cards later have second thoughts after getting the employer's side of the story. Workers sign cards for all kinds of reasons, including peer pressure and intimidation. It's not uncommon for an organizer to approach an employer with cards that show 90% of the workforce wants to unionize, only to have the percentage plummet once employees hear about the downside of a union shop and have a chance to vote by secret ballot. So Big Labor wants to dispense with these petty elections and make union recognition mandatory as soon as a simple majority of workers sign a card.

This method lends itself to easy intimidation by the union because they will know who has and has not signed the cards, making it easier to target those that have not yet signed. This has nothing to fairness and everything to do with maintaining power at the expense of the very workers organized labor says they are protecting.

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