Last month when I posted “Employee Free Choice Act – Not Free/Not Choice,”  I received a very long response in the form of a comment on the post from Brian Cox.  I emailed Brian saying that 2700 words was just too much (I didn’t want to bore my readers any more than I normally do).  I also asked that he sign the piece and hopefully reveal any bias he might have.  Last night I received a shorter version of his letter (just under 1400 words) and it was signed.  I am printing it below.  I will either post comments to this or will do a separate post to describe my differences with his argument.  I have always hoped to make this blog a forum for discussion of issues such as this.  Maybe publishing arguments like Brian’s will help get this going.  If you agree or disagree, I would like to see your comments.

Discussion on The Employee Free Choice Act.

It is no secret that our working class is the engine that drives our economy. This group pays for most all the items and issues we enjoy here in America. The wealthy like to think they pay it all and that’s just not the truth. Many of wealthy actually pay fewer taxes than do most of the working class per-capta.

This is the primary reason Unions are important for the American worker. Facts and figures show that belonging to a union will get you higher pay even after dues not to mention the benefits.  The NLRA & NLRB have laws and regulations against dues from union members going to political endeavors. If you’re a Union member you have to voluntary contribute to a Union PAC for money to go there. In the last election cycle YES American Unions and their members gave in record numbers. Even then those contribution numbers were much less than business.

The Employee free choice act will make some changes to how organizing happens here in America. All you have to see is how employers treat their employees when they discover their employee may be even thinking about becoming or joining any Union.

You have heard a lot of outright lies and misconception about the purposed new law (EFCA) it will not rob the employees of the right to vote for representation. Even the WallStreet Journal finally spoke the truth about this. It will change dramatically who can and cannot ask for that right. Currently employees and the employer can ask for and receive a secret ballot election. The EFCA will remove the right for an employer to demand that a secret ballot election be held. That is what big and small business is screaming about. The funny part of this is that none of any of the “management group” for the employer get to vote any way so in reality they are not loosing anything.

Under current NLRA law and regulations the employees if 30% so chose can have a secret ballot election. This will stay the same with the EFCA. History has shown that employers use this time frame to hold an election too aggressively campaign against the Union and use many illegal and prohibited acts to coerce, intimidate and outright fire employees that may want to vote for a Union. This is what they are lying for and want so desperately to keep. Many companies today have and continuously force their employees to attend anti-union training. The companies say the employees get paid for it and there for it is right and correct. If they truly want to let their employees have honest balanced information they would offer all sides of the issue to give information and presentation. This should be done off the job. The employees should be working productively during paid time on the job.  

The entire hullabaloo about unions intimidating and coercing people to join the union has a little merit. Looking at NLRB records over the last seventy three (73) years there have been only about thirty five (35) cases found with merit against all unions from the NLRA of 1935. Looking at those same NLRB records we find that in the last ten years business’s and employers have had over twenty thousand cases each year found with merit.

Do the math that’s over 200,000 cases in the last ten years.

35 cases in 73 years or over 200,000 cases in just the last ten years do you see a difference. I am not saying unions do not at times do well in representing their membership. Unions do make mistakes, but compared to employers unions do a radically better job of taking care of their members than do most employers.

The EFCA will not impact employee’s chances of having a secret ballot election.

The next major issue about the EFCA is binding arbitration. Businesses do not want binding arbitration because they cannot control it. Well neither do the unions. Binding arbitration means a third party comes to the table and reviews the negotiation process thus far. The arbitrator then hears what each side has to say to make their case. Then have a specific time frame to decide how the first contract will be structured.  This is not a new process many unions already have this in their contract language and often the results are equally poor for the union and business. All too often the business just comes to the bargaining table never intending to even try to reach a fair contract they just plan to meet to be seen negotiating all along they are playing the delay, delay and delay again game.  The bottom line is that business needs to understand they need to treat their employees as partners and the vital resource they are. Binding arbitration stops the misuse of time and reasources and get’s both parties back to work.

Employees should be an equal consideration to profit and growth. Management needs to be honest and realistic to their part in the puzzle of success. We are watching the world economy struggle with the unethical management and we see daily how trust worthily high level management can be. Again some CEOs and management do have and hold a good respect for their workers. All too often we see the result of those managers that only see the people as an expense on a ledger sheet, if it means they may have a shot at some bonus they will unflinchingly fire, down size and outsource or just move overseas to make a buck to put in their pocket.   

The third major issue is the stiff fines and penalties business can face if they fail to do all the necessary items outlined above. Again look at the record you can see how business have learned to see the current fines and penalties as just another cost of doing business. We have watched over the last twenty years how new laws and penalties have effectively cut DUI’s and helped to save live’s on our highways. I do not like it any more than anyone else that we need to have fines and penalties, but they work especially in business where it seems the bottom line is all the managers’ worship.

Our economy is in trouble, we have for the last 25 to 40 years been on the same basic course in business and money policy in America. Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. Every time we have let our middle class work hard and be rewarded for it they have paid off the deficit, invented new technology, made themselves more productive, and made themselves and all us better. It’s really pretty simple but do not mistake that for easy.

The rich want to get richer and do it now. The working class wants to work and make us all richer what the EFCA is really about is allowing workers free choice to join and form Unions. These same new union members need to really join and become part of the Union. That means when they become a union member they need to go to the union meetings participate in the union and watch over it so the union dose represent their interests. They need to elect leaders that will see and understand that being elected is a position of responsibility not one of privilege.

It would seem that big business is accusing the Unions of doing just what they big business have just been caught doing, big bonuses, private jets, big lavish parties, and even bigger corruption. Interesting how AIG, CITI and all these companies are against the unions. Could it be that the Unions are a foundation for our society to be proud of and one we should want to see grow? Current polls show America feels unions are good. Unions are currently growing slowly after years of loss.

Unions can help America again; all the unions are are some people getting together with similar needs and desires to help themselves. Every time an Americans life is a little bit better America is a little bit stronger. Unions are American, America is a UNION.

God Bless America

Brian Cox, President                                                                                                                                         International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers                                                                                                       Local 415, Cheyenne, WY

Since my experience has been different from Brian’s, I feel quite differently about this issue.  I also think that his lack of attribution for any of his “facts” makes me think the majority of them are urban (or in this case ‘union’) myths.  

Let me know what you think.